August 23, 2010

An Excellent Mystery

Hatched by Dafydd

We have a very curious coincidence this year -- or else a parable that should forever alter our approach to elections. But which could it be? According to political analysts on both left and right, it's a mystery!

We start with a little recent history:

  • In 2006, Democrats took back the Senate and House, riding the unpopularity of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (both going badly) and some economic discontent, to which the GOP responded by not really responding.
  • In 2008, Democrats crushed the GOP, this time primarily due to what turned out to be a very wide and deep recession, which (as is oft the case) voters blamed more on President George W. Bush than on Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) or Squeaker of the House Nancy "San Fran Nan" Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%).

    [Note that Pelosi's 100% liberal record does not count the times she voted against the ADA due to "Speaker's privilege," a parliamentary maneuver to allow her to bring up failed legislation again at a later time.]

Note that in both cases, religious and social issues such as abortion, embryonic stem cells, voluntary school prayer, immigration, and racial preferences would tend to favor Republicans; yet both times, those issues were overwhelmed by the bedrock concerns of national defense and the economy.

Today, we stand on the brink of a revolutionary election that could undo much of the gains the Democrats made in the last two elections. Every pollster, politician, and political prognosticator agrees that the Republicans are going to surge forward, will very likely recapture the House, and could possibly also capture the Senate (which I would have rejected as wish-fulfillment fantasy just three months ago). The Democrats are in disarray, their electoral prospects plummeting so quickly one can hardly keep up with the news.

What is so different this time from 2006 andf 2008? The biggest difference appears to be that this time, the GOP is focused like a Marine Corps sniper on the bedrock concern of national security -- specifically, the inability of the administration of Barack H. Obama and of the Democratic supermajorities in House and Senate to come to grips with the War Against Radical Islamism -- and especially upon the bedrock concern of the failing economy and the Democrats' "response" of tax, tax, tax and spend, spend, spend, spend, spend (more spending than taxing).

Let's try this again: When Republicans focused on religious issues, social issues, and intangibles like "competence," energy, and so forth, they very badly lost two elections in a row; in both cases, Democrats pounded on military and economic failures of Republicans. But now that the GOP has shifted focus to national security -- they forced Obama to accept George W. Bush's great general, David Petraeus, and his counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan -- and to reviving Capitalism in America, for which they actually have specific plans -- e.g., permanizing the Bush tax cuts, slashing government, and the free-market recovery plan of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, 96% -- Republicans are surging ahead of their "Progressive" rivals.

By a remarkable "coincidence," what I call a popular front for Capitalism and against Progressivism has swept the nation, in the form of Tea Party rallies and suchlike.

Could this be no coincidence? Might voters really prefer the free market to five-year plans? That we prefer aggressive defense of American national security over diplomacy, negotiation, and appeasement? I suggest we at least consider this as a possibility.

Could we have mitigated the ill effects of the the 2008 election by refocusing on national security and the economy? Think back to the election of 1982, when, as in 2008, Republicans faced an election during a serious recession; and as in 2008, they were in the minority in the House of Representatives. (Though Republicans had a reasonably solid lead in the Senate, conservatives did not; a great many Republicans were quite liberal, à la Lowell Weicker of Connecticut.) Worse, the Republican standard-bearer, President Ronald Reagan, was not on the ballot, as 1982 was a midterm election; by contrast, Republicans in 2008 had the opportunity to nominate a nationally recognized fiscal conservative as president.

Yet in 1982, Republicans lost only 27 seats in the House, a normal midterm correction. While the GOP lost only 21 House seats in 2008, six fewer than in 1982, that was not a midterm, so there was no "normal correction" expected; it was just a straight-up contest, and the GOP was thumped.

Too, I believe even many of those 1982 losses were due more to redistricting in Democratic states than in voters switching allegiance; were it not for redistricting, the House losses might actually have been lighter than usual -- even during a recession.

And in the Senate, Republicans lost no seats whatsoever in 1982, despite the recession. In 2008, Republicans lost eight Senate seats, as well as the presidency -- completing the shellacking.

Why? What was different between 1982 and 2008? In the former, Ronald Reagan and the minority Republicans not only emphasized jobs and growing the economy, they actually had a Capitalist plan -- courtesy of Reagan -- for doing just that: Cut taxes, shrink the government, lower interest rates, and unshackle American business from senseless and crippling government regulation.

In addition, Republicans had a president who favored taking the Cold-War fight to the enemy, the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union, rather than conceding issue after issue in a futile attempt to appease the Bear and the Dragon. Reagan dared to demand, not mere survival, but actual victory.

I strongly suggest that the GOP did all right in 1982 and looks to be ready to surge forward this year precisely due to boldly advancing both a victory-oriented strategy for national security and a capitalist reformation and revival of the economy -- more the "invisible hand" of the free market and less the "invisible foot" of government.

And I further suggest that in all future elections, just to be on the safe side, we actually make aggressive national defense and growing the economy (while shrinking the government) the cornerstones of our national campaigns... while leaving religious, social, and intangible issues to those local races that have particular interests in them that year.

A few more elections fought on the basis of American strength and freeing the American economy, and we might actually solve this excellent electoral mystery!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 23, 2010, at the time of 3:51 PM

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The following hissed in response by: LarryD

And I further suggest that in all future elections, just to be on the safe side, we actually make aggressive national defense and growing the economy (while shrinking the government) the cornerstones of our national campaigns... while leaving religious, social, and intangible issues to those local races that have particular interests in them that year.

The strategic flaw is that Progressives like to try and impose their cultural positions via the Federal Government (Roe vs Wade, anyone?). As they are trying to do with SSM.

Now, if part of our "smaller government" strategy is to reinvigorate the 10th Amendment and strict constructional-ism in the Federal Courts, then this issue is covered.

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2010 6:49 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I didn't say don't fight those fights; I said don't make those fights the core of our national campaigns.

It may well make good political sense to make those fights the core of local campaigns... e.g., Meg Whitman should make support for Proposition 8 and traditional marriage part of her gubernatorial campaign in California. But the national GOP, the NRSC, and the NRCC should focus almost exclusively on national security/defense and growing the economy (by shrinking government interference and lowering taxes).


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2010 12:55 PM

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