Thursday, October 8, 2015

The State of the Republican Presidential Race

Are Republicans on the brink of throwing the 2016 presidential election? Their competition has very little to offer, a few old, tired candidates. And yet, Daniel Henninger believes that Republicans have seriously diminished their chances because they are exercising poor judgment and lack party discipline.

True enough, Republican electors are expressing their feelings… venting, if you will… but, Henninger notes, they should take a lesson from the Democrats. That party achieved what it achieved in 2008 and 2009 by exercising strict discipline.

As I have often remarked on this blog, the therapy culture, which is obviously antithetical to conservative principles, insists that you express your feelings. It is a bad idea for individuals, bad for their mental health. It is a worse idea for groups.

Henninger explains how the Democrats did it:

After the 2008 elections gave Democrats control of the executive and legislative branches, they passed the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, which together reordered great swaths of the U.S. economy. That’s what control of government looks like, and it is rarely achieved without internal party discipline.

Six months ago, Henninger relates, Republicans were poised to take over the government. Which is more effective than shutting down the government.

As a result, the Republicans six months ago were on the brink of winning the White House back from an unpopular president and the uninspiring Hillary Clinton, while holding both houses of Congress. In control, the Republicans could legislate based on their beliefs—about ObamaCare, the tax code, spending, rampaging bureaucracies, even the federal subsidy for Planned Parenthood. That’s what winning looks like in American politics—or used to.

After explaining that the current workings of the House Republican caucus do not make the party look very good or very disciplined, Henninger moves on to the state of the presidential race.

I report his thought for your edification:

Meanwhile, the party’s base has elevated three amateurs to the top of its presidential nominating process— Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. Two successful governors— Rick Perry of Texas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin—have dropped out. John Kasich, the high-achieving two-term governor of Ohio, whose voters have been on the wrong side of a presidential outcome only once since 1944, languishes at next to zero.

Today, the odds that the Republicans will win big in November 2016 are less than even. A GOP that was on the cusp of controlling the presidency and Congress has instead decided to present itself to American voters as a party of factions and niche players.

The Republican presidential nomination will float forward on its own mysterious forces. It now resembles the movie “Fitzcarraldo,” the story of an obsessive effort by a rubber baron to prove that a massive boat could be hauled over a mountain.

What is Henninger trying to say? He is saying that when a party wants to govern it advances candidates who know how to govern. Not one of the three leading candidates has ever shown any capacity to offer political leadership or to set and implement government policy.

After all, the best way to stop Obama, to roll back his executive orders, to repeal his legislative follies, to revive America… is to put a serious candidate into office, one who understands the workings of government and who can lead his party and the nation. It takes more than a few bright advisers.

Instead, the Republican field is led by a real estate developer and television personality who has insulted his way to the top. (Do you really believe that Republicans will fall in line behind someone who has clawed his way to victory by dismissing and demeaning them?) After him, the polls tell us, Republicans are flocking to a failed chief executive officer and a brain surgeon. Don't ask what's wrong with that picture. Ask yourself whether anything's right with it.

Conservatives value experience. They value tradition. They value principle, but not just for the sake of valuing principle. They value people who can make policy out of principle and who can put that policy into action. The want real results, not flamboyant displays of powerful emotion. In the past they have not been cult followers of celebrities or of people who have no measurable qualifications for office.

Perhaps the Republican base feels happy to have joined the celebrity culture. Perhaps they feel better for having vented their anger. I am sure that their therapists are proud. And yet, even if a celebrity can win the presidency, it only means that we will be able to see yet another president who is in way over his head.


Bizzy Brain said...

Daniel Henninger is a totally full of shit Trump hater. I can understand why you have zero comments.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

See next post.

Stirge said...

What is wrong with a brain surgeon as president, or anyone else for that matter? On big problem is we have too many lawyers/lifetime politicians in office in the first place.

Sam L. said...

We have seen what professional politicians have wrought. Many of us have reason to want something completely different. (Not Trump, either.)

Bizzy, some of us don't come here first.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Conservatives value experience. They value tradition. They value principle, but not just for the sake of valuing principle. They value people who can make policy out of principle and who can put that policy into action. The want real results, not flamboyant displays of powerful emotion. In the past they have not been cult followers of celebrities or of people who have no measurable qualifications for office.

I think the resignation of John Boehner shows something of the state of the Republican party disunity.

The new brand of Conservatism seems to be based entirely on Ronald Reagan's rhetoric “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

If government is the problem, the only goal of getting elected is to make the government less effective, and then point out the failures of government, and recommend privatization of the free market as the real solution to all problems.

Strangely Trump doesn't recognize that brand of Conservative. He wants a big central government to build trillion dollar walls, and a police state with the power to deport 20 million people who can't show their papers. Plus he wants big government to be able to fight every war on every front without any endgame plan greater than "shock and awe" that big government Bush taught us.

If the Republicans are schizophrenic it surely is because it is the state of the average republican voter. Voters want the right to demonize government, and complain when they get what they want.

I keep wondering if this is the end of the Republican party, but its still hard to imagine. The issue of slavery helped the original republicans rise up to defeat the Whig party. The only comparable issue now is debt slavery, but perhaps we're not there yet. And its easier to complain about federal debt, while the average student loan balance and credit card balance skyrockets.

On the other hand, while the federal government is financially bullet proof with the federal reserve, it sounds like state, county and municipal debt will be what get pounded by the next financial crisis.

Bernanke says the economy can't handle higher interest rates, and he's probably right, but if the only way to avoid defaults is to encourage more temporarily cheap borrowing, there is no plan except to hope eventually inflation eats the debt faster than interest rates defaults the debts.

Only Ron Paul and Rand Paul are willing to talk about the Federal reserve, and probably because they're true conservatives, willing to sink the economy for the sake of the next generation that's going to have to pay for our debts whether we crash the debt sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Olympic Man: Thank you for the lesson. The revolt against supposedly inevitable Hildesbeast is ample evidence of Democrat revolt at the horrible thought of centrism, normalcy and compromise. What's your point? Gov'ment is the problem. Gov'ment. We want it to be less effective because we want it to have less power. 20 million people being deported? How about almost $20 billion in debt? Sanitary digits, no doubt. Which is easier to deal with? Let's imprison securities executives, end free trade, make college free, and end any policy of independence. You wish it were the end of the Republican Party, but I suspect the 2 party system will continue. You must despair. -$$$

Ares Olympus said...

Miss $$$, I'm yet open-minded about our possible futures.

I don't know if I wish for the end of the Republican party. The republicans may never again gain the presidency, which seems to be their goal, since if they ever control the Presidency, House, and Senate combined, they'd have to do all the things they claim they want to do without the president's veto stopping them.

So it does look like the republicans will continue controlling the house, and possibly the senate, and the president will be a Democrat, whether "Hildesbeast" or someone else, and everything will stay exactly the same - nothing will get done, and the rich will get richer, and more and more promises will be left undone, justified by the loyal opposition.

So if the Federal reserve really keeps its promise, and creates enough money to bail out every financial crisis, perhaps we can stay in this purgatory for another decade, but its hard to believe it can last that much longer.

Oh, but I suppose the president will keep gaining more power, with a Congress unable to pass any bills worth signing, and we'll be ruled soon enough by executive order, and eventually the Supreme Court will help clarify bounds of the newly discovered benevolant powers of the president to dictate solutions, that keep the government slightly functional for another year or whatever.

If only the president wasn't Commander and Chief, apparently able to start wars at his whim, I'd feel much better. I hope Rand Paul keeps up the good fight and perhaps we can get a court ruling that prohibits the president from bombing a sovereign country without declaring war first.

That ought to be a bipartisan goal, of course that would require Congress to show how cowardly it really is in taking leadership on anything.

Ares Olympus said...

I found a way for the disunity party republicans to win the presidency again.

We just need to elect a Biden-Sanders ticket, and both die of old age before they finish their 8th year in office. Mathematically the house is pretty much guaranteed to stay republican until at least the next census, so they have no threat until 2022.

By fantasy I'd support a bipartisan majority congress BEGGING John Boehner to please come back. But without that miracle the party of disunity has their real battle long before they lose 2016 and again in 2020.

The future of the house to get almost nothing done for another year is on the line. Boehner quit for the stupidity of his own party, and his revenge must be sweet.

Even if a majority begged, him, I'm betting he'd laugh and say no chance, and go back to his Disney song, zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, my oh my what a wonderful day.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. I see Stuart had a discussion about Boehner almost exactly two years ago, quoting from Thomas Sowell , basically saying Boehner was a bad communicator, unable to properly sell ideas to the public.

Sowell: You might think that the stakes are high enough for Republicans to put in some serious time trying to clarify their message. As the great economist Alfred Marshall once said, facts do not speak for themselves. If we are waiting for the Republicans to do the speaking, the country is in big trouble.

It looks like a good time to learn more about this important role, it being third in line for the presidency after all.
--> The Constitution does not require that the Speaker be an elected House Representative, though all Speakers have been an elected Member of Congress.

So now is time to find the new great communicator for the Republican party. Maybe Thomas Sowell would step forward to this goal? Or would it be too weird to have a liberal black President and conservative black Speaker?

Anyway, perhaps it is high time to reach outside the box? Is there ANY citizen that a majority of House republicans could support for Speaker?

If the republicans can Ace this Speaker test, surely there's still hope that a communicator presidential candidate will ride into town and save the republicans from another humiliating presidential election?

Bizzy Brain said...

You know who is responsible for Trump? John Boner and Mitch McConnell. Obama rammed through Obamacare on a procedural stunt and the Republican establishment whined, “We can’t do anything unless you give us the House.” They were put in power in the House and nothing happened. Then they whined, “We can’t do anything without the Senate.” They were handed the Senate and nothing happened.

These spineless, impotent, limpdicks are precisely what has made Trumpmania possible. They will not stand up to Obama on anything, be it Obamacare, executive immigration reform, the EPA, the IRS targeting political opponents and everyday citizens, radical Islam, Planned Parenthood, and all the day-to-day crimes the administration commits.

That is why after every Trump “controversy,” his polling goes up. The media pronounces him dead while he rises in the polls. He can’t be bought, he can’t be told to shut up, he recognizes that the country that made his fortune possible is in serious trouble, and he doesn’t give a flying f*ck if you are offended by his “tone.”