There he goes again.
The state of the Republican base is the fault of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and, oh yes, Donald Trump.
So says Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Trump-hating member of the infamous January 6 Committee that is busily conducting a sham “investigation” into the events of that day.
Kinzinger doesn’t mention Rush, Sean, and Mark or any other talk radio stars by name, of course. Instead he attacks what he calls “profit-driven radio,” as if the rest of us have no idea who he’s really talking about. This, by the way, as the first anniversary of Rush’s passing approaches.
The amusing part of this is that none of it is new. What Kinzinger’s attack really represents is one more attack of establishment Republicans on the Republican Party’s conservative base. As I have noted in this space before, this kind of thing has been going on since the rise of Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and the conservative movement that they, in turn, inherited from Ohio Republican Sen. Robert Taft, the leader of the GOP conservatives in the 1940s and early 1950s. (And Taft, in fact, inherited his conservatism from his father, Republican President William Howard Taft.)
Recall — again — the Kinzinger-style remarks about Reagan when he burst on the scene in the mid-1960s.
• Vice President Nelson Rockefeller dismissed Reagan as “a minority of a minority” who “has been taking some extreme positions.”
• New York’s Republican Sen. Jacob Javits: Reagan’s positions are “so extreme that they would alter our country’s very economic and social structure and our place in the world to such a degree as to make our country’s place at home and abroad, as we know it, a thing of the past.”
• Illinois Republican Sen. Charles Percy said Reagan’s candidacy was “foolhardy” and would lead to a “crushing defeat” for the Republican Party. “It could signal the beginning of the end of our party as an effective force in American political life.”
• Former President Gerald Ford: “I hear more and more often that we don’t want, can’t afford to have a replay of 1964.” If the Republican Party nominates Ronald Reagan “it would be an impossible situation” because Reagan “is perceived as a most conservative Republican. A very conservative Republican can’t win in a national election.” Asked if that meant Ford thought Reagan can’t win, Ford replied to the New York Times: “That’s right.” The Times story went on to observe that Ford thought “Mr. Reagan would be a sure-loser in November” and that Reagan held “extreme and too-simple views.”
And when Reagan left the stage after winning two landslide terms as governor of California and two as president — and Rush arrived on the scene — Reagan wrote this note to Rush:
Thanks for all you’re doing to promote Republican and conservative principles. Now that I’ve retired from active politics, I don’t mind that you have become the Number One voice for conservatism in our Country.
I know the liberals call you “the most dangerous man in America,” but don’t worry about it, they used to say the same thing about me. Keep up the good work. America needs to hear “the way things ought to be.”
In other words, Reagan was under assault by GOP establishment types from the get-go because they resented the swarms of blue collars and non-country clubbers that Reagan was attracting to the GOP by the millions. In Reagan’s day, they were frequently called “Reagan Democrats.” And when it quickly dawned on the same elites that it was just these kind of Reagan voters who swarmed into Rush’s audience, they didn’t like that either. All of which caused Reagan to chuckle.
Adam Kinzinger has signed on with what is effectively the class warfare of anti-Reagan, anti-Trump GOP elites who couldn’t and can’t abide talk radio, not to mention Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News. Which is doubtless one reason why he sits silently as Liz Cheney violates the First Amendment rights of Fox News hosts by reading their private correspondence with various Trump officials aloud.
Is this assault by the GOP establishment going anywhere? No.
Why? Because in fact Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, and the stars of “profit-driven radio” have indeed changed the base of the GOP, overwhelming country club Republicans who over decades well-established a record for losing elections precisely because of their snobby class warfare that scorned the very voters they needed to win elections.
If, in fact — as polls indicate — Republicans take back the House in November, it will be precisely because Reagan/Trump/talk-radio conservatives swarmed the polls and made their voices heard.
And thank God for that.
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