Wednesday, 7 November 2012


I suppose we should congratulate the Republican Party for choosing a candidate who won the retired white male vote quite as convincingly as he did. 66% and counting! Way to go!

Mark Steyn, reporting from his mountain lair in New Hampshire, tells us that even this narrow electoral pitch failed in his state, with the electoral college, senate, house seats and governorship all falling to the Dems. And this, in truth, is the story of the modern Republican Party - it can go so far, but only so far. When every Pentecostalist, retired US Ranger, banker and captain of industry has been safely delivered into the Republican lobby to vote in Notchville Duck, NH, the tally still stands at a frustrating 49% because that Vietnamese family of four adult voters, who moved in last year to start a restaurant-cum-bicycle repair shop, all vote Dem to tip the hamlet into the Blue column. What is a poor white financier down to his last $170m to do?

The answer, of course, is to find another Reagan. But is this a possibility? Idle was being abused by Sandhurst NCOs when Reagan won his party's nomination in 1980, but I'll bet Dutch wasn't up against the array of loons that Romney found himself surrounded by a year ago. The electoral process is set in stone in America, so prepare for more of the same in three years' time: a ship of fools descends upon Iowa or New Hampshire, pitching themselves against an electorate of Republican-registered voters. The hopefuls are desperate for early momentum, so what do they do? They explore their inner Palin and set up camp so far to the right, they might as well be on the Pacific coast of Japan.

After that, it's a long way back to the moderate Right, let alone the centre. And as they make that journey, between February and August, they lose a few rabid former supporters, falling off the back of the wagon and shaking their fist at the departing 'liberal', accusing him of selling out and all manner of other dastardly political activities. The moderate Democrat or floating voter, however, remembers the bible-bashing and quail-hunting nomination-seeker of late winter, and no amount of compassion, tofu-eating and reasonableness is going to gull them into the polling booth with a Republican vote in mind.

Romney arrived at his party's convention not so much to be crowned as to be admitted into A&E and have his wounds attended to. All those whoopin and hollerin delegates had been chowin and gluggin at the complimentary bar and buffet for two days before Mitt limped onto the stage, chock-full of morphine. They cheer because, hell, the fella is still standing up, isn't he? Their sights are now set on the imposter in the White House. They don't see that they have reduced their nominee's chances to near zero, because they are the folks who emasculated his broad appeal back in the snows of February.

My advice to the Republicans is to hold an open primary in a knife-edge swing state (Ohio, anyone?) BEFORE the usual Iowa caucus. Don't allow the turnout to be anything other than highly representative of the last presidential election's. This will empower the moderates at the expense of the firebrands. It will encourage more presidential types to stand, as they will feel that they can at least start off in the sort of circumstances they hope to end up in come November - fighting for the votes that
WIN close presidential elections, rather than for the votes that will come guaranteed to any realistic moderate conservative with a bit of character, purpose and humour about him.

At the risk of boring you (again) with the old phrase, if your political strategy is to rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the vote of Paul. The Democrats know this. America has more Pauls (not Ron) than ever before, and unlike past generations of Pauls, they are less socially mobile than they were. This is because (as any European knows) if you start paying people a good income for fecklessness and idleness, you'll end up with many feckless idle punters. They become less ambitious, less employable, and hungry for more entitlements. Peter, who has enhanced his wealth despite sub-optimal economic or fiscal conditions, finds himself supporting more Pauls than before. And so it goes on.

What happens when Peter finds himself in a tax regime akin to late 1970s Britain? It's not so far fetched, when one tots up the US debt and remembers that if the Chinese don't buy it, no one else will. Following the logic that the healthy birth rate of "brown" America produces more Pauls than Peters every year, the fiscal landscape of America seems bound to change. The Latino vote was 8% of the total in 2008, 9% four years later. They vote Democrat, by the way, in the same sort of percentage as retired white males vote Republican. The math, as they would say, don't lie.

Previous generations of American Peters have almost never been forced to leave their own country in order to find economic opportunities. Maybe in the 1930s, but few. I don't see them leaving en masse even under the cosh of confiscatory tax and an overweening government (Uncle Sam taxes them overseas until they give up their passports, anyway). Maybe they will hole up in Wyoming and try to secede from the union.

One thing is for sure: as a great British prime minister said, the problem with socialists is that sooner or later, they run out of other people's money. When this happens in America, with the attendant unemployment and plunging living standards, the American century of world hegemony will be over in a way that is unlikely to be the slow suffocation endured by Britain after the Second World War and the subsequent retreat from empire.


Bill Quango MP said...

Excellent piece. Very enlightening.
The Republicans seem to want to re run the Bush era. They haven't seemed to realise that that episode is now viewed as being rather toxic.

What to do?

Certainly, as I wrote over at our place, I'd abolish the vote losing primaries altogether. As that is an impossibility however, try and modify them. as you say start them in the moderate, must win, states. And start them early. I'd be doing them now, whilst the public is sick of elections and will pay no attention.
Get the new leader into place early and let them start appearing on CNN and ABC and Fox to challenge the President.
Not in a wimpy British way where the opposition calls for someone's head each time an enemy MP pushes into a queue at a taxi rank, but in a serious way.

One of the early success points for the Republicans was loony tunes Palin's rather good "How's that Hopey Changey thing all workin' out fur ya'll."
Captured the reality of Obamanomics nicely.

A leader in place could do much more of that. Soundbiting his way around the vast US media for a few years. Visiting plenty of auto plants, aerospace complexes and meat packing factories. They would be a recognised figure with clear policies and strategies by 2016.

Its all a bit to unlikely though.

so, Mr GOP, pick a female candidate. Not a butch moose strangling hockey mum. Just a successful, business/legal hockey mum. Pick them from Ohio or Virginia too.

And she can pick a Hispanic or African American VP.

Depending on the economy will depend on how far they have to camp in democratic territory on handouts,healthcare and tax rises.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I was in the USA dining with a bunch of work colleagues about 3 weeks ago. They all echoed Marc Faber: "if you held a gun to my head and said choose between Obama and Romney I'd say 'please shoot me' ". I was interested as this was in California, the group was (mostly) socially liberal and financially well off, but not one of them was enthusiastic about either candidate. After long chatting I'd distill their collective views thus:

Romney's real problems are/were
1. History as an asset stripper - most people don't benefit from it and don't like it. His 47% comment finished him in that regard
2. He's a flip-flopper. No one felt he was trustworthy. Anti-abortion and pro-abortion all at the same time? Hmm. Not much consistency or moral courage there.
3. Uninspiring speaker. Dull bean-counter when what they wanted was a vision.
4. He's a Mormon. And they're just... weird.
5. He's an old 1950s white republican and you get the feeling he wishes America could go back to being, well, a bit less black/Asian/Hispanic - the mood music is just wrong. Even George Dubya was nice to the Hispanics.

As for Obama
1. He does speak beautifully ("sometimes it seems like that's all he does")
2. He saved the auto industry
3. Bin Laden's dead
4. He's going to be a lame duck anyway because the Hill will constrain him so he can't do much harm

I got the feeling the angry white males you see on Fox represent Republicans nowadays to the mass of people who mostly aren't too interested in politics, and it really puts a lot of them off. Angry isn't seductive to the fair minded "soccer mom".

Elby the Beserk said...

ZeroHedge has a fantastic article on tghe USA's debt mountain, and how very soon their receipts will be less than their mandatory payments.


idle said...

I can see a Democrat woman as President, BQ (not Hilary, pleeeeease), but a Republican Thatcher? No such type exists. Palins and Bachmanns, yes, but they are the types who scare ALL men, Republican as well as Democrat, and become especial figures of hate for Democrat women. Good post over at yours.

Very intersting, SW. I am sure you are right that Fox, as a 24/7 rant centre for the Right, is a turn off for anyone of more moderate hue.

Terrifying, elby. The US is standing in a bucket whilst trying to lift itself up by the handle...

Hospitable Scots Bachelor said...

Why would an ambitious, entrepreneurial immigrant want to vote for Obama's sclerotic idea of hopw to run an economy? Doesn't make any more sense than the same sort of people voting for Labour over here!

idle said...

HSB, the evidence (believe me, they've studied this) is that 'Cuban Americans' vote Republican and can't get enough of freedom/opportunity, whereas your Puerto Rican, Mexican, Philippino views economic migration as a well-financed siesta break.

I generalise and stereotype, but it's my blog.

Thud said...

Spread the demographic, those Vietnamese immigrants are natural born republicans as are many latinos outside of the gangbanger peasant types.The GOP wil need an outreach programme and some figureheads (Rubio etc)to show "new" americans the real path to freedom and prosperity.

Bill Quango MP said...

Just seen that Romney didn't take Florida. That is not just bad, but catastrophic.

The Republicans can never win without Florida.

New York and California in the Democrat camp since forever = 84 votes

Texas & Florida
Gives only 67 to Republican, meaning a MUST win of Ohio's 18.

Without Florida it can't really add up to anything at all.