Politics is a lagging indicator of real social change. To understand what is really going on, you have to take a step back to see the trend line.
So I’m not that surprised that so many political reporters got last night’s results so wrong. Too many analysts don’t understand what’s really happening; others aren’t even willing to try, settling for the easy and simplistic “Establishment Wins, Tea Party Loses” narrative instead. But that narrative misses what actually happened.
I would like to win every political battle we engage in, even as we try to topple well-funded establishment Goliaths. We always fight to win, but we won’t win them all.
We saw some real wins for the freedom movement last night. In Georgia’s 11th District, Barry Loudermilk came in first in his primary with 39 percent of the vote, and is headed to the July 22 runoff. Loudermilk is a true champion of limited government, and will advocate for freedom in health care and education in Congress. Also, Dr. Bob Johnson made his way to the July runoff in his primary in Georgia’s 1st District.
In addition to expanding the Freedom Caucus, we also saw the return of some old favorites from our previous electoral battles.
Among the freedom fighting incumbents who will be returning to their seats next year are Thomas Massie, Raul Labrador, and Tom Graves in the House, as well as Jim Risch in the Senate. With the addition of candidates like Barry Loudermilk and Bob Johnson, as well as Ben Sasse in Nebraska, we are in better shape than ever to implement pro-freedom policies going forward.
Mark my words, liberty-loving, hard-driving fiscal conservatives will make up a larger percentage of Republicans in office next year.
Of course we lost some big battles as well, despite the incredible dedication and commitment of the grassroots.
U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin speaks at a meet and greet, Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014 in Henderson, Ky. The Louisville businessman is running against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky's GOP primary next May. (AP Photo/The Gleaner, Mike Lawrence)
In Kentucky, activists hung more than 150,000 door hangers in support of Matt Bevin. In Idaho, more than 20,000 door hangers were placed for Bryan Smith, who was hugely outspent by the establishment incumbent. The grassroots machinery we’re building remains committed to the cause of liberty, not just for one election cycle, but for many more to come.
What reporters have by and large overlooked is the fact that the narrative of the primaries has been overwhelmingly set by constitutional conservatives and libertarians sick and tired of the old ways of doing business. When even an entrenched establishmentarian like Mitch McConnell starts parroting tea party talking points just to hold on to his seat, it’s not hard to see that our side is winning the war of ideas.
This is true not just with McConnell, but elsewhere as well, a prime example being North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, who went from calling ObamaCare “a great idea that can’t be paid for” to referring to it as a “cancer” on the national economy. The fact that a limited government agenda is already being set for next year is itself an important achievement.
In this May 6, 2014, photo Thom Tillis speaks to supporters at a election night rally in Charlotte, N.C., after winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Tillis' victory in the North Carolina Senate primary has spurred both sides to immediately draw battle lines that could frame Senate races across the nation. After dispatching several tea party and Christian-right rivals on Tuesday, Tillis quickly cast Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan as an Obama acolyte. Hagan countered quickly, painting the North Carolina House speaker as the face of Republican extremism. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Politics is slow to reflect real changes in national thinking on issues and ideas, and any shift in our direction will be resisted by the status quo. By taking the long view, building infrastructure and relationships that stretch far into the future, we are preparing for a sea change that transcends any individual election cycle.
Some Republicans, most notably House Speaker John Boehner, have accused our movement of ruining the Party’s brand, and helping Democrats into office in November. I couldn't disagree more.
Competition, customer choice, and accountability are among the fundamental free market values Republicans are supposed to support. Why shouldn’t this work just as well in politics? Republicans can take the Senate in November, but they can only do so with stronger, more principled positions that differentiate them from the failed policies of Barack Obama and Harry Reid.
Next up is the Senate primary in Mississippi on June 3, and new polls show insurgent candidate Chris McDaniel beating big-spending incumbent Thad Cochran for the first time in this race. In fact, the most recent data from The Polling Company puts McDaniel at 43 percent of the vote to Cochran’s 39 percent, while a BEG International poll has McDaniel leading by seven points. This is in spite of a well-funded dirty tricks smear campaign against McDaniel, and the fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently dumped another $100,000 behind Cochran.
This photo taken March 5, 2014 shows seven-month old Abigail Dalton of Ridgeland, seeming to be listening as state Mississippi Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, right, as he prays with fellow abortion opponents, Laura Duran of Pro-Life Mississippi, left, Rev. Mike O'Brien, pastor of St. Richard Catholic Church in Jackson, center, outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
The difference will be grassroots, and having recently met with activist leaders on the ground in Jackson, I can tell you that no one is backing down from this fight. If McDaniel wins, we will have cheated the long political odds of beating an entrenched Senate incumbent. For all of the hoopla, this has only happened twice since 2010. Think about the upside of another Mike Lee in the U.S. Senate.
Grassroots America is here to stay, and we will continue to hold politicians accountable to their promises and demand representation that is better and more honest. We may not have achieved everything we hoped for last night, but make no mistake. We’re playing the long game, and it’s a game we intend to win.
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