The battles for the House speakership and the chair of the Republican National Committee created endless angst within the GOP and joy in the corporate media. But they were both necessary and healthy.
The reaction by many conservative influencers whose candidate lost at the RNC, however, is neither of those things, and it’s growing ever more shrill. While the frustration level is understandably at DEFCON 1, this behavior is dangerous and self-defeating. And here is the crux of the problem: The battle for the party structure is the wrong fight.
The real fight to be having to affect change is in the primary process. For instance, if you are sick of the king of backstabbing weasels in the U.S. Senate, then Kentucky Republican primary voters need to stop choosing Mitch McConnell as the standard-bearer. But they don’t. They’ve had some good options, but they chose McConnell. Ditto for Republicans in Utah, who will undoubtedly choose the insufferable Mitt Romney again—which just sticks in the throat.
But blaming reelected RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniels or GOP leadership for primary voters’ choices is ultimately an irrational reaction borne of legitimate frustration. Not the best formula.
Instead, the all-in fight to wage is for primary voters to choose more Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Congressmen Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).
Dumping the GOP entirely—and that is the high-pitched rhetoric out there, that people listen to and act on—because you lost the vote for RNC chairman is a completely self-destructive response. We have to do much better than that.
And a first step would be to understand the fundamental role of the Republican Party, which is to register Republican voters, get out the vote at election time, and support the Republicans primary voters have chosen to represent them. And on those counts, the party was reasonably successful in 2022, news that causes many to bristle because the party did not meet expectations. (A secondary role of the GOP is issue advocacy, but that really falls more on elected representatives, as it tends to be divisive within the broad party and plenty of people within it have differing opinions.)
Leftists monolithically control universities, public schools, Hollywood movies, and TV shows, the corporate media shaping news, all of social media filtering news (except now Twitter, sort of) virtually all professional organizations from medical to legal to educational, every level of the federal government colossus . . . basically everything.
And yet, somehow, Republicans still manage to win elections. In that context, it’s actually remarkable. The likelihood that Harmeet Dhillon as RNC chairman could do better against this monolithic machine is slim to none.
So if conservative influencers are successful in persuading people to dump the Republican Party entirely, we will have seen a preview of our future in the 2020 Georgia U.S. Senate run-off when Trump and other notables encouraged Republicans not to vote because it would justify the rigged voting system. What we got from that reaction to truly legitimate 2020 election malfeasance was depressed Republican turnout and a Democratic Senate for the past two years—which has been horrible for the country.
And to be clear, I am not overstating the reaction to McDaniels’ RNC win. Let’s make an avatar of Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk, maybe the most influential young conservative in America, and an absolutely indispensable voice in the fight for our future. Personally, I’ve long admired his eloquence and the role of TPUSA. But his response to Ronna McDaniels’ easy 2-1 victory for RNC chair is bordering on suicidal for the traditionalist, conservative movement in which he is a leader.
In a post on Telegram after the McDaniels’ reelection win, Kirk wrote: “The largest slice of the RNC pie is filled with people who have a deep-seated contempt for the base energy of the party.” He is referring to the 111 who voted for McDaniel.
Kirk and others paint this stark righteousness versus evil depiction of the fight in the RNC, as though no one who voted for McDaniels did so because they honestly thought she was the best option. Instead, they must all be evil hacks afraid of the base because they disagreed with the Kirk element. In fact, they must have “contempt” for the GOP base. This echoes other conservative talkers who keep upping the rhetorical ante, stating as fact that GOP leadership “hates” you.
And so Kirk told Semafor political reporter Dave Weigel: “I can’t in good faith tell my audience, our members, or our students to continue to support the RNC, financially or otherwise.”
Financially or otherwise? So, don’t work for them, campaign for them, or vote for them? Because they hate you? Because they voted differently from what Kirk and some talkers wanted? This is enormously frustrating because I love what Charlie Kirk has accomplished in the cause of saving America. And it truly needs saving. But he could trump a lot of the good he has accomplished by urging his millions of followers to abandon the Republican Party.
As Rush Limbaugh is no longer with us, let me play Mayor of Realville for a moment: How do Kirk or others anticipate this going? What do they perceive as the endgame of leaving the GOP, ceasing to support it financially, as a volunteer, or even a voter?
I sure cannot see anything other than a catastrophic outcome. Because the reality is that there is no alternative, and no time to build one. The hour is late, and I think Charlie Kirk and others know that. One response was to try to make the changes within the GOP, which they did at the national level. This same effort in Florida, with which I am most familiar, took on the county level GOP leadership and saw some wins and some losses. Changes are happening.
In fact, across the country, not just in Florida, the party is closer to the Donald Trump America First conservative populism than the George Will starchy old GOP. The exceptions are the McConnells and Romneys. And that is on the Republican primary voters in those red states.
The process is slowest at the top, in Washington, D.C., specifically. But the legitimate anger at Mitch McConnell-type Republicans in Congress and in too many red states sloshes over into how the party is run, which is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of a political party compared to the role of individual, elected representatives who are members of the party.
Instead of attacking our own imperfect team, maybe we could all aim a united front at our actual enemies on the Left, while trying to improve the candidates we choose to represent us in the 2024 primaries.