Electability

Jim Geraghty at the Morning Jolt and Neo have some thoughts on “electable”.  The Jolt comes as an email so I don’t have a link but Jim says:

A Trump rival — in either party, really — could make a completely different argument. The argument would focus upon promising to deliver the same results that people like from this presidency without all of the endless circus, controversy, erratic decision-making, chaotic staff turnover and gleeful antagonism that comes with this president.

We are with Jim that we would love such a person.  But Neo reminds us that we don’t know what electable really is.  She discusses some previous candidates and then goes to 2016 and The Donald:

I can’t even characterize where he seemed to stand politically prior to the 2016 election, but I don’t think there’s anything especially “moderate” about him as a personality, and his presidency has played out in a way that’s further to the right than most people expected. [Emphasis added]

We are not convinced on the bold statement.  He ran on tax reform, tariffs, and serious judges.  Perhaps he has been more effective than people expected but he has not veered to the right like his predecessor veered to the left.  The Donald had a mixture of left (no entitlement reform) and right in his campaign and has stuck to it.

So are we looking for a moderate personality or a moderate candidate?  We think The Donald is a moderate candidate but not, as both Jim and Neo say, a moderate personality.  We think that given The Donald and the 44th president that the electorate is looking for a moderate candidate without a moderate personality.  We wish it were otherwise but that is how we see it.

Fixing Things

It has been a boring time.  Has there ever been anything more boring than impeaching The Donald?  Yes, the House is going to do it.  No, the Senate is not going to convict.  Now it has become even sillier, if that is possible, where the House might or might not send it to the Senate.  Killing Soleimani has been more partisan bickering.  Instead of worry about that you should read VDH to get updated on the Middle East.  Jay Ambrose has the right idea:It is 2020 and let’s start fixing things.  We agree with his list of no action things:

  1. Green New Deal
  2. Electoral College
  3. Fascism in the US

We are not as impressed by his action list

  1. Longevity
  2. Public Schools

He is right that longevity in the US has gone down but we are unconvinced that Big Pharma is the cause or that government can do much about it.  The solution to public schools is simple.  There needs to be competition.  Of course, the left is very much against that. So it is another partisan logjam.   Jay identifies an additional problem at public schools and universities:

Our public schools, meanwhile, also don’t teach patriotism the way they used to; I live near a school, for instance, at which teachers were telling students not to stand for the Star Spangled Banner at ball games.

It’s true, too, that too many professors at too many universities bend too many student minds to their leftist ways of thinking in which Western Civilization is the source of all evil and America’s exceptionalism is a grotesque sham.

We would be equally worried if the right were to require, as Jay seems to want, the teaching of patriotism in public schools and universities.

Instead let’s look at the five biggest problems facing the US:

  1. The deficit
  2. Medicare and Medicaid
  3. Social Security
  4. International relations (yes we could divide this several times)
  5. Immigration

There is one problem that sticks out as we could fix it in 2020: Social Security.  And there is one action that could improve all of them: support fracking and related infrastructure like pipelines.

Means testing is the key to fixing Social Security.  Unfortunately, any congress critter that votes to stop payments to millionaires will be portrayed as throwing granny over the cliff.  That means that a solution will probably need to include higher payments to low earners.  We are OK with that.  Let’s do it.

Fracking is great.  It fuels economic growth in the US which means more revenue for governments that will help reduce the deficit and pay for entitlements.  As VDH says:

The United States does not need Middle East natural gas or oil. Europe does. China does even more.

Certainly, it may be in the larger economic interests of America to keep moderately priced oil flowing from the Middle East. But disruptions, cartels, and embargoes do not matter to the United States in the degree they did during the last half-century.

Fracking is the primary cause of this joyous set of relationships.  It is a great help to the US in resisting the oil powers from Iran to Venezuela.  It might even help with immigration in the unlikely event the US can convince Mexico and elsewhere to allow this technology to enrich them.  We may not be able to convince our congress critters to have the gumption to fix Social Security but can surely stop them from restricting fracking.  The new decade really starts in 2021.  Perhaps we will be more ready to start fixing things after the election.

 

Crony Capitalism As A Principle

It seems Ramesh Ponnuru was a Never Trump person.  He wrote an article back in 2016 entitled “Never Trump.”  It ends:

In the end, though, the most important reason to back a conservative third-party run if Trump gets the nomination is not to affect the outcome of the November elections. It’s to demonstrate that conservatism stands for something better than Trump. Which is also a reason to strive to keep him from getting the nomination in the first place. [Emphasis added]

Well, it is a muted trumpet but everyone has their own writing style.  Because of Ramesh’s history we were interested to read his take on Marco Rubio call for crony capitalism (called Common Good) at NRO titled “Common Ground on Common Good.

Sidebar: We didn’t see any reference to Never Trump in Common Ground.  We wonder if he has changed his mind against Never in general or Never Trump?  We don’t know but we are curious.  End Sidebar.

Ramesh sets up to play the peacemaker.  He reminds us (we already knew) that us capitalistic orphans (people with a priority for free markets, free trade, and rule of law) are really orphans.  The left hates us and the right tolerates us but, as Ramesh details, doesn’t take us seriously so we don’t have much of a choice and rarely get what we want.  The Donald is far from perfect on economics but he has exceeded our expectations by reducing corporate tax rates and easing regulations.

Ramesh is telling us that Marco is just a little worse than previous GOP presidential nominees.  He is looking to find a majority because capitalistic orphans are a small group.  There is also a chance that we orphans might convince Marco to be more sensible over time.  The 2024 nomination is a long way away.

We shall see if Marco moves in a sensible direction.  Currently, we are considering Never Marco because he is opposed to us in principle.  He is against capitalism and we are for it.  It is going to be hard to split the difference.

In 2016 we voted for The Donald in the general election because he was a dominant choice.  He had positions rather than principles.  We didn’t like his behavior or position on trade but we would say the same of his opponent.  We did like his positions on corporate taxes, regulation, and judges.  And after clearing away all the hyperbole, we were closer to him on immigration.  So, for us, voting for The Donald did not involve any soul searching.  Pulling the lever for Marco looks to be a problem.  We think, to paraphrase Ramesh, that conservatism stands for something much better than Marco’s proposed economic policies. Making a decision to vote for either Marco or Josh in the general will be a tough decision because we would rather have the Democrat make those mistakes.

Next time we will talk about Ramesh’s nine questions.

 

The Joy And Dangers Of Procrastination

We blog for the joy of it.  We don’t have an editor or deadlines.  We don’t have any financial skin in the game so with have nothing to try to maximize.  Thus we can say what we want when we want.  Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley’s attempts to set themselves up for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 are of great interest to us.  We are not fans of either senator.

The dangers of procrastination include that you won’t get to it or somebody else will get to it first.  The joy is that somebody will do it so well that you just need to say here is the link.  In this case, Kevin D. Williamson is on duty at the NRO Corner.  Of course you should read the whole thing.  Reading it twice would be better.

Sidebar: Jim Geraghty’s new book is great fun.  The fact that one of the heroes is an accountant with a heart as big as Connecticut has us all in.  He (the accountant) says, “NRO is the best.” It is on page 161 in case you missed it.  Of course, he is right but he happens to be talking about the National Reconnaissance Office rather than where Kevin is writing.  End Sidebar.

Kevin is writing about his disagreements with Oren Cass and uses the examples of Marco and Elizabeth Warren.  We think Josh fits in nicely with Marco and Elizabeth.  We agree with Kevin’s summary of what he wants and doesn’t want:

The question is not whether we shall have policy in our . . . public policy . . . but what our policies are to be. I advocate generally applicable rules oriented toward the security of property rights and freedom to work and to trade in a stable and predictable policy environment, as opposed to special-pleading advocacy for this or that politically influential business interest (steel, corn, sugar, “green energy,” AIG, subprime-mortgage lenders, take your pick) based on a model of discretion that empowers politicians, giving them a whip hand over the lives and livings of workers and firms. I do not believe that the best alternative to a left-wing Elizabeth Warren is a right-wing Elizabeth Warren.

Wow! We are glad we waited.   Now there are challenges to creating these generally applicable rules.  For example, would Kevin support a modest carbon tax or not?  But this would give us a framework to debate such issues.

We agree with Kevin that there is a connection among The Donald, Marco, and Josh.  The latter two are trying to find a method of expanding the coalition of the former.  We are not in agreement with Kevin that this problem can be laid at The Donald’s doorstep.  Beyond the judges that Kevin mentions, part of The Donald’s appeal for us was the promise of reduction of corporate taxes and regulation that is very much consistent with the quoted paragraph.  Corporate taxes have been reduced substantially.  Unfortunately they have not been eliminated but beyond MWG and Kevin there is a very small group that supports that.  The Donald has had some success with deregulation.   Yes, the net effect might only be a slowing of regulation but slowing is better than anything we can expect from Elizabeth, Josh, or Marco.

For the Capitalistic Orphans like Kevin and MWG, The Donald has been a mixed blessing but surely a big improvement over his immediate predecessor or the alternative in the general election.  We will vote for him again because he has kept some of the promises that were important to us.  On the other hand, we are considering joining Never-Josh-or-Marco club for 2024 because they have offered us nothing.  Just like Elizabeth.

Considering Never

We are not a fan of Never-The-Donald and the folks of that ilk.  Recent events have led us to a better understanding of them even though we still support The Donald.  Jim Geraghty was trying to explain it at NRO.  We are sure there are folks that support The Donald that meet his description:

And then one day in 2015, this outlandish celebrity came along who seems to agree with you most of the time. He’s a bit of a jerk, but you kind of like that; he treats everybody who disagrees with him with contempt, the same way the other side treats you with contempt. As time goes by, you realize he’s perhaps more than a bit of a jerk, he’s a raging narcissist and maybe a maniac, but you still like the way he responds to everyone you don’t like — the mainstream media, Democratic politicians — with this constantly erupting volcano of scorn. You feel like you’ve been mistreated for decades; now turnabout is fair play.

It is not us.  We suspect there are fewer folks like us than like the ones Jim describes but we are not sure.  We think it is a reasonably accurate description of The Donald but it is not why we support him.  We supported him because he dominated his opponent in 2016.  The things that we didn’t like about The Donald like tariffs and bad behavior but those were points of agreement between Herself and The Donald.  The Donald had no philosophy and, as Jim points out, he acts like a Democrat but he promised to do things like reduce taxes and regulation and nominate serious judges that were at odds with his opponent.  By and large he has kept his promises and the next Democrat nominee seems unlikely to be much of an improvement over Herself so we plan to support The Donald in 2020.

On the other hand, the two senators making noises for 2024 GOP nomination fill us with dread for 2024.  If Marco or Josh is nominated we will need to consider joining the never folks.  Why?  We will explain more in the coming weeks but it may take some time with Thanksgiving and all the family birthdays coming up.  A summary is that The Donald is an ad hoc guy.  We buy many of the things on his list with no serious unifying theme or philosophy.  Marco and Josh claim to have a philosophy.  We don’t buy it.  Thus, we can’t agree with them and don’t trust them.  We don’t know if we can get to never on either one because the opponent is part of our decision process.  Marco and Josh help us understand Never-The-Donald folks because we can see choosing to lose to the left rather than have either one of those as president.

Finding Friends at the Orphanage

We have been feeling left out.  As Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio have been making headlines about creating a more intrusive and authoritarian right in order to match up with the left, us market oriented folks that feel a kinship with the growth fairy have felt left out.  Matthew’s and David’s critiques of Marco are reasonable but neither made us felt like we had much overlap in our Venn diagrams.

Kevin D. Williamson (all of these are at NRO) has helped us feel like less of an orphan with Marco Rubio’s Half-Baked Political Philosophy.  You should read all the links to see what is going on but do make sure to read Kevin.  Here is a  great paragraph that explains why Marco is on the wrong path:

Men such as Senator Rubio desire for themselves the power to overrule markets — to limit trade and property rights, enterprise and exchange — in the service of what Senator Rubio describes as the “common good.” The problems with that are several. For one thing, Senator Rubio does not know what the common good is and has no way of knowing. For another thing, we know quite well, from long experience, how such vague and plastic notions of the “common good” interact with the discrete good. [Emphasis added]

We agree with Kevin why it is a problem.  As Kevin kindly puts it, there are at least several reasons why any modifier to capitalism really become crony as in crony capitalism.  We also agree on the solution:

Capitalism is what happens when government respects property rights, which include the rights to trade and to work. What we need from men in government is not the quasi-metaphysical project of reinventing capitalism in the name of the “common good.” What we need from government is — government.

It is nice to be in the orphanage with Kevin.  We could be a category like Capitalistic Orphans.  We wonder if Dave Barry would like that as a band name?  The problem is that voters (or at the very least political advisors) seem to like quasi-metaphysical projects for the economy and society, e.g., MAGA.  Thus, for Capitalistic Orphans is option is not finding a majority but finding enough support to become a faction on the right.  We hope you will join us.

The Post-The Donald Sweepstakes

We know we are not politically unique.  Yet it is disappointing that the pollsters never have a category for MWG.  The closest we have come so far is being the opposite of Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Conservatives.  We got that feeling again despite the fact the guy is right on our wavelength.

The guy is Matthew Continetti at the Washington Free Beacon.  He asks: What Do Republican Voters Want?  It has the subtitle: Rising GOP Stars Play Pin The Tail On The Elephant.  Matthew is on the same wavelength as us in that:

[Marco] Rubio and [Josh] Hawley are the standard-bearers of a shift against markets among some quarters of the right. They want to integrate the lessons of 2016 into a policy agenda for the years after [The Donald] leaves office. They point to a possible direction for American conservatism.

We should note that Matthew published his connections at 5:00 AM this morning while we slept later so he can rightly claim to be first with The Donald-Marco-Josh connection.  As we said earlier, we agree with Matthew that Marco and Josh are positioning themselves for 2024 and disagree with Marco and Josh on the particulars.  Matthew gets into the polling details by dividing the GOP into four parts: Market skeptics, core conservatives (traditional Republicans), country first conservatives (isolationists?), and new era enterprisers.

Sidebar: As always these categories seem designed to exclude us.  Again, we would only defined by opposition, in this case, opposition to market skeptics.  End Sidebar.

Where we disagree with Matthew is where he goes next.  He looks at how Marco or Josh might appeal to all these groups and wonders how they will get full support in the primaries.  We disagree because as we see it each presidential candidate tries to create a path to the nomination and then the general election.  We expect the primaries in open years to continue as they have.  In 2020, an open year for the Democrats, there are lots of potential nominees and we doubt that there will be a candidate that wins a majority of the primary votes.  Thus, the path for GOP nominee in 2024 will likely have many candidates and the winner will get a plurality just like The Donald earned.  Then the nominee will need to find a path to winning the general election.  Each nominee strives to find a winning Electoral College majority by getting strong turnout from their own party, winning some of the independents, and picking off some of the other party.  Most candidates have different strategies.  His opponent helped The Donald consolidate the GOP.  Perhaps Marco and Josh are counting on that.  We are firmly opposed to either Marco or Josh in the primaries in 2024 but we don’t share Matthew’s opinion that they do not have a path to the nomination.   Subject to the Democrat nominee, Marco or Josh might present a harder choice for us in the general than The Donald did.