Elites overlook power of populists

As always, when conservative insurgencies fall short, as happened with Doug Hoffman’s monthlong quest to win in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, the establishments of both national parties fail to comprehend the meaning of it all.

Forget that Hoffman was a neophyte or that he was badly outspent by his Democratic opponent or that the national Republican establishment forked over $1 million to the most liberal candidate in the race, Dede Scozzafava, or that Hoffman was viciously attacked by her and that same Republican Party establishment. His race was nonetheless a victory for populist conservatism, disgusted with the “insiderism” and corruption of both political parties.

Republicans, meanwhile, are high-fiving themselves over their wins in Virginia and New Jersey. But in both cases, voters were faced with the choice of two parties they have come to loathe. Last year, the nation picked Barack Obama because he wasn’t George W. Bush, and this time, voters chose Republicans not because of them but in spite of them.

These GOP apparatchiks are whistling past what could be their own graveyard.

A message has been sent, but if the reaction of former Virginia Rep. Tom Davis – a self-described “moderate” – is any guide, then the Republican house is still not answering its front door, instead wishing conservative populists would go around to the back entrance.

On the Wednesday after the election, Davis appeared on Laura Ingraham’s national radio show and proceeded to brand the tea party protesters, conservative activists and those sickened by the behaviors of the governing elites as “unsophisticated.”

Ingraham, as a Reaganite, has as good a finger as anyone (and better than most) on the pulse of the people of this country and was aghast at Davis’s dismissive comments.

From experience and observation, it is the commentariat, it is the intelligentsia, and it is the “beautiful people” of Washington, Los Angeles and New York who are the unsophisticated, who are the anti-intellectuals, who are the ill-mannered and who are the rude.

Money, celebrity and access are no substitute for common sense, timeless values and decency.

Only among this group came the cocktail approbation when President Obama claimed that he inherited a huge deficit and the only way to shrink it was to grow it. The beautiful people all cooed while the rest of the country scratched its head and said, “That doesn’t make any sense.”

Of course, the “common-sense people” have been proven right.

Obama (and the Republicans) are sailing into dangerous waters. The GOP continues to be dense about the populist anger out there, not just at the überelitist Obama playing George to the clueless GOP, aka Lennie. Of men and mice, indeed.

Under Obama’s policies, he is reorganizing the Democratic Party into the elitist coalition, representing Big Government, big bankers, big Wall Street, big universities, big Hollywood – all protected under the mantra of “too big to fail.” However, the mantra for the rest of America is “If it is too big, then it should fail.”

They know what the elitists refuse to understand. “Bigness” inevitably leads to corruption. Bigness inevitably leads to a diminution of personal freedoms. The rules that the rest of America abides by, whether paying taxes or not using cell phones while driving, are not followed by the elites. Indeed, at the elitists’ core is a fervent belief of themselves as somehow better – or at least more privileged – than the “little people.” They are getting the shaft while the elites are riding the elevator.

Ronald Reagan as early as 1977 took it to the tattered remains of the GOP, calling for a “New Republican Party” that was not the party of the country clubs and the corporate boardrooms but, rather, of the “individual” and not of the “group.” In order to win, the party needed to reach out to the men and women of Main Street – to the cop, the homemaker, the religious leader, the shopkeeper.

The GOP has a simple choice: Continue to be the party of “Big Government Republicanism” and of Bushism, or be the party of freedom, of the individual, of a community of shared values – and a party of the future.

Craig Shirley is the author of the newly released “Rendezvous With Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America,” the first comprehensive story of the 1980 presidential election. His firm, Shirley & Banister, was retained by Doug Hoffman to organize his national media efforts.

LOAD-DATE: April 15, 2010

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

PUBLICATION-TYPE: Web Publication

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *