Unlike most of the Republican Party establishment who live in the hermetically sealed bubble known as Washington and fight for nothing more than the next 24-hour news cycle, I actually talk on a daily basis to the people who do most of the living and dying in this country.
Based on those conversations, I can safely say any Republican in America who supports raising taxes in any way, shape or form and has aspirations of running for president in 2016 will be dismissed quicker than you can say Thaddeus McCotter.
I may host a nationally syndicated radio program, which debuted this week on WTNT in the nation’s capital, but I still live in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, which most in the ruling class consider flyover country. While writing about the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll for this newspaper, I correctly predicted the top five finishers in order. I did so not because I’m clairvoyant but because I talk to the patriots in the GOP grass roots, while most of the media talk at them.
Back when the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll was the first benchmark of the 2012 GOP presidential campaign, the debt ceiling was being discussed with the same level of panic the “fiscal cliff” is causing. Just two GOP presidential candidates back then urged the party to stand its ground in the name of principle and prudence — Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Ron Paul. Guess what? Those two lapped the rest of the field combined as the top two finishers.
Before any ruling class know-it-alls follow the cue of my state’s party-establishment governor and dismiss the Iowa Straw Poll, perhaps they should have a conversation with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, because that event cost him his presidential campaign. True, neither Ms. Bachmann nor Mr. Paul eventually won the Iowa Caucuses (Mr. Paul finished a close third) but that was the first time in the history of the Iowa Straw Poll its winner didn’t finish first or second in the Iowa Caucuses. Translation: The Iowa Straw Poll is historically a pretty accurate barometer of where the Iowa Caucus voters really are.
Despite misgivings about Mrs. Bachmann’s lack of executive experience and Mr. Paul’s foreign-policy ideas, grass-roots conservatives gave them the nod because they wanted to send a message to the national Republican Party that there is no more ground to surrender when you’re bankrupt and printing a fiat currency. It’s not just as simple as balancing the budget, but the size of government is too big — and unsustainable to boot.
On the heels of yet another party-establishment candidate losing a presidential election, I’m hearing the same battle cry from these conservatives regarding the fiscal cliff.
I’m not just hearing that from Iowans. I hear it from listeners all over the country I talk to each night, including in South Carolina — another crucial early state in the GOP presidential primary calendar.
They are furious with Speaker John A. Boehner’s “surrender now before it’s too late” negotiating. They have noticed that the same Republican Party establishment mouthpieces who told them Mitt Romney was the only candidate who could win “the most important election of our lifetimes” are many of the same people now going along with some of the president’s fiscal policies they just told us had to be defeated at all costs. They couldn’t care less about the soulless technocratic side of politics and its cynical adherents, such as Karl Rove, because they think they are fighting for no less than the survival of their very way of life.
Those same patriots do not want to cut deals with progressives whose utopian schemes have all but destroyed Western Europe. They want to defeat them before we follow in those footsteps. They’re finished supporting candidates for high office who don’t share their sense of urgency no matter how bad the alternative may be, which is why at least 7 million white voters who voted in 2008 didn’t vote in 2012. That also may explain why fewer evangelicals and Catholics voted this year than four years ago and why Mr. Romney did even worse with his fellow Mormons than George W. Bush did in 2004.
Anybody who publicly supports or votes to extend President Obama’s credit card while at the same time punishing those producing the very wealth (and jobs) this economy so desperately needs still hasn’t gotten that message. This is why Republican primary voters will send them another message should they run for president in 2016.
That message is simply this: If you won’t support freedom and prosperity, we won’t support you.
Steve Deace is a nationally syndicated radio host (stevedeace.com).