In this installment of Weekend Conversations, PF Whalen of The Blue State Conservative and Parker Beauregard of The Last Best Hope examine the approach of the Republican Party moving forward, with Election Day behind us and the likelihood of the Biden/Harris ticket emerging victorious.
PF: I think we have to assume at this point that Biden’s going to be inaugurated on January 20th, and it’s a bitter pill, without a doubt. It’s important, however, for Republican leaders to focus on the positives, and there are plenty to consider.
Before going into the positives, however, I should probably get this out of the way immediately: I think Joe Biden is a buffoon. I wrote a piece last month detailing some of the more idiotic moments of his career, and it’s just difficult for me to take him seriously. Regardless, if he’s going to be our 46th President, I’ll support him, within reason, and wish him well; and the same goes for Kamala Harris. I think the majority of the GOP leadership will do the same, and I think they should.
When it comes to governing, control of the Senate will be critical, and I’m highly optimistic that Republicans will win at least one of the Senate seats in Georgia on January 5th, and quite possibly both. If so, Mitch McConnell should work with Biden on issues with potential bipartisan agreement; investment in infrastructure, perhaps. But on other issues, McConnell needs to stand his ground and ensure the Democrats are unable to implement any aspects of their radical agenda. The phrase we should get accustomed to hearing from Democrats and their media is this – “Republicans are obstructionists,” and I’m fine with that. Hopefully the GOP keeps it professional and dignified, and they don’t stoop to the level of the Democrats over the last four years.
Parker: As a whole, conservatives are kinder and more decent people. You stated that you’ll both “support him [Biden]” and that you “wish him well.” I will do the same; I recall in 2008 that – although I didn’t vote for him – I was hopeful about Barack Obama turning the tide vis-à-vis American race relations. My naiveté actually got the best of me! Now look at the fool. He is writing memoirs left and right about how racist the country is. He must suffer dreadfully from some sort of affliction that causes him to write about his time in the White House, all from a $15 million beachfront property mind you, and focusing on the evils of America. Nonetheless, I wish Biden well, because I wish the country of America well. If he succeeds in serving the nation, then the nation succeeds. It’s a simple enough premise, but one entirely too difficult for the left to grasp these past four years.
From a personal standpoint, conservatives need to stay above the fray. I commented to you earlier that I found myself falling into a negative spiral in the wake of the election. It immediately harkened the misery that leftists and Democrats bathed in these past four years. While we are sure that the election was stolen, that Trump’s loss defies logic, and that four more years of Trump would have continued America on a path of unprecedented prosperity, we cannot wallow in defeat. I refuse to succumb to the ease of anger and defeatism. Conservatives are fighting a righteous battle, but we can be disappointed without losing focus.
PF: Which segues well to my earlier comment that I hope Republicans in general, and conservatives in particular, focus on the positives. If that happens, it will be good for the country and good for the GOP. Trump increased his percent share of every demographic except for white men, which is incredibly ironic. Almost twice as many blacks voted for him compared to 2016, and he had significant increases with Hispanics, Asian-Americans and women overall.
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Republicans should use Trump’s methods as a roadmap moving forward. They don’t need to pander to any group, and practicing identity politics is backfiring on Democrats. Republicans can be strong on crime and promote “American Exceptionalism” while still increasing their support from blacks. They can be tough on immigration and border security yet increase support from Hispanics. And they can be Pro-Life and simultaneously increase their support from women. Republicans need to stand by conservative principals, embrace them, and shout them loudly and plainly. And they need to call out the utter corruption of the legacy and social media at every opportunity.
Conservatism is easy to sell, because conservatism works. If Republicans take that approach, and stay away from the vicious, personal attacks we’ve seen from the Pelosi-Schumer gang, I think they will win back the House of Representatives and the White House in four years, and widen their majority in the Senate. There’s a clear path, all they need to do is take it.
Parker: Conservatives can and need to sell the positives. If you look at polls, over 80% of blacks in urban centers want to have an equal or higher amount of a police presence. If you look at polls regarding Hispanics and immigration policy, they overwhelmingly want a strong stance against illegal immigration. If you look at polls of women, except for the 18-29 age group, more than not essentially favor pro-life policies. Despite what the media and Democrats say, their policies do not represent the “historically underrepresented.” They simply represent banal lies to low-information voters.
I am also mindful of optics, and I think the Republican Party has a chance to continue expanding its base without pandering to any of these groups. As Senator Rubio observed, the party has a chance to rebrand as the party of a multiethnic, multiracial, and working-class coalition. The RNC put on full display the many talents found within the base. Strong female and black voices, ranging from governors to congresspersons, can carry our ideals and values forward while eschewing typical drivel that sticks to white men like being anti-woman and anti-black. I am not opposed to Trump returning to the stage in 2024, and can you imagine if he pegged someone like Tim Scott or Kristi Noem to be his running mate? Mike Pence served valiantly in his role, which was predominantly an appeal to the Christian base and whose demeanor was the opposite of Trump. But, in 21st century America, two white men are limited in what they can sell, regardless of the greatness in their policies.
At the risk of falling into the identity politics trap, I think there is political capital in expanding the ticket to be more inclusive of people who need to see themselves on the ticket. And with all due respect to Sarah Palin, they need to be a little more prepared and polished to fill the role.
PF: It will be fun at some point to discuss and speculate on the specific personalities who emerge as leaders in the GOP as we move forward, and I agree they have a lot of talented folks. Regarding Trump, I think we all know he’s not going to simply disappear, but it will be interesting to see what role he plays. In addition to Trump’s success with broadening demographic appeal, I think he’s also provided the GOP with a blueprint on tenacity.
One of my biggest frustrations with George W. Bush was his reluctance to confront adversaries and hold them accountable, including those in the media. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney were infuriating in the way they always tried to play nice with Democrats, and not make waves. As mentioned, and I think we both agree, the GOP needs to be respectful and avoid the personal hit-jobs the Democrats like to employ. But I think there’s a valuable lesson to be learned in the way Trump hit back.
No Republican will be able to replicate Trump’s humor and intensity, and they shouldn’t try. Trump is one-of-a-kind. Giving people clever nicknames and using colorful ways to describe Rosie O’Donnell in a Twitter war won’t fly if Joni Ernst or Tom Cotton tries it. But Republicans can still punch back and show some balls like Trump did. Trump tended to retaliate when the Left attacked his character or his family, and I think that’s a good rule-of-thumb for the GOP in the future. If they hit you below the belt, don’t just sit there and take it. Stand up for yourself, your party, and conservatism. Appeasement doesn’t work, as McCain and Romney showed.
Parker: In the weeks, months, and years to come, Republicans have to message better. Trump got the ball rolling, but unless his ideological compadres continue the pushing, we will be right back where we started. I think each of our segments included something about either how the party stands for goodness or that Democrats are losing crucial voting blocs. All of this offers momentum, but historically Republicans, and really conservatives in general, have suffered from always playing defense. It needs to change.
On the political front, I think there is a great case to be made for law and order (which will really come to light when the officers involved in the George Floyd arrest are found not guilty), pro-immigration but anti-illegal immigration, America First policies that hold Chinese trade in check, and limited involvement in issues of speech and market forces. At this point in their evolution, Democrats and the left act counter to human nature and basic common sense; Republicans need to identify and name how this all fails.
On the social front, I would love to see a relaxed approach to many issues that unnecessarily backfire in the voting booth. Perhaps this is more of the pragmatist in me, and while I personally hold beliefs or act in ways that might run against my political wishes, it seems like it does more harm than good to the party to fight battles on losing issues like marijuana and marriage (just to name two). Culturally, the nation is more pro-legalized marijuana and pro-gay marriage than it is not; and, the War on Drugs is backfiring both in the sense that illicit drug usage is not down, more blacks are criminalized (which is not only due to this, but it really strengthens the left’s white supremacy talking points), and we have fueled an insane black market at home and abroad while the issue of gay marriage (which should always have been a civil union recognized by the government and nothing else) has evolved to the point that its fruitless to move backwards. And honestly, I know many more straight couples that are horrible to one another or to their kids, so it’s tough to argue against two people cohabiting or parenting if they can do it well.
I daresay most middle-of-the-road Americans are fiscally conservative but lean liberal on social issues. As Democrats represent only the uber wealthy or the abjectly poor and unmotivated, that is a huge segment waiting to be scooped up by rationale policies.