Political Power is not linear. There is a reason we use the term election cycles.
The purpose of a political party is to win elections, but the purpose of a political movement is to exert power. These two things are often at odds. Movements can and do gain power through electoral defeat, and an opportunity to do so is at hand for the New Right conservative movement, but how should this hand be played?
Recent history provides us with a good blueprint of how to “win the losses.” Barack Obama is famously known for being an albatross around the neck of down ballot Democrats. During his tenure at the White House they lost a whopping 62 House seats, nine Senate seats, 12 governorships, and 958 state legislators. It really was an eight-year red wave.
But something else happened over those eight years. When he ran for president in 2008 Obama opposed gay marriage, an unthinkable position in the party today.
In 2008 “safe, legal and rare” — with limitations — was still a common abortion position among moderate Democrats, is there a prominent Democrat today who supports any limit on abortion?
In 2008, ideas like Universal Basic Income or tearing down historical statues were laughed at, but in today’s Democrat Party they have purchase. In 2008 Democrats didn’t regularly call themselves socialists.
This lurch to the left by the party of Jefferson and Jackson was not only the cause of many of Obama’s down ballot losses, it was also enabled by those losses. The natural corrective for the shellackings was to move to the center and elect more moderate Democrats at every level of government. Instead, Obama’s Democrat Party pulled up the ladder once they had power. There would be no return to Clintonite Third Wayism, the losses be damned.
This is a very similar situation to that being faced by the Republican Party and the New Right conservative movement today. Establishment GOP leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rightly point out that more stable, moderate candidates would have fared better in senate races than the MAGA firebrands who mostly lost. But would these “better candidates” have worked for New Right priorities? Or would they have harkened a return to a more neoliberal conservatism?
Would these moderate senators be border hawks or open to liberal immigration reform? Would they truly back energy independence or would they pray at the altar of the climate crisis? Would McConnell’s army fight against global trade deals that harm American workers? Or would they give corporations what they want. Finally, would this slew of moderates aggressively fight the culture war, against transgender surgery for kids, critical race theory in our schools, and threats to religious liberty? Or just put their head in the sand as Republicans had done for decades?
Sustained broad governing majorities are a great thing when people feel the country is generally moving in the right direction, these political parties can nudge the ship of state this way or that, but rarely do they bring about radical change without imploding. Going back to Obama again, he got Obamacare over the goal line at the very price of his majority.
In this political moment a willingness to lose is more powerful for the New Right than an ability to win. It is this willingness to lose that will finalize the institutional takeover of the Republican Party that began with Donald Trump’s trip down the golden escalator. We have begun to see it in action already. Had soon-to-be Speaker Kevin McCarthy been given the huge majority in the House that was expected, then New Right figures like Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene would not have the leverage to demand the announcement of investigations into Hunter Biden and Ukraine. They won the losses.
A year ago, the dream of sending the Democrats to the political wilderness for a generation seemed attainable, especially given that, as noted above, they had moved almost to the left of Chairman Mao. Conservative primary voters in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and elsewhere stymied that dream precisely because they do not trust the old establishment GOP to get done what they want.
Just as progressives have done to the Democrats, the New Right must turn their key policy positions into unquestionable orthodoxies in the GOP. Why is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda essentially the playbook of the entire Democrat Party? Because she and her supporters will primary the hell out of anyone who doesn’t get in line. Even if it means losing.
These are not ordinary times, there is no Democrat Party to meet in the middle, especially with the absence of Pelosi and the old guard in leadership. With each handshake Republicans will be pulled deeper into a dystopic future of surveillance, obedience, and progressive hegemony in all of our key institutions.
Now is not the time to compromise and go weak in the knees. Now is the time to fight, and if need be, it is also time to lose.
David Marcus is a Brooklyn based columnist and author of “Charade: The Covid Lies That Crushed A Nation”.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.