The electoral college count is behind us. Now please let this old, battle-scarred, swamp fox let you in on an important open secret about politics and government. A spanking new administration comes off its electoral victory with political capital and momentum.
The first hundred days matter. A lot.
A new president's success depends on two factors. How he invests (or squanders) his political capital. And, will his rival political party come up with a compelling counter narrative?
I can't speak for the Biden administration. But I have a few choice words for the GOP.
It's hard to overstate how potent "the first hundred days" of a new administration are in setting the national tone. The narrative it generates, for better or worse, typically becomes intractable for the remaining four years. A president has about three months, rhetorically called "the first hundred days," to parlay his (someday her) electoral momentum into major, meaningful, policy victories. If he succeeds he can build political capital and go from victory to victory to … re-election and then, potentially, succession.
The "first hundred days" was coined for FDR and his massive legislative successes in getting the New Deal passed. Roosevelt thereby captured the popular imagination and went on to a landslide re-election (plus a couple of bonus rounds). Ronald Reagan astutely used his political capital to wring inflation out of the economy and get Congress to cut dramatically marginal income tax rates, setting the stage for a roaring economy that propelled him to a 49-state re-election landslide and ... then victory in the Cold War.
William Clinton, having been tutored by James Carville that "it's the economy, stupid," put together a great economy team, later featured on the cover of TIME as "the Committee to Save the World." Team Clinton pulled America out of the Bush recession, generated robust prosperity and a hefty federal budget surplus. Bill Clinton went on to a handy re-election despite his pretty-well-known Peccadillo Circus.
If a president stumbles he will find himself bogged down in a quagmire that resembles what Sen. John Warner eloquently referred to, in another context, "a byzantine thicket filled with potholes and quicksand."
Quagmire. Remember Jimmy Carter's "malaise" and his widely mocked Sunday School teacher response: "the Moral Equivalent of War," derided as his great MEOW? One-term president.
The unknown unknown is whether the GOP is going to stop sulking and put forward its own vision of a Shining City on a Hill. "We wuz robbed," a self-pitying message, isn't a vote-getter. A powerful vision would position the Pachyderms to, in 2022, take back the House, keep or regain the Senate and launch a formidable challenge in 2024.
Biden's "first hundred days," January 20 to May 1, and the Republican response, will set the tone for the entire Biden-Harris term. Or terms. Right now, the GOP is stuck in the early stages of the grieving process: denial and anger.
Will it move on to bargaining, depression and acceptance? Yes, if the Republican party hasn't defaulted into puppet status for the Trump family dynasty, regaining its will to live. We shall see.
There are zero votes in crying sour grapes. If the GOP keeps up its snowflakery the establishment media will gladly paint us as sore losers … especially since Republicans won almost everything south of the presidency. If the GOP goes on offense with an inspiring, exciting message it will put the left on its back foot and give America something worth voting for going into 2022.
I consider the right message to be that propounded by Claremont Institute chairman Tom Klingenstein, with whom I have had an indirect professional relationship: "America is Good." It is politically, rhetorically and morally a great counter to "Cancel America."
America The Good splits the left, isolating the tyrannical "Blame America First" progressives from the America-loving labor and ethnic left. Featuring this declaration would force the Dems into internecine warfare and, if the good guys win, force them to play catch up. Win-win.
And let the GOP give America someone, as well as something, worth voting for. Sen. Marsha Blackburn's standing up to counter the Left's "Change America" Vision is powerful. Blackburn would make a superb national spokesperson for the Republican Party. And a wonderfully appealing first round presidential draft pick in 2024, surely for all those whose last name isn't Trump.
Per the Daily Signal, "Blackburn's commitment to promote strong conservative ideas is also the mission of her new podcast 'Freedom Rings.' The podcast will discuss 'faith, family, freedom, hope, and opportunity, with great patriots who are seeking to advance the conservative cause and who are working to ensure every American has the opportunity to live the American dream,' Blackburn said. ..."
America the Good. America the Beautiful.
From sea to shining sea.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior adviser, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as co-founder of and senior counselor to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.