Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fight On, Republicans

After suffering an ignominious loss in the 2004 presidential election Democrats mounted a domestic political insurgency against the Bush administration and the Republican Party.

To its eternal demerit the Bush administration failed to defend itself. It never fought back.

Conducting a political insurgency taught Democrats that they could undermine presidential leadership by refusing to cooperate.

If the troops are mutinous a president does not look like a leader. If the troops are conciliatory he does.

Republican pusillanimity continued through the 2008 presidential election when war hero John McCain acted as though he was “too proud to fight.” The Obama campaign pounded the Republicans and McCain was beaten badly.

After their 2008 defeat Republicans launched their own domestic insurgency against the Obama administration. It coalesced around the Tea Party and produced significant electoral gains in the 2010 mid-term elections.

But then, in an effort to unlearn the lessons of the past and to placate the mainstream media Republicans called off their insurgency and nominated Mitt Romney for president.

Romney was Johnny-on-the-spot when it came to trashing Republicans but he, like McCain, was  “too proud to fight” the Obama campaign.

Worse yet, in nominating Romney the Republican Party abandoned its best issue: Obamacare.

Romney suffered an ignominious defeat, dragging the party down with him.

For now the Republican Party continues to be Mitt Romney’s party. He was even invited to CPAC. As of now, Republicans are continuing the sorry spectacle of the Romney campaign. They continue to fight among themselves and continue to believe that they should be more like Democrats.

Now, a work group from the Republican National Committee has  reported that Republicans need to be “re-branded.” They seemed to believe that Republicans lost because they were not likable, in the high school sense. Their solution was to try to make them the most popular kinds in school. Because everyone knows that you become more popular by caring for the disadvantaged.

National Review summed up the report’s conclusions:

The Republican party is out of touch; people think it “doesn’t care”; it preaches to the choir instead of appealing to potential converts; it needs to reach out to minorities, women, and young people. 

As though the Party had learned nothing from its embrace of Romneycare its grandees now want to stake out positions that are more centrist, even leftist, the better to attract more illegal immigrants and more college students.

They might as well be enlisting in Obama’s army. Their approach makes him look like more of a leader.  

Now, Michael Walsh writes in National Review that Republicans should adopt the tactics that worked for the Democrats. They should launch their own domestic political insurgency. Republicans should not conciliate; they should not rebrand; they should not re-message. They should fight.

Instead of continuing to be Mitt Romney’s Republican Party they should become more Churchillian.

Walsh seems to be echoing Churchill. By his analysis the RNC ought to adopt these words as its new motto:

We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender….

In Walsh’s version:

Fight them on every front, fight them in every state, fight them on television and in print and on the airwaves. Confront them at every opportunity, seek out and embrace conflict, and fear not bullies like Chuck Schumer (the living embodiment of the Lefty Sneer), Dick Durbin, and passive-aggressive corruptocrats like Harry Reid. Don’t make nice with them, don’t play fair with them, don’t reach across the aisle and above all, treat them and their ideas with exactly the same amount of respect with which they treat yours: none. Contempt is the only language they understand.

Don’t play to look like a nice guy. Walsh quotes Pat Caddell—as did I-- saying that Republicans need to learn to play to win:

As Pat Caddell just reminded the GOP, his team plays to win, and doesn’t really much care how it does it — “by any means necessary” is their motto. If you’re not using their own rules against them, you’re not playing the game.

Like many others Walsh is not very happy with the role that political consultants played in the last election. Others have said that it is unfair to blame the consultants. The truth is, when you nominate a man who was only a sometime politician, you should have known that he would be relying more on consultants.

Walsh advises the GOP:

Cashier your risk-averse krack kadres of kampaign konsultants, whose idea of cutting-edge technology is ’70s-style television media buys (from which they profit handsomely) and who never seem to pay a price for being spectacularly wrong. Forget tactical management-school metrics and instead concentrate on strategy: If you set out to take Vienna, then take Vienna. Conjure up the ghost of Lee Atwater and put him back to work. Never listen to Dick Morris again. 

Walsh then recommends that the party choose its leaders well::

Nominate presidential standard-bearers who actually want to engage their opponents ideologically, and know how to sell the fundamental concepts of America, such as personal liberty and spiritual freedom. Draw sharp distinctions between Left and Right and put a positive spin on small-”r” republican virtues. Force the Democrats to defend their unmanly culture of dependency, and mock their misuse of the word “compassion.” Tighten the borders but trust in the cultural alchemy of America and lose the implicit xenophobia. Don’t tumble too hard for Marco Rubio or Rand Paul or whoever the flavor of the month is until you get a fuller picture of them. Remember the Palin/Scott Brown ticket?

When the party looks like it is falling for the “flavor of the month” it looks desperate and in disarray.  

Walsh suggests that Republicans attack preemptively, but he suggests that the attitude is difficult to sustain when its most powerful elected official, John Boehner cries in public:

By now, what Obama’s doing ought to be obvious even to Weepy John [Boehner], the epitome of Rotary Club republicanism. (But don’t take it from me; take it from Democrat Mickey Kaus.) Why wait for the president or his henchmen to push the progressive peanut another inch up the hill? You just know that if the money grab in Cyprus succeeds, it’s only a matter of time before the Democrats try it here, in the Marxist name of “fairness” and “income equality,” so beat them to the punch. Why not, as Glenn Reynolds suggests, introduce a bill to prevent just such a thing, and dare them to vote against it?

Stop worrying about being popular. Especially, stop worrying what the media says about you. Republicans should not aspire to be liked; they should command respect. For now, the party has become the embodiment of political weakness and no one respects the weak.

In Walsh’s words:

Stop caring what your opponents say about you. Stop the counter-factual whining (“if this were Bush . . .”). Of course, they’re going to be opposed to you — that’s the nature of opposition. Politics ain’t beanbag, and smart gangsters and politicians alike understand that. Get in their face, harass them, worry them, give them not a moment’s peace or respite. Come at them constantly, in shifts and in waves. Never back down. But act like it’s fun while you’re doing it — that’s what being a “happy warrior” means.


Anonymous said...

Black Elk Speaks is the story of a man who fought bravely to extend the "life" of his native culture, which, naturally, he had grown up to love. He witnessed the frozen bodies of men, women, and children slaughtered at Wounded Knee as a blizzard came afterward, and he speaks of this tragic end of his native culture as follows:

"It is the story of all life that is holy and is good to tell, and of us two-leggeds sharing in it with the four-leggeds and the wings of the air all green things; for these are children of one mother and their father is one Spirit."

"This, then, is not the tale of a great hunter or of a great warrior, or of a great traveler, although I have made much meat in my time and fought for my people as a boy and man, and have gone far and seen strange lands and men. So also have many others done, and better than I. These things I shall remember by the way, and often they may seem to be the very tale itself, as when I was living them in happiness and sorrow. But now that I can see it all as from a lonely hilltop, I know it was the story of a mighty vision given to a man who was too weak to use it; of a holy tree that should have flourished in a people's heart with flowers and singing bird's, and now it is withered; and of a people's dream that died in bloody snow."

"But if the vision is true and mighty, as I know, it is true and mighty yet; for such things are of the spirit, and it is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost."

A woman in the Tea Party whines, "I want my country back." I want to tell her the Natives are calling us on the spirit line with a karmic message: "We too want out country back."

World history proves that cultural evolution is from socialist tribes toward capitalist micro-structures toward socialist nations with capitalist elements. Republicans would be just as wise to fight the tides and of course they would lose.

Anonymous said...

I used the word "socialist" above, with regret. A better term for what I hoped to convey is the concept of "democratic wealth" used in the well written paper at this link:

where in a tribal society, there is no legal and financial system to permit the accumulation of the oligarchic wealth described in the paper.

Anon2 said...

That was a good paper/link you put up - "Republican Theory of Social Justice."

Education and media do a great job of painting Liberals as open-minded, egalitarian, and people-oriented but this paper does a great job of highlighting that Republican's do have a good understanding of the "common good" and a much broader sense of social justice; one that creates ladders for everyone and doesn't just cater to small slivers of society.

I think these are precisely the kinds of ideals that need to be more publicly emphasized in media (if only the article was a tad bit shorter and more digestible =).

Great post, thanks for sharing!