The American electorate, in an act of magnificently creative destruction, just purged the Republican Party of the regnant Bush-era consultants.
Advisors to the last GOP president—exemplified by Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, Greg Mankiw and Glenn Hubbard—had remained peculiarly influential in the Republican Party. The defeat of 2012 was, above all, a purging of these Republican technocrats. Cleansed, the Republican Party now is poised to shift from its manic technocratic “do the thing right” ethos to a values-based “do the right thing” ethos. That’s the difference between political irrelevance and relevance and thus restores the GOP's future viability.
Super-elite Republican political consultants sucked almost a billion dollars out of the GOP’s high-dollar donors to deploy at their whims. And lost. NBC featured a report showing the magnitude of the catastrophe. The network cited “A study Wednesday by the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending, concluded that Rove's super PAC, American Crossroads, had a success rate of just 1 percent on $103 million in attack ads….”
The Huffington Post’s Jon Ward, noted the pressure coming down on Rove: “The real lightning bolts being thrown on Wednesday were by the party's super donors …. Many of the lightning bolts were aimed at none other than Karl Rove.” As one critic told Ward, “I don't know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing.”
Meanwhile, on the economic-policy side, Forbes.com’s John Tamny observes that Romney’s economic advisors may have cost him the election:
The numbers, along with history, suggest once again that the election was Romney’s to lose. Yet he still lost. With Romney having lost, it’s time for the GOP to rebuild, and one necessity while doing so should be the banishment of Romney’s economic advisers to hidden corners of academe so that they’re never heard from again.
Mitt Romney’s presidential ambitions were collateral damage in the 2012 election, which proved to primarily be about the electorate’s purging the GOP of its Bush-era technocrats, men resembling the elegantly cunning partners of Mad Men’s Sterling Cooper. With the technocrats gone there can be renaissance of a GOP standing on principles that America cares deeply about rather than image and mere “competence.”
What values does America cherish? Opportunity, for one. It is time to reignite economic growth, which we didn’t have under the Bush technocrats—and still do not. To get growth and jobs, we need a monetary system of authentic integrity—rather than a “maestro” Fed chairman of the sort worshipped by elite technocrats. Bush’s technocratic political and economic advisors were derelict in calling for a good monetary policy when they were at the helm. They were derelict in the same manner with candidate Romney and made it clear—publicly defying their own candidate—they were unchastened.
The technocrats also spoiled Romney’s chances for victory by discouraging the party from addressing a powerful source of voter social dismay: the erosion of our civil liberties. This concern, rather than socialized medicine itself, was the main basis of the passionate Tea Party opposition to Obamacare. Voters were especially anxious about the clear undermining of the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion. But the Bush technocrats were unmoved and complicit in defining religion down to a right to perform the rite of one’s choice. They offered no defense against those stripping faith of its franchise to prescribe values and stand for morality within civil society.
Neutering the religious is nothing less than religious bigotry, and worse for being turned against all, rather than any particular, religion. Bush’s technocrats ruled out, apparently as déclassé, what would have been a politically winning defense of religious liberty. This is no way to run a political campaign or party. So the conservative electorate banished the GOP Mad Men.
Getting rid of the technocrats cost the party a billion dollars and an election. It saddled America with four more years of the Obama presidency and associated trillions in debt. It was expensive, but worth it. Now GOP donors and other party leaders can use their common sense, rather than subservience to former White House officials, to stand for real principles. A billion dollars to rid the GOP of the technocrats and restore its ability to stand on principle is a very good value indeed.
Ralph Benko, senior adviser for economics to American Principles in Action, served on detail as deputy general counsel to an Executive Office of the President agency under President Reagan and to a Reagan presidential commission.
Andresen Blom is the Senior Strategist for the Center for Civic Virtue, an award winning communicator, policy strategist and coalition builder at the federal and grassroots levels.