The problem isn’t the candidates; it’s the voters

I’m still reading scattered posts castigating Mitt Romney for being a bad candidate or running a bad campaign.  I understand the need to analyze failures to identify remediable errors, but we’re making a huge mistake focusing on the end of the campaign, rather than the beginning.  One could say the beginning of the campaign is the Republican primary that resulted in a nice, bland, classic Republican technocrat.  It’s the voters’ fault Romney went head-to-head with Obama.  But that conclusion still doesn’t reach far enough into the past to explain Romney’s failure.

Romney failed because the American public has been trained to vote against Republicans.  This isn’t as random or obvious a thought as it seems (although I’ll concede that it is pretty obvious).  It has special meaning for me, because I’m getting together with some conservative gals who have ties to recent Republican candidates.  One of them is married to a man who, some time ago, tried to displace Lynn Woolsey in the House of Representatives.  Woolsey will be retiring this January, but she’s probably quite satisfied that she can look back at decades of far-Left Progressive politicking in Washington.  Two of the others with whom I’m lunching are gals I last saw at a lunch for Elizabeth Emken, who lost to Dianne Feinstein.

Wendell Willkie, another Republican candidate who looked as if he ought to have won.

Both Republican candidates were fabulous by any normal standard:  intelligent, attractive, principled, and honorable.  In the 1940s, they would have been central casting picks for the good guy’s perfect political candidate.  Both of them ran against incumbents who didn’t even bother to campaign.  I’m not guilty of hyperbole when I saw that.  Neither Woolsey nor Feinstein did anything beyond putting up a few signs.  Both women knew that the Republican candidates weren’t worth fighting.

Woolsey’s and Feinstein’s certainty — which proved to be correct — clearly wasn’t because the Republicans were lousy candidates.  Woolsey and Feinstein could afford to do nothing because they knew that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that California and Marin voters would vote for a Republican.  The Democrat political takeover is so complete that even God himself, if he ran as a Republican, would lose.

The late, great Andrew Breitbart understood that the problem isn’t politics, it’s culture.  Politics is just the final step in a culture’s trajectory.  Roger Simon exhorts conservatives to focus on the culture and force a change as quickly as possible:

As the late — and increasingly lamented — Andrew Breitbart pointed out repeatedly, “Politics is downstream from culture.”

Just how downstream we saw in this year’s election. Virtually every accusation made by the left toward Republicans and conservatives (sexism, racism, greed, etc.) was prepared and nurtured in the realm of culture. That was the earth in which the lies grew and prospered. And those lies, more than any facts or policies, were responsible for a liberal victory in a year — with unemployment at 8 percent and a deficit at 16 trillion — that should have been a Republican rout.

Put simply, give up on the culture and you lose forever. (It’s hard enough with the media and the educational system rigged the way they are.)

So my point is quite simple. Quit bitching and start doing.

Roger’s right.  Run for the local school board or town council (neither of which require you to state party affiliation).  Get onto the community college board.  Stop going to popular movies that have anti-American themes.  You can live without seeing the latest action flick, but the movie producers cannot live without your money.

On Facebook and at parties, politely argue with vapid Progressive conclusions.  I did so the other day on Facebook, and got an arch liberal to agree that the UN is a despotic organization that should be done away with.  I don’t think he’d ever thought about that before.  And I did it all by politely questioning conclusions that the Progressives in the debate couldn’t support and by advancing facts that they couldn’t deny.

We keep thinking that, because our ideas are sound, they don’t need explanation or promotion.  In the meanwhile, the Progressive Left has long understood that, because it’s ideas do not work well in the real world, but only in the Petri dish of the Leftist mind, they can become ascendant only through relentless promotion.  What we never realized was that most people don’t think, they just “know” — or think they “know.”  But really, they’re just like a shopper buying one brand of peanut butter over the other because the brand she selects has a better jingle that has formed part of a permanent soundtrack in her mind.

We need to start jingling folks — every one of us, in every way we can.  We can’t all be Andrew Breitbart, but we can be soldiers in his cultural army.

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  • Spartacus
  • Oldflyer

    Book, the Chatteratti  lament that the country is terribly divided, and that politics have become too mean, but we now see that this is a path to victory.  Carve the country into narrow interest groups, promise these groups what they hunger for,  and personally attack your opponent with slander and lies. This could well be the message to Republicans  from the latest campaign.  Future GOP Presidential Candidates will be counseled  to go dirty early, and often, to define the opponent before they, themselves, are destroyed.
    Even that may not work, so long as the Media is solidly allied with the Left.  Nor will it be for certain effective, unless the Republican candidate joins in the give- away sweep stakes for which  so many Americans seem to hunger.  So, I am not terribly confident that a small government, fiscally responsible candidate can win on the national level.
    Unless of course Obama fails so spectacularly, and causes such pain throughout the country, that it frightens people into actually reflecting on what they want and expect from government.  The danger, as history has illustrated, is that such national trauma can lead down dark paths.
    I believe that Romney tried to run an intelligent and principled campaign.  Whether he did it as effectively as he possibly could, given the forces arrayed against him, I cannot say.  But, with the electoral college structured as it is, and the demographics as they are, we see that it was going to be an uphill fight to break through the breath taking ignorance and and/or selfishness that characterizes about half of the current electorate.
    Too pessimistic?  
    Just finished “The Foreign Correspondent” by Alan Furst.  I love his writing.  A theme was that Fascism could not survive for long in Italy because of the recalcitrance of the Italian character.  I would cite the American character as demanding an abrupt change of direction in the current context, except that I am not sure what it is any longer.

  • JKB

    This fits with what I’ve been thinking about the universities.  There are lots of complaints about them being unfriendly to conservatives.  But instead of whining about access, we need to find ways to usurp the universities.  The technology exists.  All that is really needed is a way to undermine their control of credentials.  Oddly, the things you need an instructor for, such as math, chemistry, physics, are moving online faster than the courses that really only require the ability to read, think and someone (reading the same material) to discuss with.  


  • Mike Devx

    Also consider that it is very difficult to defeat an incumbent.  We’ve seen two recently: Reagan over Carter and Clinton over Bush Sr.  But historically it’s extremely difficult.
    I’m much more concerned about how the GOP is purging its conservatives of power and authority.  As JoshuaPundit put it today, “The Republican establishment is systematically engaged in marginalizing it’s conservative base.”
    With friends like these, I do not need enemies.  If I identify with any part of the GOP, it’s the Tea Party wing.  And the rest of the GOP is declaring war on them, and thus on me.  I do not need the GOP.  I do not need the Republican party.  They can go take a flying f***.
    When it comes to the important issues, does the choice matter if both offered choices suck?  “Would you rather die by being burned alive or by being drowned?”  Gee, thanks for that choice.  And don’t tell me that I have to choose one, because the other is worse.  My answer is, “I’d rather not, um, DIE.”  Increasingly, I’m becoming certain that it’s time for a third choice, and I won’t be fooled again into voting for a Republican – death by drowning – just because voting for a Democrat – death by being burned alive – is worse.
    A pox on both their houses.

  • Ymarsakar

    Actually, it’s not both their houses. People think they have two choices so if they spit upon both of them, they are somehow declaring their independence. But the thing was, the Republicans were corrupted and co-opted by the Democrat Left somewhat awhile ago. People just never realized it. People still don’t realize it about ACORN, Universities, feminism, etc.

    It’s one choice, the Left. It’s one house, their death house. It’s one world, their Utopia.

    It is one evil, and it always was one source.

  • David Foster

    JKB…”All that is really needed is a way to undermine their (universities) control of credentials”

    But this is a huge problem. The people who are already credentialed in any field are usually the ones doing the hiring, and they have both practical and psychological reasons to maintain and increase the importance placed on those credentials. 

  • JKB

    David Foster

    That is true.  We saw how fast the universities moved to offer “programming” credentials when to their disgust kids right out of high school were being hired during the tech boom.  And the unis have the IBM cred, i.e., no one ever got fired for buying IBM computers.

    But the credential monopoly is under assault.  Just read a headline where Bill Gates is supporting at test to see what students actually learn in college.  There are initiatives to allow online learners to take independent tests that will show learning.  And the universities are real vulnerable in the actual knowledge learned and usable area.  They operate on a lecture, test, forget paradigm where retention is never measured.  Look at law, students are now required to attend law school, then must pass the bar exam but many practicing blawggers report that law school does little to teach how to actually practice law.  

    The government does support the credentialization.  The court decisions against employee candidate testing went a long way to helping that.  But if the employers aren’t on the legal hook for the testing, they might go back to using that as a decision point.  

    Of course, this would be more effective in fields that aren’t station keeping but growing and producing results and thus need knowledgeable workers rather than credentials.  

  • Ymarsakar


    Doesn’t solve anything, but at least it would make them have anti-bomb campaigns against Obama. Since we would have pinned it on him anyways.

  • wbkrebs

    Regarding local politics, Book, I don’t think it’s quite that simple.  Politics North of the Bay, where you live, has always struck me as a snake pit.  Consider the uproar up in Santa Rosa, when one of the candidates endorsed by the progressives agreed to work together with the city mayor, who was part of the conservative block (although still a Democrat)  And I noticed that the local Democratic campaign office had signs up for all the supposedly non-partisan local offices too.
    Nothing will change until either a lot of the middle-aged voters have second thoughts (not likely) or they get displaced by a rising tide of more conservative voters (also not likely, given the local economy).

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  • Earl

    My brother sent me a link to an article that has connections to this:
    “Lest I bore you and fail to provoke sound and fury, let me preface my remarks by saying two things: that libertarians should be social conservatives and vice-versa.
    My argument with regard to social conservatives is implicit in the criticism that I addressed to the Catholic hierarchy in a series of posts in and after February, 2012, the first and fiercest of which can be found here. It comes down to this: In embracing the administrative entitlements state, as they have, Catholic churchmen and their Protestant counterparts have lent aid and comfort to those who believe that we can establish heaven right here on earth and they have led their flocks to mistake the Machiavellian maneuver of forcefully taking from one citizen to support another for a fulfillment of the Christian duty of charity. Moreoever, their desire to sustain the political alliance devoted to expanding the welfare state caused them to knowingly downplay the enormity of murdering 50 million unborn children, and now their erstwhile allies are rewarding them for their moral obtuseness over many years by making them complicit with mass murder. In sum, they made a pact with the devil, and payment is now due. The proper setting for the practice of Christian charity is a free-market society. The rise of the welfare state and the decline of Christianity go hand in hand. To see this, one need only go to church in Europe.
    But why should libertarians be social conservatives? Why shouldn’t they embrace libertinism in the manner of the folks at Reason?”

    The Deepest Source of Our Troubles
    Paul A. Rahe · December 2, 2012 at 3:51pm


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