With the ongoing spectacle of government shutdowns, Green New Deals, horrific abortion laws, and rampant media bias, I thought it might be helpful to revisit the decisions many conservatives made in allowing the blue wave to happen in the House in last November’s elections. A friend, responding to my article urging conservatives to stop being stupid and vote Republican, concurred and added his own thoughts. Here is what this person (who asked to remain anonymous) wrote:
Good to see that you’ve realized that many conservatives are pretty bad at math and fail to understand how electoral politics actually work. I’ve personally been frustrated by the shallowness of these kind of unreasonable conservatives for a long time, while admiring the unfailing discipline of the left, where they understand that the means justify the end, even if that means promoting seemingly moderate candidates in order to flip a winnable seat (e.g. Sinema).
Apparently, the staunch conservatives are eager to indict their watered-down brethren as RINO’s at the first opportunity, then shun them for the rest of their term, not realizing that they lose the votes necessary to promote any kind of desirable legislation. As someone who studied pretty deeply during college how the sausage gets made when it comes passing a bill, it’s actually quite a miracle any conservative policy becomes law given all the kinds of constituent pressures that exist. For all their talk of being practically-minded, they don’t seem to understand that you do the best with the cards that you’re dealt, whether that means working with moderates that give you the bare majority (like Susan Collins or Mr. Flaky Flake), or flipping sympathetic members from the other side (Manchin).
I’ve noticed how some conservatives are more excited by rhetoric than by actual legislative victories. They often view the latter as compromises, which they inherently are due to the give-and-take nature of the legislative process, and stupidly judge them as no better than liberal legislation because their generally unpopular pet cause wasn’t addressed.
Any reduction/simplification of the tax code should be greeted with applause, since it’s often the best deal on the table given the reality of who’s actually in Congress; instead many conservatives gripe about not having gone far enough. They then blame the president, the house speaker and his party, then stay home and not vote come November. They fail to see the long game, something that liberals never lose sight of despite their hang-ups.
Then there are those who claim complete independence from the political parties, implying that they are somehow superior over those who’ve taken sides. I learned early on about the flaws such a belief; you might not care to take a side but someone else definitely cares about placing you one side or the other, and will see to it that you eventually care, your personal independence be damned.
Independents seem to believe in the philosophical ideal of democracy—vote for the individual who best represents your views—while ignoring the bloody reality of actual democratic politics, where one votes for the one who can win and make things happen in your favor, however imperfectly. I have a deep regard for “Cocaine” Mitch McConnell, since he get things done in spite of incredible odds. He’s done more good for more people than any ‘maverick’ senator from Arizona.
Paul Ryan’s star first rose as a sensible articulator of conservative policy, but he lacked the talent in whipping the necessary votes on his side that McConnell (and heck, even John Boehner) had. Politics is all about the fragile art of coalition-building, something too many purist conservatives ignore, but liberals practice all too well.
Some conservatives take delight in being in the minority, thinking it’s better to lose and be right than to win and be wrong. They think that by letting Democrats take over and watching them pass bad legislation that inevitably fails to deliver, it will ensure that voters will learn their lesson and vote Republicans back into power.
There’s a problem with this: Democrats are NEVER held to account if their legislation fails, and voters have extremely short memories. The media comes up with all sorts of excuses, they deliberately misinform and misdirect the public in favor of the Democrats, and over time the voters adopt a narrative that makes them incapable of entertaining conservative alternatives to common issues (i.e. education and healthcare).
When the Republicans do finally regain power, they start from this liberally-affected narrative as they formulate legislation, turning the party to little more than the tweedle-dumb alternative to the Democrats’ tweedle-dee. At least when you vote Democrat, you never, ever, have to be sorry for anything, no matter how many people’s lives have been adversely affected (e.g. “Hey! You just raised taxes and unemployment is spiking, what the hell?…That’s okay, it’s all for greater social equality, and high unemployment is part of the “new normal”, and if the New York Times says so, how can you refute that?)
You can bet the opposite for conservatives, who are constantly tasked to explain for any unjust outcome (e.g. “Hey! Wages and employment are growing at record levels for even the poorest quintile…so why are so many overdosing on drugs? You see! Your policies leave out the vulnerable. You’re evil!”) If anything, voters are so incapable of learning that they have instead un-learned a lot of wisdom from the past, from what makes life fulfilling (family, culture, community, religion) to what promotes prosperity (the free market, rule of law, bourgeois social virtues). The fact that the inanities spouted by Bernie or Occasional-Cortex as treated as respectable ideas is evidence of this.
Photo: The Image Kid