If it weren’t for the current struggle within the Republican Party, I may have forgotten about a small detail from my second job. Once a year, there would be a corporate campaign to raise contributions for the United Way. Being a seventeen year-old, giving money to a “charity” seemed like a good idea, especially if my contribution was as little as one dollar every week. Unfortunately, it would be several years later when I would learn how the United Way allocated my contributions.
During one of the first rounds of attacks against the Boy Scouts of America’s policy to exclude homosexuals from gaining membership, the United Way threatened to withhold donations to the BSA. It was this announcement that attracted attention to the questionable practices used by the United Way to not only raise money, but also how those donations were spread between charities. Had I known that only a part of my contributions would be funneled down to different organizations – some that I might not have chosen to support, I would have better served the charities that I do support by donating directly to them.
The United Way’s practice of acting as a distributor of contributions to various organizations is similar to how both political parties choose which candidates’ campaigns to support – or ignore.
When Joe Walsh was running for a House of Representatives seat in northeastern Illinois in 2010, support from the national Republican Party was all but nonexistent, until the ballot-counting showed that he had a narrow opportunity for an upset victory. This is only one example of how the Republican establishment ignored some Republican candidates in 2010 and 2012.
For the best example of how the GOP picks winners and losers within its ranks, look at how Christine O’Donnell’s Delaware Senate campaign was received by the Party establishment.
There is no question that O’Donnell was written off despite claims of Party unity, but the manner in which her campaign had been belittled and neglected by both Republican elite and commentators in the media has been compared to the campaign of Mark Kirk’s in Illinois. As a member of the House of Representatives, Kirk has established a record of voting – as the Republican Party would describe it, as being a moderate. When the House voted on the Cap-and-Trade bill, Kirk voted “yes.” This vote, and the passing of this bill by the House, was eclipsed by the media’s collective obsession with stretching the news of the death of Michael Jackson as long as possible. When news of Kirk’s “yes” vote became public, he responded the same way that he would later on when it was discovered that he lied about his military record during his Senate run – he went into hiding.
Even before the Illinois primary elections, commentators and Republican leaders alike, both statewide and national, were telling voters that they had to vote for the “most electable” candidate, in this case, Mark Kirk; a panicked establishment, was telling conservative voters in Illinois that “you may not agree with him, but you can’t allow another Democrat to take this Senate seat.” While voters in Illinois were being told to support a candidate who has little in common with their morals and political philosophies – in the name of Party unity — the message in Delaware was completely different.