Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute today after a tumultuous weekend Nebraska GOP convention, Ben Sasse sounded a lot like a man who was giving up on the GOP. He blasted the party for not having ideas that solved modern problems and noted that conventions like the one that had just condemned him were bickering about issues that average voters did not care about.
Via the Washington Examiner:
“That said, I don’t really spend any time on short-term issues like a resolution at one convention meeting, because the people who are at that are not necessarily representative of what most Americans think and what most Nebraskans think,” he said, adding that he believes it was “pretty obvious” that voters “wish they had better choices … [and] a big optimistic conversation about the future of the country.”
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“Demographically, the middle class really is shrinking,” Sasse said. “I’m part of a political party that doesn’t like to admit this very much. Democrats regularly act like any problem … it’s tinkerable … But then you look at my party and you say what are we offering instead, we don’t have much of a vision for young people. We don’t have much to offer that’s optimistic and persuasive about where we’re headed.
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“The party that I’m a part of is largely suffering from a declining customer base, because root, sort of core Republican voters are dying,” Sasse said. The Democrats don’t have the same customer base problem, but they have a massive product problem, because the Democrats are still trying to pretend that if you just try to expand 1965 entitlement programs … that somehow you’re only three tinkers away from being a working system.
“We have a political playing field that has one party that seems to want to make Washington more powerful in trying to centrally plan things, and another party that looks like we’ve largely exited the playing field,” Sasse added.
The interesting thing about Ben Sasse is that he genuinely seems to not care about the trappings of power or staying in favor with anyone in particular. He hasn’t been in Washington long enough to be affected by it and he often just kind of thinks out loud in an honest way about whatever’s on his mind. So this could all just be nothing more than that.
But it could also be a signal that Sasse’s frustration with the GOP is real and building – and might be encouraging him to look elsewhere.