Sep 15 2010

Post Primary Season Reflections

Published by at 8:04 am under 2010 Elections,All General Discussions

This election continues to be one for the record books. I don’t think we have seen this many incumbent or establishment candidates toppled in a century. The continued, come-from-nowhere wins by Tea Party and Palin backed candidates is a clear indication that this election has a powerful and unified force behind. There is a decidedly and refreshing (in the truest sense of the word) ‘throw the bums out‘ mood in the electorate, as Mike Castle and others learned yesterday. All of a sudden there is real hope that major change is possible. This time we will fix DC, not allow DC to try once more to fix America.

I did not support Christine O’Donnell, and I think she may have some serious issues as a candidate. But I am willing to reset by expectations to neutral and see how things play out. If she straightens up and can build a coalition (which means reaching out to those she may not be happy with right now) then I will have learned something. If she turns out to be a failure in November, then the Tea Party and Governor Palin will have to have learned something. Either way, the pieces have been set and the game begins.

Right now we have a sea of outsiders marching on Washington, and that is incredibly exciting. The Political Industrial Complex has been shaken to its core, on the left and right – exactly what is required to make dramatic changes in government come January 2011 (unless the Dems hold on to retain enough control to stalemate real change for another 2 years).

It is imperative to this nation and future generations that this moment in time is seized with unity and respect. Going forward, the GOP needs that broad coalition that runs from left of center to as far right as reasonably possible. It has to be because the big-government proponents, entrenched in the Democrat Party, are now aligned against the limited-government wave solidifying across the land. The forces lining up on each side are powerful and crafty, and brutal.

Yesterday in a comment I was asked how I defined far right versus conservative, and I actually think my answer is important to the challenge ahead. The person asking was surprised I did not define the two camps on policy boundaries. I defined the two camps on attitude and approach. But to me and many others it is not the lofty goal that separates us, it is how we approach it. For me, policy boundaries define the left and right. As I said in my response, liberals want as much government as possible and conservatives wants as little as possible. Those are the battle lines of this election (and have been the lines for most elections in the past couple of decades).

What differentiates groups within the left and right is the next step towards the goal we are willing to take. Some want to abolish the education department, others want to make it more of a pool of resources that can support (not dictate to) the states. Others may be more comfortable with more modest changes and much less budget. This year the coalition ready to dismantle and shrink government is going to have to work out a phasing plan that moves us to the limited government we need, as fast as acceptable while ensuring no innocent players are untowardly damaged or punished in the process. There will be a lot of civil servant jobs lost if government shrinks – it can be done with compassion and patience. But we do not yet agree on that plan or its milestones or its keys to success.

This is basically how I distinguish between the far right and conservatives. In my mind the ‘far right’ has no patience for the realities of these challenges, they have no tolerance for varying opinions and ideas on the next step towards the common goal. They cannot debate without denigrating others and trotting out their superior morality, etc. They use derogatory labels for their supposed allies. The far right cannot tolerate dissent even on the most marginal or miniscule aspect of their vision of the next step. They demand purity and want to stamp out diversity. No one in the right mind needs to associate themselves with my definition, but many do. As Jeff Foxworthy might say, if you are out hunting RINOs then you might be a far right zealot.

My definition of a conservative is one who knows they are succeeding if they can find common ground 50-80% of the time, and can respectfully disagree on the other areas without the name calling. They work to build coalitions by subject, not by some measuring tape of purity across all subjects. They embrace diverse opinions and ideas, they enjoy the process of coming together and discovering the common ground demanded by any democratic process to create the next step towards the common goal. They demand diversity and reject purity.

Which grouping individuals want to be in is up to them. I rarely label individuals with these labels, typically I just note what behavior can indicate you may be in one or the other (as I did with the Immigration discussion, where demands of mass deportation easily put you in the ‘far right’ category).

To make the large and tough systemic changes this nation needs in order to avoid liberal disaster is going to take an army of diverse conservatives working together. The changes are so broad and sweeping we cannot do it without broad consent. The GOP cannot simply repeat Obamacare, relying on a small cadre of pure zealots to force change down the throats of Americans. That will fail and result in a pendulum wave election in two years. Which would keep The One in office for nearly a decade.

It seems so obvious and simple, but it is not. Tempers and frustrations will flair – as they have over the DE primary. The hard work is unwinding that anger and forcing oneself to admit their own role in the flair up. It requires forgiving the other side, and providing a face saving way to walk back all the insults and hurt feelings. It will happen time and time again – because this challenge in front of us is enormous and there is no consensus on the order, pace and extent of changes needed.

We all know we want as little government as possible. Now we must agree on what that means each year for the next decade and get to work making it happen. Deciding what it means, adjusting the plan as we go, facing failure along the way is going to test all of us. We will flair up in heated debate (hopefully with limited finger pointing) at each obstacle. Only conservatives will pass the test and can succeed – the zealots are doomed to failure.

Instapundit has a well balanced round up of reactions to ponder.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Post Primary Season Reflections”

  1. kathie says:

    A thought.

    “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main….”

    The far left gets nervous when man thinks he is an island entire of itself, and the far right gets nervous when the island is too connected to the main. It is always tricky to find the right balance.

    A representative President will always try to find that balance because that balance is America’s heart. Right now Obama is way out of wack, so up-sprung the “tea party” or middle America and said wait just a little minute…….we are not going down that road. Of course there is chaos, it happened in my family when the individual was too strong or the family too oppressive. It will sort itself out, but I love it. The America that is my heart and makes me proud has stood up in a way that the political people don’t understand.

  2. WWS says:

    Great post, and you catch what most of the elites on both sides in Washington are missing. I never thought O’Donnell was a great candidate, but in *real* revolutions, some people rise to the top just because they’re saying the right thing at the right place and the right time. That’s one of the signs that tells you you’re in a true Revolution, not just an astroturf consultant-manufactured one.

    And after thinking on it overnight, I think that nationally, no matter what eventually happens in Delaware, this was an absolutely brilliant political masterstroke by the Tea Party – made all the more surprising by the fact that there is no leader, there is no architect, there is no master plan – just the voters acting together in their OWN common interest.

    Here’s why: Axelrod and the Dems have been working on a national strategy to defeat the Tea Party candidates which notes that the Republicans are still a pretty discredited group (it’s going to take years of good governance to turn that around) and by claiming that the Tea Party is just an astroturfed Republican establishment front group that is going to do all the same old things and put the same old bunch back in power. The Independants that I know personally have reservations about the Tea Party *BECAUSE* they’re worried that they’re TOO Republican!

    So what could be better for their reputation than to have BOTH Party establishments in Washington standing up and screaming “You Idiots! Why don’t you shut up and do what you’re told???”

    The fact that they just *seriously* pissed off the Republican Establishment is *Exactly* what every independant in the country wanted to see! They don’t care who they voted for, so much – they want to see people standing up and refusing to Do What They’re Told. THAT”S the spirit that is behind this entire movement!

    And that’s the spirit that is terrifying every political professional in the country – because they now realize that it CAN’T be controlled by them!

    I think this morning there are a lot of armchair Robespierre’s trying to figure out how to get in front of this. Supposedly Robespierre was having a drink at a cafe when the news came that the Mob was marching in the streets of Paris. He is said to have jumped up and exclaimed “Quick, tell me where they are headed! I must find them, I am their leader!!!”

    I don’t think that will work, just as it didn’t work out so well for Robespierre in the long run. (recall that he ended up on the same guillotine that he sent so many to) Still, it will be fun to watch the would be manipulators, like Gingrich and Rove, try.

    Why pick on them? Because I’ve come to realize that men like Gingrich and Rove have FAR more in common with Axelrod and Plouffe than any of them have in common with us. The exciting part is that voters across the country are waking up to that same conclusion on their own.

    The ruling class is on the way out, and they’re starting to realize it. Listen to them howl!!!

  3. del says:

    Great posts and responses. They make a lot of sense and give us all hope that reality will sink in that power is in the hands of the people not the political elite.

  4. AJ,

    We are entering a full on Jacksonian tribal, elite replacement, American Founding Principle restoration.

    Having the tribal markers of the restoration are far more important to the Tea Party voters than things the Media/Ruling class say are important.

    Rich Lowry noted signs of this at the Glenn Beck rally:

    The much-analyzed speeches at the Glenn Beck Lincoln Memorial rally weren’t as notable as what the estimated 300,000 attendees did: follow instructions, listen quietly to hours of speeches, and throw out their trash.
    Just as stunning as the tableaux of the massive throngs lining the reflecting pool were the images of the spotless grounds afterward.
    If someone had told attendees they were expected to mow the grass before they left, surely some of them would have hitched flatbed trailers to their vehicles for the trip to Washington and gladly brought mowers along with them.
    This was the revolt of the bourgeois, of the responsible, of the orderly, of people profoundly at peace with the traditional mores of American society. The spark that lit the tea-party movement was the rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who inveighed in early 2009 against an Obama-administration program to subsidize “the losers’ mortgages.” He was speaking for people who hadn’t borrowed beyond their means or tried to get rich quick by flipping houses, for the people who, in their thrift and enterprise, “carry the water instead of drink the water.”
    The tea party’s detractors want to paint it as radical, when at bottom it represents the self-reliant, industrious heart of American life. New York Times columnist David Brooks compares the tea partiers to the New Left. But there weren’t any orgiastic displays at the Beck rally, nor any attempts to levitate the Lincoln Memorial – just speeches on God and country. It was as radical as a Lee Greenwood song.


    In extremis, Democrats and liberal commentators have dragged the debate over the tea party into the well-worn rut of elite condescension to the bourgeois, a term coined in its modern sense by Rousseau and not meant as a compliment. For more than a hundred years, the bourgeois have been accused of being insipid, greedy, and unenlightened. To the long catalogue of their offenses can now be added another: unenthralled by Barack Obama, the Romantic hero seeking to transform the nation.
    The tea party represents a revolt against his revolution, and thus a restoration. If a tea-party-infused Republican party were to take Congress and manage to cut federal expenditures by a sharp one-fifth, that figure would only be back to its typical level of recent decades of roughly 20 percent of GDP. If the party were to succeed in making the federal government more mindful of its constitutional limits, it would only be a step toward the dispensation that obtained during most of the country’s history.

    What Lowry calls “the bourgeois” is America’s Jacksonian working and middle class.

    These “Crab Grass Conservatives” are the Walter Russel Mead’s Scot-Irish Jacksonians and the fully assimilated into Jacksonian mores ethnic Irish, Italian and East European Catholics.

    These folks and the “Ruling class” as defined by Angelo M. Codevilla have had a perminent parting of the ways.


    America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution

    Codevilla feels the “outs” (he uses the term “country party”) need a third party to replace the GOP.

    The Tea Party’s success to date puts lie to that thought, but not being a specialist in electoral politics, he lacks the proper American historical background to see it.

    Be that as it may, his article shows an awareness that the country just doesn’t have the money to afford continued dominance by the existing elite, so he admits something has to give.

    He just doesn’t realize that what will give is his preconception that the “outs” have to totally take over the GOP to bring about the changes he knows are necessary.

    The Jacksonians beg to differ and live by the adage:

    “Needs must when the Devil drives.”

    If things can’t go on as before, they won’t.

    And, since Codevilla, the Jacksonians and pretty much everyone in America’s private sector feel the economic collapse of the United States, even in a mild form a la Weimar Germany, won’t happen on their watch, the existing elite will be overturned.

    I expect Codevilla will end up mealy-mouthing his definition of “control” of the GOP by the outs into something less total than what he says in this article.

    And he does not at all expect that there will be blood.

    I think that is a real possibility, for a number of reasons, and it would definitely change Codevilla’s definition of “total” if that happens.

    The reason I think that way can be found in this article:

    The Crisis of American National Identity

    and this section in particular:

    By contrast, Jeffersonian Republicans, soon turned Jacksonian Democrats, preferred to dignify the creed by enmeshing it in a historical and progressive account of culture. They, too, were aware of the problem of Bonapartism, which had seized and destroyed French republicanism in its infancy; and in Andrew Jackson, of course, they had a kind of Bonaparte figure in American politics whom they were happy to exploit. But in their own populist manner they responded to the inherent dangers of Bonapartism by embracing a kind of theory of progress, influenced by Hegel though vastly more democratic than his, which recognized the People as the vehicle of the world-spirit and as the voice of God on earth. (You can find this in the essays and books of George Bancroft, the Jacksonian-era historian and advisor to Democratic presidents, as well as in popular editorials in the North American Review and elsewhere.) The people were always primary, in other words. Jackson and even the founders were their servants; every great man the representative of a great people. Here too the creed tended to merge into culture, though in this case into forward-looking popular culture.
    In his early life, Abraham Lincoln was a Whig, memorably and subtly warning against the spirit of Caesarism and encouraging reverence for the law as our political religion. But Lincoln’s greatness depended upon transcending Whiggism for the sake of a new republicanism, a strategy already visible in his singular handling of the stock Whig themes as a young man. In fact, his new party called itself the Republican Party as a kind of boast that the new republicanism intended to revive the old. Their point was that the former Democratic Republicans, now mere Democrats, had abandoned the republic, which Lincoln and his party vowed to save. Rejecting Whiggish traditionalism as well as Democratic populism and progressivism, Lincoln rehabilitated the American creed, returning to the Declaration and its truths to set the face of American law against secession and slavery, to purge slavery from the national identity, and to reassert republican mores in American life and culture. This last goal entailed the American people’s long struggle against Jim Crow and segregated schools, as well as our contemporary struggle against group rights and racial and sexual entitlements.
    Lincoln and his party stood for a reshaping of American culture around the American creed—”a new birth of freedom.” Because the creed itself dictated a limited government, this rebirth was not an illiberal, top-down politicization of culture of the sort that liberal courts in recent decades have attempted. Disciplined by the ideas of natural rights and the consent of the governed, this revitalization was a persuasive effort that took generations, and included legislative victories like the Civil War Amendments and the subsequent civil rights acts. Government sometimes had to take energetic action to secure rights, to be sure, e.g., to suppress the culture of lynching. Nor should we forget that peaceful reforms presupposed wartime victory. As with the Revolution, it took war to decide what kind of national identity America would possess—if any. But war is meaningless without the statecraft that turns it so far as possible to noble ends, and that prepares the way for the return of truly civil government and civil society.
    We Hold These Truths
    Modern liberalism, beginning in the Progressive era, has done its best to strip natural rights and the Constitution out of the American creed. By emptying it of its proper moral content, thinkers and politicians like Woodrow Wilson prepared the creed to be filled by subsequent generations, who could pour their contemporary values into it and thus keep it in tune with the times. The “living constitution,” as the new view of things came to be called, transformed the creed, once based on timeless or universal principles, into an evolving doctrine; turned it, in effect, into culture, which could be adjusted and reinterpreted in accordance with history’s imperatives. Alternatively, one could say that 20th-century liberals turned their open-ended form of culturalism into a new American creed, the multicultural creed, which they have few scruples now about imposing on republican America, diversity be damned.

    The progressive multi-cultural ruling class would rather die than see a Jacksonian Restoration of American Republican National Identity.

    The Jacksonian reply is like the giant bug from the movie MEN IN BLACK:

    Your bargain is acceptable.”

  5. lurker9876 says:

    Speaking about Lincoln, anyone know the real history about him because there’s something about him that some people did not like…

    Anyway, speaking about RINOS, I’ve gotten into arguments with a liberal independent that the Republican majority under Bush spent more and wasn’t able to get anything conservatively passed. He constantly asks why would we work to replace today’s Democratic majority with the Republican majority when there’s not that much of a difference between the two parties. I tell him it’s because of the RINOs.

    He also has tried to prove that Obama, his adm, and the Democrats are no different than Bush, his adm, and the previous Republican majorities. He chose to ignore the debt and deficit numbers and felt that Obama needed MORE time to prove himself and that he can restore the economy and our country. But first and foremost, he wanted a President that will pull all of our troops out of Iraq.

    So based on these arguments, he’s emphasized the reason why we should vote on ideology; not the RINO “go along to get along” apporach.