Man, the GOP is lost

At the blog of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Tom Cole announces “Republican Solutions and a Positive Agenda.” It’s all about using government to meet people’s needs and sounds like Hillary:

… greater healthcare and retirement security; safer communities; access to quality, affordable education. … This new agenda concentrates on the bread and butter issues facing every American. And it recognizes that today, more and more families struggle with balancing work, children and caring for elderly parents…. From young people just starting out and looking for affordable college, to working parents who want more freedom in the workplace, to seniors who would benefit from greater flexibility with their health care and prescription drug benefits, the American Families Agenda provides commonsense solutions that modernize our laws and give people greater liberty.

Give people greater liberty? How the heck does liberty fit into this list of nanny-state programs promising to supply people’s every material need? The answer is that the Republican pols are trying, in their sincere, pathetic way, to get with the statist swing of things established by Hillary and Obama, while still sounding Republican notes. And the commenters at the NRCC site are having none of it. Cole’s pronouncement is greeted by the electronic equivalent of hundreds of tomatoes being thrown at him. The commenters want the GOP to be—surprise—a conservative party, not an imitation Democratic party.

It’s as though the Republican leadership and the Republican grassroots are in different worlds. The elite remain encapsulated, speaking to specialists who tell them what to say. These losers never try to relate to reality with their own minds. The idea never occurs to them. Reality is not something they live in and try to understand; it’s something they seek to manage from a distance, with the help of political technicians. That’s the only way to make sense of their spectacular cluelessness. Didn’t the uprising against the comprehensive immigration bill last year tell the Republican leaders anything? Don’t they leaders understand that conservative voters want the federal government, first and foremost, to protect the nation’s basic existence and liberties, not to help people balance work, children, and care for elderly parents?

Have you ever noticed that the more urgently the GOP pols try to come up with a good set of policies, and the louder they trumpet their latest set, the sillier the policies get? It’s because they’re lost. They’re lost because, as said above, they lack their own, independent view of reality, based on their own experience, thinking, discussion, and reading, and so they are dependent on outside and artificial sources, such as opinion polls and consultants, to tell them about it.

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A. Zarkov writes:

Republicans aspiring to be ersatz Democrats miss a crucial point. Why not have the real thing? They are not going to out bid the Democrats in promising goodies to the people. The Republicans seem to be going back to the old days of being the “me too” crowd. What did that get them? Decades in the wilderness.

Adela G. writes:

You write: “Didn’t the uprising against the comprehensive immigration bill last year tell the Republicans anything? Don’t the GOP leaders understand that conservative voters want the federal government, first and foremost, to protect the nation’s basic existence and liberties, not to help people balance work, children, and care for elderly parents?”

Evidently, the uprising against shamnesty bill told McCain he had to make a few belligerent promises to secure the border and “build the g*******d fence” before reverting to mention of his pet project, “comprehensive immigration reform”. I can’t believe he had the gall to use that phrase again so soon after the resounding defeat of his dumdum proposal just last year.

As for balancing work, children and care for the elderly, that’s the stuff you read about in The Guardian. Again, I can’t believe I’m seeing that as a GOP proposal. Their advisors must be telling them they need to move leftward so they don’t fall too far behind the Dems.

No one in the GOP seems to be reading any of the conservative blogs. If they did, they’d see that conservative voters want a conservative agenda, not a watered-down version of what the Dems are offering. Over and over, I read conservatives complaining that no conservative is running for president. They aren’t fooled by McCain. I think for the most part, he’s getting the votes of those who are voting against Obama.

Spencer Warren writes:

You make an excellent point how the NRCC (as well as Richard Lowry and Peggy Noonan) are bereft of a strong foundation of principles to guide them in taking positions on current affairs. Most people in politics, including journalists, are quite shallow, I have observed in my almost thirty years in Washington, including four on Congressional staff. Many of these people are here for ego reasons and wind up as lobbyist flacks. Some of the biggest of these flacks then go back to run organizations like the NRCC, and the McCain and other campaigns. Only recently two of McCain’s top staff resigned when it was learned they had lobbied several years ago for the despicable Burmese military tyrants, who today are obstructing foreign aid to the tens of thousands of victims—their own people—of the cyclone. And Hillary’s top campaign official, Mark Penn, recently left her campaign when it was revealed that during the campaign the company of which he is CEO, Burson-Marsteller, was helping the Colombian government negotiate a free trade deal which Hillary opposed! What greed! For his brilliant direction of her campaign he billed her $14 million. This speaks volumes about the kind of people in politics.

Please note this observation from Churchill, in 1936:

“Those who are possessed of a definite body of doctrine and of deeply rooted convictions … will be in a much better position to deal with the shifts and surprises of daily affairs than those who are merely taking short views, and indulging their natural impulses as they are evoked by what they read from day to day.” (Churchill, The Gathering Storm, p. 210)

Earlier, in 1897, age twenty-two, in a letter to his mother while serving in the army in India, he explained his efforts through wide reading to “build up a scaffolding of logical and consistent views,” which was to be constructed of facts and “muscles,” by which he meant principles. (Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, vol. 1, p. 334)

Dana A. (who is a woman) writes:

No one will point the finger of blame squarely where it belongs, on women’s suffrage.

All of the GOP changes you lament are pandering to the now massive female vote, period.

Women are natural proponents of entitlements, collectivism and the nanny state. Ann Coulter has repeatedly pointed out that you can correlate the rise in state government spending on social “programs” to the granting of suffrage to women in the several states BEFORE the federal suffrage amendment.

Conservatism has wholly defined itself by taking conservatives positions on social issues like abortion, sexual morality, and evolution (things married women trend “conservative” on), it has pandered to the left and to women on economic issues. Look at the indescribably worthless moron Huckabee, who typifies the type of conservative that holds out abortion and Jesus as the be-all and end-all of being a conservative, but hates big business and loves the State as much as any card carrying Communist.

Leftism will ALWAYS win as long as conservatives AGREE WITH THEM ABOUT ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS. I don’t know why this is so difficult for “social” conservatives to understand.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Watching the GOP—and the Tories—engage in this kind of me-tooism is depressing, of course, but it’s something we’ve been watching intensify for years now. Ever since the election of GWB to the White House in 2000, and the ascendancy of “compassionate conservatism,” which establishment conservatives scoff at but do not seriously oppose, the phenomenon has worsened and become more pathetic. Yesterday, right on cue, somebody at the Corner dismissed McCain’s astounding eco-pandering as no big deal, because after all, it’s good politics. Winning is all that matters. If McCain wins, it will get immeasurably worse.

But of course, the bitter irony is that it’s not even a winning strategy. I was having the same conversation in a slightly different context with a priest the other day. What I told him was the Catholic Church is only losing out when it attempts to out-modern the moderns. If modernism is what people are after, why go in for a lame, half-baked version of it when they can get the real thing, straight and undiluted without all those annoying religious barnacles? And if people want real religion, why would they go in for some half-baked, squishy, modernist version of it (unless they thought they had no choice, which might put them in the pew but won’t inspire them to live the faith)? You wind up doing neither modernism nor Catholicism especially well, and you lose everybody in the process, including yourself. My friend agreed, but there seems little he could do against the prevailing tide beyond working within his own tiny sphere.

Republicans will never out-socialist the Democrats, they’ll never out-pander them with Hispanics. When they try, they only wind up doing a craven, half-hearted version of both conservatism and leftism. It’s not only a losing strategy, but obviously so. As you say, they’re living in a fantasy world, presented to them by supposed social-technocratic experts. The Church has done the same, and it too is dying as a result. Not a coincidence.

Steven Warshawsky writes:

In response to Dana’s comment, let me add this observation:

Without a philosophical and moral commitment to capitalism, i.e., economic freedom, markets, the profit motive, and limited government, there is very little to impede the steady spread of socialism and collectivism, i.e., the “lawful” expropriation of wealth through the apparatus of the state. Most people, quite frankly, lack the ability or ambition or lucky breaks needed to “strike it rich” in this or any other society; hence, they are tempted by the prospect of using “government” to take from those who have struck it rich and to “redistribute” their wealth to others. For example, the NY legislature is considering hiking income tax rates for people who make over $1 million per year to as high as 13% (in addition to the federal income tax). Why? Because, to paraphrase Willie Sutton, that’s where the money is. And stealing from a very small number of very rich people seems “fair” because other people “need” the money “more.” In this case, the extra income tax revenue is supposed to go towards lowering property taxes for middle- and lower-income people. Drawing the line at $1 million per year is a purely arbitrary and self-serving limitation: few citizens and politicians can envision themselves falling into this targeted group, so they are in no danger of having their money expropriated. Of course, they would never rob rich people on the streets at gunpoint (almost everyone recognizes the immorality of that act). But they will pass laws that require rich people to hand over their money “voluntarily” under the much more dangerous threat of being prosecuted and jailed (or killed, if one resists) by the state. Indeed, much (most?) of government today is little better than organized theft under color of law. Perhaps it always has been thus in human history. But the Founding Fathers and the generations of Americans who came after them held a very different vision of government, to which we need to start returning.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 20, 2008 01:47 AM | Send

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