Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fortune Favors the Bold

Inspired by the musings of a new-minted ex-Democrat at The American Thinker, I wrote a little bit for the American Spectator blog:
A projected federal deficit of $1.8 trillion, borrowing 46 cents for every dollar they spend. The Secretary of Heath and Human Services announces she'll save $2 trillion in health care costs, but the numbers don't add up. It's mere "political theater," as Megan McArdle says. The "Underpants Gnome" approach. There are only two things standing in the way of health care reform, says Cato's Michael F. Cannon: Math and politics. Obama and the Democrats may have the political power, but they can't overcome the math problem.
Everybody on the Right nowadays is talking about how to fix the problems of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. The problem with a lot of this talk is that most people on the Right have been Republican all their lives. They don't have the experience of becoming an ex-Democrat, so they don't understand what kind of messages cause such conversions, and they get it all wrong.

The GOP's problem is not that it is too "extreme" or "mean-spirited." There is no need to yield ground on social issues, global warming, health care or anything else. The Republican Party elected as president George W. Bush who, as Bruce Bartlett extensively documented, was never really a conservative. The GOP then nominated John McCain -- short, old, grumpy and bald -- who was even less of a conservative than Bush.

Yet when this abandonment of sturdy principle yielded the inevitable electoral disaster, what did the likes of David Brooks tell you? "Blame conservatives!" But what did I tell you?
Conservatives who sought to prevent McCain's nomination cannot be blamed for his defeat. And it is his defeat, not yours.
Ideologues tend to see election results in ideological terms. Right now, "progressives" are congratulating themselves on the triumph of progressivism. But Obama will be the next president because millions of non-ideological "swing" voters -- those I call the Ordinary Americans -- saw him as the superior candidate. A vote for him was not, in the eyes of those key voters, an endorsement of any ideology. . . .
Good candidates win elections, and bad candidates lose. John McCain was a bad candidate and he lost. Those who try to put an ideological spin on this election will miss that basic point.
With the GOP "brand" at low ebb, reaping the harvest of ex-Democrats is crucial now. And that harvest will not be reaped by fearful, defensive RINO squishes peddling an apologetic message of moderation: "We're Republicans, but we're not really so bad. Please don't hate us, OK?"

That wasn't the message that made me an ex-Democrat in the 1990s. It was the economics, stupid. Whatever the spark that causes someone to become disaffected with the Democrats (and most Democrats are Democrats because, like me, they inherited their parents' partisan loyalties), the ultimate weakness of the Democratic Party is that its agenda flunks the test of basic economics.

This bold truth is why Meltdown is a bestseller, why sales of Atlas Shrugged are soaring and why you're hearing a lot more people talking about Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. The Democrats are in charge, the numbers don't add up, we're heading toward a stagflation trap, people are starting to figure out that It Won't Work, and they're seeking answers.

The answer is not those "new ideas" that people keep telling us the Republican Party needs. No, what the GOP needs is some very old ideas: Limited government and economic freedom.

The GOP also needs something else: Courage. Without the courage to speak boldly in favor of solid political and economic principles, all else is in vain.

The pathetic whining of a spoiled brat like Meghan McCain, the intellectual elitism of Ross Douthat -- these are of no use to the conservative cause in this crisis. We need to "cowboy up," mustering the courage to speak plain truth, in the confidence that there are still enough Americans with the good sense to prefer truth to lies.

Nothing succeeds like success. The Tea Party movement succeeded in bringing hundreds of thousands together on April 15, and plans to bring that success to the nation's capital on Sept. 12 for the Taxpayer March On Washington. That's 120 days from today. What are you doing to make it a success?

Let the elitists and the moderates keep wringing their hands and whining. Conservatives need the courage to speak the truth, and speak it boldly, because fortune favors the bold.

UPDATE: In reaction to the talk of Gary Sinise as a GOP leader, Michelle Malkin says:
Mimicking the Left's idolatry isn't the path to GOP salvation. It's the path to permanent ruin.
The rebranders have it ass-backwards. The key isn’t rebranding the GOP. It’s rebranding Obama.
Not to argue with The Boss, but:
  • A) It is important in politics to have attractive, articulate candidates.
  • B) I've heard very good things about Sinise from Andrew Breitbart.
That doesn't mean Sinise is The Real Deal, or that Nicolle Wallace has a freaking clue. And MM is certainly right that the "rebranders" are strategically mistaken about the nature of the GOP's problem. But having sharp candidates doesn't hurt. I'm thinking Marco Rubio is looking pretty sharp right now.

3/21: Patterico: 'The final word'?
2/28: Tea Parties, Defeatism and Wolverines
2/23: Rick Moran takes counsel of his fears


  1. I'm glad you got a link over at HotAir. Your blog is turning into one of my daily reads.

    I had the pleasure of attending the University of Wisconsin, and voting for Gore my freshman year simply because that's what everyone else was doing. I 'woke up' sooner than most, by virtue of being in the military and witnessing first hand how the small but vocal far left treats its nations defenders.

    I think it helps for conservatives to have started out as liberals. A machine politician is a machine politician, whether from the right or left, and lifelong Republicans tend to support the platform more than the principles.

  2. That wasn't the message that made me an ex-Democrat in the 1990s. It was the economics, stupid.Uh, no it wasn't. It was the Civil Rights legislation and the migration of all good Southern men into the Republican party. After, Stacy, you're nothing if not a conventional Richard Russel clone.

    The idea that the booming economy of the 1990's would chase someone from the Democratic Party. Only a fool would believe such tripe.

  3. "The GOP also needs something else: Courage. Without the courage to speak boldly in favor of solid political and economic principles, all else is in vain."

    That's the crux of it. The GOP needs a serious injection of testicular fortitude. Instead, the GOP seems to be going the other way, led in no small party by the increasingly disappointing efforts of my own senator, John Cornyn, at the NRSC. They're scared shitless of real conservatives, which doesn't do much to attract independents to the party that is supposed to champion conservatism.

  4. I got an idea. Somebody nominate Michelle Malkin for Governor of her state. I'm guessing it's MD, but if it's PA or DE or NJ that's still okay because those states all need someone like MM who has real testicular fortitude.

  5. "That wasn't the message that made me an ex-Democrat in the 1990s. It was the economics, stupid."

    timburns beat me to it. He is correct, if it was the economics you were stupid.

    For conservatives it is always Liberty, stupid! If you have Liberty the economics will follow.

  6. I don't think RSM was saying that the economic conditions were what drove him the the GOP, it was the economic principles.

    As a former Democrat myself, I can say that the idiotic economic premises of liberalism are what drove me to become a Republican. I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea that taking money from one person and giving it to another helped the economy.

    The other big thing for me was personal responsibility, especially in the mortgage mess. Yes, things happen in life to all of us, but the Democrats were saying that ALL the foreclosures were because of fraud or "predatory lending." They REFUSED to admit that there were many who were grossly irresponsible with their own resources and probably shouldn't have been owning a home in the first place.