Which Way Do We Go? [UPDATED]

You name a theory for why Mitt Romney lost and I’ve read it. Rather than obsess on what he and the Republican machine did wrong (plenty, apparently), I wonder what they should do now—right now.

However you read the election, Democrats took the day. They won the presidency and picked up seats in the Senate and the House. But they didn’t take the House. Unlike 2008, when Democrats ruled the country without credible opposition, Republicans will be part of any response to the circumstances of today. (Note the use of the word “response” over the word “solution”.)

That is their curse, but it may also be their opportunity.

I’ve been struggling since the election with juxtaposing my own political views with the manifest wishes of the majority of the country. I am a Steynian. I think our country is only as great as the principles that guided its founding and shaped its evolution. We are not eternal, our future as anything resembling our past is hardly assured. I believe the results of the election will hasten our demise as the superpower we became after World War Two (if not before). Which of course would accomplish Barack Obama’s primal urge to cut this country down to size.

But what then? Obama and the liberal mindset see America and its legacy as the great corrupter of the world. Once the stain of America’s sin is removed from the picture, they believe, something like paradise will be restored. Tell that to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Ayman Al-Zawahiri. To Hu Jintao or Kim Jong Un. To Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chavez. But that’s what they believe. Their enemies are within: the Koch brothers and Wall Street; Karl Rove and Fox News. (I wonder if Karl Rove isn’t the Right’s enemy, given the enormity of his miscalculation of the election.)

So, how hard should we fight them? If they won, shouldn’t they get what they want—good and hard, as Mencken said?

The Republican leadership appears not to think so:

[A]s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sits for an interview in his Capitol office 48 hours after the election, one thing is certain: He is in no way chastened by Tuesday’s results. If Mr. Obama wants fiscal hand-to-hand combat, he will get it.

“Let me put it very clearly,” says the five-term Republican senator from Kentucky. “I am not willing to raise taxes to turn off the sequester. Period.”

That’s the Senate; what about the House?

”Raising tax rates is unacceptable,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said in his first broadcast interview since the election Tuesday.

“Frankly, it couldn’t even pass the House. I’m not sure it could pass the Senate.”

That stance could set up a real showdown with the White House…

Which the White House would win, would it not? Loath as I am to concede the point, how can Republicans deny the president his tax hike on “millionaires and billionaires”? Why stand in the way of their “paying their fair share”?

Because it’s prudent and responsible? Because the top 1% already pay about 20% of all Federal income taxes? That and a subway token… We lost that argument, and President Obama won’t let us forget it.

“If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue. And that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes,” he said.

Obama said the majority of Americans believed those making more than $250,000 a year should pay more taxes, “So our job now is to get a majority in Congress to reflect the will of the American people. I believe we can get that majority.”

I don’t agree with the 250k number; it’s too low. Not many city dwelling families consider themselves wealthy at that income. The top 1% in income is currently around $350k; so that might be a good place to compromise.

But the main point is to give in on something. Not just to show respect for the will of the people, but to take the moral high ground in the battle for spending cuts. I don’t believe Obama cares at all about the deficit; he hasn’t governed like it. So call his bluff. It’s bad economics, but its good politics.

Don’t fight the fight you’ve already lost. Prepare for the next one. The next two years should be telling. If we are right, and Obama’s policies are ruinous for the economy (an ostrich will soar before this economy does), we can take a measure of revenge in 2014 and ultimately 2016.

It may be too late by then, but I fear it’s too late already. If the ship is going down, at least the deck chairs should be comfortable.

UPDATED
Bill Kristol agrees:

BILL KRISTOL: The leadership in the Republican party and the leadership in the conservative movement have to pull back. Let people float new ideas, let’s have a serious debate. Don’t scream and yell when one person says, ‘You know what? It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires.’ It really won’t, I don’t think.

I don’t really understand why Republicans don’t take Obama’s offer to freeze taxes for everyone below $250,000 — make it $500,000, make it a million. Really? The Republican Party is going to fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood and are hostile to Republican principles.

I couldn’t have said it better myself—except I did. No one ever got reelected defending low tax rates for millionaires. Quarter million is too low, so bump it up to an even million, half million, whatever. Show that you’re sympathetic to those relatively high-income earners in expensive parts of the country, and soak the rest. A bit. Fat lot a good it does standing in the way. We lost, they won. Game over.

5 Comments »

  1. Joe said,

    November 11, 2012 @ 10:18 am

    Just as the Hispanics left their own contry to come to the US so will conservative Americans will begin to leave America and find a new home.Emigration is a fact of life.

  2. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    November 11, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    So says the Englishman in South Africa!

    America is a big enough country that we could probably emigrate internally. We could move to Texas, or some other reliably conservative state where the effects of socialism can be ameliorated. As a New Englander by choice, I suppose I could be tempted by New Hampshire. My Republican vote would not only not be wasted as it is in Massachusetts, but would have greater weight than almost anywhere else, given the potential importance of the Granite State’s four electoral college votes in a close election.

  3. judi said,

    November 11, 2012 @ 11:13 am

    Why compromise at all? Even Obama knows that this will not help our financial position, but hurt it. Obama knows that the balanced approach is spending cuts along with tax cuts, which always increases revenue. Tax hikes have the opposite effect.

    So, Obama wants to raise taxes on the rich because it will hurt our economy, which has little room to fall. Then we will be desperate enough to let him slash our military because we will be broke (more broke). Why whould we play any part in that plan, to be more popular? Because the more we compromise the more we win elections? Do we?

  4. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    November 11, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

    We compromise because they won. If Obama is calling for something that will hurt the economy, give it to him till his cup runneth over. The Republican brand is seriously degraded at this point. Give in, grudgingly, on tax hikes, make the Democrats own them, then wait. I don’t see how fighting this at this time benefits conservatives. We got our a**es handed to us, and we need to regroup. It may be too late anyway; this may be the direction of the country going forward. But we can’t win battles already lost. If this is what Americans want, give it to them good and hard.

  5. judi said,

    November 11, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

    Ok, I see your point. I would rather it be like Obamacare, without one Republican vote so they own it completely. If we give in, even begrudgingly, it will still be called bipartisan. I guess we get the blame in any case. I think I’ll go with seceding.

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