I’m no fan of President Obama but Thiessen is exactly right:
“I wish more Republicans were like Barack Obama.
Really. Give the president his due: he fights for what he believes in.
In his first year in office, Obama faced a popular backlash against his stimulus spending bill and saw a Republican elected to Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in a referendum on Obamacare. Yet despite these and other setbacks, the president declared he had no intention of moderating his approach. “The one thing I’m really clear about is that I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” Obama said in a January 2010 interview.
That attitude is precisely why Obama is a now a two-term president.”
“Obama fought for what he believed in, never backed down, absorbed the political blowback — and won.
Why can’t Republicans do that?”
Bingo. And this:
“Obama strong-armed the GOP by making clear he was ready to take the country over the fiscal cliff and allow taxes to rise on every single American. He was willing to let the country go into recession if he did not get his way. He knew he had political leverage, and he used it without hesitation — forcing his political opposition to bend to his will.
Why can’t Republicans do that?"
“Instead of using Obama’s Chicago-style, brass-knuckle approach, too many Republicans are wringing their hands today, looking for ways to moderate their approach in response to Obama’s victories.
Here is a better idea: Republicans should take a page from Obama’s playbook, do what they think is right, use all the leverage at their disposal and stop worrying about the electoral consequences. If they learn anything from Obama’s victories, it should be this: Voters reward conviction politicians who fight for what they believe in — even when they disagree with them. Pandering does not work.”
This dovetails neatly into a persistent theme that I have been harping on for a while: the voting block most often referred to as ‘moderates’ and ‘centrists’ and ‘independents’ don’t respond to policy shifts. They don’t care about policy at all. Right-wing, left-wing, it’s all boooring to them. They are more properly called “low information voters.”
What they respond to is leadership. And they respond to charisma. What’s charisma? Passion, commitment to ideals, fearlessness, a will to fight to the end for principles. Do those things and you will be a rock star to the “low information” crowd.
Moderate your message to make yourself ‘less extreme’ and you will just come across as weak and uncertain (cf Ernie Eves and John Tory). Yuck. Who likes people like that?
Thiessen has some advice to the Republican congresscritters on upcoming debt limit showdown:
“Republicans should emulate Obama and use their leverage without hesitation — demanding deep spending cuts and structural reforms to entitlements as the price for any increase in borrowing authority.
Make no mistake: If the roles were reversed, Obama would not hesitate to use the threat of default to break his political opposition. He didn’t flinch from using the threat of a recession to force Republicans to break their no-tax pledge. He didn’t hesitate to use arcane parliamentary strong-arm tactics to pass Obamacare. Obama uses every ounce of political power at his disposal to get what he wants. It’s admirable, really. He has core beliefs and is willing to put everything on the line for them.”
Want an example of a current Republican who has “core beliefs and is willing to put everything on the line for them”?
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
He had a clear goal, didn’t back down an inch from it, didn’t compromise any of it away, and won everything. After they threw everything they had at him - including the kitchen sink. In a (now formerly) progressive state.
There is a school of thought that says politics is the art of compromise, of politicians like John Boehner and Bill Clinton getting together to find a pragmatic answer that isn’t everybody’s ideal choice but allows society to muddle on through. And many times it is like that.
But a lot of the time it isn’t. In these times, you either win everything or you lose everything. And to the winner go the ‘moderates.’