Tuesday is a big day for a Maryland-based PAC as they attempt to broaden their reach and influence.
That evening the Conservative Victory PAC is sponsoring a fundraiser for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, with plenty of influence from Maryland: Dan Bongino will give ”special remarks” and the host committee features both former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich and lieutenant governor Michael Steele. As they note, “proceeds will be provided to the Cuccinelli Campaign Team,” and there should be plenty of proceeds seeing that the admission prices start at a steep $135. This ain’t no little spaghetti dinner fundraiser.
My erstwhile Red Maryland colleagues Brian Griffiths and Greg Kline have been critical of the CVPAC on their website and radio show this week, contending the group should be paying attention to local races in Annapolis and Frederick. But unlike last year, Diana Waterman stated to me in a recent conference call that there were no plans for the state party to help in Virginia as they did for Mitt Romney. So in that respect the CVPAC is taking up that slack.
Yet there’s a factor which makes the CVPAC decision less surprising for me. With the exception of Jim Rutledge, the CVPAC Board of Directors lives in the Washington metropolitan area, so they likely follow Virginia politics almost as closely as Maryland’s because their local media deals with both. And while I disagree that the host committee is necessarily the shining example of conservatism, certainly Ken Cuccinelli would be considered a conservative rising star and perhaps future Presidential material in 2020 (after his one term in Virginia would be completed) if he succeeds in winning this year.
And it’s not like this should be a surprise, coming from the CVPAC. If you recall their trailer for 2014, the video narrator intoned that “alliances will be formed” between Maryland and Virginia. Moreover, their stated goal for Maryland is 19 State Senate seats and if they can get some reciprocal help from the commonwealth to our south – yes, that’s a big ‘if’ but they’re trying to form the alliance – we may be able to tip those scales. (Meanwhile, a member of their Board of Directors is running for governor here, so one might think CVPAC may be looking for assistance there, too.)
Are the races in Annapolis and Frederick a big deal? To an extent, yes – perhaps they can succeed and show us a path for success in Salisbury come 2015. (By population, Salisbury is quite comparable to Annapolis and is Maryland’s ninth-largest city; it’s also the largest on the Eastern Shore.) But every political operation has its priorities and it sounds like CVPAC is trying to leverage conservative success in Virginia into victories next year in Maryland.
But you have to have the Virginia success first for that plan to work.
It’s not often that I blockquote an entire piece, but a recent “Politics and Pets” editorial from former Maryland GOP Chair Jim Pelura is worth the space, as I see it. I did a slight amount of editing, adding the bullet points and the link.
I recently read an article by Thomas Edsall in the New York Times that attempts to psychoanalyze the Republican Party.
Much to my dismay, his general conclusion is that the Party will continue to lose credibility as long as there is a significant Conservative wing expressing ideas and attempting to thwart the far-left agenda of the Obama administration, the Democrat Party, Democrats in Congress and those Republicans that adhere to the notion that moderation is the way to victory.
To quote one of the Republican sources in this article describing Conservatives…”Their rigidity is killing them. It’s either holy purity, or you are anathema. Too many ideologues have come in. You don’t win by what they are doing.”
Excuse me, but, ideological candidates have won in the House and Senate and our moderate candidates continue to lose the White House.
Republicans who claim to stand for clearly stated Republican ideals like fiscal responsibility, faith in the private sector, small government and standing up for the individual and our Constitution, and then act and vote in a manner contrary to those ideals are, in my opinion, the main reason for the public’s lack of trust in and erosion of the Republican brand.
This problem is not unique to national Republicans as we see many examples of this problem involving Republican elected officials in Maryland.
A few examples:
- A Republican candidate for Lt. Governor who, as a Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly, sent a letter to the Speaker imploring him not to pass any bond (pork) bills while submitting several pork bills for her district.
- A Republican gubernatorial candidate that criticizes the current Democrat Governor for raising taxes while raising taxes in his own county as County Executive.
- A Republican member of a County Council that introduces legislation that significantly restricts our 2nd Amendment rights.
- A past Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and the Republican Minority Leader in the Maryland General Assembly sending strong letters of support for the extremely liberal ideologue Tom Perez to be appointed to a position in the Obama administration.
- A Republican candidate for County Executive urging the sitting administration to block implementation of a “rain tax” that he voted for while in the Maryland General Assembly.
- A current Republican County Council raised taxes, grew government, implemented a fiscally irresponsible “rain tax” yet talks the Conservative message.
- A current Republican County Executive getting praise for vetoing a “rain tax” bill in her county but supports the concept and did not object to the new bill that the Council sent to her.
No need to burden you with more examples, you get my point.
The Democrat party is completely ideological and no one complains, but an ideological Republican Party, in their opinion, cannot win.
How wrong they are. In reality, for every liberal vote a moderate Republican may gain, they will lose many more Republican votes.
Voter apathy is at an all-time high and I suggest that it is because the leftist agenda of the Democrat Party is out of step with main-stream Americans and the loss of credibility of the Republican Party due to its confusing, non-principled and hypocritical message from its elected members.
Ideology, principle and acting on those ideals when elected is what is needed in our Republican Party.
God Bless America with God’s blessings on those who guard it.
By reading between the lines, I could figure out each of those Pelura was referring to.
But I also took the time to read the original editorial, and the problem I see is that most of those who were quoted or solicited for their opinions come from the very class which is threatened by a conservative resurgence in the Republican Party. Many of the “Establishment” Republicans were represented: Bob Dole, Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, and other inside-the-Beltway types fretted about losing four of the last six Presidential elections and not following through on cherished “ruling class” priorities like amnesty, which they consider “immigration reform.” Some blame the rise of talk radio, others the “Southern Strategy” which made the “solid South” solidly GOP, and still others panned the TEA Party.
All this proves is that there is a serious disconnect between the Republicans who inhabit that mysterious land called Washington, D.C. and make their living through one or another of the thousands of Republican-leaning advocacy groups which thrive on their access and the folks like me who have been loyally casting their ballot for the GOP for most of their adult lives but are disheartened that Republicans seem to have turned their back on conservative principles in the interest of seeking bipartisan “solutions” like amnesty or, conversely, wishing to “improve” Obamacare rather than simply defunding it.
Unfortunately, Pelura points out many of these same problems plague the GOP in our state. And while he seems to be picking on a number of Anne Arundel County politicians, he’s saved some venom for the Craig/Haddaway ticket while sparing others like Ron George or Charles Lollar. They tend to be the more conservative in the field.
Now I will grant that in Maryland the center looks far to the right to most political observers, and I would have categorized Bob Ehrlich as a centrist Republican. Some obviously argue that’s the only type which can win statewide, and based on the Ehrlich victory they could be correct. I know Martin O’Malley tried to paint Ehrlich as uncaring in 2006, really trying to tie him to the then-unpopular George W. Bush. Hard to otherwise explain why Bob Ehrlich lost despite a positive approval rating.
Yet it will have been 12 years since a non-Ehrlich ran for the state’s top job; that is, unless Michael Steele jumps into the race and grabs the nomination. And I know the political game fairly well: run right (or left) for the nomination, then tack to the center for the general – at least that’s the conventional wisdom. Then again, conventional wisdom suggested Mitt Romney was a perfect nominee for 2012.
The job of whoever wins the Republican nomination next year will be a simple one: define your narrative before it gets defined for you by the opposition. Those of us in the alternative media can help – because we’ll be the only ones hoisting that flag – but it will also take quite a bit of money. I don’t think the party is quite on the scrap heap yet, but 2014 is looking to be more and more of a last stand for this once free state.
Success at the top will also take a full undercard. We can’t skip races this year, and we have to work as a team around a few common pocketbook issues. While I’m certainly pro-life and pro-Second Amendment, I realize issues like those play much better in Trappe than Takoma Park. Put it this way: we know the word “invest” is code for raising taxes and spending more but we also know the other side has equated abortion with a sacrament and having a gun with being a lunatic, out hunting down innocent black youths like Trayvon Martin. Democrats still get away with saying it.
Conversely, though, there is such a thing as a Goldwater effect. Early on it was obvious that he would lose in 1964, but the unabashed conservative message Barry Goldwater presented (with help from Ronald Reagan) sowed the seeds for future success. You may live in a 10:1 Democrat district, but the effort you put in against the incumbent means he or she has to work to keep the district and not be able to help others. That’s important, as is the education you can provide there.
Still, I appreciate Jim’s efforts to keep us on the straight and narrow. As Maryland Republicans, we have allowed ourselves to be defined by failure when we should be pointing out the myriad failures of the other side in the very act of governing. Change Maryland is a group working to reset that perception, but the overall theme needs to be that it’s time for the adults in the room to take charge of Maryland and get the state working for all of us.
You may recall the dustup last fall when the Maryland Republican Party decided to take its show on the road, assisting Mitt Romney’s campaign in Virginia and Pennsylvania at the expense of candidates who maybe could have used the assistance here. Obviously the 2012 election didn’t work out the way the party had wanted, but hope springs eternal and there’s always another election.
This brings me to make this point: since we’re not busy trying to win ten races at the top of the ticket (along with a handful of local races) it seems like NOW would be a good time to lend ourselves to other states’ races, and the Maryland Young Republicans are doing just that.
Our friends in the Massachusetts Young Republicans need your help to send another Republican to Washington next Tuesday.
We are asking all Young Republicans who are able to set aside some time in the next week to make phone calls for Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Gabriel Gomez.
Gabriel Gomez is a Navy SEAL and businessman who is challenging long-term incumbent Ed Markey. Ed Markey is a product of the out-of-touch liberal establishment in Washington; he’s been in in Congress since 1976 and been a key Democrat on virtually every liberal policy that has impacted your way of life. He is not deserving of a promotion.
Gabriel Gomez can help us fix what insiders like Ed Markey has broken. And you can help.
The site to sign up is here if you’re interested.
It’s interesting that three years ago, when Scott Brown pulled the upset and won the U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts, there was a Maryland politician who helped out then, too. It didn’t work out for him later on, but I’m sure Eric Wargotz learned something from the experience.
But my point is that this IS a race where Marylanders can help out, particularly since the race will have national attention. The same will be true for the New Jersey Senate race in October, since it will be two weeks before their off-year state elections, as well as Virginia’s gubernatorial election this fall. We can learn a little bit from those races, get some volunteering done, and hopefully next year when it’s our turn take advantage of the lessons learned. In this case, the Maryland YRs get it.
It’s getting to be like the crocuses and other sure signs of spring – the local carpenter’s union is picketing again, this time in West Ocean City.
Standing out along U.S. 50 on Friday with their sign claiming that the contractor selected by Tanger Outlets to do parking lot renovations and other work is “lowering area standards in our community” the union obviously found a quartet of workers with nothing better to do than hold up a sign. They also attracted a little media coverage for their efforts. (My photo would have been better but I was sitting in traffic. I actually stumbled onto this picketing and story idea as I was doing my outside job.)
But I noticed this group a year ago when they were picketing at the local Salisbury Target for their various transgressions – they have also targeted the nearby Walmart as they were building a store 50 miles away in Denton, Maryland. The Seaford, Delaware-based United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 2012 gets around.
But who’s lowering the area standards? While the local is small political potatoes in the overall scheme of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the national group pretty much gave Barack Obama a sloppy wet kiss in the 2012 election and called Romney’s tax plan “Robin Hood in reverse.”
Obviously they won this round of the fight, but the question is whether they helped themselves in the process. The latest topline unemployment number declined to 7.6% on Friday, but that number came mainly as a result of nearly a half-million dropping off the bottom of the workforce as overall participation now stands at levels unseen since the Carter years. And while the construction sector is doing slightly better, it’s still a long way from recovering. Certainly it’s not to a point where the premium of union construction is shown to be worthwhile; it’s still a buyer’s market. The contractor at Tanger Outlets obviously found a group of people who will willing to work for the wages offered; in my opinion it may be a more productive mission as far as the union is concerned to see how many of these workers are here illegally. Unfortunately for Local 2012, that sort of enforcement doesn’t seem to be a priority for national Democrats foursquare for amnesty.
Yet it eventually comes back to the union’s misunderstanding of economics. Because they are so tied into the failed policies of the national Democratic party – ones which continue to advocate for a “soak-the-rich” policy which penalizes the successful businessman who would otherwise create jobs and the demand for construction labor – they support the very people who helped us get into this overall economic mess in the first place by lowering lending standards. The half-decade of prosperity we had before the housing bubble burst is now a distant memory, buried in the decline in the overall economy which started in 2007 and accelerated since Barack Obama took office.
So when you see this crew complain about “lowering area standards” ask yourself which side is really taking us on a suicidal mission to keep on spending money we don’t have, look the other way when illegal aliens come and snatch up the jobs these workers could do, pick economic winners and losers based on political correctness rather than allowing the market to sort these things out, and continue advocating for the financial ruination of small businessmen and lenders everywhere to cater to a powerful set of special interest groups. Maybe the pro-liberty movement should find a few people to stand in front of Local 2012 headquarters and picket them for lowering our nation’s standards with their political choices.
This is the kind of thing which happens when you don’t have your ear to the ground: brilliant planning, poor execution.
I was sort of glad to see that John Tate, president of the Campaign for Liberty, took the time to explain some of what he saw as the effects of the RNC rules changes made last summer. (It’s a very lengthy diatribe, so I chose to link to it rather than reprint it all. Some of those in my audience probably received their own copy.)
However, I will bring up one passage from the message. See if you can spot the error:
Now, Virginia RNC Committeeman Morton Blackwell – who led the fight against implementation of the new rules in Tampa – will be introducing a resolution to reverse them.
That is why I need you to contact your Republican National Committee representatives IMMEDIATELY to urge them to support Blackwell’s repeal effort.
You are represented at the RNC by the State Party Chairman, a National Committeeman, and a National Committeewoman from your state.
It requires a 75% vote of all RNC members to overturn these rules, so your action could not be more critical.
As you’ll see, I’ve included their contact information for you below.
National Committeeman Louis Pope: 301-776-1988 louismpope (at) aol.com
National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose: 410-323-6698 nicolee (at) nicoleeambrose.com
State Chairman Alex Mooney: 301-874-5649 amooney (at) mdgop.org
Who’s this Alex Mooney guy? Didn’t he move to West Virginia?
Obviously Tate was using an outdated list to compile the information, but he also makes an interesting observation: it doesn’t really matter who is on the Standing Rules Committee if all 168 vote on the changes. Obviously there are only 43 sticks in the mud who can stop it, given the RNC’s extremely steep 3/4 threshold, but our job is to beseech the three representing Maryland to vote the correct way. Certainly we would prefer Nicolee Ambrose be the one who represents the state on the Standing Rules Committee, but Diana Waterman can help or hurt her cause with her vote.
Now I don’t have Diana’s phone number, but the e-mail listed at the state website is simply chairman (at) mdgop.org.
Tate’s secondary point is that the RNC wants to move away from the caucus system used in some states, where insurgent candidates with grassroots support like Ron Paul did best, to what would eventually be a regional primary system. Tate makes the point that those candidates with the most money and favorable coverage (i.e. the “establishment”) would gain an advantage over those who may be supported by the grassroots.
Yet the facts don’t necessarily bear this out. Certainly Ron Paul had his share of success in the small states which run strictly on a caucus basis, but Rick Santorum won a number of state primaries through a grassroots network of those more concerned with social issues. He never had the monetary backing of Mitt Romney but did well enough to outlast most of the remaining candidates. I could see Ron Paul’s strategy of using his supporters to take enough states to place his name into nomination, but it never came to pass.
Still, Romney won, doing best in states where there were “open” primaries or where the media markets were most expensive. For the second cycle in a row – and arguably since the days of Reagan – we Republicans were saddled with a candidate who wasn’t palatable to various factions of the pro-liberty movement. (Remember, Reagan campaigned on items like eliminating the Department of Education. It’s obviously still around and no GOP nominee has made that promise since.)
Here’s where I disagree with Tate, though. Why not take this opportunity to reform the broken nominating system and make it shorter, install a quick series of regional primaries during the late spring/early summer of the election year which would only require a few weeks of sacrifice for the grassroots people to get out the word for their candidate, and allow those who earned their convention posts at the state level to be seated no matter who they support instead of insisting on binding winner-take-all primaries? After all, it’s a nomination and not a coronation, and if it takes more than one ballot to select a nominee, so be it. From what I make of it, the Blackwell resolution reverses the changes made by Ben Ginsberg and restores the national party to the rules originally adopted for the next cycle. But we can do so much more with this opportunity and can set these changes in stone at a time well in advance of the nominating process.
If they are going to tinker with the rules at this point, why not get them right and maximize the grassroots participation?
Update: The subsequent reminder e-mail now has the right information.
After several days of trying to nail this busy lady down, I finally had the chance to speak with writer and author Diana West. You may recall her from the recent Turning the Tides 2013 conference, although I’ve actually linked to her website for some time.
She is the author of The Death of the Grown Up: How America’s Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization (2007) and the forthcoming American Betrayal: The Secret Assault On Our Nation’s Character. Diana is also a syndicated columnist whose work appears in dozens of outlets around the country.
monoblogue: We actually met last Saturday – I’m going to bring my readers up to speed – you and I met last Saturday at Turning the Tides and you did a talk on “Toward a Conservative Foreign Policy.” I noticed this morning that it’s now up on your website, which is very convenient for the readers. I guess the question I would start out with is that you’re more known as a cultural speaker, so how did you get put into talking about foreign policy?
West: Well, really it goes back to 9/11. That’s really when I started writing about how our culture was being changed by this conflict with Islam. And most writers, most thinkers, most pundits and politicians, (they) continued to look at the last decade as a decade of terrorism. Most of the voices you hear discussing how to keep America safe, defend American interests, and so on are really looking at this as how to combat attacks (such as) terrorist attacks (or) military attacks – and while those are, of course, important because no one wants to be attacked at an airport or a stadium – coming from a more cultural lens I started looking at this in terms of how we were being changed culturally by this conflict.
I guess the first part of my writing career definitely had a focus on culture, although I did cover politics as well, but again with a definite cultural emphasis. This past decade I have definitely been looking at the war as a cultural event, and that’s why I’m so interested in things like what’s known as “civilization jihad,” which is, again, the turning from within of our civilization.
monoblogue: Right. And as I read your book, which I did finish – it’s very good – I noticed in The Death of the Grown-Up you started out in the vein that you described, just talking about our culture, but then as the book wrapped up you interspersed a look at the Islamic effect on our culture. The book’s evolution mirrors what you just said…
monoblogue: …where you started out as talking about culture but then wrapped in the element of Islamic terror after 9/11.
West: Yes. And there’s a backstory to that book, really, which I’m glad you brought up. It explains the way of thinking about some of these problems. I was actually thinking about that book and working on it before 9/11, and it would have been a very different book. It would have definitely outlined the cultural decline as I saw it in terms of this increasing emphasis on youth and this increasing fear and denial of adulthood, and what went with it.
After 9/11 – I was living outside New York at the time, in Westchester County about 45 minutes from Manhattan – after 9/11 happened I shelved the book because I thought ‘who cares, what does it matter?’ We’re in this terrible fight, we’ve been attacked, and trying to understand these new issues I put that project aside. A year or so later, it suddenly became very apparent to me that the cultural decline that I had been trying to work through had a terrifying application in the post 9/11 age. That was how the book became a description of where we had come in terms of an infantile culture and how dangerous that cultural development was for our chances in battling this totalitarian threat which, if you look back through Islamic history, the hallmark of non-Islamic populations living under Islamic law is really one you could describe as infantilized in the sense of not having full rights, not being allowed to speak out, being afraid – these are the hallmarks of non-Islamic populations across centuries, across cultures, across continents.
I looked at this and said, oh my gosh, we are ripe for this kind of takeover and indeed, I ask your readers to look at our speech codes that we willfully put on ourselves. We are afraid to discuss Islam in any kind of rational, logical, and truthful manner. I would ascribe that to this very infantilization that I tried to see in the culture. The book is an argument to see this development and understand how we have to overcome it if we’re going to withstand this.
monoblogue: Well, 9/11 kind of synthesized and crystallized your thesis then is what you’re saying.
West: Yes, I’m glad I didn’t write the book beforehand because I really felt that application was much more compelling – for me, anyway – and certainly seemed to have more significance for our future.
monoblogue: The other thing that’s interesting, and it’s a matter of how they paired the speakers up at the Turning the Tides Conference, was that you spoke right after Pamela Geller, and Pamela got most of the attention – and she’s the lightning rod for…
monoblogue: …for pro-Islamic protests. But your message is almost as powerful as hers in the fact that, yes, this Islamic influence is not a good thing for America.
West: Well, I suppose that’s true. Of course, Pamela is a well-known activist at this point, and I think that as an activist she is certainly going to draw the attention of the CAIR demonstrators and things like that. I work strictly as a writer, journalist, and author, so I move in a different track although I would say we have similar goals and very often discuss similar topics so there is a commonality of theme here, but we have different roles and different careers.
monoblogue: That’s fine, but it seemed interesting to me – they’re actually out there protesting her and not you for your message, which – you kind of get to fly under the radar in a way.
West: I suppose so (laughs.) I work, perhaps, in more of the journalistic milieu – maybe it just doesn’t rile them up quite as much.
monoblogue: That’s all right (laughs), sometimes it’s good to be stealth. I’ve found that out myself. But when we heard you last Saturday, I noticed that you were coming in and saying ‘this isn’t really my forte, I hadn’t been thinking about that sort of thing as a broad foreign policy.’ And like I started out, it was interesting to hear you talk about that when you’re more known for culture. So how long did you have to prepare for this speech?
West: Oh, I guess I worked it out over about a week. I mean, in terms of – if you go to my website and comb through some of the back archives I have not written on culture per se for, really since 9/11. And while I definitely examine the cultural impact of war, I have also been looking very minutely and intensively – for example, in war policy, in military doctrine, in examining the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – so I wasn’t quite the fish out of water that I may have made you think in terms of thinking about a foreign policy address.
What I was trying to say was, when I was asked to come up with a conservative foreign policy for the conference, I think I was asked because I’d been thinking through jihad, the Islamization of the United States military, which is something I write a great deal about (and) my sense of the futility, and indeed dangers, of nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. So what I was trying to explain was that I had not put these things together in the sense of a comprehensive political policy.
I think with that address, I kind of wish that Mitt Romney had made such a foreign policy address as mine, in terms of putting these various cultural and national security concerns together because I don’t think you can talk about – you can successfully talk about and battle the threats to our country in terms of terrorist events, in terms of a bad man with a bomb getting into a building, what we tend to do – and this gets back to what Pam is so good at, and others in this field, is understand that these actions (like) bringing bombs to a building are the expression of an ideology, and this ideology goes back to classical mainstream Islam. It is jihad, it is Islamic law to the entire world, to the caliphate – which is something else that I write about a lot – it is jihad to exert Islamic law over the world and everyone in it, including non-Muslims. And this is where we come in, and I’ve always felt that Islam itself doesn’t interest me, except insofar as the nexus between expansionist Islam and our life.
Where you come in to understand this is the impact of jihad and something called dhimmitude. Dhimmitude is the condition of the dhimmi, which are Christians and Jews living under Islamic law, and it is in effect a third- or fourth-class degree of citizenship. That’s where I’ve become interested in Islam; it is a cultural interest but, again, it also becomes a national security interest. In trying to knot this all together in a talk for a whole foreign policy address, of course it also involves things like border security and the importance of Congress becoming more involved in foreign policy. At this point, I think we have a very dictatorial foreign policy that is set at the White House, mostly, and Congress is merely there to rubber-stamp funding for whatever it is the President wishes to do.
These were some of the things I was trying to bring together into a more macro sense than I was accustomed to doing as a weekly columnist and almost daily blogger.
monoblogue: Right. And that’s something – I just happened to look (yesterday) morning and here’s the speech that you happened to give at Turning the Tides, which is very convenient. The website, by the way, is dianawest.net – I’ll plug that for you – and you also have the syndicated column.
West: Yes. I have the syndicated column and the speech actually was published at American Thinker as well. But mostly I write my column, which runs in something around 100 papers at this point, and I also write books. I have my new book coming out in May, which is called American Betrayal, which, again, is a foray into history, actually, and how we got into this condition we’re in. I think of it as a prequel to The Death of the Grown-Up, really; it goes deeper and back a little farther to kind of set things straight.
monoblogue: That’s good, I’ll be interested to see how that does when it comes out. Obviously you’ve been working hard on that because, I recall as I was getting this set up and talking to you for (this interview) that you originally had this coming out in April, but now it’s going to be May.
West: Yes. (laughs) It’s been done for quite awhile. It’s a long book, and in talking about the old-fashioned way of doing things (referring to our small talk prior to the interview) publishers are doing things somewhat old-fashioned. It turns out that getting everything straight, typeset, and properly footnoted and everything just simply takes more time, so we had to push it off to May. But I do not believe there will be any further delays.
It’s been done – actually it was turned in back in May of 2012, and we’ve been editing over the months and so on. Books just take time, especially a large book that is very heavily footnoted.
monoblogue: Chock full of information.
West: Yes it is! Definitely value for the dollar. (laughs) A heavily researched book; it’s no cut and paste job here.
monoblogue: And I would expect no less. It sounds like you’re a very thorough-type person, and that’s good. We need more of those on our side. We have to put up with a lot of lies from the other side, people who just make it up as they go along and don’t check their facts. It’s refreshing to see our side portrayed in that way. You’re crafting.
West: Thank you. Yes, I try very hard and try to be thorough and try to be correct because it is very important. And I also try to admit when I change my mind or make a mistake – I think that’s equally as important. That’s one complaint I have with general journalism is that there is very little interest in correcting mistakes, and also changing minds. Sometimes the facts appear and there is reason to reconsider, and that is actually, I think, a sign of human growth and not anything less.
People tend to get very entrenched in their views of the world and vested in them so it becomes very difficult to reconsider and reformulate policies, which is one of my complaints with, for example, the Bush administration over its period in Iraq and Afghanistan, and certainly the military over these many years of fighting the same war, even as it became more and more apparent that “winning hearts and minds” in the Islamic world was not going to happen short of conversion to Islam. It’s that clear-cut; there’s no room for wiggle here. It is an absolute brick wall in terms of trying to persuade or win over an Islamic culture to a Western way.
You would think after a decade of trying there would be some reconsideration here, but I think there’s even less willingness to consider a larger picture, much to the detriment of our country and just too many of our fellow citizens from the military.
monoblogue: Right, and in a way I can tie this to together to conclude it, this gets to be a battle between infantilization and maturity. We’re not showing the maturity to evolve our thought process as situations dictate.
West: That is certainly one way to think of it; it does seem to be that way. I think there’s also people with careers in mind, and reputations they’re too vainly wed to – these are some of the very human characteristics, yes, but I would say they are not of the more mature side. Certainly the ideal to which we aspire – and of course, we’re all human so there’s not some super standard that we all hit all the time every day – these are very serious problems and none of it is theoretical, none of it comes from an academic milieu where a theory can be argued.
We’ve been battle-testing these theories, which have led to loss of life, loss of limb, and tremendous losses to our national treasury, to our fitness of our fighting forces – I mean, it’s really been a cataclysmic decade and there’s really no end in sight (nor) any interest in looking back and actually saying what went wrong and how can we make it better for the future. I hope that that changes.
monoblogue: I hope it does too, and that actually turns out to be a good spot to wrap this up. Your book comes out in May, and I wish you the best of luck with it. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
West: Thank you, Michael, I enjoyed it.
We actually chatted for a few minutes after the interview, comparing notes on the conference and other topics. A thought we extended on during the impromptu conversation was regarding the process of writing her book since I obviously chose a different path in getting my book to market because I wanted it out before the 2012 election. It boggles my mind that her manuscript has taken so long in the editing process, although I’m sure verifying the footnotes is a tedious batch of work.
The key thing was that I learned a lot in speaking with Diana, and hopefully you did as well in reading this. I haven’t determined next week’s guest quite yet, so stay tuned.
Yesterday was a good day at the Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis.
Somehow I had managed to miss the first two renditions of Turning the Tides, but when this year’s date was announced I pounced on making my way into the event this year. Part of this was the opportunity to network with over 200 of the state’s finest conservative minds, but part of it was a guest list dotted with nationally recognized speakers.
Unlike the many GOP conventions I had attended in the same building, there were no hospitality suites on Friday night. Turning The Tides was a one-day affair, which started with a breakfast I unfortunately missed. But I was set up on bloggers’ row next to a variety of state and local bloggers (including my “biggest fan” Jackie Wellfonder,) which gave me the opportunity to live-Tweet the event throughout.
The Tweets didn’t take long to build up steam once we dispensed with the preliminaries and heard from our first guest speaker, the exceptionally quotable Pamela Geller. Most people know Geller from her website Atlas Shrugs, which briefly covered TTT here, but she has been a tireless leader in the ongoing battle against radical Islam. (If you follow the link you can also see the extent of the crowd in the conference.)
Pamela praised the conference attendees, who she termed “smeared, defamed, and marginalized for standing in defense of freedom” by the “enemedia.” Her key point was defending the freedom of speech, without which “peaceful men have no alternative but to turn to violence.”
“Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it,” she continued, “Withdraw your sanction.” She also called Delegate Nic Kipke, who ignored a boycott call by the pro-Islamic group CAIR, a “rare bird in today’s environment (because) truth is the new hate speech, and just telling the truth is an extreme act.”
She went on to explain how she purchased ad space on the New York subway in response to anti-Israel ads, but was rebuffed because “the word ‘savage’ was demeaning. So I had to sue…and I won on all points. Freedom of speech protects all ideas.” Ten of her ads were destroyed within an hour, which she termed “a physical manifestation of this war on free speech.”
She also detailed her battle against the Ground Zero mosque, telling us the images of 9-11 have been “embargoed” because they offend Islamic sensitivities. “You defeated that mosque (when) everyone was against you.”
Yet there is a “sea change” occurring in attitude, she said, citing how comments used to be highly stacked against her, but now run strongly in her favor.
“No war has ever been won on defense,” she continued. She begged us to use our “spheres of influence” to fight this fight. “Silence is sanction.” We have to contest acceptance of Shari’a, since Mohammed “ain’t my prophet.”
Geller finished by taking a number of great questions on anti-Shari’a legislation, a nuclear-armed Iran, and the “cultural war” of politics which will include the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera.
The next speaker, author Diana West, touched on the Current TV sale in her opening remarks as well, as well as the foreign ownership of Fox News. But her remarks centered on her choice in foreign policy, of which she remarked “I’m debuting it here” – with one option to follow the “neoconservative” foreign policy based on universal values. “This has been a disaster.” The other side was a more libertarian-style idea: “I subscribe to ‘coming home America,’” said West, but they suffer the same flaw in that negotiations with Islamic nations “worse than fruitless (and) dangerous to our liberty.”
It begins with love of country, said West, and we would keep the allies with the closest philosophical views. But it would require one radical change: “It would…require leaving the United Nations.” (That was perhaps her best applause line, which she said did far better here than the “blank stares” she gets at the Washington Times.)
It would also be designed with the interests of the American people in mind. “We should fight for the American people.” Instead, we’ve begun to negotiate with terrorists, defend Shari’a-based regimes, and tell our military to look askance at “absolute outrages against American beliefs and sensibilities” in Afghanistan and other Islamic nations.
“And why? Why – nobody’s answered this – why did the Obama administration lie for two weeks that lawfully-protected free speech in America caused the Benghazi attacks?,” asked West. “Why didn’t Mitt Romney ask any of these questions?”
The key question, said West, was whether we were fighting abroad to protect liberty at home. “American interests have been blown to smithereens” by leadership, Diana asserted. Our borders are “essentially open” while National Guard troops protect Afghan citizens. Moreover, this is a contradiction to American values because 3/4 of Hispanics want bigger government while just 2/5 of the population at large feels the same.
West outlined a number of changes she would make, from a secretive foreign policy without much Congressional oversight over “a President run amok.”
“I have not seen terrible damage from Wikileaks,” she continued. “I have seen much corruption and lies on the part of our public officials.”
“I don’t believe that’s the way a republic functions. That needs to change,” said Diana. The war of our next generation is not the one we’re fighting, but a war against Shari’a. “Liberty is imperiled right here in our back yard,” said West, who also called the Islamization of Europe “the great uncovered story of our time.”
Our first group discussion panel, moderated by writer and columnist Marta Mossburg, featured a solid bank of speakers: Frederick County Commission president (and 2014 gubernatorial candidate) Blaine Young, writer and author Stanley Kurtz, and Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild.
Young started out in a jovial manner, joking about the Geller controversy and about once being a Democrat: “Well, everybody can be misinformed, ill-advised, and brainwashed.” But he turned more serious about his assigned topic, telling those gathered “I’m a very pro-property rights person, always have been…property rights is where I’m at.”
Stemming from the very first attack on property rights, zoning, which began in the 1920s and has been accepted in most places – Young pointed out Garrett County is an unzoned exception – Blaine turned to the state as it stands and told us “we’ve never seen an attack like this on the state level,” referring to PlanMaryland. “This is a tool, to slow down the rural areas for growth.”
But Young’s most brilliant point was equating things done “for the Bay” with laws passed “for the children.” As I Tweeted:
— Michael Swartz (@ttownjotes) January 12, 2013
Indeed, I have mentioned this a number of times over the years – here’s one. Great minds think alike?
Stanley Kurtz quickly asserted that “President Obama is not a fan of the suburbs.” As a community organizer, those who mentored Obama had the main goal was to abolish them because they were drawing away tax money rightfully belonging to the cities. To that end, Obama “has been a huge supporter” of that movement. “Barack Obama wants to redistribute the wealth of America’s suburbs to the cities,” said Stanley. He identified the philosophy as the “regional equity movement.”
But among the federal programs imposed on the state, the Sustainable Communities Initiative is perhaps the one affecting Maryland the most. “Nobody pays attention to the Sustainable Communities Initiative,” despite the fact Baltimore was a “regional planning grant” recipient. It’s a program where the federal government pays for regional planning, such as PlanMaryland but on a smaller scale. The goal, though, is to make the receipt of federal aid contingent on adopting these plans, much like schools which accept federal money do so with stipulations placed on them.
And while everyone has heard of Agenda 21, not so many are familiar with the workings of the Smart Growth movement, concluded Kurtz. “Conservatives are missing where the real threat is coming from,” warned Kurtz, “We haven’t studied the home-grown (regional equity) movements.”
But Rothschild was the most strident speaker. “The question of the War on Rural Maryland begs a bigger question: why does this happen?” Richard went on to postulate that it happens “because we let them.”
“Those people that disrespect the Bible and the Constitution are invariably the ones who know the least about either of them,” said Rothschild. “We (conservatives) are abdicating our responsibilities at all levels of government to do what needs to be done.”
“Being a Constitutionalist requires practice,” opined Richard. Elected officials need to ask themselves not just ‘what would Jesus do,’ but a second question: what would Jefferson do?
Elected officials aren’t trained to uphold their oath of office and the Constitution. “We’re not thinking the right way.” As an example, he stood alone in his county in an effort to nullify SB236. A further test was when he went to the recent Maryland Association of Counties meeting and asked six random county officials about what they would do if an order was passed down to confiscate guns in their county.
“Three of them said they don’t know, and the other three said they would resign from office,” Richard charged. “Not one said they would nullify, interpose, or engage their locally elected sheriff to defend their citizens’ Constitutional rights.” That was the fundamental problem.
Richard even spoke on comments he made regarding the SB236 Tier IV opt-out provision proposed right here in Wicomico County. (The original post is on the Conduit Street blog.) “They do this because we let them…we are tolerating the intolerable.”
“I don’t negotiate one-sided contracts…we shouldn’t even engage,” Richard opined, “Constitutional rights are non-negotiable.” Rothschild vowed to work with the Institute on the Constitution to put together a training course on how to uphold their oath of office.
“(Liberal groups are) going to spend a fortune to try to defeat like Blaine and people like me during the next election because they hate us,” Richard concluded to a raucous standing ovation. And he’s right.
The final session of the morning discussed the “War on Jobs,” with Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton and Delegate Nic Kipke, who was introduced as a member of the Maryland Health Reform Coordinating Council. Fitton focused on illegal immigration while Kipke naturally looked at Obamacare. “Nic knows more about Obamacare than the legislators who voted for it in 2010,” noted moderator Paul Mendez of Help Save Maryland.
Fitton described his work with Help Save Maryland and other legal groups interested in upholding the idea that workplaces should have workers here legally. But that fight began with Montgomery County Community College giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. “They thought they could get away with it,” noted Fitton. A nice thing about Maryland law, he continued, was that it has a provision allowing citizens standing to sue the government to prevent illegal expenditures of funds.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been given to illegal aliens who can’t work, stated Tom, “Maryland is a magnet for illegal immigration, and the impact on jobs is obvious.” Most affected were the construction trades where the majority of contractors, who are law-abiding, are “competing against crooks.”
“It’s a racket” to keep certain politicians in office, Fitton charged. And speaking of Maryland politics specifically, Tom also alleged there was corruption behind the passage of the ballot initiatives. “(O’Malley) was using his office to promote the approval of the referenda,”
Tom also had kudos for Delegate Neil Parrott, who he’d worked with on the ballot issues, calling him an important figure in Maryland democracy. “We’ve been proud to stand with him,” Fitton beamed.
The lesson here, Fitton said, was that the illegal immigration issue is not automatically a turnoff to Hispanics. He cited polling data which said, in the most recent election, 40% of Hispanics “agreed with the idea of an Arizona-style approach to illegal immigration.” It was 13 points more than Romney received among Hispanics at large. “This is a majority issue for us,” Fitton claimed.
“We’re really in a battle for our lives in a lot of ways,” Kipke opened. “It used to be we were in a battle for our rights, but we’re also in a battle for our way of life.”
He went through a couple examples of the “trainwreck” of Obamacare, one being the fact that the age breakdowns – lumping everyone from age 21 to 60 in a group – will create a spike in rates making insurance unaffordable to young people. (One estimate pegs the additional cost as anywhere from $280 to $400 a month.) “It’s almost designed to fail,” said Kipke.
The second problem is that the exchanges will essentially all offer the same programs – health insurance has to be approved by and purchased from the state – generally these are the “richest packages available.” At this time, Maryland is one of just eight states with an exchange in place. “If Obama is successful, health insurance will be purchased through the state, and it will be the state design,” Kipke said.
The Delegate urged us to use him and Delegate Parrott as a conduit to the General Assembly. “If you have access to technology, you should see the stuff that goes on. Bring a camera, we’ll tell you where to stand and we’ll put you up in front of the next Delegate who embraces socialism. We’d love to get that on video.”
That brought us to the lunch break. While most of us grabbed a quick bite to eat, there was a lot going on both inside and outside the lobby.
On the inside, a total of fifteen groups had information tables and other items set up. Here are a few of those:
In order, these were Accuracy in Media, Defend Life, Maryland Republican Network, and Election Integrity Maryland. Other groups in attendance were the Franklin Center (sponsor of Bloggers’ Row), the Red Maryland Network – which did a live broadcast from the lobby – Institute on the Constitution, Americans for Fair Taxation, Montgomery County Republicans, Stop Agenda 21, Help Save Maryland, the Leadership Institute, Maryland Legislative Watch, Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC, and Conservative Victory PAC.
There were also merchants, with event T-shirts and Breitbart design shirts on sale.
We also had a chance to meet some of the speakers and purchase their books.
From left to right, represented were Stanley Kurtz, Diana West, Pamela Geller (crouched), and Tom Fitton. Dun Scott (husband of organizer Cathy Trauernicht) is standing in the center; thanks to Ann Corcoran for the correction.
As I noted, there was also action outside the building. The CAIR protest of Pamela Geller finally showed up two hours after she finished speaking. (Photo by and courtesy of Jackie Wellfonder.)
Yet the ten protesters got media attention. If it weren’t for them, I doubt the TV stations would have showed up.
So that’s where we stood as lunch concluded. In part 2 I’ll cover the four intriguing seminars which occurred afterward and the closing remarks by Jim Rutledge.
As if on cue from yesterday, it’s more and more apparent the campaign never ends for Barack Obama. This morning I received an e-mail, which I will reprint in its entirety (except for killing the links.) It comes from Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Campaign Manager, and entitled “Help the President with one phone call.”
Again I have to ask: wasn’t the election over a month ago?
Who will decide if your taxes increase in just 22 days? A few dozen members of the House of Representatives, that’s who.
Cutting taxes for the middle class shouldn’t be difficult, especially when Republicans claim they agree with the President on the issue. But some Republicans are still holding middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they want to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires.
Here’s what’s going on right now: President Obama is asking Congress to move forward on a plan that would prevent 98 percent of American families from paying higher taxes next year. The Senate has passed that bill, and the President is ready to sign it — but the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives won’t even bring the bill to the floor for a vote. House Democrats have filed a petition that would force a vote if it attracts 218 signatures.
If a bill has enough votes to pass, Congress should vote on it and pass it. It’s a pretty simple proposition. And every Member of Congress who hasn’t signed on to keep taxes low for the middle class needs to hear from you.
Call your representative today and ask them to sign the petition in support of a vote. According to our records, here’s who you should call:
Representative Andy Harris
Not your representative? Call the switchboard operator at 202-224-3121. Not sure who your representative is? Click here to look it up.
Here’s a suggestion on what to say — feel free to improvise and let your representative’s office know why you’re personally supporting the President’s plan:
“Hi, I’m Michael. As a voter from your district, I support the President’s plan to extend tax cuts for 98 percent of American families — $2,000 a year means a lot to me and to middle-class families here in Maryland. I urge Representative Harris to sign the petition forcing the House to vote on the Senate-passed bill, and to vote “yes” if it reaches the floor.”
Once you’ve called your representative’s office, please report back and let us know how it went:
Let’s get one thing straight: If your taxes go up, Republicans will have made a conscious choice to let that happen. They’ll have missed the opportunity to prevent it, just to cut taxes for the wealthy.
Republicans need to stop using the middle class as a bargaining chip. If they fail to act, a typical middle-class family of four will see a $2,200 tax hike starting in a few short weeks. Middle-class families could face some tough financial decisions simply because Republicans didn’t want to ask the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay their fair share.
That’s not what President Obama and you campaigned on, and that’s not what millions of Americans voted for just one month ago.
We know we can affect change in Washington when we raise our voices together. So pick up the phone and make a call — your representative needs to hear from you.
Here’s who to call, one more time:
Representative Andy Harris
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America
P.S. — Don’t forget to tell us you made your voice heard. Report back here.
Now I know just enough about HTML to be dangerous, but there are a number of strings enclosed in the “Report Your Call” links: a keycode, e-mail address, zip code, medium (e-mail), a date code to report which e-mail was effective in motivating the respondent to call their Congressman, and a long series of code for the landing page. My bet is that this particular e-mail only went to supporters in Republican House districts. And by the way, they’re also lying: there is no tax cut for millionaires, billionaires, or anyone else being proposed by the Republicans – they would just like to keep the rates exactly where they currently are. So stop lying to us, Stephanie.
Yet look at the data they gain from this e-mail response. By gathering the e-mail back they know that a) the respondent is receptive to the class warfare message, b) they cared enough to take action, which perhaps means they would be interested in further actions, and c) may have gotten a report on what was said by the Congressman in question for future opposition research background. And that’s nothing compared to the information gleaned from social media, according to this CNN report from October, 2011. Yes, Obama was perfecting his game a year before the election while Republicans were flailing about trying to find a candidate. It’s an advantage of incumbency, of course, but the GOP could have done the same.
Unfortunately, Republicans aren’t nearly as effective in putting out a similar message telling their stalwarts to call their Democratic senators and advocate for a fair approach to balancing the budget like the rest of us do – when income is tapped out, you cut the items which aren’t necessary, like so-called “stimulus” spending. Don’t threaten a nascent recovery by raising taxes on job creators – just extend the current rates for everyone like you have before.
In case you’re wondering, Senator Barbara Mikulski’s number is (202) 224-4654 and Senator Ben Cardin’s is (202) 224-4524. You can make two calls and tell them to maintain the tax rates in place and exhibit some fiscal responsibility for once – hell, tell them while you’re at it to stop bottling up the budget process and pass one for the first time in three-plus years. Try this message on for size:
“Hi, I’m Michael. As a Maryland voter, I support the common-sense plan to extend tax cuts for all American families and job creators — $2,000 a year means a lot to me and the job creation would mean a lot to Maryland. I urge my Senators to move the tax package passed by the House as well as a reasonable budget with prudent spending so all of us can continue to enjoy our current tax rates and have a measure of stability those who create jobs can count on. Don’t fall into the class envy trap Barack Obama is trying to set.”
But I didn’t get that from a Republican source; I had to make up the riff from the other side’s creation. Nor are we doing the same data mining from other organizations. For example, my AFP e-mails link back to a site called Kintera, which is probably gathering its own information for commercial purposes but not for political advocacy. Mitt Romney’s mail went back to sites like targetedvictory.com, theromneyplan.com, theromneyryanplan.com, or takeaction.wta015.com. Zac Moffatt was the digital director for the Romney campaign, so the question is: what’s he going to do with all the data he received? (It didn’t appear as if the Romney campaign collected as much information from their e-mail appeals, though, despite hiring experts in the retail field according to this NBC story.)
Somewhere there is a load of good data we can use – along with a pot of money and the usage of the alternative conservative media more and more people are gaining trust in – to push the needle back in the right direction after four-plus years of losing ground.
So let’s not just go to the same old consultants next time. We need a new approach to hopefully produce better results because 2014 and 2016 will be here before we know it and we’ve lost a lot since the middle of the last decade. It’s been 24 years since a Republican presidential candidate exceeded 51% of the vote nationwide; then again, only one Democrat (Obama in 2008) has done the same. The era of the Reaganesque landslide is over as we have a bitterly divided country in two camps: one voting for its self-interest and the other voting selfishly. To push people from one side to the other is my goal, and it should be the same for everyone else who loves liberty.
Fellow blogger Judy Warner, who now contributes to the Potomac Tea Party Report, tipped me off to an article on the Atlantic website; an article which provided a glimpse at perhaps the most important part of Barack Obama’s electoral victory. Obviously it’s packed with effusive praise for Obama’s campaign in general, for the Atlantic is at heart a highbrow liberal magazine.
But there’s an important point to be considered: say all you want about Obama’s wretched foreign and domestic policies, but he knew how to get re-elected despite being arguably the worst president since Jimmy Carter when it came to bungling both sides of the equation. Oh sure, we on the conservative side know that the mainstream media ran interference for him like the Chicago Bears of another era blocked for Walter Payton but in the end it was Payton who made the defense miss tackles and not easily bring him down.
The part about the Atlantic‘s piece by Alexis Madrigal which stuck out to me the most, though, was the Obama campaign’s willingness to go outside the political arena and find people who simply knew how to make the best use of the technology out there. (If only he would do the same for economics and Constitutional scholarship.) Of course, there was a symbiotic relationship between the two since I’m certain the vast majority of those who signed on were in Obama’s philosophical corner, but this is the technology edge that the Republicans swore up and down they would negate this time around. Instead, we had the well-documented and discussed crash of the ORCA system on Election Day which cemented the demise of Mitt Romney’s Presidential bid.
The orphan of Romney’s technology failure could be traced back to the fact that those who were by trade political consultants – and hence “knew how the system worked” – really didn’t know squat about the technological side of things. Ten years ago e-mail lists were golden because that was going to be the new way to reach voters. In fact, as I recall, the first rendition of Obama
For Against America had a massive list of somewhere around 13 million e-mail addresses to start from (including mine.) But their technology team built up from there and integrated all sorts of data collection and outputs tailored from it.
As an example, remember the post where I related the fact they knew I hadn’t donated to the Obama campaign? The fact that they could tie together the database which had my e-mail address and the one where they had the records of who donated was seemingly beyond the capability of the Romney camp. Instead, the Romney side would send me the EXACT SAME e-mail several times – once from their campaign and then through three or four different “sponsored content” sites to whom I’m sure the Romney people paid handsomely for their list. Unfortunately, I happened to be at the very center of that Venn diagram and I’m betting that most of you reading this were too. But does a generic e-mail motivate someone to go to the polls or donate?
Once again, the key difference came down to data. Maybe I wasn’t high up on the sophistication level of the Obama people because they knew I was sort of a lurker on their e-mail list. I’d bet a dollar to a donut they knew I was a XXX Republican voter and therefore gave me the minimum of e-mail efforts; meanwhile, the uncommitted or newly registered voter (or one who bothered to fill out more information at the Obama site, unlike me) had a variety of messages tailored for him or her. You don’t honestly think the “Julia” advertising campaign or the Lena Dunham “First Time” commercial weren’t calculated to arouse a group they knew they had a maximum of potential voters within? It’s also why they promoted the false “war on women” narrative, with plenty of media help to play up unfortunate statements by U.S. Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.
Since the Romney campaign all but ignored Maryland, let’s look at one statewide Republican campaign we contested, that of Dan Bongino. Just as a recap, Bongino began running for the U.S. Senate as a first-time candidate in the spring of 2011. He had no political experience and his main initial backing was from someone who had ran and lost badly in his first run for political office at the statewide level a year earlier in Brian Murphy. It wasn’t exactly a broad platform to begin from, and the key question in the race early on was whether 2010 GOP U.S. Senate nominee Eric Wargotz would try again. He didn’t.
But Bongino worked hard to overcome many of his disadvantages, and had the attribute of a compelling, man-bites-dog sort of story: a former Secret Service agent quits to make a seemingly quixotic U.S. Senate run in a liberal bastion of a state. Moreover, he’s young, well-spoken, and telegenic, with a rags-to-riches life story that unfortunately too few got to hear outside of the conservative echo chamber. Dan did well at nationalizing his campaign thanks to that story, and managed to win the Republican primary in April over the game but underfunded Richard Douglas and several other less qualified candidates.
Perhaps the Bongino campaign hit its peak just before Labor Day, because just as people decided to start paying attention a newcomer jumped into the race with a populist promise and millions of dollars at his disposal. Obviously this threw the Bongino campaign out of balance and too much time was spent trying to fight off the challenger on the ladder below while the guy above him had little to do but watch the other two battle it out. It was almost as if Dan had to run a second primary campaign in the midst of a general election, this time against an opponent who was much better-funded and inundated the airwaves with slick 30-second commercials beseeching people to “declare your independence.” Like it or not, the “independence” pitch was a message that worked with those who were sick of party infighting but didn’t want to bother enough to go into the details of Rob Sobhani’s pledges.
But imagine what could have been had Dan had the same sort of database and expertise used by the Obama campaign? He could have targeted his message in such a manner to counter the incumbent’s record to certain voters, rebuke the so-called “independent” to wavering supporters, and kept the money stream flowing from the die-hard element. There was no question in my mind that Dan’s message had broad appeal, and perhaps had the roles been reversed between Bongino and Sobhani to where Rob was the GOP nominee and Bongino the unaffiliated candidate, the results would have been about the same. The only difference would be that the Maryland GOP would have been embarrassed about losing to an independent candidate as well as a Democrat.
That’s not to say that there aren’t potential databases at our disposal. We have an idea of those who are most worried about illegal immigration (Question 4), and are pro-family (Question 6). Those who came out against Question 5 and Question 7 can also be construed as sympathetic to at least part of our message. Then add in all the AFP people, TEA Party participants, and fiscal conservatives we know and one can build up a little bit of a knowledge base. Of course, the key is keeping it up to date and determining relevant messaging for the situations which crop up.
A new era is dawning in politics. The old scattershot standby of sign waving doesn’t seem to be very effective anymore, even as well as Dan did it in one memorable afternoon. There were a lot of cars going by on Rockville Pike that day to be sure, but there was no way of knowing whether these were even registered voters. Maybe it’s because I don’t get a lot of Democratic campaign e-mail, or maybe there’s just not enough of a base around here to make it worthwhile, but I never hear about a Democratic sign waving unless it’s in the form of a larger protest. What few Democratic tactical e-mails I received (from the Obama campaign, naturally) had to do with person-to-person events – making phone calls from the local headquarters or having “watch parties” for various campaign events at people’s homes. The former was probably more effective for reaching out to undecided voters while the latter kept the zealots motivated to keep giving of their time and talents. And it came down to having the database to know where I lived and what events were being planned by supporters via solid communications between volunteer and campaign. Those functions were handled on a local level on the Romney side, not always well.
It has been said to me on many occasions that conservatives win on issues and that we are a center-right nation. Obviously I believe that and if anything I think we need a stronger dose of limited government.
But data is king. It’s not enough to have the registration lists and do the door-to-door and phone calls, both of which seemed to be sadly lacking in Maryland thanks to a self-defeating prophecy which states Republicans can’t win statewide elections so why bother trying? That’s a good start, but we also need to invest in the electronic end of things and, more importantly, look outside the incestuous web of political consultants who talk a good game about political IT and find those who do these things for a living. Not all of the Web and social media gurus are liberal Democrats – admittedly, most are but we have to build up a farm team there as well.
I believe we can overcome all those “demography is destiny” and “you can’t convince the minorities to vote GOP” naysayers by using the right data to send them the conservative message. We can win, but it will take hard work, a lot of prudent investment outside of the good-old-boy, inside-the-Beltway system which continues to insure us defeat after defeat, and less of a reliance on things we always thought worked before but have outlived their usefulness.
All of us movement conservatives have some sort of talent, and there are a growing number who believe mine is in analyzing information and providing it to readers in a coherent fashion. As I said in my book. I believe there’s a place for someone of my talents in a conservative, limited-government movement. Years ago I read a self-help book which said I should manage around my weaknesses so I took that to heart and play to my strengths, and mine is in gathering my thoughts and turning them into pixels on a computer screen or words on a page.
But there’s a far bigger place for those who know how to corral data and put it to use so people like me can communicate to the largest number of relevant people possible, while others who have that gift of gab and outgoing personality needed for the task are sent to knock on the right doors and dial the right phone numbers with the right message for the listener. It’s never going to be foolproof, but we have a long way to go just to be adequate.
Finally, we have to treat this like a war. Of course I don’t mean that in the sense of carnage and mayhem, but the idea of taking time off or letting someone else do the job is no more. A soldier has to be ready for anything at any time, and we have to be ready to mobilize at a moment’s notice, keeping an eye out for future elections. On that front, I’m very disappointed I’ve seen no action in my hometown and no credible candidate file to either run against our mayor or the two City Council members whose seats are up in this cycle. Nor do we have a good idea yet of who will be running locally in 2014. (In that case, though, we happen to have a number of incumbents but there are seats we’d love to contest and fill as well.)
Not all campaigns will be successful, but I think we can take a step toward eventual success in learning from our tormentors, and the Atlantic profile provides a quick case study.
The question expressed in the title is perhaps the most vital one going forward for Maryland Republicans. Some are already arguing the state is a lost cause, and when your state’s winning Presidential write-in is Santa Claus (yes, Santa was an official write-in candidate so his votes counted) it’s pretty likely that too many expect things from the government.
In 2012 there were two statewide candidates bearing the Republican ticket and two Libertarians. While the circles aren’t perfectly together, if you made a Venn diagram there would be a lot of common ground and that percentage could make a difference someday. So for the sake of this argument I’m adding them together.
- President: Mitt Romney 971,869 + Gary Johnson 30,195 = 1,002,064 (37%)
- U.S. Senate: Dan Bongino 693,291 + Dean Ahmad 32,252 = 725,543 (27.5%)
Arguably, of the two Republicans the case can be made that Bongino was the more conservative while Romney was perceived by most as relatively centrist (and the closer he got to the end of the campaign, the more he drifted toward the center.) But in that Senate race there was the third man, and polling suggests that for every two votes he took from Democrat Ben Cardin he took three from Dan Bongino. Add 60% of Rob Sobhani’s total to this mix and you have 984,103. Figure in the 2.7% undervote on the Senate race as compared to the Presidential one and it looks like the current conservative/libertarian ceiling is about 1 million votes statewide.
So let’s say that 1,000,000 is the magic number. If our side had turned out 1,000,000 votes for each past statewide election:
- The 2010 statewide elections for Governor and Comptroller would have been nailbiters rather than over by 30 minutes after the polls closed.
- Those elections would have been for an open gubernatorial seat because Bob Ehrlich would have been re-elected in 2006. Michael Steele would have ran this year as an incumbent, and the other two statewide races would have been agonizingly close losses.
You’ll notice that these are gubernatorial cycles rather than Presidential – simply put, 1 million votes in Maryland won’t win in a Presidential year. The only GOP candidate to ever exceed 1 million here was George W. Bush in 2004 and he was running as an incumbent (and still lost big.)
So the trick is getting the same base which comes out to vote in the Presidential election to participate in the gubernatorial ones. But at the same time we have to expand our share of the pie somewhat to be more competitive in Presidential races rather than having GOP campaigns write Maryland off as a lost cause before the campaign even begins.
While there is a share of the electorate which has as its focus a single issue (generally social issues like abortion or gay marriage, although this extends to items like Second Amendment issues or property rights) most people vote their pocketbook and unfortunately they’ve come to grudgingly accept that the government is going to take more out of their pocket regardless of how much they complain. After all, in 2010 – during a TEA Party wave election – Maryland voters re-elected a governor who had raised taxes on practically everyone. But Martin O’Malley successfully pushed the message that “a fee is a tax” and could paint his GOP opponent Bob Ehrlich with the same brush. (O’Malley and General Assembly Democrats then merrily went on to raise many of those same fees.)
Yet at the same time a growing proportion of these voters have become recipients of these same government handouts the increased taxes pay for, creating a situation where redistribution of wealth is the means by which the majority party maintains power. After all, when over half depend on government for their well-being then those in charge of the government tend to stay in charge.
Somewhere we have allowed the opposition to paint us as heartless government cutters. And the other problem is that telling people that “it’s your money” doesn’t work as well when they receive the money from a governmental unit. That doesn’t have to be the ever more ubiquitous EBT card – it can be employment by a governmental unit, whether city hall, the local school, or any of the thousand other bureaus, agencies, or even nonprofits which depend on government grants for their existence. Remember, that cop on the street, your child’s public school teacher, or the lady at the MVA are all government employees, but so is the Salisbury University professor or – indirectly – the grant writer at the nonprofit. Nearly all of them have a vested interest in making sure the taxpayer money spigot remains flowing, because many are scared by the common media narrative into believing the TEA Party is going to leave them high and dry.
Indeed, there are certain cases where they could be correct. But one argument I wish Dan Bongino could have amplified more, because it was effective, ran along the lines (I’m paraphrasing from memory) of being happy to pay for the cop on the street, the public school teacher, or the soldier in Afghanistan – but he drew the line at cowboy poetry festivals in Nevada.
Obviously one can argue the merits of a project which benefits one small area – the drought-stricken farmer in Indiana whose subsidized disaster assistance we criticize may feel the same way about Ocean City beach replenishment here. Moreover, those are small potatoes compared to the huge entitlement spending begging to be cleaned up on the federal level.
But we have to start small and gain trust, particularly when it comes to state politics. For all his tax-raising faults and sacrificing the needs of his state in order to pursue the personal gain of higher office, Martin O’Malley is not an unpopular governor. Arguably this could be due to plenty of help from a sympathetic media, but he’s used the state’s better-than-average unemployment rate (thanks to adjacency to the seat of federal government) to convey the message that all is well. Those who have differing opinions don’t have the same blowtorch to get the message out – 25,000 Facebook followers for Change Maryland is great but hundreds of thousands of Marylanders subscribe to the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post. While I wish to have thousands of readers a day and believe my message is worth the readership, I don’t reach that many with this little candle of mine – it’s no blowtorch quite yet. To be quite blunt, if you took the unique daily readership of ALL the political blogs which deal with Maryland politics – even including their attempts at multimedia – and added them all together, you might equal the readership of a regional newspaper like the Daily Times. As it stands at present, we’re the guppies in an ocean of media, and we have to work at expanding that sphere of influence as well.
Yet the very argument we have a winning message remains untested. Perhaps Dan Bongino was a nearly perfect spokesperson for a conservative message, but there were factors which affected his Senate bid: a perceived lack of life and business experience compared to his opponents, and the fact that one opponent ran a populist campaign with non-specific promises no one forced him to flesh out. Rob Sobhani wanted the debates and so did we, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for our state and hard questions weren’t asked.
Yet even if Bongino had ran his 2012 race unmolested, the probability is strong he would have picked up around the same 36 to 37 percent which has seemed to be our ceiling in Presidential years. We have to convince about 300,000 more voters in a Presidential year that – assuming we have a conservative, pro-liberty candidate, of course – it’s in the best interests of both them and succeeding generations to cast their ballot for such a person. In one lump, that seems like a lot, but it really only takes a handful of politically agnostic neighbors or friends per activist to accomplish.
In the near future, 2014 is looming and there are at least four candidates who are looking for conservative, pro-liberty support (although they may or may not necessarily have a compatible message: think Bob Ehrlich.) Yet the same rules apply; as I demonstrated earlier getting 1 million votes in a gubernatorial year keeps us at least close and climbing the ladder for another 100,000 may put us over the top.
Yet we cannot rely on a politician – even one as articulate as Dan Bongino – to deliver our message for us. It’s time for all of us to do our part, even though many of us are still burned out on the lengthy 2012 campaign and the disappointment we feel with the results. Indeed, we lost this time but there’s always the next election. Spread the word that we CAN win!
I think I alluded to this last week but the gathering of the Maryland Liberty Caucus should make for an interesting party next week at Turf Valley.
One would also have to assume that a number of others who are considering statewide campaigns – at least at the top of the ticket – would also be having hospitality suites as well. Obviously Larry Hogan is no stranger to having events at the convention, nor is David Craig. And with Blaine Young making his presence known both in Crisfield and in Ocean City it’s not going to be a shock to see him around, either.
Yet the interesting thing will be to see how many outside groups will be trying to win influence in the Maryland GOP. Obviously the Liberty Caucus is working from the conservative right, so what will the establishment do to counter?
Consider that Howard County is the home base of National Committeeman Louis Pope, who is credited with whipping the votes necessary to pass new rules in the GOP which would help the establishment choice in future campaigns. (These were written under the assumption that Mitt Romney would be the incumbent President, but could be used in supporting yet another so-called “mainstream” candidate.) It would be my guess that he will have a large presence in his home county.
Or folks could attend a Friday evening workshop on precinct organization and targeted voter contacts, which will run before the “official” opening of the hospitality suites at 8 p.m.
I’ve also found out that those who don’t have to sleep one off will have Congressman Andy Harris as the breakfast speaker. Not sure who the lunch speaker(s) will be, but supposedly “they should be very good!” I guess I’ll have to wait to see who “they” are but I always get lunch anyway.
Regardless, it will be good to get together and commiserate with some like-minded people for a change. As far as I know, there are no burning issues on the agenda since Alex Mooney hasn’t resigned yet. There may be a little bit of a row at the convention itself regarding a no-confidence vote in party leadership but there’s not enough upset people for that to go anywhere at this late date.
If things are to change for 2014, it may end up being best to work outside the normal channels until the movement is large enough to overwhelm.
Lost in the post-election hangover and finger-pointing was something which could either be good news or bad news for Maryland Republicans: the Libertarian Party is assured of a place on the 2014 ballot. My friend Muir Boda provides some background:
Election results in Maryland showed positive results for Maryland Libertarians. Muir Boda, the Libertarian candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 1st District received nearly 12,000 votes at 3.8%. Even more exciting the Libertarian Candidate for President, Governor Gary Johnson, received over 21,000 votes and 1.1% of the vote. This secures ballot access for the Libertarian Party in Maryland through 2016, which will save Maryland Taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, I’m not sure of Boda’s interpretation of the law about 2016, as Maryland election law states on minor parties:
The political party shall retain its status as a political party through either of the following:
(i) if the political party has nominated a candidate for the highest office on the ballot in a statewide general election, and the candidate receives at least 1% of the total vote for that office, the political party shall retain its status through December 31 in the year of the next following general election; or
(ii) if the State voter registration totals, as of December 31, show that at least 1% of the State’s registered voters are affiliated with the political party, the political party shall retain its status until the next following December 31.
Unless the Maryland Libertarian Party can get to and stay at a figure of about 36,022 registered voters (they had 10,682 at last report) my reading of that law means they only have 2014 ballot access.
Boda can boast, however, that he was the leading vote-getter of the eight Libertarians who ran for Congress in Maryland as he received 3.8% of the overall vote. If extrapolated statewide, Boda and his 12,522 votes would have easily topped the actual statewide candidates (U.S. Senate hopeful Dean Ahmad and Presidential candidate Gary Johnson) because neither had topped 30,000 votes as of the last round of counting. The First District has been very libertarian-friendly over the last three cycles, with Boda and 2008-10 candidate Richard Davis getting an increasing share of votes each time. Muir has a chance at beating Davis’s 3.79% in 2010 if he can hang on to his current percentage.
So what does that mean for the Maryland GOP? Well, obviously there is a small but significant part of the electorate which is dissatisfied with the moderate establishment of the Republican party, so much so that they would “throw away” their vote on a third party. Perhaps one factor in this was the fact Andy Harris was widely expected to crush his competition so a Libertarian vote was a safe “message” vote, but I think this 1 to 4 percent of the electorate is just as important as the 3 to 5 percent of the electorate which is gay – and we certainly bent over backwards to accommodate them in this election, didn’t we? (Granted, those two groups aren’t mutually exclusive but hopefully you see the point.)
While I’m discussing my Libertarian friend, I think it’s important to bring up an article he penned for Examiner.com. In that piece, he opens:
The utter failure of the Republican Party to embrace and acknowledge the millions of people that Ron Paul had energized over the last five years not only cost Mitt Romney the election, it may very well hinder the growth of the GOP. This is the result of a political party bent on preserving the status quo and adhering to its very principles.
He goes on to allege that “Mitt Romney did not have to cheat to win the Republican nomination, but he did anyway.”
Besides the fact I think his statement on principles is perhaps not artfully worded – if not for principles, why would a political party exist? – I also think Boda’s article loses a little bit of steam in the middle when he writes about the back-and-forth between the two parties. Republicans and Democrats exist in a manner akin to the way two siblings get along, with the bickering coming to a head at election time, and unfortunately Muir falls into the trap of believing there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.
But his opening paragraph and closing statement are fairly close to hitting the bullseye given the state of the national GOP as it relates to outsiders like the TEA Party. I’ll put it this way: given the general attitude of the mainstream media about the Republican Party, would it have hurt to follow the rules which were originally established and not shut out the Paul delegates? Yes, the convention may have served less as a Romney/Ryan coronation, but with the rules shenanigans that occurred there we had plenty of controversy anyway. I’m sure some percentage of them came around, decided to bite the bullet, and voted for Mitt Romney, but a lot of those folks didn’t vote, didn’t volunteer, and didn’t send in money.
The unfortunate truth is that Republicans had their chance to roll back regulations, reform the tax system and address other issues such as Social Security and Medicare. Yet, they became worried more about retaining power and keeping us at war than protecting our liberties.
Now I disagree with the specifics of this passage simply because the entire idea of a political party is “retaining power” and we were warned the battle against Islamic terror would be a long one. But in a sense Boda is correct as the last Republican president – with the help of a Republican-led Congress – worked to expand federal involvement in education (No Child Left Behind) and created another entitlement program with Medicare Part D. In the end, those will be more expensive than the oft-quoted passage by liberals about “putting two wars on a credit card.” Nor should we forget that President Bush had a plan to address Social Security, but demagoguery by Democrats and the AARP (but I repeat myself) nixed that thought.
Of course some are going to say that the idea of a competitor whose party mainly siphons votes from our side should be dismissed. But, unlike some of those in the Maryland GOP establishment, to me it’s principle over party and I’m conservative before I’m Republican. My job is to marry the two concepts together and win the battle of ideas, which in turn will lead to winning elections – even over the Libertarian candidates.