McCarthy – "Knives Come Out for Senators Cruz and Lee"

The Knives Come Out for Senators Cruz and Lee

Republican leaders don’t want them to derail Obama’s amnesty.

By Andrew C. McCarthy – NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE

McCarthy – The Internal Repression Service

The revenue agency has become a tool for suppressing speech.

By Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review

Andy McCarthy
Andy C. McCarthy

Through months of Obama administration stonewalling, the redoubtable Judicial Watch perseveres in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, finally uncovering bombshell documents that have eluded several congressional investigations.

For the second time in a matter of days, we find that standing oversight committees with competing subject-matter jurisdictions and limited attention spans are incapable of the grand-jury-style probe needed to get to the bottom of administration lawlessness.

For that, in the absence of a scrupulous special prosecutor reasonably independent from the Obama Justice Department (not gonna happen), it becomes clear that a select committee will be necessary.

Just two weeks ago, the scandal involved the cover-up of administration duplicity regarding the Benghazi massacre. (See my related article in the new edition of National Review.) Now, it is the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service.

For a year, the administration and IRS headquarters in Gomorrah by the Potomac have attempted to run an implausible con-job:

“The harassment of organizations opposed to Obama’s policies by an executive-branch agency had nothing to do with the Obama administration — it was just a rogue operation by an IRS office in Cincinnati which, though regrettably overzealous, was apolitical, non-ideological, and without “even a smidgen of corruption.”

The story had about as much credibility as the administration’s “blame the video” script that Susan Rice dutifully performed on the post-Benghazi Sunday shows, or the Justice Department’s 2011 assurance to Congress that its agents would never knowingly allow the transfer of a couple of thousand guns to criminal gangs in Mexico. The “Cincinnati did it” yarn has been unraveling since it was first spun by IRS honcho Lois Lerner and, soon afterwards, by President Obama himself. The lie has now been exploded by e-mails clawed from the IRS by Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act suit.irs-lied-to-congress-820x48

These include one from a top IRS lawyer in Washington succinctly explaining in July 2010 that “EOT [i.e., the revenue agency’s “Exempt Organization Technical unit” in Washington] is working Tea party applications in coordination with Cincy.” “Tea party applications” were requests by conservative groups to be granted tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. By selectively setting aside their applications, delaying the conferral of tax-exempt status to which the law entitled them, and putting them through inquisitions that violated their constitutional rights to political speech and association, IRS headquarters prevented them from raising funds and organizing as an effective opposition.

The e-mails elucidate that Cincinnati’s strings were being pulled in Washington: “We are developing a few applications here in DC and providing copies of our development letters with the agent [in Cincinnati] to use as examples in the development of their cases.” “Tea party applications,” IRS headquarters elaborates, have been isolated as “the subject of an SCR” — meaning “sensitive case report.” To “resolve” such cases would require “coordination with Rob” — a reference, Judicial Watch contends, to Rob Choi, who was then a high-ranking IRS official in Washington.

It is no more conceivable that IRS headquarters was off on its own anti–Tea Party witch-hunt than that the subordinate Cincinnati office was. The fuse, it must be recalled, was lit by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, affirming the First Amendment’s prohibition against government restrictions of political speech by corporations. The ruling enraged the Left and prompted the president’s tongue-lashing of the stunned justices during the 2010 State of the Union address.

At this point, it remains unclear which, if any, administration officials were — to borrow the delicate term — “coordinating” with the IRS. It is manifest, though, that in the atmosphere charged by Obama’s impertinence, congressional Democrats felt empowered to push the IRS to undermine free political speech through administrative intimidation. Judicial Watch’s FOIA suit reveals correspondence in which Senator Carl Levin, the powerful Michigan Democrat, agitates for IRS action against several conservative groups. In accommodating responses, then-IRS deputy commissioner Steven Miller takes pains to assure him that flexible regulations enable the revenue agency to design “individualized questions and requests” for targeted Section 501(c)(4) applicants.

2014-05-15-b672324fAfter a damning Treasury inspector-general report last year, even the IRS concedes that its singling out of conservative groups and obnoxiously intrusive demands for information were “inappropriate.” In truth, they were blatantly unconstitutional. As is always the case in Washington scandals, the question of whether crimes were committed arises — and now, the companion question of whether lawmakers who encouraged executive lawlessness are guilty of crimes.

For the time being, the lawsuits brought by conservative organizations victimized by the IRS have alleged only civil wrongs: principally, the deprivation of their constitutional rights to free speech and association, and of their statutory right to tax-exempt status. Nevertheless, these claims could trigger criminal jeopardy. For example, federal law (specifically, Section 242 of the penal code) makes it a crime for a government official to “willfully subject[] any person . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”

Without a competent, impartial investigation, it will be tough to amass sufficient evidence to prove a willful violation of law. The officials implicated would surely claim — however dubiously — that they were just trying to enforce ambiguous regulations. Moreover, even if executive-branch officials could be proved criminally culpable, any prosecution of members of Congress would face a severe roadblock: the broad constitutional immunity lawmakers enjoy whenever arguably engaged in “legislative acts.” Remember Representative William Jefferson, whose crass acceptance of bribes did not stop a federal appeals court from invalidating an FBI search of his Capitol Hill office.

In any event, as I argued here last weekend, to focus on criminal or civil liability is to miss the point. The importance of government officials lies in the public trust reposed in them and the awesome power it entails. When they demonstrate themselves to be unworthy of that trust, the imperative is to take the power away.

The IRS has become a vehicle of repression — one that Democrats have further empowered through Obamacare. Its budget should be slashed, and we should figure out better ways to raise revenue. In addition, government officials have engaged in conduct that, at a minimum, grossly disregarded the constitutional rights our government exists to safeguard. Whether such serious misbehavior is attributable to incompetence or corruption, the officials who engaged in it should be defrocked. Most of us couldn’t care less whether they are sent to jail or successfully sued, but we should all insist that they no longer wield power.LernerLewMiller

The most ominous development in the IRS scandal is the confederation of executive and congressional authority in opposition to our fundamental rights. The accumulation of all government powers in the same hands, Madison warned, “may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” In a free society, powers must be separated. The Framers thus gave us a Constitution that heeded the wisdom of Montesquieu:

When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.

The IRS scandal presents a textbook case of tyrannical execution. It is fraught with peril. We are dealing not merely with a single president, who presumes to rule by decree; nor just with his congressional partisans, who presume to pull the executive bureaucracy’s coercive levers. Enormous power is cumulating in an ideological movement that is hostile to free expression, one that views its political opposition not as fellow citizens with a different point of view but as enemies to be silenced and destroyed.

Frightening times.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His next book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, will be released by Encounter Books on June 3.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An error in this column as it originally appeared has been corrected, as explained here.

Andy McCarthy – Misinformation and Knowledge of Boston, Ricin

Editor’s Note – Once again, we have Andre C. McCarthy’s most valuable insight. Remember, he of the US Attorney’s Office that handled the 1993 WTC attack and the Blind Imam. Stay tuned”

Misinformation and Anxiety in Boston Terrorism Investigation

By Andrew C. McCarthy – From PJ Media

Misinformation rather than enlightenment has been the order of the day in the investigation of Monday’s terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon. The anxiety stemming from the attack and the stream of inaccurate news about it is further freighted, moreover, by the FBI’s confirmation that two letters addressed to top political officials — President Obama and Senator Richard Wicker (R., MS) — tested positive for ricin, a deadly poison. As noted below, a man identified as Kenneth Curtis of Tupelo, Mississippi, has reportedly been arrested in connection with the mailings

Early this afternoon, massive confusion was generated when mainstream media outlets first reported that an arrest had been made in the bombing case, then retracted that claim. CNN, in particular, kept insisting there had been an arrest even after other press agencies denied it. When all was said and done, though, it appeared that no suspect had even been in police custody, much less been formally charged — and that perhaps no suspect has even been identified yet.

This is a common phenomenon in the high profile investigations that follow terrorist attacks. The investigators actually working the case would rather there were no disclosures made about the status of the investigation. At this point, their work is best done in secret — or, at least, as much secrecy as is possible. Otherwise, any conspirators who may not already have fled will be alerted that it’s time to skip town, destroy evidence, and intimidate witnesses.

These investigative agencies actually work for the public, however, and the public has an extraordinarily high level of interest in the progress of the case. Thus the agencies have official press agents whose job it is to keep the public reasonably informed without compromising investigative leads and tactics — not an easy job.

Then there is the most unruly and damaging dynamic in the equation: the media and its anonymous law-enforcement sources. It seems every media outlet is in a rabid competition to be first, rather than most accurate, with every breaking development. This combines toxically with the fact that sources who hide behind anonymity — precisely because they are not supposed to be running off at the mouth — have widely varying levels of knowledge about the actual goings-on in the case.

Couple this with the fact that most journalists and many agents are not well-versed in the esoterica of the justice system — in which, for example, “arrest” is different from “custody”; a “suspect” is different from a “person of interest”; and “detention” is different from “apprehension” — and you have the roadmap to error-ridden reporting. The problem is not that reporters and sources are intentionally misleading the public.

It is that their information is both less reliable than they think it is and easily given to miscommunication. A potential witness’s voluntary submission to a law-enforcement interview could be mistaken for a suspect’s surrender to police custody. Solid leads on a potential bomber based on video and forensic evidence could be miscommunicated as a solid identification of a suspect. The issuance of an arrest warrant for a person not in custody could be miscommunicated as an actual arrest.

In most circumstances, this would not create torrents of misinformation. Reporters would corroborate new information through multiple, independent sources (rather than dependent sources who may just be echoing the same bad information).

They would refrain from publishing until they were sure. But what is happening in Boston is not normal. It is a frenzy. And even worse than its effect of confusing and angering the public is the help it gives the terrorists. The leak-generated misinformation puts pressure on investigative agencies to correct the record; these public corrections give the terrorists insights into the state of the investigation that they would not otherwise have. It makes them harder to catch. It makes critical evidence harder to obtain.

At this moment, we are in no better position than we were yesterday to provide informed hypotheses about who may have carried out the bombing attack and why. We don’t know what the investigators know, but on our state of information, it would be irresponsible to discount the possibility that this is an instance of jihadist terror. Of course, other ideological motivations cannot be ruled out, either. My point is that it is ludicrous to enforce a politically correct filter in which the most plausible explanation must not be spoken on pain of being cast out as a racist “Islamophobe,” yet every other theory, no matter how half-baked, is given a respectful airing.

We know that jihadists tend to target predominantly non-Muslim civilian populations with mass destruction weapons, as was done in Boston on Monday. In addition, their preferred weapon for the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan has been the improvised explosive device (IED) — the kind of home-made bomb that is recommended by al Qaeda’s InspiredMagazine and that often employs “pressure cookers” of the sort used in two recent jihadist terror attacks in the U.S.

The attacks on Monday were by IEDs that featured pressure cookers. None of that proves that the Boston Marathon bombing is the work of jihadists, but it does underscore that — absent hard information pointing in a different direction — it is entirely reasonable to suspect that this is the case and to investigate accordingly.

By contrast, we haven’t had much “anti-government” terrorism but when we’ve had it — e.g., the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — it tends to be targeted at government installations, not civilians. And historically, the radical Left is far more wedded to violent “direct action” than conservative movements like the Tea Party, which has no history of violence.
It should go without saying that we have had terrorists of varying political stripes, and even of no coherent political persuasion. Therefore, no radical ideology that urges violence should be ruled out at this point when, apparently, no perpetrators have been identified. How strange, though, that what experience suggests are the least likely scenarios — conservatives or anti-government extremists striking savagely at their defenseless fellow citizens — are being embraced seriously (even wistfully) by some media pundits, while one must walk on eggshells to describe scenarios whose proving out would surprise no one.

Finally, and eerily reminiscent of the post-9/11 anthrax scare, is the discovery that letters addressed to the president and Senator Wicker (so far) contained a granular substance that has, according to the FBI, “preliminarily tested positive for ricin.” NBC News has just reported that federal agents have arrested a Mississippi man, Kenneth Curtis, in connection with the mailings (which were signed, “I am KC and I approve of this message.”).

At least at this early stage, investigators are said to believe that there is no connection between the mailings and Monday’s bombing in Boston. That certainly sounds like a reasonable conclusion under the circumstances: Putting aside that Curtis is from Mississippi, the letters were postmarked in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 8 — a week before the bombing in Boston; and more testing and investigation are necessary before the feds can confidently conclude that the substance involved is actually ricin and that it was intentionally conveyed by the sender. Until there is certainty that the two incidents are unrelated, though, the lines of communication between the two investigations must remain open.

Morsi’s Maneuver in Egypt

Editor’s Note – The author of the following article Andrew C. McCarthy, is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was published by Encounter Books.

He is also a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. A Republican, he is most notable for leading the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others. The defendants were convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and planning a series of attacks against New York City landmarks.[1] He also contributed to the prosecutions of terrorists who bombed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He resigned from the Justice Department in 2003.

He has used the West’s democracy fetish to put a gun to his population’s head.

By Andrew C. McCarthy – NRO

Phase II of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s declaration of sweeping dictatorial powers was completed on Thursday night. That is when the “constituent assembly” hastily completed a draft constitution that would enshrine sharia principles as fundamental law.

Morsi grabbed the reins with a shrewd caveat: His dictatorship would end once the draft constitution was approved by Egyptians in a national referendum — which is to say, once the dictatorship had served its purpose. Nearly three months ago, in my e-book Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy (which is about to be published in paperback), I explained that Morsi’s agglomeration of power — which was already underway only weeks after his election — was just a placeholder. He is an Islamic-supremacist hardliner whose ultimate goal has always been to impose sharia, the real dictatorship.

Remember the Brotherhood’s notorious motto, which includes the proclamation “the Koran is our law.” It is about to be. In effect, Morsi has used the West’s democracy fetish to put a gun to his population’s head: Either democratically approve anti-democratic sharia or accept the sharia-compliant rule of your democratically elected Islamist despot. Some choice.

Naturally, secularists and religious minorities are grousing. This has the Western media, once again, in full spring-fever flush. For our intelligentsia, the Middle East is a wonderland where Islamists are imagined to be “moderate” (even “largely secular”!) and — to hedge their bets, on the off chance that the Islamists turn out to be, well, Islamists — the population is imagined to be teeming with freedom-loving Jamal al-Madisons who crave American-style civil rights. In reality, supremacist Islam is the predominant ideology of the region. The Muslim Brotherhood is strong because it is the avant-garde of the Islamic masses. Non-Islamist democrats are a decided minority.

Of course, in a place like Egypt, with its population of 80 million people, a decided minority can easily be masqueraded as the majority. The West’s progressive media is good at that — ignoring tea-party throngs while lavishing coverage on five-person Occupy protests as if they were a groundswell. But, you see, the hocus-pocus works here only because we’ve ceded all the leading institutions of opinion to progressives for a half-century. Conditioned to see what they’ve been told to believe, half of our population no longer sees through the smoke and mirrors.

In contrast, the Islamists control and otherwise intimidate Egyptian society’s influential institutions by vigorously enforcing sharia’s repression of discussion and dissent. The public knows the tune is called by the likes of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Brotherhood’s powerhouse jurist, not by Wael Ghonim and the young, tech-savvy progressives beloved of the New York Times. In Egypt, the conspiracy theories run against the progressives. The public won’t be snookered into seeing an Islamist uprising as a “democratic” upheaval. They’ll leave that to us.

The Times and the Brotherhood-smitten Obama administration won’t tell you, but Spring Fever will: The constitution was always the prize. That is why the Brothers pursued it with their signature mendacity. The story goes back to the weeks immediately after Mubarak’s fall in early 2011 — back to the most tellingly underreported and willfully misreported event in the “Arab Spring” saga: Egypt’s first-ever free election.

With the trillion-plus dollars U.S. taxpayers have expended to promote “Islamic democracy” and its companion fantasy that elections equal democracy, you’d think you might have heard a bit more about the maiden voyage in Arabia’s most important country. But no, the story barely registered. That is because the Islamists crushed the secular democrats. To grasp what happened on Thursday night, you need to understand why. That first election, zealously contested in sectarian terms, was precisely about Egypt’s future constitution.

Technically, the referendum concerned amendments to the constitution in effect during Mubarak’s reign. Despite the “Arab Spring” paeans you were hearing from Washington, Egyptian democrats knew they were weak. To have any hope of competing with the Brotherhood’s vast, long-established, highly disciplined organization, they would need time. So they argued that before parliamentary and presidential elections could take place, a new constitution should be written. That would take a while and would put voting off into the distant future. The idea was that as long as no one had been elected yet — as long as the Islamists could not claim a popular mandate — the democrats would be in a better position both to influence the content of the constitution and to buy the time necessary to build party organizations that might contest elections effectively.

The Brothers are no fools. They realized that rapidly held elections would favor them, and if they won big, they’d have a hammerlock on the constituent assembly that would write the constitution. They also grasped the disdain in which the West, under progressive regimes, holds military governments. They’d watched how their Islamist ally, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had leveraged American and European pressure to beat down his military — the pro-Western opposition to his anti-Western Islamic supremacism. The Brotherhood knew the U.S. and the EU would be similarly — and self-destructively — supportive of a call for quick elections that would pressure Egypt’s reigning military junta to cede authority to a “democratic” civilian government.

Consequently, the Brothers insisted that parliamentary and presidential elections could proceed promptly if the public just approved a handful of amendments to the current constitution, with a new constitution to be drafted afterwards.

As is its wont, the Brotherhood was deceitful about its intentions. To arm their Western apologists and assuage those Egyptians who might think a new government’s constitution should be in place before the new government is elected, the Brothers swore up and down that they understood constitutions are different from ordinary legislation. To be legitimate, they soothingly agreed, a nation’s fundamental law must reflect a consensus of the whole society — guaranteeing the rights of women and religious minorities. Beyond that, though, the Islamist campaign over the referendum portrayed secular democratic opponents of the amendments as “enemies of Islam” and “enemies of the revolution” who secretly supported the old regime and its Zionist allies.

When the votes were counted, it was a rout. The Brotherhood’s amendments were adopted by a margin of 78 to 22 percent. With the handwriting on the wall that the referendum would blow the cheery “Arab Spring” narrative to smithereens, the Western media ignored it. Once the numbers were in, they dismissed it. The historic vote, we were told, was just a hyper-technical matter to determine when elections would be scheduled — move along, nothing else to see here. But in fact, the amendments referendum foreshadowed today’s Islamist Winter. It exactly tracked the nearly four-to-one margin by which the Brotherhood and its Salafist allies would swamp the secular democrats in the parliamentary elections that followed.

The Brothers being the Brothers, they lied at each stage of the game. In the amendments referendum, they lied about their commitment to societal “consensus”; upon winning, they elbowed the democrats aside and infused the draft constitution with sharia principles. When they got their quick elections, they lied about how many seats they would seek in parliament, again to assuage those worried about Islamist control of the government. In going back on that commitment, they promised that they would not field a candidate for president. But once overwhelming control of parliament was secured, they reneged on that promise, too — announcing the candidacy of their charismatic leader, Khairat al-Shater.

Mind you, all of that happened before you ever heard of Mohamed Morsi. He is an afterthought: the Plan B the Brothers came up with when Shater — Morsi’s mentor and patron — was elbowed out of the race in the panicked military junta’s last gasp. While Morsi basks in the spotlight, you should know that Shater is the power behind the throne because he is the avatar of sharia. He is the author of the Brotherhood’s announced “Islamic Renaissance” plan, which the Western media continue to ignore. As Spring Fever recounts, however, here is how Shater proclaimed the Brotherhood’s objective in April 2011, right after the Islamist victory in the amendments referendum:

You all know that our main and overall mission as Muslim Brothers is to empower God’s religion on earth, to organize our life and the lives of the people on the basis of Islam, to establish the Nahda [i.e., the Renaissance] of the ummah [i.e., the notional global Muslim nation] and its civilization on the basis of Islam, and to subjugate people to God on earth.

Morsi accidentally happened into notoriety because he is a true believer and a faithful Shater servant. In fact, before Shater was excluded from presidential contention, Morsi was a constant presence at his side, introduced at rallies as an “architect” of Shater’s “Renaissance” plan. His principal task as president has been to get a new sharia constitution across the finish line.

That is why he claimed dictatorial powers last week: not to aggrandize himself further but to shield the constituent assembly from being de-commissioned by judges. Unlike Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey for a decade, Morsi has not yet been in power long enough to change the complexion of Egypt’s judiciary. It is still filled with Mubarak-era appointees and, to the extent the minority secular democrats have any toehold in Egypt, it is in the courts. So Morsi issued his “sovereign” decree, denying the judiciary any power to invalidate the draft constitution, as the non-Islamists have petitioned it to do. That means the draft constitution will be submitted to the public for an up-or-down vote.

Consistent with the Arab Spring fable to which they continue clinging, Western commentators are enthralled by the new round of Tahrir Square protests against Morsi’s power grab. But they are a pale imitation of the anti-Mubarak uprising, because the Islamists now side with the dictator. They are the zealots who gave the original Tahrir protests their fearsome edge. Morsi is not backing down, because he is doing what he was put there to do and he has little to fear. He has already faced down the remnants of Mubarak’s armed forces and replaced them with Brotherhood loyalists — a ragtag collection of Facebook malcontents does not faze him. He also knows the national referendum on the new constitution will go the same way as the original referendum on constitutional amendments: Sharia will win going away.

Deep down, the Western media know it too. Desperate to preserve its narrative about moderate, modernizing Islamists, Reuters was quick to suggest that the Brotherhood-dominated constituent assembly had not really Islamized the new constitution. Sure, it provides that “principles of sharia” are the main source of legislation, but that, the report crowed, is the same thing the Mubarak-era constitution said — the Islamists did not alter it. You are supposed to conclude from this that “principles of sharia” are not as repressive as plain old “sharia” (the formulation preferred by Salafists) would have been.

Yet, the new constitution actually goes much farther. Not only does it add provisions that make clear “principles of sharia” means “sharia”; it also installs the scholars of al-Azhar University as official expert consultants on all sharia-related matters — a longtime Morsi goal. Egypt thus becomes the Sunni version of Iran’s totalitarian regime, in which Shiite mullahs exercise ultimate authority.

And how exactly is sharia interpreted by the scholars of al-Azhar, whose alumni include such jihadist eminences as Sheikh Qaradawi and the Blind Sheikh? Not to wear you out with Spring Fever, but as it outlines (with citations to the Azhar-approved, Brotherhood-certified sharia manual, Reliance of the Traveller), they interpret it to call for: death to apostates from Islam; “charitable” contributions to those fighting jihad (expressly defined as “war against non-Muslims”); discrimination against women; discrimination against non-Muslims; death to homosexuals; death to those who spy against Muslims; death by stoning for adulterers; and so on.

It is going to be a long, cold spring.

McCarthy – The Voters Who Stayed Home

Editor’s Note – Now the blame game – and the hand-wring after the Republican candidate lost – why? Well, many talking heads describe it as an out-of-touch establishment in the party, RINO candidates, isolation of the Tea Party, incorrect advice, faulty internal polling, too far right, too close to the middle, too moderate… the list is long and continues.

But, once again, Andy McCarthy gives us some sage analysis, please read on, and you be the judge.

The Voters Who Stayed Home

They need better choices.

By Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review

The key to understanding the 2012 election is simple: A huge slice of the electorate stayed home.

The punditocracy — which is more of the ruling class than an eye on the ruling class — has naturally decided that this is because Republicans are not enough like Democrats: They need to play more identity politics (in particular, adopt the Left’s embrace of illegal immigration) in order to be viable. But the story is not about who voted; it is about who didn’t vote. In truth, millions of Americans have decided that Republicans are not a viable alternative because they are already too much like Democrats. They are Washington. With no hope that a Romney administration or more Republicans in Congress would change this sad state of affairs, these voters shrugged their shoulders and became non-voters.
“This is the most important election of our lifetime.” That was the ubiquitous rally cry of Republican leaders. The country yawned. About 11 million fewer Americans voted for the two major-party candidates in 2012 — 119 million, down from 130 million in 2008. In fact, even though our population has steadily increased in the last eight years (adding 16 million to the 2004 estimate of 293 million Americans), about 2 million fewer Americans pulled the lever for Obama and Romney than for George W. Bush and John Kerry.

That is staggering. And, as if to ensure that conservatives continue making the same mistakes that have given us four more years of ruinous debt, economic stagnation, unsustainable dependency, Islamist empowerment, and a crippling transfer of sovereignty to global tribunals, Tuesday’s post-mortems fixate on the unremarkable fact that reliable Democratic constituencies broke overwhelmingly for Democrats. Again, to focus on the vote is to miss the far more consequential non-vote. The millions who stayed home relative to the 2008 vote equal the population of Ohio — the decisive state. If just a sliver of them had come out for Romney, do you suppose the media would be fretting about the Democrats’ growing disconnect with white people?

Obama lost an incredible 9 million voters from his 2008 haul. If told on Monday that fully 13 percent of the president’s support would vanish, the GOP establishment would have stocked up on champagne and confetti.

To be sure, some of the Obama slide is attributable to “super-storm” Sandy. Its chaotic aftermath reduced turnout in a couple of big blue states: New York, where about 6 million people voted, and New Jersey, where 3.5 million did. That is down from 2008 by 15 and 12 percent, respectively. Yet, given that these solidly Obama states were not in play, and that — thanks to Chris Christie’s exuberance — our hyper-partisan president was made to look like a bipartisan healer, Sandy has to be considered a big net plus on Obama’s ledger.

There also appears to have been some slippage in the youth vote, down 3 percent from 2008 levels — 49 percent participation, down from 52 percent. But even with this dip, the under-30 crowd was a boon for the president. Thanks to the steep drop in overall voter participation, the youth vote actually increased as a percentage of the electorate — 19 percent, up from 18 percent. Indeed, if there is any silver lining for conservatives here, it’s that Obama was hurt more by the decrease in his level of support from this demographic — down six points from the 66 percent he claimed in 2008 — than by the marginal drop in total youth participation. It seems to be dawning on at least some young adults that Obamaville is a bleak place to build a future.

Put aside the fact that, as the election played out, Sandy was a critical boost for the president. Let’s pretend that it was just a vote drain — one that explains at least some of the slight drop in young voters. What did it really cost Obama? Maybe a million votes? It doesn’t come close to accounting for the cratering of his support. Even if he had lost only 8 million votes, that would still have been 11 percent of his 2008 vote haul gone poof. Romney should have won going away.

Yet, he did not. Somehow, Romney managed to pull nearly 2 million fewer votes than John McCain, one of the weakest Republican nominees ever, and one who ran in a cycle when the party had sunk to historic depths of unpopularity. How to explain that?

The brute fact is: There are many people in the country who believe it makes no difference which party wins these elections. Obama Democrats are the hard Left, but Washington’s Republican establishment is progressive, not conservative. This has solidified statism as the bipartisan mainstream. Republicans may want to run Leviathan — many are actually perfectly happy in the minority — but they have no real interest in dismantling Leviathan. They are simply not about transferring power out of Washington, not in a material way.

As the 2012 campaign elucidated, the GOP wants to be seen as the party of preserving the unsustainable welfare state. When it comes to defense spending, they are just as irresponsible as Democrats in eschewing adult choices. Yes, Democrats are reckless in refusing to acknowledge the suicidal costs of their cradle-to-grave nanny state, but the Republican campaign called for enlarging a military our current spending on which dwarfs the combined defense budgets of the next several highest-spending nations. When was the last time you heard a Republican explain what departments and entitlements he’d slash to pay for that? In fact, when did the GOP last explain how a country that is in a $16 trillion debt hole could afford to enlarge anything besides its loan payments?

Our bipartisan ruling class is obtuse when it comes to the cliff we’re falling off — and I don’t mean January’s so-called “Taxmageddon,” which is a day at the beach compared to what’s coming.

As ZeroHedge points out, we now pay out $250 billion more on mandatory obligations (i.e., just entitlements and interest on the debt) than we collect in taxes. Understand, that’s an annual deficit of a quarter trillion dollars before one thin dime is spent on the exorbitant $1.3 trillion discretionary budget — a little over half of which is defense spending, and the rest the limitless array of tasks that Republicans, like Democrats, have decided the states and the people cannot handle without Washington overlords.

What happens, moreover, when we have a truly egregious Washington scandal, like the terrorist murder of Americans in Benghazi? What do Republicans do? The party’s nominee decides the issue is not worth engaging on — cutting the legs out from under Americans who see Benghazi as a debacle worse than Watergate, as the logical end of the Beltway’s pro-Islamist delirium. In the void, the party establishment proceeds to delegate its response to John McCain and Lindsey Graham: the self-styled foreign-policy gurus who urged Obama to entangle us with Benghazi’s jihadists in the first place, and who are now pushing for a repeat performance in Syria — a new adventure in Islamist empowerment at a time when most Americans have decided Iraq was a catastrophe and Afghanistan is a death trap where our straitjacketed troops are regularly shot by the ingrates they’ve been sent to help.

Republicans talk about limited central government, but they do not believe in it — or, if they do, they lack confidence that they can explain its benefits compellingly. They’ve bought the Democrats’ core conceit that the modern world is just too complicated for ordinary people to make their way without bureaucratic instruction. They look at a money-hemorrhaging disaster like Medicare, whose unsustainability is precisely caused by the intrusion of government, and they say, “Let’s preserve it — in fact, let’s make its preservation the centerpiece of our campaign.”

The calculation is straightforward: Republicans lack the courage to argue from conviction that health care would work better without federal mandates and control — that safety nets are best designed by the states, the people, and local conditions, not Washington diktat. In their paralysis, we are left with a system that will soon implode, a system that will not provide care for the people being coerced to pay in. Most everybody knows this is so, yet Republicans find themselves too cowed or too content to advocate dramatic change when only dramatic change will save us. They look at education, the mortgage crisis, and a thousand other things the same way — intimidated by the press, unable to articulate the case that Washington makes things worse.

Truth be told, most of today’s GOP does not believe Washington makes things worse. Republicans think the federal government — by confiscating, borrowing, and printing money — is the answer to every problem, rather than the source of most. That is why those running the party today, when they ran Washington during the Bush years, orchestrated an expansion of government size, scope, and spending that would still boggle the mind had Obama not come along. (See Jonah Goldberg’s jaw-dropping tally from early 2004 — long before we knew their final debt tab would come to nearly $5 trillion.) No matter what they say in campaigns, today’s Republicans are champions of massive, centralized government. They just think it needs to be run smarter — as if the problem were not human nature and the nature of government, but just that we haven’t quite gotten the org-chart right yet.

That is not materially different from what the Democrats believe. It’s certainly not an alternative. For Americans who think elections can make a real difference, Tuesday pitted proud progressives against reticent progressives; slightly more preferred the true-believers. For Americans who don’t see much daylight between the two parties — one led by the president who keeps spending money we don’t have and the other by congressional Republicans who keep writing the checks and extending the credit line — voting wasn’t worth the effort.

Those millions of Americans need a new choice. We all do.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was published by Encounter Books.