Moderate and MAGA Republicans

A recent New York Post editorial excoriated Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) political action committee for backing “MAGAite Don Bolduc” over “moderate GOP Senate candidate Chuck Morse” in the New Hampshire Republican primary. This was obviously a cynical attempt by the Democrats to help right-leaning Republicans win primaries so their Democratic rivals could beat them easily in November. The presence of such electoral opponents, moreover, would lend credence to Joe Biden’s attacks on “MAGA extremists.” Indeed, the unsettling presence of real Trumpites on the ballot, according to the Post, would give the Democrats an issue to run on absent any real accomplishments by the present administration.

Clearly, however, there is more than one reason the Post and other vehicles of moderate Republicanism are scolding the Democrats for promoting figures on the populist Right. Even if Republicans like Bolduc in New Hampshire, Blake Masters in Arizona, and Doug Mastriano, running for governor in Pennsylvania, win their respective races, they still won’t be on the same page with those who now disapprove of their candidacies. For the Republican center, a disqualifying charge raised against “MAGA candidates” is that they are “election deniers”—or were known to be such in the past. This, according to the Post, is why the very vulnerable New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan would lose to the moderate Morse by two points, according to a University of New Hampshire poll, but would edge out Bolduc by one point. 

Of course, I have no idea why Bolduc couldn’t easily surmount a one-point deficit running against a collapsing Democratic incumbent. He is certainly within striking distance, seven weeks from the election, as the Democratic administration in D.C. careens from one disaster to another. 

Equally open to question is why we should give the boot to a Republican candidate for having questioned the official results of the 2020 presidential election. There are certainly multiple grounds for reexamining that event, which contributors to this website have laid out in exhausting detail. 

I also haven’t noticed the usual “moderate” suspects lacing into Democrats who have stridently challenged Republican electoral victories. The invention of the Steele dossier and the propagation of the Trump-Russia collusion hoax were attempts pushed by leading Democrats, with the assistance of the corporate press and the Secret Service, to undo an election they had lost. In comparison to their utterly unscrupulous Democratic counterparts, Republican “election deniers” have been relatively reserved. If Democrats have equated all Republican election critics with those who broke into the Capitol on January 6, that is hardly the fault of Republican candidates who are now running for office.

Election denying, however, may not be the strong suit for Republican office-seekers right now; and the best approach may well be the one Mastriano has taken in my state, which is hammering on the bad economy, open borders, and surging crime rate and promising to protect our enormous energy industry. Like other populist Republicans, Mastriano, a longtime vocal “election-denier” seems to have turned the page and now stresses with regard to the 2020 election the need to make sure past irregularities do not occur again. Mastriano is prudently pivoting away from his known views on the 2020 election, given the negative reaction this could engender among our state’s electorate. But those who hope to check the Biden Administration should not scorn candidates who were “election deniers.” Such figures have shown a fighting spirit that is desirable in resisting the Left. 

This brings me to my main point. Do we really want the Republican opposition to the Democrats, especially while Biden is swinging away at MAGA “semi-fascists,” to beg for a return to “bipartisanship”? I would think the occasion calls for exactly the opposite. There is value, for example, in having someone like J. D. Vance take the place of “moderate” Republican senator Rob Portman in Ohio. Vance would replace Amy Klobuchar’s favorite Republican with someone who is likely to become the bane of Klobuchar and other Senate Democrats. Portman, by the way, has fought for years for a bill that would federalize gay marriage, an action that has made this Ohio “moderate,” beloved to other “moderates,” quite popular among the LGBT crowd. (What about the constitutional right residing in the states to decide such a matter as gay marriage?) 

If there is any reason that races are closer this fall than they should be, it is that Republican candidates are being gravely underfunded by their PACs, as Kimberley Strassel points out in a recent column. While vacuous or radically woke Democratic candidates are being flooded with hundreds of millions of dollars courtesy of coastal elites, Republicans are lacking the necessary funding to wage effective campaigns. Strassel points to the underfunded Blake Masters in Arizona, who should be able to overtake struggling Mark Kelly for the Senate, but who has barely enough funds to stay in his race. This, and not the supposed lack of “moderation” among Republican candidates, is the main obstacle to a victory over the Democrats in November. 

About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

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