You Know the Republican Brand is damaged When…
Scott Garrett refuses to admit he’s a Republican. Scott Garrett’s got a campaign ad running on his website. I doubt he’ll ever run it, but it’s there for anyone to see.
The ad is all about cutting spending way back as a means to restoring fiscal sanity. Now I would argue that government spending in a recession is the only thing standing between us and another Great Depression, but that’s an argument for another day. What struck me is that nowhere in the ad did Scott Garrett identify himself as a Republican. Instead he characterizes himself as an “Independent Voice for Change.” Why would that be?
Well in generic polling, Democrats are 1 to 3% ahead of Republicans. But those numbers shouldn’t scare Garrett into hiding his far-right bona-fides in a district that hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress since the onset of the Great Depression. Is it he fears redistricting has made the 5th District more competitive? By examining strict party registration the answer is yes. Redistricting resulted in far more Democrats being added to the district than Republicans. But that can’t be it either, because a sitting Member of Congress, Steve Rothman examined the numbers when it’s was only a possibility that he would be thrown into the 5th. Once that possibility became reality Rothman wasted no time in pivoting to take on fellow-Democrat Bill Pascrell.
I think the more likely scenario is that Scott Garrett is chasing Tea Party votes and doesn’t want to alienate any of them by coming across as establishment Republican.
Scott Garrett was practicing “Tea Party Politics” before anyone ever tried to tie in Revolutionary War Patriots with far-right economic policy that has been discredited by the actual enactment of some of their policies over the last 32 years. When he first went to Congress, Garrett was considered extreme. Despite the fact that his positions are now the new “normal” for the Republican mainstream, Scott Garrett refuses to identify himself as a Tea Party Republican.
It’s my contention that the Republican Party embraced the Tea Party in the same way that one might catch a tiger by the tail. As the story goes, if you have a tiger by the tail you had better not let go, or the tiger will turn around and devour you. Such is the case with the Tea Party. For the vast majority of the electorate, the Tea Party is a “bridge too far.” Independents and certainly Democrats do not identify with the Tea Party movement and view it for what it is, disgruntled members of the traditional Republican base.
The Tea Party has already pulled Mitt Romney so far to the right that he’s been unable to use his campaign etch a sketch and tack back toward the middle on issues like gun control, women’s rights, defense spending and general economic policy. I predict that despite some troubling polling numbers for President Obama, he will be re-elected with ease next month. I’ll go even further and say I predict Romney will only get 206 electoral votes and at most will get reach 221. I suspect Republicans like Scott Garrett will fail to identify Mitt Romney as the canary in the coalmine for Republican politicians. In fact, I predict Scott Garrett will come away convinced that Romney lost because he wasn’t a true Uber-conservative. At least he’ll say so publicly. However, if he really believes the best course for this country is to follow his far-right ideology, why is he so confused about his own political alignment?
Republicans everywhere will be wondering how they can let go of the Tea Party Tiger without being devoured by it.