The right-wing blogosphere and a number of hard-line conservative groups have flipped out over the new spin-off PAC from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, which aims to find electable Republicans and support them in primaries. This outlandish idea naturally sent people into orbit.
This might seem odd, if not downright inexplicable, to the ordinary voter. I mean, what could possibly be wrong with this idea?
1. Republicans don’t believe in the free marketplace of ideas. Unelectable crazies should have a monopoly on political power.
2. Once quality is introduced in candidate selection, who knows where it will lead? Next thing you know, we will have a quality Senate and House.
3. The GOP is about unelectable conservatives. Let the Dems worry about actually electing candidates.
4. It is better to have 35 … no, 20 … no, 3! … Republican stalwart senators than a majority in the Senate that could pass legislation, vote down nominees and conduct oversight hearings.
5. You can never have enough debate about God, abortion and rape.
6. If Republicans get quality candidates, elect Republicans and pass conservative legislation, what will Jim DeMint have to complain about?
7. President Obama is right. All this third-party money is hijacking the political process. First Amendment? Robust democracy? Feh!
8. Dumb, outlandish candidates should have a money advantage. Otherwise, how will they win?
9. If the GOP starts running more moderate candidates in places like Illinois and Michigan, it might cease being a regional party.
10. Never trust the voters to find the best candidates and the most electable conservatives. The rubes will just be blinded by those Rovian mind tricks.
I say this all in jest (in case you didn’t figure that out). But the point is serious.
While GOP “insiders” (Isn’t the Club for Growth “inside”? How much more insidery can you get than a former congressman and senator who now heads a think tank next to Capitol Hill?) don’t have a monopoly on political wisdom, the track record of tea party candidates is exceptionally poor. (The notion that Sen. Marco Rubio needed the tea party is preposterous. They needed and latched onto his rising star.)
You have to laugh or shake your head when a former candidate like Newt Gingrich, who was bankrolled with tens of millions of Sheldon Adelson’s money, says something like this: “I am unalterably opposed to a bunch of billionaires financing a boss to pick candidates in 50 states. This is the opposite of the Republican tradition of freedom and grass-roots small-town conservatism.” Except when it comes to him and other flaky candidates, I guess.
In the hurly-burly of competitive politics, the best candidates will rise to the top, the GOP hopes, with more information, more vetting and more exposure. That leaves us with one question: If the right wing is so wigged-out over competition and so committed to ignoring electability, are they helping or hurting the GOP? Just asking.