Monday, January 5, 2009

What Doomed Coleman?

Well, here we are two months after the November fourth election and we may finally be able to proclaim a Senator to represent Minnesota with some sense of certainty. Barring a "miracle" (i.m.o.) Al Franken will represent Minnesota in the United State's Senate for the next six years. Though this is not official yet, the legal challenges left by the Coleman campaign do not seem very promising. There are 150 votes that may have been double-counted (it has to do with absentee ballots), but Franken would still have the lead without those "extra" votes.

So, now we will have two very liberal Senators for the next four years, if not longer, representing Minnesota. They both support raising taxes on the rich (which actually lowers revenue and production by the wealthy), growing the size of government, 'bailing out' companies, cracking down on gun rights and limiting second amendment rights, and will surely push the green agenda. Regulation, taxes, and control are what can be expected from these two Senators.

But why was Franken able to unseat Coleman? I believe that Obama-mania, a tough year for the GOP, as well as Coleman's ineffectiveness in the Senate hurt his chances of being voted back in. I personally had a number of issues with his view: support of the massive government bailout, support of the Iraq war, and support of the war on drugs. What I look for in a candidate is one that believes in smaller government, a foreign policy of freedom, opposition to the war on drugs, a belief in supply-side economics, and support of gun rights. Coleman was not the conservative candidate I was looking for, and his support of the bailout made it impossible for me to support him.

I really do hope that the GOP can learn from this elecction cycle. Instead of moving further to the left, they need to move further to the right. They cannot be succesful pursuing a moderate policy. Lower taxes, individual rights and liberty, and a constitutional approach to small and limited government is the correct policy to pursue. Sadly, the Republican party had a chance in the past decade to pursue conservative policy, but (most) of the Republicans during that time were not entirely committed to Conservative Principals.

In summary: While I am not excited about Al Franken winning the Senate Race, I think (and hope) that this will allow the Republican Party to re-evaluate their platform and put up a strong fight in the Senate elections in four and six years.


jpberthiaume said...

As I've stated many other times, there is a certain group of people who didn't vote for the lesser of two evils who will get what they asked for. Coleman isn't good, but Franken is plainly bad.

The time for making political statements is in the campaign season. The time for using common sense is at the voting booth. No one will ever convince me otherwise.

DC said...


"No one will ever convince me otherwise"

I understand your position (which you've stated multiple times on this blog and yours). I obviously do not want Franken to be Senator, but I think that it will actually benefit the GOP more than re-electing someone like Coleman.

Clearly Coleman was a far cry from Conservative. He also barely lost (you can debate how much Barkley came into play and if he didn't run if Franken would have won by a large margin, but nevertheless it was close in this election).

Throughout history, it has been after a time of defeat that the GOP has come roaring back to life, and usually with a very conservative platform. Just look at recently how the Republicans gained major wins towards the end of the Clinton Presidency as well as soon afterwards. Bush ran on a very conservative platform that I think he abandoned throughout his Presidency. That is said and done with, though. Look at the Reagan and possibly the most prosperous period for America. It was after an embarrasing decade of botched policy.

I believe that it is inevitable when the Republicans move towards moderate that they are going to lose big margins. But I also believe if they can re-evaluate their policy they can roar back to life like they have in the past. The Democratic policies are doomed for failure. A simple lesson in economics will show you that. I don't think Obama has the willpower to change the course of our foreign policy, and the GOP will once again be seen as the party that can defend America (and bring peace in our entanglements...okay that might be a long shot since both parties have pursued this policy for a century) properly.

The ball is in the GOP's hands. If they stop supporting big-government policy (bailouts...) and start pushing for a truly conservative mission, I think there is truly a lot of hope for the future of the GOP and conservative principles.

jpberthiaume said...

All I know is that Norm Coleman will look GREAT to voters after 4 years, and even someone to the left of him. A pendulum does not reach the right or the left without passing through the middle. Bush didn't run on that conservative of an agenda (overall -- very conservative when it came to human life). "Compassionate conservatism" does not reak of very conservative. Reagan turned out to be conservative, but people didn't vote for him because of that. He was a virtual unknown when he won the election and he won because the other guy was worse (not because of some historic conservative movement).

I guess time will tell whether you are right or I am right. I'm just saying that from a libertarian standpoint, it's not good to get so far out on the left. Far worse than libertarian ideas will look great after the likes of Obama and Franken have toyed with us.

DC said...

"Bush didn't run on that conservative of an agenda"

Hmmm well I guess what I was trying to say is that he ran on a platform that was against nation-building (and made that known) as well as his support of tax cuts. I just wish he could have followed through with those the same way he stuck with his pro-life agenda. I care about politicians staying with their positions (or justifying changes) quite a bit. So I would somewhat disagree, I think it was conservative from foreign policy, fiscal, and social standpoint (this just looking at when he was running).

"Far worse than libertarian ideas will look great after the likes of Obama and Franken have toyed with us."
-I would say that libertarian ideas will still look a heck of a lot better than 'far worse than libertarian ideas' even after Obama and Franken have done what they are going to do. I guess I can only speak for myself, but moderate ideas look better than liberal ideas, which is kind of a given. These ideas will never look as good as libertarian or conservative ideas, though.

I will give you that Reagan's ideas were new and many did not think they would work. They did though, and now that we know this there should be a second wave of support realizing we should still be pursuing these policies. We don't need to question whether or not they will work or be skeptical: they have worked. The book I'm reading now is amazing, as it backs up all their claims about Reagan's economic policies. It would only make sense to try to emulate what works.

I guess I am just very optimistic that libertarian and conservative ideals will become more widespread and put this socialistic/liberal/heck even "moderate" ideas at bay and force them to prove that keynesian economics and big-government "works" which will be quite the task.

jpberthiaume said...

Believe me, I'm on your side. And I have hope that convervative/libertarian ideas will take hold as well, but it won't happen before passing through the more moderate places. That's what I mean about what will look good in 4 years -- people generally aren't in the mood for drastic change (I know the "big change" people are the loudest, but most voters will typically go with something in the middle when given a choice, and they aren't going go to from Obama to a Ron Paul type.)

If you look at the alphabet...

Let's assume Obama is an F (Franken is probably a C). Halfway to Z is only in the qrs range. If we'd have elected McCain, an un-ideal "n" on some issues and maybe an "p" on other issues (relative to the averages), the middle would have been in the tuv range.

All I'm saying is that we have a long way to go now that people who could have voted to keep the shift to a minimum this time around didn't. It is likely to take many, many election cycles to get where you and I want to be (because even with 5 steps forward we are likely to take 2 or 3 backward AT BEST some elections). I know that's not the dream, but we have to be realistic based on history.

Budsy Jean said...

I voted for Dean Barkley. Funny thing that most of the people with whom I've spoken with regarding their vote have told me that they would have voted for Barkley, but they voted for Coleman as a defensive vote against Frankin. I'm thinking that if people wouldn't have voted defensively, we might have Dean Barkley sitting in the Senate today. He is far better than either douche that might be there! (Likely Frankin.)

I agree with your thought that this may end up as a positive for the Republicans in the long run, not just locally, but nationally. The Reps ventured so far right with their moral agenda that they became unrecognizable and irrelevant to the average person who is struggling just to make ends meet. The old addage, "What have you done for me lately?", appeared to apply to the Reps in this election - many are much worse off than they were 8 years ago. I know many Reps who voted Dems in this election based on the failure of the current Reps philosophy. That should be a huge wake up call!

The Reps suffered the consequences of their exclusionary agenda in this election, as well they should have. Hopefully, they will wake up and smell the coffee! The Reps likely can't completely retool the organization in four years, but hopefully they will come around and become the Reps with the foundational philosophies of the party that appeal to many and not just a few - those who wants less federal government, more localized governmental control, and more individual rights.

They'll come around.

DC said...

Just a quick note: I also know a few who would have otherwise voted Republican (but then voted Obama) simply because they couldn't stand what the Republicans have done the past eight years.

jpberthiaume said...

Yeah, I'm sure there were a few people who voted for Bush who then voted for Mickey Mouse. I'm sure some people who voted for Kerry then voted for Daffy Duck. I highly doubt many people voted for Bush in 2004 and then voted for Obama (I'm sure there were plenty who voted for Bush in 2000 and then Obama in 2008 -- people in the middle).

I'm talking about accomplishing the objectives of the conservative/libertarian. The objective, at least as far as I'm concerned, is to protect human life and liberty. Let's assume that 20% of Americans are truly conservative, like us, and 20% are truly liberal (and that might be generous for either side). That would leave 60% of the population in the middle, and both sides need to sway more of that group than the other side in order to win the elections they need. My point through all of this, Dave, is that the 60% doesn't move very far from a pivot. The pivot point is whoever is in office at the time. Voters compared Obama and McCain to Bush. They compared Bush and Gore to Clinton. They compared Clinton to Bush I. In one election cycle, things are not likely to sway from Obama to Reagan. I'm not saying *I* don't want to go there. I'm just stating the reality that in order to get to Florida I have to fly over or drive through Illinois and a lot of other places that I'm not really interested in stopping at first. To oppose the better of two candidates blindly hoping that things will get so bad that they'll get incredibly better way down the line is, quite plainly, silly. A lot of irreparable damage will come first, and we *might not* ever get to where you and I are hoping to get. That's why the voting booth is not the place to make a statement. The statement should be made beforehand. When you go into the voting booth, you need to be practical (you can TELL people you voted any way you want them to think you voted, but you should make the best possible choice for that election).

DC said...


While I can definitely see where you are coming from, did we not swing from Carter to Reagan?

jpberthiaume said...

Like I said, Dave, Reagan was a relative-unknown at the time. Did people know he was more conservative than Carter? Of course. Did they know how conservative his intentions were? Not likely. Perhaps they had some sort of a guess when he put his administration together following the election, but he didn't run as an extreme conservative, but more as a centrist to an extreme liberal agenda. (He did pacify the conservative base, promising tax cuts, etc., in the same way GWB did, and to his credit he followed through.)

Also, Carter vs. Reagan is a little different beast in that the Iran Hostage Crisis was happening right during the campaign season and the election was a bit of a referendum on Carter's poor dealings with that. Perhaps others can speak factually to the situation. I wasn't born until Reagan was already in office so I was alive, in the womb, but obviously not aware of how things played out exactly, but as I understand it the Iran situation did undermine Carter's credibility significantly.

Therefore, I should stipulate my argument to say that we are not likely to go from Obama to Reagan, *barring major crisis.* I think Bush won re-election based on world affairs (though unpopular, people felt safer with the known than the unknown at the time), so that kind of crisis -- especially this day and age -- is not out of question. There are always these dynamic situations, but to get one at exactly the proper time is a far hope.

DC said...

I'm going to disagree and say in todays day with the economic crisis and government doing everything wrong, it is far more likely to see a swing like we did from Carter to Reagan. Our economy is in the dumps and Obama's team is going to do everything wrong to try and "fix" it. More regulation, higher taxes on the wealthy (and everyone), as well as hidden taxes through inflation are going to have very negative effects and I'm sure the failure of these Keynesian policies will be felt within eight if not within four years. On top of the big government at home, our foreign policy is bankrupting us (as some have predicted it will for years) and we simply cannot continue funding the military the way we have and all our involvement in more than 100 countries abroad. Obama isn't going to fix this. He won't back down much from the policies of the past, but now more than ever it's driving us into the ground.

Maybe I'm just young and hopelessly optimistic/stubborn about the way I see things, but I honestly think the GOP has a huge opportunity the next decade (or two even) to make a huge turnaround.

jpberthiaume said...

David, I think you could be right. However, the overall the point is this: It is far too risky of a gamble. We'd be much better off with McCain and Coleman (who, even in their mediocrity, would buy us 4/6 years to move closer to libertarian ideals) and a chance to avert disaster. In four or eight years, all people are going to think is that the economic crisis that Obama couldn't fix was Bush's fault and that Obama was already in too deep. I think we'll move back toward the center, but it will be at least 12 and more likely 20 years before we have a president even nearly as conservative as GWB, still a ways from where you want to be. [FWIW, I think it won't take quite as long for Minnesota to elect at least one somewhat conservative Senator. Franken won't be re-elected in six years. Someone more in the middle will (D or R) and then we'll have a chance for someone more conservative in 12-18 years.

I think, as you delve into reading more about politics with your resolution, you will find that you might have been a little too optimistic. Optimism is great, but it has to be combined with realism. Optimism is crushed with the reality of defeat. It's something that is emptied during a concession speech. Realism can bring optimism where it is appropriate. Optimism is for campaigns. Realism is for the voting booth. Realism demonstrated that you were choosing between two ideas, even if you went off and voted for a third (because by voting for a third you were rejecting one of the two realities closest to your ideal).

It boils down to a disagreement on the level of how much we are willing to gamble that things are going to get remarkably better in 4 or 8 years. I think it's possible that we elect a Reagan-type in 4 or 8 years, but it's at least 5 or 10 times more likely that we first go to a Coleman/McCain-type (give or take a little). I'd rather be starting from that point right now, rather than with Jimmy Carter.

DC said...

From your rational, then, should McCain have moved further left to win the election? I'm just curious what your take is on WHY McCain lost.

jpberthiaume said...

Your question raises the real difference here, and why you and I aren't arguing on the same "plane." (I failed to see this previously.) My contention is with the logic (or lack thereof) of the conservative voter. Your contention lies with McCain. I accepted the reality that, on election day, there were two people who could win. Conservative voters who a) didn't vote or b) voted for someone who couldn't win rejected that reality. I accepted the reality that election day was too late to decide who our candidate was -- that idealism was for the campaign season. Voters who didn't vote for the best possible choice who could win denied that reality.

Why didn't McCain win? Because he didn't get enough voters from the right and/or the middle. Moving further to the right might have won some people and lost others. Moving to the left would have had the same effect with the opposite groups. I am arguing with the conservative/libertarian voter who didn't vote for McCain or Coleman on election day. On that particular day, it was too late to be ideal about that particular election, and it was too risky use your vote to make a statement that may be 8-20 years from fruition (or maybe never in your lifetime). My argument is with you, not with McCain or Coleman. My complaints about them were hashed well before election day and on that Tuesday in November, I had to pick between two outcomes.

DC said...

Previously you had said 60% were in the middle. Regardless of who I (or the conservative base) voted for, they would not have nearly made the numbers for the GOP to win the Presidency. What I am saying is that from your argument McCain simply could not win. He moves left, he loses/wins voters. He moves right, he loses/wins voters. He couldn't win. Did he even have a chance of winning? That is the question I would ask. Did he honestly have a chance of winning? Can that argument even be made on election day? I can definitely see that argument for Coleman - in fact he might have won, we will find out in a few months. But realistically looking back on it, on election day he could not have won. He did not have the votes, and most everyone knew it.

All I am saying is, he could have won had the months leading up to the election gone different. But on election day, realistically, it is debatable that he had a chance of winning.

I would also like to say there are far fewer that voted like me that could have changed the election. I think the libertarian party did worse than four years ago, and the other parties votes were somewhat negligible in the outcome.

"I am arguing with the conservative/libertarian voter who didn't vote for McCain or Coleman on election day."

Why? From what you have been saying, the middle decides elections. The middle overwhelmingly went Obama. When you look back at it, it is largely irrelevant the million or so conservative/libertarian voters who did not vote Republican. I'm confident that most who were not in the middle, in the end, voted for McCain while the middle and libs went all out for Obama.

jpberthiaume said...

Your most recent comment diverts this discussion with a lot of non-sequitur statements. Let's look at the different ideas on their own

1. As it pertains to what McCain's chances were as we know the facts when all is said and done, it's probably unlikely there was a magic spot he could have been on the left-to-right spectrum that would have gotten him the win without a major near-election day event occurring. Could we say with 100% certainty that he could not win the election? Not a chance. There were a series of states that went to Obama that were very close, and it turns out that a large amount of the conservative base didn't get out to vote. While it would have taken a perfect storm of sorts to make it happen, it did boil down to turnout + third party in a lot of states.

2. There was no scenario or last-minute dealings where someone other than Obama or Biden or

McCain or Palin (had there been a death) were going to win this election. Therefore, unless you had a moral obligation (yes, God does come first) that prevented you from voting for either candidate, it was entirely irresponsible to a) not vote or b) not cast your ballot to prevent the most evil (literally and figuratively) from occurring.

3. I am talking about the obligations of the conservative voter (as you quoted me). I'm not arguing, in this case, with someone in the middle because anyone who has joined discussion on this site thus far has been somewhere in the conservative to libertarian mindset. The likelihood that this group of people could have changed the binary outcome of any of the races we are specifically talking about -- it's both unknown and moot. It still remains that the reasonable thing to do on election day is to vote for the person who can win who best matches your ideals. Unless one can say that there truly is NO DIFFERENCE between the two candidates in relation to their own beliefs, it is irresponsible to vote for someone who cannot win.

4. If the conservative voter is responsible, it gives the conservative movement more credibility in the minds of the so-I've-called 60% in the middle. If we can't get our own to do well to choose the more conservative of two options, we can't expect the middle to jump on board. Perhaps it's true that McCain wouldn't have won even if he'd have had as great of a turnout increase as Obama and the third party voters who might have otherwise voted for him (as I hinted at in point 1). That doesn't excuse responsible voting. He was the only candidate other than an extreme liberal who had a chance of winning.

The conclusion is that even thought I don't find it likely that McCain would have won with a magic spot on the spectrum, I can't even say that for sure now. I certainly couldn't have said it on election day. Therefore, as a responsible conservative/libertarian voter, I had to vote for the only person who had some reasonable chance of beating Obama. This situation is magnified tenfold when it comes to Coleman vs. Franken. I also don't think it's necessary to get into winning over the voters in the middle when conservatives aren't even on board with the most conservative of realistic options, nor are you and me going to find much disagreement on that (it would just be a series of statements).