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Republican Obsolescence: Ideas, Not Technology

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Robert Draper has a fascinating piece in the NYT Magazine titled “Can the Republicans be Saved From Obsolescence?” It details “the ways in which Democrats have overwhelmed Republicans with their technological superiority.”  Based on a presentation by Red Edge, a conservative software company, the piece points out things like:

  • “1.25 million more young people supported Obama in 2012 over 2008.”
  • [W]hile the Romney campaign raised slightly more money from its online ads than it spent on them, Obama’s team more than doubled the return on its online-ad investment.
  • “Obama was the very first candidate to appear on Reddit. We ask our clients, ‘Do you know what Reddit is?’ And only one of them did.
  • Then we show them this photo of Obama hugging his wife with the caption ‘Four more years’ — an image no conservative likes. And we tell them, ‘Because of the way the Obama campaign used things like Reddit, that photo is the single-most popular image ever seen on Twitter or Facebook.’ Just to make sure there’s plenty of salt in the wound.”
  • Romney’s senior strategist, Stuart Stevens, may well be remembered by historians, as one House Republican senior staff member put it to me, “as the last guy to run a presidential campaign who never tweeted.”
  • While Romney’s much-hyped get-out-the-vote digital tool, Orca, famously crashed on Election Day, Obama’s digital team unveiled Narwhal, a state-of-the-art data platform that gave every member of the campaign instant access to continuously updated information on voters, volunteer availability and phone-bank activity.

There’s much more of that in the piece, which I commend to you in its entirety. There’s little doubt that Team Obama has been, going back to the 2008 campaign, light years ahead of any political team—of either party—on mastering technology and social media.  It’s a substantial advantage that the Republicans would do well to seek to overcome.

But it’s a distraction. If Romney and Obama had switched campaign teams—databases, strategists, money managers, bloggers, etc.–it’s possible that Romney would have narrowed the gap. He may well have carried Virginia and Florida, two highly competitive states that traditionally lean Republican and where the contest was close. But Obama would have still won the election easily.

Former Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints coach Bum Phillips famously remarked of Don Shula, the legendary coach of the Miami Dolphins, ”He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.” Obama had that sort of advantage over Romney this cycle.

For one thing, Obama’s simply a much better politician. He’s a natural schmoozer who connects well with large crowds. Romney, well, is not.

Beyond that, though, the Republican Party is still running on a platform designed to solve the problems of the Carter Administration. The world has changed but the Republican message hasn’t.

Democrats aren’t dominating Republicans among young voters because they’re more savvy at deploying Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit but because they’re proposing policies that appeal to young voters. While Republicans are fighting against gay rights and slashing funding for schoolteachers and student loans in the name of fiscal discipline, Democrats are offering free healthcare and proposing funding programs that benefit young people by increasing taxes on rich, old people.  More clever hashtags aren’t going to solve that problem. Nor is putting Mitt Romney—or Marco Rubio—on Reddit.

Nor, I confidently predict, will Republicans close their 90 point gap among black voters by evoking the name of a rapper who’s been dead fifteen years or their 70 point gap among Hispanics by trotting out Marco Rubio to give a message that Newt Gingrich could have given when “Thug Life” was in theaters.

By all means, fix the delivery system. But it won’t help if it’s being used to deliver the same message.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. reid says:

    You have to admit, the GOP has gotten amazingly far with their spin machine (which includes Fox News, talk radio, pundits, NRA, web sites, Frank Luntzian word-crafting and doublespeak). The turd they’ve been polishing for decades is perfectly smooth and spherical, but most people still get a whiff and recoil….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 43 Thumb down 5

  2. edmondo says:

    By all means, fix the delivery system. But it won’t help if it’s being used to deliver the same message.

    Unfortunately this is the one thing that the GOP will fix. They won’t change their real priorities, but they will just lie about them instead. Remember when W was a “compassionate conservative”? When blue state gubentorial candidates ran as middle of the road conservatives only to transform into right wing Club for Growth acolytes the day after they are inaugurated.

    The GOP has one hope, and one hope only, they need to lie to the voters and pray to God that enough people believe them.

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  3. Modulo Myself says:

    It can’t be overstated enough that of the boomers, it’s Clinton and Kerry and Obama who had genuine and intelligent reactions to America, and it’s Bush and Romney who decided to cower behind deferments and corporations and money-making.

    I think this is reflected all the way down to the last voter. The Republicans are basically the party for people who stopped living after 1972. This is maybe fine if you are going to be a middle-manager in a supply chain somewhere in the Sun Belt, but it works like shit if you actually want to be competent.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 8

  4. James Joyner says:

    @edmondo: Bush was always for low taxes. But he was genuinely a “compassionate conservative” on a host of issues. Most notably, he passed the Medicare prescription drug bill. He pushed to make our immigration policy more sane. While controversial, No Child Left Behind was a genuine push to improve primary and secondary education.

    @Modulo Myself: I’m not sure I understand your argument, if indeed you’re making one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

  5. michael reynolds says:

    The delivery system is a symptom. 90% of Silicon Valley money went to Obama. Republicans can’t spend their way out of that. That’s just too many smart people willing to work for Democrats. Much the same with the entertainment industries – actors, directors, writers, musicians, they’re all with the Democrats. Look at it as a basic hiring challenge. Who gets the best team? The company that can pick and choose from the A list? Or the company that is left to rifle among the losers and rejects?

    But in the end it’s about beliefs. It’s not about race alone, or gender, or age, it’s about the ideas that are put on the table. I don’t mean to suggest that we’re a nation of wonks – far from it. But ideas and policies have character, they take on a look and a tone and a style. They become products. The Republican ideas are dusty old apple dolls you might find at a flea market. They’re Hummel figurines. People pick them up, look at them, frown and wonder who the hell would buy such crap? Oh, look: granny likes them.

    Right-wing hate-mongering by the Jesus wing erects a wall between the party and decent people. It creates a no-go zone. It is simply impossible for a reasonable kid to see himself allied with the GOP. It’s like telling your friends you’re joining the Klan.

    But make no mistake: the economic ideas of the Money wing are just as big a problem. When you can’t sell a self-centered, narcissistic pile of bullsh!t like libertarianism to selfish, inexperienced 20-somethings, man, that idea is done for. Because you sure as hell can’t sell it to moms and dads. You sure as hell can’t sell it to anyone with any world experience. Which leaves your ideas appealing to autism-spectrum STEM folk, soulless business predators and aging loons in need of hormone replacement therapy.

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  6. gVOR08 says:

    This isn’t that hard for the GOPs. The party elite are wealthy people who want three things: low taxes for themselves, lax regulation of their businesses, and government contracts and subsidies for their businesses. Everything else is just a con to get a majority of voters to ignore their own interests and vote for Republicans.

    The elite won’t change their goals. I mean, if they did, what would be the point to having a Republican Party? But the con can be modified. The challenge is to rewrite the con to attract new voters without losing their current base. Their real problem right now is lack of leadership. They have no one like Obama who can pull them together, so they’re spinning off in different directions. But they will, by trial and error, develop a new con and find new leadership.

    Much of the current discussion is driven by a real risk the rubes will rise up and take control of the Party. They’ve already created a situation in which candidates have to take awkwardly extreme positions. But the elite created the Tea Party, I expect they can get it back under control, or move on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  7. edmondo says:

    @James Joyner:

    But he was genuinely a “compassionate conservative” on a host of issues. Most notably, he passed the Medicare prescription drug bill

    Since when is approving a huge benefit without paying for it a “conservative act”?

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

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: I always thought the Medicare prescription drug benefit had more to do with heavy contributions by big pharma than with “compassion”. Servicing your donors is always a core conservative belief. Falls under “contracts and subsidies” in my admittedly cynical comment above.

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  9. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Joyner:

    My argument is basically that there’s a huge chunk of the American population who has ended up willfully on the wrong side of they called the culture war but which was actually real life.

    They love the State, as long as it’s a daddy state that will make poor people suffer in order to show the value of true work, and they love sucking up, because when you suck up you get to hate liberals and advance without having to do any real work, and they love lying–whether it’s about Vietnam or how big government caused all poverty to happen or creationism or climate change denial or white people being victims of whining oppressive pc forces or must importantly, about valuable they are and how everybody else is trying to screw them.

    It’s not that liberals are even better, or that Obama is all that great. He probably isn’t. But Obama is able to cast an illusion that he is a meaningful real person who has had meaningful real experiences because he’s conversant, if only through calculation, in what life is like.

    Compare that to the constrained repressed lunatics who think freedom is about gun owning and no regulations and being able claw your way for success without being forced to think about other people. This is life only if you are sad and pathetic and believe everything a hack tells you to think.

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    Most notably, he passed the Medicare prescription drug bill.

    James, I am hard pressed to believe that Bush did that to help seniors. As far as I can tell, he did it for 2 reasons.

    #1, to get re-elected, by engaging in one of the largest giveaways ever. Or if one prefers, bribing seniors to vote for him.

    #2, one of the largest crony capitalist scams ever perpetrated. A huge unfunded mandate that guaranteed profits for the prescription drug industry by not even allowing the Federal gov’t to negotiate the prices.

    Now I happen to think the fact that it helps seniors is a good thing. However the behavior of Republicans since then tells me that that fact is a bug, not a feature.

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  11. ratufa says:

    The main reason for Bush pushing Medicare Part D in 2003 is pretty simple. Hint: there was a state with lots of electoral votes and a large senior population that was a very very very narrow win for Bush in 2000.

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  12. I think the GOP is lost to this generation. Whatever the Republican party would like to accomplish, there’s always going to be some smart liberal who is doing it better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  13. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly and @ratufa: I think the plan was problematic, simply because we couldn’t fund it while paying for the wars and cutting taxes. And, sure, there was doubtless some Rovian vote counting going on there. But Bush’s compassion was genuine; he’s a guy who was a longtime screwup who turned his life around after coming to Jesus.

    @Modulo Myself: I think that’s simplistic. The truth is closer to
    @michael reynolds‘s diagnosis. The GOP isn’t out to punish the poor; they just have an unrealistic understanding of the economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Beyond that, though, the Republican Party is still running on a platform designed to solve the problems of the Carter Administration. The world has changed but the Republican message hasn’t.

    Heh.

    I remember during the ’80 election when Reagan went on and on about how terrible Carter’s $60 billion deficit was and how it was going to ruin America… I also remember just exactly what Reagan did about that horrible deficit. And I remember what the Republican prescription for fixing deficits has been ever since….

    Make them worse.

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  15. Tony W says:

    Democrats are offering free healthcare

    That sort of crap statement is part of the problem here, Republicans are fighting a non-real opponent of their construction. Examples abound (birtherism, etc.)

    On the topic of healthcare, the Democrats are simply recognizing that Americans today are already paying for “free” healthcare, trying to introduce some sanity and uniform risk/reward into the system. Michael’s club foot analogy is again appropriate.

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    But Bush’s compassion was genuine; he’s a guy who was a longtime screwup who turned his life around after coming to Jesus.

    Maybe James, maybe. But then I always got the impression that he was little more than a useful tool for Karl Rove’s dream of a “permanent Republican majority”. That said, the two are not mutually exclusive, so he could be both.

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  17. Spartacus says:

    Advising the GOP to come up with new ideas is nice, but it overlooks a step. The GOP first needs to repudiate its existing bad ideas. It hasn’t repudiated those ideas and that is the reason that all of its “new” ideas are derivative of its old bad ideas.

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  18. ratufa says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think Bush was genuinely concerned about some things: education, immigration reform, and proving something in Iraq, for example. I’m not at all convinced that the main motivation for Medicare part D was anything other than “Rovian vote counting”, as you put it.

    In general, the whole “compassionate conservatism” thing is more a marketing slogan combined with policies that can be summarized as, “let’s not be such obvious douchebags; it hurts our chances to get elected”.

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  19. Spartacus says:

    @James Joyner:

    The GOP isn’t out to punish the poor; they just have an unrealistic understanding of the economy.

    Actually there is a significant number in the GOP who do believe that the poor deserve all the struggles that they endure because of their moral failings and that only by punishing the poor with even harsher treatment will they ever escape poverty.

    I’ve said this many times before and I have yet to hear a persuasive counter-argument: In order to be part of the GOP today one must either be evil, indifferent or ignorant.

    That is, you are aware of the harm GOP policies cause and you intend for the harm to occur (e.g. Koch brothers), or you are aware of the harm and do not intend for it to occur, but it doesn’t really matter to you that it does occur (all of the tribalists), or you’re not even aware of the harm that GOP policies cause (e.g. the people James says have an “unrealistic understanding of the economy”). Anyone who doesn’t fit into one of these 3 categories has already left the GOP.

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  20. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Joyner:

    It would have been simplistic twenty years ago. Right now, I think it depends on how innocently you think an ‘unrealistic view of the economy’ is.

    And just to make my position even more extreme, I would say that the GOP’s lack of realism on anything is the last vestige of white supremacy. The allowances that have been cut ignorant white people–the type who believe that the poor caused the 2008 market crash or who thought we found WMDs in Iraq ten years ago–are not allowances that any other group in America would be given.

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  21. socraticsilence says:

    The GOP might shift on Immigration (hell, the corporate wing always wanted to and the pragmatists now do as well) but I don’t see how they get out of the bind that tying themselves so heavily to the religious right puts them in with younger voters– how do you back off on opposing gay marriage and access to birth control (much less on abortion) without alienating your most loyal and active voters- these aren’t just raw votes, they’re the GOPs foot soldiers its canvassers, its phone bankers, etc.

    I know from a practical standpoint the GOP doesn’t really do field campaigns so much as co-opt existing networks but seriously even if they wanted to where are they going to recruit the people willing to do 100 hour weeks for little pay if not from the religious– the young college grads the Dems get don’t have Republican counterparts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think the malice, insofar as there is malice in the GOP, flows from the social cons, the Jesus wing. (Pointing out the irony of Christians actively despising the poor and outcast is almost too easy, but what the hell.)

    The Money wing doesn’t hate the poor or want to rape the poor. They just have a business model that demands they screw the poor and working class. The apt analogy would be with slave times. Plantation owners had a business model, you see. Now, some of them actually hated African-Americans, but most of them I think just saw a capital investment. A human being as nothing but a means to their wealth-craving ends. (Besides, didn’t beans and rice and cornbread ‘trickle down’ to the slaves?)

    The genuine race hatred tended I think to be concentrated among working class whites — much as it is today. These are the folks who in some dim corner of their addled brains understand that they actually have common cause with exploited black people, but have been successfully poisoned by the ruling class’s racial superiority rhetoric. They then turn their resentment away from their economic overlords to their competitors for that bottom rung on the ladder. So they turn to Jesus and hatred.

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  23. matt bernius says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The genuine race hatred tended I think to be concentrated among working class whites — much as it is today. These are the folks who in some dim corner of their addled brains understand that they actually have common cause with exploited black people, but have been successfully poisoned by the ruling class’s racial superiority rhetoric. They then turn their resentment away from their economic overlords to their competitors for that bottom rung on the ladder. So they turn to Jesus and hatred.

    Wow Michael, when did you become such a Marxist? Not that I disagree.

    Though I would suggest that you could have stopped the first sentence after the words “working class.” Or perhaps change it to “[segregated] working classes.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  24. JKB says:

    @edmondo:The GOP has one hope, and one hope only, they need to lie to the voters and pray to God that enough people believe them.

    Well, it’s true. That scam has been very rewarding for Obama and the Dems. But there is a reality check scheduled for next January via Obamacare.

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  25. HelloWorld! says:

    If the Republicans haven’t learned how to get their message out using modern technology then isn’t it possible that it is helping them? After all, the message is ultimately what people don’t like about them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @ratufa:

    Hint: there was a state with lots of electoral votes and a large senior population that was a very very very narrow win for Bush in 2000.

    Grammar Police note – that should be “win” in scare quotes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  27. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “Bush was always for low taxes.”

    While spending like crazy, and passing the problems down the road.

    ” But he was genuinely a “compassionate conservative” on a host of issues. ”

    Very few.

    “Most notably, he passed the Medicare prescription drug bill. ”

    Which was designed to (a) get the votes of seniors while (b) pumping as much money as possible into drug companies – the bill blocked the government from getting good prices.

    “He pushed to make our immigration policy more sane. ”

    True.

    “While controversial, No Child Left Behind was a genuine push to improve primary and secondary education. ”

    No, it was garbage, probably designed to aid neoliberal education ‘reformers’. IIRC, Ted Kennedy felt that he had made a big mistake by supporting it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  28. michael reynolds says:

    If the GOP was smart (and if pigs could fly) they’d break with the Jesus wing. It’s a loser anyway. This would mean they lose a few cycles, but they’re going to do that anyway.

    Then, having jettisoned the Jesus wing, they would prepare a case for the youth-as-victims of greedy old farts. Peel the productive young of all ages away from those receiving the benefits – the Baby Boomers.

    This would have to wrapped in moderation. It can’t be, “Fwck the old people,” it would have to be, “It’s our turn now.” Reasonable, rational, requiring the Boomers to own up to their exploitation of the young, then moving to bend the curve downward on Boomer benefits. “Hey, you made a lot of money, now you want mine? Sorry, grandpa: it’s my turn now.” Start casting the Boomers as “The greediest generation.”

    But this has to take place in a context of tolerance and a genuine urge to modernize government. ie: take it away from dumb-ass old Boomers and let the young generation show us how it’s done.

    I don’t know if this wins you the White House, but it’s a more survivable thesis going forward. Then, when the Boomers are finally dying off – 20 years from now – the GOP is rebranded as young, tolerant and forward-looking, but also as rational, as accepting limitations. That’s about as close to conservatism as you can get, given the realities.

    Make no mistake: the Democrats also don’t have many ideas for the future. (Who are we going to liberate next? We’re out of minorities.) Our ideas are based on an unstable coalition, but since it is more stable than the truly bizarre GOP coalition, we can dominate. We’re winning by default. We’re one-legged men racing against quadriplegics.

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  29. Modulo Myself says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The Money wing doesn’t hate the poor or want to rape the poor. They just have a business model that demands they screw the poor and working class. The apt analogy would be with slave times. Plantation owners had a business model, you see. Now, some of them actually hated African-Americans, but most of them I think just saw a capital investment. A human being as nothing but a means to their wealth-craving ends. (Besides, didn’t beans and rice and cornbread ‘trickle down’ to the slaves?)

    I disagree with this, in that some wealthy people I’ve met, especially when you scrape a lot of the WASP polish off, tend to have very parochial views. The WASP-run CIA in the 50s tended to have zero regard for the humanity of dark-skinned poor foreigners. And the upper class I’m familiar with, the same Michigan one that spawned Mitt Romney, was insanely racist.

    Let’s not even talk about all of the eerie gated communities with ‘Plantation’ proudly in their names…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @matt bernius:

    Well, I’m not a Marxist. I’m a happy capitalist busily lining my pockets. But you don’t need a weather man to know. . .

    Uh oh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  31. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “The GOP isn’t out to punish the poor; they just have an unrealistic understanding of the economy.”

    I don’t see it this way. I think they want to punish the poor because they have an unrealistic understanding of the economy. An understanding where punishing the poor (the “lucky duckies”, the “takers”, the “47%”) and funneling benefits to the rich (the “job creaters”, the “makers”) is the way to improve the economy. It’s inherent not merely in their rhetoric, but in every way they have governed in my adult life.

    It’s an awful misreading of economics, and if the Republicans had a long period in control of the country, the best case scenario is a stagnating economy where the benefits are sucked up by the rich and the rest of the country loses ground regularly, punctuated by crises which allowed the economy to be pillaged by the people in control (like the S&L crisis of the ’80’s or Enron). The worst case scenario is violent revolution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  32. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “But Bush’s compassion was genuine; he’s a guy who was a longtime screwup who turned his life around after coming to Jesus. ”

    In general, Bush was a guy who stopped publicly drinking (right before he went into politics) and talked a good Jesus game, but never let it stop him from lying, looting and killing.

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  33. Woody says:

    the Republican Party is still running on a platform designed to solve the problems of the Carter Administration. The world has changed but the Republican message hasn’t.

    Even Scarborough could see this when he commented on Rubio’s rebuttal. And no one on Earth has a rosier-colored hindsight about the GOP past.

    The GOP’s anachronistic stances will not change soon (aka a Republican DLC), because the right-wing media has become a gilded cage – the party will sit in great comfort and puffball interviews, but never be allowed out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  34. C. Clavin says:

    I’m pretty sure that by the 2024 election Republicans will have found their way to the right side of history on the issues they are upside down on now (which is almost every single issue).

    Holy shit…I just realized that I will probably never see another Republican President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  35. michael reynolds says:

    I actually think Bush was serious about the “compassionate” part of conservatism. I think he was sincere. That doesn’t mean he pulled it off, but I never thought it was complete b.s. I never saw him as a real bad guy, just a weak, incompetent, easily-led guy. Cheney was evil. Bush was more the Othello to Cheney’s Iago. That’s what scared me about Bush, that he was just an inadequate man.

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  36. mantis says:

    @James Joyner:

    “The GOP isn’t out to punish the poor; they just have an unrealistic understanding of the economy.”

    I disagree. The leaders of the GOP know damned well that the 47% of the country who don’t pay income taxes is mostly comprised of senior citizens, unemployed people, and the indigent. They know that almost none of those people are lazy moochers who could work if they wanted to (and make enough money to pay income tax). However, their base believes that the country is overrun by “welfare moms” and young bucks buying T-bone steaks and drugs with food stamps, and a lot of them truly believe that fully half of their fellow citizens are no good moochers who are destroying America. So the GOP plays to their base. This isn’t an unrealistic understanding of the economy; it’s purposefully lying about the economy to a base that eats it up. Their base hates half the country and want them punished. The GOP dutifully provides through their policies and their rhetoric.

    It’s always been convenient for the GOP (a convenience they work hard to maintain) that the Money Wing Michael references prefers the same tactic (screw the poor), but of course they have a different goal. The base wants to screw the poor because they think others are getting a free ride while they have to work to get by or are struggling to do so. The Money Wing wants to screw the poor because they want all the money, to the last cent. Convincing the base to vote against their own interests has been an astounding trick that the GOP has been able to pull off for years, largely through an emphasis on social issues that keep the base outraged against various “others” who are ruining the country with their liberalness, or their gayness, or their feminism, or their dark skin, or their foreign first languages, or their gungrabbing ways.

    The GOP has worked for decades to shift all of the wealth to the rich while simultaneously blaming the lazy poor for the fact that everyone who isn’t rich is getting screwed. The only reason they are having trouble these days is that the populace has changed, and now not enough people are afraid of all of the social evils the GOP has been convincing them are the source of all the country’s problems.

    It’s not the technology, it’s not the message, and it’s not the policies that are hurting the GOP. It’s the fact that not enough people believe their big lie anymore, and their big lie is the foundation of their party. Their receptive audience is shrinking. The GOP is real trouble because in order to appeal to anyone beyond that shrinking base, they need to become an entirely new party altogether. The Democrats, while split between North and South at the time, were forced to become a new party in the 1960s when the Dixiecrats abandoned the party during the Civil Rights struggles. The GOP faces a much tougher struggle because their party is not losing the backwards-thinking wing like the Democrats did, but is losing all the moderates and is being reduced to nothing but the backwards-thinking wing. What the hell do you do about that? They don’t have an answer, so they are resorting to blatant tokenism while spouting the same old crap.

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  37. Rick Almeida says:

    @James Joyner:

    The GOP isn’t out to punish the poor; they just have an unrealistic understanding of the economy.

    I think there is a deep seam of “punish the poor” theology (particularly through Calvinism), and ideology (Protestant Ethic), made manifest through policy (debtor’s prisons, workhouses, sterilizations) embedded in much of Western political history that really undercuts this blithe assertion.

    It is sad to watch sensible conservatives consistently have to invoke the absolute most charitable assumptions, avoid any attempt to connect dots, and otherwise make heroic leaps of logic in order to justify so much of contemporary Republican politics.

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  38. Scott says:

    The Republicans are lost, for sure. They now control the House after flipping about 65 seats from Democrat control to Republican control in 2010. They only have 30 governorships today. There are only 27 state legislatures where Republicans control both houses, compared to 17 in which Democrats control both houses. Republican controlled state legislatures are mostly running balanced budgets and reforming public sector union abuses, while Democrat run states like California, New York, Illinios are not. A Republican in deep blue New Jersey has almost 70% approval ratings and is the favorite to win re-election in November.

    Clearly, Republicans are doomed. They really should just give up and go the way of the
    Whigs.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 19

  39. James Joyner says:

    @Scott: National politics and state politics are different. The Democrat and Republican labels have a different meaning nationally than at the state level and always have. That is, an Alabama Democrat is more conservative in most cases than a Massachusetts Republican.

    At the national level, Republicans have now lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections, stretching back 21 years. They’re a minority in the Senate. The got fewer votes than the Democrats did nationwide for the House of Representatives, able to secure a majority thanks to heavy gerrymandering by their state-level delegates.

    Go on telling yourself that you’re winning if you want to.

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  40. Tony W says:

    @Scott: They have the 2010 elections to thank for this success, and more to the point Obama’s win in 2008 – an event that nearly always results in the other party doing well 2 years later.

    So, via redistricting fraud they have absolutely had some short term success in winning elections – particularly in flyover country. Make no mistake, controlling that redistricting process is key to holding back the grim reaper for many years.

    That said, my prediction is that after the 2020 elections they will fondly look back at the good old days of 2013.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  41. Scott says:

    @James Joyner:

    I made no claim about winning. I simply stated the facts as they are. And based on those facts, it seems premature to declare the GOP dead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

  42. bandit says:

    Lefty circle jerk of hate agrees – they hate anyone who disagrees with their recipe for failure

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  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: In 2010 the MO GOP redistricted the state allowing them to get 7 of the 11 congressional districts and veto proof majorities in both the state House and Senate in 2012. Of all the statewide races in 2012 they managed to win only 2: The Lt. Gov. and the Presidential.

    In a state where they were able to whip up all the latent racism that is deep within the fabric of it’s people, they still only managed to win one State wide government race. Roy Blunt runs for re-election in 2016 and he better start praying, ’cause right now? He is in trouble.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  44. David M says:

    @Scott:

    Republican controlled state legislatures are mostly running balanced budgets and reforming public sector union abuses, while Democrat run states like California, New York, Illinios are not.

    Your analysis might be more believable if there weren’t obvious flags like this that make it seem like you’re mostly interested in making the GOP look good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  45. @bandit: You’re right, Bandit. Nothing says “hate” more than a bunch of liberals trying to help the GOP retain their relevance and a bunch of Republicans playing their favorite game of “these parts of the country are good and these parts are bad.” (Like Scott above.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  46. michael reynolds says:

    @bandit:

    Our “recipe for failure” seems to include paying for Republican states.

    Red states are subsidized by taxes from blue states. Places like Alabama, Wyoming and South Dakota are drags on the system, kept alive by the creativity and enterprise and resultant wealth of states like California and New York.

    When you’re a dependent it’s impolite to attack the people putting food on your table.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  47. Rob in CT says:

    We’re one-legged men racing against quadriplegics.

    Sure feels that way. Half of “our” side’s ideas suck. It sure would be nice if the GOP joined us here on Earth Prime and produced some counter-proposals that are connected, in some way, to reality. Unfortunately, that’s not happening. Instead, we get an alternative reality temper tantrum whenever they lose (and alternate reality governance when they win). It’s frustrating as hell.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  48. matt bernius says:

    @Scott:
    While you post a lot of facts that — on the surface look good — when one digs a bit deeper, its easy to see how they actually point to a shaky foundation.

    [Republicans] now control the House after flipping about 65 seats from Democrat control to Republican control in 2010.

    Correct, but even with Gerrymandering of districts, they lost seats in the last election. And while I expect that they will retain control for a few cycles at least, that control is predicated on the construction of electoral districts. If the next redistricting goes against them, then the will likely be the minority party for the next cycle.

    All of this redistricting stuff speaks to the need for broader electoral reform. Either way, their control on the House is based more on district lines than current popularity. And that’s a dangerous thing for the party.

    When one looks to the Senate, things look far dimmer. Net loss of seat in the last election. And that includes losing races against weak Democratic candidates.

    A Republican in deep blue New Jersey has almost 70% approval ratings and is the favorite to win re-election in November.

    So Christie is back in favor again? Last time I checked, he wasn’t exactly a national darling for the party (based on his performance in the fall).

    And this gets to what may be a bigger schism — Northern Rockefeller Republicans versus the rest of the party.

    You are entirely right about State Control, and the Republicans will still command a lot of regional control for the foreseeable future. But the question is if, how, and when the party evolve to a modified set of positions?And what will be the short term effect of that change.

    But, for the very reason you mentioned, I think a lot of people will continue to convince themselves that there really isn’t a problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  49. stalingrad flagger says:

    @Scott: Scott? Scott Walker?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  50. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “But Bush’s compassion was genuine; he’s a guy who was a longtime screwup who turned his life around after coming to Jesus. ”

    I am particularly impressed with the compassionate way he introduced torture as a standard US practice. No doubt Jesus was up in heaven, smiling down at the way this longtime screwup decided to emulate the Spanish Inquisition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  51. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    If the GOP was smart (and if pigs could fly) they’d break with the Jesus wing.

    The Jesus wing is going to die off eventually, and there are far fewer young people who will be willing to fill it than will be necessary to fill it. At that point the GOP will be forced to do what it refuses to do voluntarily, or dwindle into irrelevance.

    Unfortunately for them, they’ve already turned off a lot of young people who will be moving onto the voter rolls over the next few years, in addition to the 18-25 year olds. So even if they make the right moves, it could be years before they regain their former influence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  52. jukeboxgrad says:

    What a great thread. Many statements here that are especially insightful. If someone came from another planet and wanted to know what “GOP” meant, reading this thread is pretty much all they would need.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  53. Moosebreath says:

    Kevin Drum has an insightful take on this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  54. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The Money wing doesn’t hate the poor or want to rape the poor. They just have a business model that demands they screw the poor and working class.

    They don’t, in fact, care enough about the poor to hate them. Hatred implies some sort of emotional investment. They’re just indifferent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  55. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But Bush’s compassion was genuine; he’s a guy who was a longtime screwup who turned his life around after coming to Jesus.

    Which leads to the question, who would Jesus have waterboarded?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  56. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But Bush’s compassion was genuine; he’s a guy who was a longtime screwup who turned his life around after coming to Jesus.

    James, exactly which of the principles espoused by Jesus Christ — judge not, lest ye be judged; give away all your money to the poor; forgive your enemies; turn the other cheek; abhor the moneylenders, etc. — did George W. Bush actually follow in practice? Please be specific.

    It’s easy to say you came to Jesus. It’s a lie, however, if you say you came to Jesus but never wind up doing all the things that Jesus commanded his followers to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  57. john personna says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I think the Medicare Drug law came as seniors were rebelling, ordering their drugs from Canada.

    Not coincidentally the solution to that was government buying more expensive drugs domestically.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  58. anjin-san says:

    James, exactly which of the principles espoused by Jesus Christ — judge not, lest ye be judged; give away all your money to the poor; forgive your enemies; turn the other cheek; abhor the moneylenders, etc. — did George W. Bush actually follow in practice? Please be specific.

    Second that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  59. superdestroyer says:

    It is humorous to read the Republican snake oil salesmen trying to find away to continue their careers when their career field is dying. What is amazing is how hard progressives writers are working to ignore the most obvious conclusion of what they are writing:that the era of conservative politics is over and that the Republicans are no longer relevant to politics, policy, or governance in the U.S.

    I guess even the progressives writers do not want to think about what the U.S. will be like with one dominant political party and where elections are moot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  60. anjin-san says:

    @ Rafer Janders

    SOP for the right – invoke the name of Jesus every 15 minutes, and never, ever do anything that would actually involve following his teachings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  61. Sejanus says:

    @superdestroyer: Again with this whole one party nonsense? It’s already been said to you a thousand times already – when a major party dies it gets replaced by new party who fills in the vacuum. Federalists were replaced by Whigs who were replaced by the Republicans. When the GOP will vanish (if indeed it won’t be able to revive itself) a new party will come forth to replace it.

    @wr: Don’t forget that he also compassionately supported the criminalization of certain sexual relations between consenting adults and also compassionately campaigned to deny their relationships any kind of legal recognition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  62. matt bernius says:

    @superdestroyer:

    What is amazing is how hard progressives writers are working to ignore the most obvious conclusion of what they are writing:that the era of conservative politics is over and that the Republicans are no longer relevant to politics, policy, or governance in the U.S.

    #Fail…

    Look, the fact is, the “era of conservative politics” isn’t over — unless, by conservative, you mean a specific set of politics that resemble a “Pleasantville” version of America.

    The fact is that, for the foreseeable future, there will be “liberal” and “conservative” party in the US, the prior begin called “Democrats” and the later “Republicans.”

    What you continually drone on about is that the Conservative side won’t, apparently, represent YOUR interests (assuming you are a self identified conservative). And, since they are not with you, then, of course, they become against you.

    (btw, you apparently have an exceptionally ego centric view of politics since you seem to position yourself as the arbiter of what is or isn’t a true conservative).

    But this is akin to saying that since the Conservatives won’t represent the views of Conservatives from the turn of the 19th century, they are not real Conservatives.

    And there’s the sad fact @superdestroyer. The Republican/Conservative movement is most likely going to leave you in the next few years. Get used to CINO and RINO — you’ll be using those acronyms on the internet, a lot, for the rest of your life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  63. M. Bouffant says:

    Good thread. Also on the theme.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  64. M. Bouffant says:

    And just to pile on Bush a little more: Karla Faye Tucker. That’s compassion!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  65. superdestroyer says:

    @matt bernius:

    To all of the progressives who claim that two parties is the natural state of affairs: How to you explain the politics of so many places in the U.S. that have only one relevant political party. Does Chicago, Baltimore, the District of Columbia, or Detroit have two functional political parties? Are the Republicans still relevant in Californai, Mass., Maryland, or Conn.? When was the last time that a member of the Congressional Black Caucus face a serious challenge from a Republican?

    What the consultants are saying is that the Republican Party cannot survive as a conservative party and should just become the Democratic-lite, me too, big government, big spending party. Of course, that Bush II failed for eight years trying to turn the Republican Party does not seem to phase all of the progressive writers.

    California is probably the future of politics in the U.S.: one relevant political party, taxes growing over time and growing as a percentage of the economy, political fights over who gets the goodies from the government and who pays, and a slowly shrinking middle class as they are squeeze by the poor from the bottom and squeeze by rampant credential ism from the top. Since not everyone is the middle class can work for the government, there will not be enough middle class jobs to maintain a middle class.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  66. superdestroyer says:

    @Sejanus:

    Why would anyone want to work in Republican politics when they will have zero ability to influence politics, policy, or governance. Do you really think there are enough people who just want a a seat at the table when their only job is to agree with the dominant political party and to serve as the dominant political parties scapegoat when government policies fail?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  67. Mikey says:

    @superdestroyer: You think this can only go one way? The Democrats ascended in California in a generation, but somehow you think it can’t descend just as quickly?

    This is American politics. Things can change very fast. There’s no permanent anything–not parties, not majorities, not alliances, not even worldviews. If the GOP can’t reinvent itself in a way that pulls in the next generation, it will disappear and be replaced by something that can.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  68. Rob in CT says:

    I love how superduper likes to ignore all the localities in which the GOP is The Party and the Dems are the joke of an also-ran. The places where the GOP primary is what matters.

    Looking at our history, this state of affairs is quite common. The Solid South (solidly Demo for what, a full century? Now solidly GOP). New England used to be strongly Republican. Now it’s solid Dem.

    We could look at the period of liberal ascendency (1930s-1970s) and wonder how in the hell 1980 ever happened. 1980-2008 was a period of conservative ascendency. Clinton won and was reelected in the 90s specifically by moving to the Right, coopting RW positions on some key matters and of course by getting a little lucky. Let’s not forget Bush the Elder’s own goal (promising “No New Taxes” when he should have known better, and then accepting that taxes did have to go up. The latter was a service to the nation, IMO, but also political suicide).

    So you have 1932-1980 = 48 years. I’d say the 70s were a bit of a muddle, but for much of the 70s the liberals were still on top. 1980-2008 = 28 years, and conservative ideas/policies still have a lot of sway, though liberals have been successful at chipping away at them.

    Think of it like a pendulum. Just because it’s swinging away from your side now doesn’t mean that it will never swing back. It will. In the meantime, you’re likely to be unhappy about some things. Liberals who remember the last 30 years can tell you all about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  69. M. Bouffant says:

    @superdestroyer:

    When was the last time that a member of the Congressional Black Caucus face[d] a serious challenge from a Republican?

    Direct result of the gerrymandering that is the only thing allowing the GOP to hold the House. How many members of the Republican Congressional Loon Caucus have a faced a serious challenge from any Democratic candidate?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  70. David M says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    Direct result of the gerrymandering that is the only thing allowing the GOP to hold the House.

    To be more accurate, the more blatant GOP gerrymandering accounted for maybe 75% of their majority. I don’t think we can say it’s the only reason they have a majority, but it’s fair to say the Democratic candidates would have won more elections if every state had non-partisan redistricting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  71. superdestroyer says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    Considering that the Republicans hold 230 seats in the House and there was a swing of 70 seats in 201, It could be estimate that the Republicans hold about 100 total seats that they could possibly lose. Cosidering that there are 39 members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the House (about 20% of the entire house membership for the Democrats) never face a real opponent in the general election.

    The real gerrymandering is the way that districts are drawn to create majority/minority districts. If the Democrats were will to throw a few members of the CBC under the bus, they would win more seats.

    Also, you might want to read the article in thew New Republic on Gerrymandering. I loved the pull quote ” it’s even possible that the number of moderate Republicans has been inflated by gerrymandering in blue states. “

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  72. superdestroyer says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The Democrats won Cook County by over a net million votes. There is no equivalent for the Repupblicans. The future of the U.S. is to become more like Cook County where is no relevant Republican Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  73. al-Ameda says:

    @James Joyner:

    Most notably, he passed the Medicare prescription drug bill.

    My quibble with that is that he (Bush) refused to include an increase in the medicare tax to pay for this program. Bush reduced taxes and waged 2 unfunded wars and the Medicare prescription drug bill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  74. Rob in CT says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I rather doubt that. What % of the total vote is 1 million in Cook County?

    [looks up Cook county election results]

    http://electionnight.cookcountyclerk.com/summary.aspx?eid=110612

    http://electionnight.cookcountyclerk.com/summary.aspx?eid=110612

    Hmm:

    Barack Obama & Joe Biden (Democratic) 63.82% 635,435
    Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan (Republican) 34.89% 347,361

    I note you use “net million votes” (since only 1 million people voted in Cook county TOTAL). Are you adding up the margins of victory of all Democratic candidates?

    Just a simple quick & easy comparison:

    Alabama Obama/Biden 38.4% (793,620 votes), Romney/Ryan 60.7% (1,252,453 votes).

    And I’m sure there are even more lopsided results at the local level. Why, I wonder what would happen if I tallied all GOP wins and totalled them up? Perhaps I could make impressive sounding claims?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  75. superdestroyer says:

    @Rob in CT:

    That is only for suburban cook county. If you add in the the net 700k votes from the Chicago, then you get the million votes. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/election/uscounties.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  76. Rob in CT says:

    Ok, the total margin was 76-23.

    Just mousing over their margin of victory map, such lopsided results (~75/25) happen elsewhere as well. The difference is that there are simply more people in Cook County, IL than in the super-red counties in the South.

    Your basic problem appears to be representative democracy.

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