Matt Mackowiak

There is always a tension between the practicality of winning elections and the desire for ideological purity.

But for many conservatives across the country, in recent years we have been asked to support mainstream candidates who talk a good game but then don't fight for conservative principles.

The litany of failed mainstream presidential candidates on our side of the aisle tells the tale: President George H.W. Bush (reelection), Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney. These are all honorable men, but they are all middle-of-the-road, mainstream, losing candidates.

I am not naïve. I worked in the U.S. Senate for four years.

I understand that serving in the congressional leadership changes your perspective, forcing you to be responsible for the result of legislative actions in a way that an individual congressman or senator is not.

But for too long, conservatives have seen the Republican Party roll over, always with the next election in mind. The thinking goes: We have to win next time, so we can't risk losing now.

But we have been losing next time.

In the last few years, only 2010 was a truly positive, winning, celebratory cycle for the GOP. Looking back, 2006, 2008 and 2012 were all losses.

What good is 'playing for next time' when our track record of 'next time' is pitiful?

The government shutdown is doubtless a political benefit to the Democrats, which is why they did virtually nothing to stop it. No negotiation. No conference committee. They offered nothing. President Obama cynically thinks that a shutdown will lead to a massive change in the political dynamic and make it possible for Democrats to win back the House of Representatives for his final two years in office.

All Republicans agree that our spending is out of control, that there is no current plan to sustain our insolvent entitlement system, that our $17 trillion national debt is immoral and threatens our future, and that ObamaCare will adversely affect our healthcare system and our economy at a time when our economic growth rate is anemic.

It remains probable that the 2014 political year will be very positive for Republicans. The Democrats are facing headwinds, and the second midterms in two-term presidencies are almost always bad for the majority party.

Meanwhile, Obama's approval ratings are among the lowest of his presidency.

Midterm elections are about the base. Presidential elections are about the middle. For 2014, Republicans need to inspire and motivate their base, and standing and fighting now offers them a golden opportunity to do so while also working for a positive policy achievement.

In destroying Romney in the 2012 election, the Obama campaign won a second term. But they also ruined Obama's positive image and once-hopeful message, and the result is that he now has no mandate for the second term. A majority of the public disapproves of ObamaCare. His agenda on guns and immigration is going nowhere. His environmental agenda is dead on Capitol Hill, and he can use only limited executive branch maneuvers.

This is why he wants a shutdown. He needs a new Congress to revive his agenda. He knows the previous political dynamic would not provide such an election, and he is now enabling a shutdown by not preventing it or providing any leadership whatsoever.

I can understand why Obama would resist defunding or repealing his signature domestic accomplishment.

But why are Democrats exempting Congress, their employees and White House staff from ObamaCare while the American people aren't exempt? Why won't the White House accept the repeal of the medical device tax, which has had broad bipartisan support? How does the White House justify unconstitutionally giving big business a one-year delay of the ObamaCare mandate but they choose to shut down the government when the same one-year delay for individuals is passed by House Republicans?

Enough is enough.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the least effective Senate majority leader in my lifetime. He would be a better fit as Democratic National Committee chairman, where his irresponsibility wouldn't harm the country. He refuses to pass appropriations bills, take up and amend House-passed legislation, negotiate on major legislative items or bow to the political reality that the Senate requires 60 votes (and he has only 54) and the House majority is Republican.

Nobody wanted a government shutdown - except the White House.

Fine. It's time Republicans stand up and fight, whether they want to or not. People are hurting, and the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Obama cares only about 2014. It's time Republicans fought for conservative principles today and consider the politics of 2014 later.

Matt Mackowiak

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, DC and Austin, TX based political and communications consultant and the founder and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC, providing political consulting, media relations and crisis communications assistance to campaigns, companies, groups and individuals. Since he arrived in Washington, DC, he has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators, a Governor, in the executive branch, in winning political campaigns, and in the private sector. Over his career Matt has developed deep relationships with national, state and local media and political figures.

Most recently Matt worked with PSG client Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) as a senior communications adviser, providing counsel on strategy, speechwriting and media relations during the 2011 legislative session in Juneau.

In 2010 Matt served as Campaign Manager for Bill Flores, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 17th Congressional District. After winning a 5-way primary, Flores defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) by 25% in November, the largest margin of victory for a GOP challenger in 2010.

In addition to offering counsel to individuals and corporations, Matt provides political analysis for the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, BBC News, and radio stations throughout the country. Matt’s on-therecord political analysis has appeared in Politico, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Examiner, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and on He is a syndicated columnist and has had opinion columns published in the New York Post, New York Daily News,, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Roll Call, Austin American-Statesman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Des Moines Register, National Review online, Congressional Quarterly and on the popular blog sites The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post. Matt has lectured and given speeches at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, the University of Denver, American University and the University of North Texas.

From 2005-2009 Matt served as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (RTX), the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership, and three-term former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). Earlier in his career he was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson and Assistant Secretary Stewart Verdery, managed the second largest county in Iowa on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, counseled corporate clients at international PR firm Burson-Marsteller, and performed White House Presidential and Vice Presidential advance nationwide.

Matt is a Director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, and is a sustaining member of MaverickPAC. He serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Luke’s Wings and enjoys helping Becky’s Fund and USA CARES.

A native of Austin, Texas, Matt graduated with a B.S. in Communications Studies (Political Communication track) from the University of Texas in 2003. Aside from his professional work, he owns and manages the popular blog site, which the Washingtonian has called “one of the best political blogs.” In his free time, Matt enjoys sports, live music, reading biographies, and is an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Texas.