November 12, 2012

Election Post-Mortem: What Went Wrong?

By Mark Amagi

November 11, 2012

 

"People believe what they need to believe when they need to believe it.” – Bill Bonner

 

The Manchurian Candidate

On 9/11/2001, the United States of America was attacked by a team of al Qaeda terrorists. Almost 7 years later, the most Left wing member of the U.S. Senate, largely a nonentity there with maybe one year’s experience, ran for and won the office of President of the United States. This despite the fact that he was black, had a Muslim name, and a background that oozed with Marxist ties, and the fact that he attended a Black Nationalist Church for 20 years with a preacher who famously said, "God damn America!” But he promised "hope and change,” and an America where racial and ethnic divisions would be a thing of the past. Yet despite perhaps the most divisive Administration in American history, total ineptness at handling a jobless recession, and a cover-up where an American Ambassador was murdered by Islamist terrorists, he wins re-election. This is not just a Manchurian Candidate! Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me! Or I should say we, the American electorate. We’re dupes for the greatest hype ever pulled off by the inaccurately named mainstream media, or in other words, the propaganda machine of the Obama Administration. 

 

What Went Wrong?

How did this amazing turn of events come about? How did a moderate Republican candidate get beaten by a Far Left ideologue? First of all, I’d like to dismiss several of the well-worn excuses. Mitt Romney was not defeated because he failed to adequately court the Hispanic vote, and he wasn’t defeated because he was too moderate, as conservative commentators trot out a list of too moderate losers like Bush I, Bob Dole, and John McCain. The former is based on the premise that Republicans just have to become Democratic Lite and cater to all ethnic groups proportionately, while the latter is based on the notion that the electorate is a conservative majority and will never change.

 

What did go wrong, what really is the problem is that several Republican tenets on issues like trade and taxes have become engraved in stone, never to change in the slightest. But times have changed. Let’s start with taxes. What we have here is a conflict between dogmatic purists like Grover Norquist and his "no tax pledge,” and practical realities. Why should any politician have to take a "pledge” anyway? What happened was a case of "rope-a-dope.” The Democrats know that the Republicans are inflexible about new taxes so they went to their "class warfare” game, advocating tax increases for everyone making over $250,000, and thus making an appeal for middle class votes. If Boehner had an ounce of brains, he would have called their bluff: Okay, we’ll go along with tax increases for those making over $1million a year. How do you think it looks to Americans making less than $50 thousand, or who are unemployed, when Republicans won’t increase taxes on the very wealthy, when they choose that hill to die on? Would it bring in more revenue? The Laffer Curve says probably not, but perception in politics is everything, and the Republicans were perceived as dogmatic and rigid. Taxes have become an obsessive fetish with the Republican Party and conservative movement. The T.E.A. in the Tea Party stands for Taxed Enough Already, but it should really be Spent Enough Already or In Debt Enough Already. Yes, I know, giving government more revenue is like giving a cocaine addict more coke, but that’s not how the American public sees it, and if you’re not in tune with the people you’re not going to win elections. Politics is war by other means, as the saying goes.

 

The next issue is free trade or globalization. Do you really think that the Reagan Democrats are going to come back to the Republican Party as America bleeds jobs to China and the cheap labor of Third World countries? Here’s where Trump, and Perot and Buchanan before him, hit the nail on the head. Free markets are great, but how about a little reciprocity here: a service sector job rarely pays the mortgage or kid’s education like a manufacturing job could. Of course, high business taxes, regulations, and unionized labor costs share a large part of the blame. But standing by and contending that those lost American jobs are being adequately replaced in the service or other sectors is hardly what is needed to restore American competitiveness in manufacturing.

 

The Party of the Middle Class?

The connecting thread between these two tenets of Republicanism, taxes and free trade, is their effect on the middle class. The Democrats have been arguing that they’re the party of the middle class – what a joke! – except that when the Republicans align themselves with Wall Street they forfeit the territory. The Republicans should be the party of the producers, but they forget that everyone who produces isn’t a capitalist or entrepreneur. And even more importantly, by aligning themselves with Wall Street they have aligned themselves with a sector of the economy that has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decades, while American manufacturing and production has stagnated or shrunk. I’ve argued at length over the past several years that the Tea Party is a middle class movement and should promote and further middle class interests and values, and promote those interests and values in the Republican Party. Because of his connections with Wall Street, Mitt Romney had huge vulnerabilities coming off the Financial Collapse of 2009. (I’m not arguing here that the Republicans had a better candidate to field.) Of course, the media unfairly laid all of the blame on Wall Street, when Congress and the Fed should share the blame. But the Republicans missed a golden opportunity in not addressing the collapse and the ensuing runaway government spending to the degree that they could have. The ballooning National Debt will eventually lead to another financial collapse, far worse than 2009, and then what do you think the unemployment rate will be? And while Dodd-Frank may be like letting the fox guard the chicken coop, what alternatives did the Republican Party offer for banking and monetary reform?

Social Issues and the Constitution

Finally, before I conclude, I should like to address the myth that America is a majority conservative nation. To be conservative in America today might mean that you’re a Democrat conserving the status quo, just as to be moderate, according to the Left wing media, might mean that you’re a socialist, like our President. But that aside, America is no longer a conservative nation, if by that you mean a majority wants to preserve traditional American values. How could we be when our educational system and media have been taken over by Lefties and Marxists? If you want to take over a country, take over the institutions of cultural transmission. Take it from the Left: it works. That said, the Republican Party can no longer be an institution that looks only backward to the past if it hopes to survive. Just look at the Republicans and the Tea Party movement: What’s the average age of the membership? But there is a way to move forward, and that way is by being the party of liberty. The Democrats are the party of the state, of Big Government. Yet far too many social conservatives are all for liberty and smaller government until it comes to social issues like abortion, gay marriage, and drug laws: then they want the government to step in and criminalize behavior they disagree with. There are many fiscal conservatives who wouldn’t think of voting Republican because of these very social issues. This is where liberty ties in with our American tradition: the foundation of American liberty is the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. I’m quoting here from an American Thinker article (January 7, 2011 ” [http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/three_gifts_from_the_tea_parti.html ] by Larrey Anderson, "Three Gifts from the Tea Parties.” According to Anderson, the first gift the Tea Party gave to America was "continuing Constitutional education.” He wrote:

The most important thing that the Tea Parties have done is to revive an appreciation for and an understanding of our precious Constitution.  This task is barely in its infancy.  Ignorance of the meaning of the most important political document ever written is still rampant in this country -- especially among our youth, who are rarely taught the actual meaning of the document.  Instead, they are lectured about a nonexistent, and essentially meaningless, "living" Constitution -- a document that changes with each new passing political or cultural fad.

Anderson went on to address the schism between libertarians and social conservatives: "The most likely causes of such infighting will be Tea Party [or Republican Party] members who are intensely focused on moral issues like abortion, drug legalization, euthanasia, etc.” With that in mind, Anderson offers the following solution:

Putting all my cards on the table, I too am greatly concerned about these issues.  But according to the Constitution, most of these problems are state and local, not federal, concerns.  The Tea Parties need to understand that if they are to stay viable, they must remain united on a return to federalism and to the strict enforcement of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the same.  Once real federalism is achieved, important moral legislation can be debated and determined in the proper venues: in our state houses and before our city councils.

Far be it for me to suggest that social conservatives drop the social issues near and dear to their hearts. What I am saying is that if you really want to win national elections and stop the march of the USA down the road to socialism, then maybe you’d better re-think the role of the federal government in rectifying those issues to your satisfaction, because it ain’t gonna happen, and the end result may be continued dominance by socialist Democrats. To win elections, the Republican Party must become a coalition of all Americans opposed to socialism: United we stand, divided we fall. By championing Tea Party issues like individual freedom, fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets, the Republican Party can grow to include a greater proportion of the American electorate. Unfortunately, far too many tea party candidates have frightened the electorate with views that have been painted as extremist by the Left wing media (the pot calling the kettle black). That has often been unfair and a result of distorted reporting, but remember that in politics perception is reality, and as long as the media controls our information diet, it will be reality. By the way, if the Republican Party were really the party of big money then why haven’t those so-called conservative interests bought a major network and a few dozen newspapers? That might really do the cause some good.

 

Conclusion: Socialism vs. Liberty

What I think this election was about was a choice between socialism and liberty. Romney may not have been the best candidate, but he was the best candidate the Republicans had to run. I personally would never vote for a socialist, but apparently a majority of Americans think differently. What I have to say here might not be palatable to all my fellow travelers on the right, and I certainly don’t claim to be right about everything. What I do claim is that Republicans can continue holding dogmatically to all the above positions, and lose again: What Beautiful Losers! Or they can reassess some of their positions because the country is more important than any ideology (despite what the opposition on the Left might believe), and if we don’t win, we can’t save the nation from socialism. It’s as plain as that. 

 

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