Republicans Can Win Boxer’s Senate Seat

AP Photo
AP Photo

Boxer’s Senate seat is the GOP’s to lose.  

But you’d never know it reading the news coverage.  Pundits have already awarded the seat to one of the many Democrats rumored to run.  Ironic that early rumors had two Democrat billionaires as possible suitors.

I wonder how that would go.   Would they tone down the class warfare rhetoric? Or would they behave like the GOP and go to war with themselves?  

Either way, it would be good for Republicans whose statewide drought has continued unabated since as long as anyone can remember.

It’s become common knowledge that Republicans can’t win because California is too liberal.  Yet that’s simply not true.

Republicans have lost because they are ruthless at stamping out grassroots candidates who make the party elite uncomfortable, then put up candidates so moderate and so boring that the grumpy, old, white extremist Democrats–Brown, Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer–win every time.

Why? Because they actually believe in what they believe in. Love or hate him, Jerry Brown has a visceral quality that you have to admire, even if you vehemently disagree with his policies.  He’s a street fighter.  

Do you even remember who the GOP put up?

If the GOP continues to follow the Karl Rove playbook, they will affirm the definition of insanity and they will continue to lose. Rove’s plan for California, in the first gubernatorial race conducted under the “jungle primary” rules, was to bring all the power and resources of the GOP establishment to destroy the conservative candidate in order to lose the general election with a more moderate, less offensive candidate.

In the general, Rove’s strategy worked like a charm–and Republicans lost.  His chosen one–who admitted voting for Obama and ran the massive bank bailout for billionaires, known as TARP–performed worse than any of the more conservative, less well-funded candidates.

Getting only 40% of the vote in a year when Republican candidates up and down the state far outperformed voter registration is indefensible, given how many consultants and pundits claimed that a moderate was the best chance for victory against Brown.

Since trying the same thing over and over again, and hoping for a different result, is both the definition of insanity and the GOP’s only play, the party has got nothing to lose by trying something new.  

A Modest Proposal: Why doesn’t the GOP attempt to broker a truce in the ongoing civil war between the elitist establishment and grassroots activist wings of the party?

If you could unite those forces behind the primary winner and focus all the resources ordinarily spent attacking each other on attacking the Democrats and the policies that have hurt average Californians, Republicans might reach a different result—a victory, for a change.  

Since losing the Republican nomination last year for governor, I’ve given a lot of thought to a method that might create an environment for cooperation instead of civil war. It sounds so obvious, but it’s easier said than done. 

The Democrats do it. But the GOP establishment has made it clear that they will do everything in their power to destroy the more conservative candidate, and then abandon the moderate sucker who wins the nomination. 

That’s what they did to Kashkari, and that’s what they’ll do to whomever prevails in the big money race for Boxer’s seat.  And then the activist base will refuse to help after a bloody primary, and we will lose all over again.

Why not call a meeting of both GOP establishment and conservative leaders in California, and get them to agree to a strategy as a party? The basic strategy is very simple.

Let the people pick the candidate. Then everyone–activists and donors alike–agree to back the primary winner through the general election. Instead of squandering tens of millions in the primary, perhaps the money could be pledged to support the Republican victor, regardless of whether he or she is a conservative or a liberal Republican.

You might think that’s how it works, but after having been through a brutal primary election–where the divisive tactics of my own party and major national figures who were brought in to defeat me were enough to make a used car salesman blush–I can attest that there was no attempt whatsoever to bring about any unity. The ugliness turned off all the new people I was bringing into politics and into our party.

After a month, it became clear to me that they didn’t want my help, nor the help of my supporters. That’s a sad commentary on those who’ve made unity the theme of almost everything they do, while doing everything they can to divide our party.

The Downside: Does the strategy have risks?

Sure, I might be forced to support a candidate with whom I disagree on major issues. That might cost me some political capital. Oh, and one other downside is that there would be a sharp rise in unemployment among political consultants. Instead of siphoning off precious financial resources from campaigns to their yacht payments and vacation funds, that money could go into battling socialism in a state choking on it.

The Upside: OK, but what do we gain?

If we can keep the likes of Karl Rove and Charles Munger, Jr. from decimating the enthusiasm of the activist base by banning their antics from the primary, then the hardest-working candidate with the strongest message is most likely to advance to the general election. 

Then, if the GOP and its major donors keep their word, tens of millions will be spent advancing the Republican message and attacking the Democrat policies that have hurt so many Californians. 

And if conservative leaders and activists keep their word, the well-funded campaign will have a grassroots army to spread the message of individual liberty, limited government and popular consent instead of seeking to rule over us.

Then even if we lose, we’ll have done something worthwhile in spreading Republicanism across a state suffering a shortage of hope.  

Working together. Novel concept, huh?  

Sure. But it’s one of those ideas that just might work–if we work it.


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