The Rise and Rise of the Left and Big Government, and What Can Be Done, by John Hayward. An important article.
The rise and fall of the Tea Party during the Obama years was a seismic event on a scale not appreciated until much later: a mortal blow to the “leave me alone” libertarian streak of conservative and independent voters. It was a tragedy, and perhaps inevitable.
The outcome was [that …] people grudgingly accepted the Leviathan State as a permanent feature of life and realized they had to fight for some measure of control over a vast statist machine that could not be dismantled.
Fighting for a piece of the statist pie became a defensive action, a battle for survival against left-wing ideology on the march during the Obama years. People learned that if they didn’t form up into political battalions and press their grievances, they would be trampled.
It’s not the battle I wanted to fight. For a brief, shining moment, it looked like the Tea Party revolution would threaten the existence of the statist machine. A mass movement realized the state can only grow by diminishing the people in countless ways, by eating their freedom.
But the outcome of that moment is impossible to deny. The message was sent that there was no going back to the days of limited, responsible government. Washington D.C. is what matters. Talk of reducing its wealth and power became a joke.
The collectivization of culture accelerated during the Obama years too. The strategy for winning the gay marriage fight became the road map for every increasingly absurd cultural battle. Persuading the people is much harder than persuading the elite and marginalizing dissenters.
Many right-leaning and independent voters emerged from the Obama years viewing traditional conservative and libertarian arguments as academic debates that had little relevance to the brutal landscape of power and domination they saw all around them.
No small part of that grim mindset came from watching Big Business move decisively and openly to the Left. It was always there, mind you — Big Biz is an eager customer for the influence sold by Big Gov — but now it’s out in the open. Crony capitalism won.
Traditional conservatism rightly touts the dynamism of free market competition and entrepreneurship, but people look to the boardrooms of the biggest high-tech corporations and see little but cronies and control freaks who see their market power as a tool to reshape society.
The breathtaking cynicsm of Obama’s re-election campaign, and the fact that it WORKED against hapless Mitt Romney, completed the seismic shift of the conservative electorate. It became profoundly allergic to candidates that looked like genteel, principled losers.
Do you want to know why so many GOP candidates who looked good on paper fell so quickly during the 2016 primary? I’ll tell you why: it’s because primary voters could readily imagine the lovely, principled, dignified concession speeches they would give.
The Obama years were the final steps in a long march toward statism that began as soon as Reagan left office. GOP voters no longer want to hear fascinating lectures and intriguing historical perspectives from candidates. They want to know what you’ll do for their lives RIGHT NOW.
And they want to know you’ll fight to win, no matter how many hits you take or how bloody your knuckles get. Republicans would do well to remember that as this cheesy impeachment push from the Dems rolls on. Your voters are looking for NOT-ROMNEY. Their way of life is at stake.
Dems see every election as a step toward changing society. Their last president vowed to “fundamentally transform” America, and he did. The people who made a real effort to stop him didn’t find enough battle-ready allies in the GOP. They found lots of grifters and opportunists.
The only force in politics that took the Tea Party seriously was the Democrats that worked with brutal efficiency to marginalize and destroy it. Many Repubs blanched when they realized these guys were serious about derailing the gravy train. Others just saw pockets to be picked.
So here we are with most of the Right’s electorate bitterly accepting that small-government conservative revolution is impossible and most of the GOP doesn’t really want it anyway. The moment for idealism has passed, so stop talking (and fundraising) as conservative idealists.
Right now, this is a battle to thwart the marching army of the Left and hold some ground. Hopefully we can rebuild idealism from there, but we have to win those bitter trench wars first. This is an hour when you prove you’re good at either fighting or negotiating surrender.
Glenn Reynolds, on the pivot from Romney to Trump:
When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly.