Red State author Erick Erickson is becoming increasingly unhappy with the populist Conservative discourse:
Were I to recreate this site, I think it would have no comments section. Disqus is just horrible. I do not recommend it to anyone. And it just helps further what I see on so much social media these days. As much as the internet can bring people together of like mind, it also can help shrill minorities of people think their views are more mainstream than they are. That then emboldens them further.
The last is the present situation in Ferguson, MO. The rush to win a fight and lay blame instead of mourning a loss and praying for a situation just leaves me perplexed. The rush to “change the narrative” with bad facts to replace bad facts by some folks who keep the ichthys on their car unsettles me.David Frum observes that the Republican party has cornered itself by being the party of the old, the wealthy and radicalized donor class, and a Us vs. Them attitude that turns off people who would otherwise agree with its principles:
It wasn’t their personalities that kept McCain and Romney from winning the vote of the female partner in an accounting firm, the Indian American hotel owner, the Japanese American architect, or the gay retired military officer. McCain and Romney were fine candidates. The problem was that they were forced to contort themselves and embrace messages that must-win constituencies found deeply obnoxious.A Question of Jeb Bush
At a gathering this weekend The Omnivore spoke with a friend who seemed certain that Hillary Clinton would lose in 2016. To whom? Either Jeb Bush or, you know, maybe Chris Christie. Bank on it. The Omnivore isn't sure exactly what his reasoning was--but it's not irrational. Consider:
- Jeb or Christie poll best against Hillary today (although they do not win)
- Betfair (an online betting site) thinks Jeb, Christie, or Rubio will be the next candidate
- Hillary sure does have a lot of negatives ... and haters
So in a nut-shell, Jeb or Christie would be a reasonable candidate with wide-spread appeal and Hillary is a weak, unpopular choice.
The Omnivore isn't sure if his realizes this or not but that was exactly the We-Can't-Lose formula that gave us presidents McCain and Romney. Now, the friend in question doesn't frequent conservative blogs and FOX News on cable doesn't have a comments section (it does on the web--when they are not being shut down) so he can't see what people are saying. He doesn't quite realize what he's up against: Democrats can generally find something to like in Hillary--and the fact that she clearly has a decent chance of winning is the whipped cream and cherry on top.
For the Republican base, the fact that Jeb or Christie could win is seen as a powerful negative: the term 'electable' drips with contempt in conservative parlance. Additionally, the argument that Romney was 'forced' to say things that made him unpopular is only partially true (the immigration comments in the debate certainly qualify): the missing white-male voters in 2012 weren't evangelicals--they were blue-collar white men (more like Hillary or Perot voters).
In other words, it isn't just a matter of cleaning up the debates / primary schedule--it was probably Romney's 1% rich-guy persona that left a vital block of voters cold. The 47% gaffe wasn't the result of a rightward head-wind that blew him off course--that was Mitt Romney at his most honest. The problem with the Jeb-Rides-In-And-Wins scenario is that the high-turn-out ideological base doesn't want their most viable best-fit candidate but rather the most ideologically pure one.
Let's say that again: the Democrats don't have to be one whit more 'enlightened' than the Republicans on this. They also don't have to sell out their convictions (some will say they do--but someone will always say that). They simply have to recognize that Hillary is the best candidate that will pretty reliably get them some of what they want and rationally decide that a vote for her maximizes their individual voice. This basic game-theory approach is broken for the GOP base.
The fact that Romney and McCain eventually consolidated their parties isn't the point here--the fact that right now the guy with the front-running polling is Rand Paul at a minuscule 16% tells you everything you need to (Hillary at last check has a pretty unprecedented 60+% support for her candidacy). The GOP doesn't need to pick a candidate two years out--no--but when The Omnivore's friend's "obvious choices" are both high on name-recognition and polling in the basement, it should be clear that the party base doesn't think about this the same way he does.
They're serious about it too--from the high-turn-out early states to the heavy-hitting money guys. The party's election machine should have catapulted Romney into the candidacy when, instead, it created a painful, expensive path to nomination that hurt everyone. This is usually cast as the split between the GOP-Establishment and the Conservative Base--but it is most clearly seen in its pure form in mainstream conservative blogs: the difference between the bloggers (who generally get that position by being chosen for writing skills, perspective, and knowledge) and the comments sections.
The Schism: The Article And The Comments Section
The Upshot, the New York Times data-blog, looked at Google searches and correlated them between the hardest and easiest places to live in America. These are what people in those areas were searching on most often that most strongly correlated to the miserableness-index of that area. You should read the article--but it looks like this:
You'll have to guess which side was the haves and which was the have-nots--but The Omnivore bets you can. People on the nice side of town probably aren't Googling 'severe itching' a whole lot. You can compare the Hardest Places To Live (and Easiest) with a by-county voting map from 2012 to see if you think there's a line up (note too the breakdown by population density: the nicest places to live are often sparsely populated).
The Omnivore thinks that if Erick Erickson lives over on the green side of the graphic, a lot of his readership probably comes from the orange. The bridge between the two worlds for guys like Erickson is a nuanced understanding of the situation where Brown could be both a criminal and a victim or youngsters crossing the border could be both illegal aliens and traumatized children.
Erickson clearly understands that both things can be true at the same time--why don't people in his circles? Well, he probably ought to look at ads on mainstream conservative sites. The ones telling people to buy gold or watch a video warning them about FEMA and telling them what item to horde (yes, using the term 'horde'). Erickson knows that a lot the visitors to these sites expect if not the biblical apocalypse, the economic Obamalypse to come soon and need things like expensive dubious quality freeze-dried meals to be prepared for it.
What he's refusing to look at is the fact that these ads are symptomatic (as well as part driver of) a feedback loop that is created when you relentlessly call people illegals or give a bunch of air time ideologically to 'the knock-out game.' When things are framed that way, is it any wonder that people don't want to give illegals aid and comfort or that they have already made up their minds about Ferguson?
It shouldn't be.
It most certainly shouldn't be to Erick Erickson.