The consequences of running and winning without a clear conservative platform, which I detailed earlier this week, are becoming clear, as the Republican establishment – which runs the Party – seeks to take credit for Tuesday’s victory.
According to an article Friday in The Hill, “Has the Tea Party been Tamed?”, establishment forces are making clear that keeping ideological conservatives off the ballot was a key to victory and will be in the future. This no doubt will include the presidential primary sweepstakes in 2016.
From The Hill:
Establishment Republicans are crowing that their resounding wins Tuesday night repudiated the Tea Party’s insistence that ideological purity is key to electoral success. The national party made an early and aggressive play to neutralize conservative challenges and make sure the most electable candidates won the party’s nominations, to great effect.
“We said we were going to be the Nick Saban of recruiting, we were going to recruit the best candidates, put them in the right position,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Political Director Ward Baker told reporters Thursday. “We decided we couldn’t be Akin-ed anymore. No more witches, no more gaffes.”
In the end, conservatives won just one of their competitive primary fights in the Nebraska Senate race, lost all of their incumbent challenges and worked with establishment Republicans to support less-than-ideal candidates to achieve the shared goal of taking back Senate control . . .
A broader debate building within the party, over the scope of GOP policy goals, could exacerbate tensions. Both McConnell and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have said they want to initially pursue smaller, bipartisan accomplishments, like approving the Keystone XL pipeline and a bill meant to encourage the hiring of veterans.
The 2014 election was a huge wasted opportunity, in which Republicans could have created a national platform to generate a conservative wave resulting in a mandate to make the sometimes-wrenching changes that will be needed to save this country. They did this in 1994 and the results were impressive, including welfare reform, partial Medicare reform, growth in free trade, and a balanced budget – all with a Democrat serving as president.
Instead this year, GOP technocrats and politicos focused on statistics and getting out the vote, which would be great if the result had significant meaning.
Rather, what we have is a feel-good moment that will pass as Boehner and McConnell try to reach compromises with Obama and conservatives lob bombs from the fringes of power, making themselves and the base feel great but achieving little.
Meantime, absent an affirmative, conservative mandate other than hating on Obama and his policies, Republicans are more likely than not to lose the Senate in 2016, when more GOP than Democratic seats will be up. And the Party machinery will go all out to nominate for president an “electable” Republican lacking the convictions to take the difficult steps that lie ahead if we are to leave a safe, thriving nation to our children.