April 18th, 2014

Rage against the Republican nominee

As a still-rather-newish ex-Democrat (I’m not a Republican, but I vote that way), I remain surprised at the persistence of opinions such as this one on the conservative side. Yes, I understand the frustration with the Republicans and share it to a fair extent. But no, I don’t and won’t be railing against a candidate like Romney and asserting that Goldwater was a much better candidate than Goldwater actually was.

It’s a very human tendency to be angrier at the internal enemy at the expense of the external and far-more-important one. It reminds me of the common tendency, when one parent has abused a child, for the victim to blame the other parent even more, and to direct the greatest amount of anger against him/her for not sufficiently protecting that child by stopping the abusing parent.

The truth about Goldwater is that he was an awful* candidate. Go back and look at videos if you don’t believe me. The other truth is that he was the victim of an unfair smear campaign. Go back and look at videos if you don’t believe me. And the other truth is that I don’t think any other Republican candidate who might have run in 1964 could have beaten Johnson. All three things are true.

All three things might have been true of Romney in 2012, as well. You may not believe the third one, but rememberthat I’m comparing Romney (as I have from the start) not to an imaginary ideal other Republican candidate, but to the actual candidates who declared themselves. And let’s throw in the fact that internal warring in the Republican Party hurt him, as well. That sort of split could doom whoever is the Republican nominee in 2016, too, moderate or conservative, and enable a Democrat victory.

Moderate Republicans often like to say that, when conservative Republicans have lost, it was because they were too conservative. Conservatives like to say that, when moderate Republicans have lost, it was because they weren’t conservative enough. Most of the time, neither is true. Most of the time, the losses were because of the three reasons I listed, whether the Republican nominees were conservatives or RINOs.

I fully expect quite a few people to disagree with me.

[NOTE: *By the term "awful candidate" in this context I mean mostly in the sense of personality---in other words, whatever is usually meant by "uncharismatic" or "unexciting" or "unappealing" in the personal sense. We sometimes like to pretend that elections are won and/or lost solely on principle, but that is very far from the truth. You may not like that fact, but it doesn't change it.]

40 Responses to “Rage against the Republican nominee”

  1. KLSmith Says:

    I think Drew wrote an excellent article and the only part I disagree with is point B. Was Romney right about Obama? My recollection was that Mitten’s whole argument against O was that he was in over his head.
    Not to say that a conservative candidate is more electable, but one that isn’t won’t rally and motivate the base. Unfortunately splitting the base vote in the primaries leads to the squishy moderate getting the plurality of unsplit votes.
    How sad was it that in a country of over 300 million our choices in 2008 were grumpy old McCain and the guy who isn’t a commie but sure walks and talks like one.

  2. expat Says:

    Goldwater was running against Kennedy’s successor, and Romney was running against the first black president. Loyalty to dreams is a big factor.

  3. expat Says:

    Romney tried to argue on policies and avoid the personal to take the race card out of the contest. He was stuck between a rock (LIV who don’t care about issues) and a hard place (blacks who cry racist at the drop of a hat and whites who want to prove they are not racist).

  4. J.J. Says:

    I agree with you, neo. 100%! The people who will stay home rather than vote for a candidate like Romney are assuring continued progressive control of the government. The progressives get behind their candidates. If Hillary is the one in 2016, even though they may not care for her (too white, too hawkish, too old, too shrill, no accomplishments, a door mat for her husband, etc.), they will turn out and vote for her. Perfection in a candidate just isn’t possible. I learned long ago not to turn down half a loaf of bread because you think you deserve the whole loaf. That way lies starvation.

  5. KLSmith Says:


  6. KLSmith Says:

    The trouble with RINOs is that they give bipartisan support to the ratchet turning ever and always left. To the point where we are now with a horribly bloated bureaucracy that the voters can’t touch. But yeah, victory.

  7. Sam L. Says:

    I attended a lecture in college by Sander Vanocur, telling us how Goldwater was a lousy candidate, peaking against Social Security to the older folks in Florida and against the TVA in Tennessee. Likely other examples, but those two stuck with me.

  8. Don Carlos Says:

    My vote’s with expat.
    Only blacks may call another black stupid, ill-informed, biased or any other negative. We all know that. So do the blacks. They love it. Got us in a box, and they’re a minority. Quite an achievement.

  9. holmes Says:

    I think Drew is pushing purposefully to far the other way to make the point that the moderate/liberal R candidates don’t fair well, but the only ones who get blamed for losing are the conservative ones. He’s saying it’s a whitewash by the establishment basically.

  10. holmes Says:


  11. Richard Saunders Says:

    I’m not sure what KL meant by just saying”Cicero,” but I’ll Ciceroanly repeat the Vince Lombardi aphorism that I’ve quoted before: “Winning isn’t everything, winning is the only thing!” That means, yes, it’s better to elect a fat guy from Jersey that you only agree with 65% of the time than it is to elect Hilary, whom you agree with 0 percent.

    What I don’t get is why this is such a difficult concept to grasp.

  12. Mike Says:

    To J.J.- “I learned long ago not to turn down half a loaf of bread because you think you deserve the whole loaf. That way lies starvation.”

    That is a good idea when you are hungry but a bad idea when you are looking for a candidate that has principles.

    I’m reminded of an old joke- An old guy asks a woman on the street- Would you sleep with me for $1MM? And the woman says- Yes. Then he asks- Would you sleep with me for $1? And the woman says- No, what do you take me for a tramp?
    And the man says, we have already determined what you are. Now we are simply negotiating a price.

    Can you tell me any of the “Moderate” Republicans that have any principles other than they want the Power that the Democrats have? The current crop of establishment Republiks are simply democrat lite.
    As much as people say Rand, Lee and Cruz are crazy, at least they appear principled. I don’t trust a word that comes out of Boener or McConnell’s mouth.

    In the time since Goldwater, we have compromised and gone along to the tune of $17 Trillion in debt, most of the industry has been gutted for a quick profit and I don’t know if the country will survive as a free republic.

    I’ve gone along with the idea that the moderate republicans are better than what the Dems offer. But it hasn’t moved the ball back to the center of the field.
    So this time, should our republicks like Rove shove a moderate out on the stage, I think I’ll just sit the election out and keep my own counsel.

  13. Ann Says:

    Richard Saunders said…it’s better to elect a fat guy from Jersey that you only agree with 65% of the time than it is to elect Hilary, whom you agree with 0 percent.

    What I don’t get is why this is such a difficult concept to grasp.

    They grasp the concept. It’s just that the very idea of compromise is anathema to them. They’d rather go down fighting, like Goldwater with his “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” motto.

  14. Mike Says:

    To Richard:
    “That means, yes, it’s better to elect a fat guy from Jersey that you only agree with 65% of the time than it is to elect Hilary, whom you agree with 0 percent.
    What I don’t get is why this is such a difficult concept to grasp.”

    Tongue in cheek answer- See the joke noted above.

    The Fat Guy from Jersey couldn’t even be bothered to sign his name in agreement with repealing Obamacare. So tell me how deep are his principles?

    The Dems have their “plantation folk” that they say We will look after you. Trust Us. And 93% do. The other 7% are just Oreo’s to them.

    And the Republiks expect their “plantation folk” i.e. Conservatives to just shut up and trust we will give you 65% of the loaf.

    Sorry, been doing that from 1968-1976 and 1986-2012. Not doing it any longer!

  15. KLSmith Says:

    Richard Saunders: Cicero was my answer to a comment that didn’t go through. I was disagreeing w/ Neo about her statement that the external enemy is more important than the internal enemy. The internal enemy is more pernicious; and, I was reminded Cicero’s famous quote regarding the enemy within the gates.

  16. Mike Says:

    Ann- See joke above.

    Perhaps before you rant on about how -Compromise is anathema to them, you could take the time to look up the definition of compromise aka
    “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.”

    Care to share with me what actual “concessions” the other side has made?

    I’ll close with this thought-

    Remember that H&R block tax commercial where the vendor was putting $500 on every professional stadium seat in the US and telling us that this represented the $1 Billion taxpayers leave on the table every year?
    Now take that $500 and make it $500,000 on every stadium seat in the US. Lot of $$$ right? Now take that $500,000 and replace it with $8,500,000 on each seat. Can you even imagine that amount of $$?

    Now consider that the GAO has said in the next 20 yrs that the $17 Trillion in debt will grow to $50 Trillion. And ask yourself how this will be paid?

    But hey, I guess it is just because “compromise is anathema” Deal with facts Ann for once not your feelings and opinions.

  17. J.J. Says:

    Mike, here’s something to think about:
    “Some people are saying ‘It is because this time more Hispanics went for Democrats instead of Republicans.’ This is true, but it is still dwarfed by the fact that five million conservatives stayed home.”
    Read more here: http://politicalarena.org/2012/11/07/why-did-5-million-conservatives-stay-home/

    The truth is that the Republican Party is divided into several groups. One of the most influential groups is the evangelical Christians. If you aren’t right on their issues, they stay home. That’s what happened to Romney according to the article.

    Nick Gillespie at Reason magazine believes another thing. That Republicans shoot themselves in the foot by getting bogged down in social issues. Read what he says here:

    The GOP will fare best in national elections if they concentrate on fiscal and foreign policy issues. Those are the issues that most people who call themselves Republicans can unite on. When you get into the weeds of abortion, women’s rights, legalization of drugs, gay marriage, etc. you cannot unite everyone and are more open to demonization by the progs. States should be dealing with the social issues. They’re closer to the people and each state has a different culture. Wyoming and Illinois are not the same; nor are Mississippi and Minnesota. What most conservatives and libertarians want is for the government to do less, spend less, and not enforce a single set of values. Many independents will also support those ideas. However, as long as we insist on getting into social issues on a national basis, the GOP will find it difficult to win Presidential elections.

    Maybe you are willing to give up because you can’t find your perfect candidate. I’m not. I’m just stubborn that way. I’m working at the local and state levels to create change. It ain’t easy because there are so many progs and LIVs out there. At the national level it’s even harder to effect change. But if we turn our backs on someone that we agree with on 50% of the issues, we are instrumental in the success of progressivism, IMHO.

  18. Ann Says:

    Care to share with me what actual “concessions” the other side has made?

    Bill Clinton’s compromises on welfare reforms were a huge deal back in the 1990s; here’s a reminder.

    Yeah, I know, ancient history, but still…

  19. neo-neocon Says:


    The internal enemy would be more pernicious if it were equally bent on your destruction as the external one. In this case, it is not. While you are busy fighting the internal enemy, the external one is destroying both of you. Good luck with that.

  20. Don Carlos Says:

    Wow. We have folks here calculating their conservative commitments: 50%, half-a-loaf, 65%. And another arguing against “social conservatism” in order to concentrate on fiscal and foreign policy issues.
    Am I to conclude that half a principle is better than nothing, and that we must not be guilty of moral overreach? That we should be no more moral than beancounters? That as long as the bottom line is black, not red, we’re doing the best we can do?

  21. KLSmith Says:

    Neo: well of course I am not personally fighting anyone. But this country has more to fear from our own Leftists (and those who want to work with them) than from enemies abroad.

  22. KLSmith Says:

    Don Carlos: diversity of opinion. Our side doesn’t do group think. The other side excels in it.

  23. J.J. Says:

    Don Carlos: “Am I to conclude that half a principle is better than nothing, and that we must not be guilty of moral overreach? That we should be no more moral than beancounters? That as long as the bottom line is black, not red, we’re doing the best we can do?”

    How about, “Politics is the art of the possible.” Perfection is a journey that’s only been reached by one human. We strive for perfection, but all fall short. Government is about the relations between the citizens in a defined sovereign unit. Our blue print for that has been the Constitution, which was designed for a weak central government because the framers, even at the beginning, recognized the differences between the cultures and religious values of the various states. They believed, as do I, that the social issues were best left to the states, counties, and cities. We are, of course, a long way from those days. TV, movies, the Internet, high speed transportation, etc. have broken down a lot of barriers. Nevertheless, the values of the citizens are at variance according to where they live. As can be seen on any electoral map.

    The central government has been taking on more and more power. It began under Teddy Roosevelt over 114 years ago. The nation has managed to survive all these years. We see the danger of a too powerful government and overspending, but many don’t. We believe the end is near, but is it? If you’re sure it is, I guess it makes sense to just walk away. I’m not sure, so I don’t walk away.

    I live in a deep blue state. 75% of my neighbors are LIVs who lean left because that’s the dominant culture of the state’s newspapers and TV outlets. You have to do the intellectual work to stand against the winds that blow here. Otherwise, you will go along to get along. Victories are few and far between, yet if we give up in this state, which is still reasonably solvent, we would quickly follow California or Illinois. We are particularly challenged now because a key fiscal conservative legislator has developed health issues and will not run in the fall. If his replacement is a prog, things could go bad in a hurry. Should I fail to support someone who runs for his slot because I disagree with his stands on social issues even though he’s a fiscal conservative? In Mike’s and your book that should be my stance. Sorry, that’s not the way I swing.

    Only in a police state where we conservatives are in total control can we get our way all the time. In a nation like this one where there are so many (I estimate 50-75%) LIVs, we are lucky if we can just stay north of 50%. I celebrate wins, but I’ve lived long enough and seen enough to know that the struggle for fiscal sanity is never-ending. Each day seems to bring forth new ideas for spending the taxpayer’s money.

  24. KLSmith Says:

    I’m at the stage of voting against rather than voting for. This Nov in VA I will go to my polling place not to vote for Ed Gillespie but to vote against Mark Warner. Mark Warner voted for Obamacare. I’ll put a check mark next to the Republican’s name rather than the Libertarian’s because: 1.)he really isn’t one and 2.) there is no way he can win. If he can’t win (i.e. defeat Warner) then it really isn’t a vote against Warner.

  25. FOAF Says:

    A depressing thought is that we may be entering a period of Democrat presidential dominance. If you go back to 1861 there have been three eras with dominance mostly by one party:

    1861-1933: 56 years Republican, 16 Democrat
    1933-1969: 28 years Democrat, 8 Republican
    1969-2009: 28 years Republican, 8 Democrat

    In 1969 Kevin Phillips’ book, “The Emerging Republican Majority” accurately foresaw the shape of Presidential elections after years of Democrat dominance. But the electoral map is now increasingly tilted against Republicans. Given the accelerating hard-left trend of the Democrats this is a very scary thought. I hope this is not true but I’m not optimistic.

  26. FOAF Says:

    Oops, 1969-2009 should be 28 R, 12 D.

  27. FOAF Says:

    Another historical note: if a Democrat wins in 2016, it will be the first time in *160* years that a Democrat was elected to succeed another Democrat (Buchanan after Pierce).

  28. Mike Says:

    “Bill Clinton’s compromises on welfare reforms were a huge deal back in the 1990s; here’s a reminder.”

    I think you err in thinking the Democratic Party of the 1990′s is the same Democratic Party of 2014.

    The Republicans were in control and held Clinton’s feet to the fire. Show me something that the current Democrats have in reality compromised on?

    Compare the stonewalling and actual crimes committed by the IRS during the 2012 campaign and tell me that the 1993 Democrats would have done it?

    It is sort of like saying Russia is the same today under Putin as it was under Yeltsinin the 1990′s.

    Time to leave this comment section and go back to being a working ant supporting a boatload of grasshoppers.

  29. Ymarsakar Says:

    The only thing I pay attention to is proof in action, not proof in wording. If people can somehow pull up a political solution, that’s great. I doubt it, though.

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    The only political candidate’s ability I look for is this.

    Whether they have the will and power to crush and annihilate the LEftist alliance from the face of this planet (if not existence itself).

    If the answer is NO, then that is not a viable candidate in my view.

  31. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Moderate Republicans often like to say that, when conservative Republicans have lost, it was because they were too conservative. Conservatives like to say that, when moderate Republicans have lost, it was because they weren’t conservative enough. Most of the time, neither is true. Most of the time, the losses were because of the three reasons I listed, whether the Republican nominees were conservatives or RINOs.” neo

    Summarized, the three reasons listed are;
    an awful* candidate. the victim of an unfair smear campaign. no Republican candidate could have beaten the democrat nominee.

    I disagree with those who claim that Romney was an awful candidate. He wasn’t that ‘uncharismatic’ or ‘unappealing’ and while he wasn’t charismatic and appealing enough, a much bigger factor was that he wasn’t a good enough political ‘counter-puncher’.

    He didn’t respond effectively to the smear campaign. He didn’t deeply understand the issues and that limited his articulation of the issues and his ability to respond to Obama. But even if he had none of those weaknesses, a significant percentage of the country wasn’t ready to give up on Obama because they are not ready to look deeply into the left’s memes. Nor will they be, as long as the GOP continues to behave in a way that confirms the left’s most fundamental criticism; that the GOP is controlled by ‘BIG’ money.

  32. DonS Says:

    Part of it is that executive positions tend to entail compromise. Hence any Republican with high level executive experience likely has some history of compromise. That was Romney’s problem: his health care law was in fact a reform of a worse law, and his assault weapon ban was likewise a reform of a worse ban. Yet all the base knew is that he passed the model for Obamacare and a gun ban. Without understanding the context.

    Another part of it is that we get what the voters want. We can’t pass pure candidates, because they will be attacked as extremists, and also because they are often poor candidates lacking executive experience and the basic skillset to govern.

    It isn’t surprising libertarians like Reason think the GOP’s problem is social issues. However, libertarian candidates can also run as Republicans. The problem is that the Democrats and media will try to turn the election into a social issue election, and they will do so on their terms. Gay marriage? Or forcing small buisness to cater to gay marriage? Birth control, or forcing buisness to buy birth control?

  33. Ymarsakar Says:

    KLSmith, diversity of view let alone anything else, was not tolerated in the Old South. There are still factions in America that obey Democrat propaganda. The myth about slavery and the causes of the civil war, are still held in vogue by people who claim to be against the Left’s propaganda.

  34. Matt_SE Says:

    I disagree with the idea that a RINO is better than a Democrat. A RINO dulls the sword of tyranny by governing half-responsibly; that also means that they govern half-irresponsibly, and simply end up slowing the decline.
    Democrats and their policies are pure poison.

    Democrats and their policies inflict pain on the electorate. Pain is what’s required to get people to question their beliefs…or even to take notice.

    Look at the great benefit we are receiving from the passage of Obamacare. Note that *we* did nothing to exploit this gain…it is entirely the result of voter disgust with the ACA.

    I hope a conservative is elected in 2016. If not, I hope a Democrat is elected and everything goes to shit.

  35. neo-neocon Says:


    You are deliberately playing with fire.

  36. Matt_SE Says:

    I realize the danger inherent in such a plan, but I see little alternative.
    The current dysfunction in our politics is due to the electorate. They believe in fantasies or are unashamedly rapacious; as always, we return to the “fool or knave” argument. And, as always, the answer remains that “it doesn’t matter which.”

    Voters believe in things that are not true or cannot be sustained. In order for them to change, they must be confronted by reality. That won’t happen as long as there is even one avenue of escape.

    Much was made of Romney’s “47%” “gaffe.” Romney was right. As it turns out, socialism is the disease and Obamacare is the cure (assuming it doesn’t kill us).

  37. Matt_SE Says:

    Also note: we got decades of Democratic control after the Great Depression. Due to great PR, Democrats/Big Government avoided responsibility for what I believe was mainly their fault.
    Regardless, the Democratic death-grip eventually loosened. I would like to think that was because their policies didn’t work and voters eventually wised up.

  38. Matt_SE Says:

    Cloward-Piven is essentially a frame-up of capitalism. Overload the capitalist system using social welfare programs, then blame capitalism for the collapse.
    A variation of this is what happened in the aftermath of the Great Depression.

    Note well: capitalism is self-sustaining, and one must use socialist means to take it down.

    The difference here is that the “right’s Cloward-Piven” is not a frame-up. It simply relies on the inevitable failure of the socialist model. That’s also known as “reality.”

  39. neo-neocon Says:


    It is indeed reality that socialism “fails” in the sense that it spreads the misery around, as Churchill said.

    However, you are in la-la land if you think that means you should speed it up because you know that something better will succeed it, and that it will “fail” in the sense of being replaced by something else at all in the foreseeable future. That replacement can be a long way down the pike (see northwestern Europe), and in the meantime there’s a lot of misery-spreading, and a loss of liberty that may never, never return. You think you can control or predict what would follow such a failure? You—and others who agree with you—are guilty of overwhelming hubris.

  40. Matt_SE Says:

    It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy much like evolution: the act of breeding “proves” one was worthy to breed.
    In the same manner, if the voters reject socialism and recoil from Obama’s agenda, they will have “proven” that they aren’t sheep. The proof is in the doing.

    I hope that is the case, but on the other hand, the citizens elected him twice.

    If it turns out that the citizens have learned nothing, then the question is “how do we fix the citizens?”
    That’s all I was exploring.
    And if it turns out that the citizens can’t be “fixed,” then the situation is hopeless.

    In the end, I don’t know that what follows the deluge will be better. But I do know that you cannot build a free country on the backs of simpering fools.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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