Framing the Speaker race

We’re in the frontier with this speaker’s race. Nobody knows what we’ll find. Nobody’s been here before.

With the removal of the law that forbade citizen engagement in the race, all of us have front row seats to the new system.

Speaker Straus was selected before the election, but with a major flaw: he was selected the old way. Nobody yet knows how much room the new system will make for the old way. Not Straus, not commentators, not anyone, because this is everyone’s first rodeo. Forward-thinkers have already noticed how different it is.

This is why it’s ridiculous for anyone to try to “call the race” at this early stage.

Actually, that’s not quite true. It’s perfectly understandable for the Straus team to try to get conservatives to concede the race now – with every passing day more citizens, with their brand-new right to be heard in the Speaker race, demand change after learning the ugly reality of a potential Straus speakership.

The Straus team, with all the hollow poise of a con-man, wanted this race conceded election night. They’re trying to get the insurgency to lay down its weapons before the too many reinforcements arrive – and arrive they will. Seven weeks in a speaker’s race is eternity.

If the Straus team were as confident as they pretend to be, they wouldn’t have added paid staff to fight this speaker’s battle. They wouldn’t be paying for ads on the Drudge Report. They wouldn’t be (allegedly) threatening State Reps. They wouldn’t be investigating blogger rights to comment freely on this race. They’d be on a cruise ship in the Caribbean until January.

They’re not.

Instead, they’re diligently filling up internet comments sections, trying to convince us they aren’t paying attention. They know they’re in a fight, and that their precious pledge cards mean almost nothing — collected back when 1) candidates needed campaign money from the Speaker and, 2) before voters shocked everyone with the sheer rage of their demand for more conservative government.

Laugh when the Straus team pretends they know how this will go. Nobody does. We all know how it should go.

Everyone in the conservative insurgency needs to take stock of themselves and remember a few important things:

1) Republicans get hired, Democrats only get the job when the GOP gets fired.

Republicans get hired for conservatism and fired for weakness and compromise. Democrats are never hired; they just get the windfall from GOP firings.

Americans, Texans more than most, want conservative government. They don’t mind if it’s genuinely tried and failed for lack of power. Voters will give Republicans like that reinforcements.

What voters won’t suffer is Republicans not fighting for them or fighting against them. When that happens, voters stay home, and the Democrats become a rebound-relationship; if Democrats avoid saying anything stupid they’ll get the job. “Hope and change” is plenty.

As a result, GOP politicians must show competence, and competence means accomplishment of conservative policy. Everything else is grounds for firing. Electing Joe Straus is grounds for firing.

The fear that prevents conservatives from fighting aggressively is the most dangerous enemy to Republican re-election.

2) Losing a race is no shame for watchdogs and activists, but cowardice is.

A K9 watchdog is never expected to be able to beat every enemy that comes to the house. If the robber has a gun the watchdog will lose — and become a family legend.

What is expected of a watchdog is that he barks as loudly as he possibly can, and that he not stop barking until the danger is gone. As long as he does that, he’ll be the most popular member of the family. If he doesn’t, he provides his owners a good reason to try a new breed.

The grassroots and conservative movement’s job is simple: create a parade attractive enough for politicians to want to step in front of. The clear majority of them want to. Activists, watchdogs, and citizens needs to hock all defensive tools for offensive. After all, what is an insurgency but pure offense? And what is counter-insurgency but pure defense?

Pick a candidate and back him with everything your courage and creativity will afford. Pick an enemy and oppose him with the same. If it’s the right thing, you’ll be rewarded no matter the outcome. Plus, you will have raised the profile of the speaker race for next time. It’s a win, win, win.

Conservative activists are not heroes because they win or lose. In fact, it’s perfectly possible for them to lose like heroes and win like cowards.

The grassroots are heroes for showing the kind of courage that this country is made of. Remember the Alamo? We lost that one big, then won much bigger. And it was our losers who became the legends.

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