There isn’t a Republican primary battle that better personifies the divide in the Republican Party than the Florida Senate race between Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist. No, it’s not a battle between the “conservatives” vs. the “moderates” or the – perish the thought – “liberals.” It’s between Republicans who stand for something versus those who don’t. That’s what the fight between Rubio (who I’m an admitted supporter of) vs. Crist (who I think is an un-ideological, opportunistic douche) is really about.
It’s between Rubio the reformer vs. Crist the guy who supported Rudy Giuliani in 2008, before he supported Mitt Romney, before he supported John McCain, before he supported Obama’s stimulus, before he opposed Obama’s stimulus, before he vetoed a education reform bill that a) should be at the center of any right leaning reformist agenda, and b) he originally supported.
And who by most accounts may or may not be switch to become and Independent this week. ::shrugs::
As for the actual “civil war,” there a a GREAT piece in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago…
Let’s talk Republican “civil war.” Not the one the media is hawking, that pits supposed tea party fanatics like Mr. Rubio against supposed “moderates” like Mr. Crist. The Republican Party is split. But the real divide is between reformers like Mr. Rubio and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who are running on principles and tough issues, and a GOP old guard that still finds it politically expedient to duck or demagogue issues. As Republicans look for a way out of the wilderness, this is the rift that matters. And it’s the divide playing out in Florida, even if that’s not the press’s preferred narrative. In conventional-wisdom world, Mr. Rubio is the darling of an angry grass roots, surging at the expense of the postpartisan Mr. Crist.
And woe betide the GOP, goes the storyline. It is courting disaster, repeating its mistake in New York 23, nominating radicals who can’t win elections. Never mind the grass roots never did drum Mark Kirk (running for Illinois’s Senate seat) out of the party. Or that Florida doesn’t even fit this mold. Mr. Rubio, a Jeb Bush protégé, is hardly too conservative for his state. A recent Rasmussen poll has him beating Mr. Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek statewide. Mr. Crist doesn’t solve his Rubio problem by bolting the party.
What has attracted independents and even Democrats to Mr. Rubio is his reformist agenda, which taps into this week’s Pew poll finding a historically low 22% of Americans trust government. It hasn’t hurt that Mr. Crist has provided a sharp contrast with a campaign that channels the mindset that lost the GOP its majority.
It also doesn’t help matters when the National Republican Senatorial Committee always seems to get behind the candidates that don’t really stand for any core principles as much as they could probably raise the most money and – at least with conventional DC wisdom – win easier. They did it with Charlie Crist. They did it with Arlen Spector in Pennsylvania. They appear to be doing it again with Dan Coates in Indiana. And New York is doing it with Steve Levy in New York (though to be fair, he does have a really awesome mustache).
This also leads to the the bigger problem some of us have with “liberal” Republicans, and it’s not the word “liberal.” If you have a different vision of what you feel the Republican Party should be, awesome. Fight for it. One of my good friends, Republican friends, is a lot more liberal than I am, and we get into it all the time. That’s what the concept of the “big tent” should be.
But if you really think the party needs a more “moderate” message like say a Meghan McCain does, then instead of whining aboot it on left leaning vehicles like “The Daily Beast” or the “Rachael Maddow Show” and being their token self loathing Republican du joir, find candidates who support your vision of the party and start campaigning for them. Instead of telling me that the Party is “too conservative,” head to New Hampshire an campaign for Kelly Arlotte for Senate. My people have a saying, it’s “nut up or shut up.”
Marco Rubio and his supporters “nutted up” and he went from the guy who had no chance in hell of beating Charlie Crist no matter what the internets had to say…to possible beating Charlie Crist so bad he’s driving him from the party. And if Crist stood for anything other than his political career, he wouldn’t be going anywhere.