The Republican Establishment Wants a New People

German Marxist Bertholt Brecht responded to the suggestion that the government had lost the confidence of the people with the quip: “If that is the case, would it not be be simpler, If the government simply dissolved the people And elected another?”

Apparently, the GOP establishment has been reading Brecht. Pollster/commentator Scot Rasmussen writes Republican Establishment Declares War on GOP Voters:

As seen from the halls of power, the problem is that Republican voters think it’s OK to replace incumbent senators and congressman who don’t represent the views of their constituents. In 2012, for example, Republican voters in Indiana dumped longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in a primary battle.

This infuriated establishment Republicans for two reasons. First, because they liked Lugar and the way he worked. Second, because the replacement candidate was flawed and allowed Democrats to win what should have been a safe Republican seat.

So, according to Politico, the Washington team is gearing up a new effort to protect incumbents and limit the ability of Republican voters to successfully challenge establishment candidates.

[NB: I think Rasmussen understates the problem here. Mourdock’s statement about abortion and rape was a principled reaction to an excruciating moral and ethical issue, and he deserved respect whether or not one agreed with his stand. In my opinion, the Republican establishment was waiting to pounce on him, because its members wanted him defeated so that they could then blame the loss on the Tea Parties. When a Democrat says something stupid — an hourly occurrence — the party rallies around and defends him/her. When a Republican conservative says something intelligent and honest, the establishment throws the first rock, and the second and third.]

Rasmussen goes on:

That’s why more than two-thirds of Republican voters believe GOP officials in Washington have lost touch with the party’s base.

The Republican establishment has two choices. They can act as mature party leaders of a national political party, or they can protect their own self-interest.

Mature party leaders would spend a lot more time listening to Republican voters rather than further insulating themselves from those voters. They would try to understand why just 37 percent of Republicans nationwide believe the economy is fair. They would give serious thought to why just half of GOP voters have a favorable opinion of House Speaker John Boehner, the highest-ranking elected Republican in the nation. They would acknowledge that government spending in America has gone up in every year since 1954 regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in charge.

Then mature party leaders would chart a realistic course to address these concerns and share those plans with the voters. To succeed, this course would have to include some painful medicine for the establishment, such as giving up corporate welfare programs that benefit their friends and allies. It also would require helping Republican voters identify primary candidates who challenge the establishment but could be effective on the campaign trail.

This is a much tougher course to follow; one that would benefit the party and the nation. Unfortunately, by seeking to protect the insiders from the voters, all indications are that most establishment Republicans would rather blame the voters and keep their perks.

Rasmussen is one of the most perceptive political analysts. The implicit message here is that the Republican Party may not be salvageable, and that the need for a new structure is growing apace. Let us hope that Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Allen West, and some others are reading his columns.

(65 Posts)

Author: "Ending 'Big SIS' (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic" (2012) [] and "Property Matters--How Property Rights Are Under Assault and Why You Should Care" (1997). Some former jobs: Assistant Director of Consumer Protection in FTC; member of the Program Analysis Staff of the US Bureau of the Budget; Research Director of the Administrative Conference of the United States; Director of IPCentral at the Progress & Freedom Foundation; VP & GC of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest. Graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, former Book Review Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

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