By Colonel Mike Angley
I am an unofficial graduate of the Rush Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies. I’ve listened to, and been inspired by, the Maha Rushie for over 25 years. His keen insight and laser focus on issues have helped me shape my own perspective on conservatism.
It should be no surprise then that I wrote for Andrew Breitbart for a couple of years before his death and now contribute to The Conservative Pundit. Rush’s influence inspired me to view conservatism through a new lens. What he taught me was to see things not for how they are presented, but for what they really mean.
The recent midterm elections offered me an opportunity to peel back some things, and while I’ll comment on the election on a national scale, I want to home in on my own state of Colorado as a case study. Colorado Republicans took a shellacking at state level last Tuesday. Why? Well, the reasons may surprise you.
First, Why We WIN Elections
To understand why we lose elections, we must first get our hands around why we win the ones we do. Our wins can be summed up in one word: Trump. The places where President Donald J. Trump stumped had a higher rate of Republican success than the places he did not.
But the explanation goes deeper than just one man. President Trump represents the forgotten Republican, the conservative base of the GOP. He is emblematic of the frustrated class within the party…the ignored, marginalized, disenfranchised, taken-for-granted-until-election-time Republican.
President Trump speaks for the exasperated masses of the party who, for the eight years preceding 2016, faithfully delivered power to the GOP, first in the House and then the Senate. But no matter how much power we gave the GOP, we experienced repeated, abject disappointment as the power elites of the Republican Party delivered nothing but failure after failure.
Nearly every demand we made – and every promise the GOP elites gave – we saw rebuffed with excuses. We weren’t fooled. We could see what was going on as the establishment class in Washington, DC held hands with Democrats, reached across the aisle, compromised, and made deals. Sadly, every deal lurched the nation leftward. No compromise ever seemed to advance conservatism, not even one inch to the right.
The vanquished don’t get to dictate the terms of their surrender to the victors!
We all knew that, so why weren’t GOP politicians using the levers and pulleys of power we gave them?
“Just give us a Republican President, then we can really make good on our guarantees!” That became the newest excuse in a string of hollow promises.
Then along came Donald J. Trump. He was appealing to the base for many reasons. He was brash and bold. He was a tell-it-like-it-is man in a realm where being phony and pretentious is the norm. But most significantly, he was a businessman, someone with real accomplishments, things measurable, quantifiable and meaningful.
He wasn’t a career politician like the snobs in power, the ones with Ivy League law degrees and résumés listing one soulless political position after another.
In other words, he was not one of them.
We, the heartland, chose him precisely because he was not of the feckless, disappointment-class we had elected, re-elected, and re-re-elected for eight unsatisfactory years.
And he delivered. He has managed in two years to undo most of Obama’s eight years of misery, and along the way he’s had to fight off a hostile media, the Democrat Party, and even the Republican elites who despise him because he isn’t part of their club. When the party elders asked us to elect a Republican president, they certainly did not mean HIM.
He’s had to endure blistering attacks by his own party, members of the Deep State establishment who never once took to the House floor or the well of the Senate to criticize the Marxist-in-Chief he replaced. But so-called Republicans have done that, disgracefully, to President Trump.
That brings us to the midterms. President Trump stumped for fellow Republicans like a barnstormer on rocket fuel. At every stop, he was greeted by tens of thousands of his base, the very people I just spent several paragraphs describing. His support is strong because his conservative base appreciates the fact he is making good on his agenda and that he’s willing to fight for us.
In places where he stumped, Republicans did well. In a speech the day after the election he noted that 9 of 11 candidates he stumped for in the 10 days prior to the election won.
You see, what the establishment elites of the GOP fail to grasp is that the fed-up base will deliver to President Trump the tools we need for him to fight – not just Democrats – but THEM, the Republicans-in-Name-Only (RINOs), the faux-cons, the Deep State, and the swamp.
Why do Republicans Lose Elections?
It would be too simple to claim the converse of the winning strategy, that by not inviting President Trump to stump for them led to a candidate’s loss. President Trump suggested this as much in his post-midterm speech and it certainly has merit. He mentioned several Republicans by name, candidates who snubbed him and then lost.
The reason we lose elections is because the base is tired of the spineless, establishment class, the people we elect repeatedly but who break every promise made. Our observation about the swamp is that there’s little distinction between RINOs and Democrats.
We want real conservatives, not country club, cocktail party collegial types who cozy up to the left whom we know to be a genuine, existential threat to our Republic.
When our candidates camouflage their own progressivism, when Republicans resemble Democrats, then we’ve lost the soul of our Party, the Party of Reagan. Our candidates once stood in stark contrast to Democrats. Today, many of them are a part of a purple blend where no distinctions can be seen.
When it’s tough to discern any real differences between Republicans and Democrats, then the GOP base is uninspired to support our candidates.
All the candidates who rebuffed President Trump pre-midterm are what I’ve just described.
And that’s why they lost. Refusing to be seen with President Trump was merely a symptom of a greater problem of continuous disappointment and lack of progress on conservative principles.
So, What Happened in Colorado?
Colorado is an interesting case study. We elected a Democrat, Jared Polis, as Governor. Our candidate was Walker Stapleton, the Colorado State Treasurer and a member of the Bush dynasty (more on that in a moment). We also lost our bid for the State Treasurer, Attorney General, and the Secretary of State (a Republican incumbent running for re-election). The Democrats also flipped a House seat held by a Republican.
We once had divided government where we could at least stop bad bills in Denver. The Democrats took control of both state legislative chambers, guaranteeing leftist Polis free reign.
How could the Colorado GOP so horribly botch its fortunes? Broadly speaking, it’s because of everything I just described. I’ve lived in the state for 13 years and I’ve watched the gradual slide to the left. But the midterms went from slide to avalanche overnight.
I’ve been involved in Colorado politics and I know from many meetings I’ve attended that the party elites are entrenched in their own self-importance, their establishment-class snobbery. They shun the base with a Clintonesque ‘basket of deplorables’ disdain. They don’t do it overtly (well, not too often), but there’s a thick paternalistic air of “we know better than the base what is best for the party.”
While the party apparatchiks in Denver don’t tacitly put their thumbs on the scale during a primary, it’s claxon clear whom they support, and it’s never a true conservative, a Tea Party-like patriot. No, it’s the incompetent establishment class that gets the subtle nod, the members of the disappointment brigade that we’re tired of electing, re-electing, and propping up for repeated disappointment.
Walker Stapleton is a member of the Bush family. His mother is a first cousin to former President George H.W. Bush. That there’s little love or respect by the Bush family for President Trump is well-known. “Acts of Love” Jeb Bush just the other day publicly blasted President Trump for rebuking CNN’s hot-mess-reporter Jim Acosta.
It should come as no surprise that President Trump didn’t swing through Colorado on his whirlwind Stump-a-Palooza tour before the midterms. While I don’t know this first hand, I’ve heard from several party insiders that Stapleton refused to ask for Trump’s help, incapable of swallowing his pride. (Perhaps it was also because he’s incapable of grasping what the base wants.)
Had he been asked, I suspect the president would have made the trip which would have signaled to the base that he wanted them to support Stapleton. That many extra GOP votes could have propelled not just Stapleton into the governor’s mansion, but it would have boosted the fortunes of all the Republicans who lost Tuesday night.
President Trump prevented a blue wave from engulfing the country, but tin-eared Colorado GOP elites seemed determined to embrace a proven formula for failure. Their dogmatic clinging to a losing orthodoxy came at a serious cost.
Naturally, the excuse-making began in earnest around the time the polls closed and it became apparent Colorado was in deep-blue-trouble.
It’s because we have too many new residents from California!
Boulder and Denver are liberal strongholds and they have too much sway over the state.
Of course, all that external finger-pointing misses the point. Colorado Republican problems are internal, and if our party leadership were to suddenly have a moment of navel-gazing honesty, they’d understand that.
I lay the blame squarely, solidly, 100% at the doorstep of the GOP elites and party officials in Denver, across the state, and down to county level. Their failure to understand and respect the conservative base is the foundation of the problem, and their elitism and establishment-candidate-exclusive support is where it came to a head.
We have far too many moderates in positions of power. Worse, we have genuine tax-and-spend liberals occupying public office with a dishonest “R” next to their names. That’s all a result of this shift to the left in our party when the base has been demanding it move right.
We can save the great state of Colorado, but it will require a complete transfusion of leadership in the GOP. We need to run out of town the party elders who caused this disaster (pretty much all of them). Replace them with base-supporting, genuine conservatives, who will reinvigorate our party’s traditional platform.
Unless and until that happens, and all liberal office holders masquerading as Republicans are voted out, then we’ll be in trouble for a long time to come. “Welcome to East California,” is a phrase I’ve heard many of my fellow REAL conservatives say after last week’s election.
Sadly, it’s true.
Colonel Michael (“Mike”) Angley is retired from the United States Air Force, a published thriller author, and a conservative writer who fashions himself as Attila the Hun with a laptop. Mike wrote for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government and Big Peace blogs before the Breitbart consolidation, receiving superb feedback and kudos for typically weaving in pop culture references with his far right perspectives. He enjoys writing about military affairs, national security issues, and politics and is an avid Second Amendment advocate. When he’s not writing, he’s busy annoying liberals with FaceBook posts and Twitter tweets that point out the obvious flaws and fallacies of the left.
During his 26-year USAF career, the Colonel was a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The OSI is a sister agency to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and has an identical mission that includes felony-level criminal, fraud, and narcotics investigations as well as counterintelligence and counterterrorism operations. His USAF experiences spanned multiple regions around the globe with five command assignments and duties at foreign, regional, theater and national levels.
He is a seasoned counterintelligence and counterespionage officer from the Cold War era, and if you ask him he’ll tell you the spy-vs-spy days were indeed the heady, glory era of espionage. During the latter half of his career he focused on counterterrorism missions in the Middle East and the Far East and operationalized many of today’s concepts for this unique arena while working the sand dunes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and a few other “choice” locations. When Colonel Angley retired in 2007, he was a Senior Supervisory Special Agent and was in command of all worldwide OSI matters at Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, CO.
Mike Angley is also a published, award-winning author of three thriller novels in the “Child Finder” trilogy. His debut novel, “Child Finder,” received a glowing review from the Library Journal which placed it on its Summer Reading list in 2009. “Child Finder” and its companion sequel novels all won various awards from the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) and the Public Safety Writers Association. In 2012, Mike was named MWSA’s “Author of the Year,” largely for work on his third novel, “Child Finder: Revelation.”
As an avid user of social media, Mike can be found and friended on Facebook (mike.angley) and followed on Twitter (@MikeAngley). His website is www.mikeangley.com. Following his USAF retirement, Mike and his family stayed in Colorado Springs, CO where they enjoy daily, majestic views of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains.