"Establishment Republicans" - Enemies of the TEA Party and Conservatives?
The political chasm is widening. A line has been drawn between two different ideologies, but not between Republicans and Democrats. This gap is between the Republicans and conservatives.
“I think the Republican Party is devouring the conservative movement,” said radio host and conservative commentator, Mark Levin on Wednesday.
Levin sat down with former Attorney General Edwin Meese III at the Heritage Foundation to discuss the impact election mean for conservative politicians. The discussion was the final installation in the Heritage Foundation’s “Preserve the Constitution” series.
Since Barack Obama was re-elected last week, high profile members of the Republican Party have called for a new way to communicate. But Levin and other conservatives say that the problem is not poor communication — it’s establishment Republicans.
Doris Eisen was a registered Democrat for 50 years. She grew disillusioned with the party and believes the direction of the country under Obama is destructive, but she’s not a Republican either – she’s a conservative.
“It’s time for the old bulls to get out of the way,” Levin said. “I can’t even tell you what the Republican Party stands for.”
Levin’s disdain for the party doesn’t stop with two failed presidential elections. He said Republican politicians are “good at clawing their way to the top” but not at enforcing conservative policies when they get there.
“The three branches aren’t checking and balancing, they’re working with each other,” Levin said. “The moderates and RINOs (Republicans in name only) are trying to clean out the election.”
Sonny Branham, a professor of political science at Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, agreed, saying Republicans are quick to cut down Tea Party or Libertarian candidates who pose challenges to their incumbency.
GOP elected officials “lean more to the right for their political survival” than to actually uphold conservative values, Branham told Hearst Newspapers after the event.
“[Constitutional conservatives] need to engage otherwise the Republican Party will go the way of the Whig,” Levin said.
Levin said conservatives need to embrace the Tea Party and Libertarian movements as the hope for the future.
Noting disparities between the two parties’ abilities to turn out votes, Levin called the low Republican turnout a failure to communicate about the issues.
“It was ludicrous that the American people don’t have enough education about what’s at stake,” said Nancy Griffin, a member of the Chevy Chase Women’s Republican Club who also attended the discussion.
“The country that I love is being taken from me,” said Eisen. “The ignorance of the people is going to imprison them.”
“Too many students in my estimation are interested in social media as opposed to social studies,” Branham said. “My students are not as aware as they should be of the challenges that face them.”
When Meese asked how the conservative movement could attract more of the youth vote, Levin said the “very, very difficult, complex problem” lies with the influence of public school and Hollywood on young voters to think “more emotional than cerebral.”
“Kids coming out of puberty – which liberals never do – don’t like authority,” Levin said. “Think of big government that way.”
Levin suggested that an anti-authority attitude could be a “very powerful argument” to engage conservative students.
Courtney Mattison, a communications and political science student at Johnson State College, agreed. She said she didn’t understand why more of her peers didn’t turn out for Romney in this year’s election.
Mattison said the past four years have been grim for the U.S. economy, and thinking about the election graduating into an Obama economy is “really depressing.”
She said conservatives politicians should “tap into the rebellious anti-authority attitude that college students feel and tie it to liberty.”
Mattison, who was the communications director for the Rutland County GOP, is “completely uncertain” about what she wants to do when she graduates in May.
Levin is also a lawyer and author of the books, Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America, Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, and Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America.