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Reading the Election

November 4th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 9 Comments · Uncategorized

I like Roger Simon’s take on the election in NY-23 yesterday:

…the 23rd is a safely Republican, even conservative, district. In a year where the GOP racked up a 20% margin in Virginia and coasted easily in Jersey, a state in which Obama romped in ‘08 by 16%, what was the problem?

Well… I might as well say it… social conservatism. America is a fiscally conservative country – now perhaps more than ever, and with much justification – but not a socially conservative one. No, I don’t mean to say it’s socially liberal. It’s not. It’s socially laissez-faire (just as its mostly fiscally laissez-faire). Whether we’re pro-choice, pro-life or whatever we are, most of us want the government out of our bedrooms, just as we want it out of our wallets.

This is the best case scenario for what the GOP might conclude from the Conservative Hoffman’s defeat.

Robert Tracinski, writing before the election, said the message Democrats need to hear is:

…that America has not shifted left and therefore that there is no base of popular support for President Obama’s policies.

Kos has a slightly different take. On the Virginia race:

…preliminary numbers (at least in Virginia) show that GOP turnout remained the same as last year, but Democratic turnout collapsed. This is a base problem, and this is what Democrats better take from tonight:

  1. If you abandon Democratic principles in a bid for unnecessary “bipartisanship”, you will lose votes.
  1. If you water down reform in favor of Blue Dogs and their corporate benefactors, you will lose votes.
  1. If you forget why you were elected — health care, financial services, energy policy and immigration reform — you will lose votes.

Tonight proved conclusively that we’re not going to turn out just because you have a (D) next to your name, or because Obama tells us to. We’ll turn out if we feel it’s worth our time and effort to vote, and we’ll work hard to make sure others turn out if you inspire us with bold and decisive action.

The choice is yours. Give us a reason to vote for you, or we sit home. And you aren’t going to make up the margins with conservative voters. They already know exactly who they’re voting for, and it ain’t you.

But he also gloats at conservatives for doing essentially what he advises Democrats to do:

Let’s all give a hearty round of applause to the teabaggers, who took what would’ve been a very good night for Republicans and ruined it by helping Democrats pick up a seat they hadn’t held since the Civil War.

Glenn Beck? Thanks!

Sarah Palin? Thanks!

Tim Pawlenty? Thanks!

Club for Growth? Thanks!

Ironically, the NRCC, the RNC, Newt Gingrich and the smartest Republican in the world, Tom Davis (former NRCC chair) were right — the Republican Party needs to be more of a big tent to successfully compete in the Northeast and other non-Southern parts of the country.

So let’s sit back and watch the teabaggers go to war against the GOP establishment, even though it was the national and local GOP that knew how to best hold the seat.

While the Virginia and New Jersey losses hurt, governor races usually revolve around local issues. if the question was “are voters angry at the direction of Congress and want Democrats stopped”, then the answer is clear — Democrats won both congressional races, including the über-reliable NY-23. Even in conservative districts (at least those outside the South), people don’t want what the teabaggers are selling.

Kos misses the most important point of the elections in Virginia, New Jersey and New York. Independents voted against the Democrats. In NY-23 Hoffman was not even the Republican — he was the Conservative Party candidate — but he came close to winning.

It looks to me like Kos’s prescription of staying left without compromise is a death wish for the Democrats, and I suspect a lot of Blue Dog Democrats woke up this morning in a new frame of mind. Let’s hope that they conclude they must vote against health care “reform” and the “cap and trade” assault on civilization, and any other statist monstrosities the leftists try to pull off in 2010 — or else their political career will end next November.

If the Republicans stick to the principles of freedom in the board room and in the bed room, then they can pick up independents. If they make elections about issues such as abortion and gay marriage — the issues of the religious right — they lose independents.

9 Comments so far ↓

  • TW

    Kos’ analysis of the election results is a textbook case of the opposite of objectivism. It’s a case of desperately clinging to one’s own irrational and unrealistic worldview–more tightly than ever–while the surrounding crisis is beating you over the head with reality.

  • Mike

    It’s days like this when I have some modicum of hope for averting a complete socioeconomic reboot in the USA.

    Your average 40-hour-a-week working stiff understands — even if subconsciously — that what Obama is selling ain’t gonna work, and never has. Even a person mired in credit card debt and trapped in a make-believe ritual every Sunday morning understands in their heart of hearts, even if they don’t want to speak the words to themselves in the mirror, that the only thing that really works is for people to be free to spend their time and labor to create value, and free to spend that value as they choose to obtain the specific values they want for themselves. In other words, capitalism and productive achievement.

    These people may picket with their neighbors against abortion rights and gay marriage, but when it’s time to pay their mortgage, they send money, not “purity.” They know that money talks and bullslag walks, and they know that if they run out of money, they could end up on the streets. And they’re starting to notice that the not-so-hidden bottom line in many of Obama’s schemes is to give their money to someone else who didn’t earn it. However “selfish” and “evil” the Democrats and their clergy have told the working stiffs they would be if they object, neither has given them an answer to the “out of money = homeless” equation at the root of it all. This is an association of concretes begging for an abstraction, and these folks are so close to grasping it that they can almost taste it.

    The Republicans’ success in 2010 will be positively correlated to the prevalence and prominence of the secular fiscal conservatives of the party, and inversely correlated to the prevalence and prominence of the religious-right banner-carriers like Sarah Palin.

  • Neil Parille

    Well, even in Democratic California and Maine same-sex marriage was rejected by voters.

  • madmax

    Hard core theocratic Christian Larry Auster, who is a good source for how true Christian conservatives think has a different take on the Hoffman – Owens race:

    His take matches that of Neil Parille (what a surprise) namely that the fact that Hoffman came so close is a sign that traditionalism (ie Christian/social Conservatism) is something that could gain momentum if only the Right would become *more* religious.

    I just don’t think that the Right has the ability to draw the conclusion that a secular, individualist defense of free markets is their ticket to political success. They are too invested in religion and theocrats like Auster are working night and day to ensure that a reinvigorated Christianity is the only way to defeat “liberalism”.

  • Embedded I

    This is an association of concretes begging for an abstraction, and these folks are so close to grasping it that they can almost taste it.

    Hating to bring bad tidings, I dare say that such minds, when “begging for for an abstraction”, characteristically blank out. There is no hope in that.

    I note the mention of Neil Pareille, including the fact that he has commented here. The simple fact that he has commented indicates how hopeless is the idea that the Dems are, in any way, seriously doubtful of Obama’s programs. They may see some faults, but their intellect is not up to the task of grasping the full implications of those programs.

    They will continue to support the State, be it via the religious values of altruism, or by the socialist values of altruism. Either way, they will rationalize that the State is the greater power for the achievement of The Good.

    Whatever degradation and destruction their view may cause, they will never believe that egoism could ever lead to better consequences —regardless of the historical facts & philosophical logic that prove the point.

  • Moataz

    its like choosing to get hit on the head with either a hammer or a stick

  • Jim May

    Well, even in Democratic California and Maine same-sex marriage was rejected by voters.

    Yes, but this happened in a very late shift born largely of Prop 8’s Leftist opponents playing right into the hands of its supporters. Until the following events happened, Prop 8 was headed for defeat for most of the campaign.

    What happened was that Prop 8 supporters ran ads describing the depredations of Leftists in other states, particularly Massachusetts in the aftermath of gay marriage there. One of these points was the idea that Leftists were “teaching”gay marriage in schools, and also included some other anti-liberty actions by gay advocates in other states (the lawsuit against the photographer who wouldn’t shoot a gay wedding; in the South somewhere).

    The opponents ran an ad with a California education bureaucrat denying that they “teach marriage” in schools. The supporters than busted this one as a bold-faced lie with specific information.

    After that, the Leftists abandoned the tit-for-tat and began running squishy ads speaking out against “discrimination” and the freedom of gays to marry… but by then it was too late. No Leftist, even in California, is credible in defending individual rights at any level, to begin with — let alone after getting caught lying on two big counts… and that’s when the tide began to turn.

    I was in California for all this, so I had a front-row seat.

  • Jim May

    Now I have a different question: Hey Madmax (and others), why does the subject of Larry Auster keep popping up in comments here? He is of little significance except as an example of a core conservative. He mirrors Kos — each thinks that moving to the so-called “extreme” is the solution for their side.

    (Kos, interestingly, counsels the same for his own side, while suggesting that the exact same move on the part of the Republicans worked *against* them).

  • madmax


    I mention Auster because he is the most consistent defender of core conservative ideology that I have found. He is a blend of Augustinian Christianity, Burkean and Kirkian conservatism and materialist inspired racism all supported by Platonic epistemology. I think a good case can be made that his “Traditionalism” may be the M2 phenomenon that Peikoff predicts. We shouldn’t assume that we will get an egalitarian version of socialist Christianity. We very well could get the old-school non-egalitarian version. On every subject Auster gives that view. You learn far more about the conservative movement reading Auster than reading Prager or Medved or even Rush Limbaugh.