December 30, 2012 by wiliamthennessy
How 2012 Might Have Been
Republican Presidential Primaries
The Republican Primary season was already well underway. Before a single caucus or vote, though, we pretty much knew that Mitt Romney would win the nomination. He had the entire Republican establishment behind him, including true conservatives who wanted a “safe” candidate.
We know how that worked out.
What might have been had a strong conservative emerged in 2011? What if someone without baggage had prepared years in advance for a run against the weakened, staggering Obama? Truthfully, no Republican candidate met those two simple requirements: acceptable and prepared. Not even the “safe” Romney.
For 2016, we don’t need a middle of the road gay Hispanic Millennial candidate. We need a conservative who can win. That doesn’t mean anyone with a perfect ACU or Heritage score; it means someone with a great record on freedom and fiscal responsibility and government restraint who can charm the (iron) pants of Rachel Maddow and win roof-raising ovations from the America Legion and CPAC. A candidate who low-information voters feel they know personally, and a candidate who can raise $2 billion without promising anyone anything except to be the best damn leader America can ask for. In short, we need conservatives who people genuinely like:
The Gallup organization has examined the public perception of American presidential candidates since 1960, focusing on the impact of issues, party affiliation, and likeability. From these factors, only likeability has consistently predicted the winning candidate [emphasis added’].
Wiseman, Richard (2009-12-15). 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (Borzoi Books) (p. 51). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Had such a candidate emerged in 2012, it would have been a very good year.
Raise your hand if you remember that brutally hot day in June when over-eager tweeters jubilantly declared the Supreme Court found Obamacare unconstitutional? As soon as I saw the first such tweet, I though, “better hold on.”
Imagine if John Roberts didn’t need so badly to be invited to the A-List parties in Washington and New York. Imagine if he’d put the country and his oath of office ahead of his social life.
America might never recover from the damage to liberty done by Obama, the Democrats, and Chief Justice Roberts. And I really mourn for that party that never was.
Odds are that Obama and a Democrat Senate will get to fill two vacancies on the Supreme Court before January 20, 2017. That’s how monumental the 2012 election was.
The Tea Party
The tea party had a very rough year. While it’s easy to blame outside forces, let’s not. Let’s look internally.
I know this won’t be popular with some of you, but I have to be honest here. We lost our focus on three core principles of the movement’s founding: Constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, and federalism. Instead, we let the media, the left, and the religious right take us into territory where the tea prty didn’t belong. There are plenty of organizations whose primary mission involves social issues. Many of us tea partiers belong to such groups. Fewer grassroots groups focus on preserving idea that governments are formed and animated by the consent of those they govern.
Beyond social issues, too often we gave into the temptation to speak our minds, to get immediate emotional gratification, without thinking about the long term. Too often, me included, we chose to show how smart and how right we were, instead of winning first, then turning our right thinking into right policy.
That lack of discipline cost us dearly. Not only is the tea party movement in danger, but the whole American Experiment is in trouble.
And, while I don’t think rallies will help advance our cause, not having rallies sure as hell didn’t win, either. I think I was wrong about that, and I’ll look at fixing it in 2013.
If tea partiers don’t commit to winning, though, instead of just being right, there’s really not much point in continuing. Had we focused maniacally on winning throughout 2011 and 2012, our memories of 2012 would be a lot brighter, and our hopes for 2013 more possible.
The Republican Party
The tea party’s 2012 was a Super Bowl victory compared to the Republican Party’s epic collapse. Lacking leaders, mission, purpose, goals, strategy, character, and charm, the GOP might not be national party come 2016. The Republican Party tries to win elections using Richard Viguerie’s brilliant direct mail method—send to a list, send again only to those who respond, repeat until you have a short list of people who donate every time you mail them. That’s a genius system for raising money, but it’s a death-trap for elections. The GOP has perfected the art of getting 100% turnout from a shrinking base of aging voters, and it shows no signs of willingness to change.
With establishment squishes running the party from top to bottom, I expect Obama to get just about anything he wants for the next four years. Because the establishment fears the tea party far more than it fears Democrats, getting their attention will be difficult. The Party neither wants nor accepts grassroots support, and I have a hard time asking myself and others to help them, anyway. If there was every a time in which a new party could seize power, it’s right now.
Everything that went wrong in 2012 you can blame on me. I did not have a very good year. I am sorry. I will try to do better in 2013. If I cannot, I will say “thank you” and move onto to something else. I’m not big into losing on principle when I know we can win on principles, as well.
I won’t make a lot of promises, but I will try to get better about one thing: speaking up when I see our movement going astray. For the past two years, I bit my tongue. A lot. I was afraid that speaking my mind might create fissures we didn’t need.
Well, the fissures came anyway, and we got our asses kicked all over the country.
So I’ll say things that some people won’t like. I hope you will, too. But I’ll also do things that I have less faith in than others. And I’ll be thrilled to be proven wrong.
That’s all for 2012. Tune in tomorrow—it’s a brand new year.