2022: The Smart Money is On . . .

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

Democrats are facing political headwinds almost everywhere these days. But Republicans have problems, too.

I know, because I’m one of them. I’m a registered Republican, but a lousy party guy.

Savvy local candidates campaign strictly on local issues. In my area, Republican nominees, generally, win local offices, so registering “R” to vote in closed primaries makes sense. If Democrats were a majority here, I’d register “D” to help nominate their least-objectionable contenders.

Nationally, the parties share a problem. Its name is “Donald Trump.”

Understandably, perhaps, Democrats refused to accept President Trump’s 2016 election, but, establishment Republicans didn’t like it very much either.

Unlike Democrats, though, Mr. Trump’s debate presence and ultimate victory had a beneficial effect on the Republican Party.

Trump exposed party fissures that revealed its most troublesome, fickle wing to be the GOP establishment.

Trump forced establishment Republicans to publicly address some issues many/most would rather have avoided, among them the relationships between/among securing America’s southern border, illegal immigration and national security.

Granted, both parties’ insiders try to control nominations, especially for national offices. But, GOP insiders tend to give the party’s conservative wing lip service only. Party conservatives are an amorphous, engaged assortment of mostly middle-class, normally-reliable voters who seek fiscally-sound, constitutional government and see America’s strength, sovereignty and traditional values fading – in other words, people like me.

Institutional Republicans rationalize assuming conservative support by thinking, “Who else are they gonna vote for?”

If that worked, President Mitt Romney would have served two terms.

The answer is “no one,” and, if party regulars and big money insiders had imposed another establishment favorite in 2016, large numbers of conservatives would have voted for “no one” again.

In a 2015 article entitled, “The Republican Party’s Surrender Politics,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote: “In 2010, we were told that Republicans would stand and fight if only we had a Republican House. In 2014, we were told that Republicans would…fight…as soon as we won a majority in the Senate… In both instances, the American people obliged” – after which congressional Republicans lost or capitulated on nearly every vital issue.

GOP insiders dislike conservative “insurgencies,” e.g., Tea Parties, but there would be no insurgencies if party regulars were more attentive to/respectful of conservatives’ policy preferences.

Conservative Republicans knew that a brash, combative political novice wasn’t an ideal presidential nominee, but they saw unimaginative, uninspiring candidates selected/backed by Republican insiders and moneymen lose winnable races in 1996, 2008 and 2012.

To establishment Republicans’ shock and dismay, by 2016, “Jeb!” wasn’t even semi-viable.

In effect, GOP passivity and the party establishment’s decades-long disregard for conservatives nominated Donald Trump. Of course, facing an unthinkable alternative helped him win the presidency.

Nonetheless, a number of prominent Republican insiders, a/k/a, “Never-Trumpers,” actively supported/voted for Hillary Clinton.

Some rigid establishment figures who cannot discard their personal animosities still resist Trump’s party influence. Republican elites clearly miss the “good old days” when things were “normal.”

But, “old normal” is passé – for now, at least – possibly obsolete.

Donald Trump yanked open the door to the GOP establishment’s “country club” and admitted millions of working-class voters who were a critical part of his winning coalition. It’s a group on whom Republican insiders would be foolish to turn their backs. That’s how Democrats lost them.

Years ago, liberal media dubbed Republicans “the Stupid Party.” Is it?

The court’s out.

Witness: During a recent televised interview, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was asked if he/his committee would support the reelection of senators like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, whose challenger in next year’s primary has already received Donald Trump’s endorsement.

Scott replied, “Absolutely. … We support all of our incumbents.”

Murkowski was one of seven Republican senators who, in a sham impeachment trial, voted to convict President Trump. And in Senate votes, Murkowski is the senator second-most-likely to break with her party.

Scott cannot be that obtuse. In his defense, though, Scott’s response might have been reflexive, a throwback to the Senate’s (vestigial) “collegiality.”

Alaska will elect a Republican senator, but, there and in most 2022 federal office primary contests between establishment-sponsored and Trump-endorsed candidates, the smart money’s on the latter.

After all, on November 2, Trump-endorsed candidates, including two blue-state underdogs, went 4-0.

Not bad, huh?