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The Republican Who Can Win

Dorothy Rabinowitz recently wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal, The Republican Who Can Win. I want to bullet-point the suggestions that she makes in this piece, and I also want to expand and elaborate on what these points mean and what they do not mean in my opinion.

  • The Republican who wins the presidency will have to have more than a command of the reasons the Obama administration must go. He will have to have a vision of this nation, and its place in the world, that voters recognize, that speaks to a sense of America they can see and take pride in. At Louisiana State University recently, a student who planned to burn an American flag had to be rushed from the campus for his safety, much to his shock. Students by the hundreds had descended on him in rage, waving their own banners and roaring “USA! USA!” at the top of their lungs. It was a shout that spoke for more than they could say.After all the years of instruction, all the textbooks on U.S. rapacity and greed, all the college lectures on the evil and injustice the U.S. had supposedly visited on the world, something inside these young rose up to tell them they were Americans. That something lies in the hearts of Americans across the land and it is those hearts to which the candidate will have to speak.
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  • The Republican who wins will have to know, and show that he knows, that most Americans aren’t sitting around worried to death about big government. They’re worried about jobs and what they have in savings.
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  • To win the presidency in 2012, the Republican candidate will require certain strengths. Among them, a credible passion for ideas other than cost-cutting and small government. He or she will have to speak in the voice of Americans who know in their bones the extraordinary character of their democracy, and that voice will have to ring out steadily. That Republican candidate will need, no less, the ability to talk about matters like Medicare and Social Security without terrorizing the electorate.
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  • The Republican who wants to win would avoid talk of the costs that our spendthrift ways, particularly benefits like Social Security, are supposedly heaping on future generations. He would especially avoid painting images of the pain Americans feel at burdening their children and grandchildren. This high-minded talk, rooted in fantasy, isn’t going to warm the hearts of voters of mature age-and they are legion-who feel no such pain. None. And they don’t like being told that they do, or that they should feel it, or that they’re stealing from the young.
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  • The candidate would do well to give time and all due detail on the activities of the Justice Department under President Obama, the most ideologically driven one in U.S. history. He would make the connection between the nature of this Justice Department and the president’s view of the American nation. That view was made clear early, in candidate Obama’s repeated reference to that happy time ahead when America would once again be worthy of respect-which we had presumably lost through our immoral policies-and when we would regain the trust of friends and allies around the world.
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  • The candidate will have to speak clearly on foreign policy – and begin, above all, by showing he actually has one.

On the first point I do not believe that Dorothy is talking only about how a candidate will have to speak to the young college student. Yes, she gives an example from a university, but this attitude of rising up and being against those who would burn the flag or speak disparagingly of the USA as an evil nation can be seen in people of every age and race. The mush being poured into minds on U.S. rapacity, greed, evil, and injustice are not just coming from college professors to their students. The MSM and the entertainment industry pouring the mush into everyone’s brain has not destroyed the spark inside some people who have always been proud of this nation. The Republican who wins will connect with the hearts of people who see an America they have always taken pride in.

On the second and third point I do not believe that Dorothy is talking about how a candidate will have to embrace big government. What she is saying is that most people are concerned with having a job, and not with losing savings that they have managed to accumulate. The candidate who can speak about how wrong it is for the federal government to tell anyone what type of light bulb they must use, or to tell them how wrong it is that federal regulators think that fish and wildlife are more important than jobs for Americans. The message of the problem will be to shrink the government by removing the burdensome regulatory and enforcement actions, but saying only that you are against big government does not resonate. The candidate must explain why they want smaller government and why they want cost-cutting instead of just saying that is what they want.

The fourth point – preaching to seniors how they are supposed to feel guilty about getting their social security/medicare benefits may be quite appealing to very conservative ideologues, but it is not the way for the candidate to win the additional votes he needs to win in a general election. Yes, the senior citizens are indirectly responsible for the government we have due to their choices in past elections, but let’s remember that it is those who are elected who have direct responsibility for the out of control spending. I do not see a political winning strategy in blaming the senior citizen segment of the U.S. population for the debt mess that we find ourselves in.

The fifth point is a corollary to the first point. People do not want a “show trial” for KSM in New York City, and people do not want the men who obtained intelligence which led to finding and bringing Bin Laden to justice – to be prosecuted. This continuing madness by the Justice Department needs to be spoken out against clearly and often.

The final point is self-evident to me. There appears to be some candidates who are trying to run on just the economy alone, but I do not think that this is a winning strategy politically. It is true that once you make a clear foreign policy statement that you will have detractors who disagree with you.  This is, in my opinion, outweighed by the number of people who respect you for speaking clearly and confidently about foreign policy.  My best example for this is Ronald Reagan. When he ran for President, he enunciated a clear foreign policy that was at odds with the current Kissinger/Ford/Carter policy of peaceful coexistence and spheres of influence. People who disagreed with Reagan’s foreign policy still cast their vote for him, and later Henry Kissinger admitted he had been wrong.

I want to close by saying that in no way am I making a point that we do not currently have candidates for President who can do what Dorothy Rabinowitz writes about the Republican who can win. We already have candidates who are capable of heeding this advice. Dorothy may be one of those inside the beltway columnists like Krauthammer, but I think she has a point of view worthy of consideration. There have been the established political insiders from the beginning of our nation’s founding, and sometimes they contribute wise advice.

pilgrim
I am retired after 36 years of being a state of Indiana employee. I enjoy writing and reading conservative blogs.

13 COMMENTS

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13 COMMENTS

  1. I appreciate both Ms Rabinowitz’s comments and your commentary. And I generally agree with her. She seemed to be saying that for those who wanted a Mitch Daniels candidacy, and are now wistfully hoping for a Paul Ryan candidacy, that the job is much broader than that…and the American people, almost instinctively, get it. I think she is correct that the winning candidate must 1) find the right buttons to push for they are in control this time around, just like 2010, and 2) must be honest and sincere, and if done, 3) Obama need not show up, because he can do none of the these. If the GOP puts forth a faker, OBama has a chance.

  2. We have had presidents who had been governors, Senators, congressmen, lawyers, generals, naval commanders..in the early days statesmen/thinkers. While ‘executive experience’, which Obama didn’t have, is obviously valuable, the idea that we need someone as President who knows how to ‘run things’ is a little bit counterintuitive to what most of us conservatives believe – that government, and those who inhabit it, mostly need to stay out of the way, as far as economic matters go. Plus, if some of us have our way, soon there will be a lot less government to ‘run’; i.e., no Commerce, Education, HHS, et al.

  3. Dorothy refers to our form of government as a “Democracy.” Big, big difference between a Democracy and a Republic. It is clear that the US has been moving closer to a Democracy, the majority rules, and the minority and the individual have little, if any, in the governance of the country. Look at the Holder Justice Department and their total lack of adherance to the law. They make it up as they go along, and it is always titled toward race and redistribution policies.

    Reagan was seen by the Democrats, and many elite Republicans as to be a buffoon on foreign policy. Reagans policy was “peace through strength.” He did increase the national security/defense budget by much, but he still accomplished prosperity in America. He gave us all a reason to believe in the “shinning city on the hill.” He may not have been perfect, but he is still the conservative standard, despite Gingrich preaching that the era of Reagan is over. There really will never be a Reagan again, because he was not cloned. His ideas and policies gave America real hope and change, after the malaise of the Carter sweater doctrine.

    I am much more interested in the character, the integrity, the principles, the values, and the consistent conservatism of the candidate. I could care less where they come from, the Senate, a Governor, or the private sector. I want very much to know that someone has the ability to make considered, rational, principled decisions on who he will surround himself with, as no candidate on God’s green earth can know everything. If I can be convinced that any candidate will look for the best team to surround him, I’m good with that.

      • I agree with the shorthand, and I also agree with having the best team surrounding you. The team can only do detail and minutia of what is the President’s policy. This why Reagan had his decisions about the Soviet Union, and before him Truman had his decisions about the new nation of Israel. Those are decisions only the President can own.

    • Actually, it depends on how you look at it. What you say is true from one perspective but from another it could be viewed as the “tyranny of the minorities”, as in statistical minorities.

      The government we have is catering to such minorities who collectively make up a majority, or close enough to one that it’s a standoff between average citizens and special interests under a that umbrella of government “goodwill”.

      Not sure how much sense I’m making but think about all the times the majority, which is us average Americans, have been overruled by government in favor of a certain minority or special interest group… the burden of which falls upon the majority with little to no recourse.

      We are not moving toward a democracy over republic nor can we still view ourselves as a democratic republic but towards something else entirely. The names being used now don’t fit, for one reason or another, but the only ones that do aren’t politically correct.

        • The problem with all this… for us… is they’re not aligned like a Venn Diagram but in a seemingly haphazard fashion with overlaps across a network where some overlaps are apparent while others are merely loosely overlapping and to all appearances have nothing in common with some groups but all voting in favor of a particular party claiming to represent them because they don’t know that one day, one group is going to have the be cut loose (when it’s too late to stop what’s happening) in favor of a stronger group that is needed to keep power in the “proper” hands.

          Dang! That’s a looooooong sentence, 🙂

  4. Ok, Pil’, lets get “deep”. Yes, as a child of the 70s, I use the word deep. First, some truisms. The winner of the Presidency is almost always the one that is deemed the happy optimist. No candidate for re-election has won with an unemployment rate above 7.2% since FDR (and his rate was much lower than Hoover’s and FDR ended Prohibition).

    Yes, our nominee must offer a hopeful vision and not just a recounting of the gloom and doom.

    But, and I am not just now suggesting that our nominee say what I am about to say before February 2013 for lots of reasons, I would suggest that for conservatives and Republicans to be able to extend the conservative revolution beyond what I think will be another major GOP landslide in 2012, we will, soon after the 2012 victory, address the economic reality that I saw 3 years ago in my

    2008 A Hard Time vs Hard Times and its redux in 2009:

    https://www.redstate.com/gamecock/2008/09/24/bad-dem-cholesterol-hardened-arteries-a-hard/

    https://www.redstate.com/gamecock/2009/04/20/a-hard-time-vs-hard-times-redux/

    Can I quote FDR and say, My fellow Americans and my friends, even if Obama had done exactly what Laffer and DeVine had prescribed on Day One, we were going to suffer and my friends, given that ObamaDems have not begun to encourage job creation and in fact have scared Atlas off the stage, We the People ARE GOING TO SUFFER FOR A DECADE!!!! Let us be cheerful in the re-building of America by an optimistic leader that can somehow communicate this fact. We are being tested to our CORE as a people like no Americans have been tested writ large since the 40s. If we pass the test, we will be a great generation. God speed.

  1. I appreciate both Ms Rabinowitz’s comments and your commentary. And I generally agree with her. She seemed to be saying that for those who wanted a Mitch Daniels candidacy, and are now wistfully hoping for a Paul Ryan candidacy, that the job is much broader than that…and the American people, almost instinctively, get it. I think she is correct that the winning candidate must 1) find the right buttons to push for they are in control this time around, just like 2010, and 2) must be honest and sincere, and if done, 3) Obama need not show up, because he can do none of the these. If the GOP puts forth a faker, OBama has a chance.

  2. We have had presidents who had been governors, Senators, congressmen, lawyers, generals, naval commanders..in the early days statesmen/thinkers. While ‘executive experience’, which Obama didn’t have, is obviously valuable, the idea that we need someone as President who knows how to ‘run things’ is a little bit counterintuitive to what most of us conservatives believe – that government, and those who inhabit it, mostly need to stay out of the way, as far as economic matters go. Plus, if some of us have our way, soon there will be a lot less government to ‘run’; i.e., no Commerce, Education, HHS, et al.

  3. Dorothy refers to our form of government as a “Democracy.” Big, big difference between a Democracy and a Republic. It is clear that the US has been moving closer to a Democracy, the majority rules, and the minority and the individual have little, if any, in the governance of the country. Look at the Holder Justice Department and their total lack of adherance to the law. They make it up as they go along, and it is always titled toward race and redistribution policies.

    Reagan was seen by the Democrats, and many elite Republicans as to be a buffoon on foreign policy. Reagans policy was “peace through strength.” He did increase the national security/defense budget by much, but he still accomplished prosperity in America. He gave us all a reason to believe in the “shinning city on the hill.” He may not have been perfect, but he is still the conservative standard, despite Gingrich preaching that the era of Reagan is over. There really will never be a Reagan again, because he was not cloned. His ideas and policies gave America real hope and change, after the malaise of the Carter sweater doctrine.

    I am much more interested in the character, the integrity, the principles, the values, and the consistent conservatism of the candidate. I could care less where they come from, the Senate, a Governor, or the private sector. I want very much to know that someone has the ability to make considered, rational, principled decisions on who he will surround himself with, as no candidate on God’s green earth can know everything. If I can be convinced that any candidate will look for the best team to surround him, I’m good with that.

      • I agree with the shorthand, and I also agree with having the best team surrounding you. The team can only do detail and minutia of what is the President’s policy. This why Reagan had his decisions about the Soviet Union, and before him Truman had his decisions about the new nation of Israel. Those are decisions only the President can own.

    • Actually, it depends on how you look at it. What you say is true from one perspective but from another it could be viewed as the “tyranny of the minorities”, as in statistical minorities.

      The government we have is catering to such minorities who collectively make up a majority, or close enough to one that it’s a standoff between average citizens and special interests under a that umbrella of government “goodwill”.

      Not sure how much sense I’m making but think about all the times the majority, which is us average Americans, have been overruled by government in favor of a certain minority or special interest group… the burden of which falls upon the majority with little to no recourse.

      We are not moving toward a democracy over republic nor can we still view ourselves as a democratic republic but towards something else entirely. The names being used now don’t fit, for one reason or another, but the only ones that do aren’t politically correct.

        • The problem with all this… for us… is they’re not aligned like a Venn Diagram but in a seemingly haphazard fashion with overlaps across a network where some overlaps are apparent while others are merely loosely overlapping and to all appearances have nothing in common with some groups but all voting in favor of a particular party claiming to represent them because they don’t know that one day, one group is going to have the be cut loose (when it’s too late to stop what’s happening) in favor of a stronger group that is needed to keep power in the “proper” hands.

          Dang! That’s a looooooong sentence, 🙂

  4. Ok, Pil’, lets get “deep”. Yes, as a child of the 70s, I use the word deep. First, some truisms. The winner of the Presidency is almost always the one that is deemed the happy optimist. No candidate for re-election has won with an unemployment rate above 7.2% since FDR (and his rate was much lower than Hoover’s and FDR ended Prohibition).

    Yes, our nominee must offer a hopeful vision and not just a recounting of the gloom and doom.

    But, and I am not just now suggesting that our nominee say what I am about to say before February 2013 for lots of reasons, I would suggest that for conservatives and Republicans to be able to extend the conservative revolution beyond what I think will be another major GOP landslide in 2012, we will, soon after the 2012 victory, address the economic reality that I saw 3 years ago in my

    2008 A Hard Time vs Hard Times and its redux in 2009:

    https://www.redstate.com/gamecock/2008/09/24/bad-dem-cholesterol-hardened-arteries-a-hard/

    https://www.redstate.com/gamecock/2009/04/20/a-hard-time-vs-hard-times-redux/

    Can I quote FDR and say, My fellow Americans and my friends, even if Obama had done exactly what Laffer and DeVine had prescribed on Day One, we were going to suffer and my friends, given that ObamaDems have not begun to encourage job creation and in fact have scared Atlas off the stage, We the People ARE GOING TO SUFFER FOR A DECADE!!!! Let us be cheerful in the re-building of America by an optimistic leader that can somehow communicate this fact. We are being tested to our CORE as a people like no Americans have been tested writ large since the 40s. If we pass the test, we will be a great generation. God speed.

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