America Still Not a Center-Right Nation

Tuesday's Republican wave didn't change the fundamentals.

election-republican-democrat-see-saw

A column at Investors Business Daily making fun of those who wrote off the Republican party after the 2012 election references a post of mine titled “America Not a Center-Right Nation Anymore.” I stand by both the general theme and particulars of that essay.

It would have been foolish to predict that Republicans would never win back the Senate; but I made no such prediction. Rather, I argued that, after having lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, it was time for the GOP to realize that it needed to quit running on the themes that got Ronald Reagan elected in 1980. I argued that, while small government, low taxes, and a strong defense remained popular with the electorate, the Democrats had long since moved to the center on those issues, undermining much of the traditional Republican advantage. And that the country had moved much closer to the Democratic position on a whole range of social issues while the Republicans were actually moving further to the right. Those facts remain true.

Even the quote columnist John Merline singles out, “the only question is how many more elections [Republicans will] lose clinging to a ‘traditional America’ that’s a distant memory” remains accurate. Yes, Republicans won a wave of statewide races in a low-turnout, midterm election. But, as I explained in yesterday’s post “What to Make of the 2014 Wave Election,” there’s no reason to think this will have any bearing on the 2016 election.

[T]he dynamics two years from now will be quite different even irrespective to whatever changes happen between now and then on the economic and foreign policy fronts.

  • First, turnout will be much higher; that’s always the case in presidential year elections and almost always benefits Democrats.
  • Second, there will be less low-hanging fruit in two years. One of the reasons for these back-and-forth wave elections is that waves swing blue states to red and vice versa. Yesterday was something of a return to the natural order, tossing out Red State Democrats who came to power in the Obama landslide of 2008.
  • Third, while Obama will inevitably be a central figure in the 2016 campaign, we’ll have two presidential nominees at the top of the ticket. It’ll ultimately be about them.
  • Fourth, the Senate races will involve Class 3 rather than Class 2; it’s inherently more Democratic (and democratic).

And winning the presidency back will be much harder. As noted in my 2012 postmortem,

President Obama easily won re-election last night, carrying virtually all of the battleground states. Meanwhile, abortion, gay marriage, and recreational marijuana also won big.

To win, Mitt Romney needed to carry all of the states where he was ahead in the polls plus Ohio, Virginia, and either New Hampshire or Colorado. It appears he lost all of those state plus Florida, which had appeared to move into his column.

Despite reports of long lines that kept polls open hours after closing time, including in the Northern Virginia suburbs near where I live, turnout was actually lower than it was four years ago and eight years ago. But it’s an electorate that’s inexorably becoming less friendly to a Republican message that hasn’t changed since 1980. Romney would have won the 1980 electorate in a landslide; he needed everything to go his way to win in this one.

Despite the Republican wave, those trends held true Tuesday. Recreational marijuana initiatives passed in Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia. Anti-abortion “personhood” amendments failed in North Dakota and Colorado.  Minimum wage ballot measures passed overwhelmingly in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. And, while it wasn’t on the ballot Tuesday, gay marriage is legal in many more states than it was two years ago and is rapidly becoming socially acceptable in most of the country.

There’s an argument to be made that this is all good news for the Republican Party. Having lost on these issues should take them off the table and force the party and its candidates to focus on the more popular parts of the GOP agenda and/or to come up with some fresh ideas. But a large part of the nominating electorate seems not to understand that those fights are over and they’re doubling down.

The final paragraph of that 2012 post—the one that contains the quote Merline finds amusing in hindsight—was the opposite of a prediction that the GOP wouldn’t win again:

The 1980 model Republican Party will not win the White House ever again. Since 1860, when the Whigs fractured and died, our two major parties have managed to survive and even thrive by constantly re-inventing themselves. After a string of defeats, the Democrats rebooted in 1992, nominating a Southern moderate and jettisoning the more unpopular parts of their agenda, at least at the national level. At some point, the GOP will do the same. The only question is how many more elections they’ll lose clinging to a “traditional America” that’s a distant memory.

With a handful of exceptions, Republicans fielded much more mainstream candidates in 2014 than they did in 2010. Tea Party challenges to relatively moderate incumbents mostly failed this go-round. So there’s reason to hope that the party is slowly learning the lesson that the Democrats did after a similar string of defeats, losing five of six presidential races between 1968 to 1988. And they learned it despite holding the House of Representatives throughout that period and mostly holding the Senate. As noted two years ago, I have full confidence that the GOP will do the same. The question remains whether they’ll do it in time for 2016.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2014, 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. DrDaveT says:

    By any objective standard, America is a center-right nation — and the Democratic Party represents that center-right plurality. We have no left-wing parties at all by international standards, and center-left positions that are mainstream in most places would get you vilified as a Socialist by half of the Democrats and a Communist by all of the Republicans.

  2. Mu says:

    Trying to put the US into any left-right scheme is a complete waste of time from the onset. From any outside view, the US is a right governed state, be it under Obama or Nixon. We argue (under a “left” president) if everybody should have the right to be able to buy health insurance, when every other developed country has free or non-risk based health insurance. We still don’t have mandatory paid maternity leave. We try to limit welfare payments while people starve in our streets. We have the lowest tax rates anywhere, but we’re voting for people that want that lowered more. We have so little social conscience, we fund our state by mortgaging our kids future earnings to pay for today’s senior care.
    Obama might be on a level with Maggie Thatcher, usually seen as the most right wing European post-war leader.

  3. al-Ameda says:

    I fail to see how our national politics can not be (at a minimum) characterized as center-right.

    The House is now a far-from-center-right operation, and the Senate just moved into center-right territory. We have a centrist president who is vilified by the opposition as a far-left socialist usurper.

    I admit that as you go local, you do find that some of the culture war issues are resolving to center-left favor – gay marriage, decriminalization of marijuana, etc – however, extrapolating what is local into a national view seems to me to be tenuous.

  4. Kylopod says:

    while small government, low taxes, and a strong defense remained popular with the electorate

    Those are nothing more than slogans. What, are there polls saying Americans favor a weak defense? As for small government, a lot of people say they’re for “small government” in the abstract, but very few people support it in the particulars. As a 2010 Washington Post poll found, “most Americans who would like to see a more limited government also call Medicare and Social Security ‘very important’ programs…[and] want the federal government to remain involved in education, poverty reduction and health care regulation.”

    You mention that the public has swung in favor of Dems on a range of social issues in recent years, but what you fail to mention is that the Republican economic agenda has long been unpopular. Tax cuts for the rich, cuts to Medicare and Social Security, refusing to raise the minimum wage (or even abolishing it altogether)–none of those things are remotely popular with the American public. Republicans who pay attention know this, which is why they lie about their own positions–which is where we get such absurdities as attacking Dems for Medicare cuts that they themselves favor, or pledging to repeal Obamacare while claiming it will have no effect on the state exchanges or Medicaid expansion. You really think if they presented their economic plans accurately, they’d be getting elected in droves?

  5. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT: @Mu: @al-Ameda: I was using the terminology in the context of American politics and, in particular, a meme that was going around in the wake of the Tea Party wave of 2010. It’s true that America is well to the right of its Western European, Canadian, and Australian peers.

  6. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner: I’m not sure what you gain by grading on a curve here. In the context of historical American politics, the Dems are still centrist, maybe even center-right. In the context of today, left/right terminology is all but meaningless (as others have pointed out) because one party is full of people who can simultaneously support laissez-faire economics and mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds, while the other party is full of people who can simultaneously support higher minimum wages, equal marriage rights for gays, and the Patriot Act.

  7. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner: …but I do agree completely with your conclusion that this election is not evidence of some fundamental shift in American views.

  8. Tillman says:

    With a handful of exceptions, Republicans fielded much more mainstream candidates in 2014 than they did in 2010. Tea Party challenges to relatively moderate incumbents mostly failed this go-round.

    Maybe more of a semantic quibble, but I’m starting to think “Tea Party” denotes a Republican opposed to the establishment instead of any particular ideological stance. Our new Senator-elect in NC is certainly establishment, but his legislative record reads like a Tea Partier-circa-2010’s wet dream.

    Encroaching corporatist* interests in both parties are making it hard to define “left” and “right” cleanly by ideology lately. We’re all good with war in the Middle East, but it depends by degrees now whether it’s a leftist or rightist war. 🙂

    * As in money-making, not necessarily via corporation.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: In the context of American politics, you have to talk in terms of the American center.

    I would go further and say that to maintain any coherence, you have to talk about an American center defined by recent history, as I believe you are, not the current state of play. As noted, the Dems have moved a little right, sensibly occupying a center abandoned by the Rs, who have moved way right. Defining center as some split the difference between the two, updated daily, would make no sense.

  10. stonetools says:

    I think the better way to think of America is as two nations, inextricably bound up into one-a reliably rightwing nation ( call it Red America) mixed up with a mildly left of Center Blue America. I think the Jesusland map gets it more right than not in a description of America. I also think these divisions are long lasting and go back before the Civil War and maybe even the American Revolution.
    I think books like Albion’s Seed and American Nations detail the birth of the differences, which amount to sharply different visions of what thesenations want America to be, including different versions of key concepts like “freedom”, “democracy” and “Constitutional rights.”
    I see a lot more polarization ahead before all of this is worked out.

  11. Tyrell says:

    I would say that every president starting with Truman has been center or center right. A good argument could be made that Richard Nixon went further left than any on some of his ideas and proposals. Nixon was the ultimate pragmatist with Reagan in second. Most of Obama’s actions have been centrist, with some actually very close to Republican proposals. Johnson felt obligated to get some of Kennedy’s plans through. A lot of left leaning actions have originated with court decisions or in Congress, not the president.
    Health care: It was Bush who expanded the Medicare prescription plan, which was huge.

  12. just me says:

    Well without an agreed upon definition of what constitutes the center there is no way to state whether the US is center right or not.

    I also don’t think there is even a clear definition of something as simple as freedom of speech-left leaning college campuses embrace both speech codes and academic freedom for professors.

    And freedom of speech is a concept both the left and right embrace as a cornerstone of our society-yet defining what should and shouldn’t be protected speech is all over the map.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:
    It was Bush who expanded the Medicare prescription plan, which was huge.
    If only he had paid for it…then he would have been acting as a centrist.
    As it was he put it on the credit card…mark that off to the extreme-right.

  14. C. Clavin says:

    I was using the terminology in the context of American politics and, in particular, a meme that was going around in the wake of the Tea Party wave of 2010.

    I don’t understand how that makes for a useful discussion. Republicans are so far off the starboard bow that positing anything in relation to them is meaningless.
    Radical foreign policy.
    Radical economic policy.
    Radical cultural views.
    Radical scientific views.
    This post exemplifies one of our biggest problems; we refuse to acknowledge how far out there Republicans have become.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Case in point: Boehner and McConnell claiming they are going to fix gridlock in DC.
    Talk about chutzpah!!!
    They are going to fix the problem that they themselves are responsible for?
    Yet the press and the pundits treat this as a serious statement. (Similar to the way they treat Paul Ryan as a serious policy wonk) Instead these two should be roundly ridiculed for their hypocrisy and pilloried for the damage they have done to the country in the naked quest to take over power.
    But you gotta hand it to them. They had a plan…they told us what it was…and they executed it. And they knew full well the press and the pundits would let them do it.

  16. Eric Florack says:

    total disagreement.
    James, look at the people who got elected. Look at the platforms that they ran on individually.recalculate

  17. Todd says:

    I (think I) understand exactly what James Joyner is saying here. Objectively and rationally, the United States almost certainly is relatively “center-right” when compared to especially European democracies. However, when that term is used by Republicans in general, and Conservatives in particular, it’s in the context of trying to justify policies that objectively couldn’t be described as anything other than far right.

    In other words, in a country where 40% of the citizens think Barack Obama is a “socialist”, center-right policies look nothing like what a rational person might expect them to be, based purely on their experience with a normal left right spectrum.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    Some years ago David Broder wrote a column making the usual “center-right nation” claim based on a survey in which 2/3 of Americans identified themselves as conservative. In response Monkey Cage blog referenced a PolySci paper Pathways to Ideology in American Politics. (Link below, I couldn’t make embed work.) Not my line of territory, but I found it fascinating and instructive.

    The authors confirm that yes, a majority do identify as conservative, yet if you poll on individual issues, a majority are clearly liberal. It basically comes down to not being sufficiently politically aware to really understand the terms. They identify only one kind of self-identified liberal: liberals. They identify three flavors of self-identified conservatives:
    • “constrained conservatives” who hold conservative views on economic and moral issues
    • “moral conservatives’ who hold conservative views on moral issues only
    • “conflicted conservatives” who don’t actually hold conservative views on either

    The author’s go on to say that liberal political elites know “liberal” is perceived negatively (30 years of the Mighty Right-Wing Wurlitzer), so they avoid philosophy and talk about policy. Conservative political elites know that their policies are unpopular but “conservative” is popular, so they avoid policy and talk about philosophy. This leaves the unsophisticated and marginally engaged individual hearing from our supposed elites both conservative philosophy he likes and liberal policy he likes, and doesn’t realize they’re coming from opposing camps. Such an individual may well want to protect Social Security and the environment, be OK w/ gays and abortion, and regard himself as a conservative.

    http://www.unc.edu/~jstimson/Working_Papers_files/Pathways.pdf

  19. Guarneri says:

    That the US is right of, say, Europe does not make it center right. It makes Europe far left.

    Also, the description of the US is a function of the definition of nation. A county map of the nation is overwhelmingly red, with scattered and concentrated blue pockets in urban centers. It’s interesting that those big city pockets are also overwhelmingly dysfunctional and broke. See Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland ……….g

  20. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    They didn’t run on platforms…they ran on hate and fear…they ran against Obama.
    And to the limited extent that they took positions they were not honest about them…e.g. Cory Gardner and Personhood.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    @Guarneri:
    Um…the country is not a map…the country is people.
    Large swaths of open land painted red does not define anything.

  22. al-Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    That the US is right of, say, Europe does not make it center right. It makes Europe far left.

    Europe is far left? Compared to what: the old Soviet Union or Mao’s China?
    Conservatives have almost completely debased the term ‘far left’ and rendered it useless as a comparative marker for discussion of international politics and economics.

    It’s interesting that those big city pockets are also overwhelmingly dysfunctional and broke. See Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland ……….g

    Yes, I find it interesting that the states that are net beneficiaries of federal income tax distribution (those that receive back more from the Feds than they give) are Red States, which include dysfunctional places like Mississippi. California, by way of example, gets back about 80% of what it sends to Washington.

  23. Guarneri says:

    I can only hope that the head-in-the-sand views of the Clavins and almeadas persist. It bodes well.

    Repeat after me. Only a few dozen stupid, crazed and Fox News brainwashed voted. Only a few….

    Barack Obama entered office in 2009 with 59 Democrats in the Senate and 257 Democrats in the House. He will leave office with 45 Democrats in the Senate and less than 190 in the House.

    You’re doing a heckuva job, Bammy.

  24. stonetools says:

    @Guarneri:

    Tell me something, G. Do you live in or near one of those blue hellholes or do you live in one of those red paradises like Alabama or Idaho?
    I ask that because most Americans live (or want to live), precisely in or near one of those blue hellholes, whereas those red paradises are thinly inhabited areas where sometimes you can drive hundreds of miles before seeing anyone.
    I also ask to expose what I suspect is hypocrisy

  25. stonetools says:

    @Guarneri:

    Tell me something, G. Do you live in or near one of those blue hellholes or do you live in one of those red paradises like Alabama or Idaho?
    I ask that because most Americans live (or want to live, precisely in or near one of those blue hellholes, whereas those red paradises are thinly inhabited areas where sometimes you can drive hundreds of miles before seeing anyone.
    I also ask to expose what I suspect is hypocrisy

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Guarneri: You’re right. The acreage of the country is overwhelmingly Republican. The people on the other hand – ever see a similar map with area distorted to represent population, not space? Looks a lot like a couple of large blue parenthesis around a smaller cherry center.

  27. John425 says:

    @C. Clavin: No Cliffie, your claim that Republicans have radical policies in economics, foreign policy, et al just shows how far you have moved left and can longer find even the center, let alone a center-right position.

  28. C. Clavin says:

    @Guarneri:
    A pathetically low number of Americans, who were overwhelmingly old, voted in a second-term mid-term election that always goes to the opposition party.

    Now let’s see what Republicans, who have refused to govern for 6 years, do with it.
    50 more votes to repeal Obamacare….yeah!!!

  29. SenyorDave says:

    @C. Clavin: I’ve always thought if the Democrats are the tax and spend party, the Republicans are the lower taxes, still spend and blame the opposition when the bills are due and the deficit blows up.

    Then just repeat over and over. As a finance person who works with budgets, I can honestly say that even our former FO, as conservative as they came, said the Bush administration was in a class by itself when it came to shear dishonesty regarding budgets.

  30. C. Clavin says:

    @John425:
    Yeah…supply- side economics is a centrist policy.

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    Drivel. You know, I say you don’t know anything about politics and you immediately prove me right.

    You do understand, don’t you, that you’re talking about big empty spaces with more cows than people, right? Square miles does not equal voters.

    Good grief.

  32. Blue Galangal says:

    @gVOR08: Good point. You also have to consider how the terms have been propagandized, especially since McCarthy. In the back of a lot of people’s minds, “Democrat”/liberal = “Commie.” Red blooded God fearing Americans aren’t commies, by gum. I know it sounds like a sound bite, but I really think you can’t underestimate the effect of McCarthy on our political dialect. And I think there are marketers who are well aware of that: Republican has a brand – they don’t hesitate to resurrect Lincoln every time it suits them, for instance – that is anti “Red” and “pro-America” and that brand still lurks in our collective subconscious.

  33. Rafer Janders says:

    @Guarneri:

    A county map of the nation is overwhelmingly red, with scattered and concentrated blue pockets in urban centers.

    It is true that the areas where human beings don’t live are largely Republican, while the areas where human beings actually live are largely Democratic. If only we’d vote by acreage, and not by one person one vote, then the GOP would never lose!

  34. superdestroyer says:

    Of course, what most everyone is dancing around is that they want a government that will give them what they want while sticking someone else with the bill. Even a liberal economist like Paul Krugman talks about growing our way out of the deficit instead of paying much higher taxes to fund the long list of government goodies that people demand.

    There is no reason for two parties to exist in the U.S. if the fight is over who gets what entitlement and who has to pay for it. Even a quick look at the demographic trends in the U.S. will show that there is no way either party is going to get what it wants in the long term. In the end, politics in the U.S. will be about the winners and loser and I suspect that the shrinking middle class will be seen as the biggest losers while the Ivy League elites will be seen as the biggest winners.

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @SenyorDave:

    I don’t agree. The differences are not about policy, but about underlying emotions and world views.

    Republicans are the Party of Fear. Afraid of black people, communists, immigrants, Europeans, gays, socialists, Honduran children at the border, ISIS and ebola. It’s why they need so many guns. They are afraid of the future – a common problem for the elderly who, let’s face it, have less future coming to them. Fear = Greed, Fear = Rage, Fear = Hate, and it all equals the GOP. The GOP manages to never be right about anything, ever, but if they yell, “Boo! Mexicans!” they’ll get votes.

    Democrats are the Party of Good Intentions. They want to help. They don’t know how to help effectively, but their hearts are in the right place. They are almost always right about the big issues – civil rights, equality for women, the economy, unions, health care, foreign policy — but sadly they lack spines. They are pusillanimous. Weak. Unfocused. Incapable of holding a thought in their in their little vegan heads long enough to bring it to fruition.

    Libertarians are the Party of Sophomore Year, when politically-inclined 19 year-old narcissists discover that their lack of frontal lobe development and resulting lack of basic humanity has a patron saint (Ayn Rand) and a political party. The factions within the Libertarian Party are 1) Neckbeards and 2) Sociopaths.

  36. Monala says:

    @Guarneri: Conservatives tend to name liberal rust-belt cities that are struggling economically due to the loss of manufacturing jobs as evidence that liberal policies don’t work. They always neglect the fact that most of our nation’s most prosperous cities are also liberal and multicultural: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Boston, Houston… shall I go on?

  37. al-Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    I can only hope that the head-in-the-sand views of the Clavins and almeadas persist. It bodes well.
    Repeat after me. Only a few dozen stupid, crazed and Fox News brainwashed voted. Only a few….

    (1) ‘Head-in-the-sand views’? — Which of my comments above were uninformed?
    (2) ‘Fox News brainwashed ‘? — Did I mention Fox News at all?

  38. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Even a liberal economist like Paul Krugman talks about growing our way out of the deficit instead of paying much higher taxes to fund the long list of government goodies that people demand.

    Even rational observers of economic data now recognize that the deficit is receding. As a percentage of GDP it is declining.

    Also, our top tax bracket is currently at the same level it was when Bill Clinton was president, a time that most people acknowledge as one of good economic growth.

  39. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I doubt that the party that is afraid of nuclear power plants, high tension power lines, genetically modified foods, medical research, fracking, vaccines, pipelines, mining, logging, and is the absolute best example of NIMBY is not motivated by fear. The elite liberal who can afford to live in the urban centers are not spending $30K a year for private school because they just like private schools better.

    And I yes to see anything that the CBC or CHC supports that can be considered to be based on good intensions. They are motivated strictly by greed. However, once again, an elite white Democrats defined the party to exclude most of the people who actually do vote for Democrats.

    The Democratic Party is the elite top and the massive underclass and their enemy is the middle.

  40. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    You don’t understand – as usual. Liberals aren’t afraid of those things, they think those things are “bad for people” usually people other than themselves. Let’s face it, there are no liberals in the path of Keystone XL, it runs straight through goober country. No liberal’s getting his ground water poisoned, it’ll be all your people.

    As for why liberals who can afford it go to private schools: because they can afford it. Same as conservatives. It’s an imbecilic argument. It’s like saying, “If liberals really liked the poor they’d eat every meal at McDonalds ’cause that’s where poor people eat.” It’s a non-sequitur. Mental gibberish.

    And aren’t you supposed to be reminding us that the Republican Party is finished, done for and stone cold dead?

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Even a liberal economist like Paul Krugman talks about growing our way out of the deficit instead of paying much higher taxes to fund the long list of government goodies that people demand.

    Growing our way out of the CURRENT deficit, driven by recession and inherited from W. Bush. Despite the cartoon version pushed by GOPs, Keynesians advocate SURPLUS in good times. Like Clinton left for W. By raising taxes. What makes you believe Dr. K has a problem with properly thought out tax hikes?

  42. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: Do you know the difference between a libertarian and a sociopath?

    The sociopath didn’t choose to think that way.

  43. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The Democratic Party is the elite top and the massive underclass and their enemy is the middle.

    Well that ignores the actual history of the last 30 years and the Republican attack on the middle class. Once again the facts don’t match your ideology…so you ignore the facts.

  44. humanoid.panda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I doubt that the party that is afraid of nuclear power plants, high tension power lines, genetically modified foods, medical research, fracking, vaccines, pipelines, mining, logging, and is the absolute best example of NIMBY is not motivated by fear

    Half the thing on your list enjoy zero support from mainstream Democrats (vaccines, GMOs, opposition to animal experimentation) and stuff that we actually do have reasons to be concerned about. I mean, we know for sure that the US has a serious water shortage problem. Isn’t there a case to be made that a new technology that relies on massive usage of water is something we need to consider carefully before proceeding on. Thinking that we need to openly discuss the effects of fracking is a rational position. Being worried about vaccines and autism is not a rational position. Thinking that ISIS terrorists are bringing ebola through the Mexican border is not a rational position. Some (but by no means the majority of) mainstream democrats hold the first position. A fringe of the liberal camp holds the second position, but the only politician of national repute to voice support for it was Michelle Bachmann. Both rank and file Republicans and some Republican politicans hold the third position. See the difference?

  45. humanoid.panda says:

    @C. Clavin: It is made of two major planks. One is extending Medicaid from a program for people who don’t or can’t work for some reason, to people who make very low wages. The other one is subsidies from people who make anything from 50% to 150% of the median household income. If that is Superdestroyers’ definition of the underclass, that tells us all we need to know about him.

  46. humanoid.panda says:

    @humanoid.panda: That came out mangled: what I was trying to say is

    The ACA is the major Democratic program of the Obama years. It is made of two major planks. One is extending Medicaid from a program for people who don’t or can’t work for some reason, to people who make very low wages. The other one is subsidies from people who make anything from 50% to 200% of the median household income. If that is Superdestroyers’ definition of the underclass, that tells us all we need to know about him.

  47. Just Me says:

    I think half the problem is that the liberals in urban centers don’t care about the plight of those outside the urban areas. When liberals talk about diversity they don’t mean diversity of thought or experience. The urban black kid gets the let up but the rural white kid from Appalachia has to suck it up because coal is bad and they should just move if they want opportunity.

    Middle class people can’t afford to live in the urban centers. If you are wealthy or poor and qualify for assitance you can afford to live in the city, but if you’re middle class and have kids you can’t live in the city even if you want to and if you can live in the city you can’t afford the private schools the rich can afford. Urban centers are looking much like the democratic voters-wealthy elites and the poor.

    Liberals dismiss those who live I. Rural areas as “goobers” (as mentioned up thread). And liberals play in fears as much as republicans it’s just they fear different things. After all it wasn’t the GOP trying to stir it’s base up with threats of Ferguson or lynchings.

  48. C. Clavin says:

    From TPM…the leaders of Republican thought have spoken…

    Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh reminded Republicans that they were not elected to do their job so much as to prevent other people from getting anything done.
    “It is to stop Barack Obama. It is to stop the Democrats,” Limbaugh said on his show Wednesday about Republicans’ agenda. “There is no other reason why Republicans were elected yesterday. Republicans were not elected to govern.”
    “How can you govern with a president that is demonstrably lawless when he thinks he has to be?” Limbaugh continued. “The Republican Party was not elected to fix a broken system or to make it work. The Republican Party was not elected to compromise. The Republican Party was not elected to sit down and work together with the Democrats.”
    Laura Ingraham said that attempts to craft bipartisan legislation and ignore the most conservative members of Congress would hurt the party in 2016. She lambasted Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for calling for bipartisanship.

  49. humanoid.panda says:

    @Just Me: The states in which Medicaid expansion reduced the numbers of the uninsured most: West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas. Need I say more to prove what you said is nonsense?

  50. Monala says:

    Plenty of middle class people live in cities. When they don’t, it’s less often because they can’t afford to, and more frequently because they move to suburbs with good schools.

    Furthermore, most Democratic policies are designed to help everyone regardless of race. Increases in the minimum wage would help the low-wage white worker in Appalachia just as much as the low-wage black worker in Oakland. Many red states turned down the Medicaid expansion, but that was their decision to undercut their own people, not the decision of Democratic policy makers.

    Furthermore, “threats” of Ferguson? Liberals are talking about what is actually happening in Ferguson (overreaction and hostility by its overwhelmingly white police force against its black population). Compare that to the to-often made up fears indulged in by conservatives (not that ISIS doesn’t exist and isn’t a concern, but they certainly aren’t bringing Ebola across the Mexican-US border).

  51. Grewgills says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    Which is sort of what we do for the senate and we’ve seen how that can turn out.

  52. Monala says:

    @Just Me: Plenty of middle class people live in cities. When they don’t, it’s less often because they can’t afford to, and more frequently because they move to suburbs with good schools.

    Furthermore, most Democratic policies are designed to help everyone regardless of race. Increases in the minimum wage would help the low-wage white worker in Appalachia just as much as the low-wage black worker in Oakland. Many red states turned down the Medicaid expansion, but that was their decision to undercut their own people, not the decision of Democratic policy makers.

    Furthermore, “threats” of Ferguson? Liberals are talking about what is actually happening in Ferguson (overreaction and hostility by its overwhelmingly white police force against its black population). Compare that to the to-often made up fears indulged in by conservatives (not that ISIS doesn’t exist and isn’t a concern, but they certainly aren’t bringing Ebola across the Mexican-US border).

  53. Grewgills says:

    @Just Me:

    I think half the problem is that the liberals in urban centers don’t care about the plight of those outside the urban areas.

    The other side of that coin is that the people who live in rural areas are and have been for quite some time very suspicious of and disdainful of the people in urban areas even as many of them want to move to those urban areas.

  54. Grewgills says:

    @Guarneri:

    That the US is right of, say, Europe does not make it center right. It makes Europe far left.

    Only if you place Europe within the context of the United States rather than placing the United States in the context of the developed world. That the former makes more sense to you than the latter says more about you than about those you are arguing against.

    Also, the description of the US is a function of the definition of nation.

    The first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club.

    A county map of the nation is overwhelmingly red, with scattered and concentrated blue pockets in urban centers.

    Why do you care more about the rights of land than the rights of people? Do you think we should apportion political power by acreage rather than population?

    It’s interesting that those big city pockets are also overwhelmingly dysfunctional and broke. See Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland ……….g

    Some of those big cities are dysfunctional, others are the primary drivers of our national economy. The San Francisco metropolitan area (including the South Bay) contributes far more to the intellectual and economic capital of this country than any of those big swaths of red. The same can be said about the New York and other metro areas, somewhat ironically including Chicago. How big are your ideological blinders that you can’t seem to see any of this?

  55. al-Ameda says:

    Liberals dismiss those who live I. Rural areas as “goobers” (as mentioned up thread). And liberals play in fears as much as republicans it’s just they fear different things. After all it wasn’t the GOP trying to stir it’s base up with threats of Ferguson or lynchings.

    Fine, but you left out “flyover country” too.

    Jeez, Republicans and conservatives wallow in resentment and self-victimization. If it isn’t the “mainstream media” it’s “liberal teachers” or “unions.”

    Also, I don’t recall Democrats stirring up the base with threats of Ferguson or lynchings.

  56. DrDaveT says:

    @Guarneri:

    It makes Europe far left.

    Addressed by others above, and probably a troll anyway, but just for kicks:

    Collectivist states in Europe: 0
    Fully socialized states in Europe: 1 (Sweden)
    Executive monarchies and/or unelected legislative bodies in Europe: 3
    Constitutional monarchies in Europe: ~8
    State religions in Europe: 14+ (*)

    Far left my ass. Get a clue.

    (*) Alsace-Moselle was not a part of France when the Concordat was abrogated, so it remains in force there, privileging Judaism and three flavors of Christianity over other religions.

  57. Just Me says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I know nothing about this blog but it does have pictures of the fliers mailed in NC and Georgia.

    http://www.crewof42.com/cbc-2/will-this-ferguson-flyer-motivate-black-vote-in-georgia-gotv/

  58. al-Ameda says:

    @Just Me:

    @al-Ameda:
    I know nothing about this blog but it does have pictures of the fliers mailed in NC and Georgia.

    Localized to be sure. Widespread? Doubt it.
    Other than following the Ferguson story the same as everyone else (unavoidable) I did not associate Ferguson with anything that could influence elections anywhere but Missouri and near St Louis.

  59. Tony W says:

    So voters want a higher minimum wage, legal pot, abortion access and GOP representation. Ok then.— Ben Casselman (@bencasselman) November 5, 2014

  60. KansasMom says:

    @humanoid.panda: And that’s only because so many other red states refused expansion. Can you imagine the numbers had Mississippi or Texas exercised this option?

  61. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You don’t say.

  62. Guarneri says:

    Don’t worry folks. The anger and hurt will go away in awhile, but 54 won’t. Sorry.

    Now you can go back to stroking each other. I’ll be back later to see if your excuses have changed at all.

  63. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Republicans are the Party of Fear. Afraid of black people, communists, immigrants, Europeans, gays, socialists, Honduran children at the border, ISIS and ebola.

    Michael, I actually disagree here. I think Republicans are the party of “Mine”. They are afraid of blacks to the extent that they believe all blacks are muggers. They are afraid of communism because they think it would involve redistribution of their wealth to the less-fortunate. (Bizarrely, even poor white Republicans believe this.) They are anti-gay until an immediate family member is gay, at which point they experience Road to Damascus-like insight. They are afraid of immigrants because they think they’re going to be asked to share with them, and lack the imagination to understand that immigrants create more economic growth and value in the medium to long term than they consume in the short term.

    If you think of most Republicans as 4-year-olds, you’re 80% of the way there. The other 20% are split pretty evenly between the blind ideologues who can’t quite grasp that the world doesn’t work the way they want it to, and the purely self-interested wealthy who don’t care what happens to anyone else.

    (I couldn’t agree more with your characterization of Democrats as ineffectually and ineptly trying to do the right thing.)

  64. DrDaveT says:

    @Guarneri:

    Don’t worry folks. The anger and hurt will go away in awhile

    See, this is the fundamental difference between us. I have no emotional investment in this at all — I’m not angry, I’m not hurt. It’s not about me.

    And, more importantly, nothing has changed with regard to Congress’s ability to screw the US. They’re no more nor less likely to successfully pass idiot legislation than they were before. Sadly, they’re no more nor less likely to successfully pass good legislation, either. We’ll be treading water for two years. After that, who knows.

  65. C. Clavin says:

    @Guarneri:
    You’re so cute.
    The Republicans in 09 left a colossal, historical level, shit-storm in their wake…but now they have won a few Senate seats…and you are so damned pleased.
    Funny…

  66. michael reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The GOP’s numbers improved with ISIS and ebola. Fear. And their go-to political ad is a Willie Horton style attack which isn’t about greed but tribalism. And racial hatred in this country predates even the earliest glimmers of a tax-supported social safety net. When whites in Tulsa rioted and burned down the Greenwood District in 1921, killing as many as 300 black people, they weren’t worried about paying taxes, they were upset that blacks were becoming successful in their own ghetto. They feared blacks becoming independent. Jim Crow ensured that those black businesses were not attracting white trade.

    You also can’t pin ebola terror or ISIS paranoia or hysteria over Sharia law being imposed in Alabama on greed per se.

    But it’s almost a distinction without a difference. Frightened people gather their goods about them and snarl at everyone else.

    I think it’s about greed at the upper levels – the Goldman Sachs level. But down at the level of our pet conservatives here it’s about fear of the other, and fear of a loss of relative prestige. People at the lower levels are terrified they’ll lose their sole claim to superiority. They tell themselves they aren’t really so low down because after all, at least they’re white, or white men, or white straight men.

  67. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @James Joyner: So, in essence, your comment is just another example of moving the goalposts? Thanks!! That just what we need now!

    Next up…is Hilary the Antichrist?

  68. anjin-san says:

    @Guarneri:

    The anger and hurt will go away in awhile

    Is that really what you think? I’m not angry, and I’m not hurt. I think we are getting the government we deserve. Most Americans are far more worried about celebrity gossip than public policy.

  69. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @C. Clavin: I can see that I need to rethink my disdain for Rush and Laura. They are absolutely right! The new Republicans shouldn’t govern and bipartisan leadership is exactly the wrong direction for the new leadership to go! Well done!

  70. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Grewgills: I’m not always sure that they want to move to urban areas as much as it is the reality of opportunity relative to the rural areas in which they live. Some number of years ago, I was teaching in a small town in the Cascades, Cle Elum (pop. about 3000). The kids in the high school who were talking most about the need to go to university or community college and get an education were doing so in this context, “well, my parents don’t own a business, so I really have to leave because there’s no future for me here.”

  71. John425 says:

    @DrDaveT: Your projections of Democrat tools onto Republicans suggest penis envy. Grow up!

  72. MarkedMan says:

    I don’t think the issue is left versus right and finding the magic point on that spectrum. It’s that people expect completely different things from Republicans and Democrats. Democrats are expected to understand and solve complex problems. Republicans are for telling “those” people off and putting them in their place. So there is no disconnect between people voting Republican but preferring Democratic policies. When people vote for Republicans they aren’t voting policies, they are voting their desire to give “those” people a piece of their minds,

  73. Grewgills says:

    I am somehow reminded of this.

  74. wr says:

    @anjin-san: ” Most Americans are far more worried about celebrity gossip than public policy.”

    I won’t be able to decide whether that’s a true statement until I see what Kim Kardashian says on the subject.

  75. rodney dill says:

    @C. Clavin:

    hate and fear

    Seems to be the core tactic in most of your ramblings.

  76. george says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I don’t think the issue is left versus right and finding the magic point on that spectrum.

    I don’t even think most people’s political beliefs can be accurately mapped on a one dimensional graph (ie a linear spectrum). Its like looking at say the Mona Lisa and trying to decide where it fits on the color spectrum (is it more red shifted or more blue shifted than say The Last Supper, and if it were shifted along the spectrum would that make it better).