« A reply to Prof. Post: It's nonsense to argue both that it was okay for Gov. Palin to actually fire Monegan, but that it wasn't okay for her to merely threaten to fire Monegan | Main | Sarah Palin's campaigning is infused with contagious joy »

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Advice for those conservatives with palm-shaped forehead bruises

My morning guest-post today at HughHewitt.com is a combination pep-talk and attempt to offer constructive suggestions to those who are too fixated on polls and the MSM's "it's all over" meme.


[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

Many who are rooting for the McCain-Palin ticket or against the Obama-Biden ticket are frustrated with what they view as an uninspired campaign by Sen. McCain and his advisers. That frustration leaves us susceptible to discouragement — the precise emotion that the Dems' and their mainstream media allies are working very hard at promoting, relying in large measure on political polling whose accuracy is highly suspect.

In particular, right now there's a great temptation for those of us for whom John McCain was not our first choice for the GOP nomination to already start focusing about "How He Lost It." Folks, that's way premature. I've always believed that the Dems would lead in the polls up through election day, and that any GOP nominee would be running as an underdog. Every realistic victory scenario I've ever heard for this year required our team to pass through a trough something like this one — and given the size and urgency of the economic problems, it's actually quite amazing that we're not already totally swamped.

So I'm not particularly pessimistic. Come from behind victories are sweeter, and this one would be very sweet indeed. But even if your worst fears do come true, you'll have four years to polish your coulda-shoulda arguments. And there are better things for you to do right now than just to fume, even if they may be less obvious to you at the moment.


So how can you retain your sanity and regain some peace of mind, if you're finding yourself with a palm-shaped bruise on your forehead about now? To begin with, you have to gather such serenity as you can, and simply accept that most of what you're feeling now has always been inevitable for this peculiar election season.

First, recognize that no campaign is optimal. Some of the things that most frustrate you, as a committed conservative, as you watch the path of the McCain campaign may not be miscues at all in the eyes of independent or cross-over voters. And the Biden-Obama campaign has also continued to make its own share of blunders — of which, again, only some of may be obvious to you, since you're not in that swing voter group. To a larger extent than you probably would think likely, each campaign's mistakes will tend cancel each other out.

Next, keep in mind that John McCain's character traits that are dictating the kind of campaign he's runniing — which includes his stubbornness, his instincts toward compromise, and a sense of propriety and decency (which his opponent and his campaign feign but do not truly share) — are, and have always been, parts of a double-edged sword. John McCain is what he is.  And he is uninterested in, and incapable of, remaking himself in any fundamental way to meet an acute campaign need. Indeed, friends and neighbors, he's already demonstrated more innovative thinking — by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate — than I would permit myself to expect back when he clinched the nomination.

And finally, keep in mind that there are limits to what either campaign could accomplish even if either were to suddenly begin to run an optimal, perfect campaign. Even among those voters who are still undecided, most of them will end up making their final decisions based on the underlying fundamentals of the election — not based on the latest proposals from either campaign over the coming three weeks before election day. Between now and November 4th, Barack Obama is not going to miraculously grow a genuine record of legislative accomplilshment, for example, and neither is he going to transmute himself into anything but a first-term Chicago politician who's still "green behind the ears." Yes, he'll come up with new panders and give-aways — tens of billions of dollars worth of those. But fundamentally, he's not gotten any better, and he's just hoping he can keep his current momentum to manage to coast across the finish line.

I'm not saying that what the campaigns do or don't do over the next three weeks won't matter. But I don't think what they do or don't do will matter nearly as much as those who are part of either campaigns, or who are caught up in daily tracking polls and political minutia, tend to assume they do. We're approaching the end, but the end isn't the only thing that matters — and our side has already avoided the possibility that Obama would have opened a twenty-point national lead by now, which is no small accomplishment.


But adjusting your thinking isn't all you can do. There are active measures you can take to save your forehead from more palm-shaped bruises:

None of us ultimately can be certain of anything more than our own individual votes. I expect to vote early, to eliminate even the slight worry that something might happen before election day — another hurricane, or a car wreck on the way to the polls — that would interfere with my intent. On every occasion in the past when I've taken advantage of early voting opportunities, I've felt more peaceful and satisfied during the remaining days before the election and on election day itself. So: If you're frustrated that your side isn't running the kind of campaign you wish it would run, the best treatment for your frustration may be to go ahead and vote.

But remember, too, that politics is neither a solitary affair, nor a top-down affair. While you can only be certain of your own vote, that does not mean that you lack any ability to influence any others. With the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your own vote is cast, perhaps you will find renewed energy and creativity. Find some way, big or small, to actually campaign for your side! You might decide to participate in some formal way, by volunteering, for example, to make phone calls. Or you might make a mental list of people you know whose votes you suspect may still be undetermined or subject to reconsideration. And then you can set about deciding how best to persuade them to your point of view.

You and I can't likely change what the McCain campaign is doing at this point. But you and I do have our own limited spheres of influence. Win or lose, I'll be happier both now and for the four years after election day if I've done all I can that's within my own power.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 11:12 PM in 2008 Election, McCain, Obama, Politics (2008) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Advice for those conservatives with palm-shaped forehead bruises and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


The comments to this entry are closed.