For most conservatives, Rush Limbaugh was the anchor that kept the Republican Party from drifting. Limbaugh was known and presumably loved because neither the wind nor the currents could shift him away from the dock no matter how rough the seas. Now that that anchor is gone, members of the Grand Old Party appear adrift. Grasping for a map and a compass, they are scrambling to determine where their true north lies. Without that fixed point, they know they will be hopelessly lost.
Rolling in the Deep
Beneath someone like Rush has always been a weighty group of Republicans, people whose names you do not know but who manage to cough up the high cost of commercial space on K Street year after year. They are Vineyard Vines tie guys, perhaps hanging out at Congressional, Chevy Chase, or Columbia Country Clubs on the weekend to hit the links or play a couple of sets of doubles on the well-manicured clay courts. They have served in this or that Republican administration and can be characterized as party thinkers, loyalists, money men – or all three. They are commonly referred to as lobbyists.
This week, when two Liberty Nation authors – independent of one another – wrote about one such K Street group, it seemed noteworthy that these people, who almost always stay below deck, had popped up to the surface with something to say.
CGCN Group, which self-identifies as a “strategic communications” organization, does not trifle with publishing dates, or list an author’s name. Its writings have the ring of an editorial from a prominent newspaper. Liberty Nation’s Sarah Cowgill noted that CGCN’s article “is a frightening look at the dismantling of [the Republican] party – not by Trump loyalists but by the elitist members of the GOP. The article points to the divide between corporate America and the Republican Party. This relationship used to be in lockstep on most issues: But that has been all but erased.”
LN’s Joe Schaeffer went further, writing that CGCN’s position paper “warns the moneyed corporations that have been the lifeblood of Swamp chicanery for the past three decades that their progressive public posturing is fueling the transformation of the GOP into a populist nationalist party – the very thing they most oppose.”
With Rush gone, CGCN highlighted the comments of another talk radio host:
“Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt last week issued a remarkable broadside against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in which he tweeted, ‘The embrace of Democrats in campaigns failed, betraying its members and its legacy. Time to revolt Main Street. It’s the Chamber of Beltway Buddies, not Commerce.’ Note here that Hewitt is not a right-wing firebrand, but a sober-minded member of the GOP’s establishment and a regular commentator on Meet the Press. He is conservative, no doubt, but not in league with Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino, or Mark Levin. He may have offended NBC’s corporate sponsors, but he was also playing to his listeners’ views. That he is playing at all suggests something is afoot.”
The men who reside on K Street go on to spell out what Liberty Nation’s Tim Donner has been talking about for some time – that President Trump altered the fundamental direction of the Republican Party from elitist to populist. The GOP no longer belongs to the “country club” set; now it is the working man’s party. Unsurprisingly, this hard turn starboard has caused a rift between corporate America and Main Street. CGCN concludes: “the business community needs to rethink how it engages the GOP on issues they consider fundamental. Because their list of priorities and the GOP’s may not always overlap in the same way it once did.”
Administrations come and go, but if places like CGCN are sounding the alarm for change, those steering the good ship GOP should sit up and take notice. Such as it is, the post-Trump Republican Party is looking more and more lost at sea.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.