Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale


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The Grand New Republic

Update: This post was adapted by The Daily Caller. You can find that article here.

“What’s happened with the Republicans is they are, the Republican Party, is a ‘Mad Men’ party in a ‘Modern Family’ America. And it just doesn’t fit anymore.” –Matthew Dowd

“We’ve lost the country.” –Rush Limbaugh

Some voters just want to watch the world burn.

Watching Fox News on the day after the election, you saw a fascinating dynamic at play. A number of pundits spoke sympathetically of amnesty and openly criticized Arizona SB 1070 amid discussion of how to appeal to the growing Hispanic population. The O’Reilly Factor featured the unflinching admonition “to stop this Bible-based bashing of gay people,” while other segments noted the unprecedented 4 for 4 sweep gay marriage advocates won at the ballot box. The telling sentiment of the day, however, was that conservatives cannot and will not compromise on principles. So where do we go from here?

For starters, we must recognize the historic nature of this election. Barack Obama won reelection despite disastrous unemployment and a dubious economic outlook. (We’ll set aside the matter of the murdered U.S. ambassador.) Decisive electoral failure under such extraordinary circumstances, even as the country overall shifted right, certainly merits some existential panic, despite modest gubernatorial gains and a reelected House majority. But whether you think the president won without a mandate by small and divisive tactics or prevailed largely on the rote inertia of incumbency, he undeniably did so while playing heavily to the demographic strengths of the Democratic coalition—women, Latinos, blacks, millennials, gays—and everybody knows that everybody knows this.

Somewhere along the way, the Party of Lincoln became, in the eyes of an ever growing segment of America, the Party of Aging, White (Straight), Embittered Men given to fits of delusion. There are many ways, reasons, and heated denials about how this happened, but in the end, Mitt Romney lost, Barack Obama will have his second term, and the Democratic majority in the Senate will grow, as will its presence in the House. Speaking of the incoming Congress, white men will make up less than half of the House Democratic caucus for the first time in history. But for all the rekindled talk of the perpetual dominance of the jackass, even the largest political majorities are, in the grander scheme, fleeting. Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas were solidly blue in the 90s. Now they are deep red. Maine voted down gay marriage in 2009 and voted it up in 2012.

Assuming you noticed the tagline on my blog or on Twitter, you may have wondered how I could feel comfortable being Republican. After all, only 6% of blacks voted for Romney, and the GOP is understandably anathema to many gay Americans and their disproportionately young and professional allies. But I’ll let you in on a secret: I don’t expect the Party to look as it does now in ten years, or even by 2016. For one, there are many tough but necessary choices ahead that will strain the special-interest-driven coalition of the Left, whatever happens with white voters, and anything is possible over the next two to four years.

The conservative movement and its values of liberty, discipline, personal responsibility, virtue, family, community, duty, and free enterprise are objectively superior to the creeping statism and obdurate collectivism of the Left. The setback of this election notwithstanding, conservatism is far from dead or even moribund. It is merely in the process of doing what all successful life does—namely, to quote the president, evolving. The matter of adjusting tone and approach to such hot-button issues as immigration, abortion, and gay equality is not one of abandoning core principles. Rather, the project before the Party of Ronald Reagan and Condoleezza Rice is to apply those values to new circumstances and new audiences.

To this end, Republican willingness to engage on comprehensive immigration reform is a great start. While Marco Rubio may or may not appeal to Hispanics outside Florida, prominent Southwestern Republicans—e.g. Sandoval, Martinez, and Cruz—are well positioned to bring diversity into the conservative electorate. I doubt embracing open borders would win the Latino vote for the GOP. However, many conservatively inclined Latino voters may be more receptive when not worrying, fairly or not, that “driving while brown” will warrant harassment under Republican governance.

The question of gays is about much more than 5% of the electorate. Young Americans, including many young Republicans, overwhelmingly understand that gay families are valid American families of people who just want to live their lives and participate in their communities like anyone else. We live in a world where voters in West Virginia, Ohio, Arizona, and both Dakotas elected gay legislators at various levels of government and where Wisconsin sent the first openly gay U.S. Senator to Washington. (Did I mention that voters just approved gay marriage in three states and defeated a constitutional ban in another?)

Put bluntly, a movement identified with and defined by opposition to anti-bullying measures, anti-discrimination laws, gay couples adopting, and, yes, same-sex marriage, will bear witness to the leftward drift of millennials toward the political event horizon of liberalism—and the world will suffer accordingly. Fortunately, once these things are accomplished, they will cease to be issues, and gay families and the people who love them can focus on other things. In the meantime, for the good of the country and everybody who loves her, it’s time for opponents of gay rights to move on.

And so we come to abortion. Many millions of Americans, particularly among Republicans, identify as pro-life. There is nothing wrong with this. Indeed, I suspect we’re moving toward a national consensus on reasonable limits to abortion that vary somewhat by state. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock did not lose once safe GOP Senate seats because they were pro-life. They lost because they were inanely self-indulgent purists who found a mawkish virtue in needlessly alienating most of the electorate. In so doing, they have achieved nothing beyond setting back the causes of restricting abortion and promoting conservative government by feeding into a tendentious narrative of a conservative “war on women.”

You should not interpret any of this as a move to eject anyone from the coalition or spark a Republican civil war. The voices and contributions of social conservatives will remain prominent and valuable. The focus on family values translates into policies that aim to benefit communities, such as school choice and more local control of education. Upon the rock of piety conservatives build institutions that provide education and social services to millions. For the sake of stewardship, Republicans of all stripes devote their resources to sound fiscal policy and good governance. Concern for life promotes charity and community service that change lives around the world.

The Republican Party, like America, is designed for the inclusion of the big tent. Our core principles are not tied to race, creed, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. They are divined from the foundation of a diverse republic whose self-understanding is rendered, “Out of Many, One”. As I’ve noted before, the Party of Frederick Douglass, Calvin Coolidge, Oscar de Priest, and Barry Goldwater will continue to produce and hone partisans of free enterprise and limited government for as long as the American people seek prosperity. And we will welcome all comers.

As a certain young Republican congressman and vice presidential hopeful once said:

“If you believe in freedom, liberty, self-determination, free enterprise, I don’t care if you’re a Muslim, Jewish, Agnostic, Christian, gay, straight, Latino, black, white, Irish, whatever. Join us.”

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The Requiem of Change

Update: This post was adapted by The Daily Caller. You can find that article here.

“Voting is the best revenge” –Barack Obama

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

I was a Democrat once. At various stages of my intellectual development, I even thought I was a liberal. I was never particularly good at it, being liberal, so it required some impressive feats of ideological gymnastics. But my stubbornly innate conservatism wouldn’t allow me to shy away from a project simply because it required hard work. That should have been the first sign.

As an Army brat, I grew up with tales of bureaucratic hells and special interests entrenched beyond merit or conviction like inoperable cancer. I ruefully loved and understood that bumper sticker in my high school parking lot that read, “Government Philosophy: If it ain’t broke, fix it til it is!” I don’t recall my first encounter with the phrase “mugged by reality”, but I knew viscerally what it meant that first week at Yale when the Party of the Left promoted a debate on whether the United States should submit to the United Nations.

I had heard tell of such extreme leftism before, and I even had a few left-of-Lenin friends in my youth. They were neither representative of the world I knew nor taken particularly seriously on politics, but every community has its diversity of thought. However, between you and me, I had always thought the kind of effete, cerebral, and utopian liberalism of the Northeast was a partisan invention of Fox News. Surely, there were no worlds where such thinking was normal, let alone encouraged with extreme prejudice by serious people.

But lo and behold, Fox News had undersold the enormity of a liberalism perennially agitated by fashionable outrage—always in the politically correct argot of the tolerant classes—that comes light on solutions and heavy on unintended consequences. It opposes welfare reform for “punishing the poor”, clings to tax increases with false regard for economy, finds moral integrity in pacifism and appeasement, and is more allergic to gun rights than to preventing crime. Moreover, for the sectarians of progressivism, there seemed to be an answer for everything in government—but only with the kind of administration acceptable in Upper Manhattan coffee shops. God forbid our leaders appeal more to the kind of folks who can change a tire, have a driver’s license, or would recognize a military ID.

Still, I remember what it was like to think the world might finally change for the better after the era of George W. Bush. After all, the 43rd President of the United States came to represent everything I hated in government—fiscal irresponsibility, dishonest administration, mishandling of war, disregard for civil liberties, excessive meddling into local affairs, Katrina, spiraling debt, economic collapse—and he seemed to embody an anti-intellectual ethos that I went to Yale to escape. Not to mention how he wounded my great pride in Southern values and leadership like no commander-in-chief since Jimmy Carter.

Barack Obama was supposed to change all of this, putting the country on the path to healing and recovery and bidding the oceans to recede. I’ll admit I was highly skeptical of him from the beginning—a reticence apparently shared by the oceans—but so many of my friends, Democrat and Republican, were excited about him, that I couldn’t help but want to believe. It is such a glorious experience to be a cynical realist proven wrong.

That didn’t happen with President Obama.

The president and his allies promised a deficit halved, substantially lower unemployment, and $2500 in family savings on healthcare premiums. Instead, the deficit has skyrocketed, unemployment remains higher than when Obama took office, and the healthcare reform bill that so gluttonously ravished our political resources has seen costs rise by $3000 for American families. Adding insult to injury, the Left is still scratching at the phantom limb of W nearly half a decade after winning unprecedented majorities in Congress and cavalierly dismissing the opposition. Whereas the Dream began with soaring rhetoric and nigh messianic purpose, Hope and Change™ has collapsed into the churlish indignation of entitled mediocrity, like an apologist for “social promotion” railing against illiteracy.

Behold the legacy of the welfare state and its Pyrrhic war on want at the small cost of a civilization of prosperity. Gone are the grand visions and celebration of success and possibility; we have traded them for the petty gripes and anodyne lies of a perpetual challenger whose only answer—beyond, Save the Muppets!—is Forward! with more time, taxes, and spending, with occasional race-baiting for good measure. Just as “Romnesia” is but the howling projection of a left-wing conscience unhinged by so many promises broken—drones, Gitmo, civil liberties, better lives for black people—so is the liberalism of Barack Obama a god drowned by the volume of its own entitlement.

Our economy is not dead yet, but it will take a steady hand with the right perspective to right this ship of state. Barack Obama is not that man. I wish liberalism had succeeded and that we all were reaping the wondrous benefits of a healthy economy and solvent entitlement apparatus. I would happily vote to reelect the president under such circumstances. But that is not reality. Mitt Romney is not perfect, for either the Right or the Left, on all kinds of issues. But the mantel of Change We Can Believe In has fallen, and he is the only man there to pick it up.

Living well is the best revenge against heartache and betrayal. Voting right is the best revenge against failure and disappointment. I believe in America. We have always been the ones we have been waiting for, and it’s time to move forward.

Onward to tomorrow.


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Do Not Ask What Good He Does

“Or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says, America does best when the middle class does best?” –Barack Obama

What recession? I’m too cool to be unpopular.

It’s been a great weekend for those of us who want to see the kind of change in Washington that will finally move this country forward. Governor Romney, in good gentlemanly fashion, indicted the failures of a petty incumbent in debate, earned a double-digit boost in the polls, and delivered a major foreign policy address that solidifies his foreign and domestic image as compellingly presidential. As a delectable bit of dessert, President Obama was caught shamelessly lying dealing in mistruths about Romney’s tax reform plan; it turns out Obama’s cited source reached exactly the opposite conclusion Obama imputed to him. Well that’s awkward.

There are four weeks to go before the final tally of the next four years, and the president’s people are already well invested in an aggressive campaign to paint the governor as a plutocratic, extremist, flip-flopper incapable of serious conviction. (If that sounds incoherent to you, it’s probably a combination of jet lag and altitude sickness from raising your brow too quickly.) Now, the Obama campaign has produced a nifty tool on its website to demonstrate all the ways the president’s policies have allegedly helped the American people. It’s broken down by state, so I’ll focus on the two that relate to me: my native Florida and my adoptive Virginia.

Health Care

This entire section touts the purported benefits of a costly new entitlement that presumes “young adults” (aged 23-26) are better served by prolonged dependence on their parents than by a functioning economy that allows them to get good jobs—which would provide healthcare beyond age 26. Speaking of costs, Obama brags that 3.9 million women in Virginia and Florida will no longer have to expend $9 to $33 per month because of a bill that cuts $716 billion from Medicare, leaving it bankrupt in twelve years. But lest you think all benefits will disappear under Romney, Republicans have put forth ideas to replace ObamaCare with law that increases the affordability and quality of health care while shoring up Medicare for the foreseeable future. A better and more honest approach, reached with the understanding that everything has a cost, will be better for everyone, including women, now and for generations to come.

Energy

Glaring by curious omission are any numbers on increased solar power. It’s almost like the administration wants to pretend Solyndra didn’t happen, or maybe they’re wondering whether the government makes for a good venture capitalist, after all. They do talk a big game on natural gas and crude oil production—409.4% and 3.4% increase in each in Florida; 14.6% and 42.9% in Virginia. But the devil is always in the highly-selective details, as the president plays fast and loose with numbers and intentions:

“In classic fashion, he’s using a technicality to skirt the facts and keep the myth of energy scarcity alive,” the IER email said.  “The reality is that the U.S. has enough recoverable oil for the next 200 years, despite only having 2 percent of the world’s current proven oil reserves.” (Emphasis added.) … What the president leaves out, said the IER, is technically recoverable oil, oil we know about but cannot access due to government regulations…oil production on federal lands declined in fiscal year 2011 from fiscal year 2010 by 11 percent, and natural gas production on federal lands dropped by 6 percent during the same timeframe. In contrast, oil production on private and state lands accounted for the entire increase

You would be forgiven for wondering whether the president is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Is he committed to a full slate of American energy production to help secure our independence from foreign oil, or does he intend to limit domestic oil and national gas capabilities to boost alternative fuels? I would imagine the latter plan is conceivably defensible but for the administration’s not defending it.

Jobs

Obama is thrilled to inform you that over 333,000 private-sector jobs have been created in Virginia and Florida alone in the last two years. What he would like you to ignore is that job-creation is perilously slow, most of the recent new jobs are in government, and the purchasing power of the middle class is declining. He also neglects to mention that the unemployment rate in Florida is unchanged at 8.8%, and the defense cuts in sequestration would devastate Virginia. But if you ignore all that pesky reality, which has a well-known conservative bias, Obama has probably done some good on the job front.

Taxes & Small Business

I wonder why the campaign omits the time frame over which these tax savings purportedly occurred, or any details whatsoever about them. I can understand why they don’t want to talk about their proposed recession tax increases on the small businesses that employ millions of people. I can also understand why they would avoid the entire discussion of how Obama’s own advisers favor a tax reform plan inconveniently similar to Mitt “Inverse Robin Hood” Romney’s much maligned proposal. But I cannot understand why an administration so indignant over imagined perceived lacks of specificity wouldn’t offer any clarity of its own.

So where do your tax numbers come from, Mr. President, and why do you keep lying about misunderstanding Mitt Romney’s tax proposal?

Education

I gather we’re supposed to be thrilled that 800,000 Floridians and Virginians received nearly $4K in Pell Grants—an increase of well over 60% in each state. In all our jubilation over all these students purportedly affording college, we might almost overlook the fact that Pell Grant receipt is based on economic need. More people are receiving them because more families are going under. It’s certainly good that American students still have opportunities despite the government’s economic failures, but this situation is hardly a credit to the administration. It would be akin to your doctor demanding praise for treating an infection you only contracted because he botched an operation in the first place.

As for the question of student loans, let it suffice to say that the issue won’t affect the vast majority of student debt by terribly much. There’s also the inconvenient matter of how to pay for it. But don’t expect the Obama campaign to clarify that point.

Recovery

At the risk of restating the obvious, this latest ploy by the Obama campaign amounts to little more than a tendentious fit of hope not worth the faded Obama poster you could print it on. The president can’t run on his record, so he’s resorting to the tried and true legerdemain of pretending his rhetoric counts for truth. If he were a magician, I’d remind him that we discovered that trick ages ago. As he is the president, I’ll instead suggest that his campaign start assuming the American people have better discernment than a drug-addled hate-child of Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen.

You may not think you built this bed, Mr. President, but you will lie in it. The American people will see to that.