To: Certain Mitt Romney Supporters
From: Mitch Berg, Reagan Disciple
Re: Your “Ready, Fire, Aim” exhortation.
I”m Mitch Berg. You may remember me; I was busy caucusing for your guy Romney four years ago. Let me refresh your memory; that was the cycle when a fair number of you geniuses insisted John McCain was the only viable option to run against
Hillary Obama, and that we should not, could not, nominate a naif like Mitt Romney to run for office.
And eight years before that, I was the guy pushing for Steve Forbes, when you all insisted that George W. Bush was the conservative who could win. And 12 years before that, when I said Jack Kemp might make a much, much better custodian of the Reagan Revolution than George H. W. Bush – you got your way then, too.
Remember me yet?
Of course not. You’re the “establishment”. You rarely remember the dirty ugly lessons of four or eight years back. To many of you think “spin” equals fact.
And that’s fine – because you win your fair share of elections. You’ve got the money, the oomph, the organization, the experience in power. That counts for something.
And with that, I suppose you’re entitled to think of your agenda as “inevitable” in the party. The problem is, some of us peasants – the people who are allied to principle first, party second (not that they need be exclusive or in conflict) – keep getting uppity and in the way. It happened in 2006, when a knot of “establishment” figures in the Sixth CD GOP here in Minnesota got their undies in a toxic knot because Michele Bachmann flooded the various precinct caucuses with her supporters, making the local “establishment” – including many of you – claim that Bachmann “stole the nomination” when, in fact, she just did democracy and politics better than you did.
Ditto in 2008. Maybe the influx of Ron Paul supporters split the conservative vote so finely that Mitt Romney never had a chance, and your guy Mac coasted to the nomination. Maybe not – and it doesn’t matter much now, since between dual influences of the Ronulans and the Tea Party, the GOP finally, blessedly moved to the right. Far enough to turn the conservative of 2008 into the moderate of 2012.
And all of that grassroots activity has made some of you – you know who you are -profoundly uncomfortable. All us unwashed Tea Partiers make you nervous, like John Quincy Adams supporters beholding Andrew Jackson’s entourage moving into the White House. I’m fine with that, too.
But the reaction some of you are having to the “insurgency” (read: people doing the democracy thing) in the GOP is telling us some things that I really would rather not be hearing nine months before an election.
Hugh Hewitt, who is a great friend of the radio show I do with Ed Morrissey, said it loudest on his national talk show – “If Ron Paul gets nominated, I’ll vote for Obama”.
Let’s come back to that in a moment here.
When I interviewed Michael Reagan last summer at the Midwest Leadership Conference, he made a great – and lamentably overlooked – point; his father, Ronald Reagan, didn’t win because he was the purest conservative. He didn’t win because he had the most forward-looking economic vision. He didn’t win because he promised to end the Cold War with unconditional victory. And he didn’t win, in those days when people were still wondering what went into that seventeen minute gap in the Watergate tapes, because he was a pure establishment Republican.
He won because he convinced a whooooole lot of people who’d never have ordinarily voted for him, moderates and paleocons and RINOs and unemployed/patriotic Democrats, even – in the primaries and then in the general election – that he and his ideas were right.
Now, I don’t care if you say you’d stay home or even vote Obama if Ron Paul wins the nomination. I don’t care in the same sense that “I don’t care if Scarlett Johannson has a chive in her teeth during our first date”, because it’s almost purely academic. Neither is likely to ever happen.
But when you – the Establishment, with your Harvard degrees and your party apparatus and national media outlets – tell the 10-15% of the people who are coming out to GOP primaries, many for the first time, and the much larger percentage of younger voters and potential activists, “your guy, and by extension the principles for which he stands, and by further extension those for which you stand, are so risible that I’ll vote for the enemy first”, what’s that telling them?
It’s telling them that they and their beliefs, by dint of their association with a candidate who (holy hannah!) has a flaw in his past, are a bigger enemy than the President who is, by all of our mutual admissions, destroying this country.
We’re not talking about people who wrote racist rants thirty years ago; many of the people you are talking to weren’t born when Ron Paul wrote his racist screeds. We’re not talking about people who believe the Iranians have just grievances with us; in many case, you’re talking to people who’ve put their lives on the line to defend this country (Rep. Paul has a disproportionate share of the military vote), and have been getting bombed and shot at by Iranian proxies (and probably actual Iranians).
Your attachment to the establishment – to the process, the machinery, the access, your tee time with Karl Rove, whatever – leads you to demonize a candidate with no chance of getting nominated and, more importantly, alienate a huge mass of voters that would be much better served, and in the long run would serve the party much better, with a little convincing, even if it doesn’t work right away. People who are, in many respects, the future of conservatism and the GOP.
Ask yourself – What Would Reagan Do?
Let’s go back to the top and re-think this, shall we?
That is all.