Last night, as conservatives predicted and establishment Republicans feared, Christine O’Donnell defeated Mike Castle in Delaware’s GOP primary. And predictably, establishment Republicans are throwing a gigantic temper tantrum in response. Mike Castle is refusing to endorse O’Donnell. Karl Rove is bitterly complaining (video here), pointing out inanities to try to discredit her like… the “fact” that she took too long to pay off her college bills? (Um, hate to point it out to you Karl, but I think there’s a lot of Americans who can sympathize with that.) It’s been rumored that the NRSC is refusing to back her. And the GOP is blaming her win for losing the chance to take back the Senate in November… although, as Ed Morrissey points out, just last week they were trying to keep expectations of taking back the House (let alone the Senate!) down.
Like I said, the GOP establishment is throwing a giant temper tantrum. And it’s quite frankly disgusting.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. And the lesson is that the establishment Republicans are by and large no better than the Democrats. Karl Rove got one thing right, and it’s applicable to most of the RINOs getting voted out of office right now: voters last night were voting more against Mike Castle’s liberal voting record (cap and trade, DISCLOSE) than they were voting for Christine O’Donnell. And that’s exactly the point. Politicians in Washington have become completely infatuated with the power they think they hold. Instead of seeing themselves for what they are — public servants elected by their constituents — they have gotten this deluded notion into their heads that they own the seats they hold in Congress, regardless of whether voters still want them there or not. Arlen Specter switched parties, Charlie Crist is running as an independent and bashing GOP principles he claimed to hold just months ago, Lisa Murkowski is debating a write-in campaign, and Mike Castle is refusing to back Christine O’Donnell. What will it take for them to get the message that WE make the decision? Voters are the ones who choose who they want to represent them, not the beltway establishment. We don’t make the choice that the NRSC wants us to make, and the NRSC sulks.
The establishment talking point is that O’Donnell cannot win in Delaware because she is too extreme. Well, that may very well be true. But she’d have a much better chance if the establishment would rally behind her than if they played right into the hands of the Democrats. And that’s what they’re doing right now. If Mike Castle had won last night, conservatives would have grudgingly held their noses and stood behind him in order to keep the Democrats from keeping another seat in the Senate. When the situation is reversed, there’s no such sense of unity from the GOP establishment. It’s all take for them and no give, and voters are fed up.
For years, Republicans in Congress have gotten selfish and lazy. They ignored what their constituents wanted from them, they got tone-deaf, and they turned themselves into the Democrat-lite party. Conservative principles? There’s no home for them right now in the Republican party, and so Republican voters are forcing a change. They’re bringing in new blood and they’re sending a message to the RINOs left standing: adapt or die. If voters wanted spend-happy fat cats that are indistinguishable from Democrats, they would have voted Mike Castle in again. Charlie Crist wouldn’t have been trailing Marco Rubio in all of the polls. Arlen Specter wouldn’t have had to leave the party with his tail tucked between his legs. Voters have spoken, they’re making their voices heard, and Republicans are angry about it. What does that tell you?
This is about much more than just Christine O’Donnell. This is a fight for the soul of the Republican party. This election season has shown that there is a change coming, like it or not, and the response from the GOP has said everything that needs to be said. The GOP doesn’t respect their constituents anymore than the Democrats do. These primaries aren’t just anti-Democrat, although Democrats will inevitably take the worst of it. It’s anti-incumbent, because most of the incumbents have come to see themselves as some sort of holier-than-thou royalty who deserves a seat in Congress for life. They act in their own interests only, regardless of what is best for the country or what voters want, and Democrats do not have a monopoly on that. Establishment Republicans are just as bad, and voters are fed up.
A change is coming. The lesson to Republicans is clear. Will they be willing to learn and change? If not, the purge will just keep coming. Adapt or die.