In a year of political stunners, last night’s result in the GOP primary in Delaware still stood out. Christine O’Donnell, Palin-endorsed tea party activist, upset Mike Castle, former two-term Governor of Delaware and long term GOP congressman, who, until last week, was expected to be an easy victor, both in the primary and in the general election. Castle is the archetypal Republican Rino and O’Donnell a life long conservative activist, and the GOP Delaware voters decided that counted for more than electability. I view O’Donnell as a highly flawed candidate due to instances of bizarre behavior in her life, but nevertheless if I lived in Delaware I would have voted for her. James Antle of of the American Spectator explains why:
For how is it a victory to elect a liberal with an “R” next to her name rather than a “D?” What does it profit a movement to win an election but lose its soul? Conservatives are saying to the Republican Party: for years you have taken us for granted. Now you can either win with us or lose without us. And if a conservative candidate loses anyway, so be it.
Rank-and-file conservatives no longer trust the Republican establishment. They don’t trust big-spending incumbents. They don’t even trust conservative magazines, websites, and commentators who in their view run down conservative candidates.
Are there drawbacks to this approach? As one Mama Grizzly might say, “You betcha.” Ideology and values are vital, but qualifications matter too. So do local conditions and regional differences, where one size doesn’t fit all.
Finally, few RINOs are as brazen as Castle or Scozzafava. They now have learned to talk like conservatives and check the right boxes on conservative litmus tests even as they expand government once in power. The George Romneys have become Mitt Romneys, the George Bushes George Ws. Will conservatives be as demanding of them?
But for now, this much is clear: Grassroots conservatives picked Christine O’Donnell over Mike Castle, electoral consequences be damned. If it can happen in Delaware, it can happen anywhere.
Go here to read the rest. In these times the establishments of both parties are in disrepute. In such a fiscal swamp as the nation finds itself, with an economy in the tank, voters are willing to roll the dice on outsiders. That is why Christine O’Donnell, in an overwhelmingly blue state and with huge amounts of political baggage, may, just may, shock political insiders in both parties in November also.
Update: The always sensible Ed Morrissey has some interesting comments on the O’Donnell-Castle results. His last sentence is sound advice for the GOP establishment:
What does Mike Castle’s crash and burn among Delaware Republicans say about their party organization? After all, we have heard oodles of commentary about how Delaware Republicans are moderates who might get energized by the Tea Party but supposedly aren’t looking for conservative candidates. Instead, they convinced Castle to leave a relatively safe House seat instead of looking for someone who hadn’t backed a government takeover of the energy sector in cap-and-trade (in a coal-dependent region!) and co-sponsored the DISCLOSE Act. Perhaps had the GOP establishment listened a little more carefully to Delaware Republicans, who turned out relatively heavily in this election, they wouldn’t find themselves crying in their lattes this morning.
They stuck with a liberal, establishment candidate in a cycle where liberals and establishment figures are uniquely unpopular. Had the Republican leadership been in touch with Delaware Republican voters, they might have found a more suitable candidate for the popular mood, and would not have had to deal with Christine O’Donnell and her outsider bid. They have no one to blame but themselves.
Instead of pouting, Republican leaders in Delaware and around the country need to unite around the nominee, who was chosen by the Republicans in Delaware. Had Castle won the nomination, they would have demanded unity themselves, and rightly so. If they want to continue to issue snarky, anonymous asides and in essence take their ball and go home, don’t expect the electorate to follow them into battle in the future. Rarely have I seen such childishness from the supposed leaders of a political establishment, who set the very rules and customs they now want to ignore because they just got embarrassed on a national stage.
Grow up, shut up, and get to work.