Rejoice! Rejoice! Victory, oh Victory!

 

shutterstock_158132165The most common form of contemporary conservative electoral argument is flawed in its premise. They argue that we don’t win elections because we don’t follow their advice (give up on social issues / double down on social issues / the same for fiscal issues and/or foreign stuff / use stronger language / use more moderate language / educate the public on abstract issues / stop talking about abstract issues / talk about gaffes more / talk about gaffes less).

In fact, we win elections. We run the legislature in most states, reaching a level of (small d) democratic control rarely seen in American history. We have most governor’s mansions, again, right at the edge of the historical record. We have the House; after decades of suffering from Ike’s neutrality and Watergate, we got it back in 1994 and we’ve mostly kept it. We have the Senate. Even presidentially, we’ve lost just five out of the last twelve races, with the “always losing” argument often resting on the last two. If you decide on the basis of receiving two tails after tossing a coin twice that the coin must be faulty and have no heads on it, you’re probably excessively predisposed that belief.

When people tell you that we’re losing and the only way to win is to buy their snake oil, whether classy snake oil like Arthur Brooks’ or off-brand oils like Mike Murphy’s or Mark Levin’s, they’re wrong in two ways. Firstly, we’re winning, and secondly, many of those who are winning are not from their faction of the party. Ron Johnson and Pat Toomey win in blue-purple states while being unapologetically socially conservative, whatever Murphy might prefer; while Graham, McCain, Murkowski, Capito, Cochran, and Alexander can win in red states despite Levin’s assurances that their path is doomed to fail.

Allied to this is the claim that we don’t win on the issues. Sometimes this is specifically aimed at McConnell and Boehner. In the comments, I’d like people to suggest a Senate leader and speaker who have been more effective at stopping the legislative agenda of a post-war President. I don’t believe that such a man exists. Bush got what he really wanted from Daschle and Reid. Clinton got a bunch of what he wanted from Dole and Newt. Anyone who wants to argue that Reagan and 41 failed to leave a legislative legacy has a tough case to make. And so on. From tax cuts to gun rights to trade agreements to partial birth abortion to bankruptcy to the surge, the Democrats never united in the way that McConnell and Boehner have kept the party together in opposition to Obama, so time and again Bush could peel off enough Democratic moderates to get his reforms passed. Today, pro-choice Republicans refuse to vote for pro-choice bills. Pro-union Republicans don’t vote for pro-union bills. Obama has been reduced to acting through executive orders by the most effective and courageous Republican party leadership in a half century. Obama did pass radical reforms, but only while he had a supermajority; a supermajority that was kept brief between the death of Ted Kennedy and the election of Scott Brown. It’s the united efforts of moderates and less moderate Republicans that has won us our position.

At some level, most of us are aware of this. Over and over again, I speak to closeted McConnell fans who will not admit it in public (some, like James O’Keefe, are open about it if they’re asked, but don’t raise the topic). It’s not cool, and it’s bad for fundraising, to declare that affection. I’ve spoken to people who were coming off a panel discussion angry because they didn’t get to demonstrate their bona fides by attacking McConnell on a point irrelevant to the discussion. Our pundits have overwhelming incentives to bad-mouth our leaders. There’s sometimes almost as little respect for the achievements of our governors and state legislators, although the Constitution gives them the scope to go on the offensive even when there isn’t a cooperative President. Our states are popping and fizzing like mad, deregulating labor, protecting electoral integrity and self-defense rights, closing abortion clinics, cutting taxes, reducing recidivism by expanding religious charitable access to inmates, expanding school choice, shoring up the Constitution with anti-Kelo laws and the like, and finding many other ways of expanding Americans’ freedom.

It’s my belief that America, and the world, were in a precarious state in Reagan’s first term, but that we are in a better position now, and that we were in a precarious state when Ted Kennedy died, but that we are in a better position now. I outline why in posts addressing each of the three legs of the conservative stool and comparing our position to Reagan’s first term and to what one could refer to as the B.M. period of American history (“Before McConnell,” the period of supermajority).

I’ll conclude with a post on the stakes for the upcoming election. We can fix entitlements to make them affordable, but not every party is likely to do so, and even four years would make the problem much harder. We can restore American leadership to the world, but we would have to choose to do so. Almost all the regrettable Court decisions are 5-4, so we can revive our Constitutional fidelity to unprecedented levels, but the good decisions are also mostly 5-4. It is merely likely, not certain, that the shining city on a hill will illuminate the world even more brightly than before.

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  1. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    I should clarify that I hope that this thread can be about electoral successes. If you want to argue about fiscal disaster, social collapse, etc., there’ll be threads for those forthcoming.

    • #1
  2. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    I’d help you here, but I was battered heavily when I was making these arguments in your absence.

    • #2
  3. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Frank Soto:I’d help you here, but I was battered heavily when I was making these arguments in your absence.

    If I set up a sock puppet account called Earnest Thicket (that’s what Soto means in English, right?), and send you the login details, would you be happy to comment anonymously?

    Edit: Also, you may hold a grudge against me for having other things to do, but you know why Wisconsinites worry about losing sports teams? The Milwaukee Braves and the Milwaukee Hawks are now the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks. It’s you people’s fault that folks are so defensive in these parts. How’s about I accept that I owe you a beer, you accept that you owe me a six pack, we agree to net those debts out, and you come get my back in this thread?

    • #3
  4. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    How much of our electoral success is reliant upon gerrymandering and the urban/rural divide?  We’ve all seen the electoral maps where large geographic swaths are one color but the urban cores (where the majority of the people are) go the other way causing the local and state/national results to be opposites.  For example, in VA right now, we control both houses of the state legislature, have an 8-3 advantage in the US House delegation, and not a single statewide office or US Senator.  Does that in any way diminish the level of success from a simple won/loss perspective?

    • #4
  5. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Whiskey Sam:How much of our electoral success is reliant upon gerrymandering and the urban/rural divide?

    For state legislatures, gerrymandering is a testament to the electoral success, not a mark against it. We’ve been able to take over previously Democratic chambers where they drew the maps and we’ve been able to do it over and over again.

    For the Senate and Gubernatorial races, it’s obviously irrelevant.

    For the House races, it’s probably helped more than it’s hurt, but it’s still a way that we’ve won, not an argument that we aren’t or can’t.

    We’ve all seen the electoral maps where large geographic swaths are one color but the urban cores (where the majority of the people are) go the other way causing the local and state/national results to be opposites. For example, in VA right now, we control both houses of the state legislature, have an 8-3 advantage in the US House delegation, and not a single statewide office or US Senator. Does that in any way diminish the level of success from a simple won/loss perspective?

    We’ve advanced in a lot of states. Virginia really is something of an exception. I don’t know if there’s even one other state where you could tell the same story. Even there, though, I don’t think that it’s gerrymandering that’s at fault. Having cities be their own districts makes sense, and Virginia’s CD maps aren’t particularly whacky. It’s true that the blue districts are very blue and the red ones are more diverse, but that’s not because of gerrymandering. It would be hard to design a map where that wasn’t the case.

    • #5
  6. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Whiskey Sam:How much of our electoral success is reliant upon gerrymandering and the urban/rural divide? We’ve all seen the electoral maps where large geographic swaths are one color but the urban cores (where the majority of the people are) go the other way causing the local and state/national results to be opposites. For example, in VA right now, we control both houses of the state legislature, have an 8-3 advantage in the US House delegation, and not a single statewide office or US Senator. Does that in any way diminish the level of success from a simple won/loss perspective?

    There’s something to what you say – but that something is that the Democrats have a problem in their party where they are entirely beholden to minority voters for their electoral survival AND the Voting Rights Act.  This has the effect of guaranteeing majority-minority districts which are dominated by far-left racialist demagogues.

    The Democrats have accepted this deal because they know that if they spread the influence of their inner city core districts out it would make far more competitive districts than they’re comfortable with and dilute minority influence, which currently swings entirely in favor of the Democrats.

    • #6
  7. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Adding to what James has written, conservatives have been quite effective at slowing the growth of government.  Claims (usually by my libertarian brethren)  that the Republicans are just as bad as the democrats on spending are, to put it generously, over blown.

    Notice what happens in the 90s when Republicans took the house for the first time in 40 years, and what happens again in 2010.

    spending

    • #7
  8. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    Gerrymandering’s effect on elections is vastly overstated.  Republicans are benefiting from it, but to the tune of a couple seats, not their majorities.  The whole point of districts is to augment majorities, so the system is working as intended.

    James, as you know I naturally trend to the doom side of the force, but you give me hope.

    • #8
  9. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Bravo!

    • #9
  10. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Frank Soto:Adding to what James has written, conservatives have been quite effective at slowing the growth of government. Claims (usually by my libertarian brethren) that the Republicans are just as bad as the democrats on spending are, to put it generously, over blown.

    Notice what happens in the 90s when Republicans took the house for the first time in 40 years, and what happens again in 2010.

    spending

    Slowing is an achievement, but if the goal is reversal how much does it matter?  Are we rather just prolonging the misery?  The larger problem is that while we’re winning elections and holding the line fiscally, culturally we seem to be in full retreat.

    Even when we win elections, our judicial picks don’t pan out.  You don’t see Democrat appointed judges move to the right like you see GOP appointed ones move to the left, at least not in my lifetime.

    If we’re more successful than people generally acknowledge, then we’re either doing a horrible job publicizing our victories, or we’re looking at the wrong areas to determine the source of the unease.  That disconnect itself is a kind of failure.

    • #10
  11. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    James Of England:

    Whiskey Sam:How much of our electoral success is reliant upon gerrymandering and the urban/rural divide?

    For state legislatures, gerrymandering is a testament to the electoral success, not a mark against it. We’ve been able to take over previously Democratic chambers where they drew the maps and we’ve been able to do it over and over again.

    For the Senate and Gubernatorial races, it’s obviously irrelevant.

    For the House races, it’s probably helped more than it’s hurt, but it’s still a way that we’ve won, not an argument that we aren’t or can’t.

    We’ve all seen the electoral maps where large geographic swaths are one color but the urban cores (where the majority of the people are) go the other way causing the local and state/national results to be opposites. For example, in VA right now, we control both houses of the state legislature, have an 8-3 advantage in the US House delegation, and not a single statewide office or US Senator. Does that in any way diminish the level of success from a simple won/loss perspective?

    We’ve advanced in a lot of states. Virginia really is something of an exception. I don’t know if there’s even one other state where you could tell the same story. Even there, though, I don’t think that it’s gerrymandering that’s at fault. Having cities be their own districts makes sense, and Virginia’s CD maps aren’t particularly whacky. It’s true that the blue districts are very blue and the red ones are more diverse, but that’s not because of gerrymandering. It would be hard to design a map where that wasn’t the case.

    Well I know.  VA is purple almost solely due to the federal government employees living in NoVA instead of Maryland or DC itself.  Kill the leviathan, and I get my commonwealth back.

    • #11
  12. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Whiskey Sam: Slowing is an achievement, but if the goal is reversal how much does it matter?  Are we rather just prolonging the misery?

    Holding spending down while the economy grows is equally effective to cutting spending.  I would argue that until they obtained a super-majority in 2008, it had been many decades since the democrats had a major accomplishment in government.  Our victories are not as temporary as it might seem.

    Whiskey Sam: The larger problem is that while we’re winning elections and holding the line fiscally, culturally we seem to be in full retreat.

    This is going to vary issue by issue.  On abortion and guns, not only are we not in full retreat, I’d argue we are winning.  On SSM, conservatives are losing that fight.  I can offer no strategy for reversal as I don’t agree with conservatives on the proper response.

    Whiskey Sam: Even when we win elections, our judicial picks don’t pan out.  You don’t see a Democrat appointed judges move to the right like you see GOP appointed ones move to the left, at least not in my lifetime.

    Both Roberts and Alito are massive upgrades over the justices they replaced.  Despite our disappointment with Roberts over the Obamacare cases, he is far more conservative than Rehnquist.  We should remember that Bush was not all that conservative (Troy has a funny story that illustrates this), and yet he picked justices who pushed the court much more to the right.  We are clearly getting better at this.

    • #12
  13. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Frank Soto:

    Whiskey Sam: Slowing is an achievement, but if the goal is reversal how much does it matter? Are we rather just prolonging the misery?

    Holding spending down while the economy grows is equally effective to cutting spending. I would argue that until they obtained a super-majority in 2008, it had been many decades since the democrats had a major accomplishment in government. Our victories are not as temporary as it might seem.

    Whiskey Sam: The larger problem is that while we’re winning elections and holding the line fiscally, culturally we seem to be in full retreat.

    This is going to vary issue by issue. On abortion and guns, not only are we not in full retreat, I’d argue we are winning. On SSM, conservatives are losing that fight. I can offer no strategy for reversal as I don’t agree with conservatives on the proper response.

    Whiskey Sam: Even when we win elections, our judicial picks don’t pan out. You don’t see a Democrat appointed judges move to the right like you see GOP appointed ones move to the left, at least not in my lifetime.

    Both Roberts and Alito are massive upgrades over the justices they replaced. Despite our disappointment with Roberts over the Obamacare cases, he is far more conservative than Rehnquist. We should remember that Bush was not all that conservative (Troy has a funny story that illustrates this), and yet he picked justices who pushed the court much more to the right. We are clearly getting better at this.

    I’m talking much longer term than just Roberts and Alito.  We have decades of judges moving leftward to consider.  Not all move, but when they move, they always move left.  We also got Roberts after nearly appointing the President’s friend Miers.  The problem with Roberts is it doesn’t really matter if you get all the minor things right but blow the major ones that cost you the game.  Yes, Obamacare was two decisions, but they were pretty big decisions that had far-reaching negative consequences.  I’m not sure we’ve gotten better.

    • #13
  14. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    If we’re more successful than people generally acknowledge, then we’re either doing a horrible job publicizing our victories, or we’re looking at the wrong areas to determine the source of the unease. That disconnect itself is a kind of failure.

    If it bleeds, it leads. Apocalyptic doomsaying sells, and let’s never forget that in the end, pundits are about selling their books, their opinions, and their sponsors’ products.

    • #14
  15. dittoheadadt Inactive
    dittoheadadt
    @dittoheadadt

    “In fact, we win elections. We run the legislature in most states, reaching a level of (small d) democratic control rarely seen in American history. We have most governor’s mansions, again, right at the edge of the historical record. We have the House; after decades of suffering from Ike’s neutrality and Watergate, we got it back in 1994 and we’ve mostly kept it. We have the Senate.”

    With the death of federalism, and the national GOP’s (willful) impotence to do anything about it, I’m not sure there’s as much to rejoice in as you suggest.

    • #15
  16. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Amy Schley:

    If we’re more successful than people generally acknowledge, then we’re either doing a horrible job publicizing our victories, or we’re looking at the wrong areas to determine the source of the unease. That disconnect itself is a kind of failure.

    If it bleeds, it leads. Apocalyptic doomsaying sells, and let’s never forget that in the end, pundits are about selling their books, their opinions, and their sponsors’ products.

    The amount of anger out there is more than just a couple of people selling books.  You don’t sell those books to people who are happy and think nothing is wrong.  If we are truly as successful as James and Frank say then we have done a colossally poor job of pointing it out and responding to those on our own side to show them that.  It seems more likely that while we have victories, they are in areas or ways that do not matter to those who do not think we are winning.  Instead of trying to convince them it’s all just a misunderstanding, we ought to be listening to them and asking them why they feel as they do.  This is not unlike the hectoring many on our side are doing of Trump supporters (of which I am not one, just for the record) based on assumption made about why people support Trump and not on actual data gathered from his supporters.

    • #16
  17. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Other than gun control, people have no idea what parts of Obama’s agenda McConnell and Boehner are blocking, in no small part because Obama more or less stopped trying to get any agenda through Congress.

    Many of the complaints come from the fact that they’re stuck trying to use constitutional means to rebuff unconstitutional actions.  There is no good or easy answer to responding to Obama on some of these things.

    I still think it’s absurd that most conservatives have absolutely no idea that there’s a very real bill on the table that would block federal imposition of Common Core — and that Obama might even sign it.

    • #17
  18. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    If we are truly as successful as James and Frank say then we have done a colossally poor job of pointing it out and responding to those on our own side to show them that.

    I have one of the most conservative governors in the country. I know about his victories in two ways — because of folks like James who try to point out our victories but are drowned out, and because the teachers I know on Facebook never stop whining about him.  Where’s Althouse or Coulter or Reynolds or Cooke or Levin talking about Brownback’s victories? Or Perry’s? Or Walker’s? “Oh yes, sure you broke the back of the public sector unions and got a blue state to vote for a Republican three times and turned a massive budget deficit into a surplus, but since you don’t want to bayonet Mexican babies as their parents cross the border, you’re not a real conservative.”

    People feel we’re losing because they’re being told they’re losing; because they want a Hollywood ending where we just elect the right guy and magically the bad guys melt away like the Droid Army in The Phantom Menace. Real life ain’t like that, and we need to be repeating these points of our victory and changing the zeitgeist, not telling people that it doesn’t matter because no one believes it.

    • #18
  19. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Ok, so Republicans win some elective offices. That’s nice – give ’em a gold star on their forehead – but what about the government?

    • #19
  20. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Frank Soto:

    Notice what happens in the 90s when Republicans took the house for the first time in 40 years, and what happens again in 2010.spending

    Thanks for this graph, Frank.  It is really hard to overstate the importance of this.

    The 2009 peak, 24.4% of GDP, included TARP/bailout spending of about $290 billion (about 2% of GDP).  But the 2010 and 2011 figures — each 23.4% of GDP — were actually reduced by the return of TARP funds.

    This is about 4-5% above the long-run average.

    Under the leadership of Boehner and McConnell, this figure is down to 20.3% in 2014.  That’s a decline in annual federal spending of about 3% of GDP.  About $500 billion a year.

    And they accomplished this with Obama in the White House.

    Do you need a reason to support the GOP?

    That graph shows us 500 billion reasons.  Each and every year.

    And it will get better with a Republican in the White House.  Even if it’s Jeb!, who has been the target of so much criticism around here lately (though not from me).

    • #20
  21. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Frank Soto:

    Whiskey Sam: Slowing is an achievement, but if the goal is reversal how much does it matter? Are we rather just prolonging the misery?

    Holding spending down while the economy grows is equally effective to cutting spending. I would argue that until they obtained a super-majority in 2008, it had been many decades since the democrats had a major accomplishment in government. Our victories are not as temporary as it might seem.

    There’s two goals with the fiscal side. We should be richer, keeping more stuff, and we should be as free as possible. I’ll get into more detail on that on my fiscal post.

    Whiskey Sam: The larger problem is that while we’re winning elections and holding the line fiscally, culturally we seem to be in full retreat.

    This is going to vary issue by issue. On abortion and guns, not only are we not in full retreat, I’d argue we are winning. On SSM, conservatives are losing that fight. I can offer no strategy for reversal as I don’t agree with conservatives on the proper response.

    Also, education, originalism, and others. Sexuality issues really are the exception. See my forthcoming social thread.

    Whiskey Sam: Even when we win elections, our judicial picks don’t pan out. You don’t see a Democrat appointed judges move to the right like you see GOP appointed ones move to the left, at least not in my lifetime.

    Both Roberts and Alito are massive upgrades over the justices they replaced. Despite our disappointment with Roberts over the Obamacare cases, he is far more conservative than Rehnquist. We should remember that Bush was not all that conservative (Troy has a funny story that illustrates this), and yet he picked justices who pushed the court much more to the right. We are clearly getting better at this.

    Scalia and Thomas aren’t noticeably progressive, either.  We currently have one (1) SCOTUS justice appointed by a Republican who has moved to the left, and there’s every chance that he’ll be gone soon.

    • #21
  22. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    @Amy — Part of why Walker was so successful — and so popular with his own party in Wisconsin — is that conservative media in-state has done a much better job of that — a much better job in general.

    Here in Virginia?  It’s pulling teeth trying to figure out what’s going on in Richmond, beyond the major newspaper coverage.  Maybe I don’t know where to look, but there simply doesn’t seem to be the same quality available.  Maybe all the talented people get sucked into the DC orbit.  I can find lots of blogosphere name-calling between various factions of the Republican Party, but not much solid conservative analysis of the state’s politics.  (James, if you know some wonderful source I’ve missed, please share.)

    I know more about the last legislative session in Wisconsin than I do that in the state where I actually live and vote.

    In Wisconsin, the Republicans have very narrowly won almost everything statewide the past four years (and did things with those wins).  In Virginia, the Democrats have very narrowly won almost everything.  Virginia still seems fundamentally the more conservative state, but Wisconsin clearly has a more effective conservative movement.  Leadership matters (McDonnell heading to jail doesn’t help), but I suspect that media difference is a factor.

    I can’t prove the average conservative voter in Wisconsin is more informed — and thus more motivated — compared to Virginia, but that’s my very strong impression.

    • #22
  23. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Whiskey Sam:

    Frank Soto:

    I’m talking much longer term than just Roberts and Alito. We have decades of judges moving leftward to consider. Not all move, but when they move, they always move left. We also got Roberts after nearly appointing the President’s friend Miers. The problem with Roberts is it doesn’t really matter if you get all the minor things right but blow the major ones that cost you the game. Yes, Obamacare was two decisions, but they were pretty big decisions that had far-reaching negative consequences. I’m not sure we’ve gotten better.

    We’ve gone from having 1/1 justices being bad (Ford) to 2/3 being bad (Reagan) to 1/2 being bad (Bush) to 1/4 being bad (Bush). Once you go back beyond that, you start to see their justices being turned, too. Justice White was particularly powerful as a conservative Democratic pick. They developed a better network than we had, and profited from it. Now we have a sound network, too (the Federalist Society has done simply amazing work), and life is good.

    Sebellius was terrible in that it perpetuated much of Obamacare, but it is the strongest Interstate Commerce decision in since Wickard, and it made the exchanges optional for the states in the strongest Tenth Amendment decision in history. It made the Constitution stronger even as it allowed the political branch to get away with terrible policy. We have gun rights, speech and donation rights, religious liberty rights, abortion restriction powers, and such that are stronger than ever before (well, since Roe for abortions). Those are important issues, too.

    We do need to demand from our nominee that they devote a bunch of time to this. The day that they hear about the retirement/ death/ sickness of a judge, they need to have a name ready, and a couple of spares. I think that we have a bench that knows this, though. Walker’s administration had a judicial fight as one of its primary issues, Cruz and Bush both spent years obsessing about this stuff. We’re just not the amateurs that we were twenty years ago.

    • #23
  24. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    Leigh: Here in Virginia?  It’s pulling teeth trying to figure out what’s going on in Richmond, beyond the major newspaper coverage.

    Here’s the thing — on the one hand, we have the MSM constantly telling us we’re losing as a way of demoralizing us. “Arc of history” and all that nonsense. And on the other, we have the conservative media telling us that we’re all doomed because that’s what gets people to tune in. It fits their prejudices.

    But we should be proclaiming the good news! We are winning, and as we do, we need to proclaim, “DEMOCRATS ARE SWALLOWED UP in victory. O REID, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O PELOSI, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”

    • #24
  25. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    The left has been turning its power to the federal institutions and elections, James. They control things there — at least on the hot button issues (i.e,. the ones that really matter) and, with Obama as president, the economy and security issues (which really matter). The left has gained control of the judges and can get their way in whatever is deemed important to them. This is called the Long March through the institutions. This is why they trump every hand we are dealt.

    The states matter less and less these days in issues of real power and the flexing of muscles. (The latest thing is unisex bathrooms, isn’t it? It’s not going to stop because they have the bit in their teeth.) The states won’t fight our battles for us because they are terrified of the media and the federal government. (Prop 8 in CA and what happened in the Arizona at the border.)

    So, we have control of the minor leagues. Hooray for us but nobody is watching and nobody cares.

    • #25
  26. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Amy Schley: And on the other, we have the conservative media telling us that we’re all doomed because that’s what gets people to tune in. It fits their prejudices.

    This is both true and yet incomprehensible to me.  Personally, when the news is bad, I read precisely what I need to know.  When it’s good, I’ll dive further into the details. I used to always read Hot Air’s “Quote of the Day” post.  They’ve been stuck on Trump lately and I’ve been duly ignoring them, because I already know the basics and I don’t enjoy the frustration.

    I follow Virginia politics out of sheer citizenly duty.  I still follow Wisconsin politics because it’s actually interesting, and because they’re turning out more good policy than bad.

    But then, I’m unusual enough to actually find it interesting to wonder whether it’s a good idea or not to hand responsibility for Milwaukee’s worst schools over to the County Executive or not.  So I suppose I’m halfway to pure wonkishness.

    • #26
  27. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Whiskey Sam: If we’re more successful than people generally acknowledge, then we’re either doing a horrible job publicizing our victories, or we’re looking at the wrong areas to determine the source of the unease.  That disconnect itself is a kind of failure.

    There’s two big reasons I’d put forward for McConnell. Firstly, there’s the stuff I mentioned in the OP; people constantly demonstrate their bona fides by showing that they’re anti-establishment, and because so much of our side’s media get off on the rebel thing, they’re not able to celebrate the achievements of the leadership. Cruz doesn’t brag about the successes of the sequester and other budget cutting efforts because those involved broad coalitions. Instead, he talks about the times when he fought the people who eventually won those victories. I’ve been disturbed by the number of closeted McConnell fans among our punditry, but we’ve been very good at intimidating them into shutting the heck up. Defending McConnell, the National Right to Life Committee’s favorite politician (the 2014 NRLC’s political website was entirely, 100%, devoted to McConnell), makes a pundit a sell out in the eyes of many, so unless they have a really compelling reason, they just won’t do it. That comes with a cost to us.

    The second is that McConnell’s success comes from making moderate Senators vote like conservatives. The cost of this approach is that he cannot tell everyone how awesomely conservative their voting has been. If McConnell marches up and down pointing out that people like Collins have abandoned their traditional centrism and now deny Obama everything they can, Collins will stop doing so.

    One of McConnell’s central talents is working out how many votes he can lose and still win the issue, which means he doesn’t have to lean so hard on the moderates. Again, that relies on discretion. In a small number of cases, keeping the Senate caucus unified means letting something pass, as with amnesty. In that instance, it wasn’t obvious that it was safe to let the Senate pass it, since there was a clear House majority in favor, too. Thankfully, while the House favored passing it, there was not a majority who were willing to vote to bypass Boehner and hold a vote on it, so Boehner was able to single handedly stop the bill from passing. Again, if they’d been clear about what they were doing, they’d have failed (pro-amnesty Congressmen would have been pushed into voting for a discharge petition) and amnesty would have passed.

    When they passed the March 6th 2013 Amendment to the sequester, they negotiated an agreement that gave Republicans reduced defense cuts and Democrats… nothing. It’s one of the most singularly brilliant bits of legislation I’ve ever seen coming out of Congress. We sneered at it because it wasn’t enough; there was essentially no celebration. For McConnell to have used strong enough language to call attention to it, though, would have made it harder for him to repeat the trick.

    • #27
  28. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Amy Schley:

    Leigh: Here in Virginia? It’s pulling teeth trying to figure out what’s going on in Richmond, beyond the major newspaper coverage.

    Here’s the thing — on the one hand, we have the MSM constantly telling us we’re losing as a way of demoralizing us. “Arc of history” and all that nonsense. And on the other, we have the conservative media telling us that we’re all doomed because that’s what gets people to tune in. It fits their prejudices.

    But we should be proclaiming the good news! We are winning, and as we do, we need to proclaim  “Democrats are swallowed up in victory. O Reid, where is your victory? O Pelosi, where is your sting?

    This is far classier than the Thatcher line I was thinking of.  Still, I should note that on Ricochet, we use bold or italics to emphasize text, rather than all caps.

    • #28
  29. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    The problem with McConnell is that he is too clever by half. He is very good at drafting legislation that allows a majority of Senators to vote against something, while letting the thing pass. He did it with the Cromnibus, He did it with the Corker legislation, He did it with the funding for Obamnesty, and He did it with the Ex-Im bank.  If McConnell would stand-up for something instead of always figuring out how to let Obama do what he wants while saving Republican face, Trump would not be a big factor in the race.

    The supporters of Trump are the people that feel betrayed by McConnell.

    • #29
  30. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    James, re your #23 above, I don’t understand your statement that 1/4 of George W. Bush’s SCOTUS appointments were bad.  He had just 2, Roberts and Alito.  Disappointing Obamacare decisions aside, these are both “good” appointments for conservatives.

    • #30

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