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Tag Archives: Elections


For 2024, Pence Is In. Can He Make it?

By Peter RoffNewsweek

Former vice president Mike Pence announced Thursday the formation of Advancing American Freedom to promote “the pro-freedom policies of the last four years that created unprecedented prosperity at home and restored respect for America abroad.”

To lead the group, he’s chosen Dr. Paul Teller, a highly regarded former congressional staffer and member of his vice-presidential staff. Teller’s policy chops and conservative contacts are hard to match. Pence has also attracted other conservative heavyweights—like former Heritage Foundation presidents Dr. Ed Feulner and Kay Coles James, Arizona governor Doug Ducey, Ambassador Calista and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former senior Trump advisers Larry Kudlow and Kellyanne Conway and important organizational leaders like Lisa Nelson, Penny Nance and Marjorie Dannenfelser—to serve on AAF’s advisory board.

If you think this looks like a presidential campaign in all but name, you’re not wrong. Pence says he wants AAF to blend “traditional conservative values with the Make America Great Again policy agenda that propelled the nation to new economic heights, and unprecedented strength and prosperity.” That’s a fancy way of saying “take the best of Trump, jettison the baggage and create an agenda the American people—especially the formerly reliable Republican suburban voters who helped put Joe Biden in office—can embrace.”

It’s a smart formula that relies on addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division. As GOP political consultant Roger Stone used to advise, anything a campaign does that isn’t focused on growing its share of the vote is a waste of time.

The question is whether Pence can pull it off. As a House member, he was a GOP star, perhaps in line to be speaker someday. As Indiana’s governor he was a solid, if not exactly inspiring, chief executive who on the ideas front could never quite outshine his immediate predecessor, Republican Mitch Daniels—who is now president of Purdue University.

US Vice President Mike Pence
US Vice President Mike Pence on Air Force Two in Milwaukee on October 13, 2020. After President Joe Biden tripped on Air Force One, social media users shared video of Pence’s stumble before a flight in June 2020.KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/GETTY IMAGES

Pence has a chance to shine now, to step into the spotlight and show America what he’d do and how he’d inspire voters to embrace conservatism redefined. He could bring back the sunny optimism and hope that defined Reaganism—strong and not defensive but also not obnoxious.

On paper that sounds easy. In real life, it will be hard. The media elite already have their guns out for Biden’s potential 2024 challengers. Look at the hatchet job CBS‘s 60 Minutes just tried to do on Florida GOP governor Ron DeSantis, another possible presidential candidate, by alleging that in exchange for campaign contributions he let the Publix supermarket chain dispense the COVID-19 vaccine. The story landed with a thud—but it’s likely just the first of many drive-bys the media will try.

Let’s face it; the elite media helped put Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in office and have a vested interest in seeing them stay there. That means the knives are out for Pence, DeSantis, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and any other Republican who wants the nomination. This will make it especially tough for the former vice president as The New York TimesCNN and others try to tie him to the former president.

The challenges Pence faces on his way to the White House are threefold. First, he must separate himself from Trump enough to allow the Never-Trumpers to consider voting for him while not alienating the MAGA movement. Second, he has to come up with a bold agenda for growth and reform that will get the country moving again to counter what the Democrats offer during Biden’s term. Third, Trump has to decide not to run.

Since the third point is out of his control, Pence would do best to concentrate on the other two. The team he’s assembled so far represents a top-tier mix of MAGA conservatives and Reaganites, meaning that when he runs, Pence will be a force to be reckoned with.


The Working-Class GOP: A Muddled Concept

A favorite Republican catchphrase deserves higher scrutiny

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

“We are now the party supported by most working-class voters,” congressman Jim Banks of Indiana wrote to House minority leader Kevin McCarthy in a six-page memo this week. Banks, head of the Republican Study Committee, said the lesson is clear: It’s time to act like a working-class party. “Our electoral success in the 2022 midterm election,” he concluded, “will be determined by our willingness to embrace our new coalition.”

The Banks memo, first reported by Axios, is part of a trend. Influential Republicans have embraced the notion that Donald Trump transformed the GOP into the vehicle of the proletariat. “We are a working-class party now,” Josh Hawley tweeted on election night. “The future of the party is based on a multiethnic, multiracial, working class coalition,” Marco Rubio said a week later. “The future of the Republican Party is as a party that defends the social, economic, and cultural interests and values of working American families of every race, color, and creed,” Trump toldCPAC in February. Last month, Rubio announced his support for Amazon employees in Alabama who want to form a union.

Banks doesn’t go that far. The word union appears nowhere in his memo. He mentions “labor” only once, in a derisive reference to a Democratic special interest group. The lacuna is a reminder: Despite the emerging consensus that the GOP is a working-class party, there is little agreement on what such a party should stand for. Industrial policy? Trust busting? Family subsidies and financial transaction taxes? Banks sidesteps these trendy measures on the intellectual right. He suggests instead that Republican candidates adopt Trump’s posture of opposition to illegal immigration, offshoring of manufacturing jobs, COVID-19 lockdowns, Big Tech censorship, and political correctness.

It might take a second—or longer—to see how the issues Banks highlights relate to the material interests of Republican voters. What they have in common is an adversarial attitude toward the votaries of managerial liberalism. Indeed, Banks’s dichotomy isn’t between working class and capital, but between populism and elitism. Republicans, Banks writes, must “highlight the cultural and economic elitism that animates the Democrat Party.” It’s “Democrat elitism” that has driven working-class voters to the GOP. And “nothing better encapsulates Democrats’ elitism and classism than their turn towards ‘wokeness.'” Taxes, spending, welfare, and entitlements do not come up.

For all of the “working class” rhetoric in conservative discourse, few Republican politicians have adopted the economic measures put forth by Oren Cass at American Compass, Samuel Hammond at the Niskanen Center, and Julius Krein at American Affairs. Rubio and Hawley are political entrepreneurs willing to push the boundary of conventional GOP policymaking. But they are outliers. A figure like Banks, who has to win reelection every two years, is more cautious. He perceives that Republican voters are more interested in aggressive prosecution of the culture war than in technocratic manipulation of the economy.

The “class war” mentioned so often in conservative discourse is in fact the continuation of the half-century-long war over which values and social roles should be authoritative in American culture. Imposing a class framework on this struggle leads to confusion. After all, according to the 2020 exit poll, President Biden won voters making less than $100,000, while then-president Trump won voters who earn more than $100,000 by 12 points. And Biden won union members by 16 points. The AP Votecast results were more closely divided, but just as muddled: Trump lost voters who earned less than $50,000, barely won voters who made $50,000-$99,999, and narrowly lost voters who earned more than $100,000.

If you read class through the lens of educational attainment, you see that the GOP leans ever more heavily on white voters without college degrees. But that trend long predates Trump. And the white voters without bachelor’s diplomas are a large and diverse group. They encompass a variety of ages, life experiences, occupations, and net worth. The successful contractor who attended college for a few years before starting his own business has a different set of economic concerns than the restaurant server or grocery store clerk. Does muscular labor define membership in the working class? Perhaps. But not every voter without a college degree works with his hands. And agriculture and industry constitute a narrow base for a political party in an economy where 79 percent of jobs are in the service sector. Conservatives like to position themselves as the representatives of the rural heartland against the cosmopolitan metropolis. True enough. But what about the majority of Americans that lives in the suburbs?

Ideology, partisan affiliation, and religiosity mark one’s place in the culture war far better than income or education. Liberals went for Biden 89-10 in the exit poll, and conservatives backed Trump 85-14. Both candidates won 95 percent of their respective parties. And the gaps between voters without a religious affiliation and all others, and between white evangelical voters and all others, were huge.

Ideology also explains the Republicans’ surprisingly good performance among minority voters. There’s evidence, for example, that black Protestants are moving toward the GOP. “What happened in 2020 is that nonwhite conservatives voted for Republicans at higher rates,” election analyst David Shor recently explained to New York magazine. “They started voting more like white conservatives.” Why? Revulsion at the far-left messaging of radical elites on immigration and policing.

When the pollsters at Echelon Insights asked Republicans what they want from a candidate, the answer was someone who would “fight” for the conservative cause, support the Trump agenda, and speak out against cancel culture. The most important issues for Republicans are illegal immigration, law and order, taxes, and liberal media bias. The Echelon data have been replicated elsewhere. My AEI colleague Ryan Streeter writes, “Large national surveys conducted by the American Enterprise Institute suggest Trump’s supporters are actually quite content with American economic life but highly reactive to elite dominance of American culture life.”

Calling Republicans “working-class” is a self-flattering way to put the party on the side of the “forgotten American.” But it risks reducing voters to factors of production. And it flirts with an economic program actual Republicans don’t seem to want. The new class consciousness is another example of the Europeanization of American politics: For decades, the two parties competed for the loyalties not of the working class but of the middle class, and public policy experts devoted themselves to improving the condition of the urban poor or “underclass.” Now, Republican communicators are beginning to sound like the leaders of European parties whose anti-bourgeois romanticism often manifests itself in ugly ways.

Maybe less has changed than people think. Remember that Barry Goldwater first identified himself with the “forgotten American” back in 1961. The GOP remains a populist conservative party whose voters are incensed at the values, directives, and rhetoric of the men and women who occupy the commanding heights of American culture. It’s the party of married parents, of the small business owner, of the journeyman who aspires for a better life for his family. It’s the party of peace through strength, low taxes, safe streets, legal immigration, national pride, and traditional pieties. And what it needs most in 2022 are strong candidates who inspire the grassroots without terrifying independents.


Democratic Delusion and the Conspiracies that Fuel it

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Maxine Waters GameStop stock hearing short selling
Democratic California Representative Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, has pledged to “convene a hearing to examine the recent activity around GameStop” as a “first step in reining in … abusive practices,” like short-selling a way to make money off of stocks that fail.CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY

The Democrats don’t plan to run on their record in the 2022 midterm elections. They plan to go to the voters and argue that Republicans are too crazy and too outside the mainstream to be allowed to return to power in Congress.

Whether that will be enough will depend in part on the health of the U.S. economy. If the Biden-Pelosi-Schumer spending binge and planned tax increases don’t hamper the post-COVID recovery, that might be enough. However, if the economy tanks and the Republicans pull together a realistic program for bringing growth and jobs back and getting spending under control, a GOP-led majority in both chambers is not only possible but likely.

Before you snicker, remember the Republicans came within a hair of winning back control of the House in November 2020 even as Donald Trump was losing. GOP congressional candidates ran ahead of Trump in about 180 of more than 210 winning races, and Republican House candidates won more contested races than Democrats did. A change in control isn’t out of the question by any means, which is why the progressive campaign machine has to do all it can to discredit its opposition in the minds of the electorate.

Enter QAnon, the internet-based wellspring of conspiracies ranging from the sublime to the outrageous—and all of them ridiculous. Unfortunately for the GOP, a few folks who’ve lately been their voters (not to mention a newly elected member of Congress or two) have been caught on social media spreading the conspiracists’ tales.

Up until it filled a narrative need, QAnon was a little more than a curiosity among the relatively few people who were aware of it. The intrigues it promulgated did produce a few notable and even tragic events but, in the main, it drew the attention of the fringe. That is, until its usefulness in painting a picture of the GOP as controlled by radical insurrectionists became clear. After that, the legacy media became the biggest outlet for its tall tales under the guise of reporting.

Up to a point, the strategy of elevating QAnon been a success in that it left GOP leaders in the difficult position of defending their own while repudiating the insanity. It’s a tight rope to walk. What the Democrats must do now is determine whether they can sustain these attacks over two years, and whether they’re insulated enough to avoid serious blowback.

You see, it’s not just the GOP that has a problem with conspiracy kooks. The Democratic Party is full of them too—and they’ve got the reins of power now. Consider that Rep. Maxine Waters, who now chairs an important congressional committee, was first heard of across America when she accused the CIA of being behind the crack epidemic in the nation’s inner cities.

She’s a problem, not that people bring that up much anymore. Maybe the GOP should. Republican leaders might also want to talk a bit about the Democrats who said George Herbert Walker Bush flew to Paris in 1980 to negotiate a secret agreement with the Iranians to keep the hostages until after the election. (Spoiler alert: He didn’t, but it took a congressional investigation to knock that rumor out).

Remember all the things the Democrats said about the Trump campaign colluding with the Russians and the allegations contained in the Steele dossier. They didn’t remain inside the confines of cyberspace; no, they became front-page news and were treated seriously for months until poof, nothing.

In the last few weeks, prompted by another tirade by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a guy who could have given the late Joe McCarthy some lessons on tactics, social media was abuzz about the supposed “real” circumstances leading to Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision to step down from the U.S. Supreme Court with a cast of characters including his son, officials of Deutsche Bank, and others appended to numerous tweets.

It’s undeniable, as historian Richard Hofstadter famously wrote back in 1964, that there is a “paranoid style in American politics.” What he and others miss is that it’s not confined to the Right. It’s at least as prevalent on the Left, if not stronger. The difference is that while the GOP’s crazy sometimes becomes unpleasant, the Left’s progressive crazy sometimes becomes law, which is much harder for all of us to deal with. If you doubt me, read the text of H.R. 1 closely.


Democrats Intent on Eliminating Popular Ballot Safety Measure

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Office of U.S. House Speaker via Wikimedia Commons

Congressional Democrats are pitching their H.R. 1 “For the People Act” as a necessary salve for a broken electoral system. If enacted, they claim, the bill’s provisions will fix a broken campaign finance system, protect voting rights, and make the average American feel once again like they can trust the system we use to select our leaders.

Truthfully, it doesn’t do any of those things but they’re hoping no one catches on. Or because they fear being called “racist” or worse for failing to fight “voter suppression,” won’t fight. That’s unfortunate, at least for the GOP – whose strategy to stop the bill depends on the filibuster – because it’s a bad bill that would keep the Democrats in power almost in perpetuity. 

Among its many outrageous provisions is one that would essentially vitiate state laws requiring voters to produce some form of government-issued photo ID before being allowed to vote. To most Americans, that’s a commonsense kind of thing, backed by 75 percent of likely voters in one recent poll. 

Look at the facts. We’re asked to show ID every day, whether we’re trying to get on an airplane, make a bank deposit, or enter a federal government building. Democrats say, without offering a convincing explanation as to why it’s so, that asking the same of voters at a polling place would be racist and constitute voter suppression rather than protect the constitutional guarantee of “one person, one vote.”

The American public isn’t buying the criticism, something Red State Democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Arizona’s Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, and Montana’s Jon Tester should be thinking about when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York tries to twist their arms and get them to vote for the bill. There is room for a principled objection to the bill because voters still back the idea that a valid photo ID must be shown before a ballot can be cast by overwhelming margins. 

A recent Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey found 75 percent of likely voters agreed voters should have to show a valid driver’s license or some other form of government-issued identification before they could cast a ballot. Less than a quarter of all those surveyed – just 21 percent – said they were opposed. 

When an issue has nearly 80 percent support, a smart politician just stands next to it. As it now stands, on top of the near-universal support it has nationally, 36 states have some form of voter ID law that would be nullified to one degree or another if H.R. 1 – which passed the House with only Democrat support — becomes law. 

In its analysis, Rasmussen reports said, “Support for voter ID laws has actually increased since 2018, when 67 percent (of likely voters surveyed) said voters should be required to show photo identification such as a driver’s license before being allowed to vote.”

Voter ID laws are strongly backed by Republicans, with 89 percent saying they support making people prove who they are before they can cast a ballot alongside 77 percent of non-affiliated voters and, remarkably, 60 percent of Democrats sharing that view. The party in Congress, it seems, is out of touch with its rank and file. 

As to the claim that voter ID laws are discriminatory, Rasmussen Reports says, voters, reject it by a margin of nearly 2-to1 as “60 percent say laws requiring photo identification at the polls don’t discriminate.” Just under a third, 31 percent, said they do while 10 percent were not sure either way.  Unsurprisingly, a bare majority of Democrats – 51 percent – say such laws do discriminate 79 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of independents said they did not.  Somewhat shockingly, the pollster said, “Voters under 40 support voter ID laws more than do older voters” as do most whites (74 percent), blacks (69 percent), and other minorities (82 percent).

The abolition of voter identification requirements is but one of several odious provisions contained within H.R. 1 that would, many analysts have claimed, make it harder to prevent election fraud in the future.

Other provisions contained within the legislation would mandate same-day registration in all 50 states, expand early voting that in some states runs into months rather than weeks or days, and establish rules for handling ballots that would essentially codify the practice of ballot harvesting some states have already made illegal.


HR 1 is not pro-democracy, it’s pro-coercion

By EditorialThe Washington Examiner

By winning control of the House, Senate, and White House in 2020, Democrats created an opportunity to make it easier for them to win in the future and harder for anyone to criticize them. Their first order of business, which House Democrats call the “For the People Act,” is largely an exercise in taking the worst election laws in some of the worst-governed states and imposing them on the entire country.

The bill has passed the House, and plenty of worked-up activists (including much of the media and the still-Never Trump establishment) think Democrats should abolish the filibuster to pass it through the Senate. 

H.R. 1 would override state election laws and impose all sorts of mandates, including automatically registering adults to vote, even if they don’t want to register. Democrats passed the For the People Act in 2019, too, but the newest version has some new ideas that they apparently gleaned from the 2020 election. 

The bill would bar states from even requiring that identification be provided as a condition of obtaining an absentee ballot.

With these and other provisions, H.R. 1 would nationalize the administration of elections. And it goes even further in nationalizing other bad ideas.

The Democrats’ bill aims to normalize ballot harvesting by striking down any state safeguards against the practice. Yes, some states’ anti-ballot-harvesting laws might accidentally criminalize innocent activity, such as letting Joey run your mail-in ballot up to the mailbox. But if we really believe the vote is sacred, basic safeguards against coercion, fraud, and bullying are necessary. 

Taking up Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s “dark money” obsession, the bill requires corporations, unions, trade associations, and other advocacy groups to disclose campaign-related expenditures over $10,000, as well as the donors who fund them. That would function as a clear deterrent to constitutionally protected political speech and association.

California has a law like this, and it’s a bad law, aimed at curbing criticism of politicians. Groups as ideologically divergent as Citizens United (yes, that Citizens United) and the American Civil Liberties Union are lobbying the Supreme Court to strike down California’s mandate.

Why would you want to impose this disclosure burden on groups that might criticize a politician or simply express a political opinion? We don’t really have to guess. Democrats are known to use the power of elected office to punish political dissenters. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has practically made a career of this, and he is about to be promoted into the Biden administration for it. 

As usual, Democrats want to intimidate and silence people whose views they don’t like. They also want to deputize Big Business to do it for them — as when they demanded that Amazon deplatform Parler and Twitter deplatform former President Donald Trump. Now, Democrats are pressuring AT&T to drop Fox News.

Democrats know that with forced disclosure, they can scare any businesses or individuals out of funding groups that oppose the Democrats’ aims or criticize them.

The bill also nationalizes another bad state-level policy: the politics tax. H.R. 1 would establish the taxpayer funding of political campaigns — and you can be forgiven for reading that as welfare for the political consultant swamp-class. The House bill tries to cover up the fact that the money ultimately comes from taxpayers by claiming that it comes from criminal and civil penalties on corporations and rich people. But money is fungible. And whenever politicians lack the courage to admit they are funding their proposals through tax dollars, you know they’re ashamed of it. 

Coercing voters by normalizing ballot harvesting, coercing donors through forced disclosure, and forcibly funding politicians and their consultants — one wonders why Democrats believe more in coercion than in freedom and debate.


Majority of GOP Voters Say Congressional Republicans Are ‘Out of Touch’

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Even though America is still within the first 100 days of Joe Biden’s presidency, most voters are telling pollsters they approve of his performance on the job. According to a poll conducted recently by the AP and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the president gets high marks from 60 percent of those surveyed. 

Along party lines, Biden’s handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic is viewed favorably by 70 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of Republicans. Some analysts would say the latter figure lines up nicely with pollster Tony Fabrizio’s post-election autopsy for the 2020 Trump campaign that concluded it was the former president’s mishandling of the COVID crisis that did the most to alienate GOP voters and drive them into the Democratic camp, at least at the presidential level.

Importantly for the GOP, which is still trying to figure out how best to proceed in the post-Trump era, a 

new Rasmussen Reports survey found that 51 percent of Republicans considered likely to vote in 2022 thought congressional Republicans had “lost touch” with them over the past several years. 

While 41 percent of the likely GOP voters surveyed said their individual representatives “have done a good job representing the party’s values,” their criticism of the congressional party is an ominous sign. It’s true, Rasmussen Reports said, that the numbers were a marked improvement “over previous surveys dating back to 2008” but with well over a third still dissatisfied with what the party in Congress is doing it will likely be difficult to bring the pro and anti-Trump forces together on any affirmative plan to win back the majority in both chambers. 

“Democrats are far more satisfied with their representation in Congress,” the polling firm said as, “62 percent of Democratic voters say Democrats in Congress have done a good job of representing Democratic values, while 32 percent say their party’s Congress members have lost touch with Democratic voters from throughout the nation.”

Other findings revealing in the survey include:

Sixty-five percent (65 percent) of voters not affiliated with either major political party think Republicans in Congress have lost touch with voters, while 51 percent of unaffiliated voters say Democrats in Congress are out of touch.

Voters under 40 are more likely than their elders to say Democrats in Congress have done a good job representing their party’s values. Voters with incomes over $200,000 a year say Democrats in Congress have done a better job than Republicans of representing their party’s values.

Among all likely U.S. Voters, just 29 percent think Republicans in Congress have done a good job representing Republican values over the past several years. Most (59 percent) think congressional Republicans have lost touch with GOP voters from throughout the nation, down from 63 percent in 2018, but 12 percent are not sure. 

Forty percent (40 percent) of all voters believe congressional Democrats have done a good job representing their party’s values over the past several years. Forty-nine percent (49 percent) disagree and say they’ve lost touch with Democratic voters, but 10 percent are not sure,” the polling firm said in a release.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. likely voters was conducted on February 28 and March 1, prior to the passage by the United States Senate of the COVID 19 federal stimulus bill adopted without Republican support and has a +/- 3 sampling error. The bill now heads back to the House where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to call it up quickly rather than go to a conference committee to iron out the differences between the new bill and what the House passed last week.


Crisis, Resilience, and American Conservatism

By Peter BerkowitzRealClear Politics

In the weeks since Donald Trump departed the White House — and during the four years he resided there – we were constantly told that conservatism is in crisis. Then again, crisis seems to be a recurring condition for conservatism, or, more precisely, for the American conservative movement. By and large, these crises have proved fertile. American conservatism’s resilience over the last seven decades — its ability to shift weight and adjust focus to achieve a suitable balance — suggests that what appears as calamitous disarray involves salutary adaptation, sometimes painful and awkward, to changing circumstances.

The post-World War II conservative movement was born in crisis. Communist totalitarianism abroad and rapid expansion of the welfare state at home provoked incisive responses from two camps: those determined to conserve individual freedom and limited government and those dedicated to conserving traditional morality. Both classical liberalism and traditionalism had populist appeal, espousing principles that political and intellectual elites rejected but which significant swaths of ordinary voters embraced.

In 1955, a sense of crisis surrounded William F. Buckley’s launch of National Review. The upstart magazine quickly established itself as American conservatism’s preeminent publication, serving as a home for classical liberals and traditionalists, who were often at loggerheads even as polite society ostracized both. The conservative movement’s first national standard-bearer, Barry Goldwater, suffered a landslide defeat in the 1964 presidential election to Lyndon Johnson. In the mid-1970s, the fallout from Watergate roiled conservatism as well as the nation. George H.W. Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election sent shock waves through the conservative movement as did Barack Obama’s defeat of John McCain in 2009 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

In each instance, the movement regrouped, recalibrating the balance between classical liberal and traditionalist imperatives, while appealing to the people against the elites. National Review laid the groundwork for Goldwater’s candidacy. His defeat and Watergate’s tumult served as preludes to Ronald Reagan’s presidency. President Clinton’s failed effort (which effectively excluded Republican participation) to pass health-care reform energized Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution. President Obama’s successful passage of health-care reform (which also effectively excluded Republican input) galvanized the Tea Party movement. Eventually, the Obama administration’s permissive immigration policy and inattentiveness to the distress that globalization wrought in working-class households fueled the populist backlash that Donald Trump rode to the White House.

In “A New Conservatism: Freeing the Right From Free-Market Orthodoxy,” published this month in Foreign Affairs, Oren Cass addresses conservatism’s current crisis. He sensibly contends that, in light of Trump’s achievements and implosion, conservatism must rebalance its priorities. For good reason, Cass urges conservatives to develop better policies to deal with inequality, labor, and public education. However, his tendentious critique of those whom he disparages as promulgators of “market fundamentalism” — from whom he would strip the title conservative – echoes old errors that marked internecine conservative strife dating back to the 1950s. It also warps today’s political realities and subverts Cass’s aspiration to form a right-leaning governing coalition.

Cass is executive director of American Compass. Founded in 2020, the new organization’s mission is “[t]o restore an economic consensus that emphasizes the importance of family, community, and industry to the nation’s liberty and prosperity.” At the time, Jack Butler gently observed in National Review that “some of Cass’s immediate claims are worth questioning.” That remains true.

Consider his mockery of conservatives’ response to the COVID-19 global pandemic: “Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the White House flipped frantically through their dog-eared playbooks from the 1980s to determine just the right tax cut for the moment.” In the pandemic’s wake and consistent with their principles, many conservatives did propose tax cuts to stimulate the economy. Cass, however, falsely accuses Republicans of having “hewed rigidly to an agenda of tax and spending cuts, deregulation, and free trade.”

Actually, the GOP adopted a hybrid agenda. On March 27, 2020, in the pandemic’s early days, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, passed by a Republican-led Senate and a Democratic-led House. The CARES Act provided one-time cash payments to individuals, temporarily supplemented unemployment benefits, authorized loans to small businesses and large corporations, and delivered hundreds of billions of dollars to state and local governments. In May 2020, the Trump administration announced Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership that in record time supplied the American people and nations around the world with responsibly tested and highly efficacious vaccines.

Cass’s narrow definition of conservatism further distorts his analysis. “The hallmark of conservativism,” he begins reasonably enough, “is not, as is often thought, opposition to change or the desire for a return to some earlier time.” A related mistake, he observes, is “that conservatives lack substantive preferences.” But instead of identifying American conservatism’s substantive preferences — along with its principles and understanding of human nature and government — Cass highlights conservatism’s supposedly defining concern: “What in fact distinguishes conservatives is their attention to the role that institutions and norms play in people’s lives and in the process of governing.”

Progressives, too, care about the moral and political impact of institutions and norms. Having wrested control of the K-12 school system and universities, mainstream media, Hollywood, and the federal bureaucracy, they seek from those commanding heights to remake popular and political culture. Moreover, the left — in the academy, the media, and government — stresses the use of law and public policy to transform family, society, and the organs of government in accordance with progressive norms. Left and right differ over which norms should be cultivated, how institutions should be structured, and the extent of government’s involvement.

Cass’s abstract definition of conservatism as attentiveness to norms and institutions, moreover, reflects the excess of abstraction that conservatives since Edmund Burke — whom Cass cites as a model — have criticized. While appreciating that conservatives in the mold of Burke must combine “a disposition to preserve” with “an ability to improve,” Cass does not adequately specify the norms and institutions central to the American experiment in ordered liberty. In contrast, we can look to “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” published in 1790. In that document, the first of the modern conservatives came to the defense of the venerable beliefs, practices, and associations that sustained British liberty against the radical dogmas about freedom emanating from Paris.

While the American conservative movement possesses substantive preferences and is dedicated to the preservation of specific institutions, Cass fails to identify the core ones. Well understood, the conservative movement in America seeks in the first place to preserve the constitutional order, which is grounded in unalienable rights, embodies the principles of limited government, and depends on a citizenry that is educated — at home, in the community, and at schools — for the rights and responsibilities of freedom. Cass rightly seeks policies that fortify families, sustain communities, and address the discontents of working-class Americans, who have been hit hard by globalization. But he tends to downplay or neglect the imperatives of individual freedom and limited government in the fashioning of such policies.

American conservatism must once again respond to crisis by striking a balance, appropriate to the circumstances and the demands of the moment, that gives both classically liberal convictions and the traditional morality that sustains freedom their due. We need not “a new conservatism” but rather a new blend of American conservatism’s enduring principles.


Cheney Draws First 2022 Challenger

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Office of Representative Liz Cheney via Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, under fire and with her approval rating among the folks back home dropping, has drawn what will likely be the first of many opponents in the next GOP primary.

The No. 3 Republican in the GOP House leadership, Cheney is under fire for her vote to impeach former President Donald J. Trump, a largely partisan effort launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, after the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Democrats and some Republicans have repeatedly referred to the riot as an attempted “insurrection” prompted by Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. The objective of the rioters, some say, was to disrupt and perhaps force Congress to suspend that day’s counting of the electoral college ballots as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution and to prevent Joe Biden from being officially declared president-elect.

Cheney has drawn heat for her vote to affirm the charges against Trump and for insisting it was, for her and for all Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives a “matter of conscience” that permitted members to cast aside any partisan allegiances by which they might feel bound.

Taking on Cheney is Wyoming State Rep. Chuck Gray, a Republican who announced his intentions on social media.

“It’s time for a leader who actually listens to the hard-working people of Wyoming, and not to the D.C elitists,” Gray tweeted. “Join me on my journey as I seek the Republican nomination for the United States Congress.”

In February, the Wyoming Republican Party voted overwhelmingly to censure Cheney with only eight of the 74-member state GOP’s central committee openly opposing the punishment in a process that did not conclude with a formal vote. An effort by GOP House conservatives to remove Cheney from her party leadership post failed 145-61.

Gray has repeatedly criticized Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump and accused her of taking positions that were “nothing more than a stepping stone” to higher office. “Well, not anymore,” he said. “Wyoming agrees with President Trump” who, during his recent speech to the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference called Cheney out by name and said he hoped she would be defeated.

The subject of Trump’s speech caused some friction between Cheney and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who told reporters at a press availability he thought the former president should speak to the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservative political activists. Cheney disagreed, saying she did not believe the former president “should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”

Cheney, who was first elected to the House in 2016, has not yet said whether she will be a candidate for reelection in 2022. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, held the seat she now occupies from January 1979 until 1989 – when former President George H.W. Bush nominated him to be U.S. Secretary of Defense.


Trump, Trumpism and the Future of the GOP

By Peter RoffNewsweek

Former President Donald J. Trump’s recent speech to the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) put him back in the spot he most enjoys: front and center of the national conversation. He’s been the topic, even as President Joe Biden suffered his first defeat on Capitol Hill and House Democrats passed a bill that suppresses our treasured right to freedom of speech.

Trump, always controversial, continued unhelpfully to assert the election was stolen from him even while effectively attacking the nascent Biden administration for undoing policies that “made America great again.”

The speech breathed new life into the discussion of a possible run in 2024 and whether he could win the Republican nomination.

Republicans and Democrats both know he could be a formidable presidential candidate in 2024, should he win the GOP nomination. He won 74 million votes in 2020—11 million more while losing than he did while winning in 2016. The GOP also picked up a governorship and flipped control of two state legislative chambers from Democrat to Republican (Democrats flipped none). Out of 227 defeated state legislators seeking re-election, only 52 belonged to the GOP.

Trump ran ahead of John McCain and Mitt Romney among blacks and Hispanics, and the GOP came within an eyelash of winning back control of the U.S. House of Representatives—when pre-election forecasts predicted they’d lose as many as two dozen seats.

Still, it’s not all gravy. The GOP lost control of the U.S. Senate and, as Karl Rove pointed out recently in The Wall Street Journal, almost all the Republicans running for the House ran ahead of Mr. Trump—”including eight in the 14 closest races that gave the GOP its pickups.” Down-ballot, the pattern was repeated, as many state legislative candidates ran ahead of the president.

Trump ran ahead of John McCain and Mitt Romney among blacks and Hispanics, and the GOP came within an eyelash of winning back control of the U.S. House of Representatives—when pre-election forecasts predicted they’d lose as many as two dozen seats.

Still, it’s not all gravy. The GOP lost control of the U.S. Senate and, as Karl Rove pointed out recently in The Wall Street Journal, almost all the Republicans running for the House ran ahead of Mr. Trump—”including eight in the 14 closest races that gave the GOP its pickups.” Down-ballot, the pattern was repeated, as many state legislative candidates ran ahead of the president.

President Donald Trump speaks at 2021 CPAC
President Donald Trump speaks at 2021 CPAC in Orlando, FloridaJOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

Others have encouraged the party to disavow Trump and what they refer to as “Trumpism”—which, until the former president’s speech at CPAC, was a phrase left either ill- or un-defined by those advocating for it.

This is where the danger lies—something that could plunge the GOP into a prolonged civil war that could cost the party greatly, and for a long time. Going forward, the party needs to decide what it’s for and what it’s against, and give the American people “an agenda worth voting for,” as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used to say.

What that in mind, it’s important to first define what “Trumpism” is in order to decide if it should be tossed aside. At CPAC the former president defined it as support for cutting marginal tax rates and deregulation to spur economic growth and job creation, traditional values and a strong military, secure borders and a merit-based immigration system, law enforcement, the rule of law, the Second Amendment, life, liberty and not letting China eat America for lunch (among other things).

Altogether, that sounds like an agenda most conservatives could, and should, support.

There may be other positions out there that people in positions of influence would like to see the GOP adopt. If there are, they should say so now, so that a discussion can be had. Simply throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as some suggest, would erase decades of progress by conservatives in defining the GOP as a coalition standing for free minds, free people and free markets.

That’s not to suggest everything about Trump should be swallowed whole. Like many of his predecessors, he refused to tackle entitlements, did nothing to address spending and approached important intergenerational issues and societal changes in a ham-handed, angry fashion. It’s one thing to push back against the Left—and it’s important he did—but it’s equally important to pursue consensus and to remember that compromise does not necessarily equal capitulation.

Right now, the GOP is stuck. To move forward and regain the majority in Congress as well as the presidency, the party must figure out how to take from Trump what was best while casting off things that were political or electoral liabilities. It’s not as hard as it sounds—and it’s been done before, as in 1994, when Republicans got past President George H.W. Bush’s betrayal of his promise to never raise taxes to win back Congress for the first time in 40 years.

The party’s mission, as the former president told CPAC, “must be to create a future of good jobs, strong families, safe communities, a vibrant culture and a great nation for all Americans.” If the GOP can come up with a plan to do that, its future electoral success is assured.


In Virginia, the GOP May Find its Great New Hope

By Peter RoffNewsweek

Adapt or die.”

In business, it’s a well-known maxim but it surprisingly doesn’t carry much weight in politics. For some reason the consultants, donors and strategists driving candidate selection too often go with folks they know, thinking that a bit of tinkering with the message will be enough to carry them to victory.

They’re wrong—as many recent Virginia elections have demonstrated. Once a reliably red state at the federal level, the Old Dominion has turned blue. In Richmond, the Democrats who came roaring back into power in 2019 are of a radically different bent than the ones who made up the legislative majorities through most of the 20th century.

Being known as the party of limited government, standing for life, supporting Second Amendment rights and allowing people to keep more of what they earn still works. It’s in sync with what voters in most parts of Virginia and most parts of the nation generally believe.

To win going forward, Virginia party leaders and the folks at the grassroots level need to be bolder when choosing their messengers. It’s all well and good to talk about what policies mean for the working class, for the poor, for the communities of immigrants that have sprung up throughout Northern Virginia—all of whom, of late, have thrown in with the Democrats. To be convincing, the GOP is going to have to look beyond its traditional pool of candidates in the state legislature and in the county courthouses.

The party must expand its reach. It needs to nominate candidates who can talk convincingly about Virginia and America as places where hard work, luck and adherence to the rules and values of society should still make it possible for people to pursue, as one prominent Virginian put it, happiness.

Virginia flag
The Virginia State flag and the American flag fly near the Virginia State Capitol, February 9, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia.DREW ANGERER/GETTY

The best candidates are the ones who know this to be true because they’ve walked the walk. Standing out among the other potential 2021 gubernatorial candidates in this regard is Sergio de la Peña, a recently retired career Army officer who spent the last four years at the Pentagon dealing with serious national security issues.

He’s a modest man of modest means. Talking with him about his accomplishments, and there are many, is difficult. He likes to share credit where it is due and regards everything he’s done as the result of team efforts. That may be his military training talking, but it works. Of late, we’ve had our fill of braggadocious politicians on both sides of the aisle who think the people’s business is all about them.

“I came to America from Mexico in 1961. I immigrated legally, went to work, learned to speak English and eventually traded my Mexican citizenship for a uniform, olive drab,” Mr. de la Peña told me. “It was the best decision I ever made.”

“Now,” he continued, “I want to pay America and Virginia back for the opportunities it afforded me by doing what I can to create an environment in which others can achieve all that their potential allows. That’s why I’m running for governor, to bring hope and opportunity to all the people of the commonwealth.”

Mr. de la Peña has strong words for what he calls “the liberal elites” who presume immigrants like him are natural Democrats and support a hard turn to the left. “Just like everyone else, [immigrants] want the chance to make it in America. We don’t want handouts. We want to work hard and build a better life for ourselves and our children. I did and I know others can too, given the chance. What the liberals in Virginia now are offering are the kinds of proposals that took Venezuela from the most prosperous country in Latin American to just about the poorest.”

“Socialism always fails,” he said. “It hurts countries and it hurts most the people it’s supposed to help. The elites, meanwhile, continue as before, fat, happy and comfortable in the belief they’re helping. I’m not afraid to say that and I won’t be intimidated into not speaking my mind. I’ve seen it firsthand and I know what I’m talking about.”

Mr. de la Peña doesn’t fit the media caricature of a typical Republican. His policy positions are thoroughly Reaganite, which the traditional GOP vote outside Northern Virginia will find appealing. If the voters who live in the counties and communities connected to the region around the Capital Beltway—many of whom, like him, are immigrants to the United States who’ve been voting Democrat for many years—give him a fair hearing, he’s confident he can win many of them over. Enough, at least, to form a winning majority that will make him the commonwealth’s next governor.


The best path forward is bipartisan statesmanship, not the 25th Amendment or impeachment

By David DavenportWashington Examiner

Americans are bandwagon people, jumping quickly from one opinion to another. Once we jump, we want to fire up the engines and go full speed ahead.

Now, in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, many want to impeach the president right now or use the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove him from office less than two weeks before his scheduled departure.

The fact is that our Founders designed an ocean liner government, not a speedboat. The government is intentionally designed not to take sudden turns or execute instant changes of course. The republic was constructed with all manner of filters, checks and balances, and separations of power, requiring time and deliberation to change course. Our Founders urged that we follow “the cool, deliberate sense of the community” over time, not the passions and factions of the moment.

Impeaching a president requires not just a vote of the House to impeach but a subsequent trial in the Senate. The most recent impeachment trial, of President Trump himself, took approximately three weeks to complete. At five weeks, former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial was even longer.

The notion that a president would be impeached, prepare, and stand for a full trial in less than two weeks (with both chambers on recess and out of town, no less) is simply not realistic. Our system was not built for that kind of speed. It was built for deliberation.

The use of the 25th Amendment is also problematic. It is really designed for a president who is disabled, not one we no longer trust. All three times it has been used involved medical procedures for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Like impeachment, it is also a complicated process that will take time, requiring first a declaration by the vice president, supported by the majority of the Cabinet, that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Does not liking or trusting how he is discharging them render him “unable”? I doubt it.

Then, the president could dispute the declaration, causing Congress to reconvene and decide the matter (requiring a two-thirds majority vote to find him “disabled”) within 21 days. By then, of course, Biden will be president.

Removing the president promptly, then, is highly unlikely through the push of a constitutional button. But there is another alternative, one that the Founders also contemplated: We will need statesmen and leaders to help guide us through the next two weeks.

We will need Vice President Mike Pence, who stood up and told the president he could not change the electoral vote, and who apparently also called for the National Guard to help quell the riots, to step up. It will mandate that members of Congress worry less about how they look to Trump’s political constituencies and care more about how they lead the republic. It will call for more from Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse and less from the intemperate Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz.

In our time, we think any problem should be fixed immediately, like that truck I saw hauling sod down the freeway with its sign reading, “Instant grassification.” But a democratic republic is a slow, careful, deliberative, sometimes messy business. However, it does respond to the voice of the people, more often through leadership than through structural processes.

We will be healthier in the long run if we survive the next two weeks through greater bipartisanship and leadership rather than through more Senate trials or divisive impeachment and 25th Amendment votes. Let the rational voices stirred by the mob this week, and the steadier leadership we have seen from some of our leaders, see us through.

It’s not only the best way. Given the limited time for the alternatives, it is the only way we will make it.


Progressives Smashed, GOP Surges in Down-Ballot Races

By Peter RoffNewsweek

If news writers had any integrity, the headlines following the 2020 election would have read like the one on this column. Instead, the media gods who helped put Joe Biden over the top expound on why Donald Trump‘s protests are without merit and just another example of Republican sore-loserism.

The former vice president’s apparent margin of victory is not all that large. At the time this was written it was about 6 million votes out of about 150 million cast. That works out to about 4 percent and could, depending on recounts, slip lower.

In the states that appear to be making the difference—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin—Biden’s lead is extremely narrow, much as Trump’s was when he defeated former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton to win the White House in the first place. It’s hard to argue the man most of the media anointed the new American chief executive before all the votes were cast has a mandate to do much of anything.

Nonetheless, if he eventually becomes president, the calls for him to act swiftly and decisively will be frequent, loud, and—from his point of view—problematic. In the Thursday, November 19 edition of The Wall Street Journal author and political cartoonist Ted Rall argues forcefully that, without the support of progressives who held their nose and voted for him anyway, Biden wouldn’t be going back to Washington and instead would be headed back to Delaware.

Progressives who would have preferred Vermont senator Bernie Sanders may have pushed Biden past Trump in the popular vote and in the states that will determine the outcome in the electoral college, but on almost every other measure they were defeated. By a small majority, the nation indicated it may not want four more years of Trump, but it’s clearly repudiated the progressive agenda.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden speaks virtually with the National Governors Association’s executive committee during a meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 19, 2020.JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY

The GOP may have lost seats in the U.S. Senate but it’s most likely maintained control. The outcome hangs on two runoffs in Georgia—both of which the Republicans are favored to win—unless an audit of the votes pushes incumbent GOP senator David Perdue back up over 50 percent of the vote, where he was for most of election night. Right now, he’s at 49.71 percent, and the 0.3 percent he needs to avoid a runoff might be overcome just by the uncounted votes being discovered across the state.

The Republicans were also projected to lose seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead, they won all the top targeted races, lost no incumbents seeking reelection, and gained enough seats not only to get above 200—a crucial barrier in the battle for the majority—but to put Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s ability to control events on the floor in doubt. Enough moderate Democrats are saying privately (and thanks to some propitious leaks, publicly) that they’re not willing to walk the plank for her and the “The Squad” is in for a rough going.

Looking around the country, the Republicans picked up one governorship in 2020 (Montana) and the New Hampshire state legislature. This gives the GOP the prized “trifecta” in each state which, when added to the dozens they already had, means that while Washington is gridlocked the GOP can use states to pass the reforms they’ll take national the next time they have the White House.

At the same time the Democrats, who enlisted the substantial fundraising support of former president Barack Obama and former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder in an attempt to flip legislative chambers to Democratic control, failed everywhere they tried. They may have spent tens of millions or more in pursuit of this goal with nothing to show for it. Contrary to late predictions, the GOP held on to state legislatures in Texas and Arizona comfortably when the battle for control was expected to be a close-run thing. And they held the legislatures in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and enough other key states that predictions are already being made that, based solely on the upcoming reapportionment of U.S. House seats among the states, the Republicans are headed to a decade-long majority. No wonder Mrs. Pelosi is saying this is her last term as speaker.

Even at the lawmaking level, progressivism was crushed. Voters in California, who went for Biden over Trump by about two to one, rejected an effort to repeal the 1996 Proposition 209 that prohibits the state from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, education and contracting. At the same, in progressive Colorado, voters said “Yes” to a cut in the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent. In Illinois, voters rejected a measure to establish a graduated income tax and in Montana voters limited the ability of local governments to interfere with issuing of “concealed carry” firearms permits.

If there’s one takeaway from the 2020 election, it’s that, despite the aggressive support it received from donors, elected officials, candidates for office and the mainstream media, progressivism is on the decline. Heck, Joe “I am the Democratic Party” Biden even rejected it while debating Donald Trump. The course is set and if the new president—whoever it is—is smart enough to follow it then the sailing should be smooth. If not, it’s stormy weather ahead.


Woke Faced the Voters—and Lost

The 2020 election was a referendum on the progressive elite, and they were soundly defeated

By Washington Free Beacon EditorsThe Washington Free Beacon

In a week of surprises, California’s rejection of a ballot measure that would have allowed the state to resume its affirmative action program was among the most significant.

The measure, known as Proposition 16, wasn’t defeated by shy Trump voters. Polling showed Hispanic and other minority voters evenly split on the measure, and on Tuesday it was defeated in California’s most Latino counties.

California’s result is just one piece of the mounting evidence that voters on Tuesday threw a wrench in the progressive plan to leverage a “coalition of the ascendant” and an “emerging Democratic majority” to turn the country into a woke utopia.

The 2020 election was in large part a referendum on Democrats’ race baiting and pandering, starting with the party’s own elevation of Biden to the top of the ticket. Democrats’ rejection of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris was a leading indicator that the media missed.

Millions of voters of all races made clear that they instead prefer the old ideals: equality of opportunity, economic freedom, and a society that judges its citizens not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character.

Beyond that, the president whom Democrats have lambasted for four years as a racist and a xenophobe turned out more minority voters than any Republican candidate in decades. It’s not just that right-wing Cubans handed Trump a surprise victory in south Florida; he clinched some of the nation’s most Latino countiesimproved his margins with black men and women, and even earned commanding majorities in some Native American counties. And that exit poll data does not account for the shy Trump voters, an effect we presume may well be exaggerated among black and Hispanic voters.

Senate races yielded more bad news for the progressive left. Even if Joe Biden wins the White House, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who easily overcame an $80 million challenge, will serve as a check on the ascendance of socialists such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to the Biden cabinet. Voters may have wanted Biden, but there’s a whole wing of his party they’d prefer to do without.

Some House Democrats can see the writing on the wall. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.) reportedly told her caucus that the progressive push to defund the police and embrace “socialism” almost cost them the majority. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., Ariz.) advised Democrats to drop the woke speak, starting with the bizarre “Latinx.”ADVERTISING

Tuesday’s results should shatter the Democratic presumption that their party is destined to command the overwhelming and eternal support of minority voters—but it won’t. The politics fueled by racial grievance and personified by the “squad” of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib is a cancer on the Democratic Party that it indulges at its own peril.


Stalemate 2020

America's polarized and divided politics aren't going anywhere.

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

The polls were wrong. The blue wave was no tsunami. The Democratic majority did not fully emerge. Parts of the “coalition of the ascendant” drifted to the right. For a generation, American politics has been closely and bitterly divided between the parties. There has been high turnover in office, and frequent shifts in power. Majorities are unstable. No victory is permanent, no realignment durable. The stalemate goes on.

If Joe Biden becomes president, he is more likely than not to take office with Republicans in control of the Senate. That hasn’t happened in 116 years. He will certainly take office with a reduced House majority—the Democrats have a net loss of six seats at the time of writing. Six of the nine Supreme Court justices are Republican appointees. The partisan breakdown of state legislatures and governor’s mansions will resemble, almost precisely, the pre-election status quo. It’s a good thing Biden campaigned as someone willing to work across the aisle. He’ll have no other choice.

If Trump wins a second term, practically nothing will have changed in American politics, except that both Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell will have fewer votes to work with.

The country remains split. The New York Times exit poll says 37 percent of voters were Democrats and 35 percent Republicans, with 28 percent identifying as independents “or something else.” The Fox News/AP voter analysis pushed “leaners” toward one party over another. It says that 47 percent of voters were Republican or lean Republican, and 48 percent were Democrats or lean Democrat.

Only 24 percent of voters in the exit poll identified as liberal. The rest said they were moderate (40 percent) or conservative (37 percent). The Fox News voter analysis has similar results, with a slightly higher percentage of liberals (30 percent) and a lower percentage of moderates (33 percent). Conservatives were at 38 percent.

The sorting of parties by race, education, marital status, and religious practice has polarized our elites and made politics heated, noisy, and apocalyptic. Every election is billed as the most important in our lifetimes, the potential end of democracy and our ways of life. For all the fire and fury online and on cable news, however, elections continue to be decided in the middle.

Look at the suburbs, where a lot of those moderates and independents live. They backed Bush in 2004, then went for Obama in 2008. Two years later, repelled by Obamacare, Republicans won 56 percent of the suburbs and 56 percent of independents. Obama won reelection in 2012 by erasing those margins. The electorate in 2014, however, looked almost exactly like it did in 2010. And in 2016, Trump won the suburbs by 5 points and independents by 6 points. (He lost moderates by 11.)

According to the 2020 exit poll, Trump lost the suburbs by 3, independents by 14 (a 20-point swing), and moderates by 31. In the Fox voter analysis, Trump lost suburbs by 10 points, independents by 14 points, and moderates by 25 points. Both campaigns turned out their supporters. But the Trump campaign assumed its base would be enough to win. It looks like they were wrong.ADVERTISING

If Trump loses, it will be because voters in the middle grew tired of his antics. The public assessment of Trump’s actions was filtered through its distaste for his comportment, rhetoric, and behavior. And Trump’s personality often overshadowed or undermined the progress of his own administration.

These dramatic self-owns became most obvious, and most harmful, during the coronavirus pandemic. The elected officials who demonstrated steadiness, compassion, and concern these past eight months have seen their job approval numbers rise, no matter the actual status of their communities. Trump’s scattershot response prevented him from building on the slight uptick in support that he enjoyed last March. The voters who said the coronavirus was their most important issue went for Biden overwhelmingly.

This rejection of Trump was personal. It did not extend to the entire Republican Party. Several GOP senators ran ahead of him. The gains in the House speak for themselves. At the moment, the only governor’s mansion to flip is Montana’s. It’s a Republican pickup. Voters rejected a graduated income tax in Illinois and affirmative action in California. Even if Democrats sweep the two Georgia Senate runoffs, and Chuck Schumer gets to be majority leader thanks to Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote, the chances now that he will abolish the filibuster, pack the Court, and grant statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., are nil. The Democrats dreamed of legislating the GOP out of existence. That’s not going to happen. It’s why they are so morose about these results.

The Republican challenge today is the mirror image of the party’s dilemma after 2012. Then, the GOP needed to retain its support in the suburbs while boosting support among whites without college degrees. Now, it needs to retain its support among whites without college degrees while boosting support in the suburbs. And it needs to solidify its gains among black males and Hispanic voters who responded to policies aimed at tight labor markets and economic empowerment.

It’s a tall order. But, as always, the Republicans’ best allies will be Democrats, who like all winners will interpret an electoral victory as an ideological mandate. Overreach is inevitable. And so is the backlash. The vote counting isn’t over, but the GOP comeback has already begun.


‘The Squad’ Defends Socialism After Scuffle With House Democrats

By Alex NesterThe Washington Free Beacon

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) / Twitter

Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) rushed to defend fellow left-wing Democrats after a colleague blamed their socialist messaging for her near loss in Tuesday’s election.

In a chaotic call with other House Democrats Thursday, Virginia congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, who eked out reelection by less than 5,000 votes, blamed left-leaning Democrats’ push to defund the police and defense of socialism for the closeness of the win.

While Spanberger insisted that Democrats should never again utter the word “socialism,” though, Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib, two leftists known for squabblingwith more moderate members of their party, aren’t backing down.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Friday that she hasn’t seen “any compelling evidence” that her progressive push let Republicans flip 10 House seats on Tuesday. Instead, she blamed Democrats’ failure to widen their House majority on poor digital messaging.

The Bronx native then claimed that every Democratic representative who had backed her progressive environmental and health care measures won reelection.

In reality, two Democrats who cosigned the Green New Deal, Florida representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and New York representative Thomas Suozzi, fell to Republican challengers.

After the call, Tlaib declared that she wouldn’t change her messaging.

“Look, I want to feed the poor,” Tlaib said Thursday on The Mehdi Hasan Show. “I want to make sure that we are not picking corporations over people. I want to make sure that we have equity in education funding in our school systems… Nothing’s going to change.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, whose purpose is to secure congressional victories for Democrats, hosted the post-election phone call. Tensions ran high over Republicans’ upset victories and the forecasted blue wave that “never materialized.”

While Spanberger managed to cling to her seat, 10 other House Democrats lost their reelection bids Tuesday, preventing the party from expanding its majority. Despite polling numbers that forecast Democrats taking the majority in the Senate, they have failed to do so there as well.


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