• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Is Roy Moore’s Victory The Opening Battle In A Republican Civil War?

Fighting Elephants Two

The victory of Roy Moore in Alabama’s Republican Senate primary on Tuesday is leading to fears among Republicans of a wider insurrection that could have severe implications for the 2018 midterms:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Republicans are confronting an insurrection on the right that is angry enough to imperil their grip on Congress, and senior party strategists have concluded that the conservative base now loathes its leaders in Washington the same way it detested President Barack Obama.

The defeat of Senator Luther Strange, Republican of Alabama, in a primary election on Tuesday night appears to have ushered in a season of savage nomination fights and activist-led attacks on party leaders, especially on Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. Despite enjoying the strong backing of President Trump, Mr. Strange lost by a wide margin to Roy Moore, a firebrand religious activist and former judge, who denounced Mr. Strange as a puppet of the Senate leader.

Mr. Strange’s demise, senior party strategists and conservative activists said Wednesday, makes it likelier that Republican incumbents in the House and Senate will face serious primary challenges in 2018, fueled by anger at the party’s apparent ineptitude at wielding power in Washington. Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist and a vehement antagonist of the party establishment, said on Tuesday night that he intends to target Republican senators in Mississippi, Arizona and Nevada for defeat.

And that rebellion could spread.

Trent Lott, a former Senate Republican leader, was blunt: “Every Republican senator had better get prepared for a challenge from the far right.”

If nothing else, divisive intraparty battles could cost party donors tens of millions of dollars and weaken Republicans’ position in a year when Democrats were already poised to make gains, at least in the House. They could also reshape the party’s agenda, driving it further in the direction of Mr. Trump’s strain of nationalism rather than the more conventional, business-oriented agenda espoused by Mr. McConnell and Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

Republicans increasingly worry that their base’s contempt for Mr. McConnell is more potent than its love for Mr. Trump. Mr. McConnell could be an anchor around incumbents in the same fashion as Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, who is routinely used to undermine Democratic candidates. The loudest applause Mr. Moore received during an election-eve rally came when he declared, “Mitch McConnell needs to be replaced.”

In a memo about the Alabama election that circulated among Republican donors, Steven Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, a “super PAC” closely allied with Mr. McConnell, said primary voters were intensely angry and inclined to blame Republicans for dysfunction in Washington.

“The Republican Congress has replaced President Obama as the bogeyman for conservative G.O.P. primary voters,” Mr. Law wrote, cautioning that the president was helping to amplify that point of view: “This narrative is driven by Trump himself, and it resonates with primary voters who believe the Republican Congress ‘isn’t doing enough’ (as we frequently heard in focus groups) to advance the president’s agenda.”

Mr. Law, whose group spent more than $10 million to prop up Mr. Strange, said in the memo that Republicans had been damaged by “the Obamacare repeal fiasco,” and said they should expect to fight hard-right primary candidates in Mississippi and Nevada, among other states. Mr. Law derided Mr. Bannon for being focused mainly on “promoting his own brand,” and discounted him as a major force in Alabama.

The convulsive mood on the right has considerably reshaped the political map for 2018, making a favorable list of Senate races somewhat less hospitable to Republicans. Two Republican senators, Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona, have seen their poll numbers collapse after clashing with Mr. Trump and embracing unpopular legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

In Tennessee, Senator Bob Corker, a well-liked lawmaker from a traditional Republican mold, on Tuesday became the first Senate Republican to announce that he would not seek re-election in 2018. His departure is likely to yield a contentious Republican primary, much like the one just concluded in Alabama.

The Alabama race “is going to inspire a lot of people,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview in Montgomery on Tuesday night.

Mr. Bannon said he had held discussions about the Tennessee race with Mark E. Green, a state senator who was nominated to be Mr. Trump’s Army secretary before withdrawing after facing scrutiny for his past statements about gay and transgender people. Tennessee could be the site of the next major populist-versus-establishment conflagration if Gov. Bill Haslam responds to entreaties to enter the race.

Mr. Bannon also said he aimed to oust Mr. Heller, Mr. Flake and Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi. Ed Martin, a former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, said Mr. Bannon had also inquired about the state’s Senate race, in which the Republican establishment has rallied around Josh Hawley, the state attorney general, as an opponent for Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.

After leaving the White House last month, Mr. Bannon returned to his perch at Breitbart News, and has been using the hard-right website and his close ties to the Mercer family, New York-based conservative donors, to create a new, insurgent power base.

It remains unlikely that Republicans will lose control of the Senate next year, because the playing field of races is tilted so strongly in their direction. The party is defending just eight seats, mostly in strongly conservative states, compared with 25 seats held by Democrats or independents who caucus with them.

Yet the pitfalls Republicans have encountered so far have created unexpected opportunities for Democrats, and the party is assessing even long-shot races where there is the possibility of an upset. In Tennessee, a solidly Republican state, several new Democrats are considering the race for Mr. Corker’s seat: Mayor Andy Berke of Chattanooga said in a statement that he would explore a bid “in the coming weeks,” and State Senator Jeff Yarbro, a Nashville legislator, is also eyeing the race. One Democrat, James Mackler, a lawyer and Iraq war veteran, is already running.

(…)

It is not only Republican senators who could find themselves cast out by conservative challengers next year. A parade of candidates, aligning themselves explicitly with Mr. Trump, is lining up to take on House Republicans whom they view as insufficiently loyal to the president. If enough Republican lawmakers are ousted in primaries, or forced to spend millions just to secure renomination, it could give Democrats a better chance to pick up the two dozen seats they need to take a majority.

“I think incumbents are extremely vulnerable,” said Barry Moore, an Alabama state representative challenging Representative Martha Roby, a Republican who called on Mr. Trump to withdraw from the presidential race late last fall. “The American people are sending a message that there’s nothing getting done in D.C., and we’re going to have to replace a lot of those people.”

A spokesman for Ms. Roby, Todd Stacy, noted that she and “her House colleagues have voted to repeal Obamacare, roll back Obama regulations, repeal Dodd-Frank, fund border wall construction, rebuild the military, reform the V.A. and tax reform got rolled out today.”

Still, the alarm is most acute in the Senate. Party strategists have seen private polling in a number of states that shows Mr. McConnell deeply unpopular with his fellow Republicans. In Arizona they have found Mr. Flake trailing his primary challenger, Kelli Ward, a former state senator, by a significant margin.

In many respects, of course, this isn’t entirely different from what we’ve seen in other recent elections, when potential challenges to incumber Senators or Congressman, or candidacies in open seat races, became bitterly fought over between candidates backed by Tea Party and other activist groups and those backed by the more “establishment” wing of the Republican Party. The most notable examples of that phenomenon, of course, occurred in 2010 with the candidacies of people such as Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Joe Miller in Alaska in either open-seat races or races against Republican sitting members of the House and Senate. Each of these candidates ended up winning the GOP nomination notwithstanding their relative lack of experience and espousal of extreme views on a wide range of issues, and each of them ended up losing in the General Election, although in Miler’s case it was due to a historically successful write-in campaign on the part of incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski. It was also a factor in the Indiana Senate race in 2012 when Congressman Todd Akin stayed in the race notwithstanding a series of controversial comments about rape that turned his race against Democrat Joe Donnelly into a national sensation. It also played a role the 2014 Senate primary in Mississippi which saw State Senator Chris McDaniel challenge incumbent Thad Cochran in a race that ultimately ended in a runoff that McDaniel lost but refused to concede for months due to largely baseless claims of voting irregularities. While 2014 was a year in which the GOP ‘establishment’ was far more successful in beating back Tea Party challenges than it had been in the past, the fact that we’re seeing much the same phenomenon revive itself in the wake of Moore’s victory in Alabama could be a bad sign for Republican incumbents going forward.

The first test of this movement is likely to come in Tennessee with the battle for the Republican nomination for the seat that Bob Corker will be giving up at the end of 2018, but we’re also likely to see this disruption arise elsewhere in the country. Nevada Senator Dean Heller, for example, is already deemed to be vulnerable in the General Election in that state due to the fact that the state has seen a revival of the Democratic Party in the wake of statewide losses earlier in the decade. Even before he could get to the General Election, though, Heller will have to fend off a challenge from Danny Tarkanian, a Tea Party-backed candidate who has made several unsuccessful bids for statewide office in the past but who is likely to see his challenge to Heller energized by the current state of the GOP. Similarly, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has been deemed potentially vulnerable in a General Election, although to a lesser extent than Heller, and he also faces a primary challenge from Kelli Ward, an Arizona State Senator who previously challenged John McCain in 2012. Another potential primary challenger for Flake could be former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was recently pardoned by President Trump, although an Arpaio candidacy seems less likely given his advanced age. It’s also possible that such candidates could challenge other Republican Senators whose seats are up in 2018, but their seats seem far more secure. Finally, of course, there are likely to be challenged at the primary level to any number of Republican House members likely to be challenged at the primary level based either on perceived apostasy, their position on issues like health care reform, or the perception that they have not been sufficiently supportive of President Trump and his agenda, whatever that might be.

All of this portends the same kind of civil war inside the Republican Party that we saw during the time period noted above, with anti-establishment and establishment forces squaring off against each other for control of the party’s destiny. The main consequence of that fight, though, ended up being a largely divided Republican Party that proved to be too fractured to capitalize on opportunities to win seats in states like Delaware and Nevada or hold on to seats in states like Indiana. Additionally, it served to do at least some damage to the party on the national level to the extent that it added to the perception that the party was moving radically to the right in a way that put it out of step with the country as a whole. While the GOP didn’t actually lose many seats as a result of those primary challenges, it did lose out on opportunities for wins that should have been rather easy. This time, though, the replacement of more mainstream candidates with candidates further to the right such as Roy Moore threatens to put seats in jeopardy in a midterm election that is likely insure to the benefit of Democrats if only because it has been the historical trend for a President’s party to lose at least some power in the first midterm of his Presidency. While this seems unlikely to play a role in the battle for control of the House, it could have an impact on the ability of the GOP to either maintain control of the Senate or add to its majority by winning elections in some of the states where Democratic candidates are running in states that have been historically Republican, or which went for President Trump in last year’s General Election. If that happens, then the GOP could see itself break even in the Senate, or even lose a seat or two and end up with an even thinner majority than it already has. That would have a profound impact on the party’s ability to get anything done in Capitol Hil during the final two years of President Trump’s first term.

As they say, stay tuned.

 

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. KM says:

    Moore makes it clear Trump’s not an outlier in the GOP’s new torrid affair with unrepentant asshats. He is going to do and say things that the whole party will have to answer for, plus make them look stupider and ISIS-lite. They could write off Trump’s embarrassing moments with “well, it’s Donald Trump” or that Independent crap but Moore’s been solidly GOP for decades. This *is* who they say they are. There’s no Hillary analog to blame in this mess either – this is the cream that rose to top of conservatism’s rancid brew.

    Moore may not help the Dems flip Alabama but he’ll certainly help get some seats elsewhere. Voters may not like a liberal in charge but goddamn if they’ll accept nuts like Moore.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  2. M. Bouffant says:

    If there were still editors:

    Additionally, it served to do at least some damage to the party on the national level to the extent that it added to the perception showed very clearly that the party was moving radically to the right in a way that put it out of step with the country as a whole.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Oh the irony. Of course the Republican party has proved to be inept at wielding power at the national level, and McConnell DOES need to go. The only thing Trump says I remotely agree with is that Congressional Republicans suck. But the reason the party is so lousy at the job is dolts like McConnell cynically allowed the nut jobs into the party in their greed for power (and tax cuts!). But now that they have power they can’t do anything with it because the badly mis-named Freedom Caucus and it’s allies are so obstructionist Republicans can’t even work out a deal with themselves. In other words, the establishment’s reward for allowing the crazies in will be to get primaried and removed, without ever actually successfully wielding the power they so desperately craved.

    I’d laugh if I wasn’t concerned the “team sport” nature of American politics didn’t mean the crazies are most likely to just take over. I have grave doubts that the American public is actually going to deny “nuts like Moore”. They elected Trump.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  4. Ben Wolf says:

    Modern American conservatism is riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. They demand liberty while denying it to others. They call for social order while their economic ideology undermines stability. They scream for personal responsibility while accepting none. And when their incoherence turns even their victories to ruin, rather than re-examine their assumptions they must find an enemy to blame.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 0

  5. M. Bouffant says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: THE ELCTORAL COLLEGE ELECTED TRUMP, NOT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE/ACTUAL VOTERS!!

    Sorry to shout, but c’mon, get real.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  6. Jack says:

    @M. Bouffant: We are not the united states of California and New York. That’s why we have an electoral college.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 28

  7. Daryl's other brother, Daryll says:

    @Jack:

    We are not the united states of California and New York.

    No…you red-state welfare queens just like taking their, and other blues states, money…without which you’d be fvcked.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

  8. gVOR08 says:

    One may only hope this is the beginning of a Republican civil war. But if it is, where does it go? There seem to be four obvious possibilities.
    1. The “establishment” reasserts control and the “populists” shut up and take it.
    2. The “populists” take control and the “establishment” split, some welcoming their new “populist” overlords and some going D.
    3. The “populists” split off, forming a third party.
    4. The Republican “establishment” splits off, forming a third party.

    I used quotes above because I don’t really see this as a populist revolt, and establishment has become ambiguous. If there is a party of the wealthy, their goal is to hide their real agenda, more money for themselves, and find someone with the common touch to front for them and excite the masses. Reagan worked for the R establishment, so did W. I don’t think we are now seeing a populist revolt, we’re seeing a new establishment displacing the traditional Republican establishment. The Tea Party was largely created by the Koch Bros. Bannon is the public face of the Mercers. This looks to me like a rival establishment using a mob to overthrow the old establishment.
    I invite comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  9. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I’ve said it before – on more than one occasion – but I’ll say it again here:

    If this doesn’t convince you that we are not, in fact, one united nation, but instead are two wholly incompatible countries which are locked together in mutual loathing within the structure of a failing union, then nothing will.

    I never in my life thought I’d be uttering the words “Christ, France looks stable by comparison”, but here we are. I’m glad we got out when we did …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  10. Mikey says:

    @Jack: Neither are we the United States of Millions of Square Miles of Empty Land. Why should all that emptiness have more sway in the Legislature than the places where people actually live?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  11. M. Bouffant says:

    @Jack: Nor is this nation just the States of the Confederacy & the barely populated Mountain West, either.

    In an election for the nation’s chief executive all individual votes should be considered individually, not proportioned (or, essentially, completely ignored) on the basis of which state they were cast in. Will of the people, democracy, yada. Ever heard of that stuff?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  12. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08: I can illustrate your point with the following excerpt:

    Lower taxes, smaller government, and less spending will reduce the deficit and enable economic growth and a truly “stimulated” economy.

    I believe in the reduction of taxes at all levels, and a need to reform the tax system by studying and implementing a “flat tax” or a “fair tax,” which is a tax on goods and services purchased instead of a tax on income….

    We should cut the deficit and balance the budget using accurate data unlike budget projections used by past administrations.

    Now tell me, which GOP faction would the above words best represent? The populists or the establishment?

    Those words actually come from the positions page on Roy Moore’s website. But be honest: if you didn’t know that, would there be any way in a million years to tell these words came from a candidate deemed as representing the “populist” wing of his party, as opposed to a candidate of the Kochs?

    The fact is that the word “populism” has lost all meaning. If you took a time machine back to the 1930s and told someone the above were the words of a “populist,” they’d look at you like you were insane.

    I am not trying to bathe “populism” in a positive glow, as some liberals do. Populism has a long history of being associated with racism and demagoguery. Huey Long’s “share the wealth” movement in the ’30s included two figures (Charles Coughlin and Gerald L.K. Smith) who went on to become open supporters of Adolf Hitler. But they did support fairly massive wealth redistribution, and they sure as hell did not talk like Herbert Hoover.

    Nowadays, the so-called “populists” of the right back virtually the entire economic program of the “establishment” GOP apart from trade. The trick is to promote policies that benefit the wealthy and then simply to claim against all available evidence to be working for the common man. You call for slashing corporate taxes while claiming the point is to bring back jobs. You call for slashing top income tax rates while pretending not to. You attempt to throw millions of poor and middle-class people off their health insurance while claiming you’re giving everyone excellent health care for less money. You accept virtually the entire modern GOP economic package of low taxes, deregulation, and union-busting but it’s okay because you also bash free trade (as Hoover did), and that makes you a “populist.”

    The reason the populist/establishment boundary is so fuzzy is because the so-called “establishment” has been using more or less the same playbook for the past couple of generations. You could say the populists are just like the establishment, only more so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  13. Terrye Cravens says:

    That was Mourdock in Indiana. Not Akin. I think he was Missouri.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Laura Koerber says:

    It’s a measure of just how wacko the Republican base is when Trent Lott complains about rightwing extremists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. Kylopod says:

    @Terrye Cravens: Yes, that was a slight error. Todd Akin of Missouri was running to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, and he blew it by making a stupid and offensive remark about rape. Around the same time, Richard Mourdock was seeking an open seat in Indiana when he made his own stupid remark about rape, enabling (non-incumbent) Democratic Joe Donnelly to win the seat.

    One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that Indiana and Missouri aren’t anywhere near as extreme as Alabama. Obama won IN in 2008 and came within 4,000 votes of winning MO. If Akin or Mourdock had been running in AL, they’d have probably won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It was also a factor in the Indiana Senate race in 2012 when Congressman Todd Akin stayed in the race notwithstanding a series of controversial comments about rape that turned his race against Democrat Joe Donnelly into a national sensation.

    Doug, Claire McCaskill was Akins opponent in that race.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Today’s GOP reminds me of a story told about Braxton Bragg. Once, when he was a junior officer at a frontier fort, he held two positions. In one position, he submitted a requisition for supplies. In his other position, he disapproved the requisition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Duhhhhh. Indiana Senate race I caught the wrong mistake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    There Is No GOP Establishment or Base. Just Massive Resistance. (at TPM -no linkee because spambotee)

    As Kornacki explains, establishment Republicans have struggled over the Obama years both to tame Tea Partyism and remake the GOP in its image in order to create a party that can gain from rightist energy while not being torn apart by it. Now everything seems to be coming home to roost after the GOP took control of both houses of Congress and elected a President who embodies far-right tea party crazy and yet have proven unable to – at least in formal legislation – do anything with it. As Kornacki writes, “It could be a moment of reckoning for the leaders of Washington’s Republican establishment. For nearly a decade, they have strained to channel the base’s energy into a unifying platform. But it may be that all the base has ever really wanted was for them to be gone — all of them.”

    This is all true. But there’s a deeper dynamic here that goes beyond ‘establishment’ and ‘tea party’. Indeed, when the President is Donald Trump and people elected in the Tea Party wave election of 2010 (and successive elections) dominate the congressional GOP, it is a bit hard to say what the GOP ‘establishment’ even is at this point other than the current occupants of the top of the GOP hill trying to fend off radicals calling them sell-outs who can’t deliver for the base.

    This is the crux of the issue. Last spring I said the Trump phenomenon was a product of what I termed ‘nonsense debt‘. Republicans had spent years pumping their voters up on increasingly extreme and nonsensical claims and promises. This worked very well for winning elections. But it had also built up a debt that eventually had to be repaid. Concretely, they were making claims and promises that were either factually ridiculous, politically unviable or unacceptable to a broad swath of the voting public. Eventually, you get elected and need to produce. By definition that’s never really possible: both because the claims and promises are nonsensical and unviable but also because a politics based on reclamation, revenge, and impulse is almost impossible to satisfy through normal legislative politics.

    A lot of what Trump in 2016 did was hijack an opening created by this build up of nonsense debt.

    -Josh Marshall

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. Jack says:

    @M. Bouffant: You do realize there is no right to vote in an election for president, right? RIGHT???

    If there is no right to vote in said election there can be no way to eliminate the Electoral College.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  21. Moosebreath says:

    @Jack:

    “You do realize there is no right to vote in an election for president, right? RIGHT???”

    You do realize that the 15th Amendment is part of the Constitution, right, RIGHT???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  22. Jack says:

    @Moosebreath: The 15th Amendment has no bearing on Federal elections. You get that, right? RIGHT? It simply says that if there are elections, the state cannot deny a person a vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude. It does not say that the state must allow people to vote in federal elections. As a matter of fact, SCOTUS has said you have no right to vote in a federal election. Please, educate yourself, cupcake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Moosebreath: He doesn’t believe in Amendments to the Constitution. He’s an Originalist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. Jack says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You are qualified to know what I believe? I doubt that.

    In fact, I believe in all the Amendments. But the 15th does not guarantee a right to vote in federal elections.

    “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

    It simply says, that if a state holds an election, then voting cannot be restricted based upon race, color, or previous condition of servitude. It does not grant a right to vote in a federal election. It is an equal protection amendment. No prior or subsequent amendment nor the constitution itself grants the right to vote in federal elections.

    The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College. U.S. Const., Art. II, §1.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jack: And you are a noted Constitutional scholar. Why I’ll bet Justice Roberts calls you all the time for guidance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. Jack says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The quote was from a SCOTUS decision, cupcake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  27. Moosebreath says:

    @Jack:

    “The 15th Amendment has no bearing on Federal elections.”

    Sweeetums, please learn to read. And this time read the whole thing. I’ll even help you this time.

    The 15th Amendment states:

    “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

    “No prior or subsequent amendment nor the constitution itself grants the right to vote in federal elections.”

    Wrong again. This time, read the 17th Amendment:

    “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.”

    Let me know if you have any trouble with the big words.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jack: I have no doubt. Not that that means anything in the context of any discussion concerning voting rights.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  29. Argon says:

    Not so much a ‘war’ as a self-immolation. On the bright side, we can roast hot dogs over the flames.

    It strikes me as peculiar that as a backlash to government as usual, i.e. corporate interests controlling the legislature at the expense of the middle class, these folks sure like to elect people who reliably side with big business and benefits for the rich at the expense of the middle class and poor. It really is like rioting protesters setting fire to their own neighborhood.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Jack says:

    @Moosebreath: Neither the 15th nor 17th Amendment grant the right to vote in a Federal Election. Please, reread them. Tell me where it says the PRESIDENT will be elected by the voters.

    I’ll wait.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  31. Jack says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The case was Bush v Gore you dunderhead. It was specific to voting rights.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  32. Andre Kenji says:

    @Kylopod:

    The fact is that the word “populism” has lost all meaning. If you took a time machine back to the 1930s and told someone the above were the words of a “populist,” they’d look at you like you were insane.

    The problem is that people are confusing caudillismo with populism. Caudillism means using Populist Rhetoric to advance a conservative agenda, the GOP is caudilista, not Populist. There are no Populist there, they want to advance the agenda of their donors, not of their base.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. al-Ameda says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    The problem is that people are confusing caudillismo with populism. Caudillism means using Populist Rhetoric to advance a conservative agenda, the GOP is caudilista, not Populist. There are no Populist there, they want to advance the agenda of their donors, not of their base.

    Electorally, there is no meaningful populist movement on the Left, and there has not been such a movement in over 4 decades.

    Bernie Sanders? Would White working people abandon the Republican Party and people like Donald Trump to vote for a tax increase to fund single payer health insurance? Or, for that matter, a mainstream liberal action like a tax increase to strengthen Social Security and Medicare? Well, I’m not fantasy oriented.

    “Populism” is now a right wing America First, nativist, obsessed-with-race operation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  34. Moosebreath says:

    @Jack:

    “Neither the 15th nor 17th Amendment grant the right to vote in a Federal Election. Please, reread them. Tell me where it says the PRESIDENT will be elected by the voters.”

    Those goalposts clearly don’t move themselves. I have not said anything about direct voting for President. You have been saying continuously that there is no right to vote in Federal elections. That means any elections, including the ones for Senate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  35. Kylopod says:

    @Andre Kenji: I don’t know much about caudillos. I base my comments largely on the history of populism in the United States. (Michael Kazin’s book The Populist Persuasion provides a good overview of the subject.) If a caudillo is defined as an authoritarian strongman, I can see the basis for the comparison with Donald Trump. But the degradation of “populism” that I’ve been describing goes back much farther than the rise of Trump. I believe it was the combined result of the Southern Strategy, the Christian Right, and Reaganomics, where the GOP figured out how to win over less than affluent voters through appeals to racial resentment, religious issues, and a sustained rebranding of the party’s plutocratic policies that amounted basically to a con job. I’m not sure there’s an exact equivalent to this outside the US–even the far-right nationalist parties in Europe seem a lot more comfortable with the welfare state than their counterparts in the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. Tony W says:

    @Moosebreath: I’m guessing Jack is a “sovereign citizen” as well, and routinely asks “am I being detained?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. Jen says:

    @Jack: You realize that US Congressional seats (House and Senate) are federal races, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  38. Franklin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I’m glad we got out when we did …

    You got out? I missed that news.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  39. KM says:

    @Jack:

    You are correct that it doesn’t specific “federal” – however, since vague wording has traditionally been interrupted on the side of freedom rather then restriction, that means it includes federal elections by default as they are “elections”. Now, whether vote will actually *mean* anything towards the end result is an entirely different argument but you technically do have the right to vote in federal elections.

    Semantics, my good sir. We have the right to vote in federal elections but since the outcome is determined by means other then those votes, they are in essence irrelevant. Not sure why you keep pushing this point. The Electoral College can be modded the same way any other part of our Constitutionally-mandated processes can. We could go to direct vote via Amendment .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  40. Andre Kenji says:

    @Kylopod

    : I don’t know much about caudillos. I base my comments largely on the history of populism in the United States.

    The Dixiecrats were pretty similar to the caudillos/ coroneis of Latin America, they also used the same combination of “populist” rhetoric and Conservative/Elitist policies. The typical caudillo is a skillful demagogue more than a strongman that uses brute force. No wonder that Trump’s largest base of support, outside of Appalachia, was in the Deep South.

    Jeremy Paxman once said that since the British and Americans speak the same language people think that they are are similar and they are not. I think that since people in Latin America speak different languages than Americans people think that they are different, and they are not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  41. Ben Wolf says:

    @Kylopod: Critique of capitalism wasn’t suppressed for fifty years in Europe. In the U.S. whole generations have gone through life unaware things can be different. Ask anyone the difference in socialism and communism: the european can tell you immediately, the american will think it’s two ways of spelling the same word.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  42. Not the IT Dept. says:

    To get back to Roy Moore for a second…

    There’s an article in the NYT with a leaked memo from the RNC describing the results of the primary and the reason for Moore’s victory. Major points:

    1. More Republican voters in Alabama are loyal to Trump than they are to the Republican Party. To them, Trump IS the Republican Party.

    2. Congressional Republicans have replaced Obama as the Big Bogey to be Opposed at All Costs; McConnell is particularly despised as not doing enough to Support Our President.

    3. Bannon and Breitbart had almost nothing to do with the victory; the memo cites Bannon’s very late arrival in the state and says his events were more oriented to national media than local audiences. In fact, most primary voters get their information from local right-wing radio ranters – some of whom the RNC has wooed in the past.

    4. Moore had a massive local reputation before the primary and there was really nothing much any opponent could do to counter it.

    So perhaps less of a civil war than a screaming tantrum, and a feeling that the presidential Republican nomination fight last year still has legs. Interesting about the Bannon part, though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  43. wr says:

    @Ben Wolf: “Ask anyone the difference in socialism and communism: the european can tell you immediately, the american will think it’s two ways of spelling the same word.”

    In communism, man oppresses man. In socialism it’s the other way around. (Cue laugh track.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  44. wr says:

    @wr: It really works much better with the Moose and Squirrel accent…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  45. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Franklin:

    Yes. We relocated to Paris back at the start of the year. The firm has an office here, so nothing has really changed for me from a professional standpoint.

    I’m Jewish. We are – and have been for centuries – the canaries in the coalmine of Western civilization. Nobody exists as a Jew without acquiring – very early in life – a finely adjusted set of antennae tuned to the danger frequency. We learn very early to be conscious of who we’re around and what not to say & where not to say it. It’s a survival mechanism born out of a long, hard winter.

    Between my family history with respect to the Shoah, and the experience of growing up as the grandchild of survivors in a city where there were three separate MLS services – white, black and Jewish – well into the 1980s, mine may be a bit more sensitive to danger than others. The bottom line was that we felt the potential for danger existed, we had the means to get out, and my place of business was willing to essentially foot the bill for it. Moving here on the firm’s dime, reestablishing that sense of safety and getting to live in one of the great cities of the world in the bargain was a no brainer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  46. al-Ameda says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Between my family history with respect to the Shoah, and the experience of growing up as the grandchild of survivors in a city where there were three separate MLS services – white, black and Jewish – well into the 1980s, mine may be a bit more sensitive to danger than others. The bottom line was that we felt the potential for danger existed, we had the means to get out, and my place of business was willing to essentially foot the bill for it. Moving here on the firm’s dime, reestablishing that sense of safety and getting to live in one of the great cities of the world in the bargain was a no brainer.

    Fantastic, I wish you well. I was in Paris in June for a family wedding. Paris never disappoints

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. grumpy realist says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: I vote for “screaming tantrum.” What we’ve seen with Brits and the whole Brexit decision. The Tory party is pulling itself to pieces over exactly now-that-the-dog-has-caught-the-car-what-do-they-do-with-it? Half of them are trying to come up with a process so that the dive off the cliff won’t automatically result in broken bones and wailing; the other half don’t care about anything more than their own egos and kicking Johnny Foreigner out. And Boris Johnson will say whatever he thinks will get him into No. 10. (There’s talk that he’s acting as loutishly as he can to get himself fired and be nowhere near the wreckage when the whole thing goes up in a flaming fireball; others think this assumes far too much strategic brainpower from him.)

    And nobody in the US is wondering at all about China.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. Kylopod says:

    @HarvardLaw92: You do realize that France has way more anti-Semitism than the US, and that it’s been growing over the past few decades?

    I mean, you just had a presidential election in which the runner-up, who received 35% of the vote, came from the traditionally anti-Semitic National Front, who proposed to ban kosher slaughter and the wearing of yarmulkes in public, to revoke the Israeli passports of French Jews, and who engaged in a little diet Holocaust revisionism?

    I am, also, the grandson of survivors. The US certainly has its history of anti-Semitism, but need I remind you that the Shoah happened in Europe, not the US!

    If Trump had kicked off his presidential campaign saying something like “When Israel sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re swindlers! They’re cheats! Some I assume are good people”–you think his campaign would have gotten very far? It’s virtually unthinkable. In France, that would be very, very, thinkable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  49. Mikey says:

    @Kylopod:

    If Trump had kicked off his presidential campaign saying something like “When Israel sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re swindlers! They’re cheats! Some I assume are good people”–you think his campaign would have gotten very far? It’s virtually unthinkable.

    It used to be.

    Now, I find it very easy to believe things would have proceeded exactly as they did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey: Anti-Semitism remains a third rail in American politics, much more so than bigotry against blacks, Latinos, and Muslims. Trump has throughout his campaign and presidency flirted with anti-Semitic themes. But that’s all he does–flirt. He’s been far more understated about it than his other prejudicial beliefs, and for good reason–in the US, even right-wingers are generally turned off by open anti-Semitism in a way they are not turned off by open racism. It has helped gain him Jewish allies, not just his own daughter and son-in-law (both shameless shills who would gladly sell out their own people) but a range of figures in the pro-Israel crowd who turn a blind eye to stuff like his omitting Jews from Holocaust Remembrance Day, but who probably would draw a line if he became more explicit about these themes.

    Anti-Semitism has historically been a major component of white supremacy, including in the United States. (For instance, the post-Reconstruction Klan was more or less launched with the lynching of Leo Frank.) Jews are, often, seen as being to blame for the emancipation of blacks and other minorities. But they have never been the primary target of oppression in this country. In recent decades, even some open white-nationalist groups–notably Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance conferences–have made sustained efforts to downplay the movement’s traditional anti-Semitism and have even managed to attract a few (very right-wing) Jews into their fold. David Duke still talks about Zionist conspiracies, but many of the younger activists have moved onto other, “hotter” prejudices. The idea that Jews would come to be the honorary Aryans in the eyes of some white supremacists would have seemed bizarre just a generation ago, but that seems to be what has happened.

    Does this make me comfortable, as a Jew? Of course not! And for the record, the events in Charlottesville have–for perhaps the first time in my 40-year life–made me feel unsafe in this country as a Jew. But believe me, I’d feel a truckload less safe in France, and there’s plenty of evidence to back up that feeling.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. Mikey says:

    @Kylopod: Maybe you’re right and anti-Semitism is the “third rail” that would have done Trump in. I know you are correct about how the “alt-right” has prioritized other bigotries.

    But still…POWs used to be a third rail. Gold Star families were a third rail. Handicapped people were a third rail. And Trump touched all three and the only thing that happened to him was he won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  52. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey: A major, essential part of how Trump was able to win the general election was by consolidating the support of Republicans who disliked him. The faction of Republicans who were probably the most hesitant to support him were neocons, particularly Jewish neocons. Trump made a sustained effort to win them over–a blisteringly pro-Israel speech at AIPAC, and his hiring as Israel advisors two far-right Jews (Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman) who back indefinite settlement expansion. Among other things, it helped Trump secure the endorsement of Sheldon Adelson, who only came on board very reluctantly.

    The point isn’t that Jewish voters themselves made the difference (there are far too few of us to matter, and most of us vote Democrat anyway), but that if Trump had engaged in open anti-Semitism rather than simply a few dogwhistles, it would have created a rupture in support he needed from many traditional Republicans who helped keep his campaign alive despite their misgivings about him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0