February 22, 2009

On Reports of Conservatism's Death

Justin Katz

Don't count Jay Nordlinger among those who believe American conservatism is in crisis. He unnecessarily elides conservatism and Republicanism, but his point is well taken:

Consider the 2008 presidential election. It was almost a perfect storm for Republicans. John McCain was a very, very poor candidate. He could barely make a case for himself. Now, I voted for him with gusto, and wish he had been elected. I’d like to go back to that same polling place and vote for him again. I wish he were in the Oval Office right now. But he had a very hard time making a case for himself, particularly in the three presidential debates.

His running mate, Sarah Palin, was perfectly and disgustingly vilified. The Left, broadly defined, has a lot to answer for in this regard.

McCain-Palin had 100 percent negative media coverage (or 99.9—depends on how precise you wish to be). Barack Obama had 100 percent positive coverage. The rooting was open and appalling.

And he was a very, very good candidate—a good campaigner, a good speaker, a good debater, a good pol.

Plus, the incumbent Republican president had historically low approval ratings. And the nation was weary of a fairly long and difficult war. And, in September, the financial system collapsed.

AND AND AND: McCain-Palin got 46 percent of the vote. Think of that.

As I've said before, I believe that, culturally, conservatism has been on a gradual incline over the past couple of decades, but that President Bush, in the aftermath of September 11, cashed in too rapidly on its political gains. And now, as Nordlinger puts it: "The patient may not be at death’s door; he may be simply resting."

The movement must take stock of itself. It must shuffle out some old baggage and usher in some new faces. The country, the party, the movement — they've all taken some major hits this decade. Various cultural illnesses have graduated to more critical organs. Some philosophical principles have been dirtied by their poor exercise (as with the free market). Others are asserting their essential truth behind the ostensible successes of the other side (consider the demeanor and structure of the first family). In any process of growth, however, there are periods of apparent, but superficial, stagnation.

Western Conservatism must refortify, though, and quickly, because in the very near future, it's going to have to dispel the hopelessness that creeping socialism will engender and arrest Islamic militantism in its tracks.

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Absolutely agree with Jay Nordlinger. What set the conservatism movement back as much as anything in the short term is that big spender George Bush was never a conservative yet he's been portayed that way and not enough conservatives called him on it. The conservative movement needs to find its' platform and its' voice over the next couple of years.
Barack Obama's amateurism and his socialist idealogy coupled with a shamefully inept, partisan and leaderless Congress will be an unmitigated disaster for this nation in the coming years.
Strong and genuine leadership (sadly lacking on both sides of the political spectrum over the past decade - what's considered political leadershp in this nation today is downright embarrassing) with core ideals of fiscal sanity coupled with the necessity for strong national security will be very appealing to Americans of all stripe in the coming years.
This nation is in for some very bad times in the coming years. Tough times!
Hyper-inflation is coming and it's coming hard. Obama's "plan" to jump start the economy by infusing monopoly money (we can't borrow billions so we'll just print it) is a recipe for disaster.

Posted by: Tim at February 22, 2009 11:42 AM

People turned away from conservatism because of its fixation with social issues. Maybe if it offers a viable solution to the economic crisis, it'll bounce back. Who knows?

Posted by: rhody at February 22, 2009 6:12 PM

Rhode: B.S.

Your wishful thinking will not make it so.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 22, 2009 6:26 PM

Ah, look at the record. Even some quarters of the South have gotten tired of it. And the Republicans who win in the Northeast don't waste time waving those bloody shirts around. It didn't save Rick Santorum. It didn't save Elizabeth Dole.
Think about it: How do Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe keep winning elections in a state that's voted Democratic for president since 1988?
It's not too late to be on the positive side of history. It's a welcoming tent, not the closed one.

Posted by: rhody at February 23, 2009 10:21 AM

>Think about it: How do Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe keep winning elections in a state that's voted Democratic for president since 1988?

Because they're really Democrats.

And like other Northeast moderates, they just haven't been picked off yet - which is why there are no federal office Republicans in MA or CT or RI.

The only thing that "moderates" do is castrate the GOP and lead to its continued shrinkage.

If Rhody's premise were true, the GOP would be ascendant in New England and California, not declining.

Posted by: Tom W at February 23, 2009 12:21 PM

Contrary to Nordlinger, I think McCain did a good job given the conditions under which he was running.

The last time the country was in this type of economic recession was under Carter, and Reagan beat him 489-44 in the electoral college. Carter got only 41% of the popular vote, despite the fact that he had the benefits of incumbency when it came to fundraising.

McCain got 46% of the vote and 173 eletoral votes without the having the advantages of incumbency and unlike the relatively unbiased press of 1980, the press was working overtime to elect Obama.

Let's not forget that McCain had pulled ahead just before the stock market imploded.

This last election was hardly a landslide for Obama, although many in the MSM would like to convince people that it was.

So while it's easy to conclude that Obama was some type of ubercandidate or that McCain was a terrible candidate simply because one man won and one man lost, that's not the case at all.

The reality is that Obama won because of a combination of factors, the most important of which was the stock market decline occuring immediately before the election.

It had nothing to do with social issues. In fact, the majority of Americans oppose first executive order dealing with social policy--his lifting of the executive order banning federal funding of overseas abortions.

Americans voted for Obama because they were dissatisfied with the direction of the economy and Obama's campaign was effective in classifying McCain as "another G.W. Bush." Even with that success, McCain got 46%.

Obama has a couple of years to make things better. The Obama stimulus plan has resulted in never seen before governmental spending. Private sector companies are working hard at improving their bottom lines and trying to bounce back and that should help.

If Americans are feeling better about themselves in 2011, Obama's plan may be viewed as a success. But if his plan gets muddled in the bureaucracy as did LBJ's Great Society spending bils, Obama's victory will come to be viewed as a fleeting moment in the history of his administration.
But u

Posted by: Anthony at February 23, 2009 2:02 PM

Tom...Collins just got re-elected easily.
The GOP's problems here date back to the '94 election, when the Southerners took over the party and became dictators, to the point of ousting John Chafee from the leadership. When they whacked Chafee, that was a slap in the face to this part of the country. Even though I'm not a Republican, I felt it.
They said, essentially, we don't matter. Any wonder that the GOP has had trouble winning elections here since?

Posted by: rhody at February 23, 2009 2:11 PM

>>The GOP's problems here date back to the '94 election, when the Southerners took over the party and became dictators, to the point of ousting John Chafee from the leadership. When they whacked Chafee, that was a slap in the face to this part of the country. Even though I'm not a Republican, I felt it.


And so where should the GOP place its emphasis.

New England is joining the Rustbelt in economic decline and declining population. We are joining Detroit and Cleveland as "has been" parts of the country. (If you were dropped in the middle of Woonsocket, Central Falls, Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Lawrence, Springfield, New Bedford, Fall River or Worcester, could you tell the difference between those and Detroit?)

The Southeast / Sunbelt are where it's at going forward.

Posted by: Tom W at February 23, 2009 4:30 PM

There's plenty of working people in the Sun Belt who will insist otherwise. How did Obama manage to win Florida, North Carolina, and New Mexico? Arziona was only a gimme for the GOP this time because the homeboy was the nominee. By '12, the GOP will no longer be able to take Texas for granted.
If things were that great in the Sun Belt now, President McCain would be enacting his agenda with a GOP-controlled Congress. The GOP didn't want to deal with the cold in our part of the country, and now the entire nation's fighting a fever.

Posted by: rhody at February 23, 2009 7:01 PM

The Southwest is turning purple, and eventually perhaps blue, because of illegal immigration and anchor babies.

In other words, we're importing millions of welfare recipients who of course are going to vote Democrat. This is what has occurred in California, which is going bankrupt (and which foreshadows the future of the U.S. if we don't get control of our borders).

Making the GOP "moderate" on social issues won't change that (look at what happened with Prop 8 in California - in which minorities swung the vote toward traditional Judeo-Christian values).

Neither will going "moderate" on illegal immigration (it certainly didn't help McCain).

The answer for the good of the GOP (and our economy) is to secure the border and enforce workplace / immigration laws.

Posted by: Tom W at February 23, 2009 9:33 PM

The recession appears to have stemmed the immigration tide somewhat. The Mexicans are probably trying to figure out how to get to the Scandanavian countries by now.
And Cslifornia will overturn Prop 8 eventually. Prop 8 got 52 percent of the vote - a similar anti-gay referendum in 2000 got 61 percent. I'd be willing to bet it's overturned by '12 (maybe even next year if Ken Starr's pressing ahead with his quest to null existing legally performed gay marriages).

Posted by: rhody at February 24, 2009 11:43 AM
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