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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Republican Industrial Complex and the Conservative Echo Chamber

Matthew Sheffield writes at Praxis:
The sad reality of conservative and libertarian politics is that the generous people who donate their hard-earned cash have been fleeced for years by greedy, incompetent people who have manipulated the system to profit regardless of the policy or electoral outcomes.

In order to prevent center-Right donors from seeing the failures and demanding changes, the Republican Industrial Complex has offered false theories that (depending on who is listening) “the Establishment” or “the far Right” are responsible instead of leaders who could not deliver.
While the GOP certainly has run poorer candidates on average than Democrats, the office-seekers themselves have not been the only problem. For years, Republican politicians and donors have been tricked not just into purchasing ineffective ads, they have also been tricked into paying ridiculous commissions on placing these ads, usually 15 percent. It is no wonder that the consultants have been so eager to convince donors to go for the quick fix of a political ad instead of investing in media outlets or building up grassroots organizations
...
Besides the fact that many Republican poohbahs and advocacy group heads are double-dipping out of their organizations’ coffers, one of the other significant issues facing the Right is an apparent desire of many conservative leaders to merely preach to the choir about conservative policy ideas instead of actually trying to enact them.
Some have been more flagrant than others in proclaiming their desire to lose. Former U.S. senator Jim DeMint made himself famous by repeatedly claiming that “I’d rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who believe in the principles of freedom than 60 who don’t believe in anything.”...
The reality is that America has some areas that are more hospitable to the brand of Christian conservatism that DeMint espouses and some that are not. To suppose that a top-down, centrally planned campaign platform handed down by inside-the-Beltway interest groups is what’s best for every part of the country is monumental arrogance. It’s also a fundamental contradiction of the idea and practice of federalism, something conservatives are supposed to respect.
Sheffield continues in another Praxis article:
Besides the fact that left-leaning mainstream news outlets help Democrats get their message out, they have the additional benefit of helping Democrats refine their own policies and messages. Smart Democratic strategists know that if a scandal is a problem to their unaffiliated sympathizers in the press, it is something worth taking seriously.

By and large, conservatives have no such positive feedback loops. Instead, the Right’s media monoculture has created negative feedback loops whereby people with little political acumen like Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and Glenn Beck are able to fill Republican voters’ heads with nonsensical ideas like planning to shut down the government with no backup plan or electing fewer GOP officeholders in pursuit of more “pure” ones, primarily because they grossly overestimate the number of conservatives in America. It is poetic justice that many of the same people who pushed these naive positions and strategies saw their own imbecilic noise machine turned against their preferred presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, in this year’s Republican primaries.
More center-right media outlets could also have been able to detect that the GOP’s economically libertarian message has little to no popularity among average Americans. Since these journalistic structures did not exist, however, the popularity of Donald Trump’s abandonment of that orthodoxy took the Republican elitecompletely by surprise. It shouldn’t have.