The very quotable British novelist Samuel Butler observed that, “Self-preservation is the first law of nature.” Reports coming from Washington seem to show that this instinct is increasingly demonstrated in a very short-sighted set of actions by institutional Republicans in light of recent successes where grassroots held their elected representatives’ feet to the fire; a fire fueled by the party platform.
Real Clear Politics has uncovered an organized, well-funded and concerted effort by Washington Republican insiders to circle the wagons around incumbents who may see primary challenges. Scott Rasmussen described it in a headline as, “Republican Establishment Declares War on GOP Voters.”
Post-election analysis of November voting by Real Clear Politics and other pundits reveals a telling message from the behavior of the two most essential blocks of voters for Republican candidates, (1) Registered Unaffiliateds who voted for the Democrat, and (2) Registered Republicans who chose to not vote at all.
According to Rasmussen’s monthly sampling taken throughout 2012, party affiliation among American voters averaged 36.29% Republican, 33.40% Democrat, and 30.30% for all others combined including Registered Unaffiliated voters. So, if every voter cast a ballot for their own party’s nominee, Mitt Romney would be President, joined by a majority of fellow Republicans throughout most elections at every level across the states.
The Democratic Party’s attack messaging, like the “war against women” campaign, certainly hit their mark against Republican targets. And anemic responses by Republican candidates did little to salvage potential votes from the unaffiliated electorate.
But the stats show that it was the Republican undervote that made the biggest difference in the outcome. Millions of the party’s own simply did not vote, giving the 2.89% disadvantaged Democratic Party the opening that it needed to win.
While Republican Party leadership is evidently crafting a plan for its own perpetuity, a contrasting party platform has been authored by the rank and file that includes a distinct message of decentralized authority. The mission statement as updated at the 2012 Republican National Convention reads, “Trust the people. Limit government. Respect federalism. Guarantee opportunity, not outcomes. Adhere to the rule of law. Reaffirm that our rights come from God, are protected by government, and that the only just government is one that truly governs with the consent of the governed.”
Voters whose personal philosophy is to the right of the political spectrum respond to just this kind of inspiration. What appears on the surface to be diverse communities of interest, like the Tea Party, liberty groups, and socially conservative minorities, are in reality the girl next door who was frequently overlooked by Grand Old Party leadership in 2012. Their votes, combined with millions of other members from the usually reliable silent majority, seem to have been withheld in the general election mostly in response to a feeling of abandonment.
Seemingly unrelated, two personal achievement awards were announced this week, setting an intriguing example of contrasting principles for Washington leadership to take note. The Father’s Day Council named Bill Clinton as Father of the Year for 2013. At about the same time, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced that nobody will be inducted this year.
The Father’s Day Council explains that their mission is “to promote the celebration, observation, and preservation of the holiday ... Father's Day by focusing on the value of good sound parenting.” Parenting Magazine’s understandably incredulous response was, “Clinton is certainly a tremendously accomplished man who has used his post-presidency to affect much positive change in the world. But father of the year?” The reality is that the Father’s Day Council routinely disregards its own mission statement in favor of selecting a high profile celebrity who will bring in the bucks at their annual awards luncheon. I hope they serve tongue in order to save the attendees from having to bite their own.
The membership of the Baseball Hall of Fame seems to respect their stated mission to “preserve the sport’s history, honor excellence within the game and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball.” Cooperstown announced that, “There were 569 ballots cast, the third highest total in the history of the voting, but none of the 37 candidates in the 2013 vote gained mention on the required 75 percent for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.” The disillusionment created by performance enhancing drugs have put Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa on hold while the sport enters its understandable phase of deliberation.
Washington Republicans will be making an enormous mistake if they choose to isolate themselves from the membership with immunity mechanisms in order to chase after the elusive hearts of unaffiliated voters. A split party can have long-lasting consequences. Here’s one; President Obama’s appointments will likely control every Supreme Court decision from year 2016 through 2040.