We Need to Make the Argument

Mitt Romney ran a carefully calibrated presidential campaign, single-mindedly targeting swing voters with the message that Obama was a great guy who failed to deliver the goods, so why not vote Republican and hope for change.

In contrast, Barack Obama made a sweeping moral argument: America is moving forward toward a fairer society where everybody has a shot; in order to finish the journe…

  1. liberal jim
    George Savage

    liberal jim

    George W. Bush is a decent and honorable man who did many good things as president.  However, his handling of the financial crisis was disastrous. · 7 hours ago

    GWB  took a job in the family business and proved to be worse at it than his father.  

    When a major figure repeatedly calls himself a “compassionate conservative” he is reinforcing the message that most conservatives don’t care about people especially the poor.  Bush with his communication team were aware of this, but chose to do it anyway. Am I incorrect?

    This tells me GWB was primarily concerned with advancing his political career.  Decent and honorable is not the first adjectives I would choose to describe such a person.  

  2. Pseudodionysius

    When a major figure repeatedly calls himself a “compassionate conservative” he is reinforcing the message that most conservatives don’t care about people especially the poor.

    Without forming an opinion on the rest of your thesis, I think this is the nub of the problem. The phrase “compassionate conservatism” was a convenient way of deferring the political debate that we’re now having. The GWB administration is the Republican elephant in the room: no future candidate can afford not to think through how they’re going to deal with it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away: Madeline Albright said they’re going to blame GWB “forever” and she meant it. 

  3. Drusus

    Good points, all. Another statement I longed to hear countered: “…blah blah blah pay their fair share…” Why wasn’t anyone pressing back on this point? What is a fair share? Do the drastically higher tax rates payed by the evil millionaires and billionaires constitute something that could conceivably be called fair? 

    And the anemic defense of low capital gains tax…double taxation is not difficult to explain. 

  4. The Mugwump
    George Savage: 

    In contrast, Barack Obama made a sweeping moral argument:  America is moving forward toward a fairer society . . . .

    Why do we not challenge the liberal definition of fairness?  This is the way children argue when they don’t get their way:  “It’s not fair!”  As I understand it fairness is one part justice and one part mercy.  But with liberals it’s all mercy and no accountability.  

  5. liberal jim
    George Savage: 

    Far from creating the financial crisis, limited constitutional government, established to secure God-given natural rights, resulted in the fairest, most prosperous, and most ethnically diverse civilization in world history.   This is the heritage we seek to preserve.

    No argument from me.  The only problem I see is that GWB’s policies where a lot closer to Obama’s than they were to limited constitutional government principles.  If Romney had started out apologizing for the mess bozo Bush and his Republican lackeys made and then pointed out Obama had proceeded to put those policies on steroids he could have run against the Bush/Obama economy.   On second thought he could not have done that for he endorsed most of the bonehead policies of Bush.    The moderate me-too-ism that the Republican party has been practicing the last two decades just is not a winner.  Even when they get elected they screw things up. 

    Don’t worry things will probably get real bad sometime in the next few years and Republicans will have another chance.  This time they may actually try limited constitutional government.   I seriously doubt it, but there is a chance they might.

  6. dittoheadadt

    I disagree. In order to win the argument, we first need a forum, a means, to deliver our message directly to the American people. Without that, our “making the argument,” whatever it is, will be little different from the tree falling in the proverbial woods.

  7. Mickerbob
    Drusus: Good points, all. Another statement I longed to hear countered: “…blah blah blah pay theirfairshare…” Why wasn’t anyone pressing back on this point? What is a fair share? Do the drastically higher tax rates payed by the evil millionaires and billionaires constitute something that could conceivably be called fair? 

    And the anemic defense of low capital gains tax…double taxation is not difficult to explain.  · 21 minutes ago

    ….and the folly of the zero sum economy.  If the ads start running tomorrow to tell the voting masses how this works, I will send a check to help fund them.

  8. Ontos
    Yes, exactly right. Romney explained nothing and sought to steer clear of any sharp contrast between left and right. This was foolish and fatal for his campaign. I came to doubt that Romney is as smart as reputed. Is he only a financial mechanic who is unable to view the world philosophically and ideologically? It really appears so. Devastating when faced with  an opponent who was fomenting leftist community organizing slogans in order to create a “them vs us” consciousness.  I really want this colossal failure of intelligence in the establishment experts to be the real lesson of this wastage of a billion dollars.  
  9. Casey

    Oh this is glorious. For the last week I’ve feared the delusional excuse makers would win the day. But today Ricochet has been all about victory. #winning

  10. Nick Stuart
    George Savage:

    The typical response from the Right—particularly establishment Republicans—is to first bemoan the unfairness of our left-leaning cultural predisposition, and then ignore it, preemptively discarding the counterargument. 

    Yet I never heard anybody in Republican campaign-land gainsay any of this.

    Again, nobody on our side bothers to point to the elephant in the room:  Obama’s runaway spending. 

    However, the most troubling omission from our side in recent months is the absence of a consistent moral argument made in favor of individual liberty.  We need to promote an alternative worldview, not just a different tax code.  

    In order to win the argument, we first must make it. · · 1 hour ago

    Maybe if the time and effort the conservative punditocracy (not a few of whom appear on Ricochet regularly and who have been bemoaning Obama’s reelection)  and Republican elites spent whining, complaining, carping, and kvetching generally about everything Romney said and didn’t say, did and didn’t do were spent making these cases, and rebutting the Left the outcome would have been different.

    Let’s see if 2014 and 2016 are any different, if there’s any point to it by then.

  11. katievs

    We need not only to make the case that our ideas are fair, we need to show that their ideas are evil and destructive.

    We need leaders who will dare to say to the poor and the immigrant and all those tempted by big government handouts:

    “You think they care about you?  They don’t care about you.  They want you weak.  They want you dependent.  That’s how they get your vote.  That’s how they get power.  That’s how they get their hands on the public money and use it to enrich themselves and their cronies.  They are manipulating you.  They’re using you.  Don’t let them do it.  You didn’t come to this country to be servants to the rich.   You came here to be Americans.  To stand on your two feet.  To live by your own labor, and to raise your children in freedom, in a country that honors God and honors you.  Don’t help them turn America in the rest of the world–a place where the elites are in charge and the people are at their mercy.  In America, government is for the people and by the people.”

  12. Black Prince

    I respectfully disagree.  In case you haven’t noticed, we’re way beyond arguments, reasoning and logic.  We are experiencing the consequences of at least three generations of Marxist brainwashing—I’m talking about the educational and cultural reprogramming of the American people.  The past election has proven that at least 50% of the American voting population cannot come to sensible conclusions in the interests of defending themselves, their families, their communities or their country—they not only lack the mental wherewithal to correlate their rapidly declining circumstances with the current administration’s policies, they honestly and truly believe that these policies are going to make things better!  Talking about “winning the argument” is a recipe for sure failure.  I don’t know what it will take to rescue the sinking ship America—the sad reality is that it’s probably already too late.

    UPDATE: I’d like to slightly moderate my comments above by saying that if there is any hope of pulling America back from the brink, making the argument is certainly a necessary criteria, but it is far from a sufficient one (continued…).

  13. Koolie

    I agree, George. Romney ran a timid, limited campaign, much like McCain’s. It seems to me politically unforgivable how the Republican Party and their consultants keep pushing a failed timid strategy, using their stronger organization to give us McCain II; and not learning anything from McCain I or the 2010 elections, which oddly enough everybody seems to have forgotten.

    I also believe the Republicans, and the conservatives too, unfortunately, use the language of the left much too much. That has to change–although I think the conservatives are yet unaware of how often they too slip into using the language of identity politics and the left. 

  14. AIG

    Alas, I see at least two hurdles to be overcome.

    1) Republicans and conservatives in general, do not have a “unified” argument that we can all agree on. It seems to me we have become a bit too “uncomfortable” with each other; tea party vs establishment, social conservatives vs fiscal conservatives, libertarians vs big government republicans etc. Until we get our house in order, there is no argument to be made. Mitt’s platform was a muddled mix of contradictions. 

    2) In order for argumentation to affect voter’s choices one has to assume that voters make choices based on logical arguments. At least that the 10-15% of voters that decide the outcome of an election do. I don’t think they do. I think most people no longer understand the arguments for America, or they no longer care. I think most people respond primarily to what a politician will do for them. 

    Which ultimately leads me to conclude that this is not a winnable fight.  We have been losing for decades, and will continue to. The fight needs to shift away from the Federal level, because the only way to win there is to become like them. 

  15. Anne R. Pierce

    I agree on every point. We must, as you say, make the moral argument for liberty and promote a worldview, not just a tax code. Romney talking points focused on jobs, jobs,jobs right through the convention. But, in the fall, he started to talk foreign policy in terms of both strategy and principles and to express broader ideas about American government. Some of his late campaign speeches were inspiring and dealt with limited government and American ideals.. Why did he wait so long? I saw him as less of a Republican “establishment” guy toward the end – too late.

  16. Black Prince

    (continued…) There’s no point in trying to make the argument until we’ve established conditions where by people are receptive to the argument and do not reject it out of hand.  Again, I don’t have any answers, but given the degeneracy of American society and it’s institutions, I’m not optimistic.

  17. Edward Smith

    As Bill Whittle has been saying since the Romney loss, Romney did not make the argument because he did not seem to believe it.

    We need to decide what we believe in before we can make any argument.  And more importantly, we need to stop buying the opposition’s argument.

    If people want to vote Liberal or Democrat, there are plenty of those already.  There is no need for “Moderate” Republicans.

  18. katievs

    Dr. Savage, can’t you run?

    I promise to give money to a Savage the Senate campaign.  I will fly to California and knock on doors.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In