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The Red Wave That Wasn’t

Ron DeSantis and J.D. Vance are the conservative movement's future
Screen Shot 2022-11-09 at 10.55.48 AM

I woke up this morning in London hoping -- not just hoping, but expecting -- to see news of a Red Wave having crashed upon the shores of an America sick of the woke Democrats. I was disappointed. The Red Wave talk turned out to be bullshit. As I write, we still don't know the outcome of control of the Senate. We do know, though, that the Trump-endorsed candidate in Pennsylvania was beaten by a brain-damaged Democrat. That tells you something. That tells you a lot, actually.

Well, look, the two races I cared most about -- DeSantis's Florida governor re-election bid, and J.D. Vance's Senate race in Ohio -- both went the way I wanted. Senator Vance! I'm old enough to remember this 2016 TAC interview that broke TAC's server and launched J.D.'s book into the stratosphere. We became friends after that. Here's an interview I did with J.D. right after his conversion to Catholicism. I can testify that J.D. Vance is a good man, and I think he will be a great senator -- and even president one of these days. God is with him!

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DeSantis's smashing Florida victory last night makes him the head of the conservative movement, such as it is. His victory speech was exciting. Good excerpt here:

What a contrast between DeSantis, a conservative who actually gets things done, and wins (even a majority of Latinos!), and Donald Trump, a has-been whose candidates -- with the exception of Sen.-elect Vance -- fared poorly on Tuesday. The underwhelming election results on Tuesday, in a country suffering from high crime and high inflation, ought to send a big sign to the conservative electorate: the more the Right stands by the fatmouthing loser Trump, the further behind we will fall. I concede that Trump's endorsement likely carried JDV over the line in the Ohio GOP primary, and for that I'm grateful. But the future of American conservatism is not with Donald Trump.

I wish to associate myself with these tweets from Matt Walsh:

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No courage to confront the important issues head on. It has fallen to Matt Walsh, Chris Rufo, Libs of Tiktok, and others to take on the scourge of gender ideology. With the exception of DeSantis, no other major elected Republican politician has wanted to touch wokeness. I cannot understand why. The country is falling apart, the libs are becoming totalitarians who are coming after children, and most of the GOP just sits there with its thumb up its backside, running on the thrilling platform of "hey, at least we're not the other guys." No, forget it. That's over.

To the MAGA diehards, I say: is this really what you want? A Republican Party that can't decisively whip the Democrats even in an extremely favorable year? Because this is what you are going to get if you keep sticking with Trump. Like it or not, a lot of independents just hate the guy, and that's never going to change. Conservatives like me would vote for him in 2024 just to keep the Democrats out of office, but in that case I would vote knowing I was checking the box for a big mouth who won't get much done, because whereas Ron DeSantis would actually govern, Trump would do nothing but preen and talk about himself.

But as Stuckey and Walsh say, the normie Republican Party doesn't give people much reason to vote for it, other than its not being Democratic. That's enough for a lot of us, but not enough to win big, and certainly not enough to deserve victory.

The future of American political conservatism is Ron DeSantis, J.D. Vance, and National Conservative-style Republicans like them. Not MAGA. Not the Bulwark sad remnants of the pre-Trump GOP establishment.

I'll update this as we get news about Georgia and Arizona. Hoping hard for Blake Masters and Kari Lake wins. Hey, at least we no longer have to hear from terminal losers Stacy Abrams and Beto O'Rourke again.

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JON FRAZIER
JON FRAZIER
Congrats to JD Vance. But yes, the Trumpist candidates have fared poorly, and deservedly so. This isn't a new thing: remember 2010 when the GOP lost several winnable races by nominating weirdos and loons (the lady who had to assure voters she was not a witch... the guy who thinks rape cannot result in pregnancy). Vance may have kowtowed to Trump to get the nomination (alas for that need!) but he had already established himself as a bright guy with things to say and do, not some bobbleheaded Mar-al-Lago sycophant.
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ejsmith
ejsmith
My sentiments exactly. I awoke at 2:00 a.m. and made the mistake of going to RealClearPolitics to see that Fetterman had won and that Whitmer and the Democrats had run the table in Michigan. The democrats apparently managed to flip the Michigan Senate which hasn't happened in forty years.

As a former Michigan resident who left the state due to Whitmer's pandemic authoritarianism and the toll that her administration's policies took on my kids, I am stunned to see that unfettered abortion access is the issue that galvanized Michiganders to reward Whitmer, Nessel, Benson, and the rest of the cabal with another term in office.

I'm not sure who I blame but I agree with you that it is time to chuck MAGA on the proverbial ash heap of history.
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    JON FRAZIER
    JON FRAZIER
    There were plenty of Michigan voters who supported Whitmer's Covid measures, and not just on the Left. I think I have posted before about an old friend back there who voted for Trump in 2016, but also supported Whitmer-- the guy's wife suffered from MS (she has since died) and he was on board the Covid-caution train probably for that reason. One's stance on Covid issues is not really ideological or partisan at the root, but rather reflects how vulnerable one feels to the illness and also the extent to which the measures taken have affected one's own life (my friend is an auto worker who was briefly on layoff during the first part of the Pandemic, but with good union benefits that did not really crimp his finances, and he has no school-age kids)
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Scott Regener
Scott Regener
It is sad to see DeSantis getting all the recognition, when really he has been following SD Gov Kristi Noem's positions. DeSantis shut down Florida (briefly) but Noem never did. Noem has executive ordered away men playing in women's sports in her state. She's banned CRT from the school curriculum. She has radically liberated homeschooling parents from oversight and regulation by woke schools. She hasn't flown illegals to Martha's Vineyard (a stroke of genius) in part because her state isn't overflowing with potential occupants of those flights. I like them both, but I think Noem gets the short end of the stick because of the size of her state rather than flaws in her political stance. Start paying attention, because Noem is a principled, no-nonsense conservative with more guts than most of the establishment Republicans.
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    JON FRAZIER
    JON FRAZIER
    You're likely right about Noem, but yes, South Dakota is just sort of an "out there somewhere" state, while Florida is populous and popular and almost everyone knows Florida, directly or indirectly.
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    Peter Pratt
    Peter Pratt
    Noem is another Koch product, a libertarian who sells out to big business. No thank you.
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John Phillips
John Phillips
All well. At least there are enough Repub wins to make the second half of Biden's term "impeach, impeach, and impeach" over this, that, and the other. You reap what you sow.
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    JON FRAZIER
    JON FRAZIER
    I doubt they will go that route if they control the House by just a couple votes, and the Senate not at all-- and with zero grounds (beyond those grounds by which almost every president in my lifetime could have been impeached-- but the GOP wants those stolen powers for their next president too so they won't go there). This election is a giant rebuke to GOP craziness;. If they overreach with the slenderest of majorities they will pay for it dearly in 2024.
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Jonesy
Jonesy
The country is over. If people would rather starve and freeze and pay for 5million illegals rather than vote for change they are the problem. I wish trump would fade into the background but the truth of treachery waged against him has been out for awhile now and he is owed justice in some sort of way.
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    JON FRAZIER
    JON FRAZIER
    Who is starving or freezing? Was there a nuclear war or something in your world?
    In this one the voters appear to be rejecting a gang of nut cases, loonytunes and fruitcakes-- while sane and capable Republicans like DeSantis, Kemp and Vance have cruised to victory. The way forward for the GOP, as Rod notes above, is quite clear: Send Drama Queen Donnie and his Cloud Cuckoo Land acolytes off into the sunset and let a new generation of GOP leaders come to the fore.
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      Jonesy
      Jonesy
      I guess you haven’t read any reports about what is coming this winter or been bothered by the cost of eggs and milk lately? Know anyone on a fixed income? Trump, as much as I don’t like his manner, was obstructed at every turn and those who conspired should have to pay a price. He didn’t get a fair shot. Naming three small victories is inconsequential because there’s not enough to get anything done. They can only delay the decline and will inevitably get the blame for trying to obstruct the mandate.
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        JON FRAZIER
        JON FRAZIER
        Annoyingly high prices are a far cry from "starving and freezing". Sure there's a place for hyperbole in political rhetoric, but it should be kept tongue in cheek and a bit absurdist to get the humor across.
        Trump was politically incompetent-- that's just a plain fact. If he accomplished too little that's on him. Any and every president has had to face furious opposition. Those who are masters at playing the game (a Reagan or an LBJ) will find ways to get through that. Vance has yet to prove himself, and I rather wish he had been elected as a governor not a senator since he would then have the ability to show his stuff (or not) more obviously-- in the Senate it's much harder to get anything done. DeSantis however has proven himself in several ways. No, I don't approve of everything he has done-- the migrant flights to Martha's Vineyard were a mean stunt more worthy of drunken frat boy or a middle school bully--but if conservatives are looking for a capable leader for 2024 he's your guy.
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Theodore karakostas
Theodore karakostas
Having voted for Trump twice, I plan to vote for him again in 2024 should he run. The social issues such as the transgender insanity and the moronic ideas of the Democrats to defund the Police are of
extreme importance, but the issue of war is my number one issue. Donald Trump did not start any wars during his four years in office. The lunatics like John Bolton and the neocons tried to start a war with Iran,
but Trump eventually maintained control. Any Republican who wants my vote will have to be anti war and anti interventionist. I like Desantis and a few other conservatives but I will not vote for him or
any others if they take an aggressive line toward Russia.
If Donald Trump were President there would be no Ukrainian war. Trump tried to get along with the Russians and was subsequently denounced and ridiculed for it. The Democrats were the ones who started the
business of refusing to accept election results. As early as 2017, Paul Begala said that Trump could prove he was not a Russian stooge by bombing Russia. It is people like this in both parties that are scary.
The fact that there has been talk of nuclear war over Ukraine should have been a major issue in this year's elections. Joe Biden like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama was duped by the neocons
on the right and their counterparts on the left in provoking Russia by expanding NATO to the Russian border.
Trump has been mocked by many but he at least had the good sense to understand that it would have been better to be on friendly terms with the Russians than to initiate a potential war with them. I am
absolutely for Trump should he run again for President. The most loathsome and despicable people in both parties condemn Trump. The Clinton, Bush, Cheney, and Biden families. It speaks well of Donald
Trump that such people do not like him.
There are many who are blaming Trump for the election results. The Democratic Party's media which includes practically every news station except FOX News has been telling voters for weeks that the
Republicans were going to destroy democracy. I wonder how many voters may have come to actually believe that.
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Peter Pratt
Peter Pratt
I would prefer if Trump just announced he was retiring from politics and endorsing DeSantis for president. Trump's failures to follow through on positions and horrible personnel choices make me wish he left.

DeSantis could actually fix things, where I have no confidence in Trump to do anything but make it all about him.
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Daniel Donnelly
Daniel Donnelly
"To the MAGA diehards, I say: is this really what you want? A Republican Party that can't decisively whip the Democrats even in an extremely favorable year?"

MAGA Republicans don't want the Establishment Republicans undermining our candidates because they are anti-Globalism and anti-crony capitalism. It seems that Establishment Republicans only want to "conserve" those things.

MAGA wants:

1. Voters over special interests
2. Strong borders over bloodthirsty cartels
3. American workers over guest workers
4. Domestic production over foreign production
5. National security over needless war
6. Cops over criminals
7. Education over indoctrination
8. American values over woke ideology
9. Adoption over abortion
10. Family over government
11. Equality over equity
12. Free speech over censorship.
13. Individuals over corporations
14. Patriotism over globalism.
15. The United States over the United Nations
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    Jonesy
    Jonesy
    Exactly. Establishment republicans have always been worthless except for one talent; they can act superior while losing better than almost anyone. They haven’t conserved anything but tax cuts.
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      JON FRAZIER
      JON FRAZIER
      I don't think Rod was arguing here in favor of establishment Republicans. He wants more or less what you want, but with a strong and capable leader in charge not a bunch of drama queens and klutzes who would fit better in a farcical comedy by Aristophanes or Rabelais.
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Michael Campbell
Michael Campbell
It should be noted that DeSantis only set abortion limits at 14 weeks. He definitely knows how to use the left's dumb ideas (like Covid fanaticism, or teaching sex to young kids) against them but he's an astute player, not a culture warrior, and not willing to burn political capital on dumb things that got a lot of other culture warriors taken down last night.

JD did okay, and had a strong opponent, but he underperformed polls somewhat, like most R's.

The future of the right is somewhere between DeSantis and Kemp. The first, representing the ability to say no to left stupidity, the latter, the ability to say no to right stupidity. Both get things done. Good places to live, do business, tough with crime, culturally conservative - they force the left to fight them on ground where they have solid 55-60% support.

The difference between a cultural conservative and a social conservative is that the former just doesn't want radicals pressing buttons, and is basically okay with the country as it is - if only we could throw the radicals in to a box somewhere. The latter has issues with the country and wants to use politics to change that. Don't screw up right wing politics by sticking SoCon albatrosses on it. Politics is a coalition and we all have to win to get something - reach too hard and we all get nothing, and you screw things up for your partners too.

On Trump, you and I have the same conclusion, but Trump needs to be respected for having opened the box of right populism, which is way better than what the right had for an agenda previously. The right basically did not use the Trumpy formula last night at all. It needs more populism, it needs to stand for something positive like DeSantis.
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    Michael Campbell
    Michael Campbell
    Also a very significant component of there being no "red wave" is that as politics polarize on education lines more than any other driver, the educated upper middle class are extremely prolific voters compared to working class types. Obama always struggled with that in midterms.

    Another factor was that 2022 had a lot more R seats up for grab than D seats. Inherently easier cycle for D's.
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Bogdán Emil
Bogdán Emil
The face-slapping reality for both sides is that it's gonna be Optimus Prime Egotist J. Trump and Low-Ridin' Joe Biden all over again, because although both should retire like gentlemen, neither will. So we as America are stuck with the situation, and have to make the most of it.

Last time he ran as the incumbent, but Trump is a poor incumbent, because he's not very dignified, he is much better in the underdog challenger role. So this time he actually has a better chance. Just now Lula triumphantly returned, and so did Bibi. History is filled with comebacks. Why couldn't Trump do it?

Trump and Biden are both tiresome but Trump looks far less tired, and he'll be on the ferocious attack again, while Biden will inevitably play defense. Given all this, the safe bet is on Trump as our next president. Unless maybe he gets indicted, a civil war breaks out, and who knows what else could happen...

Best take all predictions with a grain of salt. I don't even trust mine. It just looks like Trump at this point, that's all. Just an opinion.
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