Friday, May 29, 2015

Where's the Conservative Narrative We Need?

On a day when former Speaker Denny Hastert gets indicted for paying hush money, Jonah Goldberg writes about the astonishingly low bar for Clinton misdeeds.
[E]very time there’s a new revelation about the unseemly practices of the Clintons, every time a new trough of documents or fresh disclosures come to light, scads of news outlets and Clinton spinners insist that “there’s no smoking gun” proving beyond all doubt that Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation did anything wrong.
Whatever happened to the Caesar's wife standard? How come that Denny Hastert, a private lobbyist, is in the dock and, e.g., Lois Lerner, a government official that seems to have grossly abused her power, isn't? And how come Hillary Clinton isn't under indictment right now for violating government record-keeping mandates?

Or what about the delicious interview between Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina and Andrea Mitchell where Mitchell is clearly warning Fiorina that there's a lèse majesté problem with criticizing Hillary:
She's had a lifetime, though, in public service. Going back to before she was first lady in Arkansas. She can argue that she's got a record on women's issues, from the Beijing Women's Conference to all of her work with the Children's Defense Fund going up through the Senate, senator from New York, that’s a record. Secretary of state. How do you compare yourself to her? 
When, in a month of Sundays, has Mitchell ever defended a Republican white male like that?

Let's look at another notion, the "cares about people like me" metric used in presidential polls. It's said that Obama beat Romney roughly 80-20 on the cares-about-me question. Really? You might think that if you had been glued in front of your TV in summer 2012 and an endless roll of Joe Soptic commercials.  But come on: Mitt Romney's whole life has been about service to his church and showing up when asked. Barack Obama? Well, now that the elections are all over we are getting to see more and more of the small and narrow man inside the media bubble.

Conservatives often despair about winning the "cares about people like me" stakes. But I think we have been going about it all wrong. The way that Democrats frame it, it's all about feudalism. That's what the Joe Soptic ad was about. Romney was the lord of the manor; he should have sent his wife out to succor Soptic's wife with flannel and a basket of food.

That's all wrong for Republicans. What Republicans need to advertise is that they care about the responsible middle class, people who, in Sean Hannity's words, follow the rules, go to work, and obey the law. That's what Republicans did in the 1970s with the Silent Majority meme and Democrats hated it; they hated it because it worked. What Republicans need to hammer on again and again is that Republicans care about people who do the right thing, who get married, have children, save for college, help their community. And if the government or its bureaucrats or its activists come down on you, then Republicans will have your back.

It's my belief that the Obama boys have set this up beautifully for 2016. Where is the responsible middle-class person who is not worried about saying the wrong thing -- to a woman at work, perhaps -- and then losing his job, because sexism. Where is the Christian small business that doesn't wonder if some gay person will come through the door tomorrow and set them up for ruining their business, because homophobia? Where is the liberal college professor that does not worry about getting his career ruined by some "triggered" "studies" activist, because identity?

I was reading Charles Krauthammer's regular Friday column today where he mourns the awful time his fellow physicians are having, beset as they are by government, insurance companies, lawyers, and the dread electronic health records (EHR) mandate. But if you read the comments you can see very little sympathy for the docs. Hey, they seem to say, if the docs don't want to get with the program, they can quit.

Yes. No doubt. But the EHR initiative is a case of government coercion. It is government saying you will convert to our idea of what EHR should look like. Or else. Do we really care that little about government coercion in America in the 21st century?

It's strange to me how easily we accept government force. Perhaps it's because we mostly all work in some corporate bureaucracy, and so live in a world of corporate mandates. The mandate, for us, is our way of life; you suck it up and do what you are told, just like in the feudal era. Sucking up to the powerful is just what we all do.

But I yearn for a world where we don't suck up to the powerful, where the thing most honored in the public square is not the helpless victim or the cosseted "activist" but the responsible individual.

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