Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Being Leaderless Is Normal

...explains Pitney, for the party out of power. So Republicans shouldn’t despair at the fact of their temporary impotence. Someone might add, though, that it’s precisely when one party is leaderless that the other one gets a whole lot done.

Discussions - 21 Comments

The GOP's problem is not that they are leaderless. The GOP's problem is that being leaderless is not their biggest problem. One bigger problem: a voting base in demographic decline and no clear strategy (that I've seen) for winning over voters outside of those groups already inclined to vote Republican.

Pete, you're working with yesterday's headlines. The numbers for the false messiah are beginning to tank, and that's BEFORE the full impact of his economic policies make themselves felt. A majority of the electorate wants the first "stimulus" package rescinded, yet the Democrats are trying to push through a "second stimulus." A majority is beginning to get real nervous like over the size of the debt, and they're also getting nervous over what he's doing to the dollar. Obama is setting America up for a hyperinflation that none of us have ever seen in our lifetimes.

The only question is which Democrat is going to be the one to launch a real primary challenge against him. Ed Kennedy took on Carter in 1980 for the Democrat nomination, and Reagan took on Ford in 1976 for the GOP nomination. The Democrats are setting themselves up for a primary battle between the sane and the insane wings of their party. When the Editorial Board of The Washington Post is in a panic over the agenda the Dems are pushing, and constantly writing editorials about it, ------- editorials which increasingly take on a certain frenzied tone, -------- we can be pretty confident that Obama and his groupies are about to blow up the Democrat party. The problem isn't one of political "despair" for Republicans, the problem is whether Republicans are going to be able to undo the damage that the radical Left is doing to the United States, to her economy, to her culture, to her political discourse.

Dan, I'd like to believe most of that, and if unemployment is double digits in 2012, the GOP had a shot. Short of that, the GOP candidate better have a strategy for doing alot better among constituency groups that are suspicious of the GOP or have an out-of-this-world GOTV operation for the GOP leaning groups (think the 2004 Bush/Rove organization) and pray for rain. But I'm not betting against at least a slight economic improvement over the next three years. I'm not confident that Obama is going to blow up the Democrats though I can hope. I'm more afraid that Obama will change the healthcare and energy markets, and the fiscal situation in ways that will make future GOP victories fruitless from a conservative perspective.

I agree that a potential for long-term hyperinflation is there, but the bite probably won't come until after 2012, and by then, dependence of the government (especially for healthcare), the very size of the state and the net of corporate welfare could have pushed our politics well into a more statist direction. Something identified as the "Right" might still be able to win elections under these conditions, but I fear that on economic issues, it would make George W. Bush look like Milton Friedman.

USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows conservatives still see Palin as a leader and potential 2012 candidate. Though, given her record (or lack thereof) and the growing economic crisis, I doubt she'll appeal much at all to independents and moderates looking for someone to lead us out of this mess.


Influential Republicans ought to be trying to craft some type of message rather than searching aimlessly for a leader to deliver them the White House. With Democratic spending already out of control (calls for a second stimulus when only 11% of the first has been put out so far?) and state governments beginning to once again reassert themselves as not subservient to the federal government in both social and economic issues (fights over stimulus funding, taxes, gay marriage, abortion, gun rights, etc), and the fact that many Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008 are in conservative-leaning districts, if the Republicans started offering alternative solutions to some of these woes and seizing in on these things they would do well in 2010 and stand a chance in 2012; craft the message and someone will inevitably stand up to push it. Rather than whining about costs of things like healthcare, or talking about tax credits instead of government-provided care (as such an argument will inevitably lose with the Democratic majority), Republicans could (just for example) push for healthcare programs at state-government levels, tailored for the particular needs (economies and demographics) of each particular state. I'm not saying exactly that that is what the message should be by any means-- but I think now is the perfect time for Republicans to seize on what happens when the national government shifts from being regulating to controlling (re: debt, inefficiency, and inflation), and pushing issues back towards local government for people to have more control over how much they spend and what they get in return.


With the crisis in California, this type of return to local government is already beginning to be forced. With the centralized state government growing too big and expensive for sustainability, the population being over-taxed and thus decreasing, and the state on verge of financial collapse, city and county governments are lobbying for more control over their constituencies. There are even talks of having another constitutional convention in California in order to spread things out enough more so that "special interests" in Sacramento are not so powerful over the budget and tax policies. In other words, hyper-centralization even at the state level has led to exorbitant costs and the ability of certain factions to take advantage of the small number of politicians to influence in Sacramento.


Maybe the Republicans should adopt Federalist 10 and Federalist 51 as their platform, eh? Heh.

Pete, demographics aren't necessarily destiny in politics. We're heading over ten percent unemployment, easy. EASY! And that's BEFORE any of his nonsensical economic and energy policies kick in, which will only compound problems.

He's guaranteed a hyperinflation, and what do you think that's going to do to the savings of even his most earnest supporters. Remember, there are going to be vast numbers of Democrats who will recall the prosperity of the Clinton years, and will grow nostalgic for it. Obama's policies don't simply abraid against those of Reagan, but against those of Clinton as well. His policies will war against the savings of scores of millions of Americans. And that's going to start to bite before 2012. His dollar, becoming all the weaker, is going to cause international issues, besides creating vast unease in ordinary Americans. The media isn't going to be able to keep this drama going, and his endless riffs off of MLK are going to become laughable.

His deliberate efforts at making himself some icon, some bizarre and politically unhealthy cult-like leader only ensures that Nemesis will descend upon him, and what she will surely do to him won't be pretty. This guy isn't remotely ready to handle what's to come. And blaming Bush always had a brief shelf-life.

One term!

Dan, I agree that demographics are not destiny, which is why I think it is possible for the GOP to make gains among Latinos and African Americans. But possible does not mean easy and the GOP will have to earn those gains. As for the rest, I'm mmore optimistic than you are regarding the economy in the next three years. Things only have to improve a little from the bottom of the recession for Obama to be able to claim some credit for a recovery. The GOP can still win under those conditions, but it will be tough.

One bigger problem: a voting base in demographic decline and no clear strategy (that I've seen) for winning over voters outside of those groups already inclined to vote Republican.


I see you are still in denial that the Republican Party, and people like you, are responsble for the "demographic changes" in question.

Though you refuse to ever address the issue, an odd stance for a political pundit, there is no mystery about how to win over those Hispanic voters. Money. Lots of money.

Economic decline, {especially when combined with people's memories of economic good times existing just a short time before} will drive voters towards the only alternative in town, the GOP. Already Obama's support amongst Ohio independents has eroded sharply, and he only now holds the support of one in three independents, and again, that's in Ohio, not an insiginficant state in terms of Electoral College votes. What we see among independents we'll see too among Democrat rank and file. As Democrats turned out in droves for Reagan and against their own standard bearer, Carter, so too will Democrats turn out in droves against the radical policies of the man they were told was a "centrist."

The question that's outstanding is whether the GOP have the nerve and backbone to uproot what the Democrats are presently doing. Are they going to leave Obama's radical changes in place, or are they going to promise to totally uproot them all.

Think of it this way too, if Democrats were as confident in their ascendancy as some here and elsewhere are as confident in the Republican Party's fall, -------- then why the need for endless voter fraud. Why does Rahm Emmanuel feel the need to wrest control of the Census Bureau away from the Commerce Department, and personally subordinate it to his own office, that of the Chief of Staff to the President. Why are the Democrats investing so much money, BILLIONS of dollars, in ACORN, if their political prospects were so bright and promising? All I see when I survey the political scene is a Democrat party as intent on rigging elections as they ever were. Why? Why would they be pouring so much time, energy and effort into fraud when through demographics their victories are almost inexorable?

And think of this too, within the Cap and Trade legislation exists a provision for an additional THREE YEARS WORTH of unemployment benefits. Now if Democrats were as confident as they've appeared to be about the prospects of "new jobs" being created, why the need for an additional three year's worth of unemployment compensation? They themselves know that their legislation is going to create a vast voter backlash, which they're looking to stave off through their usual, voter fraud, but also through gimmicks such as additional unemployment compensation.

Dan, I appreciate you trying to look on the bright side, but betting against at least a mild recovery in the next three years seems like a bad bet to me. I agree that some combination of policies (most not yet passed by Congress, and may not be passed) could cripple US economic growth, but I doubt they will have done enough damage by 2012 to fully supress the resilience of the US economy. The GOP will most likely end up arguing that growth would have been faster if a different set of policies had been in place. Thats a tough argument to make if your party held the White House the previous term and ended its term with a financial crisis and a sharp recession. The case isn't impossible to make, if you have alternative policies that you can sell to the broad public and connect those policies to improved living standards. But assuming a strong public impression of Obama failure in 2012 strikes me as very imprudent.

On the census: They hope sampling will lead to the creation of a bunch more Democrat leaning House districts.

The Dems are looking for every edge they can get. I don't think that is a reason to be confident of Republican chances. I don't think Democrat victories are fated. I do think the Republicans have real policy and coalition problems that they will have to really address. Assuming that the tides will bring in a Republican (and more to the point conservative Republican)governing majority is very dangerous. If Republicans nationally can't find ways to do better among Latinos and African Americans, they could find themselves in a similar position of the California GOP, in which even Democratic failure does not bring in conservative (or even center-right)governance. The problem for the national GOP probably won't be quite so bad since the nation's demographics won't quite be California's, but it is bad business to hope for victory from ever larger margins among a declining demographic base.

These issue and coalition problems become even bigger if conservatives assume that Democratic errors will cause the problems to go away.

That doesn't even get into the institutional changes that a period of Democratic rule could produce. A system in which the government is the near universal healthcare provider (however you get there), a more corporatist relationship between business and government and stronger unions would all be major obstacles to the creation of a conservative governing majority - at least to the degree that the word conservative bears some resemblance to the policy ideas of Ronald Reagan. Even hyperinflation might work out badly for free market and small government oriented conservatives. A combination of welfarism, inflation, and corporatism will produce huge problems, but that does not mean conservatism as we know it will be the beneficiary. Our politics could evolve around two rival coalitions fighting for control of a more statist institutional arrangement. We could end up with a Peronism of the right vs. a Peronism of the left.

I don't think that any of this is fated. Heck, I don't think an Obama second term or government run universal healthcare is fated. But too much confidence in a conservative revival would be one of the biggest obstacles to a conservative revival.

John M, I'm not a pundit. I'm just a guy with a computer. I don't know what you are talking about "people like me" and demographic changes. I'm a border security guy. But there is a very large and growing Latino population in the US, and even if not one more Latino were let in, it would still grow year-by-year. Conservatives need to find ways to win over more Latinos to a politics that is both free market oriented and socially conservative. Not an easy task, but one that needs to happen if American political conservatism is not to follow the fate of California political conservatism. It is easier to imagine ways for conservatives to fail at this task than to succeed. Two ways to fail:

1. Assume that Latinos are lost to Big Government liberalism.

2. Build a strategy around amnesty + "family values don't end at the Rio Grande" type ethnic flattery.

My suggestions are more tentative. I think conservatives should go to Latinos with an agenda that addresses real life issues. Cheaper energy, cheaper and more secure healthcare, better schools, higher economic growth, and lower taxes (including payroll taxes). Thats what conservatives should be offering generally to the public at large. How to sell that especially to Latinos? I don't have the tactics, but I do have a thought. Try thinking of American Latinos as as a distinct and American constituency. Conservative rhetoric is sometimes exclusive without meaning to be. More conservative politicians should know more Spanish and conservatives should not be afraid to try to sell their ideas in Spanish language commercials. The gestures alone will be worth something. And above all stick to trans ethnic principle. I wish conservatives had spent more time attacking Sotomayor and Obamam on late term abortion (in Spanish even!)and less about the "wise Latina" comment.

Pete, it's got absolutely nothing to do with optimism, or the converse.

The creature on his own, is pushing a hard left agenda. Take a good and hard look at the internals of the polling. On issue after issue, Obama is bucking hard against a majority of the American people. {Dick Morris has quoted chapter and verse on this topic}. The only thing he has going for him is a personal approval/disapproval rate, which is presently artifically inflated because first off he's the "first black president," but also because he's still in a honeymoon period. BUT if you look at the issues, and where the American people are, ------ they're against Obama.

Here's a for instance. Obama is intent on running GM. BUT the American people, BY A SUPERMAJORITY, want Obama to privatize GM. Now that's just a single for instance. But there are many others.

How do you think your neighbors are going to react when the thought finally registers with them that Obama sided with Chavez, with the mullahs in Iran, and against the people in Iran, against the people in Honduras, and what's more, against the people in Israel.

Obama is presently doing things that have yet to truly register with the electorate. BUT ALREADY, his numbers are trending South.

Compare his numbers to Carter's at this point in their adminsitrations. Don't believe me, don't take my word for it, just compare the numbers.

Now Kate said that anything could happen. And that's for sure. But the opposite is also possible. To wit, that NOTHING will arise to bail the creature out.

I don't like this guy. I mean I REALLY don't like this guy. But don't take my thoughts on it as definitive. Just take a look at the numbers, and the internals. And ask yourself, how long is his riffing off of MLK going to shield him from the consequences of his leftist and radical agenda.

I seldom hear the Republicans talk about the natural bridge of religion/culture they have with the hispanic-catholics.

That has to be because the party, for the most part, concedes the vote and believes that the illegal entry problem will defeat them.

The dislike for McCain was driven by his desire for amnesty with its supposed attraction for hispanics. Most Republics, as you all know (that wasn't a y'all - I was born in Ohio and my heart is still there.)

The real problem with the Republicans is not so much their policies as their inabilty to get them across.

Perhaps by the time the elections roll around people will give Newt Gingrich a new look. He is intelligent and a good speaker.

The idea of a Democrat running against Obama is a delicious thought. Hillary with the Sarah Palin bomb would make it a very entertaining election.

Dan, I think that a foreign policy crisis could hurt Obama, but nothing that has so far happened will, by itself do that. The key for Obama on the economy is how the economy is performing by 2012. If it is better, even a little better, than it is now, then that will be more important than the size of the defecit (how much did the defecit issue hurt Reagan or Dubya), or the fed takeover of GM. Even a mild, slow recovery would be a huge Obama asset. The irony is that the free market elements of the US economy are probably resilient enough to endure what Obama is going to hit them with in the short term. Stuff like hyperinflation and persistent high unemployment is surely possible but it will probably take time, and if it occurs, would probably happen in a second Obama term. And even worse, if those consequences do happen, it would be because American institutions wil have been changed in ways that will be difficult to undo regardless of who wins in 2016. Short of a persistent economic collapse (I am now speaking of domestic policy), Obama will be a formidable opponent in 2012. Not an invincible one, but the hope that the GOP will win by Obama losing seems like a bad bet for conservatives and the country

Pete, while I agree with what you say, Joe Biden the other complained that the economic situation is worse than they thought, which requires more heavy lifting on their part, i.e., more money. That's the story if things do not go well. To me, it sounds like the Bush administration about the war on terror ("This could take a long, time.") Of course, we know how well that went over. I don't see how the Obamaites vacuuming money out of our system and redistributing it as they are will not have a negative impact on the economy, but maybe they judged their objects of stimulative compassion correctly and the money circulating through the economy by political means rather than any old how is ok. The whole "victim" thing could play well in a failing economy, as Biden was trying to spin the stimulus fizzle the other day - "It's worse than we thought!" - I think they could go a long way on that line.

Besides, if this is a major depression - well - I know of people feeling squeezed a bit, and even bruised, (one business owner I know said, "I have actually had to go to work, for the first time in years." He meant that he actually has had to pay serious attention to his business.) but of no one being crushed.

Pat, I can't take Newt seriously as president. I know someone on here is going to jump on me for that. However, unless he can acquire some "grand old man of the party" image, and articulates conservative principles well enough to convert the masses, I don't think he has a chance.

Kate, if the economy does not improve by 2012, it won't matter what Biden or whoever says, the GOP will have a shot even if they are only minimally competent. I agree that Obama's policies will have a negative effect but a negative effect could go together with economic growth and declining unemployment. It could just be slower growth and a slower decline in unmeployment than would have happened absent the Obama tax increases,cap-and-trade (if it happens) ect. In the longer term, the wrong policies coulc truly cripple the economy (persistent double digit unemployment, hyperinflation), but I doubt that will have happened by 2012.

On Biden: If the economy had already turned around, he would say that this proves that Big Government works, so we need more Big government. Now he says that the reason unmeployment is still rising is because we need more Big Government. Any set of facts will lead Biden to the same conclusion.

Pete, on Biden, yes, exactly true, and part of my point, only put better than I can write it. About the economy, etc., I hope you're right, except as I said above, it is ugly to hope the next three and a half years are bad ones. I hope the economy and the American people are resilient and can somehow make a silk purse out of the sow's ear of our nation's current economic policies.

Kate, I agree but fear an irony. The irony that our economy might endure statist policies long enough for those policies to become institutionalized. This puts conservatives in a terrible situation. They can hope for Obama to be seen as a failure but that can only happen at the price of public suffering and/or national humiliation. Or they can see Obama get credit for even a mild recovery, cruise to a second term, and move the country left in ways that will be hard to reverse. There is a potential out, but one that involves crafting, mastering and being able to explain a populist conservative agenda, and recruiting among constituencies that are currently suspicious of the GOP. It means winning because you deserve to win and not because the Democrats deserve to lose. I think that finding such a route is possible but...

Yes, and I think we were talking about this before the election, too, especially to conservatives who did not wish to vote for McCain, because they thought we would only get a lighter version of Obama's policies.

We need a lot of really good, articulate conservatives to run in the next election. Are you any good at public speaking?

No. I lack (to an epic degree) all of the interpersonal skills that make for a successful politician. I cite as a reference Prof. Lawler - who I met onece. A man ought to know his limitations. What about you Kate? You are articulate, tempermentally moderate, and have one heck of a family story (from what you have told us).

Thank you, Pete. There are also family problems. My husband insists such problems are inherent in the nature of his business, but they would not stand public scrutiny. Maybe that is a common problem for Republican businessmen (or women married to them) getting into politics?

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