On Saturday, Tony Lee wrote a piece at Breitbart highlighting a recent speech by Pat Caddell where he discussed the reasons behind the Republican party’s defeat in the presidential election. Among the many things that Caddell noted is that the Romney campaign bowed to the “consultant-lobbyist-establishment” complex. However, this is not only the GOP’s political modus operandi, it is also their policy approach. This is why, although the Democrats may seem to resonate with voters more on messaging (Caddell also mentioned that voters didn’t think Governor Romney “cared about them”), the differences on policy between the two parties appears to be shrinking. Of particular note, Caddell said:
“Why are Republicans not the anti-establishment party?,” Caddell asked.
Caddell emphasized a “narrative is a story” that comes over a period of time and “not just a single message.”
He cited Ronald Reagan as someone who knew how to speak to Democrats and “ordinary and common” Americans and bring them over to his side because Reagan had been one of them and came from regular Americans and shared their experiences.
“That is a quality that has been missing a long time in a search for alternative candidate,” Caddell said, in reference to Reagan’s ability to resonate with blue collar Americans.
“As long as the establishment wants to preserve the establishment and their special deals, you will lose,” Caddell said.
Caddell, of course, is correct. The Republican party’s political approach has been inept attempt of self-preservation of the Establishment. They have been rudderless, inarticulate, and out-of-touch. I wrote last week about the need for the Republican party to do a better job at messaging and selling the winning product of conservatism, but the keys to victory of course, goes beyond this. One of the Republican party’s failures has been that they have seen politics along a single axis–right and left–between the seemingly arbitrary boundaries of political parties. In reality, politics and policy both have a vertical component to them—top to bottom–not in the terms of political party, but of political connection and personal benefit.
As Caddell notes, “why are Republicans not the anti-establishment party?”. They are not because they willfully ignore their own devotion to that “consultant-lobbyist-establishment” complex. Caddell also noted:
“No presidential campaign should be run by consultants,” Caddell said. “They should be run by people who are committed to the candidate and not into making big money.”
However, the past two losing presidential campaigns has been run by people who saw they could make money even in losing. Despite running a horrible campaign in 2008, Steve Schmidt saw he could continue to make money as a consultant and later as a political analyst at MSNBC as a “Republican” who trashes Republicans. The same can be said for Nicolle Wallace who works now at ABC and has attempted to capitalized on the notoriety of defeat by writing political fiction (which is the same genre as her political commentary). Through mid October, the Romney campaign had paid $134+ million to political firms tied to his aides, including funding a failed GOTV software. Karl Rove’s “Crossroads” group brought in and spent more than one hundred million dollars, only to have every candidate they supported lose. The GOP establishment has turned the Republican party into a pyramid scheme–where the few at the top (the Establishment and their consultants) eat well at the expense of their own base. The political game is not simply “right vs. left”; it is a game where the establishment does not care if they win politically (and the country wins on the basis of ideology and principle) so long as they win monetarily. They eschew their own base and ignore the entire electorate to pad their bank accounts. They do not realize the need for “free market populism”, which is the solution for the “vertical” political and policy problems the GOP has.
Policy must be viewed on a vertical plane as well. Cronyism and corporatism must be rejected. Both of these “isms” allow for the politically connected at the top of food chain to benefit at the expense of the taxpayers at the bottom. This goes beyond the infamous problems with Solyndra and the other green energy companies tied to political donors. This also includes political institutions like the ExIm Bank, which provides taxpayer backed loan guarantees for American companies who sell their product overseas. The ExIm bank is supported by many Republicans, and its re-authorization was one of the few things that flew through the House and Senate with ease before being signed by President Obama. The Republican party is not distinguishing themselves from the Democrats when they choose to subsidize business on the backs of ordinary Americans.
Economic ideas must not be the “pro-government” ideas of the Democrats, nor the purported “pro-business” ideas of the Republicans. Rather, they must be “pro-market” ideas. Pro government ideas are founded in expanding government at the expense of the taxpayers’ money and liberty. Pro business ideas are founded in expanding government and some businesses at the expense of both other businesses and taxpayers. Both of the ideologies empower either government or specific businesses or industries, but “pro market” ideas empower the consumer as their purchasing power, not government taxation, bailouts, or subsidies, drives the market. Take, for example, ethanol subsidies. The EPA refused to ease ethanol mandates for fuel following a year of drought which negatively affected the corn harvest. What does this do? It makes fuel more expensive, and it has even made livestock farmers resort to feeding candy to their animals because increased corn prices have made livestock feed more expensive, which continues to occur in part because corn is being used for ethanol in fuel rather than in livestock feed. What does this have to do with the Republican party? Again, ethanol subsidies have bipartisan support, and the Republican party has not distinguished themselves from Democrats.
The concept of populism is not often seen as a conservative concept, and to some, free market populism may seem like an oxy moron. However, it is not the populism of liberals who pit Americans against each other through class warfare. It is a populism that desires to wage a war of sorts against the permanent political class (and the “consultant-lobbyist-establishment” complex) through a new brand of policy and politics. It is a brand guided not by the clinched fist of socialism, nor the hand-in-hand relationships of business and government, but of the invisible hand of the free market where the individual is empowered by lower taxes and smaller government.
In order to win elections and subsequently support for policy, the Republican party must realize that the battle lies in their message and the directionality of their focus, not in the hands of establishment consultants. If they ignore the vertical plane of their political and policy battles, they will lose not only their political base, but the electorate as a whole, and their pyramid scheme will come crashing down.