Alex Roarty wrote a really interesting article over at National Journal, The GOP’s Talent Gap. It’s about how the Republican Party has too many chiefs and not enough braves. All the people working on Republican campaigns are doing it only as a stepping stone to those high paid pundit gigs in the Breitbart empire. To their credit, may people in the Republican Party are worried about this. But it isn’t a problem that is easily fixed. The Republicans have a culture of “looking out for number one” and they rebel against calls to work for the common good.
The article doesn’t go into this, but this is actually quite a recent development in the Republican Party. At one time, conservatives believed that the government should not force people to work for the greater good by, for example, making them pay taxes. But working for a common good of one’s choosing was perfectly fine. It is not anymore. This is a direct result of the dominance of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. By it, people are expected to be selfish because that does the greatest good. As I’ve discussed before, Rand created a great loophole in the form of enlightened self-interest. This is the idea that you shouldn’t just do whatever feels good; you should look at your whole life and see the best way to maximize your happiness. But among modern conservatives, I don’t see much “enlightened” in their self-interest.
This year, the Democratic Party is trying something new. They are trying to push back against the off-year election problem where Democratic leaning voters don’t come out to the polls. The idea is to focus on get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts. I’m on board with that. For years, I’ve argued that since people are very consistent in their voting patterns, we should stop trying to shape our message and put all of our work into getting the people who think like we do to vote. That’s the great thing about being a Democrat: most people agree with us.
The Republicans have no such advantage. And I think this is more important in explaining why the Republican Party has been so slow to focus on GOTV. They simply don’t have as much to gain from it. The base of the Republican Party is made up of older and richer voters. These are people who already vote in very high numbers. Reminding them or providing them with rides will not make them more likely to vote. So given there isn’t as much to gain, it isn’t surprising that GOTV efforts are not a high priority at any level inside the Republican Party.
Just the same, the Republicans do need to do it if they are going to stay competitive. But even with people who understand the issue, it must be disconcerting. The Democrats will always win at this game because they will always have a much larger group from which to draw. And so the Republican number cruncher will sit in front of his computer, not giving 100% because part of him is is bitching that his work will at best limit the vote margin bleeding, and another part of him is fantasizing about writing for Breitbart.