By Ghost of John Brown
The first phase of perhaps one of the most contentious discussions that we have had as a nation is behind us. Note that I said that this is only the first phase. Every political pundit and most of the nation has been riveted by what took place earlier this week and for the last couple of weeks before that regarding the debt ceiling. Ah.....now that it is over, we can focus on the two Illinois baseball teams that are destined for the World Series..........uhhhhhh, well never mind that - football is coming!!!! Much like that fine baseball team on the north side, our Congress might take on the moniker "lovable losers", but I'm not so sure that the "lovable" part is a fitting description. So what have we as conservatives gained through this process and what is in front of us going into this fall and the elections next year?
We Can't Let This Divide Us
As I've written on a number of occasions, the Democrats and their willing accomplices in the media will try to pit "establishment" vs. "conservatives". In this latest skirmish, the media is trying to pit conservatives vs. conservatives. In the upcoming "super committee", there will be another battle between defense "hawks" and budget cutters, since one of the automatic cuts if the committee can't come to a deal is in the Department of Defense.
There are certainly a number of Congressmen and women that deserve primary challenges. For instance in the Senate we will have 17 Democrats that are up for re-election and 8 Republicans. Six Democrats are retiring and 2 Republicans are. Olympia Snowe of Maine would probably top the list of Senators that deserve a primary challenge and you can make a great case for Richard Lugar of Indiana and Orrin Hatch of Utah.
However, there is some silly talk out there about potential primary challenges. Some have suggested that Lt. Col. Allen West deserves a primary challenge solely because he backed the debt ceiling deal. There are a lot of "our" folks (meaning solid conservatives) that decided to vote for the debt ceiling increase because a) they really did believe that the default issue was real, b) they thought it was best strategically to do what we can now and fight harder when we got control, and c) that we got pretty close to the best deal we could. Before you decide that someone deserves a primary challenge, you should look at the totality of their record and their stances. You'd be hard pressed to find a better champion for our cause that Allen West.
If we have a Congressman that has continually uncut the conservative position - go ahead, primary them. If they only have one or two votes that have gone the other way, look closely before making a snap decision. When there is a primary challenge, conservatives need to be careful to properly vet the candidates. For instance, Christine O'Donnell said all of the right things in her Delaware Senate race, but she proved to be a horrible candidate. I'm not convinced that there wouldn't have been a better conservative in the entire state that couldn't have stood for the same things, but would have been a much better candidate.
We Have a Lot to be Proud Of
While there are a lot of the details of the debt ceiling compromise that are completely unpalatable to some, there is a lot that we can be proud of:
- The debate was completely and utterly shifted in our direction. Just a month ago, everyone in DC was talking about a "balanced" approach (i.e. give us more money). Earlier this year, Obama and the Democrats wanted nothing but a "clean" bill. The debate has been totally shifted to the notion that cutting the size of government is the most important thing we can do. I've been following politics pretty closely for the better part of 30 years. In that time I have NEVER seen a shift in the conversation like this.
- Nobody on our side looked for their perk. What confounded the talking class is that none of our guys were bought off. Nobody asked for a courthouse to be named after them, no one asked for a new bridge, nobody asked for a set aside for cowboy poetry. The only thing that could buy off our guys was "make the deal more strict and you've got my vote". Again, in 30 years, I've never seen that.
- Obama has been weakened. Nobody is talking about Obama sending a thrill up their thigh these days. His performance through this whole debate was weak, defensive, and bordered on the actions of a 5-year old. Whoever our nominee is next fall, their job just got a whole lot easier.
Going Forward - Look for Strengthening the Team
The most important message that came out of this debate was that we need to give our folks in the House some support. Harry Reid needs to become Minority Leader and Obama needs to go to work at a think tank someplace or perhaps open up an ice cream stand. We have a tremendous chance of taking over the Senate. Senators that are in vulnerable races include Bill Nelson of Florida, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Clair McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Add to that, of the six Democrats that are retiring produce winnable seats in New Mexico, North Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin. On our side, perhaps the only two seats that I might be worried about are Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Dean Heller of Nevada. Perhaps not great losses there.
On the House side, I think we will pick up more seats. While the Illinois delegation is hampered by redistricting, most of the States have redistricting maps that have been crafted by Republicans. Add to that the fact that in the Census reapportionment, traditionally "blue" states generally lost seats and Republican leaning states gained seats. This should bode well for us picking up additional seats.
Most exciting is that we should be able to pick up the White House. In the last month, the "generic GOP candidate" has swung to a three point lead over President Obama. In other words, we could run the Maytag Repair Guy against Obama and we'd have a three point lead. A few months ago, we were down by six points. That's an 9 point shift in just three months. Added to that, there are a significant number of undecideds, which will typically break against the incumbent.
We Need to Focus on Message
One of the things that I'm disappointed in with the Republicans is that they have not been able to crystallize the message about why businesses have not been hiring and expanding. The number 1 culprit: EPA followed closely behind by Obamacare and overall uncertainty. As much as the business community is characterized by risk taking entrepreneurs, for the most part, businesses like stability and certainty. This EPA and the Obama Administration in general is hoisting so many unknown and new regulations on the business community that businesses don't know what to do. It's a monumental problem. The result is that companies right now are sitting on $1.8 TRILLION in cash. Read this excellent article. Think about how many jobs could be created if only a portion of that $1.8 Trillion were used to expand buisness.
The Democrats like to exploit our wedge issues, such as the upcoming battle between deficit hawks and defense hawks. It's time we drive their wedge issue. Rank and file union workers are out of jobs. They would like to build cars, build power plants, drill for oil, etc., etc., etc. However, elite country club liberals want to protect the environment. We need to drive the message that we can put people back to work if government would get out of the way. Elite liberals would rather see union workers sit on the unemployment line than let oil companies drill in ANWR. Why do unions such as the Teamsters continue to support an Administration that while helping the union bosses are destroying the wealth of the members? Let President Obama and the union bosses defend that position.
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