In The Arena

Karl Rove Is Ruining the GOP

Karl Rove recently tried to advise Republicans on how the party can more effectively take back the Senate in November. He made two main suggestions.

One was that Republican candidates must "make the case for electing someone new who will be a check and balance in the Senate on Mr. Obama and his agenda, rather than returning a Democratic loyalist who toes his line." Rove's second suggestion was that the party should "offer a positive, optimistic conservative agenda to make independents who disapprove of Mr. Obama comfortable voting Republican."

Rove is right on both counts, especially about offering a positive and optimistic conservative agenda.

But there's one big problem. This advice is coming from Karl Rove.

Rove has never cared about conservatism and has spent his entire career opposing any Republican who might be successful in promoting or implementing a conservative agenda.

Rove belongs to the same tradition of moderates who fought Barry Goldwater in 1964, who pushed back against Ronald Reagan in 1976 and did everything they could to stop Reagan again in 1980. They said Reagan would be a disaster for the party and even the country.

Today, Reagan is one of the most well-remembered American presidents and remains the standard-bearer for what it means to be a conservative Republican, popularizing a small government message that GOP moderates said was too extreme to resonate with voters. As with Rove's predictions about Mitt Romney's chances in 2012, GOP moderates couldn't have been more wrong about Reagan.

Rove and his ilk have opposed every significant conservative leader who has ever dared to challenge liberal or moderate Republican orthodoxy. A history lesson: Moderates wanted Gerald Ford and then George H.W. Bush over Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980. Similarly, Karl Rove and his friends wanted Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in 2010. They wanted Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio in 2010. They wanted David Dewhurst over Ted Cruz in 2012.

Karl Rove kneecapped tea party candidates in 2010. He called Rick Perry's policy prescriptions, many which have had great success in Texas, "toxic." Rove said Sarah Palin lacked "gravitas." He has said Rand Paul "causes GOP squeamishness."

And what does he think about conservatives in general? He's called us the Republican Party's "nutty fringe." This is the same man Media Matters has dubbed the Republican "voice of reason."

When Rove founded his "Conservative Victory Project" last year, conservatives everywhere laughed. We knew this was a man who had spent his whole life making sure conservative ideas never saw the light of day.

Rove basically admitted as much, when he said his reason for forming this group was to "protect" the GOP from challenges from "far-right" conservatives and tea party enthusiasts.

In other words, Rove wanted to continue, true to form, to ensure that conservatives would have no influence on the Republican Party.

It's now time conservatives make sure Karl Rove no longer has any influence on their party.

The last thing the GOP needs right now and in the future is for the anti-conservative professional political class to continue infecting its ranks, and the last thing we need, as conservatives, is having these same moderates infiltrating ours.

As a party, we must work together as a coalition to win elections. This has never been in dispute. But that coalition can no longer be comprised of conservatives always being told to stand down in promoting their agenda, while moderates like Rove continue to lose elections in spectacular fashion.

Conservatives have had enough. Our days of playing second fiddle to moderates are over. We should always be open to good and helpful advice — but with the hindsight and history of knowing that none of it will ever come from Karl Rove.