Post-election ruminations

So let’s see – in Virginia a life-long social conservative, Bob McDonnell, ran as a pragmatist and beat the tar out of  Democrat Creigh Deeds.  Exit polls show a majority of Virginians still support President Obama.  In New Jersey, voters were fed up with incumbent Jon Corzine, despite Obama’s best efforts to prop up the incumbent Democrat.  Republican Chris Christie won that race, even though exit polls in that state showed overwhelming approval rates for the President.

And in the much-ballyhooed NY-23 special election, Conservative Party candidate, and self-proclaimed Glenn Beck acolyte, Doug Hoffman was given the smackdown by Democrat Bill Owens.

Now, I would draw from this Democratic victory in a traditionally Republican area – the first Democrat to represent New York’s North Country in over a century – a few observations.

First, what works for conservatives in Texas or Georgia might not work for conservatives in California or New York.  One of the lovely things about conservative philosophy is its emphasis on local politics.  Dede Scozzafada may not have been red enough meat for the likes of Sean Hannity or Michelle Malkin, but she might have been just the right shade for northern New Yorkers.  Doug Hoffman, on the other hand, might have fit in better somewhere else.  Really, it was a northern New York affair.  The national Republican meddling distorted the issues on the ground.  Left alone, Scozzafada may very well have beat Owens, giving the GOP a much-needed seat in the House – even if she wasn’t of purest stock.  Remember, in Virginia, the Republican candidate campaigned on fiscal and economic issues – as a pragmatic leader, not as a red meat social conservative.  And he won.

Second, even a liberal Republican is much more likely to vote with Republicans on issues than a moderate Democrat.  Party loyalty cannot be underestimated here.

So what does the conservative movement take from this loss amidst all this victory?

Malkin writes:

Conservatives’ money went to pay for specious attack ads against Hoffmanrun by the NRCC like this.

Conservatives’ money went to support a GOP candidate who shares the same socialist alliances with fellow SEIU/ACORN/New Party/Working Families Party activist Patrick Gaspard, the Obama White House political director who intervened in the race to secure Scozzafava’s endorsement of Owens.

Hoffman’s candidacy illuminated the stark difference between GOP political opportunists willing to pimp out their endorsements to any old ACORN-embracing, Working Families Party-consorting, Big Labor cronywho puts an “R” by her name — and movement conservatives who refuse to “mooooderate” for the politically expedient sake of mooooderation as dictated by out-of-touch Beltway party leaders. The NRCC/RNC’s $1 million debacle will cost much more than that.

As I’ve repeated many times over the last several weeks:

One thing is guaranteed at the conclusion of the NY-23 special congressional election: The Beltway Republicans who endorsed radical leftist Dede Scozzafava are going to have indelible egg stains on their faces. And GOP establishment fund-raising organizations will be the poorer for it.

Well there it is.  I think it’s a great deal of sound and fury myself.  Politics is local – especially local politics.  Nationalizing this race was bad politics. Drawing these conclusions – which many in the movement seem to be drawing – is bad analysis.  This is not a referendum on moderate Republicans or on the President.  It’s just an example of how local politics often have different outcomes than national politics.

So what other conclusions should we draw?  Namely that the current stewards of movement conservatism are poor stewards.  Malkin, Beck, Limbaugh, their cronies in politics – the whole gang is going to run the party into a corner and then hit the self-destruct button.  Even so-called “real” conservatives, with social-conservative-bonafides are going to have to take on the role McDonnell played so well – the pragmatic, leadership-oriented, governing conservative.

Or maybe all this will play out in the emergence of some third party*.  The real tea-partying conservatives (you know, the ones who hate ACORN the most!) will get their chance to take on the phonies (the cappuccino-party Republicans).  Lines can be drawn in the sand.  Blood spilled.

*Here’s a deep thought I had the other day:  If I were to ever start a third party, I’d call it the Third Party.  Think of the name recognition!

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21 thoughts on “Post-election ruminations

  1. Good post E.D. but let us libs savor NY-23 for a bit. I didn’t give a damn about that wretched crook Corzine and Virginia has been electing against the incumbent party since the 70’s but I’m feeling genuinely stricken about Maine.

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    • I’ll save my long essay for E.D.’s upcoming “more on that”.

      The short essay I’d like to write is that Maine totally surprised me and I think they came to a wrong decision that helps no one, protects nothing, and actively harms a number of good people who would benefit from some sort of “official” recognition of their life partnerships.

      A few years back, I asked Marianne if she wanted to get a divorce and then we could get a civil union. You know, in solidarity.

      She asked me why I always brought this stuff up when we were trying to go to sleep.

      As a Catholic, she said that we were already redefining marriage. I was a Protestant (well, atheist if you went by actual beliefs) and we were married in somewhere other than The Church. We are living a child-free lifestyle. We have relatives that don’t consider us “really” married… and yet we cheerfully hug them and talk about our marriage in front of them. So we are pushing the boundaries in our own way, she said.

      Maybe I’ll ask her for a divorce again tonight. Right when we’re trying to go to sleep.

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  2. Re: Hoffman. Have you seen him on TV? He puts the ‘un’ in uncharismatic. I’ve met a lot of politicians in my life, and I seriously think he’s the worst candidate I’ve seen. If you’re going to pick somebody to throw a lot of money at, pick somebody who has a chance…Owens was not a good candidate – mainly because the Dems thought they had no chance to beat a Republican – and they didn’t!

    This was just poor politics by Palin and Armey and their ilk.

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  3. “Dede Scozzafada may not have been red enough meat for the likes of Sean Hannity or Michelle Malkin, but she might have been just the right shade for northern New Yorkers.”

    My thoughts exactly- there is this enduring myth that if only a “true” conservative were to appear, the masses would lift him aloft and carry him to triumph against the moderate Republicans, who of course are only acceptable to corrupt party hacks.
    The truth is it was the voters in NY-23 who were the moderates; they used to be represented by a moderately liberal Republican, and now will be represented by a conservatively liberal Democrat.
    I would bet money that the voting record of Owens will be remarkably similar to what it would be with Scozzafava, or the one they both replaced (whose name escapes me at the moment).

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    • Totally agreed. I’ve always been registered as a Democrat, but I’m supporting a couple of Republicans for next year’s state legislative elections, for reasons that are almost entirely local and personal. Erik is 100% right to say that “politics is local – especially local politics,” and it’s honestly strange to me that people don’t get this. They represent your town, your home.

      That said, part of me still hopes that the Senate race here goes the way of NY23, because while I don’t really like any of the candidates, and none are from my area, as is often the case at this level I dislike the Democrat least, but he doesn’t have much of a chance. Of course, neither does Marco Rubio, the Jeb Bush-backed movement candidate, barring something major severing the party leaders from Crist.

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  4. “Malkin, Beck, Limbaugh, their cronies in politics – the whole gang is going to run the party into a corner and then hit the self-destruct button. ”

    I agree. Which is why I wonder why all the conservatives I know are so in love with Malkin-Beck-Limbaugh type thinking. Maybe this is a sampling problem (ie, I know a lot of braindead conservatives), but I don’t think so. I keep waiting for the enlightened conservatism on display here at the League to trickle down to my conservative friends and family…

    But the viral e-mails in my inbox tell a different story.

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  5. Good post E.D. The Republicans are going backward quickly. If they’re going to preach devolving National power in favor of the local, they’re going to have actually walk the talk. Not only would this give them credibility, which they completely lack at the moment, it might actually, you know, make for a better party.

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  6. I have a hard time seeing Palin or Bachmann or Limbaugh as “conservative” in any meaningful or principled sense. Retrograde populists, perhaps. Conservatives – not so much.

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