Quotes of the day

posted at 8:31 pm on November 10, 2012 by Allahpundit

“He doesn’t have to play to get reelected anymore, which is huge,” said Chicago supporter Jim Slama, who first met Obama in 2001. “It frees him to be who he is.”…

“I’m hopeful,” said Slama. “He’ll try to play to the middle, but he’s got the Tea Party to deal with, and he can take out his baseball bat and wail away and he won’t have to worry about the implications of reelection.”

***

“Millions of American evangelicals are absolutely shocked by not just the presidential election, but by the entire avalanche of results that came in,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., said in an interview. “It’s not that our message — we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong — didn’t get out. It did get out.

“It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed,” he said. “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.”…

The evangelical share of the population is both declining and graying, studies show. Large churches like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God, which have provided an organizing base for the Christian right, are losing members.

“In the long run, this means that the Republican constituency is going to be shrinking on the religious end as well as the ethnic end,” said James L. Guth, a professor of political science at Furman University in Greenville, S.C.

***

This year Democrats’ arguments on values were heard. This was a “values” election as strident as the ones from culture wars past in which Christians marched against subsidies for Mapplethorpe, creationists vied for seats on Kansas school boards, and William Bennett demanded to know where the outrage was. What was different about this year’s culture war is that Republicans lost it

Obama has made a lot of mistakes, but running the country as a business is not one of them. Like Bush before him, he is always stressing how America is the only place where membership in the nation derives not from race, ethnicity, or religion but from belief in an idea.

The bright side of that vision is a beautiful thing, but there is a dark side to it, too. If America is an idea, you can belong to it regardless of your ethnic background. But you cannot belong to it regardless of your beliefs. A tendency to lecture the American public on what they are supposed to believe has become a constant in the president’s oratory. “That’s who we are,” he said in his victory speech on Tuesday. He was talking about the need to help an 8-year-old girl with leukemia, a fairly uncontroversial proposition. But he uses this trope even when talking about the tiniest velleities, usually expanding it to “that’s not who we are as a people.” If there is one disturbing truth that Obama has always understood, it is that a winning American campaign is always about values, is never lukewarm, and is generally a bit scary-looking to foreigners and losers.

***

In my own state, where the Democrats ran the board on election night, the “Live Free or Die” license plates look very nice when you see them all lined up in the parking lot of the Social Security office. But, in their view of the state and its largesse, there’s nothing very exceptional about Americans, except that they’re the last to get with the program. Barack Obama ran well to the left of Bill Clinton and John Kerry, and has been rewarded for it both by his party’s victory and by the reflex urgings of the usual GOP experts that the Republican party needs to “moderate” its brand.

I have no interest in the traditional straw clutching — oh, it was the weak candidate . . . hard to knock off an incumbent . . . next time we’ll have a better GOTV operation in Colorado . . . I’m always struck, if one chances to be with a GOP insider when a new poll rolls off the wire, that their first reaction is to query whether it’s of “likely” voters or merely “registered” voters. As the consultant class knows, registered voters skew more Democrat than likely voters, and polls of “all adults” skew more Democrat still. Hence the preoccupation with turnout models. In other words, if America had compulsory voting as Australia does, the Republicans would lose every time. In Oz, there’s no turnout model, because everyone turns out. The turnout-model obsession is an implicit acknowledgment of an awkward truth — that, outside the voting booth, the default setting of American society is ever more liberal and statist.

***

In future, our elections will be like those in Britain or New York. We will be presented with a choice between a statist liberal and an out-there uber-liberal. And with the uber-liberal enjoying the full backing of the media and Hollywood, it’ll by no means be an easy win for the ordinary Mike Bloomberg or David Cameron-style liberal, who will be portrayed as a heartless plutocrat if he happens to come from money, or as a hopeless rube if he happens to come from nowhere…

The school choice movement will be killed off as “draining resources from public education,” which really means it harms a core Democratic interest group, the teachers’ unions. The simple matter of requiring voters to supply I.D. will be forbidden, not because it doesn’t make sense, the voters don’t want it or because it’s unconstitutional, but because it harms Democratic party interests. The two parties will fall all over each other in their efforts to mollify illegal immigrants. The new health-care entitlement will become increasingly onerous and costly, with all discussion limited to how best to “save” it, until one day employers’ efforts to work around it cause a frustrated government to convert it to a full-on single-payer Socialist scheme.

I didn’t expect this would ever happen to my country, and certainly not so fast, but we are now a decadent European social welfare state, sure to be accompanied by European levels of economic stagnation, taxation, welfare rolls, unemployment and perpetually misallocated resources such as subsidies to favored companies. Military irrelevance will soon follow as the staggering costs of the cradle-to-grave socialist state grow exponentially. Iran will soon have nuclear capability, to be followed in short order by its Middle Eastern neighbors, folllowed shortly by widespread proliferation of nuclear arms to terrorist groups.

***

If we are to lose America as it has been, could we not ask that it be lost to something better than this? Our president, a Narcissus masquerading as a Demosthenes, makes big speeches packed full of little ideas, and he is applauded wildly for it. His, says Marco Rubio, “are tired and old big-government ideas. Ideas that people come to America to get away from. Ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world, instead of helping the world become more like America.” I will vouch for the verity of these words. I have watched how these sorry ideas play out in the real world, and it is not pretty: They make people’s lives worse, and yet simultaneously convince them that any reform will kill them — a fatal combination. Americans should avoid this path sedulously, for that way lies decline…

And yet, he has now won twice. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to elect such a man once may be regarded as a misfortune, but to elect him twice looks like carelessness. (Or, rather, criminal negligence.) This year, certainly, was not the perfect storm of 2008. Then, novelty and redemption played a role; this time, an insipid bore ran on an openly statist platform and won the day in a country that is supposed to be “center right.” Maybe it no longer is. In 1980, when faced with a set of policies that demonstrably hadn’t worked and a president who wanted to take America leftward, America chose a different path; in 2012, it doubled down. That says a lot about a people. The central problem, then, is not that Obama will be president for the next few years, but that the American people — knowing him — chose to reelect him. Even if this is put down to a failure of Romney’s turnout operation or Hurricane Sandy or Obama’s brilliant targeting, it does not say much for their commitment to classical liberalism that a significant group of Americans stayed away from the fight because they didn’t like Mitt Romney. That this was not a clear-cut repudiation of the president should sound the alarm.

***

Obama is taking us toward the European way at very the moment that model is collapsing. This may mean total decline, but it may also mean a painful process of cultural reconstitution.

The West was already headed for demographic-economic Armageddon. Even a Romney victory wouldn’t have changed that. The real test will be what happens when the crisis truly hits, sometime in the next decade. Fighting for conservative/classically-liberal solutions until that moment will make all the difference in how America weathers the storm. The Western welfare state as currently constituted cannot survive. It will shortly move from inevitable to impossible.

***

Thinking about the present day, if conservatives are right and what Walter Russell Mead has called the “blue state model” is indeed collapsing, then the GOP might not be that far away from another moment. At the least, the fact that it did not come in 2012 does not mean it is not coming.

And conservatives should be ready for it. For starters, they should ignore the triumphalists on the left espousing a permanent shift leftward. Nonsense! Yes, conservatives must do a better job of reaching out to Hispanics, but some perspective is necessary. The incumbent president is set to take in millions of fewer votes than he won in 2008. He limped across the finish line by dint of vicious demagoguery, which lowered turnout among white voters who have voted Republican in the past. Put simply, the GOP is still very much in this ballgame.

***

Now we need a majority in Congress to listen – and they should start by making sure taxes don’t go up on the 98% of Americans making under $250,000 a year starting January 1. This is something we all agree on. Even as we negotiate a broader deficit reduction package, Congress should extend middle-class tax cuts right now. It’s a step that would give millions of families and 97% of small businesses the peace of mind that will lead to new jobs and faster growth. There’s no reason to wait.

We know there will be differences and disagreements in the months to come. That’s part of what makes our political system work. But on Tuesday, you said loud and clear that you won’t tolerate dysfunction, or politicians who see compromise as a dirty word.


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