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Hullabaloo


Thursday, June 26, 2014

 
Wherein I sympathize with Erick Erickson

by David Atkins

RedState editor and super hardline conservative Erick Erickson is steaming mad over longtime incumbent Thad Cochran's victory in Mississippi by reaching out to Democratic voters in the open primary. As a progressive activist who has strongly advocated for pushing the Democratic Party to the left through primary challenges and who detests both open primaries and jungle primaries, I have to say I sympathize with him. Erickson:

A Republican Party campaigning on making the Senate “conservative,” used liberal Democrats to preserve an incumbent Republican and defeat a conservative. The actual conservatives are the outsiders with the GOP establishment doing all it could to preserve its power at the expense of its principles.

The problem for those who call themselves Republicans is that it is harder and harder to say exactly what a Republican is these days. The great lesson from Mississippi is that Republican means, more or less, that if elected the party will reward its major donors, who are just different than the Democrats’ major donors. Policy differences are about different donors, not an actual agenda to shift the country in a different direction.

The Republicans have become the party of lobbyists, most of whom were on twitter celebrating their purchase.

Mississippi is a crystalizing election in that sense. Cochran is, for all intents and purposes, a marionette. His strings are pulled by staffers and lobbyists. They drop him onto the stage of the Senate and pull up a string to raise his hand. These puppeteers are so invested in keeping their gravy train going that they will, while claiming to be Republicans, flood a Republican primary with Obama voters to ensure their gravy train continues.
I hate to break it Erickson, but it's not as if a hardline economic libertarian agenda is at all popular, and it's even less popular when married to anti-immigrant xenophobia and antiquated theocratic values. Those big corporate lobbyist dollars are the only thing still keeping the GOP afloat. And even the tea party vs. establishment fight is really more about one greedy set of big money boys against a crazier, greedier set led by the Kochs than anything else.

Erickson also tries to pretend that the GOP's distancing itself from ACA repeal is about big donor influence, rather than the fact that it's increasingly political suicide. So, it's not as if he's less than delusional on many fronts even here.

Still, he's right in one sense: the big money boys at the top have little and less respect for the rubes who actually make up the Party's base. That divide between elite and grassroots is present on both sides, but it's especially prominent on the Right because the Right has a longer cultural history of advancing its cause through intra-party primaries.

Erickson frets (or threatens) that as the divide grows stronger, conservative voters may not actually show up and mobilize for GOP candidates. That fear tends to be overblown on the Right, but if angry tea party activists want to sit home and allow a Democrat to gain a Senate seat in Mississippi of all places, far be it from me to tell them otherwise.

Erickson closes:

I continue to oppose a third party. I’m just not sure what the Republican Party really stands for any more other than telling Obama no and telling our own corporate interests yes. That’s not much of a platform.
No, it isn't. It would genuinely be nice if the hardline Right would actually get serious about opposing "crony capitalism" and the influence of money in politics. A coalition of liberal and conservative states could in theory be enough to push forward a Constitutional amendment on the subject. It's not going to happen, but I'm happy to challenge them to put their money where their mouths are and make the attempt.

Erickson is right about the negative influence of his side's big money donors, and the fact that his party is simply a front for giving those donors what they want.

That said, he might want to consider whether the party he would like to see empowered has any viability outside of a few rural and Southern pockets of the country.


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