A lot of people here want to double down on social conservationism, indicating rather accurately that where values voters nominated true pro-life conservatives they had strong showing in the house races. We picked up conservative seats in the house races, while loosing seats in the senate and of course missing out on the oval office.
These are generals defending investment in the Maginot line of conservative politics. Someone compared the GOP campaign to the polish cavalry facing the Nazi Blitzkrieg. I thought it rather accurate. Without any fanfare the Obama canpaign simply did an end run around the GOP and won where it counts.They won all the big states in the west and northeast, and they won important high density population cities in almost every state.
Lacking a commonly accepted description I will refer to these voters who responded so well to Obama’s campaign as “the cool society voter”.
What this success in congressional races but overwhelming defeat in that the national and big state elections tells me is the Republican appeal to conservatism resonates less with the cool society voters then the scare tactics that the Democrats can use. And we give them these tools, because the more we try and impose strict values on our candidates for state wide and national office the more we look to the cool society voter like Al Sharpton looks to us. Crazy folks that want to take stuff away from others for their own agenda. The frustration obvious.
So how does this pose a structural problem.
First, you can’t get hard core conservatives through the primary system. Caucus and open primaries will not produce candidates that appeal to the conservative voter. It is because it is a sampling of a group that does not meet the definition. There are only two ways to advance a conservative. Abandon the primary system, or close it. Even a closed system is not likely to help since so many of the “republicans’ from the north east are liberals.
The second problem is that the terrain on which the battle is being fought has changed. But, the generals are still fighting the last war. I am talking about the question of choice. Pro-life supporters are easily painted as crazy Al Sharpton types that want to impose their view on everyone by manipulating the power of big government. That makes any GOP candidate an easy target. It scares the cool society voter and turns off a lot of fiscal conservatives that want smaller government.But the real problem for the pro-life movement is that the war has moved on. The battle for the hearts and minds of choice is between who gets to choose if a baby can come to full term. It isn’t about whether or not abortion is legal, or murder, but whether a person even has the right to chose life or if that is the role of government. The IPAB is specifically designed to allow the government to intervene in choices of health care service delivery. They consider abortion a medical procedure, like a tonsillectomy, and evaluate it’s use based on benefits to society. They can kill people to cut costs.That needs to really sink in.
Since we won’t get in the fight over this real fear for the cool society voter, we can’t use this knowledge against the Democrats when they advance their war on women theory. There is a war on women. It is called ObamaCare and that will steal a lot more of women’s rights than just access to a legal abortion.
For any party to offer any hope of influencing the shape of things to come, they have to fight the battles in front of them even if it is not the battles they want to win. Our hope for the future is to carve out space, free from Washington intervention, were we can retain liberty and prosperity while living our core beliefs. Not imposing those beliefs on others though government. Progressive government leads to failure, it has every where it has been tried and will do so again here. But for the time being we need to battle within the bounds of the game. Or we will remain useful only as a demon to whip the cool society voter into action.
The primary and caucus system will prevent us from advancing a conservative for broad based offices like senate or president in most states, and in enough states to prevent control. Our efforts and responses to this futile effort make conservatives look like crazy Al Sharpton types to the modern cool society voter. Clinging to Reagan Coalition ideology leads to frustration and we loose out on many opportunities to advance the failure of progressive government and hurry it’s departure.
We can’t make the progressives who control the senate, the oval office and the Democrat party look bad. We have to get out of the way and let them do that to themselves. Which brings us to the radical change that is required. It is time to learn and apply the rules. If you don’t understand what rules the politicians are playing by you can start here for a primer. Or buy the book.
We must win where we can engage our opponents, under the rules of the game as they exist. Too often we do nothing more than waste time arguing what the rules should when the other side has the ball.