Richard Viguerie, one of the godfathers of the modern conservative movement, attacked the Republican establishment and urged conservatives and Tea Party activists to focus on primaries in 2014 and 2016 to win the battle for the heart and soul of the party. He said this fight is of more importance right now than the battle with Democrats.
Speaking at The New York Meeting on Monday, Viguerie, who pioneered direct mail and has sent over seven billion pieces and counting, said direct mail “enabled conservatives to bypass the mainstream media for the first time and connect with Americans.”
Viguerie, who most recently wrote, Takeover: Winning the 100-year war for the soul of the GOP and how conservatives can finally win it, said he refers to himself as “003” because no movement conservative has been active at the national level longer than himself besides Lee Edwards at the Heritage Foundation and Phyllis Schlafly.
With new media and cable television breaking down even more barriers, Viguerie said conservatives are extremely close to winning the battle between movement conservatives and establishment Republicans that is taking place inside the Republican Party.
He said when establishment Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) become the faces of the opposition that Democrats can prop up, Republicans lose. He said the GOP lost Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008 because of the corruption and ineptitude of the big-government Republican leadership.
Viguerie said those losses had “everything to do with the failed, immoral, and corrupt leadership of the Republicans.”
“We’ve been losing because of these leaders,” he said. “We are not going to get to the political promised land until we get new leaders.”
He said there have been four great conservative triumphs–Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, the Contract with America in 1994, and the Tea Party revolution in 2010–and conservatives must focus first relentlessly on the primaries to have another monumental uprising.
Viguerie said the mantra for conservatives should be, “it’s the primaries, stupid.”
“If we focus on the primaries in 2014 and 2016, I think we can be governing again in 2017,” Viguerie declared.
He said “big-government Republicans” made a conscious effort to divide the party after 2010 and declare war instead of trying to unite it like Reagan did. And that is why conservatives needed to be more vigilant in their organizational efforts. Viguerie recommended that conservatives look to Breitbart News contributor Michael Patrick Leahy and Dan Schultz in Arizona for ideas.
He also said Republicans in general need to do a better job of emphasizing the shared values that can unite whites, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians. He said after former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels called on the party to call a truce on social issues in 2011, Republican leaders stupidly and inexplicably listened–even when Democrats attacked the party with wedge social issues. Not surprisingly, Republicans promptly got clobbered without putting up a defense.
Viguerie, who now runs ConservativeHQ.com, said he was disappointed that Republicans did not stand up to Democrats on social issues in 2012 and mentioned that they still had not learned their lesson in Virginia in 2013 when they failed to inform Virginians that liberal Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who got elected governor, was for sex-selection abortion. Virginians had no clue about McAuliffe’s radical stances because Republican and their consultants were too afraid to speak about social issues and, as a result, they lost Virginia’s gubernatorial race.
Viguerie also told the audience that when things seem bleak for conservatives to remember that it was considerably worse when he first got into politics. He said conservatives should appreciate how far what Professor Angelo Codevilla has called the “country class” has come in combating the elite “ruling class.”
Mallory Factor and O’Brien Murray host the monthly The New York Meeting. Fox’s David Asman, Forbes‘ Carrie Sheffield, and the Daily Mail‘s David Martosko made up Monday’s panel.