Americans have been stuck in a terrible rut these past few years and it is beginning to hurt. The main tactic of the political elites is to convince people to stop thinking and to just accept groupthink. The problem with today’s politics, academics, and general discourse, is the invasion of groupthink into almost everything. Some of it intentional, such as the probe of Russian interference of elections and others that just take off and take over any attempt at facts to dispute it.
“Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis, occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.” Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.”
America has been divided into camps that look for others to tell them what to think and then act on those instructions as if they came down from above. The problem is that what is presented to the unthinking as fact is usually just plan wrong. Vaccines do not cause autism. Trump did not collude with the Russians. Covid-19 was not invented to train the masses to obey government orders. This has come down to whatever one side says the other must take the opposite position.
This has come down today for people trying to understand the Ukraine crisis. If someone on the right sees the New York Times of CNN calling Putin evil, they reactively say Biden is the one who caused the war. On the other side if FOX news says it the left must react and call it a lie, whatever “it” is.
In the coming weeks I will examine this problem and try to bring some back to the point of intelligent discussion. All I have ever asked of anyone is to PLEASEThink before they react.
In August of last year, I wrote about the failure of US foreign policy in Afghanistan. In general, I wrote about the failure of US foreign policy. I think it time to revisit that article and expand. Lets start with the beginning of what I wrote;
“Now that lives have been lost and we have withdrawn, this ill-conceived operation once again highlights the lack of US Foreign policy capabilities or our understanding of what is needed to protect American interests. Since the end of the Korean War the US has slowly lost the will to build influence and continue to lead the world. The Cold War was the last hoorah for what was left of US influence mostly based on the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union. Much of the problem stems from the United States inability to adjust to a different world.…In 1648 the Treaty of Westphalia helped establish the countries we know today that make up Europe. There were tweaks along the way, but it established the customs of international relations as we know them. It was established within the bounds of European customs and cultures and of course held little sway as countries pushed out of Europe to colonize the world. At the end of the First World War the victorious nations sliced and diced the world up to their economic and political advantage. Ignoring the wants and desires of the indigenous population they put in motion decades of violence. Many countries put together by colonial powers were countries in name only. Following the Second World War and then the Cold War many of these countries broke apart or fell under ruthless regimes that held them together at gun point.” Following the breakup of the Soviet Union the countries that were subjected to Soviet domination or were directly under Moscow as “Soviet Republics” began to return to their traditional status. This of course led to violence and a continuing restabling of borders.
What is happening today in Ukraine is a continuation of foreign policy failure that have been happening for decades. Our major adversary after the 2d World War was the Soviet Union. During that time a policy/belief was something called Mutual Assured Destruction or “MAD.” In the 1960s a book was published titled “Arms and Influence” by Thomas Schelling. Schelling was an American economist and professor of foreign policy. He won a Nobel Memorial Prize for “having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.”
The first chapter in this book is titled “The Diplomacy of Violence.” This is not a review of the book but get it and read it if you want to understand. The first lines of the book are “The usual distinction between diplomacy and force is not merely in the instruments, words or bullets, but in the relation between adversaries—in the interplay of motives and the role of communication, understandings, compromise, and restraint. Diplomacy is bargaining; it seeks outcomes that, though not ideal for either party, are better for both than some of the alternatives.” sometimes this entails threats as well as offers. This is the part the US has forgotten, threats. By this I do not mean economic sanctions, though they can be part of the package, I mean the threat of physical violence. The use of this type of threat is known as coercion. Schelling continues “To be coercive, violence has to be anticipated. And it has to be avoidable by accommodation. The power to hurt is bargaining power. To exploit it is diplomacy—vicious diplomacy, but diplomacy.”
This last part is what Russia was using when it parked 150000 troops on the Ukrainian border. Once coercion does not work then the next act is to initiate violence. There is a difference in making someone give you what you want and forcing them to give it to you. On the one hand it must be believed you will initiate violence for coercion to succeed, on the other it must be believed you can take by force what you want.
The mistake Russia has made so far is the belief they could coerce Ukraine and if that failed they could take what they wanted. The mistake the West made is not believing Russia would attack or only move to take the Donbas region. To compound that mistake the west took the military out of the equation. It is not as if we have not faced expansionist moves and threats of nuclear attack before. Khrushchev did threaten nukes over Berlin but it was likely at the time he did not have any. And in 1962 we again faced the threat in Cuba. The response at the time came from President Kennedy “it shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” During the Cuban crisis we also used unofficial back channels to communicate. This type of unofficial communications is now looked down upon by the public as not being transparent.
We have lost our way in the world and need to return to some of what kept us strong and helped us lead. I am sorry if this comes as a shock but to remove the threat of military action from diplomatic activity is to render the entire endeavor useless. I applaud President Biden for his efforts to cut off Russia economically, but these efforts became ineffective when he announced, and continues to announce, that no US forces will not be deployed against Russia since that will mean World War Three. Yesterday China announced severe consequences for any nation helping Taiwan militarily. I do not want to see US troops killed in Ukraine nor the start of WWIII. Perhaps the west can relearn the lesions on the past and present a credible threat to Russia. I fear this may be to late but could be effective if all of Europe joined in, NATO and non-aligned countries as well.
One of the questions asked and badly answered is, why is the war in Ukraine still going on? While any strategic analysis would have to conclude that Russia will eventually defeat the Ukrainian military and occupy the country it is more than likely Ukrainian resistance will continue for years and drain Moscow’s desire to continue. If this is allowed to happen, many tens of thousands will die both Ukrainians and Russians.
What can the west do to stop the carnage and make the Russians leave? Economic sanctions are the go-to answer whenever something like this happens and I don’t know why, since they have never truly worked. Putin is a dictator who feels secure in his position, and sanctions will not affect him. He is securing his position by relieving Russian generals from their commands and has arrested the head of the FSB, the successor of the KGB. He feels secure in the knowledge that he has superior nuclear delivery systems as well as an advantage in space and can destroy satellites that would blind the west. He has no one around him that will tell him the truth.
The question to answer then is will he use his nukes and chemical weapons, and if so, how do we deal with the possibility? We must first off stop the excuse that all answers revolve around NATO. This war threatens Europe and the world. We hear a lot of talk about article 5 of the NATO charter, an attack on one is an attack on all. Secretary of State Blinken has stated that any missile that falls in a NATO country will be considered an article 5 violation, even if it is accidental. The Russians did strike a Ukrainian air base in Yavoriv, approximately 25 miles from the Polish border and close to where members of the 82d Airborne are stationed. It would not take much for a cruise missile to over fly a target by 25 miles, especially seeing the quality of Russian equipment. If this should happen, would we in fact enact article 5 and pour NATO troops into Ukraine? The Secretary of State says yes, we would, but the President of the United States says he will not start WWIII by attacking Russian troops. If we do, will we in fact start WWIII or stop it. If we do not, what deterrence do we maintain, and will the failure in fact escalate to a larger war?
I always hope diplomacy will resolve the most serious problems of our age. I also know that diplomacy will never work without the threat of military action to back it up. Today Putin does not fear the west and is confident in the fact that Biden or NATO will actually resort to arms. We must disavow him of this attitude, or we will be forced to surrender all or go into a much larger war then would be necessary.
Currently there is a lot of talk about #US, #NATO, #Russia, and #Ukraine. It is interesting to see the divergence of opinions and in some cases the reversal of Democrat and Republican views. Most show political ideology and others show a serious lack of understanding history. Is it prudent to ignore the Russian attempt to coerce Ukraine and the west rather than go to war? What is then the reaction when Russia attacks in order to compel the world to accepts it demands? Why are we facing a situation that could affect the world in a most dangerous manner?
One side sees it as a way to prove the current administration is willing to face up to a bully and protect democracy while the other side sees it as pay back for all the attacks on the past administration over Russia. The Obama administration presented the Iran deal as “This or War.” In her book “The March to Folly” writer and historian Barbra Tuchman pointed out the many times in history nations went to war for all the wrong reasons. In a follow-on book “The Guns of August” Tuchman recounted how Europe fell into WWI for the most transient of reasons. What Tuchman did not talk about was the reasons nations go to war when it becomes necessary to protect itself and its political system.
Today the west is faced with the question of diplomacy vs war. All of course wish to see diplomacy win out but at what cost. The Trump administration took a lot of criticism for being nationalistic. We heard how he was destroying the liberal world order. Does Russia need to bargain with the west? The threat of sanctions is real and could impact Russia in the long term. In the short term however using force can achieve all of Russia’s aims.
Russia does not fear any repercussions since it has done much the same thing in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Again, following the annexation of Crimea and the Russian supported breakaway of the Donbas region of Ukraine we see no real action by the west. The fighting in Ukraine only slowed down when the Trump administration began to supply Ukraine with military with equipment. Where have we seen this before, Germany and the Sudetenland, Italy and Ethiopia and Japan and Manchuria.
Diplomacy was tried in all three instances and failed in the end, resulting in war. Could a different type of diplomacy have worked, more robust, more threatening? Carl von Clausewitz told us “War is a continuation of Politics by other means.” In his book “Arms and Influence” Thomas Schelling tells us of the two types of use of the military in diplomacy, to coerce an outcome by threat, which is what Russia is doing right now, or to compel with the use of force. How to avoid either without going to war is to have a military option that is sufficient and believed that will make traditional diplomacy a viable option. The concept of mutually assured destruction kept the world safe during the cold war. The closest the world came to nuclear war was the Cuban missile crisis when cooler more mature heads prevailed.
Like the 1930’s many are saying this is not our concern, it’s a European problem. Just as in the 1930’s allowing the problem to fester and explode it will eventually return to us. Also, to those who say we should take care of our own problems like the southern border, we can do both if we act as a united country and leave the politics behind.
Not being a fan of Joe Biden, this is difficult to say but, he has made the correct call on sending 5000 troops to Ukraine if he really does it. Can 5000 troops stop a Russian invasion, of course not. During the cold war the Berlin brigade could not have stopped a Soviet invasion, but US troops would have been engaged so it would be war with the US. The problem is at that time our leadership was perceived by our enemies as strong enough to go to war. After the Afghanistan debacle and decades in government that showed he was a dove will Russia take him seriously. Seeing his weakness will our allies be willing to follow. Time will tell.
Another area we need to discuss is #voting rights. Recently this is where the liberals cry out that many of the new laws are an attack on democracy, we will discuss below. The right of every American over the age of 18 to vote is a matter of law. It is in the constitution and various federal and state laws. Over the years there have been modifications and attempts to thwart the law. In the beginning the right to vote was restricted to white male property owners, which was the standard for the day. Ultimately the right was extended to black males then native American males then to woman. As stated, there were attempts to subvert these rights such as the Jim Crow laws in the south. Ultimately universal suffrage was established.
Like so many things today, technology has allowed the process of voting to change and like so many other changes in society, technology have brought, along with progress, problems. While in the old days there were major problems with #ballot box stuffing and other forms of fraud, today we face the problems of cybercrimes used to alter results. This along with remnants of more traditional physical forms of cheating, such as ballot harvesting and straight out exchanging legitimate ballots with fake ones leads to the need for new laws and processes.
Today we have an argument over how to keep up with voting rights and what to call the new process. Some call the new laws #voter #suppression others call the new laws #voting# integrity. Much is being made over the laws being voter suppression and throw backs to Jim Crow. The claim is that the Democrats assume than the more blacks are registered the greater likelihood of a Democrat victory. It is feared also by the Republicans. Yet the bigger fear from the right, is registering people who are not eligible to vote. This last becomes easier when there is no requirement to prove who you are or there is no identification requirement for mail-in Ballots.
The lefts concerns seem to be unfounded since better than 90% of blacks vote for Democrats and this has not changed in the last several election cycles. There has been a recent movement known as Blexit that is designed to move more black votes to the republican column. While there has been some indication that the strangle hold the democrats have on the black vote has weakened, it is far from a major change in voting patterns. This holds true for another major democratic voting bloc, Jewish voters. Regardless of an increasing anti-Semitism with-in the Democrat party, Jewish voter still cling to the belief that the left is the only movement that represents their needs.
Let’s look at the numbers to decide if voter registration is being suppressed. According to the Census Bureau (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2020.) survey of a total population of voting age at 231 million, 168 million are registered or 72.7%. In total 155 million reported voting which is 66.8% of the population. Of this 182 million are white comprising 74.2 percent of the white population registered and 124 million (68.3%) voted. Of African Americans, 30 million are of voting age with 20 million (69%) registered. From this population 19 million reported to have voted, which is 62.6% of the total African American population of voting age. With 70% of eligible white voters registered and 69% of eligible blacks registered the delta is statistically insignificant. A caveat is the numbers come from US Census Bureau survey and are subject to error. Most survey have a standard deviation of +/-3%.
The reason many on the right think there is a need for laws to increase voting integrity is the concern that a large number of people who are not eligible to vote are being registered and voting, or someone using their identity is voting for them. The question to be asked is, do the numbers support this assertion? The question is very difficult to answer. Depending on which poll you read or what is declared, changes from day to day. To see the problem Judicial Watch claims there are 1.8 million excess or ghost voters spread across 29 states. With the most being in Colorado, Maine, Alaska, New Jersey, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Vermont. While 1.8 million will do little to change the popular vote it could change a States outcome that would affect the electoral college. While this is not the only time in US history that voting outcomes have been questioned, laws have always been enacted to blunt the impact of cheating. Some states are enacting laws to do just that based on the claims of how the cheating is done. This then raises the question of, is it voter suppression or integrity?
Much has been made of the new Georgia law, so let’s look at what that law does and why there is so much discussion. Wikipedia puts it as:
The Election Integrity Act of 2021, originally known as Georgia Senate Bill 202, is a Georgia law overhauling elections in the state. It requires voter identification requirements on absentee ballots, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, expands early in-person voting, bars officials from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot request forms, reduces the amount of time people have to request an absentee ballot, increases voting stations or staff and equipment where there have been long lines, makes it a crime for outside groups to give free food or water to voters waiting in line, gives the state legislature greater control over election administration, and shortens runoff elections, among other provisions.
From the aspect of what the law does and how the left sees the law we have a very clear view of the problem. Anyone who deals in disinformation knows that there must be an element of truth in the beginning. In this case let’s take the first of the NYT points “Voters will now have less time to request absentee ballots.” This is true, it goes from six months to three months. Or 180 days to 90 days. The question now is does leaving a person only three months to request an absentee ballot disenfranchise them. Another example of misdirection is “Early voting is expanded in a lot of small counties, but probably not in more populous ones.” Note the phrase “…but probably not in more populous ones.” This is true throughout the argument from the left, not factual problems but perceived worst-case scenarios put forth as fact. This is true for many arguments the right issues as well. Conservatives must learn to exclude emotions from discussions and deal with facts.
The left has made much over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the 1965 Voting rights act declaring that the court has reversed the law and we are moving backward into a time of literacy tests and other voter suppression laws, the fact is that the SCOTUS did no such thing. In fact, according to the DOJ:
“On June 25, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to use the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act to determine which jurisdictions are subject to the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013). The Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of Section 5 itself. The effect of the Shelby County decision is that the jurisdictions identified by the coverage formula in Section 4(b) no longer need to seek preclearance for the new voting changes, unless they are covered by a separate court order entered under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act.”
“Section 5 was enacted to freeze changes in election practices or procedures in covered jurisdictions until the new procedures have been determined, either after administrative review by the Attorney General, or after a lawsuit before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to have neither discriminatory purpose or effect. Section 5 was designed to ensure that voting changes in covered jurisdictions could not be implemented until a favorable determination has been obtained.
The requirement was enacted in 1965 as temporary legislation, to expire in five years, and applicable only to certain states. The specially covered jurisdictions were identified in Section 4 by a formula. The first element in the formula was that the state or political subdivision of the state maintained on November 1, 1964, a “test or device,” restricting the opportunity to register and vote. The second element of the formula would be satisfied if the Director of the Census determined that less than 50 percent of persons of voting age were registered to vote on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 percent of persons of voting age voted in the presidential election of November 1964. Application of this formula resulted in the following states becoming, in their entirety, “covered jurisdictions”: Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia, in addition, certain political subdivisions (usually counties) in four other states (Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, and North Carolina were covered. It also provided a procedure to terminate this coverage”
In short what the decision said was the data being used was 50 years old and if congress wanted to continue to enforce this section, they would need to update the data, which they did not. The House did pass, along partisan lines, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act known as HR 4 in August 24, 2021. As stated above the original Voting Rights Act of 1965 was intended to be temporary and expire in five years. Let’s see what would trigger federal interference in the new law.
Any state that has had 15 or more voting rights violations within the last 25 years.
Any state that has had 10 or more voting rights violations and at least 1 of those violations were committed by the state itself (as opposed to a jurisdiction within the state) within the last 25 years.
Any subdivision in a state that has had 3 or more voting rights violations within the last 25 years would also be subject to the requirement.
We now go from a prescriptive law that was intended to last five years to a punitive law that lets the federal government look back 25 years.
The conservative view if this is that it is an intrusion of the Federal Government into what is inherently and constitutionally a power that is reserved for the States. What many fail to understand is that other then Presidential, all elections are State based and controlled. Yes, all members of the House and Senate reside in Washington and make federal law. They still however represent their States or Districts not the nation as a whole. There is an escape clause for the Federal government to step in as needed. This is found in Article I, Section 4, Clause 1 of the constitution:
‘The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.’
This does not give the congress unlimited powers over State election laws. The voting rights act of 1965 was an example of Congress acting for the good of the nation against State laws that were without a doubt in violation of the Constitution as well as an insult to the values of the United States. Most of the time when a state election law is taken to task it is done by the Supreme Court. A case in point is its 2015 decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The State legislature objected to the validity of the Commission and its redistricting. The commission was established by ballot initiative and the court held that the Arizona constitution allowed the people to make laws as if they were the legislature and therefore did not violate Article 1.
So, what is the difference with the new law and past laws. For one it allows the Feds to look back 25 years to determine if any laws had been broken. This means had a law been broken but corrected, the Feds still have the authority to use that violation to bring the entire state election process under federal control. In rejecting sections of the 1965 law the Court found that the data being used was 50 years old and instructed the legislature to correct that. The correction is to use 25-year-old data. If this law is ever passed, we will see how the court handles it.
As we begin the third year of the #Covid-19 pandemic we continue to face the problem of getting consistent and believable information to the public. To start, I’m fully vaccinated and wear a mask when in a crowd. I do not do this because the government says so, but because it is the prudent thing to do. How do I react to those who choose not to? I don’t. It is, in my opinion, personal preference. Wearing a mask does not protect others, it will only protect you from becoming infected, same for the #vaccination. I’m not sure how effective the vaccine is but at the least it should be considered chicken soup, couldn’t hurt.
Getting to the root cause of those who do not wish to wear masks or get vaccinated is a little difficult. Coming as no surprise to anyone the American people are becoming more divided, and it would appear the middle is shrinking as the extremes get further apart. How this is manifesting itself is that on the one side we see a belief that the central government should be in control of all things and everybody. It is this collectivist concept that see the need for mandates. On the other side we see a hatred of the central government and suspicion of any regulations that come out of it.
The first, driven by a recent philosophy that, for lack of a better term, has sprung from the concept of socialism. This belief has been inculcated into the system by academics and mass media. The second goes back to enlightenment philosophy of the individual as the center of power. The United States was founded on the second.
The desire to force the population to bend to one way of thinking is opposed by the desire to resist a central control. While both sides have legitimate arguments, both sides have staked out extreme positions and have dug in. On the extremes we have “Do as your told our we are all going to die,” vs “Statistically, I have little chance of dyeing so why chance what I think is a dangerous alternative.”
There was a time that there could be discussion and compromise. Today however all we have is emotion and anger. Let’s try and return to a time of logic and reason. PleaseTHINK how your actions affect others and use facts to make critical decisions.
Recently President Joe Biden remarked that the US has no legal obligation to defend Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion. This may or may-not be true. In 1994 the US along with Russia and the UK signed what is known as “The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.” In this memorandum the signatories spelled out that the territorial integrity as well as political independence of Ukraine was guaranteed. These assurances were tested in 2014 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, support to rebel forces and annexation of Crimea, and were found wanting.
The agreement is not a Treaty, it provisions are void of any legal provisions. Following the Russian invasion the Obama administration did very little more then raise diplomatic concerns. The Trump administration increased support to Kyiv through the transferal of Javelin anti-tank missiles and other military equipment. While fighting continues in the heavily Russian region known as Donbas the world ahs lost interest, until now.
Today few in the west believe there can be a new Pan-European war, however history tells us otherwise. Russia has been testing western resolve for years not only in Ukraine but in Georgia and by pushing the cyber envelope. The west has become complacent in its ways and more concentrated on its ideological differences. Russia on the other hand has been busy laying the groundwork for a new Russian empire. Putin himself declared the fall of the Soviet Union a mistake.
How long can we ignore Russian and Chinese aggression before we realize it is to late. Had we called Hitler prior to the Sudetenland debacle. Had we faced up to Japanize actions in China and elsewhere, would history be different or a little less bloody. Had we stood up to despots in the past would we have learned. Can we stop Putin by publicly threatening him with economic sanctions? The clear answer is no. Sanctions have almost never worked on any country and they certainly will not work on Russian leadership.
The Fact is by calling Putin out like Biden did it is more likely Russia will invade Ukraine. While militarily strong the west has shown no true desire or will to use that military. Activity in the Middle East never raised to the level that would impress Putin or his generals. The exact opposite is true, what we have shown is, pushed hard and we leave.
We may learn from the cold war days, the Berlin Brigade was out in place as a trip wire. Could the same thing work in Ukraine? A small contingent of US forces placed on the ground opposite of the Russian forces would mean to invade would require a direct confrontation with the US and NATO. It might if Putin can be convinced that the West would respond militarily. Unfortunately, that is a big if.
In today’s Washington Post are front page headlines exalting President Biden for finally getting the infrastructure bill passed. In the stories it rarely mention that it was only passed with Republican Party support. When the news media does mention the 13 Republican members, who did cross over, it about other Republicans attacked them as RINOs, helping to expand socialist agendas. Infrastructure support is a legitimate role for government, both State and Federal. I do not agree with everything in the bill, such as funding electric charging stations. Things such as this are best left to private industries. This can be handled better though tax incentives for say existing gas stations to put in charging stations. The original bill sailed through the Senate as a bipartisan action with both parties backing it.
The true story here, and one that should be at the center of any discussion, is that Biden did not win. Pelosi did not win, the Democrats did not win, this was a win for both the people and the Republicans. How is this a win for the Republicans? Ignoring the rhetoric from the extreme right Biden and Pelosi have lost control of their party and will need to deal with the Republicans for future legislation. What should be pointed out to the people is that the extreme right, the so-called Progressive wing, was willing to let the country suffer in order to get their side a victory for social programs few in the population want.
Infrastructure is not a Biden cause, but a national one. President Trump and others have all tried. The Biden initiative was his build back better debacle, which the left tried to pass and could not even get it to a vote. The blockage to that bill is the Progressives not the Republicans. By ensuring that the two bill are not joined the Republicans got the needed legislation passed knowing that the other will never make it passed the Senate.
Using true conservative values we declare this as a win for the individual over big government.
Just so you know I live in Virginia and voted for Youngkin. Having said that I wish to opine on the recent analysis of the Virginia election as well as the New Jersey gubernatorial election and others. My political philosophy is conservative, and I distance that from Republican party ideology.
Many on the left have blamed the loss on several different points. Many say it is the arguments over “Critical Race Theory” being taught in schools. Others blame the low popularity of President Biden while others still point out that traditionally the governorship in Virginia has changed to the opposite party of the person in the White House. The right on the other hand claims it as a victory over big government and a return of the voice of the people. Of course, both are, in some ways correct.
The fact of the matter is that Terry McAuliffe ran a terrible campaign. He was tone deaf to the needs and desires of the “other Virginia.” By that I mean the political center. Youngkin ran on issues that resonated with the voter, Taxes, Education, and public safety. McAuliffe on the other a campaign based on Democratic National Committee talking points. In his concession statement it shows he did not learn the lesson:
“While last night we came up short, I am proud that we spent this campaign fighting for the values we so deeply believe in. We must protect Virginia’s great public schools and invest in our students. We must protect affordable health care coverage, raise the minimum wage faster, and expand paid leave so working families have a fighting shot. We must protect voting rights, protect a woman’s right to choose, and, above all else, we must protect our democracy. While there will be setbacks along the way, I am confident that the long-term path of Virginia is toward inclusion, openness, and tolerance for all. “
What killed McAuliffe campaign was not just the gaffe of saying that parents should not have a say in their children’s education but the implication that the government knows best. I think this along with campaigning on issues that did not resonate with the people indicated to the people just where and what the Democratic party has become.
The killer in NJ was the current governor saying that if you did not like taxes NJ was not the state for you. While NJ is still a toss-up, if Murphy wins it will be by around one percent. Polls just two weeks ago had him leading by 20%.
I caution the right however not to leap for too much joy but to understand this is not Democrats abandoning their party or more people joining the Republican band wagon, but just Mr. and Ms. Average declaring enough.
I would suggest that while party loyalty is hardening at the extremes, it is likely softening in the middle. These elections were decided by very slim margins. There is an old axiom in politics that any Democrat and any Republican can expect to win 40% of the vote, it is the middle 20% that decide the outcome. Democrats must understand that politics is local, and Republicans must understand that the people do expect a certain level of government in their lives.
Elections will be decided by local economic issues, and its time our political leaders understood that. It is also time for those talking heads who analyze the elections to understand that it is not race, gender and education that is the sole determinate in how someone votes, but self-interest.