By Robert L. Capehert
If one is ideologically driven, Republican’s can drive a person insane.
Here at Libertarian Monks, we aim to be partisan as we can — based upon classical liberalism — not hopeless bromides aimed at immanentizing the eschaton, or whatever else has the religious right or cultural transforming moralist’s underwear in a pinch.
At the same time, it would be less than accurate not to presume outside of ideological categories that panic over Grand Old Party strength across the fruited plain, following election 2012, is rather overstated.
To put it mildly, Republicans are in pretty good shape.
I’ll say it again: Republicans are in pretty good shape.
Where Republicans struggle is in not aligning themselves in stark-enough opposition to Democratic Party politics — instead, going along to get along — because they have been duped into thinking Democrats have the upper-hand on certain issues.
Immigration comes to mind. Healthcare, too, is another. This is where Florida Sen. Marco Rubio slipped and fall into slick excreta.
National healthcare is another stagnant bog. At issue — whether or not to defund ObamaCare?
Conventional wisdom says no, which is way play-it-safe Republicans don’t want to pursue that option. But the law is immensely unpopular. Defunding it would be the better politics for Republicans in the long run because it would be smart politics.
Nobody will say that, however.
What it all means. Republicans who have not come out strongly against the policies of the left will probably face tough elections in the future, stemming from the idea the left’s position on these issues will only intensify the problem with the policies in the first place.
Where are Republicans strong?
Republicans have a majority of the state governorships across the country. And they also make up a majority of legislatures across a majority of the nation’s states.
Alas, local politics, once the acreage of the Democratic Party, has now become home to increasingly Republican leadership.
It is presidential politics where Republicans struggle.
Since congressional business has ceded more and more power to the executive branch in recent years, and because of how the media portrays the presidency (and the party which holds it) the mainstream media narrative has been that Republicans are not long for the political world.
But it’s all sophistic horse manure. Few in the mainstream press said anything like that idea when in 1984 Walter Mondale, the Democratic nominee for president, won only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia in a 530 electoral college landslide-defeat at the hands of Pres. Ronald Reagan.
Democrats were pushed out of the presidential tent from 1980 until 1992. During that time, few opined on Democratic Party irrelevancy. Few pundits said Democrats were, following Mondale’s loss, no longer a national political party.
One of the reasons, and it was true, was that Democrat’s had solid representation in Congress — which Republicans have now — and the party of Andrew Jackson also found itself well-represented across a plethora of local jurisdictions and localities.
A growing fervour for Democratic Party politics gained steam slowly, but surely, across urban city centers and suburban communities — as, it might be said, certain realities in American life became more acute.
New challenges such as wage stagnation, manufacturing slow-down, educational costs, healthcare costs escalating, etc., all began to form an environment Democratic candidate’s exploited to get elected.
Politics, like life, are not static. Republicans under the leadership of Ronald Reagan achieved many great successes, especially economically.
But new problems emerged in new times. And Democrats were quicker of foot and jab to cobble together a dramatic narrative to explain those challenges in more convincing ways to more Americans, than did Republicans.
Republicans, especially conservatives, got caught trying to explain pragmatic challenges through the lens of the culture war.
Many Americans subscribed to such explanations, but that did not change the fact they saw middle-class jobs going overseas, and thus income mobility, healthcare security, and ability to pay for increasing educational costs for their children, also become more scares.
Also, Democrats, especially under the leadership of Pres. Bill Clinton had their own successes, or at least were given credit for them.
Successes built, ironically enough, on conservative priorities. Things like balanced budgets, a reduction of national crime, and welfare reform — of Republican deficits turned into Democratic surpluses, in the 1990s, buoyed Democrat legitimacy, especially at the presidential level.
Democrats used the presidency under Bill Clinton to periscope in on problems in the micro, while Republicans continued in the banal slog of the macro. But the individual American can only live in the micro — where life and circumstance happen to him or her.
For all the platitudes of a Barack Obama, Republicans had their own throughout the 1990s, which did not account for the challenges more and more Americans faced on the ground.
Family values, morality — in a vacuum — are not public policy, and do not account for the particular minutia of massive job relocation overseas, and an implosion of the manufacturing base — all of which created jobs many Americans pursued in order to be comfortably middle class, and to afford the security such status promised.
It is true the policies of the left did not assuage much of these challenges, but only exacerbated them, sometimes creating far larger dislocations and unsuspected complications.
Still, Democrat’s were credited with dealing with these new challenges by campaigning on them and talking about them, whereas Republicans, sadly, talked around them.
All of this happens to be common among political parties.
Both Republicans and Democrats, at the presidential level, or congressional, face seasons out in the cold where communication and connection are ineffectual.
It does not mean the end of either party.
There was a time when — back in late 2002 — when then Pres. George W. Bush saw his own party gain unprecedented seats in congressional races after the 43rd president’s leadership following 9/11, and the stubborn reactionary manner Democrat’s handled political discourse.
Some conservatives made the profound mistake of saying leftists in America were done. Well-known conservatives joked about leftist Democrats being kept in museums to study, as they were about to become extinct.
Less than eight short years later, conservatives, and libertarians — Republicans! — were on the precipice of throwing themselves out of windows on Wednesday, Nov. 7., following Barack Obama’s reelection to another four years. This after Democrats flooded into the majority four years after 2002, in 2006, and after the Obama victory in 2008.
Talk about overstatements! All such grandiose statements are unwise.
Politics is an ever-changing environment.
And the Presidency of the United States, unlike much another country, is very much connected to individual personality, rather than to policy — or, though important, party affiliation.
And so, the effect of Pres. Obama’s wrecking ball policies let lose upon the American landscape will have its consequence. And, it will not be long before a Republican rises to the White House, and with him or her, wide support of the American people.
It may not be 2016, but it will be — as history, always the mentor of the classical liberal, informs upon us.