Thursday, February 7, 2008

Losing by Losing
Maimon Schwarzschild

Mike makes an engaging case that a McCain presidency might either saddle Republicans with responsibility for policies they don't really support, or foreclose conservative/libertarians from re-emerging as a successful political movement; so it would be better if McCain were to lose the general election, assuming he is the Repulican nominee, and for Mrs Clinton to win.  Mike seems less sure - for good reason, I think - about preferring Barrack Obama as well.

Mike takes an optimistic view - from a conservative/libertarian point of view - of what would follow from a Clinton administration.  Optimism is very American, but pessimism, or at least caution, is characteristically conservative.

What can be expected from a Clinton or Obama presidency with a Democratic House and Senate?

(1) A quick withdrawal from Iraq, with every likelihood that Iraqi supporters of democracy and opponents of jihad will targeted as "collaborators" with the absconded Americans, and very possibly massacred.  For years to come, this will be an object lesson around the world to anyone who considers making common cause with the United States.  In Latin America, the Middle East and the Gulf, in Asia, everywhere, the lesson will be clear: never defy the anti-American Left, because the United States is always one election away from abandoning you and leaving you to your fate.

(2) Socialised medicine.  It may transform medical care for the worse - and massively discourage the flow of research and new treatment that free markets have fostered in recent decades - but it will be virtually impossible to reverse or reform once embarked on.  This has certainly been the European and Canadian experience.  (Of course Canadians in very large numbers seek medical care in the US.  Where will Americans go?)  Imperfect analogy: many academics suspect or believe that the tenure system isn't good for the academy - but how many would willingly give up tenure once they have it?

(3) Effectively unrestricted immigration, at least from Mexico and Central America.  Driving licences for illegal immigrants are the symbol (and effective vehicle, as it were) for such a policy.

(4) A leftist federal judiciary, and enlisting the United States in the "transnational" trends now fostered by the European Union and by the (very partisan and ideologised) world human rights lobbies.

John McCain has one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate.  His views about immigration are very likely different from mine.  I think the McCain-Feingold law is thoroughly bad.  But as someone has pointed out in the last few days, there has been only one ideological conservative elected President since Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan himself supported or acquiesced in many things (or at least some things) that conservatives-libertarians-fusionists might reject or even deplore.

Reagan isn't on the ballot this year.  No keeping cool with Coolidge either.  Winning by losing would be nice.  Beware - says the chastened conservative voice - of losing by losing.

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Maimon Schwarzschild


Professor Schwarzchild, I think you make an excellent case for McCain, something I've wrestled with mightily since it became apparent he will be the nominee come November. Your rhetoric about "losing by losing" as opposed to "losing by winning" is a thoughtful, if pessimistic, point. If I may, let me offer a third point option: losing by snoozing. Forgive my imperfect analogy, but I feel that a vote for McCain or a victory for McCain in the general election is more like hitting the snooze button in the morning. You know you'll have to wake up eventually, but pushing the inevitable away for a few more sweet minutes can be so satisfying, though detrimental. But true conservatives (as opposed to party hacks) cannot continue to hit the snooze button and go back to our dreams about Reagan. We must WAKE UP and bite the bullet, and meet the left head-on with principles and purpose. Electing McCain might stave off the inevitable (I stress MIGHT) for a little while, but that does not address the problem, just delays the right's eventual confrontation with it. John McCain MIGHT appoint some conservative judges to the Supreme Court (he might not), and he might, at best, keep the border situation at its painful status quo (please recall he has many open borders, North American Union sympathizing, George Soros funded pals in his "Reform Institute"), and he will probably block socialized medicine for now. And where does that leave us in 2012? Young people like myself see this struggle for the political direction of the United States in the long term. I think we need face the fact that socialized medicine is going to come to this country. A Democrat will eventually be president, and he/she will at some point have a Democrat Congress and at some point this country will go through a health care disaster of epic proportions. I say, let's get down to the business of bringing real conservatism back into American politics. Let's return to the Constitution, fiscal responsibility, and the defense of civil and economic liberties and let's do it now rather than in 2012 or 2016 or 2020. You snooze, you lose. Let's wake the hell up.

Posted by: F | Feb 7, 2008 6:11:32 AM

I thought the same thing right after the election. I was tired of these luke warm conservatives who have made aweful choices in the past. I agree, too, that we had to have a Carter before we could get Reagan. On the other hand though, just think of four probable events to occur if Obama OR Hillary are president:
1) A quick and or slow withdraw from Iraq.
2) More "diplomacy" with Iran, and an increased likelihood of Iran getting nuclear weapons.
3) Four yours of policies that will ham string and tie up inter-agency cooperation with budget cuts, FIFSA warrants, among other things.
4) A much more free border policy without a border fence.
Considering Democratic policy on terror prevention and security, I would say that the probability of another attack on American is tenfold and at the end of the day if, God forbid, there is another attack, I can imagine the disappointment and shame I would have for playing politics with the lives of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and the lives of Americans at home.

To some extent, I could see this as using fear as a tactic. Although, I feel like it is something we definitely have to consider before we hastily cast away a McCain vote.

Posted by: Chris Heinsen | Feb 7, 2008 8:33:33 AM

Regardless of the merits of Prof. Schwarzchild's and Prof. Rappaport's arguments, the very fact that there IS such a debate dictates the final outcome: McCain will lose.

As this discussion demonstrates, the Republican base is fractured, demoralized, and imploding. Even the most faithful party stalwarts -- such as Newt Gingrich -- are openly discussing the demise of the Republican party. Natural supporters, such as Prof. Rappaport, are openly advocating 'sitting this one out'. This is not an isolated opinion -- millions of conservatives across this great land are thinking the exact same thing.

In contrast, the Democratic base is energized, excited, and confident. They are turning out to vote in record numbers, raising huge amounts of money, and are genuinely enthusiastic about their candidates.

There is a very real possibility of single-party rule after this election, which could last a very long time -- since it's hard to defeat an incumbent, the Democratic Congressional majority will be difficult to displace, even with a level playing field. Single party rule is bad for our country, regardless of which party is doing the governing.

The Republican party will eventually re-align and re-invent itself, as it has done before. The sooner they start, the sooner they will finish. My only hope is that when they do, they end up being more Libertarian, rather than more Populist.

Corkie the Dog

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Posted by: buyviagraonline | Feb 7, 2008 10:27:16 AM

To some extent are we not being too reactionary? I am bitter, and after seeing Romney's rather selfless concession speach and hearing McCain wimper about coming together, I can see where the pessimism is coming from. Let us not forget, though, that we have CPAC and the convention to reconcile and come to a definite decision about where to take the party. Also, let us not forget the polarizing aspect of Clinton. She can not get those same voters that came out for the first time to support Obama and we have a legitimate chance to win against her.

Posted by: Chris Heinsen | Feb 7, 2008 10:47:55 AM


Good points. I didn't mean to come across dogmatically when I said "McCain will lose" -- what I actually mean is that a dispirited base is a major handicap. Can it be overcome? We shall see.

As with every election, I wonder how the Democrats will lose an un-losable election. Although, the Democrats are usually more creative at their own self-destruction than my admittedly poor imagination, I have come up with two possibilities:

1) An open convention, with a floor fight and legal maneuverings regarding the seating of Michigan's and Florida's non-existent delegates, or

2) The DC Gun Ban case.

Lawsuits at the convention would sour many voters, which could throw the election to McCain.

Also, the DC Gun Ban case will hurt the Democratic nominee, no matter how it is decided. If it is decided in favor of the government, the Democrats could be hurt badly. If decided against the government, then they will have to square their decades of ignoring the Second Amendment with a newly recognized right. Either way, the national debate will focus on an issue that greatly helps McCain.

Corkie the Dog

Posted by: Corkie the Dog | Feb 7, 2008 11:24:06 AM

If the Democrtas have the wit to pick the goatherd's boy, they'll be hard to beat. Shrillary might be easier: she certainly deserves some awful humiliation. In addition to her husband, I mean.

Posted by: dearieme | Feb 7, 2008 2:05:01 PM

Sorry for the spelling mistake. I meant Democraps.

Posted by: dearieme | Feb 7, 2008 2:06:05 PM

I posted the following paragraphs on Mike Rappaports entry just below this one, but I think it may be more appropriate here:

Remember that in 1933 the Nazi's did NOT have a majority in the Reichstag thus could not insist that its leader, Hitler, be appointed chancellor by Hindenberg. The other leading candidate was Von Papen, but he too had difficulty in mustering majority support. So Hindenberg and Von Papen, convinced that Hitler would foul up if he were chancellor and thus quickly lose support and be out of office in a short time, agreed to allow Hitler to become Chancellor. The rest, as they say, is history.

I don't for a moment suggest that either Clinton or Obama are in any respect equivalent to Hitler (other than being somewhat statist in orientation, which Hitler was to an extreme degree--it was the National SOCIALIST party). But, I do suggest your proposal to sit out (or vote for Clinton or Obama) the next election might have considerable negative and irreversible consequences. I don't think Clinton is nearly as politically dumb as Carter was. I don't know about Obama but he does have much more charisma than Carter and that may prevent a short-term disaster for him. Thus either might well be in office for eight long years.

The consequence in eight years time may well be a national health service just like Canada's or Great Britain's (impossible to dismantle--look at Thatcher's inability to do so); substantially higher taxes (with gimmicks for the favored lefties); much higher budget (things funded are almost impossible to dismantle); a weakened foreign policy; more threats from Jihadists; a permanent liberal majority on the Supreme Court (if any one of the five most conservative were to retire in the next eight years--and Kennedy is over 70 and Scalia is, or is close to, 70).

Can the new conservative savior (who hasn't been identified as yet) reverse all of these possible outcomes. Reagan didn't dismantle very much government even though he wanted to. Nor did Thatcher!

Posted by: Paul McKaskle | Feb 7, 2008 2:50:23 PM

A few years ago, conservatives had it in their head that they had wrestled almost complete control of the American political system from the Democrats. What they failed to understand, in my humble opinion, is that the polarizing issues used to gain that control had very definite shelf lives. In the end, Republicans will have to come back to the center if they're going to win that important slice of votes that allowed Bush to win in 2000 and 2004. Because in the end, most Americans are not as conservative or liberal as everyone makes them out to be. And without the imminent threat of a terror attack, Republicans have lost their main advantage. Most people, in my view, are conservative on some issues, and more liberal on others. With that type of populace, gay marriage amendments, abortion, wars in places most Americans cant even find on a map, and immigration reform will only get you so far. Its not like Republicans can pull the 'small government' card, because lets be honest that you cant lie to Americans about the need for small government when we've been spending so much money. Republicans need to get back in touch with the issues facing normal Americans in their everyday lives: health care, security, economy, etc. The people I know care a lot more about being able to pay their bills than whether or not their first amendment rights are violated by campaign finance reform. And if conservatives dont recognize that, all those old white male Republicans are just going to sound like dinosaurs if they keep spitting the same old rhetoric. Either that or put up a candidate who will isolate an important block of voters with talk about how the earth is 6,000 years old. Just some thoughts.

Posted by: Matt | Feb 8, 2008 12:42:06 AM