The Club for Growth Lost Its Way
Once an anti-establishment organization focused on small government and pocketbook issues, now just another group embracing the new leftist GOP establishment.
The Club For Growth was once one of the most respected and fearsome 501(c)4 organizations in Washington. But no longer.
Founded in 1999, the Club was one of the biggest enforcers of economic conservatism and small government policies with an eye on Washington. As described by founder Stephen Moore: "We want to be seen as the tax cut enforcer in the [Republican] party." And they did this by playing more aggressively in primaries than any other conservative organization. Their specific target: establishment Republicans who got a little too enamored with spending, taxes and growing the size of government.
Somewhere along the way, they lost the script.
This week, the Club for Growth announced that they were going to play in Congressional primaries in 2022 as they always do. But instead of being the anti-establishment tax crusaders they used to be, they instead have decided to go a different way:
The conservative Club for Growth plans to target critics of former President Trump in the upcoming elections, particularly Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) over their votes in support of impeachment.
Club for Growth President David McIntosh told Politico that Cheney and Gonzalez are good targets due to their impeachment votes and deviation from the anti-tax organization’s economic goals…
…“This is part of a strategy we’ve got this cycle,” McIntosh said, according to the news outlet. “Where we see incumbents who are not good on the economic issues … when they stumble and become vulnerable, and there’s a good strong economic conservative on the other side, we’re going to look at that race and get involved in the primaries.”
“What the impeachment vote does is make them vulnerable to a primary challenger,” the former Indiana representative added.
The irony of course, as The Hill notes, that in 2016 the Club for Growth had an entirely different opinion of Trump:
The Club for Growth campaigned against Trump in the 2016 election, labeling him as "the worst kind of politician."
The Club for Growth in 2016 was correct. This is why they ran ads against Trump in 2015. The Club of course memory-holed in from their YouTube page. But the internet is forever so you can watch it here.
Admittedly, they are far from the only conservative or Republican organization or politician who walked away from their long-held principles to kiss the ring of Donald Trump. But there is something very disappointing about the Club for Growth setting its principles on fire.
The Club for Growth was once the gold standard about determining the viability of conservative congressional challengers. Before Trump. Before the Tea Party. Before the Internet, there was the Club for Growth, championing low taxes and small government and putting their money where their mouth is. They reached their apex in defeat in 2009; their endorsement of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the New York-23 special election over Republican Dede Scozzafava was the real start of Tea Party influence in Congress and a recommitment, at the time, by the GOP to its stated principles.
Now? They’re still paying lip service to these same old principles. But instead of focusing on those principles, they are focused more on enforcing the will of a failed politician who opposes them on just about every issue position they purport to hold.
Groups like this should place a priority on principles, not past politicians. Instead, the Club For Growth abandoned these principles, fully embraced Trump, and now serve as just another example of Washington conservative abandoning principle to embrace the new leftist establishment Republican Party.