Rick Santorum’s exit from the Republican presidential campaign is a win for the Republican establishment, but it is a win that has revealed the desperate weakness of the Republican Party’s Washington insider culture.
Now completely dominated by acolytes of the Bush family, the Republican Party at the national level has no real philosophical core – it is merely about holding onto power.
But this is not power as it is understood in high school civics classes – the ability to use the levers of government by holding elective or appointive office. The power that the insiders of the national Republican Party seek to protect is the power to receive a share of the spoils from the looting of beyond-the-Beltway America.
The dirty secret of Washington’s inside culture is that the lobbyists, influence peddlers, access sellers and professional political operatives who make-up the inside elite of the national Republican Party will get paid no matter who is President.
Indeed, it may even be more lucrative for them if Obama is re-elected while the House remains in Republican hands. While there would be no ambassadorships handed out to bundlers and major donors, imagine the vast fees that can be generated through lobbying and the constant political warfare that are the hallmarks of divided government.
The Santorum candidacy, and those of the other conservative candidates in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, represented an existential threat to the insider culture that now dominates the Republican Party at the national level.
The last thing the Republican establishment wants is a newly elected conservative President arriving in Washington at the head of a vast citizen movement committed to change and to ending earmarks, midnight tax breaks, crony capitalism and other abuses.
The Republican establishment’s commitment to repeating the strategy that led to the defeat of John McCain – appealing to moderate to liberal voters, while ignoring grassroots conservative concerns – is indicative of their desperation to hold on to power and their complete indifference to actually winning the political and philosophical battle about undoing the welfare state and instituting fiscally sound constitutional government.