Political prudence for the GOP
November 18, 2012 3 Comments
It’s been almost two weeks now since the Great Disappointment of 2012. In 1844, the Millerites were let down in their expectation of divine deliverance. With the wailing and self-flagellation of some after Romney’s 2012 defeat, one could be forgiven for thinking an event of similar cosmic significance had transpired.
To be sure, there is much to talk about. And I myself have had some hearty discussions or else tracked the ongoing conversation. This time of ferment offers a fresh opportunity to applaud realistic thinking as well as call out and smack down the sillier and more destructive ideas.
Two or three days after election, I came across one of the self-flagellation pieces on American Thinker. The article looks back to the GOP’s post-Gingrich Revolution profligacy. It seems the author is laying some significant portion of the election blame there. But these transgressions happened an eternity ago on the political timescale. It’s a little hard to imagine any number of voters bemoaning Trent Lott’s appropriation decisions from 17 years ago.
Yet the idea persists that Republicans are still suffering from the veto of off-put fiscal purists. Michael Medved counters this notion with a rhetorical image: where is this mythical army of conservative voters who are withholding for the right candidate? Only 40% of the country identifies as conservative, and we pretty well turned them out this last time. The decisive work ahead lies not in squeezing an elusive reservoir of more conservatives but winning more moderates in the middle. The numbers bear this out.
Meanwhile, a piece from Forbes offers a different message: this latest defeat is a chance to shake free of Karl Rove and the Bush II cadre. Per the commentary, its high time for true Reaganites, in the Jack Kemp mold, to climb back to power. I’m not really knowledgeable on the comparative schools of GOP politicos, but I took the editorial with a grain of salt. Just think of Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” Certainly, there’s room to criticize of our fellow partisans, but we ought to be wary of taking away such a simplistic narrative. And we need to watch out for the damage that comes from publicly airing our internecine struggles.
Reading articles is nice, but one doesn’t even have to look that far to examine a slice of the conservative movement. There’s Twitter for that. And a lot of what has been floating in the past few days is junk. There is the talk of secession. Just dumb. Neither is a dire outlook of the Republican brand appropriate. And please, let’s suffer no more talk of RINOs. This kind of sourness doesn’t help grow the party. But to Twitter conservatives’ credit, folks seem to be on the ball in registering their disdain for unelectable candidates like Todd Akin. If anyone needs to be kicked out, it’s brand-destroyers of that vein.
A bright spot in the post-election conservation is Daniel Henninger’s deconstruction of the Obama victory. He has exposed the repulsive shape of future campaigns that Democrats have pioneered. It will be in your face, all the time, and begging for every last penny. Democrats, drawing on the progressive obsession with number-crunching technocratic solutions, have perfected the division and manipulation of the voting populace.
The rank and file of the GOP is too idealistic by comparison. We’re always waxing about “articulating ideas.” But I know we have some unsavory electorate-dicing operatives among us; or at least, we ought to. We need them to act with the resources and range of their Democratic counterparts.
One more take away from post-election discussion comes from Michael Medved. Per his recent piece, the key to Obama’s reelection victory was voter suppression. You read that right. Not Black Panther intimidation or tampering with ballots, though that surely happened too. The winning strategy was deeply cynical: turn off swing voters, and push your base to the polls at all costs. There’s nothing magical we can’t replicate there.
I think the GOP definitely has the ability to turn things around in the next few elections. But even if you disagree, I would implore you to hold the myopic moping, conspiracy theories and intra-partisan vitriol. Don’t spoil the hunt for the rest of us; too much is at stake.