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The Opinion Index, 11-17-12 November 17, 2012

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Let us be as blunt as we can:  Obama may have won re-election, but he certainly did not win a mandate.  Not with lower voter turnout overall than in 2008, and even less so with winning fewer votes 10 days ago than he won 4 years ago.  What many should ask is, how did he win?  Well, leave it to Michael Medved to expose the dirty little secret of Obama’s campaign victory:  going negative early and often.

Think about it:  negative campaigning does not succeed by turning off either side of the base against you.  It wins by turning off independents from even showing up at the voting booth.  Medved is not the only fellow to figure this out, either.  The ever-astute Michael Barone came to the same conclusion in his piece published this past Monday.  Obama was very good at turning out his base, and repelled enough independents (whom Romney carried by six points) from even voting.  Such behavior certainly does nothing at all to reassure so many people jaded about politics in general.

Does this mean that all you have to do is go negative early and often, and in so doing, you will be bulletproof?  Not necessarily.  For the longest time in the campaign, Romney was unable to counter all the negativity in key swing states because campaign finance laws prohibited him from using key funds to do just that until after he was officially nominated.  That did not happen until the convention — in August.  By then, in hindsight, the die was cast, or so it seems.  Karl Rove has reportedly offered an obvious solution:  have the national convention earlier in the campaign season so one can access the funds earlier and more effectively counter the negativity.  Makes sense to me!

Oh, and we forgot to tell you, Obama supporters:  it does not matter who the president is, or how great (or not) he turned out to be.  One ironclad rule of American politics is that a president’s second term is ALWAYS worse than his first.  Always.  That rule even applied to George Washington, arguably the greatest of all the presidents, as well as the first, who set the standard for all to follow.  Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of this very pertinent rule.

Something else that is quite curious is the coattail effect of Obama’s campaign, or in this case, the lack thereof.  For the president himself, his re-election mirrored the 2004 presidential campaign in which the incumbent triumphed in a close, hard-fought race.  But Michael Barone has noticed that the further one goes down the ticket, the more this election mirrors, oddly the enough, the 2010 election — in favor of the GOP, no less!  Basically, Obama excels at winning elections, but he does so without helping anybody else win theirs.

Meanwhile, this cannot be reiterated enough:  one thing the Republicans have going for them is a super-talented bench that is very, very deep.  One member of that bench is Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.  He has sounded a clarion call for the party to start expanding its base.  It can start, so he says, by “stop being the stupid party.”  This and other insights will make Jindal someone to observe in the coming months and years.

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The Opinion Index, 11-15-12 November 16, 2012

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The issue of Republicans trying to broaden their base is one that has obviously been on my minds within the ranks of the GOP, specifically, how do we bring in more minorities into our camp?   Many people who just happen to be minorities no doubt share most of our values, but others, namely a large swath of blacks, seem not to.  Many in the black community have kept themselves on Uncle Sam’s Plantation, much to their own peril economically, socially and spiritually.  What must be done, according to Dennis Prager, is to bring more minorities towards our values, meaning that we must get the message to them, make it clear to them, and prove to them that our values are in their best interest, and indeed, in America’s best interest.

At the core of things is a particular challenge.  We as Republicans stand for hard work, self-reliance, free enterprise and individual initiative.  On paper, that seems like an easy sell.  But it becomes a much tougher sell when the other side says “don’t worry, we’ll take care of you,” without regard for who will pay for all the goodies.  This is part of the case that Mona Charen tries to make, along with the chilling reminder that the worse an economy gets, the more lots of people (single women, etc.) cling to government for security.  To overcome this huge obstacle to preserving individual liberty and prosperity, we need to have more brains (and common sense!) and imagination than the Democrats.

One important thing to keep in mind is that some Republicans happen to win in places where they are least expected to, such as the People’s Republic of Massachusetts.  How do they do it?  Jeff Jacoby points out that they won with focusing on grassroots, and champion liberty, limited government, and low taxes.  This, of course, flies in the face of conventional wisdom from campaign consultants, who think that GOP candidates must go wishy-washy and moderate positions.  The message is clear:  clarity, conviction, and the ability to put it in words people can understand wins, even in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, lots of people within conservative ranks seem to be piling on Romney right now (hasn’t the poor guy taken enough grief?).  Did he make mistakes?  Of course he did.  Taking Rick Perry to task over his stance on the DREAM Act was a fatal blow towards his hopes for attracting Hispanic votes, for example.  But having said all that, it is more than worth pointing out what he did RIGHT.  Who better than Hugh Hewitt to offer a nice, easily digestible list of things Mitt did well which future candidates would be well-served to emulate, and others which have set the GOP up for long-term success?

Finally, one important thing to note is an alternative solution to solving the mess in Washington.  Instead of trying to change Washington — which we ought not to give up anytime soon — let us also devote just as much energy towards helping the Several States wrestle issues back into their sphere of control.  Justin Owen offers a very timely piece on how some states have already challenged the Federal government in key areas such as environmental protection, Medicaid reform, and education.  Let us never forget that we have something called the 10th Amendment.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This must be remembered above all else, especially now.

The Opinion Index, 11-12-12 November 12, 2012

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Ted Cruz, the junior senator-elect from the Great State of Texas: of Latino ancestry, he is a new, rising star in the Republican Party.

As conservatives are trying to sort through the wreckage (moderate though it was) of Tuesday’s election, certain recriminations are bound to be exchanged within Party and ideological ranks.  Credit Charles Krauthammer for being the coolest head in the room.  He offers simple, straightforward solutions to the problems that the GOP faces – the problems that were made abundantly clear thanks to the hindsight of the election and of exit polling.

Was this election an overall rejection of conservatism and a full-throated endorsement of European-style social democracy?  Hardly.  Krauthammer reminds us that the demographic issue of Hispanics supporting Obama can be solved by taking the forefront on immigration policy reform.  He also reminds us that the GOP becoming a more moderate party is not the answer, but just becoming more effective in advancing good arguments.  This is no time to lose our philosophical anchor, according to the esteemed psychiatrist.  He hit the nail on the head by pointing out what some people have tried to say and need to keep saying over and over again:

“In a world where European social democracy is imploding before our eyes, the party of smaller, more modernized government owns the ideological future.”

If we succeed in persuading more Hispanics to come to our side – not an insurmountable task – then we can win more elections and thus succeed in implementing smaller, more modernized government.

But how does one expand the demographic base?  Derek Hunter points out how we can bring in more Hispanics and other people, and does so from a different angle.  Yes, leading the clarion call for meaningful, simple immigration reform will surely help.  But Hunter reminds something I found to be somewhat reassuring.  Hispanics voting for Obama was not so much that demographic rejecting conservatism as it was a reflection on insufficient efforts to offer conservatism to them.  This naturally must change as we move, ahem, forward.

If that is not enough, Hunter also points out that ceding the culture to the left will doom conservatism as well.  He points out a few successful examples where small archipelagos of conservatism thrive in a vase ocean of liberalism (Adam Carolla being a good example), and how they succeed.  If conservatism is to succeed, we must emulate these models, and scale them into continents.
Speaking of the recent election, it was really a triumph of negative campaigning in key target states on the part of Obama’s team, according to Michael Barone.  Combine that with a diminished margin of victory in the popular vote compared to Obama’s numbers in 2008, and he hardly has a mandate to make government even more intrusive in our lives as we move forward.  Oddly enough, though, Barone hints that House Speaker John Boehner might have a slight mandate of his own.

Another thought:  Texas just elected a new junior senator in Ted Cruz.  He and Marco Rubio could effectively team up to lead the GOP in being proactive in immigration reform (a modified DREAM Act, perhaps?).  But even more importantly, Cruz’ election, one could make the case, could portend of positive things to come.  Hugh Hewitt points out that Senator-elect Cruz is, oddly and ironically enough, in the same position that Barack Obama was in 2004.  Both Cruz and Obama are/were rising stars in their respective parties in 2012 and 2004, respectively.  Both hail from states key to their respective parties.  Both were elected to Congress the same year that their parties lost an agonizingly close election.  What’s more, in both 2004 and 2012, a candidate from Massachusetts headed a losing presidential ticket. If that’s not enough, both men’s fathers were not born in America. Oh, and Cruz is said to be both a brilliant lawyer and orator.  Hmmm….

More Questions Raised than Answered November 7, 2012

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When media outlets called for  Ohio narrowly going for Obama within the 11:00 hour Tuesday night, it became quite clear that Obama was to win re-election.  But the electoral results overall seem, at this point to hardly settle anything.  On the contrary:  the results of this election raise more questions than those that are answered.

For one:  given that, on the surface of things, the status quo regarding who controls the presidency and the Congress has not changed (Dems keep the presidency and Senate, Republicans the House), how are major issues facing this country to be effectively resolved, moving, ahem, “Forward?”

Given than Barack Obama won re-election with fewer states than in 2008, how can he consider this re-election is any sort of mandate going, ahem, “Forward?”  (North Carolina and Indiana are back in the red column, while ballots in Virginia and Florida are still being counted).
Credit Mitt Romney for recognizing that the economy was the chief concern among most voters this election cycle.  Indeed, news reports indicated that the exit polling among swing voters revealed that very thing.  Yet those very swing voters that were exit polled still blamed George W. Bush for the economic malaise.  Question:  at what point will Obama own this malaise?

Will stagflation come?  Given the “status quo” result of this election, it seems to be almost a foregone conclusion.  Will Obama then own the ensuing recession-within-a-recession?

What is to be done about the “tax bomb” that is about to come our way?  Once that “bomb” explodes, who is likely to take the political hit?

While it might be a tad too early for a postmortem on the Romney campaign, could it have been that the “October surprise” that many on the right side of the ideological spectrum feared was in fact a freak act of mother nature?  Hurricane Sandy did, after all, allow for Obama to act a bit presidential for once.
In historical perspective, not since Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe has America elected presidents to two consecutive terms three times in a row.  I shall leave a competent Psephologist (paging Michael Barone!) to more effectively discern the deep meaning of this development.

These and other questions shall surely be answered as time unfolds.  In the meantime, pray for our great nation, for its duly elected leaders, and especially for the health of the justices on the Supreme Court.

A Time for Choosing November 3, 2012

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For weeks, I was trying to think up the almost-perfect editorial essay explaining why Obama must go and why Mitt Romney is the best guy we have to turn our government and our nation around.  I could have given a whole litany of problems America has experienced under Obama, and just as big a litany of positives in favor of Romney as the real man for the job (as opposed to the narcissistic man-child with which we have saddled ourselves for [almost] the last four years).  And I may yet write such a piece between now and Tuesday.  But as the old saying goes, in the brevity lies the spice, and there is hardly a ‘spicier’ editorial out there in Romney’s favor (and Obama’s consequent disfavor) than Charles Krauthammer’s latest piece.  What makes this particular column so “spicy” is that it gets to the very crux of the matter regarding this upcoming election.  Are we to remain freeborn citizens of unlimited individual potential, or are we to degenerate into serfs, able to do little more than serve an increasingly Leviathan state?  So read that article, then watch Ronald Reagan’s historic speech that he gave 48 years ago.  While you watch it, forget about Goldwater vs. Johnson and imagine Romney vs. Obama, and the speech will seem even more timely today than it was almost five decades ago.