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The Republican Party: A Strategic View

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Generally, I eschew writing about partisan politics, but like everyone else in America – and possibly a plurality of the planet – today the election was a topic of discussion, deconstruction and debate for me.  President Obama and his supporters are reveling in their victory, Republicans and conservatives are organizing circular firing squads, but the good news for America is that the election was fair, free and unmarred by the kind of bitter partisan dispute we saw in 2000. The country has sufficient serious problems and is deeply divided enough without having that cross to bear again.

Some Democrats seem to believe the President has won, if not a “landslide’, at least a crushing victory in squeaking by Governor Mitt Romney. While that belief may be delusional, it is the GOP that is clearly in trouble despite winning nearly half the popular vote and is positioning itself to implode in an ideological civil war.

Some of the more intelligent or interesting reactions I read came from historian Ron Radosh, political scientist Dan Nexon,  conservative wonk Bruno Behrend,  blogger Dave Schuler and the NRO Corner, which had a mixture of teeth-gnashing and cold-eyed realism.

What should the once great Republican Party do?

Admit they have a problem – that a majority of Americans find the GOP to be angry, scary and a little bit nuts:

Chris Christie is not why Romney lost. MSM liberal bias, though real enough and sometimes nasty, did not stop the elections of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush (including the two greatest electoral landslides in American history). Even Romney, though he carries his share of blame as standard bearer for an unsuccessful campaign, is not the whole reason millions of Hispanics and women who previously voted for George W. Bush and John McCain, voted to re-elect Barack Obama.

It wasn’t Mitt Romney (who incidentally, I am no fan of) who decided to spout off  in the midst of a national campaign season about idiocies like “legitimate rape”, the Big Bang theory being from ” the pit of Hell”, that Obama is secretly a Muslim or advocating laws where the government can forcibly ram an ultrasound wand into a woman’s vagina. Really, where did that last bright idea come from – Communist China?

The problem is the Republican Party and mainstream conservatives tolerate and support the presence of angry, misogynistic, ignorant crackpots who scare away normal people. The GOP needs to recall  a lesson from Bill Buckley instead of letting the nuts set themselves up as the arbiters of what is “conservative”.

Focus on the key numbers of American democracy – 51%, 60 % and 270:

Sectarian purity is something best left for Church – at the polling booth you need a majority.

While it is the duty of the opposition party to oppose and Obama is going to give Republicans many ideas or actions worth fervent opposition in his second term, being against something is only part of the equation if the goal is to “win”. The other part is offering a positive alternative or constructive vision that diminishes your opponent while advancing your own cause – a “noble philosophy” that attracts the uncommitted, pumps of the resolve of your allies and demoralizes and daunts your adversaries. A philosophy that builds expanding, winning, governing, coalitions
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An optimistic, inclusive, compelling narrative that makes people proud. Political music for the soul.

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People want, pretty desperately, to buy into a positive vision that offers a great future for the country and their children that says America’s best days are yet to come. That the United States is the preeminent force for Good in the world and should unreservedly remain so. Obama cannot offer that vision and, with some exceptions, neither will his party. The GOP needs to be not just “a” but “THE” middle-class party – the party of strivers and upward social mobility, personal achievement, rising living standards for everyone and freedom. A Party that is attractive because what Republicans are for and what they do, not just what they are against. Or whom.

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The GOP should be the natural political home of Latinos, Asians, Jews and Catholics but it isn’t. It should remember small business and entrepreneurs when voting for garbage like Sarbanes-Oxley or Federal bailouts for crony capitalists, not just when they need them at the ballot box. The truth is, given the state of the economy, Obama’s mediocre record and empty campaign, Romney should have crested toward a Reaganesque 1984 electoral landslide but he did not.

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The Republican Party needs to change it’s current course or lose the game

Graphical footnotes, 2: the mourning after

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — an example of the “serpent bites own serpent self” paradox from the 2012 election ]
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This is offered as a footnote to my earlier post on self-referential aka recursive paradoxes. It is the bottom ten percent, at full width, of the mourning band Pamela Geller put on her Atlas Shrugs 2000 site when she learned of President Obama’s victory in the 2012 Presidential election.


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For the record, I do not endorse Ms Geller’s entirely negative view of Islam — a vast and vastly diverse world religion with a long and storied history — nor for that matter her commentary on the election —

UPDATE: Obama won. And America, land of the free, home of the brave, died tonight.

nor the header for the post that consisted entirely of the graphic above — with the black extending an unremitting nine more times the height shown here:

THE DAY AFTER AMERICA

To be blunt: methinks the lady jumpeth shark.

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What does interest me more than a little is the self-reflexive paradox with which she phrases her insight that America just killed itself — an example of the kind of paradox I was talking about in my post Numbers by the numbers: one.

Graphical footnotes, 1: Iwo Jima and the Muj

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — another insight into mujahideen ethos via their graphics, this time from their Soviet era campaign ]
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First, a current graphic which I’ve already shown you in a recent post on jihadist imagery — then a version of the same visual idea from earlier days:

credits: above, Ibn Siqilli, below, Mathew Trevithick for Foreign Policy

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Ibn Siqilli‘s image is contemporary, Trevithick‘s is drawn from his fascinating series of images titled The Not-So-Funny Papers, which I missed myself when it first came out, and warmly recommend. The legend the flag in Trevithick’s piece carries is “Jihad”.

This post is intended as a footnote to my earlier post, Iwo Jihad? — the muj have clearly been at this business of graphical borrowing for a while…


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