Warm greetings to all within earshot. After watching my last video diatribe, I decided I had a face for radio… well, in the very least I discovered (to my horror) how goofy my facial expressions look when I am trying to be serious. I will have to work on that in a mirror or something. In the meantime, I also am fully aware that my less than quick wit doesn’t really suit me for live radio either. So, instead, I am experimenting with this audio essay format. It is probably doomed to failure in this Age of Constant Distraction and Visual Addiction.
Though, I do hear there are some new-fangled things called podcasts that seem to be kind of popular. I kid… only slightly. I don’t know the first thing about trying to set-up an actual podcast that would be publicly available for streaming (and free for me to put out there). I did once (too many years ago) play at being hip by trying to use BlogTalkRadio… but I never quite got the hang of it. As I said, live radio is not so much something I seemed to excel at, so instead, I will experiment with this form for a bit.
My aim is to produce a semi-regular 15 minutes of thoughts and post (along with the “script” I was working from) on my Blog page. The 15 minutes is arbitrary…and I can offer no guarantee that I will have the discipline or skill to stick to that…but, we will give it the old college try!
My post today is being written on the day after what will probably go down in history as Super Doomsday. Donald Trump racked up some yuuuge wins and forced Marco Rubio out of the race while also turning John Kasich into Don Quixote. No seriously….someone should truly explain to him how far behind he is. It seems he is hoping for a contested convention and that he will magically become the consensus candidate. Wishful thinking is one thing, delusion is quite another.
Ted Cruz remains…a distant second to Trump right now, in both delegate count as well as total popular vote so far. While the popular vote doesn’t actually count for anything, I like to use it as a barometer of a candidate’s actual support. Right now, Trump has sucked up approximately 37% of the popular vote while Cruz has close to 27%. Rubio finished his campaign after netting 17%…and for what it is worth, Kasich is continuing his own campaign after compiling 13% of the vote so far. So far the non-Trump vote stands at around 63%.
More math for ya… (Microsoft Excel makes armchair statisticians of us all, apparently). By my calculations, Trump needs roughly 68% of all remaining delegates to clinch the nomination. Cruz needs 97%…and Kasich cannot get there…even with common core math, you cannot win 128% of something.
It is “possible” Trump could get there, but it would be highly difficult for him. Realistically, Cruz has no chance of getting there either. So, we may very well be looking at our first true contested convention since the modern primary system was developed in the 70’s.
But, to deny Trump the nomination, when he will probably come within 100 delegates (if not less) of 1,237 goes against the very grain of a Conservative’s sense of fair play. For all intents and purposes, it is too late to stop Trump. That doesn’t mean anyone else should drop out. Rather, I think we need Cruz and Kasich to stay in to make Trump fight for every last delegate and to send him a message that he does not have majority support.
We may have to live with the Tyranny of the Plurality this time around. But, Conservatives must begin laying the groundwork for a massive grass roots effort. Common Sense says that Trump would get crushed by Hillary in a general election. But, because Trump is Trump, and the world has descended into a dark kind madness, the real prediction is, “Who Knows?” Trump has turned real life into an absurd circus. So we now actually live in la-la-land instead of just visiting there when we eat too many spicy burritos before bedtime. For those of us able to take a step back and look at everything objectively, it honestly does feel as though we are taking Crazy Pills. Bizzaro World has taken over our reality and there is no quick and easy way to shove it back to its own forsaken dimension.
Rather, it will take time and patience… which happen to be the two most powerful weapons in a Conservative’s arsenal.
So, we may end up with President Hillary or President Trump. Ah well… that is simply the way of the world. Neither is better or worse than the other. The country will still exist after 4 years of Hillary and the country will still exist after 4 years of Trump. We will be in a lot worse shape in 2020, of course. But, perhaps that year will be like its namesake and offer a vision of clarity for the future.
For that to happen, as I said, Conservatives must start working now. We have lost the battle for the hearts and minds of a plurality of Republican voters. It’s a setback, to be sure, but a temporary one.
I have been hashing out this kind of thinking here and there over the past couple years… so, I remain convinced that the right way forward is to communicate the ideals of conservatism – as can be seen in the influence of Edmund Burke and the writings of Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet – and to do so in a way that actually reaches people where they are. Far too often, the best explanations and discussions of conservatism are simply too academic. Too highbrow and egg-heady. There’s a place and a real need for that, of course. Any movement that does not have an intellectual mooring is doomed to whimsical flights of stupidity based on finger-in-the-wind thinking.
But, there is a true need for people to bring Conservatism down from the clouds and out of the realm of the mind and into people’s practical lives. I’m not talking about dumbing anything down. I’m simply talking about taking the theoretical and using it to help the Average Joe make sense of his life. I am talking about connecting with people on a personal level. And that kind of leads me to segue into a brief eulogy for the late 2016 campaign of Marco Rubio.
Senator Rubio was the original Tea Party Senator. He rode in on a grass roots wave in 2010 and immediately ran into the dead end of Washington DC politics. He perceived a coming break between his party’s powers-that-be and the grass roots, rank and file Republicans who sent him to DC. He began to build a strategy to try and bridge that gap. The Immigration Bill was the failed first fruits of that pursuit. It cost him politically and drove a larger wedge between Republican elites and everyday GOP’ers.
But, somehow, Rubio recovered enough to take his bridge the gap strategy into phase two. That is how he saw and ran his campaign….courting the elites while connecting with the people and espousing Conservative principles and prescriptions to help fix the mess we are in. An interesting note, Rand Paul tried the same bridge the gap strategy, but coming from a libertarian-lite…or conservatarian prospective. Both Paul and Rubio failed, but Rubio pulled it off much better for much longer.
I think Rubio took the conservative approach of trying to fix things from within, rather than destroying existing orders and starting over (which, quite frankly, is a Progressive mindset if there ever was one).
Ted Cruz, for his part, took the opposite strategy and more or less set himself up as the enemy of the party Establishment, fighting tooth and nail to try and burn it down. I suppose his strategy was a bit more predictive of the national mood than Rubio’s or Paul’s… and Cruz might very well had been able to ride an angry wave to more success, had it not been for Trump-dor coming in and burninating conservatism before he sets off to burninate the country. (And if you don’t get the reference there, look up Trogdor and, well…. You just kind of have to go with it, but believe me….those of us who are of a certain age, say 28 to 38, still find it hilarious. We’re weird like that.)
Rubio mis-judged the 2016 Republican electorate. And his campaign made many, many mistakes. There was a near arrogant belief that he could transcend –well, just about everything and convince people to buy into Conservatism simply by using his persuasiveness, likability, and general political talents. Bad decisions and a lack of flexibility led to his downfall. But, as I have listened to him speak from his heart over the past few days, I truly appreciate his approach. They say that if you want to know what is in a man’s heart, you have to squeeze him and see what comes out. Rubio has just gone through an agonizing and terribly depressing squeezing…and what has come out is honest, genuine care and concern for this country.
His failure this time around is not just his. It is a failure of conservatism that Ted Cruz will also share in. The plain truth is that we conservatives have a lot of work to do.
We need to figure out how to convince those who have abandoned conservatism in favor of populism that their new path will not lead them to what they need or want. More importantly, we need to convince Christians who have abandoned their faith and jumped on the TrumpTrain that there are far more important things than fighting to the death for a way of life and the desire for comfort and worldly success.
Does pure, historical, traditional conservatism have all the answers? Heck no. The bible does, though. And a life lived in Christ is the answer to anything and everything. It has been true in the far distant past that historical conservatism was based on biblical principles…not culture wars, but a Christian worldview. So, I would suggest that conservatism is the best political vehicle to espouse a Christian way of thinking and living. Of course, at the end of the day…any system of thinking that we may come up with must take a back seat when there are conflicts with biblical living.
Back to Senator Rubio, I believe he is sincere in his faith. And I have no reason to doubt that Ted Cruz is also sincere. I think they have chosen different ways to live out their faith in the public arena…and that is OK. But, Senator Rubio’s style of Christianity both the way he speaks of it and seemingly the way he lives it out while also giving voice to an old-school conservative philosophy are a bit more my cup of tea.
Time will tell if Senator Rubio has a political future, but I believe he has a huge role to play for this country no matter what. I would urge him to get back to basics and really work on hammering out a conservative philosophy that can be communicated to all people. He’s very good at the communicating part. But, I think he has the ability to go deeper than that…to really be a part of a larger movement.
And with that, I offer up a call to arms for all like-minded conservatives. The Populists and Nationalists have won the day and may very well take over and completely transform the Republican Party (and, of course, the Establishment will simply go along with them in order to keep a pinky on the levers of power).
That will leave us conservatives quite out in the wilderness. Abandoned by our party and certainly in minority status. Caught between Populists on our right and Progressives on our left… we have an impossible task before us. It’s probably an unwinnable war…but that’s why we must fight it.
Incrementally, person by person, let’s win over people by demonstrating the value of historical conservatism in everyday life.
Figuring out exactly how to do that is why I strongly urge all of us to start gathering and talking and working things out. We may, indeed, be forced to create a third party sometime down the line. But that cannot be a kneejerk decision. We’ve got to lay down the roots first and see if we can make that tree grow.
In the meantime, I publicly call out both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to help us. They don’t need to lead anything and we don’t necessarily need them as our faces and voices at this juncture. I simply want them to be a part of these discussions in their local communities first, and then on a larger level. They are slightly differing voices and I think that’s what we need as we move forward. We conservatives are not monolithic and I think we each bring a unique perspective to the dialogue.
So, get together with folks in your local circle who are equally concerned and start hashing things out. Discuss things you can do in your small communities. And then expand your circles and group with other circles and work to provide solutions in ever expanding levels of life…community, city, county, state, and eventually nationally.
The Conservative Cause is underway, will you help?