Skip to comments.Can GOP's Local Success Translate to Federal Level?
Posted on 02/01/2013 7:21:13 AM PST by Kaslin
The Republicans are doomed. Conservatism is over. President Obama is conducting a mop-up operation at this point.
That's the basic consensus in places like New York City, Washington, D.C., and other citadels of blue America.
And let's be fair, liberals have every reason to gloat -- a little. The GOP has its troubles. Long-term demographic trends; often-irrational animosity from Hollywood, the media and academia; a thumbless grasp of the culture on the part of many Republicans: All of these things create a headwind for the party and the broader conservative movement.
But here's the weird part. That's all true of presidential politics, but less so when it comes to state politics or even other federal races. In 2010, the GOP had its best performance in congressional races since 1938.
In North Carolina, a state that is supposed to represent the trends benefitting Democrats -- it's attracting liberal northern transplants, immigrants, high-tech workers, etc. -- the GOP now has veto-proof majorities in the state house and senate. Last November, North Carolina became the 30th state with a GOP governor.
There are a lot of possible explanations that are not mutually exclusive. Obama is more popular than his party. Mitt Romney was less popular than the ideas he had such a hard time expressing. Presidential electorates are different.
This last one is definitely true when you compare who voted in 2010 and who voted in 2012. The 2010 electorate was older and whiter. The Obama coalition of 2012 included younger voters, minorities and so-called "low-information voters."
No matter the merits of these observations, they don't fully explain why Republicans are doing so well on the policy front. In states as diverse as Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas and a half-dozen others, Republicans have been implementing impressive -- even miraculous -- reforms.
In pro-Obama Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker beat back a historic attack from organized labor. And Michigan -- Michigan! -- recently became a right-to-work state, which I'm pretty sure is mentioned in the AFL-CIO's bylaws as a sign of the end times.
I think an overlooked part of the story is the fact that Americans tend to see federal and local governments differently. At the local level, people seem to have a better grasp that it's their tax dollars at work. They are far more sensitive to tax increases and more easily outraged by spending boondoggles. They understand the importance of sustainable economic growth.
At the local level, this fact benefits Republicans, although state-level Democrats tend to be more fiscally responsible as well. (Rahm Emanuel is far more fiscally responsible as Chicago's mayor than he ever was as Obama's chief of staff.)
Meanwhile, what gets Republicans elected at the local level gets them in trouble at the federal level. Again, there are many reasons for this. But I think one of them is that we've come to see the federal government as some sort of mystical entity empowered to right all of the wrongs in society. If there's a problem, there "should" be a federal response, the costs or feasibility of that response be damned.
While Romney's infamous riff about the "47 percent" was profoundly flawed, the simple reality is that millions of people who do, in fact, pay federal income taxes do not care about those tax dollars the same way. This is true of people who get more from the federal government than they pay in, but it's also true for millions of affluent voters as well.
Our presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, talk about their "visions" for America, as if being a president requires you to impose some quasi-religious vision on the country.
But the Democrats are simply better at talking about government in spiritual terms. Indeed, such testifying is Obama's one indisputable gift. They talk about the federal government doing things we'd want God to do if God dabbled in public policy. They use the logic of religion, which holds that there is a unitary and seamless nature to all good things, and therefore no good thing government does should come at the expense of some other good thing government might do. And, worst of all, they castigate anyone who opposes more spending on, say, "the children" or "the environment" as morally retrograde and "against children" and "against the environment."
The challenge for Republicans is to convince the American people that the government isn't magic, and that all of its money is your money, its debts your debts. I don't think the GOP is doomed, but America might be if Americans remained unconvinced too much longer.
The GOP has 3 branch majorities in half the states with democrats having the same in about half as many.
It’s bottom up vs. top down. We’ll see who wins.
Not at the POTUS level I don’t think. At least not as long as low-information voters keep turning out en-masse to vote for the candidate they believe “cares the most about me”.
How does that help the national Republican party?
This is different than the winning messsage :
“ Anyone rich is a job creator and you benefit from him paying less taxes, but its OK if you pay more taxes like FICA or if no tax bill was passed at the end of the year, because you are not a ‘job creator’”
OK, I am para-phasing and interpolating here but I guarentee that is what many voters heard them say in actions.
Obama staked out the 'middle class tax cut' issue and pre-empted the 'your money' part.
The author should have addressed how the GOP should handle these specifically in his recommendation.
I agree. Low information voters that vote in presidential elections are gonna hurt us. However, in midterms and off year elections, I see more things like WI happening. Or at least I hope.
Not as long as the Stoooopid Party lets the lib dims get away with voter fraud...
The challenge for the local conservatives in each state is to push for picture voter ID, no more winner-take-all electoral college points and closed primaries...to start with. Crickets coming from the RNC.
VA just punted on the electoral college apportionment...damn!
I think a small part if this is the vote fraud aspect. Not saying that’s the only reason why Romney lost but in the bigger picture, the fraud perpetrated by the Democrat party and their operatives would be way too difficult across all the races at the Federal, State, and local level. They have chosen to concentrate their efforts on the “big prize”... the presidency. Only way to beat that is to overwhelm their cheating numbers with real voters that are sold on what you are offering.