And yes, it may cost the Republicans a chance to take the seat in November.
So what? Sometimes it is more important to get the attention of the party. If that costs a seat, then so be it. And that message is being sent. Miller, Paul, Angle, and now O’Donnell.
This is what the GOP should take from this race:
"This shows that conservative energy at the grassroots is at tidal wave levels," said Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman and GOP lobbyist. "It may well cost us the Delaware Senate seat, but the same phenomenon will help Republicans, particularly in House races in November."
That’s right. Key word: “conservative”. And that energy is only going to be maintained with candidates of which that “grassroots” group approves. Mike Castle wasn’t that candidate. The same story played out earlier in Utah where free spending and GOP establishment candidate Sen. Bob Bennett was defeated. Mike Lee, the eventual winner, ran on a rather simple platform that resonated:
"I’m a lifelong conservative and I’ve long stood for the idea we need to limit the power of government in order to make life better for Americans," said Lee, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
The Bob Bennett’s and Mike Castles (one of the only Republicans to vote for cap and trade in the House) of the world don’t fit in that scenario. And while it may cost a “probable” Republican seat or two in this election, that’s the usual short-term horserace view that continues to get Republicans in trouble. It’s not just about the number of seats, but who is sitting in that seat. Republicans will have plenty of seats – enough to block any further big government nonsense by Democrats. But they have to be seats filled with occupants that aren’t as likely to side with Dems as the GOP.
What the O’Donnell victory should prove to the Republican hierarchy is the “grassroots” isn’t going to support their candidates just because they’ve been approved by the NRSC or NRCC and the backroom boys. They’ve been trying to tell them that for years. Now they’re actually taking action. The insurgents are alive, well, active and making a statement. And Mike Castle wasn’t the answer to their desires.
What the O’Donnell race points out – as it did in the other insurgent victories – is the “base” is not going to stand idly by while the NRSC chooses candidates that don’t live up to their wants and expects them to support that candidate. Especially if the candidate is an old establishment moderate that shows up with the other side as much as he shows up with his own side.
Naturally this doesn’t sit well with the power brokers in the GOP. Watch the petulant Karl Rove all but denounce O’Donnell after it is affirmed she’s taken Mike Castle down (via Hot Air):
Again you hear the number count as the prime motivation for the GOP. “Well we coulda hada seat.”
Yeah, and you could of had the usual sort of person in that seat spending as much time caucusing with the big government Democrats as with Republicans. So what good is it, really?
Certainly O’Donnell has baggage. But apparently the conservative voters in DE decided her baggage was much more acceptable than Castle’s votes. And, as you heard Rove say, they surged at the end, turning out in much higher numbers than expected. The NRSC can ignore that or they can go with it. It appears the establishment GOP in the form of the NRSC will choose not to help fund O’Donnell’s race. And, naturally, Mike Castle, the sore loser, has said he won’t endorse O’Donnell. That way, I guess, if she loses the establishment GOP can say, “see, we told you so. Listen to us, we know what’s good for you and Delaware”. Sound familiar?
Then look around you and take a look what listening to the establishment on either side of the political spectrum has given us to this point.
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Nate Silver is someone I’ve come to enjoy reading when it comes to election analysis. He knows his business. But he too seems to have missed the significance of the New Hampshire and Delaware senatorial primaries, casting them only as elections – if they go to the “insurgent” Tea Party backed candidates – that could cost the GOP a majority in the Senate if the insurgents win.
Of course, that’s not the point, at least as I see them. While Christine O’Donnell may not be the ideal candidate for the US Senate, she’s at least fiscally conservative. Mike Castle, the GOP choice on the other hand, is described by Silver like this:
… Michael N. Castle, who has held elected office in Delaware for 30 years as its governor, lieutenant governor and lone United States representative. … Mr. Castle — a moderate who is unambiguously a member of the establishment …
Are any lights flashing and horns sounding in your head right now? Silver describes Castle in terms that make him part of the problem, not part of the solution. He’s a perfect plug-in to the Congress the country as a whole seems so unsatisfied with and is on the verge of changing.
Oh sure, he might nominally give the GOP another seat in the Senate – but to what end? Voting with the Snowe/Collins Republicans and the Democrats on bills that expand government and spend more?
When is a seat not really a seat, or a majority not really a majority? When you elect “moderates” of either party who are not averse to expanding the role of government. That’s part of the reason you see more and more polarization within the country. Right now the left is having fun characterizing the right as “radical”. But one only need look at the size of the liberal caucus in the House to know where the heart of leftist radicalism lies.
I continue to harken back to polls which show the vast majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track – in numbers which haven’t changed much in the last 8 years or so. In other words, the people as a whole are dissatisfied with both parties and their representation. And again, I’ll point back to the Ned Lamont/Joe Lieberman race where the left tried precisely what is happening on the right in states such as AK, NH and DE at the moment.
These movements to effect change are indicators. What is described as “radicalism” from “political activists” are the surface bubbles of a molten core of unrest among the majority of Americans. They’re thrashing around for ways and means of changing something that seems never to change. The Tea Party movement is one of those bubbles. The Daily Kos left was another. But nothing much has changed, has it? And the “wrong track” numbers continue to remain at a constant level. And the frustration builds.
This isn’t about majorities in the Senate. It isn’t about the horserace in November. It’s about fundamental change – and not many seem to understand that. The people in Alaska have said “enough” with the Joe Miller primary win. The fact that the GOP primary races in both DE and NH are as close as they are should be sending unmistakable messages to the GOP leadership – one’s even they can’t miss – that establishment moderates aren’t who the people want in the Senate. Naturally, it seems the Republicans are as tone deaf as everyone else.
If the GOP only wins 7 seats instead of 9 in the Senate, that’s fine, as long as the 7 are of the type that are committed to paring government down – reducing its sized influence and cost. Those 7 are enough to keep the Snow/Collins branch of the GOP from pushing the numbers over to the Democratic side. As it stands, in fact, not having a Senate majority is probably better for the GOP than achieving one right now – they’d just blow it and, as Mitch McConnell once said, being minority leader in the Senate is one of the most powerful positions in Congress. And besides, we’d have to listen to Obama whine for 2 years about the “Republican Congress”.
Nope, the hand writing is on the wall if the GOP (and for that matter, the Democrats) would just pause long enough in the partisan bickering and bomb throwing to read it. This isn’t about either of their parties, or them. It’s about changing the direction of the country. The party that first manages to absorb that message and then elect candidates that actually work toward that end is the party that is going to be in power for quite some time. In principle, that should be the GOP. But as usual, in their normal clueless way, they continue on the same road that put them in the minority two years ago believing instead that all this excitement about the midterms is actually because people are embracing their candidates over the Dems. How they have missed the fact that the Tea Party insurgency indicates they couldn’t be more wrong still amazes me.
So continue on your merry blinkered way, GOP, and fight the movement and candidates who’re all but lighting the way with the platform you should be embracing. Continue to put up your moderate establishment candidates and then wonder why, in two years time, you’re back on the other side of the wave as Democrats are again swept into office while you are pushed out.
It is the usual short term view that drives politics today and drives me crazy. The belief that winning a majority is all that’s important because then the party can act on its agenda. No – it can’t. Not if those it has elected aren’t in tune with the principles of the platform. Not if those elected are “moderates” who have no problem with big government, subsidies, entitlements and high taxes.
If returning to the fundamentals of Constitutional government is “radical” then the GOP needs to become the radical party. Until they absorb that, embraces that “radicalism” and runs candidates who believe in that fundamental principle, the wrong track numbers will continue to remain constant and the GOP will continue to be the clueless lesser of two evils, but not by much.
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