There’s a lot of discussion here and there and other places about the future of the Republican party, and “conservatism” (not the same thing, of course). Some speak of the millennials as less interested in political parties, less ideological, etc. We hear that Reagan conservatism isn’t going to sell anymore, and that it isn’t just a matter of not having a great communicator anymore, but rather that the public just doesn’t see things like it did.
Almost universally, the analysis seems to involve the assumption of stability in events, in anticipation of only small changes from current circumstances, and it assumes the ability of politicians and the media to manage message to the general public. This gives extraordinary power to the message deliverers, of course, and the better message deliverers are expected to win most of the time. In sum, this approach assumes that politics is about politicians.
But it isn’t, in the end. It’s about events, most of which are beyond the immediate control of any given crop of politicians.
People’s memories are short. “We will never forget” has morphed into “maybe we weren’t in so much danger after all”. A decade ago, the left blocked drilling in Anwar and other places, because the oil wouldn’t come on line for a decade, and, “It won’t help us right now.” But the decade has passed, and I just filled my tank with regular gas at $4.35 per gallon, self-serve. If they’d drilled then it would have helped now. Most people don’t know that the two hottest years in the last century are 1934 and 1998 (1934 was the hottest, with a cooling period in between, and no one can claim the 1930s warming was due to CO2 emissions), and most people don’t know that we appear not to be warming up since 1998, but cooling, if anything.
But there are likely to be developments that totally change the dynamic of things, and to quote our second president, “Facts are stubborn things.”
When there is a major attack on US soil (inevitable, according to many serious observers), or possibly even on one of our allies, peoples’ attention will be re-focused. If there is any obvious link between the left’s less forceful approach to terrorists and their enablers (likely), there will be a re-energized right. Let’s be clear: if Islamicist extremists do the deed, and if the left has curtailed programs that might have detected or stopped the attack, or removed pressure that would have diverted the attackers’ attentions, or (shudder) if there is a nuclear attack carried out by anyone who got the materials to do it from an Islamic nation, the blowback will be enormous, and a very large price will be paid by the party that is identified in the public mind as having been asleep at the switch. Fool me once….
Does anyone think that Congress will be able to resist public demand for drilling when gasoline is $6.00 per gallon? If so, how about $8.00? $10.00? At some point, the dynamic changes. Sure, the left will try to pin the blame on the evil oil companies, and that miserable resource hog, the American driver. And that works for awhile, when people aren’t paying that much attention. But at some point, instead of just wondering why prices are so high in a vague sort of way, people are going to DEMAND to know. There will be debate, and the old answers will be trotted out, but inevitably someone is going to get peoples’ attention with the simple idea that as demand goes up and supply doesn’t, the prices will rise. Few people want to drive less.
So, I think drilling is going to happen. It’s just a matter of time, and public desperation. And the party that had a history of blocking it, and fights it to the end, is going to suffer, for awhile.
By the end of an Obama administration (two terms to 2016!), if we have not had a year hotter than 1998, it will be impossible to claim global warming is even real (with a straight face, anyway), let alone caused anthropogenically. (The activists have begun to suspect this… that’s why they’ve changed the scare-phrase to “climate change”, which works no matter what happens, since the climate always changes.) If the left has forced a very costly scheme to control carbon emissions in the meantime, and the economy has suffered because of it, gas prices are higher, etc., then the campaign slogan for the conservative candidate in 2016 could be, “WHAT global warming?”
None of this will stop Obama from getting elected this year, unless the terrorists are stupid enough to mount an attack on US soil before the election, or gas goes up to $6.00 per gallon immediately. I expect neither to happen immediately.
Unfortunately, I expect both during Obama’s presidency, though this is one time I’d love to be wrong.
The only (very cold) comfort will be that the winds of politics will probably change direction again… for awhile, at least. It will be too late to immediately undo Obama’s disastrous effect on the courts, the economy, and our national security… but it may bring an opportunity to staunch the bleeding, at least. Until, of course, the stupid Republicans who come to power in the reaction get complacent, fat and greedy, like the last crop that just lost Congress in 2006.
Pray for McCain to win, but the nation will weather an Obama administration, painfully.