There's a must read over @ the New Ledger which I think makes a point missed by the Beltway brain trust.
Yet the assumption that these protesters are right-wingers — or as others have accused, fake grassroot anger, or “astroturf” — seems a vast oversimplification. While we hardly have data on the people who have been attending these townhalls and shouting down members attempting to sell health care insurance reform, anecdotal evidence indicates that this is hardly manufactured dissent. Obama’s plan is hardly popular, and many Americans who are not Republican or conservative are opposed to the package and nervous about its outcome.
Domenech makes the point that this appears much more to be a sudden resurgence of the Ross Perot phenomena than any Republican party inspired movement. I tend to agree. Recent polls show that Republican party identification is still rather low; it's been deterioration in Democratic support over recent months that's kept the gap from widening. To the extent any national figures have stoked the flames, they are media hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity , Beck and Levin and not Republican elected officials. And the "feel" of the crowds doesn't reflect the losing late decade Republican coalition of preachers and lobbyists.
These protesters aren’t really fans of either party (George W. Bush is no more popular at Tea Parties than Barack Obama), but driven by a strong sense — and basic American ideas of liberty — that the government shouldn’t be intruding on their lives, taking their money and giving it to companies that don’t deserve it, telling them which doctor to go to, and generally mismanaging things.
Indeed, the only contemporary Republican political figure who seems to be aligned with this inchoate anti-establishment vibe is Sarah Palin, who as we are well aware marches to her own drummer. While Palin is often pigeonholed by the MSM as a 'social conservative champion", much of the energy she brought to the McCain campaign during its brief burst of success was appealing to these sorts of voters who had tuned out the Republican establishment.
These voters are "middle American radicals"--distrustful of big government but usually skeptical of movement conservatism or corporate Republicanism. I suspect that one will find a rather substantial number sat out the 2008 election, and clearly they decided to abstain from the 2006 midterms in droves, costing us both houses of Congress.
So here's the challenge:
if those on the right aren’t able to present a strong, coherent alternative, they will be unable to rally these Perotistas to their side. In 1994, the Republicans were successful at this, combining a package of populist governmental reforms with outrage against irresponsible governance to attain victory — but more recently, they’ve given no signs of having this capability. Whether they can recapture it, and claim enough of the independent middle to win, will be a very challenging thing indeed.
And what are Republicans doing to harness this energy for the 2010 elections? Nominating a bunch of "certified pre-owned candidates"
The latest example is from Colorado, where it appears failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez is about to challenge appointed Democratic senator Bennet.
Beauprez appears to be a perfectly satisfactory guy; he won a swing House district twice and seems to have done a credible job in Congress. But how much pizazz are we getting running a guy whose been around awhile and lost his last statewide race by double digits? Maybe the alternatives haven't shown to be able to get it done, but I'd like to think we'd do better than a "round up the usual suspects" approach to nominating candidates in this unconventional election cycle
Same for Roy Blunt or Charlie Crist. Are we giving ourselves our best shot in 2010 by running old time corporate Republicans? And let's assume they do win. Are these the sorts of people that are going to inspire a new generation to become active Republicans?
Lemme throw a race where we should be thinking outside the box. Nevada. Harry Reid has anemic approval numbers but all the prominent Republican officeholders of late have legal problems or think they'll wait for John Ensign to step aside in 2012.
Fine. Why don't we look to a nonpolitician to run against Reid. Make this the classic outsider vs. the classic insider.
Half of Nevada's voters weren't around when Reid got into the Senate. Nevada is a state built on gambling, this seems like a good bet to me.
Or will we find the last political warhorse who lost a statewide race or hold some obscure legislative post and hand the keys off to him?
Stop looking for old jalopies. The Republican party is not going to thrive in the future running its own version of "cash for clunkers". Time for the bright new models!