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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn’s electoral post-mortem

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HH: Joined by Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World. Mark, welcome, the Iranians are shooting at our drones. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

MS: No, I think that’s, whatever it is, the election night party in Tehran got a little out of hand, I think something like that.

HH: Have you recovered from the hangover yet?

MS: I haven’t really. I kind of have mixed feelings to be honest, because in a sense, it’s very good news for my book, After America, or as Dennis Miller said to me the other day, he said they should just retitle it Wednesday.

HH: (laughing)

MS: But obviously, that’s great news for me. But on the other hand, I’m filled with a terrible sadness that the big central points I made in that book, which is that the United…it is highly doubtful that the United States political system has the capacity for meaningful course correction. That’s the central point of the book, really. And I’m very sad that that was demonstrated on Tuesday evening.

HH: Our mutual friend, Dr. Larry Arnn, was on yesterday, and we’ll get that transcript up eventually. And he is one of these who say fear not, we self-correct, and clarity comes slowly and at great cost. I do think there’s one silver lining. Well, there are many silver linings. But one of them is that the reckoning that you’ve written about, not just in After America, but also America Alone, is accelerated, Mark Steyn.

MS: Well, I think in the sense that Mitt Romney got, whatever it was, 48-49% of the vote. Reality doesn’t need to get a majority. Reality can get 2% of the vote, and it will still trump everything else. And America’s rendezvous with reality is coming, and that doesn’t matter how many attack ads you make about Big Bird or binders or anything else.

HH: Now Mark, I’ve been arguing that Mitt Romney primarily lost because of Sandy and Candy, and that it’s sort of like a rain delay in the 8th inning when you’ve got all the momentum. It blew in, and 40-plus percent of Americans said that influenced their vote. That’s very depressing, by the way. That’s a reality show electorate, not a real electorate.

MS: Yeah, I mean, the reality is that there is a little bit of snow. I mean, by my, I’m speaking from Northern New Hampshire, and it wasn’t anything we’d regard as a big snow. But there was a little bit of snow in Staten Island today, so the FEMA guys didn’t bother showing up to work at the office. So in a way, a guy standing in a presidential bomber jacket and looking serious as he answers his cell phone, if that’s enough to convince the American people that they have a really terrific government, more fool them. I said in my last column before the election that the problem in Benghazi was that the guy in the bomber jacket is all jacket and no bombers. I don’t, I think Sandy embodies…the post-Sandy emergency management embodies very well the big, bloated, bureaucratic nothing of big government. I disagree with you slightly that that was to blame for everything, Hugh. I mean, let me just say one thing about Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is a tremendously good and decent man who has given his money, which he’s got plenty of, but not just that, he’s also given his time, which he is in a sense far more valuable for rich men, to help hundreds and thousands of people throughout his life. And this would be a better country. This would be a much better country if there were more men like Mitt Romney, and fewer men like Barack Obama who think that kindness and compassion and empathy means demanding that the government give somebody else’s money to help the guy down the street. And I salute Mitt Romney for that. But I do think it was in a sense too narrowly focused a campaign. And all those smart guys in Boston, those slick consultants who regardless of whether the candidate wins or loses move on to the next campaign, ill served him in the narrowness of that campaign.

HH: There is always a tug of war between the inside consultant boiler room people and the communicators on the outside urging that this argument be taken public. Someday, someone will. I think Reagan did years ago. But tightly tailoring the message for fear of losing 50,000 votes in Ohio doesn’t work like they thought it would work. It didn’t work. Now Mark Steyn, there’s a big deal coming. There has to be a big deal, because this disaster that is the fiscal cliff has already paralyzed markets and scared people, and they’ve got to come up with something. What do you think should be in it? What should the Speaker and the Republicans agree to?

MS: Well, I think they need to agree to meaningful reform. I mean, we forget that this idea of trillion dollar, $1.3 trillion and up as the new normal is in fact something that only began after the collapse of Lehmann Brothers. It’s basically four years old. And Barack Obama has established that as a new normal. A deal has to, a deal has to say that cannot be the new normal, because if it does, it will destroy the United States of America. It will bankrupt the United States of America. And my fear is that instead of actually addressing that reality, we’ll get phony bipartisanship. We’ll get pseudo bipartisanship, and we will get basically some agreement to agree to, as John Boehner has said, agree to new sources of revenue, which means closing loopholes, but that the real driver of American collapse, which are the deficits and the entitlements, there will be, that can will be kicked down the road at a time when there is no road, only a huge drop into the abyss.

HH: Now Mark, I have been arguing that Republicans ought to get out ahead and put immigration reform on the table as a means of bringing new taxpayers out of the shadows, and getting ahead of the President’s inevitable use of this again as a dividing wedge issue. What do you think the GOP and conservatives generally ought to be thinking and saying about immigration reform right now? And by that, I mean not amnesty, but regularization, I call it. You get to stay, but don’t be looking for a path to citizenship anytime.

MS: Well you know something, I mean, I respect that argument, Hugh, but the reality is that I happened to be a U.S. immigration office a couple of weeks ago, because I made the mistake of being a legal immigrant. And the fact of the matter is…

HH: And they’re still watching you?

MS: Yeah, I mean, and by the way, when you say we need to bring these people out of the shadows, I speak as one guy who actually quite likes the sound of living in the shadows, out of the klieg lights of the U.S. Treasury and all the other enforcers of the United States government. And I’m making a semi-serious point here, by the way, in that if you look at the way illegal immigrant communities live in the United States, for example, where they send these huge remittances back to Mexico, which are now basically Mexico’s biggest source of revenue, it’s bigger than tourism or oil, they would not be able to do that, by the way, if they were legal citizens and had to fill in legal annual tax returns declaring overseas foreign bank accounts and all the rest. They wouldn’t be able just to keep sending all that money out of the country every month. So I think the idea that even illegal immigrants are itching to come out of the shadows and live under the klieg lights of the IRS is slightly doubtful. But you know, in effect, I accept something has to be done about that. But Republicans have to be wary about accepting the logic of this. It’s true that the white vote, which apparently cost Romney the election, the diminishing white vote, is shrinking two points basically with every election. But that phenomenon is not as natural as Hurricane Sandy. It’s the result of Democratic policies…

HH: Sure it is.

MS: …that have been put in place specifically for that purpose.

HH: But it brings us, the last thing I want to ask you about, eight out of ten millennials, 18-29 year olds who are not white, so you’ve got Asian-American, Latinos, black, eight out of ten voted for Barack Obama. That is a terrible demographic, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yeah, and I would say what Barack Obama did was quite brilliant. I’ve lived in places where politics is tribal. I’ve lived in Belfast, and in the province of Quebec, you know, in both places you basically have secessionists and loyalists, and people vote tribally. The present Democratic coalition is one based on tribal identity. You vote because you’re a woman, you vote your lady parts as Obama advised them. If you’re black, you vote based on your ethnicity. If you’re lesbian, you vote based on your orientation. The Republican Party asked people to vote as citizens, to say that that is your most important identity. You might be lesbian, you might be Hispanic or whatever, but you’re a citizen, and you vote as a citizen. And I’m very wary of just going down the route of identity group pandering, because I think it’s ultimately destructive of cohesive, it’s the biggest argument in favor of big government, because you say well, we’ve got all these competing identity groups, we’ve got a bunch of Muslims on one side of the street, and then a bunch of gay guys on the other side of the street, and only big government can mediate the competing interest of the fire breathing mullahs and the hedonist gays. And I think you damage the polity going down that path.

HH: We will continue that conversation in weeks ahead, Mark Steyn, thank you. www.steynonline.com, America, @marksteynonline on Twitter.

End of interview.

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