Skip to comments.ĎA VALLEY FORGE MOMENT FOR CONSERVATIVESí
Posted on 11/16/2012 12:29:58 PM PST by neverdem
Sen. Tom Cobrun
Thank you for that kind introduction. Its an honor to be with you tonight as we celebrate the American Spectators 45th anniversary. I especially want to thank Bob Tyrrell who has been with the Spectator since the very beginning. Bob, I want thank you and honor you for your commitment to telling the truth, and for reminding us to laugh, which is especially important in times like this.
Like most of you I wish we had a different outcome last week. But its important to talk honestly about what happened, and what we can do to get our nation back on track.
This election, I believe, is a seminal moment in history. We may have passed a tipping point. I woke up on Tuesday believing we were a center-right country and went to bed realizing we may simply be a divided country.
Fifty percent of American households now receive at least $2,500 in benefits from the federal government. And president Obama wants to expand that number. At the same time, median income is going down while the jobless rate is still far too high.
The hard reality is this: When the majority of Americans reward the politics of bailouts and benefits ahead of the promise of hard work, freedom and opportunity we have to question not just the viability of our message; but the viability of our country.
Our history, however, is a series of defining moments. And since our beginning, we have been a nation that has cheated history.
One of those moments happened back in the winter of 1777 at a place called Valley Forge. Many of us know the story the American Spectator was there. The Continental Army under General Washington was on the ropes after a string of defeats. They were hungry, weary and ill-equipped. The conditions were brutal: 2,500 men about ten percent of his army perished that winter. Washington didnt know how many would survive, and of those that did, he didnt know if enough would re-enlist to carry on the struggle. But Washington refused to give up. He chose to lead. He decided to take action. He wasnt content to just survive and keep warm. Braving the wind and cold, he drilled his men daily. He honed his tactics and forged an army in a crucible of adversity.
For us, this is a Valley Forge moment. This is a time for leadership that calls on us to re-enlist in the struggle to preserve freedom, and a leadership that drills us in the principles that made us great.
To get back on track I would suggest we focus on a few simple points: truth, oversight, action and accountability.
One of the lessons from last Tuesday is that weve failed to tell the American people particularly young voters the truth about where we are.
The truth is, on our present course, the average young person in this country is going to inherit a lower standard of living than their parents. That is unacceptable.
America is already bankrupt. We may not believe it. We may not yet feel its full effects. But we are effectively bankrupt. Our debt, which is 103 percent of our GDP, now exceeds the size of our entire economy.
The crisis is imminent. Today, were on the cusp of another downgrade. If interest rates go up one point, we add at least another $113 billion to our deficit every year. If rates return to historic averages, well add about $640 billion to our deficit every year which is more than our defense budget.
In two years, the Social Security disability trust fund goes bankrupt. In five years, Medicare Part A the hospital insurance trust fund may be bankrupt. And in ten years the costs of entitlements and interest on the debt alone will consume all available tax revenues. That means our entire military and discretionary budget will be financed entirely on borrowed or printed money.
The truth is well never get to the point of running DOD on money borrowed from China and elsewhere. Eventually, the rest of the world will decide we cant pay what we owe and theyll stop lending us money. As I describe in my book, The Debt Bomb, thats when the party is over.
That isnt just my opinion. In 2011 Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke told Congress that these unsustainable spending levels cant continue because creditors would never be willing to lend to a government whose debt, relative to national income, is rising without limit.
Heres why this is important in the context of what happened last Tuesday.
Weve heard a lot of talk about the lefts so-called demographic advantage and the presidents electoral firewall, and whether that firewall will hold in future elections. Let me tell you some good news. Those of us who believe in the Constitution and limited government have a much more potent firewall working in our favor: it is a mathematical and budgetary firewall. It is a firewall that tells us in very stark terms that we cant afford the status quo. We dont have the money. Sooner rather than later, the other side will have to accept reforms that are a lot closer to our principles than theirs.
The demographic advantage at least among younger voters is a bubble of inflated expectations that cant be met. Where the left sees a demographic advantage I see a generation of Americans about to be drowned in debt. When that happens, our solutions will be like an ark in the storm.
Hopefully we wont have to live through such a crisis. If we tell the truth effectively we may not have to.
So, our first task is to tell the truth. The second is oversight, which has to happen before you set priorities and get spending under control.
Oversight isnt very popular in Washington because politicians on both sides prefer to create new programs instead of looking at whether the programs weve already created are working. But, I believe, oversight resonates with families because thats how they live their lives every day. In the real world, people look their budgets and make choices. In Washington, we make excuses, and defer choices to future generations.
Oversight is about methodically and relentlessly building the case for limited government. And its about recognizing that big changes often happen in small steps. Thats why I release reports on all areas of the government. In my latest annual Wastebook report we found federal funding from everything from robotic squirrels to climate change musicals to caviar promotion.
Here are a few more. You cant make this stuff up. We found:
$27 million for Moroccan pottery classes
$505,000 for the promotion of specialty shampoo and other beauty products for cats and dogs
$1.3 million in corporate welfare for the worlds largest snack food producer, PepsiCo Inc.
$350,000 for a government-funded study on how golfers might benefit from using their imagination to envision the hole to be bigger than it actually is. Really? Maybe we should have studied how to help politicians imagine a smaller hole in the budget.
The list goes on and on. And Im adding to the list tomorrow when Ill release a report that details more than $60 billion in non-defense spending at the Pentagon.
The point of these reports is to help the public have an understanding of government that reflects reality. And the reality is we could reduce the size of government by one-third today and no one outside of Washington would be able to tell the difference.
Oversight, again, isnt just the responsibility of those of us in elected office. Its the medias responsibility as well. Many of you in this room are doing that and I salute you.
So, task number two is oversight. The last two action and accountability go together.
Perhaps the greatest problem Ive seen in the Republican Party since being elected in the Class of 1994 is the gap between our words and actions. We have two forms of conservatism in Washington. One is cheap or complacent conservatism; the other is costly or courageous conservatism. One is common, the other is rare.
Cheap or complacent conservatism is the conservatism of rhetoric, pledges and pandering. Costly and courageous conservatism is a conservatism of action, solutions and sacrifice. Cheap conservatism looks for scapegoats to compensate for its failure to communicate and implement a limited government agenda. Costly conservatism is brimming with optimism and compelling solutions. Cheap conservatism treats particular areas of the budget as sacred based on political expediency. Costly conservatism treats every tax dollar as sacred based on the principles of liberty and self-government.
Whether we have cheap or costly conservatism really is up to all of us in this room, particularly those of you who are leaders in the media and interest groups. My challenge to you is dont elevate the politicians who tell you what you want to hear; elevate the leaders who are willing to take us where we need to go.
Let me make a final point about accountability. Many want to blame our setbacks in the Senate, in particular, on the Tea Party. I agree we need to do a much, much better job of candidate recruitment. But the problem in Republican politics isnt the challengers: its the incumbents: its the career politicians who say they are for limited government and lower taxes but make decisions that give us bigger government and higher taxes.
Voters will forgive us for trying and failing, but they wont nor should they forgive us for not trying. If we align our actions with our words and primary ourselves with term limits well create the kind of leadership America needs.
As we think about the basics, we do have recent models of success to draw from. In the earmark battle, for instance, no one thought we would succeed. Our initial raid against the Bridge to Nowhere failed 82 to 15. But we never gave up. We were specific, methodical and relentless. We exposed excess, took action, and voters held politicians accountable. Eventually, we ended a practice that was a terrible distraction and disgrace to our party.
The task before us is simple. Telling the truth, conducting oversight, taking action and holding politicians accountable will lead us out of our Valley Forge and on to victory.
President Obama closed with campaign with the slogan Forward. They later modified it with an exclamation mark so it read Forward! I wish we could change it to read Fast-Forward. But I want to leave you with a different word: Forever.
Our vision is not based on a sentimental optimism that is blissfully ignorant of history, and math. Our vision is a serious optimism based on enduring principles that have stood the test of time because they stand outside of time: principles that come from nature and natures God: principles of self-reliance, sacrificial leadership and most of all, the dignity of each person regardless of race or creed.
If we want to communicate our values clearly we need to go back to those enduring forever principles that built our country, and avoid the short-term politics of pandering. Doing so will address each challenge we face.
And, like our founders, we can look back at history and draw from the wisdom of those who lived through perilous times in the past. After Rome was sacked the great writer and thinker Augustine looked at a world that seemed to be coming to an end and wrote a book called the City of God in which he contrasted that eternal city with the City of Man.
It is in the eternal city we learn there is no black or white, Asian or Hispanic, male or female, and born or unborn. Though we are all imperfect and flawed, we are all children of God. And, once we choose to enter, we are all immigrants welcomed by grace.
You see, our vision welcomes all people because it is based on a view of freedom, liberty and dignity that comes from a Creator, not from the state, the King, or a board of unelected bureaucrats in Washington.
We offer a vision of shared prosperity through what Arthur Brooks calls earned success. Their vision offers shared misery through the redistribution of wealth and class envy. We uphold the dignity of all people. Their ideas diminish the dignity of all people through debt and dependency. Their vision is unsustainable, ours is sustainable. Where they offer a rendezvous with debt, we still offer a rendezvous with destiny.
From low points like Valley Forge to the debacle of Watergate, the answer is never to abandon our values or engage in politically-expedient pandering. Instead, we should follow Ronald Reagans advice from 1975: Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?
As we continue to reflect, and debate, I would encourage you to face the future not with fear but faith and optimism. America is a nation and an idea that has cheated history many times in the past and can do so again.
Thank you. And may God bless you and our great country.
It's Valley Forge and time to re-enlist, but our current officer corps needs to resign at the least.
Romney was not a drag on the Republican party. The Republican party was a drag on him. Aaron Blake pointed out in the Washington Post that Romney ran ahead of most of the Republican Senate candidates: He did better than Connie Mack in Florida, George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Denny Rehberg in Montana, Jeff Flake in Arizona, Pete Hoekstra in Michigan, Deb Fischer in Nebraska, Rick Berg in North Dakota, Josh Mandel in Ohio, and of course Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. In some cases Romney did a lot better. (He also did slightly better than Ted Cruz in Texas, a race Blake for some reason ignored.)The RNC and the Republican National Senatorial Committee has to go for starters. IIRC, Coburn is retiring from the Senate. He should be the chief of the RNC, IMHO.
None of those candidates were as rich as Romney, and almost all of them had more consistently conservative records than he did. It didnt help them win more votes. The only Republican Senate candidates who ran significantly ahead of Romney were people running well to his left in blue states, and they lost too.
How would you think of Washington and the Continental Army if you knew they suffered through Valley Forge because they refused to choppered to the nuclear aircraft carrier parked in Boston Harbor?
FWIW, here's the carrier: How Chief Justice Roberts Saved America
I’d be willing to hang around through the worst adversity if it means that afterward, I’ll get to go and shoot some “Hessians”. Next logical step, and all that.
Coburn has always told it like it is. President or RNC chair...I’d vote for him.
Our country was rescued by Divine Providence back during the days of Valley Forge. Now God has removed his blessings and protection from this country, since we (as a country) have indicated that we don’t need or want Him. IMO.
True, we are... Thanks LIBERALS and RINOs!!!
I was at the dinner. Michael Novak (theologian) gave a talk right before Coburn where he talked about Divine Providence. It was powerful. Just before him it was Boon Pickens who was ticked off about the money he blew trying to Republicans elected, although he’s a man who doesn’t let things get him down for long. Coburn was the final talk of the night, ending things on a very somber note.
It was a fun night even though the beef was over done.
Although I generally like Coburn, I don’t really trust him either. In fact, the only ones in the Senate I do trust are Jim DeMint and Mike Lee.
The Republican Party is finished, in my opinion. It is no more, and perhaps less, principled than the loathsome Democratic Party. The majority of the people who support it are Conservative-Libertarian, yet the people who run it are either occult Left-wingers or unprincipled cowards who quake at the thought of being criticized by the NYT and the TV networks - and I really suspect the former.
As a “for instance,” while the Republican-led Congress had become fairly rotten by 2006, who could deny that nearly everything about this country has gone haywire since the Democrats took over in 2007? Yet, has any Republican even bothered to mention that - much less make it an issue? ...another point: Tax cuts are a proven way to increase economic growth and (sadly, in most respects) raise revenue for the government. When was the last time a Republican advocated Tax CUTS!? The Republican Party has been reduced to arguing that Democrats will gut MediCare, for God’s sake!
The two over-arching issues should always be Freedom and our Monetary System. They are intertwined. But they are not even paid lip-service by the Republican Party.
2008 will eventually be remembered as 410 AD, the beginning of a new Dark Age.
Sen. Tom Cobrun -- [snip] This election, I believe, is a seminal moment in history. We may have passed a tipping point. [/snip]and thanks again neverdem for that second link and excerpt.
This post is written in anger and frustration.
Angry that we continue to follow the Republican Partys elite ignorance. A party that continues to pull defeat from the jaws of victory characterized by pompous fools who fulfill the sterotype built by the left.
Frustrated that the reality of politics is this: There will be no third party capable of competing with the coalition constructed by the dems. As a result, true conservatives MUST take steps to eradicate the ignorance of the Republican Party while still adhering to the core values of our forefathers (beliefs that I discovered are considered extreme by over half of my countrymen on Tuesday night, BTW).
I have no solve for exactly how to accomplish this. Only advice based on a long military career in several foreign lands for how to defeat the dems once this is accomplished.
This thought process is based on the concept of irregular warfare with twists thrown in here and there for good measure.
With that, I provide the following advice for the good of the order.
LEADERSHIP: The old crew has proven either incompotent or outdated. McConnell and Boehner must go. They represent a failed plan to defend and resist without clearly explaining their position. They are content with looking like the bad guys and face public scorn when they dont realize how important it is to manipulate a clearly left leaning MSM. They represent the failure of the last four years to our own and obstructionists to the opposition.
Weve got to show a new face to the nation. That is the genesis of rebuilding this movement. Ryan or Cantor in the House, Rubio or Demint in the Senate.
We also need a standard bearer and I see no one on the horizon with as much rockstar potential and substance as Rubio. These next four years must put him on the center stage with a unified and consolidated message. It also needs to protect him from the attacks from the left that are guaranteed to come.
Everything the Obamites used to deny, deflect, and difuse will be used against them....including the race card. THAT is what will make Rubio a teflon candidate.
Change is neccesary at the head of the RNC as well. Prebius represents failure and “aw shucks” attitude. A new way to fight requires a true fighter.
I read a headline a few weeks ago that said “100s of Retired Generals Throw Their Support Behind Romney”...It’s time for them to serve again, this time within the RNC.
These men can quickly and efficiently change the organization of a party that seems confused as to what the next step is and what to do now.
Pete Schoomaker, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and long time special operator would be a suggestion. He understands how to traslate what I’m talking about into a living, breathing organization.
These men represent a change in a party that has been beaten soundly in the last two elections by a charlatan and his traveling circus. A fresh choice in leadership represents change you can TRULY beleive in from every angle. It marks a clear start from inside and outside when we actually started taking this enemy seriously.
GROUND GAME: It is IMPERATIVE to develop and foster an intricate ground game. It requires a MICRO-ANALYSIS of every county, every city, and every early and absentee ballot by demographic to find how how, why, and with what method they voted. The dems have built quite the coalition but its a house of cards; its a fractured coalition of single issue voters held together by a media-invested hollyweird worshipping demagogue. They can be piecemealed away bitby bit without sacrficing principle.
Give it to the dems on their community organizing machine. We dont need to reinvent that model. We MUST develop our own. One that will INSTILL our principles in a language tailored to the audience. Theyve tailored theirs on the community organizer, we can create ours around the military special operator. This the winning of hearts and minds in our own third world backyard dem strongholds.
This isnt as difficult as it sounds. It requires a patient and immediate effort that starts with the post election analysis looking not for what we WANT to find, but for the GROUND TRUTH. GROUND TRUTH is REAL INTELLIGENCE not Rovian number-crunching wishful thinking.
It will require an insurgent effort at the ground level. An infiltration into dem areas that we identify are weak or vulnerable to start cutting in to the blue.
The COIN (insurgeny/counterinsurgency)effort would include the identification of these areas, the inflitration of the areas through churches and charitable organizations AND PARTICULARLY THROUGH EDUCATION.
There ARE like thinkers in these communities. How do we find them? Ask Jesse L. Peterson. Ask JC Watts and Herman Cain. They KNOW how to splinter these vulnerable areas off the blue.
The hispanic issue is RIPE for moving into the red. Catholic, family oriented cultures who beleive in being left alone and naturally distrust the government. And they voted Obama? This is the epitome of the single issue voter. the RNC needs to go toe to toe, issue to issue with the Race and counter it in that community, in that language, at THAT LEVEL.
Think it cant be done? SOF has been doing it since the end of World War II. It CAN be done.
WE must get deep into the education system to promote the ideals and values of conservatism that should be selling themselves. Im not talking about traditional public schools and universities. They are ROTTED with liberals. They also arentthe keys to education in the 21st century.
Im talking about the new way to educate - the online universities, the trade schools and nightschools. Corporate allies need to invest and educate with the ideals of economic and fiscal conservatism.
The RNC needs to lead and develop this effort. A novice like me can see that there is a disconnect between the voting habits of catholic-dominated hispanics and pockets of baptist blacks and their actual stated values. That disconnect can be exploited if it is done slowly, deliberately, and effectively.
INFORMATION WARFARE: We are ATROCIOUS AT THIS. Dems get a simple message out early and often. They poison the well and we are left to change minds rather than get the initial impression right from jump. We constantly play defense and think we are sooooo clever when dems (as they ALWAYS do) do something stupid or illegal and shocked when the media all but ignores it. We must take the offensive in getting up in every Candy Crowley, every George Stepenopolis face and call them what they are: democratic hacks posing as the objective media
We ABSOLUTELY MUST be proactive. We must attack at EVERY OPPORTUNITY then add each fail of the dems to a trend and theme. These themes must be simple, tailored, and repetitively broadcast to each target demographic.
We must look out beyond the 5 and 10 meter targets. Weve got to effectively interpret what the dem message is on the horizon and confront it at all levels - from the national MSM level filtering directly down to the target group level. Even I can see what the talking points of the upcoming week are by watching the Sunday talking head programs. Defense is unacceptable. we cant pretent that the most outrageous comment wont gain traction then act surprised when weeks later, that theme picks up steam. ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK and don’t give the dems a minute’s relief to reset the media battlefield OR the political discourse.
Alinsky tactics must be turned against their masters. There is GREAT power in ridicule and scorn. They make it too easy to use. It needs to be culturally tailored and consistent. Dennis Miller needs his own show on FNC AND a late night show on Fox. Let him source and promote culturally diverse conserative comedians that vulnerable areas can relate to and remember. Bold Fresh tours arent enough.
This is only part of an overall information operation plan that is constant in a simple party message and what it means to each target group.
WE DONT DO THAT WELL. WHY NOT? I find it unbelievable that Obama has hijacked the reputation and imagery of the Party of Lincoln.
COIN operations involve a very in depth understanding of cultural idocyncracies and how best to exploit them to our advantage. Its not a wool-over-the-eyes approach or a free shit approach like the dems sell. THAT ALWAYS COMES UP SHORT.
Its a sell based on how it effects each target group and what it means to them. If its done right, I am CONFIDENT that the tenets of conservatism sell themselves.
In Civil Miltary Operations, assistance in areas that seem unrelated builds trust in the agency. Granted, theres a fine line between assistance and the giving of free shit but, the special operations forces walk that line well. It can be done. Community outreach in areas that we identify, in ways that we havent before can build a larger tent without sacrificing our beliefs.
The military has been doing this in third world countries for years. Weve been more successful in some areas, less successful in others. In the United States third world strongholds of the Democratic Party,I am confident that it can be done.
Heres the kicker: There are countless retired special operations planners and operators working overseas as contractors RIGHT NOW. Its too easy; the RNC needs to hire them as contractors over here.
This is, by far, not the only avenue weve got to pursue in order to turn the tide. We must confront and use the power of law, media, technology and the corporate world to form a UNITED MOVEMENT.
WE ARE AT WAR. the RNC must look to the military to rediscover and reorganize. The number-crunching beancounters have their place in the organization but, on their best days, they can only identify who will and wont vote Republican.
This is a Hearts and Minds effort.
It requires a new way to think about the political battlefield.
Rangers Lead the Way.
I agree. Don't forget the white working class. Rubio is in Iowa on C-Span now.