Monday, January 2, 2012

My New Year's Revolution

Campaign year 2012 is now officially upon us. As a conservative who deeply wants to send Barack Obama back to his job as a Chicago South Side community organizer, I have to look at the current Republican field with more than a little trepidation. By tomorrow, the Iowa vote will be in, and I'll know if I have even more reason to worry.

I haven’t been this excited about anything since my mom decided to give me a dose of cod liver oil. The “excitement factor” will play a big part in defeating the snake-oil salesman currently occupying the White House. I don’t subscribe to the idea that any Republican nominated can automatically beat him. I’m not even convinced that any of the current front-runners in the Republican Party can beat him. I’m just one person. But if someone as determined as I am to beat The One can’t get enthusiastic about the chances of the current field, I suspect there are millions more like me.

Now don’t get me wrong. I haven’t missed a vote since I came of age (which was 21 at that time). I have voted in every presidential election since 1968, sometimes twice, back when I was a Democrat (the statute of limitations has long since run out on that confession). But not everyone is a political junkie like me. And not everyone who feels as unenthusiastic as I do has that same track record of voting. Many vote simply because they are habitual party voters. A great many others vote because they see a clear and viable alternative to the incumbent. And a huge number of voters do so solely because there is a candidate they can actually get enthused about, thus overcoming the lethargy factor.

John Huntsman—cold oatmeal. Rick Perry—master malapropist. Ron Paul—crypto-anarchist. Newt Gingrich—idea-a-minuteman, a few of which might actually work. Michelle Bachmann—likeable opponent of “forced vaccination.” Herman Cain—gone with the wind. Gary Johnson—gone to the Libertarians (if they’ll have him). Rick Santorum—running for moralist-in-chief. Mitt Romney—here-we-go-again.

So here’s my New Year’s Revolution. Time for those who could actually generate excitement, beat Obama in debates, and appeal to thinking independents to get into the race. Aw, to hell with promises not to run. Part of the fun of being a politician is you can break promises that get in the way of the public good. At PajamasMedia, Zombie has even gone so far as to print up an Absolution Coupon—Good for One Broken Promise. It’s awfully late in the process for the excitement candidates to get into the race. But it’s not too late.

We'll probably have a good idea of what's going to happen in Iowa by the time this article posts. New Hampshire looks like a Romney victory. That only leaves forty-eight states (though many of those at this point would require a write-in candidate, if the state law even allows it). My list of top revolutionaries would include Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Allen West, Paul Ryan, and Chris Christie. Of these, I only have serious reservations about Christie, and I would still find him to be a candidate I could get behind with more enthusiasm than I could with any of the current candidates.

Clinton should have been an easy victory for Republicans in the reelection campaign, but it was Robert Dole’s turn, so we lost. Empty-suit Obama should have been an easy victory for us, but it was John McCain’s turn, so we lost. Socialist Obama should be an easy victory for us, but it looks like it’s Mitt Romney’s turn. God help us all. As I said earlier, I’ve never missed a vote. And I wouldn’t miss this one. I’d vote for Romney since voting for Obama would be a rejection of everything I’ve come to believe, and voting for a third-party candidate is a waste of a vote.

I’m not as worried about Republicans staying home on election day as I am about independents staying home. Independents are a major force these days, and without a party commitment and/or a strong Republican candidate to get enthused over, they might just sit this one out. In which case, Obama wins. If Romney had a strong, anti-statist platform and could generate excitement with his political record (and get past the Evangelical anti-Mormon sentiment), our chances would be a great deal better. He has the smarts, and he seems to be improving daily. Let's hope he has the will and the guts to do what needs to be done.

What I see with Romney versus Obama is a strong similarity to the Nixon-Kennedy election. Unlike most of my “revolutionaries,” Romney has as many similarities to Obama as he has differences. Big government doesn’t seem to bother him much. He doesn’t see the graduated income tax as a serious problem in itself, and only wants to tinker around the edges. In a very dangerous world, roiling with Islamic extremism, he doesn’t seem to have the fire-in-the-belly necessary to put America back in charge of the defense of the West.

Romney doesn’t seem to comprehend the difference between strategy and tactics, which will be a major factor in the upcoming presidential election. Instead of returning regularly to the strategic theme of smaller government, fewer taxes, fairer taxes, and cutting wasteful government spending, he talks about the tactical details. It is absolutely necessary to have a command of those tactics, and Romney does seem to have that.

But touting the details instead of promoting the basic concepts tends to put voters to sleep. I want to hear you tell me you will cut government and get the bureaucracies off our backs, and I’ll leave it to you to figure out how. In other words, when I ask you what time it is, don’t tell me how to make a watch. Which is part of why I see the Kennedy-Nixon similarity. Kennedy had bold concepts. Nixon said “me too.” I don’t want to hear Romney saying the kinds of things Nixon said. “I agree with Mr. Kennedy (Obama) on those issues. I only disagree on how we should implement them.” Romney (or whoever the candidate is) must present a clear alternative view of government, not merely seeming to say that he will do the same job, only better.

What I (and millions of others) want to hear is: “This administration has been leading us down the road to a socialist disaster. I disagree deeply and completely with Mr. Obama’s entire philosophy of government. There is no way that this President can modify his views to fit into even the most basic of American beliefs. Any politician who does not believe in American exceptionalism should not be living in the White House.”

I can see my list of revolutionaries saying just that. So come on you guys. Break that promise. We’ll forgive you. Help! And that’s my New Year’s Revolution. Wait a minute. It’s supposed to be a New Year’s Resolution? Oops. Never mind.

22 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

Rick Perry -- master malapropist and teletubby hater.

Christie is definitely not on my list of acceptable candidates. I would pick Huntsman long before Christie because Hunstman is much more conservative.

On Romney, I think he's better as a candidate than you're giving him credit for and I think he'll hold up much better against Obama than some people think. He wasn't a great candidate in 2004, but he's a much better candidate now because he really did pay attention and learn from his mistakes.

(P.S. I don't think any Republican could have won in 2008, but McCain was the worst choice we could have made.)

Tennessee Jed said...

Happy new year, Hawk! well you and I agree on the candidates we wish we had. In particular, Rubio and Ryan. I like Jindal too, but he and Ryan don't have the "Q" rating as Rubio. I don't see any of them changing their mind.

I think the election may well hinge on the lower wage worker who has been abandoned by Obama. These folks will vote, and possibly Mitt gives an image of quiet competency without going for too much too fast. Forget for a second we need plenty of change. If B.O. is re-elected we are done. The country will be fundamentally ruined. It is my hope that the majority of the country felt Obama went way too far, and will want him gone. If we HAD a competent charismatic conservative running, I'd be the first to jump on board. But we don't so I'm goin to the dance with Mitt.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: As I said in the article, he's improving rapidly. He's less stiff, and that stiffness was offputting. The thing I've been worried about is him making the mistake of attempting to distinguish between how Obama runs the government versus how he would run the government instead of hammering on "fundamentally re-establishing" the American form of government. If the race comes down to arguing over details instead of philosophy, Romney would win the debate and lose the election. He's showing plenty of signs of getting away from the wonkishness. Hope springs eternal, and all that.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: You can say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. OK, enough with the John Lennon nonsense, huh? If my wishes don't come true (and they rarely do), I'll be doing whatever I can to elect Romney and a more conservative Republican Congress.

LawHawkRFD said...

Sorry I was a little late responding, but I was hypnotized by the Michigan State/Georgia game. The Spartans won by a field goal in the third overtime. Both sides made it a very exciting game.

T-Rav said...

I would feel much better if Rubio, West, Jindal, or Ryan was at the top or bottom of the ticket (though Ryan should be at the top or not at all).

I forget who said this, but someone was right on the money, in my opinion, when they said that a Romney victory would be good for America but terrible for conservatism. That's about how I feel. I'll vote for him if he becomes the nominee, but only under those circumstances.

Individualist said...

I hate this feeling...

It is the same feeling I got in the 2008 primaries when McCain become the front runner. Why is it that the GOP has to find the most liberal Republicasn they can for POTUS.

I am voting for Herman Cain in the Primary, for all the good it will do. For the General, well I pray it will matter by that time.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I've mentioned before how important it is that we elect a conservative Republican Congress. I don't think Romney would stray too far from the right if he doesn't have to deal with a resurgent liberal Congress.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: I have a similar feeling, but I don't think Romney has McCain's compelling need to look good in the liberal press. He's too moderate for my tastes, and I've made it clear whom I would prefer, but I can live with Romney more comfortably than with Maverick McCain.

BevfromNYC said...

Indi - I agree with you that no Republican was going to win in 2008 no matter who ran. It was probably better that McCain ran then and got it out of his system.

I will vote for anyone who is not Obama. But we are desperately in need of a true leader and not just a place holder who may do less harm. If Romney is to be our candidate (and only time will tell) he must rise to the occasion.

tryanmax said...

Maybe I'm just aching for excitement, but what if a bunch of libertarians storm the GOP convention a la the 1968 Democratic convention?

Okay, I've got a headache and a possible ear infection. So ignore what I say.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: You're probably right. The old establishment was still in complete control of the Republican Party four years ago. The Tea Party and traditional conservatives have changed that formula considerably. We won't get the true conservative candidate we want this time, but we won't get a Rockefeller Republican either. It will be up to us and Congress to keep our candidate's liberal leanings under control.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I was on my honeymoon when the fiasco in Chicago occurred, but was an elected delegate to the '72 convention when Willie Brown stormed the convention demanding "gimme my delegates (none of whom could have been properly seated)." Most of the non-Brown delegates got bumped when the chair caved in to his demands to ignore the winner-take-all California rule then in place. The result was the nomination of Jellyfish George McGovern.

I'd love to see some excitement like that happen at the 2012 Republican convention, but it's highly unlikely. And unlike the Willie Brown/McGovern revolt, it probably wouldn't change the final result.

Individualist said...

Bev,

I don't believe McCain could have won any election. He wass too enamored with what he thought was "good will" from the press to understand that this was just their using him to counter conservatives. When it came time to run in the big ticket then he found out. I think this would have derailed him no matter the country's mood.

The election in 2008 was lost by the establishment not defending the conservative philosophy. A product of ignoring the power of the media for so many years.

I think putting a McCain in just gives more weight to the meme that a "conservastive is unelectable". By sabotaging conservatism, you make the GOP establishment afraid to address what conservatives think. When they do put forth policies we like they apologize for them or try and label them compassionate.

I think this is our major problem. We cannot get a truly conservative candidate in. Closest we came was Ronald Reagan. But even Reagan caved on certain spending issues such as subsidies.

We can't get our message out because what we want would truly reduce the size of the federal government. More importantly iot would reduce the governrments power. This is something the behind the scenes lobbiest really don't want. They would be out of a job. I don't know... I just know it ain't working.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: We really are very unlikely to be able to elect a "pure" conservative. But Reagan was successful in a largely conservative administration because he knew when he was going to have to give, like it or not. As we've said before, the perfect is the enemy of the good. If we elect a strongly conservative-influenced Congress (both houses), there will be fewer necessary compromises with liberalism. Romney is no Reagan, but he's no McCain either. Like any politician, he wants good press. But it isn't his guiding principle, and he doesn't court it the way McCain did.

And again, unlike McCain, Romney has actually had to run companies and big corporations, sometimes making the hard decisions that didn't win him any popularity contests. I was disgusted with the McCain nomination. If Romney gets the nomination, I can live with it and not lose any sleep over it. There is also a difference between a flip-flopper like Kerry and a serious businessman/politician like Romney who has looked at his own record, found flaws, and changed his direction.

Only an idiot or an Obama (difference?) makes a mistake, refuses to admit it, then doubles down on it. I wish Romney were more instinctively conservative, but he is learning very quickly that he needs the conservative base. At the same time, he knows he doesn't dare scare off the independents by claiming that he will reverse the last half century in one fell swoop on the day of inauguration. Overpromising is as bad as not promising anything at all. Just ask the Messiah in the White House.

If a New Left radical like me can see the error of his ways, it should be even easier for Romney who was rarely worse than moderate.

tryanmax said...

I'll take someone who can learn to be a conservative even if he doesn't have conservative instincts over someone who won't embrace conservatism at all.

Individualist said...

Lawhawk

I don't think Romney is McCain. Heck I voted for him in the Florida primary since at that point my sole political will was to see anyone but McCain get the nod.

I agree with you about Romney. My problem is that we conservatives need to understand that unless we trumpet our cause and refuse to accept the needing in the media, everyone we elect will always be Romney. By this I mean that every time a GOP candidate wants to do something conservative they will find some way to cloak it as something else.

This may fool the voters short term but you can't fool all the people all the time and eventually they will become aware. This enforces the meme that there is something wrong with people who want to limit the government since they have to spin what they are doing.

Part of this would be to not cave, especially when we are in power. Bush had a great idea in privatizing SSN. Had he couched it like Cain did in the campaign, "Chilean Plan" a counter to the MSM argument would have been in play. The MSM would waste its time creating false narratives about the country of Chile. Had the House passed it and the Senate held their ground to wear the Dems down we would at least get credit for trying. What we did is to simply say "the media is crying, our bad!". We do not fight for what we want until it is about to bankrupt us and we habve no choice. The Tea party is great but it is years too late.

This is the source of my frustration. Getting the establishment to at least give our ideas a shot.

Individualist said...

Ben

You are right. Reagan is the "Great Conservative". Goldwater may be modern conservatism's grandfather but Reagan is the grandson that became its true Champion.

Reagan had the Senate in '86 and he did get a lot done. But reducing spending was not an area that was successful as we'd like. Reagan pushed to eliminate farm subsidies and was rebuffed. Newt tried this in '94. Elimination of these subsidies was what he pushed for in the Contract with America. After winning though it failed.

I think this is a good example of the problem. We can get them to do a lot of what we want but we can't seem to get them to quit spending money they don't need to.

tryanmax said...

I think Reagan and Newt's failings on farm subsidies were a timing error. I recall a lot of attention paid to farmers in the Reagan years, Farm Aid and such. The timing just wasn't right. Even by the time Newt was speaker, the mood to change farm subsidies wasn't there. Now, I think sentiments have changes somewhat. Corn ethanol is an albatross around farmers' necks. The iron may be hot now, or at least warmer than before. Any chance of a strike? I won't hold my breath.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I'm with you on that.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: I guess we're going to have to work to elect one more establishment Republican (if Romney wins the nomination) if that's what it takes to continue to strengthen the conservative cause. The "establishment" will always think it's right, but like all political groups, it craves power. If we continue to grow the conservative movement, the establishment may not come around entirely to our way of thinking, but it will come to know that it can't have power without us.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: And timing can make or break a cause. I think you're right about the time for cutting back government spending and government interference in the economy having arrived. It's up to the Republican candidate to promote those thoughts in a way that doesn't play into the left's propaganda of "harming the poor and destroying the middle class."

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