Elephants never forget, right? At least that is what they say. As I've been thinking about the Republican establishment and their talking points about the 2012 presidential elections I have to say they are reminding more of squirrels. How is it that a squirrel can watch another squirrel get hit by a car and than go and get itself hit? Why don't they learn from the past experiences of the other squirrels? It's because their squirrels. Learning from past experiences of others is a decidedly human trait. At least its supposed to be.
History is an incredible gift, and it is incredibly underutilized. I was recently wondering why it was that progressive Democratic presidents, like Woodrow Wilson and FDR, have won re-election. I did this weird thing called historical research and here's what I found out:
1916 Election, Woodrow Wilson (D) versus Charles Evan Hughes (R)
Mr. Hughes was very well respected. He was at the time of the campaign a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. He was also an important leader of the progressive movement. Wait a second . . . he was a progressive? He was in fact so progressive that he had the endorsement of the Progressive party. So, let's get this straight the Republicans decided to nominate a progressive to go up against a progressive? Makes sense right, why give the people a clear and distinct choice when you can just muddy the waters and get your progressive agenda through no matter who wins? Woodrow Wilson won re-election and Charles Evan Hughes eventually found his way back on to the Supreme Court where he backed Franklin Roosevelt's ideas for collective bargaining and Social Security.
The people eventually had enough of the progressive movement and voted in Harding who was followed by Calvin Coolidge, an actual conservative who actually brought some prosperity back into the country by backing away from the progressive agenda. But, as progressives had done for the past 100 or so years they came back. Hello, Franklin D. Roosevelt. He won re-election 3 times. How?
1936 Election, Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) versus Alf Landon (R)
Alf? Its short for Alfred, I'm sure others will join me in thinking of the acronym for Alien Life Form (the name presents me with an opportunity for another acronym later), but I digress. The Republicans decided they needed to nominate a "moderate". A moderate back than kind of means the same as a moderate does today, probably a progressive liberal. Alf was the governor of Kansas at the time, and yes he was known as the leader of the liberal Republicans in his state. Alf had been a big supporter of Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party in 1912. Alright Republicans! You nominate a progressive Republican to go up against a progressive Democrat again. The people were not given a clear choice, so they went with the progressive they knew.
1940 Election, Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) versus Wendell Willkie (R)
Wendell actually never held an elective office. He was a corporate lawyer. Oh and get this he was a member of the liberal wing of the GOP. If I had been alive at the time I think I probably would have pulled out all my hair in frustration. Another progressive, really? Yep, in fact after he lost the election he apparently had enough liberal/progressive credibility to be hired by Roosevelt as an ambassador at large. He went on a worldwide tour and came back preaching the virtues of one world government. In a way he was even more liberal than FDR.
1944 Election, Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) versus Thomas Dewey
This election was going to be hard for Republicans no matter what, as the country was at war. But, no surprises here, Dewey was the leader of the liberal faction of the Republican Party. And he lost. *Sigh*, they really had a hard time learning their historical lessons.
1964 Election, Lyndon B. Johnson (D) versus Barry Goldwater (R)
Its important to discuss this election because this is the one that liberals/progressives like to throw in conservatives' faces to tell us that conservatives don't win. Goldwater was a conservative breath of fresh air and he had a really cool bumper sticker slogan , AuH20 (in case you're ever on Jeopardy and the category is "Campaign Slogans"). But, he was going up against a man who by the time the election was held had been in office for only 1 year. Johnson had not yet put in place the greater part of his "Great Society"/"War on Poverty" agenda, so their wasn't a real progressive agenda to fight against yet. Plus, and I think this is really important, the nation was still in shock. Our President had been assassinated. It would have been very difficult for any Republican candidate to beat Johnson, who had been chosen by Kennedy to replace him in case of such a tragedy. That Barry Goldwater made as much headway as he did is rather remarkable. Goldwater re-introduced conservatism in America, and lucky for us there was someone ready to take up the torch when the opportunity came, I'm quite certain you already know the name before you read it, Ronald Reagan. He in fact made quite the memorable speech in 1964 in support of Goldwater.
1980 Election, Jimmy Carter (D) versus Ronald Reagan (R)
President Reagan broke the mold, finally. Finally the American people were given a distinct choice between progressivism and conservatism. He famously called for Republicans to raise "a banner of no pale pastels but bold colors." He knew that there must be a clear difference between the Republican choice and the Democrat. And he knew that the clearest most differentiated stance, one which more Americans can get behind, is a conservative one. Yes, we can be a big tent party, but you have to set the stakes firmly on the right/conservative side, or else the tent just folds in on itself. Reagan is the model that Republicans, desiring victory over progressive Democrats, should follow. Stop putting up watered down versions of the guy already in office. Give the people a choice. Reagan won, big time, and so did America.
1996 Election, Bill Clinton (D) versus Bob Dole (R)
I don't think I need to say much about this one. This was the first time that I voted in a presidential election. I remember taking a good hard look at both of the candidates and deciding that I could barely tell the difference between them. The Republican strategy was to put up a "moderate" again, good one s/.
So, here's the challenge to the establishment Republicans, are you elephants or are you squirrels? Are you actually going to remember or are you going to attempt to convince us to yet again try to make a run across the moderate/liberal/progressive highway? Conservative America is wide awake right now, and we are on to your agenda. We know that "compassionate conservative" is really code for liberal/progressive. We hear talk of the candidates that you want to put out for us to get behind. Too many of them are what I'm going to start calling A.L.F.S. ( A Loser For Sure, not in life just in presidential politics). Do not expect me or any conservatives to get behind a candidate whose own state sponsored health care reform bill was a model for the federal health care reform bill that we want repealed and replaced. Do not expect me to get behind somebody who views government as some compassionate entity that needs to release prisoners based on his own judgment. Do not expect me to get behind anybody who will hold their finger to the wind and than talk up a good conservative talk but has no record to prove it. I want a proven conservative. I want someone who loves the Constitution and is determined to fulfill her oath to defend it. I want somebody who is so set on standing up for conservative values and doing what's right that she is willing to give up political power for those values. I want someone with a proven record of conservative policies which led to a more prosperous city and state. I want a Commonsense Conservative. If you want to know what that means check out Chapter 6 of Going Rogue Here's some quotage:
At its most basic level, conservatism is a respect for history and tradition, including traditional moral principles. I do not believe I am more moral, certainly no better, than anyone else, and conservatives who act "holier than thou" turn my stomach. So do some elite liberals. But, I do believe in a few timeless and unchanging truths, and chief among those is that man is fallen. This world is not perfect, and politicians will never make it so. This, above all, is what informs my pragmatic approach to politics.
I am a conservative because I deal with the world as it is-complicated and beautiful, tragic and hopeful. I am a conservative because I believe in the rights and the responsibilities and the inherent dignity of the individual.
The lesson is there to learn Republicans. We need a conservative, not just in word but in deed. The country needs Sarah Palin. She's got my vote for 2012. So, Republicans you can actually try to live up to your mascot, you can be the animal that never forgets. If you don't learn it, than you're mascot should be a squirrel.
Sarah Palin 2012! Renew Revive Restore America.