A Case Study in Why the GOP’s Humpty Dumpty Won’t Get Put Back Together Easily

Last night I linked to this piece by Steve Deace about conservative media failing to do its job in telling the truth about Donald Trump. It was a good piece and on point.

Then political consultant Brad Todd replied taking issue with me for my and RedState’s advocacy over the years for conservatives. According to Brad, whose political consulting firm helps the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee, both of which have for several years waged wholesale warfare against conservative candidates, RedState and I have been misleading people about House “conservatives” He then proceeded to claim I had made a career “off for-profit grievance”.

It is worth noting given these criticisms that Brad Todd and his firm are working to defeat Marco Rubio in Florida. When Jamestown Associates worked for Matt Bevin in the Kentucky primary, they were blackballed by the NRSC. But in this similar situation, OnMessage still lists the NRSC as a client.

Todd’s remarks [about Marco Rubio] could raise eyebrows in Washington, where OnMessage is seen as one of the country’s top Republican political strategy shops. It’s also closely aligned with the GOP establishment, having done extensive work in recent elections with both the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee.

In the 2013, the NRSC told GOP firm Jamestown Associates that it would not receive any of the committee’s lucrative contracts because of its work with the Senate Conservatives Fund, which had a track record of supporting challengers to incumbent Republican senators. The NRCC similarly blacklisted the firm, effectively shutting it out of two of the biggest spends in Republican politics.

Beruff, it should be noted, was a Charlie Crist supporter against Rubio in 2010 and stayed loyal to Crist even after Crist left the GOP.

Regardless, I’m sure there will be as many people who agree with Brad as not. But this is indicative of the problem the GOP faces. As I’ve written a couple of times lately, I am absolutely taking stock of how I contributed to the rise of Trump. But as I have also written, I suspect a lot of the GOP consultant class and establishment will not assess their own role. They will be too busy heaping blame on others as they have successfully done after the losses in 2006, 2008, and 2012.

The reality is I support and think very highly of a lot of groups that Brad Todd no doubt thinks support “for-profit grievance” mongering. It is the accusation Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and others have leveled against groups like Heritage Action for America, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth, etc. They have decided, rather that try to work with these groups or understand their legitimate grievances that these groups are just out to make money off people’s fears and troubles. Instead of seeing these groups as trying to push the party to the right and hold them accountable, they think these groups behave exactly as they themselves behave.

I genuinely don’t know anyone at any of these groups who are doing that. Everyone I know at these groups is profoundly committed to conservatism. But the D.C. consultant class employed by groups like the NRSC and NRCC have absolutely convinced themselves that these groups are just grievance mongering for profit. It becomes really easy to dismiss these groups when one concludes they’re in it for the money and not the cause.

So when you have the Republican establishment, which cannot even admit there is an establishment, and its outside consultants — the vast majority of whom are decent people with whom I just have disagreements on policy and politics — convinced that their right-of-center critics are just in it for money and you have their right of center critics convinced the establishment and outside consultants are for sale to the highest bidder, it is going to be really difficult to get back on the same page after November’s losses.

On top of that, you have a separate and distinct voice that just blames conservative media for the rise of Trump. It is all Sean Hannity’s fault or Mark Levin’s fault or my fault or “the blogs'” fault or Fox News’s fault or you name it. Instead of “they did it for money” it becomes “they did it for ratings.” Those of us who got Trump wrong and thought the polls were wrong get accused of lacking integrity because we were not opposed to Trump as quickly as others.

The truth is that we are all in various ways culpable, including many of those who will never admit any culpability. The Democrats are too and have no desire to even acknowledge their own culpability because they see it as a GOP problem.

Josh Kraushaar, overnight, noted that the GOP is not prepared for post-Trump politics. He notes that, among other things, “Trump’s brand of nationalistic populism isn’t going anywhere, even if he loses in November.” When the consultants and the conservative operatives are at each other’s throat claiming the other is in it just for a profit and when the #NeverTrump conservatives are attacking the other #NeverTrump conservatives as not being against him soon enough, it is going to be real hard to pivot to actually focus on the issues that drew people to Trump and figure out how to rebuild the party.

On top of that, if the establishment players cannot actually come to terms with conservative groups having real concerns and are not just doing it for money, when those outside groups start raising the concerns of the Republicans who turned to Trump out of frustration, it is going to get even uglier.

Humpty Dumpty might not get put together again at all.

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Erick Erickson

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