Where Card Went Wrong

I know Bill Card.

I have worked with Bill Card many times before as a unit chair. I know how dedicated he is, how tough of a job he has in Prince William.

But I know that, in his Op/Ed on Bearing Drift, he is dead wrong.

It wasn’t a very coherent piece, but if I may summarize:

The TEA Party isn’t welcome, if they are to be Republicans they must become more like other Republicans who were there before, and conservative candidates have no right to run against those ordained by establishment folks.

Well, that doesn’t sound like the Bill Card I know. But then, it didn’t sound like the Bill Card I know either when I heard he was disrespectfully leading boos of Shak Hill during the candidate’s speech at the Roanoke Convention.

He thinks the TEA Party and the conservatives must become more like the Establishment? He thinks they need to give way to Establishment candidates?

If that’s what he thinks, he could not be more wrong.

1. Without the TEA Party, without conservatives, Republicans stand no chance of winning.

Dick Morris once observed that the Democrats are a coalition of identity politic groups; single women + Blacks + Hispanics +white liberals + others. In contrast, Republicans are ideological; we take conservatives from any group. This is very relevant here. We have many factions that make up our coalition, and they are ideological ones.

Social conservatives. Libertarians. Foreign policy conservatives. Neocons. TEA Party. Chamber of Commerce. Moderates. Fiscal conservatives. There are others as well, but here is the major point:

Republicans cannot win without every single one of them.

Every oar in this boat must be rowing in the same direction for us to win. If any faction deserts, we lose.

So we cannot afford to go antagonizing any part of the coalition. Which is why Card’s juvenile actions at the Convention, and his “nah nah nah” Op/Ed, make no sense and are counterproductive.

You backed Gillespie, fine. But know that Ed has no chance, ZERO, without Shak Hill’s conservative supporters. None. Ed knows this- and so does Shak. That is why Shak magnanimously called for unity with Ed- because otherwise there is no chance of unseating Warner.

And what does Bill Card do? He goes out of his way to offend Shak and his supporters.

I saw no end of complaining by Eric Cantor’s supporters after the primary in the 7th that Brat’s supporters were rubbing it in. Dave’s supporters needed cooler heads to prevail- because without Eric’s supporters, Dave cannot win the general. And winning a nomination fight without winning the general is pointless.

Ed now needs cooler heads to prevail and to police classless behavior like Card’s. Every time someone says something like Card did, meant to offend and discount entire segments of the Republican coalition, it lessens the chance his own candidate will win the election.

Not smart, when anyone does it. If you can’t respect and value the other parts of the coalition at least to some degree, you do not deserve to be a leader in the party.

2. Conservative candidates do not need to kneel before anointed Establishment candidates.

First of all, this is a Republic where the people are sovereign. Not any person or party- the people.

We as a party of the people should not be anointing anyone. We are not Whigs. Anyone who makes the difficult decision to sacrifice and run for office, God bless them- they should be offered praise, not scorn.

But there is a bigger dynamic at work that Card, Ray Allen and others are clearly missing here:

People are angry!

They are angry at big government socialist Democrats.
They are angry at big government corporatist Republicans.

They think power is all that matters to both parties and they are disgusted with it, and with politics in general. That anger is manifested on the right by the populist TEA Party.

Mainly, they just want to be left alone. They are rightly concerned about government spending and debt. And they don’t want rhetoric- they want results, and have gotten none.

They should be mad!

People on the left are angry, people in the middle are angry, people on the right are angry- and too often, politicians are caught bring in politics for power’s sake and not to actually move the needle in a productive direction.

If you don’t understand that anger, you are likely to get swept up in it. The mood of the country is frustrated. If our party does not acknowledge this, and actually make meaningful efforts to address it beyond rhetoric, we will lose- but more importantly, we will deserve to lose.

Our future is in being defenders of liberty, defenders of freedom. If our party will not do this in a meaningful way, we will be consigned to the trash heap of history. And deservedly so.

Card’s efforts to dismiss and discount the anger Americans feel right now toward their government and toward politicians is dangerous coming from someone in a position of leadership. I have never known Bill Card to be someone who does not rise to the challenges of leadership. It is time for him to take a good look around him, take notice of the mood of the country- and lead accordingly.

Ultimately, we need the Bill Cards of the world on our side- and we need them to be leaders. But being a leader means not demeaning or discouraging enormous segments of our coalition. Some look like they get this. Let’s hope the rest do too.


3 thoughts on “Where Card Went Wrong

  1. I don’t think that is quite what Bill intended in his piece.

    TEA Party is meant to stand for “Taxed Enough Already” and goes back to Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus bill, Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC calling for a new tea party, etc. It has now become a vehicle for some to air gripes that derive more from personalities and tactics than actual policy differences.

    That is why it is crucial that we get back to advancing the policies that unite TEA Party and rank-and-file GOPers.

  2. Mr. Thomas,

    My piece was not about Shak Hill. The decision in Roanoke was a no brainer for me as it was for 60% of the convention. My piece was a response to things that I have had to deal with throughout my time in Prince William County in trying to work with the TEA Party. In that time selected people keep bringing up the issues as I stated and they were reinforced after the convention.

    How can a TEA Party activist come to terms with Republicans if these various myths are continued to be reinforced? My attempt was to bring to light five main areas that get thrown back in my face when I talk to leaders and activists (GOP “attacks,” Party control of elections, Equating the Party with flawed or rouge individuals, the pejorative labeling of “Establishment,” and the fact that people aren’t one size fits all). Leadership has to be responsible and focus on the actual bad guys and we’re going to have to allow for differences without coming unglued.

    I thought the TEA Party would be the last best hope of mankind too – now I don’t know. I can tell you how it worked the last time as my mother was part of the Reagan Revolution and it happened inside the Party. She started as a precinct captain in Sunnyvale, California for Barry Goldwater. It’s work, it takes time, you have to grind it out – there is no silver bullet. People seem to believe that Reagan burst onto the National stage but in reality he came up through the ranks – he was our two-term governor in California. That “revolution” started in 1964 and came to fruition in 1980.

    Don’t get me wrong. Not all TEA Party folks believe and advance these myths. In fact, there are plenty of great TEA Party conservatives, especially in my County, that fully understand the benefit of unity and team-work. They believe Reagan’s admonition that my “80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.” The primary message of my column was to encourage ALL Virginia TEA Party patriots to join our broad coalition of limited government citizens to support our GOP nominee and retire Mark Warner and Harry Reid and save our state from Democratic tyranny.

    On a lighter note – I actually had the “hop in the boat and help us row” metaphor in my original piece but it was removed to fit within the confines of the space. That’s really the sad part in all this – tens of thousands laboring at the oars in Virginia – there has always been a seat in the boat for you.

    Kindest Regards,

  3. Bill, I appreciate your response, but again, you’re talking past the issue.

    First, when you open your piece expressing “shock” that anyone could support a different candidate than you did, you are allowing for a certain degree of closed-mindedness that comes through in your writing.

    The TEA Party members feel angry- and they should be. For someone (like me) who wants government smaller, regulations less, legislators from both sides of the aisle have been bitter disappointments.

    We want to see specifics- what are the policies you support? What are your plans? We see precious little of that these days.

    I would say we can’t win without unity, but at the same time the credibility of “longtime” Republican politicians has come up short on shrinking the size and scope of government. If you want unity, address that point meaningfully.

    Otherwise, you’ll find a great number of the party base- without which the party’s candidates cannot win- standing at the gates with pitchforks and torches. And they will deserve to be there.

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