St. Peter asks:
Domine, quo vadis? (Lord, where are you going?)
To which Christ replies:
Eo Romam vado iterum crucifigi. (I am going to Rome to be crucified again.)
It’s the “again” that always gets me.
Both major American political parties face their own visceral and possible existential question – again – in which direction are they going to go?
One week before the 1964 election, Ronald Reagan captured the moment in his famous “A Time for Choosing” speech in which he endorsed Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater.
This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down – [up] man’s old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
Goldwater lost to President Lyndon Johnson 61-38% in the popular vote, lost the Electoral College 486-52, and barely won his home state 50.45 to 49.45.
But the Republicans had chosen their new direction and the foundation to the Reagan Revolution was laid. Sixteen years later, Reagan would defeat incumbent President Jimmy Carter 50-41% and 489-49 in the Electoral College. Carter soundly carried his home state of Georgia 56-41%.
Four years later, Reagan would win re-election expanding his popular vote to 59-40 and his Electoral College margin to 525-13; however, he still couldn’t win Walter Mondale’s home state of Minnesota losing 49.72 to 49.54 or just under 4,000 votes.
Just eight years after that in 1992, Arkansas Bill Clinton would lead the Democrats back to the White House defeating incumbent President George H.W. Bush who would only capture 37% of the popular vote in a three way race that included Ross Perot. Clinton won the Electoral College 370-168. And still Bush won his home state of Texas by 3 points over Clinton.
(Notice the pull of the local or base voters even in historic tidal shifts? Very telling.)
Three years into his first term and after the historic Gingrich Revolution of 1994, Clinton would declare in his 1996 State of the Union:
The era of big government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves. Instead, we must go forward as one America, one nation working together to meet the challenges we face together. Self-reliance and teamwork are not opposing virtues; we must have both.
Necessity being the motherhood of invention is not lost on our political system. Clinton saw the only path to re-election and took it.
When parties and leaders have to adapt, they do. Since the choice is almost always binary, it’s also usually obvious.
We have reached a historic and obvious decision point for both parties.
For Democrats the question is – are they going to double down on their current policies mashing the accelerator towards progressive paradise or return to Clintonian centrism based on, as Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney described at a recent dinner in Richmond, “Both / And vs Either/Or.”
Can they get back to addition vs. subtraction?
Can they do progressive policies while addressing inflation, calming very dangerous geopolitical realities, and placating pandemic parents?
Polling suggests they have their work cut out – especially with independent voters who would much rather NOT have to think about politics at all.
Their question is what matters more – your policies or your leader? Their recent victory in Virginia, a state that has been vote Democratic in statewide elections for over a decade, suggests that they can win without Donald Trump on the ballot but not without his voters – especially in rural localities that are suffering economically.
Trump’s legal problems notwithstanding, he’s a tough sell to suburban women who turned out in droves to un-elect him in 2020. STILL – he’s more popular today than Joe Biden and is leading in head to head polling. BUT that’s IF the choice is binary in 2024.
My spidey sense says that if Trump is on a path to renomination, we will once again have many candidates that would jeopardize/prevent a Trump Electoral victory.
Hence the GOP decision. Trump or the agenda?
Glenn Youngkin was able to thread that needle in 2021 with a Virginia Republican Party that had grown sick and tired of losing. Which begs the question,
Did the Virginia GOP change willingly?
Evidence suggests otherwise. They had to change.
Had they not won in 2021, Republicans would have been a third party in a two party state. It was that close. 2021 was a victorious year for the GOP, but it was also existential. They put aside their internal differences and worked together. Take that Clinton SOTU and insert Virginia and Republicans. Pivots matter.
So here we are.
It’s another time for choosing. Polling suggests that the Democrats are the ones who would be able to decide first and move toward the middle to avoid an electoral defeat.
History, however, suggests that they will wait until after the election, lick their wounds, and wait for someone to lead them back to the promised land.
In other words – the avoidable beatings will likely continue until morale improves.
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen went on CNBC and said that inflation will be “very uncomfortably high” for the next year.
That’s the good news because she also said that the Federal Reserve was going to take action to bring it down.
Recommend not eating before watching:
To wit part 2:
Excellent (and scary as hell) article from Geopolitical Futures on the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on food prices with attention to Middle East and North African (MENA) countries. Last paragraph bold for emphasis
If there were any doubts over continued high food prices, the war in Ukraine put those doubts to rest. How long the spike will last depends entirely on how long the war lasts. So far, North African and Middle Eastern countries along the Mediterranean have borne the brunt. In turn, this creates the risk of instability in a region where governments were already on weak footing. For the rest of the world, now’s a good time to consider going gluten-free.
Folks, it ain’t rocket science.
It’s just math.
Last night, Michele showed me the size of the head of cauliflower she just purchased at the grocery store and did so while telling me the price.
“What the f^ck?!”
It’s just math and it’s also just March.
Let the Madness begin!
Here’s Eminem with Lose Yourself as the On Hold video to today’s Zoom.
And the lyrics which begin:
If you had
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip?