March 4, 2008

Sapping the Know-Nothings

Justin Katz

To some degree, it's often the case that the media hypes the youth vote — the excited kids who show up for the rally but not for the vote. Still, it seems likely that the unique factor in this election will be the "know-nothing vote," by which I mean kids and other generally uninvolved, uninformed Americans who flock to the personality cult of Barack Obama. As Rhode Islanders are particularly well positioned to appreciate, that's a very dangerous force.

I'm sympathetic to the strategy of allowing a Democrat candidate to hold the reins for a few years in order to heat the crucible in which a stronger, more conservative Republican Party can be formed, and were the presidency the sole question mark, I might sway that way. But there will be candidates further down the ticket whom we can't afford to watch washed away. We mustn't underestimate the extent or longevity of the damage that a too strongly Democrat government can do in just a few years.

So the question is: Which Republican candidate will drain the know-nothing force to a greater extent? My gut says McCain. One could argue that Huckabee will excite more conservatives, who might otherwise be demoralized and stay home, but I haven't seen much evidence of a conservative rally behind him. On the other hand, McCain will surely keep national security central in the general election while, at the same time, reminding some moderates that the Democrat candidate (whether Obama or Clinton) is farther from center.

It's not a very uplifting or optimistic reason for picking a candidate, but the times are what they are.

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Your "gut" feeling seems to be contradicted by the Scott Rasmussen poll just reported on today. It shows Huckabee beating McCain in the charisma or likeability factor. McCain seems to do well in the Republican field in states that are likely to go Democratic, while Huckabee does well in states that supposedly have to be won for a Republican to win the presidency. McCain is great on national security, but I have found some who would argue that his tendency to get angry scares them when they think of him as President.

Posted by: Barry at March 4, 2008 8:59 AM

"McCain is great on national security"

Except that pesky southern border...

McAmnesty simply will never get my vote. Can't happen. Won't happen.

Posted by: Greg at March 4, 2008 9:39 AM

I'll be voting on a Republican ballot today. I will not vote for McCain or any of his delegates. Huckabee wasn't my 1st, 2nd or even 3rd choice a few months ago. But I may vote for him today, in protest against McCain and because I like him.

I still think McCain will inflict great damage on the conservative movement. I think Obama or Clinton will help conservatives, and therefore the country in the long run.

Posted by: George at March 4, 2008 10:58 AM

The conservative establishment will do anything to trash the youth vote. Dismissing young voters is one way to trash a party's future - the Dems lost the White House the last two elections in large part because they virtually ignored younger voters.
Kudos to Huckabee as the one GOP candidate smart enough to try to make conservatism appealing to younger voters (whether he's succeeded is another question entirely).
The "cult of Obama" was created in part by eight years of demonization of Hillary. Conservatives should've been more careful what they wished for.

Posted by: rhody at March 4, 2008 11:08 AM


I won't vote for McCain today, or in the general.

This piece over at Ocean State Republican summed it up nicely for me - particularly as to the southern borders vs. national security:

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at March 4, 2008 11:40 AM

"Dems lost the White House the last two elections in large part because they virtually ignored younger voters"

More Rhody talking out his ass.

Rock the Vote

Vote or Die


They didn't IGNORE the youth vote. They aggressively courted it. They just didn't have a candidate that energized anybody until now. Hell, even I want President Obama!

Posted by: Greg at March 4, 2008 12:38 PM

I'm leaning towards Hillary today.

With McCain's nomination in the bag, he needs a general election opponent he can beat more than he needs my vote today.

Ps- any Republican willing to throw away the next 8+ years on a "maybe" needs his/her head examined.

Posted by: EMT at March 4, 2008 1:16 PM

I got my head check when RINO Chafee bolted the party and endorsed the Democrat the same day the man that campaigned so hard for him was in town.

And I have no doubt that Cuckoo-Bananas RINO McCain would stab us in the back just as hard or worse.

So, yeah. I'd rather a DEM than a RINO. At least my party won't get blamed.

Posted by: Greg at March 4, 2008 2:07 PM

Greg, c'mon. If Gore gave a damn about younger voters in 2000, he wouldn't have chosen a vice presidential candidate who was even more eager to fight the culture wars than Bush-Cheney.
And in '04, the Democratic insiders threw up every obstacle they could to stop Howard Dean, who would've gotten a lot more young people to the polls than Kerry did. Having witnessed Kerry's political tone-deafness personally last Friday night, I am even more convinced Dean would've been a stronger Democratic candidate four years ago.

Posted by: rhody at March 4, 2008 2:37 PM

Greg, Will you be at Lupo's tonight to celebrate with Matt, Pat & Dave?

Posted by: Red at March 4, 2008 2:57 PM

Rhody, your hindsight prism is broken.

Red, nah. But as an Obama supporter, if they're happy, I'll be happy too.

I'd LOVE to be excited for a Conservative candidate. Know of any?

Posted by: Greg at March 4, 2008 3:01 PM

Yeah, Hugh Cort...not really but... get hold of yourself, man!

Anything would be better than Jimmy (Obama) Carter. I can see it now, every US embassy from Algeria to Indonesia will be overrun. Hundreds. No! Thousands of US hostages. And thats just the first 100 days!

Look, illegal imigration may, or may not, be a national security issue. I am not entirely convinced either way yet. But I do know that Iraq is. You vote Obama and you are voting for a weaker US.

Posted by: Red at March 4, 2008 3:33 PM

Iraq, halfway across the planet is a greater threat to national security than the wide-open southern border? Well, maybe it is now that we've invaded and destroyed the place. It seemed to be humming along quite nicely BEFORE we showed up.

And all of WWII took less time than this debacle.

Posted by: Greg at March 4, 2008 3:38 PM

Sorry, I should have said Ron Paul. Go get excited.

Posted by: Red at March 4, 2008 3:41 PM

Rewinding to the top of the comment thread:


You polling actually confirms my gut. Ultimately, I'm writing off the results of the presidential race as unattractive in any direction, my larger concern being that the know-nothing vote will harm Republicans farther down the ticket, including for state and local offices. In that case, the candidate who will more likely bring in (and affirm) blue-state Republicans would be more attractive.

Posted by: Justin Katz at March 4, 2008 7:02 PM

I voted this afternoon out of civic obligation. I made up my mind in the voting booth, and I did not vote for the GOP "front runner" -- although I will likely end up doing so in November.

You'd think in a nation of 300M, we'd have some better choices available. The whole thing kind of reminded me of that episode of South Park, featuring a race between presidential candidates 'Giant Douche' and 'Turd Sandwich'. It's still important to vote, even if you don't like the choices (cough, cough, choking on vomit).

PS There is something to be said of the comparison of Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, although Jimmy was not nearly as vacuous or naive. Remember, we needed to endure 4 years of J.C., to get 8 years of Reagan Revolution. That being said, when given the reality of the choices, John McCain will probably pull it off in the end.

Posted by: Will at March 4, 2008 7:12 PM

I usually get a real charge out of voting, like I'd just done something phenominally important. Today I went to the polls, I voted, it was like dropping a letter off at the mailbox...I felt nothing.

I hope we can do better than this in the future.

Posted by: George at March 4, 2008 8:56 PM

Will, it's good to see a conservative who can also appreciate the genius of South Park (it bashes both sides of the political spectrum). It's a positive sign that conservatism is moving beyond the Quaylesque culture wars and trying to dictate what people can bring into their own homes.

Posted by: rhody at March 4, 2008 9:22 PM

There are a lot of conservative South Park fans. We share a common hatred of Barbra Streisand amongst other things. It's sometimes a little off color, and certainly isn't meant for children (ironically), but they are very good about spreading political criticism around evenly.

You'd be surprised how many conservatives there are in the animation industry. I used to know a writer on the Simpsons (remember the Springfield Republican Party Headquarters episode?). I also happen to like Family Guy and American Dad.

Posted by: Will at March 4, 2008 10:38 PM
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