Our good friends over at the Cornell Insider linked a few days ago to an *American Spectator *piece by Peter Ferrara – a former member of the Reagan Administration, mouthpiece for the infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and inventor of the “privatized” social security plan that Bush tried to sell to Americans in 2005. In his Spectator piece, Ferrara speculates massive gains for the Republicans in the 2010 elections – “an earthquake.” His case, however appealing to us beleaguered conservatives, is unconvincing.
At the root of Mr. Ferrar’s thinking is delusion. He displays a seemingly unwavering belief that liberalism is an unnatural disease in the American political bloodstream. An unwelcomed guest, an alien invader. All electoral success by liberals, then, is an elaborate misunderstanding, a mistake to be rectified eventually by voters. If only “real America” – to borrow a phrase from Palin – could makes its voice heard over the din of the liberal media, the sneering Ivy League elites and Washington bureaucrats, than our great nation would unquestioningly vote GOP.
Mr. Ferrar is, in other words, living in a dream world. Or, at best, he is stuck in November 1980.
Mr. Ferrara’s first indication of his outdated and unrealistic mindset comes in his first sentence: He labels the Obama Administration “flower children.” This put-down comes off as some dusty trope from the 1966 Reagan gubernatorial campaign. The reality is plain: Obama was barely in elementary school at the height of the counterculture (1965ish – 1974ish) and rarely refers to that strand of countercultural liberalism (“world peace,” “follow your heart,” etc.). But even if Obama did refer to “flower power” and “groovy tunes,” it would almost be beside the point for Republicans. Conservatives can’t run against the chaos of 1968 forever.
Ferrar’s piece then goes on to (overconfidently) dismiss the threat of climate change, reducing complex scientific arguments to crudely broad strokes of the writer’s pen. Ferrar argues that the accumulative effects of Obama’s environmental measure would “effectively repeal the Industrial Revolution” without a hint of irony.
Finally the author lays bare his central point: Obama and his liberal cronies are slipping, creating a massive political opportunity for Republicans in 2008. Democrats are doomed to fail in 2010, he estimates, and, in response to their terrible record between 2008 and 2010, America will return to Mr. Ferrar’s image of political normalcy: conservative dominance. He predicts an “earthquake” for the GOP.
We will see a tremor in 2010. Maybe.
The downward trend of Obama’s approval number is unmistakable. America’s seemingly interminable recession is finally weighing down Obama’s effervescent charm. But to extend this trend into the distant political results of 2010 is a grave mistake, if no other reasno than Mr. Ferrar relies exclusively on Rasmusun polls, which are known to skew Republican. Currently, it projects Obama’s approval to be 5 points lower than the RealClearPolitics average of all major polls. Gallup, in contrast, puts Obama at 60%.
But the big question is, what will hypothetical conservative gains in 2010 be compared to? Even if the GOP managed some electoral success in the upcoming national election cycle, it would be nothing compared to the dual distasters of 2006 and 2008. Local, state, and Federal governments have all been hemereging conservative political influence since 2006. In the last four years or so, the GOP has managed to lose the Presidency, the Senate, the House, and a slew of state and local offices.
But Mr. Ferrar is untroubled, apparently. Political success to him is not a moving target caught up in changing tides of economics, foreign policy, and culture, but, instead, a choice between real conservativism and everything else. At the bottom of Mr. Ferrar’s claims the following worldview:
But it is not just potential candidates that need to start organizing now. Conservatives need more grassroots political activism. This should be focused on ideology rather than party.
Parties don’t matter? Coalitions don’t matter? Moderates don’t matter? Independents don’t matter? No. No. No. And no. Only ideological purity matters. The more conservative the candidate, the more success he will find. This is the natural conclusion of his thinking.
Based on this calculus, the GOP lost in 2008 because its candidate was not conservative enough. He writes, unsurprsingly,
Moreover, the conservative Republican vote was down in the last election because these voters were so disaffected by the moderate liberal Republican standard bearer John McCain.
But what about Palin? She was, in many conservatives’ eyes, a true conservative. And she nearly matched McCain in attention levels from September to November.
Republicans will not have an electoral earthquake in 2010. Especially not if they follow Mr. Ferrar’s advice.