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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Isn’t it Strange how the GOP establishment is freaking over Roy Moore?

Essentially lost among the multitudinous and hysterical media coverage of the crybaby NFL player protests this week was a news story of incredible significance that will likely have long lasting repercussions for the way Washington Republicans approach their jobs.

I’m speaking of Judge Roy Moore’s “upset” victory over Senator Luther Strange in Alabama’s GOP run-off election held on Tuesday. The result may have been surprising to those who automatically assume incumbents (and the money that backs them) always win, but to the conservative grassroots it was just the latest salvo in a Mitch McConnelllong line of ballot box broadsides against the ruling class.

To say that the establishment took notice is an understatement.

David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner reported yesterday, “Strange, in a gracious concession speech, took full responsibility. He thanked [President Donald] Trump for taking a risk by endorsing him and urged Republicans to unify behind Moore in the December general election, although he stopped short of an official endorsement.

“Strange said he'd never experienced a turbulent atmosphere in all his years in politics as he did throughout this stunning campaign.

“’We're dealing with a political environment that I've never had any experience with,’ Strange told supporters gathered in a hotel near his home in suburban Birmingham, perhaps speaking for his shellshocked Republican colleagues, who are wondering if the same is in store for them. ‘The political winds in this country, right now, are very hard to understand.’”

By “shellshocked GOP colleagues” Drucker must mean the establishmentarians allied with Mitch McConnell (like Strange was) because I doubt there’s a principled conservative senator in the country who’s overly concerned about dropping a primary race to a member of the party elite. In other words, Ted Cruz isn’t losing any sleep over the prospect of being ousted in his primary next year (though there may still be some residual conservative anger over his Trump snub at the GOP convention last summer).

As for the “political winds” Strange referred to, they’re actually not hard to understand at all. Whereas the causes and effects of “climate change” are still widely in dispute there’s hardly any controversy over where the political breezes are coming from these days. They’re originating from an electorate that’s sick to death of business-as-usual in Washington and many, many people are willing to go the extra mile in trying to dump incumbents who don’t show consistency with what they campaigned on in their home states and districts once in office.

There are an awful lot of Americans itching to add more elite scalps to their wall of honor. Strange’s was just the latest, largely due to the appointed senator’s close relationship with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Poor Mitch – the guy just can’t catch a break these days, can he? First the latest Obamacare repeal effort failed – again – and now he’s confronting the prospect of having another unbending conservative Republican questioning his every wishy-washy move.

Before you shed too many tears for the droopy Kentucky leader consider that the establishment dumped millions into the Alabama GOP primary to try and push Strange over the finish line. That’s money contributed by conservatives to elect Constitution-revering candidates, not smear them. This wasn’t a general election matchup against a liberal Democrat; it was the ruling class taking sides in an intra-party contest that for all intents and purposes should have been solely decided by Alabama’s conservative voters.

What were the elites afraid of? Was it Moore’s issue positions? Or was it because Moore represented someone who can’t be bought or bargained with to compromise his principles?

Everyone with knowledge knows Moore has long been known for his conservative social causes (such as traditional marriage) and for his staunch defense of keeping the Ten Commandments prominently displayed on public grounds. But in addition to his spotless conservative resume, Moore’s mouth is a severe hazard to the status quo-loving establishment in the nation’s capital.

Simply put, Moore won’t shut up – and they don’t like it. If you think Ted Cruz has become a pariah to the Washington set because he wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power against the DC cartel, just wait until Moore gets his shot behind the microphone on the senate floor. McConnell – and the Democrats – must be feeling very queasy for certain.

Beyond Moore’s presence in the upper chamber is the challenge his convincing win signifies to the establishment at large in next year’s midterm elections. Alex Isenstadt of Politico reported, “Republican Party leadership has a big problem on its hands. McConnell has vowed to do everything in his power to help incumbents in primaries, but that protection effort is likely to cost the party many millions of dollars.

“It’s disappointing news for the GOP hierarchy, which initially believed that it would spend the midterms on offense. Going into 2018, 23 Democratic-held Senate seats were up for grabs, compared to just nine Republican ones. Republicans were convinced they had a golden opportunity to expand the majority they won in 2014 and retained in 2016.”

Isenstadt further reported McConnell is worried he will have to spend additional resources to get Moore past December’s general election against a Democrat. As if Moore is less “electable” than an establishment Republican. That’s a political fallacy that’s been disproved over and over in the last several years yet the ruling elites – and the media – clings to the false notion that conservatives and populists can’t win.

Baloney; trends show genuine conservatives are easily more attractive to the grassroots because they don’t portend to go-along-to-get-along with a Washington GOP establishment that’s helped roll up 20 trillion dollars in debt while fighting a losing rearguard battle against Democrat liberalism literally ever since Ronald Reagan left office.

Here’s thinking Moore won’t have any problems winning in December. And if the party leaders would stop blowing cash on protecting “moderate” incumbents that nobody wants in primaries there would be plenty of resources left over to assist conservative candidates in winning their contests against Democrats.

“Moderates” like Senators John McCain and Lisa Murkowski were responsible for sinking the GOP’s efforts to pass an Obamacare fix. Yes, Senator Rand Paul was right there with them, but it isn’t the conservatives in either the House or Senate that have constantly served as the party spoilers. When it came time to compromise nearly all conservatives bent over backwards to make the liberal Republicans happy.

If these losers get ousted in their primaries it’s very healthy for the GOP in general.

But wait, wasn’t President Trump officially in Strange’s corner? Doesn’t that make him a loser too?

Not necessarily. Josh Dawsey of Politico reported, “Trump talked about the race frequently after returning from a rally he held for Strange in Alabama last Friday, one person close to him said, and seemed increasingly resigned to a loss. Several people close to the president said they expect him to blame the loss on others — particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — and to embrace Moore heading into the December special election, where he'll face Democrat Doug Jones…

“Trump convened meetings in the Oval Office and called pollsters, consultants and advisers on speakerphone to talk about the race. The president complained about Bannon’s aggressive moves on Moore’s behalf, as well as about the political advice he got from aides inside the White House, according to people who have spoken with him.”

It’s the last bit that is particularly intriguing. If Trump faulted Bannon (and Sarah Palin and Sebastian Gorka) for following his own advice to back Moore against Strange it’s no one’s fault but the president’s. I wasn’t privy to the conversations but one can only imagine Bannon advised Trump to go with Moore way back when it appeared the grassroots was moving in the judge’s favor. The signs have been visible for months; it wasn’t a late surge by any means.

And if the president wasn’t happy with what his White House advisers told him to do (reportedly son-in-law Jared Kushner said to choose Strange), he shouldn’t be. The people who are left in the West Wing aren’t the ones who helped Trump tap into the mood of the conservative/populist GOP base last year. With the possible exception of Kellyanne Conway and Mike Pence there isn’t anyone still there with Bannon’s sense of the conservative attitude on the ground.

Washington-based consultants can’t provide that kind of perspective and neither can the “West Wing Democrats”. It’s good that Bannon and Trump still talk, but let’s hope Trump learns from this experience and doesn’t side with the pro-McConnell faction in the next round of primaries.

A final sign that Moore’s victory was complete was the reaction from some #NeverTrump Republicans to the grassroots uprising. Stated simply, they didn’t like it. Jonah Goldberg wrote at National Review, “I … think it’s a lead-pipe cinch that Moore will say and do things in the Senate that might play well with ‘the base’ but will damage the GOP’s brand in other states and races. He will also almost surely say or do things that will encourage Republican senators in more moderate states to disassociate from Moore even when the actual policy position is right.

“Republican senators who need votes from independents and moderate Republican voters will not enjoy being linked to Moore in ads from Planned Parenthood and being asked by hostile reporters whether they agree with their Republican colleague’s views. In this and in myriad other ways, Moore will make it harder for Senate leadership to get things done — whether that leader is McConnell or someone else.”

Goldberg’s reasoning is wrong for a number of reasons, the most important being that it doesn’t matter what Moore says about an issue to some voter in Missouri, or Florida, or Ohio. The quality of the candidates will decide these races, not what an Alabama senator pronounces about some peripheral social cause.

There’s little doubt Moore’s presence will make McConnell’s life more difficult, and if that’s the case, so be it. McConnell’s easy sailing has resulted in a Republican Party that wins elections but can’t function to pass legislation. If Moore alters the balance, it will be a good day indeed.

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