I haven’t written much on this blog in recent years due to bigger concerns in my personal life, but perhaps in the next little while, I’ll post more often.
As I write this, it is the day after the Ohio primary elections held May 8, 2018, and I am worried about the current condition of the GOP as I peruse the election results. I won’t recap any of the vote totals, as that can be found elsewhere. The election results, at least in north central Ohio, tell me that money won every single GOP primary race. This signals that the energy of the grassroots is gone or almost gone. Where are the political upstarts that rocked the establishment GOP candidates during the Obama era? Does it take an Obama presidency to energize the grassroots? Even as recently as the 2016 election cycle, non-establishment candidates enjoyed at least some small measure of success against the status quo. But looking back at yesterday’s elections, I now declare this trend to be dead.
Whether one agreed with “Tea Party” principles or not, the competitiveness of Tea Party candidates signaled an engagement of the grassroots. When the grassroots were energized, campaign cash advantages were not guarantees of success in the GOP primaries. Establishment candidates were more likely to feel the pressure to articulate why they were deserving of voters’ support. I think that’s healthy.
Why this new complacency? Yes, the GOP currently holds the reins of power both in Ohio and in the nation’s capital, but I do not necessarily believe we have the best of the GOP holding those positions. The primaries were the best shot of improving the quality of our representation in government, and I think we blew it. Few debates were held. The Ohio Republican Party did not remain neutral in these primaries. They kept their thumb on the scales. In doing so, their endorsed candidates were relieved of the pressure to articulate why their nominations would be of value to the voters, for they could just go along for the ride knowing that the ORP would fight the nomination battles for them.
Now, with the moneyed candidates, ones that are more loyal to donors than to voters, advancing on to the November 2018 elections, I think the lack of luster among the GOP’s nominees will only make it easier for the Democrats to rebound. The last time I saw such a poor crop of nominees, or worse, was in 2006, a bloodbath of an election year. Granted, this group of nominees is not as tainted by scandal as that group of GOP nominees back in 2006, but the lack of excitement is the same. The weakened influence of the Tea Party evidenced yesterday, I believe, will translate into poor GOP turnout in November. Brace yourselves for a rough ride this fall.