How 2012 Might Have Been

Republican Presidential Primaries

The Republican Primary season was already well underway. Before a single caucus or vote, though, we pretty much knew that Mitt Romney would win the nomination. He had the entire Republican establishment behind him, including true conservatives who wanted a “safe” candidate.

We know how that worked out.

mitt-romney-tsa

What might have been had a strong conservative emerged in 2011? What if someone without baggage had prepared years in advance for a run against the weakened, staggering Obama? Truthfully, no Republican candidate met those two simple requirements: acceptable and prepared. Not even the “safe” Romney.

For 2016, we don’t need a middle of the road gay Hispanic Millennial candidate. We need a conservative who can win. That doesn’t mean anyone with a perfect ACU or Heritage score; it means someone with a great record on freedom and fiscal responsibility and government restraint who can charm the (iron) pants of Rachel Maddow and win roof-raising ovations from the America Legion and CPAC.  A candidate who low-information voters feel they know personally, and a candidate who can raise $2 billion without promising anyone anything except to be the best damn leader America can ask for. In short, we need conservatives who people genuinely like:

The Gallup organization has examined the public perception of American presidential candidates since 1960, focusing on the impact of issues, party affiliation, and likeability. From these factors, only likeability has consistently predicted the winning candidate [emphasis added'].

Wiseman, Richard (2009-12-15). 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (Borzoi Books) (p. 51). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Had such a candidate emerged in 2012, it would have been a very good year.

Obamacare

Raise your hand if you remember that brutally hot day in June when over-eager tweeters jubilantly declared the Supreme Court found Obamacare unconstitutional? As soon as I saw the first such tweet, I though, “better hold on.” 

Imagine if John Roberts didn’t need so badly to be invited to the A-List parties in Washington and New York. Imagine if he’d put the country and his oath of office ahead of his social life.

America might never recover from the damage to liberty done by Obama, the Democrats, and Chief Justice Roberts. And I really mourn for that party that never was.

Odds are that Obama and a Democrat Senate will get to fill two vacancies on the Supreme Court before January 20, 2017. That’s how monumental the 2012 election was.

The Tea Party

The tea party had a very rough year. While it’s easy to blame outside forces, let’s not. Let’s look internally.

I know this won’t be popular with some of you, but I have to be honest here. We lost our focus on three core principles of the movement’s founding: Constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, and federalism. Instead, we let the media, the left, and the religious right take us into territory where the tea prty didn’t belong.  There are plenty of organizations whose primary mission involves social issues. Many of us tea partiers belong to such groups. Fewer grassroots groups focus on preserving idea that governments are formed and animated by the consent of those they govern.

Beyond social issues, too often we gave into the temptation to speak our minds, to get immediate emotional gratification, without thinking about the long term. Too often, me included, we chose to show how smart and how right we were, instead of winning first, then turning our right thinking into right policy.

That lack of discipline cost us dearly. Not only is the tea party movement in danger, but the whole American Experiment is in trouble.

And, while I don’t think rallies will help advance our cause, not having rallies sure as hell didn’t win, either. I think I was wrong about that, and I’ll look at fixing it in 2013.

If tea partiers don’t commit to winning, though, instead of just being right, there’s really not much point in continuing. Had we focused maniacally on winning throughout 2011 and 2012, our memories of 2012 would be a lot brighter, and our hopes for 2013 more possible.

The Republican Party

The tea party’s 2012 was a Super Bowl victory compared to the Republican Party’s epic collapse. Lacking leaders, mission, purpose, goals, strategy, character, and charm, the GOP might not be national party come 2016. The Republican Party tries to win elections using Richard Viguerie’s brilliant direct mail method—send to a list, send again only to those who respond, repeat until you have a short list of people who donate every time you mail them. That’s a genius system for raising money, but it’s a death-trap for elections. The GOP has perfected the art of getting 100% turnout from a shrinking base of aging voters, and it shows no signs of willingness to change.

With establishment squishes running the party from top to bottom, I expect Obama to get just about anything he wants for the next four years. Because the establishment fears the tea party far more than it fears Democrats, getting their attention will be difficult. The Party neither wants nor accepts grassroots support, and I have a hard time asking myself and others to help them, anyway. If there was every a time in which a new party could seize power, it’s right now.

Bill Hennessy

Everything that went wrong in 2012 you can blame on me. I did not have a very good year. I am sorry. I will try to do better in 2013. If I cannot, I will say “thank you” and move onto to something else. I’m not big into losing on principle when I know we can win on principles, as well.

I won’t make a lot of promises, but I will try to get better about one thing: speaking up when I see our movement going astray.  For the past two years, I bit my tongue. A lot. I was afraid that speaking my mind might create fissures we didn’t need.

Well, the fissures came anyway, and we got our asses kicked all over the country.

So I’ll say things that some people won’t like. I hope you will, too. But I’ll also do things that I have less faith in than others. And I’ll be thrilled to be proven wrong.

That’s all for 2012. Tune in tomorrow—it’s a brand new year.

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4 responses to “How 2012 Might Have Been

  1. All is not gloom and doom. Haven’t we have taken ~60% of the Governorships and ~60% of the State Legislatures with Republicans… …as we continue to Occupy the Republican Party with Libertarian and Conservative Principles!

    It’s taken years for Progressive Republicans to take the party leadership. It’s going to take years to undo the damage the Progs on both sides of the aisle have done — not a couple election cycles.

    We are well on our way! Do not lose heart!

  2. Bill – one area that the Tea Party can make real strides in is running candidates in areas that the “establishment” or traditional Republicans are afraid to run in. Nearly a third of the state representative districts in St. Louis County were won by Democrats without any Republican opposition (and the Libertarian and/or Constitution party candidates, if there even were any, weren’t considered credible candidates). All but one of the St. Louis City districts were uncontested by Republicans. Local municipality, school board, fire district, etc. elections are excellent training/proving grounds for candidates and elected officials, as well. Conservatives have to run candidates in the enemy’s prime territory, or we’ll keep losing ground to their “the government is here to help you” message.

  3. I’m on a lot of discussion boards, forums….. There are a lot of good pro-active conservatives but……More like minded folks need to run for local office, volunteer for campaigns and actually do the work that needs getting done. The power is in people power, not just forum evening quater backs!

  4. Questions, observations and a suggestion:

    1. Does the Tea Party, in chapters, recruit candidates or does it support conservative/libertarian/constitutional candidates who are already declared?

    2. Is the Tea Party, in chapters, active in supporting or opposing legislation at the federal and state levels?

    I don’t have a preference, just interested to learn more about its role. Even though I’ve passively followed the TParty since its inception and supported it financially, it’s amazing how little I know about its functions.

    Observation: Mainstream media have taken the lead in erroneously defining and mischaracterizing the TParty. In a couple of blogs, I asked who is the conservative candidate in the MO senate race. I was informed quite confidently by several respondents that the TParty had endorsed Sarah Steelman. I found media reports that Tea Party Express had endorsed Steelman. Further research revealed that many local MO TParties responded with press releases that apparently nobody read, declaring that they had not endorsed any of the candidates. That seemed more accurate. When Ryan was announced as Romney’s running mate, on Fox news he was introduced as “Tea Party favorite Paul Ryan…” Hmmm, really? That was the first I’d heard of his association with the TParty. Many people are suspicious that the TParty is a Christian organization that wants to dictate certain restrictions on constitutional rights, even though there is nothing in the political platform for this impression.

    Suggestion: if the TParty does assume a more public presence, it may consider tying it to civic good works or acts of charity, which is certainly in line with conservative ideology. TParties provided support for victims of the Joplin tornado. Acts like these can help build a positive public image, set an example and offer opportunities to better explain its positions on issues.

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