Conservatives nationwide are angry with Washington, D.C. Their anger goes beyond the partisan bickering at President Obama and the Democrats. Conservatives are angry with Washington in general and increasingly reserve most of their contempt for Republicans.
In 2006, after fighting their own party over the expansion of the welfare state and out-of-control domestic spending disguised as war spending, conservatives threw up their hands. The public at large had turned against the Republican Party. Conservatives grew indifferent. Only Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and Barack Obama as President rekindled the intra-party love affair between conservative activists and Republican Leaders.
But after using conservative energy to get themselves back in control of the House of Representatives, Republican leaders started ignoring conservative demands. They fought half-heartedly or not at all. They cut deals with the Democrats. They ran scared, convinced they should not figure out how to sell their own ideas, but use polling to chart their course.
Conservatives have become disgusted. According to one recent poll, 60 percent of conservatives do not care for how Washington Republicans are conducting themselves in office. Around the country, conservatives have decided to fight back.
In Kentucky, Matt Bevin, the last man in America to still domestically produce church bells, is running against Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader. Bevin has the support of the Jim DeMint, who created Senate Conservatives Fund. McConnell has responded by launching insider attacks against the Senate Conservatives Fund. Like Barack Obama's IRS targeting tea party groups for harassment, McConnell and his lobbying friends in Washington have targeted companies doing business with the Senate Conservatives Fund. They have made clear that those companies will either stop working with conservatives or not get business from Republicans in Washington.
They have run hit jobs on the Senate Conservatives Fund, its director, Matt Hoskins, and others who support Bevin in newspapers, and pushed out attacks in opinion pieces and on television.
All this because Matt Hoskins, the Senate Conservatives Fund and people like Matt Bevin have chosen to hold Republican leaders accountable for their broken promises.
In Mississippi, state senator Chris McDaniels is running against Thad Cochran in the Republican primary for the United States Senate. Cochran has been in the United States Senate since 1979. In Kansas, Dr. Milton Wolf, a cousin of President Obama's, is challenging Republican Senator Pat Roberts from the right. Roberts has been in Congress since 1981, first as a congressman, and then as a Senator.
Democrats worked very hard after John Kerry's defeat in 2004 to change the face of the Democratic Party. They distanced themselves from corruption and the Washington status quo. They found new faces, including an energetic man peddling hope and change. Republicans still rely on John Boehner, who has been in office since the early nineties, and Mitch McConnell, who has been in office since the mid-eighties.
If the GOP wants to advance again, it needs fresh faces. It needs fewer Senators who have kept their chairs warm since 1979. Frankly, the GOP needs outside voices willing to pull the party back toward Main Street and away from Wall Street.
Ironically, as the conservatives start challenging establishment Republicans, the establishment Republicans are fighting back by accusing the new fresh faces of being corrupted and tainted by Washington. They project onto the outsiders their own sins. And now they are organizing with big business and its lobbyists to fight back.
The Chamber of Commerce, the liberal Main Street Partnership and the campaign arms of the Republican Leaders are targeting small government, free marketers for defeat. Conservative, tea party-affiliated candidates risk dismantling the Washington status quo. That puts lobbyist income in jeopardy. A Republican Party that confuses supporting big business with supporting the free market wants to silence the voices of those who are not confused.
The question, then, is on which side will Republican voters stand — with Bevin, McDaniels, Wolf and the conservatives or with the status quo. This author has endorsed these challengers and stands against the status quo.