by John Hawkins | June 9, 2009 11:30 am
Over at Confederate Yankee, Bob Owens has written a post that touched on a pet peeve of mine. It’s not a particularly egregious example of it, but it’s still worth writing about. From Confederate Yankee,
“I Did Not Vote to Lower My Standard of Living”
Michael Jones of PoliGazette voted twice for Barack Obama last year–in the primaries and in the general election–but he is one of a rapidly growing number of disillusioned moderates that is coming to regret his decision.
Here is a taste of his discontent:
Like many Americans last November, I voted for change. I had hope. I no longer have hope since the president I voted for never mentioned a fraction of the agenda he now espouses. I did not vote to lower my standard of living, humble as it may be. Nor did I ask to jump into the economic abyss in order to “save” the planet.
Every time I hear another Obama supporter-turned-opponent claim that they had no idea what Obama was going to do as President, I have to shake my head in amusement.
If these new critics had relied upon the media, peer pressure, and party allegiance to help them decide how to cast their vote, then I can certainly understand how they ended up voting for Obama. The neophyte from Chicago certainly looked good, was charismatic, and said all the right things, while giving them the added bonus of being a (partially) African-American candidate that could help them wash away any guilt they may have of their own bigotry (we all prejudiced to varying degrees, and anyone who tells you they are completely unprejudiced is a liar and/or a dunce). For people not willing to put in the time to actively research a candidate’s record or positions–which, let’s face it, is most voters–he represented a package that was hard not to vote for.
Now, this is not a slap at Bob Owens, who has an outstanding blog — but, I think too many conservatives are papering over how lousy of a job the Republicans did over the last few years.
George Bush had a 25% approval rating when he left office. Despite the fact that he claimed to be a fiscal conservative, he could fairly be categorized as to the left-of-center on spending and the growth of government. No matter what slurs were thrown at him or the Republican Party, he couldn’t be roused to defend himself or his party — and for the most part, Republicans in Congress, who had terrible political instincts, initially went right along with him on every dumb move he made from amnesty to Harriet Miers to TARP. The only way the GOP would pay any attention at all to their constituents, on the rare occasions when they did, was after weeks of screaming. Their attitude was that all wisdom came from inside the Beltway and they seemed absolutely certain that big government, amnesty, and ignoring conservatives would deliver them to the promised land.
To top it all off, the GOP nominated John McCain, who is genuinely disliked by many of the party’s activists, for President. Let me tell you something now that I had no problem saying before the election: John McCain would have been a mediocre President. Of course, a mediocre President would be a step up from a guy who can already be fairly called the worst President in American history — which is why I supported McCain, but another “lesser of two evils” choice wasn’t very appetizing to the American people. When you offer people the “lesser of two evils” enough times in a row, eventually, they’re going to get so tired of the devil they know that they’re going to try the devil they don’t.
So essentially, in 2008, the American people had a choice between a punch in the face and a punch in the body and they chose the punch in the body. When you’re faced with a choice between two bad options and you have to make a choice, it’s human nature to put a good spin on it.
“Wow, that punch in the face would have REALLY hurt.”
“Ah, the chances of getting a cracked rib are tiny!”
“I’ve never heard of anyone dying from a punch in the stomach, but a punch in the face: broken nose, broken jaw, fractured skull — there are so many things that could go wrong!”
Then, they get the punch in the body, it breaks a rib, and drives it through one of their lungs. At that point, on the way to the hospital, it’s not surprising that people might start to reconsider whether the punch in the face would have been better.
It doesn’t make them dumb. It doesn’t make them stupid. It just means they had two bad options and after the one they chose didn’t work out so well, they started to have second thoughts.
The reason why this is important is twofold. First off, if people realize they made a mistake voting for Obama and they want to vote Republican next time, we should welcome them, not conclude that they’re dumb.
Secondly, when we turn the focus from “what we did wrong” to “what they did wrong,” it takes away the impetus for the Republican Party to change its ways.
The Republican Party is not where it needs to be yet. I question the basic competence of some of the party’s leaders, like Mitch McConnell in the Senate and John Cornyn at the NRSC. On the whole, members are too arrogant and they’re still more than a little out of touch. The party also does a poor job of reaching out to minorities and they seem a little frightened of new technology — although we’re seeing improvement in that area.
That being said, there has been a remarkable positive change in the Republican Party since Barack Obama was elected. They have become much more interested in fiscal conservatism and smaller government. They have gotten more pugnacious. They do seem to realize that they’ve blown it and need to start improving their performance. The Party deserves credit for that — even though there is plenty more work to do.
…..However, if the problem was that the American people got fooled, not the Republican Party, then there’s not much motivation for the party to change. That’s why I think we should keep the focus where it belongs: on the mistakes we made as a party and how we can make sure that we don’t make them again going forward.
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