I chatted with Will Cain of “Off the Page” this morning about the National Republican Senatorial Committee and its recent troubles — Murkowski, Specter, Crist.
He offered the question of whether you would rather have 60 Lindsey Grahams or 40 Jim DeMints. That’s a pretty stark difference, and thankfully life rarely gives us such wildly disparate options. Any GOP Senate caucus is going to have some moderates, some conservative stalwarts, and some lawmakers who fall somewhere in between.
Will lays out his love for ideologues here. As I tried to say, and I’m not sure how well it came across, I want the most conservative electable official I can get in every district and in every state. If Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are about as far right as you can get and still win a statewide race in Maine, then I want the two of them. If Scott Brown deviating from his party on every third vote is what it takes for him to win reelection in Massachuetts, so be it; Martha Coakley would be voting against the GOP position three out of three times.
A guy who checks all the boxes and holds all the right positions but who can’t win is good for some debate entertainment and not much else. That kind of a candidate is Alan Keyes. That kind of a candidate lets the other side not even have to sweat winning the election. It’s odd; the people who talk the most about how they want to stand for principle, and how they oppose conceding any ideological positions find themselves conceding many winnable House and Senate seats.
If you want to influence policy, you need the votes in the legislature to do it. If you want that, 99 times out of 100 you’re going to need a coalition, and that means having some folks who aren’t with you 100 percent of the time on every issue. If we get big Republican majorities in the House and Senate, we’ll find ways to get conservative ideas enacted into law. If we have big Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, our ideas are effectively dead.
Interestingly, both Will and I referred to the “just win, baby” slogan attributed to Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, a now-ironic comment considering how terrible the Raiders have been for so long.
Show me a principled, dedicated, and noble loser and you know what you have? A loser.