The Disconnect

There is a real and genuine disconnect between grassroots conservatives and many in Washington. Let’s first concede that, like with many politicians, a cult of personality has started developing around Ted Cruz, though from my vantage point it is not nearly as virulent as among some. But, there are some who, should Cruz fall flat on his face, would declare it all part of the plan and attack anyone who pointed out he wasn’t supposed to do that.Cruz, in his filibuster, quoted Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech. He noted that credit belongs to the man in the arena “who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”Cruz isn’t infallible. He admits it. But then his critics are not infallible either. Cruz, for all the flaws of his strategy, has articulated one. Other Republicans have not. They’ve only declared Cruz’s strategy, which is an actual strategy, isn’t really one because they don’t like it. John McCain, following Cruz on the floor of the Senate, declared surrender on Obamacare. Much of the base believes that privately the bulk of the GOP has given up.There is also a Cult of Destruction intent on stamping out Ted Cruz as quickly as possible — often on the pretty lame grounds that he just isn’t honoring the well established rules of the Senate that never favor the bold or those willing to lead. Cruz is unwilling to play the game the way others have played it. The Establishment likes to punish that sort. In ages past, there was no twitter or Facebook to defend the boat rockers.The base looks at Democrats after 2004 and don’t see a party that gave up, but doubled down against George W. Bush. They see a Republican Party that, after 2012, walked off the field. They walked off too.Many of the pundits and analysts know how unlikely Cruz’s strategy is. They’re right. But the problem here is not that so many are convinced Cruz’s strategy won’t work, but that they either don’t want to try it in the first place or want to attack it with no real plan of their own.The activists who support Cruz and Lee recognize their strategy might not work, but they also see it as the only strategy and the one that will, even if not successful, yield a better ending hand than the Republican Leadership would otherwise settle for. Their proof lies in Cut, Cap, and Balance, but for which the activists are convinced the GOP would never have even gotten sequestration cuts.Special Report on Fox News has a very cool interactive feature. While watching the show, on Bing, viewers can follow along and track their agreement or disapproval of what was said.Last night, at 6:53 p.m., Charles Krauthammer spoke. His statement, dismissive of Ted Cruz’s efforts, registered negatively across the board regardless of party or gender, and with great intensity in the opposition to his statement.And therein lies a visible demonstration of the disconnect.A lady called my radio show Wednesday night. She and her family are already feeling the effects of Obamacare. During the 2012 election she was frustrated because she did not think Republicans were willing to fully prosecute the case against Obamacare. After the election, she felt they’d given up completely. She gave up because they gave up.This fight has given her hope. It’s the first hope she and many others have had — a hope that the GOP hasn’t given up. Consequently, she is really angry at the pundits and analysts she likes because of how dismissive they seem of the one action the GOP has done that gives her hope.A lot of conservatives remember rallying for Bush against McCain in 2000. They remember McCain’s attacks on them during the Bush years. They remember being told they had to suck it up and support McCain in 2008. They rallied and he lost and he went right back to dismissing them. They rallied in 2010, were credited with taking back the House, then blamed ever after for whenever anything bad happened to the GOP.They rallied in 2012 to a guy many of them didn’t want and who now no one claims to have ever wanted, but somehow was still able to get the nomination. Then they saw the GOP give up. They saw Karl Rove declare his intention to spend millions against conservatives in primaries. Rightly or wrongly, they already blamed him for Bush’s big government domestic programs and saw Crossroads as confirmation conservatives had been played.Now they see a fighter in Ted Cruz. And they see a whole group of Republicans and outside allies trying to get the activists and Cruz to shut up.But they won’t shut up.It is perfectly reasonable for some really smart and good people to be dismissive of a strategy they cannot comprehend working, given the GOP’s willingness to roll over constantly. Hell, look at how quickly the House surrendered to Ted Cruz and they like him less than they like Obama.It is perfectly reasonable for Republicans in Washington to feel under siege from the grassroots. They are. Cruz has given a lot of downcast souls who checked out after November’s election a reason to re-engage. Conservatives who checked out in November and are now checking back in made one mistake.After being told in two Presidential election cycles that they had to suck it up and back the guy they didn’t care for — and they did — they assumed the folks telling them to suck it up would do the same now for them.Conservative activists should not be so quick to attack voices in Washington who have long proven themselves as being on the same team. But those in Washington should be less quick to appear to be dismissive of activists. Likewise, we should all recognize that, more and more, until a leader emerges who can unite all the factions within the Republican Party, we aren’t all on the same page in every fight. Interests do diverge. And the people least likely to have a voice in Republican leadership and in the press are the heartland conservatives who just want to be left the hell alone by Washington.



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