Republican Populism—or Republican Destruction

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media
download (13)Nothing much the Republicans have done explains why they are on the verge of taking back the Senate and making gains in the House.
Not since the summer of 1974 or October 1980 have we see a presidency in a total meltdown. Abroad, ISIS, Putin, and the bullying Chinese have revealed that the Obama administration is either clueless or has subordinated foreign policy decisions to rank politics — or both. At home we have Ebola. Meanwhile, the list of corrupt, incompetent or politically rogue federal agencies keeps growing — the VA, ICE, the NSA, the IRS, the Secret Service … even the Patent and Trademark Office. Each day we learn yet another story about how corrupt Eric Holder’s Justice Department is — the latest a vendetta against a California timber company.

Allowing flights to Monrovia, Liberia, follows the same sort of script that told us Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration caused by a right-wing video maker. Susan Rice still goes on Sunday television shows and tells whoppers. Another partisan czar, Ron Klain, knows little about what he is supposed to salvage other than to finesse the politics of disaster — reminding us of Rahm Emanuel’s “never let a serious crisis go to waste.” When Obama’s starts out with “make no mistake about it,” we know something along the lines of the Obamacare falsehoods inevitably follows.
Those not working are at all-time highs. Zero-percent interest rates have impoverished the middle class and enriched the Wall Street elite. Our youth, saddled with $1 trillion in student debt, will have to pay back much of the $18 trillion national debt, more than a third of it piled up by this administration. Unsustainable entitlements will strangle the futures of anyone under thirty.
In reaction, Democratic congressional and Senate candidates choose to orphan themselves from Obama.  Even Jimmy Carter finds Obama wanting. Two former Obama secretaries of defense describe him as vacillating, predicating foreign policy decisions on politics.
Given such a disastrous Democratic landscape, it may be penny-wise for Republicans to eek out a midterm victory to win back the Senate by being against anything Obama is for. But it is a pound-foolish strategy that won’t do anything to stop Hillary Clinton or a Democratic resurgence in 2016.
In a word, the Republicans have several issues that resonate with the middle class, and yet they either cannot or will not cast them in a populist vein.
Take so-called “immigration reform.” Reasonable people can disagree on the specifics of ending illegal immigration, but they cannot claim that illegal immigration has not undercut the working classes’ wages, nearly bankrupted social services in the American Southwest, made a mockery out of federal law, and largely served the elite interests of the Chamber of Commerce and La Raza insiders. The issue cuts across class lines, with the poorer and the middle class opposed to blanket amnesties, while wealthy ethnic elites and corporate interests demagogue for them. Enforcing the border, making legal immigration ethnically blind, predicating immigration eligibility on skills and education, deporting all illegal aliens who have criminal records, no record of employment, and have only recently arrived — while offering a pathway for residence to the law-abiding, working, and those of long residence are all populist positions. And yet elitists like Mark Zuckerberg and ethnic demagogues, who cynically tie immigration with tribal affinities and future political constituencies, somehow have pegged the Republican Party as nativist, xenophobic, and racist for wanting existing laws enforced and immigration to be adjudicated by character and skills not race and ethnicity.
Energy should be entirely a populist issue as well. Fracking and horizontal drilling on public lands, and building the Keystone pipeline, while allowing more coal production, lower energy and gas prices and benefit the middle classes. Boutique liberalism favors crony capitalist wind and solar subsidies, and higher taxes on carbon consumption that fall inordinately on the poor. The wealthy have the capital to worry about global warming in a way the strapped commuter in a used Explorer does not. Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s dream of European gas prices in America and Barack Obama’s boast of skyrocketing coal-produced electricity rates were proof of moneyed elitism, and a managerial class that never had to choose between turning on the air conditioning in 104-degree Bakersfield or filling the third-hand Bronco with gas.
It is hard to see how students can be liberal. Universities, with a wink and nod from federal loan programs, have consistently raised tuition rates well beyond the rate of inflation, without prepping students with the skills necessary to land decent jobs.  The university turns students loose on every race/class/gender issue except the access to a competitive and affordable education to enable upward mobility for the middle class.  Enrolling in expensive classes like the poetics of manhood will not prep the indebted student in logic, communication skills and factual knowledge. The paradox was best typified recently by Hillary Clinton lecturing at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas on the dangers of student debt, as the UNLV foundation paid her $225,000 for her hour of sermonizing while students’ tuition hikes spiked at near 20% per annum.
Near-zero interest rates have devastated the retirement plans of the middle class, given that a lifetime savings of $100,000 earns about a $100 a month in income on passbook accounts. The wealthier classes understand how to (and can afford to) speculate in the stock market that has zoomed under Obama’s cheap-money, no-interest polices.
Protection of the First and Second Amendments should likewise become a populist issue. The threat to free speech comes from liberals. Most university and workplace speech codes are contrary to the Constitution. The Left banishes speakers like George Will from campuses, but welcomes in hard-core ex-felons like Angela Davis.  The mayor of Houston wants to monitor local church communications to determine whether she finds them insensitive to gays. Big Brother is now a progressive model.
The rich have access to private security guards. There are guns aplenty in the hands of criminals. But access to firearms is a basic right of home defense for the middle classes. As a rule of thumb, the politicians and Hollywood elite, who castigate the law-abiding gun owner, at one time or another have been protected by guards with concealed handguns.
“Obama did it” is for now an effective campaign slogan. Referencing low taxes/smaller government is wise. The need for a credible military is essential. But if the Republicans wish to make permanent inroads among the middle class, the young, and the poor, they must argue that more gas and oil, closed borders, moderate interest rates, free speech, and reasonable access to firearms are populist issues, which is why the Democratic Party of the very rich cares so little about them.

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11 thoughts on “Republican Populism—or Republican Destruction”

  1. …all of which finances the entirely bankrupt Republican strategy of “we can run whoever we want because nobody will vote for a Democrat after this.” Well, they reelected Obama didn’t they?
    The Republicans didn’t gain the House in 2010. The Democrats *lost* it. If the R’s gain the Senate this year it won’t be something they did right as something their opponents did wrong.
    Unless the R’s can run on accomplishments, any fair winds that blow their way can suddenly and sharply turn against them. Yet they seem utterly oblivious to this.
    Thus are REPUBLICANS complicit in the current sorry state of affairs.

  2. Susie Christensen

    They don’t call it the stupid party for nothing. I’d add feckless and inept. Republicans need to stop listening to the political consultants like Mike Murphy and Karl Rove or they are doomed. I hope some of them read this article and others that offer common sense campaign strategies.

  3. The Elephant In the Room –ironic, given the GOP mascot– is race. Specifically, Whiteness.
    90% of Romney votes in 2012 came from Whites. Nine out of ten. Basically then, only Whites support the Republican party.
    ALL other racial, ethnic and powerful interest groups –Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Jews, gays, unmarried women–voted from over 70% to 93% (Blacks) voted Democrat.
    Whites split our votes 59%/41% for Romney/Obama. We are the only demographic with this kind of split
    We have fallen to only 63% of the population –and doomed to fall into minority status in our own country by mid-century–but were 72% of the 2012 electorate.
    If only White votes had been counted in 2012, Romney would have obliterated Obama with 441-97 electoral votes (All these stats are CNN exit polls…hardly a Right-biased source).
    What does this all tell you? Only Whites will vote for Republicans. And only Republicans can speak for the only group in America –aside from pedophiles– who are absolutely forbidden to assert themselves, stand up for themselves, invoke their group interest or confront other groups as a named group.
    Unless the GOP deals with this and stops hiding –and I regretfully accuse the much-esteemed Dr Hanson of the same thing– what reason do most Whites have to support them? A case can be made that Obama took 2012 partly because so many White conservatives stayed home.
    It may all be too late. Westerners (Whites, that is) may be unable to recapture our self-confidence and reclaim our moral right to exist. But if demography is destiny, then all we can do is wait for the Republic, such as it is, to implode and look for a post-American state that will face racial reality and reject the disastrous victim-minority fetish, imposed egalitarian day dreams of the last 50 years.

    1. Excellent EssEm! Actually, really outstanding considering I’ve been trying to articulate just what you’ve written here. Thank you. The end of Old America is already here and the seeds for a New America are planted. Where? The States. Which one will take up the role of leader? Maybe not the States but a faith based movement? A combination of religion, science, the constitution? We’ve done that before when we broke away from Britain. Sounds like another revolution coming.

    2. EssEm:
      I do agree with what you have written here, but I see a significant problem ahead if and when we attempt to establish the ‘Post-American state’, alluded to in your last paragraph. Precedence has been established as to how the federal government (which will more than likely morph into a ‘progressive’ Democratic Party version of communism) will respond when individual states, or a group of states attempt to secede from the federal union. The precedence I’m referring to is the Southern states secession from the federal union in 1861. We all know how that worked-out. The federal government will not let any state secede from the federal union in a peaceful manner. We will more than likely have to take up arms and fight the federal government for our rights as free men (and women), who desire to live in free states that espouse the philosophy of our disappearing Federal Republic, governed by a citizenry of ‘We, the People’. As they used to say in America in the 1940’s: “If the country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for.”

  4. EssEm, beautiful, well said, I do believe it is too late and that the balkanization has already begun. How we can allow people who hate our way of life into our own country is beyond insane, yet where I live they are everywhere. I read the wisdom of Victor Davis Hanson and it makes me sad because it is too late. Mr. Hanson and a handful of others can cut through the veil of deceit and show us what is really happening, but too many have already been brainwashed and victimized. The really bizarre part is that the victims really want what the white man created, yet they refuse to do what the white man has done to create it.

  5. Let’s add another agency to your list of rogues – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    Once a prime example of an apolitical technocracy that worked, Harry Reid was able to degrade it with his appointees to where even the federal courts had to step in and force them to follow the law. Reid’s former staffer who he had appointed chairman was forced to resign for abuse of power.

  6. If they win back the Senate and gain substantially elsewhere, I believe that the Republicans will learn the exactly wrong lesson from this midterm. Namely, that twiddling their thumbs, instead of taking up the baton on issues like you’ve raised, represents a winning strategy.
    It is jaw-dropping to consider that a Hillary Clinton administration might well succeed Obama’s. On the other hand, if there is a party that can snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, it’s the early 21st-century Republicans.

  7. i recently wrote that i thought that there is little difference between Republican policies and voting trends and the Democrat policies and voting trends. i have been challenged to name one elected Republican in the federal government who voted for “big government” legislation. I do not know who to answer this with the resources i have available. Can you help me?

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