Liberal reflections on the causes of the Republicans’ defeat at the polls
The previous post described some conservatives’ reflections after their defeat at the polls. Liberals have also given some thought to the matter. Here are a few of their more creative suggestions.
So far most conservative analysis sticks with traditional explanations for defeat, like “insufficient purity” and “inadequate candidate and campaign staff.” Ann Coulter’s latest article gives us both:
They adored McCain at the Times! Does anyone here not see a cluster of bright red flags? … According to Brooks, the reason McCain lost was — naturally — that he ran as a conservative. If only presidential candidates would spurn polls, modern political history, evidence from campaign rallies, facts on the ground and listen to the wishful thinking of Times columnists!
If McCain lost because he ran as a conservative, then how come I knew McCain was going to lose before Brooks did? About the same time Brooks was touting McCain’s uncanny ability to attract independents, I was writing, accurately: “John McCain is Bob Dole minus the charm, conservatism and youth.”
Rush Limbaugh spoke more explicitly during his 24 October show: ”Good Riddance, GOP Moderates.” (For more on this subject see What happens to the Republican Party after the election?)
A few liberals attempt to help by suggesting that conservatives adopt a stronger explanation. Those quoted below provide creative variants of the Dolchstoss, the post-WWI German myth of betrayal. McCain’s reputation as an honorable man makes the standard “stab in the back” myth difficult to sell, so they devise a story to reconcile these two otherwise incompatible plot elements.
I’ve finally figured it out. John McCain long ago realized that the Republican Party is a festering carbunkle on the buttocks of America, and has set out to destroy it from within. And he’s done a masterful job of it. After he succeeds, he’ll explain it all to a bewildered but grateful America and be ever remembered as the bravest and boldest of heroes.
— Chuleton, a commentposted at Prof Brad Delong’s blogGrasping Reality with Both Hands, 13 October 2008.
In the same thread Piotr proposes another possible inspiration for McCain’s actions: the patriotic poem of “Konrad Wallenrod” by Adam Mickiewicz, set in 14th-century Lithuania. Mickiewicz wrote this in 1828, during the Polish uprisings against their Russian rulers. It tells the fictional story of Walter, a Prussian, who sought refuge in Grand Duchy of Lithuania, where he was reared among the people’s mortal enemies, the Order of Teutonic Knights, who becomes the order’s Grand Master by impersonating a Teutonic Knight Konrad Wallenrod and deliberately leads the Knights to military disaster. (description from Wikipedia).
Piotr’s speculation is, of course, absurd, relying on McCain reading 14th century Polish poetry. More likely is that McCain read the Lensman series of books by E. E. “Doc” Smith, more particularly Second Stage Lensman (1953). For those of you lacking a classical education, here is the Wikipedia entry — or (better yet) the plot summary from the back cover.
Kim Kinnison had the incredible assignment of infiltrating the inner circle of Boskone. His job was to become a Boskonian in every gesture, thought, and deed. He had to work himself up through the ranks of an alien enemy organization, into the highest echelons of power — until it was he who would be issuing the orders that would destroy his own civilization!
Interpreting this in today’s context will take much thought. Boskone is evil incarnate. In today’s world does that represent radical leftists, such as the “social Marxists” William Lind warns about (e.g., here). Or some more subtle and malign entity? We can only watch to see what explanation gains traction among conservatives.
A broader perspective
Zic, in a comment at Matthew Yglesias blog (28 October 2008), looks at the Republican Party’s history as an success — fulfillment, even — which also removes its reason for being.
Republican Party was born with the end of slavery, perhaps it will die with the election of the first African-American president.
The future of the GOP depends to a large extent on the narrative this nation adopts to explain its 2008 electoral defeat — and define its future. Almost anything becomes possible during a period of stress like that America now enters.
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Posts on the FM sites about American politics:
The USA *after* this financial crisis – part I, about politics, 13 October 2008
What happens to the Republican Party after the election?, 2 November 2008
America’s elites reluctantly impose a client-patron system, 5 November 2008
Immigration as a reverse election: our leaders get a new people, 6 November 2008
R.I.P., G.O.P. – a well-deserved end, 7 November 2008
America gets ready for new leadership (or is it back to the future?), 14 November 2008