Inauguration Day, 2013.
Instead of folks coming over to others homes back in the early days of 2008/9 and literally having tea and discussing what the next steps were, 2012/3 has a different edge. Firearms and 30-round magazines, gun shows, and hushed talk seem to be dominating the landscape as our president’s henchmen take to the airwaves to call the American hunter anything from a fascist to an enraged lunatic. After all — who really needs more than 10 rounds to hunt a deer?
Of course, the answer is that a rapist requires more than 10 rounds. But I digress…
Obama has won the battle in terms of health care. Socialized medicine is here, the Bush tax cuts have been rolled back on “wealthy” small business owners, wars are fought by proxy in places such as Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Algeria, Mali, and wherever else a drone can find a target.
Civil liberties — that hallmark of Obama’s 2008 primary race against Hillary Clinton — are an afterthought in a world of TSA pat-downs, a hacker community that has been savaged and vilified, and a Guantanamo Bay that now seems like a bad dream rather than a reality.
The national debt currently stands at $16 trillion dollars, with an additional $4 trillion still outstanding and over $70 trillion dollars in unfunded obligations along our current spending trajectory. The economy is stagnant at best, the stimulus did remarkably little towards its goals of infrastructure improvement, and the American consumer is beginning to outpace the American producer’s ability to subsidize our own half-baked 80 year experiment in social democracy.
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Meanwhile, the conservative movement having finally achieved the oft-intoned Viguerie status of a four-legged table rather than the Reagan-era three-legged stool seems to be the order of the day, but wobbly as hell. Fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and national security conservatives are all sitting rather uneasily with a Tea Party libertarian wing. All the while, the immensity of the moderate establishment — the good ol’ boy network of the GOP — has placed its hindquarters directly on top of the table, which sags under the weight of a conservative movement long seeking to throw it off and go its own way.
So, quo vadis?
First off, a bit of reality for those new to the game, and perhaps a reminder to some of our old friends.
This… is America.
This is absurdly simplified… but let’s assume that America’s political demographics are split precisely in half. Just as many Republicans as there are Democrats out there in this big wide world of ours. Let’s further assume that a good 30% of all these Americans simply don’t vote or vote 3rd party… leaving 70% of America to duke it out in a battle royale approximating a Roman triumph.
Now gather in closely, folks… because I’m going to tell you the dirty little secret establishment Republicans know about your Tea Party group and the band of Facebook drones you have around you…
Split that GOP pie up among the four legs of the table. Doesn’t matter how fat the establishment gets — if the table gives way, guess what happens? If you walk, guess what happens?
In fact, in order to make themselves more palatable to some of that other 35%, or perhaps even to activate some of that 30% of America that doesn’t vote — guess what? Your coalition may not matter that much.
So Tea Party groups? Take a hike.
Pro-lifers? Ta ta…
National security types whining about China? To whine to someone who cares…
Fiscal conservatives? Adios…
See, here’s the secret.
The establishment doesn’t care what you believe. They know that without them as the giant paperweight holding the “coalition” together, you don’t stand a chance. Don’t believe for a second that Obama bothers them one bit — Wall Street is doing just fine, the banking and mortgage industries will not be allowed to fail, and we’re going to keep bombing the hell out of Third World anything to keep the defense industry cooking.
They can wait four years. Guess where you fall in?
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” — Jim Rohn
Oh you didn’t think about this? Well, get thinkin’ buddy.
Because for all of that 3rd party talk and spinning you up and forcing candidates who have no business running to spend their cash thanks to consultants not willing to level with them… you’re getting played thinking you’re leading a one-man revolution. Or a 20 man revolution. Or that your Tea Party “leaders” are anything but armies of one. Or that your pro-life committees are really influencing the outcome. Or that your anti-tax rhetoric is really pushing policy. Or that your concerns about national security are worth a dime among defense contractors.
At the end of the day… alone, you are worthless.
Which is why the four legs of the table need to start thinking about how they’re going to get along if they stand even a remote chance at throwing off the establishment hacks dominating the party.
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So where does the conservative movement regain its strength? Let’s recap the three major problems with the GOP’s resounding failure in 2012:
1. Consultants of style trumped grassroots of substance — and we lost. For all the liberal triumphalism about how conservatism got beat in November 2012, I strongly reject this. Conservative values weren’t even on the damn ticket. Tell me one solid pro-life position Mitt Romney carried? How’s about a Tea Party initiative such as restoring civil liberties or massive spending cuts? Anyone know what Romney’s national security position really was (other than to start a trade war with China)? Precisely what bone was Romney throwing to fiscal conservatives as they trumpeted “big government — only cheaper!” during every stinkin’ debate? Conservative values weren’t on display… in fact, for all the heralded OFA performance in 2012, they produced 9 million fewer votes for cryin’ out loud!
2. Big donors chose to spend on the glamour rather than on the grassroots. No doubt persuaded by the frauds that emphasized slick looking websites and trumped-up statistics rather than focusing on boots-on-the-ground results. How’d Project ORCA work out for you guys? How’d all those registration efforts trying to get 10 million voters back on the rolls? Guess what — if they were interested in voting, they be doing it by now morons. Why spend millions chasing down people who don’t care in the first place to actually care??
3. Republicans still don’t get social media. Obama outspent us 20:1 in social media, and when we did do social media… it was put in the hands of communications staffers — not field workers. Seriously?! Tell me one GOP campaign right now in Virginia (other than perhaps Pete Snyder and E.W. Jackson — more on that later in the week) who is actually moving the marker and doing anything online right now?
Of course, perhaps the consultants in Washington and Richmond saw a sinking ship and decided to cash out as best as they could.
Are you getting the picture now?
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One of the things the “four-legged table” needs to understand is how to play well with others. Half of your agenda is better than being radically opposed by an administration or legislature that hates and despises everything you stand for. So get the half… and figure out how to play nice.
This is the #1 problem with the four-legged table analogy. Consider the following:
|Where We Get Along||Where We Fight Like 1st Graders Over Play-Doh|
|Tea Party||Constitutional boundaries and fiscal restraint; the classical liberal tradition refined which brings in Ron Paul and libertarian voters||All the sins of the LP are revisited, Tea Party leadership sharpens the stick so that the movement is unrecognizable, and attacks all other outsiders as “establishment”|
|Fiscal Conservatives||Long standing warriors in the trenches fighting liberal expansionism; adds finesse to argumentation.||Resentment over Tea Party newcomers; believes strongly in chucking over both Tea Party and social conservative voters.|
|Social Conservatives||Reminder that all rights come from our Creator; massive base of unwavering support for American individualism||Absolutism.|
|National Security||Constant reminder that a strong national defense is the best guarantor of peace.||Constant reminder of why the Founders warned against standing armies…|
So we each have our strengths… and we each have our weaknesses. What’s more, the establishment hive knows this… and they play each side off against one another.
Shame on us.
…because we’re ostensibly smarter than this. But we get played anyway — which is no surprise in a 24/7 crisis-oriented media which hyperinflates every event, every word, every appearance into “breaking news” in between drama and reality television…
To think that the Romans only had bread and circuses, eh?
The long and short of it is that all sides are going to have to give a tiny bit to one another in order to prevent a coalition on the left that would seek to deprive every inch of the rights we’re seeking to protect.
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I’m with ya, Mr. Revere…
So how do we get out of the woods?
Reagan did it in 1980 with the Reagan Coalition.
Gingrich did it in 1994 with the Contract with America.
2014 is on the horizon.
I’m just going to talk out of school here and see where we come out. Bottom line is that we’re $16 trillion in debt, the exit will not be painless, and everyone is going to have to give a little something in order to prevent themselves from losing everything.
1. Tea Party liberty movement needs to sort out that they are political neophytes at best. All the old LP types, all the old Ron Paul types… if they were any good at winning, they’d have done it by now. Calling your audience whom you hope to persuade “sheeple” doesn’t exactly get your point across. The road back to constitutional restraint will not be accomplished overnight — we’ve had 80 years of social democracy. It will take a generation to repair the damage, and yes — it will cost.
The first rule of getting out of a hole? Stop digging. The second rule? Buy a ladder. Most folks don’t realize that taxes effectively trebled between the British colonial era and the American revolution. Those who have cracked open a history book rather than paid lip service to it know that it certainly will not require a tripling of our tax rate to fix the problem, but if we are to pass on to the next generation an America better than our own? That national debt must be resolved, spending must be cracked down upon, and the investment in a generation of independent, self-reliant Americans must be restored.
2. Social conservatives need to accede the idea that government can enforce moral strictures. Government involvement in abortion, marriage, and social programs have utterly destroyed the fabric of America. Small steps such as defunding Planned Parenthood, backing the government completely out of marriage, and focusing on creating environments where families get the head starts they need are critical. Then let the Jeffersonian competition of free ideas sort out the government subsidized lifestyles from the Judeo-Christian alternatives.
3. Fiscal conservatives need to realize that the “no tax pledge” is a relic that only covers for the status quo — and does nothing to shrink the size and scope of government. Ditch it, and have the guts to come up with the post-World War II thinking that would close the spending gap while giving the American economy the breathing space necessary to plunge into the 21st century. $500 billion in reduced spending, $500 billion in revenue enhancement, and $500 billion closing loopholes and flattening the tax code = $1.5 trillion spending gap CLOSED. How hard is this? Not hard at all if you ditch the “no tax pledge” and do something for the long-haul rather than the short-term…
4. National security conservatives need to acquiesce to the concept that Americans are highly allergic to the idea of a Pax Americana enforced via gunboat (or drone) diplomacy. Our best support for the Pax Americana comes not from subjugating China through American naval power, but through balancing the aspirations of Vietnam, India, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea alongside those of the Russian Federation. Brazil’s “peaceful rise” should be discussed concurrently with the eventual rise of states such as Poland and Turkey. Americas alliances rather than American hard power is the best guarantee of the Pax Americana… not drone strikes and a retread of the fall of the British Empire.
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How Democrats (used to?) win elections…
Now all of this is pretty difficult stuff in practice. In the abstract, it’s very simple for an enthusiast in Virginia to outline what’s wrong with the conservative movement, what’s right with it, and how the movement could start to unshackle itself from the establishment class.
However, this is just a start.
The Tea Party movement nationally (not so much in Virginia, but that’s another issue) has truly captured the essence of the Republican Party’s long-standing commitment to Jeffersonian principles of self-reliance, liberty, and declaring wholesale war on government institutions that enslave a population to the priestcraft of the bureaucrats.
Longstanding readers will know that I have consistently hammered the Democratic Party for their intransigence on social justice issues. For one, and as a Catholic, I refuse to allow them the comfort of amnesia:
It was the Democratic Party that defended slavery.
It was the Democratic Party that undid Reconstruction.
It was the Democratic Party who introduced poll taxes and literacy tests.
It was the Democratic Party that produced segregation.
It was the Democratic Party who crafted Jim Crow laws.
It was the Democratic Party that fought Teddy Roosevelt’s regulatory reforms.
It was the Democratic Party that opposed women’s suffrage.
It was the Democratic Party who brought us the Federal Reserve.
It was the Democratic Party drafted social democracy and prolonged the Great Depression.
It was the Democratic Party who cozied up to Soviet Russia.
It was the Democratic Party who protected Communists in the government.
It was the Democratic Party who sat the Mississippi delegation to the 1964 DNC Convention.
It was the Democratic Party that enacted welfare and destroyed the inner cities.
It was the Democratic Party who brought us an unsustainable Medicare system.
It was the Democratic Party that champions abortion on demand.
It was the Democratic Party who subsidizes Planned Parenthood.
It was the Democratic Party that allowed inflation to soar into the double digits.
It was the Democratic Party who plunged America into $16 trillion of debt.
It was the Democratic Party that uses drones to attack innocent civilians overseas.
It was the Democratic Party who plunged us into conflict around the globe.
It was the Democratic Party who applauded the Arab Spring.
It was the Democratic Party who declared war on the Catholic Church with the HHS Mandate.
It is the Democratic Party who is on the wrong side of history.
That is the DNA of the modern Democratic Party — and the autocratic nature and near-religious belief in government force has changed quite little.
Republicans have a far different story to tell — from the Civil Rights Act of 1954 to the defeat of the Soviet Empire — from our proud history as having ended the enslavement of millions of fellow Americans to demanding the full economic, social, mental, and physical independence every free man and woman should enjoy so that they too can earn the fruits of their labor without any government or superior demand unlawfully what is rightfully theirs.
Why are we not telling this story?
Have we forgotten it? Or are we so enmeshed with the leftist media and their spin?
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The conservative movement needs to regain their swagger and confidence, not just in themselves but against the nanny state liberals waiting to tell them how much of anything they should have — be it the size of their home to the soft drinks they enjoy, from the size of their magazine clip all they way to which books and viewpoints they ought to hold.
The only way this is going to happen is if conservatives start reinforcing their beliefs with the resources they deserve.
You’d be surprised how supinely conservatives will pay $1,635 in additional taxes every year, but scream bloody murder if asked to sponsor a group for $10/mo. Or sponsor conservative media here at Bearing Drift, for instance. That has to change — because the only way we are going to work around the establishment and start working with one another is to combine our forces for good.
Moreover, when we find the leaders willing to work to achieve some of our goals, to work the legs of the table into the supports that hold the whole together, perhaps then we can start making the progress necessary to declare some independence from the establishment class — and seriously start taking back a nation and our Commonwealth from the generational theft of the last few decades.
The bottom line?
Find your inner Churchill.
Obama’s second term need not end in disaster. House Republicans still lead the People’s Chamber. Senate Republicans still hold the filibuster. Whatever Obama chooses to do to define his second term, he will have to either choose to work with Republicans and strike a much more conciliatory and moderate tone (as his inaugural speech seemed to identify), or he will continue to pursue executive orders, regulatory kickbacks, and other extra-constitutional methods of advancing his agenda.
What’s more, buying up all your 30-round magazines, withdrawing from society, and conceding the battlefield of thought is reaction rather than reason. Stop it — we are better than that. Get back in there and defend what is rightfully yours!
Obama’s reign as Henry VIII will only come to a stop once conservatives figure out that the enemy to liberty is our own lack of commitment and vigilance.