For some time now, I’ve made the case that there is a segment of the right comprised of people whose interests are antithetical to the success of the GOP. The GOP must govern when in power, and it seeks to move its agenda. There are some on the right who now make a living enraging the base, demanding irresponsible action, hollering that they have been betrayed when their advice isn’t taken and seeking to remove any Republican from office who disagrees. It’s lucrative personally, and it generates a steady flow of funds to keep regenerating the whole racket (Send money so we can decry the betrayal over Obamacare!).
Consider the latest from Jim DeMint, ostensibly the head of the non-political Heritage Foundation but sounding like a right-wing political extremist in a political speech to a Heritage Action group (see how flimsy the line is between the “think tank” and the political-action arm?) on a threatened government shutdown. DeMint declared, “The risk of [the GOP being blamed] is so much less than the risk to our country if we implement ObamaCare, and so I’m not as interested in the political futures of folks who think they might lose a showdown with the president.” Well, at least he’s given up insisting this is a winning position for Republicans. In case there was any confusion, he explained the political lay of the land to an interviewer after the event:
DeMint said President Obama believes he has the upper hand in the coming fight. “I think he knows that Republicans are afraid, and if they are, they need to be replaced,” DeMint told NPR in an interview after the event. That’s the head of a tax exempt think tank advocating a bold electoral scheme. Are there any tax lawyers over at Heritage?
How many Heritage donors realize that DeMint is undermining every Republican in leadership and probably most House and Senate Republicans? Does Heritage go after endangered Democratic senators? No, it seems the “enemy” is any Republican who managed to win in an unsafe district or state.
Forget for a moment the merits of a government shutdown or how improbable that is, understand that such a monumental effort would be manna to the Democrats, allowing them to hold the Senate and likely take the House as Republicans savaged one another. Heritage under DeMint is now focused not on conservative scholarship, but on attacking Republicans. He might as well work for the Democratic National Committee. (And if he wants to run elections, he’s got no business running a tax-exempt foundation.)
Getting back to the merits of a shutdown, a Capitol Hill Republican says bluntly, “What is their strategy for winning after the government shuts down? They can’t answer that question.” Well, they expect to win the argument and the president to fold! But not really. DeMint says President Obama has the upper hand.
In truth, DeMint’s and Heritage’s worst nightmare is a GOP majority that makes strides toward conservative governance. What would he do with a unified and successful party? What the GOP is committed to doing — winning elections and being the national party that enacts conservative legislation — is in opposition to DeMint’s ideological and financial interests. Republican officials, candidates and donors should be forewarned.