Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yearend Reading: Romney, GOP

“What do you call it when someone steals someone else's money secretly? Theft. What do you call it when someone takes someone else's money openly by force? Robbery. What do you call it when a politician takes someone else's money in taxes and gives it to someone who is more likely to vote for him? Social Justice.”

--Thomas Sowell, Stanford’s Hoover Institution

"The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."

--Daniel Patrick Moynihan (via Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times)

"Raise a Banner of Bold Colors, Not Pale Pastels!"

--Ronald Reagan

Culture is a way of life that evolves to support economic survival. Rules that emphasize caring for one’s family, hard work, getting along with others, avoiding destructive behaviors. Hunting, farming, food on the table, clothes, shelter.

In dealing with modern American culture, I have seized upon the insight of Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997), about how societies evolve. Diamond is a political outsider (his fields are physiology, biophysics, ornithology, environmentalism, ecology, geography, evolutionary biology, and anthropology) who flatly asserts that government equals kleptocracy—theft from the people.

In simple terms, the U.S. used to have a culture based upon lots of farmers and a small government. Then liberal Democrats used politics from 1933 to 1968 to replace the old culture with one supporting big government, government as your friend. Conservatives who prefer the old culture want smaller government. They want a free enterprise economy that once again works.

Looking at the quotes above, Sowell writes about government theft, Moynihan wrote about liberal use of politics to overturn the culture we had, and Reagan said the country must fight back, battling today’s status quo.

Mitt Romney, Mr. Pale Pastel, isn't the leader Republicans need now. Listen to Steve McCann, who writes in the conservative American Thinker:
As with so many others previously christened by the establishment, [Romney] is a candidate who would maintain the status quo in Washington -- the most important agenda item for the ruling class.
McCann showed his open distaste for the GOP elite when he added:
the Republican primary voters are being told by the Republican establishment and many "conservative" pundits that [Romney] is in his heart a real conservative. . . It is expected of the mainstream media to cover for Barack Obama but for the so-called conservative media to ignore Romney's record is outright betrayal.
Conservative Jonathan Tobin, in Commentary, similarly argued:
Romney is the candidate of his party’s elites. . . the epitome of the notion that the best and brightest deserve the highest rewards. . . He is at his best when fixing broken things–-be it companies, Olympic games or budgets. But as a standard bearer for a movement or as someone who can exercise the vital task of articulating moral leadership, Romney seems out of place.
Romney has alienated himself from populist Republicans, as ABC News’s Matt Negrin recently found:
“There is a huge anti-Romney sentiment,” said Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation. [Phillips] said that surveys of Tea Party Nation members show that as many as half of them say they’ll refuse to vote for him in a general election because he’s too “liberal.”

Asked if she could see the tea party coming together to support Romney, Amy Kremer, the chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, said, “I don’t know where the tea party’s going to go.” “I think it’s going to be a very bumpy ride, and it could get pretty ugly,” said Kremer, who hasn’t endorsed a candidate yet.
We have the GOP elite against the rest of the party, the non-elite (“tea partiers”) who don’t fall in line behind Romney and the elite leadership the way they should. Here’s elitist George Will, venting his frustration with the uncontrollable Newt Gingrich:
[Gingrich] is thoroughly anti-conservative. He disdains the central conservative virtue, prudence, and exemplifies progressivism’s defining attribute — impatience with impediments to the political branches’ wielding of untrammeled power. He exalts the will of the majority. . .

Atop the Republican ticket, Gingrich would guarantee Barack Obama’s reelection, would probably doom Republicans’ hopes of capturing the Senate and might cost them control of the House.
Is Will right? Are Republicans likely to win only with elite candidate Mitt? The Eastern seaboard world Will lives in thinks so. GOP intellectuals understandably have a high opinion of the ruling class that dominates their Eastern neighborhood, and that has only grudgingly made a place at the table, though far from the center, for articulate Republicans with proper leadership credentials like Will. If Mitt’s the nominee, the election might become a competence debate Obama could lose. From Will’s perspective, "tea partiers" on the other hand seem likely to lead the GOP down the 1964 Goldwater path to crushing defeat.

Gingrich, Perry, and others are bold colors, Romney is Mr. Pale Pastel, and Will, who once embraced Reagan, now wants pale pastel.

Karl Rove is from Texas but has lived among the Washington, D.C. elite for a decade, and works now for the conservative elite FOX News and Wall Street Journal. His current analysis reveals the “pale pastel” of “inside baseball” politics, missing the “bold colors” of a revolution that liberates capitalism from government’s yoke and fuels economic expansion:
a Gallup poll of Nov. 28-Dec. 1 shows that fewer Americans (45%) now believe income inequality "represents a problem that needs to be fixed" than believed that in 1998 (52%). . . Republicans can argue that Democratic class warfare would penalize achievement and diminish prosperity. That Mr. Obama's goal is redistribution, not success. That over the past three years this approach has resulted in persistently high unemployment, anemic growth and economic hardship.
Would you be excited about income inequality bothering "only" 45% of the people instead of 52%--nearly half the country still with Obama's big issue? And what about “persistently high unemployment, anemic growth and economic hardship”? Is that really a problem of “the past three years” as Rove says, or did it begin under Rove’s man George Bush? Rove skips past the real issue: big government's gigantic growth under Obama, growth that began under Bush. Conservatives are focused on big government crushing economic growth. Rove isn’t.

Elsewhere, Rove predicts Obama’s defeat because:
Scandals . . . will metastasize, demolishing the president's image as a political outsider. By the election, the impression will harden that Mr. Obama is a modern Chicago-style patronage politician, using taxpayer dollars to reward political allies and contributors.
Really, Mr. Rove. You think the upcoming election will turn on scandals, even though people personally like Obama? Bold colors, Mr. Rove, bold colors.

Former Reagan/Bush 41 speechwriter Peggy Noonan, in the Wall Street Journal, has provided her personally revealing look at conservative elite concerns. Writing about the movie “Iron Lady,” a portrayal of former British prime minister and conservative hero Margaret Thatcher, Noonan fixes on Thatcher’s sex:
Thatcher's very presence was an insult to the left because it undermined the left's insistence that only leftism and its protection of the weak and disadvantaged would allow women to rise. She rose without them while opposing what they stood for.
Women of Thatcher’s and Noonan’s generation certainly did battle to rise in a man’s world. And it was an even bigger challenge for conservatives, because liberals do favor women because they’re from a disadvantaged class government seeks to protect. But what about Thatcher? Wasn’t she first and foremost a “bold color” revolutionary, less significantly a female, unlike Noonan, who goes for “pale pastel” Romney?

Daniel Henninger, member of the conservative Wall Street Journal elite editorial board and a Romney backer, has at least noticed how strong is the opposition to Romney, with Mitt’s support numbers constantly stuck at 25%. That means 75% of Republicans want someone else. Henninger writes:
[Romney] should be worried. These Republican protest fish have sharp teeth. Unless fed something soon, they may tear the Romney campaign to pieces. And there are a lot of them. Political commentary sometimes refers to . . .second-tier candidates as appealing to "the tea party vote." This is intended as condescension—you know, it's those people. . .

This vote has been building in the depths of the American political ocean since the spending spree of the second Bush term. These people see the upward spending trend in annual outlays and accumulated commitments not as a "problem," as the Beltway prefers, but as a threat to their well-being.

The Romney campaign may assume that this vote must land by default in their man's lap. . . But if [Romney] doesn't reach out pretty soon to the Paul-Perry-Bachmann Republican protest voters, he may never get them. The longer he waits, the more pressure will build for a third-party challenge that will cost him the election.
It’s unfortunate Republicans seem stuck with Romney. Here’s from CNBC’s Larry Kudlow’s interview of Paul Ryan, the House budget chair and one of the non-candidates who would have been able to unite the whole party:
[Ryan] believes “there is a shift to the right” in the country, “toward free-market approval. . .The country will not accept a permanent class of technocrats that will diminish freedom, enhance crony capitalism, and allow the economy to enter some sort of managed decline.”

Ryan talks about . . . “fighting paternalistic, arrogant, and condescending government elites who want to equalize outcomes, create new entitlement rights, and promote less self-government by the citizenry.” . . Ryan wants “the right to rise” [and rejects a] “ruling system of big business, big government, and big-government unions [that] does violence to the notion of entrepreneurial capitalism. . .Whether it’s TARP, Fannie or Freddie, cap-and-trade, or Obamacare, this must be stopped.”

Ryan stands against what he calls “the moral endgame to equalize outcomes. No consolidation of power into a permanent political class. Equality of opportunity, not result.” Drawing from the Declaration of Independence, Ryan believes that individual citizen power in a democracy comes from God and natural rights [and flows] directly to the people. It complements what Reagan always said: Government works for the people, the people don’t work for government.

No comments: