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Aspirations and Anxieties: Ryan, Rubio, and Republicans

Last night, at the Jack Kemp Foundation Leadership Dinner, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio each delivered remarks about the 2012 electoral loss, and laid out, in very broad strokes, a vision for Republican domestic policy.

Both Ryan and Rubio understand that the Republican Party is  suffe…

  1. Mama Toad

    So what I really want to know is, Does this mean Ryan and Rubio will be doing some more Prosperity Podcasts? (Oh please, oh please, oh please…)

  2. BrentB67

    As long as republicans believe government has a role to ‘encourage’ anything and that we need a stronger safety net (ie bigger and more taxes to support) they might as well be democrats.

    What happened to the mantra that government isn’t the solution to problems? Government is the problem.

    Both very smart, charismatic guys, but big government compassionate conservatism lost us the House in 2006 and the presidency in 2008 and the only gains we have made since then is when the Tea Party ran a strong limited government campaign in 2010.

  3. curtmilr
    BrentB67: As long as republicans believe government has a role to ‘encourage’ anything and that we need a stronger safety net (ie bigger and more taxes to support) they might as well be democrats.

    What happened to the mantra that government isn’t the solution to problems? Governmentis the problem.

    Both very smart, charismatic guys, but big government compassionate conservatism lost us the House in 2006 and the presidency in 2008 and the only gains we have made since then is when the Tea Party ran a strong limited government campaign in 2010. · 2 minutes ago

    That’s correct, Brent. But I think both men understand that.

    The Ryan Plan, for example, sought to bend the spending trajectory to turn it around via rising growth rates. Stronger growth rates mean more jobs, less dependency, stronger families, smaller deficits, etc. If we could then engineer an end to the subsidization of illegitimacy, we could be on a path to an American dominated 21st Century.

    I’m not sure Rubio is there yet on the wonkish policy side of the equation. But he is a most inspirational speaker, even more so than Obama. But is Natural Born Citizen an issue there?

  4. katievs

    It sounds like too little too late to me.  Also too defensive.

    We need leaders who will fearlessly take on the evil of the left (as Reagan did), not just mild-manneredly describe a better idea.

    Both these (good, good men) are essentially preaching to the choir.  They appeal enormously to those (including me) who already understand what’s happening.  But that’s not enough anymore.  We’re no longer a majority.  We need to convert millions.

    To convert millions, it’s not enough to present a pleasant picture of our intentions.  We have to disabuse them of terrible lies and illusions.  We have to show them that they are being manipulated.  We have to convince them that the Democrats are not on their side.  The media is not on their side.  The Hollywood glitterati are not on their side.

    We also have to show gigantic courage.  We have to indicate that we have stuff to take on the beast. 

  5. katievs

    I’m keeping on eye on Rand Paul.  He seems to me to be composed of more iron and less plastic than anyone else in contention.   He’s fearless and focussed and funny.

    I wish he had more executive experience.  

  6. Crow
    katievs: It sounds like too little too late to me.  Also too defensive.

    We need leaders who will fearlesslytake onthe evil of the left (as Reagan did), not just mild-manneredly describe a better idea.

    Both these (good, good men) are essentially preaching to the choir.  They appeal enormously to those (including me) who already understand what’s happening.  But that’s not enough anymore.  We’re no longer a majority.  We need to convert millions.

    I went back and forth when drafting this post whether or not to include large segments of the speeches, or just a paragraph or two. You should read the entirety of both speeches.

    Ryan makes some pretty damning comments about the War on Poverty in his address (viz: “And what do we have to show for it?….48 years later, poverty is winning.”) and on the bankruptcy (moral and financial) of liberal programs generally. 

    I agree with you re: the dangers of being too mild mannered. At the same time, forceful criticism of the present shouldn’t preclude our side from offering a positive vision: I don’t think a “America’s best days are behind us” message is a winning one. 

  7. Crow
    katievs: I’m keeping on eye on Rand Paul.  He seems to me to be composed of more iron and less plastic than anyone else in contention.   He’s fearless and focussed and funny.

    I wish he had more executive experience.   · 5 minutes ago

    Rubio endorses Paul’s recent REINS proposal in his speech.

  8. Brian Skinn
    katievs: To convert millions, it’s not enough to present a pleasant picture of our intentions.  We have to disabuse them of terrible lies and illusions.  We have to show them that they are being manipulated.  We have to convince them that the Democrats are not on their side.  The media is not on their side.  The Hollywood glitterati are not on their side.  · 15 minutes ago

    This is the great challenge.  Liberals bring a message of ease, security, moral license, and instant gratification.  Conservatives bring a message of challenge, uncertainty, moral constraint, and delayed gratification.  For now, our reserves of wealth and our productive capacity are masking from view the fact that reality cannot infinitely support the former approach.  I’m at a loss for how to couch the latter (difficult!) message in a way that will meaningfully penetrate the (entirely understandable!) desire to believe the former.

  9. Crow
    Brian Skinn

    katievs: To convert millions, it’s not enough to present a pleasant picture of our intentions.  We have to disabuse them of terrible lies and illusions.  We have to show them that they are being manipulated.  We have to convince them that the Democrats are not on their side.  The media is not on their side.  The Hollywood glitterati are not on their side.  · 15 minutes ago

    This is the great challenge.  Liberals bring a message of ease, security, moral license, and instant gratification.  Conservatives bring a message of challenge, uncertainty, moral constraint, and delayed gratification.  For now, our reserves of wealth and our productive capacity are masking from view the fact that reality cannot infinitely support the former approach.  I’m at a loss for how to couch the latter (difficult!) message in a way that will meaningfully penetrate the (entirely understandable!) desire to believe the former. · 3 minutes ago

    Events may conspire with us to make this difficult message appear the only viable path. If they do not, we may see a Dem majority for some time to come.

    In either case, we should be prepared to seize the moment.

  10. Crow
    katievs: We also have to show gigantic courage.  We have to indicate that we havestuffto take on the beast.  

    Ryan showed a great deal of courage in 2010-2012 period taking on the Executive nearly single-handedly in the budget battles, so I think these two do get it.

    Nevertheless, what’s frustrating–and this goes back to the case we have to make to the American people–is that a majority of voters clearly do not believe we have a debt, deficit, and entitlements problem. There’s simply no way you could have voted for Obama, nevermind re-electing the status quo in Congress, if you believed that. 

    How do we make that case more obvious? How do we convince people that math isn’t a right wing conspiracy?

  11. katievs
    Brian Skinn

    Conservatives bring a message of challenge, uncertainty, moral constraint, and delayed gratification.  

    Christianity brings a message of suffering, sacrifice and crucifixion, and yet, it wins converts all the time and all over the world.  How?  Because it’s real and true.   And also because it’s central message is one of good news: hope and liberation from what sinners know, deep down, is the cause of our misery.  

    If Christian evangelists focussed on the effort and suffering involved in Christianity, though, they wouldn’t get very far, would they?  Nor would they get far if all they day was talk about how generally better and more successful a religion Christianity is than other religions.

    We have an analogy in the political realm.  Our message is true.  And it’s one of hope and liberation from the morass we’re presently in and the catastrophe we’re facing, as well as from the lies illusions and empty promises and irresponsible behavior that got us here.  Of course it involves sacrifice and efforts, so does everything worthwhile in human life.  But it promises restoration and new flourishing—a renewed America.  The city on a hill.  Let’s roll!

  12. The King Prawn

    The party right now reminds me of a Baptist church I used to attend. Some structural changes were needed to keep it growing, but the hard truth was that “not enough people had died yet” for those changes to occur. There remains in the party an establishment mentality that prevents the needed changes, and it comes from those who use their senority as if they were in a public employee union.

  13. katievs
    Crow’s Nest

    katievs: We also have to show gigantic courage.  We have to indicate that we havestuffto take on the beast.  

    Ryan showed a great deal of courage in 2010-2012 period taking on the Executive nearly single-handedly in the budget battles

    Yes, he definitely has the stuff to be a major player on the team.  Whether he has the rhetorical gifts and charisma to be captain, I doubt.  We all have different gifts.

    How do we makethatcase more obvious? How do we convince people that math isn’t a right wing conspiracy?

    I don’t think we can unless we are willing to call it what it is: a pack of lies.  

    We have to tell people they have been lied to and manipulated for the benefit of those in power.  We have to show that this has been the project of the left since Karl Marx: Subdue the Church, break up the family, control the individual.  Do it through lies and bribes and machinations.  

  14. KayBee

    Today’s WSJ has a wonderful quote from Margaret Thatcher (behind the paywall) but the meat of it is this:

    “It also means that the party cannot long survive unless its policies are in tune with the deepest and best instincts of the British people…My kind of Tory party would make no secret of its belief in individual freedom and individual prosperity, in the maintenance of law and order, in the wide distribution of private property, in rewards for energy, skill and thrift, in diversity of choice, in the preservation of local rights in local communities.  Size is not all, any more than economic growth is all.  Even efficiency is not enough.  People come first–their needs, their hopes, their choice, their values and ideals.  We have to understand these first–to be seen to be listening with sympathy and concern.  It is important to be able to lead, certainly.  But you cannot for long lead people where they do not want to go.”

    Where, oh where, is our Margaret Thatcher?

  15. Crow
    The King Prawn: The party right now reminds me of a Baptist church I used to attend. Some structural changes were needed to keep it growing, but the hard truth was that “not enough people had died yet” for those changes to occur. There remains in the party an establishment mentality that prevents the needed changes, and it comes from those who use their senority as if they were in a public employee union. · 7 minutes ago

    Does this place Ryan/Rubio in the “part of the problem” or the “part of the solution” category?

  16. katievs

    It would be great to see some Republican in Washington do in the moral and cultural realm what Paul Ryan did in the fiscal realm, viz., propose a practical way forward.  A path to soundness.  

    It will have to be fundamentally different than the Path to Prosperity, since the path to moral soundness can’t come from government or politicians.  But a politician can show how much government and politicians and bad laws have been undermining the institutions and virtues that limit its power over the individual.  He can show how moral corruption and the collapse of marriage is directly linked to explosive growth in government.  He can take a page from Calvin Coolidge.

    Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberality, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government. There are only two main theories of government in our world. One rests on righteousness and the other on force. One appeals to reason, and the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in the republic, the other is represented by despotism.

  17. katievs
    Crow’s Nest

    The King Prawn: The party right now reminds me of a Baptist church I used to attend. Some structural changes were needed to keep it growing, but the hard truth was that “not enough people had died yet” for those changes to occur. There remains in the party an establishment mentality that prevents the needed changes, and it comes from those who use their senority as if they were in a public employee union. · 7 minutes ago

    Does this place Ryan/Rubio in the “part of the problem” or the “part of the solution” category? · 1 minute ago

    Personally, I am sure they are both capable of being part of the solution.  But they may not have it in them to lead the charge.

  18. katievs

    There’s a great scene in The Chronicles of Narnia, in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Do you know it?

    Eustace has become a dragon and wants desperately to be a boy again.  A changed boy.  A good boy, a true friend, not a pest.

    He meets a lion at a pool.  (The reader knows it’s Aslan.)  The lion tells him to take off his skin.  He remembers, (of course!) reptiles shed their skins!  He scratches and sheds.  It feels wonderful!  Then he looks down and sees he’s still a dragon.  He hasn’t gone deep enough.  He scratches and sheds again, more frantically this time.  And again.  He’s still a dragon.

    The lion says, “Shall I do it?”  and holds out an enormous claw.  Eustace is afraid.  He sees it is going to cut deep; it’s going to be extremely painful.  But he’s so desperate to be himself again that he agrees.

    The lion slices into him.  It’s terrible.  Searing pain.  But the dragon skin comes off, and Eustace steps out and bathes in the pool.  He’s a new person.

    This is how I see the state we’re in now.

  19. Crow
    katievs

    Crow’s Nest

    The King Prawn: The party right now reminds me of a Baptist church I used to attend. Some structural changes were needed to keep it growing, but the hard truth was that “not enough people had died yet” for those changes to occur. There remains in the party an establishment mentality that prevents the needed changes, and it comes from those who use their senority as if they were in a public employee union. · 7 minutes ago

    Does this place Ryan/Rubio in the “part of the problem” or the “part of the solution” category? · 1 minute ago

    Personally, I am sure they are both capable of being part of the solution.  But they may not have it in them to lead the charge. · 2 minutes ago

    That’s certainly reasonable–if a leader of a higher caliber emerges, I’m all ears.

    With Obama in the next four years, we may have a chance in the 2014 midterms to do in the Senate what was done in the House in 2010. In 2016 when the field opens up, we desperately need to retake the Presidency with a candidate in possession of guts and competence.

  20. Crow

    Re: the Allegory of the Dragon in #18, my reading of our current situation is along the same lines.

    I said on election day that I thought that November 6th, 2012 marked the date (as good as any) when half the country demonstrated conclusively that it had lost the instinctive aversion to social democracy that had long made us exceptional, and instead voted for it. The nascent social democracy that we now have will only become even more settled and entrenched in the next four years–especially with Obamacare.

    I don’t think all is lost or that some kind of electoral determinism makes it impossible to retake the country, but I agree that we are no longer a center-right country: the center has been moving left for some time.

    I do think that we’re already too late in setting in motion a very vigorous march to retake our institutions–or to build new and parallel structures alongside the existing institutions. 

    2016 will be an open horizon, as of now, with no immediately clear inheritor of the Obama agenda. Given what I’ve said above, it does have a quality of last stand election about it.

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