This is the first of a two-day discussion between TheNextRight.com (Soren Dayton and Jon Henke) and Culture11.com (James Poulos and Conor Friedersdorf) about the Best Case and Worst Case scenario for the Right in 2008. Conor Friedersdorf's contribution is here. James Poulos contribution is here. Jon Henke's is here. Soren Dayton continues.
I have felt for a long time that the GOP's electoral collapse in 2008 is a disaster for America. While the GOP has demonstrated itself to the incompetent at both politics and governing, our country is facing serious issues. While the GOP's answers and the answers of conservatives are not completely adequate for the questions of the day, the Democrats and the left are much, much worse. Whether it is the future of international institutions, labor relations, electoral reform, immigration, welfare, taxes, trade, the nationalization of our banking system, among others, it is likely that the right will not have a seat at the table while these issues are resolved.
So let's take a deep breath and be adult for a moment. Without really disputing the points about conservatism benefitting from a sooner moment to reset and without disputing the real reasons that conservatives find John McCain wanting, the guy has to win for the sake of our country and our party.
The biggest dilemma that I see for us as conservatives or people of the right is the power of the left to enact policies that have long-term feedback loops. Let's look at some examples:
- The Democrats are proposing the "Employee Free Choice Act" or card-check which would strip an employee of the freedom to choose -- or even debate -- the structure of their employment contract. Aside from the essential loss of freedom, this will flood the coffers of union PACs and divert union pension programs from their path towards self-destruction. A President McCain can simply veto this and fight this from the bully pulpit.
- The Democrats are already drafting electoral "reforms" that will validate the essentially criminal behavior of Ohio Democratic Secretary of State who (seemingly) willfully refuses to implement the checks of the Help America Vote Act. The Democrats will talk about expanding the franchise, but they will really strip out the checks on fraud that are such a compelling story right now with ACORN. This probably wouldn't even come to a vote without a President Barack Obama to sign it.
- The Democrats are salivating at the possibility of delivering an immigration reform proposal that delivers a contrast with Republicans that will help solidify Latino votes for the Democrats. Republicans will be struck with a brand in the Latino community as hateful while giving the Democrats the image of compassionate problem solvers. McCain is a compassionate figure in the Latino community who can take credit for the passage of this legislation, regardless of what conservatives think.
- Obama's tax proposals create incentives for the same kind of dependency that conservatives dismantled 12 years ago. Again, not even conceivable with a McCain presidency.
- Finally, Obama's proposal to expanding the service corps is going end up looking like dropping 300,000 new ACORN-style organizers paid by the government. McCain has a service program, but is there any doubt that his would look quite different recruiting different kinds and people and deploying them differently?
Let's be clear. If you thought that George W. Bush and Karl Rove were rigging the American political system against the left--a not unreasonable position--, Barack Obama and his allies are going to teach with you what patsies the Republicans are at this.
The Democrats have an agenda that has nothing to do with helping America. Barack Obama's whole political career has been about paying off his constituencies. And he could end up paying them off by delivering 3-5% of a national vote in a structural and long-term sense. The best case for the GOP this year is to be able to stop this with a President McCain in the bully pulpit, regardless of all of his many failings.