What a Real Victory in 2012 Would Look Like
We now have it from a conservative political observer whose judgment has proven sound over the years, Emmet Tyrrell, of The American Spectator, "I believe Barack Obama will be retired to private life (after 2012)." Assuming for the purposes of this essay that Mr. Tyrrell is correct, how ought the opposition comport itself from now until November, 2012 so as to wring the maximum benefit from the impending electoral victory? Or, to put it more elegantly, how can we produce the maximum bounce from this dead cat?
We hear plenty from the overexposed and overrated Republican consultants about who can win and what combination they need to put together to do it; that is not my interest here. Let's instead consider what a real victory should entail. That goes well beyond Candidate X or Y, slips they might have made back when the world was different, or even the size of their potential majority in the House or Senate.
Barack Obama is but the sum and culmination, and perhaps even the creature, of intellectual and cultural developments and interest groups that have come to dominate much of American society, and most of American elites, for a century. We can't throw all of those bums out. But we can define victory in 2012 as tying successfully to the bum in the White House as many of those other bums and their bum ideas as possible, and giving them all the deep six. A new President needs to be able to claim credibly in January 2013 that voters' rejection of Obama was, in fact, a rejection of all of the forces and influences that brought us Obama. With that kind of victory, and some luck, we might have a realistic chance of reversing all of the misery, pain and shattered hopes and dreams this country has suffered under Obama's malignant hand.
It is a commonplace in conservative circles that we have no more time or money to waste. Neither can we waste the rare opportunity that derives from having gained the American people's attention. Obama did that for us, first by raising the expectations of Americans largely oblivious to electoral politics and public policy debate, and then by making those same Americans' lives and prospects worse, not better. Rush Limbaugh is right, Elmer Fudd can beat Obama. Elmer Fudd, however, cannot help Americans understand why Obama's grand promises proved hollow.
Victory this time must mean a new president elected on a set of widely-accepted premises that can serve in the political realm as insurance against that president backsliding, and as a performance standard that the president can invoke with skittish legislators. In terms of the media that helped elect and sustain Obama, and the crony capitalists who have thrown in their lot with him, a victory worth winning must change the incentives. Renewal does not require adoption of Obama's regulatory thuggery or bailout bribes, nor ACORN's and SEIU's boycotts and harassment in reverse. But we would benefit from a clear message from voters that as consumers and investors they understand that truth and our economic system have been perverted by and for Obama, and that they demand better. Even moving the media dial a few clicks toward neutral can reduce significantly the disinformation friction that can otherwise dilute or delay restorative policies, and the sooner the subsidized losers get out of the way, the sooner new businesses can take their places.
The same is true with the interest group rent-seekers, from climate change profiteers to public employee unions, who exist to divert public and private resources into their own pockets with appropriate tithes to the Democratic Party. A true victory means a mandate to reject their further depredations and inhibit their ability to oppose corrective moves.
Culturally, the idea that conservatives are dopes, and that opposing them identifies one with the best and the brightest among us, should not be allowed to survive this election. Never in the course of human history have so many allegedly incandescent minds, gilt-edged credentials and brilliant ideas been gathered in one Administration, we were told -- and to what effect? The peddlers of these notions need to be called to account relentlessly with "scorn and defiance, slight regard, contempt and anything that may not misbecome the [Republican candidate]." When purveyors of elitist orthodoxy attempt the supercilious pose in the campaign, they need to be reminded of their sorry record of gullibility and collaboration, and of the emptiness of the ideas and theories they foisted so glibly upon our suffering people. Doing so deftly and confidently will serve both the campaign and the successful candidate well, neutralizing the powerful weapon of snobbery, and at little to no cost. This is not to embrace anti-intellectualism, rather, it is to replace pride and presumption with intellectual honesty. A victory worth winning is, therefore, also one in which it is understood by those ordinary Americans struggling with the everyday consequences of Obama's follies that the new administration knows the difference between well-connected legacy apparatchiks convinced leadership is theirs by right, and genuine competence and creativity.
Between now and the election more bad things are likely to happen both here and abroad. Our nation's Obama folly will be obvious to all of us and we will turn him out. A new president, to have any chance at all, though, will need more than a narrow personal victory. Obama's failures place reigning orthodoxies and their champions in unprecedented peril. Victory means seizing the opportunity to vanquish them, and not merely ejecting the dim and arrogant poseur in the White House.