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Friday, November 9, 2012

What Is The Future Of The Republican Party?

"But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime." — Frédéric Bastiat (The Law)

Conservatives need to take a collective breath and look closer at the numbers before they buy into the idea that GOP nominee Mitt Romney's defeat was due to some kind of national demographic shift that now makes Democrat presidential candidates' armor impenetrable. Before you give in to the hysteria, here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, Barack Obama's re-election showing was actually pretty unimpressive for a guy whose philosophies voters have supposedly adopted. As of this writing on Wednesday, Obama's vote total stood at an unimpressive 60,119,958. That's about what John Kerry got in 2004 (59,028,444). President George W. Bush actually did far better than Obama in his 2004 reelection quest, posting a vote total that was about 2 million higher (62,040,610) than what Obama got on Tuesday. That's hardly a remarkable finish in a country with a population that has increased. In fact, it's a decline of 9 million votes from Obama's 2008 total.

Had Romney (57,425,441) done as well as McCain did in 2008 (59,934,814), he and Obama would have run neck and neck, virtually matching each other's vote totals. That's hardly the stuff of demographic ruin.

The question Republicans and conservatives need to ask is not why voters showed up for Obama, whose turnout wasn't exactly extraordinary, but why millions of their own voters, people who had pulled the lever for Bush and McCain, didn't do the same for Romney or simply stayed home.

Why did Romney get a full 2 million fewer votes than McCain did? Why did those voters pull the lever for McCain, but not for Romney?  Who were they, and where did they go? That is what Republican and conservative strategists need to find out.

Is it possible that Republicans and conservative-leaning independents just weren't that wild about the guy?

Romney, you'll remember, was not exactly popular with the GOP base through two primaries — the first of which he lost outright, and the second of which he won because, quite frankly, all the other candidates were largely unpresentable on the national stage. Remember, Romney won just 52 percent of the votes cast in the primary — hardly a resounding send-off from his own party. Worse yet, Romney carried just 3 out of 43 states with 70-plus percent of the vote, compared to an average of more than 15 states by previous presumptive GOP nominees.

Evangelicals have always been suspicious of Romney's Mormonism. In fact, just days before the election, Paul Ryan had a phone teleconference with Evangelical leaders to rally them. And the exasperation with Romney's flip-flopping habit originated on the right, not on the left, and was well-known. What's more, the GOP's anti-abortion wing has never been entirely comfortable with him the way they were with George W. Bush. And some of the party's base has wandered into the Tea Party and Ron Paul camps, where Romney was never fully welcomed, if embraced at all.

The pundits claim that “Mitt Romney was only the nominee because of a thin primary field." Nonsense, he was the nominee because the entire GOP establishment threw everything it had at all the other candidates, in order to guarantee that it would get the candidate most likely to succumb to their advice and direction. As of September 2012, Romney was the only candidate left in the primary field whom no one had ever described as a conservative, let alone a constitutionalist. That, in short, is why he was the nominee.

The GOP establishment no claims that “Republicans need a candidate who can appeal to moderates". Appealing to moderates means apologizing to voters for not being quite as forward-looking as Barack Obama. It is to set oneself up as the inferior choice. It is to presume that the moderates are with the Democrat candidate by default, and must be peeled off by stealth.

This election was the last chance to spare America the final degradation of ceasing to be a constitutional republic altogether. That battle has now been lost. The things most needed now are clarity and forthrightness. AS Margaret Thatcher said; “first you win the argument, then you win the election.” The danger most imminent now is that, having forsaken the principles of liberty, the nation will simply forget that those principles ever existed. Therefore, from now on, to whatever extent possible, every candidate running against the Democrats in any election must be the most unapologetic, relentless constitutional conservative available. He or she must call out the Democrat as a leftist, a socialist, an authoritarian, and every other simply accurate designation appropriate to the situation. And he or she must be intellectually prepared to prove that case against the Democrat, and to make the moral, constitutional case for individual freedom.

Will this kind of blunt, hard truth lead to victory? Not likely, or not in the short run. The danger, however, is that if the true identity of modern American leftism is swept under the rug in the name of the big lie of "electability" (a word I hope I never hear again), the popular optics will forever belong to the Democrats, who, after all, have actively created a society in their own image and will therefore always appear as the most natural position to their monstrous offspring.

The name of conservatism, and more importantly its proud truths, must never be allowed to slip from the public consciousness. They will do exactly that if the non-Democrat in future campaigns hides from this name and from these truths. Eventually, it will be impossible — realistically, if not legally — to run as a genuine conservative. (I do not use the word "legally" facetiously; the more entrenched authoritarian socialism becomes, the more an advocate of liberty becomes a perceived threat to the nation's basic principles.)

Sarah Palin said in an article in Newsmax that election was not a Rebuke of Conservatism:

“Hang in there, America. Fight for what is right. Don’t look to government or any politician to solve your problems. Government can’t make you happy, healthy, wealthy, or wise. Obama is a master at reading the right ‘soaring’ words fed into his teleprompter, but actions speak louder than words.”

It may very well be possible that McCain got 2 million more votes than Romney because of Sarah Palin. While she invoked passion and hatred from the left and the media she also brought out passion among conservatives — a passion neither McCain nor Romney could do.

The real alternative to leftist authoritarianism (to be labeled as such at every opportunity) must be presented often and with vigor. Politely asking to be forgiven for not being as exciting as one's leftist opponent is the surest path to permanent serfdom. The only way out of this morass is to stand firm on principle and speak proudly of the superiority of one's position. Over time, a new generation may rise up that will find this clear light more appealing than the dull gray of socialism.

Yes, it may take a generation, or more. But it is the only way to victory — not merely electoral victory, which is meaningless without defining principles according to which one can govern, but victory in the name of liberty, of the American Founders, and of civilization.

Michele Bachmann came within an inch of losing her congressional seat. She almost lost in part because she has had the courage to speak out about a host of constitutional issues, from the debt to the Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government, and her supposed compatriots in the GOP quietly refused to support her campaign in the hope that she would disappear, and take her embarrassing hard truths with her.

It should be noted that Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Deb Fisher, all Tea Party backed candidates were elected to the Senate.

Charles Krauthammer makes a few good points in his latest column in the Washington Post:

“They lose and immediately the chorus begins. Republicans must change or die. A rump party of white America, it must adapt to evolving demographics or forever be the minority.

The only part of this that is even partially true regards Hispanics. They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example).

The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back.

For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement.

I’ve always been of the “enforcement first” school, with the subsequent promise of legalization. I still think it’s the better policy. But many Hispanics fear that there will be nothing beyond enforcement. So, promise amnesty right up front. Secure the border with guaranteed legalization to follow on the day the four border-state governors affirm that illegal immigration has slowed to a trickle.

Imagine Marco Rubio advancing such a policy on the road to 2016. It would transform the landscape. He’d win the Hispanic vote. Yes, win it. A problem fixable with a single policy initiative is not structural. It is solvable.

The other part of the current lament is that the Republican Party consistently trails among blacks, young people and (unmarried) women. (Republicans are plus-7 among married women.) But this is not for reasons of culture, identity or even affinity. It is because these constituencies tend to be more politically liberal — and Republicans are the conservative party.

The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence.

Additionally, warn the doomsayers, Republicans must change not just ethnically but ideologically. Back to the center. Moderation above all!

More nonsense. Tuesday’s exit polls showed that by an eight-point margin (51-43), Americans believe that government does too much. And Republicans are the party of smaller government. Moreover, onrushing economic exigencies — crushing debt, unsustainable entitlements — will make the argument for smaller government increasingly unassailable.

So, why give it up? Republicans lost the election not because they advanced a bad argument but because they advanced a good argument not well enough. Romney ran a solid campaign, but he is by nature a Northeastern moderate. He sincerely adopted the new conservatism but still spoke it as a second language.

More Ford ’76 than Reagan ’80, Romney is a transitional figure, both generationally and ideologically. Behind him, the party has an extraordinarily strong bench. In Congress — Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, (the incoming) Ted Cruz and others. And the governors — Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, plus former governor Jeb Bush and the soon-retiring Mitch Daniels. (Chris Christie is currently in rehab.)

They were all either a little too young or just not personally prepared to run in 2012. No longer. There may not be a Reagan among them, but this generation of rising leaders is philosophically rooted and politically fluent in the new constitutional conservatism.

Ignore the trimmers. There’s no need for radical change. The other party thinks it owns the demographic future — counter that in one stroke by fixing the Latino problem. Do not, however, abandon the party’s philosophical anchor. In a world where European social democracy is imploding before our eyes, the party of smaller, more modernized government owns the ideological future.

The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism.

Republicans: No whimpering. No whining. No reinvention when none is needed. Do conservatism but do it better. There’s a whole generation of leaders ready to do just that.”

No more apologies. No more embarrassment. No more veiled language when on the big stage. The left won the day by making the most radical, anti-human irrationalism of this epoch seem safe and normal, while portraying freedom and individualism as the dangerous, radical path.

The electoral battle between leftism and liberty is lost, and perhaps will now remain so for a good long time, regardless of the name of the winning party in any given election.

The moral war, however, is still in its early stages. It is an educational war, which means a war of ideas, which means a civilizational war. It is going to get ugly, and we are going to lose more battles than we win. As you know, however, the ultimate victor is the side that wins the last battle.

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