It would seem to me that the Grand Old Party is not one that turns to its history for instruction on how to be successful in the future. As of about 1:30 PM EST on January 6th, the Republican Establishment moved one step closer to creating the same kind of turmoil within the party as that which plagued the re-election campaign of George H.W. Bush in 1992. The re-election of John Boehner, after polls showed that approximately 60% of Americans were seeking new leadership in the House, infuriated Conservatives across the spectrum who are tired of the same old political posturing in Washington.
Conservatives, by and large, showed up at the polls in November and voted for GOP candidates. Even when it hurt to do so in the cases of Pat Roberts and Mitch McConnell. We forgave challenges from the Establishment to popular Conservative candidates like Representative Justin Amash of Michigan and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska and helped push the GOP to historic gains at all levels of government not seen since the Truman administration. In fact the wins were so substantial at the federal, state and local level, even some unapologetic Progressives expressed serious concerns about the long-term prospects for identifying qualified Democrats to run for national office. And the GOP and Conservatives celebrated.
My, what a difference sixty days can make. Since the November 4th election, Conservatives have started to revolt. After the confetti fell, those of us advocating for limited government, reduced spending and regulation as well as tax reform and a different way of doing business in D.C. got three successive slaps from the GOP Establishment.
On December 16th, Jeb Bush announced an exploratory committee for a 2016 Presidential run and almost immediately became a main stream media and establishment darling. The Leftist media is nearly salivating over a Bush candidacy, already calling him the front-runner in a field of potential candidates. Next up, the backdoor arm-twister known as CRomnibus that is full of pork, riders and compromise to ensure its passage passed both houses. Conservatives valuing austerity and transparency were infuriated. Finally, the election of Speaker John Boehner after polling showed 60% of registered Republicans would like to see new leadership in the House. Even some of Conservative America’s congressional darlings, such as Mia Love and Trey Gowdy, are being assuaged with conservative complaints and drawing criticism for their vote and support.
So let’s rewind. It’s 1992 and George W. Bush has alienated the Conservative wing of the party for breaking his, “Read my lips, no new taxes.” pledge. His biggest rival for the GOP nomination was Pat Buchanan. It was one of the few times in history an incumbent president had received a primary challenge. Some political analysts believe in most campaigns this dissatisfaction would have been limited to the primary season and Conservatives ultimate support would have gone to the nominee. However, Conservative dissatisfaction with the tax pledge being broken and the state of domestic affairs extended into the general election, and a third-party candidate emerged. Charismatic self-made billionaire Ross Perot leapt on the scene in 1992 an offered Conservatives an alternative. On election day Perot did not have any electoral votes, but he garnered 19% of the popular vote. Enough to cost Bush a second term and set a record for a third-party candidate. The Clintons moved into the White House.
How does that relate to the current situation? Conservatives are furious and the 2016 Presidential election is almost two years away. On social media you can already see people who are adamant they will not vote for Jeb Bush if he is the GOP nominee. Conservatives stayed home in 2012 when Mitt Romney could not sway them to vote. In 2016 if faced with a pro-Amnesty, Common Core supporter as the GOP nominee, my bet is they will look for a third-party candidate that represents smaller government, fiscal restraint and constitutional discipline.
The lesson of history that the GOP establishment needs to internalize is that they can not win a national election without winning at minimum, the votes and even better, the hearts and minds of Conservative voters. Disenfranchising them delivered the White House to Bill Clinton in 1992 and allowed Barack Obama a second term in 2012.
It is not too late, but action to curtail the Executive Order on Immigration, impair the implementation of Obamacare, address regulatory proliferation and rogue executive offices like the IRS, BLM and EPA are all critical items the Congressional majority must tackle. Prioritize those things that will have the biggest impact on the economy and reducing the heavy hand of government and tell us what you are doing. To have fought and lost is better than to roll over and compromise. Not only will you have our support, you may save a vote that you desperately need in 2016 for a nominee whose last name is not Bush.