And then I realized that bridge I'm worried about building wouldn't be over water; it would be a flame-licked bridge over the raging pit of Hades. Sorry to sound like a dramatic, hormonal high school girl, but the future the so-called moderates envision excludes God. It's a place where babies are butchered and sold for spare parts, the only people allowed to protect themselves with a weapon are bureaucrats, and everyone receives an allowance from the state.
I really spent some quality time asking people: what values do conservatives and so-called moderates share? I can't come up with a single thing. And in the midst of looking for the building blocks for that proverbial bridge, the so-called mods booed when Mary Pilcher-Cook's name was mentioned. They booed as a guy listed Republicans who won in uncontested elections. While conservatives were looking for ways to compromise, moments after leaving many of our crying friends in rooms upstairs, the so-called mods were booing the conservatives, loudly. Publicly. Crassly. Gracelessly. Revoltingly.
As conservatives write the autopsy of this election, there will be plenty of blame to go around. (Yay, circling firing squad! So fun!) As conservatives lay battered and bloody on the proverbial battlefield that was the Marriott Overland Park, blame was scattered among the body parts and tears.
At the top of the blame list?
- Gov. Sam Brownback. He gets a healthy dose. He checked out almost instantly after winning re-election. He is inaccessible. He refuses to fight for conservative principles. Because his public relations team is, I'm sorry, unbelievably bad, he allows the media to define him. (And can we talk a half second about that press release on Monday? Brownback issued a release inserting his opinion into the Trump/Kahn dust-up the day before a primary that was likely to be a referendum on Brownback. Um. Why? Seriously, why? On Monday, Brownback should have been hiding in a corner or out of the country. Seriously, it was not the time for Brownback to remind Kansans of his existence. Did the press release push any of the so-called mods over the top? Probably not. Did it knick conservatives? My Magic 8 Ball says 'Signs Point to Yes." Wrong time. Wrong issue. Just wrong.)
- Some conservatives blamed the people at the top of the ticket--Sen. Jerry Moran and Congressman Kevin Yoder. I think that is unfair. Moran and Yoder did not specifically endorse in many primary races, but I know the work many of their campaign staff did behind the scenes. Those workhorses worked. I can't say that a more public declaration of endorsement would have made the difference. That said, both candidates did ask for public endorsements from other officials, despite being unwilling to offer the same. That's not all that cool.
- Other folks blamed the grassroots folks for not being more involved. This is also unfair. How can the grassroots folks be expected to rally to the conservative cause when one, many weren't asked, and two, when conservative ideals are continually abandoned. Conservatives absolutely capitulated on school funding. I mean surrendered like the French in the face of mild German aggression. Conservatives couldn't pass judicial selection reform. Conservatives biffed on spending cuts. I'm not blaming our elected officials. I understand that sometimes compromise is necessary, but it's difficult to rally to what appear to be lost causes.
- Conservatives lost at least one seat in Johnson County, because two conservatives split the vote. Rep. Charles Macheers would be back in avenging in Topeka had Owen Donohue not entered the race.
- People spent a ton of money on the wrong things this cycle. Conservatives are always running against the wind, because the media loves to run over conservatives and then back up the bus over them again. This makes the ground game even more important--the conservative point of view doesn't fit all that well on a bumper sticker, and we can't look to the traditional media for explanations. While so-called mods and conservatives spent buckets of money on mailers, I think that's money that would have been better spent paying a few people to organize and lead volunteers. The ground game put conservatives, led by Brownback campaign staffers, over the top in the past. And for the most part, conservatives didn't have as large, as long, as regular of a ground game. A great ground game may not have helped everyone over the top; this was always going to be like a year six election of a 2-term president, meaning close districts swing in the opposite direction. BUT a good ground game would have saved some folks. And it wasn't there. We HAVE to organize and communicate between now and November. There's simply no other option.