I rarely agree with the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, but he has made a point with his latest article. While he tends to make sweeping claims about the GOP his article has a heart of truth that after months of telling the Republican base that they must support “true conservatives,” no one should be shocked that the base in Delaware actually listened when it came to choosing between Congressman Mike Castle and gadfly Christine O’Donnell to run for an open US Senate seat. Several writers from conservative publications like the Weekly Standard have come out against O’Donnell and for Castle citing the need for pragmatism. Chait responds with a withering attack:
The premise of all these pleas for Castle was extremely sensible: this is politics. Sometimes you move the ball forward, sometimes the other team moves it forward. Sometimes you make compromises in order to get ahead.
But the Republican base has been taught not to think this way. This isn’t just politics, remember? This is a twilight struggle for freedom. And Mike Castle didn’t just cast a couple bad votes. He acquiesced in a sinister plan to undermine capitalism. How could they ever support a candidate like that?
Moreover, Republican voters have luxuriated in the belief that they represent the true majority of the American people. Obama may have won by fooling the voters, or possibly by stealing the election with Acorn, but the enduring majority of the public is staunchly conservative. Indeed, Republicans only lost because they strayed from the true faith.
Now, most elite Republicans understand that the red meat fed to the base isn’t exactly right. It’s useful to scare the daylights out of the activists, but writers for the Standard and the Journal editorial page understand that “freedom,” as most people understand the term, is not really at risk. They understand as well that politics is a little more complicated than “if Republicans stay true to conservatism, they cannot lose.”
But the conservative base is not in on the joke. And so Republican elites found themselves with just a few frantic days to undo the toxic and intoxicating effects of 20 months of relentless propaganda. Vote for the man who compromised with evil! The true conservative can’t always win! They couldn’t do it.
The funny thing is, for months some on the center-right, such as David Frum, have been arguing against supporting such hard-right candidates that would not appeal to independents and moderates. Instead of taking their advice, many in the GOP leadership just ignored them as whiny RINOs. They ignored these voices of reason as they looked with increasing worry as candidates like Sharon Angle and Rand Paul won primaries and then proceeded to show how not ready for primetimes they truly were.
So, it’s a little hard to feel bad for people like the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal when they all of the sudden want to stop Christine O’Donnell who has enough political baggage to ensure she will never represent the state of Delaware in another form of political office. They never paid attention before, why should they start now?
The next few weeks should be interesting as Chris Coons, the Democratic and presumptive winner for the First State’s Senate seat, and the Democrats tear apart Ms. O’Donnell and have her for lunch. It should be interesting to see the conservative establishment twinge as they see Ms. O’Donnell flail and know they lost any chance of winning the Senate.
The conservative establishement has made its bed and now has to lie in it.