As the recent Ron Paul/ Lindsey Graham blow up illustrates, there is a deep and genuine divide in the Republican Party. While many would argue that this is a bad thing, I would only posit that’s only true if we fail to prove the viability of our movement by winning elections. We have right on our side, but it isn’t worth a thing if, come election time, we cannot translate it into real political power. The pressure for results is on us, not the Lindsey Grahams of the world. They already control the RP and will until they are dislodged.
My concern is not one of philosophy or intensity, but rather strategy. In my capacity as managing partner of R3VOLution Consultants , I have had the opportunity to evaluate a number of key races for Constitutional Republican candidates. Most of them will lose; many will not make it out of their primaries. This is not the cynic in me, but rather a careful understanding of electoral politics and history. The reality is that over 90% of congress is re-elected every two years. The incumbents that do lose are not the ones polling over 50% a year out. Nothing will make Lindsey Graham’s argument faster than watching most of the high profile liberty candidates go down in flames and, as it stands right now, they will.
The function of electoral politics is to obtain political power and electoral politics ultimately hinges on only one thing, the ability to identify your voters and move them to the polls more effectively than your opponent. Everything else that a campaign does from fund-raising to message dissemination ultimately must serve that end or you lose. Rand Paul may succeed because, in addition to the financial support of movement activists, he also has name recognition and a natural base of support in his state as a result of his work with tax reform groups. His father Ron wins elections because his work as a doctor touched almost every family in his district which gave him name recognition and a natural support base. Without those fundamental elements, name recognition, an established constituency, and the ability to compete financially, Mr. Smith ain’t getting to Washington because his opponent will deliver more voters to the polls.
That is why I have largely shifted my focus to smaller state and local races. Not only do we need to put up wins to counter the Lindsey Graham narrative, we need to develop the support structure necessary to underpin future political success. This cycle’s city councilman is next cycle’s state senator. From that platform he has the political base, name recognition, and technical capacity to be competitive in a congressional race. The Republican Party establishment has had 130 years to figure this out, we’ve had 1 (unless you include the Libertarian Party which has effectively engaged in the triumph of hope over experience for 35+ years and gotten exactly nowhere).
These days I spend my time talking about trash collection and zoning ordinances instead of the Federal Reserve and Iraq. It may be a whole lot less sexy, but at the end of the day, it may be the only way to change the country.Published in