by Sally Zelikovsky
While conservatives are celebrating Tuesday’s election, caught up in the fantasy of “Whew, we really dodged a bullet with this midterm,” I’m a bit more somber. Well, downright disgusted and depressed, actually.
This election, especially the close calls we managed to win, should be a wake-up call, not a sigh of relief to conservatives.
It’s true, it could have been worse and, as far as midterms go, this wasn’t the blue wave or bloodbath it could have been. That said, this was pretty grim, folks. We lost governorships in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, and, OMG, Wisconsin. As of this writing, we don’t know about Connecticut, which could be a slim Republican victory, and Georgia’s Ms. Abrams is holding out ‘til the bitter end, looking for more votes wherever she can find them to hold over that “black vote suppressor” Kemp’s head. Neither victory, however, can assuage the loss.
And the Senate. Oh, yes, I know we won and picked up Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota. These were admittedly big takebacks from the Democrats that help us considerably with judicial appointments, but perhaps the biggest plus is that this larger Senate majority insulates us from the stranglehold RINOs like Murkowski and Collins have often held over us being the one or two holdouts or sellouts on important votes. That said, who knows what kind of havoc RINO Romney will wreck with his holier than thou attitude, believing himself to be the white knight who will save Republicanism from the Dread Populist Trump? I can only pray Romney just keeps his mouth shut and supports Trump, unlike McCain. Really, this Republican self-criticism and self-flagellation, bowing to the media gods begging their forgiveness for every verbal transgression…just has to stop.
Our RINOs and critics of Trump need to take a breath and take a lesson from the leftwing playbook: a united front and a united vote at all costs. In the politics of our day, the individual must yield to the party no matter how distasteful. I promise you that all of those moderate House Democrats who won last night won’t be so moderate when voting time comes. And here is the thing: this isn’t new for Pelosi. We shouldn’t be caught off guard by it. She has a history of finding moderate Democrats to run in red districts on a (surprise!) moderate platform. In exchange for their loyalty once elected, she rewards them with movement in the party hierarchy, coveted committee appointments, support and funding for their future campaigns. If anyone intimates her or she might vote against Pelosi, she browbeats them into compliance with that gavel under the threat of losing all of the above. Folks, she did this in 2008, remember? My, we conservatives have short memories.
But the fact is, we barely eked out victories in Florida and Texas -- two races that should have been a piece of cake. If anyone has any place in its crosshairs, it is the Democrat ground game machine that is working diligently and systematically to turn these two states blue and using the template they used in Colorado in the early 2000s. This was laid out in gory detail by Rob Witwer and Adam Schrager in The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care) -- required reading for any Republican strategist and candidate and a book and an approach I’ve highlighted over the years in numerous articles. Has anyone in the GOP ever read that? If so, you are way overdue for a re-read. The Democrat blueprint is even more high octane today versus in the early 2000’s because of enhanced technology, the ubiquity of technology, and the changing demographics in this country. Are we doing anything to combat this? Do we have our own blueprint?
And by the way, it’s not only Texas and Florida. Arizona and Nevada are too close for comfort and never should have been, but again, the Republican bases in these states have been systematically appropriated by OFA and MoveON and an entire host of new organizations whose names I don’t even know, to turn them blue -- working on union workers in Vegas, illegals, Hispanics, college students and women throughout both states.
And there’s more good news. If you are worried about illegal aliens having the right to vote or just voting anyway because our registration systems are ridiculously porous and requiring ID to prove who you are is racist, just wait! Soon to be an initiative on your state’s future ballot, is the re-institution of voting privileges for millions of felons -- the types who’ll be thrilled to vote for all the lawyers, prosecutors, AGs, and military types who often run for office. As if it weren’t bad enough, as of last night the Democrats will likely add to their rosters the felon vote in Florida, putting the razor thin wins yesterday of Rick Scott for Senate and Ron De Santis for Governor in jeopardy for tomorrow.
This election, especially the close calls we managed to win, should be a wake-up call, not a sigh of relief to conservatives. And let me tell you, the ones we lost we may never regain. It’s just the way things go especially in congressional elections which are more localized. How did the Democrats win? Not with superior candidates but with superior fighting power -- gobs of money, incredible organization and mobilization, registering voters everywhere they appeared, appeals to women, minorities and the youth, and, of course, characterizing Republican candidates as racist, rich, big corporate types who want conversion therapy for the gays and transgenders they hate -- and telling tall tales about evil Republicans who want to annihilate health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions -- a lie that was easily refutable but was just kind of glossed over by our candidates, if not outright ignored.
I’m not even going to get into the state legislatures that were flipped to the Democrats (at least four, at last count).
Anyone who actually believes that the 46 or 50 Democrats who pledged they would not vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker, will in fact comply with this heartfelt pledge (asserted only to get elected by moderates who might swing right), is outta their cotton pickin’ minds. Her chits are in. She funneled millions to these elections with a wink and a nod. Remember her saying “I say to the candidates, do whatever you have to do, just win, baby….only then after the election will I ask people for their support.” That means, sure, take the pledge to vote for anyone but me for Speaker -- wink, wink -- as long as you win. We’ll reconcile matters after we get the House. Just watch -- she’ll have that gavel in her hand faster than you can say “Bob’s your uncle” and won’t let it out of her cold dead hands even when she is 6 feet under.
But voters have long memories. One silver lining to this entire Speaker Pelosi hullaballoo is the potential backlash in 2020 for any newly elected Democrats representative who breaks their pledges by voting for Pelosi in their very first House vote. You’d think voters would learn at some point and not be so gullible. I’m hanging onto that silver lining like it was my only lifeline.
Every Senate pick-up we had was because of Trump. Republicans and conservatives sat back while he did the work for us. What do I mean by that? We had such a lousy GOTV effort. Did we even have a ground game? What was our message? More Trump? Less Trump? Economic progress? The Caravan? Kavanaugh? Sure, all of that helped bring people to the polls and, I admit, had we not done that, the blue babbling brook might have indeed been a blue tsunami. But the only emails I got from Republicans were asking for money. The emails I was inundated with from the DNC, OFA and MoveOn were all about organizing and mobilizing. They told me where to meet, what to say, where and when to vote. The offered rides to the polls, help with registration. They were all over college campuses. They told me who to call, what to write, what to say.
You might not tolerate ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC but you sure better watch them every once-in-a-while to be jolted out of your talk radio, Fox News, Drudge Report bubble.
And you better be willing to give up that vacation or use your free time not for your hobbies, but to get involved in the elections where you can make a difference. Otherwise, this country is lost. Gone-zo. I’m not being alarmist. I am just, once again, sounding the alarm. You know, ringing the bell: The Democrats are Coming, The Democrats are Coming! Again, we cannot rely on Trump and only Trump to do the ground work for us.
We can’t just show up to fabulous, energizing conventions and rallies and go home and think our vote is all that matters. While it is true that Democrats finance protesters and volunteers, bus them in and give then a sign and a snack, it is true we don’t do that. That’s a huge disadvantage to the GOP. But the Democrats also have people who volunteer every free moment they have for the cause. The might support progressives like Bernie Sanders but, in the end they coalesce, in unity, in lock-step, without uttering a peep in opposition, around a Hillary Clinton. We don’t have as many volunteers as the left and the few we have get burned out because it all falls on their shoulders. If you learned anything from the Tea Party it was about the value of participation and the empowerment that comes from it.
If we don’t get it together soon, if someone doesn’t come out with a centralized strategy and a formula for people to follow in every state in every locality, a formula they can tweak to meet their local needs; if we don’t get Republicans to run as independents in some key states under secret promise to caucus with the GOP; if we don’t reach the youth and women and minorities even more than we have; if we do not have organizations that are prepared at a moment’s notice to do what they have to do in support of a candidate, to rally, to protest, to show up; if we don’t have a centralized website that serves as a portal for all information you could possibly need in organizing, getting out the vote, meeting with other people; if we don’t figure out how to utilize the net, YouTube, Instagram to reach the youth or those in remote areas; if we don’t support the President and our candidates in lock-step, and most importantly, if we don’t field excellent candidates around whom we swarm to protect them from leftwing invective, accusations, and lies…we will lose this country. I promise you that.
Remember how good it felt to swarm around and fight for Brett Kavanaugh? To punch back against the media? We need to keep that backbone. Remember how it felt to watch or attend all of those Trump rallies this last month? That passion and energy has to be translated into grassroots action.
This election wasn’t a fatal bullet to the head but it was shot to the femoral artery and we are bleeding out while the enemy is dancing on our heads. We won with some last minute work by the President and the work of some good people on the ground. But it wasn’t enough. We were lucky with some of the wins we did have, but the next time, we won’t be so lucky. Trump can win the presidency but he cannot win every race.
It’s your country, if you can keep it.
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