Archive for category National Politics
For the last few weeks, I’ve been working my way through Henry Clay: The Essential American. Such political biographies are inevitably histories of the times, and Clay’s times basically bridged the America of the early Constitution and the America just before the Civil War.
I may or may not have time for a longer, more thorough post on Clay, but I wanted to throw out a few observations, as Clay spends a few years at Ashland, recovering physically and financially in preparation for one last stint in Washington, after his defeat as the Whig nominee in 1844.
Clay was, by any account, a remarkable and remarkably intense politician. He was quickly elected Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, and then, on his first day in the US House, elected Speaker of the House there. Clay would revolutionize that role, taking the Speakership from a mostly administrative role to a center of political power. When he moved to the Senate, he would wield similar power there as a floor leader, even without the formal role of Majority Leader that we have today.
Because of his long Congressional career, we know Clay today as the Great Compromiser, remembering his roles in the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and the Compromise of 1850, both of which helped stave off disunion over slavery. Those are merely the largest, best-known of his compromises. He led successful compromises over the tariff (despite being a westerner, he favored a high protective tariff), and over a renewed Bank of the United States and internal improvements, the last two thwarted by presidents rather than Congress. These three aspects of his program comprised what he referred to as the American System.
For being almost 200 years old, the politics of the 1830s and 1840s is strikingly modern. Much of this is the result of Andrew Jackson’s populist revolution in American politics, but Clay’s and the Whigs’ response to it also resonates with today’s reader. For instance, in vetoing the recharter of the Bank of the United States, Jackson’s message essentially dodged constitutional questions, and boiled down to the fact that he didn’t much like banks. Clay thought that Jackson’s lack of intellectual coherence in his veto message would cost him politically in the Mid-Atlantic states, where the Bank was popular. He underestimated the populist appeal of Jackson’s message. It wouldn’t be the last time Clay misread the politics vs. the policy of an issue.
Clay also had to deal with the changing nature of presidential campaigning. While personally outgoing and optimistic, and a fine public speaker, he never really enjoyed or thought seemly the public appearances and speeches that marked presidential elections in the 1840s. And in the 1844 campaign, he never could get his fellow Whigs to understand the importance of a centralized party organization. Counting on the popularity of their program and ideas to carry the day, they narrowly lost to James K. Polk, whose Democrats better understood the politics of faction.
The Whigs also might well have won, had they been able to keep the focus on the economy. They had won handily in 1840 on that basis, although Harrison’s death and Tyler’s allegiance to Democrat, rather than Whig, ideas, cost them mightily as the public perceived them as unready to govern. But the party in power often controls the public agenda, and it was to Tyler’s benefit – until he dropped out – to bring Texas, and the inevitable conflict over slavery – to the forefront. It was the 1844 equivalent of running on a supposed “War on Women,” in order to avoid talking about a wretched economic record.
It was also in the 1830s that we start to see the philosophical differences that would define American politics from then on. The Democrats favored a strong executive – first pioneered by Andrew Jackson – while the Whigs really coalesced initially around resistance to what they saw as the usurpation of legislative priority. But it was the Whigs who favored a more nationalist policy, Clay’s American System – a central bank, protective tariffs, and federally-funded internal improvements. So it was possible for Tyler to resist Jackson’s executive power grab by joining the Whigs, and still oppose the Whig federal program.
Clay never would be president, despite being a perennial nominee or mentionee for decades. It’s entirely possible that this was for the best. His time at the State Department under John Quincy Adams was miserable. Clay always supported legislative supremacy, believing that the Constitution put Congress in Article I for a reason, and there’s no reason to doubt his sincerity on this point, or to believe that it was one of convenience. Had he been elected President, he would likely have found crafting legislative compromise more difficult from the other end of Pennsylvania Ave., since he wouldn’t have been in a position to control the process as thoroughly as he did from the floor or the Speaker’s chair. The Presidency has not been kind to those with a legislative, rather than an executive temperament.
During the IRS hearings, a recurring Democrat theme was that the IRS’s interpretation of 501(c)4 status, combined with the Citizens United ruling opened the door to political corruption by allowing – gasp! – anonymous political speech. The argument, of course, is that you need to discount the speech based on the speaker.
This claim ignores the fact that there’s nothing inherently corrupt about anonymous speech, or in the Supreme Court’s interpretation, the anonymous funding of speech. As many have pointed out, anonymous speech on substantive, even existential, political issues goes back to the founding days of the Republic. The most famous example is the Federalist Papers, but even if you accept the notion that people didn’t know who Publius was the way that people today don’t know who Richard Bachman is, there are other contemporaneous examples. Pauline Maier, in her fine survey of the Constitution’s ratification, Ratification, cites numerous anonymous anti-federalist writers, including a few that historians still haven’t been able to identify.
Unfortunately, for Democrats, a lack of anonymity is a feature, not a bug. Via Instapundit, Kim Strassel’s column in today’s Wall Street Journal explains why:
In early August 2008, the New York Times trumpeted the creation of a left-wing group (a 501(c)4) called Accountable America. Founded by Obama supporter and liberal activist Tom Mattzie, the group—as the story explained—would start by sending “warning” letters to 10,000 GOP donors, “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” The letters would alert “right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.” As Mr. Mattzie told Mother Jones: “We’re going to put them at risk.” (emphasis added)
In an perfect example of blaming the victim, some Democrats would like to change the story from one of Democratic corruption of the IRS to the imaginary corruption of the political process by the Tea Party groups who found themselves on the wrong end of a partisan IRS proctological examination.
The Democrats argued that the sole purpose of claiming 501(c)4 status rather than forming a 527 was to keep donor lists secret. There’s absolutely no evidence that this is true, but given Mattzie’s manifest intent to make Republican and conservative donors suffer personally for their political speech, could you blame conservative groups if it were?
As the US Senate begins today’s debate on gun control, Coloradoans can be forgiven for having a feeling of deja vu. That’s because the debate in Congress is intended to mimic the one in Colorado, and because it’s about politics, not about governance.
The one piece of the president’s broad gun control agenda that has survived public scrutiny is background checks on sales. This is a broadly popular idea, and even gun owners support it by large margins in poll after poll. But Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute has shown that in Congress, as in Colorado, while the bill will be sold as checks on sales, it actually does much, much more:
While the woman is out of town on a business trip for two weeks, she gives the gun to her husband or her sister. If the woman lives on a farm, she allows all her relatives to take the rifle into the fields for pest and predator control — and sometimes, when friends are visiting, she takes them to a safe place on the farm where they spend an hour or two target shooting, passing herover gun back and forth. At other times, she and her friends go target shooting in open spaces of land owned by the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management.
Or perhaps the woman is in a same-sex civil union, and she allows her partner to take her gun to a target range one afternoon. Another time, she allows her cousin to borrow the gun for an afternoon of target shooting. If the woman is in the Army Reserve and she is called up for an overseas deployment, she gives the gun to her sister for temporary safekeeping.
One time, she learns that her neighbor is being threatened by an abusive ex-boyfriend, and she lets this woman borrow a gun for several days until she can buy her own gun. And if the woman becomes a firearms-safety instructor, she regularly teaches classes at office parks, in school buildings at nights and on weekends, at gun stores, and so on. Following the standard curriculum of gun-safety classes (such as NRA safety courses), the woman will bring some unloaded guns to the classroom, and under her supervision, students will learn the first steps in how to handle the guns, including how to load and unload them (using dummy ammunition). During the class, the firearms will be “transferred” dozens of times, since students must practice how to hand a gun to someone else safely. As a Boy Scout den mother or 4-H leader, the woman may also transfer her gun to young people dozens of times while instructing them in gun safety.
These are not far-out scenarios. Kopel notes that “transfers” are defined very specifically in the bill, with specific exceptions. And lest “transfer” be read narrowly to exclude loans, where someone retains possession, time limits on such transfers are laid out. In order to escape such notice, guns could be “gifted” to family members, but presumably those gifts would be considered taxable events.
The bill does include some exceptions, designed to provide plausible deniability to senators who want to claim they’ve made reasonable allowances. Those exceptions are subject to such severe restraints so as to make them all but meaningless. This was largely the same legislative and debate strategy used here in Colorado, and for fun, count the number of times reference is made on the floor of the Senate to what happened here.
All of these scenarios will fly under the radar. The plan is for the press to continue to repeat the “40% of sales” myth and to deflect attention from the real burdens of the proposed law. Western Democrats will be given enough cover to present their votes as reasonable to the folks back home, and Republicans opposing them will have the Hobson’s Choice of either caving (and dispiriting and disillusioning their supporters) or appearing obstructionist and unreasonable.
It’s the same strategy that the Democrats used with the Violence Against Women Act: take a non-controversial piece of legislation, load it up with partisan baggage, and dare the other side to vote against it. It was a key element in the 2012 campaign theme of a “War on Women,” and it didn’t really have anything to do with governing. Obama and the Democrats now hope to repeat the same trick, and set up the 2014 Congressional campaigns as one of the Republicans against the Suburbs, newly-competitive territory which the Dems see as the key to long-term victory.
The bills, largely written by Mayor Bloomberg of New York, suffer from the same lack of public process, examination, amendment, and debate as Obamacare and the ill-thought-out, and supposedly much simpler, magazine ban rushed through the New York State legislature in the wake of Newtown. That’s by design; while the mayor and the president may be true believers in disarming citizens, President Obama is a greater believer in winning elections.
To thwart this strategy, the Republicans will have to do more than filibuster. Their amendments – and thus the floor debate – will have to be focused on the question of “transfers” and the absurd outcomes that this bill creates. They’ll never have a better time to make their case publicly.
On Friday’s Grassroots Radio, the discussion of Rep. Mike McLachlan’s (D-Durango) deceptive advertising of his own gun control positions turned to the national agenda being rammed down Colorado’s throat. I pointed out that while other states with Democrat majorities and governors – Illinois and Washington came to mind – had rejected similar proposals, Colorado had seemingly been singled out for lobbying by Mayor Bloomberg and Vice President Biden. Bloomberg has been open about his desire to influence other states’ policies, but traditionally, federal officeholders don’t meddle in state politics. Even Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter confined their post-Aurora comments to proposed federal legislation, not what Colorado ought or ought not do.
So something was up. Tomorrow’s New York Times tells us what: “If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere.” This was the article that Hick was waiting for, before announcing his intent to sign these bills on Wednesday.
It has been clear from the beginning that Obama plans to use gun control, not merely as a diversion from governing, but as a battering-ram issue to achieve his major 2nd-term objective: regaining the House of Representatives for the Democrats. To do that, he believes he must isolate the Republican House as being an obstruction to common-sense, practical gun control measures that most of the country agrees on. To do that, he must persuade enough Senate Democrats – especially Western Democrats – to back proposals that they really, really don’t want to even vote on, much less support.
Colorado becomes the key to providing them cover. The proposals – poorly-written, full of absurd outcomes – will have to be portrayed as practical compromises. The debate on the national level will mirror the deceptive line taken here: confusing sales with temporary transfers, or even loans to friends; outlawing magazines of more than 15 rounds, but forgetting to mention that inheriting such a magazine from a deceased parent is a criminal act, a felony, even. Colorado’s reputation as a western, freedom-loving state works in their favor.
This was a repeat of the entire Obamacare political drama, here at the state level. The Democrats in favor barely felt the need to argue for them on the floor, largely because when they did, they embarrassed themselves with references to pens as defensive weapons, whistles as substitutes for protection, and condescending to rape victims. State senators either abandoned, fled, or chastised their own town halls when the issue came up. Democratic leadership openly asked its members to ignore the public. The controversial bills passed without a single Republican vote, but over bipartisan opposition.
But the “If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere,” line of publicity conceals what really happened.
Ultimately, it makes the recalls of Sen. Hudak and Rep. McLachlan – along with whatever other vulnerable Dems can be included – even more important. Those recalls, like the recalls in Wisconsin, take on a national significance and urgency, not merely because of the issues involved, but because of the political implications at the national level. The promise of protection, of resources and money, to vulnerable Dems who backed him on this legislation, is the application of national resources to state races, just as the Blueprint was the application of state resources to local races. It is the Blueprint raised to a national scale. If Obama is able to implement that, then he will indeed have locked in substantial political changes that can change the society for the worse, for the long run.
On the other hand, if those promises can be shown to be empty - before the House of Representatives comes up for election, or has to vote on the national bills – then the entire narrative is turned on its head. Not only does Obama look like an unreliable friend, but the power of the issue dissipates. (That’s one reason why an initiative is more useful in the event that we fail to take back both the legislature and the governor’s mansion: only fiscal issues can be on the ballot in odd-numbered years.)
Hickenlooper, in 2012, specifically avoided charging voters up over this issue. Even in 2010, he didn’t really mention it at all. Colorado has not had a vigorous debate on these bills or these issues. This was not something done by us. It was something done to us.
It’s our move, Colorado.
Larry Sabato is one of the sharpest political analysts working today. Even 25 years ago, when I was at Virginia, he was a rising star. Now, he is a star. His Crystal Ball blog is a must-read for electoral analysis. Which is why it’s so surprising that he’d publish an article that uses so thin a justification to show the necessity of the Voting Rights Act’s Section 5 reviews.
Today, 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was established, a number of southern states and Alaska and Arizona have their election practices closely scrutinized by the US Justice Department. Essentially this means that redistricting plans, changes to non-partisan voting, etc., need to be passed on by Justice, in order to show that they don’t discriminate against minorities.
Alan Abramowitz, of Emory University in Atlanta, purports to show that such measures are still necessary because whites in Section 5 states vote Republican at higher rates that whites elsewhere. Seriously, that’s his argument. Blacks and other minorities vote Democrat is similar proportions in Section 5 states as elsewhere.
Gerrymandering is as old as the country itself, used to give one party a locked-in electoral advantage in legislative seats or Congressional seats. (While some may claim that the Senate or Electoral College are unfair, the one thing they can’t be is gerrymandered, since state boundaries are immutable.) The majority – or the party controlling the redistricting process – will seek to pack as many of the opposing party as possible into a few high-margin districts, while creating as many lower-margin, but still safe seats for itself. I’ll let you win that one seat 90-10 until the end of time, if I can create two districts weighted my way 60-40.
Long ago, we decided that while redistricting would have to remain an inherently political process, there was no excuse for its being a racial one. Thus Section 5. It would simply not be acceptable to pack minorities into legislative ghettos. (That minorities routinely win races in white districts, while whites rarely win in minority districts, is a paradox beyond the scope of this post, but certainly another indicator that Section 5′s days have past.)
However, it simply stands to reason that if minorities vote more heavily Democrat relative to the state as a whole, gerrymandering that is based on solely on partisan voting will disproportionately affect minorities within that state. Abramowitz’s argument that Section 5 Republicans have an incentive to pack minorities into districts is true, but it’s equally true if they’re doing so only to maintain a partisan advantage.
But state-to-state, one might just as easily say that in more liberal states, whites are disproportionately disenfranchised, since they are more likely to vote Republican, and more likely to be in a partisan minority statewide. It would be beyond absurd to use that fact as an excuse for the Justice Department to protect Republican voters in those states. Neither, should the voting tendencies of minorities be used as an excuse to protect Democratic voters in Section 5 states.
Incidentally, Abramowitz’s division of the country into Section 5 states and non-Section 5 states makes legal sense, but not analytical sense. The non-Section 5 part of the country is hardly monolithic; Illinois looks little, if anything, like Kansas, but we are not treated to a discussion of whether or not minorities in those states suffer disproportionately from what is assumed to be purely partisan gerrymandering.
You wouldn’t think the revelation that Georgians are more conservative than New Yorkers would be news to a political science professor at Emory, in Atlanta. It may not be, but his argument amounts to punishing southern whites not for being racist, but for voting Republican. Presumably, if they voted as Democrat as whites in the rest of the country, Abramowitz would see no need to continue Section 5. He is silent on what he would recommend were minorities to begin to vote more Republican.
Which bring us to the worst, most perverse incentives of Section 5: for the Democrats to continue to pursue the race-conscious policies that have characterized their party since before the Civil War. For if we buy into Abramowitz’s logic, as long as they vote overwhelmingly Democrat, they’ll be gerrymandered unfairly. The Democrats thus consciously help to perpetuate the very problem they claim requires a legal remedy, even though there’s no longer any evidence that it requires a remedy at all.
Gawker seems to think it has a scoop of some kind, trumpeting the fact that the Republicans are meeting in the Burwell Room of the Kingsmill Resort (named for a formed slave plantation) to discuss – ta da! – minority outreach. The irony, the sheer hypocrisy of such a thing is apparently too much for them to bear. And local DU polisci professor Seth Masket, on Twitter, is equally enthralled.
Let’s remember that the GOP is the reason that neither Burwell Plantation nor the location of the resort are slave plantations any more. Masket knows this, but still thinks that somehow the GOP is tarred by association with slavery.
Of course, the Democrats have been holding retreats there for years (1998, 2007, 2008, 2009 – where President Obama spoke), and President Obama did his 2nd debate prep there this past year, without anyone commenting on the location. There’s a good reason for that – it doesn’t matter. Many fine resorts in the south are located on former plantations; it’s a good use for the land. That it was a plantation 150 years ago should be cause for celebration.
If anyone has reason to be embarrassed about holding meetings there, it’s the party of slavery and secession, not the GOP.
These comments by Mitt Romney’s son Tagg have gotten a lot of attention in the last couple of days:
In an interview with the Boston Globe examining what went wrong with the Romney campaign, his eldest son Tagg explains that his father had been a reluctant candidate from the start.
After failing to win the 2008 Republican nomination, Romney told his family he would not run again and had to be persuaded to enter the 2012 White House race by his wife Ann and son Tagg.
“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire… to run,” Tagg Romney said. “If he could have found someone else to take his place… he would have been ecstatic to step aside.”
By coincidence, I happened to be reading Joseph Epstein’s profile of Adlai Stevenson in his new book, Essays in Biography. To the extent that these revelations can be taken at face value, the resemblance to Stevenson’s approach to power is remarkable.
Let’s start by acknowledging some differences between Stevenson and Romney. While both were bright, Romney is probably more intellectual than Stevenson was (Stevenson played the part of the intellectual better, but the only book on his nightstand when he died was the social register), and Stevenson was probably a better governor. He could have had the 2nd term in Illinois if he had wanted it instead of the presidential nomination, whereas it’s not clear at all that Romney would have had a 2nd term if he had run, rather than prepare for his 2008 run.
But both Romney and Stevenson appear to have had a healthy, philosopher-king style distrust of power, enough that it evidently made them each uneasy about having it themselves. That’s not necessarily the reason they lost, but in Stevenson’s case, his public prevarications seem to have projected enough weakness that the public went the other way. At least Romney had the sense to keep any doubts private. And while he made the strategic error of not answering the personal attacks sooner, nobody really thinks that’s because he was trying to take a dive.
Stevenson, like Romney, also seems to have lacked a coherent governing philosophy. In Epstein’s telling:
The style, it is said, is the message. But in the case of Adlai Stevenson, the style seemed sometimes to persist in the absence of any clear message whatsoever. He preached sanity; he preached reason; his very person seemed to exert a pull toward decency in public affairs. Yet there is little evidence in any of his speeches or writing that he had a very precise idea of how American society was, or ought to be, organized. His understanding of the American political process was less than perfect, as can be seen from his predilection for the bipartisan approach to so many of the issues of his time. One might almost say that Stevenson tried to set up shop as a modern, disinterested Pericles, but that he failed to realize that the America of the 1950s was a long way from the Golden Age of Athens.
Ultimately, Stevenson was better at not saying much; his rhetoric influenced both Kennedy’s New Frontier and Johnson’s sale of the Great Society; whomever the Republicans nominate in 2016 will likely owe little to Romney’s campaign talks.
I don’t want to overdraw the comparison. Romney only ran in one general election; in some ways, his 2012 race contains elements both of Stevenson’s initial 1952 run and his rematch with Eisenhower in 1956, but in other ways, was completely different. Having never been the party’s nominee in 2008, Romney couldn’t lead the party in-between elections. The Republicans as a whole are coming to understand what Stevenson learned in 1952 – that a Presidential campaign is a terrible place to define issues and educate the public; individual personalities simply play too large a part in any single-office election.
But the biggest difference is how Romney will react after his loss, compared to how Stevenson reacted after his. Stevenson desperately wanted the nomination in 1960, only couldn’t bring himself to say so until it was too late. He wanted it, but he wanted to be asked, rather than having to ask. Romney really does seem done with politics, except for the inevitable post mortems.
When sequestration was designed by the Obama administration, the idea was that the required spending cuts would be unpalatable to both sides – cuts to Democrat-favored patronage programs would be balanced by cuts to Republican-favored defense spending. Few of us who supported the debt ceiling deal realized how seriously the deck was stacked against Republicans, with tax increases scheduled to take effect, at the same time that entitlement spending remains untouched.
The game is to box the Republicans into permitting tax increases now, in return for promises of spending cuts, and promises to examine entitlements. I’m sure Obama will give entitlements all the attention he can, in-between the front and back nines.
The game is aided and abetted by a number of institutional and political factors. They have a President who seemingly believes that whatever the consequences of raising taxes on a fragile economy, and defense cuts in a world whose stability largely rests on US power, the political blame will largely fall on Republicans. Republicans have allowed themselves to be trapped by the
Democrat publicity arm media into negotiating with themselves on national television. The President hints darkly about “not playing that game” of using the debt ceiling for leverage, but in the absence of a proper budget process, Congress institutionally has no other leverage to control executive spending.
While Harry Reid has steadfastly refused – in blatant violation of the law – to pass a budget, Speaker Boehner has abandoned that process in favor of closed-door negotiations. The Speakership simply is simply not a position that generally produces men suited to that role. Boehner is acting like most Speakers – a legislator who sees it as his job to legislate. It is the relentless logic of the situation that led Boehner to punish fiscal hawks by removing them from key committee positions; he’s assumed a role that he really shouldn’t be in at all, and it’s led him to take some rash and unwise personnel decisions in order to try to preserve caucus unity. He would be better served by trusting his committee chairmen in a complex process such as this.
But as long as the Republicans are committed to this process, the defense angle may not be as one-sided as we’ve been thinking. Walter Russell Mead provides the clue:
The rising regional tensions, if anything, underline the need for a continuing U.S. presence. The Philippine foreign minister, like Japan, has welcomed that presence and agreed to “more U.S. ship visits and more joint training exercises.” This is a good sign. America is a stabilizing force in the region; we don’t want war, and we don’t want boundaries changed by force.
Reassuring our allies while reaching out to China and trying to keep the temperature cool is going to be a tough assignment, and there is no way to do this on the cheap. The President and his new Secretary of State have their work cut out for them. Pivoting is hard work.
Indeed it is. The US has already been initially shut out of a new multi-lateral trade pact in Asia, and much of the Chinese aggressiveness can be traced to administration weakness around the world. We can survive a couple of months of sequestration, if it leads the administration to recognize that its plans for its pivot to Asia depend on having a naval presence to back it up, assuming they really care.
In fact, the House Republicans could always simply walk away and let the cliff happen. They could also do as Rand Paul suggests, pass the President’s plan, an immanentize the financial eschaton. But they have a number of better options: they could pass Bowles-Simpson and dare the President and Harry Reid to ignore it; they could pass a bill retaining all of the Bush tax rates, and then pass an additional package that would target tax benefits largely enjoyed by blue-state limousine liberals. They could pass actual budget and tax bills, and inform Sen. Reid that until he returns to lawful and orderly governance, there will be no debt ceiling increase. The knowledge that the President’s high-profile foreign policy initiatives depend on getting a deal done should strengthen their hand considerably.
Word is that Sen. Michael Bennet will accept the position as the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), reuniting there with his old chief of staff, Guy Cecil, who’s now the DSCC’s Executive Director. It’s tempting to conclude that the appointment is largely on the strength of the unexpectedly strong Democrat showing in this year’s Senate elections.
Cecil was credited with having created “the largest gender gap in the country,” here in Colorado, in 2010′s Senate elections. That gap helped ease Bennet over the finish line against Ken Buck, and was predicated on painting Buck as extreme on women’s reproductive issues, and then waiting for him to do something to justify the claim. Cecil never made any secret of the fact that his plan was to reproduce that strategy nationally in 2012, pointing to it in interviews back in early 2012 and at the DNC in September. Bennet himself claimed it would be the Democrats’ path to victory at a speech to the Colorado delegation at the DNC. It certainly appears to have been key to Democrats’ Senate victories on Election Day.
That said, this could end up being a trap for Cecil.
First, while Obama won Colorado this year, he did so without any noticeable gender gap. If anything, it appears that he won men here by 3 points, while tying Romney among women – a reverse gender gap. This was achieved in part by aggressive push-back from conservative women’s groups like My Purse Politics and the Colorado Women’s Alliance. It suggests that perhaps this is a difficult strategy to repeat. There are states that will have 2014 Senate elections that didn’t in 2012, but since this strategy was also adopted by the President’s re-election campaign, voters in those states will already have been exposed to it. The lack of first-time shock value, combined with a determined opposition message, could limit its success in 2014.
Perhaps as important, the 6th year of a 2-term presidency is historically terrible for the party controlling the White House. In 1958, the Democrats picked up an astonishing 16 seats, going from a 49-47 majority to a 65-35 lead, with the addition of Alaska and Hawaii to the union. In 1986, the Republicans lost the Senate, which they had held since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan. In 2006, the Democrats picked up a net 6 seats (including two independents that caucused with them) to gain control. While the 1986 results could be seen as a regression to the middle for Republicans, with many marginal 1980 pickups reverting to form, the 2006 elections don’t confirm that as a pattern; the Democrats picked up 4 seats in 2000.
Both 1974 and 1998′s numbers were distorted as a result of impeachments; in 1974, the Democrats went from 56 to 60 seats, and in 1998 it was a wash, with no net gain for the Republicans. These results should serve as a reminder that impeachment is a political process much more than a legal one.
Facts remain facts.
Now, the One Big Unpleasant Fact is that Obama got re-elected, and will be President for the next four years, with all that means.
Make no mistake, the administration and the rest of the institutional left talk of “consensus” to claim mandates far beyond what the public actually bestowed, and will attempt to portray opposition as racist. It will pursue its agenda through aggressive rule-making. It will reward friends, punish enemies, seek revenge, punch back twice as hard, bring guns to knife-fights, and will continue to consider us, fellow citizens, as the only real enemy.
But the facts that conservatives cited during the campaign don’t cease to be true, just because of the election.
- Global warming did not cause Hurricane Sandy
- Obamacare will cost you more and limit your choices
- The administration’s energy policies will necessarily cause the cost of heating your home to skyrocket
- The deficit and the debt are primarily a result of massive overspending
- Gunning the printing presses causes inflation
- A cyclical recession will happen again, maybe sooner that we think, certainly sooner than we want
- Lower tax rates produce higher revenue; growth produces more happiness
- Entitlement spending and public pensions are going to eat us alive
- A smaller Navy is a less effective Navy
- An American retreat from the world will have dire, savage consequences both for our economy and our values
- Political Islam remains a deadly enemy, and Iran remains the geopolitical engine behind political Islam
- Benghazi is a scandal in the truest, least political, most damaging sense of the word
None of this changes. None of this is any less true today than it was yesterday. All of it needs to be repeated. Joe Biden may mock math, but math will have the last laugh. It’s our job to make sure that that laugh is on him, not us.
Our arguments in favor of civil society over Big Government, of individual freedom over bureaucratic diktat, of rights-as-individuals over rights-as-groups are still as valid as ever. Their truth isn’t diminished by an election, or even by a series of elections.
There’s no reason we can’t be personally gracious to our friends who are Democrats, but politically as generous as the Democrats are when they lose.
After all, facts remain facts.