Rather than pile on the (deserved) praise, I want to ask the following question(s).
How does one defeat this “class?” What strategies will succeed? What resources are necessary? I think these are important questions because the article succeeds in raising our consciousness to the problem, but doesn’t offer a game plan as to how to proceed. It is up to us (Country Class) to develop one. After developing it, we need to start executing, regardless of whether others come along with us.
Let me start with a few observations.
First, I argue that a plan of some sort is necessary. I’ll back that up by relaying two stories from last week. I was talking to a gentleman running for an IL state rep. seat. He’s right on the issues, he’s running for the 2nd time, and he actually does have a shot. He is also running un-aided by the ILL GOP (ruling class), who ran candidates against him in the primary and tried to bribe him out of the race. His race is microcosm of what Codevilla describes in his article. When asked to lay out how he was going to win, he ruminated about “this cycle” and the “Tea Party.” He had no plan. He had nothing to show a potential donor or supporter that could give them confidence that he knew what he was doing. If he wins, it will be luck.
The second incident occurred at a meeting of some think tank and activist types discussing the IL Budget and some strategies to address the issue. One of the attendees, a former operative of the ILL GOP machine (who started back when it could win a few elections), discussed the collapse of the party after Ryan, and pined for the days when the Thompson and Edgar Patronage system worked. (I laid out my view that these patronage Republicans are the ones who destroyed the party by creating a system that split the productive base from unproductive patronage pension suckers. But that could use a whole book to unpack.) This operative, however, did have one thing going for him. He had a plan.
Second, the ‘tea parties’ are NOT enough. They are already showing wear and tear brought on by their vaunted “independence.” (Some might call it lack of discipline.) Also, we ought not believe that the Tea Party is some new phenomenon. They have always been there. Their last iteration was the Perot voter. We are seeing something significant in their emergence absent a Perot. If there was ever a year/cycle where a slightly less crazed billionaire attempted to start a party, this would be it. A good chunk of Democrats, regular Republicans, and the newly active Tea Party could form a majority, and throw a presidential election to Congress.
Third, just like Codevilla makes us conscious of the failed and morally flaccid “ruling class,” we need to continue the process by identifying first the principles, and then the policies, that are supported by the “country class.” Conservatives need to understand that while the principles will look (r)epublican, the policies will, by necessity, have to seem much more centrist.
For my part, I remain pessimistic about the prospect of any nondescript movement ‘fixing’ or re-orienting the Republican Party. The party is too compromised to change. That is why I’m pretty sure that we need a 3rd party to develop. This party will either a) supplant the Republican Party, or b) threaten its existence to the point where they have no choice but to shed the “ruling class” members in favor of the “country class.” Either result is worth losing an election cycle, IMO. As of this moment, I’m holding out some hope that I’m wrong, and that the Republican Party reverts to its roots.
Fourth, it’s going to take money. A lot of money. This will have to be spent wisely on the right candidates, and will have to cover the 2012 and 2014 election cycles. And, while we are on the subject of candidates, if you are the type of person who reads and understands Codevilla-like analysis, yet don’t ever consider running for office, then I think you might start to see the scope of the task ahead of us. Look who you are leaving the political field to when you – and others like you – don’t even consider running, working your precinct, or encouraging other good people to do so.
I could write numbers 5-20 if I had the time, but those are the top 4 that come to mind when thinking about how to proceed.
Those are my thoughts, and I’m hoping your share yours. Just FYI, I’ve thought through some ideas regarding the articulation of our principles, a set of policies that might garner widespread support, and a potential strategy to execute it. I’m not sure it’s bullet proof, but it’s a damn site better than bloviating about how the “tea party will save us.” Read the latest headlines.
This is my view of the scope of the problem. How do we solve it?