Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Some thoughts about Election Day and the aftermath

Let me deal with the least likely (but not, I stress, impossible) outcome first: John McCain wins, defying the polls and the odds. I can’t imagine a plausible scenario under which Obama supporters would readily regard such a result as legitimate. A margin large enough under other circumstances to confer legitimacy and perhaps even a mandate would be explained in terms of reprehensible voter racism. (Having consistently lied to the pollsters, we’re actually unworthy of Obama and probably don’t deserve the right to vote.) A narrow margin--or, heaven forfend, a mere Electoral College victory--would produce some combination of charges of Republican vote fraud and a constitutional crisis. One would hope that cooler heads would prevail, but the last two mornings after don’t offer much hope that a McCain victory would be greeted with equanimity on the Left.

I don’t think that those last two days (or in 2000, weeks) after provide much of a clue to the conservative and Republican response. Republicans and conservatives (they’re not the same) with whom I’ve spoken are dispirited, but they’re not threatening to move to Canada. (More likely, of course, is that the U.S. would become "Canada," with Barack Obama as our very own Pierre Trudeau, convincing us of our moral and intellectual superiority--we voted for him, after all--even as we diminished in economic and political stature vis-a-vis the rest of the world.)

Some might check out in other ways, disengaging from politics and/or (as my dad has threatened to do) voting (gasp!) Libertarian in future elections.

But I would have us remember a few things. First, while John McCain’s defeat would certainly reflect the tarnished character of the Republican brand, it would not be a repudiation of any particular "brand" or wing of Republicanism (McCain isn’t that consistent), nor would it be a repudiation of conservatism. Though surely more "conservative" than Obama, McCain isn’t "really" a conservative. The character of Republicanism will (and ought to be) up for grabs after the election, and the playing field ought to be pretty level, having been flattened by the Nukebama. This is a conversation in which conservatives and their Republican friends ought eagerly to participate. But if they check out, so to speak, they can’t.

Second, an Obama Administration, combined with large Democratic majorities in Congress, is surely going to produce lots of stuff (a technical term, I realize) to which conservatives of all stripes (and their Republican friends) can object. We should not indulge in Obama hatred (look what Clinton hatred got us), but we should join the argument on the level of ideas. If we can do so seriously, but not bitterly, with clarity rather than anger and dyspepsia, it will be good for us and for the country. We might actually find our ground again.

Third, we have lots to learn from and about the Obama campaign. I’ve already suggested that Obama’s fund-raising successes have forever destroyed the public financing regime (an unintendedly "conservative" consequence of his campaign). There are some lessons there. But certainly there’s also a story there. How did he--well, they--do it? How did he raise over $500 million in increments of no more than $2,300? How much of it came on the internet via relatively untraceable giftcards? Did the Obama campaign exercise the kind of diligence about the identities of its donors that’s consistent with reasonable expectations regarding transparency in a private funding regime? Will it give an investigative reporter or research team access to its donor lists so that they can examine a sample of giftcard donors to see whether they in fact exist or in fact gave what they’re said to have given? Or will that take a subpoena from a prosecutor? (I assume that no Congressional committee will examine the collapse of the McCain-Feingold regime in a way that might embarrass the Obama Administration.)

And then there’s the Obama campaign’s ground game, which looks like it’s going to be even better than Karl Rove’s 2004 effort. Republicans will have to figure out how to run a campaign in which 30% or more of the voters go to the polls early.

There’s a lot to think about and a lot to discuss. But not if you’re just crying in your beer with Joe Sixpack.

Discussions - 7 Comments

Just imagine:



Not advocating this.. I was not brought up that way to actually do these things. If I was just a little more daring, I would have bragging rights to keep me busy for years. Wouldn't it be vindication? Oh well.
Oh and here is a link to their locations.

So many Acorn buildings, so much voter fraud. THIS IS NOT FAIR. .
My friend and I were sitting here and we are so frustrated with Acorn. I wanted to post on message boards to see how frustrated others are.

First, while John McCain’s defeat would certainly reflect the tarnished character of the Republican brand, it would not be a repudiation of any particular "brand" or wing of Republicanism (McCain isn’t that consistent), nor would it be a repudiation of conservatism.

You don't think any of this is a backlash against Bush's brand of Republicanism?

I think a lot of people have contributed to the tarnishing of the Republican brand. There were various forms of alleged ineptitude in the Bush Administration. In foreign affairs, there's the CIA, not exactly friendly to GWB, and the State Department, home to Colin Powell and Condi Rice. Which Bush brand do they represent? (And Powell has joined what looks to be the winning side in tomorrow's election.)

In military affairs, Donald Rumsfeld is as mainstream and establishment a Republican figure as you can find.

In domestic politics, tomorrow's likely winner is proposing spending vastly more than George W. Bush ever did. He also speaks more openly and extensively about religion than Bush has (though they seem to agree that some version of the faith-based initiative is probably a good thing...which is more than can be said for some of the folks who were associated with the Bush White House).

If there's a part of the Bush Administration's domestic policy that's being repudiated tomorrow, it's certainly not being repudiated on behalf of a purer vision of small government conservatism or libertarianism.

And don't get me started on the Congressional Republicans, who for a good portion of President Bush's second term seemed utterly bereft of any idea other than bringing home the bacon for their constituents. (Thank you, Tom DeLay.) They acted and legislated in some ways like the Democrats right before the Reagan Revolution, seeing Bush's fiscal indiscipline and raising it. For too many of them, his so-called compassionate conservatism was just an excuse for a spending spree.

No, I'd agree that the small-government wing of the Republican party has an uphill battle and that the mainstream has certainly turned away from that kind of thinking. But so has the Republican party as a whole. I certainly think that the election of Obama will spell the end of the Republican party as a party that preaches small government and then utilizes the size of the government they seem to loathe.

The soul searching that will go on after this election will be good for you guys in the long run, I think. Instead of being the Democrats-lite, you'll have a chance to really distinguish yourselves (if your party doesn't fall apart - I don't know how the religious right or Bush-Republicans would feel about that kind of a change).

tbone: what we all need to remember is that although ACORN staff members/volunteers WERE wrong in submitting false voter registrations that were fraudulent, voter REGISTRATION fraud is much different than VOTER fraud. Nobody is going to show up to the polls under the name "Mickey Mouse" or the other ridiculous names these people were using. ACORN paid these people on commission-- the more people they got registered to vote, the more money they got. THIS was their motivation to submit these registrations under false names. These people should certainly be punished, but we all need to remember that as frustrating as things like these are to hear about, and while it makes you wonder WHAT ELSE could be happening with regards to the voting system (frightening), in this case, ACORN the organization is not a proponent of voter fraud. Their main purpose is to register lower-class citizens and educate them on their right to vote, and to get them registered and to help them get to the polls on election day-- truly a patriotic mission, and as Americans, we should be proud that there are groups of people out there working their butts off to encourage people to exercise their rights (and duties!) to vote. When stories such as these are repeated over and over again, accusing these organizations of being proponents of fraud and manipulation-- for helping the lower class, minorities, etc. to vote-- THIS is the kind of stuff that reflects poorly on the Republican Party, and makes us all look like the prototypical "rich white dudes" who are afraid of a "minority rebellion" who will take away all of our power, so we twist stories to manipulate the public's view in order to suppress the vote of the less fortunate so they cannot advocate for themselves and what they want. It makes us all look like manipulative, lying, power-hungry jerks when people like you suggest things like slashing tires of vans that are getting people to the polls. The people who will be voting today, via these vans, will be legitimate voters. Mickey Mouse, Tony Romo, and the entire Dallas Cowboys roster will NOT be voting today in Florida, believe me.

As Republicans, we need to rebuild our party and drastically change the image that we project to the rest of the nation. No longer can we be seen as the party of intolerance and hate. We need to define ourselves once again by the core values of the Republican Party-- and eradicate once and for all the Rovian policies and tactics that have had such a toxic effect on our party for far too long. Instead of using fear to scare people into voting Republican, we need to start using our basic BELIEFS and IDEAS to reach out to the people.

I am not willing to give up on our party-- I just hope that people are starting to realize that there needs to be fundamental change in the way we convey to this country what we stand for. It saddens me that it took the situation we are currently in for more people to realize there is something wrong, however, all we can do now is work together to rebuild our GRAND OLD PARTY so that it is, once again, grand.

I appreciated Erin's remarks.

This discussion is so "post-partisan."

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