Karl Rove is starting a new fundraising organization to support “electable” Republican candidates, while Tea Party groups are crying foul. This fight is good for Karl Rove and for groups with Tea Party branding, but bad for the rest of us.
The Tea Party groups and Karl Rove can fundraise off of each other without having to deal with the Republican party’s bigger problems. This isn’t really an argument about how the Republican party will change. This is a fight that keeps everybody in their comfort zone. Rove already knows how to run the same kinds of ads that Republicans have been running since Reagan was president. He spent $300 million on such ads in 2012 and look where it got us. Tea Party groups already know how to call Republicans ideologically impure. Doing so won’t win over the median voter. Both sides are soliciting funds to say the same old things to the same old people
A lot of this argument seems to be talking around what actually happened in key races. Moderate and establishment Republican candidates like Mike Castle and Richard Lugar didn’t lose for a lack of money. Even when you count the outside spending, Castle and Lugar outspent their opponents substantially. Conservative groups spent money on the Indiana and Delaware races to help out Christine O’Donnell and Richard Mourdock, but we need to keep that spending in perspective. The conservative groups didn’t outspend their establishment opponents. They just gave the insurgent candidates a chance to be heard. That was all it took. No amount of donations to Karl Rove could have solved the problems of Mike Castle and Richard Lugar because their real problem was a message that didn’t appeal to Republican primary voters and their seeming lack of interest in the priorities of conservatives. Establishment and moderate Republicans need to learn how to win their own fights a lot more than they need ad buys from Karl Rove.
If Rove’s Conservative Victory Project wants more conservative victories, they could publicize policies that could get majority support. They could spend money to advertize conservative tax policies that are pro-growth and pro-parent as opposed to President Obama’s steady stream of tax increase proposals. If Tea Party groups want to move policy to the right, they could spend more of their money explaining how alternatives to Obamacare would save the government money while still protecting people with preexisting conditions.
The question donors should be asking of both Karl Rove and the Tea Party groups is “How will you spend my money to win over Americans who voted for Obama in the last election?”