Friday, November 9, 2012

Election (and Country) Post-Mortem

You may have noticed this blog has been light on political content of late, despite the fact I'm a political junky. The political blog world moves to fast for me though, especially during election season. By the time I've diligently thought about some current issue, carefully written a piece, the issue is already yesterday's news and there is something else afoot. Not to mention there are more talented political writers than myself who I would mostly only be echoing anyway.

With Barack Obama having won re-election, this fact and its repercussions will be at the forefront of the political world for quite a while, so I feel comfortable that this piece won't be passe by the time I finish writing it. Plus, most punditry and the conservative blogopshere are missing certain glaring aspects of the fallout, it seems to me. 

The beltway, media, pundit world -- which is strongly liberal -- seems convinced that given the results of the election -- namely Romney's dominating with white males and married females, but getting crushed with minorities and young, single females -- the Republican party must fundamentally alter its own nature or perish, as these demographics are growing while white males are proportionally shrinking. Many movement conservatives also seem to think that the election should be a real wake-up call, and ought to cause us to re-think our entire approach.

For a starting point on my own perspective, I would mostly echo Charles Krauthammer, who gets what the appropriate response to the election for conservative Republicans should be: mostly, change nothing. The one thing he does think we should change is our approach on illegal immigration, but where I diverge with him is in seeing this as a panacea, or as something that is easily accomplished. Neither is the case. Not to mention that for many conservatives, such as myself, this counts as hedging on matters of principle -- namely, on law & order and fairness -- which is what he thinks we shouldn't do. Though his broader take is accurate. What he doesn't say is that, even if we can't easily fix 'issues' with a shifting demographic that make the future bleak (for Republicans and hence the country), the correct response is still unyielding, unapologetic, robust conservatism of the sort the Republican party has mostly been tending towards -- albeit haltingly -- post Tea Party revolution.

What is good for the nation is good for it whether the nation realizes it or not. If what is good for it is short-term pain, loss of comforts we've come to be dependent on, cuts in benefits etc. in order to deal with the mess that our profligate, reckless government (and many citizens) have gotten us into (and it is), well obviously this isn't a pleasant reality to put in front of voters. And faced with unpleasant reality and cheerful falsity, fallen humans almost always prefer the latter. This is evidenced by the fact that even the Republicans are forced to downplay this reality in order to even have a competitive chance at winning. But it's the conservative message, and it's only by following it that we might avoid fiscal calamity and ruin. 

Of course, there are always practical and strategic shifts that can be made, but simply losing doesn't necessarily signify that any significant mistakes were made in the first place. We certainly could have elected a more strongly conservative candidate, and we ought to in the future, but beyond that the very flawed candidate ran pretty well. He just ran up against the wall of a (inconceivably) popular incumbent, and came bearing the burden of  bad news: eventually the government runs out of other people's money. People who like the government printing money and paying for various things in perpetuity do not want to hear it. It isn't a mystery. 

And when I say we ought to nominate stronger conservatives, the comeback is that "It was strong (social) conservatism that was repudiated in the election!", citing losses by Akin and Mourdock (who made half of a gaffe between them, which was then blown insanely out of proportion by the liberal media), state wins for Gay Marriage and pot legalization, Obama's aggressive focus on social issues, in addition to Romney's loss as evidence. Which is itself a dubious reading of the events; for the entire 18 months of the election, jobs and the economy were always cited as the #1 issue by voters themselves. In any event, to the extent that it was a rejection of conservatism, to some degree -- and it was -- what of it? Voters getting something wrong does not mean that conservatives -- pols and pundits, bloggers and volunteers, voters and campaigns -- necessarily got anything significantly wrong, either in message or strategy. You can be right and unpopular; you can be wrong and a superstar. History is not a solvent. 

That said, it is precisely the moderate Republican presidential nominees who lose general elections and the more solidly conservative that win them. Behold these two groups: 

Group I: Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan, Bush I (pre tax lie), Bush II and Bush II
Group II: Bush I (post tax lie), Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney

Our present run has moderates losing at a 100% clip, while the more conservative win at a 100% clip. Of course, there are many other variables that play into an election such as the country's situation at the time, the candidates' personalities, events and statements during the campaign etc., but still, even over a small sample, this is telling. 

The other widespread reaction by (left-wing) pundits to the election is the absurd, historically myopic contention that there is something unique, or strange, or significant about the fact that many conservatives and Republicans (media and pols) either were, or appeared to be extremely confident going into election, despite the state polls and electoral math not seeming to be in their favor. And that afterwards they expressed disbelief and shock. As opposed to what? Could they acknowledge publicly that their chances are slim going into the election, thereby making their chances even slimmer? Not if they aren't politically suicidal. Afterwards, could they tell supporters and donors that they knew they didn't have much of a chance? Not if they don't want to burn bridges needlessly. This is political psychology 101, and the spinning occurs on both sides, when it needs to. This sort of reaction is precisely what happens anytime someone wins a national election that isn't that close. And there's nothing noteworthy or unique or novel about it at all. 

In our new-media climate of political reaction, where there is a fiercely competitive market for immediate, hastily drawn conclusions, it's unsurprising that so many dubious ones are always the first out of the gate.

Conservatives -- especially Christian conservatives, who worship the God who became Incarnate as a slave and submitted to death on a cross to overcome the world -- should be willing to languish in exile, if that is the cost of bringing truth to the American people. It may not be the cost, and it probably isn't, but if it is, so be it. 

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