This appeared in the mail this morning:
Some thoughts on the election:
1. They totally stole the election. It doesn’t matter. Get over it.
There is a significant fraction of the liberal left that genuinely
believes everything they read in the Nation, even the articles the
people who write for the Nation don’t really believe. These people
will tell you there is no voter fraud in this country. They are, of
The movement people, when they are being honest (don’t expect to see
this on television), will tell you that voter fraud is a necessary
evil, because any serious effort to eradicate it would have the side
effect of depressing minority turnout and unfairly prejudice their
candidate. They also seriously think that laws against voting by
felons are racist and evil and thus worthy of civil disobedience.
These people created a regulatory system around elections (or lack
thereof) that may very well have won the election for Barack Obama.
It doesn’t matter. The economy is in shambles and Obama barely phoned
in a campaign without any real policy substance other than a vague
promise that we will continue to move “forward” towards a progressive
utopia. He should have lost big. See below.
2. Like it or not, there is now an Obama mandate.
You will see a lot of people talking about how this was a close
election. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Obama got
re-elected with a left of center platform in terrible economic times,
with control of the Senate. One of two things will happen. Either the
economy will improve and he will get to pretend he did something other
than hand out a lot of candy while we waited out an awful business
cycle. Or the economy will get worse. But it is increasingly obvious
that even a continuing shambles in the economy will not help the
Romney would have done better in the elections if he had spent the
entire election cycle in a motel room smoking crack with Ukrainian
prostitutes. The Republicans will not learn the right lessons from
this, but they will inevitably respond to it. See below.
3. The Obama Mandate is to sacrifice our future on the altar of entitlements.
The worse things get, the better it will be for Democats. The
Republicans have been running for years on the notion that working
people have to protect their interests against a parasite class of
entitlement recipients. But this platform has always papered over the
fact that a huge proportion of entitlement recipients are retirees,
and as the bad times get worse it papers over how many of the ordinary
working majority, of every race, class and creed, are dependent on the
Moreover, people increasingly realize a hard truth about
bureaucracies, which is that unserious attempts to “reform” them
usually end up hurting the class of law abiding and generally worthy
recipients without significantly reducing abuse.
The establishment take-away from this election will be that Romney
lost because he was too “extreme” about entitlement reform, so you
will in the future see Republican candidates proposing increasingly
minor “reforms” as a way of paying lip service to voters who care
about entitlements, without scaring the rest of the population. This
is a stupid strategy that everyone will see through and treat with the
contempt it deserves.
Entitlement reform has been an obvious necessity in this country for
decades. The old saying about socialism is that eventually you run out
of other people’s money. What they don’t talk about is how dire things
look when you do run out of money, and how long it can take. And this
electorate seems entirely content to play this out until the bitter,
4. Bill Ayers won this election.
After Obama and control of the Senate, the big winners in this
election were marijuana and gay marriage. The culture wars are over,
and conservatives decisively lost.
To the small extent that this election was not about Republicans
having a losing message on entitlements, it was about the fact that
Republicans aren’t and have never been cool. I’m not talking about
messaging any more, I’m stating a fact.
Being cool didn’t use to be a requirement for public office. But it is
now. A significant fraction of the American population would rather
die than be associated with anything they think of as being uncool.
I don’t by any means intend this as mere disparagement. Being cool is
about actual substantive positions in our society. It is cool, for
example, to have gay friends or even be gay and to have generally
positive feelings about gay sex.
And that’s cool with me. The problem is we’re talking about culture
here, and culture isn’t friendly to nuance. Culture is tribal. So if
you say, like the Republican party, “We love gay folks, but…” — you
lose. And the solution is to either keep losing or capitulate and
always be the party that used to be homophobic and probably secretly
You heard a lot of talk last night on Glenn Beck’s internet
“television station” about how we have to reform education because
this all happened in our schools. On the one hand, they are right.
Bill Ayers lost the revolution in the 70s and won it back school
district by school district in the 80s and 90s. On the other hand,
even if it were realistic to suppose that conservatives could possibly
do something to change the status quo in education in this country, it
still takes generations to make a difference that way. This may be the
only way forward, but it’s not going to win the White House in 2016.
And it still doesn’t address the part of this that is about the
5. This election was primarily about race but really had nothing to do with race.
I predict that in the next election the Republican candidates will be
Rubio and probably a Catholic white ethnic like Chris Christie (not
kidding here) against Hillary Clinton and some cool kid that no one
has ever heard of like, say, Huma Abedin. Clinton will win handily.
Talk about race in this country has become a shorthand that liberals
use to talk about entitlements (see above) and the culture wars (see
above). It has very little to do with actual racism, or any
definition of “racism” that is not simply premised around whether you
agree with the Democrats about entitlements and the culture wars. I
have known serious racists in my life. They look and behave nothing
like Mitt Romney. Most liberals actually understand this but pretend
not to understand it because they think it’s funny.
The Republicans are desperately upset about this dynamic, for two
reasons. The first is the fact that they are not, actually, racists.
The second is the realization that race is being used, unfairly, as a
way of constantly rubbing their nose in the fact that they have lost
the two key battles they somehow cannot admit to themselves they have
lost (again, entitlements and culture).
The obvious move is to try and find or manufacture as many hip, young,
minority candidates as possible. See, e.g., pretty much everyone on
Glenn Beck’s network except Glenn Beck. This is a distraction, in the
same way that trying to get younger people to vote Republican by
posting stuff on Twitter is a distraction. People don’t actually vote
based on bullshit and pandering. They vote for what they believe in,
and they don’t believe in what the Republicans are selling.
6. Libertarians are going to leave or take over the party.
Romney was, if we are being honest, a pretty lame candidate. I grew to
like the guy in the debates, but the truth is no one was especially
excited by him. Setting aside how he was portrayed by the left, people
on the right saw him as a bland, centrist candidate whose primary
audience was not plutocrats (those people voted overwhelmingly Obama)
but older, affluent and suburban — those people rightly perceived by
everyone as being on the losing end of current history even as they
are tirelessly propped up by the left as oppressors of the “99%”.
Again, not saying the winning strategy is to go out and find someone
cool. My point is, the fact that people turned out for Romney was a
combination of libertarian money, Tea Party anti-Obama sentiment
(which is in substantial part libertarian) and old people going to the
polls and pulling the lever for “R”. Look for the libertarian money to
either dry up or insist on a very different relationship with the
Party going forward.
The left would have you believe that the Tea Party is a bunch of bomb
throwing radicals who also happen to be boring suburban white folks.
Neither is true. The Tea Party is what’s left of the religious right
mixed up with genuine non-religious conservatives. And libertarians.
Libertarians are an interesting and rapidly growing segment of
society. They embrace socially “liberal” positions out of some
combination of an obscure desire to find a way to be right wing and
cool at the same time (see, e.g., Matt Kibbe’s desperate sideburns)
and genuine ideological commitment (see, e.g., David Koch’s support of
gay marriage). They have an essentially neoliberal economic philosophy
but little else that is recognizeably “conservative,” if that word
even has any meaning any more.
They are popular among the young folk and have more in common
philosophically with the significant libertarian fraction of Obama
voters than they do with the core of traditional Republican voters.
They may leave. If they stay, expect the Republican Party to be
increasingly unfriendly to conservatism as an increasingly empowered
libertarian movement within the Party attempts to save the brand from
the taint of association with stodgy old people who go to church and
don’t want their children to smoke pot.
7. Forward, into the past.
It never mattered much who ran on the Republican side. Both parties
are controlled by people who define themselves in terms of an
international elite culture that doesn’t care about this country
except in a fundamentally cynical way. Both parties depend for votes
on a population that increasingly depends on entitlements of various
types and is well aware that no meaningful alternative is being
presented to them. Both parties depend for votes overwhelmingly on
people who are not meaningfully interested in things like civic
virtue. This is what history teaches us happens to democracies. I
don’t have a policy prescription but I will say this one unfashionable
thing — don’t think the way out is through democracy any more.
Go read Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire. I’ll wait. Or I guess you could just re-watch Battlestar
All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.