Republicans Need New Strategy II: The Shores of Desolation

Our tide has receded and we stand amidst wrack and drying foam upon a desolate shore. What’s next for us? Will we starve and shrink, or can we somehow pull that tide back?

Republicans Need New Strategy II: The Shores of Desolation

tidal-flatsIt’s 256-178 against Republicans in the House of Representatives and it’s 59-41 in the Senate, our President is Democrat and likely to get two or more Supreme Court appointments during his coming term or terms. The most populous states in the country are solidly in the (D) column, and our last holdout states are being worked on by the Dems as I type (Pelosi was in Texas yesterday, and many prominent Dems are making regular sweeps – it’s the next populous red state they are working on converting to a grape.) That’s our reality and what we must deal with.

Our tide has receded and we stand amidst wrack and drying foam upon a desolate shore. What’s next for us? Will we starve and shrink, or can we somehow pull that tide back?

To do so takes a long term, mid term, and short term strategies based on reality. Neither strategies based on what’s happening in the news cycle at the moment, nor strategies based on worries and wishes will work.

There’s been lots of coulda, shoulda, woulda analysis of the past election but one thing is very clear – many of our pundits and strategists are now betting the farm on a four and out failure scenario and the conventional wisdom that the party out of power gains in mid term elections. While balancing will come into play, we can’t count on that alone in 2010.

I’m one of those nutty guys who likes to plan for worst case and be happily surprised and cheer like a madman if anything better does occur. You won’t see me thinking Obama’s going to shoot both of his feet off, and you won’t see me planning how to win last election, or thinking that we will still be in recession in four years. Capitalism is stronger that that, no matter what the Dems do – it’s a primal force of human nature that can’t be overcome. Even in Communist China and the old Soviet Union it can’t be overcome. Preparing for the last war you had instead of the war that’s coming is a classic military blunder and the outcome of that can be even worse in the political arena.

First let’s look at short term: what we can do until election 2010 and the levers we have available.

With the Democrat super-majority we do not have a lot of options. To ameliorate bad legislation our levers amount to these:

  • Blocking in committee and using procedural rules where we can based on specific reasoned points that create political opportunities. Easy grandstanding populist issues should be eschewed as the general public will see through these with the ever present aid of the adversarial press
  • Influencing moderate and right democrats on specific regional issues: pair off teams of Republican legislators from their region with Democrats who are on the bubble or at risk in conservative to moderate states. This will not work if the R’s are branded RINO and beset by the nihilistic far right of our party.
  • Influencing through public campaigns and the Democrat’s constituency – target the Democrat Congress critter’s base with the agitprop, not the Republican base or the already converted in his area. This means retooling some of the bumper stickers to appeal more to the left not to the right. The red meat we use against them must be cooked to their liking, not ours if they are to swallow it.
  • Working through the courts to challenge unconstitutional segments of new legislation. The opportunities here are plentiful, each new session of congress seems less capable of writing legislation that will stand up in court. e.g. a few Property rights and Free Speech cases in the West could get us a lot of mileage.
  • Working at State level to supercede and challenge that which is truly unconstitutional – doing this for social issues gets us the FAIL, doing it for gun rights, sound fiscal policy, property rights, and individual liberties gets us the win, because if we don’t pull back the West and some of the North east we become the permanent superminority. Becoming the new Dixiecrat party is not only antithetical to our founding (our first platform was “Free State Kansas”,) but it will also ensure that we become irrelevant at national level for the next decade.

These are levers we can pull – but they are near term tactics, not a strategy. To get to a workable strategy we have to know the terrain and we can worry about the local weather after we figure out where the hills and valleys are.

To do that I propose that the Republican party commission an objective third party firm to conduct a neutral survey. Not a push survey set up to highlight Republican issues like you get every election. (You know the one I’m talking about: it begs for money after trying to push your hot-buttons with a supposed survey.) Make some of the questions on the survey open: don’t give multiple choice selections instead ask openly without prompting what their top three issues are and allow them to hand write or voice their answer.

This survey needs to be of the general public and it needs to be set up not to elicit push or pull responses but rather to survey true beliefs and positions.

We need to also poll our own base with the same survey. We don’t need a Frank Luntz or Dick Morris type involved in this, we need a double blind uninvolved and objective third party firm that’s not tied to a party, think tank, or news agency. Neutral and objective must be our watchwords for this.

Why do we need it? There have been some amazing shifts in demographics the past fifteen years, and the traditional base of what constitutes a Republican has changed, and America has changed as well. With that change in terrain we are fighting on new ground. We need a real assessment. When that comes back we must take off our blinders, blinkers, and rose colored glasses.

First step is to match up areas of agreement between our base and the general public. Those are our strengths so we must make some of those our lead issues, and if they are our strongest cards  then we must base strategy upon them.

Second we must look at areas where we are in major disagreement with the general public. Those are the important stumbling blocks, those are the issues the Dems will make grape states with.

Pundits: Don’t assume you know this already. You might have an inkling, but don’t project your wishes on the results. When and if the returns come back read the sections that make you weep, take a look in the mirror and do some soul searching – don’t make up conspiracy theories to justify the difference, don’t what- if the results. Instead take it, absorb it, sleep on it, and then think on it some more before you come to conclusions.

While you are waiting on that survey that might never happen, please pick up this book, and look at some of the factors over the last few decades that defy conventional wisdom and punditry on elections. Red State Blue State, Rich State, Poor State contains a lot of charts and graphs based on empirical reality. It tries to be neutral, but the left loves it because it underlines their class warfare line that the Republican party is the party of the rich.

It turns out that Rich people vote Republican more often, and Poor people vote Democrat more often. Nothing earth shattering there, you could say the authors are being masters of the obvious. However the big paradigm shift you have to pay attention to is this: Poor states vote Republican, Rich States vote Democrat.  You can hypothesize about that if you like, but the conclusion I’ve come to is that populous states have larger middle and upper classes. What must we do to get them back?

To me the answer is not Populism as that appeals to the poor states already in the Republican column and not necessarily the middle and upper classes in more populous urban states.

If we can’t win populous states we can’t be a national party. Think on it please.

Update: The Sensuous Curmudgeon has an Open Letter to the Party that’s well worth reading here.

The next installment in this series will map mid-game and long term strategies: Where is the Republican party going to head for the rest of the century? Is it a positive appealing direction?

Republican Strategy Needs to Change

“Anyone can be angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, in the right way — that is not easy.”

— Aristotle, “Nicomachean Ethics”

Republican Strategy Needs to Change: Anger Management

The Republicans in Congress and our Republican Governors are playing a low-key, low-profile role in directing the party after several years of “top down” control. This comes at a point when the GOP is politically the weakest they have been in decades and when there are still two critical wars to win.  That temporary power vacuum has unleashed the loons at the party fringes, and we are seeing a steady concerted attack on President Obama, but too much of that is misdirected angst. It’s like the poem: “the worst among us are full of passionate intensity…”

An example of this is how the Tea parties are going. The time for tea parties was before the trillion in debt was pushed through Congress – instead they are afterward. There are probably a lot of good people attending Tea Parties, and I’m certainly not against them, but when some of the organizers are from the Ron Paul camp and people are stepping forward to entice people into third parties like the Constitution Party then that’s way off-message and highly counterproductive.

Meanwhile Obama’s doing pretty well in polls, so the hysteria we’ve seen from the birth certificate, secessionist, and other assorted loons is having no effect. Obama has survived the first 100 days with his glow intact, and the general public ranks him higher at this point than the past two presidents we had. That’s not  a good sign of success so I recommend changing strategies.

If you follow the secessionist link above to Tim Sandefur’s post, it’s pretty easy to suss out that Ron Paul isn’t a libertarian, but rather a Faux-libertarian. Neither is he a constitutionalist, but rather a faux-constitutionalist. The third party candidate are also all populists, and need rage to be noticed and to stump – but as populists they must have someone to demonize, and they’ve picked President Obama.

The initiative against the O has come from pundits who have rediscovered Ayn Rand and objectivism because her writings seem prophetic in this age of  Trillions in debt. The problem with that is not Objectivism but rather the “paleo libertarians” who are just wearing the cloak of objectivism to further the causes they prefer. There used to be a containment of the Paleos, but with the deaths of both William F. Buckley and Paul Weyrich the fence is down and the leash isn’t in anyone’s hand — the  dogs are loose and baying loudly.

Going after Obama alone is ridiculous when the problem is really the lack of power Republicans have. That must be remedied first. Sure we have to whittle down that popularity so he doesn’t have long coat tails in 2010, but we can do that persistently and over time. Our main focus the next two years should be the democratic clowns in Congress. Everyone’s likely to spend the next few days frothing about the release of the Abu Ghraib photos, it’s the second flourish of the red cape before the bull, the first flourish was the release of the torture memos. While that’s going on Witch-hunt Waxman is putting together Cap and Tax, and the bloated budget bill is in conference committee. But does the bull ever notice the matador’s sword before it strikes?

How can we whittle down the power base of the Dems in congress, how can we turn some blue dogs and conservative state dems if anyone who works with them or tries is going to have the Rhino label slapped on and the pack set upon them?

That’s got to stop on the right for many reasons. To stop this ineffective angst and sapping of their base the R’s need to get to work, and now’s the the perfect time since it’s a non election year.

Anger Management For the Right

“Anyone can be angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, in the right way — that is not easy.”

— Aristotle, “Nicomachean Ethics”

Many of our pundits and bloggers are tossing any red meat they find laying by the roadside into this vacuum to get people re-involved. They don’t seem to care that the roadkill they are scraping up is laid out by nutballs from third party and single cause groups. They don’t care that the sauce on the roadkill is faux outrage, planted rumors, and retreaded kookspiracies. It’s also Rovian Rahmian the way Obama floats things that rile everyone up but which then come to nothing or which are non-essential in the longer term. An example is the release of the Abu Ghraib photos. Just the right red cape to distract us with the non-essential at the right time.

Most of what pundits are passing as meat is old chewed over gristle originally planted by the left. It comes from whack job sites like Alex Jones (you aren’t going to see a link there from here…) and the PUMAS, and from the hard right re-branded John Bircher camp. While it might get some riled up, it’s bad for the future of the right in the US. It ranges from kookspiricies to rage over the non-essential – the nihilistic anger stirred is getting some response, but is it right, is it effective, is it purposeful?

The answer to all of the above is mostly no – the polls show that all the frothing to date has been purposeless and futile.

So the right needs some anger management, but nobody seems willing. As long as gristle disguised as red meat is our diet we will suffer from bileous nihilism, and any Republicans who do step forward to lead will be soundly thumped with indignant cudgels of wrath by one faction or another, leaving a trampled corpse in their wake. Hence those low Republican profiles I mentioned earlier, some are waiting for others to self destruct before stepping forward.

Somehow we have to dump the anger and the only way forward is to really stop the madness. With that in mind, I’m going to suggest a few things:

  • First does that thing… you know — that thing you are getting ready to raise red flags over really matter? Is it anything people who aren’t pundits will remember in a month, two months, five years? Will it affect lives long term, will it change the course of the nation? Is it essential, and if so are you really reporting the essential part? If not then it’s just another dirty rag in the daily spin cycle.
  • Second: Is it well sourced, or just a rumor? Is there an email campaign with someone quoting someone who is someone’s friend who knows a person? If it’s not well sourced and factual it could be something planted, don’t be a goof by running with kookspiracies.
  • Third: Have you researched what you are talking about, or are you just letting emotion carry you through your post or monologue? If not you could end up with egg on your face.
  • Fourth: Edit. Have you let hyperbole, exaggeration, and purple prose turn your factual piece into a fanciful piece? Is hysteria clouding your finer points?

Next installment I’ll talk more about how the focus needs to change, why congress and the governorships are so important going into 2010, and how Republican political strategy must change from leading through fear to positive direction before conservatives can regain any power.

One last thing: Obama releasing the memos and the photos is horrible indeed, but they are really history long past  — the longer we rant, the longer they drive the news-cycle. Think on it and the effect on our troops before you go off the deep end with a week’s worth of posts about this.

Obama is Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense

Most Americans would not recognize the acronym “BMD” or understand its meaning, but Ballistic Missile Defense is a keystone to our strategic defense systems as well as those of NATO.

Russia, China, and a raft of third world thugs and dictators are as openly and adamantly opposed to the program as Obama is.

James Lewis at American Thinker has an article up about this, and I will take a moment here to completely underline one of the key effects of BMD for Geo-political strategy. To help you understand this effect I’m going to explain what I call the “Snapshot Bully Scenario.”

While nuclear war would be unthinkable with either Russia or China, and Ballistic Missile Defense at present isn’t designed to cope with their large arsenals, BMD does prevent the “snapshot bully” scenario. A single nuclear shot or threat of one by Russia or China against a neighbor they were trying to coerce would be unlikely, but it’s also unlikely that the response would be nuclear in return if they were given slight pretext and only one nuclear device were used or threatened. The opposition would be world wide, but it probably wouldn’t be military since that would initiate WWIII at a nuclear level. The precedent for limited nuclear weapon use was already set by the US when we used them against Japan.

What’s more likely is that Russia or China could threaten through proxy – a nuclear armed North Korea, Pakistan, India, or Iran backed by a tight alliance with either Russia or China could use the snapshot bullying tactic of a single shot or threat of a single shot to gain compliance, and that would be more likely than the direct threat scenario outlined above. Not to mention that if Iran gets nukes, it’s likely they will share the awful bounty with people like Hugo Chavez to threaten our allies in this hemisphere. Without BMD it’s likely that the Eastern European or South Asian country threatened would knuckle under to whatever demand was made under coercion from snapshot nuclear blackmail.

The current BMD program (once in place) completely removes that threat, since it makes it highly unlikely that a single shot would succeed in reaching target. Japan is already protected from snapshot scenarios, as are others in the area by their BMD batteries and ships.

China and Russia’s strategic nuclear forces also make the conventional armies of countries in East Europe and the Sub-continent of Asia somewhat useless in defending against an ally of either Russia or China, and there are many other scenarios you could imagine where the ability to defeat a single nuclear shot becomes extremely important beyond just that of the madman with a nuclear ICBM scenario most people think of.

Barack’s opposition to BMD and the space program is clearly a disaster in the making for the US and our Allies. Please write or join here and let your support of BMD be known. ( Please note that I am conservative, and oppose Barack Obama and the Democrats in general, but the MDAA is Non-partisan and supports the concept of BMD in general without lobbying for any particular technology.)