About the Author
Lou Dobbs, currently the host of Fox Business News Lou Dobbs Tonight, is a legendary broadcaster, bestselling author and one of the most respected and insightful voices on politics, economics, society, and business. For three decades, Dobbs has brought an unwavering American perspective to the most important issues of our day. Born in Texas and currently living in New Jersey, Dobbs is the New York Times bestselling author of Exporting America, War on the Middle Class and Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Upheaval CHAPTER 1
CONSEQUENTIAL ELECTIONS 2014
So it has come to this. Barack Obama is a two-term president. A president who in his first term presided over one of the worst economies in American history, whose foreign policy was utterly incomprehensible, a leader who expressed contempt for the foundations of our free-enterprise, capitalist system now has three more years in which to either further America’s decline under his stewardship or truly reverse direction in his policies, as many of us expected he would in his first term.
It’s clear we can no longer truthfully say that each presidential election is the most important in our recent history. That would leave out some awfully important elections—midterm elections. Had not the Republicans won decisively in 2010, it is likely things would have been woefully different. Only the Tea Party in 2010 stood between this president and the full implementation of what I believe would have been disastrous consequences for the nation. Even though President Obama won a historic victory (yes, another one) in 2012, a Republican Congress also prevailed and has managed to blunt at least some of President Obama’s initiatives to expand without limit the size and power of our federal government. And, of course, 2012 lived up to its billing as the most important election in our history, although at times it seems Governor Mitt Romney had no idea how important the election was to him and to our nation. It mattered a lot. Mr. Obama’s victory put in place for the next four years:
· A government hostile to business
· A government hostile to free enterprise and innovation
· A government hostile to state and local governance
· A government enormously hostile to individual rights
Obamacare is a Frankenstein creation of a statist, socialist administration intent on raising taxes—taxes increasing now on those with higher income levels as well as small business owners. The national debt is rising, even as our rivals and enemies take unfair strategic advantage of a president and administration that seemingly do not understand economics, domestic public policy, or how to effectively pursue our national interests in a difficult, complex, and dangerous world.
It may be comforting to Republicans to consider Mr. Obama’s victory another “fluke.” But his 2012 victory was no fluke. Nor was it a stolen election. Were the polls “skewed”? It seems only the losers’ polls were skewed. Let’s be clear. Only the losers had the numbers wrong. Think about this number:
That is how many Americans decided to re-elect this president—about 51 percent of those who cast ballots across the country. Barack Obama was the first Democrat since FDR to win two popular majorities in a row. Mr. Obama won in places like Virginia and Florida, Nevada and Colorado, all critical swing states that might have gone for a Republican candidate. He dominated all of New England, and came closer than expected in Mississippi and South Carolina, where he won 43 percent and 44 percent of the vote respectively. The president won 71 percent of Hispanic voters, 93 percent of African-Americans, and 50 percent of Catholics. Adding insult to injury, Democrats picked up an improbable two seats in the United States Senate and eight seats in the House of Representatives.
The 2012 election wasn’t all that close. There was a lot of talk about the “enthusiasm gap” favoring Republicans, and somehow the GOP did manage to nominate a candidate who received almost one million more votes than John McCain in 2008. Obama had three and a half million fewer votes than in 2008. Sadly for Republicans, whatever enthusiasm gap there was, wasn’t sufficient to bridge the vote gap. Few in either party were enthusiastic about going to the polls and pulling the lever for their candidate. Given the mediocrity of the choices, who can blame them? What made the difference was a well-conceived, well-organized, well-managed campaign on one side and an unmitigated mess on the other.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. And Republicans had better hope that their party does exactly that. President Obama, David Axelrod, and David Plouffe turned out to be every bit as smart as they told us they were. Their campaign outstrategized, outorganized, outworked, and outclassed the Republicans at every turn. That’s the first unpleasant reality with which the Republicans have to come to terms. They need to grow their party. They need to get out the vote, and to do that, Washington Republicans had better get out of town as much as they can and get to know a lot of soon-to-be Republicans. This midterm will be all about hard work, reaching out to new GOP voters and getting them so excited they actually vote.
If Republicans haven’t been looking for and recruiting a dozen David Axelrods by now, people who know how to energize a base and get out their vote, then Republicans will see the same devastating results in 2014, and in 2016, as they did in 2012. I’m reluctantly complimenting the Democrats and I’m hoping Republicans have the humility and street smarts to do the same. Because the GOP must emulate Democratic success if they are to win anytime soon. Repeating one’s mistakes, one’s own stupidity, and ignoring cause and effect, is a sure path to even greater Republican frustration and continued failure.
The 2012 election wasn’t about the Democrats. It was supposed to be, of course. But it turned out to be about the Republicans and their failures of imagination and courage, and their reliance on an old-guard cadre of greedy strategists and fund-raisers who filled their pockets as they floated more empty rhetoric and broke more Republican hearts. The Republicans did all this to themselves in 2012, and will soon find out if they’ve done it again in 2014. And so will America.
The country needs a loyal opposition to the Democratic Party, a countervailing political organization to the Democrats, one that will stand in the way of the Democrats’ inexhaustible appetite for ever-bigger government, higher taxes, and less respect for the individual and his or her rights.
Republicans in Washington have often seemed to be as eager for tax hikes, bailouts, and corporate welfare as Democrats.
Herewith a short primer for Republicans who want to be something more than Democrat-lite coupled with lower taxes for corporations, lower taxes and fewer regulations for businesses:
RULE #1: REWARD SUCCESS, NOT FAILURE
In the private sector, if you run a business into the ground, you don’t tend to get rewarded with another CEO job. But not so in the Republican Party. Many of the people guiding Mitt Romney to defeat were the same people who in 2008 had helped John McCain run one of the worst imaginable presidential campaigns ever. Many of them had helped George W. Bush leave office with the lowest approval rating of any president in our history. You might have thought that these geniuses would be run out of Washington on a rail. Instead they’ve shown up again and again in the Republican Party. Why? One can only assume that it suits the Republican power elite to keep fools around who will do their bidding and forswear intellectual energy, originality, and political independence and integrity.
The Republicans are particularly gifted when it comes to recycling. By “recycling” I mean recycling the same leaders, the same consultants, the same pollsters, the same media advisors, and the same fundraisers election cycle after election cycle. It’s insanity. Pure insanity. A manager at your local 7-Eleven has a better track record of hiring responsible, competent people than some of these multimillion-dollar political campaigns.
Even the choice of Republican candidates presented to the GOP electorate was symptomatic of a lack of imagination. And what a study in recycling! Most of the candidates on the stage in 2012 had been in politics for years, some for decades. Yet the Republican Party struggled to convince voters that any of them was a candidate in the tradition of the Republican Party, or would prevail in the national contest with Barack Obama. And yet it was from this group of candidates that the party chose the one candidate who lost the last time to the guy who lost to Obama the first time. I realize that’s a tortured way to say that the Republicans selected Mitt Romney to challenge Barack Obama after Barack Obama had beaten the daylights out of John McCain, who had easily beaten Romney in the race for the 2008 Republican nomination. Somehow Republicans convinced themselves that Romney was a really good idea.
Washington doesn’t make a lot of sense to the rest of the country. But even by Washington standards, Republicans have to be considered particularly screwball. Going into the most important election in our history, which is always by definition the next election, how can it be that Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator John McCain appear on Sunday talk shows and cable news networks more than any other senators or congressmen? How is it that the Republicans who raised the most money in 2008 and lost were the ones who raised the most money in 2012, and yes, lost again? So I want to propose a rule for the Republicans to consider. Henceforth and forevermore Republicans will not invite back members of campaign teams, or candidates, who make careers out of losing. Is the Republican Party so agonizingly and pitifully bereft of talent that there is no one in their ranks who is original or fresh or new or deserving of the party’s support? I can think of a dozen likely candidates right now. I may not agree with all that any one of these candidates has to offer, but there is no question that Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Trey Gowdy, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, and Dr. Benjamin Carson are just a few names that the Republican Party should embrace.
RULE #2: IDEAS MATTER
Take a look at this number, this very big, Republican number:
That is how much money Republican-affiliated groups raised for the 2012 election. I’m talking about the Romney campaign, the Republican Party, and Mitt Romney’s Restore Our Future Super PAC combined. When you add in the numbers of the six largest Super PACs and outside funders, here’s what you get.
Americans for Prosperity
American Future Fund
Winning Our Future
Americans for Job Security
More than a billion dollars—a number that defies comprehension. It is also incomprehensible how much of that money was simply wasted. Television ads telling you why you shouldn’t vote for Barack Obama and why Mitt Romney was the bee’s knees. Now this is what Republicans across the country received in return for all that investment of big money, and lots of television time:
All that money bought nothing. The 2012 Republican campaign seemed at times utterly mindless. The Romney campaign was about money, invective, fear, and almost no discussion of ideas. The Romney campaign, and all who were making so much money from his candidacy, was bereft of imagination, and of new ideas. Ideas still matter in politics. Romney and his strategists, tacticians, and fundraisers had none. Not a single new idea with which to capture the attention and the hopes of Republican voters. Romney’s television ads, the Republican Party’s commercials, were all about full immersion. But the candidate himself was not only not immersed in the politics and the contest, his interest at times seemed to amount to no more than an infrequent furtive glance at a body politic who would have eagerly responded to a candidate with bright ideas and better promises. Even Obama’s tired rhetoric seemed to brighten when compared to Romney’s tiresome clichés and his lack of passion.
The 2012 presidential campaign was one of the dirtiest in recent memory. It was also one of the most disappointing and least interesting campaigns. None of this bothers the strategists and media buyers and consultants running Republican campaigns. They made millions off this losing campaign, just as they did in 2008. They may have left Republicans with nothing to show for it but smoldering ruins where the GOP once stood, but they walked off with millions of dollars in their own pockets. Why should they bother with ideas to appeal to the electorate when they and their friends can just air boilerplate attack ads and walk off with hefty checks, regardless of whether they win or lose?
The Democratic Party is a functioning coalition. The Republican Party is a fund-raising organization. The Democratic Party has members, while the Republican Party has visitors. You take the money away from the Democrats and they still have a group of followers committed to a set of ideas. Terrible ideas, but still ideas. You take away money and the other functions of the Republican Party apparatus and you have an empty tent. The Republican Party doesn’t stand for much because most of all, they are the party of big business, working hard to cut corporate taxes as they quietly collaborated with Democrats to raise income taxes and payroll taxes. They have caved on taxes. They have caved on spending. The Republican Party has sent Americans abroad to do nation-building when the party promised they would not. The Republicans will do no better in the 2014 midterm elections than they did in 2012 if they continue to merely oppose what Democrats stand for, oppose anything Barack Obama proposes. And Paul Ryan talking about budget deficits and corporate taxes will not win the day. It’s time for a Republican vision, it’s time for Republicans to talk about values, and to demonstrate that the Republican Party is smart, and bold, and the party to lead us to a bright American future, the party of the American dream. And to prevail, the GOP must be recognized by voters as the party of ideas, and ideals.
RULE #3: SOLUTIONS MUST BE SMARTER THAN THE PROBLEMS
As Hurricane Sandy bore down on America’s East Coast, a comedian wrote this headline on his website: “Romney Calls for Emergency Tax Cuts.” It was funny because Romney and the Republicans had been talking about tax cuts as a solution to almost everything. The headline was almost believable. Republicans have been harping on a few simplistic approaches to most big issues. To spur economic growth, cut tax rates, cut regulations, cut unions, and trim government: prosperity to follow. I don’t argue with those ideas. In most cases they are sound economic policy. But as a prescription for all that ails us, they’re simply inadequate, insufficient, and hackneyed beyond tolerance.
Republicans need to first admit those ideas won’t resolve or fix the complex challenges we face in this economy and society. If Republicans are to hold their majority in the House, or perhaps enlarge it, they will have to ask Paul Ryan to forgo his obvious delight in being both the “Budget Man” and the self-appointed arbiter of Republican values as he’s become increasingly Republican-lite, suddenly eager it seems to appease and accommodate Democrats on a host of issues, including immigration. His early embrace of the Senate Gang of Eight immigration and border security sham could well have led to disaster for the Republican Party. Republicans, led by Congressman Bob Good-latte, chairman of the House ...
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