David Rodeback's Blog
Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Thursday, September 16, 2010
What Is It About Americans?
Have you noticed that the Republican establishment wants nothing to do with so-called Tea Party candidates? They were wigging out before Tuesday's final batch of primaries, and they still are. It's not that they have anything against tea. They just don't like conservatives -- not that this is news. They didn't want anything to do with Ronald Reagan, either, back in the day -- until the people left them no choice. The American people, that is. NEW: Listen to an audio podcast of this post.
The biggest Tea Party triumph in Tuesday's primaries was probably in Delaware. (Here's a good summary of the day's results.) Tea Party upstart Christine O'Donnell defeated the state party establishment's favorite, current Representative Mike Castle, in the race for Vice President Joe Biden's old US Senate seat. The Big Media Acronyms are delighted; they think this means the Democrats are nearly certain to win the seat in November, which will make it much more difficult for the Republicans to win a Senate majority. (Here are reports about the Delaware race in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, and one from before the primary at ABC News.)
Castle's voting record in the House makes people wonder why he's not a Democrat. He supports abortion rights, voted for cap-and-trade, and overall was rated the most liberal House Republican last year by the National Journal. He may not have been a tough sell with his state Republican party establishment, but he clearly was with Republican voters in Delaware.
I don't know what the rules are in Delaware, but, in Utah, Republican Party officers are expected to avoid using their offices to advance the cause of one Republican candidate against another Republican candidate. I don't remember any glaring violations of this in Utah this year, despite a very vigorous and sometimes heated campaign for the Republican nomination for US Senate.
In Delaware they are not so restrained. Before the election, Party officials called O'Donnell a gadfly (which not necessarily a bad thing in itself) and a perennial candidate with no chance of winning. State GOP Chairman Tom Ross is on record saying, "She is not viable for any office in the state of Delaware." The state party even filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, charging that O'Donnell had illegally coordinated with the Tea Party Express. Remember, this is the state Republican Party filing an FEC complaint against a Republican candidate.
And it's not just the state party, either. A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee publicly questioned what he called "a disturbing pattern of dishonest behavior" by O'Donnell. I heard on the radio yesterday that some national Republican official swore there would be no party money going to the O'Donnell campaign, but later in the day I heard that the official had backed away from that position. In any case, the message is clear: the national party doesn't like Christine O'Donnell, either, and they don't mind us knowing that.
Oops, They Created a Folk Hero
I understand concerns that O'Donnell might lose in November, where Castle might have won. I understand the thought that it would be better to have a liberal Republican in the seat than any Democrat -- even a RINO, a Republican In Name Only. I haven't paid enough attention to the race to know what kind of a candidate O'Donnell is. She might be just the sort of opportunistic, pie-in-the-sky, unelectable idealist whom I have labored to defeat here in Utah. She might have too many skeletons in the closet and too many glaring character flaws -- not that that necessarily prevents a long career in the US Senate. Or she might make a decent, conservative Senator.
This much I do know: She's now a folk hero. The Republican establishment has itself to thank for that. And their announcements that, as the Republican nominee, she won't be getting any support from the national party, will just make her that much bigger a folk hero -- even if the announcements are later retracted. It's entirely possible that the Republican establishment's derision will elevate her electoral prospects in what is already a strongly anti-establishment year.
Why is the political in crowd so venomous, even with fellow Republicans? It's because they know what's going on just as well as the Tea Party and the rest of us limited-government conservatives know it: First we have to take back the Republican Party; only then can we take back the country. We knew from the beginning that the first political bloodbath would have to be at home in the GOP.
I'll understand if you want to ask a very good question at this point. When I say that "we" have to take back the Party and the country, who are "we," exactly? Thanks for asking. That's exactly the point.
Bravo, Janet Daley
The other day, a very smart woman named Janet Daley, writing in the Telegraph across the pond, tried to explain Americans to the British. She may as well have been trying to explain Americans to the Europeans, too, and to the European wanna-bes in the White House and our Democratic Party leadership generally. The thought strikes that maybe the Republican establishment in Delaware and elsewhere could also profit by pondering her explanation.
For what it's worth, Daley used to be a Berkeley leftist, before she grew up, so in a sense she understands the Left-leaning political class from the inside. What she wrote about Americans is so good that I'll quote it at length. First she talks about British liberals' failure to understand America -- and their failure even to try:
Having set the stage, Daley now explains:
I think she nailed it. Alexis de Tocqueville would be proud.
Let's recap for a moment. The people feared or misunderstood, or both, by the American ruling class and by the glitterati of Europe and England, not to mention the wannabes on this side of the Atlantic, are Americans. They themselves constitute, as Janet Daley put it,
Our opponents are, again quoting Daley, "Obama liberals . . . [eager] to turn the US into a European country, complete with paternalistic interventionism and bourgeois guilt." Part of what we oppose about our opponents is, as she put it, "the rest of that package: passivity, resignation and the corrosive cynicism that makes it impossible for [them] to believe that ordinary people can use words like 'freedom' and 'justice' without smirking."
As it turns out, we Americans, in Janet Daley's words, "are not prepared to give up on the attempt to reconcile [our] ideals with the difficult realities of human behaviour." Maybe that's why we ordinary Americans are still serious about our Consitution, and why we still demand the freedoms and the limited government it embodies.
David Rodeback comments (9/17/2010):
On general principles and for its discussion of Delaware, not to mention its partial dissent from my statement that the Republican establishment wants nothing to do with the Tea Party (probably an overstatement on my part), I strongly recommend this Charles Krauthammer column on the Buckley Rule, as it appears to apply in Delaware.
The Buckley Rule is: support the most conservative candidate who is electable.
David Rodeback comments (9/17/2010):
It's getting a little weird; I suppose that's a welcome diversion from gratuitously brutal. Christine O'Donnell doesn't like socialists; of this she makes no secret. Some folks think her religious position that masturbation is a sin contradicts that. But surely that would only be relevant if she proposed to legislate against it, right? For my part, there are a lot of things I would never try to legislate against, which I nonetheless think are morally wrong. Pardon my tone, but . . . Hello? Remember freedom?
Like I said, weird -- that we're even talking about this in the present context. Perhaps it says something of the times that one side of a lot of these arguments cannot imagine that a person could hold a moral opinion or conviction without trying to impose it on everyone else by government-issued force. That's a scary symptom.
Copyright 2010 by David Rodeback.