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.

Published in Domestic Policy, Politics
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  1. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Arizona Patriot: If elected, I am absolutely confident that Jeb would govern as a conservative,

    For some people that means having a few conservative check-boxes checked.

    • #61
  2. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Am I the only one reminded of Christmas by the first two words of the OP’s title?

    Rejoice! Rejoice!  Emmanuel
    shall come to thee O Israel.

    I love that song.

    • #62
  3. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Whiskey Sam: It’s definitely not solely because the media doesn’t want to talk about the GOP.  I’m 40 so I can remember when VA was solidly Democrat, and they never covered it then either.

    Is it just overwhelmed by proximity to DC?

    But I meant even more than that — Wisconsin actually has conservative media.  Not that most people follow it, but it is there and it makes a difference.

    I’m not really a talk radio person, but talk radio is big in the Milwaukee area  — including some even I occasionally listen to, and a couple who are influential enough to be leftist bogeymen.  There’s the MacIver Institute, a think tank that does some serious analysis and reporting as well.  There’s the usual raft of state organizations (Right to Life, Americans for Prosperity).  There are a couple columnists for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one or two of whom turn up in places like NRO occasionally.  There are a few bloggers.

    If I want to find out what I think about prevailing wage or the Milwaukee Bucks stadium deal, I can probably find at least a couple conservative takes on it, as well as more in-depth mainstream (liberal) reporting.  Enough to make me reasonably confident that I understand the debate and know the facts.

    (I’m going to write a post on this when I have time.  Deserves its own thread and to stop taking up space on this one.)

    • #63
  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I think we need a Ricochet News Channel, so members can post real news from their areas.  Publicize like the dickens.  Tell Everyone what we are doing and what we stand for.

    • #64
  5. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Hey RushBabe, that’s an RNC I can get behind.

    • #65
  6. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    James Of England: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.

    Just because McConnell or someone like him might have done something well once as a defensive general doesn’t mean that same person is the ideal person to lead an offensive fight.

    I liked Arlen Specter when he challenged Anita Hill, but I can’t think of too many other times when I liked him that much.

    You act like you never observed the Supreme Court.  Search for the heading “Early years on the Supreme Court” for people like David Souter, Sandra Day O’Connor, John G. Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, and Harry Blackmun.  If you are a fan of Richard Epstein, research the New Deal justices appointed by Republicans.

    Sports and business people are treated differently than politicians.  A sports figure or business person has to produce.  Seniority means nothing.  They can’t point to recent past glories to prove that they will be productive in the future.  Vin Scully used to quote the old Janet Jackson song, “What Have You Done for Me Lately”.

    • #66
  7. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Manny:

    Frank Soto:

    Frank, Gov’t as a percent of the GDP can be deceiving. The GDP has been down the last few years and so makes that growth seem high. GDP in the 1990′s was very high, so it makes it look as if gov;t shrank. True reduction of the size of gov”t should be compared both as a function of GDP and independent from GDP. The better the economy does not give gov’t the right to spend more, at least from a conservative perspective.

    I think you’re meaning that GDP growth was high. GDP is higher now than it has ever been and was higher in the last few years. GDP Growth would be a highly volatile measure. GDP, though, is a pretty accurate measure.

    What matters to me is less how much money I give to the government than how much I get to keep. I’m not in favor of low taxation because I hate policemen, schools, old people, and such, but because I support people being able to spend and invest their money productively. The numerator is important, but the denominator is more important, and having the denominator grow faster than the numerator is the way to accelerate wellbeing.

    It also wraps in a whole bunch of other factors. When private sector salaries increase by 10%, then public sector salaries probably should to, all other things being equal. If private sector salaries stay down, then likewise. When the population increases, we should probably have proportionately more government, too; you need more policemen etc., for more people, if you have twice as many social security recipients, you spend twice as much on social security, etc. Spending/ GDP takes into account all those sorts of facts and thus gives you a strong sense of whether we’re cutting spending or increasing it as a practical matter.

    • #67
  8. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    Arizona Patriot:Am I the only one reminded of Christmas by the first two words of the OP’s title?

    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.

    I love that song.

    Well, as noted back a page, I was reminded of Easter.

    But yes, the Advent antiphons are a wonderful bit of the liturgy for Christmas, though most versions of O Come, O Come don’t include all seven verses.

    • #68
  9. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Leigh:

    Whiskey Sam: Gilmore was the end of a run of GOP governors in VA.

    McDonnell?

    In the spirit of the OP, watching Gillespie almost win in Virginia was simply thrilling. A pity he didn’t quite make it over the top, but when you erase a 30-point lead by the most popular politician in the state — and no one saw it coming — you get to claim moral victory.

    Virginia’s not a blue state yet.

    Virginia is almost the paradigmatic purple state. In 2012, the Presidential race went 51.06% for Obama, and Virginia went 51.16. The nation went went 47.20 for Romney and Virginia went 47.28; the third party vote was lower than for the country as a whole.

    The House delegation is red, the legislature is red, the governor’s mansion would be red if not for the most unethical behavior by a moderate Republican since…. I don’t know, but a long time. We almost got a Senator; the partisan split was much like the nation’s, again, this time with a right leaning nation, but sadly the “too smart to vote third party” thing didn’t work out. We needed to win by more than the margin of Libertarian. 2017, we’ll take the governor’s house, keep the legislature, and send those bureaucrats who don’t like Republican governance to live in…. I guess Delaware will be the shortest available commute.

    • #69
  10. Dorothea Inactive
    Dorothea
    @Dorothea

    Amy Schley:

    Arizona Patriot:Am I the only one reminded of Christmas by the first two words of the OP’s title?

    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.

    I love that song.

    Well, as noted back a page, I was reminded of Easter.

    But yes, the Advent antiphons are a wonderful bit of the liturgy for Christmas, though most versions of O Come, O Come don’t include all seven verses.

    I never use the books that exclude verses.

    • #70
  11. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    Dorothea:

    Amy Schley:

    Arizona Patriot:Am I the only one reminded of Christmas by the first two words of the OP’s title?

    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.

    I love that song.

    Well, as noted back a page, I was reminded of Easter.

    But yes, the Advent antiphons are a wonderful bit of the liturgy for Christmas, though most versions of O Come, O Come don’t include all seven verses.

    I never use the books that exclude verses.

    We have one hymn (517-518) that has 28 different verses. Admittedly, we only sing three on any one day, as the second verse is filled in with the corresponding verse for the feast/commemoration day, but still … :D

    • #71
  12. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Arizona Patriot: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.

    I agree, but there are plenty who disagree with us about Roberts. At worst, I figure he’s a half good appointment. I’m defending Roberts in this thread, but the evaluation is a subjective matter and I want to try to keep my claims objectively demonstrable.

    Whiskey Sam: [regarding Sebelius] James this is true, but they could have done more.  We had the votes to end Obamacare on constitutional lines.  That we didn’t and instead authenticated an expansion of federal authority into places it didn’t exist cannot be counted as a victory.

    This is basically why we think we’re losing. In victory after victory, we feel that because we could imagine getting a whole loaf, that getting half a loaf, that winning incrementally, is essentially the same as a loss. It’s not. We ask judges to take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and Roberts empowered the Constitution. We don’t ask them to take an oath to support good policy when they can find a Constitutional basis for doing so.

    Similarly, in other areas, we ask for spending to come down, spending comes down, and there’s essentially no celebration, just complaints that it didn’t come down by more. When abortion comes down, when clinics are closed, when gun rights become more powerful, we find reasons to believe that these things aren’t victories.

    Man, I’d hoped to make this thread about electoral victories and the later ones about policy stuff. I hope people will forgive some repetition from me between threads.

    • #72
  13. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    The dichotomy is frustrating; Republicans kick tail in off-year elections and state races, yet we fail to get a majority in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections.  It isn’t an either/or, it’s both/and.

    We haven’t had good candidates, we’ve had some really rotten timing, and let’s face it; had it actually been a policy/leadership debate in 2012, Romney would be sitting behind the desk.  Where he got creamed was in the category “cares about people like me”.  Yes, a good chunk of it was his own personal wealth and ill-comfort in talking about it (I like the phrase “conservatism as a 2nd language), but the other part is the pre-existing bias (which the media trumpets like crazy) of Republicans being cold-hearted, uncompassionate Scrooges.  It isn’t true, but if we can’t talk about more than GDP numbers & deficit figures, those perceptions aren’t going to change.  A lot of the governors have gotten this.  Some of our legislators (Paul Ryan, for example) have gotten it.  Our Presidential candidates not only need to speak conservative as a native tongue, but they also need to speak human as a native tongue.  Governing in prose is great and necessary in a nation of 330 million people, but we really do have to learn how to campaign in poetry.  We have to reach people at an emotional, gut level as well as through their intellect.  (con’t).

    • #73
  14. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Leigh: But I meant even more than that — Wisconsin actually has conservative media.  Not that most people follow it, but it is there and it makes a difference.

    Wisconsin’s GOP is amazing. Today, they had multiple teams at a farm tech fair, two county GOP picnics, a major voter registration drive, and a couple of other events. That’s more than the Maryland GOP seemed to do in a month. Talking to folks up here, it really seems like we might be able to get RonJon reelected despite the polls and the prognosticators. Part of that is because of the MacIver Institute and the other NGOs Leigh was talking about.

    I think, though, that it may lead to unfair evaluations of Virginia. Out here, when Gwen Moore talks about Walker “tightening the noose, literally, around African-Americans”, everyone knows about it. That’s not normal, though. In most states when a Rep. says something, some politicos will hear about it, but unless CNN makes it a thing, few others will. It’s like leaving Vegas for Oklahoma City and complaining that OKC doesn’t have a lot of showbiz glamor; it’s not OKC that’s the outlier.

    • #74
  15. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    Think about a conversation with your spouse.  You can have a 12-point list detailing why you are correct (and you are), but if you don’t address the human on the other side of the table, you don’t get very far.  My wife gets a lot farther in persuading me when she addresses me as a human, not just as an entity that is doing something wrong (a not infrequent occurrence).

    This is why Hillary is such an astoundingly terrible candidate.  She doesn’t treat anyone as an actual human.  She can’t talk to people like a human being.  She surrounds herself with syncophants because she can’t abide contradiction.  Why is Joe Biden getting in?  It’s not just because of the e-mail thing; it’s because people see him as a likable person.  He talks like a person, not an automaton with particularly bad programming.  He’s already beating Hillary, and he isn’t even in the race yet.

    We don’t like it, it frustrates us, but we have to deal with persuadable humans, not purely logical Vulcans.  Address the humanity, and you avoid a lot of unnecessary walls. I want to both win elections and change the culture.  I happen to think Dr. Brooks is correct (and I appreciate it being referred to as classy snake oil); change the culture and you not only win elections, but you can do what you are supposed to do with the power you have.

    • #75
  16. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    James, James, James…

    None of this matters.

    The culture is being lost.  The nation is being fundamentally transformed.  The leftist ruling class is unassailable as it regulates and impoverishes us.

    Pollyannish denial won’t help.

    • #76
  17. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    James Of England: 2017, we’ll take the governor’s house, keep the legislature, and send those bureaucrats who don’t like Republican governance to live in…. I guess Delaware will be the shortest available commute.

    Funny.  But don’t forget the District.  Much more bureaucrat-friendly than the Delmarva.

    James Of England: I think, though, that it may lead to unfair evaluations of Virginia. Out here, when Gwen Moore talks about Walker “tightening the noose, literally, around African-Americans”, everyone knows about it. That’s not normal, though.

    This is true — the other side is mobilized in Wisconsin too.  But if it’s a trade-off I’ll take it.  Blissful ignorance is more unhealthy.

    But if I take your Vegas comparison accurately you’re telling me that Wisconsin spoiled me and I should stop grumbling.  Though comparing MacIver to Vegas showbiz is really funny.

    • #77
  18. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Leigh:

    Whiskey Sam: It’s definitely not solely because the media doesn’t want to talk about the GOP. I’m 40 so I can remember when VA was solidly Democrat, and they never covered it then either.

    Is it just overwhelmed by proximity to DC?

    But I meant even more than that — Wisconsin actually has conservative media. Not that most people follow it, but it is there and it makes a difference.

    I’m not really a talk radio person, but talk radio is big in the Milwaukee area – including some even I occasionally listen to, and a couple who are influential enough to be leftist bogeymen. There’s the MacIver Institute, a think tank that does some serious analysis and reporting as well. There’s the usual raft of state organizations (Right to Life, Americans for Prosperity). There are a couple columnists for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one or two of whom turn up in places like NRO occasionally. There are a few bloggers.

    If I want to find out what I think about prevailing wage or the Milwaukee Bucks stadium deal, I can probably find at least a couple conservative takes on it, as well as more in-depth mainstream (liberal) reporting. Enough to make me reasonably confident that I understand the debate and know the facts.

    (I’m going to write a post on this when I have time. Deserves its own thread and to stop taking up space on this one.)

    I never considered that, but it’s probably a big factor in it.

    • #78
  19. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    James Of England:

    Leigh:

    Whiskey Sam: Gilmore was the end of a run of GOP governors in VA.

    McDonnell?

    In the spirit of the OP, watching Gillespie almost win in Virginia was simply thrilling. A pity he didn’t quite make it over the top, but when you erase a 30-point lead by the most popular politician in the state — and no one saw it coming — you get to claim moral victory.

    Virginia’s not a blue state yet.

    Virginia is almost the paradigmatic purple state. In 2012, the Presidential race went 51.06% for Obama, and Virginia went 51.16. The nation went went 47.20 for Romney and Virginia went 47.28; the third party vote was lower than for the country as a whole.

    The House delegation is red, the legislature is red, the governor’s mansion would be red if not for the most unethical behavior by a moderate Republican since…. I don’t know, but a long time. We almost got a Senator; the partisan split was much like the nation’s, again, this time with a right leaning nation, but sadly the “too smart to vote third party” thing didn’t work out. We needed to win by more than the margin of Libertarian. 2017, we’ll take the governor’s house, keep the legislature, and send those bureaucrats who don’t like Republican governance to live in…. I guess Delaware will be the shortest available commute.

    From your lips to God’s ears.

    • #79
  20. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Brian McMenomy:The dichotomy is frustrating; Republicans kick tail in off-year elections and state races, yet we fail to get a majority in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections. It isn’t an either/or, it’s both/and.

    We see that phrase used quite a lot, but it’s a very narrowly tailored phrase. It’s true in a sense (we didn’t get the popular vote in ’00), but we did get a majority of the EV vote even then. Sometimes you hear “popular majority”, which makes the cherry picking of the data even clearer. It’s not as if six is a round number.

    We haven’t had good candidates, we’ve had some really rotten timing, and let’s face it; had it actually been a policy/leadership debate in 2012, Romney would be sitting behind the desk. Where he got creamed was in the category “cares about people like me”. Yes, a good chunk of it was his own personal wealth and ill-comfort in talking about it (I like the phrase “conservatism as a 2nd language), but the other part is the pre-existing bias (which the media trumpets like crazy) of Republicans being cold-hearted, uncompassionate Scrooges.

    The biggest moment in that was King of Bain. Romney maintained a 30-35 point unfavorable rating for about two years prior to that, never having the average leave that. KoB was released and they shot up. He never got back down below 40-45 percent. It made the suggestion that he was an evil abuser of employees plausible, and meant that every subsequent hit on those lines had bite. Thankfully, Trump is too stupid to play a Newt role in this cycle, but I do lie awake at night wondering if someone else will.

    Still, although we’ve had our guys who fluffed it, and we’ve had our saboteurs, they’ve had that, too. We got Perot, they got Nader. We got McCain, they got Kerry. Maybe we’ll have some narcissist sociopath wreck our side this time round, but maybe they’ll get it; it’s not like Clinton’s ever been one to avoid drama.

    It isn’t true, but if we can’t talk about more than GDP numbers & deficit figures, those perceptions aren’t going to change. A lot of the governors have gotten this. Some of our legislators (Paul Ryan, for example) have gotten it. Our Presidential candidates not only need to speak conservative as a native tongue, but they also need to speak human as a native tongue. Governing in prose is great and necessary in a nation of 330 million people, but we really do have to learn how to campaign in poetry. We have to reach people at an emotional, gut level as well as through their intellect. (con’t).

    Bush 43 was great at grabbing people’s hearts. He wasn’t great at getting folks to think that he was messianic. He didn’t sound like Shakespeare.

    He sounded like he was an ordinary American, which meant that people disliked the attacks on him. He didn’t seem like a politician. Carson has that. Walker has that. Rubio and Huckabee have that in their better moments. Obama has it (he’s really helped by the support of the media in this). Clinton really doesn’t have it; Jeb doesn’t either, but he’s better than Clinton on this score. There’s every chance that this election, like ’68, ’84, ’88, ’00, and ’04, will see us prevail primarily on the basis that our guy seems less artificial than theirs. You can see this in Clinton often claiming to be the champion of the everyday American. It’s depressingly true in politics that if someone regularly claims to be something, people will attribute that quality to them; see Cruz and “brave” and “truth telling”.

    “Cares about people like me” is always a Democratic leaning category, because of the question asked. People are asked which matters most to them, agreement on values, leadership, and cares about people like me. The last is an identity politics answer, so of course the bulk of people who answer that way are Democrats. We don’t need to win on that question (we can’t). We do need to tighten that gap a little, though.

    • #80
  21. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Two points:

    I find James’ comment at 67 compelling, but I would like to be certain that the growth in spending was in fact raises for the public sector in line with the private sector.  If that growth was instead expansion of federal overreach, I’d be less inclined to see the same dollar value of growth as benign.

    Re Brian’s comment at 75.  VA in particular has had spectacularly bad timing and own-goals with our last three Republican governors.  Allen was a popular governor, but he torpedoed his political future with his macaca moment.  He was clearly gearing up for a Presidential run in ’08.  Would he have been able to get the nomination and beat Obama?  Gilmore I’ve mentioned before, and his incompetent Senate run cost us any chance of taking that seat back.  McDonnell was another strong candidate for a Presidential run this cycle, but his scandal was at least a contributing factor in Gillespie’s loss in the governor’s race.

    • #81
  22. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Doctor Robert:James, James, James…

    None of this matters.

    The culture is being lost. The nation is being fundamentally transformed. The leftist ruling class is unassailable as it regulates and impoverishes us.

    Pollyannish denial won’t help.

    Well, I’ll get to the cultural stuff, but while this isn’t a total answer to “why is America doing so terribly”, it is an answer to “why don’t conservatives/ Republicans ever win elections”. It’s a better answer to that than “because they don’t care about the base/ they don’t reach out to independent voters/ etc.”

    I’m not in pollyannaish denial about our electoral success. I don’t know why Virginia is listed as Mixed, rather than GOP, but other than that this map seems sound, and it’s really not a solid blue. Obviously, there are some things we wish were different. If Sabrdance had put a little effort in, for instance, Kentucky would be more likely to be reddening soon, and there are problems in the party that are not specifically attributable to any particular member of Ricochet. 2014_Leg_Party_Control_map

    Still, again, I’m not saying. “America has no problems”. America is moderately likely to be nuked in the medium term future, Clinton could win, gray goo or SMOD are always possible, marriage could fall apart. This post is just saying that conservatives never winning isn’t validly on the list of problems.

    • #82
  23. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Whiskey Sam: McDonnell was another strong candidate for a Presidential run this cycle, but his scandal was at least a contributing factor in Gillespie’s loss in the governor’s race.

    I was really sad about McDonnell. He came over to London and he and his daughter were lovely together, and charming to Mrs. of England. Marital dysfunction can break a lot of people, but it seemed a particular tragedy that it twisted them in the ways that it apparently did, and with good motives (they appear to have been guided in part by a genuine desire to be better spouses to each other, and a deep guilt at not being, and being just terrible at working out how to fix things).

    And the tragedy meant that we did bad electorally. And then Bolling. It’s not that every state’s stories are happy, just that there are enough happy stories to produce a positive average.

    • #83
  24. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    First meeting is next week, James.

    When we win this election, and provided Matt Bevin doesn’t burn the Commonwealth to ashes within the first six months, I will accept your apologies with grace and aplomb.

    • #84
  25. Dorothea Inactive
    Dorothea
    @Dorothea

    • #85
  26. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Brian McMenomy: We don’t like it, it frustrates us, but we have to deal with persuadable humans, not purely logical Vulcans.  Address the humanity, and you avoid a lot of unnecessary walls. I want to both win elections and change the culture.  I happen to think Dr. Brooks is correct (and I appreciate it being referred to as classy snake oil); change the culture and you not only win elections, but you can do what you are supposed to do with the power you have.

    I think that Brooks is thoughtful, has a compelling message, and a lot of good social science. I strongly approve of candidates going to him for instruction, as is happening. They should learn from him. I’ve read his book, travelled to his talks, listened to him give interviews; he’s a smart and thoughtful guy.
    Where he goes wrong is in talking about his work as a cure-all, and when, relatively deep in his book, he starts giving examples. Once he starts talking about Clintonian triangulation and the strategic attacks on allies as the way forward, he inevitably starts slipping his policy preferences into the mix and calling for Republicans to be moderate on the issues he’s moderate on.

    We should be human and relateable, but we can be that way like Mike Lee, rather than being that way like John Kasich. We can also be like Kasich, but, contra Brooks, we don’t have to be. Like the people who say that Bush can’t possibly win (the claim is made about both primary and general), despite the polls, funding, and other metrics suggesting he totally could, Brooks wants to say that his is the only path to success, when there are many different types of politicians who do well, with a reasonable degree of diversity applying even to those who win the White House. The change from Bush 41 to Clinton, or from Ike to JFK, JFK to LBJ, or LBJ to Nixon was dramatic, with each having a very different way of appealing to the public. I’m not into cat skinning, but my understanding is that the pelts can be acquired in a similar variety of ways.

    • #86
  27. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Sabrdance:First meeting is next week, James.

    When we win this election, and provided Matt Bevin doesn’t burn the Commonwealth to ashes within the first six months, I will accept your apologies with grace and aplomb.

    You’ll be at Kansas City for March, right? If you can reasonably say to me at that point “Governor Bevin has performed well and had positive coattails for down ticket races” I will buy you a drink. Then, after laughing at the fact that you can’t drink it, making references to 1 Timothy 5:23, and generally being a jerk about a denomination whose theological bona fides I’m well aware of, I’ll make a genuine apology.

    If you bring a poster to the meetup with text that expresses my regret at my error in large text, I will get people to take pictures of my holding it and will find other ways to publicly express the degree to which I was wrong to deride your apparently fortuitous lack of effort.

    • #87
  28. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Dorothea:

    Man, there’s a lot of classy references on this thread. Hopefully I’ll remember this one and post it in November to celebrate Bevin’s glorious bluegrass conquest.

    • #88
  29. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    The Cloaked Gaijin:

    James Of England: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.

    Your imaginary man comment reminds of the complete helplessness in deporting or even finding illegal immigrants, but the same government functions quite well when used by the IRS or EPA to intimidate relatively honest Americans. Read Conrad Black’s comments about the American legal system’s power to intimidate rather innocent Americans.

    Politicians are fearful creatures. If you attack the king, you have to kill him. Leaders like Churchill, Lincoln, Washington, Thatcher, Reagan, and Eisenhower are the exception. Such people often earn respect before moving to elective office. Fighting the establishment is also a young man’s game. Who to replace Mitch McConnell? McConnell is more of a McClellan or Meade instead of a Grant or Sherman. Let anyone have a shot at it. Inhofe and Sessions are both senior statesmen ready for a fight. If not Cruz, Cotton, or even Rubio, why not a Grassley or Portman just for a change of pace?

    Who would do better as speaker? Heck, any random name would work for me. Congressman Daniel Webster, former Florida speaker, seemed like the best candidate 7 months ago. You could let Rubio run the senate and have two former Florida speakers running Congress, but Rubio wanted to rush into immigration with Schumer and quit to run for prez.

    Just to clarify, I wasn’t talking about a hypothetical future SML. I was asking if anyone could name a better historical Senate leader (majority or minority) at defeating a President’s legislative agenda. I initially put in a limit of post-war, because White was pretty good, but on reflection I don’t think he was more successful, merely equally so. I think it telling that no one has come up with an example from the living memory of anyone taking part in this conversation (I’m guessing few Ricochetti were actively following politics under Truman).

    • #89
  30. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    2014_Leg_Party_Control_map

    Most of the states that have Republican legislatures have voted Republican in most recent presidential elections.  Michigan and Pennsylvania are a bit of a surprise.  Florida, Ohio, and even Wisconsin and North Carolina have had some close votes during presidential elections.  West Virginia is a Republican state at the national level.  Colorado and Nevada were a bit more Republican before immigration and other youth demographic changes.

    States seem to have less and less power every year.  Justice Kennedy, Justice Roberts, and the federal government seem to come up with some interesting opinions about this matter.

    • #90
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