Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Post-Thanksgiving (election) leftovers

John Podhoretz offers this interesting take:

Conservatives will be arguing over the meaning of the defeat and how to change things for the better. But we need to understand a key aspect of the defeat - a cultural aspect.

For decades, Americans whose lives did not revolve around politics believed that Democrats were trying to use politics to revise the rules of society - to force America to "evolve" in a Left-liberal direction.

They didn’t like the bossiness implied by this attitude and they were appalled by the unintended consequences of the changes instituted by left-liberals, mainly when it came to confiscatory tax policy and the refusal to maintain social order and safe streets. These consequences were marks of profound incompetence in the management of the country, and the Democrats were punished for it.

But over in the past few years, Americans began to get the sense that Republicans had become the party of social revision - that it had allowed its own ideological predilections to run riot and that a new form of political correctness had overtaken the party that had seemed more sensible and more in line with their way of thinking.

For JPod to make this argument, he has to buy into the potency of the "theocracy" snake oil being peddled on the Left, or at least to assume that that snake oil had been purchased by a significant portion of the electorate. This doesn’t square with the concerns about corruption that emerged in the exit polls, nor with the economic populism that seems to have marked some of the victorious, relatively socially conservative Democrats. Are we seeing a reemergence of what was once called the "Perotista" vote, a bloc whose anti-corporate feelings dominate any social concerns it might have?

Discussions - 10 Comments

Podhoretz correctly describes the perceptions of many of the moderate Democrats and independents whom we’ve lost. He’s also right to say that this is a deadly serious problem that threatens the GOP (though it’s far from the only problem). Now, though, he should tell us how to counteract the incorrect perception of the Republican party by these confused voters -- without abandoning the principles of social conservatism. Social conservatism is essentially a resistance to the left’s ongoing attempts to redefine American society. We can win many voters back if we can get them to see this: that the left’s power grab at all levels of society, not the right’s resistance, is the fundamental problem and issue.

I like to read jpod but I was confused by the overly deep analysis of the quoted text.

I enjoy the daily debate about the so-called "issues." But, in truth, there is only one issue which really matters to me and my family, the security of our country.

That the majority of those who vote in this country would turn our defense over to Nancy Pelosi and her ilk is shocking to me. I still cannot believe it. But that is what happened.

The results of the election are blindingly clear and simple. The serious people, the Republicans, were beaten by the non-serious people, the Democrats.

GWV gets hammered for not having a "plan" for the peace in Iraq. I wonder if Ms. Pelosi et al have "a plan" for what happens after we pull out of Iraq? Birds chirping, rainbows, happiness, and peace on earth? I hope so but I seriously doubt it.

So I, who no doubt arrogantly styles himself as a serious person, is put on the sidelines to watch the now empowered Demos try to figure out what to do.

Don, you make a good point. Any serious analysis of the elections must take into account the relative weakness of the national-security argument, at least as the Republicans made it (or failed to). Bush especially was on the wrong track in stressing the economy and taxes. The voters who mattered most in these elections were not about to buy the Republican economic argument. They are congenitally suspicious of it, and a few good months, or years, of seemingly good economic numbers won’t change that. Nor do they care that much about taxes. We needed to focus much more than we did on the Democrats’ poor national-security record. We also shouldn’t have allowed the Dems and their servants in the media to call the Iraq situation a "war," which it isn’t.

Any serious conservative plan for retaking Congress and holding the White House must take into account the limited intelligence, and the very limited information, of the American people. Most of the conservative post-election commentary has had an unspoken subtext -- the people got sick of us, AND the people are right. Rather than all this vague talk about returning to the Reagan and Gingrich agendas, which begs the essential question of how much support conservatism, especially economic conservatism, really has among swing voters, I think more effort should go into the more interesting and fundamental problem: how we sell our principles to the voters and inform them of things the liberal media will never tell them. We’ve done a poor job of this. And most of the post-election commentary has ignored the question in favor of breast-beating, ax-grinding, and righter-than-thou posturing.

There’s always something faintly ludicrous about a fella born in New York City, living in New York City, preaching to the GOP about where ordinary Americans are.... Those attuned to the New York buzz aren’t the ones to listen to about where America "is," or is not.

Somebody needs to tell the frequently hyperbolic JPod that the GOP wins without New York City, without the Empire State, and without the Northeast for that matter. But the GOP can’t win without the Mountain West and the Bible Belt.

And JPod is absolutely unhinged when it comes to immigration issues. Reading him spar with some of the other writers over at The Corner on the immigration issue is a sad spectacle. He always loses it, goes overboard, indulges in florid flights of fancy, and can’t help but resort to the ad hominem. It’s really rather sad.

I agree, JPod is out-of-touch with the broad swath of red America. But so is the Rockefeller wing of the GOP...Reagan didn’t win with a "big business" message. The GOP won because it went center-Right populist on nationalism. That populism is the key to winning, anti-immigration, anti-globalization, limited-government, pro-defense. If you are seen as in the pocket of special interests (either business or ethnic groups) you are doomed. In short, the majority of people are ready for a strong American-nationalist, someone who will worry about American interests first and foremost (not international business, and not racial/ethnic and or secular special interests).

Yea Dain. JPod is an out-of-touch member of an out-of-touch wing of the Republican party. Unfortunately, for reasons that escape me, that Rockefeller wing has become ascendant. Was it any real big surprise that within a couple of years of that ascendancy, that the GOP lost both Houses of Congress, and is well and truly on their way towards losing the White House in ’08.

Just think for a moment where this GOP was in ’04. We were on the verge of relegating once and for all the Democrats to the ash heap of history, demonstrating forever that they are an urban and coastal pathology. George Walker Bush let them get off the ropes.

Never before in the history of politics has so much opportunity gone a wasting, and gone a wasting for such little cause. GW is a true enigma, that’s for sure.

Boy, I voted for Bush twice, regularly read this site and agree with most of what is said, and I think JPOD is spot on in his comments. The theocrats don’t have to be the majority of the GOP to be scary in their rigidity.

But mainly I think Bush has just failed in Iraq, and the vote to me says enough of Bush. I don’t think Pelosi could possibly be worse at this point, besides she only has two years before another vote. If Republicans don’t wake up it will be another four after that. This thread gives me no confidence that the pubbies are getting the message.

Nap, where are the electoral votes that the Republican nominee will need to prevail in ’08? Answer: The same states they were in 2000 and 2004. The same issues that resonated with voters then, resonate now. The only difference is the war, and the lackluster, unimaginative manner that this White House is "waging" this war.

The problem has never been implementing the agenda of the those styled "theocrats." The problem has been that the GOP has demonstrated scorn and derision for a constituency that won’t hesitate to not show up at the polls. That’s the problem, fraud, and deception. They took a constituency for granted, and paid a price, a steep price.

There’s nothing that the theocrats are asking that ordinary Americans would bridle at. Abortion decided by the states, hot button social issues left up to legislators, answerable to their voters, instead of obeying orders by various courts.

I think it is way worse than lackluster, it was rigid blindness, almost unbelievable incompetence. That rigidity is what scares me about fundamentalism, ie theocons in this case.

Did Bush’s Fundamentalist rigidity make him not question Rumsfeld and Cheney’s war strategy? God is on our side, we are right and they are evil and that is good enough? Is his profligate spending Christian charity gone wild? Good vs evil thinking preventing us from opening us to diplomacy with Iran when political prudence may suggest that we talk to them? There have been a pile up of so many little incidents of Bush rigidity that make me question whether divine rightness, we are the good guys and they are the bad guys, is guiding policy rather than some more objective neutral political calculations.

I think you are right that most Americans, at least a bare majority, agree with the Christian agenda. But should Christians be running the government? I think government should be neutral and the danger of having prayer meetings in the white house every day at lunch like they are is that religion tends to get dogmatic and self righteous, and I am seeing a lot of that in the way the Bushies operate.

I think more and more Americans think the same way. Look, my mother and my whole extended family are fundamentalist Christians and when she said she was bothered by some things Bush said about being guided by God I really started to notice it myself. Politics and religion don’t mix.

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