Wednesday, May 18, 2011


In Which I Declare My Candidacy for President of the United States

Dear readers, I am announcing my candidacy for the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States. Any questions?

Q: Who the hell are you?

A: I’m a middle-aged white guy with a wife, two kids, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. (Seriously!) I have a birth certificate showing I was born in the USA, and I meet the height requirement.

Q: Okay, but how about a name? A picture?

D: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reality shows, it’s that Americans love the “big reveal.” They’ll get it at the inauguration.

Q: Why run as a Republican?

A: Because there are no plausible candidates in the Republican party, and nobody running as a true conservative.

Q: But aren’t you a bleeding heart liberal?

A: I’m a true conservative. I believe in conserving the best traditions and institutions of our country. I believe in maintaining public education, public services, Social Security, and a sustainable health care system and military. These are all under attack by people who falsely claim the mantle of ‘conservative.’ Conservatives conserve; it’s what they do. I will conserve the best of what America has been and done. I propose to take our tax structure back to the days of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, who knew a thing or two about protecting American institutions from threats.

Q: Sustainable health care system? You mean like vouchers?

A: I mean like single-payer. Get the marketing and cost-shifting out of there, and get our costs down to those of other advanced countries. Making health care a right of citizenship would make it easier for people to start their own businesses, since they wouldn’t have to worry about losing their health insurance. Small business are the heart of the economy, you know. Main Street and whatnot.

Q: But what about God, guns, and gays?

A: What about them? I believe in the uncoerced exercise of religion, and the uncoerced freedom from it, just like Thomas Jefferson. I believe in well-regulated militias, and I will not hesitate to regulate them accordingly. As for gays, I believe in the proud American traditions of civil rights and integration.

Q: What about a strong defense?

A: I reclaim the proud conservative tradition of skepticism towards military adventurism. This is the tradition of Robert Taft and the younger Bob Dole. Anyone who truly cares about maintaining a sustainable military will not squander blood and treasure on wars of choice.

Q: You still sound like a lefty.

A: That’s because political conversation in America is so plutocratic that we’ve lost our bearings. A true conservative is not a plutocrat, since wealth is so fluid; a true conservative maintains the underlying structure of things, the better to allow people to find their own ways. A true conservative understands the dangers of forcing utopias, and the folly of impulsiveness. Better to get the rules right and stick with them.

Q: But are you a viable candidate?

A: Have you seen the field? At this point, it’s basically me and Tim Pawlenty, and that’s just sad. Besides, I’ve got plenty of Republican bona fides. I’m a balding middle-aged heterosexual white guy who thinks Sarah Palin is kinda hot. I’ll fit right in!

Q: Do you have any electoral experience?

A: Nope. I can run as an outsider! They love that stuff.

Q: What political base do you bring?

A: Well, there’s no polite way to say this, but the Republican party has become a non-factor at the national level in the Northeast. You just can’t do that NASCAR crap around here and get taken seriously. I could bring the Northeast back into the fold! I speak “academic,” and don’t have even the slightest trace of a Southern accent.

Q: What about the South?

A: What are they gonna do, vote Democratic? Puh-leeeze. Landslide time!

Q: Any thoughts on a running mate?

A: I’m thinking of asking Lesboprof to join me. She’d bring good geographic and gender balance to the ticket, and she’s funny as hell. And talk about conservative! She and her partner have been together for decades! Besides, we’d have a mortal lock on the long-neglected “Jewish lesbian” vote.

Q: Well, good luck with that.

A: Hey, it’s a better idea than President Romney.

Knowing DD as I do, I can vouch for the public that he does, in fact, possess many qualities that put him at the head of the pack.

--DD is not a replicant or android, so he's ahead of Romney.
--DD is on his first marriage, and his personal life is spotless, so he's ahead of Gingrich.
--DD can name the newspapers he reads, so he's ahead of Palin.
--DD's hair is only a little goofy looking, so he's ahead of Trump.

I look forward to seeing him portrayed on SNL by Tina Fey.
I wish you better luck than I had in 1984.
And this is why I always insist that I am a conservative to people (I make the addition point that conservation is a conservative value, and TR was a Republican). And they never believe me.
I say it's worth a try. It would be fun to see how many of my GOP-registered colleagues (I am a civil servant in the heart of the Midsouth--think Omaha-below-the Mason/Dixon Line) would actually prick up their ears and show interest before realizing that they might be 'way uncomfortable with this sort of conservatism.
I agree completely that you are far a more attractive Republican candidate than anyone in the race to this point. I agree that that's just sad. I'm sure you realize I'm a conservative, one who finds the Republicans bitterly disappointing.

I'll cheerfully give you the Eisenhower tax regime if you'll give me the Eisenhower health care delivery system. Your advocacy of single payer is at odds with your disclaiming "forcing utopias."

Despite the 90% top marginal rate of the Eisenhower era, so beloved by liberals, the federal share of GDP was not higher then than it was under Bush before the recession. The top 5% of taxpayers pay a larger share of gross federal revenue now than they did then, so today's system is more progressive in practice, even if the top rates are lower. The 90% rate encouraged tax shelters that provided no economic benefit except to the tax lawyers and accountants who devised them. A better approach would reward economic growth. If you believe economic growth is a good thing, that is.

What you probably really want is for the spread between the top and bottom of the income cohorts to be smaller, as in the 1950s. Frankly, I'd like that also. But that's not a tax issue, that goes to structural changes in our economy.
I wish you were wrong about the South. Sadly, as a blue dot in a very red state, I know you are right. If the candidate is Republican and conservative, little else matters.
Great post!

Although I wouldn't point so quickly to single payer healthcare as the fix-all for our healthcare crisis. There are other countries that do not have single payer that do a pretty great job (Germany, for example) and there are single payer systems that leave anyone with a chronic condition in the limbo of long lines, uncertain coverage, etc. (England, for example).

I've done research in several countries on the various intricacies of different healthcare systems and it's not quite so simple as "single payer fixes all problems." You just get different problems. As long as we continue to cover ever increasing options for treatment for all conditions, and we don't raise taxes or find another way to pay for said coverage, and we don't incentivize the right behaviors for actually keeping people healthy, healthcare will bankrupt us.

But who, in the moment, wants to give up their chance to get their potentially life-saving treatment? Exactly. Not that I think our current system is working all that great, for those unlucky enough not to have great employer-provided benefits. Obama's legislation is a step in the right direction, at least.

However, if you ran on the republican ticket, and I had to vote Republican, I'd definitely vote for you.
We're beginning the Google Earth search tonight. We shoould have your home located by 0530 tomorrow. The black helicopters will arrive within 30 minutes of our sighting of the wife, the two kids, the dog, and the picket fence. We cannot allow this sort of thing to go on.
No, a "true conservative" is a plutocrat, just like the "true conservatives" who led the South to secession, who fought the antitrust laws, who owned the 1920s, who caused the Depression and fought against its amelioration, who fought against the Civil Rights Movement and for our colonial adventures in Vietnam and elsewhere.

The myth is that there is a conservative philosophy. The actuality is that conservatives are conservative. They believe in authority and hierarchy and helping the big man against the little man.
Indeed, Dantes proves my point -- he talks about the "utopia" of single-payer, as though single-payer systems had not been successfully implemented in places as diverse as Singapore, Costa Rica, Germany, and Sweden. There's no sense to conservative words or advocacy, only a sense to the bank accounts on whose behalf they are applied.
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