The Great Repudiation 0

Professor James Ceaser writes that the 2010 election result was the Great Repudiation of Obama’s and the Democratic Party’s ideology.

Here are quotations from his essay:

2010 is the closest the nation has ever come to a national referendum on overall policy direction or “ideology.” Obama, who ran in 2008 by subordinating ideology to his vague themes of “hope” and “change,” has governed as one of the most ideological, partisan presidents. Some of his supporters like to argue in one breath that he is a pragmatist and centrist only to insist in the next that he has inaugurated the most historic transformation of American politics since the New Deal. The two claims are in tension. Going back to 2009’s major political contests, beginning with the governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey and the Senate race in Massachusetts, the electorate has been asked the same question about Obama’s agenda and has given the same response. The 2010 election is the third or fourth reiteration of their negative judgment, only this time delivered more decisively. There is only one label that can describe the result: the Great Repudiation.

What accounts for the great repudiation? …

The main Democratic explanation going forward … [denies] that the election ever had anything to do with “change.” It was instead all about the economy. The stimulus bill, alas, did not stimulate quite as promised. So the administration now claims that there was no fix possible for the economy, in the sense of being able to achieve a recovery as fast as Americans came to expect. The blame rightly belongs to the previous administration, although President Obama now understands that pressing this argument, a year and half in office, looks petulant. The new line is therefore simply to blame “the economy,” as if it were an alien force dropped in from the outside, with no connection to his policies. … The notion that “the economy” is an actor in its own right, impervious to the change, has led some analysts to float the strange argument that Republicans should have won more convincingly than they did.

The real purpose of this explanation is to limit this election’s meaning in a way that leaves the president and his agenda untouched. The election was voters’ anguished response to the economy-nothing more. It was the Great Protest, not the Great Repudiation. This position, which Obama embraced in his post-election news conference, allows him to join up with the spirit of the election and participate in its message. He will now concentrate on the economy like, dare one say, a laser beam.

Republicans have agreed on the economy’s importance as part of the explanation for their victory. Yet in their account the anemic recovery is not unrelated to the core elements of Obama’s “change.” The president failed to appreciate what generates productive wealth, which comes not from bigger government and more spending but from the activity of private businesses and entrepreneurs. Economic “philosophy” in this large sense was in fact the main voting issue in this election. …

For many Republicans, and especially the Tea Party movement, the economic issues were linked to a deeper concern. The size of government and the extent of the federal debt represented not only a burden on future generations and a threat to American power, but also a violation of the spirit and letter of the Constitution. The Tea Party, in particular, with its Jeffersonian ideas, has reintroduced the Constitution into the public debate, a place that it has not held in the same way for over a century. This theme is what connects the Tea Party to the American tradition and makes their concerns matters of fundamental patriotism. The stakes in the 2010 election for these voters went far beyond economic questions, and for Democratic leaders to reduce everything to frustrations about “the economy, stupid” represents a final act of belittlement.

There was an additional factor in this electoral outcome, then, that was hardly noted or tested in the polls. It was a cultural clash between an elite and much of the public, between liberal intellectuals and the Obama Administration on the one hand, and the Tea Party activists on the other. The one has shown disdain and the other has responded with indignation. It is impossible, then, to say that Barack Obama was not a major factor in this election, for when he was not himself the leader he became the frequent enabler of this dismissal of middle America. That Obama would have to descend from the lofty heights that he inhabited during the campaign and after his election was something that no sane observer – and no doubt Obama himself – could fail to have foreseen. But this loss of bloated charisma has never been the real problem. It has instead been his demeanor as president. Obama modeled himself on Abraham Lincoln, and it is painful in retrospect to draw the contrast in how they have behaved. One showed humility, the other arrogance; one practiced sincerity, the other hypocrisy; one made efforts at cultivating unity, the other seemed to delight at encouraging division; and one succeeded in becoming more and more a man of the people, while the other, despite his harsh populist appeals, has grown more distant. …

Although the essay doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t know, or provide any new insights, it goes so directly to the heart of the matter, and so well describes not only what happened in the 2010 elections but why it happened – especially the role of the Tea Party – that it seems to us a document worth preserving. Read it all here.

A tragedy in two acts 0

Those whose hearts have been lifted by the prospect of a Republican Party  victory in November may feel them sinking again if they read the chilling predictions which Charles Krauthammer’s makes in today’s Investor’s Business Daily. If he is right, Republican majorities in Congress could make Obama more dangerous:

I have a warning for Republicans: Don’t underestimate Barack Obama.

Consider what he has already achieved. ObamaCare alone makes his presidency historic. It has irrevocably changed one-sixth of the economy, put the country inexorably on the road to national health care and … begun one of the most massive wealth redistributions in U.S. history.

Second, there is a major financial overhaul, which passed Congress on Thursday. … There is no argument that it will give the government unprecedented power in the financial marketplace.

Its 2,300 pages will create at least 243 new regulations that will affect not only, as many assume, the big banks, but just about everyone, including, as noted in one summary, “storefront check cashiers, city governments, small manufacturers, homebuyers and credit bureaus.”

Third is the near $1 trillion stimulus, the largest spending bill in U.S. history. And that’s not even counting nationalizing the student loan program, regulating CO2 emissions by EPA fiat, and still-fitful attempts to pass cap-and-trade through Congress.

But Obama’s most far-reaching accomplishment is his structural alteration of the U.S. budget. The stimulus, the vast expansion of domestic spending, the creation of ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see are not easily reversed.

He explains how and why this is true, and  goes on to warn that more woe is to come:

Obama’s transformational agenda is a play in two acts.

Act One is over. The stimulus, ObamaCare, financial overhaul have exhausted his first-term mandate. It will bear no more heavy lifting. And the Democrats will pay the price for ideological overreaching by losing one or both houses, whether de facto or de jure. The rest of the first term will be spent consolidating these gains (writing the regulations, for example) and preparing for Act Two.

Republican control of Congress, Krauthammer warns, could be a positive help to Obama, making it easier for him to be re-elected.

If Democrats lose control of one or both houses, Obama will likely have an easier time in 2012, just as Bill Clinton used Newt Gingrich and the Republicans as his foil for his 1996 re-election campaign.

Obama is down, but it’s very early in the play.

He’s done much in his first 500 days. What he has left to do he knows must await his next 500 days — those that come after re-election.

What will these afflictions be? He forecasts three of them:

The next burst of ideological energy — massive regulation of the energy economy, federalizing higher education and “comprehensive” immigration changes (i.e., amnesty) — will require a second mandate, meaning re-election in 2012.

2012 is the real prize. Obama sees far, farther than even his own partisans.

Republicans, he warns, “underestimate him at their peril”.

But won’t a Republican dominated Congress be stronger next time  …  repeal … stand firm … ?

And does Obama really have much of a chance of re-election? We think not, but that may be because hope springs eternal in the skeptic’s breast.

Posted under Commentary, Progressivism, Socialism, tyranny, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, July 16, 2010

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The Mount Vernon Statement 7

In the following report the names of conservative leaders who will be signing The Mount Vernon Statement today may be found. We have omitted them only to shorten our quotation.

What we also omit are these few words: ‘God, they say, is proudly mentioned – by name – in the Mount Vernon statement.’

We’ve cut them out because God is superfluous

The Framers of the Constitution saw no reason to put God into it, and they did not.

We believe wholeheartedly in the principles which The Mount Vernon Statement declares to be those of American conservatives, while not believing in God.

So plainly, though believers may not like this fact that we boldly and simply demonstrate, belief in a supernatural maker and law-giver is inessential to conservatism.

(In the document itself, God is referred to as ‘nature’s God’;  ie the ‘God’ which Spinoza and Einstein believed in, little more than a euphemism for ‘nature’s laws‘ – also mentioned – with which we have no quarrel.)

From Fox News:

More than 80 of the most influential and respected conservative grassroots leaders in the country plan to recommit themselves Wednesday to constitutional conservatism in an attempt to reunite and reground the movement, following a period when many thought conservatism was adrift.

They have named the document they will sign “The Mount Vernon Statement.” The signing ceremony is taking place at a library that was part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.

The event comes on the eve of annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) which brings thousand of conservatives from around the country to Washington D.C. every year.

The long term goal at CPAC and of the Mount Vernon statement is reestablish First Principles of Constitutional Conservatism.

The more immediate goal is to galvanize — for maximum strength — the various factions of the movement in advance of the 2010 midterm elections.

The statement draws heavily on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

It will speak directly to the three pillars of the modern movement: economic conservatives, social conservatives, and national security conservatives.

It will underscore the founding principle that constitutional self-government should be moral, responsible, and limited.

While some republicans have suggested in recent years that the GOP moderate it’s social views, or be more tolerant of government growth, or even accept bellicose tyranny overseas, conservatives argue now is the time for more backbone, not less.

Conservatives, republicans, right leaning independents, libertarians and teapartiers are searching for direction and leadership…listen up… today the leadership of some of the biggest grass roots conservative groups are speaking out. …

Organizers say no elected politicians are invited to this.

The signing ceremony harkens back to a similar event nearly 50 years ago at the home of the late William F Buckley in Sharon, Connecticut.

The Sharon Statement was penned at a meeting of 90 young conservatives as they created a group known as “Young Americans For Freedom.”

Their statement amounted to a guideline for young conservatives in the turbulent 60’s that individual liberty, limited government, a free-market, a strong economy, and strong defense are fundamental American ideals conservatives must defend.

There is no doubt today that conservatives again feel compelled to protect constitutional liberty anew.

This document seeks to be a conservative line in the sand against left-wing political advances during democratic control of Congress and the White House.

The Tea Party movement has shown full well that large swaths of previously disengaged Americans fear for the future of the republic.

Organizers say modern constitutional conservatism requires application of the rule of law to all proposals, advancing freedom, and opposing tyranny….

Conservatives now plan to directly challenge the notion that positive change in America means abandoning old ideas for new.

They assert instead that positive change means reaching back and re-embracing founding principles rather than rushing for new alternatives.

By late summer republican politicians in congress hope to lay out their 2010 election agenda.

Today conservatives grass roots leaders hope their Mount Vernon statement shows Republican politicians what should motivate them.

You can sign the document here.