Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why Richard Lugar Lost His Senate Seat

How, in 2012, does a venerated, accomplished, well liked conservative Republican lose his seat of 36 years in the Red state primary of Indiana? Conventional wisdom is saying he wasn't conservative enough. By pointing to a few voting missteps and some bipartisan friendships the spinners of conventional wisdom plucked the obvious explanation. There's more to it than that. If the Republicans recognize the what else part of the reason, they'll see something more profound, though not complicated. Senator Lugar was elected 4 years before Ronald Reagan. In a way he could claim to be a predecessor to Reagan and the Reagan style of Republican governing. That style is a blend of pragmatism, business acumen, and being results oriented. Lugar has hardly budged from that style, in spite of a few votes that infuriated me. It served him and the country well up until about 2000. Its taken 12 years, then for something to cause a tipping point. If the senator hasn't changed, what has? Back in '76 a conservative elected to office of any shade from pink to scarlet was going to be an improvement over the FDR stlye of blue, social democrat that had dominated American politics for a half century. Lugar was good and red. Funny how red used to denote communism and now we use the election map colors the MSM put on states on election night to describe the voting trends that night. But I digress. Lugar was and is a good conservative. His ratings by various watchdog NGO's make it all too plain. By a measure of static historical reflection, Lugar should have been a shoe in. No Republican in the state could seriously have expected yesterday's defeat by looking over their shoulder at Lugar's past record or election results. Eventually, even Lugar sensed that the rise of the Tea Party was going to present a challenge. Lugar must have believed that he could easily weather the challenge based upon his record. He failed to sense that the Republican electorate had recognized a weakness in the garden variety conservative. Further, that the democrats were exploiting it to great advantage and repeated victories. Lugar labeled his opponent's biggest support group, the Tea Party as extreme. The Tea Party embraced the label if only notionally. There was one extreme difference between Lugar and the Tea Party. What Lugar either failed to realize or acknowlege was that the Democrats in particular and government in general were eating their lunch in legislative negotiations because the two sides were operating in agreement on a basic, underlying principle. That principle was that there should be no limiting principle to what government does and only slightly less, embraced that the means ought to have no limit. The disagreements were on details. This resulted in unrestrained growth and police powers of the state. Lugar styled Republicans were wedded to the idea that they could eventually talk sense into the deliberative process. It wasn't working. Republicans had held the reigns of power twice since 2000 and each time executed an overreach of their own design. Each time earning a smackdown from the electorate. The new Republicans had woken up. They discovered the weakness and the cure. Lugar wouldn't take the medicine; constitutionalism. That's the straw that broke the camel's back. Once the Republican elecorate rediscovered the source of a limiting principle, saw it in application in our early history and surmised it still the best fit for what ails the nation, Lugar's fate was sealed. He lived and died a pragmatist. He either failed to recognize or refused to believe that the Democratic acceptance of pragmatism divorced from limiting principles were ruining the country. Further, that they were using his own method of governing against us and him. If he were simply duped, realized it and refocused he would be our nominee, still. When it became clear that the constitution wasn't in Lugar's political DNA that sealed his fate as senator. The times demand fealty to the limiting principles, extracted from the dillutions of history and case law. Richard Lugar couodn't even see it coming. The rest of you, take note. ectorate

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