Qualifying for a presidential run in 2012 requires serious team play in 2010.
Conservatives face a dilemma that can become an opportunity. The 2010 election will decide whether America continues to careen toward a future somewhere between France and Greece or puts on the brakes, stops the bleeding, and earns a pause that allows the forces of freedom to begin the rebuilding. To that end all hands must scamper on deck and focus without distraction on November 2, 2010.
The challenge is that many of the best political minds in the United States are instead focused on helping elect one or another of a dozen possible Republican nominees to the presidency in 2012.
The life-and-death, here-and-now concerns of the conservative movement and the longer term personal and career interests of possible presidential candidates and their retinues can merge. But they can do so only if the movement convinces would-be presidential contenders that they will be judged more on what they contribute to recapturing the House and Senate and increasing Republican control at the state level in the 2010 election cycle than on what speeches they give in 2012.
November 2010 not only gives Republicans the opportunity to recapture the House by winning a net 40 seats and strengthening their position in the Senate to guarantee the ability to filibuster on any issue even if one or two Republicans go “wobbly,” but the 37 gubernatorial races, 1,159 state senate seats, and 4,958 house seats at stake will decide who writes the redistricting lines for the U.S. Congress and the state legislatures themselves. If Republicans can win 107 key state legislative races in just 16 states they will fully control the drawing of nine new congressional districts awarded during 2011 reapportionment. A victory in the 107 key races would affect the redrawing of maps in five states projected to lose six congressional districts during 2011 reapportionment, which could ultimately result in a minimum of 20 new Republican U.S. House seats for the next 10 years.
Ed Gillespie, who is organizing the effort to win state legislative seats through the Republican State Leadership Committee, points out that it will cost Republicans 31.5 million non-federal dollars today to win those contested state legislative seats that will create safer Republican House seats that would otherwise cost 255 million federal dollars to hold over the next decade. (This is about as good an investment as one can make in politics.)
We know that candidates for president have to work endless hours to elect themselves. Darwin, Rand, and recent experience remind us of this constant truth. What we need to see from future presidential aspirants is team play. Do they view American politics as an individual sport: “elect me,” full stop? Or do they recognize that winning the presidency without control of the House and 60 votes in the Senate will fail to create an opportunity to pull America back from the coming disaster of the entitlement tsunami and the increased debt and state power accumulated under Obama/Reid/Pelosi?
One can “be something” simply by electing oneself. One can only “do something” by helping elect a Republican Congress. Nixon and other examples are painful reminders that lonely presidents have no domestic agenda that matters to history. Or worse, they accept at political gunpoint the political agenda of their enemies.
Candidates who campaign on who can give the best speech or whose advertising team has the coolest ads add nothing to the common good. If they eventually decide not to run or lose in the primaries, they leave no accomplishments behind.
The campaign for 2012 can create a healthy competition among possible nominees to see who can do the most to help elect a Republican House and Senate in 2010. And this has the advantage over most political promises in that the candidates have to deliver first — this year — if they want our support for 2012. (One notes that most politicians like to invert this process and promise great party-building accomplishments — after they have what they want from us: our vote.)
In an effort to get potential presidential hopefuls focused on winning congressional races in 2006, Ken Mehlman, the RNC chairman at the time, offered to participate in “Leadership PAC” fundraisers and encourage major donors to contribute to those who were actively engaged in assisting congressional campaigns.
In the contest to show who can win more House and Senate and gubernatorial and state legislative seats in 2010, even candidates who decide at the end of the day not to seek the presidency or who lose out in the primary will have created a stronger and larger conservative movement and more Republican control in Congress.
All the candidates for the Republican nomination are fully prepared to run the gauntlet of policy litmus tests demanded of would-be leaders of the Reagan Republican Party: Pro-life? Good on guns? Have you signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge against raising taxes? For tort reform? Against Card Check?
To that traditional checklist Republican leaders and conservative activists are now determined to harness the energy of presidential candidates to win and build a conservative majority in the House and Senate by asking all candidates the following questions:
What have you done to help elect other candidates for office? How much money have you raised for other candidates? How many events have you done for other candidates? How much money have you contributed from your own campaign coffers or PAC to other candidates?
What have you done to build the Republican Party in your state? How much money have you raised for the state and local Republican parties? Have you actively campaigned against Democratic incumbents in your state — or have you bought a separate peace, refusing to campaign against leading Democrats?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?