The Tea Party Narrative Just Jumped the Shark

And it was all going so well for Democrats and liberals in the media.

Display a picture or vid clip of angry, contorted faces of the tea partiers, add the race card, accuse the “core” of the movement of being birthers, and generally play to the idea that this vast, grassroots movement is a small, insignificant bunch of sour grape Republicans who hate Obama.

Well, it worked for a while. But something funny happened on the way to smearing millions of ordinary Americans worried about the future; surveys of tea partiers show them to be almost as mainstream as a McDonald’s french fry:

The national breakdown of the Tea Party composition is 57 percent Republican, 28 percent Independent and 13 percent Democratic, according to three national polls by the Winston Group, a Republican-leaning firm that conducted the surveys on behalf of an education advocacy group. Two-thirds of the group call themselves conservative, 26 are moderate and 8 percent say they are liberal.

The Winston Group conducted three national telephone surveys of 1,000 registered voters between December and February. Of those polled, 17 percent – more than 500 people — said they were “part of the Tea Party movement.” …

Yeah, yeah OK. Let’s trash the results because the Winston Group is “Republican leaning.”

I suppose Gallup is in the GOP’s pocket too?

Tea Party supporters skew right politically; but demographically, they are generally representative of the public at large. That’s the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28, in which 28% of U.S. adults call themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.

Tea Party supporters are decidedly Republican and conservative in their leanings. Also, compared with average Americans, supporters are slightly more likely to be male and less likely to be lower-income.

In several other respects, however — their age, educational background, employment status, and race — Tea Partiers are quite representative of the public at large. (Emphasis mine)

Gallup actually gives better numbers for party affiliation than the GOP leaning Winston Group; 48% Republican and 43% independent with 8% self identified Democrats. And did Gallup really measure 32% of all Democrats in America supporting the tea partiers?

Ooops. There goes the narrative - mostly. With 28% of all Americans supporting the Tea Partiers and 26% opposed, you are bound to get a few kooks and crazies. You know the type; the one in ten thousand who hold up a sign comparing Obama to a witch doctor who somehow is portrayed as representative of protestors.

But I find it interesting that a group that is representative of the racial makeup of the US would be…racist. Can’t use the excuse that voters aren’t aware of the charges of racism made so casually, so nauseatingly by opponents. They’d have to be oblivious to the avalanche of media reports and opinion pieces that make the racist charge so cavalierly.

Beyond that, it is also not surprising that the majority would be conservative Republicans, although one might refer to most tea partiers as “nominal Republicans” in that I doubt whether there are more than a handful of GOP politicians that tea partiers are happy with.

I have been very critical of those in the tea party movement who seek to use anger and fear as a wedge to gain support for their cause. It is still my belief that reason wins a lot more converts than screaming, and fear mongering is self defeating - as seen by the failure to stop Obamacare. That vocal minority has done more damage to the tea party movement than most are willing to admit.

But the left is going to have to start coming to terms with this group based on reality, not their own, politically motivated smears. It is possible to argue against their positions without referring to them as racist, although I admit it’s a challenge to defend deficits of more than a trillion dollars as far as the eye can see. It is also possible to critique their arguments without trying to marginalize them as kooks. “Birtherism” has been so discredited that only a fringe now tries to keep the idea alive that Obama isn’t a natural born citizen. At any rate, is is a deliberate smear to posit the notion that the “core” of the tea party movement are birthers, as the president suggested in his Today Show interview.

Is the conservatism of the tea party movement farther right, in general, than the mainstream? We have little relevant data to make any kind of intelligent determination but my sense is that there is a distinct hard right flavor that, as Gallup might indicate, places the tea partiers on the edge of mainstream politics; not fringe by any means but some distance from the “center-right” that makes up the bulk of American voters. I would peg them as more ideological than much of the mainstream which skews their views in many respects. The fact that only 28% of all adults support them while 46% either have no opinion or don’t know shows there are a lot of adults in America who are suspicious of the tea party movement, as most Americans tend to be of excessively ideological people.

But even with those caveats, you cannot escape the notion that the narrative created by tea party opponents to smear them has been dealt a serious blow by these surveys. I’m sure on April 15th, when the tea partiers gather en masse once again, that we will get the same kind of coverage in the media that we have gotten previously; ignoring the tens of thousands of peaceful, reasonable, passionate demonstrators and highlight the kooks. At least, judging from the results of the surveys, the American people appear to be looking beyond that narrative and are focusing on the message of the movement; that we are spending too much and burdening future generations with obligations they will not be able to meet.

Some Thoughts on Change, Large and Small

There is nothing new about one’s political opponent’s trying to define your philosophy. This is a part of politics as old as the republic, and the more stinking and fearsome you can define how your enemy thinks, the more hay you will make with the electorate.

It worked so well for movement conservatives that they have chased the designation “liberal” from public discourse, perhaps for all time, by demonizing, exaggerating, and ultimately condemning those who identified themselves thusly as less than patriotic, less than American.

And previous to that, liberals worked wonders with the word “conservative” as they branded anyone of that philosophical bent a frothing at the mouth anti-Communist, a danger to American liberties, an ignorant, unlearned rube distrustful of intellectuals, and a mossback who looked with suspicion on international entanglements.

So goes the unending war between the two great philosophies – the yin and yang of the soul of America, forever condemned to be at odds while the country would find it impossible to do without both.

The complementary forces at work that make both liberals and conservatives necessary for a healthy society far exceed the puny efforts to rip asunder the the soul of America where these philosophies reside. While we have seen in recent decades an excessive partisanship that seeks dominance and control over the mechanism of government, what has been happening beneath the surface hasn’t changed; the slow, grinding forces of history that shape the destiny of America in ways we can only understand when we remove ourselves from the present political skirmishes and see the contours revealed by looking over our shoulder at what we have become.

American history is not a straight line proposition. It is tempting for narrative historians to paint it that way, but by doing so, much is missed in the translation. And the reason that is basically true is because of how America changes over the years, and the nature of change itself.

Generally speaking, America is a nation created to embrace change. Our Constitution has codified this notion by including the radical idea that future circumstances may require that the founding document be amended. But at the same time – and this is the key – the founders made it damn near impossible to alter their masterpiece. The Constitutional amendment must be passed by a 2/3 vote Congress and then approved by 3/4 of the states. A tall order that, as evidenced by the fact that, excluding the Bill of Rights, we have altered the text of our founding document only 17 times in 221 years.

Clearly, the founders wanted a little built in prudence to govern the engine of change. There is nothing wrong with that, as any conservative could tell you. Prudence is perhaps the most important civic virtue to which a society and by extension, government can aspire. It allows for change without overturning society in a helter skelter effort to address the issue of the day, putting a break on passion and forcing the citizenry to deal with what needs to be done in a rational manner. Change should be managed and well considered with a sharp eye directed toward consequences both seen and perhaps unseen.

This has usually been the case in America. And when it hasn’t been so, the worst consequences have usually been outweighed by the gains we have made by marching into the future with little or no idea of where we were going. Only the fact that we were moving ahead seemed to matter.

You can pick your own examples from history but I like the radical change found in Jacksonian democracy overturning the established order and giving ordinary people power they were previously denied. The “Age of the Common Man” had begun and since then, politicians have pandered to that notion of the “ordinary American,” sometimes masking schemes that accomplished exactly the opposite by claiming solidarity with regular folk.

Thinking of what has been done by government in the name of the “Middle Class” is to contemplate the unforeseen consequences that Old Hickory unleashed. And yet, we certainly wouldn’t trade what we have with what the Jacksonians defeated; the idea that there was a landed aristocracy who should rule by birthright.

In a similar fashion, we welcome the effects of destroying slavery even with the monumentally awful consequences of war, bitterness, divisiveness, and the system of Jim Crow that replaced bondage because slavery was such a fundamental evil that the unforeseen consequences didn’t matter. It could be said that in the case of getting rid of involuntary servitude and flushing it forever from the Constitution, that we could well say to hell with prudence, the actions we’re taking are long past due.

There are other examples of great change leading to unforeseen and deleterious consequences. Think of the Great Depression and the revolution in government begun by FDR. Until that time, the only contact people had with Washington was basically through the post office, or the draft. FDR changed that forever by initiating a massive government intervention in the economy in order to “save capitalism” while ordinary people were helped via government assistance with jobs, food, and housing. By today’s standards, these changes were modest indeed. But whether you are a liberal or conservative, you have to agree that there were unintended consequences to these changes and that not all of them were good.

Think of World War II and the rise of the national security state, the baby boom, the creation of a consumer driven economy – all changes that have good and bad consequences for our society, most of them unforeseen. War seems to accelerate change whether we want it or not which is a consequence in and of itself. How different we would be if we had not been drawn into the conflict? Alternate history parlor games notwithstanding, it would be impossible to say.

This brings us to the present and our president’s charge that opponents of his health insurance reform plan failed to embrace it because of their fear of change. There is something to that idea, although I would strenuously argue that for many on the right, it was not a question of being fearful of change per se, only the imprudent, unforeseen, uncontemplated changes inherent in a 3000 page bill few had read, fewer still understood, and no one could imagine the worst of what this effort at comprehensive reform of 1/6 the economy would mean.

Russel Kirk may be talking about conservative philosophy here, but I think he speaks to prudent people everywhere:

Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. As John Randolph of Roanoke put it, Providence moves slowly, but the devil always hurries. Human society being complex, remedies cannot be simple if they are to be efficacious. The conservative declares that he acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.

It’s almost as if the old professor had health insurance reform in mind when he wrote those words more than 50 years ago. The difference here between “real conservatives” (Kirk) and “true conservatives” (Palin) is probably lost on the partisans from both sides. But there is a universality to what Kirk is saying that strays beyond ideology and speaks to something far more important; our innate common sense.

President Obama has made a passionate case for health insurance reform. Indeed, many on the left have declared America deficient because we refuse to follow the lead of our European betters and embrace government run health care. I don’t doubt for a minute their sincerity in believing what the Democrats hath wrought on health care reform isn’t good and necessary, although I would gently point out that our founders went about writing a Constitution that put as much distance as possible between us and their ancestors across the sea.

I do question their common sense and prudence in advancing legislation that so many don’t want, and so many have pointed out potential disastrous consequences. Given that all change brings with it these unforeseen happenstances, and that the bigger the change, the more potential for catastrophe, one can only conclude that this kind of massive reform of the entire health care system was unnecessary and imprudent.

Change for the sake of change is mindless idiocy. Change because we are unique, and altering our society to conform to someone else’s idea of what is proper is nonsensical. There must be purpose, logic, and reason to change or you allow passion to govern. And if that be the case, you not only lack prudence, but judgment as well.

The American people would have embraced a far less ambitious, less costly, more tailored reform effort. We could have insured the uninsured and made insurance available to those denied it because of a pre-existing condition. We could have placed the hand of regulation less heavily on insurance companies while forcing them to conform to better standards, with more consumer protection. We could have done all of this and then carefully weighed the consequences before proceeding further.

But we didn’t. And the unforeseen consequences of this imprudent alteration in our health care system may far outweigh any good done in the passing of it.

Latest WWE character: Linda McMahon a/k/a "the Wild RINO"

We thought that the genre was extinct,  but the show business geniuses behind World Wrestling Entertainment have revived a controversial style of character from past seasons.

Without further adieu, WWE presents its 2010 U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut, Linda McMahon...a/k/a "the Wild RINO". 

 ... _&_Linda_McMahon_WWE.jpg

(the Wild RINO argues with loving hubby, Vince McMahon)

Now those familiar with the WWE know that often it creates "good guys" and "bad guys" and the various wrestlers get to change roles as the season progresses.  Who can forget when Sergeant Slaughter portrayed a turncoat when paired with the Iron Sheik?  

Well, central casting has decided that long time WWE CEO Mrs. McMahon now gets to play the role of a conservative Republican in her bid against Senator Chris Dodd.

I got her glossy brochure in today's mail. It mentions she ran a 500 employee NYSE company--but doesn't mention which one.  OK, that a bit dodgy. don'tcha think ?

And McMahon's slick mailer pledges undying opposition to socialized medicine and adamant devotion to the concept of limited government.

Unfortunately, a quick look at Mrs. McMahon's actual record suggests this is as realistic as the plot lines for this week's RAW telecast  

I mean, of all the people whom she could have been a regular contributor to, you think a true believer in conservatism might have excused themselves from writing huge checks every election cycle to Rahm Emanuel?  

And Connecticut liberals are gleeful that Mrs. McMahon contributed over $10,000 to the DCCC, money which went directly into making Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House.  (Nancy Pelosi held a closed fundraiser in Hartford Friday... wonder if Mrs. McMahon wandered by with another check?)

Does Nancy Pelosi even know ...

And please don;t think this was all part of some old, repudiated phase in her Reagan being a New Dealer.  Just months ago she was bankrolling Virginia Democrat Mark  Warner's U.S. Senate bid.

McMahon did something lots of Connecticut Republicans did in 2006 --contribute to Joe Lieberman's campaign. Of course, most of Lieberman's contributors also made the effort to vote in the 2006 election. McMahon didn't bother to cast a vote ; perhaps it's easier to write checks than to wait in line at some Greenwich polling station.    Getting things done in the U.S. Senate can be pretty tedious, too

In fact, it appears McMahon wrote more checks to elect Democrats to the Senate than Republicans. But ok, she says she's a Republican? Well, what kind of Republican?

* One who supported various PACs affiliated with liberal Republican Christie Todd Whitman, the former NJ Governor. PAC's whose very purpose was to oppose conservative Republicans. 

* One who contributed to Whitman's daughter 's unsuccessful NJ congressional race

* One who has had turncoat  former liberal Republican Senator Lowell Weicker on her corporation's board of directors for over a decade

UConn Traditions - Summer ...

I mean , what more could she do to convince me she's a liberal Republican? Although she says she'll spend $30 million to convince me otherwise.

Hmm, hire as top consultant part of the NRSC's brain trust that wrote a blank check to Lincoln Chafee? Perhaps they pine for the days when Linc and Arlen were part of the caucus getting in everyone else's way

Now Mrs. McMahon says she's "against the special interests".  I'll save the bandwidth tonight. It's pretty obvious to even casual observers that the WWE is itself a special interest and has been for well over a decade. 

Connecticut Republicans have a great chance to elect a strong voice for responsible government to replace the spent  hulk of insider liberalism, Chris Dodd.

Thinking that person is Linda McMahon is as vain a hope as the thought another guy with money and star power wouldn't go girlie man once it became fashionable.  If she's the nominee I'll vote for her just to be rid of Dodd, and then expect her to be just another ineffective political celebrity waiting for a script to be written to make her audience happy.   

WWE Raw 2 (XBox Games ...

The Wild RINO might end up being great political theatre, but as far as doing what she says wants to do; c'mon... Wrestling's fake! 


Liberal CT Post columnist Jonathan Kantrowitz said some very kind things about this article, and linked to it, but posed one question I thought he deserved a response to:

Oddly enough, no one is attacking Rob Simmons for being too liberal, despite his support of gay marriage and abortion rights. In fact, most mainstream conservatives, and even some further right, are rushing to support him

I think the point here is everyone pretty much knows that

a) Rob Simmons is a moderate

b) Rob Simmons is a Republican

I have much more faith in an honest moderate with a track record than some woman off the street waving the conservative banner when her record displays zero prior interest in the cause.

One can have honest differences with the other Republican candidates in the field; but they are running as who they are. Unlike Mrs.McMahon, I am reasonably certain Mr. Simmons, Mr. Caligiuri, Mr. Foley and Mr. Schiff have believed in their campaign platforms for more than a couple of days.



Where are the traditional democrats?

Every time I see a pro Obama bumper sticker on a car in traffic, I can’t help but wonder about the driver. I wonder if they are embarrassed to have people see the sticker. I wonder if they forgot it was there, or else they would have removed it. I just can’t understand why anybody would be proud of Obama at this point, and especially how anybody would boast of being a supporter at this point. If I had voted for him, I would want to keep that quiet. Do they really not know that other drivers around them are leaning to get a look at them while shaking their heads and wondering, “What is wrong with you?” or “What were you thinking?” I can’t help but wonder if maybe it isn’t their car and they are just hoping nobody sees them in it.

           Where are the decent, rational, thinking, freedom loving Democrats? I know they are out there. Do any of them have the guts to stand up and be counted? Of that I’m beginning to wonder. I cannot imagine that there are not great numbers of every day Americans who also happen to be Democrats that are deeply concerned with the direction President Obama is leading our country. We can debate conservative versus liberal ideology all day long, and I’m happy to do that. But this runaway train led by Obama is beyond all that.

          This administration is trying to fundamentally change America. Obama is a radical leftist, a statist. He has surrounded himself with radical statists. He has stated his desire to remake America. The point of this piece is not to define the agenda of the Obama administration. That is being done all over the place, and thank God for that. I want to know if and when mainstream Democrats are going to wake up, stand up, and reject this garbage. Obama told the American people that if they wanted to know who he was, to look at the people he had surrounding him. Okay, we looked, and it stinks. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, ACORN, the radicals and tax cheats in his cabinet and czar positions, and more.     

         How obvious does it have to be? When is the evidence overwhelming enough? Democrats, your party has been hijacked. It’s been happening for a long time, but it has reached critical mass. Nobody gets to sit on the fence any more. You are either part of the solution, or you are part of the problem.

         At this point in the Obama administration’s tenure, I can see only three possibilities for why democrats have not joined the chorus against the statist crusade.

1)      they are ignorant

2)      they are apathetic

3)      they are true believers

         It’s hard to imagine anyone truly being ignorant with all the information available, although dependence on the mainstream media will certainly leave one ignorant. But there is just too much being said and written to not at least get some sense of what direction things are going. I include those who may still be deluded as to Obama’s real agenda as being in the ignorant category, but that excuse is getting very thin, very quickly. Apathy is worse than ignorance. At least ignorance is an excuse, albeit a lazy one. To be apathetic at this point is to be devoid of passion for anything. If it doesn’t matter to you yet, you may want to check for a pulse. True believers can at least be credited for taking a side. That’s about all they can get credit for, but it’s something.

         So where are the reasonable, non radical, America loving democrats? We, the opposition, welcome you. We need you. Find your voice, find your conviction, find your courage, and stand up for America.

         In the weeks and months after September 11, 2001, it didn’t matter much if we were Republicans or Democrats, conservative or liberal, what mattered was that we were Americans. America had been attacked and we rallied together to defend her. Well, America is under attack again. Not our buildings, not our very lives, but our principles, our values, and our way of life. Our traditions, our history, the very things that have made America great are being dismantled by this administration. It is time for Americans to once again stand together and defend her. Lose the bumper sticker and get a flag.

More at

A Non-Political Test To Find Out If You Are Liberal Or Conservative

Nicholas Kristof attacked the subject of differentiating liberals from conservatives. Any such attempt is bound to have some limitations considering that there are a wide variety of people falling under both labels, and to some degree the labels are fluid over the years. For example, Barry Goldwater spent most of his career as a conservative leader, considered himself a liberal in his later years and, while he wouldn’t fit in perfectly with either group, would be radically at odds with today’s  conservative movement.

For whatever it is worth, I’ll throw out Kristof’s way to tell if someone is liberal or conservative:

If you want to tell whether someone is conservative or liberal, what are a couple of completely nonpolitical questions that will give a good clue?

How’s this: Would you be willing to slap your father in the face, with his permission, as part of a comedy skit?

And, second: Does it disgust you to touch the faucet in a public restroom?

Studies suggest that conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority, such as slapping Dad. Liberals don’t worry as long as Dad has given permission.

Likewise, conservatives are more likely than liberals to sense contamination or perceive disgust. People who would be disgusted to find that they had accidentally sipped from an acquaintance’s drink are more likely to identify as conservatives.

The upshot is that liberals and conservatives don’t just think differently, they also feel differently. This may even be a result, in part, of divergent neural responses…

One of the main divides between left and right is the dependence on different moral values. For liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm. For conservatives, morality also involves upholding authority and loyalty — and revulsion at disgust.

This fits in well with George Lakoff’s strict father view of conservatives. This mindset based upon upholding authority explains why so many go ballistic in response to criticism of government activities and see liberal dissent as subversive and unpatriotic, along with their tendency to compromise civil liberties to support authority.


We should learn from, not those Dems.

The political discourse in this country is dominated by two contrasting groups; we have the Democrats, represented by Obama, Clinton, Pelosi, and Reid, and the Republicans, represented by Bush, Palin, Huckabee, and Jindal. The reason I picked these individuals is because they, for the most part, agree with all the planks of their parties.

Another trait that they have in common is that most of these political figures, with the exceptions of Obama and Huckabee, are generally disliked. Not hated, not despised, disliked. Few of them have positive approval ratings, even though virtually every person polled had never met these people. While professions can be disliked, asking people what they thought of Bob, a used car salesman, would give you wildly different results than asking people what they thought of Bob, their local car salesman who goes to church with them and has a son who is on the school football team. The reason that these answers are different is that one is asking people what they think of a idea and the other is asking people what they think of a person. One of the main reasons that I believe that the politicians in the first paragraph are so disliked is that people know them as ideas and concepts, not as people. Nancy Pelosi may be a great person to talk to, but I know her as the representative of San Francisco liberalism in the same sense that I know Sarah Palin as the representative of uneducated social conservatism.

The second part of my point is that a district or state will generally elect people closer to the middle of their political balance. In other words, Vermont will elect a flaming liberal, while Mississippi will elect a rabid conservative, because they are near the middle of that state's political balance. Personality plays a big part as well, and many politicians get elected while being much more liberal or conservative than their average constituent, based on their charisma. Examples of this are Sebelius in Kansas or (I hate to use this ubiquitous example) Reagan in California. However, generally speaking, a right-of-center district will elect a right-of-center candidate, and vice-versa. Nate Silver shows a typical way that a region votes, based on how primaries end up, and how liberal/conservative the region is, here

What this article says, for those who are loath of reading, is that each person is a number on the liberal-conservative scale, and they vote for the candidate that is closest to them; "If there's a liberal Democrat at space 10 and a conservative one at space 50, we assume that the voter at space 20 will pick the candidate at 10, who is slightly closer to her ideological preferences". This happens once in the primaries, and once in the general election, and in a 60-40 district, the dominant party wins 75% of the time, which seems logical.

The main development of the past 3 years, as my title implies, is that Democrats have been playing this system more deliberately. Ideally, according to the model, a district that is evenly divided should elect a Democrat at 25 on the scale, and a Republican at 75, and the two would split the vote evenly. However, if the Democrats push to nominate a more conservative member, say at 40 on the scale, that Democrat would win 55-45. I know that there are dozens of intangibles in this situation, such as liberal Democrats staying home or voting Green. However, I think that a lot of progress that the Democrats have made electorally is because they are biting the bullet and choosing more conservative Democrats, while Republicans are talking about doing the opposite.

The other major development, besides picking "conservadems", is the Democrats' adoption of, for lack of a better word, Rovian tactics in terms of branding. Our guy is your neighbor, the guy you buy nails and lumber from (is a small business owner), the guy who keeps you safe at night (is an attorney general), or the guy who is an elder at your church (loves family values). Their guy is the idea, the concept. Kerry is the concept of Vietnam protests and Massachusetts liberalism, while Bush is the local police chief who has had to make the tough decisions necessary to keep your family safe.

To see how both these trends played out today, one needs to look no further than the NY-20 special election. Despite being the worse candidate and starting at a large disadvantage, Murphy won because he was a conservative democrat (as opposed to a typical republican), and because he was successful in branding himself as a small-business entrepreneur, as opposed to Tedisco, who he tied with the Republican establishment.

The applications of this are twofold. One is to ease the pressure on Republicans in liberal and moderate states. The Democrats have let their Blue Dogs vote against the party on some important proposals, and that is a key reason why many of them are still in office. Secondly, allow Republican candidates to distance themselves from prominent members of their party.

Personal disclaimer: I am a moderate conservative who voted for both Bush and Obama, obviously for different reasons. I know the latter would get me banned from other sites (*cough* RedState *cough*), but I appreciate reading debate from liberals and long as it's good ^_^.

Fusionist or Liberaltarian?

Which is easier for a libertarian? Trading in the black markets of banned social behaviors or not paying your taxes? Clearly the former. That’s why when it comes to the unsavory business of political team sports, I generally get behind the team that signals a greater likelihood of leaving the economy to heal itself holistically. Whatever team is more likely to stay out of my pocket and tries not to punish performance (as much) will get my vote. That’s why I continue to support “fusionism,” the coalition between conservatives and libertarians. In short, the accretion of state power in economic matters is much more serious to me than concerns about the renaissance of the moral majority. I’d rather have a President with quaint views on sexuality and drug use than a Fabian Socialist with a trillion-dollar credit card.

But many beltway libertarians have gone “liberaltarian.”  It’s a term meant to describe freedom-lovers who share common purpose with the left on social issues and have therefore made a couple of steps leftward, politically—perhaps even far enough to give hope and change a chance in the voting booth. At least social issues are part of their motivation. Apparently, these libertarians are also tempted by both the pretentions and progressivity of the left—some by the pseudo-intellectual salon culture, others by the genuinely intelligent and cultured members of the leftwing. Libertarians, generally, recoil from the strain of populist conservatism that was created in the left’s caricature of Sarah Palin late last year. And who can blame them? Truly populist conservatives can, indeed, be pretty intolerant and toleration is the prime virtue of any civil society.

So, while I would urge libertarians to carry on sipping lattes with their liberal acquaintances, I’d also suggest they make their core political allegiances with the limited government right—particularly in this age of champagne socialism, White House messiahs and big government fetishism. After all, that’s the only way we libertarians will continue to get a word in edgewise while speaking truth to power. We won’t get it by ingratiating ourselves to lefties and dropping comments about “dispersed knowledge” at cocktail parties. Such is not likely to impress those for whom equality of outcome is their first and last value.

Yuval Levin lays it out pretty well when he writes:

In American politics, the distinction between populism and elitism is further subdivided into cultural and economic populism and elitism. And for at least the last forty years, the two parties have broken down distinctly along this double axis. The Republican party has been the party of cultural populism and economic elitism, and the Democrats have been the party of cultural elitism and economic populism. Republicans tend to identify with the traditional values, unabashedly patriotic, anti-cosmopolitan, non-nuanced Joe Sixpack, even as they pursue an economic policy that aims at elite investor-driven growth. Democrats identify with the mistreated, underpaid, overworked, crushed-by-the-corporation “people against the powerful,” but tend to look down on those people’s religion, education, and way of life. Republicans tend to believe the dynamism of the market is for the best but that cultural change can be dangerously disruptive; Democrats tend to believe dynamic social change stretches the boundaries of inclusion for the better but that economic dynamism is often ruinous and unjust.

Where does that leave the libertarian? Are we to be the cultural and economic elitists? Such a lonely place. But unless we’re talking about weirdo survivalists in rural Michigan or computer gamers claiming a 2nd Amendment right to own nuclear warheads, many beltway libertarians might, indeed, be considered doubly elitist. Still, I wouldn’t strain these characterizations to make them fit. I like the term “dynamists” much better. While we are much more likely to be cast as apologists for both fat cats and pot-smokers, we’d rather be known as those who see the value of innovation and progress through free association—whether in the cultural or economic sphere. And while we have our own branding problems, we bring some important things to the table—unbeatable understanding of market processes, tech-savvy, and a pretty good insight into the way the left thinks.

So the question remains: with which of the two major power-centers (realistically speaking) should we cast our lot? Should we be liberaltarians or fusionists? Well, it depends. The troubling truth is that in recent years Republicans have given us little on which to pin our hopes. If you’re asking libertarians to choose between two statist mobs, we’d just as soon stay home and write snarky articles at both sides from the comfort of our ineffectual non-profits. (Our rectitude is enough to sustain us.) And while we haven’t seen political power since the 18th Century when a couple of us sat down and wrote those Founding documents, we should realize that there is probably a lot more overlap with conservatives on matters of statecraft. In fact, the best hope for the Republican Party is probably to become more like us. But if conservatives want to keep this fusionist coalition going, they’re going have to do more to keep from losing libertarians to the cappuccino crowd. And we can’t afford to lose each other. Not right now. Not with so much at stake. Let's put the Bush years behind us and move on.

Three Ways Republicans Can Win Back the Youth Vote

We simply cannot afford to lose a generation of young voters to the Democrats. As a follow-up to my first post from a few days back, I’d like to propose some specific changes that would better serve the Republican Party in recapturing the youth vote.

Establish a Young Voter Outreach arm of the Republican National Committee

We need to fight tooth and nail to bring young voters back to the Republican Party. Yes, the Young Republican National Federation and College Republican National Committee exist. The problem is that neither of these organizations actively serve to “sell” the Republican Party to young voters – rather, their purpose is to engage young voters who are already affiliated with the GOP. Thus, the Young Voter Outreach arm would serve to accomplish this, demonstrating to young voters that the Republican Party actually cares about winning their vote and is not just the party of older generations.

This arm of the RNC must be overseen by – surprise – a Republican under the age of 30. It would be responsible for working with the RNC’s eCampaign folks to launch new, state-of-the-art websites, blogs, and other online projects that are designed specifically to appeal to young voters who are not necessarily Republicans. One of the goals of these projects should be to serve to answer crucial questions like, “Why is the Republican Party’s platform the right one for me as a young voter?” or “Why should I, as a young voter, be alarmed about the Democrats’ plan to [insert bad policy here – redistribute the wealth, raise taxes, etc.]?”

But there’s more. As a Party, we need to begin building and then maintaining a strong base of young, up-and-coming Republicans, who in the near future can begin running for the U.S. House and Senate. These young candidates will help allow us to pursue a 435 district strategy while bringing new, fresh faces to the table. Therefore, the Young Voter Outreach arm would be responsible for identifying and recruiting these folks, but more importantly, it would encourage them to begin running for local offices and provide training sessions to show them how to run for an office and win.

Differentiate from Democrats Through Ideals of Limited Government

Over the next two years, the Democrats will look to expand government in many ways. As I noted in my first column, many young voters are decidedly libertarian, and thus they’ll frown on these changes – a circumstance that Republicans, as the party of free-markets and personal liberty, can capitalize upon.

Despite this, young voters are going to find it difficult to support the Republican Party if it remains the party that condones government intervention in such issues as gay marriage or the behavior of two consenting adults in their own bedroom. These socially conservative issues may be important to voters in the other generations, but in the eyes of many of my peers, government has no place in getting involved in these matters. Indeed, the Republican Party’s continued support of government involvement in these issues continues to reinforce the notion to many young voters that the GOP is the party of the older generations.

Clearly, some sort of common ground needs to be reached if the Republican Party wishes to appeal to the young voting bloc while not losing social conservatives. In terms of policy, what could this balance look like? On issues such as gay marriage, Republicans could advocate the voters in each state making their own statewide decision. Specifically, California’s Proposition 8 is a phenomenal example of how the voters – rather than the government – can determine their state’s position on this sort of issue. Abortion, however, is a slightly different animal. If you believe (as I do) that life begins at conception, then abortion is, quite simply, the infringement of another human being’s right to life. Since the federal government is charged with protecting people’s “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Republicans can fairly argue that it is the federal government’s responsibility to fight to limit abortion.

Taking this all into account, a forward-looking, pro-young voter platform statement for the Republican Party of the future should look something like this:

The Republican Party is the party of individual freedom, limited government, and personal choice. At the federal level, we will fight to reduce the size of government and make it more accountable to the people who fund it. We will fight to protect every human being’s God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And at the statewide level, we will work with the citizens to protect and preserve the traditional values upon which this great nation was built.

Rethink Our Branding and Organizational Identity

This one’s so simple, yet we cannot underestimate its importance: the fact is that a huge part of what drew young voters to Barack Obama was his hip, corporate-like branding and identity. Some might argue that this is shallow, but I strongly disagree. Instead, this is the reality of effective marketing. Indeed, it is the same reason that some brands flourish and while others fail miserably. Marketing is one of the most critical topics in the business world, and Barack Obama has taught us that it can be equally as significant in politics.

Just look at a side-by-side of the two candidate’s logos. Obama’s “O” logo probably has near 100% brand recognition – you don’t need the “Obama ‘08″ below it to know what it represents. On the other hand, if you took away McCain-Palin and left only the star at the top with the two lines extending out from it, would anyone have a clue what it represents? Nope.

Further, Obama’s simplistic yet impeccably memorable slogan of “hope” and “change” were consistent and didn’t change in the slightest since he entered the race. McCain didn’t maintain such a consistent message, and unfortunately, his “Country First” slogan that was implemented near the end of the race does not have the appeal of “hope” and “change.”

Fortunately, the Democratic Party itself does not have a branding or identity advantage over the Republican Party. This creates a unique opening for the GOP to take the initiative. Redesign the RNC’s logo and to reflect the trends of Web 2.0. Find a unifying, clear-cut message for the party that carries wide-spread appeal. And most importantly, offer resources so that our candidates as well as our state and local parties can do the same.


The changes that I’ve identified in this post are necessary for the Republican Party to transform itself as the party of the future. A huge component that will be necessary to accomplishing this is the GOP’s ability to attract younger, fresh faces – the people who are this country’s future. Ultimately, the changes I propose all add up to one overreaching goal: to transform the Republican Party into one that represents all generations and embodies the core principles that make this nation so great.

This entry is cross-posted at NextGenGOP.

Anticipating The New Conservative African-American Movement

A new report from Rasmussen states that "Two days after Barack Obama became the first African-American to be voted into the White House, the percentage of black voters who view American society as fair and decent jumped 18 points to 42%".  As there are approximately 28 million African-Americans, that 18 percent translates to about 5 million people. This change will be--by far--the most important positive aspect for conservatism to come out of this election,  Certainly the numbers may not be stable.   Certainly a yes/no question hides as much as it reveals.  But look at the potential implications:

The belief that America is unfair motivates much of the liberal agenda including an activist court system, affirmative action, unions,  large government handouts, and taxes on the rich.  Conservatives value fairness, but also heavily value other concerns such as tradition, liberty, and stability.  It is easier to balance fairness with other concerns if you believe that your country is fair than if you believe your country is unfair.

Today, five million African-Americans are far more open to conservative thinking than they were just two weeks ago.  We should welcome our new allies and work hard to make them a permanent part of our movement.

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