The Corner

Politics & Policy

Never Up, Never In

Surfers in Santa Monica, Calif., on the first day of the opening of L.A. County beaches in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, May 13, 2020 (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters)

I have a few links for you, if you don’t mind — including this one, to a music podcast. I’ve linked to the latest episode of my Music for a While. The episode is headed “Embraceability.” Why? Because it ends with “Embraceable You,” souped up and played by Earl Wild, that fantastic pianist-arranger-composer. The episode also includes Bach, Tchaikovsky, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and some other characters. Coleridge-Taylor was born in London in 1875. His mother was an Englishwoman, his father from Sierra Leone. In New York, Coleridge-Taylor was known as “the African Mahler.”

“A break away from the everyday” — that was once an ad slogan. Music for a While may be such a break for you.

On the homepage today, I have a piece called “A GOP Hope in California.” Huh? Who or what is that? He is Kevin Faulconer, mayor of San Diego from 2014 to last December. He is running for governor of the state. Only 24 percent of registered voters in California are Republicans. But so it is in San Diego, where Faulconer won twice, by comfortable margins. He is undaunted by the statewide challenge. He says he can win — in fact, “will win.” Politics-mad people are partisan, he says — but most people, he has found, aren’t politics-mad. They aren’t partisan. They are gettable, so to speak — up for grabs.

In 2018, I wrote a piece — a post — that some people didn’t like very much. Don’t care. It was headed “Conservative Ideas and the Question of Confidence.” My focus was California.

A lot of us conservatives have long written it off. California is too changed: too brown, too illegal, too bloated, too listless. All the good people have left, and all the bad people have stayed. You know the rap. Usually, we don’t put it this crudely, but this is what it amounts to.

What about trying to persuade people? What about trying to sell our ideas? Now, it’s usually not like me to be Mary Sunshine. It’s hard to out-cynic me. Over the last ten years, I’ve said a thousand times, “If you think Ronald Reagan could have a political career in California today, you must be smoking something. For all his talents, he couldn’t be elected dogcatcher, much less governor.”

That’s what I say — but I may be wrong. This one thing I know: You’ve got to try. “Never up, never in,” we say in golf. In other words, if you don’t get the putt to the hole, it’s not going in. If you don’t pitch your ideas to people, those ideas aren’t going to have a chance.

I wonder: Do we have so little faith in our ideas and their power? Do we think our ideas are for limited demographics? What pitiful ideas those must be, then!

In my piece today — as in that 2018 post, in fact — I speak of Susana Martinez. Let me quote from my piece:

She was elected governor of New Mexico in 2010 and again in 2014. She is a Reagan Republican. Her state was overwhelmingly Democratic when she sought the governorship (as it still is). She went to places that had rarely seen a Republican. She did not use the word “Republican” or “Democrat,” or the word “conservative” or “liberal.” She simply talked about ideas, values, and reforms — and saw heads nodding.

Yup. Never up, never in.


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