So let’s see – in Virginia a life-long social conservative, Bob McDonnell, ran as a pragmatist and beat the tar out of Democrat Creigh Deeds. Exit polls show a majority of Virginians still support President Obama. In New Jersey, voters were fed up with incumbent Jon Corzine, despite Obama’s best efforts to prop up the incumbent Democrat. Republican Chris Christie won that race, even though exit polls in that state showed overwhelming approval rates for the President.
And in the much-ballyhooed NY-23 special election, Conservative Party candidate, and self-proclaimed Glenn Beck acolyte, Doug Hoffman was given the smackdown by Democrat Bill Owens.
Now, I would draw from this Democratic victory in a traditionally Republican area – the first Democrat to represent New York’s North Country in over a century – a few observations.
First, what works for conservatives in Texas or Georgia might not work for conservatives in California or New York. One of the lovely things about conservative philosophy is its emphasis on local politics. Dede Scozzafada may not have been red enough meat for the likes of Sean Hannity or Michelle Malkin, but she might have been just the right shade for northern New Yorkers. Doug Hoffman, on the other hand, might have fit in better somewhere else. Really, it was a northern New York affair. The national Republican meddling distorted the issues on the ground. Left alone, Scozzafada may very well have beat Owens, giving the GOP a much-needed seat in the House – even if she wasn’t of purest stock. Remember, in Virginia, the Republican candidate campaigned on fiscal and economic issues – as a pragmatic leader, not as a red meat social conservative. And he won.
Second, even a liberal Republican is much more likely to vote with Republicans on issues than a moderate Democrat. Party loyalty cannot be underestimated here.
So what does the conservative movement take from this loss amidst all this victory?
Conservatives’ money went to pay for specious attack ads against Hoffmanrun by the NRCC like this.
Conservatives’ money went to support a GOP candidate who shares the same socialist alliances with fellow SEIU/ACORN/New Party/Working Families Party activist Patrick Gaspard, the Obama White House political director who intervened in the race to secure Scozzafava’s endorsement of Owens.
Hoffman’s candidacy illuminated the stark difference between GOP political opportunists willing to pimp out their endorsements to any old ACORN-embracing, Working Families Party-consorting, Big Labor cronywho puts an “R” by her name — and movement conservatives who refuse to “mooooderate” for the politically expedient sake of mooooderation as dictated by out-of-touch Beltway party leaders. The NRCC/RNC’s $1 million debacle will cost much more than that.
One thing is guaranteed at the conclusion of the NY-23 special congressional election: The Beltway Republicans who endorsed radical leftist Dede Scozzafava are going to have indelible egg stains on their faces. And GOP establishment fund-raising organizations will be the poorer for it.
Well there it is. I think it’s a great deal of sound and fury myself. Politics is local – especially local politics. Nationalizing this race was bad politics. Drawing these conclusions – which many in the movement seem to be drawing – is bad analysis. This is not a referendum on moderate Republicans or on the President. It’s just an example of how local politics often have different outcomes than national politics.
So what other conclusions should we draw? Namely that the current stewards of movement conservatism are poor stewards. Malkin, Beck, Limbaugh, their cronies in politics – the whole gang is going to run the party into a corner and then hit the self-destruct button. Even so-called “real” conservatives, with social-conservative-bonafides are going to have to take on the role McDonnell played so well – the pragmatic, leadership-oriented, governing conservative.
Or maybe all this will play out in the emergence of some third party*. The real tea-partying conservatives (you know, the ones who hate ACORN the most!) will get their chance to take on the phonies (the cappuccino-party Republicans). Lines can be drawn in the sand. Blood spilled.
*Here’s a deep thought I had the other day: If I were to ever start a third party, I’d call it the Third Party. Think of the name recognition!