Bevin Never Had A Shot, And He Wouldn’t Have Changed Anything Anyway

Mike Maharrey Communications Director, The Tenth Amendment Center
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The curtain fell on tea party dreams of triumph in the Kentucky Republican primary Tuesday night.

As CNN put it — “Establishment Crushes Tea Party.”

Senator Mitch McConnell rolled over challenger Matt Bevin, amassing 60 percent of the vote.

Bevin reportedly spent over $3 million in his effort to unseat the powerful Senate minority leader. Add to that hundreds of volunteer-hours and you have quite an effort by tea party conservatives and libertarian-leaning Republicans hoping to oust a poster-boy for establishment Republican politics.

What a waste.

Bevin never really had a shot. It wasn’t that his message of limited government and conservative principles fell flat. McConnell basically ran on that same message. It was a matter of money, power and name recognition. There was no way upstart Bevin was going to topple the applecart — not with $3 million, or even $6 million.

And let’s be honest; even if Bevin had managed to pull off the upset, then moved on to defeat Democrat Allison Lundergan-Grimes in November, does anybody really believe he would have fundamentally changed anything in Washington D.C.? Guaranteed – two years after a Bevin victory, the federal government would have been bigger, more invasive and deeper in debt.

America does not have a problem with the people running the system in D.C. The system in D.C. is the problem. And we won’t change it by swapping out a few cogs. Conservatives have attempted this approach since the 1940s and it fails over and over again. As a friend said, this thinking represents “a leap of faith into the abyss of disaster.”

Trying to solve America’s problems by voting the bums out and replacing them with better bums is a lawn care approach to politics.

From around mid-March through October, I spend about 90 minutes every week walking in circles around my yard, ears assailed by a deafening, monotonous drone. When I finish up, the grass looks really nice. Then, about three days later, the lawn begins to take on a bit of a raggedy look. By the next week, I have to repeat the process again.

And again.

And again.

Once I complete my weekly drudgery, I invariably begin pondering ways to make the grass just stop growing. Of course, I can’t. Grass grows. That’s its nature. Only one way exists to avoid the weekly mowing ritual. Fundamentally change the nature of my yard — as in rip out all of the grass by the roots.

American politics looks a lot like my lawn care routine – top down and ineffective.

The only way to change the Washington D.C. system is to subvert it from the bottom up. State and local efforts can thwart and undermine federal overreach. Just look at the movement to legalize medical marijuana across the U.S. The feds will never stuff that genie back into the bottle.

Bevin and tea party supporters spent over 3 million dollars and labored hours and hours for nothing. Now, imagine those resources applied to a state and local effort like the OffNow campaign.

In just six months, with a budget under five-figures and a handful of volunteers, this transpartisan coalition dedicated to stopping unconstitutional NSA spying through state and local efforts garnered national media attention and scored several legislatives victories that will practically impact illegal spying. An NBC Los Angeles reporter recently said of a California bill passed by the state Senate “this could be huge.”

Now imagine what OffNow could do with a $3 million budget and hundreds of dedicated volunteers.

Americans need to abandon this insane fixation on putting the right people into federal office. It’s like putting new wine into old wineskins. Instead, apply the same kind of effort at the state and local level. Fundamentally change the system from the bottom up.

Stop just mowing the grass and yank it up by the roots.