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The Big Midterm Lesson: Defensive ‘Victories’ on the Right Aren’t Going to Save The Country


BY: JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON | NOVEMBER 10, 2022

Read more at https://www.conservativereview.com/the-big-midterm-lesson-defensive-victories-on-the-right-arent-going-to-save-the-country-2658627186.html/

Ron DeSantis speaking into a mic onstage
Republicans won big in places where GOP leaders leaned into the culture war and passed abortion restrictions. That’s no accident.

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If there’s a clear lesson to come out of Tuesday night’s bizarre midterm election, it’s that Republicans can no longer be content with defensive victories or defensive politics. To win political power and do what must be done to save the country, Republicans will have to go on offense, present a compelling vision for the future, and engage culture war issues like abortion and critical race theory without apologies. 

When they do that, they win. But it stands in stark contrast to the perennial advice of Beltway GOP consultants, who think it best to avoid major culture war issues like abortion. Indeed, the “official narrative” of corporate media in the wake of Tuesday’s midterms is that abortion was a big winner for Democrats, who supposedly capitalized on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, successfully making abortion a major electoral issue and blunting a red wave by boosting turnout among young, pro-abortion voters. 

It sounds good, but it’s not quite right. Republicans who didn’t shy away from talking about abortion after Dobbs, and who signed into law abortion legislation earlier this year without flinching or apologizing, did really well — they were Tuesday night’s winners. As Marc Thiessen noted on Fox News, Republican governors in Ohio, Georgia, New Hampshire, Texas, and Florida all signed post-Dobbs abortion restrictions, and they all won reelection by comfortable margins. 

That’s not to say abortion was a non-factor. Democrats squeezed every last electoral drop they could out of Dobbsspending $320 million on abortion-related TV ads (much more than on all other issues combined) which helped motivate a voter base that might have otherwise been depressed.

Still, there was a clear contrast between Republicans who heeded the advice of Beltway consultants and tried to dodge abortion questions or take a noncommittal stance and those who defended their anti-abortion positions and pushed for post-Roe legislation. Only one of those groups fared well Tuesday.

The larger lesson here is that Republican candidates should lean into the culture war and make no apologies for their positions, even on contentious issues like abortion. Fighting back against the left, it turns out, is what a lot of voters on the right want from Republicans.

Consider what Ron DeSantis achieved in Florida, winning 60 percent of the vote after narrowly eking out a victory four years ago. He did that by not shying away from big, high-profile fights over hot-button culture war issues like critical race theory and transgender indoctrination. Glenn Youngkin did the same thing last November to pull off an upset in the Virginia governor’s race.

But DeSantis and Youngkin are, sadly, exceptions to the general rule that Republicans tend to be reactionary and defensive. Indeed, the failure of the conservative movement is largely attributable to this default defensiveness, and it needs to end. For decades, conservatives whined about just wanting to be left alone even as the radical left was marching through our institutions and transforming society, showing us at every turn they had no intention of leaving us alone. Yet some on the right still don’t seem to get it. On Tuesday morning, anticipating a red wave, Ben Shapiro tweeted: “The mandate for Republicans will be to stop Biden’s terrible agenda dead. It will not be to make very loud but tactically foolish moves.”

Shapiro didn’t specify what he meant by “very loud but tactically foolish moves,” but he followed it up with this:

Sorry, but the era of normalcy and being left alone is over. The left will never leave us alone. They want to win and wield power, and if we want to stop them, we will have to win and wield power ourselves. Conservatives who want to be left alone will simply lose, as they have been for decades now.

Those like Shapiro who long to be left alone are also apt to argue that the conservative project has been moderately successful over the years, moving slowly to notch wins. Look at Dobbs. Look at religious liberty and the Second Amendment. Look at all the good judges appointed to the federal bench during the Trump administration.

But this is a cope. Yes, there have been a few victories for conservatives. The Dobbs decision was the greatest policy victory of the conservative cause in a generation, and it was due mostly to the dogged work of the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, two institutions often unfairly maligned as “Conservative, Inc.” by the New Right, and — at least before Dobbs dropped — dismissed as failures.

Yet even the Dobbs decision was a defensive victory, handed down like a gift from on high by the Supreme Court. But it didn’t end legal abortion, and indeed the ruling itself bent over backward to avoid the broader implications of its own constitutional logic, which, as Justice Clarence Thomas explained in his concurring opinion, calls into question the constitutionality of substantive due process and the long train of Supreme Court rulings that have followed its invention more than a century ago.

As Dobbs itself suggests, defensive victories delivered by the federal judiciary aren’t going to reverse what has been, with few setbacks, a relentless, decades-long march by the left through every institution of American life. Anyone who tells you things aren’t that bad because we happen to have five mostly reliable Supreme Court justices is either delusional or quietly willing to acquiesce to leftist tyranny.

They’re probably also inclined to think Republicans didn’t really do so bad in the midterms, and that what Americans really want is just some tinkering with Social Security and the welfare state. Nothing too loud and tactically foolish. That’s more or less Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s plan if he becomes speaker of the House. After all, the country just wants to heal.

No. The country does not want to heal. It does not want “some semblance of normalcy.” There are two diametrically opposed moral systems at war right now in America, and it’s not enough at this late hour to be content with the status quo, to repose in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and hope the five good justices will somehow stop the revolutionaries.  

Just look at the successful pro-abortion midterm referendums in Michigan, Vermont, and California, where the right to kill the unborn is now enshrined in those states’ constitutions. What’s true of the abortion issue is true of nearly every other major issue in American public life. Being passive and defensive is not going to cut it. If Republicans want to win, they’d better be willing to fight. Let’s hope they are. The future of the republic depends on it.


John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.

Commentary: Pathetic media doubling down on stupid


Commentary by Ben Shapiro – Guest Columnist | Wednesday, October 17, 2018

URL of the original posting site: https://www.onenewsnow.com/perspectives/ben-shapiro/2018/10/17/pathetic-media-doubling-down-on-stupid

Ben ShapiroDemocrats have the enviable advantage of being able to trot out nearly any story and be given credibility by most of the mainstream media. And every time the media do that, they undercut their own credibility.


This week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in preparation for a 2020 presidential run, decided to fight back against President Trump’s brutal nickname for her: “Pocahontas.” Trump, you’ll recall, labeled her Pocahontas because for years, she has claimed Native American ancestry. Not only that, she claimed repeatedly that her mother’s Native American ancestry drove her parents to elope after her father’s family refused to welcome her mother with open arms thanks to their bigotry. As it turns out, Warren could never provide any evidence of Native American ancestry – even though she spent years labeling herself “Native American” while at the University of Pennsylvania Law School as well as Harvard Law School.

On Monday, Warren decided she’d had enough. She released a video of her family members discussing her claims of Native American background. “Native communities have faced discrimination, neglect and violence for generations,” Warren intoned. “And Trump can say whatever he wants about me, but mocking Native Americans or any group in order to try to get at me? That’s not what America stands for.”

She accompanied that video with her supposed proof of Native American background: an analysis by Professor Carlos Bustamante of Stanford University in which he explains that it is possible that Warren had a Native American ancestor anywhere from six to ten generations ago. That would have made her anywhere from 1/64th to 1/1,024th Native American. The study was based not on Native American DNA but on Mexican, Peruvian and Colombian DNA.

In fact, not even Cherokees were happy with Warren. In a stunning rebuke, the Cherokee Nation released a statement saying, “Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage” – and that Warren’s DNA test “makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven.”

All of this should have been foreseeable by anyone with half a brain. Falsely claiming you are Native American for years is bad enough. But releasing a study demonstrating that you are 99.9 percent white – and then claiming that such a study justifies your false claims? What made Warren, an intelligent human being, think such a thing?

Only one simple fact: Warren knows, as everyone in politics knows, that the media will cover for nearly any instance of leftist political manipulation.

  • They’ll cover for Warren fibbing about her ancestry.
  • They’ll cover for Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke driving drunk, plowing into a truck and then attempting to flee the scene of the crime.
  • They’ll cover for Arizona Senate candidate Rep. Kyrsten Sinema saying that she didn’t care if Americans joined the Taliban (CNN’s headline: “Kyrsten Sinema’s Anti-War Activist Past Under Scrutiny as She Runs for Senate”).

Democrats have the enviable advantage of being able to trot out nearly any story and be given credibility by most of the mainstream media.

Non-Democrats, however, see this game. And every time the media simply parrot Democratic talking points on issues like Warren’s ancestry, they undercut their credibility. Large media institutions have done more than anyone, including President Trump, to destroy their reputations with the American people. Their pathetic behavior over the past few weeks, in the approach to the 2018 elections, shows that they’re doubling down on stupid.

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Ben Shapiro, 34, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is The New York Times best-selling author of “Bullies.”

Berkeley’s Overreaction to Conservative Speaker Is Incredibly Pathetic


Reported By Andrew West | September 14, 2017

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