Well, the election is over, and the creepy cult-of-personality liberal candidate won. If this makes you angry or worried for America’s future, then it is important to analyze why this occurred so that we can prevent the creepy, glowering leader with his own youth movement and grand ideas about reshaping the world from getting his kook agenda implemented. Also, every election is won or lost before the first vote is cast (to borrow a maxim), so if the GOP is ever to win again, it better get a clue pretty quickly. There are many reasons why we lost. Below are a few that jump out at me.
1) The stupid economy, stupid. Regardless of how bipartisan the ideas were that inflated the housing bubble (“everyone deserves to own a home”), the party in the White House got blamed for them. It doesn’t matter that the policies were started under Clinton, or that the Democrats have run Congress for years. Many people simplistically believe that the economy is directly controlled by the President and if it’s bad, it’s time to change captains. Of course, as government gets larger and more socialist, this idea actually gains some merit. Government spending is now over 1/3 of GDP.
The lesson here is that the next time Republicans gain power and are tempted to support politically popular nonsense like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and runaway lending to deadbeats as the basis of an entire economy, they had better remember who will be left holding the blame bag in the end. “Congress made me do it” is a lame excuse.
There is also a random element here, however. Regardless of how well run things are, we will always have recessions and panics. It is absolutely inevitable. When they occur in election years, the party in power had better have more of an appeal to people than just “things are going OK, so why rock the boat?” This is known as having a “reserve of goodwill.” The GOP has systematically squandered its reserve of goodwill under George W. Bush’s leadership. More on that below.
2) Moderates don’t inspire anyone. Conventional wisdom has taught that if the GOP would only nominate a moderate, we could appeal to independent and moderate voters and win landslide victories. 2008 should put this idea to rest once and for all. The GOP nominated the moderate’s moderate, independent maverick and media darling John McCain. The Dems, by contrast, nominated a hardcore liberal that appealed to their base, Barack Obama. Obama’s fired-up base gave him enthusiasm, money to spare, and momentum.
McCain’s campaign lacked enthusiasm, lacked money and lacked momentum. In the end, McCain also failed to appeal to moderates. They went with the economy, momentum, and media instructions, as they usually do. Moderate candidates may have low negative ratings, but they do not inspire anyone either. If you want to win an election, you had better inspire people to fight for you, all out. Obama’s base fought for him. McCain’s base learned to tolerate him. Given this contrast, I’m surprised that McCain managed to make the race even as close as it was. (The only ray of hope in this election is the fact that with every advantage imaginable, Dems still could not win 22 of the 50 states.)
3) Sarah Palin — but not why you think. No, Sarah Palin was not a mistake because she was too conservative, or too dumb, or because of any other aspect of the BS propaganda that is being spread about her by her spineless group-think detractors. The mistake in picking her was that she was totally unknown before the selection. By picking an unknown, McCain was basically trusting the media to fairly introduce and define Palin to the American people during the height of a bitter election in which the media gave up all pretense of fairness to support the Obamessiah.
Clearly, McCain’s experience as every reporter’s favorite Republican clouded his judgment on this issue. The first rule of Republican campaigning is that you will have to win despite the best efforts of the media. Since McCain never had to operate under this reality before, he was unable to deal with it in the election.
A sad side effect of the whole affair is that Palin, thrust into the limelight without adequate planning and preparation, is now damaged goods. This is a terrible shame. She is talented, likeable, and unlike McCain or Obama, actually a real member of the working class. She doesn’t have to assemble a focus group to understand average Americans. She is an average American — with above average gifts. She could have gone far. That’s less likely to happen now.
4) Demographics. Democracy is just demographics with a scorecard, and changes in America’s demographics, achieved through large-scale immigration of an ethnically separate underclass, clearly benefit Democrats. Democrats understand this and are trying to accelerate the process with amnesty, subsidy, and open borders. Many states that went narrowly Republican four and eight years ago have had their demographics changed enough that they are now leaning Democrat. The tilt will increase by 2012, until these states are like California — formerly Republican strongholds that are beyond the reach of Republicans today. McCain’s support of mass immigration and amnesty helped to defeat him. There was no rush of Hispanic or other immigrant groups to support him, because they know they can have the borders open under Barack Obama as well — plus get “free” stuff in the bargain. If Republicans had any sense at all on the connection between demographics and democracy, they would have enforced immigration limits quietly and efficiently for the last eight years — and massively increased tax deductions for children among the tax paying middle class.
In case you’re a Amnesty Republican that doesn’t get it yet, the tax-paying middle class of traditional Americans is the base of the Republican party. You encourage the expansion of your base, or you are replaced by a party that does so. Democrats know who their voters are (illegal aliens, felons, the unemployed, the homeless, addicts etc.) and work at every turn to increase their influence in the electorate. Republicans should do the same.
Not every demographic trend is against conservatives, however, so we should not lose all hope. Liberals have a tendency to prevent and abort their children, rather than raise them. Evolutionarily, this is not a sustainable thing. The best argument I have ever seen to keep abortion “safe and legal” is that, generation by generation, it reduces the number of liberals in our society. Of course, it offends God and is sickening, so it’s not a perfect method. But still, if you want to know who will have the bigger influence on the future, Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton, just count the number of children on stage with each of them. Conservatives have kids, liberals have personal plans. Looked at that way, Darwin favors the creationists.
5) A squandering of trust and reputation. It is hard for Republicans to get any leverage against Democrats for being “Big Government Tax and Spenders” when Republicans under Bush have been Big Government Borrow and Spenders. There is little difference between the two. As Milton Friedman said, “If you cut taxes and don’t cut spending, you have not cut taxes.” All you do is delay the payment and add interest — which is kind of a nice metaphor for the modern economy, really.
Loss of fiscal conservatism as an issue was devastating to Republicans. How they will get this issue back while not in power is a mystery to me. (The only hope they have is that Democrats will screw things up so badly with an unbelievable expansion of spending and taxes that Republicans will look good by comparison. So really, Republican chances are pretty good.) If there is no difference between the parties, why not pick the Democrats? It’s always the easier choice, given the media slant in this country. Republicans have to draw a believable distinction. A believable distinction is one that you actually follow up on when elected.
6) The bailout. McCain could have won handily had he opposed the Wall Street Bailout and hung it around the neck of Obama. But McCain is a bipartisan let’s-do-something-big-with-government- together kind of guy. I have never seen a bigger gift wasted by a candidate than I saw when McCain took the same position as Obama on the bailout bill. Obama’s main strategy in the last months of the election was to stick close to McCain on every position and simply allow the prevailing economic currents to push him to victory. Obama was the triumph of the generic Democrat — the one that is always leading in early polls until he opens his mouth and details come out. McCain played along and, without clear distinctions drawn, lost.
The next four years are going to be costly for America. Unless I am very wrong, Obama will be a disaster: a liberal Democrat with a fawning media and both houses of Congress behind him as he expands government into every sector of America in the name of “fixing” the economy. The economy is a temporary issue that would fix itself if left alone. Obama’s fixes, however, will be permanent and expensive. Government power, once won, is never surrendered. FDR’s fixes for the Great Depression continue on 70 years after it ended. Republicans had better learn to generate some popular traction again, pronto. They are the only check on Obama’s newfound power. And right now, they are no check at all.