Fantasies of a Post-Trump Republican Party

The GOP will almost certainly survive. But in what form?

An unnamed “top Republican” who is “close to” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says he and other “Senate institutional loyalists” see the impending impeachment as an opportunity to stage a “counterrevolution” against Trump. Leaving aside the sheer cynicism of waiting until after things got so out of hand that a violent mob literally stormed the Capitol, it’s not obvious how that would even work.

Let’s posit for the sake of argument that there are enough “institutional loyalists” to remove Trump. That would be a great start and at least ensure Trump himself wouldn’t be the nominee in 2024. (Although I think that’s unlikely, anyway, given his age and health and the fact that he now has the stink of a loser on him.)

But then what?

Unless we dispense with primaries, we’re still left with a nominating electorate fed lies by Fox News, Newsmax, Rush Limbaugh, and the like. They’re unlikely to nominate Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, Lisa Murkowski, or any of those who are seen as disloyal to Trump.

Thomas Friedman isn’t all that helpful in his vision:

My No. 1 wish for America today is for this Republican Party to fracture, splitting off the principled Republicans from the unprincipled Republicans and Trump cultists. That would be a blessing for America for two reasons.

First, because it could actually end the gridlock in Congress and enable us to do some big things on infrastructure, education and health care that would help ALL Americans — not the least those in Trump’s camp, who are there precisely because they feel ignored, humiliated and left behind.

If just a few principled center-right Republicans, like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, abandoned this G.O.P. or were simply willing to work with a center-left Biden team, the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House and like-minded members in the Senate — the people who got the recent stimulus bill passed — would become stronger than ever. That’s how we start to dial down the madness coursing through our nation and get us back to seeing each other as fellow citizens, not enemies.

Second, if the principled Republicans split from the Trump cult, the rump pro-Trump G.O.P. would have a very hard time winning a national election anytime soon. And given what we’ve just seen, these Trumpers absolutely cannot be trusted with power again.

The problem with that, of course, is that it would be the “principled Republicans,” not the Trumpists, who would be the “rump.” All of the polling indicates that Trump is very, very popular among GOP partisans. But, if enough “principled Republicans” exist to deny an election to the Trumpists, all that means is Democrats will win every election.

That may well suit Friedman just fine but it’s really hard to organize an opposition party around the idea of being a spoiler. And, indeed, after several paragraphs ranting about how awful the Trumpers have been for the country, he admits as much:

If you look closely, there are actually four different Republican factions today: principled conservatives, cynically tactical conservatives, unprincipled conservatives and Trump cultists. In the principled conservatives camp, I’d put Romney and Murkowski. They are the true America firsters. While animated by conservative ideas about small government and free markets, they put country and Constitution before party and ideology. They are rule-abiders.

In the cynically tactical conservative camp, which you could call the Mitch McConnell camp, I’d put all of those who tried to humor Trump for a while — going along with his refusal to acknowledge the election results until “all the legal votes were counted” — but once the Electoral College votes were cast by each state, slid into the reality-based world and confirmed Biden’s victory, some sooner than others.

“I call them the ‘rule-benders,'” explained pollster Craig Charney. “They are ready to bend the rules but not break them.”

The unprincipled Republicans — the “rule-breakers” in Charney’s lingo — are led by Hawley and Cruz, along with the other seditious senators and representatives who tried to get Congress to block its ceremonial confirmation of Biden’s election.

Finally, there are the hard-core Trump cultists and QAnon conspiracy types, true believers in and purveyors of the Big Lie.

I just don’t see how these four camps stay together. And for America’s sake, I hope they don’t.

Now, this represents the Party-in-Government but doesn’t necessarily align with the Party-in-the-Electorate. Historically, the fringe types—the cultists and conspiracists—simply didn’t vote. But they certainly seem to be a rather big influence on who gets nominated these days, mobilized by figures like Trump and Hawley and fed a steady diet of red meat from their preferred media outlets.

Regardless, a Republican Party consisting of all four factions is a minority party, kept viable only by an antiquated Constitution and its undemocratic institutions (most notably, the Senate and Electoral College), gerrymandering, and voter suppression. While I would absolutely like to see a moderate-to-conservative opposition party emerge, I just don’t know where it would come from or what it would look like.

Friedman goes full Pundit’s Fallacy in his close:

But Democrats will have a say in this, too. This is their best opportunity in years to get some support from center-right Republicans. Be smart: Ban the phrase “defund the police.” Talk instead about “better policing,” which everyone can get behind. Instead of “democratic socialism,” talk about “more just and inclusive capitalism.” And tone down the politically correct cancel culture on college campuses and in newsrooms. While it’s not remotely in the league of those trying to cancel a whole election, it’s still corrosive.

I know, it looks real dark right now. But if you look at the diverse, high-quality center-left cabinet that Biden has assembled and the principled, center-right Republicans who are looking to be problem solvers, not Trump soldiers, maybe that light in the tunnel isn’t a train coming at us after all.

So, I’m mostly pleased with Biden’s cabinet picks thus far. With the exception of my concerns about the civil-military relations implications of picking yet another recently retired general to lead the Defense Department, I’m particularly happy with his national security picks. Frankly, he’ll have more opposition from the left of his own party than from conservatives on them.

But the Democratic Party isn’t going to shed its progressive wing or even shut them up. Nor should they. They have to have a home and a vehicle for floating big ideas, sanding off the rough edges, and evolving the party’s message.

And you can’t build an opposition party around a faction of an already-minority party whose membership, apparently, consists entirely of Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski.

History tells us the Republican Party will survive and ultimately win elections again. Our electoral system forces us to have only two viable parties. Yes, the Whigs died off and were replaced by the Republicans. Back in 1860. That was 160 years ago. And we’ve built a lot of legal strictures into the system since then to make it next to impossible for an alternative party to emerge.

But damned if I know what it looks like.

The Republican Party and the conservative movement built a series of think tanks, societies, journals and the like to generate new ideas way back in the 1960s and 1970s. It took decades for the Democrats and liberals/progressives to catch up. But the GOP/conservative institutions are mostly dead at this point, co-opted by grifters. The ideology that got Reagan elected in 1980–40 years ago—has either been enacted, rendered obsolete, or both. And there doesn’t seem a replacement in sight.

FILED UNDER: 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. Scott says:

    Let’s face it. The Republican Party today is the political heir of George Wallace. It is the party of guns, abortion, and grievance. There really are no other fungible principles. Economic and political philosophy seems to be totally situational. I don’t see how it survives without a memory wipe.

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  2. An Interested Party says:

    I don’t see how it survives without a memory wipe.

    It survives because all of those people who worry about guns, abortion, and grievance have nowhere else to go…

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  3. MarkedMan says:

    And you can’t build an opposition party around a faction of an already-minority party whose membership, apparently, consists entirely of Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski.

    This is the entire problem in a nutshell. I suspect the best we can hope for is a “Californication” of the Republican Party. The extremists gain more and more control of a smaller and smaller party. The Dems will gain more and more moderates and the battle will be waged within that Party for next half dozen election cycles. But eventually a faction will split off and form a new party or take over the carcass of the Republican Party and whatever infrastructure and institutional authority remains.

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  4. SKI says:

    The Republican Party and the conservative movement built a series of think tanks, societies, journals and the like to generate new ideas way back in the 1960s and 1970s. It took decades for the Democrats and liberals/progressives to catch up. But the GOP/conservative institutions are mostly dead at this point, co-opted by grifters. The ideology that got Reagan elected in 1980–40 years ago—has either been enacted, rendered obsolete, or both. And there doesn’t seem a replacement in sight.

    This is mostly true.

    The only problem is the belief that what got Reagan elected was ideology that was comprised of “new ideas”. From kicking off in Philadelphia, Mississippi to all the talk of “Big Bucks” and “Welfare Queens”, a large portion of Reagan’s promise and electability was the same white grievance we see now. The principal difference is the composition of the country and the electorate.

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  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    After Romney’s defeat in 12, the R think tanks did indeed come up with policy suggestions that conceivably kept the relevant, but they were ignored, both by the establishment and the rabble, the came Trump. Now the party is in a deep hole.

    Before last week, a Hawley or a Cruz or a Cotton, could have captured a significant part of Trump’s base and kept enough of the suburban R’s voting for them to win the presidency, but no longer. While Cotton may still be able to keep the suburbs, he won’t keep the Trump base and Hawley and Cruz will send the suburbanites into the arms of any Dem not named AOC.

    Kevin Williamson made the point the other day, that party and governmental leadership, always emanates from the establishment and there is truth to that. The question becomes who will be the R establishment?

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  6. drj says:

    @Scott:

    Let’s face it. The Republican Party today is the political heir of George Wallace. It is the party of guns, abortion, and grievance.

    @SKI:

    From kicking off in Philadelphia, Mississippi to all the talk of “Big Bucks” and “Welfare Queens”, a large portion of Reagan’s promise and electability was the same white grievance we see now.

    While this is true, it also frames the problem too narrowly, I think.

    I believe that the key problem is that the GOP and conservatism have become increasingly disconnected from reality. It’s not just white grievance, it’s also trickle-down economics, climate denialism, the notion that an embryo is a already a full human being, etc.

    And if reality is no longer a constraint, then there is basically nothing to stop ideological drift. It now becomes possible to move as far to the right (or left) as you want. Who cares that shit makes no sense anymore? As long as you can get the primary votes, nothing else matters. Governance is for suckers.

    Basically, the only solution is to start caring for the truth again and to reconnect with reality.

    But, for that to work, it will be necessary to cut loose Fox News and all the other peddlers of blatant nonsense.

    Unfortunately, I’m not too certain about the practical feasibility of this.

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  7. Scott F. says:

    Historically, the fringe types—the cultists and conspiracists—simply didn’t vote. But they certainly seem to be a rather big influence on who gets nominated these days, mobilized by figures like Trump and Hawley and fed a steady diet of red meat from their preferred media outlets.

    If the ‘fringe types’ have such influence, they aren’t all that ‘fringe.’ The question is how do you get these people to simply not vote once again.

    You start with leaders who are not willing to go after their votes. Until Republican leaders start being straight with these people and stop exploiting their gullibility, the ‘fringe’ will continue to be the base. It’s got to start with the return of realistic promises based on established facts and evidence. None of the factions of the Party-in-Government appear capable of that straight talk, except maybe Romney. So, the Republican Party is going to have to die before it can be reborn.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Re-reading my post, I realized I wasn’t clear on the timeline. The California Republican Party has already become so extreme it has effectively taken itself out of power. My guess is that we are 10 years or so from someone either successfully forming a new opposition party there or resurrecting the corpse of the Republicans.

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  9. JohnSF says:

    I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that the fundamental problem of reconstructing a right-of-centre party, whether Republican or a split or a new party, lies in the American “open” party system.

    In European political systems the parties are private organisations. People sign up for membership, usually on a contributory basis. The can be expelled for breaches of party rules and discipline.
    Only party members select their candidates (in fact the candidates may be pretty much nominated by the party HQ, but that’s another matter).

    The difference being, parties structured this way can resist a take-over. For instance, the UK Labour Party several times in the past purged communists/trotskyites and the UK Conservatives have occasionally expelled fascists, and recently booted a number of anti_Brexit rebel MP’s.

    Absent something like this, what is to prevent a swam of MAGA-types taking over any successor, even one that starts out as explicitly against them?
    I’ve read plenty of criticism of the Republican’s being open to racist in the post-CRA era; but how could they have stopped them?
    Honest question BTW: is their any mechanism in American politics that could have stopped them?

    🙂 (But not funny) – What would prevent a swarm of party-less Trumpkins taking over the Democrats in a “Red” state?

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  10. KM says:

    Yet again, one of the solutions offered for conservatives unhappy with their party’s direction is that “Dems should change to please GOP voters”. Why can’t folks like Friedman understand the party isn’t going to change direction that pleases a good portion of it’s existing base to tempt someone into possibly maybe kinda drifting in their general direction? Imagine the sheer entitlement mentality it takes to expect a party to alter their principles that millions hold so you personally can find it easier to justify jumping off a rotten and sinking ship.

    I’m truly sorry so many voters are finding themselves to be so morally weak that they cannot abandon a toxic environment without pre-polluting a new one. It’s the equivalent of wanting to take shelter in someone’s home during a natural disaster only to demand the home owner renovate to their tastes and start serving food the host abhors before they’ll consider honoring the host with their presence. Ummm, how about no? You’re the one seeking shelter so why should the host have to change? There are plenty of liberals who aren’t always 100% with the brand (liberals own guns, too!) but they vote Dem because the other choice is the greater of two evils. If you can’t bring yourself to abandon the GOP after all this nonsense because you’re butthurt over “cancel culture”, than you’re not as different from the raging MAGAts as you’d like to believe.

    Take a deep breath conservatives and go stare in the mirror. Self-awareness isn’t always kind to you but it’s necessary for growth and healing. A huge part of the problem and reason why Trump was able to do this is because you prioritize your fees-fees over facts. We got a truly outstanding example of what a defunded police officer, trained to not shoot on sight looked like on Jan 6th. Eugene Goodman gave us a master class in how officers in fear of the lives should act and still be in control of a dangerous situation. “Cancel culture” is proving to be necessary to stop violence from domestic terrorists. Giving money directly to the populace instead of business or rich to trickle down is keeping people alive during a pandemic. Science-based facts like mask policies and vaccines are what’s keeping this country afloat in a sea of COVID deaths. Liberal policies *work* and do not need to be renamed or nerfed because they bother your delicate sensibilities.

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  11. JohnSF says:

    edit

  12. Kathy says:

    I may be wrong, but I think what Mitch really fears is the thing I hope: defections.

    I don’t see any seating GOP senator going over to the Democratic side, but a few might declares themselves independents and caucus with the Democrats. namely Romney and Murkowski, possibly Collins and Sasse.

    Why? To begin with disgust with Trump and their party for enabling him. Romney and Murkowski have their own base in their states, and seem rather secure no matter what they run as. Plus they’d be more likely to land choice committee assignments by joining the victorious opposition.

    Collins is more of a fair weather fiend, but she represents a blue state. I don’t see a downside. I’m less knowledgeable about Sasse, beyond the fact he’s been critical of El Cheeto Mas Pendejo.

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  13. Pete S says:

    @KM:

    I try to imagine someone spending 40 years with a crazy spouse, enabling them the whole time, then one day saying “well that person is too crazy for me” and demanding that the next door neighbour who has been the target of much of the craziness over the years change to be more attractive to them. And the Republicans who do this honestly seem surprised to be met with laughter or hostility.

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  14. gVOR08 says:

    Friedman will get a clue in six months.

    What would change if Trump died tomorrow? As @drj: says, GOPs are still the party of white grievance, pro-corporate and pro-plutocrat econ, AGW denial, and reproductive slavery. Would AEI, Heritage, the Federalist Society, Heartland, the Club for Growth (sic), Americans for Tax “Reform”, and all the rest go away? Will Adelson (Miriam), Chuckles Koch, Mercer, and all the rest stop funding them? They’re still a party driven by corporate and wealthy funders dependent on faux populism to get votes. And FOX “News”, WSJ, and all the rest (except Rush Limbaugh) will still be there to foster a bizarro world view and foment every possible social division.

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  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: I confess about all I know about Ben Sasse is that he wrote a book about character. Every time I happened to see it I got a chuckle over the concept of a Republican giving advice on character.

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My No. 1 wish for America today is for this Republican Party to fracture, splitting off the principled Republicans from the unprincipled Republicans and Trump cultists.

    Hey Tom, I guess you didn’t notice that the last 3 principled Republicans left the party 4 years ago.

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  17. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    I don’t follow European politics closely, but wouldn’t today’s Democratic party qualify as center-right by European standards?

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  18. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Was it next to Stormy Daniels’ book on Chastity?

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  19. drj says:

    @Kathy:

    I don’t follow European politics closely, but wouldn’t today’s Democratic party qualify as center-right by European standards?

    That’s the wrong way to think about it. All political parties are, to some extent, coalitions. But in a two-party system the coalitions are much, much broader than in a multi-party system.

    In a country like Germany, for instance, Bernie Sanders would be left. But Joe Manchin would be even farther to the right than center-right.

    But it’s Joe Manchin, much more than Bernie Sanders, who decides what legislation is going to happen and what isn’t.

    So what the Democractic party can achieve in real political terms is sometimes not even what Europeans would consider center-right. On the other hand, people like Sanders and AOC are definitely left, rather than center-left.

    To summarize: it’s different.

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  20. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    Broad span. A lot of Democrats would qualify as centre to somewhat right of centre, depending on who you pick and what metrics you use.
    You could surely find a fair number of Dems who would be on the right of say, the German CDU, or Macron’s LREM.
    A lot of old style liberal British Conservatives would pretty certainly be more at home among mainstream Dems than GOP.

    But then, most of the mainstream Dems would, I think, fit in pretty well on the “right” side of a mainstream left party; Joe Biden and Tony Blair would match up fairly well I think. Or with our LibDems.

    The difference being the mainstream Labour/SPD etc. are generally more comfortable with state intervention, state run welfare, redistribution.etc.

    But it seems to me that the left/progressive wing of the Dems is relatively small compared to the left wing of Labour etc.
    Also, American Dem left seems (could be mistaken this is just my impression) to focus more on “identity” issues and foreign policy, compared to European left focus on economic issues and some relatively radical policies compared to Dem left.
    Understandable difference in some ways: Europe does not have the same weight of a legacy in regard of racial justice, or the repeated overseas warfare since 1945 that goes with being a Superpower.

    4
  21. JohnSF says:

    @drj:
    Ah yes, Joe Manchin I was trying to think of! The WV senator, isn’t he?
    He’d slot right in on the left of the UK Conservative; on some issues on the right of the UK Conservatives!

    1
  22. JohnSF says:

    @JohnSF:
    @drj:
    Except maybe re. unions?
    I don’t know if Manchin is a pro-union guy, but if so that would pretty much rule him out of UK Cons.

  23. drj says:

    @JohnSF:

    I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that the fundamental problem of reconstructing a right-of-centre party, whether Republican or a split or a new party, lies in the American “open” party system.

    In the US, there are all kinds of restrictions on ballot access for third parties. It varies per state, but geting on the ballot can be a real problem.

    The combination of restricted ballot access and a European-style “closed” party system would be an absolute disaster for representativeness (and democracy in general).

    1
  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    Republican ideas were nonsense long before Trump. The small government mantra is simply ridiculous in the 21st century, there is not a single example, ever, anywhere, of libertarianism working in the real world. Lower taxes do not yield prosperity. Having no minimum wage? Cutting workplace safety rules becuz profit? Killing environmental laws because freedom? Federalism? Hah! It’s all just nonsense. I don’t mean the Trump grievance culture, I mean that core conservatism is nonsense. There is no there, there.

    So-called principled conservatism was never a real thing outside of think tanks. It was always horseshit, a thin veneer of propaganda meant to appeal to intellectuals, badly glued over sheer, unprincipled greed. The GOP has relied on the racist vote since 1968. They still do. They have nowhere else to go. So, good for Lyn Cheney and Mitt Romney, but their alleged principles are papier maché, which is why the GOP was so easily beguiled by even more ludicrous lies. Reality isn’t just hostile to Trump cultists, it’s hostile to conservatism.

    Basically liberals won. And we won because we were right. We were right about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps. We were right about civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, trans rights. We were right about about the environment. If not right about every iteration, we were right about the need for a regulated capitalism. We were right about long hair, rock and roll, cursing and Vietnam. We were right about the minimum wage and unions. We were right about abortion. We were even right about porn and marijuana. We’ve won on the vast majority of issues because the 21st Century and Liberalism work just fine together.

    I hope the Reagan refugees cobble together a party. We need a relatively sane opposition – even when you’re right it’s important to have someone asking questions. But let’s not kid ourselves that the Cheneys and Romneys actually have anything to peddle but discredited b.s..

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  25. Michael Cain says:

    Tom Friedman has obviously never thought seriously about setting up a viable political party. Enormous state-by-state effort is required. The Libertarian Party has made the most serious run at it outside of the Democrats and the Republicans. Some years they get their presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC; some years they don’t. They don’t usually get House and Senate candidates on the ballot for every seat that’s up. Their coverage for governors and state legislatures is very spotty.

    The Colorado Republican Party was dominant 20 years ago. Not now, and it shows — they seem to miss some of the necessary state and county filings on a near-regular basis.

    1
  26. drj says:

    @JohnSF:

    Manchin is pretty pro-unions.

    But US labor unions are a different beast compared to UK unions, which are – without exception, I believe – pretty far to the left.

    In the US, labor unions are more about workers’ rights at a specific shop than about class solidarity.

    2
  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    Romney and Murkowski have their own base in their states,

    The reality is that any Republican who votes for impeachment is going to need to attract enough Dems and Independents to make up for the total loss of Trumpers. It’s an interesting question in how they would do that.

  28. mattbernius says:

    Nitpick, but this sticks out:

    History tells us the Republican Party will survive and ultimately win elections again.

    They are winning elections right now. The idea that the Republican part, which has electoral trifectas in 23! States, is “losing” in any substantive way other than with the Presidency, is patently absurd.

    And because of that control, we are already seeing them using legislative efforts to ensure that voting rights, proportional representation, and voting access will continue to be curtailed in order to maintain that control in states that are trending Purple. That’s before we get to the structural advantages they have in the Senate (and the ruthlessness of McConnell when it comes to exploiting norms and Senate rules).

    The reality is that they will continue to be the minority-Majority party for decades to come.

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  29. R. Dave says:

    Honest question, but how did the Democratic Party keep a lid on the increasingly radical (and often violent) left wing coming out of the 60s and early 70s? I mean, acknowledging that the symbolism of storming the Capitol was uniquely awful, the frequency and degree of political violence in the tail end of that era era dwarfed anything we’ve seen so far today – we’re talking hundreds, even thousands of bombings a year by leftist groups in the worst period, not to mention the “race riots” and near-constant mass protests with all the petty vandalism and police skirmishes that went with them. How did that all just fade away, so to speak, and how did the Democrats avoid becoming the party of the radical left rump?

    3
  30. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: I’ve been reading the NYT for 20 something years. I stopped reading Friedman 20 something years ago, around the same time I stopped reading the vapid Maureen Dowd. I could probably write a Thomas Friedman column.

    “I was talking to a taxi driver in Tuscaloosa yesterday who said you know what we really need is a third-party, a fusion party for moderate, common-sense ideas like I support…”

    Those two, and David Brooks, and briefly Bill Kristol, turned me off the concept of permanent opinion columnists. Although K-thug and Charles Blow are pretty good…

    I do miss Molly Ivins.

    6
  31. Michael Cain says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The small government mantra is simply ridiculous in the 21st century,

    I have offered the small government people free advice: most voters who say they favor “small” government really mean that they favor “simple” government. Reduce layers; reduce overlap; improve service. As an example, I point out the number of programs that the federal government has for buying health insurance/care: Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, Tri-Care, the ACA health exchange subsidies, Indian Health Service, employer health insurance share for millions of federal employees direct and indirect. Pick one. Offer to let states, counties, and cities participate and get the same volume discount.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF:

    old style liberal British Conservatives

    Love the phrase. 😀 Has a Zen koan quality to it that’s just breathtaking. Good job!

    3
  33. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve seen various attempts at characterizing the Republican coalition, Friedman’s four way taxonomy: principled, cynical, unprincipled, and cultist is particularly unhelpful. It seems designed for the sole purpose of creating a supposedly respectable class for Romney and Murkowski. (Which fails even my minimal test for claims of the existence of moderate Republicans – name three.) I told a commenter at TAC yesterday that I’d steal his more useful description of Republicans,

    a coalition of the clinical and cynical

    3
  34. Sleeping Dog says:

    @R. Dave:

    Honest question, but how did the Democratic Party keep a lid on…

    They didn’t. Nixon won in 68 and crushed McGovern in 72. The party was fortunate that Nixon was a crook and the public blamed the Rs for him and Ford’s pardon. Yes in the 60’s and 70’s they managed to keep the House and Senate, but that was in part due to the existence of Dixiecrats, but most of the liberal legislation was a coalition of northern Dems and Rockefeller Rs.

    A big factor was that House and Senate elections hinged on local issues, but that changed with Gingrich and the Contract with America, that effectively nationalized legislative elections. Add to that the death of local newspapers and the demise of local ownership of TV and radio stations…, plus the advent of cable news.

    7
  35. Andy says:

    Putting on my analyst hat for a minute:

    Politics abhors a vacuum. A situation where a significant portion of the public has no political representation is simply not sustainable. Given that, there are a few possibilities for how this might resolve itself:

    – Violence and civil war. Historically this is what happens when political communities come to believe they have no opportunity or stake or voice in the current political system. If half the country has no effective political representation for an extended period, the historical result is almost always violence. Obviously, this is the least desirable outcome, but it’s also the least likely in my view.

    – Democrats cement a broad-based coalition. In this scenario, the Democratic party sees and seizes the opportunity to slice off a portion of the GoP’s corpse to make a durable majority. The GoP would then become a semi-permanent minority rump party. This is, essentially, how things were in the middle of the 20th century. But this is unlikely to happen today because, unlike the old party system, there is no party apparatus or anything resembling the centralized party control that existed back then. No smoke-filled rooms, no party bosses making deals and keeping the various party factions playing nice together. Parties today, to include the Democratic party, exist more as brands than coherent political organizations. Without leadership and a central organization with actual authority over party members, the Democratic party is simply unable to expand its tent and grab moderate voters. No faction in the party wants to make the necessary ideological compromises to make that happen and there’s no leadership to manage or maintain it. And a lot of Democrats seem to believe (probably correctly) that enough voters will pull the lever for them due being the “lesser evil.” In some ways, this is a better outcome for them as it gets them votes (and power) without having to make much effort to appeal to those voters or actually represent their interests. It’s one of the perverse incentives in our system, but it is what it is.

    – The GoP dies and is replaced by some other party. In this scenario ex-Republicans choose to build a new party from the ground up which eventually displaces the GoP. This is unlikely for a number of reasons, but primarily because our political system has, over time, institutionalized the two parties that exist today. Both parties have long sought to build barriers in the political system at all levels of government to limit competition from upstarts and these measures are quite effective.

    – The GoP eventually reforms. I think this is the most likely scenario. It may take a decade or more (maybe less), but eventually, the half of Americans that don’t align with the Democratic party will get tired of losing and form a viable alternative to the Democrats. We should also remember that we have a federal system and that not all politics is national, even though that’s what we seem to exclusively discuss here – as if it’s the only thing or the only thing that matters. The reality is that the parties are still competing at the state and local level and will continue to do so. The national GoP is a wreck, but the state and local GoP isn’t getting destroyed by Trump. In my estimation, that is where national-level GoP reform will come from, as a new crop of politicians starts to enter national politics. What that will result in is anyone’s guess.

    Of course, the GoP doesn’t exist in a vacuum and what the Democrats do with their current advantage can change the board substantially. For example, if the Democrats swing away from the mainstream or overreach, then that is likely to hasten the closure of rifts in the American right and hasten the rise of a politically competitive GoP.

    5
  36. JohnSF says:

    @drj:
    UK unions vary; leadership definitely trends left because the left tend to have the required enthusiasm.
    But generally they tend to back the Labour Party leadership regardless.

    The RMT is about the only exception I can think of; they affiliated to the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition; but they’re still also affilliated to the Labour Representation Committee within the Labour Party (Labour/Union politics is both odd and complicated at times.)

    UNITE under McCluskey is firmly on the left of Labour, was a bulwark of Corbyn.

    But most are primarily concerned with their members benefits more than anything else

  37. drj says:

    @R. Dave:

    Honest question, but how did the Democratic Party keep a lid on the increasingly radical (and often violent) left wing coming out of the 60s and early 70s?

    Democratic primary voters didn’t want to go there.

    The reason that Republican primary voters went where they did, is because of Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.

    Radio Symbionese Liberation Army was never syndicated…

    10
  38. Teve says:

    @drj:

    I believe that the key problem is that the GOP and conservatism have become increasingly disconnected from reality. It’s not just white grievance, it’s also trickle-down economics, climate denialism, the notion that an embryo is a already a full human being, etc.

    The speech that it would take to get me to take a second look at the GOP:

    My fellow Americans, I have been in consultation with the other major GOP leaders, and we’ve decided to come clean on some shit. First, giving rich people all the money doesn’t trickle down to you, it just gives rich people more money. Duh. Second, of course putting carbon in the air is causing global warming, do you know why we’ve been pretending it doesn’t? Exxon made $255 billion in revenue last year. We’re surprised you haven’t figured that one out by now. I never thought you’d believe that all the scientists in the world were engaged in a global conspiracy while Exxon is the paragon of truth. I owe Tom DeLay 50 bucks for that one. Creationism? All that abortion crap? The Religious Right needed something after they lost desegregation. Oh you didn’t know that’s what States’ Rights was about? Yeah look it up. That happened. Do you know what happens if I get sick? I’ll get a sweet ride in the hospital while you eat cat food to save up money for those rheumatoid pills. So we’re announcing….”

    6
  39. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Teve:

    Agree on Dowd and Friedman. But I’m only reading Krugman now when he’s writing on economic issues, his political opinion pieces are basically the same with the words rearranged.

    3
  40. drj says:

    @JohnSF:

    I must admit that my image of UK labor unions has mostly been formed by the ’84-’85 miners’ strike.

    Billy Bragg asking which side you are on, etc.

    But that’s 35 years ago…

    2
  41. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Agree. Friedman is formulaic, and the poster boy for the Pundit’s Fallacy. I read Dowd about once a year for the same reason I go afield and read Victor Davis Hanson about once a year, “Still crazy? Yup, still crazy.” I read Brooks and Douthat occasionally just to point and laugh in comments. Blow is good, as is Bouie. Ezra Klein just joined the stable, although his introductory column was disappointing.

    And yes, where is Molly Ivins now that we need her? I sometimes think about what she could do with our current Congress given what she did with the Texas lege.

    1
  42. Teve says:

    @R. Dave: big bidness forming ties with religious preachers goes back to the 1800’s if not earlier. It was going for decades by the time Eisenhower was inviting preachers to prayer meetings. Radical young people in the 60’s were a brief eruption. And for all the cultural coverage, the 60’s didn’t happen everywhere. You hear about Haight-Ashbury but you don’t hear about Opelika Alabama because it was still the 50s there.

    2
  43. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    Let’s consider some specifics. 1) On what issues do you think Democrats could pick up Republican votes? 2) On what issues could Democrats move toward Republicans without alienating their base?

    Because I don’t see answers to either question. I don’t know what issues we’re talking about. I don’t even know what Republican positions are, do you? Aside from tax cuts and racism, what is the GOP?

    14
  44. An Interested Party says:

    Apparently Gym Jordan is upset with Liz Cheney…hardly surprising, considering what a Trump lickspittle Jordan is…

    1
  45. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @R. Dave: IIRC, we kept that from happening because most of us didn’t actually want to destroy the country we were living in. The majority of my generation (that I knew) just wanted to stop getting sent to Vietnam, stop watching blacks being shot & beaten by cops, and (left coast) smoke some ganja without going to prison. Weather Underground, from the ones I knew, were nihilistic, much like the PB/Q crowd strike me (burn, loot, then pillage the ashes). Of course, I could be wrong.

    4
  46. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Let’s consider some specifics. 1) On what issues do you think Democrats could pick up Republican votes? 2) On what issues could Democrats move toward Republicans without alienating their base?

    Yes, it’s pretty obvious the existing base would need to compromise to decisively and durably capture Republican moderates. That is always a requirement to expand any political coalition.

    Yes, the base doesn’t want that to happen and so it will not happen.

    The reason is the Democratic party has no control over the base, unlike the Democratic party of yore in which party leadership had real authority and could make and enforce compromises among the party’s factions. The leadership structures and systems that allowed that to work in the post-FDR party simply do not exist today and no one in the party is interested in building them.

    Given these factors, debating which specific issues the base should compromise on is an irrelevant discussion.

    1
  47. JohnSF says:

    @drj:
    Well, the NUM leadership then were very left.
    But the miners strike was divisive even within the union movement, as well as the Labour Party
    When Bragg asked “which side you are on” a lot of Nottingham and Leicester miners replied “Not yours, mate”, and broke the strike.
    They hated the way the national leadership and the militant regionals had tried to bounce them into a walkout without a ballot, and then tried to enforce it with picketing, still without a ballot.
    Lot of bad blood over it.

  48. Owen says:

    @R. Dave: Not to oversimplify it, but I was always of the opinion that stopping the draft was the greatest contributor to that quieting.

    7
  49. the sheer cynicism of waiting until after things got so out of hand that a violent mob literally stormed the Capitol

    What’s the death of democracy and few people when you get Amy Comey Barrett on the Supreme Court?

    11
  50. Holly says:

    “Our electoral system forces us to have only two viable parties. Yes, the Whigs died off and were replaced by the Republicans. Back in 1860. That was 160 years ago. And we’ve built a lot of legal strictures into the system since then to make it next to impossible for an alternative party to emerge.”

    You’ve said this before and I think even briefly explained it; but can you point me to an in-depth primer on this subject, aimed at someone who has no background in political systems?? If not on this site (maybe you have one and I missed it?), then somewhere else. I would like to better understand why we are stuck with two major parties. TIA.

    1
  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    Given these factors, debating which specific issues the base should compromise on is an irrelevant discussion.

    I think you’re sidestepping, because I don’t think you can name any Republican positions which still have any credibility in 21st century reality. And I would suggest that the things that do come to your mind as GOP issues are too embarrassing for you to want to drag out into public view. Fully-automatic weapons for anyone over the age of 16? Gender-based dress codes? What?

    Seriously. What issues are we talking about? If you can’t name them, Andy, and I can’t name them, maybe it’s because they don’t actually exist.

    But I invite anyone to jump in and tell us all what it is that Republicans believe. Name some issues that Republicans actually believe in that Democrats could compromise on and earn GOP support.

    15
  52. Kathy says:

    @drj:

    That’s the wrong way to think about it.

    Good for me, then. I get to learn something.

  53. Teve says:

    Somebody had an interesting hypothesis the other day, the idea that what made Trump successful was that he was white trash who didn’t have the shame of being working class.

    6
  54. dazedandconfused says:

    The principled and unprincipled will seek to form a majority with Tactical Mitch. They are smart enough to know they must be organized or get nothing. The nut-case wing having no place else to go will revert to what they were before Trump, camp-following gadflies, to whom Mitch must toss a bone every once in awhile.

    I suppose Mitch’s biggest worry should be Trump wild-catting the processes in 2022 and 24. It seems a leap to be to assume impeachment will shut him down. He has demonstrated many times utter contempt for laws and can easily view the legalism of the 14th and/or impeachment as quaint. He may go right on campaigning. He seems addicted to the rallies and cheering crowds.

    It wasn’t the office that gave him his power over the party, it was his support from likely primary voters, his ability to frighten the principled, unprincipled and cynical with primary challenges and/or a general sliming into submission.

    1
  55. Jen says:

    @Holly: Since the two-party system is more a result of our setup, rather than by deliberate design, it’s hard to point to a primer.

    Most “at fault” are two elements of the system as designed: the “first past the post” elections (person with most votes wins, even if not a majority) and the electoral college. Both of those elements reinforce a two-party design, because smaller parties get crushed. In parliamentary systems, anything less than a majority needs to cobble together a coalition. The Electoral College has proven to be particularly pernicious in this, as it prioritizes land over people. You could have a dozen people in Montana and they’d still have three electoral college votes.

    This piece might help: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/10/19/us-democracy-two-party-system-replace-multiparty-republican-democrat/

    1
  56. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Aside from tax cuts and racism, what is the GOP?

    AGW denial. For any other items see their party platform.

    4
  57. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    I was thinking about climate change and wondering what countries, if any, would be helped by climate change. I reasoned a bit and Googled around a bit and it turns out yes: Canada and. . . wait for it. . . Russia.

    A warmer planet means vast new arctic resources for Russia, a new and lucrative northern sea route, increased agricultural potential, damage to US military facilities, and the destabilizing movement of climate refugees from Africa to Europe. AGW is objectively a pro-Russian position. What’s one of the first things Putin’s poodle did on reaching the White House? He canceled the Paris climate accords.

    5
  58. Michael Reynolds says:

    Anti AGW is objectively a pro-Russian position.

    Edit function!

    2
  59. Moosebreath says:

    An interesting interview at Vox with Geoffrey Kabaservice of the Niskasen Center on this topic.

    Kabaservice’s crystal ball: “And even if [the Republican Party] doesn’t split, it is going to divide into those members of Congress who will take the Trump oath, which is to say believing that the election was stolen from Trump, that QAnon is onto something real, and that malign forces are stealing America. And then there’s going to be those others, who may be just as conservative as anyone on the other side — they may be big Trump supporters, or have been in the past — but they simply can’t go along with that. And they see that as a dangerous course. And between those two outlets, there’s actually not much room for common cause.”

    3
  60. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think you’re sidestepping, because I don’t think you can name any Republican positions which still have any credibility in 21st century reality. And I would suggest that the things that do come to your mind as GOP issues are too embarrassing for you to want to drag out into public view. Fully-automatic weapons for anyone over the age of 16? Gender-based dress codes? What?

    I think you are missing the forest for the trees and working at it from the wrong direction.

    Politics is ultimately about people and, in our large, diverse nation, it’s about demographic groups and other coherent political communities. Coalitions are built on these political communities, they are not built on arbitrary policy views, especially ones that are artificially forced into a binary and zero-sum construct. Building or expanding a coalition, therefore, is not primarily about policy calculations that are neatly placed in apothecary drawers with D and R labels on them.

    People and political communities are way more complicated than that. A binary view of policy choices does not neatly or accurately template onto the diversity of American views. More importantly, policy isn’t about what you claim you believe, it’s about how you prioritize those beliefs and the means you choose to achieve them. None of that fits into the narrow construct where there are only Republican and Democratic “positions” and never the twain shall meet.

    Therefore, a rational approach to expanding a political coalition doesn’t begin with identifying which specific policy or positions you have to jettison, as you’re suggesting. It begins by looking at groups of voters who are closest to where your party already is and then figuring out what it might take to appeal to those voters over the long term. You might get some of them with better messaging. You might get some of them by changing the priority or emphasis of the policies or positions your party already supports. It might simply be just a matter of taking their concerns seriously, showing some empathy, and making a commitment to try to address their concerns. Rarely does it require this binary policy choice you’re trying to make.

    Here’s a real-world example. In the 2016 election, there were approximately 5-6 million voters who voted for Trump in 2016 but voted for Obama in 2012. Why did that happen? Who were they and what motivated them? How does your view of binary, zero-sum “Republican” and “Democratic” positions explain that? This is something I’ve brought up here many times over the years and the response was consistently along the lines of, “they voted for Trump, fuck em.”

    And this is where I think our fundamental disagreement is. It’s difficult to see how one can conceive of expanding a political coalition when the starting assumption is that everyone who didn’t vote the way you wanted, or who doesn’t hold your political views, is a traitor. That seems to be where you are at and from that perspective, I can see how your logic does dictate the notion that everything is binary and zero-sum, and therefore no compromise is possible.

    10
  61. MarkedMan says:

    @Pete S: Well put. If you don’t mind, I’m gonna steal this from you.

  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Molly would slaughter Paxton and Abbott. Damn I miss her.

    2
  63. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    Politics abhors a vacuum. A situation where a significant portion of the public has no political representation is simply not sustainable. Given that, there are a few possibilities for how this might resolve itself

    Except, this is what happens in America all the time. Are Democrats in Utah represented? Republicans in California? Were blacks in the slave states represented until the 1960s?

    And how many Americans don’t even bother to vote?

    And then there is DC and the territories.

    5
  64. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Republican ideas were nonsense long before Trump. The small government mantra is simply ridiculous in the 21st century, there is not a single example, ever, anywhere, of libertarianism working in the real world. Lower taxes do not yield prosperity. Having no minimum wage? Cutting workplace safety rules becuz profit? Killing environmental laws because freedom? Federalism? Hah! It’s all just nonsense. I don’t mean the Trump grievance culture, I mean that core conservatism is nonsense. There is no there, there.

    So-called principled conservatism was never a real thing outside of think tanks. It was always horseshit, a thin veneer of propaganda meant to appeal to intellectuals, badly glued over sheer, unprincipled greed.

    Absolutely nothing to add. Just wanted to reinforce this.

    5
  65. An Interested Party says:
  66. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Enormous state-by-state effort is required. The Libertarian Party has made the most serious run at it outside of the Democrats and the Republicans. Some years they get their presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC; some years they don’t.

    But that just shows the Libertarians are the same as all the other parties. They don’t want to do the work, they just want to be put in charge. That state by state work means starting at the local level and demonstrating the benefits you can bring to the voters. What do the voters care about? Where does that overlap your core concerns, or at least not interfere with them? Make the list, and help them achieve some of those goals. Built up a local and then statewide infrastructure with a bunch of success stories. Then take that nationally. But Libertarians and the Greens and the other clowns are like a high school pitcher who wants to be put into Game 7 of the World Series because their theory of the fastball is just so good…

    4
  67. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Didn’t even notice, it’s such common misusage in politics. Every Republican says they’re “for existing conditions”. Which they are really, but I think they meant to claim they’re for coverage of existing conditions.

    1
  68. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    It’s difficult to see how one can conceive of expanding a political coalition when the starting assumption is that everyone who didn’t vote the way you wanted, or who doesn’t hold your political views, is a traitor. That seems to be where you are at and from that perspective

    No, my position is that anyone who supports a violent attack on Congress for the purpose of stealing an election is a traitor to the constitution. Given that the GOP – even now – seems to support exactly that, yes, they are traitors. What do you call domestic terrorists? What do you call people who tried to murder the vice president and members of Congress?

    I can see how the logic does dictate the notion that everything is binary and zero-sum, and therefore no compromise is possible.

    Oh, OK, then show me these demographic groups you think Democrats should reach out to. And how exactly that would be accomplished in a perfect world where Democrats were willing to entertain any idea. If you cannot name a single issue, show me the group. Show me the demo. Show me what it would take.

    I’ll jump ahead a bit: there is no such group, there are no such issues. It has nothing to do with Democratic intransigence, the simple fact is that Republicans don’t believe in anything other than greed and white male supremacy. Prove me wrong. Show me a Republican position that does not come right back to greed or white male dominance. Hell, show me a Republican position on anything that isn’t just embarrassing.

    You want compromise from Democrats but you cannot show me where. You cannot name an issue. How are we supposed to appeal to or compromise with people who literally cannot explain what they want? Hmm? Should we call in psychics? Ask the Magic Eight Ball? The one thing you seem sure of is that it’s the Democrat’s fault?

    You know what Democrats are guilty of? Being right. And Republicans cannot fucking stand it.

    12
  69. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’m talking about power vacuums where there is zero representation, which is different from perpetual minority political status or the apathy of non-voters.

    1
  70. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @drj: And, in fairness, the progressive/populist elements on the left had nowhere else to go, but still have a stake at the margins that will keep them playing. I’m not sure that such elements on the right have anywhere to go if they get triangulated, and no particular stake in a government divorced from their interests either at the margins or in any otherwise. The far right leaves, conservatism shrinks dramatically in power. Far more than abandonment by the far left hurts liberals. The Republicans end up having to placate their crazies as a key to survival in ways I don’t believe the left does.

    3
  71. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy:

    It begins by looking at groups of voters who are closest to where your party already is and then figuring out what it might take to appeal to those voters over the long term. You might get some of them with better messaging. You might get some of them by changing the priority or emphasis of the policies or positions your party already supports. It might simply be just a matter of taking their concerns seriously, showing some empathy, and making a commitment to try to address their concerns. Rarely does it require this binary policy choice you’re trying to make.

    This is exactly right. The thing that runs against Dems or any other group pursuing this strategy is human nature: it is immensely satisfying and righteous to draw hard and fast in group/out of group lines. It is boring and tedious to try to build coalitions.

    Example: Someone on the left says: “The police are beating up black people for no reason”. Some middle aged white guy says, “Yeah, those police can be out of control. Once I accidentally parked in a mall parking spot that was reserved for police and when I got out of the car an obviously ‘roid raged uniform cop started screaming in my face*, spraying spittle all over me.” There’s a good chance the reaction of the woke 21 year old making that first comment would be “OK Boomer, like your one moment of discomfort in a life of white male privilege could give you any indication how a young black man feels!” There was an opportunity to make an ally and instead they go out of their way to make me feel stupid, just so they can feel morally superior. (Just to be clear, there was no such woke 21 year old. This is a made up story for illustrative purposes only. And even if it was real, I am way to old to change my political beliefs just because some near-kid treats me with scorn. I have a 21 and 23 year old and so am intimately familiar with people that age finding me ridicuous, and I still love them )

    *True story. I was driving a boring car, middle aged white guy with greying hair and dressed in business shirt, slacks and shoes.

    3
  72. Kathy says:

    @Holly:
    @Jen:

    IMO, the big problem was the framers didn’t understand partisanship. The checks and balances they built into the system presupposed the three different powers would guard their interests as powers, rather than becoming subordinate to a party.

    Things still worked well for a long time given the “big tent” nature of the two dominant parties*. But that was more by luck than by design, and now the luck has run out.

    One can forgive them, as democracies were not exactly plentiful at the time. Still, they should have addressed the matter of political parties int eh Constitution. For instance, there should be an enumerated right for all political parties to be freely allowed to take part in all elections. Something like this might have prevented the current duopoly.

    Of course, multiparty democracies can also get stuck in a one-on-one struggle, as the current mess in Israel amply demonstrates. There’s also the matter of small, extremist parties exerting oversize influence in exchange for support to gain the 50%+1 seats or votes needed to form a governing coalition.

    *Let’s also keep in mind electoral mechanics have evolved over time. the 1860 election had four candidates who scored electoral votes. Imagine that today.

    1
  73. SKI says:

    @drj:

    While this is true, it also frames the problem too narrowly, I think.

    I believe that the key problem is that the GOP and conservatism have become increasingly disconnected from reality. It’s not just white grievance, it’s also trickle-down economics, climate denialism, the notion that an embryo is a already a full human being, etc.

    While true, that isn’t the point Dr. J was making (and I was quibbling with).

  74. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    Are Democrats in Utah represented? Republicans in California?

    So, if what you are interested in is whether or not your “team” makes the playoff, then no. But if what you as a voter cares about is your particular interest, then “yes”. Are there ways that environmentalists get things done in Utah? Yes. Are there ways that people who want less regulation on businesses achieve their ends in California? Yes.

    1
  75. Jen says:

    @Kathy: Agreed. And there are all sorts of structural elements that feed into this, such as partisan gerrymandering, which then further emboldens the most partisan elements to design House districts that guarantee certain outcomes (packing and cracking), along with state party systems that develop ballot access criteria that preserve the two party system and make it measurably more difficult for other parties to even form.

    It’s complex and there are so many elements that feed into it.

    1
  76. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    Something like this might have prevented the current duopoly

    Nor to be contrarian but everyone seems to take it as evident that a multi-party system is better than a two party system, and I just don’t see much evidence of that. Has the multiparty system done wonders for Britain? Has it made Italy a smoothly functioning machine with no corruption? Has it ensured that the rights of all Israelis are respected regardless of religion?

    5
  77. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I think I said as much.

    1
  78. DrDaveT says:

    @JohnSF:

    What would prevent a swarm of party-less Trumpkins taking over the Democrats in a “Red” state?

    Cooties 🙂

    To your larger point… I am reminded of an event during my undergraduate days, when the (white, privileged) members of a large fraternity all joined the Chinese Student Association, then voted themselves into office and passed new by-laws banning Asians.

    1
  79. Loviatar says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Someone on the left says: “The police are beating up black people for no reason”. Some middle aged white guy says, “Yeah, those police can be out of control. Once I accidentally parked in a mall parking spot that was reserved for police and when I got out of the car an obviously ‘roid raged uniform cop started screaming in my face*, spraying spittle all over me.

    There’s a good chance the reaction of the woke 21 year old making that first comment would be “OK Boomer, like your one moment of discomfort in a life of white male privilege could give you any indication how a young black man feels!” There was an opportunity to make an ally and instead they go out of their way to make me feel stupid, just so they can feel morally superior.

    Sooooo, your take away from this is that the woke left hurt your feelings, when you compared your possibly once in your lifetime momentary inconvenience with their possibly daily interaction with police that could result in significant harm to include death.

    SMH. White Privilege.

    P.S.
    And you had to make up the “woke left” scenario to get your feelings hurt.

    DAMMMMM. Thats some serious a$$ White Privilege.

    5
  80. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    I recently finished reading a book on recent economic history, which was very critical fo the “free market” theories much en vogue since the 80s onward. Regardless of the merits of the argument, what I realized is that whether economic policies will be beneficial or harmful, depend in large part on the specific conditions of a given country or region, as well as how it relates commercially to the wider world.

    So, for example, Taiwan was able to develop certain industries because it discouraged imports by means of tariffs. But then had to drop such tariffs as it moved to a larger volume of exports.

    The same caveat applies to politics. Under certain conditions a two party system may serve well, and at others it may be an impediment. The same goes for a multi-party system. Now, it would be hard to keep changing how many parties, not to mention which, are allowed to run. But it’s easier to render two parties dominant in a multi-party democracy, than to suddenly grow new parties to compete effectively in a two-party system.

    It’s cliche to say that change is the only constant, but it’s also true. Nothing lasts forever. The question in an ailing democracy is whether it will recover, or whether it will crash into autocracy.

    1
  81. Gustopher says:

    @Andy: Your original statement was “A situation where a significant portion of the public has no political representation is simply not sustainable.”

    I think you’re letting “significant portion” do some pretty heavy lifting.

    We disenfranchise people all the time in this country, and this crisis only came about when the wrong people managed to do some voting anyway first — electing a negro, and then overturning the Great White Hope and installing a negro-lover who took orders from the one that got elected. Which is apparently Socialism!, as defined by the current Republican Party.

    4
  82. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You keep characterizing the Democratic party as some kind of unitary and unchanging political force. The idea that Democrats are guilty of “being right” for example. Right about what? Democrats disagree with each other on many issues. How can a loose coalition of divergent interests that are constantly changing disagree about fundamental issues be “right” in any unitary sense?

    Political coalitions change all the time. The parties have naturally evolved over time and the current Democratic coalition is materially different from 20 years ago, even a decade ago. The positions espoused by the Democratic party have also substantially changed over time. So the idea that a political coalition can change and expand, in my view, seems indisputable considering the ample historical evidence.

    If you disagree, then state your reasons and explanations for why this is false.

    And that’s all I’m arguing here – that the implosion of the GoP and the resulting political vacuum presents the option and opportunity for the Democratic party to expand its coalition. That’s it. This isn’t some novel idea – it’s a relatively common historical occurrence. It’ seems clear that you believe that Democrats shouldn’t take that opportunity – which is fine. But that’s not an argument that they can’t. My point is about can/can’t, not should/shouldn’t.

    Now, either you agree with my analysis or you don’t. Can the Democratic party expand its coalition, yes or no?

    Your responses so far have not directly addressed my argument or that question – rather you keep trying to divert it into an irrelevant “debate” about what I supposedly think the Democrats should do (as if my opinion matters).

    I’ve made my point as clearly as I can, you can take it or leave it. If you want to speak to my actual argument, then I’m all ears. But I have no interest in your continued attempts to divert the conversation into an “analysis” of my opinions or speculations. Further efforts to do that are, I assure you, a waste of your time.

  83. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So, if what you are interested in is whether or not your “team” makes the playoff, then no. But if what you as a voter cares about is your particular interest, then “yes”. Are there ways that environmentalists get things done in Utah? Yes. Are there ways that people who want less regulation on businesses achieve their ends in California? Yes.

    I think you’ve missed the point of the current Republican Party, which is to ensure that there is no way for environmentalists to get things done in Utah. That was the entire point of the Hastert Rule (everything must be able to pass with Republican votes only, and any Democratic support means that you wasted an opportunity to do something more ‘conservative’”

    2
  84. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think you’re letting “significant portion” do some pretty heavy lifting.

    Maybe so, but as a general rule, political vacuums that remain unfilled tend to result in violence in any society. This isn’t a particularly controversial or novel idea. It’s the genesis for many civil wars and domestic violence around the world.

    And scale does matter. The longstanding disenfranchisement of black people and other minority groups is a major difference in scale from the dissolution of an entire political party that nominally represents the interests of up to half of the population.

    But as I said, I don’t think that will happen. People tend to self-organize and the GoP is probably more resilient than it appears at present. It won’t be the case that the US becomes a de facto one-party state.

    2
  85. drj says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Nor to be contrarian but everyone seems to take it as evident that a multi-party system is better than a two party system, and I just don’t see much evidence of that.

    A multi-party system usually prevents the hijacking of a mainstream party by an extremist fringe. It would likely have prevented the radicalization of the GOP – which right now appears to be the #1 problem.

    However, a downside to a multi-party system is that if the fringe parties are too extreme to enter a coalition with other parties, it’s necessarily always the same few centrist parties that have to come together in a coalition – leaving voters with not much of an actual choice. The more fragmented the political landscape, the bigger this problem becomes.

    So I’m not sure that one particular system is always better.

    Having said that, a two-party system has some additional vulnerabilities, I think. Particularly, a two-party system + gerrymandering is a recipe for disaster. A two-party system also means that voters who live in the “wrong” state or district will never be politically represented and, for them, voting becomes pointless.

    But even assuming that a multi-party system would be superior, it still wouldn’t fit at all with US political culture, institutions, or voters’ expectations. It’s not something you could simply decide to adopt.

  86. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy:

    So, for example, Taiwan was able to develop certain industries because it discouraged imports by means of tariffs. But then had to drop such tariffs as it moved to a larger volume of exports.

    We called it the American System when we did it in the early19th century. Besides tariffs it included “internal improvements” (roads and canals) and generally a national bank. It was a legitimate political difference between North and South. The South paid the tariffs, but the infrastructure improvements and the developing industries were mostly in the North.

  87. Kylopod says:

    @Andy:

    In the 2016 election, there were approximately 5-6 million voters who voted for Trump in 2016 but voted for Obama in 2012. Why did that happen? Who were they and what motivated them?

    While I’m not specifically getting into your debate with Michael on this point, I think it’s worth mentioning that what you’re describing goes in both directions. In the past few years, many formerly Republican voters in the suburbs have migrated to the Dems. It’s part of what enabled the victories in Georgia and Arizona. I don’t mean to sound overconfident. I definitely think the Dems’ current hold on power is fragile, and that R’s could easily gain it all back in the next few years. But the point is, the coalitions are shifting on both sides, and just because we lose some voters doesn’t mean our path to power necessarily requires us to gain those same voters back.

    Also, it’s important to understand–and a lot of people overlook this–that Dems have been able to make these gains without compromising in ways they once did. Take Georgia for example. For a long time the Democratic playbook for competing in the South involved nominating fairly conservative Dems who could bring back a lot of the rural and blue-collar whites who had been fleeing the party since the 1960s. Dems have completely abandoned this strategy. Warnock and Ossoff may not be “radical liberals” as Loeffler and other R’s alleged, but they are well to the left of the last two Democratic Senators from Georgia, Zell Miller and Max Cleland. The old playbook also implicitly meant nominating whites. Warnock is the first black Democrat ever elected to the Senate in a Southern state. That’s not a coincidence.

    Dems will certainly have to compromise on various issues and aren’t going to get everything they want, but a lot of the traditional ideas about what Dems are supposed to do (and give up) in order to compete have fallen by the wayside as the coalitions have changed.

    8
  88. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @An Interested Party:
    Bwa ha hahahahahahahaha…
    Thanks, I needed that.

    1
  89. Kathy says:

    Well, well. Ten Republicans voted for Impeachment, and I think 4 more did not vote at all.

    So. MUCH. Winning!

    2
  90. Grewgills says:

    Andy
    The GOP in its current form, with all of its current maladies, is more resilient than it appears you are giving it credit for. They relatively narrowly lost the EC. A less personally odious Trump, or even a Trump that made a few more purely optical moves vs Covid could have easily picked up the votes needed to swing enough electoral votes to get him a second EC victory. Without Trump obsessing over conspiracy theories about his loss, they’d almost certainly have the Senate. It is still quite possible for them to take back the House and/or Senate in two years and entirely possible that a smarter, less obviously personally odious republican that would push all the same policies could be president in a week and four years. Really all they have to do to extend their minority rule for a decade or more is to go back to dog whistling some of the things they’ve become comfortable shouting the past 4 years.
    Democrats need to find ways to expand their coalition, keep it motivated sans Trump as a motivating factor, or both. With that in mind, what groups do you see in the R coalition that are persuadable without having someone as disgusting as Trump for them to vote against? Are there policy proposals or optics that could bring them in without alienating and losing equal or greater numbers of people already in the D coalition?
    We hear about this in the opposite direction all the time. R’s can pick up religiously conservative immigrants if they tone down the xenophobia and out loud bigotry for example.

    6
  91. MarkedMan says:

    @@MarkedMan:

    There’s a good chance the reaction of the woke 21 year old making that first comment would be “OK Boomer, like your one moment of discomfort in a life of white male privilege could give you any indication how a young black man feels!” There was an opportunity to make an ally and instead they go out of their way to make me feel stupid, just so they can feel morally superior.

    @Loviatar:

    Sooooo, your take away from this is that the woke left hurt your feelings, when you compared your possibly once in your lifetime momentary inconvenience with their possibly daily interaction with police that could result in significant harm to include death.

    SMH. White Privilege.

    @@MarkedMan:

    I am way to old to change my political beliefs just because some near-kid treats me with scorn

    I rest my case.

    2
  92. Franklin says:

    With only 10 Republican congresspersons voting to impeach, I can assure you that Trump is still the leader of their party.

    3
  93. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: Your point is valid, but I’m not really arguing that. Sure, the national Republican history on the environment since St. Ronnie has been abysmal. But at the local level? More of a mixed bag. Environmentalists have made good Republican allies in Navy towns (like the ones here in MD) in keeping the seaways clean. And the incredibly Trumpian watermen here want to keep the crabs alive. Same for fishermen up and down the coast. Sometimes their interests conflict with environmental concerns, sometimes they overlap. And sometimes they can be made to overlap. Environmentalists and wealthy property holders successfully blocked offshore wind farms in New England for a decade and a half. It was a conservative congresswoman concerned about the loss of coal fired power plant jobs in her district that was able to get the first one built. And she didn’t give a hoot either way about the environmentalists. She held no grudge, since it was the economics of coal vs. natural gas that closed down the plant, not the fifty year efforts of the greens.

    I vote a straight Democratic ticket now, because of how toxic the national Republicans are. But I don’t carry any water for the Dems. I don’t view any political party as my “team” any more than I would chose a dentist based on loyalty.

    2
  94. MarkedMan says:

    @drj: My takeaway form Israeli, as an example, is that the extremist fringe parties are much, much more powerful than they would be in a two party system. They dictate some of the most important domestic and international policies because their few votes are needed to prevent the bigs from forming a unity government.

    2
  95. MarkedMan says:

    Can someone pull my response to Loviator out of comment hell? Thanks

  96. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Ignore that. Wrong thread

  97. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: A pet peeve of mine is when people try to point out the supposed flaws in multiparty systems by pointing to Israel. To begin with, among countries with proportional representation, Israel has a very low minimum threshold (1% originally, now about 3%). Most countries with PR start much higher. More to the point, though, Israel is Israel. It’s got its own unique set of problems that makes it inappropriate for generalizing about its form of government.

  98. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    There won’t be a post-Trump Republican party until their is a post-Fox/right wing ecosphere media environment. We are living in a country where roughly one third of the entire country believes easily disprovable lies.

    Lies have always traveled faster than the truth as the old adage goes, but the Internet and social media have sent them into warp speed. I’m not sure humanity and our brains are really capable of handling a world with such information overload.

    In the end, Trump is a symptom, not the disease.

    7
  99. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: OK, I’ll accept that there can be better or worse rule systems for multi-party systems. But I’ve asked Steven and the blog in general for evidence that multi-party outcomes are better than tow party and it ended the same way: dismissing my counter examples. So, I withdraw them. What evidence is there for multi-party systems being better than two party. I’m not arguing against the idea. I’m truly asking for, I don’t know, a before and after situation, or a study of a significant number of countries.

    2
  100. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Long story short of this thread: Us white people suck. OK, OK, let me insert Stonekettle’s “Not all”, but yeah, we suck donkey fuckin’ dick.

    3
  101. An Interested Party says:

    R’s can pick up religiously conservative immigrants if they tone down the xenophobia and out loud bigotry for example.

    They cannot tone down the xenophobia and out loud bigotry without alienating a significant portion of their party…alas…

    1
  102. steve says:

    I would think that both parties would agree that we would like to see growth in better paying jobs rather than the service sector jobs which have proliferated. I think both have concerns about privacy as it involves the big tech companies. Both want lower health insurance prices. So I think there are common goals. I don’t think there is much of a chance for compromise on methods to reach those goals.

    Steve

    1
  103. David S. says:

    @MarkedMan: As I’m convinced, but cannot answer your challenge, I’ve distilled* some lists from Wikipedia (based mainly one article) as a starting point:

    Stable two-party system countries: United States, Malta, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Bahamas, Barbados, Australia, UK, Nicaragua.

    Two-coalition (effectively 2, but composed of parties) system countries: Guyana, Lebanon, Chile, Venezuela, Spain (?).

    Two-party, but often different actual parties: South Korea.

    Multi-party systems**: Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Ukraine, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and Taiwan.

    * My criterion was basically whether or not the description, as per the article, was convincingly “two-party right now”. Obviously, there an entire salt shaker to take with my lists, but I hope it at least provides a foundation for answering. I might take a more objective pass at this later. (Also, there’s a ton of argument in the Talk page, which I ignored.)

    ** Lifted this list directly and I’m mildly suspicious of it, but not enough to try to dig into each one for validation.

  104. Kurtz says:

    @Andy:

    Here’s a real-world example. In the 2016 election, there were approximately 5-6 million voters who voted for Trump in 2016 but voted for Obama in 2012. Why did that happen? Who were they and what motivated them? How does your view of binary, zero-sum “Republican” and “Democratic” positions explain that? This is something I’ve brought up here many times over the years and the response was consistently along the lines of, “they voted for Trump, fuck em.”

    There are several explanations for 5-6 million people voting for Obama, then Trump. I’m going to choose one.

    Much of the research on those voters places them in the economically liberal-socially conservative camp. How Dems can win that type of voter without alienating their base is a difficult problem.

    Both @Jen and I have posited that moving messaging away from identity issues toward shared economic concerns may help, but it’s still a gambit, because for marginalized groups, solidarity is seen as a survival tactic (with ample justification.) Even then, the well has been so poisoned by eschatological Republican messaging, that working class whites believe they are facing an existential threat.

    Think about it for a second, a significant part of the Republican coalition cares more about whether a poor, 17 year old Puerto Rican in the Bronx has access to an abortion than they care about their malnourished 4 year old neighbor who has parents addicted to Roxicet. Turning a few Obama-Trump voters into regular Dems does nothing to fix that and carries a risk of turning it into the slightly less right wing party.

    That is why the response around here is so often “fuck ’em.” Republicans have perfected splitting the working class via fake grievence, bullshit economics* and lies–Art of War 101. If they didn’t, there is no way they would ever have a majority.

    The following is one of my my views, and it may be a little harsh.

    Ask yourself one more question: what does social conservatism entail that isn’t authoritarian? Gays are immoral and just need guidance; trans people are mentally ill and should get counseling, Black people should show deference, poor people should just be a better dancing monkey for their superiors to get that $0.10 raise; This is a Judeochristianwesterncivilizationwhitecountrynotforanyoneelse. Freedom!

    You’re correct, we can’t put people into neat boxes… But incoherence is incoherence.
    Appealing to people who will take government handouts and shame others for doing the same, or worse, for who they are, is no way to run a political party or build a winning platform.

    *Seriously, do you think Miles Taylor, the previously anonymous op-ed guy who name-dropped Adam Smith, or Matt Gaetz have actually read An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations? They certainly don’t seem like they have. Using the full title would likely confuse that troglodyte Gaetz.

    3
  105. Loviatar says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I rest my case.

    I think I understand our disagreement today.

    Your point-of-view:
    Liberals should be thankful for moderate’s generosity in partnering on policy positions, and they should work harder at gaining more “open-minded” moderates.

    My point-of-view:
    I’m not asking for your generosity, I’m asking you to do the right thing when it comes to policies. Moderates that require false equivalencies to do the right thing are not that open-minded.

    1
  106. @Kathy:

    I don’t follow European politics closely, but wouldn’t today’s Democratic party qualify as center-right by European standards?

    In economic issues, probably – in Portugal, the “ADSE para todos” (a position very similar to “Medicare for All”) is the position of the most right-wing parties in parliament; but in issues like abortion, Democrats are much more to the left than almost all left-wing and far-left European parties (again, in Portugal the abortion limit is 10 weeks of pregnancy, and nobody in the left talks about widening that limit); the same for citizenship, were only the far-left is in favor of a jus soli US-like system.

    1
  107. flat earth luddite says:

    Folks, the GOP as an organization isn’t going to change. Being the dupes of rich old white men, the corporations, they control, and being the is the party of guns, abortion, and grievance. and white supremacy.

    The leopard will continue eating faces, to the party as a whole this is a feature. Anyone expecting them to do anything but nakedly grab power is too deluded to be anything more than a user of communal oxygen, IMO.

    I’ve written this one several times today. Deleted it, thought about it, re-wrote, rinse, repeat.

    3
  108. MarkedMan says:

    @David S.: Thanks. I’m going to dig into this. Some of them seem odd (Zimbabwe jumps out), but it definitely gives me pause. I’m going to have to give it some thought. .