Pols Must Run 'For' and 'Against'

Conservatives should be taking heart in the political cycle. This may sound illogical, but consider the facts.


Republicans dominated American politics from the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 through the November 2006 vote. Republicans/conservatives even gained congressional seats in the 2002 mid-term election, defying traditional patterns.


And so Democrats have gone through years of soul-searching and deflation. But today the political right would seem to be in a period of dormancy with the rise of Obama. Quite the opposite may be in the works.


Thomas Jefferson predicted an ebb and flow between the political parties. This seems perfectly natural in a democracy – that one party rules and, as familiarity and opposition build, the other party then takes power.


But to seize the political momentum, a candidate and a party must do two things, often with varying degrees of intensity: Stand for certain ideas, and against the ideas of the incumbent.


In 2008, candidate Obama talked about “hope and change”. This was vague but it represented what Obama said he stood for. And he convinced millions of Americans that he was genuine even though conservatives warned that he would “change” things in the wrong direction.


At the same time, Obama decidedly was running against George Bush and Republican policies that were blamed for the economic crisis even though it was Obama-type policies that created the problem. With the media at his side, the argument was a powerful one. Millions wanted to believe Obama.


And since it is perception that creates political momentum, Obama had both perception and momentum on his side.


This cycle of for-and-against has repeated itself over and over in the last 30 years. In 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan ran strongly against Democrat Jimmy Carter and his failed economic and foreign policies; and for a tax-cutting, growth-oriented economic policy and for a strong military buildup to confront the Soviet Union. He won in a landslide and was re-elected in a landslide in 1984.


In 1992, Bill Clinton ran against Papa George Bush’s broken promise to keep the lid on taxes, and against the ‘Bush recession’, which actually had ended in March 1991. But Clinton did not offer a radically leftist agenda, but ran for a moderate, non-threatening Democrat platform that simply was Not George Bush. And like Obama, he ran as a candidate for “change”, in his case, youth or the first baby-boomer president.


Ultimately, however, Clinton won not on his own merits, but because third-party Bush-hater Ross Perot entered the race and siphoned off enough more votes from Bush than from Clinton (a record 19% of all votes went to Perot) to toss the election to Clinton.


In 1972, Richard Nixon had a pretty easy job. He ran for a platform that favored a tough response to crime, continued economic growth and an honorable withdrawal from Vietnam. And despite the unpopularity of the Vietnam War, the ultra-liberal policies of his opponent George McGovern were an easy target to run against. McGovern was trounced.


But running against a candidate can backfire. In the 1984 election, Democrats tried to run strongly against Ronald Reagan’s age, saying he was too old to be re-elected at age 73. But in the second nationally televised Kansas City debate with his younger opponent Walter Mondale, Reagan disarmed his critics by saying “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”


That brought down the house – including Mondale, who was seen smiling broadly – and was considered a turning point in the election. Obviously it was a staged response and Reagan’s delivery was movie-perfect.


So an older candidate like Romney will likely be running in 2012 not only against Obama’s youth and inexperience but also against his economic policies. And he will be successful if Obama continues on his path which is certain. After all, you don’t come out of Chicago politics and suddenly become a conservative.


In 2008, in recognition of the fact that the nation was not nearly as radical as he is, consider what Obama really said he stood for during the campaign. These positions are at odds with what he really believes and how he is governing.


He said he is for traditional marriage, although politically you know that he is for gay marriage. But he could not say that in order to be elected. He said he was a practicing Christian, but his pastor was nothing more than a political rage-monger. He said during the campaign that he was for tax cuts for the middle class. But soon he will be raising those taxes and recognizes that those taxes already are being raised in myriad other way on the state and local level, and on the federal level. And his repeated statements made against the interests of private investors – whom he slammed during the GM and Chrylser bailouts – show him to be a socialist.


He said at one point that he was for clean-coal technology, yet he earlier had said that he wanted to “bankrupt” coal-energy companies. He said he was for a strong military even though he has believed throughout his life in an agenda of undermining the military, as did Jimmy Carter.


But reality now has sunk in. With Obama’s sinking poll numbers, conservative websites, radio talk shows and TV networks are seeing a spike in interest. Republicans, independents and even some liberals who voted for Obama now are nervous-to-frightened by what they are seeing – his cavalier spending, his attitude toward the private economy, his threats being made against the “producers” in our society including small business.


Now conservatives have something very powerful to run against – Obama, Reid and Nancy Pelosi, who is hugely unpopular and far out of the American mainstream as a rich leftist from San Francisco.


For years, the media had focused public anger against Bush, even when the economy was humming along in 2005, 2006 and 2007. After all, they had a genuine issue in Iraq. And they managed to minimize the strong economic growth and job creation of the time and focused only on “tax cuts for the rich”. They accused Bush and Cheney of every crime.


Yet today, just seven-and-a-half months into the Obama presidency, even with the media at his back, the American public increasingly is frightened by Obama. And Republicans are polling well. Because they now have something to run against.


But also they have a strong platform to run for. They will run on revitalizing the economy the real way, through reduced taxes and spending. And now that Obama’s plan is building up massive debt and showing little signs of fixing things, the conservative pro-growth plan is looking better and better every day. Fear will drive the next election, and the fear is palpable and genuine.


If Republicans are wise, they will make big gains in the next two elections. Unless there is a major turnaround in the economy – and there will not be because there are too many deep-seated problems – Obama will become the Jimmy Carter of 2012. And he will bring his party down with him, just as Carter did in 1980.


Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.