Friday, November 16, 2012

Reflections On The 2012 Election, Part I

The election is over. My inner conservative tells me the wrong man won. Yet no one can state with certainty that God’s will was not done. While Mitt Romney was better qualified, one can say that neither was the right man for the job. Some may say that President Obama’s victory thwarted God’s will for this country. It may be that the choice we had reflected God’s will for a country that has turned its back on Him. We could say that the choice we had was what we deserved. When Americans, including those who claim to be Christ’s disciples, are incensed by bad calls from replacement refs and grieve not that the two parent family is now the minority in America, God will give us leaders that will accelerate our decline. This line of thinking will be emphasized more in part II of this post. In part I, I would like to analyze the election from a politically conservative point of view.

Mitt Romney was not the best candidate we could have put forward. His voters were more motivated by defeating Obama than out of any loyalty to Romney. Like George W. Bush, Romney saw himself primarily as a manager who would bring his business skills to governance. While such skills are valuable in managing government, the downside of this self-image is that managers are not visionaries. They are oblivious to the need to inspire. Romney’s message was, “I have business experience. I can turn our economy around.” I am sure he had the skills. But he lacked the ability to move audiences. His history of flip-flopping on issues prevented him from gaining the loyalty of conservative voters. Here is an interesting little statistic. Over the years, I have written three blog articles concerning Romney which featured his name in the title. The page views of all three combined total less than 100. I wrote one article on Rick Santorum in December of last year. That one article has had over four hundred page views. Mitt Romney was not able to generate interest in Mitt Romney. I didn’t vote for Romney in the primary, even though he had sowed up the nomination at that point. (In truth, he bought the nomination with his own money.) With his record, Obama should have been beatable. Yet conservative voters were told by the experts that Romney was the only candidate capable of beating the President. One reason, we were told, was that Romney emphasized the economy and put social issues on the backburner. Santorum, we were told, didn’t have a prayer because his only issues were abortion and gay marriage (which was untrue). Romney deemphasized social issues and lost. Now the same experts tell us voters were turned off by conservatives’ stand on issues such as abortion and same sex marriage. I wonder which battle will be more ferocious for conservatives in 2016, running against liberals or the attempt to purge conservatives from the Republican Party. Obama’s win is certainly not an endorsement. He barely squeaked by in the popular vote. He lost eight million voters who supported him in 2008. Ever since 1832, incumbent presidents who won reelection increased their share of the popular vote. Not Obama. If three million registered Republicans did not stay away from the polls, Romney would have won by 180,000 votes (although Obama may have still won in the Electoral College). Many of these voters probably thought Romney was going to win and so did not bother to vote. A candidate who was more inspiring would have brought many of these voters to the polls.

Despite the propaganda from the Democrats and the media, liberalism didn’t carry the day everywhere. Alabama, Montana, and Wyoming passed measures limiting Obamacare. The conservative position on taxation was victorious in Washington, Arizona, South Dakota, and Missouri. Oklahoma voters said no to government race-based preferences in college admissions, public contracting, and government hiring. Montana voters voted against boundless benefits for illegal aliens. They also supported parental notification for minors seeking abortions. Republicans increased the number of governorships they hold. They not only took the governorship in North Carolina, they increased their share of congressional representation as well as took control of the state assembly. The GOP took control of the Arkansas legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. It also won super majorities in Tennessee. (I am assuming that most of these wins are conservative wins which will be beneficial to implementing policies Evangelical Christians can support.) Yes, two states and Washington D.C. approved same-sex marriage. This may, or may not, signal a trend. These are the only victories for those favoring legalization out of over thirty electoral contests. We will see if legalization will carry the day in states which have already voted legalization down, especially since Obama will not be on the ballot.

Conservatives still have an uphill battle to climb. Why is that? I’ll begin by reposting part of an article I wrote on 11/6/08 after Obama’s election. It is called The Bush Effect and the Conservative Dilemma:

"First, who is it that generally gets elected President? Those whom the public knows little about or those who have been out of the national spotlight for years. FDR was a Governor, not a Washington politician. Eisenhower was not a political figure. JFK was a Senator, yet he was an unknown quantity. Nixon had been out of office for eight years. Carter was totally obscure. Reagan was a former Governor. Clinton was a Governor. Bush II ditto. Obama is certainly the most obscure in his origins of any recent President. Ever since the election of James Polk in 1844, most of those elected President were what we call "Dark Horses." Our greatest President, Lincoln, was one of the most unknown quantities ever to reach the White House.

If we look at the roster of Republican candidates from the 1990's, almost all of them were well known Washington insiders: Dole, Kemp, Quayle, Graham. While we have two potential leaders in state office now, Palin and Jindal, why is there such a dearth of quality Conservative Republican political figures outside of Washington that can rise to national leadership?

The first element of the Conservative Dilemma is that there is a natural antipathy among Conservatives to make government a career. Conservatives distrust government and have no desire to control peoples' lives. They may consider it an honor to represent the people for a while, but they have no desire to make public service a lifetime calling. Liberals, on the other hand have an overwhelming desire to achieve control over every aspect of our private lives and are willing to spend their lives regulating you and me, patiently waiting for the day when we will have finally surrendered all our liberties to the governing class.

The second element is that Liberalism/Socialism lends itself to lofty rhetoric. Political stars are made of those who can roil the passions of the ignorant with high sounding but empty oratory. The promise to take care of everyone from the cradle to the grave is more capable of aligning itself with this oratory than a message of helping ourselves without the assistance of government. While Conservatism has a few giants of political discourse, such as Reagan, it is harder for a Conservative to join great oratory to the Conservative message.

This dilemma is the reason why there are fewer viable national Conservative candidates. This dilemma is the reason why Conservatives are the underdog in the struggle against Liberalism. This dilemma is the reason why Bush was the only viable alternative in 2000. For Conservatives to prevail in the future, they are going to have to develop candidates who are genuine outsiders to the Washington establishment who can articulate true Conservative ideals. True Conservatives, unlike Romney, Huckabee, or Paul. Reagan was elected because some wealthy California businessmen recognized his potential and gave their lives and money to getting him elected. We need the same dedication among monied Conservatives today to elevate viable Conservatives from state politics to national prominence. If this was realized sooner, perhaps Conservatives will have more than one candidate to choose from instead of being stuck with a viable but quasi Conservative."

The 2012 election bears this out. We saw conservatives in the House retain their majority, yet conservatives seem to have difficulty finding quality candidates to run for the Senate. Part of the reason has to do with what I wrote in the 2008 article. Liberals seek out promising young people who are trained to articulate liberal positions and to implement them once in power. For those of us who graduated from secular colleges and universities, we can remember when elections were held for student government. There were always certain candidates who always had the most professional looking posters. They almost always won. And many end up in political positions, mostly in Democratic administrations. Liberal political operatives fund these candidates. When I was in college, there was one candidate in student government whose tuition was paid by a local lawyer. Soon after this person graduated, this individual ended up in the state House of Delegates and then the state Senate. It is expected that this person will end up either in Congress or as governor. Liberal political science majors are given the right scholarships through the assistance of liberal Democrat political science professors. This helps these students gain greater access to the powerful. Bill Clinton was sponsored by Senator William Fulbright and received a Rhodes scholarship. Obama and his wife were also sponsored. Future liberal politicians are trained to articulate and implement liberal positions. Conservatives have no such network or training on such a scale. Many conservative candidates are new to politics. They become alarmed over the direction the country is taking and so they decide to enter the political arena. Their heart is in the right place, but to the public, they appear to be hopeless amateurs. I think Paul Ryan was an exception. This kind of trained sophistication was probably the reason why when he was asked a question on abortion at the Vice Presidential debate, Paul Ryan paused before he spoke. Ryan didn’t want to misspeak as Todd Akin and Richard Murdoch did on the issue. I especially felt sorry for Murdoch, whose words were twisted to mean something he didn’t intend. Yet those who publicly advocate a pro life message have the responsibility to learn how to articulate that message. Failure to do so results in ridicule, lost elections, and more aborted babies. In the 2008 post, I wrote how liberals have an intensity to regulate our lives and patiently wait until we have surrendered to them all our liberties. This intensity gave birth to the permanent campaign. After winning in 2008, the Obama campaign never closed its campaign offices. Their campaign headquarters vastly outnumbered Republican headquarters. This allowed Obama to win in states such as Iowa, where pro life conservative voters have traditionally vastly outnumbered pro choice liberals. Obama began running negative ads against Romney months before the campaign began in the fall. Romney didn’t even try to answer these attacks until the convention. Apparently Republicans still think that presidential campaigns don’t begin in earnest until after Labor Day. Haven’t they learned anything form Clinton’s election yet? Conservatives may have outreach to Hispanics and African Americans. They have conservative positions on political and social issues. But liberals have influenced them to vote according to demographics, not principle. Conservatives have yet to mold their political passion into as an effective political weapon as liberals. It remains to be seen whether they will be overwhelmed by a liberal passion which never seems to cool and will not rest until their opponents are vanquished.

After the election, some conservative writers tried to console their readers. They said for every 1992, there is a 1994, for every 2008, there is a 2010. There is some truth to that. We cannot forget that the forces that shaped the 2010 election still exist and may thwart much of the liberal agenda. Yet this may have been THE big election. Obamacare will be the law of the land. There is no prospect of Congress repealing it. If we ever have conservative control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, it may be so entrenched it may never be repealed. Its scope will only expand. Romney’s election may have been our only chance for repeal. And even then, considering his past record, it is possible he would have let it stay in place. Had he tried to repeal it, a Democratic Senate probably would have stopped him. For this, we can thank Chief Justice John Roberts, whose decision allowed Obamacare to remain the law of the land as a tax. I am convinced he did so as a political maneuver, hoping that by not striking the law down, healthcare would have been the issue that would defeat Obama. God has given us the leaders we deserve.

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