The dust has settled on most of the “controversial” GOP primaries that have pitted well-financed “establishment” candidates against “Tea Party” supported candidates. In most cases, the establishment won.
Most recently, in Mississippi, long-time U.S. Sen. Thad Corchoran held onto his seat after defeating State Sen. Chris McDaniel because he was able to motivate enough Democrats who supported him to cross party lines and vote in the GOP primary.
Many on the right have called foul. I am a long-time opponent of open primaries, but one can’t blame a candidate for reaching out to eligible voters of the opposing political party if those are the rules of that particular state. The Tea Party candidate knew the rules and decided to either ignore those voters or didn’t think they were worth the effort.
Either way, it gives those who call themselves Tea Party conservatives more ammunition to steal the Republican brand. And they have been very successful.
McDaniel said in his concession speech, “the conservative movement took a backseat to liberals in D.C.” after losing to another Republican.
Tea Party activists have been successful in branding long-time politicians, many of whom have been battling for conservative causes for decades, as RINOs (Republican in Name Only), establishment Republicans, or even the dreaded “L” word, liberals.
They have been successful, in large part, because Republicans in charge have ignored the two issues that bring the GOP together — conservative economic principles and fewer government regulations.
There are three new industries that face major regulation and it doesn’t seem that anyone in the GOP cares. Uber car service, e-cigarettes and craft breweries are all in fear of being regulated out of business. Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature during the last session either imposed new regulations on these industries or refused to eliminate existing barriers to their expansion.
When are Republicans going to stand up for less regulation and not more?
The brand is broken because people elect Republicans to get the government out of their lives and out of their pocketbooks. But, it seems that more Republican elected officials just look for ways to build the budgets of their individual committees instead of what is right for the American people.
Finally, many Republicans are seen by the average citizen as hypocritical when it comes to social issues. We want the government out of our homes when it comes to gun ownership, but the GOP sure doesn’t mind prying into homes to see if there is marijuana, a gay couple or a woman wanting to protect her reproductive rights.
I am not suggesting the GOP give up their principles about abortion or traditional marriage, but those arguing for government to get out of their lives need to be consistent.
The GOP will be a brand again when it has a leader who offers some consistency in its economic and tax policy while also being consistent about getting out of people’s lives when it comes to religious and personal behavior.
Jamie Miller is a political consultant who lives in Sarasota, FL and is an avid sports fan. Column courtesy of Context Florida.