A Post-Trump Republican Party

What would a reborn GOP look like and who would vote for it?

The Washington Post’s two Never-Trump former Republican columnists take on the New York Times’s Never-Trump former Republican columnist.

Max Boot (“If these leaders define the future of the Republican Party, it doesn’t deserve to have a future“):

With President Trump trailing in the polls, there is palpable hope in some quarters that the Republican Party will get back to “normal” before long. That means a Reaganesque agenda of tax cuts, free trade, deregulation, muscular internationalism, social conservatism and a welcoming attitude toward immigrants.

New York Times columnist David Brooks — an old colleague from our days together at the Wall Street Journal editorial page in the 1990s — is rightly skeptical of this assumption. “The basic Trump worldview — on immigration, trade, foreign policy, etc. — will shape the G.O.P. for decades, the way the basic Reagan worldview did for decades,” he wrote last week. But Brooks nevertheless suggests that a high-minded debate to define the nature of the GOP is underway among four youngish senators: Marco Rubio (Fla.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.).

Rubio, he writes, “bases his vision in Catholic social teaching” and champions “common-good capitalism.” Hawley is a populist whose “core belief is that middle-class Americans have been betrayed by elites on every level.” Cotton is an uber-hawk on everything from China to Big Tech. Sasse “is a Tocquevillian localist” who thinks that government’s job “is to ‘create a framework of ordered liberty’ so that people can make their family and neighborhood the center of their lives.”

Brooks’s column accurately reflects what these senators are saying. But, I’m sorry, I can’t take any of their high-minded blather seriously. Not when they have spent the past four years acting as enablers for the worst president in U.S. history — or at least the worst in the past 151 years. 

The rest of the column catalogs how bad the Trump presidency has been, something most OTB readers likely need little persuasion on, before concluding,

And yet at every step of the way, Rubio, Hawley, Cotton and Sasse have been Trump’s willing accomplices. Not one of the four voted to impeach Trump or even to call witnesses so as to have a proper impeachment trial. They have praised Trump a good deal and criticized him obliquely and infrequently. (Sasse is becoming a little more critical now that he’s won his Senate primary.) They have failed to use their tremendous power to rein in a disgraceful and destructive president. They have thus become as guilty as Trump of crimes against the Constitution.

I would quibble on the margins on Sasse, in particular, but can’t disagree with the overall thrust.

Jennifer Rubin (“Do we even need the Republican Party?“) piles on:

In anticipation of President Trump’s loss in November, there is a cottage industry of speculation about the fate of the post-Trump Republican Party. The New York Times’s David Brooks pines for a Republican Party without racism, anti-government animus or unbridled faith in free markets. (The technical term for that might be “the Democratic Party.”) It would be refreshing to see the Republican Party cast off its obsession with old white men in favor of “a cross-racial alliance among working-class whites, working-class Hispanics and some working-class Blacks.” That, however, supposes Hispanic and Black voters have no memory of years of racism and xenophobia, and that the party’s heavily White support is based on something other than racial resentment. Both propositions are questionable.

A Republican Party that does not depend on White grievance and cultural resentment (leading to incessant whining that its members are victims of everything from Facebook to climate scientists to immigrants) and does not depend on what Brooks aptly describes as “an anti-government zombie Reaganism long after Reagan was dead and even though the nation’s problems were utterly different from what they were when he was alive” would frankly not have much to say. After you strip away those two failed themes, what’s left?

The unpleasant truth for those expected to say “there are fine people” in both parties is that, aside from a few stray governors and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), there really are not fine people running the Republican Party. They have sold their souls to Trump and either passively or actively bought into white supremacy and religious authoritarianism (which weirdly has as its most vocal proponent the attorney general). They waged war on the Constitution and objective reality. There is nothing redeeming in any of that — or in the right-wing media machine encompassing the deluded true believers and money-hungry charlatans willing to throw red meat to an audience they suppose consists of uneducated bigots.

The issue post-Trump then is twofold: What respectable ideology could the Republican Party adopt, if it wanted to? And, if a think tank could concoct an acceptable center-right ideology, what constituency could it possibly attract?

The death knell of the modern Republican Party and of what remains of “conservatism” might have been the Democratic Party’s choice of former vice president Joe Biden, not Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). The opposition to a self-declared socialist could have preached the value of moderation and the necessity of preserving capitalism in some regulated form. The opposition to Biden — a decent, center-left believer in incremental change and the power of government to solve problems — is unclear. Would that be a stated determination not to address climate change? A determination just to spend a few trillion dollars less? You see the problem.

We need a two-party system, but we do not have a two-ideology political culture if the price of admission is a reality-based, decent, inclusive and constitutionally respectful ideology. If there is to be, as I hope, a grand coalition from center right to center left that generally defends constitutional government, curbs on the excesses of the free market, globalization with a safety net, responsible international leadership and a determination to root out systemic racism, I am not certain what that leaves to the opposition. On the left, it might be Sanders-style socialism. But on the right?

This is all more-or-less true and rather silly.

First, to answer the question raised by Rubin’s headline writer, America needs a Republican Party. Or, rather, it needs a second major party and it would be much, much easier for that party to bear the name “Republican” given longstanding institutional barriers.

Second, Boot and Rubin were rather staunch members of that party until it nominated Trump. I don’t have the time to go back through their old columns but I suspect they were fine with Rubio back then, too. (The others have come to prominence more recently, so they may well not have had an opinion.)

That Congressional Republicans have followed in near-lockstep with Trump is both sad and unsurprising. The nature of the modern American party system is that, contrary to the vision of the Federalist Papers, the President is the agenda setter and his partisans in both Houses of Congress are expected to carry his water in a struggle with those of the opposition.

Whether true in fact or not, the popular wisdom was that the Democratic Party had gone too far left starting in 1968 and thus lost five of six Presidential elections in a row, with the exception requiring Watergate, an accidental Republican nominee, and nominating a born-again Southern governor to squeak out a close one. In 1992, the party nominated New Democrat Bill Clinton and suddenly won the popular vote in every election save one since.

Granting that there is some mythology in that tale, as well as the eliding of significant demographic shifts, it illustrates that a political party can, at the national level, shift on a dime. Just as the Party of Romney became the Party of Trump, the Party of Trump could theoretically become the Party of Huntsman or the Party of Hogan. And Rubio, Sasse, Cotton, and company would cheerfully go along with their agenda.

Now, the more interesting question is the one Rubin actually asks: What would this New Republican agenda look like?

The short answer is that nobody knows. But it probably won’t be ginned up in a think tank somewhere.

Pundits love the notion that ideas matter and, on occasion, they do. But national politics tends to be more about capturing the zeitgeist than policy papers.

While Joe Biden was far and away the most experienced candidate running for the Democratic nomination this year, he wasn’t the one with the great plans. That was Elizabeth Warren. She almost literally had a plan for every single policy area.

I voted for Biden in the primary and think he’ll make a solid President. But I have no idea what his First Hundred Day agenda will be. I’m not sure he has one.

Rather, he ran on ridding the country of Trump and restoring some notion of decency and competency to the White House. In 2020, that’s more than enough.

I don’t have a good enough crystal ball to even pretend to know what will motivate an opposition in 2024 or 2028. It’ll be much easier if the Democrats are the party of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rather than, say, Kamala Harris.

Sooner or later, though, we’ll have another Republican President and they’ll run on an agenda that would be anathema to Trumpists.

Please follow and like us:
FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. James says:

    The first 100 days of Biden will be, can only be, about getting COVID19 under control. No matter what other items are on his agenda, until the pandemic is under some degree of control, there won’t be a solid foundation to build on.

    28
  2. MarkedMan says:

    The nature of the modern American party system is that, contrary to the vision of the Federalist Papers, the President is the agenda setter and his partisans in both Houses of Congress are expected to carry his water in a struggle with those of the opposition.

    This is an absolute truth today, but was much less true prior to Gingrich. In my lifetime there were coalitions centered on defense, farming, mining, and manufacturing that spanned party boundaries.

    11
  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    The hard, cold reality is that the US needs a serious conservative party that is committed to good governance for all the people and adherence classical liberal values, not one that has the emotional stability of a 13 yo, is authoritarian and has no interest in governing.

    18
  4. @MarkedMan:

    In my lifetime there were coalitions centered on defense, farming, mining, and manufacturing that spanned party

    No time to say more than this, but it is really important: any assessment of party behavior in the US has to understand that the post-1994 election party system was not the same as the 1995-onward system. This was, above all other factors, the realignment of southern conservatives from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

    Any discussion or understanding of how the parties used to behave has to take this into account.

    And while Gingrich was in the middle of that, he didn’t create that shift (but was in the right place at the right time to exploit it and to commit his myriad sins against our politics, the effects of which we still live with today).

    (Also: the Cold War made certain national security policy coalitions much easier to maintain).

    13
  5. Paine says:

    On a related note, Ezra Klein over at Vox has a good interview with GOP operative Stuart Stevens, author of the new book: It Was All A Lie: How The Republican Party Became Donald Trump.

    https://www.vox.com/ezra-klein-show-podcast/2020/8/10/21361966/stuart-stevens-gop-republicans-trump-romney-ezra-klein

    They discuss just this question a bit…

    8
  6. DeD says:

    If 90+ percent of rank and file Republican voters wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support Trump and “Trumpism,” with what voter base do you think a restored/renewed/resurrected Republican party will move forward? The current voter base is all in on the racism and xenophobia Trump has spat since 2015. How does a restored GOP adopt a “regulated form of capitalism” when deregulation is a mantra of even the Never Trumpers? How does “cultural conservatism” survive the eternal push for equality and dignity for LGBTQ, ethnic minorities, women’s bodily autonomy and fair pay grievances and — the ever-present cake topper — Black people?

    As you said, unless the Democratic party becomes the party of Sanders and the AOCs, just what does the GOP offer anyone outside of the 38-40 percent racist, xenophobic, nationalist, isolationist, backward thinking, science denying — well, you get my point. So, James, Rubin’s headline is not as silly as you make it out to be when you start tackling those type of questions.

    21
  7. Kathy says:

    Past controlling COVID-19, the most important issue to address is extremely complicated, and only a small amount of progress, if any, can be accomplished in a single term. That is to reform the structural and electoral quirks that allow a minority to gain power and impose its will on the majority.

    As noted, that will be a long slough, but we can’t begin to do it unless we make any sort of beginning. The real issue is that Biden doesn’t seem to be the person to do it, mostly due to lack of desire.

    I would start with reforming the Supreme Court, because any further reforms will prosper or die by the Court’s actions. I’d begin by increasing the size of the court, probably to 15, and later with term limits on Justices.

    For that, naturally, the Democrats need to take the Senate and kill the legislative filibuster.

    5
  8. EddieInCA says:

    Fortunately, Trump is a moron. Because he, unfortunately, has shown how easy an authoritarian demagogue can come to power here in the USA, where we think our checks and balances can stop such a rise.

    I worry about a smarter, savvier, politically astute demagogue taking the Trump mantle and doing real damage. Guys like Cotton and Hawley scare the hell out me, because they both have Trump’s authoritarian instincts, yet cloak it under a guise of populism.

    I believe that a post Trump GOP will split between the Never Trumpers and the More Trumpers. Currently the More Trumpers have a huge numbers advantage in the party, but not nearly enough for a majority anywhere except rural, red-state America.

    9
  9. @DeD:

    If 90+ percent of rank and file Republican voters wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support Trump and “Trumpism,” with what voter base do you think a restored/renewed/resurrected Republican party will move forward?

    One of the reasons I keep prattling on about the power of partisan identity is that it is a mistake to assert that “90+ percent of rank and file voters wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support Trump” etc. The vast majority of them simply support their party the same way football fans root for the laundry.

    I know this is hard to accept, given Trump’s manifest vileness, but it is nonetheless true (and even things like approval rating are very much a function of partisan ID).

    This is not an excuse–it is just an empirically verifiable observation.

    8
  10. @DeD: BTW: this is not to disagree with your basis thesis. I very much fear that the GOP will double-down on white nationalism and grievance politics.

    The only hope is that Trump loses so badly that that wing of the party is neutered.

    Never underestimate the degree to which the overriding issue is winning and if Trumpism is seen to be a loser, it will be jettisoned by most party elites.

    10
  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James:

    The first 100 days of Biden will be, can only be, about getting COVID19 under control.

    Well…I don’t now…you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. The Red Hats who won’t wear a mask now, are never going to wear one for Biden. So I’m not sure how much he will be able to do.
    There is a ton of Foreign Policy stuff that needs to get fixed right off.
    That’s why I like Warren…she can act like a co-President.

    3
  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Trump is a moron and a lazy one at that. But he has the genius of a carnival barker that neither Cotton nor Hawley, nor any other R has demonstrated. If they can’t capture the rubes then they’ll need to compete and compromise like other pols. Plus don’t be surprised to see the R’s change the nominating process and eliminate winner take all primaries. Trump received the nomination while never capturing more than 30% of the primary voters. If in 2020 the Dems operated by similar rules, Bernie would be the nominee.

    Trump may command the loyalty of 85-90% of self declared R’s, but the number of voters calling themselves R’s has been shrinking significantly.

    1
  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What would this New Republican agenda look like?

    The Republicans have but one item on their agenda: Making the rich richer. Everything else they do is to keep their voters on board and in service of that one overriding goal.

    @DeD: This.

    10
  14. ptfe says:

    Seems like the bigger question is what the post-Trump Democratic Party looks like. It’s a center-right-dominated party already that will absorb the leftists of the Republican Party, which means…it’s going to move even more to the right.

    With no manifest reason to move leftward, I see post-Trump politics as a pool of do-nothing “anti-Republicanism” that won’t want to tackle major issues for fear of lost political power. Social safety net is failing? Can’t increase taxes or we’ll lose those fresh ex-Republicans. Environment being crushed? Can’t increase regulation or we’ll lose those fresh ex-Republicans. Medical care destroying household economies? Can’t push M4A or we’ll lose those fresh ex-Republicans.

    That’s going to be the excuse for decades and I’m already dreading it.

    8
  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    As to what is on Biden’s agenda, Save America.

    Considering how long it will take to undo our most recent travesty, the damage that is currently being inflicted on the USPS, I have my doubts as to whether that is even possible.

    5
  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    The fundamental problem is that conservative ideas are bullshit. Been bullshit for quite some time. Unregulated capitalism is toxic and destructive. Every advanced country on earth became an advanced country by practicing regulated capitalism with a strong social safety net. That debate is over. We have a winner. The Europeans are right and Republicans are wrong.

    So, then what? If the GOP isn’t about pandering to the greediest of the greedy, what is it? They used racists as their Mamelukes and oops, surprise! the Mamelukes took over. The current iteration of the GOP isn’t even capable of servicing the needs of the one percent because the one percenters in more public-facing companies cannot do business in a white supremacist environment. Amazon and Apple cannot co-exist with Republican racism. So, outside of Big Oil and Dwindling Coal, even GOP bootlicking of Big Bidness fails.

    So why are we talking about saving a party that has literally nothing to offer anyone but racists? I don’t think there was a lot of discussion of Germany’s need in 1945 for a two party system that included a reformulated Nazi party. Yes, we need a second party; no there is nothing left in Republicanism that needs to be saved. Republicans are as ideologically discredited as Nazis or Communists. And morally they are scarcely better, not perhaps as depraved as Nazis or Communists but equivalent to the old Dixiecrats.

    We aren’t talking about a political party at this point, we’re just talking about a hollowed-out brand, a nameplate with at best some nostalgic emotional draw. It’s like trying to save Oldsmobile. Why?

    Run the water in the sink and shove the greasy remains of the GOP down the garbage disposal.

    A new paradigm, a new debate is required, and it has begun to take shape, but it is forming within the Democratic Party. The future is Liberal vs. More Liberal. The ideological debate going forward is between those who think we can fix capitalism, and, those who believe that no, we can’t, we need to replace it. The white supremacist party is not relevant to the relevant debate. It has nothing useful to say. Like Oldsmobile, it’s just for old farts now.

    20
  17. @Michael Reynolds:

    Like Oldsmobile, it’s just for old farts now

    The question is going to become, under our current electoral rules, how does a new group take over the GOP? This is the hard part.

    Wholesale replacement is simply not in the cards at the moment.

    If we had the electoral rules that they use in, say, Germany and New Zealand, I think we would see emerge:

    1) A rump GOP that was even more white nationalist that we currently have.
    2) The liberal v. more liberal parties you are discussing
    3) A smattering of more ideologically pure parties.

    A major problem is that the sorting mechanism that sorts all the ideas and desires of the American voter into parties and therefore into government sorts into two containers. Totally taking over one of those containers is possible via the primaries, but it is hard work and coordination is especially hard.

    And, to ride that hobby horse a bit more: a lot of people will vote GOP no matter who the primaries nominate because it’s their team.

    3
  18. Sleeping Dog says:

    @ptfe:

    Months ago I stated my contention that whoever followed Trump, whether in 2020 or 24, job 1 would be cleaning up the mess left behind and restoring a functional government, that hasn’t changed. And they are now joined by getting the plague under control and the economy stable.

    What we are likely to see is as policy initiatives are shoring up of Obamacare, effectively offering Medicare for all who want it, student debt relief and addressing child care for working parents. The fevered dreams of the left won’t happen.

    Legislative actions, if they can summon the will could include expanding the SCOTUS and increasing the size of the House. But I won’t hold my breath.

    1
  19. Monala says:

    @Kathy: I heard a compelling argument for retaining the filibuster (from Claire McCaskill, speaking with NPR) – that is, it’s the one means the minority party has for exerting power, and while getting rid of it may seem important when you’re in the majority, consider that one day you may be in the minority again. She pointed out that without it, public policy becomes more volatile, and things like the ACA would have been easier to overturn when the Republicans held both houses were it not for the filibuster.

    3
  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And, to ride that hobby horse a bit more: a lot of people will vote GOP no matter who the primaries nominate because it’s their team.

    Indeed. But not forever. Not without an idea to fight for, and not without deliverables.

    The only idea they have at the moment is bigotry and they can’t really deliver on that. They can’t push LGBTQ people back into their closets, they can’t get women to abandon control of their own lives, they can’t shove Evangelical Christianity down anyone’s throats. They can cling to their old, rustic, white people values, but they won’t resonate at all with anyone under 40. I mean, they have to claim to stand for something, don’t they? What is that something if it’s not racism? Proposing less regulation and less of a safety net is simply ridiculous at this point. Small ‘l’ libertarianism does not, IMO, have a future. In fact, I will predict that 20 years from now the Overton window will have moved so far left that Joe Biden could represent the center right.

    2
  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    This is why it is important to hold Trump to account for his criminality. It is important to understand that Trump was not a politician, he was first and foremost, a criminal. Recognizing that fact will empower a more thorough de-Nazification.

    17
  22. Jen says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The only hope is that Trump loses so badly that that wing of the party is neutered.

    The problem with this is that neutering that part of the party is rejecting a solid, voting portion of the base.

    Republicans joke about how fractured the Democratic party is without realizing how bad things are under their own roof. They cannot possibly “neuter” this part of the base without demoralizing them, and demoralizing them will depress turnout.

    If these folks feel rejected, they aren’t going to vote. If they don’t vote, Republicans don’t win.

    The Republican Party will do what they’ve done since embracing the Southern Strategy–continued winking/nodding to this group while trying to downplay their visibility.

    This IS a bigger part of the party than a lot of those who identify as Republicans realize. This is precisely how Trump got elected.

    7
  23. @Jen: When I think of that wing being neutered, I am specifically thinking about its ability to have a viable presidential pre-candidate in the 2024 primary season. That is the real test.

  24. @Michael Reynolds:

    but they won’t resonate at all with anyone under 40

    I hate to tell you, but I am surrounded by people in the state in which I reside and in the states that surround that in which I reside full of under 40s with whom a lot of this stuff resonates…

    6
  25. Kathy says:

    @Monala:

    I’m painfully aware of that. And I mean “painfully” in the most literal sense. Once you remove a rule, it’s hard to restore it. This means when the GOP gets a majority, they’ll be harder or impossible to stop.

    And yet, urgent action is required to limit minority rule, and the filibuster is one of the biggest obstacles. The alternative is bipartisan action, and I just don’t see the current GOP cooperating at all.

    1
  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Absolutely, I’ve been shouting that for awhile. Frankly what I believe will be more effective going forward is a truth and reconciliation commission.

    1
  27. Fortunato says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    under 40s with whom a lot of this stuff resonates…

    Aug 11, Morning Consult Poll – General Election Matchup by Age Group
    Ages 18-34 – Biden 57 vs Trump 34
    Ages 35-44 – Biden 50 vs Trump 42
    Ages 45-64 – Biden 49 vs Trump 45
    Ages 65+ – Biden 49 vs Trump 46

    poll Aug 7-9, 967 likely voters, + / – 1 pct

    Trump now trails in every age group.

    4
  28. @Fortunato: I wasn’t speaking to Trump support, specifically, but the idea that what MR lists is only appealing to olds.

    But yes, I acknowledge that Trump does better with olds than youngs. But it isn’t as if the young folks display zero support, either.

    The claim was that the ideas listed “won’t resonate at all with anyone under 40” and even the numbers you provide show 34% 18-34 support for Trump.

    2
  29. @Fortunato: @Steven L. Taylor: I am simply counseling that it would be a mistake to assume that all this stuff dies off once the current generation let’s loose this mortal coil.

    5
  30. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Indeed. But not forever. Not without an idea to fight for, and not without deliverables.

    In the long run, perhaps. But I think you are not appreciating how far only a few deliverables can go. White Evangelicals, who are a critical aspect of the base, feel Trump and the current GOP has delivered – https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/07/01/white-evangelical-approval-of-trump-slips-but-eight-in-ten-say-they-would-vote-for-him/

    So long as that holds (and there are no real signs that it’s weakening in a sustained long term way), and enough economic Republicans just want low taxes above all else, the GOP is going to be sustained.

    Put a different way, people said the GOP was dead after 2006 and 2008 and would HAVE to reform. We all see how that went. I see no reason to believe that 2018 and 2020 will put them in the wilderness for any significant portion of time (in part because of some structural issues including the intentional under-counting of the Census).

    5
  31. DeD says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I know this is hard to accept, given Trump’s manifest vileness, but it is nonetheless true (and even things like approval rating are very much a function of partisan ID).

    I know that this is your area of expertise, Prof. Taylor, and I’ll concede I’m guilty of accepting your explanation in the spirit of appealing to authority. I’m still having a hard time accepting that it is simply a matter of party loyalty. If that were the case, why did so many conservative Democrats abandon the party and join the GOP in the ’60s, at the nadir of the CR movement, and passage of the CRA? No party loyalty was exhibited there. I’m sure your research has brought you to the answer to that. Psychologically, I’m not getting my head around it, though.

    ETA: I see your comment about the conservative shift to the Republican party post-1995. So, now I’m confused about the shift in the ’60s. I thought the Southern conservative realignment was already complete by then. I’ll admit that I’m seeing this through the prism of my own Black eyes, rather than any scholarship that makes the assertion.

    3
  32. Gustopher says:

    @Monala:

    I heard a compelling argument for retaining the filibuster (from Claire McCaskill, speaking with NPR) – that is, it’s the one means the minority party has for exerting power, and while getting rid of it may seem important when you’re in the majority, consider that one day you may be in the minority again.

    Ezra Klein has a different take that I find compelling, but I’m not sure I agree with — the filibuster rewards bad behavior, because voters aren’t paying attention. Congress gets nothing done, voters get angry with the party in control of congress, and vote the bums out. The filibuster allows a minority party to pay no price.

    I’m not sure I totally agree with it. And there are ways to force the minority party to pay that price — talking filibusters, for instance. But there is a germ of truth to it.

    4
  33. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Republicans are as ideologically discredited as Nazis or Communists.

    If this were true, America would be a much better place. But it’s not even remotely true.

    Plus, Nazis are making a comeback.

    12
  34. DeD says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Never underestimate the degree to which the overriding issue is winning and if Trumpism is seen to be a loser, it will be jettisoned by most party elites.

    I get that, to the party elites, winning is everything, which causes them to stoop so cravenly low to a Trump personality. I’m still not convinced of the base majority that maintains loyalty to Trump is motivated by “winning.” I think it is motivated by the oldest and most original sin of America: keeping White people on the top of the pile. Which, I have no issue with, as long as they’re not sh*****g on the rest of us below, but that’s not been the case. And LBJ summed it up quite nicely, realistically, and rationally.

    5
  35. @DeD:

    If that were the case, why did so many conservative Democrats abandon the party and join the GOP in the ’60s, at the nadir of the CR movement, and passage of the CRA? No party loyalty was exhibited there.

    You do see some party shifts (like Strom Thurmond) from D to R over the CRA. However, the South remained heavily D nonetheless. Check out, by way of example, the 1968 makeup of the House and note all the blue in the southeast (or 1970 or 1972).

    I have been thinking for some time that I need to write some posts about this. I will see what I can do.

    5
  36. Gustopher says:

    That Congressional Republicans have followed in near-lockstep with Trump is both sad and unsurprising. The nature of the modern American party system is that, contrary to the vision of the Federalist Papers, the President is the agenda setter and his partisans in both Houses of Congress are expected to carry his water in a struggle with those of the opposition.

    You really were living in a right-wing bubble during the Obama administration weren’t you? And the Clinton administration. What you are describing is a Republican Party problem, not a problem with parties.

    The Democrats have a much broader coalition than the Republicans, and that results in a lot more disagreement. Joe Manchin, the CBC and AOC do not see eye to eye on every issue, and aren’t all going to fall in line.

    Clinton couldn’t get healthcare through. Obama needed to compromise like mad.

    Whether true in fact or not, the popular wisdom was that the Democratic Party had gone too far left starting in 1968 and thus lost five of six Presidential elections in a row, with the exception requiring Watergate, an accidental Republican nominee, and nominating a born-again Southern governor to squeak out a close one. In 1992, the party nominated New Democrat Bill Clinton and suddenly won the popular vote in every election save one since.

    I think it’s rather disingenuous to elude over how the Democrats went too far left, when the problem the Republicans have now is that the racists who were unwelcome in the Democratic Party post-civil-rights are at home and in power in the Republican Party.

    Second, we’ve had a lot of elections where there was no majority winner, starting with Clinton. I don’t think that’s been good for American institutions.

    3
  37. rachel says:

    …aside from a few stray governors and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), there really are not fine people running the Republican Party.

    The Republican Party DGAF what those people have to say. We would all be better off it it did, but it doesn’t.

    5
  38. @Gustopher:

    Clinton couldn’t get healthcare through. Obama needed to compromise like mad.

    The only reason Obama was able to get the ACA through was because of two brief windows of a 60-vote Senate. Clinton did not have that advantage.

    It really does boil down to that fact.

    6
  39. mattbernius says:

    @DeD:

    I see your comment about the conservative shift to the Republican party post-1995. So, now I’m confused about the shift in the ’60s. I thought the Southern conservative realignment was already complete by then.

    FWIW, I think most political historians would say that the realignment happened in waves–and also at different times at different levels (in part due to election cycles). I think this is teased out in Kevin Kruse’s work (among others). There was an initial exodus, and then a slow but steady realignment process (in part due to incumbents holding on to seats) that completes in the 1994 election. If it had been fully completed in the 60’s then there would be no need for a “Southern Strategy.”

    You are correct also that party loyalty only goes so far. Alignment on specific, cultural issues becomes increasingly important (as we continue to see with the White Evangelical Vote as a prime example).

    3
  40. @mattbernius: There is a combination of a long-term evolution and a watershed electionin 1994.

    More soon.

    3
  41. Sleeping Dog says:

    @DeD:

    The switch of the south from solid blue to solid red has been transitional. It began with Goldwater/Nixon and the Southern Strategy. Arguably George Wallace hurt Humphrey in the south allowing Nixon to win a couple of states and likely the presidency. Those were voters who would never vote for an R, but Wallace had been a good Dem and was an acceptable alternative to Hump.

    Up until the mid 90’s Dems continued to do well in state and local races in the south, but after 72 the south was pretty much lost to Dems for the presidency. Senate and House seats drifted over time and there were several party switches.

    The accession of Gingrich was a second milestone that represented concept that R’s even in the minority would be a partner in government. Politics for Gingrich and the R’s at that point became 50+1 and the idea of governing coalitions went out the window. This culminated with Moscow Mitch and his belief that it was the R’s duty to cause Obama to fail.

    4
  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    I actually think the GOP is already in the wilderness, Trump being the proof. Trump has stripped the GOP of all its beliefs aside from various forms of hate and resentment. They used to be McDonalds – we got burgers, we got fries, we got McMuffins. Now they’ve only got Big Macs, the rest of the menu is gone. Over on the Left the menu is expanding – burgers, fries, meatless burgers, salads, even beer and wine, the whole range of desirable items, everything but Big Macs. There will still be people who only want Big Macs, but that will fade as the new generations rise and we Boomers shuffle off to Florida.

    There’s a force at work here that I don’t think is noticed enough: capitalist liberalism. You can be a racist or a misogynist in 2020, but you can’t be an open racist or misogynist and hold down a decent job. Modern capitalism sees nothing but down-side to bigotry and they will be perhaps the most powerful enforcer of diversity going forward because no one wants a small, rustic, elderly consumer base when they can get the whole rainbow.

    4
  43. Sleeping Dog says:

    @DeD:
    @mattbernius:
    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Remember that from Goldwater to Gingrich we’re talking 35 years and 2 generations. The loyal southern Dems of the 60’s and 70’s died off and new southern voter came of age during the CR and anti war era and reacted negatively to both events and then became R’s

    3
  44. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I know this is hard to accept, given Trump’s manifest vileness, but it is nonetheless true (and even things like approval rating are very much a function of partisan ID).

    This is not an excuse–it is just an empirically verifiable observation.

    That assumes that Trump is a normal President though, doesn’t it? What are the historical analogues to a party making explicit race-based appeals and calls for authoritarianism then turning on a dime to now support a conventional center-right politician?

    I don’t know of any, but political science isn’t my specialty — I acknowledge you may have better data.

    My specialty is software engineering, which is sort of like real engineering, but all the models of behavior for complex systems are made-up-bullshit-with-a-lot-of-unstated-assumptions, and you have to be careful that you don’t believe the model over your own observations. When observations and the model differ, that’s when you need more data.

    (In reality, that’s when you trust your gut and run an experiment, and discover that you have screwed up everything…)

    Anyway, I mean this in the least anti-intellectual way possible, but are you sure all that fancy book-learnin’ ain’t made you blind to what’s right in your face?

    5
  45. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    The late Florence King once wrote that “Southern Democrat” was a contradiction in terms. She was referring specifically to her grandmother, a Democrat who boasted endlessly of her family’s alleged aristocratic English heritage and Anglo-Catholicism, but the point applied to all white southerners: they fancied themselves bluebloods while allying themselves with the party of the working class.

    1
  46. gVOR08 says:

    This post starts with Max Boot’s reaction to David Brooks’ rather silly column, but I repeat myself. Erik Loomis at LGM links to a column by Eric Levitz, noting that

    Levitz is, of course, correct: David Brooks is an idiot.

    Levitz quotes Brooks on post-Reagan GOPs wanting to support (white) working people and being willing to oppose corporate power.

    I think this is an apt description of a major tenet of contemporary Republican “populism.” Not coincidentally, it embodies a fundamental contradiction. Josh Hawley & Co. evince interest in curbing the power of multinational corporations that display more reverence for “woke” values than American workers. But they are also committed to opposing the only institutions that could conceivably curb such power — the administrative state and labor unions.

    He talks of Orrin Cass, one of “”working class” conservatism’s leading intellectuals” proposing sectoral bargaining, with the government mediating regional agreements between labor and industry. Levitz points out that Marco Rubio has an 8% lifetime score from the AFL-CIO.
    To me Cass’s sectoral bargaining sounds a lot like Nazi Germany’s industrial cartels and party run unions. I can easily see Republicans embracing something like this.

    2
  47. DeD says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I have been thinking for some time that I need to write some posts about this. I will see what I can do

    Thanks, Prof. I lazily accepted the argument of the ’60s conservative shift without doing any real and significant study of the issue. Now, I’m kind of chastised about it. Thanks for the links.

    1
  48. MarkedMan says:

    To me, there is one overriding fact in thinking about the future of the Republican Party: It is now effectively the party of Mississippi, Alabama, etc

    What do I mean by that? Well, first, I don’t mean simply that those states have a significant majority that vote Republican. I mean that those states share a governing methodology, one that has lasted there for centuries, and that the Republican Party has now completely adapted that governing methodology. Basically, you can say there are two types of governments (and, yes, ones that are at every point in the spectrum between the two), ones that gain the necessary support by delivering on the basics that people expect, and ones that gain their necessary support by exacerbating class and social divisions, picking winners, and making it clear that while they may deliver nothing else, they will ruthlessly and brutally keep the losers down and prevent them from gaining power and risk having them do unto others as was done unto them. This method goes back at least to the dawn of humanity and if animal behavior is an indication, before that. And that is how many, but not all, of the governments and elites in the states of the Old Confederacy still retain power. They are reliably last in delivering social services to their citizens, protecting them from polluters, or helping them to advance economically. It’s just a fact that looking at any list of the 50 states tracking prosperity or health, the Old Confederacy states have been consistently at the bottom for more than two centuries and yet their citizens continue to keep the same type of people in power. Yes, they may vote one set of cutthroats out, but they don’t replace them with decent people but rather with cutthroats they think will favor them.

    The real danger is that this type of governance, while very effective within an entity, effectively weakens it to the point it is susceptible to total collapse through war or natural disaster. In the past, what are now the Trump states were protected from invasions and rebuilt from catastrophes by the states that had competent governments and insisted the feds also be effective. But we now have one of our two parties that have totally embraced the governing methodology of Alabama, Mississippi, etc. They have no interest in or ability to respond to emergencies, and they are able to block all action decent people want to take.

    11
  49. DeD says:

    @mattbernius:
    Thanks. Kruse & Zelizer’s “Fault Lines” arrived a couple weeks ago. I guess I should get to reading it. This Master’s program in IR, though . . .

    3
  50. MarkedMan says:

    Steven, drawing on your expertise here, how have major party transitions happened in the past? I am only familiar with the one we are talking about here – the cooption of racist democrats by the Republicans and the subsequent transformation they wreaked on the party. But what about in the past? There are some actual party transitions. We had Federalists, and Whigs and Know-Nothings and Democratic-Republicans in the early days, but Democrats and Republicans have dominated since. Despite that, they have changed in nature and philosophy, sometimes extensively. What were the mechanisms that led to major changes in the parties and how long did that take?

    3
  51. DeD says:

    @Gustopher:

    and you have to be careful that you don’t believe the model over your own observations. When observations and the model differ, that’s when you need more data.

    And THIS explains why I can accept Prof. Taylor’s explanation on its face, yet feel challenged to wrap my mind around what I’m seeing from the GOP. Thanks.

  52. mattbernius says:

    @DeD:

    This Master’s program in IR, though . . .

    Nice! Good luck getting through that in these times.

    1
  53. Teve says:

    Keep in mind, too, that at least in the south, a lot of the elections were actually determined in the primaries, and you had to be a registered Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary, so there were a lot of Reagan, Rush Limbaugh conservatives who were technically registered Democrat in the south for decades.

  54. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I actually think the GOP is already in the wilderness

    Ah, ok. I think I get a point of talking past each other. In my mind, “in the wilderness” means being out of direct political power. Or at least severely limited. It seems to me you are more using it in a more “directionless” way. Unfortunately, our system demonstrates that even when a party is directionless, it’s still able to have significant influence.

    There’s a force at work here that I don’t think is noticed enough: capitalist liberalism. You can be a racist or a misogynist in 2020, but you can’t be an open racist or misogynist and hold down a decent job. Modern capitalism sees nothing but down-side to bigotry and they will be perhaps the most powerful enforcer of diversity going forward because no one wants a small, rustic, elderly consumer base when they can get the whole rainbow.

    To the degree that we’re talking about “open” as in “openly say racist/misogynist/etc stuff and get caught on video” I agree. However, I think that you may be a little optimistic as in my experience with Tech and other industries, being able to put the barest fig leaf of said behaviors typically is at a minimum, not punished (and in some cases deeply rewarded) by that same system.

    I don’t have particular hopes of capitalism or the market improving much beyond “you can’t openly be a member of the KKK (or get outted as one).”

    5
  55. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    They are probably both right, which is what makes awareness painful.

  56. steve says:

    Sorry guys. Young people dont vote. Poor people dont vote. Old people, especially when scared, vote. So first, concentrate on this election. None of Trump’s supporters will leave him and the GOP is doing a good job of linking violence in the streets to the Democratic party. If the riots and looting keep up Trump probably wins. Second, get over the idea that Trump has been any kind of leader. He has just been saying what Republicans have been wanting to hear. The party wont change much when he is gone and there is just as much of a chance that it is actually worse as there is that it is any better.

    Steve

    7
  57. Gustopher says:

    @steve:

    None of Trump’s supporters will leave him

    Give Covid a chance…

    2
  58. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: The filibuster protects the status quo. I guess it comes down to this — do you think the status quo is as good as we’re going to get?

  59. Teve says:

    @Kathy: I heard a compelling argument for retaining the filibuster (from Claire McCaskill, speaking with NPR) – that is, it’s the one means the minority party has for exerting power, and while getting rid of it may seem important when you’re in the majority, consider that one day you may be in the minority again. She pointed out that without it, public policy becomes more volatile, and things like the ACA would have been easier to overturn when the Republicans held both houses were it not for the filibuster.

    When you have a political party that is fine with wrecking the country as long as it hurts Obama, you can’t give them minority veto power over everything. And I disagree that they would’ve used it to destroy Obamacare, because the blame would have 100% been on them.

    3
  60. Barry says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “Never underestimate the degree to which the overriding issue is winning and if Trumpism is seen to be a loser, it will be jettisoned by most party elites.”

    Trump has shown that somebody with no conventional political capital can walk in and grab the presidency, providing that he/she has zero morals. Every GOP politician is looking at Trump and realizing that they can match him on amoral sociopathy, and exceed him on work ethic and coalition building.

    “The only hope is that Trump loses so badly that that wing of the party is neutered.”

    There is no other wing. Trump is *down* to 79% approval among self-identified Republicans, and that’s after the worst seven months that the US has suffered in many decades.

    5
  61. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Rick Wilson alluded to this in his interview with Michael Steele– If its not a tooth loosening kick in the face while down type of loss–the conditions wont exist to drive a schism between the Trumpites and the fair weather Republicans. As long as the current coalition has the chops to win elections–the Never Trumpers are and exiled faction.

    3
  62. Barry says:

    @mattbernius: “FWIW, I think most political historians would say that the realignment happened in waves–and also at different times at different levels (in part due to election cycles). ”

    I think that what also happened was that Southern Dem politicians could stay nominally Dem while voting GOP.

  63. Barry says:

    @CSK: “… but the point applied to all white southerners: they fancied themselves bluebloods while allying themselves with the party of the working class.”

    The classic view was that there was a four ‘party’ system:
    Southern Dems,
    Southern Republicans,
    Northern Dems,
    Northern Republicans.

  64. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Gustopher: I agree with Klein–I feel that in today’s climate–government that doesn’t move in any direction is more damaging to its credibility than government that moves in the wrong direction. This plays mightly into the Republican narrative about Gov’t.

    The fillibuster has to go–it also gives the majority party cover to say, “well we tried but those evil ____ used the filibuster and stopped us. Elect more of us to office and we’ll fix it”

    Nope–here is the keys…you’re driving this car and if it goes of the road we’ll see you at the ballot box.

    3
  65. Monala says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Convincing argument. Thanks! (To Gustopher, Kathy, and Klein as well).

    2
  66. JKB says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The ideological debate going forward is between those who think we can fix capitalism, and, those who believe that no, we can’t, we need to replace it.

    Not replacement of capitalism, just limiting who can participate in the liberty retain, build capital, from earnings and use this capital to generate wealth for oneself. In the most socialist of all countries, the leaders and those connected were afforded the liberty to build wealth for themselves through markets and enterprises, but with a good amount of, uhm, misappropriation.

    It was the same in Medieval times. In the 6th century, this was usually just the king, who owned all, granted use, but reclaimed in on whim. Then this expanded to the kings family, then to supporters, i.e., nobles and the Church gaining enforceable property rights and the ability to pass them on to descendants. Eventually, more common people were granted the liberty (although tenuous), as traders, craftsmen, etc., until even those tied to the land were released.

    Across the world, and in the US until emancipation, this liberty was still restricted from slaves. Although, in the US, slaves could earn their own and buy their freedom in many situations. This was not possible in the slavery of Northern Africa.

    First, what is the best the socialists, in their writings, can offer us? What do the most optimistic of them say? That our subsistence will be guaranteed, while we work; that some of us, the best of us, may earn a surplus above what is actually necessary for our subsistence; and that surplus, like a good child, we may “keep to spend.” We may not use it to better our condition, we may not, if a fisherman, buy another boat with it, if a farmer, another field ; we may not invest it, or use it productively ; but we can spend it like the good child, on candy — on something we consume, or waste it, or throw it away.

    Could not the African slave do as much? In fact, is not this whole position exactly that of the … slave? He, too, was guaranteed his sustenance; he, too, was allowed to keep and spend the extra money he made by working overtime; but he was not allowed to better his condition, to engage in trade, to invest it, to change his lot in life. Precisely what makes a slave is that he is allowed no use of productive capital to make wealth on his own account. The only difference is that under socialism, I may not be compelled to labor (I don’t even know as to that — socialists differ on the point), actually compelled, by the lash, or any other force than hunger. And the only other difference is that the … slave was under the orders of one man, while the subject of socialism will be under the orders of a committee of ward heelers. You will say, the slave could not choose his master, but we shall elect the ward politician. So we do now. Will that help much? Suppose the man with a grievance didn’t vote for him?

    –Socialism; a speech delivered in Faneuil hall, February 7th, 1903, by Frederic J. Stimson

  67. Michael Cain says:

    I actually think the GOP is already in the wilderness…

    Ask me after I see the state level results in November. If they are not being punished at the state level across the Midwest and South, they’re not in the wilderness, just retreating to their home ground to lick some wounds.

    1
  68. CSK says:

    @Barry:
    I’m familiar with southern Democrats, northern Democrats, and northern Republicans, but when were southern Republicans a force of any kind prior to the institution of the southern strategy in the 1960s?

    Southern Democrats always seemed to me to decide to be Democrats because they figured Yankees were Republicans, and anything Yankee was evil beyond imagining. It made no sense, but frankly a lot of southern shibboleths don’t. (And the older I get, the less patience I have with them.) The southern humorist (so to speak) Lewis Grizzard, widely acknowledged as not a nice person, once wrote a column in which he addressed the horror of being mistaken for a Republican. Yet in his political views he was about as much of a Democrat as Pat Buchanan.

    3
  69. gVOR08 says:

    Ross Douthat wrote a piece in NYT criticizing Stuart Steven’s It Was All a Lie for not offering a complete alternate ideology, or something, with Douthat it’s always hard to tell.

    “But still the Republican Party continues to push tax cuts the same way the Roman Catholic Church uses incense for High Mass,” he writes, “as a comforting symbolism for believers that reminds them of their identity.” And then, pushing the analogy further: “Being against ‘out-of-control federal spending,’ a phrase I must have used in a hundred ads, is a catechism of the Republican faith. But no one really believes in it any more than communicants believe they are actually eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ.”
    Except that in point of fact, many communicants at a Catholic Mass do believe that they are actually eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ. And this is particularly true among the conservative Catholics whose votes were essential to the Republican politicians Stuart Stevens tried to get elected president.

    This drew a very Reynoldsian comment from one “KM”,

    If someone can believe this, then they can believe in any one of a number of tales…up to and including trump’s lies. If it meets an emotional need, fills a void or makes one feel superior, people will believe it. “Runaway federal spending,” “welfare queens”. “Willie Horton,” “swift boat,” “tax and spend Democrats”, “Wafer = body” and so on. It’s all part of a believe system. People will cling to it no matter what, as we see with many religious practices, as we see with trumpists. Or, as PT Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute, and two to take ’em.” That’s where Stevens et all come in. They don’t have to believe what they sell, they just have to do a good job selling it. Apparently, enough people are primed to buy.

    2
  70. DrDaveT says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The hard, cold reality is that the US needs a serious conservative party that is committed to good governance for all the people and adherence to classical liberal values

    As noted snarkily by Jennifer Rubin above, the technical term for that might be “the Democratic Party.” Yes, even the “conservative” part, if you look at their recent policy actions and exclude conservative causes that violate the “for all the people” clause.

    3
  71. wr says:

    @JKB: “Across the world, and in the US until emancipation, this liberty was still restricted from slaves. Although, in the US, slaves could earn their own and buy their freedom in many situations. This was not possible in the slavery of Northern Africa.”

    I realize you are desperate to find a way to claim that even in slavery white people are better than darker ones, but what the hell are you talking about? Using what money? Their tips?

    8
  72. wr says:

    @JKB: “–Socialism; a speech delivered in Faneuil hall, February 7th, 1903, by Frederic J. Stimson”

    Gosh, JKB, a lot has happened in the world over the last 117 years.* You might want to read up a little on how socialism has worked in, say, Scandinavia over the last half a century or so.

    *Apparently so much has happened that no scholar has managed time to confirm Stimson’s claim that slaves got paid in cash for “over time.”

    6
  73. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    This is an absolute truth today, but was much less true prior to Gingrich. In my lifetime there were coalitions centered on defense, farming, mining, and manufacturing that spanned party boundaries.

    Absolutely. Gingrich contributed to the problem as did Fox News and other forces. But the parties are almost perfectly sorted now in a way they weren’t in 1994.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    (Also: the Cold War made certain national security policy coalitions much easier to maintain).

    Yes. Anti-Communism held a lot of really disparate folks together.

    @Paine:

    Ezra Klein over at Vox has a good interview with GOP operative Stuart Stevens, author of the new book: It Was All A Lie: How The Republican Party Became Donald Trump.

    I saw this yesterday but haven’t had time to listen to the podcast. I think it’s both true and overstated.

    @DeD:

    Rubin’s headline is not as silly as you make it out to be when you start tackling those type of questions.

    She didn’t write the headline and nor does it represent the thesis of the article. I agree with her (and you) that the coalition needs to be radically different. There are ways to build coalitions around small-c conservatism.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Totally taking over one of those containers is possible via the primaries, but it is hard work and coordination is especially hard.

    And, to ride that hobby horse a bit more: a lot of people will vote GOP no matter who the primaries nominate because it’s their team.

    Agreed. But, just as it was at least conceivable a Michael Bloomberg could have gotten the Democratic nomination if Biden had imploded, it’s conceivable a Michael Bloomberg could emerge to take the Republican nomination in 2024. If a Bernie Sanders-type were the Democratic nominee in 2024 or 2028, a Joe Biden could plausibly be the conservative alternative.

    1
  74. Monala says:

    @CSK: Fun fact: although there weren’t many Southern Republicans in 1964, there were some, and all 11 in Congress at the time voted against the Civil Rights Act. In contrast, 8 Southern Democratic representatives and one Southern Democratic Senator, voted for the Civil Rights Act. They were some pretty brave people, who in several cases knew that they were ending their political careers by their vote.

    5
  75. Monala says:

    @wr: sometimes slave owners in the US hired out their slaves to work for other people, usually because the slave owner was hurting for money. And if the slaves received any tips, they could sometimes keep them. So occasionally, it happened that someone could save enough money to buy their way out of slavery, especially if they had a skill that made them valuable for “hiring out.” But it wasn’t a common occurrence, and to my knowledge it happened more often in coastal cities, rarely in the deep south. Over time, especially after the invention of the cotton gin and fear of slave rebellions grew, laws were passed outlawing a slave’s ability to free themselves (and making it hard for owners to free them).

    5
  76. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    That means a Reaganesque agenda of tax cuts, free trade, deregulation, muscular internationalism, social conservatism and a welcoming attitude toward immigrants.

    And in that order of importance.

    ETA: (And you can leave off that last one if you need to. 😉 )

    2
  77. dmichael says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I am repeating myself but the most effective deterrent to criminal conduct is criminal prosecution.

    1
  78. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    But the parties are almost perfectly sorted now in a way they weren’t in 1994.

    I agree, and I think this is the most interesting (if horrifying part). Not because there is a split along conservative-progressive-liberal lines, because I don’t think that’s true. As people often point out, there is a pretty wide range in the Democratic Party, and the Republicans don’t really act on anything they claim to stand for, so trying to pin them down as conservatives is futile. The actual split is between those who believe that government should respond to crises and emergencies and those who believe it should be handled at the local level. And for Federal level Republicans, “local” means “state”, at the State level “local” means “county”, at county – “town” and at town – “churches”. Bottom line, no Republican feels responsible for anything.

    That’s a heckuva way to split along party lines.

    4
  79. MarkedMan says:

    @dmichael:

    the most effective deterrent to criminal conduct is criminal prosecution.

    I believe this is true, but only for what I think is a subset of criminal acts. There are certain people drawn to crime, and certain types of crimes (such as assault in anger) that are less affected by seeing others punished. And, admittedly just based on my own observations of the world, there are a lot of crimes performed by people who simply don’t have enough to do, and enough to protect. Give people a stake in society, and a standard of living to protect and crime is reduced. I actually think that’s the biggest portion of crime, and therefore it’s something that we can work on as a society.

  80. Sleeping Dog says:

    @DrDaveT:

    …the Democratic Party.” Yes, even the “conservative” part,…

    Careful, you’ll begin quoting Andrew Sullivan, who contends that the Dems under Obama were the truly conservative party. And I agree with him when you consider that the R’s are a revanchist party.

    @Monala:

    You can thank Lyndon Johnson for those votes.

  81. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The future is Liberal vs. More Liberal.

    I’d phrase it differently — the bifurcation will be on how much government should do directly and how much can be left to the market, and how to regulate that market. The liberal values are the same in both cases; the disagreement is on which are the better mechanisms to achieve them, case by case. There is no significant genuine Socialist (much less Communist) movement in the US today.

    Republicans used to at least claim to a similar sharing of goals while disagreeing on mechanisms. It turned out, though, that they stick by the mechanisms even when they’ve been debunked and their actual goals were (as someone famously said) deplorable.

    3
  82. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Sooner or later, though, we’ll have another Republican President and they’ll run on an agenda that would be anathema to Trumpists.

    Sorry, I don’t see this in my lifetime. Fortunately for the rest of you, I’m old, and for me, that means that 60 isn’t the new 40; it’s the same sixty that existed for people born in 1900.

    Also, I’m with Steve on this whole demographics thing. Where I live 18-34s don’t seem to show up at the polls to any regular degree, so you’ll have to forgive me for not caring about their opinion on Trump.

    4
  83. DeD says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Where I live 18-34s don’t seem to show up at the polls to any regular degree, so you’ll have to forgive me for not caring about their opinion on Trump.

    Exactly. And they’re howling like stark raving mad banshees on Twitter over Obama “disrespecting” them by pointing out that fact. It seems they save all their energy for Twitter output, rather than taking their azzez to the polls and voting for their candidate of choice. I was born in 1962, and my voting record is:

    1980 & 1984: Reagan
    1988: GHWB
    1992: Perot ( I know…)
    1996: Clinton
    2000 & 2004: GWB
    2008 & 2012: Obama
    2016: Clinton

    So, I’m not impressed with the current crop of young’uns screaming about being dismissed as negligible when it comes to voting.

    2
  84. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  85. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @DeD: I was a Perotista, too. I don’t now, but at the time, I believed that if he could have done what he intended, it would have been good for the country.

    Now of course, I simply am charry that I will ever see the combination of policies/effects (or, in fact, any of them, TBH) that I would like to see. But I voted for Anderson in 1980, too. In fact, 80 was the first of 7 consecutive elections where I voted against both parties. By 2004, I’d moved and simply didn’t re-register. Seemed pointless to vote any more, considering the choices available.