A Conversation With A Congressional Aide About The State Of The GOP

I had an instant messenger conversation with one of the many aides in Congress that I know about the funk conservatives are in. Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation, which I published with permission, that you may find interesting.

John Hawkins: The thing to keep in mind is though, in my experience, is that conservatives are so irritated and crabby now that pretty much anything other than “Get back to conservative principles” aggravates them. They don’t want strategy. They don’t want new conservative principles. Just get back to conservative principles! So, unfortunately, although that’s not enough, people don’t respond well to new ideas right now. Anything other than “We need to get back to Reagan’s agenda” makes people mad.

Random Anon Aide: I have little hope for our party then, if our people are that narrow minded. I love Reagan, but the Reagan agenda is not going to save us.

John Hawkins: It’s because the trust factor is so low right now. It will just take time.

Random Anon Aide: I hate when people ask for a new Contract With America –like that is going to save us. People forget Newt was kicked out soon after. The next election we lost seats…

John Hawkins: I think the big problem is that conservatives have zero trust in elected Republicans.

Random Anon Aide: Yes, I agree, but none of the ideas we propose makes them happy. If we invoke Reagan people say – RECYCLED IDEAS. If we move away from Reagan — they say “where is Reagan?” It’s like a no win situation.

John Hawkins: Personally, I think the key to it would be to have the party commit to something big on spending — like a no earmarks pledge, or a Balanced Budget Amendment and a no amnesty pledge on illegal immigration along with a “we’ve changed” message.

Random Anon Aide: They have done all that — kinda of.

John Hawkins: They haven’t.

Random Anon Aide: We are working on a balanced budget pledge.

John Hawkins: That is an excellent idea.

Random Anon Aide: We tried the earmark moratorium.

John Hawkins: McCain is pushing one.

Random Anon Aide: Yet many members are reluctant to sign on to a total moratorium, including some of our fiscal conservatives, like members of the RSC.

John Hawkins: See, that’s a trust thing though. That’s the Republican Party not doing what conservatives want. That’s why they’re not trusted.

Random Anon Aide: I personally think people put too much focus on earmarks. There are some Republicans who aren’t going to stop giving earmarks so Democrats can do it and then the Democrats will be seen as the only ones helping districts.

John Hawkins: I agree that there is too much emphasis on it, but eventually it will be something counter-intuitive like that gets conservatives back on board.

Random Anon Aide: I am more into sunset provisions, balanced budget and transparency. Conservatives have to figure out what is important. If they want a smaller government, taking out earmarks is not going to do it. We have to do much more.

John Hawkins: Immigration is a key to it, too. The GOP isn’t getting conservatives back on board until they get right on illegal immigration.

Random Anon Aide: Members are talking about immigration

John Hawkins: Yeah, but conservatives don’t trust the party because of the way the Senate acted during the comprehensive immigration fight and because McCain is the nominee. The House did a good job on it. They get no credit.

Random Anon Aide: Well honestly, people have to stop just skimming through things and act like educated voters. I might not agree with parts of the immigration debate, but at least the GOP has made an effort to do something about the out of control chaos that is immigration. The Dems have done NOTHING in a year and half. The House GOP has tried to use maneuvers this year to get a bill on the floor and they were stopped by the Dems. People give them no credit. At the end of the day, Republicans don’t control Congress, Democrats do.

John Hawkins: The House is always in a bad spot. The House always gets ignored and people pay attention to the Senate and the President, which is too bad because they are always less conservative than the House.

….

John Hawkins: I think we’re losing probably 10-20 seats

Random Anon Aide: i would say as much as 30. I say between 20 – 30. We have about 30 open seats.

John Hawkins: I think the only thing that will keep us from losing that many — I hope — is that they would have to win a lot of seats in districts that are heavily Republican to do that.

Random Anon Aide: But, we have a lot of vulnerable incumbents as well…money wins elections. Even on the web we don’t raise money for candidates. It is just plain sad.

John Hawkins: Well, the base is sooooooooooo depressed right now, it’s just hard to do anything. Conservatives are completely de-motivated.

Random Anon Aide: Look, believe me, I know the House GOP aren’t God’s gift. They are human and make ALOT of mistakes, but they are trying hard to make things work.

John Hawkins: I like our people in the House. You don’t have to convince me =D

Random Anon Aide: And they are as frustrated as the American public.

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