Thursday, November 29, 2012

Learning From The Election: An Alternate View

In his Works and Days column of November 27, 2012, Hoover fellow Victor Davis Hanson listed ten reasons why President Obama won re-election, and what the Republican Party should do to prevent a steady stream of Democrats winning the White House every four years.

Hoover fellows do not march to the beat of a single drummer.  Hanson’s observations may be good inferences, but they are either irrelevant or downright harmful as guideposts for future Republican campaigns.  Several of his lessons-driven recommendations are just plain wrong.  Let’s go through them in sequence.

1.  Republican presidential candidates have to be more like the folks.

Thoughtful Ideas (TI): Agree.  So why do Republicans nominate White elitists or old guard politicians?

2.  Republicans are strong in the House of Representatives and Statehouses, which implies that Barack Obama was a special case at the presidential level.  The next liberal candidate will not have the same appeal.

TI: TI wishes he could be as sure of the political landscape in 2016 as is Hanson.  If 24 hours is a lifetime in politics, four years is an eternity.

3.  Republicans should charge Democrats with racism.  It’s better to deplore tribalism and warn the country that rival groups with conflicting agendas with too many claims against a shrinking majority is unsustainable.

TI: Wrong.  Members of “tribal groups” will treat such warnings emanating from Republicans as racism, homophobia, bigotry, and sexism.  Castigating members of “tribal groups” will further reduce their support of Republican candidates.  TI urges Hanson to read my book, Politics in Plural Societies, first published in 1972 and reissued in 2009 with an epilogue that includes Latino politics in America.

4.  Republican candidates will have to campaign in barrios, inner cities, and blue-collar communities explaining that free markets work better for the poor than government.

TI: Agree.  Jack Kemp is dead.  TI is waiting for Kemp’s successor.
5.  Don’t obsess over Latino voters; instead, close the border, stop illegal immigration, and allow the melting pot to “fracture” Hispanics into class groups, away from ethnic identity.

TI: Completely wrong.  Hanson is in denial about identity politics.  If applied, his recommendations will raise the 71% vote Latinos gave to Obama to even higher percentages for subsequent Democrat presidential candidates.
6.  Liberals predominate in the media, a bias that conservative talk radio and cable television have not yet overcome.

TI: Agree.  Universities and schools in the U.S. will continue to turn out left-leaning graduates that occupy leadership positions of American institutions, especially the media.  Reducing liberal bias in the media requires such drastic measures as shutting down the entire K-12 public school system and starting over from scratch, as did China in the aftermath of the decade-long Cultural Revolution.

7.  Republican candidates must use attack ads to counter Democrat attack ads.

TI: Agree.  Fight fire with fire.
8.  Stuff happens (e.g., Hurricane Sandy).

TI: So?

9.  Watch liberal media (e.g., Chris Matthews) to get out of the Republican self-reinforcing bubble of hope against electoral reality.

TI: Agree.  Does this admonition also apply to researchers in conservative think tanks that feed policy prescriptions to Republican presidential candidates?  Perhaps Hanson might spend some time at the Center for American Progress, Economic Policy Institute, Progressive Policy Institute, and others to get out of the self-reinforcing conservative think tank bubble.

10.  There is 47% of takers that must be reduced.  Republicans should make deals with Democrats to reduce spending.

TI:  Republican are a large part of the spending problem, not the solution.  President George W. Bush transformed several years of Clinton budget surpluses into eight years of deficits.  Bush signed into law a new unfunded entitlement, Medicare Part D.  Bush presided over the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  And Hanson thinks that Republicans can make deals to reduce spending?  Maybe TI will find buried treasure in his back yard?

Factions within the Republican Party fight with each other to control the direction of the party.  It should come as no surprise, then, that thinkers in conservative policy institutes debate with each other alternate trajectories for conservative policy politics.

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