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What The Heck Is Wrong With The Republican Party?

Writing in the wake of the Todd Akin fiasco, which was quickly followed by the approval of a GOP platform plank that rejects the idea of any exceptions to laws banning abortion in cases of rape or incest, and coming at the end of a  political season when the GOP has, time and again, played into the hands of Democrats asserting they are waging a “war on women,” Kathleen Parker wonders what’s wrong with the Republican Party:

The cumulative effect of these episodes, combined with Democrats’ carefully crafted GOP “war on women” narrative, have boxed Republicans into a corner of stubborn self-defeat. Hackneyed and contrived as this “war” is, there’s a reason it has gained traction. “Because it’s true,” says Margaret Hoover, a leading voice in the young conservative movement, CNN contributor, gay-marriage advocate, and author of American Individualism—a call to arms for her great-grandfather Herbert Hoover’s rugged individualism tempered with a community spirit suitable for the millennial generation.

Opting for a vernacular expression of her frustration, Hoover queries: “What the (*#@%) is wrong? What has happened within the party infrastructure that has malfunctioned so desperately, so that this minority of representatives are in such positions of power that are so out of step with the majority of Republicans?”

There is something wrong with the Republican Party, the survival of which demands more than a few moments of self-examination and reflection. I wouldn’t use the word “stupid,” though it is tempting. Suicidal seems more apt. The GOP, through its platform, its purity tests, pledges, and its emphasis on social issues that divide rather than unite, has shot itself in the foot, eaten said foot, and still managed to stampede to the edge of the precipice. Is extinction in its DNA?

Extinction seems to be a bit extreme, but assuredly the Republican Party seems to be on a course that mirrors that followed by the Democratic Party in the wake of the Vietnam War. The reaction to that war on the left, of course, was to set off a battle between old-line Democrats such as President Johnson and Hubert Humphrey and the so-called “new left,” motivated mostly by anti-war sentiment, and finding representation in men such as Eugene McCarthy and, until his assassination, Bobby Kennedy. The confrontation came to a head in 1968 at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, with war literally erupting in the streets as Hubert Humphrey claimed the nomination of a badly fractured party. By 1972, though, the “new left” had captured the party and it’s candidate, George McGovern led the party to one of its worst defeats in decades. This led to a backlash of sorts in 1976 with the nomination of Jimmy Carter, but elsewhere the party was moving to the left, especially on the Congressional level. In 1984 and 1988, the party put forward candidates woefully out of step with the nation as a whole. It wasn’t until 1992, with Bill Clinton, that Democrats finally recaptured the White House for the first time in 16 years.

Is the GOP headed for a similar fate? It’s far too early too say, of course. While President Obama remains a favorite for re-election at this point, it’s still possible that Romney could pull off a victory this year. As Maine Senator Susan Collins points out, though, the GOP faces a problem because it seems to have been taken ahold of by a group of people that, at the very least, are out of step with the nation as  a whole when it comes to social issues:

Maine Sen. Susan Collins pulled her car off a rural road in her home state to give full expression to her own dismay at her party’s death spiral. She points to a series of problems, ranging from the absence of women in leadership positions, which sends a bad message to women—”role models matter”—to the party’s illogical emphasis on divisive issues when they should be focused on Republican strengths.

“It seems like we’ve been thrown back decades into debates most everyday people think were settled years ago. This doesn’t mean we’re disrespectful to people who hold a different point of view, but the platform seems designed to alienate a lot of moderate women. I don’t get it.”

Comments like Akin’s aren’t only embarrassing, but they divert attention and allow Democrats to change the subject. Collins is chauvinistic on her party’s economic plans, but dumbfounded by certain suicidal moves. “Tone deaf” is how she describes the 31 Senate Republicans who voted against refunding the “Violence Against Women Act,” which has been renewed for years without controversy.

We just hand these issues to Democrats on a silver platter and they’re clapping their hands with delight. They can’t believe this! And instead we’re not focusing where my party has by far the better plans, the better approach, where President Obama has utterly failed.”

Instead, the party seems intent on adopting positions on social issues that are out of step even with people opposed to abortion:

Even among pro-life Americans, there is little support for the social agenda being pushed by the Republican Party’s leadership, with pro-life voters overwhelmingly holding the belief that abortion is ultimately the woman’s choice. According to a 2008 poll conducted by American Viewpoint for Republican Majority for Choice, 66 percent of self-described pro-life voters said abortion should be the choice of the woman and not the government.

More broadly, 52 percent of all Americans think abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, according to a Gallup Poll conducted in May. Furthermore, it seems people may be tiring of this whole conversation. A Bloomberg National Poll done earlier this year found that a full 77 percent believe that birth control shouldn’t be part of the national political debate.

Finally, even though the May Gallup Poll indicates that more Americans are becoming pro-life, which is surely a positive development, this doesn’t translate to mean that they support government policies further restricting abortion. In fact, at no point does a majority favor limiting access to abortion as the Republican Party seems committed to doing.

None of this is new, of course. James Joyner and I have been discussing the condition of the Republican Party here since before the 2012 election cycle even began. More than a year ago, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels argued that the party needed to declare a truce on social issues and focus on the economy, the national debt, and bringing the nation’s fiscal situation under control. While there were many political observers, including many Republicans, who applauded Daniels’s comments and hoped they would lead to a Presidential run, there were similar numbers of people who condemned him for it. As it turns out, Daniels was right. In other areas, the efforts of the American Conservative Union to open up CPAC to gay conservative groups such as GOPProud led many socially conservative groups to boycott the conference for two years in a row, and eventually to pressure the ACU to disassociate itself from the initiative. When Rush Limbaugh called a Georgetown University law student a slut for speaking to Members of Congress about insurance coverage for  birth control, Rush Limbaugh called her a slut and most major conservatives cheered him on. And, most bizarrely, the party has apparently decided to embrace a man who has spent the better part of the last two years spinning insane conspiracy theories about the President’s place of birth. Presidential candidates with no discernible qualifications for the job they were running for, while two former Governors with successful records were ignored largely because they refused to march in lockstep with conservative orthodoxy. Instead of embracing Lee Atwater’s vision of the Republican “Big Tent,” it seems like the party is closing the flaps to the tent, but not before kicking out a few people so that there’s room for the crazies.

Then there’s the 2012 Republican platform. In addition to the abortion plank I discussed above, they have also adopted an anti-immigration plank drafted by the author of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, a plank against the non-existent threat of Sharia Law, they rejected a plank endorsing civil unions for gays and lesbians, and a plank calling for stricter enforcement of laws against adult pornography. This is an election year where every single poll shows that the only issues that voters care about revolve around jobs and the economy. Instead of wasting time with nonsense like this, the Republican Party would’ve been better to follow Mitch Daniels’s advice and lay off the social issues nonsense once and for all and concentrate on what voters actually care about, and what will actually when elections.

Republicans reading this will no doubt point out that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan don’t bring these issues up in their stump speeches, and they’d be correct in pointing that out. You’re not going to see either of those candidates, or their major surrogates talking about transvaginal probes, or Sharia Law, or devoting law enforcement resources to investigating supposedly “obscene” material. However, what they don’t realize is that things like these platform planks matter because they add to the overall impression that voters have of their party. The same can be said for the actions of Republicans at the state level, where some 2,000 new restrictions have been introduced nationwide since the GOP swept to power in the 2010 elections. This is why there’s a Gender Gap, why younger voters are turned off by the GOP, and why minority voters don’t even take them seriously.

There are voices out there trying to warn the party. Jeb Bush has been saying for years that the GOP needs to be more open to disagreement on social issues, Jon Huntsman has spoken quite eloquently about the need for the GOP to step back from the brink it seems to be heading toward, and even Dan Quayle is recognizing the danger:

“The Republican Party needs to re-establish its philosophy of the big tent with principles,” said Dan Quayle, the Republican former vice president. “The philosophy you hear from time to time, which is unfortunate, is one of exclusion rather than inclusion. You have to be expanding the base, expanding the party, because compared to the Democratic Party, the Republican Party is a minority party.”

(…)

“For some folks in the party these days, it’s not only the Washington establishment they’re running against. They’re opposed to anything that is perceived as being any kind of establishment, even if they are conservative,” Mr. Quayle said. “To me, that is craziness. The party has got some real challenges coming down the pike. It’s a minority party, and we’ve got to realize that it’s a game of addition, not subtraction.”

Bush, Huntsman, and Quayle are right, of course, but they’re likely to be ignored, at least for the time being. The Republican Party seems committed to a path that includes increasingly radical positions on social issues that are out of step with the public as a whole. At some point, one thinks, they’ll learn the lesson that being on the opposite side of the American people is not how you win elections.

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

Comments

  1. legion says:

    It’s simple, Doug. and many people have been pointing it out for years, but otherwise-rational conservatives like yourself and James haven’t been willing to accept it and deal with the logical consequences of the problem.

    The GOP has advertised itself for decades now as the party of businessmen and businesses. That’s led to a steady evolution into a party that only sees politics as another way to make money. Some time ago, the GOP realized that stoking fears and taking extremist positions really got their voter base fired up. In particular, it got them a lot more money in donations. In extra particular, it got them lots of money from uber-rich donors.

    They have become a party of doing and saying whatever it takes to get more money – not of running the country or doing anything for anyone who isn’t paying them. Period.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 60 Thumb down 1

  2. James Joyner says:

    Unfortunately, the 2012 primaries set the GOP up for the worst possible outcome. If Romney wins, it proves that the GOP message still resonates with voters. If Romney loses, it proves that nominating moderates is a disaster and that the party needs to go with a true blue conservative in 2016.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 3

  3. al-Ameda says:

    Interesting article and essay Doug. Perhaps demographics will overtake the Republican Party and it will become a minority party. I hope so.

    But I look at the political landscape right now, and what I see is a Republican House that will remain so, a Senate that will probably become Republican (albeit narrowly), and there is a fair chance that Romney will win the White house – very possibly complete control of the federal government by the Republican Party. The public – despite the abysmal approval ratings they give Congress – seems to like the way this is going.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

  4. MBunge says:

    Social issues are what the Powers-That-Be in the GOP have used to excite and placate voters so they’ll enable GOP economic policies that benefit the wealthy elite. Now, when the economic situation is so bad that the GOP doesn’t really need social issues to win, it discovers that two generations of culture war propaganda can’t be easily discarded. Who could have seen that coming?

    Mike

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  5. James,

    I’ve been giving some thought about that since the Ryan pick. It strikes me that if the Romney/Ryan ticket loses and things like the Ryan Plan end up becoming a major issue in the campaign to the extent where some start to think that it was the reason the ticket lost, then the conservative/Tea Party forces aren’t necessarily going to be in a strong position after November either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. MBunge says:

    @al-Ameda: “The public – despite the abysmal approval ratings they give Congress – seems to like the way this is going.”

    I wouldn’t absolve the public of their responsibility, but I don’t think you can expect the average person to withstand the atrocious political guidance Americans are and have been getting from our elites for decades now.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  7. mattb says:

    @Doug and @James,

    The question is, where does this leave you? While I realize that @Doug has repeatedly stated he’s not a Republican, both of you have expressed an affinity for Mitt Romney. And both of you live in a State where your vote does matter (as Virginia is more or less a lesser swing State)…

    Obviously, if anyone other than Romney or Hunstman had been nominated, your path would have been far more clear.

    To @James Joyner’s: point, a vote for Romney is essentially a vote that you support a platform and party direction that you think is at worst crazy and unsustainable and at best, leading the party into a bad place. Essentially you are enabling.

    I realize that there’s a desire to reform the party from within, and it’s an important and admirable position, the fact is that despite all efforts, the sensible reformers are, by @James own admission being further and further push to the margins.

    The only hope for change seems to be if moderate Republicans sit this year out. But there’s little evidence to suggest that’s going to happen.

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  8. Me Me Me says:

    I can answer that question with two words: cognitive dissonance.

    The Bush Administration was an absolute disaster for the nation, with all the damage coming 2001-2006 when the Republicans had control of Congress as well as the White House. But the Republicans refuse to own up to this simple fact. The resultant mental strain takes is toll, and they seek to reduce the dissonance by inventing a new reality.

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  9. al-Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    I wouldn’t absolve the public of their responsibility, but I don’t think you can expect the average person to withstand the atrocious political guidance Americans are and have been getting from our elites for decades now.
    Mike

    Mike, I honestly believe, in the overall sense, that the public gets the government it wants and the results it deserves. We have collectively decided that nearly everything about our lives is now subject to a partisan divide – religion, reproductive choices, public schools, health insurance … everything – and we now cannot achieve common ground. I blame the public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  10. DRS says:

    I’m going to toss a suggestion out here that I sort-of believe but I’m interested to read responses:

    It’s not that the Republicans have gotten dumber (or more ham-fisted, which might be a better description) since 2008, it’s that the Democrats have FINALLY gotten smarter at playing the Rovian game of turning an opponent’s “strengths” against them by using wedge issues to fire up the Democratic base.

    Obviously nothing is due to just one cause, but I do wonder how much David Axelrod has to do with this very real change, and how it’s not as noticeable as it might be because he doesn’t have Rove’s need to have his face in the media pontificating about his strategy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  11. Scott says:

    As a lapsed Republican, I realize the party has long passed me by. I cannot and will not go where they are currently going. Romney could’ve been a reasonable candidate based on his record as governor; however, he made the choice to win the nomination at all costs and one of those costs, however infinitesimal, is my vote.

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  12. Anderson says:

    It wasn’t until 1992, with Bill Clinton, that Democrats finally recaptured the White House for the first time in 16 years.

    12 years, Doug. 1992 – 1980 = 12.

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  13. swbarnes2 says:

    The War on women is not a carefully crafted narrative. It’s a pretty straightforward interpretation of a party that 1) wants to refuse all women, under all circumstances, access to abortion 2) wants to make contraception access, which virtually every woman will want at some point of her life, extremely difficult, 3) opposed the Lily Ledbetter act 4) opposed renewal of the Violence against Woman Act.

    And that’s off the top of my head, I’m sure other people know more. Oh, remember that Wisconson state senator who said that income inequality isn’t a problem, because money is more important to men than women? Sure you do.

    But by all means, let’s talk about the platform that you helped implement. You know who the chair of the platform committee was, right? It’s Bob McDonnell. He was the chair in some part because you voted for him to be governor. So let’s not pretend that it’s some alien document that fell out of the sky. It was written by the very Republicans that you personally voted for, and that you support, with no regrets.

    So, how do you propose to get guys like Bob McDonell to keep the crazy out of his policies when his crazy still gets your vote?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 2

  14. Gustopher says:

    What the heck is wrong with the rank-and-file Republicans that they continue to support this party?

    Is it habit? Is it tribalism? Do they just like elephants?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  15. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    It strikes me that if the Romney/Ryan ticket loses and things like the Ryan Plan end up becoming a major issue in the campaign to the extent where some start to think that it was the reason the ticket lost, then the conservative/Tea Party forces aren’t necessarily going to be in a strong position after November either.

    The Ryan Plan (half-done as it is) can never fail. It can only be failed. If it becomes a problem, it is only because the top of the ticket didn’t really believe, and never explained it well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  16. Fiona says:

    The Republicans are now reaping the fruits of the Southern Strategy that started with Nixon and saw full bloom with Bush II. I had to laugh at Lee Atwater’s invocation of the big tent, given that he was one of the main practitioners of this strategy, followed masterfully by Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove. For years, Republicans have been using social issues and race-baiting to dislodge working class Democrats from the party and attract politicized evangelical voters because being the party by and for big business didn’t win them enough votes. Too bad evangelicals and other social conservatives decided that they wanted more than mere lip service and have exerted their power. The beast has been unleashed and party elites are at a loss about how to get it back in the cage.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 1

  17. mattb says:

    @Gustopher:

    What the heck is wrong with the rank-and-file Republicans that they continue to support this party?

    For some it is the very social issues that @Mbunge and others identify. Like it or not there is a portion of our population the for deeply intenally-consistent moral reasons cannot abide the idea of Abortion (perhaps the greatest of the unresolvables). Ditto Gay Marriage, Abstinence Only Sex Ed, etc. Granted, this group may be shrinking but it’s not insignificant.

    Others truly believe that we are at war with Islam abroad and internally. For them security is the trump issue.

    And there are other, more “progressive” types like James and Doug (and despite his libertarian position, needs to be included here) where personal economic* issues largely trump everything.

    (and, of course, many Republicans are mixes of the three, but almost all lean more heavily towards one of the poles)

    The only true hope for what many of us see as a productive Republican revolution lies with that last group. Unfortunately, the nature of our contentious tax system makes it highly unlikely that they will abandon the Republicans any time soon.

    * – I say personal economics, and really by that I mean taxes. because, let’s face it, even though they may be concerned about the national debt and other issues, they are unwilling to vote for the candidate who will seriously discuss tax hikes as part of a solution. It’s partially understandable — there’s a perception that Democrats never met a tax hike that they didn’t like. But the binary nature of our political system leaves them with the party that currently cannot abide the notion of raising anyone’s taxes under any circumstances. And thus we all go blind and broke.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  18. Pete says:
  19. MBunge says:

    @al-Ameda: “I blame the public. “

    And I don’t think you can expect the ordinary person to be better than the economic, cultural and political elite of their society. Here’s an example. Romney’s campaign is engaged in flat out lying and arguable race-baiting on the subject of Welfare reform. How many of our media and political elite are reacting appropriately to that development? How many of them have straightforwardly condemned the behavior of the Romney campaign? How many of them have tried to make the Romney campaign pay any sort of price for such behavior? Without such signals, how is the average person supposed to understand and interpret the Welfare reform garbage?

    Mike

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  20. Facebones says:

    I take issue with this:

    What has happened within the party infrastructure that has malfunctioned so desperately, so that this minority of representatives are in such positions of power that are so out of step with the majority of Republicans?

    At a certain point you have to admit that the “fringe minority” isn’t a fringe and it isn’t a minority.

    If the rank and file Republicans keep endorsing insane positions and keep on nominating (and sometimes electing!) crazy people like O’Donnel, Akins, Angle, etc. you have to admit that this is the face of the party.

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  21. James Joyner says:

    @mattb: I marginally prefer Romney to Obama at this point and will likely vote for him. If we had a parliamentary system, I’d probably vote for Obama.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  22. SKI says:

    @mattb: I believe Doug is on record as stating that, while he won’t vote for Obama, he won’t vote for Romney.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  23. Blue Shark says:

    Spoiled children who are pandered to … are really a terror.

    …The Republicans have gotten everything they want for decades. Bush II ran roughshod over check and balances, regulations, sustainable tax base, etc. When things went, predictably, badly, the years of misery went into a black hole of “never happened”.

    …When adults once again gained control, the spoiled children blocked every attempt to clean up the mess.

    …James and Doug need to own this. This is who your side has become. If you vote for it, you condone it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 0

  24. michael reynolds says:

    Fiona has this exactly right.

    The GOP danced with creeps and crazies to win votes. Now the creeps and crazies are the party.

    The only things keeping the GOP in the game at all are racism and lies. Racism because it solidifies the “other” versus “white folk” tribalism.

    By “lies” I refer to the fact that while Democrats talk relatively openly about what they believe and what they want, the GOP speaks only in code. Republicans dare not tell the truth about their positions. Witness the hysteria over Todd Akin whose beliefs on abortion are 100% identical to those of Paul Ryan. His crime was speaking openly.

    There remain three wings of the GOP: Money, Bombs and Jesus. The Money wing thinks it runs things, but it doesn’t. The Jesus wing runs the GOP. (The Bombs wing is more of a sideshow, Americans who have sold their own country’s national interests out to Bibi Netanyahu for another chance at starting a war.) Romney is a Money Republican, but Romney has no choice but to prostrate himself at the feet of the true power within the GOP: the race-baiting, gay-bashing, woman-hating, anti-science Taliban.

    The GOP is a sick, twisted, and dangerous force in American politics. I say this as a man whose first vote was for Richard Nixon. I say this as a one percenter, as a white male, as a supporter of a strong defense. The GOP is a cancer on American politics.

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  25. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I suspect it’ll work in reverse in the minds of the base. If Romney wins, Ryan saved him . IF Romney loses, he wasn’t enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  26. MBunge says:

    @James Joyner: “I marginally prefer Romney to Obama at this point and will likely vote for him”

    And that is what I mean by failure of the elites. A Romney victory at this time and through the type of campaign he’s running will only exacerbate EVERY SINGLE THING James Joyner complains about in the modern GOP. And yet…

    Mike

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  27. Moderate Mom says:

    @mattb: I wouldn’t mind the proposed hike in my marginal tax rate if I thought that money might be used to pay down debt. Unfortunately, when you have a party that equates even cutting the growth of government expenditures with pushing granny off a cliff, starving little Timmy and consigning the public to needing gas masks due to the air that would be fouled, I know that spending and our debt will just continue to increase. If the President would lay out a clear plan for cutting the size and scope of government, I’d consider voting for him.

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  28. Me Me Me says:

    @MBunge: You beat me to it.

    The dynamic duo of OTB say we aren’t Republicans, we think the Republicans are completely fucked up, but this November, we’ll be voting Republican.

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  29. @James Joyner:

    Sadly, you’re probably correct

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. Commonist says:

    The problem with the GOP is that people like Joyner and Mataconis are too proud and have too big chips on their shoulders to punish the GOP the only way it notices – endorsing Obama and throwing in with the democrats.

    The democrats are not going crazy at all but they get concern-trolled as well.

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  31. @Commonist:

    Why would I endorse a President who I believe has done a bad job and whose policies with regard to the economy and fiscal issues I have significant disagreements with? Not to mention the fact that I object to the fact that he sent American forces into a conflict without getting permission from Congress, assassinated an American citizen without due process, and has defended the Bush Administration’s position on keeping information secret using an absurdly broad interpretation of Executive Privilege in arguments filed with several Federal Courts?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 17

  32. Spartacus says:

    I’m sorry, but this is not an insightful essay. It reflects a gross misunderstanding of how screwed up the GOP has become. Social issues are the only thing going for the GOP on both political and policy grounds. Of the three legs of the GOP platform (economic, foreign policy and social issues), the GOP has been an unadulterated failure on all but the social issues.

    Absolutely no one in the country seriously believes that more tax cuts for the wealthy and less regulation for businesses will produce more jobs or raise wages or lower the debt. No one believes this because we’ve tested it for 30 years and it’s a categorical failure.

    And, hardly anyone in this country believes the Iraq war was a good idea or that a neo-con foreign policy is good for the country or that the U.S. needs to go to war with Iran, Syria or some other country. GOP foreign policy has been an unmitigated disaster.

    With respect to social issues, however, even pro-choice people are willing to say that the pro-life position is not crazy. And, pro-choicers will even agree with many pro-lifers that removing the rape and incest exceptions makes more logical sense than leaving the exceptions in if you believe, as all pro-lifers do, that a zygote is of the same value as a baby. Even on gay-marriage, there’s still a large number of people in this country who are not in favor of it.

    Imagine if we were having an argument on only whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s ideas were good for the economy and the deficit or whether war with Iran is a good idea. Basically, it would be Obama versus McCain all over again.

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  33. Rob in CT says:

    I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even care about the why anymore.

    GOP delenda est. It must go through the electoral fate of the Whigs and be reborn.

    a party that equates even cutting the growth of government expenditures with pushing granny off a cliff, starving little Timmy and consigning the public to needing gas masks due to the air that would be fouled, I know that spending and our debt will just continue to increase

    This position is a bit odd, given the grand bargain deal that Obama and Boehner apparently came close to. The Dems have repeatedly signalled their willingness to reach a deal that makes significant entitlement cuts (and the lefties are really, really pissed/depressed about this) if they can get tax increases and military cuts on the table. I think they’ve finally learned not to put a balanced deal on the table at the outset. Negotiation doesn’t work that way. You start out asking for something tilted toward your priorities and you meet in the middle (fwiw, I see the various Ryan plans this way, but the GOP and its voters have clearly signalled that they are very compromise-adverse. This is clear from the debt ceiling debacle, the failed grand compromise attempt and backed up by poll data. Compromise, to a large chunk of the GOP, means “we win”).

    Also, regarding cutting the growth rate being a cut, the specifics matter. If you’re talking about a program that serves a portion of the population and you know the population is growing by X%, an increase lower than population growth is indeed a de facto cut to the program.

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  34. bk says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    when you have a party that equates even cutting the growth of government expenditures with pushing granny off a cliff

    Which party is that? Apparently the one between your ears, because that doesn’t apply to the Democratic party.

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  35. Hoyticus says:

    The GOP coalition as it is exists due to the Southern Strategy and the courting of fundamentalist evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics by Frank Schaffer and his father. Also, remember a democracy can only exist when it’s citizens are both informed, interested, and don’t suffer from epistemic closure. Or as they say you’re entitled to your own opinion not you own facts.

    This is going to sound heartless but, there is a reason the Founders constructed the machinery of gov’t in a diffuse way as well as limiting the franchise. That reason is for the most part people aren’t very bright and lack critical thinking skills, this isn’t to say we should limit the franchise but that whenever someone says something demonstrably false about politics you need to verbally punish them. I.e. ” Saddam was behind 9/11″ or “Obama isn’t American” you need to destroy that kind of stupidity.

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

  36. MBunge says:

    @bk: “that doesn’t apply to the Democratic party.”

    This is actually a good example of the power of propaganda. There was, I believe, ONE attack ad in ONE Congressional race against ONE Congressman in ONE election where they showed a grandmother in a wheelchair being pushed off a cliff. Yet Rush and the other GOP talking heads have referred to that instance over and over and over and over and over until the impression is created that Democrats believe ALL Republicans want to kill old people.

    Mike

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

  37. Commonist says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Why would I endorse a President who I believe has done a bad job and whose policies with regard to the economy and fiscal issues I have significant disagreements with?

    Because you always vote for the least bad, and that’s Obama (unless you are insane or just indifferent to your fellow Americans). Obama has lowered taxes and avoided a debt ceiling disaster, he can’t roll back government spending without people dying and the recovery slowing down. The rich and the incorporated already have lower taxes but they can’t get any demand even if Obama agrees to coddle them. Then there’s the fact that Romney and Ryan will increase the deficit even more while not even being ready to admit it.

    So yeah, you are just being petty and too lazy to vote even in your own best interests. Hurting yourself and your nation just to spite Obama. You’ll never get policies that are more to your preferences that way. You might end up rewarding a party that has moved away from the center at a screaming pace just because the other party isn’t sufficiently close to the center.

    “Not to mention the fact that I object to the fact that he sent American forces into a conflict without getting permission from Congress, assassinated an American citizen without due process, and has defended the Bush Administration’s position on keeping information secret using an absurdly broad interpretation of Executive Privilege in arguments filed with several Federal Courts?”

    So because you don’t like that Obama has brought somewhat more doucherock to radio stations (bear with me here, this analogy is going places) you are not going to vote for him even though Romney is going to make every radio station play Nickelback 24/7? You are logically inconsistent and just dressing up your anti-left bias in fancy libertarian orthodoxy.

    If Obama has moved the toggle in a direction you don’t like, Romney is going to SLAM that sucker all the way to 11 or -11 depending. But boohoo boohoo deficits are scary and Obama doesn’t want to reform welfare (which is something he could totally do if he only sat down and was a bit serious with congress)!

    Man, Obama deserves better citizens than the likes of you. But you deserve a far worse president.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 3

  38. Tsar Nicholas says:

    What The Heck Is Wrong With The Republican Party?

    Hmm. Well, several things, really.

    They’ve only won 7 of the 11 Prez elections since the Democrats’ riotous convention in Chicago. They should have won at a much higher rate.

    Granted, the economy had turned south with poor timing to boot, but still losing to Clinton after winning the Gulf War, when H.W. Bush had 90% approval ratings, was a historical abomination that had major domino effects. If H.W. Bush had not run arguably the worst campaign in history he likely would have prevailed, almost in spite of himself. Instead of Ginsburg and Breyer on the SCOTUS we would have had Edith Jones (for certain) and probably Michael Luttig or Ken Starr, and the entire legal history of the country thereby would have been changed, substantially for the better.

    Right now the GOP only has 242 or so House seats and truth be told they should have more. They’ve thrown away probably half a dozen net seats over the past few cycles.

    Right now the GOP only has 29 state governorships and in reality they should have several more. There’s no legitimate reason why the GOP should be under 30-35 of these offices, other than the fact they’re inept at power politics and their opponents are quite skilled.

    The U.S. Senate is and has been an ongoing fiasco. From Ollie North and Mike Huffington (historically bad candidates during a historically good GOP election cycle), to Woody Jenkins and Norm Coleman (both of whom lost by fraud), to John Ashcroft (who lost to a corpse), to Conrad Burns, Jim Talent and George Allen (all of whom lost because conservatives wanted to “send messages”), to the Ted Stevens prosecution fiasco, to the Angle, Buck, and O’Donnell “Tea Party” fiascos, the GOP over the years has given away or had stolen from it a multitude of Senate races. With its eyes closed the GOP should be able to maintain around 55-60 Senate seats. Again, the basic problem is the GOP is inept, whereas the media-Democrat-union machine is ruthless and cunning.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 32

  39. @Commonist:

    As a wise man once said, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

    As it stands now, I will be voting for neither Obama nor Romney. But, I will be voting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  40. Me Me Me says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Actually, the problem is a majority of voters refuse to buy what the Republican’s are selling – not that they are bad at selling it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  41. Commonist says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yeah, but not voting for less evil is also genuinely evil, because you will be rewarding evil more by abstaining from voting against the greater evil than you will be punishing it by rejecting voting entirely. The evil in the two parties are different and don’t stem from the same source at all, so the entire voting procedure isn’t corrupted. It’s not one evil fighting itself, you silly goose. There’s a reason no one likes libertarians – you are so nihilistic you can’t even be bothered to justify your nihilism.

    And hey, if you dislike Obama’s record on jobs, just wait until Romney tries exactly what Dubya tried for eight years but got less growth in private jobs on average than Obama has since the greatest economic crash since the Great Depression. Oh, and of course there will be a new middle east adventure! You don’t happen to know any people in uniform that will be endangered by your laziness? Nah, you seem kinda sheltered.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  42. @Commonist:

    Laziness? I call BS The fact that I would prefer a third-party candidate (who, admittedly, is not likely to win) is not justification for you to make that call. I’ve played the “lesser of two evils” game before, and I’ve always regretted it.

    Perhaps there is some circumstance under which Obama could’ve gotten my vote but four years of failed leadership and bad ideas are just too much for me to forget. As for Romney, he’s just another Big Government Republican.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 19

  43. Commonist says:

    “The fact that I would prefer a third-party candidate”

    Yeah, but you get that by voting third party in local elections. Voting third party in the senate or – even worse – in presidential elections is like pissing into the wind.

    “I’ve played the “lesser of two evils” game before, and I’ve always regretted it.”

    Ah, see, I think you have failed to understand – you are supposed to pick the lesser evil. You couldn’t designate the greater evil if it jumped onto your kitchen table and proudly declared it was going to cut food stamps for the poor and give tax cuts to the rich…

    Perhaps you voted Obama in 2008, but the recession would have happened anyway, and the recession is the source of your disappointment.

    “Perhaps there is some circumstance under which Obama could’ve gotten my vote but four years of failed leadership and bad ideas are just too much for me to forget. ”

    Dude, ROOSEVELT couldn’t have led the post-2008 congress to do anything intelligent, so take that whining to the battered centrists’ shelter.

    As for the ‘bad ideas’, I am suuuuure you libertarians had some real workable and non-ideological solutions to the massive bleeding of jobs after the financial crisis, the millions of Americans cutting down on spending because of the threat of medical bills or the millions of uninsured Americans.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  44. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “I’ve played the “lesser of two evils” game before, and I’ve always regretted it.”

    But when you vote for somebody who has no chance to win, that absolves you of how shitty things are? That’s how a grown up thinks?

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  45. MBunge,

    You vote based on your principles. I’ll vote based on mine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  46. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “You vote based on your principles. I’ll vote based on mine.

    You’re not talking about principles. You’re talking about ego.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  47. MBunge,

    There is no good reason for any intellectually consistent libertarian to vote for either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  48. TheColourfield says:

    @James Joyner:

    The key question is why. Why do you prefer him?

    His barely existent economic policies promise more debt and a depleted safety net. Conservatives such as Bartlett and Stockman have ridiculed his “plan”.

    He wants to repeal the ACA with nothing to replace it, which would cause bankruptcy and/or possible death for those with pre-existing conditions.

    He is the leader of a party that supports the elimination of all abortion, even for those where the mother has been raped or has serious health issues related to continuing the pregnancy.

    He is a foreign policy neophyte that has surrounded himself with the neo-cons that did such a bang up job with Bush . He could easily be pushed into a military confrontation with Iran at the behest of his own advisers or by the current Israel government for whom anything goes in his view. Let’s not forget his policies on China.

    His first major decision, the selection of Paul Ryan, shows that he isn’t in favor of deficit cutting or saving medicare as Ryan’s laughable plans have been ridiculed as pure fantasy by anyone who has examined his numbers. Ryan is a fraud.

    That is just policy, I’ll put aside his disgraceful campaign tactics.

    Is this what you stand for? Is this what a conservative believes in now?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 2

  49. Tillman says:

    Yep, this thread has convinced me that America needs instant runoff voting, like a dying man needs a hypodermic filled with adrenaline stabbed into his heart.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  50. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As a wise man once said, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

    But, less evil is less evil, and if the alternative of no evil cannot win, sometimes you have to move to the grown up table and swallow a bitter pill.

    As Sinead O’Conner said:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    I believe you are lacking in the third.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  51. jan says:

    While we’re talking about what is wrong with the republican party,why not discuss what is wrong with the democratic party? IMO the genesis of far right wing ideology has been the socially progressive sharp left turn that has encompassed the democratic party.

    There are lots of moderates in this country. But, there is no longer room for them in either party; hence the large movement into the indies. And, those who remain as party loyalists, in both the R & D, have become impossibly intrangient in their views. Just reading the responses in this thread, alone, are telling, in the rigidly one-sided look at politics, while trashing the other side.

    Basically, the democrats have become a hard-nosed, self-righteous group of people intolerant of anyone else’s view but their own. The very thing they ridicule about their opposition is oftentimes what they themselves do. I remember when Romney had a bus following Obama around, earlier in the campaign, more as an annoying stunt. People here saw no humor or political justification in such a tactic — it was sophomoric by most accounts. However, Obama has done the same thing, having a bus following Romney around, and nothing but crickets. At the GOP convention, you have all kinds of stunts going on — people dressed up like vaginas, an anti-Romney pulsating billboard outside the convention, and if not for a hurricane you would have Biden in FL as a weird counter-point distraction. Talk about sophomoric!

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 35

  52. Hoyticus says:

    I’m not sure why any of you bother engaging Doug when it comes to economic policy. He’s stated over and over that he’s a libertarian, my assumption is that his vision for what America should be like is that of the late Robert Nozick principally from his work “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” . Also, I’m not claiming to read Doug’s mind but this is merely a guess as to how he thinks, that is to say he’s a miniarchist or a believer of the night-watchman state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  53. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Or maybe it’s because there are a lot of Americans who hate what the Republicans stand for and vote against them in large numbers.

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

  54. jan says:

    @Gustopher:

    Attributing a paraphrasing of the well-known Serenity Prayer to Sinead O’Conner is an insult. It has long been associated with the 12-step program, whose actual origination was deemed as being from Reinhold Niebuhr.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  55. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “There is no good reason for any intellectually consistent libertarian to vote for either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. ”

    Well, we could ask one. If such a creature ever existed anywhere but in teenage imaginings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  56. wr says:

    @jan: When Reinhold Niebuhr can cover Prince as effectively as Sinead O’Connor, I promise to be impressed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  57. mattb says:

    No offense but what in @Doug Mataconis’ comment was worth downvoting?

    As a wise man once said, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

    As it stands now, I will be voting for neither Obama nor Romney. But, I will be voting.

    If Doug said that and voted Romney, that would be one thing.

    But Doug’s position is entirely consistent and actually takes a step towards sending a message (to the degree that any individual vote sends a message.

    His position is entirely different than, say, @Moderate Mom’s one of “I really care about the deficit and therefor I’m voting for the “financially responsible” party, whose recent history is for cutting taxes while radically increasing the size of government and is currently attempting to get out of sequestration while arguing for further tax cuts.”

    Frankly, I wish she was more like Doug, and choosing to hold her vote for a party and candidate that will actually be financially responsible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  58. Spartacus says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “There is no good reason for any intellectually consistent libertarian to vote for either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.”

    Seriously? You mean one of these candidates is not more likely to implement good policies than the other candidate?

    I’m not sure what it means to “play the game” of two lesser evils, but absent you becoming the country’s dictator, I’m pretty sure you will always have to choose between two candidates that fail to do things the way you’d like them to be done. Pretending this election is any different is rather juvenile.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  59. Spartacus says:

    @mattb:

    “No offense but what in @Doug Mataconis’ comment was worth downvoting?”

    Because Doug (1) writes accurately on policy and political issues daily, and (2) is aware of the effect of the 2000 Nader protest vote, we assume he knows that failing to choose the option of lesser evil usually results in the commission of greater evil.

    With Moderate Mom, however, we recognize that she just happens to be one of those “low information” voters for whom we have to lower our expectations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  60. Xenos says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Why would I endorse a President who I believe has done a bad job and whose policies with regard to the economy and fiscal issues I have significant disagreements with?

    You should at least support a President who honestly proposes the policies he wants to pursue, so long as they are at least reasonable and logical (if wrong), when the opposing candidate will not even go so far as to explicitly discuss his proposed policies. There is no way to honestly support Romney when all he offers are secret plans.

    Not to mention the fact that I object to the fact that he sent American forces into a conflict without getting permission from Congress, assassinated an American citizen without due process, and has defended the Bush Administration’s position on keeping information secret using an absurdly broad interpretation of Executive Privilege in arguments filed with several Federal Courts?

    Really now. You are teasing me. Romney has said what exactly about changing these policies that you disagree with? Romney has surrounded himself with the worst of the neocons for advisors… what basis do you have for not thinking he would be at least as bad if he were in power?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  61. @Xenos:

    My comments are not intended to be an endorsement of Romney at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  62. mattb says:

    @Spartacus:

    Because Doug (1) writes accurately on policy and political issues daily, and (2) is aware of the effect of the 2000 Nader protest vote, we assume he knows that failing to choose the option of lesser evil usually results in the commission of greater evil.

    Sorry… not good enough.

    Pragmatism isn’t a good enough excuse.

    Doug is repeatedly whipped for being a LINO an a closet republican. Now that he’s actually demonstrating that he lives up to his principles as a Libertarian, suddenly he’s attacked for being intellectually inconsistent.

    You don’t get to have it both ways.

    Further, his voting for 3rd party is fundamentally different than a Liberal who voted for Nadar. In that case, the liberal would have voted for Gore if Nadar hadn’t run. So in effect it was a vote taken away from Gore.

    With Doug, he’s made it clear a long time ago he could never see himself voting for Obama. So it’s not like his vote is being taken away. It’s simply outside the system, and that’s his right (and arguably a better executed right than the disenchanted Republican or Democrat who simply stays home and then complains).

    Is the ultimate result Pyrrhic? Sure. But that shouldn’t matter. Especially for someone who isn’t invested in either party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  63. LC says:

    Doug,
    I admire your consistent use of quotes re the “war on women” because, of course, that’s just a Democratic meme that bears no relationship to the reality you actually describe (talk about cognitive dissonance!):

    Akin says a woman who is really raped can’t get pregnant. Tom Smith (Pa. candidate) says that “for a father”, a daughter’s having an out-of-wedlock (how quaint a phrase) child is no different than a woman’s having a rapist’s child. A party platform that wants a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade completely. House and Senate Republicans demanding that contraception (!) not be a required insurance benefit in either public or private plans (although company-partially-paid health insurance constitutes part of an employee’s wages), the successful passage by all too may Republican legislatures of laws that make it effectively impossible for women to get legal, I repeat, legal abortions. What would you call these Republican policies? New New Wave Feminism?

    As for your decision not to vote for the lesser of two evils: I agree with the specific points you enumerated against Obama (although I can’t see Romney acting any differently) but not with your blanket condemnation of his performance (which I suspect translates into his passage of things like the Lily Ledbetter law and Obamacare – although it is nothing more nor less than an enormous giveaway to the health insurance industry, just another Republican business subsidy which, as opposed to social programs, are OK). And I refuse to acknowledge that Ron Paul is a libertarian. He opposes legal abortion. A so-called libertarian who doesn’t believe that women have the right to control their own bodies is just a standard-issue Conservative who believes the United States of the 1880s was the embodiment of what a small-government country should be.

    Finally, just enough people on the left took your same position (“I won’t vote for either”) in 1968 – and we ended up with Nixon. Maybe you thought that was great. I think Vietnam (50,000 Americans dead, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Pol Pot in Cambodia – aided and abetted by Nixon’s policies) and the start of a long downhill march away from a belief in equal rights and equal opportunity and a social compact to care for those who cannot care for themselves.

    Let’s say that your decision to vote for a third-party candidate is solely responsible for throwing the election to either Obama or Romney. Explain in detail how the next 4 years would unroll in terms of economic, domestic and foreign policy. And why that means that both men would be equally bad Presidents. And, um, try to imagine the difference if you were a woman. Know that’s hard, but try.

    Oh, Libertarianism? Selfishness under cover of a political philosophy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  64. C. Clavin says:

    There is nothing wrong with the Republican party. They have committed all their efforts at defeating Obama and they will succeed. McConnell was straight up about it…defeating Obama is job one. They have done everything they can to hold back the economy…and now they can run on the weak economic recovery. In an election that will come down to turnout…they have suppressed the voting rights of millions.
    None of this social issue stuff is new. The party of small government has always been anxious to insert themselves into the lives of others…to impose their beliefs on everyone.
    Romney’s xenophobia is just an evolution of the Southern Strategy.
    Romney will win this thing. And the racism and ignorance of science and economic sabatoge and voter suppression will all be rewarded and vindicated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  65. LC says:

    Oh, re voting for the “lesser evil”? I’ve done that every time I’ve voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate (and that includes Clinton & Obama). Indeed, I suspect that I will die without ever having had the opportunity to vote for a candidate and Party I truly believed in.

    But in the voting booth, I remember 1968. Democrats have a lot of failings, a lot of failings, but they are not the same as Republican failings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  66. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As it stands now, I will be voting for neither Obama nor Romney. But, I will be voting.

    For someone who is going to vote for Gary Johnson, you’re awfully quiet about him and his ideas.

    Are you perhaps afraid that writing about him would end up getting Republicans to vote for him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  67. reid says:

    @James Joyner: I can’t imagine what you think is so good about Romney or bad about Obama that Romney comes out ahead. Honestly, if you did a personal issue-by-issue comparison, Romney wins? I wish a blind test could be done. This question is deserving of some careful thought and a posting of its own.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  68. Herb says:

    Doug MataconisFor a guy who started the calendar year as a Republican…..

    And hey, I think one should vote for who one prefers. I just don’t see why anyone would prefer a perennial loser like the LP. Their “best” candidates, and I use the term loosely, are former Republicans who, despite changing parties, don’t really have to change platforms. What’s Johnson saying right now? “Yeah, I still believe the things I always did, but by joining the LP I’m basically admitting I don’t ever want to hold public office again.”

    I wouldn’t vote for those guys even if I was a true believer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  69. Spartacus says:

    @mattb:

    “Pragmatism isn’t a good enough excuse.”

    I can’t speak for the other commenters, but I wasn’t attempting to offer an excuse for my downvoting Doug’s essay. Instead, I was offering a criticism of Doug’s refusal to take the obvious step to improve the country. Unlike Moderate Mom or other voters who don’t know which is the better (or less evil) candidate, Doug possesses the knowledge to determine that, yet he refuses to cast his vote for that candidate on the grounds that that candidate won’t govern according to some incredibly impractical, even inexplicable, libertarian philosophy.

    “Now that [Doug's] actually demonstrating that he lives up to his principles as a Libertarian, suddenly he’s attacked for being intellectually inconsistent.”

    Again, I’m not accusing him of being intellectually inconsistent, just immature. If he thinks one of the candidates is going to be worse on the issues than the other, then the mature thing to do would be to refrain from actions that make it more likely that the worse candidate gets elected.

    “Further, his voting for 3rd party is fundamentally different than a Liberal who voted for Nadar. In that case, the liberal would have voted for Gore if Nadar hadn’t run. So in effect it was a vote taken away from Gore.”

    The circumstances are identical. I’m not arguing that Doug’s refusal to vote is hurting the Democrat. I’m arguing that Doug’s refusal to vote is hurting the candidate that Doug considers to be the lesser of two evils. I don’t know which of the two candidates Doug considers to be the lesser of two evils, but he is the one that used that phrase so he must believe one candidate is less evil than the other candidate.

    Your statement implies that Doug believes Obama is the lesser of two evils. If that’s what Doug believes, then he is certainly guilty of the shameful tribalism that all the other posters have pointed out. He’s even more guilty of this than James Joyner because at least James believes that Romney is the better candidate and, therefore, Romney will get James’ vote. Doug, on the other hand, is taking action to help Romney become President even though Doug may believe him to be the greater evil, assuming your implication is correct.

    That is certainly worthy of a down vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  70. @James Joyner:

    I marginally prefer Romney to Obama at this point and will likely vote for him. If we had a parliamentary system, I’d probably vote for Obama.

    I’ve got a simple challenge for you James. Show me that Romney has a better budget for us moderates. I know what I can find:

    Mitt Romney would add “trillions” to the deficit while Barack Obama would “cut the deficit by $4 trillion,” says Obama TV ad

    Politifact calls that half true. Given the claim, that’s bad enough. Romney is heading in the wrong direction. The only thing that’s saving him from worse criticism is that he’s keeping secrets attached to each promise. “I’ll do good, but I can’t tell you how.”

    I don’t think you can find a published plan or model that will show him doing better than Obama on fiscal prudence.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  71. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “…then the conservative/Tea Party forces aren’t necessarily going to be in a strong position after November either. ”

    No, because they’ll remain fanatical, and will also remain useful to the elites.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  72. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As a wise man once said, the lesser of two evils is still evil.
    As it stands now, I will be voting for neither Obama nor Romney. But, I will be voting.

    Since I came of voting age in 1972, I have not voted for the nominee of my party 3 times – twice I did not vote for Jimmy Carter, and I did not vote for Michael Dukakis – however, I did not vote for the Republican Party candidate. I did vote for everything else that was on my ballot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    What has happened to the Republican party? Seriously? All the stuff you and James post about here and you just can’t see that the Republican party has completely changed? It’s no longer a conservative party at all, it’s dominated by radical reactionaries who want to immediately roll back the last 50 years (at least) of social progress and reality (and damn the consequences), and ivory-tower intellectuals on the other.

    Growing up (way too long ago in my case) it was the Democrats that suffered from those problems, particularly the refusal to look reality in the face when proposing academic solutions to make the world act the way they thought it should. But now…..From foreign policy (where the party has apparently learned nothing from Afghanistan and Iraq, to judge by their Iran rhetoric), to the economy (where “austerity now!” advocates completely ignore what’s been going on in places like Greece and Ireland, not to mention the way tax cuts have been elevated to some sort of one-size-fits-all holy commandment no matter what the situation being addressed), to abortion and other social issues (where the most extreme wing of the party dominates the conversation for all the reasons mentioned frequently on this site, particularly the way the rest of the party gave them a pass for the last 30 years because they wanted the votes and are now shocked! shocked! that those extremists are tired of being taken advantage of and want to see actual movement on their issues), to issues of science vs faith and philosophy (which I can’t even discuss rationally any more since it’s impossible to have a conversation when the other side doesn’t even understand the definition of the word “science”), the Republican party has become a party full of people who react *emotionally* to just about everything, screaming louder and throwing bigger temper tantrums every time the world doesn’t do what they want or doesn’t act they way their precious “theories” and faith say it should. Sorry, but that mentality is NOT conservative and I don’t want it anywhere near government.

    This isn’t to say I’m a fan of Obama or the Democratic party either. Heck, my philosophy this year is that when it comes to any “group” (like Congress or state houses), figure out who the incumbent is and vote for the other guy (everyone knows the definition of insanity, so it’s up to us to send different people to those institutions, and there is a limit on how much damage any one lunatic can do if we happen to put a nut in Congress–I think we already have several anyways, so we might as well at least change the crazies). I’m a bit different when it comes to the Presidency, in that in my whole life I’ve only every voted FOR one guy (and that ended up being disappointing), the rest of the time I’ve voted AGAINST the other guy. I believe the President has very little control over the economy anyways–what power government has in that area is pretty much completely up to Congress, which means most of the sound and fury of this election (and most others, for that matter) is completely pointless. Therefore I don’t really blame Obama now or Bush before him for the economic situation–it’s kind of weird to see people here in the past acknowledge how little control the President has over the economy, yet then turn around and cite disagreements on economic issues as a reason to not vote for a candidate. Where Presidents do matter is foreign policy, particularly since Congress has completely abdicated their responsibilities on that front in the last few decades. So that will determine my vote.

    I just don’t understand how anyone can be so absorbed with party loyalty anymore that they can wonder “what’s happened to the Republican party?” and sound surprised. They’ve changed dramatically, that’s what, and not for the better (as much as they claim to venerate him, Reagan would be a socialist, tax-raising, cut and run from Lebanon pansy liberal coward to the party today). And they won’t be fixed (if they can be), until people like Doug, Joyner, Parker, and the rest of the commentariat stop pretending the party stands for anything except tax cuts no matter what, a belligerent foreign policy regardless of national interest or any sort of cost/benefit analysis (with a side of delusion involved in thinking that “democracy” can be imposed on people who’ve never experienced it at the point of a gun), and a limited and highly selective reading of the Bible as social policy. It doesn’t pay anything but lip service to real economic solutions, small and/or limited government, individual liberty, walking softly in foreign policy, or most of the teachings of Jesus Christ. To shamelessly steal and alter one of the better lines from one of the greatest movies ever made: “The Republican Party? You keep on saying that phrase, I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

    Sorry for the long rant, don’t really know why I bothered. The sum total of minds changed on any issue (let alone politics) by an Internet rant is precisely zero. It’s one reason I like Andrew Sullivan’s blog (no comments), so I guess I’m a hypocrite. Thanks for reading (anyone who actually read all this ;) ).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 1

  74. @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    I’m with you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  75. Modulo Myself says:

    There’s been really no change in the GOP since Nixon. The demonizing logic of the Cold War was shabby nonsense. McGovern went against it, and got killed, and other Democrats managed to go against it, and ended up being blamed (the Church Committee) for 9/11, decades later.

    It managed to lose Vietnam, get ripped off by the Mullahs in Iran, win in Grenada, and support every bloodthirsty right-wing junta it found. The only reason it worked was that the effects of these policies were far away or lining the pockets of those in the Pentagon. Vietnam was only real when Americans died, which is why Nixon ran twice promising to end the war. And even Nixon, by the logic he invented, was too sane for the neo-conservative wing of his party.

    As the Cold War ended, the same shabby minds turned inwards possessed with the same ability to turn everything they touched turned to s–t, exactly as had happened across the globe. But in this case, actual Americans were around to witness what had happened. And now the GOP has nothing to offer but a war against aliens in America.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  76. An Interested Party says:

    Again, the basic problem is the GOP is inept, whereas the media-Democrat-union machine is ruthless and cunning.

    Somebody pass Tsar Nicholas a hankie…all that whining and victimization must have caused him to produce a tear or two…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  77. michael reynolds says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:
    Nail … Head.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  78. jukeboxgrad says:

    [Mitt] is a foreign policy neophyte that has surrounded himself with the neo-cons that did such a bang up job with Bush. He could easily be pushed into a military confrontation with Iran at the behest of his own advisers or by the current Israel government for whom anything goes in his view.

    It should be understood that Mitt’s Secretary of State will be, effectively, Sheldon Adelson. Adelson owns a large portion of Romney, Inc. Enough to amount to what is known as a ‘controlling interest.’

    Few people are rich enough to buy someone as rich as Mitt, but Adelson is a member of that tiny group.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  79. Bob says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And your intellectual consistency begins… when? Will there be an announcement of this auspicious occasion, when it happens?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  80. dennis says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    If the President would lay out a clear plan for cutting the size and scope of government, I’d consider voting for him.

    Umm, he did. And the Republicans rejected it. Don’t you remember? 10:1 cuts to spending? Even Jon Huntsman rejected it out of hand, and I’m sure he knew better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  81. jan says:

    I’ve been reading about convention malaise here, in a number of threads. As for me, I’m excited about the GOP convention. In years past, I haven’t watched too many minutes of either the D or R political gatherings. But, this election I view as being an important one. Consequently, the R convention is one I will tune into more frequently — especially Anne Romney’s speech, Christie’s, Ryan’s and then Mitt Romney’s. They are the major players, IMO, giving the flavor of vision this party wants to impart on the public.

    As most here demean Romney, with partisan verbiage, I’ve read under-publicized pieces on this man dealing with helping people with their house payments, college debt, aiding someone in recovering a runaway daughter, counseling troubled people in a religious capacity, being highly ethical in his business practices and expecting the same from his employees. These are character traits Romney doesn’t put out on the table like his political foe, Obama, seems to do. Romney is said to be uncomfortable with self-praise, preferring to pass these tributes onto others. Again, something that is not innate in the current president, who takes the oxygen out of the room talking about himself and the numerous, tedious “I’s” in any given speech.

    Romney though, is one of these figures who describes himself as a ‘fixer’ of problems, rather than an ideologue. Personally he lives the values of a conservative. But, politically his actions are those of a pragmatic businessman, deriving bottom lines of policies by addition and subtraction of real numbers, rather than pandering to various targeted constituencies, in order to superficially garner their support. These days, though, people are looking not at the country as a whole, but, what will they personally get from a party. It’s a bomb-shelter mentality that rules — as long as I’m ok, that’s what matters.

    Romney’s policies, IMO, will effect the whole — rich, middle class and poor. Each class will both lose something and gain something. And, in Nancy Pelosi’s language, ‘you won’t know what that is until it happens.’ However, I think there is a lot more hope in the change that the Romney/Ryan ticket has to offer than the stale Obama/Biden one. It may not be as PC, it may not pander or placate. But, I do think that their solutions will direct energy towards improving the US on a united front, rather than separating people into warring ‘groups’ based on ethnicity, classes, and age.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 21

  82. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “There is no good reason for any intellectually consistent libertarian to vote for either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.”

    If they lived in a state that’s clearly going for one or the other, you’re entirely right. In a state where his or her vote might actually make a difference, refusing to vote for the best feasible option isn’t “intellectual consistency”. It’s just foolish.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  83. MBunge says:

    @jan: “Romney’s policies, IMO”

    What specific policies are you talking about?

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  84. Me Me Me says:

    @jan:

    especially Anne [sic] Romney’s speech, Christie’s, Ryan’s and then Mitt Romney’s. They are the major players, IMO, giving the flavor of vision this party wants to impart on the public [sic].

    Ann Romney is a major player? You expect the finer parts of horse grooming and tax-write-offs for expensive hobbies to be an important part of the nation’s agenda in the next four years?

    And I wonder: is Christie going to explain why NJ now has a higher unemployment rate than Michigan?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  85. al-Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    @jan: “Romney’s policies, IMO”
    What specific policies are you talking about?
    Mike

    Jan would tell you it’s his proposed (fiscally irresponsible) plan to cut the top tax rate from 34% to 25%, while increasing defense spending, privatizing Medicare, all while running annual deficits (by their own numbers, for the next decade) at a magnitude of the level we have today. You know, continued tax cuts while we increase spending, and plan the elimination of a middle class program that benefits seniors on fixed incomes. There’s your shared sacrifice that Jan is referring to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  86. LC says:

    @jan:
    Oh, wow, talk about projecting and seeing the world through rose-colored glasses.

    Apparently you didn’t read the story about his advising a woman, in his position as a leader of his church, to give up her “illegitimate” child for adoption. The woman did not accede to this “suggestion” – and, no, I don’t know if the story is true. It comes from a biography of Romney for which I can’t find the link right now.

    And the reason he has been waffling all over the place every time he gives an interview is because his principles are so important to him that he must keep what he truly believes to himself. But voters can be certain that he will be exactly the kind of President that they want him to be.

    Talk about buying a pig in a poke.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  87. David M says:

    @jan:

    Romney’s policies, IMO, will effect the whole – rich, middle class and poor. Each class will both lose something and gain something.

    I guess that’s one way of characterizing tax cuts for the rich and ending Medicare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  88. jan says:

    From Romney you want specifics. From Obama, it’s nothing but slogans of ‘hope and change.’ I am voting for Romney/Ryan, in the same manner that you voted for Obama/Biden, as an alternative to a failed presidency —> Obama’s.

    Even now, Obama is offering little but railing against manufactured social policies — abortion comments by senatorial candidate Akin, which the republicans have repudiated; tax returns of his opponent which have little to do with the economics of this country; and a weird ‘war on women’ drama which seems contrived at best. Obama took on a bad economy, for which he has done little to help in his policies or in submitting a single budget in which his own party will back. Obama has not done the job that was in front of him to do. The deficit has soared under his administration. The EU has not gone below 8%, and the entire work force has shrunk from when he entered office. The recovery numbers have been almost worse than the ones in the so-called ‘recession’ inherited by him!

    In the process, Obama has divided the country in his unilateral immigration approaches (none of which have any long range effects, only short term political ones), in class warfare and ethic divisiveness. He has rarely met with Congressional leaders or even the Jobs’s Council he created. While you all blame obstructionism on the R’s in the House, Obama is the POTUS, leader of the country, and the buck stops at his desk, not Boehner’s. If he takes credit for all the ‘good’ deeds, then he also has to accept the burden, and be accountable for what has not been accomplished under his leadership, as well.

    Bush took crap from the dems for how he dropped the ball. Now, it’s Obama’s turn, as he has really done no better. And, this is Romney’s slogan that “American can do better!”

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  89. steve says:

    ” From Obama, it’s nothing but slogans of ‘hope and change.’”

    We have specifics from Obama. We have the ACA. We have the budgets he sent to Congress.

    “abortion comments by senatorial candidate Akin, which the republicans have repudiated”

    Nope. Most people did not know that the official GOP position opposes abortion for victimes of rape or incest.

    “tax returns ”

    Surest way to judge a person’s character. You may want to make him a saint, the rest of us think he is a politician.

    “Obama took on a bad economy, for which he has done little to help”

    4th quarter 2008 was the worst since the Depression. What stopped it? First international banking crisis since the Depression.

    “The deficit has soared under his administration.”

    Tripled under Reagan. Soared under Bush. Bet you have lots of comments criticizing that.

    “The recovery numbers have been almost worse than the ones in the so-called ‘recession’ inherited by him!”

    Nope, I know those numbers pretty well. Private sector job growth has been faster under Obama than under Bush during their respective recoveries.

    ” class warfare”

    The only cuts committed to in the Ryan budgets is cutting Medicaid. Is that the class warfare you mean?

    Steve

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  90. michael reynolds says:

    I am shocked, shocked to see Jan taken apart in detail, yet again. I believe that would be the 307th time she’s written something which was utterly blown apart. This time in just 31 minutes, if my math is correct.

    I have a question for you, Jan: have you ever said anything that wasn’t instantly disproven? I’m not just asking to embarrass you, I’m thinking there might be some kind of Guinness world record at stake.

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  91. anjin-san says:

    Obama has divided the country

    Funny the way I remember it, Democrats and Republicans were pretty much at each others throats during the Bush years. (with a brief interlude of unity after 9.11) And during the Clinton years. And the Reagan years. And the Carter years. The Ford years were not that bad, people were too exhausted to fight. But the Nixon years??? And LBJ! Fricking warfare in the streets, people literally killing each other because we were so divided.

    Seriously Jan, are you never just a little bit embarrassed peddling your nonsense? You are giving dumb a bad name. Read some history books.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  92. Hoyticus says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m with Michael, almost everytime Jan posts it gets deconstructed or as I prefer eviscerated almost immediately. What’s funny is most of her posts correspond to what I posted earlier, that too many Americans suffer from epistemic closure. Or if you prefer dogmatic. Also, the assertion that tax cuts spur magical economic growth is only true if those dollars go to people that have a high enough propensity to consume, but that’s also only true if they aren’t debt constrained.

    But honestly it’s probably pointless to waste digital ink on Jan considering she likely has no clue who John Maynard Keynes is and if she does, only as a economic “boogeyman”. As for my musing on debt, that comes from Richard Koo who I know she has no knowledge of.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  93. grumpy realist says:

    @LC: Given all the sides that Romney has taken, it looks like the only actual belief that he has is that no one should see his tax returns.

    OK Jan, go ahead, watch as the average American votes for Romney. I don’t think that the US that is thus produced will really be as wonderful as you think it is, but then, all countries have a beginning and an end and this is probably the beginning of the end of the US. Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, no social safety net, no investment in R&D, getting rid of all regulations…

    Hope you like the possibility of rat turds in your peanut butter, because that’s what we’re leading up to….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  94. superdestroyer says:

    What is odd is how political scientist, wonks, and wannabes refuse to face the prospect of the U.S. becoming a one-party-state.

    Instead of writing about the collapse of the Republican Party (that is going to happen no matter what anyone does) why not write about what the future of politics and governance looks like when national politics begins to resemble big city urban local politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  95. Al says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Go ahead, throw your vote away! HAHAHAHA!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  96. Rob in CT says:

    From Romney you want specifics. From Obama, it’s nothing but slogans

    He’s been POTUS for 3 1/2 years now. This isn’t ignorance on your part. This is just plain ‘ole bullshit.

    Obama has presented or otherwise pushed for various policies. Some (stimulus, ACA, the debt ceiling hostage deal) have passed (I’m focusing on domestic policies in this post, but we could also talk about foreign policy which is a rather important part of what POTUS does). Others have been blocked. He has proposals out, and he and his fellow Democrats have attemped repeatedly to figure out a way to cut the knot and make a deal. Obama and Boehner made a run at one, but failed in no small part because today’s GOP won’t take yes for an answer (I’m happy about this, as I thought it was a bad deal). The basic response of the GOP since losing the ’08 election was to throw a giant tantrum. Sadly, it’s worked out rather well for them so far.

    This is not to say that all of the Obama/Dem policies have been great. The stimulus was too small (but politically it was probably the biggest that could pass), housing policy has been tepid at best and TARP needed some more strings attached (cramdowns). Libya, while thankfully a small intervention, was IMO unjustififed and set a terrible precedent b/c the administration basically ignored Congress. Afghanistan remains, well, Afghanistan. It’s past time to leave.

    Romney offers very little in the way of specifics and what we do know is garbage. Domestically, they boil down to upper-end tax cuts, “entitlement reform” (cuts to programs that benefit the middle class and poor) and a bunch of “we’ll fill in the blanks later.” Taken in context – the lowest effective federal income tax rates in ~50 years, middle class and of course poor people struggling in the aftermath of the worst crash since the GD, and negative real interest rates on 10-year treasuries – the plan is nutty (well, the one thing that isn’t totally nutty is that Romney/Ryan seem to understand that running deficits for the next 10 years is ok – for them, the deficit is merely a club to beat the other party with). Simultaneously, Romney’s bashing Obama for cutting Medicare spending.

    The Dems recognize the need for cost control. Medicare is the big worry, but also the military budget must be reigned in and SS needs at least a small tweak to keep it solvent. Their response to this is raise taxes some, cut spending some, including both medicare and the military. The GOP response so far has been no tax increases, not military cuts, we’ll make the cuts somewhere else. Even the “brave” Paul Ryan’s plan involved significant *unspecified* cuts in non-military discretionary spending (it involved dropping that chunk of the budget to hilariously low figures, but not saying how). Guess what that part of the budget does? Aid to the poor is a big part of it. So when you try and fill in the blanks, it looks pretty damn ugly. But when you say this, the response is to claim that Democrats are demonizing the nice Mr. Ryan. And yet no specifics to fill in the blanks in such a way that doesn’t involve dramatic cuts to poor aid programs.

    FP-wise, it’s basically bring back the Neocons. While I’m less than thrilled with O’s FP, I’m gonna pass on bringing back a cadre of folks who thought and still think the Iraq war was a fine idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  97. Rob in CT says:

    Regarding the Doug vote thing, I just can’t kill him over it. I totally understand the desire to reject both the greater and lesser evil. I myself have come ’round to the belief that giving in to that desire in a swing state is foolish, but I understand it, empathize with and thus cannot work up outrage at Doug over his choice.

    JJ, who is clearly not a libertarian, vexes me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  98. Rob in CT says:

    But honestly it’s probably pointless to waste digital ink on Jan considering she likely has no clue who John Maynard Keynes is and if she does, only as a economic “boogeyman”.

    She’ll cite Amity Shlaes at you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  99. Rob in CT says:

    Somewhat but not entirely off-topic, I saw this article about infrastructure costs:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-26/u-s-taxpayers-are-gouged-on-mass-transit-costs.html

    I’m sure noone here is unaware of the fact that infrastructure projects in the USA are ridiculously overpiced vis-a-vis the rest of the developed world. Everyone complains about this. This strikes me as the perfect place for the GOP to move past vague denunciations of regulation and propose specific reforms (at the local/state level, and then point to those test cases as examples of success) to get the costs down.

    The thing that jumps out at me is that requiring governmental agencies to pick the lowest bidder no matter what is clearly not working. You end up in change-order hell. The lowest bid is, all too often, smoke and mirrors. The solution I like but recognize is likely impossible is to simply demand ironclad not-to-exceed bids. Having worked on that some at my job, I know that “ironclad” often isn’t, and nobody wants to sign on to a truely ironclad n-t-e. But surely things could be tightened up. Instead of being forced to pick the lowest bid, cities and states could pick the bid they thought was most likely to actually work out in the end. Couple that with tough conflict of interest rules, and see how it goes.

    Now I suppose its possible that somebody, somewhere, is proposing or actually making changes along these lines. If so, it needs to be highlighted and the results studied. Laboratories of democracy and all that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  100. Barry says:

    @superdestroyer: “What is odd is how political scientist, wonks, and wannabes refuse to face the prospect of the U.S. becoming a one-party-state. ”

    Do you have nightmares of hordes of ‘them’ pouring into your neighborhood?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  101. The NY Times has a funny little animation, describing Republican sub-herds. In the voice-over they say that moderates are part of the “vanished” and now identify “independent.”

    I guess that’s a theme for this thread, and describes many of us.

    We target James because we think he should pack his trunk (pun) and join us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  102. C. Clavin says:

    What’s wrong with the Republican Party?
    Let’s take Jan as a case-study.
    There is almost nothing in her posts that is factually correct. Yet she obviously believes every word…and is passionate about her opinions…opinions which are based completely upon this mis-information. She has no interest in questioning these factual errors. Anyone who disgrees with her is at fault for not questioning their own opinions and coming to her way of seeing things. Facts are inconvienient things for her, and so they are marginalized. The only thing that matters to her is gut instinct, and what her fundamentalist view of the world says.
    In a nutshell…people like Jan are what’s wrong with the Republican party. People like Jan used to be outliers in the Republican party. Now people like Jan are the thinkers in the Republican party.

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  103. JEBurke says:

    Be that as it may, that GOP abortion plank more closely reflects American public opinion than the rigid, absolutist “choice” position of the Democratic Party from top to bottom with its insistence on maintaining abortion on demand and resistence to even minor adjustments to the status quo.

    If we are honest about it, what makes the iron bound Democratic stance appear to be no big deal while the GOP plank’s failure to except rape and incest is put down as extremism is the nearly universal embrace of abortion on demand by media, entertainment and academic elites.

    What is most interesting about the abortion debate of the past 40-some years is that all the power of persuasion of two generations of these elites has not managed to persuade between half and two thirds of the public that abortion should always be a matter between “a woman and her doctor.” I remain unconvinced that it is a bad thing that one of our two major parties supports restrictions on abortion, when the other will tolerate not the slightest restriction of any kind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  104. Me Me Me says:

    @JEBurke:

    Be that as it may, that GOP abortion plank more closely reflects American public opinion than the rigid, absolutist “choice” position of the Democratic Party from top to bottom with its insistence on maintaining abortion on demand and resistence to even minor adjustments to the status quo.

    Bullshit.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  105. @JEBurke:

    I don’t think the data are as you describe:

    “Regardless of how you personally feel about the issue of abortion,” the polls, which surveyed 1,000 adults, asks, “who do you believe should have the right to make that decision regarding whether to have an abortion…should the woman, her family and her doctor make the decision or should the government make the decision?”

    Predictably, 89 percent of Democrats believed “strongly” that the woman should decide.

    More remarkably, 71 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of independents also believed strongly that the woman should decide. An additional 10 percent of Republicans believed “not strongly” that the woman should decide, and a total of 81 percent who identified as “pro-life” responded that the woman should decide.

    Other than that, the phrasing “rigid, absolutist ‘choice’” is pretty funny. I mean were else would we hear that “choice” was “rigid” and “absolute” except from a Republican.

    BTW, when I choose where I spend my money, does that make a rigid and absolute economy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  106. You know, the top question is “what the heck is wrong with the Republican party?”

    The abortion question really encapsulates it. They know that have 20-30% opinion supporting their plank, but they think it should be law anyway.

    They simply reject democracy. Their minority values are more important.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  107. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: “What is odd is how political scientist, wonks, and wannabes refuse to face the prospect of the U.S. becoming a one-party-state. ”

    When absolutely no one else in the world ever talks about what you consider to be the only important fact of the future, maybe it’s time to consider the possibility that it’s not because everyone else in the world is wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  108. Rob in CT says:

    The abortion question really encapsulates it. They know that have 20-30% opinion supporting their plank, but they think it should be law anyway.

    The politicians, maybe. But, as an example, JEBurke clearly believes that they have 50% or more on “their side.” He’s wrong about that, but I don’t doubt he believes it.

    Most people fall in a fuzzy middle between the current rigid, absolutist GOP position (ban it, ban it, ban it) and no restrictions. If you dig into the Gallup poll that Me Me Me linked, you will see only 20% support for total bans, but ~64% (a solid majority) support for banning 2nd (!) and 3rd trimester abortions with a health-of-the-mother exception. [I would vehemently oppose that, as I can think of multiple scenarios that would result in what is, to me, awful outcomes, but the data is what it is. If the matter were up to popular vote, I'd have some convincing to do].

    There is a ton of support for parental and spousal notification (other ideas I think would result in some nasty unintended consequences, as in cases of abuse).

    My read of the data suggests solid support for 1st trimester abortion. The poll used “partial birth abortion” as the setup for the “last 6 months” ban question, so it’s hard to know how many people really want to ban abortions in the 2nd trimester and how many are reacting to the scary name + 3rd trimester. But anyway, it’s clear that support drops off as the pregnancy progresses. Which, though I disagree, makes sense. Most people are *not* adopting the GOP’s fertilized egg = person position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  109. @Rob in CT:

    It actually took me a while to decode JEBurke:

    What is most interesting about the abortion debate of the past 40-some years is that all the power of persuasion of two generations of these elites has not managed to persuade between half and two thirds of the public that abortion should always be a matter between “a woman and her doctor.”

    I think that’s supposed to be dense, and hard to follow.

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  110. Rob in CT says:

    Timely:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/revolt-of-the-rich/

    I’m amazed at the similarity between what he’s saying and what I’ve been inching towards for a decade now. I have my quibbles, but overall, wow, pretty much that entire article could’ve poured forth from my keyboard.

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  111. Unsympathetic says:

    I’ll respect a Republican opinion when they base those ideas on actual fact. Facts have a liberal bias.. because liberals are the only ones who bother to use facts.

    Ryan’s neocon budget hackery is bad for the US. Three quick examples: He assumes an annual growth rate that the US economy has never once achieved without stating how that will happen, he asserts he’ll cut loopholes but can’t come up with more than 0.1% of the specifics, he claims he’ll cut the entire Department of Energy budget when that’s the govt agency tasked with maintaining our military nuclear weapons, and 3/4 of the annual budget of that department is only for that task. He’s not serious, he just wants to cut the very social programs that got him through school – and use the savings to give tax breaks to rich people.

    The ridiculous [and sad] irony of the Republican position on jobs is that all serious businessmen understand that actual jobs are only created when demand is increased.. eg, when more people have money to buy stuff, not when rich people get tax cuts. Businesses hire because they can’t produce enough widgets at their current FTE count, and even Henry Ford knew he had to pay his workers a living wage to enable them to buy his products. Still waiting for even an asserted Republican link between reduced taxes [which only affects biweekly paychecks to the person, not the expense seen by the business] and increased hiring of staff. As we know from the TED talk that was attempted to be banned, the top 1% already have everything they want — their one-off purchases don’t make for a steady increase in demand to justify any hiring.

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  112. JEBurke says:

    @Me Me Me: It’s tough to engage in any discussion with people who substitute expletives for explication but I will give it a try.

    There have been hundreds of polls of attitudes about abortion from every conceivable angle since the late sixties and taken together, they have affirmed over and over that substantial majorities of Americans do not believe that the system of abortion on demand ushered in by Roe v. Wade is either right or good. The very set of Gallup polls to which you linked underscores my point.

    If you bothered to look at these polling results, you would see that in the most recent, only 25 percent of Americans think that abortion should be legal in all circumstances — that is, only a
    quarter support today’s status quo (defended vigorously by virtually all Democrats). The other
    three quarters think there should be some circumstances in which it is illegal.

    What’s more, a solid majority tell Gallup that abortion is immoral (quite apart from legality), surely no ringing endorsement of today’s norm. When asked if they characterize themselves as “pro life” or “pro choice,” Americans are split in half and gave been for a long time — although even here, you should note that a “pro life” majority has emerged recently, despite or perhaps because of decades of abortion on demand. However, this question does not tell you much. NARAL is pro choice, but I am pro choice too, with the difference that I believe abortion should not be so easily accessed in many cases.

    Overall, Gallup’s polling over the years proves my point.

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  113. michael reynolds says:

    @JEBurke:

    Nice try but nah. Polls consistently show that people don’t like abortion and also don’t like government fiat. Which is most consistent with the pro-choice position. Which, by the way, is the conservative, small-government position, as opposed to the radical, right-wing, “We’ll monitor your womb and arrest your doctor,” position.

    So, basically, what you got there is bullsh!t.

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  114. LCaution says:

    @Rob in CT:
    Thanks for the link. I fear some sci-fi writers have nailed our future: one in which multi-national corporations replace nation-states in fact if not in name

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  115. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    The NY Times disagrees with your claim that no one is talking about the U.S. becoming a one party state. Even the MSM is beginning to admit that the Republicans are irrelevant in places like California and there is nothing the Republicans can do about it. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/us/politics/california-republicans-seek-a-turnaround.html

    How many articles have there been that point out that non-whites just will not vote for any conservative? Yet, no one takes the data to its natural conclusion at the national level.

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  116. Rob in CT says:

    @JEBurke:

    Odd post.

    It’s pointed out to you that the GOP position is now a total ban on abortions. Maaaaybe a “health of the mother” exception. At best.

    The Dem position is indeed to protect the status quo, which is nearly unrestricted.

    Neither position lines up well with the poll data.

    ~20% of people support the hardline GOP position.
    ~25% support the hardline Dem position.

    Everybody else is inbetween. On this, we should be able to agree, since the data is what it is. We’re not arguing over what we believe, but rather what the poll data says in comparison to the party positions. This is a factual, not an ideological, discussion.

    And yet… you keep saying that a position that is favored by ~20% of the population is more in line with public opinion than a position favored by ~25% of the population. That just doesn’t follow.

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  117. Rob in CT says:

    @superdestroyer:

    How many articles have there been that point out that non-whites just will not vote for any conservative

    First, this is an exaggeration of the status quo. Second, you consistently refuse to really examine how this came to be. It was a deliberate chioce by conservatives. The Southern Strategy, as it is called, is no myth. Lee Atwater ring a bell? If it has a price on the back end, so much the better. But Conservatism won’t die. It will be reborn, and it won’t be lilly white.

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  118. Barry says:

    @superdestroyer: “The NY Times disagrees with your claim that no one is talking about the U.S. becoming a one party state. Even the MSM is beginning to admit that the Republicans are irrelevant in places like California and there is nothing the Republicans can do about it.”

    And they’re going to sneak into your bedroom at night, any evening now…………………………..

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  119. superdestroyer says:

    @Barry:

    I always wonder why progressives believe that snark is effective. Are progressives motivated mostly by the attitude and beliefs of the “cool kids” and will do anything to be seen as one of the “cool kids.”

    It progressives did not have snark and nitpicking, would there be any progressives?

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