Take Heart and Remember Republican Advantages

Despite the national focus on the political battles in D.C., the state election results provide very positive news for Republicans. Republicans increased their trifectas (governor and legislature control) to 23 states (24 with Alaska if they ever finish counting). There are twelve states with divided control, and seven of those have Republican majorities in the legislature. Despite the Democrat huge advantage in money and media support, Republicans increased their number in Congress and in statehouses.  This gives the Republicans a deep bench of intelligent, honest, and capable elected representatives at the state and local level.

In the smaller towns and cities that make up the larger part of the 31 Republican states, the people who get elected to office come from the small business and professional class. Men and women elected as mayors, county commissioners and state representatives are known to the voters. They come with a local reputations and records of civic engagement. Once elected they have to deal with real issues and problems: roads, schools, policing, business climate. At the local level average people want good government at an affordable price and they are not shy about telling their politicians about their issues. Any county commissioner or state representative who can’t manage a budget, ignores policing, allows infrastructure to deteriorate or blocks business growth will not survive long in office no matter how ideologically pure he is, or how much campaign money he has. These thousands of elected Republican county commissioners, town councilmen, and state representatives are practical people who deal with real issues. They have to be problem solvers who understand the need to balance the cost of infrastructure and policing with budgets and taxes that don’t undermine business or employment. It’s a tough job and they do it pretty well -- which is why the financial and economic conditions are so much better in Red States than Blue States.

The Democrat bench at state and local levels cannot begin to compare with the Republican bench in terms of talent and meeting the practical concerns of the voters. The Democrat Party’s electoral power is based on big urban political machines and -- in California, Illinois, and the Northeast -- state machines. Political machines are owned and operated by powerful special interests that have the money and resources to sweep any opposition aside. The special interests include the public employee unions, big contractors, big finance, big media and the hard left ideological groups generously funded by billionaires and corporations. When you have these forces on your side then why bother about the concerns of the average voter?  Decades ago, some machine politicians still knew enough to listen to voters on basic issues such as public safety and taxation, but that’s not the case today. Machine politician Gavin Newsom can shut down and fine a small family restaurant out of business in the morning and that evening enjoy a maskless $1,200 dinner with his favorite lobbyists at the elite French Laundry Restaurant. And there won’t be a smidgen of dissent from any Democrat officeholder.

Instead of working one’s way into office by building a local reputation based on talent and accomplishments, like Red State Republicans have to do, Democrat politicians attain office by joining the machine and pledging absolute loyalty to whatever policies the special interests demand at the moment -- defund the police, Green New Deal, opening prison doors, allowing the homeless free reign, taxing the middle class, or funding multibillion railroads to nowhere as the highway system collapses. Machine politicians join the machine in two ways: you are simply born into the machine or you enlist and prove your loyalty. Politicians born into the machine include Nancy Pelosi, whose father was the corrupt political boss of Baltimore, Gavin Newsom, whose family Getty connections bought his way into office, and Andrew Cuomo, of the Cuomo dynasty. Prime examples of machine enlistees include Kamala Harris, who joined the party and literally bedded her way into high state appointments, or the clueless Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago who belonged to all the right lefty groups and could play the race card to perfection. Note that brains, talent, or practical skills are not required to join the Democrat machine.

The actual pool of competent leaders in the machine-dominated blue states and cities is thin indeed if one looks at the miserable condition of Democrat cities and the fiscal condition of dark blue states. Machine politicians can eloquently spout all the currently popular platitudes of the special interests, and they are always guaranteed glowing coverage from the mainstream media, but few can do anything practical like keeping the streets repaired or ensure that the massively funded school system actually teaches children to read and write. At the state, local and national level the Democrat bench is packed with intellectual lightweights and nonperformers.

Compare this with the Republican bench. You have an array of smart and accomplished Republicans who came up through the ranks of local and state politics. Senator Tom Cotton was a successful local lawyer before he joined the Army, became an infantry officer and commanded troops in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was top in his class at West Point, served as an Army officer, left the Army, and used his engineering expertise to build an aerospace technology company, and from there got elected to Congress from Kansas. Senator Rand Paul ran an eye surgery clinic before being elected to the Senate. Kristi Noem helped run the family farm and from there was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives, then to Congress, and finally elected governor of South Dakota (which enjoys an unemployment rate of under 4% under her leadership). My own newly elected representative Jerry Carl (Alabama 1st District) is no Ivy Leaguer (he has a community college degree) but is a businessman who spent eight years as a county commissioner before entering Congress. If his performance as county commissioner is any indication, he can probably read the fine print of a budget better than Democrat Harvard graduates. The list goes on and on, but the point is that these Red State Republicans are people who have the brains and skills to earn a good living outside of politics. How many Democrat officeholders could survive on their own merits outside of the security of their political machine?

The vast majority of voters outside the blue urban enclaves support Republican policies: a robust national defense, law and order, a strong small business sector, carefully controlled immigration, traditional American values, and fair and clean elections. Democrat national policies that support special interests, high taxes, and abortion to the moment of birth, when combined with an anti-small business, anti-police, and anti-free speech program, will guarantee failure. Democrat control in Washington will give us a stagnant economy, a loss of jobs, massive increases in crime, reduced family incomes and an accelerated transfer of wealth from the middle class to the billionaires.  In 2022, state and local Democrat officeholders will own these polices and, outside the urban enclaves, the Democrat brand will be toxic.

Most Americans simply want good government, something that Democrats cannot provide. Deep blue California and New York, or Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle and Milwaukee are scarcely models of governance to inspire average American voters.  In 2022 Republicans should go on the offensive and dramatically increase the Republican majorities in the Red States and look to increasing their numbers in Blue States with largely conservative populations such as New Mexico (38% identify as conservative versus 20% liberal) and Virginia (33% conservative versus 24% liberal). Remember, at the state and local level, our bench is far superior than theirs.

James S. Corum PhD is a military historian and retired lieutenant colonel US Army Reserve. Author and co-author of 14 books.

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