Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why The Republicans are Losing

Red Mass Group has a significant post on the tech-gap between the Republicans and the Democrats. This is a lengthy, in-depth article and it is grim. The second most important part of the essay is this image:
The largest most innovative tech companies donated almost exclusively to Obama. The writer notes that it's hard to quantify just how far ahead the Democrats are right now--but he gives it 2-4 years. Maybe more. That's bad--but it doesn't tell the whole story. This is the most important thing he writes:
But I knew this without even seeing those numbers. Not all my friends in the tech elite are Democrats. But almost none are Republicans. In this state, I know of only one other top technology guy who is Republican - even though I am sure there are some more. (There are all kinds of ordinary programmers of all political parties. But those people are not going to build Narwhal.)
The reality is that even though the great software developers of America care about the economy and freedom and innovation and don't like a lot of government regulation, the GOP brand is just too toxic. I try to talk them out of their impressions. But they just say, "Ed, they are not like you." (They being the people on TV and in the news.) Also, the high-tech world is a diverse and tolerant culture. Diversity and tolerance are not what we Republicans are known for. If we want to reach out to the technology innovators, we are going to have to change our image and also address some of their policy concerns. (More below on that.)
Really? Here's the National Review Online taking Obama to task for a recent speech he gave. This is hard to fathom but the article calls out Obama for calling the Nazis senseless. That's right: the author thinks that the Nazis were, I guess, sensible, and Obama is giving away the game by calling them senseless. She then pivots to--well, you don't need a crystal ball to tell where she goes:
On September 12, 2012, President Obama also lamented the “the kind of senseless violence that took the lives” of four Americans in Benghazi. That, you may recall, is the day the president supposedly said the murders occurred as a result of a non-senseless terrorist attack carried out by jihadists.
Still here? Try this link (Ronald Reagan):
Americans can be proud, I think, that our government is moving forward to build a memorial in our Nation's Capital to commemorate the Holocaust. Those who perished as a result of Nazi terror, millions of individual men and women and children whose lives were taken so senselessly, must never be forgotten. I'm aware that, in April, American Holocaust survivors and their families will gather in Washington to thank our country for what it has done for them. And this gathering should touch the heart of every American.
The point isn't that some NRO writer wrote a stupid article and there's a Reagan quote that contradicts it. The point is that the Obama derangement syndrome has reached a dense enough mass to create its own event horizon: logic and, erm, sensible messaging cannot escape.

This is why there are groups like The Conservative Victory Project where guys like Karl Rove are trying to put together a super PAC to go up against Tea Party candidates. The NRO writes:
Tea Party enthusiasts have to come to grips with Richard Mourdock losing a winnable Senate race in Indiana, Allen West losing in Florida, and Mia Love losing a winnable House race in Utah. But it not just Tea Party stalwarts who lost. Linda McMahon’s attempt to persuade Connecticut voters she was really an “independent” candidate didn’t work, and Scott Brown, perhaps the least conservative Republican in the Senate, lost to Elizabeth Warren, a flawed candidate in Massachusetts. The least conservative Republican in the House, Illinois’ Bob Dold, also lost.
This isn't to say that the CVP is a good thing for the GOP. Rove has plenty of egg on his face after 2012 and anyone with a thimble full of conservative values should be wary of this kind of "big money" play from guys whose credentials are at least a decade old. That said: they're on to something--if you don't see 2012 as some kind of wake up call you're not just living in the bubble, you're in the bubble with your head in the sand and then under a pillow. The quote doesn't even mention Akin, O'Donnell, or Angle.

What Do I Think?
I think that if you compare #Occupy to the 2010 Tea Party there's one big important difference: the Tea Party was a Get Out The Vote drive. Occupy Wall Street was not. Granted, the 2010 success of the Tea Party was built on the backs of older white voters who were historically very reliable. OWS was built on college kids and new grads who, historically, never vote.  But that's not the whole story. For The Tea Party the message was simple and clear: fiscal conservatism. This united the libertarian and the socially conservative wings, was easier to follow than Occupy's demands (the OWS issue was economic injustice and various factions had individual demands--but there was no simple concrete vision much less sets of candidates for a nation wide or even state-wide strategy).

What happened after that is less clear. While the Tea Party base maintains a strong position in the party there can be little debate that Romney was in no way a Tea Party candidate. While they did force the debate--in the primaries--hugely to the right by the time the general was rolling there was literally talk of shaking the Etch-a-Sketch.

I also think that something else happened over two years. The first was that the fervor over ObamaCare cooled down and the second was that the Tea Party adopted a more "True-Conservative" voice (meaning social-conservative). This True-Con voice was entangled and then co-opted by the money-driven conservative outrage machine. It became infected with stuff like Fast and Furious / Benghazi conspiracy theories, immigration doomsday scenarios, and other No-True-Scotsman fallacies masquerading as politics.

This flipped it from a popular and populist movement to one at all time lows ... according to ... Rasmussen (we can take some solace in the fact that Rasmussen was one of the least accurate pollsters in 2012 ... oh, wait, that's not comforting). I think that the injection of victim-thinking (paradoxically following a huge victory) has damaged them seriously.

As Rasmussen notes, the size is down, the level of activity is reduced. I suspect that much of what was, originally, action has been placed with "fake action"--slacktivism--if you will. Posting on Facebook replaces marching in rallies. Watching FOX News about Benghazi replaces voting drives, and so on. I think that part of the reason for this is that victim-hood, psychologically speaking, satisfies the drive for positive action without you needing to actually do anything. Part of it is that following the nomination and then defeat of Romney (and further losses in the senate) the feelings of victimhood have been strongly inflamed.

Today rather than a fairly straightforward set of moderately reasonable demands (repeal ObamaCare, lower taxes, get rid of Obama) the Tea Party is now where #Occupy was in Zuchotti park: on Facebook, on Twitter, and muddled. Are they anti-immigrant? Are the military cuts in the sequester a good idea or not? Could a vote to avoid the fiscal cliff be good idea? If proposed by Obama? I thought not. Today if you are trying to figure out what, exactly, the battle standard now for Tea Party conservatism it seems to be Let It Burn. When your strategy is "abandon all hope" and then "do everything you can passive-aggressively to make sure the ship goes down" it's not hard to see why people might have a problem getting on board with that.

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