Thursday, November 05, 2020

The Long Game

I am not good at the Long Game in politics.  I don't trust it. Projecting forward that if the Democrats do x, it will encourage the moderates but cost them with their radicals and the Republicans will have to y which will infuriate their rich donors but play well with their base yadda yadda. Because you never know, we might have a pandemic that changes everything.  Or terrorists might attack important buildings. I'm just talking crazy here. Things like that never happen. But we have to be ready just in case. 

I suspect that no one is any good at it, they just sound plausible. Yet perhaps some of them are, so let's follow that a bit. I am surprised after all the stern warnings about a Biden presidency, including by me WRT the ongoing investigations, that a lot of conservative favorites and their commenters seem less worried about that now. They are rightfully more concerned about the integrity of the election, as criminal acts that go unpunished have a way of worsening. Yet even beyond that, there is more annoyance than fear about a Biden presidency now, because it is not backed up by any Democratic power in Congress.  There will be no court-packing, no statehood for DC and Puerto Rico, no Green New Deal, etc. With those off the table they look at what's left: a declining machine politician with no charisma and owned by enough competing interests to be useless. They don't often mention, though they should, that there remains the nightmare scenarios of unfriendly countries testing what they can get away with, which is likely a lot. When he has his stroke and has to be removed, Kamala Harris doesn't improve their position.  Radicals might be temporarily excited, but she has no base of power even within her own party and no reputation for negotiation.  She will not have any votes to be easily picked up across the aisle to compensate. She will generate some sympathy of "poor girl, stuck with all this responsibility all at once" but that won't last.The best case scenario would be that the overwhelming nature of what has occurred spurs some humility in her and she grows into leadership.  That's a terrible roll of the dice, as one can see by a study of the presidency, but we may hope.  And even with that, there would also be the actions of foreign countries.  I can't imagine her being remotely ready for that.

America has developed a strong tendency to elect presidents for two terms, with a vice president getting one additional when he ran. That's got some similarities to Biden this time. The Dan McLaughlin argument was that there's no way Biden runs and wins at 82, and even a President Harris seeking reelection would not even be a shoo-in even for the nomination. OTOH, the US has also shown a tendency to switch parties, so a Trump win in 2020 would lead to Republican disadvantage in 2024.  That's the sort of Long Game where people think they know more than they do.  It sounds plausible, but...elections aren't that predictable, nor is public sentiment. That a Biden victory would leave the Democrats extremely vulnerable in 2024 does sound more likely, but again, it's a long way off.

No one went so far as to say "Let's tank this year in order to get the #1 draft pick," but lots of folks think heading into a midterm election against Joe or Kamala and then facing whoever in 2024 is a pretty good consolation prize.  That could be true.  It does seem to leave out the harm that might be done to the nation in between, both from Democratic policies and the possible nightmare of transitioning to a new president.  Conservatives shouldn't be writing that off too easily. 

For now, beating back fraudulent voting is the more important task.  Even if it changes no state because it only reduces margins of victory rather than overtops them, we should do it, with severe consequences for those manipulating the vote. A few convictions should discourage future felonies.


PenGun said...

You are missing the point. The Deep State has its ball back and is happy with Biden, very happy with Kamela and Susan Rice is a charter member.

They will go back to playing their geopolitical long game, and we will all be in more danger, than we would be if Trump won.

This the reason I was so happy when Trump came out of the blue and took away their toy in 2016.

Christopher B said...

America has developed a strong tendency to elect presidents for two terms,

Yes. I've often though that post 22nd amendment we've drifted even more to a de facto 8 year term for Presidents.

Carter (for now) is the only President since 1900 to serve a single term where he didn't run in the election as the incumbent due to death of the President, or represent the third term in a row won by the same party.

with a vice president getting one additional when he ran.

Not really, at least not post-1900. I submit there's a bit of an illusion here because of the times that there's been a death of the President, with his VP assuming the office and running for a term or two. It's actually quite rare for a President to complete two full terms and his VP to be elected to a third.

The times this has come close to happening since 1900 are

McKinley-TR-Taft (TR ran as the incumbent in 1904 after McKinley's death, Taft wasn't his VP)
Harding-Coolidge-Hoover (Coolidge ran as the incumbent 1924 after Harding's death, Hoover wasn't his VP)
FDR-HST (the big anomaly since FDR won four terms on his own, but again Truman ran as the incumbent in 1948 after FDR's death)
JFK-LBJ (LBJ ran as the incumbent in 1964)

So the only pair that really fits the pattern you laid out is Reagan-GHWB.

I don't put GHWB in the same 'one-term president' category as Carter because you have go back to the post-Civil War period to get four elections in a row won by different men in the same party (Grant-Hayes-Garfield-Arthur), and that period has some obviously unique qualities.

Thos. said...

I look at the gains that Trump made with minority groups (especially Hispanics), and then I look at how heart-stoppingly close this election is, and I conclude that once this election is over - and regardless of how it turns out - Republicans/conservatives should make it their long-term focus to:
a) figure out which issues resonated with the minorities who switched to Trump, and make those a stronger part of every Republican's message.
b) figure out how to engage with the under-40 voters who seem to be especially enamored of the emotion-driven progressive message - some of that cohort must be pried away from the Democrats.

Those seem like practical, attainable strategies to be more successful at election time.

Of course, as a conservative, I would prefer that elections not be the only focus (long or short term) and that the people I vote for invest some real effort into advancing actual conservative policy positions. But a lifetime of disappointment has drilled into me that people who succeed in getting elected as Republicans aren't really going to push conservative policies. I guess I'm resigned to that, and am ready for Republicans to just get better at winning elections (because then at least those offices aren't held by Democrats who will advance progressive policies).

james said...

@Thos: Better King Log than King Stork?

Sam L. said...

As I keep saying, the word "progressive" ALWAYS makes me think of "cancer".