Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

A letter from the RNC was in the mail tonight. Michael Steele is shaking the tree to help fund the RNC for the ‘10 campaign cycle. So what else is new?

Well, for one thing the RNC’s historical fundraising advantage is missing this year. The Washington Times reports that the RNCC has barely enough money to fund a single Congressional race, having raised $18 million less than the DNCC and with less than $2 million of available funds today versus over $15 million for the Democrats. Politico reports that Congressional GOP incumbents have been reluctant to turn over campaign funds to the RNCC; Democrat GOP incumbents have given $2 million more out of their campaign war chests to the DNCC. But this is really a smokescreen; the real reason that the RNCC is running on fumes has to do with GOP voter disaffection. (HT: Newsweek) Yet Republican Party leaders don’t seem to get it… or they don’t want to get it.

For too long, each party has treated much of its base like bastard step-children. But evidence abounds that the conservative voters are fed up with politics as usual, with party bosses who cavalierly dismiss supporters’ concerns and frustrations with a wave of the hand while snickering “Where are they going to go?” Well, guess what? They went and started their own political organization: the TEA Party. They’ve decided to take back their country and take on both Democrats and Republicans. TEA Party supporters played a major role in the Republican off-year election victories, but perhaps their biggest statement was made in the NY-23 Congressional election that was won by a Democrat after the GOP establishment insisted on supporting Dede Scozzafava, a liberal ‘RINO’, over a conservative candidate (Doug Hoffman) for pragmatic reasons (GOP elites didn’t think a conservative Republican could win in that district and wanted a liberal Republican, assuming that all of the Republicans and many Democrats would vote for her). The RNCC spent over $1 million to support Scozzafava, yet Hoffman’s endorsement by Sarah Palin brought the nation’s attention to his candidacy, a significant amount of donations from out-of-state TEA Party supporters, and overwhelming support in the district. Realizing she had no chance of winning, Scozzafava dropped out of the race… and then endorsed the Democrat candidate who went on to win. The real loser in this election wasn’t Doug Hoffman, who will run again in 2010 and who will most likely win, it was the GOP leadership.

So, “where are they going to go?” Well, as a volunteer who spent his own time and money to leave Washington state and go to Florida to help campaign for McCain last November, and as someone who believes the GOP leadership hasn’t learned its lesson from the past two national election cycles, I can tell you where I’m going to go… and it’s not to a GOP fund-raiser. I gave money to Doug Hoffman, and I’ve given to Joe Wilson, and I’ve given to Scott Brown… and I’ve given to them directly instead of donating to the RNC and letting them pick and choose. Millions of disaffected GOP voters are doing the same thing, bypassing the party and supporting only those candidates who agree with them.

The GOP leadership is in grave danger of losing their conservative base, and more ‘Scozzafavas’ (supporting establishment RINO Republicans) will only hasten the process. I personally have no intention of giving to the RNC for a while; if my campaign contributions are going to be thrown down a rathole then I’d just as soon pick the rathole.

In 1994, Newt Gingrich successfully ended 40 years of Democrat control in the House by understanding why the majority of Americans were angry at the Democrat-controlled Congress, and then getting GOP candidates (incumbents and challengers) to pledge to address those issue if voters supported them. The majority of voters agreed with the agenda and believed in the GOP candidates, and history was made. Sixteen years later, and four years after losing control of the Congress, today’s GOP leadership seemingly has no real clue as to why many of the folks who voted the GOP out are now gathering by the millions… and no clue as to how to obtain TEA Party support. Voter disaffection with the incumbent Democrats is nearly at an all-time high (and it is only going to get higher as the economy fails to recover), yet the Palins and Bachmanns who are inspiring the TEA Party supporters have little influence in the GOP.

Mr. Steele, with all due respect, you and the rest of the GOP leadership need to get a clue. And you need to get it quick. Otherwise, 2010 will be historical only in that future pundits and historians will wonder how the GOP could have blown such a great opportunity. Here’s a hint: listen to the TEA Party protests and come up with objective, measurable solutions for America’s problems and not just less of what the Democrats are promising. And tell us the truth! We can take it.

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