Thursday, December 11, 2008

Karl Rove & the road to GOP recovery

Karl Rove offered his plans for the Republican Party, and I made this criticism at AmSpecBlog:
My problem with Rove is that he was at the wheel when the GOP drove into the ditch, and to my mind that ought to disqualify him from telling everybody how to get out of the ditch.
So I'm not a Rove fan, OK? But then I see this response to Rove from Ron Chusid:
Republicans will have great difficulty winning a national election since their views are no longer in line with the majority of the country. . . .
Extremist views on social issues, along with a hostility towards science and reason, has led to educated, affluent voters switching to the Democrats. Similarly large percentages of young voters do not take the Republicans seriously. A party in which many members live in a fantasy world and promote views such as creationism is an anachronism in the 21st century.
That's just atheistic bigotry, and as political analysis, it's useless. Republicans did not lose the election because of creationism, and if Democrats want to presume that they now have a permanent majority on such a basis, I predict their majority will be remarkably short-lived.

And, for the love of God -- excuse my invocation of the "fantasy world" -- will people stop repeating this myth that Obama won because of "educated, affluent voters"? Look at the numbers: He got 73% of voters with annual incomes under $15,000, 60% of those earning $50,000 or less. His strongest educational cohort was high-school dropouts (63%).

Republicans need to get a grip, stop panicking, and apply some basic political common sense to their problem. In a series of American Spectator columns before and after the election, I've laid out several key points about the road to Republican recovery:

  • 1. Don't blame yourself -- Candidates win or lose elections. Good candidates win, bad candidates lose, and John McCain was a bad candidate.
  • 2. Don't overthink it -- Intellectuals like to depict politics as something so complex that only they can understand it, with "big picture" themes and demographic trends that don't really translate into useful strategies. Ignore that crap.
  • 3. Libertarian populism -- Widespread opposition to the Wall Street bailout demonstrates that free-market ideas can be presented in a populist context that draws broad support.
  • 4. The morality of markets -- Don't buy into the myth that libertarians and religious conservatives are natural enemies. There needs to be a concerted effort to persuade religious conservatives to understand why limited government and free markets are consonant with Christian belief.
  • 5. Future ex-Democrats -- Many who voted for Obama will be disappointed at his failure to fulfill the Hope and bring about the Change he's promised. Turning that disillusionment into opposition is the basic project the Republican Party must focus on.
  • 6. The Obama agenda won't work -- Republicans need to re-learn the skills of opposition that have been weakened by disuse during the Bush era. Being a conservative means, among other things, believing that liberalism is wrong. Obama is a liberal, Nancy Pelosi is a liberal, Harry Reid is a liberal. Therefore, every measure that Obama, Pelosi and Reid propose is wrong, and conservatives need to say so.
This isn't brain surgery or rocket science, people. So why do we have 32 House Republicans voting for that stupid Detroit bailout? This gives Pelosi & Co. the patina of "bipartisanship" that undermines the conservative message. If the failure of the "Maverick" campaign taught any lesson, it should have taught Republicans that there is no safety in a "me too" strategy of bipartisan cooperation. The GOP is now the opposition, and its only hope for recovery is to maximize opposition to the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.

Another vital step to recovery? Hit the tip jar!

UPDATE: Linked at Conservative Grapevine -- and I've just learned that has eliminated its Honor System Payments, aka, the "tip jar."


  1. Karl Rove has his uses and they are not to be ignored. He is a nuts and bolts political machinery guy and a pretty damn good one. The problem is when he offers or is looked to for vision or philosophy. He hasn't got one of those.

    Some of what he discusses in that piece, finding uncourted, unregistered Republican voters - that's what he does. He's good at it.

    He isn't wrong to recommend a continuation and extension of Newt Gingrich's work at GOPAC to get Republican candidates and officials onto the ideas and ideals they should be about. But he has no business writing the curriculum.

    The problem with Rove-ism isn't that it isn't a good thing, it's that it isn't sufficient. For many years now the Republicans have acted as if it were. That they needed only to turn out "their people" without having noticed that those folks felt abandoned and were no longer theirs to be turned out.

    It's silly to blame Rove for focusing on his particular function and thinking it was the most important thing. That's what all good workers do. The problem is that the people he worked for didn't keep him in perspective and just kept running that machine he designed. The party forgot about actual leadership and having a philosophy of governance.

  2. The problem is the party doesn't have a real philosophy and no real leadership to speak of.
    Americans are slowly realizing that many of the their so called conservative "principles" don't really gel with real world actuality.
    An example of this is the idea that Conservatism has a responsibility in pooh-pooing EVERYTHING Liberals do.As a Liberal there are plenty of common sense ideas from the Right that I could get behind.This childish attitude that everything Obama proposes is absolutely wrong is the kind of ideological ankle-biting that is turning off Americans, especially the newer generation of voters.
    Conservatism is caught in a post 9-11 hysterics that doesn't work anymore....

  3. @Y4E:
    You are semi-correct.
    The actual problem is that political parties are like labor unions, differing only in scope of power.
    The Constitution seems to have been by, of, and for the people, and dead-set against aristocracy.
    Yet the Demmicans and Republocrats have become a vehicle for oppression from blue state blue-bloods.
    This is simple organizational behavior, and the long-term remedy is to keep the power decentralized.
    What does Amendment X even mean to these big government nitwits? A navigation hazard?

  4. y4-e, you concern for the GOP is heart-warming, but why do you care?

    It truly bewilders me when the left chastises the right for having compromised their small-government principles. One would think the left would be happy to have Dem-lite on the other side of the aisle, like good old GWB et al.

    And FWIW, the neoconservatives are pretty darned happy with Obama, since it's pretty much a continuum of the last 8 years under GWB.

  5. nailed it. for all the other problems we had the biggest problem was John McCain. A wonderful honorable hero,he had no clue on focusing on issues that were important, e g Never once did he challenge any of the fairy tale 95% tax cut 2He basically ran against George Bush When both candidates run against the incumbent the other guy wins 3/an anachronism.. who cares that he was a friend of Tip O Neills. The current voters don t have a clue as to who Tip was.4/His greatest thrust was on issues we don t care about.. hes a maverick what 5/ by the end of the campaign it was clear that the economy was the issue.. he never grasped that at all.. this is making me ill.Any of the other candidates would have won going away He was Bob Dole redux.Oh and his vanity came thru loud and clear and not at all attractive

  6. Republican leadership appears a bit thin at present - yes, that's true. Remember it takes a lot of people to populate an administration and those people are your bench. Many folks have been at work in the administaration and will now begin to reconstruct themselves as candidates, fund raisers, speech writers, policy analysts, bloggers, etc. and then the bench will look quite a bit different.
    What will the senate really look like without Barack, Hillary, & Biden? Same question re: the House and Governor's mansions.