Will Republicans Choose Principle or Pragmatism?
As the 2024 election cycle officially begins, Republicans across the country are becoming aware of an unsettling reality that could ultimately force voters to choose between pragmatism and principle. A voting pattern is emerging, and it threatens the long-term viability of the America First movement. In essence, MAGA and America First candidates continue to lose key national elections, especially in battleground states.
The Roots of America First
America First is synonymous with MAGA, and both have their roots in the Tea Party movement, which was born from dissatisfaction with the moderate, big spending policies of George W. Bush. The Tea Party galvanized during the Obama administration and was primarily responsible for victories that unseated Bob Bennett in Utah, Charlie Crist in Florida and eventually sent John Boehner into retirement.
Tea Party candidates experienced success in 2010 when Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives by picking up 63 seats. They also gained seven seats in the Senate, six gubernatorial seats and flipped 20 state legislatures. The high point for the Tea Party movement came in 2011 with the passage of the Budget Control Act that cut almost a trillion dollars in wasteful spending over 10 years.
Yet, just as it seemed like the Tea Party was about to become a significant force in American politics, something stopped the momentum dead in its tracks. A failed government shutdown, media attacks, greedy PACs and, most importantly, subterfuge from RINO Republicans, effectively neutered the grass-roots movement. When Tea Party candidates began losing elections, the organization’s influence waned, and in politics, losing influence is the kiss of death.
America First Undermined by RINOs
For a legitimate political movement to prove viable over the long-term, it is essential to establish the kind of impact that consistently results in winning elections. That is exactly what Donald Trump did in 2016. What began as a long-shot candidacy evolved into a full-fledged crusade to combat those who would destroy American values, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself. Yet, the forces that ultimately led to the destruction of the Tea Party are following the same blueprint to delegitimize America First.
Somehow, expectations for the 2022 midterm elections were grossly inflated. One can only speculate where the term “red wave” originated, but the purpose behind the promotion of the phrase is clear. Leftist news organizations repeatedly splashed headlines about the coming Democrat bloodbath. By election day, anything less than an overwhelming landslide that ended with Republicans taking the Senate and gaining a substantial majority in the House would be considered a disappointment.
As we now know, that’s exactly what happened. Despite winning the House by a narrow margin, Republicans were left wringing their hands, and the media focused on the high-profile America First candidates who lost in battleground states, including Kari Lake, Blake Masters, Mehmet Oz, Doug Mastriano, Herschel Walker and Tudor Dixon.
RINOs Leave Their Fingerprints
So, who benefited most from creating and fostering the perception that America First candidates can’t win the presidency and a majority in Congress in 2024?
That’s right, the RINOs.
Just as they slowly dismantled the Tea Party, RINOs are emerging from the woodwork, working on the psyche of the average working-class Republican voter to erode confidence in America First. This starts with the assertion that Donald Trump has become a liability the party must now reject. Since the midterm election, this contention has been persistent and relentless. Take RINO analyst Karl Rove, for example:
“We ought to realize that Trump’s endorsement is not an inducement to support that candidate, but a warning to beware,” Rove said.
Or look at this gem from Bill Kristol:
“Overall, the trend lines are clear: Moderate Democrats are killing it, and the stronger they grow, the better the outlook for the party.”
Just like 1964, 2016 and 2020, RINO Republicans do their backroom dirty work to undermine any candidate who threatens the donor class and its iron grip on the party. It’s always the same message: Populist candidates are divisive and unelectable. Only moderate Republicans, essentially woke-lite, can beat Democrat candidates in places like Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Remember the 2016 primary debate where Trump looked out over an audience that was jeering as he leveled Jeb Bush?
“You know who has the tickets to the television audience?” Trump said. “Donors, special interests, the people that are putting up the money. That’s who it is. The RNC told us. We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they’re not loving me—the reason they’re not—excuse me. The reason they’re not loving me is, I don’t want their money.”
Pragmatism over Principle?
When faced with a woke Democrat as an alternative, RINO strategists know that populist voters will reluctantly support RINO candidates. However, listening to establishment empty suits like Mitt Romney, John Kasich and Lisa Murkowski, it quickly becomes apparent that a large segment of the RINO voting block would rather see a MAGA and America First candidate lose even if it means electing a radical, woke Democrat. That’s why exceptional Republican candidates like Kari Lake are losing close elections.
At the heart of the issue, populist voters are primarily interested in keeping the country and the Constitution from falling into the hands of authoritarian socialists, while RINO voters are more concerned with appearance, sanctimony and being praised for their moral superiority.
Going forward, those who are passionate about preserving the republic are faced with a dilemma. Do they stand on principle even if it means losing elections, or do they choose pragmatism, falling into the same old RINO trap that may result in election victories but will do nothing to stop the slow, painful march toward woke, authoritarian rule.
Hopefully, if we’re going to lose the war, we go down fighting. No more compromises with slick-talking, back stabbing RINO candidates.