The bedrock of winning elections at every major level of politics is building coalitions of supporters for whom you can count on to head to the polls and cast a vote for you.Â Especially in a country as large and non-monolithic as ours, coalition building on some level is a requirement for victory and often explains why politicians are so willing to speak often, but say very little.
A close look at President Obamaâ€™s effort in this area reveals that he has elevated this process to an art formâ€”but far from art, what he has created is an ugly picture beneficial to himself, but terrible for America.
While the Supreme Courtâ€™s ruling on Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act certainly carries the negatives of energizing Republicans and leaving him to defend a tax increase, it is foolish not to acknowledge the potential political windfall that he has unleashed.Â He has managed to cement a new member in his group of coalitionsâ€”a group with millions of potential voters.
As we have discussed here before, for decades the Democrat party in America has used the social safety net and the laws of this country to build a formidable coalition of voters.Â The newest members are the up to 33 million people who will now be guaranteed health insurance by virtue of being a breathing American.Â For the first time in history an American president will be able to say â€˜if you vote Democrat you will have (possibly for free) health insurance, and if you vote Republican you will notâ€™, a potent motivator.
The addition of the health care voter coalition can now be added to the two others that he has bolstered recently, in what may be the most cynical and politically motivated two months in American presidential history.
First it was going on record with the news that he had â€œevolvedâ€ on the issue and now supports gay marriage. This was followed by a surprise move to essentially remove the possibility of deportation for young illegal aliens.Â While the gay community is relatively small, bolstering his claim to the Hispanic vote was a huge benefit to his Electoral College math.Â Early next week, we will have a story detailing how the health care law really has more to do with sealing up the Hispanic vote than anything else.
Besides the Latino vote, Obamacare allows the Democrat Party to further stack the deck against Republicans as they try to implement the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reforms in the Paul Ryan budget over the next few years.Â Top Democrat strategists have to be secretly celebrating, knowing full well that the already difficult politics of reforming these programs just got down right suicidal now that 16 million more people have been added to the rolls.
The Presidents relentless coalition building will continue from now until November.Â With the economy not in position to rebound at all, and the two major initiatives of his Presidency either unpopular (health care) or ineffectual (the stimulus), he really has no other choice.Â I am predicting that sometime in the next few months he will make a shocking public policy jester to the unions, who remain the last sizeable group he has not tried to directly entice.
Though it goes against the grain, at this point I would consider advising Mitt Romney to not moderate on illegal immigration and stay as far right on this issue as he was during the presidential primary.Â The reasons for this are several.
First, it is the law and the right thing to doâ€”we simply cannot be the only nation on earth that doesnâ€™t enforce its borders.Â Though many are quick to forget it, this is a message that resonates with nearly all Republicans, and millions of Independents.Â Second, there is simply no way for Republicans to match what Democrats can offer.Â While Republicans and Latinos have large overlaps in religious beliefs and family values, Democrats are in essence offering citizenship, free or nearly free health care, and an ever-expanding web of financial assistance that delivers from birth to death.
It may be high time to face the factsâ€”winning over the Hispanic community is not going to happen anytime soon, and the more Republicans bend and soften on these issues the more they enrage fellow Republicans and appear hypocritical to Independents.
The irony here is that many of the Republicans who have been hesitant to support Mitt Romney, largely due to their belief that he tries to be all things to all people, are the same people that are urging him to cow tow to the Hispanic vote and moderate his position on illegal immigration.
There are still tens of millions of Americans who still believe strongly that we are a nation of laws.Â Should Mitt Romney take a stand on this issue and add this too often ignored group to his list of coalitions, it may end up being a net positive in November.
The post Healthcare Fallout: Obamaâ€™s Growing List of Coalitions appeared first on The Conservative Reader.
In a Representative Democracy, voting for a particular political candidate or philosophy is the most impactful way a citizenry can change their country.Â While the â€œwhoâ€ a person votes for is what actively shapes a Republic, digging into the motivation behind that vote is far more telling, and ultimately reveals far more about ourselves and where we are heading.
As government involvement in Americans day-to-day lives has expanded, the possible motivating factors at play driving each citizens vote has also expandedâ€”and the effects of this have been devastating.Â Boiled down to the most basic level, there are two motivations that influence a political voteâ€”you can vote in what you believe is in the best interest of the country, or you can vote in your own personal interest.
In past generations, before the American government was so deeply involved in the giving business, the vast majority of our population largely had only the best interest of the country as a whole to consider.Â Unfortunately, today nearly half of our citizens have the legitimate option of choosing to vote for their own personal gain at the ballot box.
Not Your Grandfatherâ€™s Democratic Party
Though it sounds crass, the modern day Democratic Party has evolved into a selfish group of constituencies that have something to gain in voting for Democrats and against Republicans.Â While the most obvious entries on the listÂ involve financial assistance from the economic safety netâ€”unending unemployment benefits, housing subsidies, food stamps, Title 19, etc.â€”in recent years this list has grown to include several other things.
Hispanic Americans can now vote Democrat to ultimately allow their friends and relatives who are here illegally become citizens.Â Gay Americans can now vote Democrat to gain the right to marry and the economic advantages that come with it.Â Union members can vote Democrat in order to receive more favorably negotiated salaries and benefits at the bargaining table.Â Those Americans who, for whatever reason, did not have health insurance can now vote a straight Democratic ticket in hopes of retaining it, since they have now been given it.
In large part this massive constituency of selfishly driven voters explains what the mind-boggling national debt has become so out of control.Â Far more than any other issue, not running annual deficits and paying down the national debt are two things that are in the best interest of the countryâ€”and not necessarily in the best interest of each individual American.Â Â The polling data bears this out showing that, even with the national debt north of $16 trillion, only 66% of Democrats cite lowering this number as a major priority.
Contrarians to this line of thinking will make the charge that Republicans vote in their own best interest by voting for politicians who believe in lowering their taxes.Â As usual this charge leaves out one unavoidable factâ€”that the money taken by the government for taxes is earned, and it belonged to the individual in the first place.Â Put simply, voting to keep more of your own money and not giving it away to a largely wasteful entitlement state (especially one with a progressive tax code) is not a greed driven motivationâ€”rather it is a logical one.
What It Means
The selfishly motivated voter is the single biggest reason why European style democracies are self-feeding, self-defeating, unworkable, and unsustainable.Â Yet in spite of the real-time evidence playing out across the Atlantic, a near majority of Americans refuse to change course.Â Increasingly, it is hard not to assume a major reason why American voters are unwilling to do so is that they would be putting themselves out to do so.
The only way to break this cycle is for the Democrat Party to shift away from promising things to an ever-widening group of voters.Â The sad truth though is that they have built a political base only able to stand upright through some combination of deficit spending, large tax increases, and social pandering.Â They have become so politically dependent on various sub-groups that making decisions for the economic good of the country, even if they wanted to, would quickly result in them paying a huge political price and losing elections.
Whenever Americans choose to overlook our national interest and instead vote in favor of their own, neither is well served.
The post In the Age of the Selfish Voter appeared first on The Conservative Reader.
This is the second installment of a two-part interview, to read part one click here.
Governor Branstadâ€™s legacy-minded education reform proposal has struggled to draw support since its release on October 3rd, and you can count Mr. Landon as one of those lacking in enthusiasm.
A core tenet of Landonâ€™s philosophy is local control. The benefit he sees in applying this principle to education is that the parents of each child, and the teachers in the actual class room, will have their voices better heard and their concerns more directly dealt with,
â€œMy first reaction (to the governorâ€™s plan) is that it drives us towards more state control and more mandates on levels of performance. I think that we are going to have to reform the system, but I think that instead of less local control we need to focus on more local control. I think we need to make sure that the families, the school teachers, and the administrators all have their say on how this should be done. I really believe that parents and school teachers, the people who are in that sector, know the best for their kidsâ€.
The Democrats failure last session to construct Iowaâ€™s insurance exchange program in accordance with Obama Care means that a nasty, brutal fight awaits next year. By all accounts this will be one of the three most high-profile issues debated by the Iowa Legislature in 2012, and one that ultimately drew fellow candidate Stacey Rogers (R-Ankeny) into the race. Landon, for one, would have voted no last year on SF 404 and sounds ready to engage in the fight,
â€œWhat would guide me is local control. The rights of District 37 residents and the rights of Iowans have to come first. Anything thatâ€™s done has to be for their benefit and their economic interests. And frankly, I view Obama Care as unconstitutional from the get-go. I am not in favor of taking care of this through the government because they (the people) will not be taken care of the way they should be.â€
On Illegal Immigration
â€œI am a proponent of legal immigration. It is probably not that big of an issue in this particular district, but there are areas in Iowa where it is. As a state issue I would say that the Federal government, like in so many other things, has failed. I am against the taxpayer having to pay for the upkeep of people who have come here illegally.â€
Barring an unexpected Federal resolution to this problem Landon indicated a willingness to possibly engage at the state level, â€œIf the Federal government wonâ€™t do it and they are going to continue to let the border be porous, from the standpoint of public safety and who is going to protect the taxpayer, there has to be a process that protects you the citizen.â€
On Varnum (Gay Marriage)
â€œThat should have been decided by the voters. That is a monumental shift in society and voters need to have their say. If a constitutional amendment is the only way for voters to get their voice heard on it, then we need to do it.â€
On The Tea Party
In response to a question seeking his thoughts on the Tea Party and if he would consider himself a â€œTea Party-ishâ€ candidate, he answered, â€œI havenâ€™t found anything in their platform that offends me or that I take issue with. I am for individual rights. I think people can make their own decisions and government would be well advised to pay attention to that. Having said that, I am part of the process and a consensus builder, I just donâ€™t think you can go out there as a maverick and get a whole lot done. What I want is for Lincoln and Douglas townships to flourish and for Ankeny to flourish. The only way I can do that is by being an effective voice, and the only way to be an effective voice is to be a part of the process.â€
Race Analysis and Summary
The contest for the Republican nomination in House District 37 will be of elevated importance as the probability is high that the nominee will ultimately be the Representative. Due to the fact that the district has a 2,400 advantage in registered Republicans over registered Democrats in what is already shaping up to be a Republican wave year, it is likely that the nominee may run un-opposed. Even more likely is that if the Democrats do choose to field a candidate they will not bother to recruit a top-notch challenger or commit substantial resources to the effort.
In what could end up being a crowded field of Republicans, John Landon is a serious contender who will be in it for the long haul. He appears both fired up for the race and ready to put in the time and work that will be required to win the seat. The major pillars that his candidacy will be built on are: less intrusive government, more local control, simplicity in legislative solutions, sensitivity to Iowaâ€™s taxpayers, and a vehement opposition to unfunded mandates.
In particular, emphasizing that the failure to make budget cuts leads to higher taxes and a crusade against unfunded mandates could garner wide-spread appeal in District 37.
As his background suggests he is clearly positioned in the race as the â€œbusiness candidate.â€ While often times the â€œbusiness candidateâ€ moniker is attached to folks who have had professional success, itâ€™s worth noting that the business-like way Mr. Landon breaks down large issues as he thinks through them suggests that he would translate these skills to governance should he be elected.
Though we are early in the process, as Republicans begin to look at the field they will find much to like about John Landon as a person and as a candidate.
Kathie Obradovich’s Sunday Des Moines Register column this week provided an interesting question for us: can we reasonably interpret the results of the retention vote beyond it’s singular purpose?
As Kathie tells us, there are a number of perspectives pressing on this ballot item, although many would point directly at the Varnum v. Brien decision. And as Kathie also notes, if any or all of the three judges up for retention fail to be retained, the decision will still be in place and “same-sex marriage will still be legal [emphasis mine] in Iowa…”.
Mind you, “legal” in this case really goes as far as the administrative authorities accept it to be. It is still open to debate among many (myself included) whether the government administration is obliged to enact a judicially declared “law”. What makes the court’s action “legal” is more the acceptance of those who actually are expected to follow the law created by the legislature and approved by the Governor.
Although it is safe to say that the tensions that keep our society in balance are those that recognize the rule of law and and the overall desire to maintain order. It is in our self-interest to maintain order or we would drop into chaos. But it is dangerous for us to accept idly the unlawful action of a court when it, unelected and perceived to be the ultimate authority, decides to go beyond its bounds.
Regardless of what society as a whole is determined to do about marriage, it is wrong to allow the court to own the universal remedy as it has taken to doing in this case.
It is foolish to watch as the court takes power it does not and should not have. If we stand idly by, we allow tyranny to grow. It could take years or decades, but doing nothing will fuel its growth.
What is the People’s remedy? There are several (truly more than those listed here):
The People can demand that the Administration ignore the court’s order.
The People can change the Constitution to clarify the definition and scope of marriage.
The People can demand that the Legislature change the judicial selection process.
The People can change the Constitution to provide stricter constraints on the role of the Judiciary.
And the People can refuse to retain the judges who have tried to usurp power.
Or the People can just sit back and let the courts continue to amass power until we can no longer recognize our great state.
The retention vote process is not just a rubber stamp. It is the People’s only direct role in a process that we mostly watch from a distance as others choose those who could, if allowed, rule over us. This is how we keep them in check.
What will the vote mean?
I don’t think it will be a mandate on marriage, although it might be fair to see it as one, as much is it will be a statement of who holds power in Iowa.
Let it be the People.
I attended this morning’s 2010 Republican Legislative Kickoff Breakfast. At least 200 people, including legislators, party leaders, lobbyists and candidates were in attendance. The event was opened by Jim Kurtenbach, Iowa Republican Party Co-chair. Brief speeches were given by:
- Steve King, US House District 5 Representative. Â Invocation and some comments. Â He acknowledged that the results of our work are in God’s hands.
- Linda Upmeyer , Iowa House Republican Whip. Â She reminded us to pray, work to get volunteers on campaigns, and raise the financial resources needed to win.
- Kraig Paulsen , Iowa House Republican Leader. Â He commented that he has a lot of love in his trunk, plus a few sticks of dynomite.
- Steve Kettering, Iowa Senate Republican Whip, Â He said “A comeback for Republicans is a comeback for all Iowans!”
- Paul McKinley, Iowa Senate Republican Leader. Â Paul related a story about meeting some US Department of Labor employees in New York who stayed at the Ritz Carlton at the government’s expense… their comment: “It’s a new day!”.
- Matt Strawn, Iowa Republican Party Chair. Â “Iowans have gotten a taste of what a Democrat dominated government is like” and “we have solutions”.
Through out the speeches, a consistent message of satisfaction that all Iowa Republicans in the 2009 voted consistently with the party, that we cannot support a budget that exceeds revenue, that we need to give Iowans the right to vote on the definition of Marriage, labor unions cannot be allowed to destroy Iowa businesses, and that Democrats are extremely vulnerable.
I was honored to sit next Royd Chambers from Sheldon, who was deployed with the Iowa Air National Guard to Kyrgyzstan during the 2009 session. I was also seated next to Bill Northey, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. I had a good chat with Bill about the upcoming budget work in his department, and it sounds like everyone is putting the nose to the grindstone!
Governor Branstad was there, as well as Bob Vander Plaats. I’m assuming the Rod Roberts and Chris Rants were also there, but I did not get a chance to see them. Other candidates that I happened to see included:
- George Eichhorn, running for Secretary of State
- Dave Funk, Brad Zaun (Iowa Senator from Urbandale), and Mark Rees, all three running for US House District 3
- Chris Reed and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, both running for US House District 2
I saw Dave Vaudt as well… Tom Latham was not able to attend the event.
Overall, the event was encouraging and a great opportunity to connect with folks I had not seen in a while. Â Although Republicans are in the minority, our legislators are ready to do the hard work of helping reduce unnecessary spending and fight for Iowans rights.