Yesterday I tweeted that Obama’s big challenge is this:
“The chief tactical challenge for Obama is this: arguing for a second term without looking like he is arguing for a second chance. #please”
My friend Frank Turk responded with a challenge.
“@douglaswils well, as someone on-record as not being willing to vote for Romney, you should admit O will get his 2nd chance. At everything.”
Since it is plain that I have not convinced everybody of the wisdom of what I am doing, perhaps another post is in order. Shoot, I haven’t convinced everybody of the sanity of what I am doing. So let me do it a little bit more.
Presidential elections are a chess game, not a series of discrete events. They are part of a story, and chapters follow. We are nowhere near the end of the book. There is lots of chess left.
Now I have no problem whatever granting that Romney, considered in isolation, is far, far better than Obama. Dubya was far, far better than Gore or Kerry. Herbert Walker was far better than whoever it was he ran against the first time. But is that the only comparison, the names on the ballot at a given point in time?
No, the story is bigger than that. I grant that Obama is terrible, and another round of him would be double terrible. But how did we ever wind up with Obama anyway? We got Obama because of the big government conservatism, the compassionate conservatism of Bush.
Clinton was gross and bad, and during his administration conservatives were fit to be tied. Now, having had a taste of Obama, conservatives are looking back at the Clinton years longingly. But remember how we felt at the time. So, how did we wind up with Clinton at the time? That happened because George the First raised taxes despite his “read my lips pledge.” In other words, squish conservatism opens the door to that which is far worse than itself. That is what squish conservatism does. That’s its job.
It does this in two ways. The first is by implementing the baby steps that will become the giant strides later on when open liberals get a hold of it. Thus it was that the TARP bill became the Stimulus. Who could support TARP and then, stopping on a dime, oppose the Stimulus? The second way is that ineffectual conservatism doesn’t work. It is inept. It crashes, and then everybody says that conservatism was tried and see, it didn’t work. But of course the reality is that it didn’t work because they were keeping most of their economic principles in a box in Milton Friedman’s basement. Republicans tend to implement just enough conservatism to discredit it, and not enough to actually turn things around.
So I grant that Obama is bad and that double Obama will be double bad. Got it. And I grant that Obama will be far worse than Romney if you placed them side by side and kept them there. But who is going to follow Romney? Will it be eight years of Romney, then eight years of Ryan, and then the millennium? Come on. Republicans will do what Republicans do, which is to say, they will screw it up somehow. They always seek to propitiate the gods of bipartisanship. But those gods never answer with fire, even if the Speaker of the House and the members of his caucus dance around the altar, cutting himself with knives.
The second thing is this: culture trumps politics, and religion drives culture. The Republicans have shown from time to time that they can win elections, and moreover, they can win them big. But as R. Emmett Tyrell argues in the recent American Spectator, Republicans are terrible when it comes to dealing with cultural issues and pressures. This is because a house without a foundation can’t handle storms, as somebody once taught.
The battle of our era is religious > cultural > political. Conservatives are absent on the first, inept on the second, and occasionally proficient in a technical way on the last. This means that when they win an election, they can immediately be put back on their heels by means of cultural pressures from the zeitgeistian left. They strive for a reputation of bipartisanship. They want to be above the fray. If there is a Republican sweep, the first Supreme Court appointment should be Son of Bork. You tell me — think that will happen?
Now I know I could be wrong about this, but I have to act on the basis of what I think is actually unfolding. I have previously acknowledged that if I lived in a state where the election could plausibly be close, my principles as stated here would be sorely tested. Why? Because I could be wrong. I know that.
That said, I am expecting this coming election in the fall to be an anti-Democratic bloodbath. I believe the Republicans will increase their majority in the House, take the Senate, increase their hold on the governorships, and take the White House. And insofar as that happens, I will be happy that Obama is gone. I will thank the Lord.
So what am I doing now? How can I be grateful for a Romney win, and yet not vote for him? I am preparing myself for the cultural engagement that I expect is coming, which means that I am not preparing for four more years of Obama. I am preparing myself for Republicans who will “replace” Obamacare with something not as obnoxious, but just as bad long-term. I am preparing myself for a Republican capitulation of some kind on homosexual marriage. It is the Nixon to China thing. If Republicans do it, it will be much harder to resist. I am preparing myself to fight the kinds of collectivism that Republicans advance — please note how the Republicans have successfully made Obama the enemy of Medicare, and themselves its true friend. I do admire how adroit that was politically . . . but the trouble is I don’t want to save Medicare for our grandchildren. Mark me down as uncooperative.
There are many other examples, but you get the drift. I am positioning myself for the next round in the fight for liberty, and I happen to believe that fight will occur within the Republican establishment. As I have explained before, I would be happy to vote for least imperfect candidate, within limits. I am no perfectionist. And if I were a perfectionist, the first candidate to be eliminated would be Ron Paul. He says a lot of good things, but he isn’t perfect. He says some terrible things too. I would vote for Ryan, despite the problems. I would vote for Paul, despite the problems. And so on. Having decided that I can’t vote for “proud of Romneycare” Mitt, I still know where I am. If he is elected (as I expect he will be), I will support him when he does well, and I will oppose him when he doesn’t. I expect a good bit of the latter, and that is what I am preparing myself for. And that is what I see a lot of conservatives not preparing themselves for. They think I am not prepared enough for more Obama. I think they are not prepared enough for soft Republicanism. Oh well. Let us love and forgive each other.
Just one last quick point, and I am done. Politics is personal. If this were a simple matter of voting for option A or option B, the results to be implemented by adminobots, then I could easily vote for the least imperfect option. But personal loyalties work differently.
I have seen this unfolding in just the last few weeks. Conservative Christians who were a short time ago arguing that we should hold our noses and vote for Romney are now standing on chairs, waving hats over their heads, and whooping about what a great guy he is. This is how personal loyalties work. People follow men, not just abstract principles.
There are a host of issues connected with this, not least the dilution of gospel understanding in the church related to Romney’s Mormonism. If conservative Christians have done such a terrible job keeping generic Republicanism out of the church, what makes us think they will do well in keeping Mormonism out? That wall is still porous, and we are still clueless.
This last point requires further development, but I am done for the day.