Sometimes the people in my party can be a bit, well … “stupid” is too generous a word. I’m speaking of the “conservative” effort to qualify former State Rep. John Rhodes as a write-in candidate for U.S. Senate. You might remember Rhodes as the guy who lost to Tillis in a legislative primary eight years ago, reemerging recently to try to derail his former opponent’s campaign for Senate. Among other things, Rhodes attacked Tillis for possibly paintballing his neighbor’s barn.
A little explanation is in order, because the whole “write-in” thing is confusing. John Rhodes is not going to be on the ballot in November. This group is collecting signatures so that, if one does choose to write in Rhodes’ name, the votes will go to him and not just be tallied under the “write-in” category. It also gives legitimacy and organization to the campaign.
And it helps Kay Hagan, immensely. There’s already a potential spoiler by the name of Sean Haugh, who is taking votes disproportionately from Tillis. Hagan doesn’t need to win a majority in November, she just needs to place ahead of Tillis. If the conservative movement is divided, she might just need 45%. That’s not a recipe for ousting Harry Reid and taking back the U.S. Senate. That’s a recipe for losing.
Ultimately, I’m not concerned about the Rhodes write-in movement in and of itself. I don’t think it will get any traction beyond the most hardcore Tea Party activists. But it’s symptomatic of a larger problem: the suicidal tendency for conservatives to take their ball and go home if they don’t get everything their way.
Interestingly, the Democrats don’t seem to have the same problem. Progressives moan and complain about “corporate” Democrats but still go on to vote for people like Heath Shuler, Mike McIntyre, and yes, Kay Hagan. They know they’re better off with someone who’s with them 70% of the time or even 51% of the time instead of someone who’s against them 100% of the time. Maybe they’re smarter than we are.
If this is true for someone who’s 51% conservative, how much more for someone who’s a 95/5 conservative like Tillis? Listen, you can disagree with his style and his tactics, but Thom Tillis is a conservative, plain and simple. There are few people more responsible for the dramatic rightward shift in the state’s political landscape. He may not be your first choice, but he’s a good conservative and he deserves your support in November.
Wanted someone who’s a 100% conservative instead of a 95% or a 97% conservative? You should have gotten better candidates. Plain and simple. Or maybe you should have worked harder. Or played around more on Twitter. But it doesn’t matter now. It’s time to suck it up, put on your own big-boy pants, and support Thom Tillis in November. Because when a conservative stays at home, or even worse, writes in John Rhodes, it doesn’t sound like they want to win. Instead, it sounds like whining coming from losers.