An Election That Spells Opportunity

Image by © Dreamstime

Image by © Dreamstime

by Sydney Williams

Elections have consequences and postmortems are revealing. They say as much about the person uttering them, as they do about what is being said. In saying to the nation on Wednesday, “I heard you,” Mr. Obama struck a conciliatory chord. However, when he added, “But for the two-thirds who didn’t vote yesterday, I hear you, too,” he was dismissive of those who did vote and exuded a phony sense of clairvoyance regarding those who did not. It suggested that the Country supported him and his policies by a two-to-one margin, despite Tuesday’s election.

Republicans should be pleased with the election, but they shouldn’t run wild; though Scott Walker’s win in Wisconsin was hugely important. The claim that Republican success was a “Tsunami” was too glib. It is a fitting metaphor in the “Twitter” world we inhabit, but misleading and divisive.

Elections do have consequences, as Barack Obama famously sermonized in January 2009, but so do words. Mr. Obama concluded that paragraph with a fateful two-word sentence, which spoke to his unilateralism and, in my opinion, ultimate destruction, “I won.” In so saying, he removed any hope of compromise to help fiscally solve the nation’s economic problems.

Mr. Obama epitomizes what Joseph Epstein terms a “virtucrat” – one who derives “a grand sense of one’s self through one’s alleged virtuousness. Such people feel self-assured based on the moral certainty of their own goodness. However, in the world of governance, compromise is the essential ingredient. There are many on the right who feel much the same way – Ted Cruz comes to mind. They make effective legislators, but are not so good at governing.

The depth and breadth of Republican success on Tuesday could be seen, not only in the re-taking of the Senate, but in state houses across the Country. In my little corner of “very blue” Southeastern Connecticut, Republicans did well. Of the region’s fifteen seats in the state Senate and House, eight were captured by Republicans. Previously, they had two seats.

Of the five Republican women running for national office who I highlighted a week ago, in a TOTD entitled “A War on Women,” four were elected. They included the first women to be elected to the Senate from Iowa, Jodi Ernst; Elise Stefanik of New York, the youngest woman ever to be elected to the House, and the first Republican African-American women to be elected to the House of Representatives, Mia Love from Utah. After the election, Ms. Love was quoted: “I wasn’t elected because of the color of my skin. I wasn’t elected because of my gender. I was elected because of the solutions I put on the table; because I promised I would run a positive, issue-oriented campaign, and that’s what resonated.” That’s the spirit America needs!

Democrats have long exercised mastery when it comes to the semantics of the political realm. They toss out words like “liberal” and “progressive” to describe themselves, while their buddies in mainstream media use words such as “obstructionist” and “denier” to define Republicans. The former connotes youth, openness and optimism. The latter denotes old white men, meanness and pessimism. Neither is accurate.

Years ago Democrats misappropriated the word “liberal,” which in the 19th Century meant a willingness to hear all views with the aim of broadening one’s views, and they redefined it to mean the willingness of the state to transfer money from one group of people to another. One has to only look at the administrations and faculty of the nation’s top colleges to realize how illiberal they actually are. They deny students the opportunity to hear views that conflict with their own. They have taken the word “progressive,” which means capable of being evolved or developed, and use it to suggest they are precocious, when in fact they are mired in politics of the past.

Republicans should have the edge with the young. Their policies help those who want to better themselves. Republicans are interested in tax and regulatory reform and individual opportunities. They want simplified, but meaningful bank regulation, not Dodd-Frank which has made big banks bigger, and therefore riskier. They want to encourage creativity, not stifle resourcefulness. They abhor compartmentalization, a term reserved for Democrat strategists who view the electorate as victims, for whom the state can then appear as savior.

It is important not to fall for the story that the election was about nothing, a “Seinfeld Election,” as some claimed, or that it was “boring,” as David Brooks of the New York Times wrote. It was about Mr. Obama’s policies of transforming America by dividing us, emphasizing differences, not similarities; of increasing dependency on government, not unleashing individual initiative; about the abandonment of the rule of law when it is politically inconvenient. It was about Mr. Obama’s focus on victimhood, be it race or gender. It was about his not taking blame when failure appeared, as it did in Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS, the VA, the NSA, Iraq, Libya, Russia, Ukraine and more. It was about downplaying America’s role as leader of the free world.

Just as President Obama promised to “fundamentally transform America,” Republicans must rebrand themselves, if they want to become meaningful and earn the respect of our youth, women and minorities. They must begin using positive words like “opportunity,” “liberty,” “unity” and “responsibility” to define their mission and who they are. They must emphasize that a good education is what provides opportunity; that without freedom we are enslaved; that, while we are diverse, we are one – E Pluribus Unum. And finally, Republicans must speak about personal responsibility, how through trial and error and the assumption of risks, we learn and succeed, accepting losses as well as gains. They must appeal to aspirations, not wants. They must point out that dependency equates to servitude, and that its antonym is independence. Ronald Reagan’s years were called a “revolution” for good reasons. While he wanted to preserve what was good in our culture, he wanted to radically change the way we approached ourselves and our government.

The election created opportunity, not bragging rights. It needs to be seized.

The views expressed on are not necessarily those of the Austrian Economics Center.

One Comment

  1. Bob - Vietnam war vet. 2014-11-12 at 9:31 PM - Reply

    OBAMA didn’t “divide us”, YOU and your Far-Right-wing-nuts planned, funded and carried-out the “divide us.” AND, it was done to get votes. Goebbels and Hitler were right—“Lie to people often enough and they will believe it.” That’s what the Republican Party is all about—non-stop lying. $100 Million was spent on just one seat in the Senate from North Carolina. Your Far-Right-wingers on the USSC installed “Citizens United”, a misnomer if there ever was one, so the Koch’s, Waltons and Adelson, ad nauseum corporatists, could buy elections. And, they have! OH, BTW, Greg Palast proved conclusively in the BBC investigation in 2003, “Bush Family Fortunes”, that the Bush family STOLE the 2000 election in Florida (thank you, JEB and the Republican Party, you crooks!)

    Reading your piece reminded me of any number of FOX snooze, paid off mouthpieces. YOU conveniently left out a boatload of facts about who has hi-jacked the Republican Party, namely, the Neo-Fascist-Plutocrat Koch Brothers, Waltons, Adelson and other millionaires and billionaires. YOU failed to mention that it was G.W. Bush (admitted to Oprah on-the-air in 2000 that “I had a drinking problem for 20 years”) and the Republicans in Congress who slashed regulations on Wall St. Banksters. AND, it was G.W. Bush who signed TARP, NOT OBAMA! AND, conveniently for you and your Far Right-Wing-nut types, you didn’t mention that Boehner (holding my nose) and just about every Republican politician stated in 2009, when Obama became President, that they were going to attack everything he tried to do FROM DAY ONE. “Co-operation” by Republicans? NOT ON THIS PLANET! And, it was the Republican-controlled Congress that shut the government down, AGAIN, which cost our economy mega Billions. What is really sickening is your non-stop B.S. about world events that would have happened to ANY President, (D) or (R.) Maybe YOU could talk about (nope, you won’t!) Bush and his lying our country into a war in Iraq. Maybe YOU could talk about (nope, you won’t!) how the policies of Reagan, Daddy Bush and Junior ended up causing the 2008 Wall St. “melt-down.” And, GEE, if Obama hadn’t moved forcefully to help major U.S. corporations from crashing–federal loans–we might have had another 1929! AND, that was caused by Greedy Wall St. Banksters back then. But, of course, like the sewage mouths at FOX and pig-heads like Lush Limpbaugh, YOU aren’t going to say one word of TRUTH about the positive things Obama has done. NOPE!—YOU = one-sided, Goebbels type propaganda, spewing Plutocratic non-stop LIES and DISTORTIONS. YOUR glowing B.S. about Reagan will make thinking people want to throw up! HEY, DO YOU AGREE WITH “TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS?” Guess you don’t read OR just ignore Forbes magazine’s “Forbes 400” and see how the top 1% have more wealth than 150 million Americans. Guess “Gross concentration of wealth” is OK with you. Destruction of the Middle-class is OK with you. That’s because, in my opinion, YOU are a Fascist-Corporatist-Plutocrat and YOU don’t give a sh*t about the average citizen. BOTTOM LINE: People like you—laissez-faire Greed-monger-Plutocrats–are exactly the opposite of “civilized”, “caring”, “benevolent”. “unselfish” or even HUMAN. YOU and your kind are savages, trying to take everything and leave the 99 percent living in abject poverty and ultimate death!!! AND, if you claim to be a “christian”, you apparently have totally forgotten WWJD? Your words / attitude prove it. Why don’t you show a nano-ounce of honesty and admit that YOUR real god is Ayn Rand, one of the most self-centered, viciously selfish people who ever got “famous.” “INFAMOUS” would be a much better fit for her. You = Gilded Age mentality a**hole.

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