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Our Masters are not Public Servants

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A few days ago, I attempted to explain a Rush Limbaugh position to neo-neocon. I was mostly successful. Neo’s general question was about Republican elites and how Limbaugh views some of the possibilities in this fall’s election.

Neo’s post began:

Lately I’ve been puzzling over a meme that’s permeated the blogosphere in connection with the rise of Newt Gingrich. You know, the one that’s all about the Republican party elites or establishment types, the puppet masters who are controlling the whole campaign (and campaigns in previous years, giving us Dole and McCain) for their own nefarious purposes, which have nothing to do with conservative ideals but are the absolute antithesis of them. And fake conservative Romney is supposedly their new front man.

I would have thought that Rush Limbaugh was one of these influential Republican elites, but I noticed in a couple of comments around the blogosphere that people were quoting him on the bad faith scheming of the Republican establishment, the ones who wanted Romney and didn’t want Newt.

I commented:

The GOP overlords hold that Newt Romney will lose to Obama.

Newt will polarize down-ballot, possibly even inspiring more loons like Angle and O’Donnell to win their races. The GOP elite loses control of the Senate, either outright or by the election of TEA people wearing the GOP jersey. The establishment depends on compliance.

Romney will draw squishies to GOP favorites down ballot and increase Republican establishment power in Congress. Romney will not inspire anyone with maverick tendencies who might vote against the establishment’s legislative deals.

Limbaugh is adamantly against a third party. He advocates for conservatives to take control of the GOP. He wants people like Angle and O’Donnell to win. But at the same time, when the GOP picks a nominee, he will attempt to help drag that person across the finish line, just like he did for McCain.

Limbaugh’s strategy is aimed at defeating both Democrats and establishment Republicans. If Good Newt won and actually governed like Good Newt talks, I think Limbaugh would be delighted.

Limbaugh also holds that the GOP establishment wants control of both Houses so they get all the committee chairs and other perks. With a Congressional majority and an Obama second term, the GOPers get the corner offices and a President willing to sign all the spending bills they present to him.

Neo replied:

So let me try to understand your point by asking a few questions:

(1) So would you say that Limbaugh would prefer an Obama victory and a Democrat Congress to the continuance of the hegemony of “establishment Republicans” in Congress, especially if that Democrat control of Congress and the presidency also includes the defeat of some of those establishment Republicans in Congress and the election of a higher proportion of Tea Party candidates there than before? Even if those Tea Party Republicans are part of a minority party, powerless to stop Obama’s worst excesses for the next four years?

(2) Who are these Tea Party candidates? Are they already running, or would they primary the Republican old guard in Congress as a result of being emboldened by a Gingrich candidacy, whereas they would fail to do so if Romney were the candidate?

(3) However these Tea Party candidates are nominated, do you think Tea Party supporters really would fail to come out to vote for their candidates if Romney were the nominee, and would only do so if Gingrich were the nominee? Is that the level of their dedication to the Tea Party cause, that they could be put off so easily? Didn’t they come out in force in 2010, a non-presidential election year? And wouldn’t a Romney nomination motivate them even more strongly to come out and vote for Tea Party candidates to show the Republican establishment how angry they are that Romney was nominated instead of Gingrich? Do you think they can’t figure all that out and vote for their champions in Congress while ignoring Romney?

I answered:

1) Defeating Obama is the top priority. Remember, “I hope he fails.” Limbaugh rejects the establishment view that Newt Romney can’t win. Moving the GOP body of electeds rightward is a second-tier goal. Of course he would prefer all-GOP, even it were all-GOP-establishment. But Limbaugh thinks that the establishment softness will prevent them from actually winning all three elected arms of the FedGov. His is an opposite-ish view to the GOP elites who think Newt Romney can’t win the Presidency.

Running with speculation, I think Limbaugh would take Good Newt and losing the Senate, if the Senate was lost because the GOP lost Snowe or Collins or other establishment moderate Repub seats. Newt’s veto would keep things together until the next election in two years, when more conservatives could extend the rightward push.

2) I don’t know who TEA candidates are. Limbaugh has not commented on any down-ballot races yet. Even in my own districts, I do not know who the TEA people might favor. It is too early to name names in Congressional races, I think. There is still time to recruit contenders.

3) The TEA people will vote. They are 100% engaged. The difference is in the campaigning. With Romney at the top of the ticket, TEA people would feel the best they can manage is another holding action, so they’re less likely to give up a weekend on the lake to go door-knocking, even for a Congressional candidate they like.

It’s the 80/20 rule… the 20% base of support does 80% of the work in a campaign. If the base is not fully inspired, fundraising calls are not made, lit is not dropped and the disengaged voter never hears the message.

It really is a fight for the middle, and getting the messages out to those in the middle. This is why I see Obama as defeatable. Much of his base is simply not inspired. The movement they were a part of in ’08 has died. And its why I keep saying Romney has no coattails. There is no passion in Romneyville. He does not present himself as leader of a movement. He’s just the new boss.

Even though I am resolutely anti-party, I spent a decade as a “community organizer”. I think I have some insider perspective on precinct-level campaigning that drives my assessments.

After all of that, today I see Sarah Palin echoes some of my sentiments:

Without this necessary vetting process, the unanswered question of Governor Romney’s conservative bona fides and the unanswered and false attacks on Newt Gingrich will hang in the air to demoralize many in the electorate. The Tea Party grassroots will certainly feel disenfranchised and disenchanted with the perceived orchestrated outcome from self-proclaimed movers and shakers trying to sew this all up. And, trust me, during the general election, Governor Romney’s statements and record in the private sector will be relentlessly parsed over by the opposition in excruciating detail to frighten off swing voters. This is why we need a fair primary that is not prematurely cut short by the GOP establishment using Alinsky tactics to kneecap Governor Romney’s chief rival.

As I said in my speech in Iowa last September, the challenge of this election is not simply to replace President Obama. The real challenge is who and what we will replace him with. It’s not enough to just change up the uniform. If we don’t change the team and the game plan, we won’t save our country. We truly need sudden and relentless reform in Washington to defend our republic, though it’s becoming clearer that the old guard wants anything but that. That is why we should all be concerned by the tactics employed by the establishment this week.

It calls to mind TJIC’s maxim about government, that its primary purpose is to serve government workers. Power is zero-sum. The establishment aims to preserve itself.