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CNN Poll: Plurality of Public Thinks Obama's Policies Will Fail; Fewer People Are Even Hoping He Succeeds | Main | Conservatives' Brains Big On Fear, Low On Courage, Study Says
December 29, 2010

Second in Command at GOP: "We Live In a New World;" Republican Senators Should Be Ready For Primary Challengers

The new, and welcome, normal.

CNN: How concerned are you to primary challenges to Republican incumbents up for re-election in 2012. Two that come to mind right off the bat are Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Sen. Orrin hosta of Utah

Jesmer: "Generally speaking, we live in a new world and Sen. Cornyn's been very clear on this: People need to be prepared for a primary challenge. I think both Senators Lugar and hosta are aware of the world we live in and are working hard to state their case to Republican primary voters and general election voters."

CNN: Does the NRSC try to clear the field of divisive primaries, as could happen in Missouri, or Connecticut, where former Rep. Rob Simmons, who made a bid for the GOP Senate nomination this year, is already criticizing your committee in advance of a possible run again in 2012. How active does the NRSC get in trying to keep the peace on the Republican side?

Jesmer: I think it's up to individual candidates to make their case to primary voters and primary voters will decide their nominees. But we'll still be active on recruitment, like we always are, but I don't think it will be any different that it was last time. Primary voters will make up their minds and we'll support the nominee.

Recently Snarlin' Arlen Specter -- long known as the nastiest man in a the senate, an accolade he won year after year in bipartisan polls of DC staffers -- ended his political life with whimper, not a bang, in lamenting the passing of "civility." Defined, apparently, as life tenure for sitting senators.

Specter whined about losing the Senate where both parties seemed to be interested in finding compromise, and RINO's had a comfy home. "That conduct was beyond contemplation in the Senate I joined 30 years ago," Specter said. "Collegiality can obviously not be maintained when negotiating with someone simultaneously out to defeat you, especially within your own party."

"Civility is a state of mind," Specter said. "It reflects respect for your opponents and for the institutions you serve together." Political polarization, he said, will make civility in the upcoming Congress "more difficult [but] more necessary than ever."

Similar bleats were made about poor Dick Lugar having to make a primary stand. Why has Dick Lugar been singled out for the most horrific treatment in the history of man?, some "centrist" type wondered.

There are two parts of our special form of self-rule: the Democratic part and the Republic part. True, we elect officials to make decisions on our behalf (that's the Republic part) but they do so with consent of the governed and knowing they either must vote the way their constituents prefer or face the wrath of the voters. That's the Democratic part. All those pining for some sort of Philosopher-Kings perfectly insulated from public opinion, those whining about how unjust a Democratic Republic can be for including some Democracy, seem to think the nation is just a Republic, or, perhaps, some other form of government. An aristocracy, perhaps, where the Common Folks are governed by their Social and Cultural Betters.

That won't do. That entire attitude needs to go.

First of all, it's not true that when we elect Senators or anyone else we are giving them a term-limited Divine Right to rule us only as their judgment and conscience see fit. We've never conceived of these posts in that manner. We've long had public assemblies and insisted upon our right to write to, and maybe hear back from, our representatives. We've never fully conceded all governing authority to them -- the very idea of petitioning representatives and meeting in town halls to give them some lip is completely at odds with the idea that once they're in office they're entirely free to vote however they like without our input. Town halls and assemblies are expressly a way to give them our input -- and we expect them to listen.

We never have lived in this Golden Age where we just took the wisdom of Senators as gospel without challenging it. Never. That wouldn't even be America. In what kind of America do we just decide that Person X is our superior in all ways and so we should defer to him in all things? That's so non-American I can't imagine how a Senator could think of the country in that manner.

We elect our representatives to exercise our will. Period. Yes, we let them make all sorts of decisions on things that are highly technical or which we care little about. The day to day functioning of government, the details of taxation and spending.

But the fact that we cede, temporarily, and qualifiedly, power to representatives to vote as their judgment suggests on the little things does not mean we've given up the right to exercise our right, as citizens in a democracy, to demand our wishes be obeyed on the big things, the things we've bothered to learn about and form an opinion about.

Specter, Lugar, and the rest of the Imperial Senators seem to think that we Americans have delegated our thinking to them, all of it, as if we were the Betas and Deltas in Brave New World, an intellectually-stunted sub-species, and they are the Double Plus Alphas, an intellectually-enhanced overlord species.

This isn't even the sort of thing that rankles because deep in our hearts we suspect it's true -- that is, it's not the case that we recoil from this because we recognize the horrific truth contained within it. Quite the opposite -- it rankles because most of us suspect that the usual attributes of a successful politician are a bland personality, a desperate need for validation, and a low regard for honesty and personal ethics. "High intellect" is definitely not one of the aspects of your typical elected official, and in fact probably tends to hurt a candidate.

Quick -- off the top of your head, name all the top-flight scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who've become successful politicians.

So: We have an entire class of mediocre-minded people -- not dummies, exactly, but at that just right level of mediocre intelligence that's not too low to perform at a job that requires some reading but isn't too high to come off as threatening or dangerous -- who've decided that they're so smart they get to do all of our thinking on our behalf, whether we ask them for this service or not.

Or even if we vocally object to it.

And these, you know, are the guys who then lecture to us about "civility" and What Democracy Is All About.

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posted by Ace at 04:12 PM

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