Why Rick Perry Won: Thoughts From A Texan

Over at the New Ledger, Ben Domenech interviews Rick Perry and muses over Perry’s success. He says:

It’s a funny thing how political predictions work. When Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison declared her candidacy for the governorship of Texas, few would’ve bet against her – popular, moderate, and established, the ex-cheerleader who loves the cameras seemed a perfect fit for the limited authority (and sizable promotional duties) of the Texas governor’s mansion.

Except at some point, when no one outside Texas was paying attention, Rick Perry got good at politics. By understanding the zeitgeist of the 2010 cycle and connecting with a surprising upsurge in populism, Perry somehow managed to make an anti-establishment case to the voters despite serving as governor for a decade – an impressive feat for any incumbent.

Perhaps a small quibble: The problem for politicians is being perceived as voting D.C. interests over voting the voters’ interest. In Kay Bailey Hutchison’s case, she is perceived as D.C.

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The other problem for national Republican incumbents is being perceived as standing for big government, big spending, big regulation, and big invasion into Americans’ lives. That will be a problem for state-wide politicians, too…except for maybe California.

Rick Perry was very smart over the last year and half. He had a misstep when he talked about mandating Gardisil vaccinations for all Texas girls. After that “big government intervention” backfire, Perry got the message loud and clear: Bug out.

And so he has.

More than any other politician, he has consistently told Washington, D.C. “no” for the last two years. That has won him big points in Texas and won him envy among citizens unfortunate enough to live anywhere but Texas.

It should not also be ignored that Texas is humming along economically. By Texas standards, the economy isn’t wonderful, but it’s doing so much better than the rest of the nation, citizens are wanting to keep a good thing going. Who can blame them?

Who can blame Perry for paying attention to the feeling of his constituents? Funny thing, that. So many politicians in D.C. still want to do what they want to do, not what their constituents want.

Ben asked Governor Perry about the Tea Party movement and populism. Perry said this:

I think what you’re seeing now is the result of years of people’s frustration with government frittering away their hard earned money. It was fermenting in the mind and soul of the public for years, but I think you started to see a real response to it in mid 2008. They were really frustrated with what they saw, particularly from Republicans, when it came to handling governing.

Now this is self-evident truth, unless you’re a moderate Republican hell-bent on being Porky-the-Pig. It has been utterly astonishing how arrogant and out of touch D.C. Republicans, the ones voters count on to be the grown ups, have been.

As for the populism, Perry says:

I’m not sure I’d put it as just “populist” – I’d say it was common sense. I see regular people who started to look around and see a Congress and a president who are on a path that is very socialistic. They’re seeing things happen in Washington that are way out of their comfort zone. And because of that, they’re afraid for their country.

Again, this will be considered a genius statement only because D.C. Republicans are so out of touch, or have been. And Kay Bailey Hutchison, while living and immersed in D.C. culture, totally misjudged Texas sentiment and culture. She is not alone in her Stockholm-like syndrome. Once inside the D.C. bubble, it seems rational thought and common sense go out the window. That’s why the voters nationally are anti-D.C. anybody–Republican or Democrat.

Rick Perry sums up the national mood:

That’s easy. Any Republican candidate, any Republican activist or consultant or what have you, who is not paying attention will be so much roadkill.

The gravity of this, the weight of it, the momentum – whatever you want to call it, I’m convinced it’s unstoppable. You can join with this movement, and most people who are comfortable in the Republican Party should be very comfortable with what’s being said, or you can find another line of work.

Go read the whole article. It’s not difficult to see why people look to Texas and to Governor Perry.

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