Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Our Row to Hoe: Why Doing it Right is Hard, but Necessary

(Article: Killing the GOP Brand by Mac Johnson, courtesy The American Thinker, archived here, sorry for the broken link!)

This article is so on the mark, so pithily written, so correct that I want to staple a copy, text-in, to the forehead of every member of the House that voted against Mike Pence and John Shadegg. Read it. Please.

Back? Great. I've been doing a lot of thinking in recent weeks about where politics has gone over the past decade or so, and I've come to the conclusion, along with Rabbi Aryeh Spero, that one of the major problems Republicans have (and they are legion, and largely self-inflicted) is that we've chosen to play the Democrats', the liberals' game of pandering, big-government influence-peddling. Problem is, we stink on ice at it, and have rightly been ushered out of office by an electorate that remembers the Reagan years as the lifting of a musty, moldy veil of malaise from our faces.

The name of Reynaldus Magnus has been invoked a lot of late, but not without good reason. Reagan was far from perfect (as regards illegal-immigrant amnesty, for example), but what was best about his presidency was his unrelenting optimism. The stories he told (and sold, wonderfully) to the American people were beautiful ones, from the idea of its being morning in America to that compelling symbol of a shining city on a hill.

Ronald Reagan managed to present, in that broad-shouldered, cowboy-hatted, avuncular way, an image of that ancient oxymoron the trustworthy politician. I have no illusions that he was any more a saint than I am, but he was a damned sight better than the Republican or Democrat Congressional leadership of the day, and he honestly reduced taxes, strove for reduction in the nonmilitary size of government, prosecuted the defense of the Union from enemies both foreign and domestic, and most importantly put forth the idea that America is good, that unalloyed American ideals are good, that jingoistic faith in God and country are good.

And it worked: the U.S. bootstrapped itself out of the shamefaced "put on a sweater and let's tune in the hostage crisis" Carter years. The Reagan years, and policies arising from them (RIP Milton Friedman, by the way), unleashed the United States in myriad ways, leading to the longest, best period of economic expansion we've ever experienced. Think the productivity and dot-com booms of the 90s would have happened with any remnant of the tax structure and stagflation of the '70s? Think stock prices would have rebounded from 9/11 in five short years? Americans benefited, America benefited and the world benefited, both from the unbelievable wealth that resulted (and couldn't help spilling over our borders), and from the fall of Soviet Communism, having been outevolved and outspent into collapse.

Put simply, Reagan wrecked the curve for all would-be lazy Republicans after him. What the United States wants and demands from the Republican party is what it's wanted ever since: laissez-faire capitalism; muscular defense; government constrained by the unfashionable principle that rights are God-given and otherwise "Congress shall make no law"; and finally, that infectious, melt-the-heart, fire-the-soul Reaganite optimism.

Measured against that yardstick, very few GOP politicos make the grade. Even with an understanding and patient Republican base (after all, how many real Reagans can a nation expect in a lifetime?), Republicans in office from W down managed to cover themselves and their principles with sufficient mud to render themselves electorally indistinguishable from Democrats. And here we are.

The world is burgeoning with threats again, from unsophisticated threats like the encroachment of liberalism to Gordian knots like the Global War on Terrorism and the impending demographic collapse of Europe. A little infectious avuncular optimism might go a long way, right about now.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Out With the Old, In With the New

It's high time Republicans take action to get truly conservative leadership going in our new minorities in the House and Senate.

To get started, any conservatives with congresscritters in a position to go one way or another, call them to register your support for Mike Pence and John Shadegg.

Mike Pence
The first part of this article (originally linked in a comment on Redstate, but found in full on South Carolina Republican) tells a very encouraging story about Mr. Pence:

John Shadegg
This article Shadegg wrote in January of this year tells me a lot about who he is, and why I'm all for getting him into more of a leadership position:

Both of them cite Ronald Reagan as an example. Considering the rather castrati notes emanating from the White House since Tuesday, I think a Reaganite focus is something Republicans can use.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

As Republicans Begin Our Years in the Wilderness

Well, that would be that.

As I write this, Republicans have lost 26 seats in the House of Representatives, and thus the majority. Four seats in the Senate were lost as well, and the remaining two Senate seats are too close to call, but leaning Democrat at the moment, and both will likely go to recounts. I expect both seats to fall to the Democrats, because they're simply better at making recounts mean what they want to mean than we are, the 2000 election notwithstanding.

Some want to call this election a referendum on the Global War on Terror as it's being prosecuted in Iraq. The White House, evidently believing such reports, has sacked Donald Rumsfeld. I disagree violently with the Iraq explanation, as well as any explanation that paints this election as any repudiation of conservatism, or any blessing of liberalism. Libs had to hide their agendas at every turn to avoid defeating themselves, but in the end that worked fairly well.

Republicans lost this election because we lost our way, turning our backs on the conservatism that won us our positions back in 1994. We allowed ourselves to be led, if the term applies, by milquetoasts like Denny Hastert and Bill Frist, by allowing spending and governmental expansion at a level that elevates drunken sailors, and by getting issues like illegal immigration and prescription drug benefits so wrong that we were beaten like red-headed stepchildren last night.

Lincoln Chaffee I won't miss. Rick Santorum I will. I hear, today, that Hastert won't be trying to stay on as minority leader, while Pence, Shadegg and other strong conservatives are running for minority leader and whip. All good moves, in my opinion. If we can accelerate these sorts of trends for 2008, then perhaps we can retake the House and Senate, and field a Reaganesque candidate or two for president against the likes of Hillary, Pelosi, Kerry and Obama.

No, I don't want McCain. See above re: conservatism. Lord, I wish that Tony Snow could be convinced to run...

In the meantime I'll try not to think about the damage that can be done by a Democrat Congress: trumped-up impeachment proceedings in a time of war, rolling back of tax cuts, defunding of Iraq, public rape of judicial appointees, the list goes on and on...


PS. To amplify, after a note from the lovely and acute Amy, President Bush is doing himself and the GWoT no favors by throwing Rumsfeld under the bus. Appeasement has never been a workable strategy when dealing with one's enemies, and I do consider the Democrat caucus enemies when it comes to the war and Iraq. This seems to me to be the first step of Bush's presidency into lasting ignominy. Thanks for doing it right to start with, Mr. President, but continuing in this vein will consign records of your second term to the category of embarrassing footnote beside those of whomever finally finishes this conflict.