Part II: Political Observations and Ideas
In the last 20 years, it has become obvious that the GOP ( as well as the conservative movement) has become collectivist in nature and in purpose. What used to be an organization reliant on bottom-to-top ideas and movement has become DC-centric; where DC tells the state and local operations what to do and what is acceptable. This gives rise to the dreaded political consultant/strategist whose inane ramblings become marching orders. Even sadder, it is apparent that many of the Reaganites who came to DC when Ronald Reagan became president have also been co-opted into the mindset that power and money trump principles. During the Reagan years, the joke going around the White House was, “how many people work at the RNC? Oh, about half of them.” I would bet that during the Bush years it was greater than half.
Thus, the GOP needs to return the political power, talent, and money back to the states and local operations. The states have a better idea how to allocate money and resources. Let the states and local organizations conduct their own voter registration drives and recruit candidates. The RNC needs to only provide guidance and knowledge.
Another problem is the primary process. This is the area which creates the greatest havoc and provides very little benefit for the general election. We have seen this occur in three-way races for US Senate seats held by Democrats. In 2010, three candidates ran for the GOP nomination against Harry Reid. Sue Lowden was probably the best of the three candidates, but she was savagely attacked for every faux pas. Meanwhile, one of her opponents, Sharon Angle, received favorable media coverage. Sharon Angle was probably the worst of the three candidates. Angle won the primary, but did not garner 50% of the vote. In the general election, the flawed Angle candidacy was exposed and Harry Reid easily won reelection. In 2012, we saw the same thing happen in Missouri and Florida. In the end, two Senate seats that should have gone to the GOP remained Democrat.
The problem is even greater in the primary process for president. The first race is the Iowa caucus. With so much media attention focused on the Iowa caucus, a candidate must cozy up to the social conservative base or play footsies with the ethanol interests. There were rumors this year that certain influential social conservatives were asking candidates to pay $1 million for their endorsement. It is a small price to pay for a great showing and momentum going into the New Hampshire primary. The New Hampshire primary is beset with problems. The current New Hampshire electorate does not resemble the electorate of William Loeb and Meldrim Thompson. It is less conservative. A bigger problem is that it is an open primary. This certainly is an invitation for crossover mischief. Thus, by the time the results of the Iowa and New Hampshire races are known, the conservative candidates are behind with little momentum going into the next primary races.
First, there needs to be closed primaries for the GOP. They should not be open to independents and Democrats. It is common sense only allow members of the GOP to select the GOP candidate. If independents and Democrats desire to cross over, they need to wait two years from the date of their last ballot cast. The next thing for the non-presidential primaries is to have an automatic runoff between the top two contenders. This will cut down on the mischief of an opposition party trying to influence the outcome in favor of a preferred opponent. In the end, the GOP must close ranks. There should be no toleration for petulance from either the conservatives or the GOP establishment. The behavior of folks like Mike Castle in 2010 and Richard Lugar in 2012 are an embarrassment. Such divisions doom the candidate that remains in the race.