• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

The Roy Moore Case and the Nature of US Political Parties

Roy Moore Gun

Primaries affect parties internally, by making them nonhierarchical.  What Primaries do is to deprive parties, as organized entities, of their vital role in nominating candidates, and by extension, weaken the disciplining authority of party leaders.–Taylor, Shugart, Lijphart, and Grofman (2014), A Different Democracy:  American Government in a 31-Country Perspective, p. 182.

This is what we are currently seeing in the case of Roy Moore’s nomination and the controversy surrounding allegations he engaged in sexual conduct with a 14 year-old when he was 32 (and allegations he dated teenagers on several occasions during that period).  To be dispassionate about these very serious allegations for the moment, it is clear that such information in the current climate regarding sexual harassment and misconduct in the past of powerful men creates a serious political problem for the Republican Party.  This is especially true since Moore was already a controversial political figure.  One would think that the party would like to replace Moore as their candidate.  However, they cannot (even if Moore quits the race).

This is clear illustration of what my co-authors and I were pointing out about American parties in A Different Democracy:  the two major US parties are essentially unique in the degree to which party leadership outsources a key power of parties to  an actor it cannot control:  the power to select candidates.  I have written about this on the blog over the years as well (see herehere, and here, for example).  Additionally, my co-authors and I said the following on the subject in ADD:

Primaries mean that the ability of party leadership to shape a party in a particular direction in terms of philosophy or party choice is quite limited. Rather, the process is one of self-selection by candidates, who choose to adopt a party label and run in the primary, which is then validated or rejected by voters on primary day (316).

This is not new.  While there are some cases in the US, such as in Virginia and Utah, where the state party conventions can assert power over nominations, the basic fact of the matter is that candidates for office almost universally capture control of their party’s label by winning a primary election.  Note that they run in the primary contest without any need to appease party leadership.  While there are bureaucratic processes to navigate, the process is essentially an open one.

To turn this back to Moore:  clearly if GOP elites had had a say in the matter, Luther Strange would have been the nominee.  After all,  Moore has a controversial past having been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court twice. A such, I think that following from Politico piece this week is quite correct:

GOP leaders desperately want Roy Moore off the ballot. But they have neither the legal nor the political leverage to force the defiant ex-judge out of the race.

All of this has been on my mind the last couple of days (although prior to now I only had time to tweet about it).  I was further inspired by the following piece in WaPo:  Roy Moore’s refusal to exit Alabama Senate race reflects diminished power of Washington

Roy Moore’s refusal to bow out of Alabama’s special election for a Senate seat is the latest demonstration of the diminished power of congressional leaders and other, once-powerful institutions in Washington.

To address the headline and the quote first paragraph of the piece:  no, no it doesn’t.  As outlined above, US parties have not (at least for some very long time) had the power to directly control nominations.  Indeed, the piece itself does a poor job of arguing its case, as it cites examples of party failure to assert control over party label (e.g, the Democrat’s inability to block Roland Burris from being appointed to fill Obama’s seat–which isn’t even a nomination example, and the GOP’s trials and tribulations with Todd Akin).  It does cite a case in which Dick Cheney was able to assert influence over a race in 2002.  Overall, though, the evidence presented actually argues against the alleged thesis of the piece.

Quite frankly, I think the author is revealing that he buys into the myth, that many Americans likewise believe, that party elites have substantial power over the nomination process. They do not (and have not).

Also, this quote is telling:

“It’s a distrust of institutions, all institutions,” said Josh Holmes, a senior political adviser to McConnell. “There’s just no deference at all in politics today.”

Deference is not power–it certainly is not a formalized institution (even if sometimes such behavior can be an informal institution or norm).  Sure, sometimes elites could influence outcomes (they still can).  But the power to nominate in firmly in the hands of primary voters.  The parties are decided nonhierarchical and this in formalized in the rules that dictate who gets to have the “Republican Party” or “Democratic Party” appended to their name on ballot.  As such, we are seeing how our institutional have been designed and they are functioning exactly as we should expect.

I will note two words that illustrate this fact:  those words are “Donald” and “Trump.”  The nature of the nomination process provided the GOP with Trump as nominee and as POTUS.  I am exceedingly confidence that this would not have been the choice of party leadership in January of 2016.

And, I would further note that once the candidate wins and goes to Washington, the party has essentially no power to reject the now office-holder from using the party’s label.  Indeed, since in both the House and especially the Senate these days (given the partisan margins), the party needs the new member to caucus with them so they can retain control of the chamber.  In this way, the power of party leadership can be further undercut.  The party needs numbers to control legislative chambers, and they cannot choose who those members might be (and cannot constrain their behavior in office, since returning to office depends, again, on primary voters, not party elites).*

Regardless, it should be noted that the options for the Republicans are essentially nil at this point, even if party leadership had substantial power within the party.  The laws of the state of Alabama stand in the way of action as we see in  Alabama Code Title 17. Elections § 17-6-21

(b) A nomination for a candidate in a primary or general election shall be finalized by the respective state executive committees not later than 76 days before the primary or general election.

It is too late to make a ballot change.  If Moore was to quit tomorrow, his name would remain on the ballot as the Republican nominee.

It should also be noted that independent candidates have to file to be on the ballot prior to the primary, meaning losers in the primary cannot run an independent campaign (see § 17-9-3, paragraph a.3). So, Senator Luther Strange, the loser in the primary, cannot run as an independent.  A write-in campaign may be possible (but I think this unlikely to happen, and unlikely to be successful if mounted).**

So, while a write-in campaign is possible, the party has no control over its label on the December ballot.  It belongs to Moore because of the way major US parties nominate their candidates and the candidate-centric nature of the laws governing that process.

 

Why does all of this matter?  In simple terms, it means that the parties cannot actually behave as a coherent representative body of citizen preferences, at least not in the way other parties around the world are able to do.  It also means that voters are driven into binary choices.  For example. if one cannot understand how a social conservative could still vote for Moore, remember that many of them think that abortion is representative of a contemporary holocaust and they know that Doug Jones (the Democratic nominee) is pro-choice, and Moore is decidedly anti-abortion.  If one is a voter who truly believes Moore will prevent the murder of the innocent, and Jones will promote it, then it is not irrational to cast a ballot for Moore (nor it is hard to understand how that voter will seek to rationalize the accusations as “fake news” or somesuch).  Note, too, that a lot of social conservatives have deep opposition to same sex marriage, and Jones favors it, while Moore was willing to lose a seat on the state Supreme Court over the issue.  Please note that this is an explanation of behavior.

I will turn to a tweet from one of aforementioned co-authors:

The US electorate is locked into a situation in which we have two polarized parties (and, commensurately, a polarized electorate), but where paper leadership cannot shape who wins seats to pursue the agendas that drive the polarization.  Note, for example, the inability of the GOP to repeal the ACA and their ongoing struggles over tax reform.  A truly unified party under current conditions should be more unified in their actions.

Beyond that, while a lot of voters are disenchanted with the two mainline parties the incentives in our system to third party creation is limited (to put it mildly).  The basic electoral system creates the parameters for two large parties and primaries almost guarantees a rigid two-party system.***   This is illustrated by the rise of the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus (inside the GOP, I would note) and the HRC/Bernie arguments within the Democratic Party (and, I would note, Bernie Sanders is technically an independent, not a Democrat, but he needs a broader party to operate in the Senate, or to mount a run for President–he is not going to form a new party).

Under other institutional conditions, I could easily see a multi-party system in the US consisting of a progressive left party (the Bernie wing of the Democratic Party), a more moderate good governance party (a combo of parts of the HRC wing of the Democrats and NeverTrump Republicans) and a nationalistic trumpista party.  Depending on the rules, probably also a smattering of small, ideological parties such as the Greens and the Libertarians.****

At the moment, we have two choices and deep identity politics linked to those choices.  This means the GOP leadership has no choice, ultimately, than to criticize Moore publicly while hoping that he wins, because a loss in Alabama of all places would be symbolically devastating (and make tax reform even more difficult).   And, really, they have no power to do much else in our system.

*Yes, party leaders can withhold money and maybe committee assignments.  But, fundraising is often candidate-centric (and in this case, I would note that in the primary, party leadership spent to help Strange, not Moore).  And punishing legislators in chamber is harder than it seems on paper.

**At the moment, I do not think that the Alabama GOP electorate is going to be predisposed to voting against Moore in large numbers in a Jones/Moore contest.  Even if a Strange could mount a write-in campaign, I think the result would be a Moore-Strange split of the GOP vote and a Jones win. As such, for the caucus reasons noted above, a write-in campaign is a threat to the GOP’s control of this seat–moreso than just letting Moore run.

***See ADD on these topic for more elaboration.  This post is already long, and I do not have time at the moment to elaborate.

****Keep in mind, this is Saturday morning blogging level of analysis, and could use some refinement.  I do think what I have described would be close to what the US would have if it adopted the German system (MMP).  I do plan to address this at some point as part of the series I started a couple of weeks ago.

 

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    If one is a voter who truly believes Moore will prevent the murder of the innocent, and Jones will promote it, then it is not irrational to cast a ballot for Moore (nor it is hard to understand how that voter will seek to rationalize the accusations as “fake news” or somesuch).

    I can understand the vote for the likely child molester, but I cannot understand the willfully turning a blind eye to the likelihood that he is a child molester.

    Sometimes you have to hold your nose in the voting booth, and vote for the lesser of two evils. Absolutely. But don’t pretend that the lesser evil isn’t evil — that’s the stuff that corrupts your soul.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. charon says:

    For example. if one cannot understand how a social conservative could still vote for Moore, remember that many of them think that abortion is representative of a contemporary holocaust and they know that Doug Jones (the Democratic nominee) is pro-choice, and Moore is decidedly anti-abortion.

    In the Virginia election, the red areas in the south and southwest were much redder than they were in the 2013 election 4 years ago, while the northeast part of the state was much bluer. IOW, polarization continues to follow an increasing trend.

    Back in the days when Bob Packwood was chased out of the Senate, the parties were not as polarized. Add to that, “social issues” were not as prominent in the issues the country and parties were polarized over.

    So maybe in today’s Senate, Bob Packwood would find today’s GOP would have his back.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Gustopher says:

    You have a pop up ad problem on iPad/Safari.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. Ben Wolf says:

    After the Clinton and Bush era, it’s difficult to see how a combination of these two groups would constitute a party devoted to “good-governance.”

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Gustopher says:

    The Republican Party drove out the Birchers in the 1970s. They could drive out the worst in their party now if they wanted to.

    If the Republican leadership in the Senate was willing to say that they would try to not seat Roy Moore if he was elected, and push for a write-in campaign for Luther Strange as a spoiler, Roy Moore would not be sitting in the Senate. Moore might drop out, or not, but any victory would be meaningless for him.

    It might mean losing a senate seat here — but it would allow more control over who runs in the future. It would require them to make a decision that they don’t want to be the pederast enabling party.

    They could also expel Moore once he is elected, and trigger another special election. I am assuming, without bothering to check, that Alabama has a Republican governor who would appoint someone to fill that vacancy.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    It might mean losing a senate seat here

    It would mean losing the seat as it is clear Moore would not drop out. Even if he would, the ballots are printed and he would get a lot of votes anyway.

    With control of Senate after 2018 at stake, not gonna happen.

    If the Senate refused to seat Moore, the Republican governor would appoint someone to hold the seat until November 2018. This election to replace Sessions was originally scheduled for Nov 2018 until the Governor chose to reschedule it.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    For example. if one cannot understand how a social conservative could still vote for Moore, remember that many of them think that abortion is representative of a contemporary holocaust and they know that Doug Jones (the Democratic nominee) is pro-choice, and Moore is decidedly anti-abortion.

    No, that is the lie they will tell themselves as the pull the lever for a predator who was known to stalk the halls of justice for teenage girls. As someone pointed out here (IIRC) just a few weeks ago, if you ask them in the event of a fire and they only had time to grab one or the other which would they grab: A 3 year old child or a case holding 500 embryos?

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  8. charon says:

    @charon:

    If the Senate refused to seat Moore, the Republican governor would appoint someone to hold the seat until November 2018.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/the-roy-moore-case-and-the-nature-of-us-political-parties/#ixzz4y9hpWj1r

    Just remembered Luther Strange is pretty unpopular in Alabama, governor would probably reschedule to as soon as practical.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Teve tory says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: the embro vs toddler thought experiment, pretty clearly shows that most anti-abortion people aren’t really thinking of the embryo as a person, it’s just a way to Virtue signal and slut shame. But then again we’re not dealing with rocket scientists here.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  10. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The toddler vs embryo thought experiment is kind of stupid. The toddler can scream for help, the embryos can not, and even in a thought experiment, people cannot forget that.

    This is why I can keep cats alive, but not plants. Cats mew plaintively when I forget to give them food or water. Plants just die.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  11. michael reynolds says:

    As the common folk become more political they reason by analogy, turning ‘their party’ into a sports team they root for. They get sports, they don’t get ideology or history or political science. They have no real capacity to explain let alone defend their own positions, and as we’ve seen with the Trumpies, they can quite easily abandon a position they held a year earlier if team loyalty demands it. Russia was an enemy, now suddenly they’re a friend. NATO was a brilliant American project, but now suddenly it’s a hollow nothing. Nazis were bad. . . except for the good ones. On the Right it seems all positions are temporary and tactical with two exceptions: guns and abortion.

    And this tendency exists on the Left as well. Ask a typical Democrat voter what their position is on immigration. You’ll get mush. Ask many Democrats their position on freedom of speech – formerly an absolute – and again, you’ll get mush.

    I’ve long believed that abortion was the essential tear in the fabric of modern American political life. Once the Right decided that ‘abortion is murder’ and that therefore any proponent of abortion rights is a murderer, compromise became impossible. The Right can use this stance to justify anything at all. Anything up to and including the murder of abortion doctors and the imprisonment of women who seek abortions. Abortion provides a moral excuse for any outrage. Abortion is to contemporary American politics what slavery was in 1860, including the fact that the pro-choice side is often internally conflicted.

    The country is now, and has been for some time, split 50/50 on identifying as pro-life or pro-choice. Within that are many gradations – only about 20% believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, but more would outlaw it under many or even most conditions. The extreme anti-choice position is the most intellectually consistent. It’s nonsense to say that abortion is murder, but okay in cases of rape or incest.

    The problem the Left has is an inability to come to grips with the fact that the pro-lifers cannot simply be dismissed as wrong or evil. Pro-life is not like being racist. There’s broad agreement that racism is evil, there’s no such consensus that outlawing 3rd trimester abortions is evil, rather the contrary. And there is no evidence that one side or the other is winning the debate.

    I don’t have a solution. The issue is not as morally clear as either side pretends. People are not crazy or evil for thinking abortion is wrong. People are not crazy or evil to insist that the pregnant woman is the one best able to make a decision. For people who think abortion is murder there is no compromise possible. Ditto for people who believe a woman should have complete control over her own body, including the fetuses they bear, regardless of circumstances.

    Politically the smart tactical move for the Left is to draw the line elsewhere, to accept that abortion is morally problematic, and to accept that ‘woman’s right to choose’ is shaky logic. You cannot argue that control over one’s body is absolute while outlawing the consumption of various drugs, or intervening to stop suicides. Until some broader consensus is reached we will have a country where one half suspects the other of murder, while the opposing side suspects a plot to enslave women. That leaves a great chasm into which politicians and media can dump a host of grievances, widening the gap ever further.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  12. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Also, embryos aren’t implanted yet. If you don’t have a bunch of wombs lined up, the math doesn’t even work out.

    You have to work out the probability of a successful implantation, and the probability of carrying the embryo to term, and then apply that to get the number of women required to get an expected value of two or more embryos becoming babies. And factor in death of children up to the age of three, and death of the mother during childbirth.

    And then there are the costs involved. The cost of pulling a kid out of a burning building is negligible. The cost of implanting enough embryos to make this worthwhile is not. And there’s the opportunity cost — is there a more effective way to use that embryo money to save more lives?

    And what if the person is poor? Then the embryos are lost in either case.

    And finally, don’t forget: You can sell a healthy toddler on the black market, but human embryos aren’t worth anything.

    The whole thought experiment is stupid.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  13. @OzarkHillbilly:

    No, that is the lie they will tell themselves

    I am not defending, but explaining: this is a sincerely held belief by a lot of people, including some highly educated, politically aware people I personally know (but it can be demonstrated in the aggregate).

    The reality is that when presented a binary choice, voters weigh and prioritize a number of factors.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. @michael reynolds:

    As the common folk become more political they reason by analogy, turning ‘their party’ into a sports team they root for. They get sports, they don’t get ideology or history or political science.

    Then you may like the post I am currently working on.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. @michael reynolds: And yes, we need political movement on abortion, but it is hard to accomplish (as you note).

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: How many people other than me (an agnostic on the notion of institutional morality) are going to admit that they have no problem electing a competent (which would leave Moore out in my view) pedophile in a nation that believes in just wars and foreign and domestic policy driven by a sense of moral need (duty to defend, etc.)? Denial is the river that allows a vote for Moore in the first place–and please forgive the pun.

    To put it another way, why does “character matters” resonate even through the hypocrisy that accompanies the debates over character? NO, character doesn’t matter, we just need to pretend that it does.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher:

    You have a pop up ad problem on iPad/Safari.

    Sure do.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. @gVOR08: That kind of stuff is wholly and fully a James matter.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Gustopher:

    The Republican Party drove out the Birchers in the 1970s. They could drive out the worst in their party now if they wanted to.

    Birchers vote Democratic now? News to me. What the party did do is triangulate the Birchers out of the power corridors they occupied–and I’m not even really sure THAT happened (Tea Party, anyone?)–just as the Democratic party pivoted away from old or hard leftists in the buildup to being able to nominate Bill Clinton.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    To put it another way, why does “character matters” resonate even through the hypocrisy that accompanies the debates over character? NO, character doesn’t matter, we just need to pretend that it does.

    I mostly agree. And I’ll add that I mostly hear “character matters” from Republicans, who prove over and over that they are terrible judges of character.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher:

    I can understand the vote for the likely child molester, but I cannot understand the willfully turning a blind eye to the likelihood that he is a child molester.

    I’m going to go off on a philosophical tangent. I’ve observed myself that conservatives tend to see everything on a simplistic one dimensional scale of moral good and moral bad. Pragmatic considerations don’t enter into it, nor nuance. I’ve found support for that view.

    George Lakoff talks about conservatives being able to look at complex causation, but their default is to view things thru a frame of simple morality.

    Daniel McCarthy had an insightful piece in The American Conservative in 2009 called What Would Burke Do? He talks about low church v high church conservatism. One of the characteristics of low church is

    Values faith over works. What counts is intentions and what’s in the heart. Which can’t be known, so professions of purity suffice.

    I highly recommend the piece. In McCarthy’s view they have a Calvinist attitude, and once they’ve decided you’re one of the elect, that’s it. Newt Gingrich could have ten more affairs and three more marriages and he’d still be a good family values guy.

    Moore is one of the elect. End of story. Of course this creates a lot of cognitive dissonance, but nothing motivated reasoning can’t deal with.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. Mr. Prosser says:

    Kevin Drum is writing that the Republicans in DC and Alabama are already considering alternatives including having the governor reschedule the December vote in the hopes of getting a write in. I agree with Dr. Taylor that the possibility could split the vote and bring in Jones. The other possibility, according to Drum’s reference is the refusal to seat him and set another election ASAP.
    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/11/republicans-thinking-about-delaying-alabama-special-election/

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. charon says:

    Another take on this kind of stuff (Roy Moore):

    https://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/11/11/roy-moore-and-the-evangelical-culture-of-child-sexual-abuse/

    When Moore says he never dated teenage girls “without their mother’s permission,” most commentators took that as a form of blame-shifting and misogyny. When state auditor Jim Ziegler disgustingly defended Moore as a “single man, early 30s, never been married, dating teenage girls–never been married and he liked younger girls,” most didn’t pay much attention to his curious emphasis on “single” and “never been married.” When Alabama County GOP Chair David Hall defended Moore’s alleged sexual predation on a 14-year-old girl with “she’s not saying that anything happened other than they kissed,” it was taken as a gross defense of repulsive behavior out of political expediency.

    But these statements form a pattern drawn directly from the culture of Moore’s fanatical evangelical supporters: the age difference simply doesn’t bother them.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Gustopher says:

    @charon:

    Alabama County GOP Chair David Hall defended Moore’s alleged sexual predation on a 14-year-old girl with “she’s not saying that anything happened other than they kissed,” it was taken as a gross defense of repulsive behavior out of political expediency

    It’s worth pointing out that Mr. Hall is woefully misinformed about the allegations, or deliberately lying.

    But these statements form a pattern drawn directly from the culture of Moore’s fanatical evangelical supporters: the age difference simply doesn’t bother them.

    The age difference isn’t particularly disturbing, it’s the age difference combined with the lower age.

    Is a 14 year old considered a woman in Alabama in a way that she wouldn’t be in more northern climates? Is there some age below which even the fine folks of Alabama’s fanatical evangelical communities would find objectionable for a man twenty years her senior?

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Is a 14 year old considered a woman in Alabama in a way that she wouldn’t be in more northern climates? Is there some age below which even the fine folks of Alabama’s fanatical evangelical communities would find objectionable for a man twenty years her senior?

    You could find the answer to your question by following my link.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. NW-Steve says:

    @gVOR08:

    Of course this creates a lot of cognitive dissonance, but nothing motivated reasoningrationalizing can’t deal with.

    . FTFY.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Gustopher says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: The Birchers vote Republican, but they had no authority for decades. The Republican establishment has been more comfortable with Bircher-adjacent lunatics starting with the Tea Party (Michelle Bachmann, for instance)

    But, for 25-30 years the purge worked, and when it faltered it was more because the Republican establishment wanted that increased lunatic turnout rather than the lunatics taking over. They could shove them out again.

    Look at how effective the Democratic Party has been with keeping the liberals from taking over.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. Gustopher says:

    @charon: i could have clicked the link, butI have a general avoidance of links about child sexual abuse.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    For you then …

    In their world, young women are a burden to their families, a constant temptation to sin, their bodies a Devil’s playground. For them, the goal of an upstanding parent is to raise sons who will defend their honor and their heritage by any means necessary, and to raise daughters who will keep their own honor pure via chastity until they can be transferred to the “care” of an approved man in an arrangement sanctioned by both sides and by their God. From this perspective, age of consent laws are an inconvenience merely allowing more time for young women to develop rebellious habits and engage in unbecoming conduct

    It is disturbingly commonplace in this culture to see “understandings” in which older men from their late twenties on well into middle age are “given permission” to date much younger women and girls. In extreme cases, this can lead to polygynous arrangements as in many cults and fundamentalist groups. Nor is this phenomenon limited just to hardcore evangelical Christianity: this is the form of abusive patriarchy in conservative cultures with arranged marriage all around the globe. It is no surprise that some of Moore’s defenders have taken to using Biblical precedent to defend it.

    (my emphasis)

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  30. charon says:

    @charon:

    The author of that piece is home-schooled so some familiarity with that culture.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  31. Gustopher says:

    @charon: thanks for excerpting for me. I try to avoid the detailed “Polly was 12 when her step father…” stories.

    I throw it happens, I don’t need the details to be bothered by it.

    Also, *shudder*

    I’m torn between “how an someone deliberately do that to their kid?” and “why would anyone want to spend that much time with a 14 year old, my god, what if they speak?” (My idea of hell would be to be stuck around chattering teenagers)

    I will never understand pederasts.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Yank says:

    Birchers vote Democratic now? News to me. What the party did do is triangulate the Birchers out of the power corridors they occupied–and I’m not even really sure THAT happened (Tea Party, anyone?)–just as the Democratic party pivoted away from old or hard leftists in the buildup to being able to nominate Bill Clinton.

    It did for a while.

    Nixon, Reagan, HW were able to throw the nuts some bread crumbs, while making sure they never took charge of the ship. But Dubya’s administration being an outright failure opened the door for these nuts to take control of the party.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The best way for the left to pivot on abortion like you suggest is emphasize contraception and family planning, which conservatives want to ban and outlaw under the same religious reasoning as abortion.

    You really don’t see 10 child Catholic families anymore, and the Church is turning a blind eye to it for the most part.

    People may be split on abortion, but everyone really, really appreciates contraception.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  34. Davebo says:

    Roy Moore believes childhood begins at conception and ends whenever he gets around to it.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  35. Davebo says:

    @charon: The senate cannot refuse to seat Moore. That’s already been decided in the courts.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @charon: It only bothers you if it’s your daughter and you don’t like the man. In the church that I grew up in the sister of one of my middle school friends married a 60-year-old widower. She was 19 or 20.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Teve tory says:

    I wish I could remember the conservative, I think it was somebody at National Review maybe, Who said “Donald Trump’s not going to get the nomination. We can’t nominate Donald Trump. If we nominated Donald Trump it would prove every exaggerated liberal caricature about conservatives is true.

    Yeah, it did actually.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  38. Rick Zhang says:

    Under other institutional conditions, I could easily see a multi-party system in the US consisting of a progressive left party (the Bernie wing of the Democratic Party), a more moderate good governance party (a combo of parts of the HRC wing of the Democrats and NeverTrump Republicans) and a nationalistic trumpista party. Depending on the rules, probably also a smattering of small, ideological parties such as the Greens and the Libertarians.****

    Many moons/posts ago I mentioned that the Clinton Democrats and Bush/Romney/Kasich Republicans should join up to create a centrist pro-trade, free-market, socially liberal party and leave the fringes to the Bernie and Trump supporters. That’s actually what we’re seeing in multiparty democracies in Europe where the center-left and center-right are joining in grand coalitions, due to losing seats to the new parties on the fringes such that neither is capable of being in the majority on its own anymore, as well as a general consensus on postwar liberal capitalism.

    Alas, for reasons you’ve mentioned, that is not the structure of American democracy. More worrisome is that fake news and the general ignorance of voters. They vote their gut but don’t care about the issues. That’s a recipe for failure. It’s also why elites throughout the ages tend to prefer representative technocracy rather than direct democracy. I wouldn’t mind moving to more restrictive suffrage by e.g. passing a knowledge test to be able to vote. After all, you need to pass a driving test to be able to drive, right?

    @michael reynolds:
    I think there are two types of people. One type is highly partisan and tribal but ideologically flexible. They’ll listen to and do what their leaders tell them. The other type is flexible partisan-wise but ideologically fixed. They have a consistent worldview and tend to judge by the candidate/issues rather than by the party. Sadly, these folks have largely left the Republican Party, and thus do not participate in the all-important primary.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. Teve tory says:

    For years, I’ve posted here and elsewhere, that the typical American conservative is a stupid person with shitty values. Nothing in the news lately has refuted this observation.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  40. Teve tory says:

    @Davebo: I don’t think when it comes to elections, the Senate should nullify states’ voters’ decisions. Plus, as bad as he would be, Moore could not be terribly effective on his own, and he would be another albatross.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. Kylopod says:

    @Teve tory:

    I wish I could remember the conservative, I think it was somebody at National Review maybe, Who said “Donald Trump’s not going to get the nomination. We can’t nominate Donald Trump. If we nominated Donald Trump it would prove every exaggerated liberal caricature about conservatives is true.

    I did a little Google search. Is this it?

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/a-trump-win-would-validate-liberals-caricature-of-republicans/article/2578112

    Also, I should note that conservatives aren’t the only ones who practically saw their whole worldview turned upside-down by Trump’s nomination. That describes me, as well. Ever since his rise in the GOP primaries I feel like I’ve been living in a bizarre dream world that any moment I’ll wake up from. That isn’t because I thought the GOP were some sane, rational party who would never elect a buffoon; far from it. I just thought that (a) The institutional GOP were seasoned professionals who knew how to keep the Crazy Vote in check, just as they had done in 2012 with candidates like Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich (b) Most GOP voters who made a routine out of shaking their fists at “the establishment” would in practice fall in line once the conservative media told them to, which is what seemed to happen with Romney in the previous cycle.

    In December 2015 I wrote a post outlining a scenario that had been swirling in my mind for months, the idea that Trump would win the nomination and then suddenly announce on live TV the whole thing was a joke, basically a punking of the GOP. My post was semi-snark, as I didn’t really think Trump would ever do such a thing. But I did truly believe he was little more than a performance artist, someone self-consciously putting on an act, like Andy Kaufman doing Tony Clifton. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that any human being could behave the way Trump does in earnest. The man is a walking cartoon character, the ultimate Poe’s Law.

    For instance, what person would ever say in seriousness, “if I decide to run, you’ll have the great pleasure of voting for the man that will easily go down as the greatest president in the history of the United States: Me, Donald John Trump”? People call Trump a narcissist, but the fact is that real narcissists don’t talk that way. Even people with a gargantuan ego usually have the sense to realize they’re not going to convince anyone else of their magnificence just by boldly and unsubtly declaring it to be so, like a Disney villain cackling about their evil plans. And yet, what became clearer and clearer as the race continued was that he is exactly what he appears to be–a caricature in the flesh. He’s probably the biggest liar in the history of American politics–which is saying a lot–he’s been all over the map politically, he isn’t a “conservative” in any consistent ideological sense. But he is truly as ridiculous a man as he seems. And most Republicans voted for him anyway. That’s what I found truly mind-boggling, not that they picked a nutcase, but that they picked an unintentional parody of a nutcase.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  42. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You cannot argue that control over one’s body is absolute while outlawing the consumption of various drugs, or intervening to stop suicides.

    Interesting point. Also interesting that I’ve never run across it before.

    I definitely agree that most people don’t get politics or history. I’d add science and math to that.

    Curiously enough, from what I’ve gathered from a few friends who are professional athletes, most people, even (or perhaps especially) most fans don’t get sports either. Its a lot more complex – in its training, in tactics, in psychological techniques – than people who’ve never done it think. Pro sports is not like high school sports done by better athletes, its very involved. Which kind of fits into what you’re saying – everything has become extremely technical, extremely specialized and nuanced today.

    Maybe they get sitcoms?

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Teve tory says:

    If you want to know why women are so reluctant to come out in public about sexual assault and harassment, just look at how many prominent figures are defending Roy Moore. Even calling him biblical.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  44. Teve tory says:

    “And yes I said that. Doug Jones prosecuting the KKK for The 16th Baptist Church Bombing will hurt him more with white Alabama voters than Roy Moore’s sexual advances on teenage girls.”

    -@xlnb on twitter

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  45. Rick Zhang says:

    @Teve tory:
    As it happens, the latest polls show about 1/3 less likely to vote for Moore, 1/3 unaffected, and 1/3 more likely (?!) to vote for him as a result of these allegations. Circling the wagons tribalist style?

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  46. teve tory says:

    Looking at the medium to long term, if Dems are going to be the party of Obama and Biden et al, and the GOP is going to be the party of Donald Trump and Roy Moore et al, I’m okay with that.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. Gustopher says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    It only bothers you if it’s your daughter and you don’t like the man. In the church that I grew up in the sister of one of my middle school friends married a 60-year-old widower. She was 19 or 20.

    My first reaction to this was: “19 or 20 is old enough to make their own mistakes in life, and marrying a 60 year old man isn’t a long term commitment anyway.”, but by the time I finished tapping that into my iPad, I had decided that we really need a second age of consent, around 24.

    Until you are 24, you should not be able to marry someone 20 years older than you, get a tattoo on your face or neck, or get a dog*. You can petition a court for a “very mature young person” status to waive these restrictions if you are at least 21 and can show that you have been employed and living without your family’s financial support for two years.

    *cats are easier to care for.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  48. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Lit3Bolt: I agree. So do my Catholic cousins and friends.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. KM says:

    @Gustopher :

    or get a dog*.
    *cats are easier to care for.

    You might be able to swing somethings under “youth make questionable life choices so we need to limit them” like marrying a geriatric or getting a face tattoo with certain voter demographics but the pet thing is a surefire way to start one helluva riot. Leaving out the whole responsibility issue, the inevitable cat vs dog qualifications debate for such a thing would tear this country in half. Toss in hamsters, guinea pigs, reptiles, fish and well…. America, it was nice knowing you. :)

    Besides, a lot of people start families before age 24 and many children get pets when young. How in the world can one legally justify a child owning a pet their parents cannot? Because I’ll tell you right now, no politician in the world wants to be on record saying a small child cannot have a puppy under the law. They’d rather admit to being Moore’s bleacher trolling buddy…..

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

Speak Your Mind

*