Saturday, May 31, 2008

1976 Redux

It feels like 1976 all over again. I remember that year as if it was yesterday. That was the year of the gigantic battle of Ronald Reagan versus President Gerald Ford for the Republican Presidential nomination. And in November, that was the year Jimmy Carter was elected President.

Fast forward to 2008 and there are sharp similarities between the two years. Obviously, they are not exactly alike. For example, the GOP Presidential nomination was decided in February when Sen. John McCain came out on top in the primaries.

But the similarities are eerie. First, the incumbent Republican President was very unpopular. Ford was unpopular because of the deep recession and pardoning ex-President Richard Nixon. President Bush is unpopular because of the economy and the war in Iraq.

Second, the United States faced implacable foreign foes. In 1976, the U.S. faced Communism as its foe. In 2008, it is Islamic terrorism.

Third, the U.S. economy is in poor shape. In 1976, the U.S. was coming out of a deep recession and high unemployment. In 2008, the U.S. is going through a mortgage crisis, high gas prices and a sharp increase in food prices.

Fourth, movement conservative ennui. After Reagan lost in 1976, movement conservatives sat on their hands and refused to help Ford. Many of us just took a political vacation. I voted in the general election, but that was it. There were only fourteen of us working in the Reagan Presidential campaign in the Alachua County (Gainesville), Florida Reagan headquarters. The fourteen of us made over 40000 telephone calls in six weeks and heavily canvassed the area. Reagan took a surprisingly high 41% of the vote in the guts of liberal territory. But the primary was very bitter. Young Republican meetings turned into brawls. Indeed, the police had to watch over our meetings because of the bitter fighting. Friendships were destroyed. I know of one Reaganite who broke off his engagement because his girlfriend was actively working for Ford. Many of us felt Carter would be a failure and then in 1980 Reagan would be elected. So we decided to sit out the race and let the Democrats win.

Republican establishment critters like the glory and glitz of politics, but they do not like the nitty gritty of campaigning. Doing the "boiler room" work is not fun. You make calls (I wonder how that works with the proliferation of cell phones in today's society.), stuff envelopes, drive workers to the polls, canvass door-to-door, put literature on cars in shopping parking lots, etc. You won't see establishment types do that. But movement conservatives have done all that and then some (I personally made thousands of calls for Reagan in that very bitter Florida primary.).
John McCain inspires no movement conservatives. Our attitude is let him lose and wait until 2012.

Fifth, the GOP is very unpopular. In 1976, only 25% of the voters identified with the GOP. In 2008, it's not as low. But it has declined since 2004. Just like the Republicans were dejected in 1976 (You could smell defeat in the air after Reagan lost to Ford.), so are they in 2008. I have met very few Republicans who are enthusiastic this year. The church I attend is very conservative and Republican. I have yet to find one person who is enthusiastic about McCain. Most of them will give them a very reluctant vote. But unlike 2004, some will sit out the election or vote third-party.

Sixth, conservatism is at a hiatus. After Reagan was defeated in 1976, the conservative movement was in limbo for a few years. Ford was a moderate squish who had no political philosophy at all. In 1980, conservatives came up with a winning platform. In 2008, conservatism has no message. The message, "we can do better than the Democrats", does not resonate with the average voter. If the GOP is going to be Democrat-lite, then why not vote for the real thing? If the Democrats win the White House, conservatives will have to come up with a coherent strategy to meet economic and foreign policy challenges.

Seventh, an outsider was elected. Nobody ever heard of Jimmy Carter when he began running except for Georgians (the state, not the country) and political junkies. But he ran on a platform of bringing back trust to the White House. He was inexperienced, serving four years as a state senator and four years as governor. Barack Obama will probably be elected. His experience is serving eight years as a state senator and four years as U.S. Senator. Like Carter, he has very little experience.

Eighth, the Democrats won the Presidency by a very narrow margin. Carter was elected with just over 50% of the vote. Obama will probably win by a narrow margin. Carter started with a huge 34-point lead over Ford and was poised to win all fifty states when the campaign began. As it turned out, he won the Electoral College 297-241. Obama will probably start with a big lead against McCain, but will probably win by a narrow margin.

Politics is strange and history often repeats itself. 2008 seems like 1976 redux.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Teenage Itch

Every sixteen years (hence, the "teenage" term) since 1944 the American electorate has gone through the mantra of "change." The strong desire for change came in the 1960, 1976, and the 1992 elections. And the desire for change is very strong in 2008. There are similarities in all
these four elections and I will point them out in a very long post. Here goes.

1. All those elected in 1960, 1976 and 1992 were Democrats. I don't think 2008 will be any different. John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were elected.

2. All those elected set a precedent. John Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic to be elected President. Jimmy Carter was the first Deep Southerner to be elected and Bill Clinton was the first out-of-the-Deep-South Southerner to be elected. And it looks like Barack Obama will be the first black elected President.

3. All of them were elected in a time of economic malaise. The 1960 recession helped elect John Kennedy by a very narrow margin. The 1973-1975 recession was quite deep and helped elect Jimmy Carter. The 1990-1991 recession helped elect Bill Clinton. In 2008, there is a lot of economic uncertainty because of high gas prices and rising inflation on food items.

4. The Republican nominees alienated the conservative base and many conservatives did little or sat out the election. When Vice-President Richard Nixon made the agreement with Gov. Nelson Rockefeller on the 1960 Republican Party platform, many conservatives accused Nixon of "selling out" to the liberal Rockefeller. Conservatives called it "The Betrayal of Fifth Avenue." Many conservatives felt betrayed and sat on their hands in the general election.

In 1976, there was a very bitter GOP nomination battle between President Ford and Ronald Reagan (I was there. I can tell you thirty-two years later the bitterness is STILL there. It was the nastiest campaign I've ever been in. I put in mounds of hours for Reagan. Indeed, I kept a diary of that campaign.). Ford won, but conservatives refused to help him.

In 1992, conservatives were fed up with President George H.W. Bush. When he betrayed his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge in 1990, conservatives abandoned Bush. Commentator Pat Buchanan ran against him and hurt Bush in the primaries. In the general election, many of us conservatives sat out the race or voted for Perot.

Fast forward to 2008. Sen. John McCain is an embarrassment to all conservatives. For twenty years he has spat in our faces and rubbed the spittle on our cheeks. He wants open borders, tight environmental controls, tax increases and moderate judges. Many of us voted for Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo or Ron Paul. When they all faltered, many conservatives switched to Mitt Romney. McCain's "divide and conquer" strategy to split the conservative support and votes worked like a charm. I'll vote for Bob Barr or Charles Baldwin before I vote for McCain.

5. The Democratic victories were narrow victories. John Kennedy won the popular vote by 112803 votes out of 68.8 million. Jimmy Carter won with 50.9% of the vote. Bill Clinton won with 43% of the vote. Obama will win, but it will be with 51% to 52% of the vote.

6. The Democrats made major gains in the prior off-year elections. In 1958, the Democrats gained 13 Senate seats and 48 House seats. In 1974, the Democrats gained five Senate seats and 47 House seats. In 1990, the GOP was expected to pick up some Senate seats. Instead, they lost a Senate seat and nine House seats. But they got creamed in the governors' races. In 2006, the Democrats gained six Senate seats and 35 House seats.

7. The cry for change was overwhelming. In 1960, the mantra was "Time for a Change." John Kennedy campaigned against the GOP's three recessions in eight years (with the 1957-1958 being a crushing recession). In 1976, the cry was for honesty in government because of Watergate. Jimmy Carter preened he would never lie to the American people and would have a government as "good as the American people." He would be an outsider that would change Washington, D.C. In 1992, Clinton railed against "the worst economy in sixty years." He would change that by giving a big middle-class tax cut (instead, he raised taxes). In 2008, Obama's mantra is "Change we can believe in."

8. The Republicans had governed for at least eight years. Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was President from 1953 to 1961, Republicans Nixon and Ford were Presidents from 1969 to 1977 and Republicans Ronald W. Reagan and Bush 41 were Presidents from 1981 to 1993. President Bush has been President from 2001 and it'll be eight years when he leaves next year.

9. Voter approval of the GOP hit bottoms. In 1960, people were disgusted with the GOP because of the recession and Russian gains in foreign policy. While Eisenhower was personally popular, his party had low approval ratings. In 1976, Ford had low approval ratings because of his wanting to raise taxes in 1974 to fight a recession (Remember, the WIN buttons the White House put out in 1974?) and pardoning Nixon. In 1992, Bush had low approval ratings because of his indifference towards the economy during the recession (He had never seen a checkout scanner before.). In 2008, Bush's approval ratings are in the low 30s or upper 20s. People have soured on the War in Iraq and the high gas prices.

History is a very stern teacher. It looks like the GOP will learn its lesson for abandoning conservative principles and acting like Democrats-lite. Mark my words: The Democrats will win the White House in 2008 by a narrow margin.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Do NOT Vote for John McCain

I get tired of the old cliche' that you must vote "for the lesser of two evils." If you vote for a lesser evil, you are still voting for evil. I've been told many a time if you vote for a third-party candidate, you are throwing away your vote. Maybe so, but at least it's a vote based on principle and not on expediency.

Senator John McCain would be the biggest disaster to befall the Republican Party and the conservative movement should he be elected President. If you think the 2008 election is going to be a nightmare for the GOP, the 2010 off-year elections would be a total disaster. The conservative movement would be in exile for at least twenty years if he is President.

McCain would be a disaster as President. Let's look on how liberal he is on the issues even though he preens himself as a conservative.

1. Taxes. He voted AGAINST both of President Bush's tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. He has never been a supporter of tax cuts. Indeed, look for him to "reach across the aisle" and find ways to increase taxes.

2. Iraq. He's gung-ho for the stupid, idiotic war which has cost this nation 4077 lives and 30004 wounded. We'll be there for at least four more years and more dead and wounded. He has no plans of getting us out of that ridiculous war.

3. The Environment. His speech in Portland, Oregon was something out of the liberal Sierra Club playbook. He's bought into the global warming nuttiness and is all set to lower our standard of living to appease the environmental wackos. In fact, there has been a global COOLING in the last ten years. And wasn't it just thirty years ago we were talking about a global ice age?

4. Abortion. John McCain has no use for the pro-life movement and would sell the movement out in a heartbeat. In private, he has complained about the prolifers and has no use for them. He will not be a prolife President and would betray the prolife cause.

5. Judicial Appointments. Do you think he's going to appoint conservative judges? Not a snowball's chance. He said Judge Alito is "too conservative" for him. He said that Roe v. Wade should remain law. And do you think he'd appoint judges who would overturn the McCain-Feingold Campaign Law, a stupid law which limits free speech and caused the proliferation of 527 organizations?

6. The North American Union. He has said some very positive things about a North American Union, which would put Canada, the US and Mexico as one entity. This would undermine American sovereignty and reduce the rights of all American citizens.

7. Iran. He sang a ditty to the tune of "Barbara Ann" as "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." That's just what we need: Another war with a Middle East nation. He strikes me as a hothead who would not be afraid to go to war at the slightest incident.

8. Immigration. He would be gung-ho for giving amnesty to illegal immigrants. He has no plan to stop illegal immigration and will continue the heavy influx of illegal immigrants coming to this country. I have nothing against legal immigrants. Let them come. But why should those who break the law be rewarded with amnesty?

9. The Economy. He will have a lot more government intervention in the economy. Whenever the government gets involved, the economy suffers. His "economic reforms" may put this country in a deep recession.

10. The Patriot Act. Look for him to add more provisions to the Patriot Act which would diminish our civil liberties.

I'd rather have Obama than McCain. At least I KNOW Obama is a liberal. His voting record and his pronouncements show that. Well, I don't like it but at least I know he's forthright about it. We conservatives will have to hunker down for two years and come up with an alternative program. McCain says he's a conservative but he's lying through his teeth. The problem is the voters will believe him and punish the conservative movement when his administration fails (which it will).

Let Obama win. Let the American people have a real solid dose of unadulterated liberalism. Let the GOP go in the political wilderness for two to four years. It would serve them right. The GOP does not have any conservative principles. In fact, the GOP doesn't know what it stands for. Let them get a whipping this year. Let the voters kick them solidly in the teeth. One of the GOP Party leaders said the GOP must "accessorize." What does THAT mean? Dress up in drag? Men carrying a purse? The GOP is a gutless party that stands for nothing. The GOP is crying about losing that Congressional seat in north Mississippi. Tough toenails. This is a gutless, cowardly, scum-sucking, yellow-bellied party that doesn't stand for anything. Maybe a shellacking will give them some backbone and the guts to come up with ideas to reduce government. Maybe they'll stand for something.

As for Obama, he is Jimmy Carter redux. His administration will be one of the most disastrous administrations since Jimmah's. You can count on a deep recession and stagflation. You think Bill Clinton was liberal on social issues? Clinton will look like Lou Sheldon compared to Obama. On foreign policy, he will be a weakling. The Russians (Yes, Putin is becoming a lot more aggressive in foreign policy.) and Muslims will take advantage of his weak policies. And if you think gas is expensive now, it'll be worse under Obama.

As for me, I'm debating voting for Libertarian Bob Barr (although he hasn't received the nomination, he is the favorite) or Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party. I know I'm wasting my vote. But Barr and Baldwin have principles and have the courage to stand up for them. They are conservatives and will not back down on their principles. And if the GOP loses because these two candidates drain enough votes to give Obama the victory, then that's just tough.

Screw McCain and the Republican Party.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Why Charlie Ross Lost His Race for Congress

It has been over a month since Charlie Ross lost his race for Congress. I was so busy with tax season that I had no chance to write as to the reasons for his loss. After tax season, I did some extensive work in asking people why they didn't vote for Ross. After putting all the data together, here are the reasons he lost:

1. His cold, aloof personality. It was bitterly ironic, but the more people got to know Charlie Ross, the more likely they were to vote for Gregg Harper. Those who never met the candidate voted for him without any question. They liked his service in the Legislature. But those who did know him could not stand him. Some people got downright nasty with me when I told them I was voting for Ross. The ones who knew him described him as "aloof, a snob, know-it-all, cold, imperious, insensitive" and other terms not worthy of mention.

2. The David Landrum voters. Landrum's voters were bitter against Ross for the hit campaign on Landrum's not voting in prior primaries and elections. Actually, it was John Rounsaville who brought that out. But many Landrum supporters think Ross was behind it all. They broke heavily for Harper after the first primary.

3. The Religious Right. They were thirsting for their own and they got it in the person of Gregg Harper. He played the religious card for all he could milk it. Much to Ross' credit, he refused to play the church game to get votes. He said he was not going to use church to further his political campaign. You could see Harper schmoozing to those pastors so he could get Religious Right votes. I was nauseated by Harper's bringing up what a wonderful Christian he was and how he would have a "servant attitude" if he were in Congress. But this district is rife with the Religious Right and they swallowed Harper's religiosity hook, line and sinker.

4. Phil Bryant. Now Charlie Ross may claim Phil Bryant is his friend (With friends like that, who needs enemies?), but that is wishful thinking. I found out Bryant was going all-out to defeat Ross. Bryant is a lowlife who holds grudges until the end of time. I was told Bryant was very bitter against Ross for Ross' "mudslinging" (i.e., that's a Bryant code term for telling the truth) during the raucous GOP primary for Lt. Governor last year. He vowed revenge. His financial backer, Billy Powell, was working hard and raising money for Harper. (Politics makes very strange bedfellows. Billy Powell worked hard to defeat a pro-life plank in the Rankin County GOP platform back in 1990, but that didn't stop him from backing a very strong pro-lifer such as Harper.) Phil Bryant made it known he was after Ross and encouraged his supporters to vote for Harper. If Satan had been in the runoff against Ross, Bryant would be holding Satanic ceremonies. That's how bitter Bryant was against Ross. (And believe me, Bryant can be a very vindictive scumbag.)

5. Ross fatigue. When Ross decided to run for Congress, I had a lot of my friends tell me, "You mean to tell me he's running again? He just lost his race for Lt. Governor." They got tired of his puss on the tube again. They wanted a fresh face. If Landrum hadn't blown that voting controversy, he would have made it to the runoff and defeated Ross. Instead, they voted for the vacuous Harper.

I had a friend call me up on Election Day inviting me to the victory party. I asked him how the race looked since he was hot and heavy working for Ross. Much to my shock, he told me it didn't look good and Ross was going to lose. He was right, with Ross getting an anemic 41% of the vote. He should have easily been elected. He was clearly the most qualified person to run for Congress in the district since Sonny Montgomery.

Ross may try another run for political office in 2011 or even later. But don't count on his winning. With Phil Bryant and his toadies bitterly fighting him every inch of the way, Ross will have an uphill climb. It's a shame, because Ross was perhaps one of the smartest and most productive members in the State Senate.