Our respect to Veterans on this Veterans Day. We thank you Veterans for your service and devotion to duty. We applaud you for knowing not to give up even after initial defeat. You remind us never to give up and that every day is a struggle to do what is right and that the fight never ends – eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
* * *
Republicans have many lessons to learn from this election cycle. In coming days we will explore what some of those lessons for Republicans are and how they should be addressed.
We are Democrats (not Obama Dimocrats), not Republicans although the experience of this election has turned many of our numbers into former Democrats. We suggest these lessons for Republicans because as Hillary supporters during the primaries we experienced early what the Republicans would later experience in the general election.
The first important lesson for Republicans can really only be learned by watching Obama supporters.
That lesson is: Beware of political Messiahs – they quickly turn to Mess-iahs. Republicans actually believed, back in 1999-2000 the nonsense that George W. spewed. We Democrats were aghast at the worshipping and the belief that George W. would prove anything but just another politician. Republican supporters of George W. however turned George W. into a belief system. George W. could do no wrong. Bill Clinton’s administration was blamed for every evil and the clear incompetence of George W. was excused. The September 11 attacks were politically exploited by George W. and Karl Rove to save his presidency even though the vacationing Bush and his crony cabinet had ignored written and explicit warnings of potential attacks. Still George W. was excused by Kool-aid drinking Republicans, until in 2008 the excuses and the Kool-aid ran out. Republicans, look at the Obama Kool-aid drinkers and see what we Democrats saw back in 2000.
Lesson #2: Beware of Big Media. In the 2000 election Big Media trashed Al Gore and did everything in its power to install George W. Big Media won in 2000 and Republicans were happy. But in 2008, Big Media won again and now Republicans are not so happy. Obama and Obama supporters sold themselves to Big Media power and today they celebrate but the tears of joy will soon enough turn to tears of sorrow. Republicans and Democrats must learn to fight the Big Media power that determines our election outcomes and sets the agenda for what is legitimate and what is not legitimate. The fight against Big Media power is potential common ground for Democrats and Republicans.
Lesson #3: Misogyny and sexism are ugly and dangerous and pervasive. As Hillary supporters we saw the ugliness of misogyny and sexism come from both men and women Dimocrats. As Palin supporters, Republicans saw the ugliness of misogyny and sexism come from both men and women. Common ground. On this website we defended Governor Palin against misogyny and sexist attacks. We were genuinely happy to see Republicans who made careers out of misogyny and sexism turn on a dime and become advocates for women.
The fight against misogyny and sexism are a potential future path for Republican success. Don’t screw that up Republicans. There are many future contenders for the Republican nomination and many fearful Dimocrats trashing Governor Palin these past few days. Don’t let that trashing persist.
We’ll discuss Governor Palin in particular as we continue our explorations of lessons for Republicans arising from the 2008 election cycle. For now, we’ll let Governor Palin’s appearance on the Greta Van Susteren show speak for itself. In this interview Governor Palin addresses many of the questions about her clothes, feminism, environmentalism, energy policy and her potential future run for president.
Lesson #4: “The wheel’s still in spin.” That ominous line from Dylan’s anthem The Times They Are A-Changing is both curse and promise. The fight is still on. The game is afoot. The Hopium will wear off, at least among the thinking.
The recognition of these obvious points should also alert us to a related danger, which is the cousinhood of euphoria and hysteria. Those who think that they have just voted to legalize Utopia (and I hardly exaggerate when I say this; have you been reading the moist and trusting comments of our commentariat?) are preparing for a disillusionment that I very much doubt they will blame on themselves. The national Treasury is an echoing, empty vault; our Russian and Iranian enemies are acting even more wolfishly even as they sense a repudiation of Bush-Cheney; the lines of jobless and evicted are going to lengthen, and I don’t think a diet of hope is going to cover it. Nor even a diet of audacity, though can you picture anything less audacious than the gray, safety-first figures who have so far been chosen by Obama to be on his team?
Lesson #5: Don’t underestimate the stupidity and cupidity of the Dimocratic Party. Look to the New York State Senate if you need a good laugh while learning this lesson which involves anti-gay Democratic latino legislators jockeying for power against African-American leaders.
Confusion broke out in the State Senate on Wednesday as four dissident Democrats refused to commit to backing a member of their own party for majority leader, throwing Democratic control into question just a day after the party captured a majority of the chamber’s seats.
What should have been a celebratory moment — the elevation of Senator Malcolm A. Smith to the majority leader’s post and an end to four decades of Republican dominance — was instead a somewhat humiliating one, as party leaders scrambled to unite Democratic members.
Lesson #6: Don’t mistake losses for victories and victories for losses. This one is related to to Lesson #7 and Lesson #8. Remember, Obama’s coattails were short, and turnout this election was not all the propaganda cracks it up to be. Even the New York Times acknowledges that this election was a normal win, not a blowout. Read the usually fair Jay Cost and his arguments for why 2008 is not a “realignment” election. In 2008 many Republicans stayed home contrary to the Obama propaganda ministry claims. A key goal will be to get your fellow Republicans back to the ballot box. And now, Lesson #7.
Lesson #7: Have the fight you have been avoiding. In 2008 the big bright spot for Republicans or conservatives were the ugly victories against gay marriage in California, Florida, and Arizona. In California, African-Americans who voted for Obama and are socially conservative voted against civil rights for Gay-Americans. While this year you can celebrate these “victories” the tide of history is against you on this issue. Even young Republicans are shifting on the issue of gay rights. So, while it is difficult (especially since social issues are the only “bright spot”) to argue, Republicans need to decide if the social issue victories are worth the price of future electoral defeat. Have the fight you have been avoiding – social issues paramount or economic issues paramount? Decide.
Lesson #8: Play to your strengths. Get back to being the crotchety old party of pinchpennies not wastrels. George W. looted the economy for his friends. The 1994 Republican “Revolution” was a lie. Instead of shrinking government the Republicans have given us monstrosities such as the Homeland Security Department, bloated budgets, and deficits and debt.
Lesson #9: Get the leaders you deserve. Dump the losers who have been leading your party. This is already happening at the congressional level as your leaders resign and leave. Dump your failed leadership – get back to principles.
The GOP has been laid low, thanks to politicians who swapped their principles for power and lost both. As the chief electoral vehicle for conservative and free-market ideas, the Republican party cannot regain America’s confidence –nor should it — until the guilty have been cast into the nearest volcano. [snip]
When Bush arrived, Washington consumed 18.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product. Uncle Sam now devours 22.5 percent of the economy, reported Jon Ward in the October 19 Washington Times. “The country has gone from a $128 billion budget surplus when Mr. Bush took office to a deficit of at least $732 billion in fiscal 2009,” Ward writes. “No president since FDR — who offered a New Deal to pull the nation out of the Great Depression and then fought World War II — has presided over as rapid a growth in government when measured as a percentage of the total economy.”
While much of Bush’s spending has funded defense and the War on Terror, most of it vanished into the furnaces of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 Farm Bill, the 2003 Medicare drug entitlement, the 2005 highway bill, the 2006 ethanol mandate, at least 69,341 earmarks, and much, much more. In 2001, Bush launched federal embryonic stem-cell research. By 2008, he added the word “nationalization” to the American vocabulary, and underscored it with nearly $1 trillion in bailouts and Third World—style government ownership stakes in banks and financial houses. [snip]
With few exceptions, Republican congressional leaders cheered this elephantiasis amid an atmosphere of corruption, incompetence, and unaccountability. Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, House GOP chief John Boehner, House Republican whip Roy Blunt, and other failed leaders should go warm the back benches. Senator Ted “Bridge to Nowhere” Stevens will become Ted “Jail to Nowhere” Stevens — and not soon enough.
Former Senate GOP leaders Bill Frist and Trent Lott, and top House Republicans Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay have nothing to offer America. They should be left alone to fade quietly into obscurity.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich captured the House from the Democrats, passed the Contract with America, and then bungled his speakership while conducting an extramarital affair with a subordinate during the Clinton impeachment drama. Why do pro-family conservatives, or anyone else, still heed this man?
Lesson #10: Hold Obama and the Dimocrats to their promises. Yes you will look like hypocrites. Face it you will be hypocrites. Demand an end to signing statements. Force Obama to fulfill all his promises. Write legislation based on Obama promises and force the Dimocrats to reject their own proposals or to implement them. When Obama submits his budget requests for hundreds of billions of dollars for the Iraq War – mock him – as a traitor to Move-on and DailyKooks. Watch Obama like a hawk. And remember, Obama can’t be trusted….
Don’t be afraid of the fight. Don’t be afraid of the clash of ideas.
Extreme Republican libertarian arguments against government are just as ridiculous as extreme Democratic big government tax and spend liberal philosophies. Extreme Republican war-mongering is as silly as extreme Democratic pacifism. Extreme Republican authoritarian police-state policies are as out of place as criminal coddling Democratic policies. While these are caricatures of both partys’ positions the role of government and budgetary decisions are important fights that never end. Fight this fight. Make a strong case for your position. The fights are worth having and necessary to have. We can find common ground, but Unity? Bah! The Obama “unity” delusion was at best an Obama deceptive ploy. These fights matter and will not end because Hopium eaters have a buzz.
Our infatuation with “unity” is a recurring delusion of American politics. Among the many examples are the hapless attempts that political geeks make year after year to form third parties that will transcend ideology and return us to our natural, prelapsarian state of cooperation. Ross Perot capitalized on the delusion by telling voters they could join together, hire a managerial expert to run the government “like a business,” and do away with a political class that was driving them apart (and not paying enough attention to him). The most recent and consequential example of it is the mesmerism of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
Unity is a phantasm raising hopes for something that can’t be delivered–or that, once delivered, would be so un-American it would scare us half to death. Yet unity was Obama’s theme. The sales pitch was a proposition that seemed self-evident: The only way “to get things done” and “move this country forward” was to “bring us together,” just as we believe Reagan did even though he didn’t.
Whether Obama really thinks such a thing is possible is anybody’s guess. He doesn’t look like a cynic to me. As a career politician, he has been required by his profession to face opponents and defeat them if he wants to get his way. Division is what politicians do. He’s got to know this, even if his blissed-out followers don’t. In his endless campaign, though, he never stopped talking as if the clashing political interests and contending ideas of a big, complicated, self-governing country were all just a terrible misunderstanding. His final stump speech–which his campaign called, with customary pomposity, the “closing argument,” as though the candidate had suddenly turned into Perry Mason–was drenched in togetherness. Right at the top he promised that his victory would “put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat . . . ”
Obama’s theatrical gift is such that his listeners seldom pause to think about what he’s saying. He communicates through a kind of subverbal music, half-heard and absorbed rather than cogitated on. But consider that promise above. What kind of “politics . . . divides the nation just to win an election”? Well, every kind. Elections presuppose a divided nation; if the nation weren’t divided it wouldn’t need an election. Besides, politics, of whatever kind, doesn’t cause the divisions; it expresses them and clarifies them.
Totalitarian regimes are expert at creating “unity”. But our veterans fought for our right to dissent. We’ll continue to dissent. We’ll continue to reject hypodermic infusions of lobotomizing Hopium.
It’s the least we can do for our veterans.
And that’s a lesson for Republicans too.
Happy Veterans Day.