Movement Republicans all too often conflate winning elections—or even picking candidates who appear sufficiently conservative—with a sense of political accomplishment. That feeling is unwarranted, and it comes at a price.
Conor Friedersdorf observes the phenomenon with bemused dismay:
Just once I wish conservatives would wait until one of their ideas is actually passed into law to celebrate another victory. It was problematic enough when the right celebrated the Newt Gingrich House takeover as if small government was suddenly guaranteed, only to see the promise of the Contract with America fade. The Bush era brought its own silly talk of a permanent Republican majority. But these days the celebrations start before the first election is even won. A conservative base that is excited by a favorite pol as vice-presidential nominee gets excited too easily. Even November victory doesn't guarantee that any Paul Ryan plan will be signed into law.
Politics is a means of deciding how our country is to be governed, not an opportunity to form a series of crushes on politicians. But you wouldn't know it watching all the romantics in the Republican Party. I suspect Paul Ryan is going to break their hearts, whether by betraying them or merely by failing to live up to their expectations. But they'll bounce back like they always do. It doesn't matter how many times the GOP fails to shrink the size and scope of government.
There is always another Republican crush in waiting.