They’re coming to destroy conservatism!
The establishment bundlers! The wealthy Giuliani Republicans! They’ve weathered the latest grassroots storm, and now they’re striking back: stealthily at first, crafty as they are. Today, a low-profile fundraiser for powerful, moneyed elites; tomorrow, a party platform of moderate mush, force-fed with an iron fist!
We’ve seen this kind of panic creep into “the movement” before. From Mitt’s brush with the big time to Karl Rove’s post-Bush machinations, any time has been a good time to warn the base of yet another Acela coup that never materializes.
For professional GOP-watchers, however, 2014 will go down as a pivotal year. This is the moment that truuuuue conservatives stop crying wolf—and start crying Wolf of Wall Street.
Yep: The right’s most formidable and credible red-meat figures are turning against the GOP’s 1 percent.
Leading the charge is Redstate’s Erick Erickson. Aghast at Politico’s recent report on the American Opportunity Alliance—a New York-centric political cash nexus with more RINOs than a safari preserve—Erickson sounds the alarm:
A group of billionaires and multi-billionaires intent on pushing gay marriage and amnesty has started an effort to pump money into the Republican Party. The Politico report makes clear as well that these guys want to align Republican interests to Wall Street. As we see more and more every day, Wall Street’s interests are not the same as Main Street’s interests.
This group will push social liberalism within the GOP. They’ll start with gay marriage, but no doubt over time will transition to abortion rights. That’s the way these things typically happen. They’ll push amnesty too. And they’ll want to convince the GOP that what is good for Wall Street is good for America, which is less and less true these days.
To the untrained eye, these lines might seem copied down note for note from a typical tea party scare story about America’s corrupt and permissive cultural mandarins. Actually, movement conservatives who turn against Wall Street are on the verge of breaking important new conceptual ground.
Erickson doesn’t quite convey the full implications of his intuition, but it’s all there in outline. Rather than just slamming Yankee Republicans for thinking traditional morals are for poor people, conventional right-wingers are about to understand the RINO master plan as a more subtle and insidious two-step game.
As Erickson suggests, their modus operandi is to bedazzle the Republican party into conflating its own interests, and America’s, with the main interest of Wall Street—a federal government large and strong enough to guarantee in perpetuity the biggest banks’ privileged regulatory status as financial markets’ unchallenged controllers.
At a time when billionaires are feeling the heat—from friends and enemies of liberty alike—Wall Street Republicans are presented with a simple choice. Option one: They could woo conservatives by presenting themselves as the latest victims in the most recent of the left’s “wars” on everything good and sacred. Alas, this approach has been steadily undermined for years, since Tim Carney first initiated the respectable right’s change of heart against the corporatist wing of the GOP.
That cues up a second option: the RINO two-step. First, convince Republicans that they’ll never win another election unless they fully “modernize” on “social issues.” But don’t stop there, where the party’s libertarian wing has been standing for decades with crossed arms and tapping feet. Step two is the kicker. Reward the party for abandoning cultural traditionalism in precisely the way the right’s partisans of liberty won’t—and couldn’t, even if they wanted to: with piles of cash, mountains of access, heaps of status, and tons of power.
It’s in this context that strategists and activists alike ought to interpret Rand Paul’s recent remarks on the right’s internecine conflict. “There is a struggle going on within the Republican Party,” he recently told Glenn Beck. “I tell people it’s not new, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of the fact that there is a struggle. And I will struggle to make the Republican Party a different party, a bigger party, a more diverse party, and a party that can win national elections again.”
For the Paul wing of the GOP, the party won’t grow bigger in a way that enlarges the scope of human liberty unless the party machine grows smaller. In the simplicity of its temptation, the gambit of the Wall Street RINO is brilliant: as a salve for the growing pains of going socially liberal, they’ll grow the party’s internal economy of patronage and privilege, in a bizarre but entrancing mirror image of how Democrats have so successfully grown government.
Wall Street gets to game the government; Republican big wigs get to mimic their masters in a sandbox of their own.
Neither the grassroots heartland nor the coastal elite have put it so plainly, but that’s the concept. Those are the stakes. And that’s why Rand Paul is still the most important person in Washington.