Having been active in the Republican Party for more than 30 years, I have observed and been part of efforts to reform the party from the ground up. As pressure has built to make the national and state parties more responsive and accountable to the people, the professional politicians and political consultants began to realize that their lucrative careers were in jeopardy. That is when they began to push back.
The sudden rise of the national Tea Party in the final months of the George W. Bush administration terrified the Republican Party leadership and fellow travelers. Hundreds of thousands of regular folks showed up in Washington, D. C. demanding smaller government, lower taxes and less intrusive bureaucrats. They were not led or controlled by the Republicans or Democrats, they were simply free Americans demanding better representation in Washington.
Since the Tea Party folks tended to be conservative, advocating traditional family values and Christian principles, the Republican Party elite and their consultants thought it would be quite easy to bring this large group into the fold and make them part of the followers and workers.
They had watched their Democrat opponents use the Black Democrats as servants, doing the heavy, dirty work for their liberal party bosses for decades with little compensation beyond empty promises. They viewed Conservatives and especially Christian Southerners as inferior, easily led and fooled as the the Democrats had experienced with their followers. They were shocked when they discovered that Tea Party people had a mind of their own and had no intention of becoming a party to an existing corrupt political machine.
If they were not going to be able to control these people, the party elite must devise a way to minimize or destroy their political power. After all, these people vote and vote heavily in Republican primaries.
Almost immediately an effort was launched to purge individuals identified as being Libertarians or Tea Party affiliated from positions of authority in the party.
Virtually overnight the Greenville County Republican Party, probably the most conservative in the state, became part of the establishment system and appeared to be following orders from Washington. Some thirty or forty Executive Committee members quit or were forced from their positions. The individuals who led the purge were rewarded by the state party and the state party chairman was rewarded with a well paid position at the national level. Much of this skullduggery was observed by people who had been loyal Republican voters and workers. Now they don’t trust the party leaders, and leaders without followers are not leaders at all, but useless people feeding at the public trough.
Word circulated early that Jeb Bush was the choice of the Party and would be the Republican nominee for president. Bush learned too late that his appointed and some were paid, leaders had no followers. Bush could rally the Party faithful, but no rank and file voters. They have been driven from the party.
Along come Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. They are anti establishment and are willing to take on the establishment and fight for what they believe in and for what the people want. They left Bush in the dust. No matter how many millions of dollars he spends, he will not rise significantly in the polls.
Efforts of the Republican Party elite to stop Trump and Cruz have only helped their campaigns. If they push too hard, they will force the creation of a third party and destroy the Grand Ole Party. They have never seen anything like it. They created this situation and now thy will have to live with it.
Rank and file Conservative voters are convinced that the country and world are in such deplorable condition that it will require a tough, uncompromising leader to reverse things and to get us off the path to Communism. His name is not “Jeb.”
Happy New Year!