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.