Why the Establishment Needs to Get Out of the Way this Time

Dole Kemp

It’s an endless cycle. Every election year, I preach the same message. It used to be through letters to the editor. Then, the blogosphere and social media came around and made things easier. Regardless of the venue, I can’t seem to get over the hump that the Republican establishment mounts every 2-4 years, but that won’t deter me from trying.

We cannot put up another moderate establishment presidential candidate. It simply doesn’t work.

Before the naysayers attack, let’s look at the recent history of the party since 1976. It was then that the republican establishment formed to clean up the party and push for victories over ideology. We were stung by the loss to Jimmy Carter and we vowed to not let such a thing happen again. The first attempt was Ronald Reagan, someone who was an ideal establishment candidate. Conservative when he needed to be such as with foreign affairs, moderate with other issues, galvanizing, charismatic… he was the model that they wanted to build upon.

His campaign was one that was based upon very conservative ideals while sprinkling in moderation for the sake of continuity and the lost art of crossing the aisle for support. Whether you loved him or not, he demonstrated that running on a conservative platform worked in America.

George H. W. Bush ran on the same platform. He won as a conservative. His presidency turned more and more moderate. The further to the center that he went, the harder it became for him to win and as a result, he lost in 1992. Bob Dole came in and was further left than Bush. He, too, lost.

George W. Bush came in with a conservative agenda and a bold style. That won the first election. He turned out to be hawkish on foreign policy but very soft domestically and had it not been for the Iraq war and swift boats, he would have lost in 2004 as a result of his moderate fiscal leanings. The rest is certainly still embedded in memory – moderate [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ] and moderate Mitt Romney failed miserably against President Obama.

As I watch the media and the republican establishment pushing for Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and John Kasich, I’m forced to call once again for the party to wake up. Moderates don’t win, at least when they’re positioned as such. George W. Bush might have proven to be too moderate on many issues, but his campaign did not echo that sentiment.

The left knows this. If you look at Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as examples, they are less liberal than their campaigns portrayed. This may be hard for conservatives to see, but it’s true. Both ran on leftist platforms and were able to get the vote based upon their passion for action (regardless of how ineffective it turned out to be).

If the American voters were informed, then the opposite might be true. It would probably make sense to try to appeal to a wider base by running as a moderate, but the electorate is not informed. They know more about Bruce Jenner’s life and opinions than they know about Hillary Clinton or Ben Carson. They spend more time researching the latest diet craze than the platforms of candidates.

The democrats know this. They have banked on it. They know that the way to manipulate the American voters is with wild promises and catchy slogans, with hateful spin in the media and with wildly passionate supporters. The republican establishment still tries to appeal to the intellect and I wouldn’t change that. However, spurring Americans to think requires a different type of medication than what the republican establishment delivers. If the democrats offer placebos to fix the country, the republican establishment offers Flinstones vitamins.

America needs a hypodermic needle to fix things. We need real medicine that can only properly be administered by a true conservative president. At this point, I don’t know for certain who that person is. [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]? Ben Carson? Scott Walker? We’ll have to wait and see.

What we cannot do is try the same thing that has failed every time we’ve tried it in the last four decades – put up a moderate republican as our candidate. I appreciate that this particular venue is not as conservative as I would like, but I also acknowledge that Red State has done a nice job as a venue for discussion. It is my sincere hope that the fear within the republican establishment of candidates who might be too polarizing will not continue to pervade this site. The reality is that the true conservatism is the only path to the White House and the best path for the country.