In this election cycle, the battle isn't between the old media and the new media anymore. It is between the Tea Party and the GOP establishment. Since 2010, the Tea Party has declared victory; they've decided that they now handle the rudder of the conservative movement, thanks to the election of candidates like Allan West, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker.
But the establishment GOP sees the Tea Party as a threat, for two reasons. First, they think that the Tea Party is more interested in principle than victory. They look at Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell and they see a descent back to the losing days of Barry Goldwater. In this, they may be right. Many of those in the Tea Party would rather run principled candidates who lose than elect Democrat-lites who proceed to corrupt both the government and conservatism itself from within. In this view, at least there will be clear lines of blame when liberals drive the ship of state into the jagged rocks of reality.
Second, the establishment GOP is not aligned with the philosophy of the Tea Party. They like the philosophy of a Democrat-lite: more efficient, effective government, but not necessarily a smaller one. This is the philosophy of Mitt Romney, who rips Rick Perry for stating that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (which it is), who established a health care mandate in the state of Massachusetts, who supports Obama's continued nationalization of education, whose tax cutting talk is weak tea at best.
Even more than the Democrat-lite philosophy, establishment Republicans like winning. Was Ronald Reagan running in these primaries, the establishment GOP would attempt to dump him for Romney, the same way they tried to dump Reagan for George H.W. Bush in 1980.
The problem, of course, is that the establishment GOP philosophy results not in victory but in tremendous losses. When conservatism is politically inconvenient, it sometimes wins (see Reagan) and it sometimes loses (see Goldwater). But when conservatism embraces the politics of convenience, it always loses. If the establishment GOP succeeds in nominating Mitt Romney, it will be able to add another black mark to its long record of failure -- and, even worse, it will have co-opted the greatest Constitutionalist movement in a century for its own pathetic purposes.
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