Pardon the delay in posting today, but I spent a significant portion of the day meeting with a committee of Republican women. To a woman, they were wonderful: intelligent, mentally well-organized, reliable, committed to Israel, and committed to the intelligent advancement of the conservative cause in America. And to a woman, they were disheartened.
What had them so disheartened wasn’t the state of the nation (although they weren’t thrilled about that either). No, what really made them sad was the state of Republicans. They noted that Republicans like to get together in kaffeeklatches. Once gathered, they’re always happy complain about the status quo, but they won’t do anything. They pay lip service to conservative causes and candidates, but will not donate money, give of their time, proselytize to others, or even bother to vote. The adjectives about Republicans flew: sluggish, lethargic, disheartened and, the best I thought, shell-shocked.
My contribution was that it’s no surprise. What we see is a nation going to hell in a hand basket, but one in which partisan politics are so insane that the road America travels doesn’t seem to matter anymore. John Hinderaker, I think, is on to something with a post he calls “Barack Obama, The Teflon President.” The original “Teflon President,” of course, was Ronald Reagan. The Left liked to say that he was Teflon because nothing stuck, ignoring the fact that nothing stuck because they were slinging charges as weightless and ephemeral as soap bubbles at a president who presided over a thriving economy, raised America’s status around the world, and restored American pride at home.
Barack Obama, however, is a different matter. He too is a Teflon President, since he routinely garners a 40%-45% approval rating, despite presiding (1) over the longest recession since the Great Depression (barring those rich folks getting richer, thanks to quantitative easy and crony capitalism, especially “green” crony capitalism); (2) a perpetually demoralized labor market; (3) the breakdown of America’s southern border; (4) the loss of all of America’s gains in the Middle East; (5) the rise of ISIS; (6) the abandon of America’s allies (from Poland to Israel); (7) the regression of race relations in America; (8) America’s retreat from the world stage; and (9) a general, demoralizing malaise, greater even than Jimmy Carter envisioned.
Given all the awfulness that is the Obama presidency, how did he get reelected (discounting fraud for the moment) and why is he still able to keep his approval rating above 40%? Well, that’s were Hinderaker’s Teflon theory comes in:
I think what is happening is that America’s politics have become so tribal that large numbers of people lie to pollsters. We have seen this throughout the Obama administration, when African-Americans have told pollsters the economy is doing well, more than any other demographic group, even as they have been hammered disproportionately by unemployment and wage cuts. American politics have become so polarized, and the Democratic Party has whipped its followers into such a frenzy, that 40% of us would purport to approve of a Democratic president if he burned down the White House, disbanded the Navy, and spent his evenings howling at the moon.
Barack Obama really is a Teflon president: for close to half of Americans, the facts bounce off him. Because they really don’t care about the facts; either that or they are cashing government checks and are indifferent to anything else. This does not bode well for our democracy.
There’s another possible theory, of course, one that occurred in England back in 1990s: “The Shy Tory Factor“:
Shy Tory Factor is a name given by British opinion polling companies to a phenomenon observed by psephologists in the 1990s, where the share of the vote won by the Conservative Party (known as the ‘Tories’) in elections was substantially higher than the proportion of people in opinion polls who said they would vote for the party.
In the 1992 general election, the final opinion polls gave the Conservatives between 38% and 39% of the vote, about 1% behind the Labour Party - suggesting that the election would produce a hung parliament or a narrow Labour majority and end 13 years of Tory rule. In the final results, the Conservatives had a lead of 7.6% over Labour and won their fourth successive general election, though they now had a 21-seat majority compared to the 102-seat majority they had gained in the election five years previously. As a result of this failure to ‘predict’ the result, the Market Research Society held an inquiry into the reasons why the polls had been so much at variance with actual public opinion. The report found that 2% of the 8.5% error could be explained by Conservative supporters refusing to disclose their voting intentions; it cited as evidence the fact that exit polls on election day also underestimated the Conservative lead.
In other words, Americans could be lying to pollsters. After six years of hearing the word “racist” in response to every criticism of the Obama presidency, people may have been conditioned to keep their opinions to themselves. When a pollster calls, they’re not going to tell even that bored, anonymous voice (or robo-pollster) that they disapprove of America’s first black president.
Frankly, though, I don’t think we’re dealing with a “Shy Conservative Factor” here. If this was the case, we would already have seen it play out in 2012, and Romney would have been president. Instead, we really are looking at a president who could get half the country’s votes even if he stood in the White House rose garden foaming at the mouth and barking like a dog.
While Hinderake’s Teflon theory explains the president’s continued — and, to conservatives, bizarre — popularity, it still doesn’t touch upon the malaise that’s characterizing conservative voters. Isn’t this the time when we should be revisiting the Tea Party fervor we showed in 2010?
This is where my “staring into the vortex of insanity” theory kicks in. My contribution to the discussion is that conservatives look around them and see insanity. Insane politics are different from politics with which we disagree. We may disagree with socializing industry, but that’s because we fundamentally disagree with the political theory behind that move. Likewise, we may disagree with a city’s decision to make its main street a pedestrian mall because we value the ease of vehicles over the charm of walking past shops.
What I’m talking about is what really seems to be insanity. Take my home state of California, for example. California is broke, but we’re still paying for a high speed rail that links two towns in the middle of nowhere, and that has already far exceeded the price promised to voters.
That’s insane. But how about this one: Remember all those illegal aliens we were worried about just a few weeks ago? The tens of thousand of them, a mix of unattended children, adults, gangbangers, people with debilitating and contagious diseases last seen in America decades ago, and possible terrorists and pedophiles? And remember how Obama, rather than sending these tens of thousands of people back to their home countries opened our borders to them, and promised to grant them amnesty, along with another five or six million illegals? If you remember all that, you can certainly argue that doing this is crazy, but it’s equally possible to argue that it’s a calculated move to shift the United States to a permanent Democrat majority.
If you want real crazy, though, look at California. Remember how I said California is broke. Despite that reality, Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown has smilingly announced that illegal aliens are welcome here. That’s pretty crazy. But not crazy enough. To get the real feel for a country that’s run off the rails, check out what’s also going on in Sacramento regarding those recently arrived illegals:
Young immigrants poised to flood California’s courts could get extra legal help under a bill offering $3 million to bolster legal services.
The newly announced bill would set aside $3 million that would be distributed to nonprofit organizations that offer legal services. Many of the immigrants pressing their cases could be seeking refugee status.
“Helping these young people navigate our legal system is the decent thing to do and it’s consistent with the progressive spirit of California,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement.
As an urgency measure included in a budget cleanup bill, the legislation would take effect immediately and could make money available within a few weeks, according to Atkins’ office.
It would not require Republican votes to pass.
Meanwhile, also in Sacramento, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto arrived to a loving greeting from Jerry Brown and fellow California Democrats. One of the things that Nieto couldn’t praise highly enough is the way in which California treats the citizens who find life in Mexico so awful all that they can do is run away:
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto lauded California on Tuesday for its relatively favorable treatment of undocumented immigrants, telling a joint session of the Legislature that the state has taken the “ethically correct” position in a national debate over immigration.
Meanwhile, neither Jerry Brown nor Barack Obama can bestir himself to plead the case of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been languishing in a Mexican jail for months after he got lost, ended up on a no-exit, one-way road to the Mexican border, and told the Mexican border guards that (a) he was not trying to enter the country and (b) he had legal American weapons in his car.
The above narrative is insanity writ large. My motto in life has always been “never argue with the crazy person.” It’s a good life motto when some crazed mother erupts at a PTA meeting or when someone with a screw loose challenges you over a parking place or something equally negligible. Crazy people do crazy things. You think you’re talking about bake sales, and they think you’re trying to kill them, so they’ll beat you to a pulp first. There’s no mileage to be had in arguing with a crazy person.
But what do you do if your country has gone crazy? What if it’s abandoned self-interest, embraced self-loathing, thrown itself into the arms of the world’s dictators, turned its back on its own citizens, and is throwing money out the window as it drives a fast car to local and national bankruptcy? How do you argue then? With whom do you argue? And moreover, what do you do if you know that almost half of your fellow citizens couldn’t care less about the craziness, even when they’re its victims. What do you do if they’d rather stand alongside the drooling, screaming, ill-kempt crazy man beating the living daylights out of you, then step forward and help you put a stop to insanity run amok?
There’s your despair, malaise, shell-shock, and torpor. It’s not just that things are bad. It’s that we look at our fellow citizens and realize that they too have gone around the bend.