May 7th, 2014

Tea Party problem: too many choices

What happened in North Carolina last night? I think that blogger CAC at Ace’s hits the nail on the head in this post, and points out a problem that GOP conservatives had better figure out a solution to or they’ll be griping even more about the vast-RINO-conspiracy against them:

I’ve seen a lot of hemming and hawing about how the villainous Karl Rove and his band of toads flooded the zone and dragged “their guy” Tillis across the finish line in yesterday’s North Carolina primary. Thom Tillis was the establishment’s pick, and he won- just under 46% per the last county updates I’ve seen. However, the establishment is what it is, and how it has enjoyed wins in important primaries, both Senatorial and Presidential, isn’t thanks to their spending or some deal in a smoke-filled room. It is far simpler than that.

How can I say this? Because over 54% of Republican primary voters did not vote for Tillis. Had these other voters consolidated behind a single candidate, as the establishment always does even if they have to switch gears to do so (see the maneuvering to push Christie out and test Bush), Brannon or Harris would be the one facing Senator Hagan.

Conservatives jump from candidate to candidate in a lot of these races, and the more who throw their hat into the ring, the further it dilutes their voice in the primary.

CAC calls it the Baskin-Robbins problem (read the whole thing to find out why). But whatever you want to call it, it consists of the fact that the Tea Party, a group of individualists, must somehow coalesce behind the best conservative candidate in each race if it is going to both maximize its power and choose an individual who actually has a chance of winning in the general.

And that latter point is the point, which is a point that conservatives sometimes lose sight of in their need to find someone that agrees with them on all measures. But I do not share their favored “stab-in-the-back” theories to explain their losses. Yes, there are some powerful RINO Republicans who are working against Tea Party interests. But when I look at the actual Tea Party candidates and the actual races they actually lose and how and why, there’s no need to invoke some nefarious conspiracy. The candidates they field had better be smart, appealing, and not so numerous that they split the conservative vote. That’s not rocket science to figure out, although it’s not all that easy to accomplish.

So stop whining about what victims you are and start figuring out how to win.

One more thing: Democratic candidates have figured all of this out, and their new tack (which they attempted in their campaign against Tillis, who they—rightly, I believe—saw as their most dangerous opposition) is to fund ads aimed at convincing conservatives that the strongest GOP candidate is too moderate and is really a RINO. It didn’t work effectively enough against Tillis last night, but it’s worked before in other races and has led directly to Democratic victories. Divide and conquer.

50 Responses to “Tea Party problem: too many choices”

  1. Ann Says:

    Divide and conquer. Yep. The only way to combat that is with old-fashioned party discipline, but I worry the Republicans are no longer capable of that because of too many unyielding ideologues in its ranks.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Last night I read that Boehner won his district primary by garnering 70% of the vote! Pork rules I guess. Beyond that, words fail me. Now you point out that over 54% of Republican primary voters did not vote for Tillis…

    Social conservatives, financial conservatives, isolationist conservatives, libertarian conservatives… yes, it would seem like the plethora of choices does ensure that the establishment candidate wins the primary.

    Every time I’ve read the Tea Party’s stand on the issues, it’s limited to financial conservatism and small government, constitutional principles. It would seem to me that to be the minimal basis upon which all the various types of conservatives could agree, yet the Ohio and N. Carolina primaries would appear to establish even that to be too much.

    Quite frankly, I’m discouraged. Conservatives in disarray, GOP RINO leadership collaborating with a democrat party in lockstep toward their agenda.

    The polls are currently indicating that the GOP will do quite well in the Nov election but even if they do, I don’t expect much. Or perhaps I expect it won’t matter because the GOP leadership is undeniably committed to political suicide in pushing for amnesty.

    Perhaps the delay you’ve spoken of neo in marching to the gallows will result in a change in paradigm but if not, the destination is the same, only the date of arrival being different.

    Though tempted, I won’t say this is an indicator of it being over but it is an indicator of Ludwig von Mises prescience when he observed that, “Political ideas that have dominated the public mind for decades cannot be refuted through rational arguments. They must run their course in life and cannot collapse otherwise than in great catastrophe…”

  3. neo-neocon Says:



    However, it’s not just unyielding and uncompromising ideology on the part of many conservatives. It’s paranoia and this “stab in the back” mentality, a refusal to look at what they’re actually doing wrong strategically, and a need to blame their failures on what they see as the GOP establishment.

  4. expat Says:

    I’m with you 100%, Neo. While I agree with many things TeaPartiers say, it is often what they don’t say that bothers me. They often don’t question potential candidates about issues that aren’t on their radar (foreign policy being the one that I care a lot about). And they can’t always recognize the difference between a truly damning disqualifying position and one that can be negotiated with other party members. They don’t always recognize that some changes can’t be made on a dime but need to be accomplished more gradually to give people time to adjust. And they don’t appreciate that someone they like a lot may not be ready for a top position and shouldn’t be put in a win/lose position but rather incorporated as part of a team. Think what we might accomplish if we could get rid of Harry Reid. We could control court appointments, bring a reasonable budget before the president, and make sure that things like the Keystone pipeline additions to bills don’t get tossed out or not brought up for a vote.
    None of this means that the local Tea Parties shouldn’t watch over their Reps and Senators and put some pressure on them when they spend too much. But they should also ask them why they voted in a certain way and listen to what they say.

  5. Matt_SE Says:

    I read that post at AoSHQ and disagreed:

    Tillis had to get 40% of the vote. It didn’t matter how many challengers there were, since each would be taking a percentage of the pie; a zero-sum proposition.
    In fact, it may have been better to run more candidates, not fewer, since the field would have a wider appeal and take more percentage away from Tillis. As long as some percentage was lost from Tillis, it didn’t matter to whom it went.

    Now, in a head-to-head runoff the opposite is true; it would be the challenger that had to attain a certain percentage.

  6. Ymarsakar Says:

    Conservatives jump from candidate to candidate in a lot of these races, and the more who throw their hat into the ring, the further it dilutes their voice in the primary.

    That’s a problem with the system, not the people. There are voting systems that do second and third tier aggregation of pluralities, that aren’t based upon a simple majority or plurality (once).

    But the US doesn’t use it, because it would break in on the monopoly of the status quo.

  7. neo-neocon Says:


    I absolutely disagree, and I’ll tell you why.

    The winner had to get 40% or more or there would be a runoff. So the more candidates there were to oppose Tillis, the more likely that he’d fail to reach 40% and the more likely there’d be a runoff. That much of what you say is true.

    But none of the conservative candidates would have achieved 40% either, which might have happened had there only been one conservative candidate in the first place.

    Secondly, if a runoff had been forced because of so many conservative candidates making it impossible for Tillis to reach 40%, that’s no guarantee whatsoever that the more conservative candidate would have won against Tillis in a runoff. You cannot assume every single vote that wasn’t for Tillis in the primary would go to his opponent in the runoff; that usually does not happen. What’s more (and much more important, to my mind), whoever the Republican candidate was he would have been weakened by the financial expense and time-loss of an extended runoff (July 15 was the date for it); and all of the conservative candidates opposing Tillis would have run more weakly against Hagan in the first place because they are much less popular in North Carolina than Tillis. So you might have had a weaker candidate than Tillis in the first place, and any candidate (Tillis or a more conservative one) would have been further weakened by the process of the runoff.

    Both things might have led to Hagan, who is vulnerable, being re-elected. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is a Republican specialty, and that’s probably what would have happened.

    You’re losing sight of the big picture.

    Also, remember how Reid got elected in 2010? It’s a cautionary tale.

  8. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Think what we might accomplish if we could get rid of Harry Reid. We could control court appointments, bring a reasonable budget before the president, and make sure that things like the Keystone pipeline additions to bills don’t get tossed out or not brought up for a vote.” expat

    You appear to be suggesting that Boehner and McConnel et al would push for substantive change rather than slight modifications to the status quo. You also imply that Obama would sign rather than veto a ‘reasonable budget’ and sign rather than veto bills with a Keystone pipeline provision. Other than wishful thinking, upon what basis do you offer for optimism on those issues?

    Obviously, its politically more desirable for democrats and Obama not to have an actual vote on those subjects, much less a Presidential veto. But given the adamant opposition of the left’s base to both a “reasonable budget” and the Keystone pipeline and the certainty that the MSM will literally bludgeon the low info voter with propaganda supporting the Obama and the democrats, what do they actually have to fear?

    In addition, of what exactly might a GOP “reasonable budget” consist? WHY would it be different from G.W. Bush’s? I.E. a 75 mph crash rather than a 90 mph crash?

    Many of us recognize that compromise is necessary, it’s collaboration to which we object and, as an example of collaboration, anyone who views the GOP leadership’s endorsement and fighting for amnesty as ‘compromise’ is engaged in willful denial as to the nature and motivations of the GOP leadership.

    Compromise with men of good will is always possible.

    We know however that Obama is NOT a man of good will nor are the democrats. As David Horowitz astutely observed, “In fact the adherents of the perspectives commonly described as “liberal” and “progressive” – and this includes the entire Democratic Party leadership and its activists – are radicals.”

    So that leaves the GOP leadership, who have repeatedly demonstrated, through their actions, that they only give lip service to conservative principles. Compromise is not possible with collaborators, they will always place betrayal for personal gain ahead of any other consideration because that is the nature of collaboration.

    And it is a reluctant acknowledgement of that reality, which is leading so many conservatives to revolt.

  9. KLSmith Says:

    “It’s paranoia….”. Really? Feeling feisty today, are we? And gripers and whiners, too.
    I prefer “bemoan” in regard to the state of today’s GOP.
    I also highly recommend Sean Trende”s article, “Tea Party Revisited” from yesterday at RCP.
    And CAC at Ace’s advice is good – except that it isn’t. Who volunteers to drop out, who makes them?

  10. neo-neocon Says:


    I am feeling very testy when I see conservatives letting others divide and conquer.

    Although I happen to think that in this race Tilllis was the best candidate, and avoiding a runoff paramount, so I’m happy with the result.

    And I already said that the strategy I advocate would be hard to execute: “That’s not rocket science to figure out, although it’s not all that easy to accomplish.”

    The Democrats usually manage to do it, though, don’t they?

  11. Steve57 Says:

    neo-neocon said:

    “I am feeling very testy when I see conservatives letting others divide and conquer.”

    I agree. Why don’t we ever return the favor and back some radical “green party” type in Democratic party primaries?

  12. Sam L. Says:

    The important thing is to realize that Tillis can and they MUST VOTE for him to beat the Dem to get to the point that Dingy Harry Reid is no longer Senate Majority Leader.

  13. KLSmith Says:

    Well, we know why/how the Democrats do it. They don’t believe in anything but winning. They screw their own children’s futures. So, no I don’t want to be like them.

  14. neo-neocon Says:


    Adopting a tactic is not the same as adopting the whole program. A certain amount of compromise is necessary in order to win, which is not the same as not believing in “anything but winning.” And getting behind the most conservative candidate who can win isn’t the least bit problematic to me.

    I think there’s a name for the logical fallacy you’re exhibiting, but I can’t remember what it is and don’t have time to look it up.

  15. expat Says:

    I do think it would be better to put a law passed by both houses on Obama’s desk and make him take responsibilty for it. Harry Reid has allowed him to evade this on so many issues, including budgets.This makes him alone responsible for nothing being done.

    I also think that you might get better budgets and legislation from two majorities given the influence of some of the newer conservative legislators. With a majority in only one house, the Republicans have tried to appear willing to work with the other side, to counteract Obama’s spin. If they have the final say on a piece of legislation, they are more likely to get rid of compromises they may have had to make to get any legislation through.

    And don’t forget the judicial appointments.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    The American political system is setup to divide and conquer. It doesn’t really matter what the people do, if they don’t change the system itself.

  17. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    I agree as to judicial appointments in that it forces more ‘moderate’ nominees. Like Roberts and Kennedy. Who only urinate on the Constitution some of the time. (slow march to the gallows)

    I’m less sure about putting a bill passed by both houses on Obama’s desk and making him take responsibilty for it by either signing it or vetoing it. That’s because the dems, left and MSM will portray it as extremist. Especially if Obama vetoes it and, the more that the GOP gets rid of compromises, the more likely Obama is to veto it. And the easier it will be for the left to demonize it because the further left the country goes, the more extreme the cure needed. And Obama, democrat and MSM demonizing will be effective with the low info voter, as the 2012 election proved.

    There’s no question that we’d get a ‘better’ proposed budget but so what? The same dynamic applies. Obama vetoes it, characterizes it as extreme, racist, hateful, for the rich, etc., etc. Obama’s proven he can operate fine without a budget and has done so since 2010.

    The MSM TOTALLY characterizes it that way and the low info voter buys it. So, for political reasons, the GOP agrees to either raise taxes and/or raise the debt ceiling. In either case, more fuel for the growth of the Entitlement and Regulatory States. Democrats grow the dependency class and they win the next election.

    It worked in 2008 and 2012, why won’t it work in 2016? Because of an outraged public? If outrage wasn’t enough in 2012, why will it be enough in 2016?

    92.5 million Americans out of work, 6 out of 7 new jobs are part-time, the country ever further into unsustainable debt and Obama @ a 42% approval rate…

    I’m sorry but the dems have rigged the game and the GOP leadership is collaborating with them. I see no rational reason for optimism. We fight on because giving ups not an option, I just can’t kid myself about the reality of the situation, nor the obvious motivations of the GOP leadership.

  18. Eric Says:

    The proper primary purpose for the Tea Party is to be an activist social movement, not elected office. Elected office should be a lesser included element only.

    As an activist social movement, the Tea Party can develop the social reach, capital and assets, and social nodes of influence that will compel the GOP ‘establishment’ to work with the Tea Party on a rational basis.

    GOP antagonism to the Tea Party isn’t based on ideology and principle. It’s based on practical reasons.

    There are activist things the GOP needs in their competition with the Democrats-Left alliance that must come from outside the party. The Tea Party promised to provide the GOP those activist things to counter the Left. The Tea Party failed to provide them.

    As is, the Tea Party makes ideological demands of the GOP while not providing the social capital and more-pragmatic assets to pay for their demands. Worse, the Tea Party competes against the GOP ‘establishment’.

    For the GOP, the Tea Party is like a nightmare tenant who’s demanding, which would be okay if he paid his rent but he doesn’t, yet you can’t evict him.

    The Democrats are beholden and accountable to the Left because the Left pays the bills, which includes paying for the Left’s ideological initiatives.

    The Tea Party simply needs to bring more to the table, and do for the GOP what the Left does for the Dems.

    The way to do that is restore the Tea Party’s original identity and purpose as an insurgent, proselytizing, spreading activist social movement. That’s how the Tea Party will gain the social cultural/political capital and assets to pay their way with the GOP, and thereby redefine the GOP and the American social-political landscape.

    The Tea Party should revisit elected office and their alliance with the GOP when they can contribute more to the GOP as a counter to the Left in the GOP-Dems contest.

    To be clear, I’m rooting the Tea Party, but not where they are now. I’m rooting for them to get back on the correct track.

  19. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I think you’re on to something Eric. That is, the need for an intellectual/activist counter to the left’s activism.

    Unfortunately, the Tea Party’s membership is relatively old, while the left’s has youth’s fire and energy backed by academia’s intelligensia and the media’s arrogant certainly upon the soapbox. They also have no compunctions about outright lying and manufacturing ‘facts’.

    Yes, we can lie too but it is the repetition of the big lie and the soapbox upon which to proclaim it, which makes it effective. Add to that the repression of views contrary to the lies (does ‘a voice crying in the wilderness’, that % wise, few can hear, count?) and the game is rigged in favor of the mendacious.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    People may be surprised that the Republicans have already adopted the Left’s methods, such as vote stuffing.

    Of course, no evidence, so far. But the funny thing about stuff like this is that it’s easy to predict. The closer people get to the Left, the easier they are for me to predict.

  21. Eric Says:

    Prime example of what the Tea Party should be doing to pay their way with the GOP:

    Right now, the GOP is in an unstable defensive crouch with minority constituencies, including demographics that should be in line with the GOP – Asians definitely and perhaps Latinos.

    The GOP’s shaky confidence on this issue is driving them to make intra-divisive, even puzzling policy choices.

    Activism 101: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” – Rahm Emanuel

    The GOP’s bottom-line electoral anxieties point to the prime areas the Tea Party activist social movement should be working to grow its market value with which it can then negotiate from a position of advantage with the GOP, and even usurp the Left with the Democrats for that matter.

    Under the independent Tea Party activist banner, not as agents for the GOP, the Tea Party should be putting on its populist cap and aggressively and assuredly working the demographic areas that are, right now, unnerving the GOP.

    When the Tea Party can bring coveted constituencies to the negotiating table with the GOP (and maybe even the Dems) under the Tea Party banner, then they can do serious business to change government.

    Activism isn’t magic and it’s not exclusive to the Left. It’s a method anyone can use to reify any cause. The Tea Party just needs to think and do like real activists in order to accomplish their goals.

  22. Eric Says:

    Geoffrey Britain,

    The Tea Party needs college kids.

  23. KLSmith Says:

    Neo: it is not problematic for me either. And I agree that Repubs should adopt some Dem tactics.
    You have hope that winning will make a difference. The Republicans and the American Obama voting public have extinguished mine. We are on a roller coaster trajectory that a few seats (projected to be lost again in 2016) won’t change.
    I’ll vote because I don’t think anyone has the right to gripe or whine if they don’t. It is my patriotic duty whether I think it makes a difference or not.

  24. Eric Says:

    Geoffrey Britain: “They also have no compunctions about outright lying and manufacturing ‘facts’.”

    The way you overcome that is by being there, in contact, ever-present, and part of the community.

    COIN worked in Iraq only because our peace-building soldiers left the big bases that segregated the Iraqis from the Americans to live among the Iraqi people within the local communities.

    You better believe the anti-peace propaganda was hot as napalm and thick as concrete in Iraq. Our peace builders in Iraq countered the propaganda by being among the Iraqi people and living the truth with the people.

    COIN in Iraq was high-grade activism.

    That’s what the Tea Party needs to do. Put on their populist caps and go among the people, proselytizing, spreading, being ever present – be there – as a first, non-stop, and always activist social movement.

    Another example that I’ve cited before is the recent, successful civil-military movement in the Ivy League, particularly at Columbia University. It was led – perhaps, not coincidentally – by student-veteran activists.

    A good number of them were Iraq and/or Afghanistan veterans who had no compunctions about taking the activist fight to the campus leftists, including grad students and professors who brought in outside groups – cream-of-the-crop left activists.

    It makes sense that student-veteran activists who defeated ultra-violent radical Islamist activists within Islam’s heartland wouldn’t be intimidated by comparatively tame radical left activists at home.

    A big part of the student-veteran activists overcoming the leftist propaganda was by being ever-present and engaged with the community rather than withdrawing to comfortable in-groups on campus, the equivalent of leaving the bases to live in the neighborhoods in Iraq.

    That’s what the Tea Party needs to do.

  25. waitforit Says:

    “Stab” mentality? Mentality? As in it didn’t really happen but has been made up? Stabbed, but not really stabbed? As if the GOP had integrity? And we might trust the likes of Rove? “Stabbed mentality? What planet do you live on? How many stabs does it take? Stab mentality. Good God! The King is dead. And you want his wastral son to give even more. Stabbed mentality. Is that what I am? Only a mentality. As if the injury suffered what just in my fuking head?

  26. waitforit Says:

    It’s better to die in battle than live as a slave. And Demos haven’t figured anything out. The answer to the problem is two: either neutralize the establishment’s advantage or present the best tea party person. For instance, Rand Paul should leave and give the field to Ted. When this happens, it will show there is a very real and independent spirit that has revived. Without it, we die. With it, we live.

  27. neo-neocon Says:


    Did you read what I actually wrote before getting unraged about what you think I wrote?

    I am dealing with the topic of how to explain losses by Tea Party and other conservative candidates. I explicitly said that there are some GOP-ers working to sabotage the conservative wing. Here’s what I wrote:

    Yes, there are some powerful RINO Republicans who are working against Tea Party interests. But when I look at the actual Tea Party candidates and the actual races they actually lose and how and why, there’s no need to invoke some nefarious conspiracy…

    So stop whining about what victims you are and start figuring out how to win.

    That’s the “stab in the back mentality” I’m referring to in the later comment where I used the word “mentality.” Nowhere do I suggest that people are imagining that some in the so-called GOP “establishment” are working against them. I specifically say it’s true that there are people working against them. But there are other, much more important reasons for the losses, and conservatives had better start focusing on them and correcting them, rather than railing against the RINOs who are stabbing them in the back.

    It’s not an imaginary conflict. But focusing on it is an excuse, and a waste of time and effort, as well as being weakening and divisive. After I used the phrase “stab-in-the-back mentality,” I wrote this:

    …a refusal [of some of the Tea Party conservatives] to look at what they’re actually doing wrong strategically, and a need to blame their failures on what they see as the GOP establishment.

    In other words: the GOP establishment is not what’s wrong with some of the losing Tea Party conservatives, and focusing on the former without looking at the latter is counterproductive.

  28. waitforit Says:

    But if that doesn’t happen, what then. BETTER TO DIE FREE THAN LIVE A SLAVE. Ooops, maybe I have alerted that piece of shit Holder! Ooops, maybe I am a terrorist because of that statement. Ooops, maybe you all here are too! Pringgggggdinnnngrinngggg. Honey, hello, hello?

  29. waitforit Says:

    Well, Neo, we’re Irish, whom have made it here since Kennedy, and what do you expect, more structure? I’m not sure I even understand what that word means. Nie. Still, your reply seemed pretty clear, and although I’ve read your reply, and it apparently works, I still don’t understand because your reply seems more of the same despite the nuances. I get that we should what? Support whom? Anybody but the tea party? Because the tea party offers five where the GOP offers one funded by money, the very one who will stab us in the back. Alright, so you weren’t denying that the GOP establishment hasn’t stabbed; just that the stabbing doesn’t explain losses. I think it does. Us tea party people are tired (and apply here the Winston intonation) of accepting the stabs; we will accept no more; we will fight from the beaches; we will fight from the skies; we will never surrender!

  30. neo-neocon Says:


    First of all, I consider myself (at least roughly) part of the Tea Party, or at least very sympathetic to its fiscally conservative message.

    Second of all, as a group, I think the Tea Party should get behind one candidate and endorse and help fund that person, the best one (also perhaps put pressure on the others to drop out, although I’m not talking about threatening to break their thumbs).

    Who that candidate would be depends on circumstances in each case; there are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes it could even be the “establishment” candidate if there’s no challenger who is credible, intelligent, and appealing.

    The idea is that unity is important, although of course people are not going to necessarily march in lockstop. But unity is part of the way to victory. Sometimes I think conservatives are proud that they quixotically go their own way. Remember what happened to Quixote.

    Remember, also, that the left never gets tired. If you’re tired already, you get tired too quickly. Maybe part of the reason you’re tired is that you waste too much energy railing against the RINOs.

  31. waitforit Says:

    Yes! I will lace my fingers with yours and Ysmarkers and GB’s and MJR’s and Beverly’s and Ann’s and Eric and (my personal favorite Russian) Sergey and my favorite Ukranian, Artfldgr, and Matt, Expat, and Vanderleun, and KL Smith, and Davis and Kate and Ann and Parker (!!!!) and Tonawanda and Cornhead and Cornflour and I R A and LAG and F and T and betsybounds and Mike Mc and JJ formerly and JJ presently (the great JJ) and rickl (the awesome awful) and br549 and Tatyana and (wait for it) Occam’s Beard and cv and the Village Idiot and Felonspoke and Oblio and Baklava and Gringo and Bob from Virginia and Artfldgr (again, thank you!) and Gary Rosen and I got Bupkis and Fred…. (and I’m sorry that I left so many worthies out, but these are actually names that come to mind. I find that incredible! How did that happen?)… to name just a few. That kind of accomplishment is a freaking great one.

  32. Eric Says:

    expat: “While I agree with many things TeaPartiers say, it is often what they don’t say that bothers me. They often don’t question potential candidates about issues that aren’t on their radar (foreign policy being the one that I care a lot about).”

    This is key. You point to the main distinction that distinguishes those who should be narrow-focused cause-based activists from those who should be wide-focused governance-based politicians.

    Activists and politicians often work in the same spaces and often hand-in-hand. They can be like-minded. An activist may also become a politician or vice-versa by switching hats. But in application, the two types are not interchangeable.

    The way you describe Tea Partiers pins them as best suited as activists rather than politicians.

  33. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I must agree with neo that, if the Tea Party is going to run a candidate it needs to coalesce behind one. Why not schedule their own primary before the GOP primary?

  34. Matt_SE Says:

    I’m partial to the explanation offered at RedState:

    Summary: Establishment candidates have name-recognition, money and a track record. Though the track record is often at least somewhat negative, it also proves that they aren’t whackjobs.
    Tea Party candidates have none of that.
    So, the establishment uses their money to define the TP candidate early, usually with innuendo if not outright lies, to paint them as unstable, unelectable or squishy.
    Of course, they also lie about the establishment candidate’s own record, making them seem more in touch with voter positions than they actually are.

    The Tea Party candidate does not have the money to combat these ads, so an often-false first impression is created in the minds of voters; voters who remember the meltdowns of some of the more infamous TP candidates.

    As the article flatly states, there is nothing clever about establishment tactics. It’s plain old lies and corruption. End of summary

    Now, I understand that politics is serious business. The Tea Party could use a bit more professional organization and coordination in their tactics. They aren’t polished nearly as much as the establishment candidates, and they could benefit greatly from more polishing. I’m not trying to minimize that.

    But Tea Party candidates are morally superior because they aren’t engaging in scorched-earth tactics. The closest analogy for the establishment’s win-at-all-costs tactics are the Democrats…and that’s not a coincidence.

  35. Matt_SE Says:

    Reading over the thread, some common issues keep coming up that I have opinions on:

    1) Party unity, or “Is compromise possible?”: No. The establishment, IMO, is largely corrupt and willing to sell out its base in order to secure power and sinecures for its members. Money from crony capitalists is the main driver; since the establishment has little else to recommend it, they must rely on money to solve their problems. It’s the only tool they have, but it’s a good one.
    Amnesty will be pushed because the Chamber of Commerce (CoC) wants cheap labor. Cheap, slave-like labor.
    Obamacare will not be repealed because monied interests are buying off establishment Republicans to keep the gravy-train rolling.
    In short, everything disparaging said about the establishment is turning out to be true: they are statists who merely wish to be the ones pulling the levers of power. Government will never be shrunk in a meaningful way; this is the diametric opposite of the TP position.
    The two groups have opposite positions that do not overlap. There can be no compromise in that situation, only betrayal.
    Or, to put it in terms that I think neo-neocon understands: this is the same kind of “compromise” that is called for between Israel and Hamas. Impossible.
    2) Sabotage or incompetence? Per my post above at May 8, 3:04 am: the Tea Party has a lot of room for improvement overall, though the amount differs on a per-candidate basis (who thinks Ted Cruz needs a lot of improving?!?). Nobody’s denying that.
    But the establishment is most definitely “stabbing us in the back.” The general tactics are outlined in the RedState article I posted at 3:04. These are underhanded, scorched-earth tactics unbefitting of anyone who would call themselves a leader. I do not laud, and instead condemn anyone who uses them. The people who lie shamelessly to advance their own agenda are MURDERERS OF THE TRUTH. And there’s nothing more important than the truth. Nothing.
    IMO, the split between sabotage and incompetence is no less than 60% sabotage. Remember that the establishment opposed Ted Cruz before he was elected, and then continued to sabotage him up to the present…and he may be one of the most competent people ever elected to office.
    3) Eric’s various Tea Party fantasies: I’ve made this critique before, but will repeat and append to it: The Tea Party is not an “activist” group in the mode of the left. It is a loose collection of concerned citizens. They aren’t going to “organize” because they aren’t Marxist radicals. They aren’t going to become a social activist group because they have no desire to get in other people’s business. They are respectable citizens that just want to be left the hell alone, not astro-turfed protestors to be bused into action. They know who they are, and will not be molded into the very thing they hate.
    They are NOT going to rehabilitate the Bush years. It was in response to Bush’s excesses that the Tea Party was formed, to wit: big government, expansion of the surveillance state, out-of-control spending, bailouts of crony industries, overseas “adventurism,” “compassionate conservatism”…the list goes on and on.
    The very idea that they would go to bat for what they see as the establishment is LAUGHABLE.

    Now, maybe the TP would be more effective if they molded themselves after Organizing for Action. But they won’t do that because it would require selling their souls.
    You’re wasting your time with this.

    Finally, I agree with Geoffrey Britain’s comment at 12:08. This level of coordination would probably be acceptable to the Tea Party, too. I had a similar thought in regards to the upcoming House Speakership vote. There will be a meeting of Arizona candidates for various offices held tomorrow, and I think Representative Dave Schweikert will be in attendance. I hope to bring it up to him. The plan is to have alternative candidates for the Speakership meet under the auspices of a conservative group like Heritage, in order to hammer out a unified opposition to Boehner. This is in order to avert an eleventh-hour candidacy like last time, which resulted in an embarrassing rout.
    Boehner may have trounced the TP candidates in his primary, but we will get another shot at him. He may end up being just another [orange] face in the crowd by this time next year.

  36. expat Says:

    Eric, I agree with your distinction between activists and politicians. Political leaders always have to think about how they can get the votes the need on a piece of legislation and they want people who are popular in their constuencies to take the message to the voters.
    Activists, on the other hand, can and should question their politicians and give them reasons for supporting or rejecting legislation. The average voter doesn’t care about ideologic purity. They do care about making things work. No one can appeal to them as well as a local activist group who knows their situations. They can point to the regulations that prevent hiring by a local manufacturer or the rising costs that raise prices for them. They are the ones who know how Obamacare restricts access to doctors and makes people drive 50 miles to see a specialist. They are the ones who can get local people and companies to explain how they are hit by laws and how it hurts the community. Ideology doesn’t interest the voter as much as how their lives are affected. The activist can write letters to the editor and ask hard questions at campaign events.
    But, these people also have to do their homework so they come across as serious and informed. They can’t let the politician they are questioning dismiss them as ignorant. As they inform the public, the politicians in Washington will have to pay attention.

  37. expat Says:

    You can be an activist in different ways. You can be a respected business person who endorses a candidate and gives well-grounded reasons. Or you can be a leftist activist whose arguments fit on bumper stickers.
    You may not like Bush’s compassionate conservatism, but, in fact, Bush did try to empower local groups who had their own ideas about how to address problems. Conservatives are compassionate. They donate time and money, often in their communities, and they get results. Don’t attack the term. Use it to advance conservative ideas. You may have read Neo’s post on pundits who are beginning to qualify their support for Obama’s foreign policy. That is a crack in the wall that needs to be widened. You don’t have to go on the warpath to rehabilitate Bush (although Eric has done an excellent job of this). But it sure wouldn’t hurt to highlight that Obama is far worse.

  38. expat Says:

    OMT, what is your biggest goal: getting rid of Boehner or getting rid of Reid?

  39. Ymarsakar Says:

    Rich and influential Republicans don’t like the Tea Party mostly because of the same reason why they don’t like being called racists and women haters. They don’t like being called bad names by their friends in DC.

    So their friends in DC, Democrats, hate Tea Party people. So the Republicans follow along like good little sheep.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Democrats are beholden and accountable to the Left because the Left pays the bills, which includes paying for the Left’s ideological initiatives.

    That doesn’t mean anything. American patriots pay for Michele and Hussein O’s parties and vacations. That doesn’t make them accountable to us or to anyone else either.

    One needs to put a person of loyal attitude into a position where they control who gets the money, then people will Obey.

  41. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Matt SE,

    Outstanding analysis, you’ve nailed it.


    Getting rid of Reid without getting rid of Boehner, et al is of limited utility. See Matt SE’s #2 point @ 4:34

    Left in office, the GOP leadership will just betray us…again.

  42. KLSmith Says:

    expat: George Will and Michael Gerson have debated compassionate conservatism in the pages of the WaPo. With Will making the better argument against, IMO.
    The Bushes, because of their human decency have a sense of noblesse oblige. I have no problem with this when it is done ON THEIR OWN DIME. I’ve got a big problem with them doing it with taxpayer money. Expansion and entrenching of government is even worse than the debt.

  43. KLSmith Says:

    Matt_SE: excellent points.

  44. kaba Says:

    Gee, I don’t know. But maybe it has something to do with the fact that the current leadership in the GOP seems more intent in trashing the Tea Party and conservative values than opposing the leftist agenda.

    If you want my dollars and my vote do not begin the conversation by accusing me of being a wild eyed radical for wanting a less costly and less intrusive government. Do not stand by helplessly as this administration trashes the Constitution. Don’t ignore laws that are inconvenient. Do your sworn duty to protect and defend the Constitution.

  45. Matt_SE Says:


    This requires a micro-Fisking (does that count as “microaggression?”):

    “You may not like Bush’s compassionate conservatism, but, in fact, Bush did try to empower local groups who had their own ideas about how to address problems.”

    I can’t remember any specific instances of this, but let’s say it’s true. So what?
    I remember specific instances of the opposite: Bush teamed up with big Pharma to pass Medicare part D; a budget-busting program that was never offset with either tax increases or spending cuts. So, in this one instance we have cronyism, big-government expansion, and fiscal recklessness…all in the name of “compassionate conservatism.”
    That’s how it was sold: “compassionate conservatism.” Which makes me think “compassionate conservatism” is just a euphemism for statism and STEALING MY F’ING MONEY!
    Even if one graciously concedes that Bush “empowered local groups” (which I don’t remember), he also empowered the state and crony industry. At best, a wash.

    “Conservatives are compassionate. They donate time and money, often in their communities, and they get results.”

    I know this is true. I know it to such an extent, that I don’t feel the need to prove it; though I can: multiple studies (Science!!!) have shown that conservatives give more to charity than Dems, etc., etc.
    The problem with this public declaration is that it seems like you’re (desperately?) trying to prove something. To whom?
    It reminds me of conservatives trying to prove they’re not racist…to a bunch of racist Democrats.
    Which segues into the next point…

    “Don’t attack the term. Use [“compassionate conservatism”] to advance conservative ideas.”
    Here we get to the crux of the problem: many “compassionate conservative” ideas are not actually conservative (as demonstrated above).
    Ironically, and not as obviously, many conservative ideas are not “compassionate.” (depending on how you define the term)
    Criminal Justice is rarely compassionate.
    Prosecution of war is almost never compassionate.
    Curtailing the expansion of food stamps isn’t compassionate. (or at least, that’s how it’s advertised)

    How many government boondoggle programs were sold with the (now-clichéd) line, “do it for the children?”

    Life is rough. Sometimes compassion is appropriate, and sometimes it is actually harmful. By touting our compassion, we are setting ourselves up to be ridiculed and discredited in those instances where compassion is detrimental. Because in the end, FEELING is no way to run a country.

    So yeah, I’m gonna attack that term…without compassion.

  46. Matt_SE Says:

    Expat said (at 5:05):
    “[W]hat is your biggest goal: getting rid of Boehner or getting rid of Reid?”

    Getting rid of Boehner.
    Reid is a buffoon and a caricature, albeit one with power. He is the evil in plain sight. It’s almost unnecessary to oppose him, as he daily demonstrates his unfitness for Senate Majority Leader.

    Boehner is the enemy within. In that capacity, he is able to damage conservatism much more readily than Reid ever could. Boehner frustrates the conservative agenda. Boehner sometimes pursues statist initiatives. Boehner lulls the base into a false sense of security when they should be up in arms. Boehner gives ideological ammunition and political cover to our enemies…in other words, “aid and comfort.”

    Wait and see: if the establishment remains in firm control of the party and agenda after 2014 (assuming a Republican takeover of the Senate), the refrain will become “We’re only TWO HALVES of one-third of government!” (i.e. “we’re powerless”)
    With all that power, the rollback of the statist agenda will somehow, mysteriously never materialize.

    Oh, but amnesty will be pushed as a bi-partisan measure. They will have enough power for that.

  47. Matt_SE Says:

    KLSmith @ 12:27 and kaba @ 12:54:

    I agree 100%.

  48. Ymarsakar Says:

    There’s a problem with 100% agreement.

  49. neo-neocon Says:


    No one’s suggesting 100% agreement. That’s neither realistic nor desirable.

  50. Matt_SE Says:

    I agree with you, neo-neocon…100%.

    No…better make that 110%!

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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