The Tea Party may be the last hope of the GOP, its final chance to connect with a base, gain some fresh energy and ideas, and emerge in fighting shape in ‘14 and ‘16.
Daniel Greenfield | February 8, 2013
Karl Rove/Photo Reuters Tea Party Patriot/Photo AP Steven J. Law, president of American Crossroads
The Republican Party, which has been a joke for almost as long as it has been a party, is fresh off two defeats in presidential elections and they have come up with the plan of all plans to get back on top.
First, they will nuke their own grassroots by raising money to attack deviant Tea Party candidates and protect true conservatives who support amnesty, tax shelters and tax hikes. Considering that the Tea Party was responsible for the first Republican victories since 2004, spending money going after it is bound to attract voters and improve prospects for more victories in 2014.
Second, they will add 11 million Democratic voters to the rolls through amnesty for illegal aliens as part of a brilliant plan to stop being a national party and settle down to fighting pitched battles for local council seats. Even the geniuses behind the election polling and ORCA should be able to win a few of those. And if they can’t, then it’ll be time to raise more money to keep down some of those pesky Tea Party types trying to run for school boards, while saying politically incorrect things.
Fortunately, there is a clear path to victory. All we have to do is convince the Party of Consultants that all is lost and that they should come out as Democrats now. If they do that, then the Democratic Party will be a useless ruin within a decade. If they don’t do that, the Republican Party will have the same policies as the Democratic Party, except for the part where it wins elections.
The “Establishment” wanted Romney in ’12. And they got him. They assured us that he was the only electable candidate. And when he lost, they told us that he didn’t fail, the country failed him. And if a campaign built on Staples couldn’t catch fire, it must have been due to the descent of the country into a nation of takers.
And they have a plan for ’16. They’ll run an immigration friendly candidate like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio to win the Latino vote. Sure, Rubio lost the non-Cuban Latino vote in Florida, and unless the entire population of Cuba gets imported to the United States and legalized between now and ’16, he’ll only win, at best, as much of the Latino vote as Bush did, or as Rick Perry did, which isn’t enough to win a national election, especially once you’ve legalized the 10 percent of Mexico that lives north of the Rio Grande. But after they blow that one, the geniuses will step up to the plate and blame the Tea Party for a loss by another of their perfect candidates because during the primaries Rubio or Bush was forced to disavow Amnesty II or Amnesty III.
The Republican Party of ‘12 looks a lot like the Democratic Party of ’88. It’s outdated and running on fumes. All its slogans are tired and its leaders seem completely out of touch. Even the most unfair attacks stick to it, because it has no momentum. It isn’t going anywhere because it’s enclosed in a shell of outdated ideas and tired figures from its past who prevent anyone from coming to the fore. That same state of affairs led to the unlikely candidacy of Bill Clinton among the Democrats, but assuming that an obscure southern governor will battle his way through the Republican primaries to reveal a talent for national politics may be hoping for too much. And if he did, the establishment would spend their cash reserves to crush him in favor of a reliable choice like Paul Tsongas.
It didn’t have to be this way. The Tea Party gave the GOP a shot in the arm. Suddenly it was acting and thinking like a revolutionary party. There were ideas in the air, energy on the ground and anger coalescing into action. And then it all got shut down for four months of infomercials about Staples because the establishment had gotten what it wanted and decided to play it safe before the big game.
The Republican Party has no ideas. Its only ideas involve deciding which liberal platform to “evolve” its way up to and how to sell that “evolution” to the base. And a lack of ideas comes from a lack of beliefs.
There comes a time in every struggle when a man wonders why he’s doing this. And if the only answer is to win, then he isn’t really fighting for anything. He’s being competitive. Or he’s fighting to make money. Or because it’s all he knows. All three attributes describe the Republican Party now. Its leadership does not believe in anything. It believes in winning in that abstract corporate competitive way. It doesn’t really know why it’s fighting though, except that the other guys will make a mess.
A party without ideas borrows them from its enemies. The big idea that the Republican establishment has is to be more like the Democrats. They just can’t decide which area they want to imitate them in the most. But the one thing they do know is that they need to get those annoying conservative ideas off the stage first.
Going after the Tea Party is sound strategy for the Establishment, not from the standpoint of winning elections, but of keeping their jobs. If you lose, then you need someone to blame. The establishment is protecting its scalps by claiming the scalps of the reformers who might give them the boot. That’s one way of winning a circular firing squad. And of losing all the elections that follow.
Without ideas or beliefs, the Republican Party stands for very little except being the Party of Staples, and while Staples seems like a very nice store, it’s not really enough to base a whole country on. If the United States is to be reduced to a superstore full of office supplies, then America is no more exceptional than a stack of writing paper, four rulers and some office furniture shoddily made in a factory in some polluted Chinese megalopolis.
As the Staples Party, the Republicans are interested in importing more cheap labor into the country. It may not be good for the country, but it is good for the people who sign their checks and that’s good enough. And if Amnesty destroys the Republican Party, then they’ll find someone else to make their checks out to. Influence can always be bought, even in totalitarian countries, ethics and ideas cannot.
The Republican Party is an organization at war with its base. The Republican leadership and its backers think big. Their base thinks small. That inability to think small, to echo the concerns of ordinary people lost two elections. Reagan and Bush won, in no small part, because they appeared to be part of the small world of ordinary people. They shared their culture and concerns. They gave signs of being able to think small, and though the media ridiculed them for it as buffoons and dopes, Bonzo and the Bushisms had the last laugh. But that sensibility never sank into the leadership.
The Establishment has failed to come to terms with the fact that the GOP cannot be a party of urban liberals and has been the exact opposite of that for some time. It can’t even be the party of wealthy people who live in liberal areas and agree with liberals on many things, except national defense and excessive regulation. The Republican Party can either become one with its base, or it can either try beating it off with a stick some more while waiting around for Meghan McCain to deliver the new hip conservative movement.
The Democratic Party knows who its base is. Its goal in office is to expand that base while shrinking its opposition. That is why it wants Amnesty. If the average illegal alien was likely to turn into a Republican voter, the entire Mexican border would have been irradiated and pop stars would be recording videos urging their fans to turn in any illegal aliens on their block. And that is because the Democrats may be evil, they may even be incompetent outside their conspiracy and campaign zones, but they aren’t stupid.
The Republican Party has no interest in doing things like that. The very accusation will lead to a dozen rebuttals in the form of editorials, radio commentaries and skywriting efforts. Instead they will get behind Amnesty to show just how uncommitted it is to any base, except the Democratic base in the world’s most elaborate political suicide attempt.
A sane party would draw up a strategy by asking who its base is, what they need and how it can maximize their turnout. A party run by people who give lunatics a bad name, asks who the other party’s base is and begins planning to win them over by drastically increasing their numbers, while disenfranchising and disgusting its own base. The only reasonable explanation for this is that the Republican Party is animated by a fever dream of returning to the scene of its triumphs in the first half of the twentieth century when no one could be paid to vote for it twice.
What the GOP leadership fails to understand that a party without a base is a big empty hall. You can get all the checks that will allow you to rent the space, you can order up a band and ask them to play a song, but if no one shows up, then you don’t have a concert or a dance. All you have is an empty hall.
The Republican Party has spent so much time trying to win over swing voters that it has lost sight of the fact that it is presiding over an empty hall, a vast echoing space in which nothing is happening. The Tea Party may be the last hope of the GOP, its final chance to connect with a base, gain some fresh energy and ideas, and emerge in fighting shape in ’14 and ’16. And if it can’t do that, then there’s always room on the standup comedy circuit of the big empty hall.
Daniel Greenfield is a New York City-based writer and freelance commentator with a special focus on the War on Terror and the rising threat to Western Civilization. Mr. Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center. He maintains a blog and is a contributor to