Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Future of the Conservative Movement Depends On Romney's Nomination

Mitt Romney represents the possibility of a renewed Republican Party while Newt Gingrich represents its end game.

Let me explain that.

As I talked about in my last post, politics is about coalition building. The Republican Party's current coalition will not last. America is becoming less white and more educated, while the GOP is becoming more white and less educated. If the modus operandi of the Republican Party remains the same, there will come a time in the near future when the GOP will take the swing out of the swing states. National Republicans who want to win rich delegate primaries like Texas will have to speak the kind of rhetoric that will insure that they won't win the same states in the general election. That rhetoric will only get more fiery as the Republican Party's base feels more besieged by the world that is changing around them. A talk radio fueled cultural movement is just not sustainable in America's every changing political environment.

But it is not just about politics.

Quite frankly, the Tea Party is just dead wrong on the major issues of the day. Let me give you a few examples.

1. We will probably need to raise some taxes (although very cautiously). Trying to balance a budget by cutting government spending in half during the worst economic crisis since the 1930s is both stupid and unrealistic.

2. Government spending, although a long term problem that needs serious attention, did not cause the financial crisis (it was a global collapse in demand). Major investments in infrastructure, education, and research would do more to put Americans back to work than fiscal austerity. Republicans need to worry about jobs now and the deficit later. Only with a fully functioning economy can we begin to deal with our gigantic deficit. The test of a true conservative is if they can cut government spending during times of robust economic growth. That kind of discipline shows real fiscal restraint, something that Mitt Romney exhibited in Massachusetts, but the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations did not.  

2. The welfare state is not going away. Republicans ought to concentrate their energies on both reforming it and managing it. Entitlement spending needs to be reduced but not completely cut (I support Ryan's plan with major caveats; I prefer Romney's plan). Rising health care costs are the biggest cause of our growing deficit and Republicans ought to participate in the health care debate, not use it as a political weapon.

3. Immigration cannot be solved by spending billions of dollars on a gigantic fence. Ask any border governor. Immigration reform will need to include some form of "amnesty."

4. The United States should not bomb Iran. The repercussions of such a policy would be devastating (I will have a post on this later). America needs a more robust Department of State. The Department of Defense will need to be reduced, although quite modestly.

5. If the Tea Party really cared about emulating the Founding Fathers then it would prize that virtue that was most prevalent in those days: compromise. Yet, today's conservative movement has convinced itself that Barack Obama is a radical socialist who is hellbent on destroying America as we know it and would succeed if he were but able to utter a sentence without the aid of his teleprompter. The sad reality is that even if/when their preferred candidate Newt Gingrich gets slaughtered in a general election, they still won't see the same thing that the rest of America sees. Instead, they will continue to buy the lies of talk radio and believe that the only course forward is to fight harder to take back the very country that was so egregiously stolen from them.

Thankfully, there may be one last rescue attempt out of the abyss. Mitt Romney. 

It is true that Mitt Romney has learned to adopt the language of the Tea Party, but Newt Gingrich is the Tea Party. That is why talk radio has never accepted Romney. They know that he has tried to win the Republican nomination without them and that he could very well win a general election despite them. And if he does, he is likely to shift the conservative coalition in a way that will leave some of the more strident talkers out in the cold. Romney represents an opportunity for the conservative movement to realign. That is why Erick Erickson believes that Romney would kill conservatism. He's right. Romney would kill Erickson's brand of conservatism, while charting a new path for responsible conservatives. In contrast, Gingrich would keep the band together for a few more happy years, until their angry and irrational rhetoric was drowned out by the cruel reality of irrelevance.

To borrow a phrase from Gingrich and apply it to the conservative movement: we are fundamentally at a crossroads. While I generally refrain from fear-creating allegorical junctures, I believe that the survival of a credible conservative movement is at stake in this election. America desperately needs an alternative to the unsuccessful Obama administration. It will not get that from a career lobbyist that was a reject from the 90s.

Mark my words. I will remain a conservative regardless of whether Romney wins or not. Whether I do so as a Republican does in some way hinge on his nomination.

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Anonymous said...


Sign me up for the new path of responsible conservatism.

I agree, jobs first, deficit later.

Another great post!


Right Wingnut said...

Pablo, this is another one of those posts where I often found myself scratching my head, and saying WTF? I disagreed with nearly every sentence if your post. Some of it is a difference of opinion, but much of it is contradictory.

By the way, Gingrich is not the tea party. The tea party is settling on him because he isn't Mitt Romney. Actually, so are other factions of the party as well.

Alan said...

I am a Romney supporter, but I disagree with a lot of these points.
1. Romney has already stated that he will not agree to higher taxes.
2. Government deficit spending is arguably harmful to the economy.
3. Immigration may involve some form of amnesty, but a fence is required and I think Romney will build it.
4. The US has bombed many countries with and without UN sanction. Romney has stated that he will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon (implying that even bombing Iran may be necessary).
5. Compromise may or may not be necessary, that remains to be seen. However, talk radio is exactly why conservatism is still around. Levin has an anger problem and Rush is sometimes a blowhard, but they are the front lines in the war on liberalism and conservatism would be not be where it is without them.

That being said, I think that Romney will be a president unlike any other and that he will leave little for hard right conservatives to complain about.

Slick-Willy said...

Not a huge fan of a lot of the points. I do agree that the party needs to change. It's far too dependent on uneducated white folks, but I disagree on a number of points.

1. Growing the state department is not needed.

2. Shrinking defense may or may not be a good idea--but Romney won't do it. We probably need less planes and tanks, but we definitely need more intelligence and cyber.

3. We will need some form of amnesty, but not until the border is controlled. If that requires a fence we need to build it. If that means move army infantry to the border we need to assign them. But the costs of illegal immigration are huge and amnesty can't be in the discussion until it's solved.

4. Yes, bombing Iran would be the wrong move. We need to lower our audible movements in the Middle East. Special Ops or unidentifiable drones would suffice, but going to war w/Iran should not be considered.

Ohio JOE said...

"Pablo, this is another one of those posts where I often found myself scratching my head, and saying WTF?" BINGO!!! I think we need to go back to Conservatism 101 instead of throwing fits.

Anonymous said...

Im a romney supporter but I am also being real when I say that romney will not win the nomination. Newt will probably win the nomination and Obama will cream him and the party will go to shit.

Terrye said...

If the Tea Party goes with Newt Gingrich they are making a mockery out of everything they said they stood for..

One thing Mitt Romney does have in common with the Tea Party that Gingrich does not, is that he is a lot more of a fiscal conservative than Gingrich is...yeah, they balanced the budget back when Newt was in..but it was on tax increase as much as cuts.

Terrye said...

Right Wing Nut...if it is so damn important to all these ABR people out there to come up with an alternative to Mitt...why not put some energy into finding someone who is not a womanizing, lying, unprincipled narcissist? Why settle on that windbag? If he gets the nomination, I become an Independent. I will not be in a party with that man as nominee.

Anonymous said...

People were suckered into amnesty in 1986 with the promise of "Border control." All our government managed to accomplish was to incentivize illegal immigration. While amnesty or some type of legal path is a necessity, many Americans will not go down that road until the government delivers some sort of assurance that we aren't creating more "magnets" for people to come here without proper documentation. You keep saying that it is necessary to hand out citizenship, and many Americans won't do that unless they believe that we won't have 50 million illegals come because there is nothing to prevent them.


Slick-Willy said...

"...yeah, they balanced the budget back when Newt was in..but it was on tax increase as much as cuts."

It was actually almost totally due to a massive spike in GDP caused by the internet boom of the 90s, which increased revenues massively. Virtually any policy at the time would have led to a balanced budget in that climate.

Pablo said...


I have never once argued that we should hand out citizenship. It should after five years of legalization just like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Pablo, do you consider the Republican base and the Tea Party to be synonymous?

For me, therein lies the problem with your argument. The Republican So-Con Base and the Tea Party are not the same...sure some of the participants in the Tea Party movement are So-Cons but the Tea Party does not represent the base of the Party and it's this type of piece that pigeon-holes the entire movement by trying to equate them as being the same thing.

It's this type of piece that lends credence to the mind numbing articles and news stories by the MSM that attempts to show the Tea Party as closed-minded, hate mongering, far right radicals...when they're not the movement has little to do with social issues...where as the base is mostly concerned with social issues.

If Romney loses the nomination to Gingrich, you'd be smarter to leave conservatism rather than the Republican Party because the Republican Party is not responsible for his loss, Romney not appealing to Conservatives is the reason for his loss.

But mostly, the Tea Party should not be to blame.