Today, we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of one of the greatest speeches in American history:
Victor Davis Hanson published a memorable piece in the National Review last week entitled “America as Pill Bug.” The pill bug or the roly-poly bug is one that turns itself into a ball when it feels threatened. Hanson writes:
That roly-poly bug can serve as a fair symbol of present-day U.S. foreign policy, especially in our understandable weariness over Iraq, Afghanistan, and the scandals that are overwhelming the Obama administration.
On August 4, U.S. embassies across the Middle East simply closed on the basis of intelligence reports of planned al-Qaeda violence. The shutdown of 21 diplomatic facilities was the most extensive in recent American history.
Yet we still have over a month to go before the twelfth anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, an iconic date for radical Islamists.
Such preemptive measures are no doubt sober and judicious. Yet if we shut down our entire public profile in the Middle East on the threat of terrorism, what will we do when more anti-American violence arises? Should we close more embassies for more days, or return home altogether?
Hanson makes an excellent point about the way the Obama administration’s closure of embassies is likely to be viewed in the Arab world and around the globe. Although, as Jeff pointed out in a post last week, the administration may have ulterior motives–by trying to create a distraction–by closing the embassies in this manner, the reality is that the interpretation of the administration’s actions by our international foes is likely to proceed in a manner similar to that Hanson envisions in his article.
Hanson looks at the example of Libya and Syria to illustrate that the administration’s “lead from behind” strategy is not working, and that it appears to be counterproductive:
Instead, the terrorists are getting their second wind, as they interpret our loud magnanimity as weakness — or, more likely, simple confusion. They increasingly do not seem to fear U.S. retaliation for any planned assaults. Instead, al-Qaeda franchises expect Americans to adopt their new pill-bug mode of curling up until danger passes.
Our enemies have grounds for such cockiness. President Obama promised swift punishment for those who attacked U.S. installations in Benghazi and killed four Americans. So far the killers roam free. Rumors abound that they have been seen publicly in Libya.
Instead of blaming radical Islamist killers for that attack, the Obama reelection campaign team fobbed the assault off as the reaction to a supposedly right-wing, Islamophobic videomaker. That yarn was untrue and was greeted as politically correct appeasement in the Middle East.
All these Libyan developments took place against a backdrop of “lead from behind.” Was it wise for American officials to brag that the world’s largest military had taken a subordinate role in removing Moammar Qaddafi — in a military operation contingent on approval from the United Nations and the Arab League but not the U.S. Congress?
No one knows what to do about the mess in Syria. But when you do not know what to do, it is imprudent to periodically lay down “red lines.” Yet the administration has done just that to the Bashar al-Assad regime over the last two years.
Hanson sees the Obama administration’s foreign policy as a disastrous replay of the Carter doctrine, once again illustrating Glenn Reynolds’ frequent observation that a replay of Jimmy Carter is simply the “best-case scenario” for Obama.
While I believe Hanson is right in his characterization of the big picture and the likely consequences of Obama foreign policy, I’d differ from him in seeing Obama as being as feckless and weak as Carter. I’d maintain that Carter’s foreign policy was guided by a number of naive precepts about the nature of the world. At least during the years of his presidency, I’d contend that Carter “meant well” in the way the phrase is commonly used to describe a hopelessly incompetent bumbler who seems incapable of recognizing his own shortcomings. Likewise, early in the Obama administration, Tammy Bruce started referring to Obama as Urkel, the nerdy, awkward, inept kid from the TV show “Family Matters” who had an uncanny ability to mess up almost everything he touched. That certainly is one narrative for what Obama is doing in the world of foreign policy, but I’m not sure it is the right one.
As I contemplate Obama foreign policy, though, particularly in the Middle East, I find myself thinking more and more that although incompetence might be the simplest explanation, it might not be the best or the right one. I see no good intentions in the administration’s domestic policy, so why should its foreign policy be exempt from charges that it is motivated more by malevolence to the United States and its role in history than by a supposed set of “liberal” ideals?
This is an administration that seems bent on alienating all of our historical allies as quickly as possible, while taking it easy on our geopolitical foes. Obama seems to want our allies to view us as unreliable and untrustworthy while making sure our enemies view us as weak, indecisive, and either unable or unwilling to use force to protect our interests or to enforce our stated policy goals. If there is a better explanation of the administration’s ultimate foreign policy goals, I’d sure like to know what it might be.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine
Wow, just wow, is about all I can say in response to this piece of leftist rationalization which I saw today on Facebook. It goes without saying that we’d be hearing something VERY DIFFERENT from this fellow if there was a Republican president.
The message here boils down to: freedom doesn’t matter, liberty doesn’t matter, rights don’t matter, and the most important role for government is to stand for “social justice.” Here’s the link, but I’ve quoted the whole thing in its appalling entirety below:
Things I’m more worried about than my phone being tapped:
Global warming. The richest 1% controlling more wealth than the bottom 50%. Homelessness. Gutting the food stamp program. The rich hiding several Trillion untaxed dollars. Secretaries paying more in taxes than billionaires. Politicians being bought and sold. Malaria and starvation. More people per capita in prison than any other country. The “war” on drugs. More black men in prison than in college. Rising cost of education and health care. The rise of extremism. The continued oppression of women. The general lack of compassion in the world. The degree to which we all blame our problems on others and close our eyes to our own irrationality.
That more people are outraged by a small loss of privacy than any of these other issues.
Should I add “People who write in sentence fragments” to his list of outrages more “worrisome” than a government which spends all its time monitoring its people, or is that just my pet peeve?
Not surprisingly, the best responses to this kind of thing date to the founding of the Republic. We’ve always got the classic from Benjamin Franklin: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
But in this context, where the message is to sacrifice liberty for “social justice,” I think Sam Adams might be better, though trying to choose just one passage that is appropriate is rather like an embarrassment of riches. I have long admired this one:
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
Perhaps this one is better: “If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
And just in case the Obamalaise is getting to you, here’s one worth repeating regularly: “Nil desperandum, — Never Despair. That is a motto for you and me. All are not dead; and where there is a spark of patriotic fire, we will rekindle it.”
Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.” I thought of that recently in seeing some of the media pushback against the publicity generated by the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas this week. Thoreau’s quote is as true as ever about the state of contemporary philosophy, but it is also true about the state of historical inquiry: these days we have professors of history more than historians.
The professoriate is a class with its own interests and its own agenda, an agenda that largely overlaps with that pursued by the majority of our lamestream media. That agenda does not include the practice of history in the abstract, insofar as that involves presenting the evidence, weighing the options, employing reason, and drawing conclusions. To most professors of history and folks in the media these days, history is only useful insofar as it serves their left-wing agenda. Hence their resistance to the displays in the Bush library.
Consider this article from Yahoo! News:
DALLAS—As former President George W. Bush prepares to officially open his presidential library on Thursday, a question arises as it has for his predecessors: How objective will it be about his time in the White House?
Bush left office five years ago as one of the most unpopular presidents in history, his poll numbers weighed down by public discontent over his handling of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and worries about the economy.
But the former president wanted to take the controversies about his presidency head-on, say several former aides who worked closely with him on the library. One way of addressing the challenge is an interactive exhibit allowing visitors to see what it was like for him to make decisions as leader of the free world. People will hear information Bush was given by aides, then be asked to make their own choices. Afterward, the former president’s image will appear on a screen to explain what decision he ultimately made and why.
“He really wants people to go in there and get a sense of what it was like to be president during that time and to use that to make an informed decision about his presidency,” said Karen Hughes, a longtime Bush adviser.
In some respects, the article strives to be slightly more balanced than I’m giving it credit for being, since it does point out controversies over the presentation of material in both the Clinton library and the LBJ library, as well, but I think it is materially different, too, in that Bush is trying to present the information that influenced his decisions and both the media and some so-called historians are crying foul over the fact that he is doing so.
One reason they don’t want Bush to tell his version of the story is that as the nightmare that is the Obama administration continues to develop, Bush is regaining popularity. While I don’t often share Dan’s enthusiasm for Peggy Noonan’s writings, I was intrigued to see her recognizing the depth of the differences between the two men in her column this week where she wrote:
But to the point. Mr. Obama was elected because he wasn’t Bush.
Mr. Bush is popular now because he’s not Obama.
The wheel turns, doesn’t it?
Here’s a hunch: The day of the opening of the Bush library was the day Obama fatigue became apparent as a fact of America’s political life.
And she isn’t the only one. Writing for Politico this week, Keith Koffler complained about “Obama’s hubris problem,” prompting Neo-Neocon to ask the question that is on many of our minds: “And he thinks it’s only a second-term phenomenon? Where has he been, on planet Xenon?”
It seems like the media is unhappy this week because Bush is getting a fresh chance to tell his story independent of their filter, whereas the public is increasingly growing tired of the combination of arrogance, divisiveness, imperiousness, incompetence, and the need to politicize everything for which President Obama is increasingly known.
Perhaps, to modify Noonan a bit, the opening of the Bush library was uncomfortable for many of his admirers because, in seeing all five living presidents together again, the public got a chance to see them and to size them up, and as Joseph Curl wrote in the Washington Times W. easily outclassed Obama.
Presidents’ Day is this coming Monday, but Lincoln’s birthday was this past Tuesday, February 12th. I was traveling that day, and had the misfortune of being subjected to hearing most of the State of the Union address as I completed the last leg of that day’s journey.
As Dan and others have pointed out many times in the past, Obama is fond of comparing himself to Republican Presidents, especially Lincoln and Reagan. Perhaps it is because both Lincoln and Reagan were associated with the state of Illinois: Reagan was born there, grew up there, and went to college there, and although Lincoln didn’t move to Illinois until his 21st year, he is most associated with the state where he became a country lawyer, served in the state legislature, and represented a district in the House of Representatives.
Or perhaps Obama compares himself to Republicans because he doesn’t want to remind the public that his political views place him to the left of Clinton, Carter, and Johnson, or, for that matter, far, far to the left of Kennedy. Perhaps he simply wants to preserve the narrative about his alleged “post-partisanship” and thinks that comparing himself to Republican Presidents is one way to keep pulling the wool over the public’s eyes in that regard.
Whatever the reason, hearing him speak on Lincoln’s birthday only reminded me, once again, how far Obama falls from Lincoln’s historic presidency (despite Steven Spielberg’s and Tony Kushner’s attempts to draw such a parallel through their recent film). Not only was the speech the usual melange of the same tiresome platitudes we’ve been hearing from him over the last five years, as both Bruce and Jeff have pointed out here, it was also full of his usual partisan talking points, as he placed blame on Republicans wherever he could, and he rationalized future power-grabs by the Executive branch.
In the context of Lincoln’s birthday, though, I am less interested in the SOTU, and more interested in what Obama said on January 21st of this year. Until Bruce posted the entirety of Washington’s second inaugural last month, the second inaugural address I was most familiar with was Lincoln’s. I had read about FDR’s second inaugural address, but never felt moved to read it in its entirety, and have generally had just passing interest in the speeches delivered on the second inaugurals of the presidents who were re-elected in my lifetime. But Lincoln’s second inaugural address is anthologized in textbooks alongside the Gettysburg Address, and I have read both many times. They are both lessons in brevity, resolve and humility.
Consider, for instance, the way that Lincoln discusses the issue of slavery and the conflict between the North and the South in his second inaugural address:
Both [sides] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
These are not the words of a proud and arrogant man. These are the words of a man who is troubled by the horrible conflict which has engulfed his nation and who prays for its speedy resolution, even as he fears the terrible price that both sides in the conflict still have to pay. Lincoln’s words are even more powerful in that way that they echo, perhaps unintentionally, one of Jefferson’s most striking passages from his Notes on the State of Virginia:
Well, that is what we would be hearing if there were a Republican President with this same war-mongering record of death.
Drone strikes dramatically increased after US President Barack Obama took office in 2009. There were only five drone strikes in 2007, but the number rose to 117 in 2010 before declining to 46 last year. Exact casualty figures are difficult to verify. Most of those killed are militants, but some civilians have also been killed.
More innocent children have been killed by the drones of Tyrant Boy-King Barack Hussein Obama than by the guns of Adam Lanza, Jared Loughner, James Holmes, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris combined. By far.
Let’s hope that 2013 will be better than 2012. I can’t remember a crappier year for America, and me personally, than the last 12 months.
I have high hopes for 2013 and there is fun to announce already.
Tomorrow night, The #OpinioNation Crew discusses our “Best & Worst” picks of 2013. 10PM Eastern on The 405 Radio Network.
And coming up on Monday, January 7…. the beginning of our weekly Match Game Monday Night at 9PM on The 405 Radio Network. Monday’s panel of stars will be: From WMAL Radio & BreitbartTV, Larry O’Connor; from the Ace Of Spades blog, Gabriel Malor; from PJTV, the VodkaPundit Stephen Green; From The Right’s Radio John Brodigan; from Breitbart.com, Mary Chastain; and from Conservative Daily News, Michelle Ray.
More on the Match Game show, tomorrow….
Happy 2013. Let’s all make it a good one.
I didn’t want the post below to be the lead item on what is a very historic day for my state. So I want to add some brief personal thoughts about Tim Scott.
He is an awesome pick. Unlike most of the politicans who embraced Tea Party, limited government principles AFTER the movement forced them to, Tim Scott already possessed those principles. He is a smart, funny, engaging guy who has a way of making everyone around him feel included.
I daresay that he will rival some of the more notable Senators as one who will go into the history books based on his record and accomplishments.
I had the unfortunate pleasure to follow US Rep. Tim Scott at the October 18 Charleston Tea Party rally. He had the crowd on its feet, singing and full of energy; he was a hard act to follow.
It is worth noting that Tim Scott is the only black Senator from the Confederate South since Reconstruction. And the only black Senator from the South since the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed. Only Illinois and Massachusetts have had African-American Senators in modern America.
[New York, 3 October 1789]
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
I’ve been meaning to write something on this topic for months — and I would have preferred to do so before the election. But better late than never.
I am a fairly flexible and open-minded person, always eager to learn things I don’t know and talk to people who have different life experiences for me. I am certainly stubborn, but I’ve always prided myself of being a voracious learner.
That being said, there are two things that I’m an Absolutist about. The most important — sticking to the Constitutional principles, especially the First Amendment. I have rarely found an issue of speech come up in my life where I didn’t stick to being a First Amendment Absolutist. I may hate the what the person is saying, I do believe that free speech has consequences and one should accept those — but I RARELY will stand behind an effort to chill speech in advance.
The second Absolutist issue for me is the quadrennially-maligned Electoral College. Yeah, I’m a geek about it. In my view, the problem isn’t the Electoral College system itself — but the ignorance about it (and our system of government as a whole) by the American populace at large.
It PAINS me that our system of government and the philosophy behind America’s creaton is barely taught, and openly mocked, by our public schools and universities. We have a dumbed down electorate that doesn’t understand WHY the process is what it is.
I think there might be a way to restructure the EC to make it more workable — each Presidential candidate wins one Electoral Vote per Congressional District, then the Two “Senators” Votes if they win the State’s Popular Vote. But aside from some reform, the College works!!
I could go on and on for days about why the Electoral College is important, relevant and critical to our Federalist system of government. Luckily for all of you, I was rescued by a more eloquent defense of the Electoral College by Richard Posner at Slate.com.
Here is Posner’s reason #2:
2) Everyone’s President
The Electoral College requires a presidential candidate to have transregional appeal. No region (South, Northeast, etc.) has enough electoral votes to elect a president. So a solid regional favorite, such as Romney was in the South, has no incentive to campaign heavily in those states, for he gains no electoral votes by increasing his plurality in states that he knows he will win. This is a desirable result because a candidate with only regional appeal is unlikely to be a successful president. The residents of the other regions are likely to feel disfranchised—to feel that their votes do not count, that the new president will have no regard for their interests, that he really isn’t their president.
Please read the whole thing. And forward it to friends and family who voted but don’t know anything more about our system of government than Sandra Fluke does. Thank you.
It seems that, since 1896, there have been four distinct presidential election cycles during each of which one party remained dominant.
In the nine elections from 1896 to 1928 (inclusive), Republicans won seven with Democrats winning only in 1912 and 1916, neither time with a popular vote majority. In the nine elections from 1932 to 1964, Democrats won seven and Republicans won twice, both times with a war hero at the top of the ticket.
From 1968 to 1988, Republicans won five times, with Democrats winning only once — and then with a narrow majority. From 1992 to 2012, Democrats won four times, Republicans twice, only once with a popular vote majority.
This notion of cycles came to mind in an e-mail exchange with a reader when we compared the most recent presidential campaign to that of 1964. In both years, the Democratic incumbent ran a very negative campaign, effectively demonizing his Republican opponent.
Does that incumbent’s failure to run on ideas suggest that his party is intellectually exhausted — or that its leadership understands the party’s ideas are at odds with those of the American people?
There is a lot of intellectual ferment on the right; we see it even as conservatives begin reconsidering comprehensive immigration reforms. Save for U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore), it seems the only elected officials in Washington putting forward real ideas for reform are Republicans.
Maybe Obama’s negative campaign of 2012 does indeed signify the end of an era. One can only hope.
It is Sunday evening and I’ve had a very nice weekend away from the magnifying glass of politics. It has been a normal weekend: chores, laundry, dog walking & mindless television.
Sometime during the day, I started tweeting a series of ideas about where the Republican House of Representatives should go from here. My conclusion: Give Obama everything he wants.
Let’s pretend this is a parliamentary system. Let’s pretend the Democrats won and Obama was re-elected as Prime Minister. In that system, everything Obama wants would pass.
Let them have it. I’m not suggesting that Republicans of principle silence themselves and not warn about the consequences of Obama’s economic plans. Those Republicans would include Sens. Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey and Govs. Scott Walker, Susanna Martinez and Nikki Haley. Let them put their stakes of opposition forcefully and vocally in the ground.
But let the House GOP and the Senate GOP get out of the way and allow the Democrats what they want on the economy. No obstruction, perhaps a vote of “present”…. but no other sign of getting in the way.
We, as Conservatives, know that these economic policies are disaster. But Obama is right — Americans voted for higher taxes and more regulation — so let them have it.
We will win the long game. We should have allowed the economy to tank harder than it did in 2008 to begin with. And all that’s been happening since is kicking the can down the road.
So I’m in favor of a hard stop. Let the Democrats’ vision of economic “success” play itself out.
The result will be hardship the likes of which no American has faced since the 1930s. But so be it. Americans voted for it — let them have it.
Conservative policies will win in the long game.
With the help of David Leip’s Atlas of Presidential Elections, I have compiled the popular vote and percentage of the total vote the presidential candidate of the party which would govern for each of nine electoral “cycles” going from 1912 through 2008. (Available below the jump.)
By electoral cycle, I mean a series of the three elections starting with the one which caused a shift in partisan control of the White House, i.e., in 1912, the partisan control shifted from Republican (William Howard Taft) to Democratic (Woodrow Wilson). Sometimes, in the third election in the cycle, partisan control would switch back as it did in 1920, 1960, 1968, 2000 & 2008. Other times, the incumbent party would retain the White House as happened in 1928, 1940 and 1988.
In each case, a distinct pattern emerges. The party which comes to power in the first election will gain votes and increase its percentage of the vote in the second, then see a decline, sometimes substantial, in the third.
There are, however, only two exceptions.
In the second election in the 1920s cycle, 1924, Calvin Coolidge won fewer votes (and a smaller percentage of the vote) than he did his erstwhile running mate Warren G. Harding four years previously. Four years later, Herbert Hoover would get more votes than either of his two partisan predecessors, but a lower percentage than did Harding. That said, the pattern holds if we begin the cycle in 1924 and end it in 1932. Increase from 1924 to 1928, decline in 1932.
In the 1990s cycle, Al Gore got more votes in 2000 than Bill Clinton had in 1992 or 1996, but, in the first two elections in that cycle, there had been a major third party candidate, Ross Perot. The pattern does hold when you calculate the dominant party’s percentage of the two-party vote.
One minor exception: In 1920 (third election of the 1910s cycle), Democrat James Cox got more votes than did Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916, but that’s because 1920 was the first election when women were allowed to vote.
So, why I am sharing all this with you? To show that there is historical pattern here which suggests that Republicans stand in good stead for 2016. No president, until this week, has ever won reelection with fewer votes than he had in his initial election. And save for 1928*, his party has always seen a drop-off (usually quite significant) from the second to third election in the cycle.
Obama didn’t get that popular vote bump that Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson (running as Kennedy’s successor), Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush got. His party is likely to see a further decline in 2016, though the example of Herbert Hoover in 1928 does provide some hope that they might break the pattern. (more…)
Welcome Instapundit readers! Have since tweaked the post a tad to fix a typo I caught in the link!
Today, everyone is all abuzz about Bill Clinton’s speech tonight to the Democratic National Convention. Earlier today Yahoo! led with this image:
The chart below, however, illustrates the real difference between the two Democrats. Reproduced from Table 1.3, one of the many historical tables providing “data on budget receipts, outlays, surpluses or deficits, Federal debt, and Federal employment over an extended time period” on the White House’s website, this shows how federal spending declined as percentage of GDP during Clinton’s tenure in the White House:
I have circled [the column on] the chart showing federal outlays as percentage of GDP over the course of the Clinton presidency. Outlays decline from 21.4% in FY1993 to just 18.2% in FY 2001, the last budget passed by a Republican Congress and signed by the Arkansas Democrat.
For the past two years, that number has been 24.1%, down, to be sure, from FY 2009, a year which included TARP, the “stimulus” and a budget finally passed in the first months of Obama’s term, but up from the last budget passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president (FY 2007, 19.7%).*
Over at Cato@Liberty, my friend David Boaz reported that Bill Clinton campaigned against big government and embraced “an expanding entrepreneurial economy“.
Democratic social issue focus at convention today likely to beas successful as Republican social issue focus in 1992
Yesterday, I wondered if the Democratic Convention this year will mirror the Republican Party’s 1992 “Family Values” affair; it would “mirror” it in the way a mirror reproduces an image but from the opposite perspective of the original.
Back then, the Republicans focused on “family values,” attempting to raise doubts about then-womanizing Democratic nominee. This year, the Democrats seem also focused on “abortion rights,” attempting to raise doubts about Republicans who, they allege, want to wage some kind of war on women.
In their respective conventions, each party would make social issues the focus by attacking the supposed extremism of the other side. And both times, it seems the parties struggled to find a focus. Then-President George H.W. Bush couldn’t run on the economy, given its sour state in 1992(though not as sour as today) and he raised taxes despite pledging not to do so.
Current President Barack Obama can’t run on the economy, given the weak recovery, with growth much less and unemployment much higher than his team had forecast when he pushed his “stimulus”. And he has failed to cut the deficit in half despite pledging to do so.
Interesting for today’s Democrats that they’re only now, fewer than two weeks before their affair, seizing on the abortion issue — in the wake of Todd Akin’s crazy comments. (And this, like the Bush reelection campaign of 1992, is indeed a campaign in search of a theme.) Yesterday, as I noted in an update, Ed Morrissey reported that recent agenda changes at the Democratic convention, would “make Akin the poster boy of the GOP and focus the three-day affair on abortion and contraception policy“.
Making social issues the focus may rally the base, but it won’t sway independent voters for whom the economy is the primary issues. Democrats this year could learn a lesson from an embattled Republican facing reelection in troubled economic times: social issues don’t win elections.
Whichever party focuses on social issues in this fall’s campaign will lose the fall election.
The title came to mind as I was scrolling through Glenn Reynolds’s posts and caught this, “WHAT HATH AKIN WROUGHT? Democratic Convention To Become Celebration of Abortion Rights“:
With an eye on Rep. Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments and the GOP’s mad dash away from the sinking Missouri Senate candidate, the Democrats are turning their upcoming presidential convention into a pro-choice assault on the Republicans with the help of major abortion supporters.
Just as the Akin crisis was reaching a crescendo, the Democrats on Wednesday announced that three starlets of the pro-choice movement will be featured at the convention, an event that will now drive the liberal charge that the Republicans are anti-women.
The people for whom abortion is the defining issue of the campaign have already made up their minds. If they’re pro-choice, they’re with Barack Obama and the Democrats. If they’re pro-life, they’re with Mitt Romney and the Republicans.
If the Democrats focus on abortion at their convention, the American people will wonder why they’re focused on social issues at a time of economic uncertainty. As many wondered in 1992 why the GOP focused on family values when the economy was no longer booming as it had been since Reagan’s reforms kicked in in 1983.
UPDATE: ED Morrissey asks if the the Democratic convention will be an “Abortion-palooza“:
With the recent face-plant of Todd Akin in Missouri, Democrats think they have hit on a winning theme for their convention in Charlotte. (more…)
GDANSK, Poland — Polish officials unveiled a statue of former President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II on Saturday, honoring two men widely credited in this Eastern European country with helping to topple communism 23 years ago.
People look at a new statue of former President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II that was unveiled in Gdansk, Poland, on Saturday, July 14, 2012. The statue honors the two men whom many Poles credit with helping to topple communism.
The statue was unveiled in Gdansk, the birthplace of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, in the presence of about 120 former Solidarity activists, many of whom were imprisoned in the 1980s for their roles in organizing or taking part in strikes against the communist regime.
The bronze statue, erected in the lush seaside President Ronald Reagan Park, is a slightly larger-than-life rendering of the two late leaders. It was inspired by an Associated Press photograph taken in 1987 on John Paul’s second pontifical visit to the U.S.
Below is the original AP photo and the new statue of these two great leaders for freedom in the last century.
Thanks to Dan for marking July Fourth earlier today. Here is my contribution, with a hat tip for the idea to Moe Lane from RedState.
The Schoolhouse Rock series taught history and grammar to Americans of a certain age. They are unforgettable parts of 1970s pop culture and I this was one of my favorites.
It seems there’s a lot of similarity to this story as the times we are living in today.
No More Kings, indeed!