Senators are elected for six-year terms, not lifetime appointments. Every six years they need to stand before their constituents and vouch for their record while explaining why they would be the best choice for a new six-year term. When there is no competition in primaries, they feel no need to improve or consider the concerns of their conservative constituents. Primaries offer alternative candidates, and often, better choices for the future. Again, this is something we should celebrate, especially in conservative states.
Here are some points we must all consider when examining the upcoming primaries, especially in the context of the current crop of GOP senators:
The Hatch Effect: As Erick Erickson noted a few months ago, Orrin Hatch started a new trend among the ruling class members. Recognizing the mistake of moderates like Bob Bennett and Dick Lugar, Hatch ran all the way to the right when he began to sense a credible primary threat. Last year, he voted 100% with Mike Lee. This year he has voted for amnesty, ENDA, funding Obamacare, debt ceiling increases, the Biden-McConnell tax increases, and many of Obama’s liberal judges and executive appointees.
The sad reality is that it worked for him, and now Senators McConnell, Cornyn, and Roberts are trying to replicate the Hatch Effect. They figured out how to pick the lock. Move all the way to the right as soon as a primary challenge emerges and completely muddle the need for an alternative. Then they can point to a scorecard showing them voting the right way that year.