Ken Connor

Here's the bad news for the bluebloods. The blue collars aren't going to go away. The base isn't going to the back of the bus. They've ridden back there for so long, their behinds are sore. They're mad as hell and they aren't going to take it any more. They've found a champion in Mike Huckabee and they intend to fight. They've chafed long enough. For years, they watched as the Republican controlled Congress spent money like drunken sailors. They saw "earmarks" for the business elites elevated to an art form and rise to an all time high under Republican leadership. They watched as the party of family values became embroiled in scandals involving sex and money. They winced as the Republican led Congress gave away tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortionist in the business. And they became apoplectic when the business elites thwarted efforts to stem the tide of illegal immigration because the bluebloods wanted to maximize profits through the use of cheap immigrant labor at the expense of the American worker.

To borrow a phrase from Hillary Clinton, Huckabee listened to them and found his own voice. And the base is responding to it.

Bluebloods like George Will mock Huckabee's "economic populism" and deride him for it. But the Huckster's message is resonating with the Republican base which has become sick of the dominance of the bluebloods in all things Republican. So sick, that the sign planting, precinct walking, phone banking worker bees—who had only sweat and shoe leather to invest in the campaign—enabled Huckabee to administer a good old fashioned spanking to Mitt Romney, the Harvard educated millionaire who outspent Huckabee 20 to 1 in Iowa. Huckabee's victory may have mortally wounded Romney who was theretofore the favorite of the bluebloods. He is, after all, one of them.

If Romney falters in Michigan, however, expect to see the bluebloods coalesce around John McCain whose moribund campaign was recently revived with an unexpected win over Romney in New Hampshire.

McCain is not a natural ally of the bluebloods, but his advantage with the Nantucket set is he is not Huckabee. Moreover, the bluebloods take comfort in the fact that, in his previous lap around the track, McCain described Pat Robertson and the now deceased Jerry Falwell, pooh-bahs of the evangelical movement, as "agents of intolerance"—to which the bluebloods replied with a hearty "Amen!" Additionally, McCain's "family values" include civil unions—anathema to the base, but a quaint notion to the martini set. Finally, through the McCain-Feingold Act, McCain was the catalyst for imposing gag rules on issue advocacy during federal elections, thereby limiting the ability of grass roots groups to meaningfully participate in the election process. As a result of all of this, James Dobson, echoing the sentiments of many an evangelical, has stated he will not vote for McCain under any circumstances.

In any event, before they ever confront the Democrat nominee in the Presidential race, you can expect that the Republican standard-bearer will have been battle tested. The matchup between the bluebloods and the base will guarantee that. What remains to be seen is whether the GOP winner will be battle hardened and ready to rumble or so weakened by the contest that he will be unable to put up much of a fight.

Regardless, there is a good chance that on Election Day the bluebloods will be riding the bus alone.


Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.