One of the more interesting questions to come up as Karen Handel endorsed Jack Kingston during Wednesday’s press conference was from the AJC’s Political Insider, Jim Galloway.
“You’re kind of in the middle of pulling off a pretty good hat trick here,” Galloway told Kingston. “You’ve got the U.S. Chamber of Commerce laying out half a million dollars for you within the next few weeks. And then, you’re also teeing up TEA Party support, and they’re not the best of friends. So how do you walk that line?”
Kingston responded by noting that Harry Reid, Michelle Nunn and President Obama surely would like to see a divided conservative family. He pledged to bring together people who want to reform government, cut spending, add more jobs and strengthen national security, claiming his plan would unite the various wings of the Republican Party.
Is Kingston’s plan perfect? Probably not. And it certainly doesn’t cover every issue conservatives would like to see resolved in our favor. What it does do, though, is lay out some common ground that people can agree on.
This month, we heard a lot about how establishment Republicans want to destroy the TEA Party, and how the TEA Party vows to continue the fight against the establishment. Here in Georgia, TEA party efforts to unseat the Governor and Speaker of the House failed. Articles have been written about the possible future of the TEA Party movement.
Maybe the lesson that should be learned is that a political approach of “my way or the highway” is one that that frequently doesn’t result in a win. That applies not only to TEA Partiers challenging Chamber of Commerce Republicans, but to ‘liberty’ Republicans challenging the establishment, and vice-versa. Finding candidates who appeal to a broader swath of conservatives and Republicans can be a winner, not only here in Georgia, but apparently also in Alaska, Arkansas and Iowa.
Being a big tent party doesn’t have to mean compromising conservative values. It does mean understanding that someone you agree with 80% of the time is someone who is going to help you win elections.