When Conservatism is a Second Language
And so, another moderate fails.
Governor Romney is a good person, a great business leader.
But, alas, he is also a moderate Republican.
As were Herbert Hoover, Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Thomas E. Dewey, Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole and John McCain. Making Mitt Romney a historical asterisk as the tenth moderate GOP nominee (Dewey was nominated twice) to lose the White House.
The exceptions to the rule are Dwight Eisenhower, who won not because he was a moderate but because he was the general-hero of World War II. Richard Nixon campaigned as the moderate he was in 1960 and lost. By 1968 he had won the nomination of a party that had shifted back to its conservative roots and he campaigned accordingly — as he did in 1972. He won narrowly the second time, by a landslide the third. George H.W. Bush ran as the heir to Reagan in 1988 and won. Governing as a moderate he lost — and lost badly in his 1992 re-election effort. George W. Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative” — which is to say a moderate — in 2000 and 2004 and squeaked by the first time thanks to the Supreme Court, winning the second time by a bare 100,000 votes in Ohio.
On Tuesday night, it comes clear, as this is written using the latest Fox News figures, Mitt Romney lost to President Obama by 2,819,339 votes.
And the news ekes out that Moderate Nominee Number 10 Romney received some 3 million Republican votes less than Moderate Nominee Number 9 — John McCain in 2008.
Which is to say, 3 million base GOP voters simply refused to vote for Romney. Doing the available math, that means had those 3 million Republicans voted for Romney he would have, as this is written, a margin of victory in the national popular vote of 180,661. Depending on the state spread, potentially an Electoral College victory as well.
Does the message get through here?
Well, for some in the GOP — no.
The usual call will now go up — just as it did in 1950 from two-time loser Dewey — that to nominate a conservative is to lose. Somehow heedless that it wasn’t Ronald Reagan and his conservatism that lost or almost lost the White House, it was this seemingly endless stream of very nice moderate Republicans.
Reasonable people can be expected to raise the point of just when that old joke attributed to Einstein will come clear. You know the one. That the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. For Republicans, this translates as yet again nominating a moderate who is said to “move to the center,” “can attract women,” “get the youth vote” and “get the minority vote.”
The strategy has failed repeatedly for some 80 years. Say again… 80 years!!!!! And yet there are still those out there who insist on doing the same thing over — and over and over and over — again.
At the heart of the Romney campaign — of two Romney presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 — was not principle but biography. And as day follows night yet another Democrat was available to take that biography, turn it upside down, inside out and shred it. In a blink the man with the career as a successful businessman became the man in the top hat from the Monopoly game.
There is abroad in the land — and even here in the pages of The American Spectator with my colleague Aaron Goldstein — the notion that “it’s not 1980 anymore.” Ironically, this is only the 2012 version of the argument that was made against Reagan himself in 1980. It wasn’t 1920 anymore, went the reasoning. Reagan was just an old fashioned man out-of-step with the space-age 1980s.
Which is the political equivalent of saying that because Newton died in 1727 and it is now 285 years later — the law of gravity Newton discovered is no longer relevant. He’s just another irrelevant dead white guy. You know how it goes. “It’s not 1727 anymore.”
Which also explains why so many people regularly flock to the Empire State Building and jump off without a parachute. Not.
Let’s review the fundamental principles again. One cannot plunge the country into astronomical debt without there being a financial come-to-Jesus reckoning. One cannot tempt aggression with weakness. One cannot tax one’s way to prosperity. One cannot build a behemoth federal government and expect the country to prosper. One cannot, as Mark Levin puts it, not understand the “interconnection of liberty, free markets, religion, tradition and authority” — and not pay a price for that lack of understanding.
Were these conservative principles true in 1980? Yes. They were also true in 1780 and 1880 and they will be true in 2080. They are to the world of politics and government what Newton’s law of gravity is to the physical world. And to the extent that they are ignored, one is — politically speaking — jumping off the Empire State Building without a parachute.
Has the country changed since 1980? I would hope so. Change in human life is unstoppable. But as Reagan himself — a staunch advocate of change — smartly said:
“History comes and goes, but principles endure…”
Barack Obama will come and go. The next Apple iGizmo will appear — and eventually disappear to be a relic. Katy Perry and Lena Dunham will grow old. America will not even be in this moment of 2012 for very much longer. Life will go on. Time will move on. And yes, some absolutely inevitable and foreseeable crisis will confront the new romance with American socialism and send Americans running back to their roots.
And it will make zero difference what the population of this country looks like. White, brown, black, yellow, red, male, female, gay, straight, young, old, near-sighted or far-sighted, athlete or couch potato — to one and all, forever and ever the laws of gravity both physical and political will apply eternally. And to the extent these laws are willfully ignored there will be a price to be paid. History is chock full of stories of people and whole countries getting hurt by ignoring the political laws of gravity as surely as if they were ignoring the physical laws of gravity. They may have been convinced they could make that leap unscathed from the political Empire State Building — but they always, always, always found out otherwise. And they found out the hard way.
Be careful what you wish for, goes the old adage — because you may get it. Liberals are now running this country — and they are responsible for the results.
Let’s be clear while the defeat still stings. Mitt Romney is a great guy and a smart guy and all the rest. He did a yeoman job as a candidate, sounding better by the hour. His first debate performance was one of the best, if not the best, in the history of presidential debates. But it is fact to say that his entire political career was built in one form or another on his biography. What was supposedly his strong point was his weakest — and a considerable weakness it was made to be in the hands of the Chicago crowd. Mitt Romney was never at any time in his career — say again never — about being what Mark Levin calls “a principled, knowledgeable, consistent, confident conservative.”
And it is sobering to realize that if he were now President-elect, with the rest of Tuesday’s results being the same, he would doubtless already be in motion on “bipartisanship” — which is to say instantly veering off course to accommodate Harry Reid. The same Harry Reid who expressed scorn at the very thought of seeking compromise with a President Romney.
Liberals will be going on and on about the racial make-up of the country. It is liberals, shall we recall, who have built and sustained an entire political party based on race and racism. Alas, the impulse to copy this is there among some on the Republican side.
Just the other day Florida’s former Governor Jeb Bush was saying this in speaking about the Hispanic population.
“It’s a math question. Four years from now, Texas is going to be a so-called blue state. Imagine Texas as a blue state, how hard it would be to carry the presidency or gain control of the Senate.”
One can only respectfully roll one’s eyes when hearing this. Why?
In all the commotion over the Obama-Romney race the other night, something was rarely mentioned. Who was elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas? With an endorsement from Jeb Bush’s son George P. Bush? Buehler? Buehler? Anyone? Anyone?
The answer is… wait for it… Rafael Edward Cruz. Or, as he is popularly known, Ted Cruz. And yes, that’s right — Ted Cruz is a Latino. And a conservative. A Latino described this way by the New York Times when Cruz defeated — horrors! — the white establishment guy for the GOP Senate nomination. The Latino Mr. Cruz is:
…the Tea Party favorite and Republican candidate for the United States Senate, trading verbal orchids with the likes of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck…. Mr. Cruz’s victory in November is all but assured in this heavily Republican state and marks a shift to the right in the already conservative party here. Political elders and experts who have watched him during his time here as state solicitor general and on the campaign trail predict that he will be an intellectual force in Congress on behalf of constitutional limits on federal power. He is expected to join Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina and other Tea Party icons as an uncompromising irritant of mainstream Republicans and Democrats alike.
The Times, clearly appalled, went on at horrified length about this newest Latino on the national scene:
Speaking to the Values Voters Summit in Washington in October, Mr. Cruz drew a standing ovation as he repeated the themes of the political and religious right, sometimes sounding more ideologue than intellectual. He called President Obama the country’s “most radical president,” railed against the “gay rights agenda” and warned against new threats to “religious liberty.” Within days, National Review anointed him “the next great conservative hope.”
Notice anything here? Anything sound familiar? A common thread, perhaps?
The fact is that the same people who run around instructing Republicans that they need to appeal to Latinos, blacks and women are aghast when exactly that happens. Are liberals agonizing this week over the defeat of Florida’s Congressman Allen West — a black man — by a whiter than vanilla liberal named Patrick Murphy? Are they made furious by the defeat of a conservative black woman named Mia Love by yet another liberal white boy in Utah? Hardly. They are doing somersaults. Are they celebrating the fact that a woman — Michele Bachmann — will be returning to Congress after defeating yet another one of those damnable white men, Democrat Jim Graves? Are they signing up for Palin in 2016? Are you kidding? They are beyond teeth-gratingly depressed and angry at the mere existence of both Bachmann and Palin. As a matter of fact, it was Jeb’s mother former First Lady Barbara Bush who once said of Palin after the success of the 2010 elections “I think she’s very happy in Alaska and I hope she’ll stay there.” Ouch. Not exactly a huzzah from Clan Bush for women office holders in the GOP.
The fact is that the New Reagans, as we might call these Hispanics, blacks and women, are in fact well-versed in conservatism.
One can only gape with wonder at Jeb Bush’s alarm over a supposed lack of GOP appeal to Hispanics. Ted Cruz was just elected a United States Senator from Texas. The Rubio-for-President bandwagon is doubtless already if quietly beginning to roll. It is entirely possible that a highlight of the battle for 2016 GOP nomination will be between a woman (Palin) and a Latino (Rubio). Or maybe even a Latino woman — Susana Martinez. One presumes Governor Bush will take his own advice and leave the presidential field to fellow Floridian Rubio. A Hispanic.
The problem here isn’t appeals to Hispanics, blacks or women. The fact is that Hispanics, blacks or women who understand the conservative principles that are involved get elected. In that sense the New Reagans are exactly like the Original Reagan.
The problem is not fielding enough New Reagans — candidates of whatever race or gender who have conservatism in their bones — who understand and can articulate the principles, not to mention the results when they are not followed.
The problem is that we nominate too many Republicans — no matter how nice, decent and good they may be — for whom conservatism is a second language.
And then they lose.
What we need are more of the New Reagans. And fortunately, they are here.