How To Fix The Republican Party
Whether Mitt Romney wins or loses, the GOP needs to evolve or be doomed to minority party status.
After linking to my post from last week about the future of the GOP in the wake of a Romney loss, Rod Dreher asks a question:
My question to the room: How should the GOP change?
Please don’t say, in effect, “Become the Democratic Party.” Let’s be serious. Try also to answer in a way that challenges your own views — in other words, don’t fall back on assuming that all would be well with the Republican Party if they only thought like you.
Dreher goes on to list what he sees as his ideal ways that the GOP should reform itself, especially in the wake of a second-consecutive loss at the Presidential level, most of which I find myself generally agreeing with.
On foreign policy, Dreher suggests the GOP become “far more realistic and less imperial in its foreign policy convictions and intentions,” and that’s an idea I’ve advocated for quite some time now, most recently last week:
We need, in other words, a humbler foreign policy stripped of both the jingoism of the right and the pie-in-the-sky idealism of the left. Our primary goal should be the protection of our interest, and the advancement of friendly diplomatic and trade relationships with the rest of the world. We’ve spent far too much time trying to accomplish more than that, and have nothing at all to show for it.
A Republican Party that moved away from the aggressive foreign policy prescriptions of the neoconservatives and toward something resembling this would be something that I, and I would imagine many others who have been turned off by the party’s seeming position that the answer to all our problems in the world is military confrontation. Given the fact that the policies that we’ve been pursuing for the past decade or more clearly haven’t made us more secure, it would also be in the best interests of the United States.
On economics, Dreher would like to see the GOP become more populist by getting behind ideas like Wall Street reform and bringing an end to the idea of banks that are “too big to fail.” Given that many of the problems that have arisen in these areas are due to the incestuous nature of the relationship between government and the finance sector that has allowed these banks to have the laws drafted in a manner that favors them, I tend to agree. However, I think we’d need to see more change than that from the GOP when it comes to economics, particularly when it comes to fiscal issues. The party’s insistence that the defense budget must never be cut, exemplified currently by its position in favor of eliminating the sequestration cuts set to go into effect starting in 2013, makes no sense at all in an era when we have no choice but to seriously address the fiscal issues facing the Federal Government. The same can be said for the orthodoxy enforced by the Americans For Tax Reform pledge against any and all tax increases, something that simply makes no sense in an era when absolutely every piece of the Federal Budget must be on the table. It’s perfectly fine to insist that changes in the tax code be ones that cause as little disruption to the economy as possible, of course, but a blanket refusal to even consider one of the one two fiscal tools Congress has is quite simply insane. The GOP accuses Democrats of refusing to budge on entitlements, but they display precisely the same attitude when it comes to defense spending and taxes, and that needs to change.
On social issues, Dreher is a social conservative who’s willing to recognize the fact that change is necessary:
As a social conservative, I will concede that the coming demographic tsunami compels the GOP to start making changes on its staunch opposition to same-sex marriage. This dog ain’t gonna hunt for much longer. I wish it weren’t so, but nobody who has spent any time reading the polls or talking to anybody under the age of 30 should have illusions about this.
I would be willing to accept the party liberalizing somewhat on this issue, provided it adopted a staunch position of defending religious liberty in the coming pro-SSM legal environment. Many younger conservatives who support SSM may find it acceptable to firewall religious institutions from civil rights laws, if that is possible.
On this single issue, I don’t really find anything objectionable. I’ve said repeatedly that my support for same-sex marriage does not include mandating that religious institutions be required to recognize or perform those unions if it goes against their religious beliefs. A Catholic priest should no more be forced to marry a same-sex couple any more than he should be force to marry a couple made up of one or more people who was previously married and is now divorced. The debate starts, of course, over the issue of what kind of “carve out” there should be for religion on this issue, but that strikes me as a detail on which reasonable people can come to an agreement. More broadly, I don’t think the GOP either can or should “get rid” of social conservatives. They’re a part of the Republican coalition and, as much as I disagree with them, it’s simply foolish to say that the party can realistically survive by cutting off one of its limbs. What the GOP needs to do is broaden its base in such a way that other points of view on these social issues are given a voice, and it needs to accept the fact that, say Republicans in California and the Northeast are going to govern and vote differently on these issues than Republicans in the Bible Belt. Otherwise, it’s going to become entirely a one-note part, and doomed to electoral failure.
Dreher leaves out one issue that I think goes to the core of the future of the GOP and the question of whether it will end up spending years in the political wilderness, immigration. A mere eight years after George W. Bush won close to 45% of the Hispanic vote in the 2004 Presidential election, the GOP now finds itself severely disliked by Hispanic voters to the point where it is likely to start hurting them in states with a large Hispanic population in future elections. Last month for example, a poll showed that Obama had a 39% lead among Hispanic voters over Romney. If that continues into the future, the GOP is going to have a serious problem in states throughout the Southwest, in Florida, and, someday, maybe even in Texas. For it’s own political survival, as well as because it’s the right thing to do, the GOP needs to come up with an immigration position that is more than just aimed at targeting illegal immigrants and closing the borders. They need to recognize that things like the DREAM Act are popular among Hispanics because they see it as being as much a humanitarian issue as anything else, and they’re largely correct. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have been warning the party for the better part of a year now that they need to come to their senses on immigration. They’re right.
More than just policy changes, though, the GOP needs to change its attitude and the way that it approaches governing, and they don’t have to look very far. Ronald Reagan showed that it’s possible to be strongly committed to conservative principles while still recognizing that one has to compromise with the opposition, especially when you don’t control all the levers of power in Washington. Compromise is not necessarily a dirty word. Indeed, judging from the polls, compromise is exactly what the voters want to see from both the Republicans and the Democrats. Along with a willingness to compromise, Republicans need to stop with the demonization that has been so prevalent on the right since President Obama took office. Whether its birtherism, or the “secret Muslim” nonsense, or the idea that the President hates America, or the attacks on Michelle Obama, it’s become a daily part of conservative political discourse, especially online. It’s stupid, it’s unbecoming of a serious political party, and it just ends up turning off the independent voters that the GOP needs to attract to win elections.
The next thing the GOP needs to do is stop coddling the crazies. Michele Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, Allen West, and Joe Walsh are not serious politicians, they are part of a carnival freak show that just happens to have set up residence on Capitol Hill. These are not people to be admired, or promoted, they are people to be avoided. Indeed, they point to the fact that candidate selection itself needs to be far more discerning. Were it not for Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Ken Buck, the GOP may very well have won a majority in the Senate in 2010. Thanks to Todd Akin, they may not do so in 2012. Republican voters and political leaders need to be much more discerning when they select who is going to represent them in a General Election.
Conor Friedersdorf identifies one last change I’d say the GOP needs to make, but it really applies to the conservative movement as a whole:
Choosing what spot to occupy on the ideological spectrum is not what the right should be worried about, important though it surely is. It scarcely matters if the GOP starts titling three more degrees toward social conservatism, or fiscal conservatism, or libertarianism, or centrism, if that agenda is shaped and pursued by a coalition incapable of adjudicating arguments on their merits, or separating fact from fantasy, or maintaining the most basic ethical standards.
This truth was evident during the GOP primary, where voters were presented with unacceptable candidates as diverse as the right itself. So broken are the information outlets Tea Partiers in particular use to assess reality that for months they took Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich seriously as potential or actual presidential contenders. They had every opportunity to see the respective character flaws of these figures; they were mostly self-evident, and persuasively described in great detail by the political press. Ah, but that’s the liberal media talking. With that phrase, any huckster can short-circuit the Tea Party reality-assessing apparatus for months. And while movement conservatism has failed for decades to shrink government, it has succeeded spectacularly in creating jobs for hucksters in the private sector.
The civil war the right needs is one waged against the hucksters, whether they’re in the marketplace of ideas or the marketplace itself. Victory would mean establishing norms that would’ve made Roger Ailes too ashamed to air all those months of Glenn Beck; that would’ve made the Claremont Institute mortified to give Rush Limbaugh a statesmanship award; that would’ve made Matthew Continetti cringe at the idea of a modeling a conservative publication on what he disdains about liberal publications; norms that would’ve caused Erick Erickson to apologize for his absurd parade of indefensible statements before it complicated his successful effort to start a CNN gig; and that would make Mitt Romney embarrassed to stand in front of donors uttering untruths.
The right needs to value robust argument more highly. And to denigrate those who subvert it more forcefully. For public discourse is all it has to test ideas and formulate an evolving agenda.
This is perhaps the biggest problem that the GOP has today. The entire idea of vigorous debate and dissent from whatever conservative orthodoxy happens to be has been replaced by a world where failure to adhere to some certain idea of orthodoxy leads to someone being denounced and labeled a “Republican In Name Only,” among other things. It’s happened to everyone from David Brooks and David Frum, from Jon Huntsman to Chris Christie, and even former Reagan Administration aides like Bruce Bartlett and David Stockman. Call it the closing of the conservative mind, call it epistemic closure, call it whatever you wish. The fact of the matter is that, especially over the last decade to 15 years, the GOP has become far less tolerant of disagreement, especially on hot button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Lee Atwater’s “Big Tent” is gone, as is the Republican presence in the Northeast and California, both of which had been GOP strongholds for decades. If it’s going to succeed on a national level in the future, the GOP needs to bring back that Big Tent, it needs to recognize that candidates that win in South Carolina aren’t going to win in other parts of the country, and it needs to recognize that Senators such as Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are not enemies, and that Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are not necessarily friends.
I don’t find it very likely that the GOP would take this course or that, if they tried to, it would be easy. The hard right would fight tooth and nail, and it would likely take many years for the dust to settle. However, I fail to see the downside in making the effort.
It’s even worse than a “second-consecutive” loss at the presidential level. Counting this year, the GOP will have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections since the end of the Cold War (1992, 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2012). The only time they won the popular vote, 2004, was in the wake of September 11th and the Iraq War, and since then their foreign policy has turned voters against them, so they no longer have that former strength to fall back on.
How to Fix the Republican Party? I’d start with one word: honesty. An honest Republican Party doesn’t have to change ideology, but it has to change methods and tactics. This one word leads to developing arguments and policies that are popular and effective. That one word leads to better leaders, basing their decisions on empiricism rather than bumperstickers. That one word leads to respect for the American people rather than crass manipulations based on out-of-context quotes and cartoon characterizations of their opposition. And, over time, who knows, that one word may get my vote. It certainly won’t happen until then.
(Disclaimer: Dems can be guilty of all of the above. The difference is mostly in scale.)
Flatly reject the mentality that goes with “The Permanent Majority” and “Our top priority is to defeat Obama.”
The most damning thing is that your list of changes is so darned long.
My small contribution to the discussion over there:
There was much more I wanted to say but I decided to limit my input to a single point. However, I like this much better:
I think that encapsulates perfectly so much of what is wrong on the right just now.
Meh. I remember the left concern-trolling this very topic nearly 20 years ago, after Clinton swept the country off its feet with 43% of the national vote. Then the GOP took over the entire Congress for the 1st time in decades. The media didn’t grasp the irony.
Also keep in mind that if the minimum voting age were 35 instead of 18 the current version of the Democrat Party literally would disappear. Again, I’m not entirely sure the left would be able even to grasp the irony. Of course the effect of the biased national media is incalculable.
That aside, there’s not much that really can be done to “fix” the GOP. The demographics won’t change. Granted, without Obama the black vote won’t be 95-5, but it’ll still be 90-10, regardless of what Republicans do or say. Similar dynamics apply to the other Democrat victim and identity groups. It’s not as if the GOP can soften itself to appeal to unionized K-12 teachers, eligble felons, young students, those who want to be dependent upon the government, or to government clerical workers. Those groups reflexively will vote in lock step for Democrats until death, or even afterwards in some districts.
The miasma of the GOP’s primary selectorate is nothing new. The “Tea Party” to a large extent consists of the same people who voted for Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson, in primaries long forgotten. The only real difference is now they have talk radio and the Internet to obtain real-time confirmation of their own deranged thought processes, whereas years ago they just sat there baying at the moon by themselves.
The more interesting questions to ponder are how exactly did the Democrat Party disintegrate into largely a collection of special interest groups and underclasses, and what does it say about the future of the country when around half the voting electorate blindly vote for a party label on the basis of race, gender, age, union status, dependency and derangement? Not a pretty picture. It augurs quite ill.
Don’t you want to ask why a party with so many special interest groups can nonetheless produce safe and sane candidates?
Since there is no such thing as the “Democrat Party” outside of the Foxverse, I don’t see that as a problem.
The above comments, plus those one Dreher’s original post really nail a lot of things.
In part, the issue is that fixing the Republican party in part means telling “Conservative Inc” stop. As long as a core constituency of the Republican party is as much as much a profit generating audience, there is a huge problem (and note, this would be a big problem for the Democrats as well, and one that organizations like MSNBC are attempting to cultivate… but right now there is not comparison in terms of the nascent ‘liberal inc’ and the decades entrenched ‘conservative inc’).
The issue is that any real transformation to the Republican party requires skewering a lot of the sacred cows of the Conservative Inc audience — climate change, immigration, same sex marriage, contraception (versus abortion — a topic on which there will never be agreement), and military adventurism.
That isn’t to say that they need to adopt liberal solutions to these problems. They shouldn’t. But they need to adopt a reality based versus ideology based approach to framing the problem.
(Probably the answer is that while the Democrats have as many special interests, they have fewer of them installed as gatekeepers to the primary process.)
Meanwhile, the rest of the GOP decides that what it really needs is thicker bubble, which will be provided by reweighting polls to be more like Rasmusen:
Realize ‘ignorance and denial’ is not a virtue.
@Tsar Nicholas: If the Democratic Party is all these interest groups and only that, why is it that scientists are for the most part Democrats and not Republicans?
I’m sorry, but I will never, ever vote for a political party that panders to the Creationists, the “Bible is literally true!” types, and the Global climate change deniers. When are your idiots going to acknowledge reality? When Houston is 50 ft below water?
This is pretty simple actually.
The Republicans need to revert to Conservative Principles. And by this I mean thoughtful, nuanced, principles…not cartoonish bumper stickers masquarading as principles.
I believe Burke and William F. would side with Obama over the idealogical and theological radicalism Romney. On issue after issue…from the stimulus that cut taxes for 95% of the country…to the PPACA based on a Republican proposal…to cap-and-trade…to pursuing diplomacy from a position of strength against Iran…Obama has been pragmatic…and pragmatic is Conservative.
Republicans need to revert…come back to the center and join the adults at the table…instead of stomping their feet and holding their breathe and yelling; “My way or the highway!!!”
@Tsar Nicholas: “Also keep in mind that if the minimum voting age were 35 instead of 18 the current version of the Democrat Party literally would disappear. Again, I’m not entirely sure the left would be able even to grasp the irony.”
Yes, Tsar, if you could disenfranchise the majority of Democratic voters, the Democrats would lose. That’s why we see all the fraudulent cries of “voter fraud” from the right — because they know that if all eligible Americans are allowed to vote, they will lose.
So what’s your point? That only people who vote Republican should be allowed to vote? That only people who think like you should be allowed to vote?
I know you won’t answer those questions, but would you at least answer this: What the hell do you mean by “irony” in the sentence quoted above. There isn’t a single definition I know that would fit at all. Please, either pick a new word as your hobbyhorse for September or change your name to Humpty Dumpty.
And then the Democrats would argue that the voting age should be commensurate with the earliest age someone can enlist in the Army.
Didn’t we already have that debate forty-some years ago when the voting age was 21?
The GOP has become a “cancer” on the United States, a party run by Grifter´s and religious wackos, how do you fix that?
Step One: Republican need to acknowledge the simple fact that Ronald Reagan was the father of the debt problems we are currently facing.
At some point you will grow up and understand that America is made up of a “collection of special interest groups and underclasses”. Unfortunately for their political fortunes…Republicans are only interested in serving one of them. What you call identity groups, others call Americans. What you believe is pandering, others call serving. Yeah…they might not talk like you or look like you…but they are still every bit your equal as citizens of this great country. I know that troubles you…but someday you…and your party…are going to have to deal with it.
The Democrats´ interest groups have fewer money and they have more direct interests. But these interests also have hurt the Democratic Party in the past. Jesse Jackson is a example. I think that there some polls also show that the abortion also did hurt the Democrats in the past. Kerry could have won Ohio had he won the Catholic Vote there(Not that the Democrats should have the same positions that Susan B. Anthony List have, but that Democrats could have chosen a less absolutist position on the issue).
But the shorter version of his laundry list of suggestions is basically “become the Democratic Party”.
No, it isn’t.
I really wonder how Republicans are going to react when that site is off by like a million points. IT’S THE LIBERAL MEDIA’S FAULT.
The only real thing the GOP needs to do is choose to govern. Movement conservatism is perfectly content to live in a post fact world because their war is cultural and ideological. It has nothing to do with actually solving real governmental problems. Their current nominee has literally been on both sides of almost every major political issue. Abortion, immigration, stem cells, healthcare, gun control, global warming. Yet he’s still the conservative candidate of choice. Rhetorically and electorally beating the democrats matters more than track records, or policies, or facts in general. The GOP’s problem isn’t that they are uncompromising, crazy, crackpots… it’s that the ones that are in positions of power are government nihilists.
The reason the social conservatives are so influential is that they are the only real ones with any actual purpose and policy goals. That influence might moving the GOP away from voters, but they are providing the only rudder on that ship.
Part of the issue is the media, which is more then willing to prop the GOP up based on cliches and platitudes
For example, Doug does it, even as he’s trying to critique the GOP:
No.. the GOP displays precisely the same attitude full stop at this point. Ryan bashed Obama over medicare cuts. You don’t really need to just look at tax and defense spending policy to understand the duplicity of the current GOP when the GOP also bashes entitlement cuts. Even the tax part is BS because the GOP was perfectly willing to let the payroll tax cuts expire.
If the GOP can get by on rep alone, then they have even less incentive to care about little things like consistency.
I really don’t know how to fix this because the GOP evolved the way it did for a reason. I think they are past the point of no return. I don’t mean that in the sense that they won’t win an election ever again. I mean it in the sense that the Dems will have to screw up and fracture their own coalition before the GOP can take advantage.
Great post Doug. The only other piece of advice I’d offer Republicans is turn down the outrage machine. They have a whole industry dedicated to ginning up the anger and resentment level of older, white voters. I realize it’s very profitable but it’s also harmful to any kind of civil discourse. Same goes for the let’s anger machine but, by and large, it’s less strident and mendacious than Fox, Rush, and their merry band of followers.
@bk: But the shorter version of his laundry list of suggestions is basically “become the Democratic Party”.
Right. Especially this part:
Considering that there are only two major political parties and well over 99% of all elected officials belong to one of these parties, the fact is that most people vote for a party label, based on a variety of reasons…the ugly picture is your warped analysis…as you have been told previously, the real irony is that you obviously fail to grasp how deranged and ridiculous your “analysis” (a term I am using very loosely regarding you) really is…
Oh really? The GOP needs to soften its stance on immigration, including illegal immigration, it needs to do something to stop being so openly hostile to minorities, it needs to ditch its “no tax increases” mantra, it needs to cooperate with the opposition party, etc….in short, it does need to come closer to the Democratic Party…just as the Democratic Party had to come closer to the Republican Party (well, the older Republican Party anyway, not its current makeup) before the Dems could win the presidency again…
They could get rid of the hypocrites.
Apparently Florida Republican State Representative Mike Horney resigned today and will not seek reelection.
You keep using this word, irony. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Damn! Where is the edit function when you really need it?
Also keep in mind that if the maximum voting age were 65 the current version of the Republic Party literally would disappear.
Now, quick question, which group is likely to be with us longer: those currently under 35 or those over 65? As a betting man, if your long-term viability were dependent on one of these two groups, which would you go with?
Are you being sarcastic?
Or are you suggesting that Democrats celebrate “robust arguement?”
They’re better than the Republicans in this area, but let’s not pretend that they are significantly better (outside of their wonks).
@An Interested Party:
Even if conservatives agreed on those moderate-Dem things, there would still be the big argument about industrial policy. Basically a center-right party would argue with a center-left one about who leads and who follows, business or government.
I think, for instance, that while government should fund basic research it should never fund production. The first error at Solyndra was in making any kind of production bet at all. That it was some long-shot cylindrical solar cell just made it worse.
(If you think Solyndra’s only trouble was Chinese dumping and not with their technology, just check back in 10 years and see how many solar cells are cylindrical bar types. If many are, then I was wrong and Solyndra had something. If 10 years from now all cells are flat, that will pretty much prove the boondoggle.)
You know what is my favorite thing about? For a guy that likes to dismiss 90% of the country as complete cretins, by all evidence you are one of the least intelligent commentors on this site. I may disagree with Jan 100% of the time, but she has never used a vocabulary she clearly doesn’t understand. Nor has she, on multiple times, written two directly contradicting statements as you have so often done.
How about instead of being so disgustingly contemptuous of your fellow man you take some time to reread some of your comments and decide who really inhabits “Zombieland.”
@Rafer Janders: I do not think the Tsar truly wants to raise the voting age for all electors.
I suspect he would allow those who agree with his politics to vote as soon as they could mark an X next to the name of his preffered candidates on the ballot.
While much of this post is reasonable, Doug, this line “Along with a willingness to compromise, Republicans need to stop with the demonization that has been so prevalent on the right since President Obama took office.” is a miss. The Republicans demonized Bill Clinton from the day he became the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, and haven’t stopped to this day. Jimmy Carter as well. The problem is far bigger than you suggest.
“After linking to my post from last week about the future of the GOP in the wake of a Romney loss, Rod Dreher asks a question:”
Too Funnnnnnyyyyyyyyyy. A far left blog ruminating about a Romney loss and the implosion of the Rep party: How original. What is this DailyKOS lite?? I think half the country, at a minimum, thinks the Democratic party needs fixing. How about writing about that.LMAO.
Who is Doug Mataconis?
Aren’t most of the links from The American Conservative?
@mattb: Are you being sarcastic?
No, just amused by a comment that nicely illustrated the problem being described.
The ironic thing is that what the GOP needs to do to survive is something a substantial number of its members don’t believe in: it needs to evolve.
How to fix the Republican party? Double down on the hate and ramp up the crazy!
I think the problem that the Republicans are having is that they talk in code. It’s time to call a spade a spade (rather than calling a spade a Muslim Socialist Fascist…).
This election is a goner, they should just start now and see how it affects the polling. Maybe there will be lessons to be learned.
If it weren’t for his sense of ickyness about gay sex for which he would otherwise support gay marriage, and his compulsion for ‘order’ which keeps driving him into the bosom of religious orthodoxy, he’d be a Democrat. Like many religious seekers, he’s just living in denial.
True. And if we said only people who are under 65 can vote, the Repubs would disappear. This is the one demographic that the repubs should be truly fearing, even more so than Hispanics. Because the age limit keeps going up for dems. Last time 30, this time 35, next time 40.
The avg age of Limbaugh listener is 60. It has been rising for years, basically, he is not getting any new listeners. Same with the party, it is not growing, its average age is rising.
Father time is undefeated, it makes no matter who you are, in biz or politics, if your Sears or the repub party, if you can not bring in new customers, you die, period.
@mattb: Or are you suggesting that Democrats celebrate “robust arguement?”
They’re better than the Republicans in this area, but let’s not pretend that they are significantly better (outside of their wonks).
The wonks are really the point. Democrats certainly seem to place a higher value on wonks who make robust arguments, based on facts and evidence(Krugman), as opposed to experts in the fine art of invective (Limbaugh).
Really good post, Doug.
Everything’s pretty much been said. But why should I let that stop me?
1) The GOP has to be willing to risk minority status for a while. This shouldn’t be hard since it’s basically inevitable. But GOP stupidity should never be underestimated. It could take another 4 or 8 years for them to figure out that they’re running out of angry old white males.
2) The GOP has to temper philosophy with pragmatism. It’s not the 18th century. It’s never going to be the 18th century again. We are not a nation of small farmers. We’re a superpower in an increasingly interconnected world. We are part of a global economy. Let go of the libertarian fantasies and finally accept that we will have a safety net, and we will have regulation of a free market because at this point in history that is the only model that has worked. If conservative intellectuals want to do something useful they could figure out how to adapt to the world 30 years from now.
3) The fact is that liberals are played out philosophically. Once we all come to accept a broad interpretation of civil rights and the necessity of a safety net and regulated capitalism, what do the liberals have left to push? The GOP should accept reality then try to figure out the “what next?” The smart move is to buy the liberal agenda as it is, and try to capture the future. Stop defining the party as the dead weight progressives have to drag into the future. Make us into the dead weight. Will Republicans do this? Of course not. Because they’re not very bright.
Dreher says: “Please don’t say, in effect, “Become the Democratic Party.””
Ok, but that would be like telling the Pope circa 1500 that he needs to accept that the earth is not the center of the universe, but it’s still okay for him to disagree with Galileo.
Except for on social issues, there are no meaningful policy differences between what Doug and Dreher described above and most of the current Democratic positions. The GOP has moved so far to the extreme right, that it is impossible to come up with reality-based policy proposals that aren’t already being espoused by some Democrat somewhere.
This is why I’ve argued for so long that Doug and others who want the GOP to suppress the social issues are dead wrong from a political perspective. There are still enough people in this country who agree with the GOP on abortion, SSM, etc. to make the GOP a strong regional party. But, until Democrats totally screw up (like GWB did), the White House is their’s to lose.
Polygamy. Vegetable rights.
The GOP’s problem is that they’ve spent the last 40 years designing their shtick to appeal to a demographic that is whiter, older, less educated, more rural, more religious, and more racist. Those are now predominantly their customers. And the seller has to provide what the buyer wants. Even though the tea party is batshit on virtually everything, they rule the GOP. How is it possible for the leadership to act more intelligent if their voters demand stupidity?
The GOP is in a seriously bad way, maybe doomed to lose power until the tea party just goes away or dies off.
And what makes anyone believe that the members of the Congressional Black Caucus or the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are sane? Can anyone really argue that old school liberals like Sherrod Brown is sane when he keeps arguing that tariffs will raise the standard of living.
Is it really considered sane when politicians claim that higher taxes and more entitlement spending, and a larger public sector will lead to prosperity for everyone?
The biggest issue for the Democrats is that they depend of the private sector to produce enough wealth to fund the government while those same Democrats hate the private sector and want to make it smaller.
Call Any Vegetable from the album Absolutely Free
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
The way for conservatives to have maximum their impact on policy and governance would be to fold the Republican party and start voting in the Democratic Party. If all of the current Republicans start voting in the Democratic Party, it would neutralize all of the automatic Democratic Party voters.
Here is a prime example of what is wrong with the Republican Party, as many of their members seem to live in the same delusional bubble as superdestroyer…
I’ll see you that video and raise you Carrot Juice is Murder
And on that silly note, I think only a veternarian can “fix” the Republican Party.
He’s an election strategy wizard isn’t he!
And yet superdestroyer’s plan has more detail than Mitt Romney’s.
In the fifties and sixties there was in New England and parts of the Midwest a group of Republicans, who would now be labeled RINOS who were actually socially moderate but fiscally conservatives. Generally, they were hawks on defense but more likely than Southern Dems to question fiascos like Vietnam (Weicker, Percy, Brooks, Javitts come to mind).
They actually helped pass Civil Rights legislation in the 60s, and while I doubt they would be in the forefront of marriage equality they surely would not be expending the political capital right wing crazies waste today. In short, they would want to know how the bills were going to be paid and the nation was safe. On the former they would not trust the democrats, on the national defense they would assume both parties shared the same interest. On many of the wedge social issues of the day they wouldn’t think it was their business to tell another family what its reproductive behavior should be or the “best” sexual orientation.
That republican party was PROUD to be the party of Lincoln, T. Roosevelt and Eisenhower. What Reagan said of the Dems 40 years ago is true of the GOP today. I didn’t leave the Republican Paty–the Republican Party left me. It sold its soul for the Solid South and now they are its deal makers I think millions would love to have old GOP back.
They were Romney! (George, not Mitt).
He’s talking about critical thinking, so this thread should not overlook “the Texas Republican Party’s platform that rejects the teaching of critical thinking skills.” Colbert explained this: “The minds of our young people are being poisoned by knowledge … For too long we have blindly accepted the idea of not blindly accepting ideas.”
The GOP in a nutshell: the ignorant being led by the dishonest.
@Moosebreath: I can only assume, given your name, you are a disciple of Breatharianism!
@An Interested Party:
Look at how the Democrats are pushing for a single payer health care system that would result is a massive reduction in the healthcare work force. Look at how the Democrats are against pipelines, power plants, transmission lines, fracking, and energy production. Look at how the Democrats are proposing reductions in STEM jobs. Look at how the Democrats are proposing insourcing more government work.
Other than in a few, spare, green jobs, is there anything that Democrats are proposing that would increase private sector employment?
Those moderate Republicans are always in the minority and had almost no effect on policy or governance. They were nothing more than the tax collectors for the welfare state. They supported forced busing that killed many urban school districts. They supported quotas, affirmative action, and race norming that caused many people to turn against government employees. They supported higher taxes that were not index to inflation and were quite happy to have high inflation.
The reason that liberal Democrats like the idea of moderate/RINO republicans is that is makes it easier for the progressives to do whatever they want. Remember that Reagan won despite the moderate Republicans and not because of them.
There is a actually a good example of this happening before. When Cynthia McKinney was in Congress, the Republicans in her district realized that there was no way to defeat her in the general election because of all of the automatic Democratic Party voting African-American voters. So the Republicans organized and voted in mass during the primary for McKinney”s opponent.
Wouldn’t the Republicans in Mass., Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, Illinois, Oregon, or Washington have more effect on policy and governance if they were all voting in the Democratic Party primary rather than running “suicide” candidates in the general election?
One of the reasons that California passed the open primary initiatives is to keep the Republicans and conservatives from doing this. The Democrats realized that California would become a one party state faster if party primaries were eliminated and the establishment Democrats were given the chance of hand pick not only their own candidates but also their opponents.
“We need, in other words, a humbler foreign policy stripped of both the jingoism of the right and the pie-in-the-sky idealism of the left.”
While conservatives need mostly to look inward, comments like that reveal their view of the rest of the world must be adjusted as well. I mean…seriously? When was the last time “pie-in-the-sky idealism” could be accurately applied to foreign policy during a Democratic Administration? When is the last time “pie-in-the-sky” idealists had ANY significant influence on liberal domestic policy, let alone foreign?
This is not America circa 1965. It’s not 1975. Hell, it’s not even 1985. I don’t think the Right will ever be able to reform itself until they stop seeing dirty hippies every time they turn around.
I think “Responsibility to Protect” is pretty pie-in-the-sky. It arises from the general impulse to fix the world’s problems. So while I agree that far too often Conservatives seem to think it’s always 1979, there’s a kernel of truth there regarding Dem FP.
GOP FP is currently an even bigger disaster, it’s true. Neither party offers a Conservative FP, in my opinion.
Mr. Reynolds: regarding what would be left for liberals to push after all the equal rights battles have been won, I strongly suspect the big issues will be over employment in an increasingly automated and knowledge-based economy. I think you may be correct, however, that if/when the GOP finally comes around on things like gay rights and contraception (abortion is almost certainly a bridge too far), the Dems might find themselves self-destructing over, say, animal rights.
It’s been mentioned, but I think it bears repeating: this can be boiled down to “chosing to govern.”
Because once you decide you actually want to govern, rather than just scream “No! YOU LIE!” you have little choice but to engaged in a more reality-based discussion.
A public education fight is important. A middle-right person is going to accept the role of government in education, but demand return on investment. The further left you get, the less economic return is an issue. Basically at some point you get to college degrees for everyone (an impossible goal) as a human rights issue.
There are similar areas where the left might get screwy, sort of the way the right did, when they thought the world was turning their way.
I mean … we know some of our leftish friends in these threads are ready to drop another trillion on job creation and stimulus, right? That despite the “short run” of the recession being over. (The Short Run is Short).
Yes, there is an opening there. More reforms to student loans such that it’s easier to get a loan for a degree in a field that pays well/has low unemployment.
Well, if the recession is over (and yes, I understand that technically it is), and ~8% unemployment remains, what do you propose we do? While I may be uncomfortable with taken on more debt to fund projects designed to reduce unemployment, what is the alternative for someone who doesn’t believe in the tax cut growth fairy?
@Rob in CT:
I think Alex Tabarrok has the libertarian solutions collected here.
More generally one could take the right complaint about “regulation” and start calling out what specific regulations you are talking about, and get to “specifics” (the joke word of 2012).
Thinking more about education and employment, John, there is a question that keeps nagging at me:
What do we do with the folks who just aren’t college material? What do we do with people with below-average raw intelligence (not that these two categories overlap exactly, but surely there is a correlation)? What jobs are there for them? I look at unemployment numbers for the categories of “no high school diploma” and “HS diploma only” and they worry me. Sure, you can shoot to boost high school graduate rates. You can shoot for more college grads, and a better distribution of degrees. But neither of those tasks is easy, and even if we’re moderately successful, my worry remains.
Do we now have an economy in which there is no gainful employment available for the hard worker who just wasn’t blessed with an average or above IQ, or even for the hard worker with a high IQ who just didn’t do well in school for other reasons? If so, what are the consequences?
[I know that IQ is a flawed measurement. Much like standardized testing, it’s flawed and yet remains one of the better options we have when it comes to discussing intelligence/aptitude. And so I end up using it, even know I know it’s flawed.]
If you cannot even deal with reality…then you can’t fix anything. These are fantasies. Like tax cuts that pay for themselves. Or WMD in Iraq. Accept the real world. Then a meaningful discussion can happen.
@Rob in CT:
I think everybody has curiosity and likes to gain proficiency. I think there’s a good word for beyond-proficiency I’m blanking on right now.
I’m a fan of lifetime learning, and not just in the conventional sense. A guy on youtube who shows you how to make a fire with a bow drill has learned something and is teaching it.
… gotta go but I think the answer is some kind of mixed mode educational “system” where people can find their thing.
Well, that’s optimistic of you… 😉
@john personna: I would modify that thought a bit — since the Democrats have so many interest groups, there are multiple pathways to winning nomination battles in most district/races, so gate-keeping efforts are far less effective than in the Republican Party where most primary winning coalitions NEED to have a significant chunk of only a few large blocs where gatekeepers can charge political rents.
@mattb: But Matt — their wonks actually get listened to, or at least the politicians will act as if they listen to wonk based criticism — most notable example is the Obama primary campaign promising no individual mandate, and then President Obama listening to the wonks saying a mandate or something very much like it was needed to bring enough healthy people into the risk pool. And guess what, the mandate was in the final bill as a core element.
@john personna: “I think everybody has curiosity and likes to gain proficiency.”
That’s a far cry from everybody being a “knowledge worker” or whatever the hell the term is for post-industrial employment. We jeer at Romney’s 47% nonsense but is that so far removed from Matt Yglesias’ view of there being information economy “winners” and the rest can only hope to service them as yoga instructors or what have you?
The problem in a nutshell.
Heh, I thought of Matty Y’s yoga instructors too.
There are many non-economic routes, but people who build DIY drones or garage CNC might find a way to make it pay.
Most microbrewers were garage brewers first.
Long experience in life has taught me that this is not the case for everyone….
And even if it’s true, the things that people have curiousity about, and want to gain proficiency in, may not actually be things they are good at, or things that enable them to earn a decent living.
Exactly. Your remarks are right on and were clearly demonstrated at the Demo convention a couple of weeks ago. Wow, that convention was an eye opener for me.
THIS. As I said yesterday.
Me: “I think everybody has curiosity and likes to gain proficiency.”
Oh you skeptics and pessimists 😉
Think about it as the brain’s function for survival. It is there to remember stuff that might be useful in the future, which will enhance the organism’s’ ability to survive, mate, rear young, and (in social species) gain status and position.
You may find someone who is poor at it, or has made poor choices about how to do it (dungeons and dragons) but I don’t think anyone can deny that the desire to learn some useful thing is part of human nature.
You are the reason why conservative moderate republicans are dead. Good luck
How about getting Republican Jeebus out of my vagina? Take it from this 46 year-old, college-educated, suburban white woman, wife, mother and business owner: The GOP Gospel of — 1) outlaw birth control; 2) force the sluts to give birth; and 3) let the babies die from malnutrition and lack of health care — is a mighty tough sell. I don’t think you appreciate the ferocity with which 51% of the electorate will protect our daughter’s from your coathanger & butcher knife birth control plan.
Actually, people like Bush I and Bush II are the reasons. When Bush II used the term compassionate conservative as an excuse to big government spending, everyone should have realized then that the Republican Party was on the path to extinction.
What most progressives are really upset about is that in the coming one party state, they will have to bear full responsibility for all of the failures. There will be no more blaming Republicans (like President Obama will be doing when he leaves office in 2017) when the Republican Party is irrelevant.
You quote, “Please don’t say, in effect, “Become the Democratic Party.” Yet your points are things like “Accept the fact that we may need to increase taxes. Accept the concept of same-sex marriage. Support the DREAM Act and immigration reform. Support Wall Street reform.” Aren’t these all things that the Democrats support? So the argument is, “Become the Democratic Party, only…you know…not so much.”
I think the argument is “follow Democratic policies, but keep the fundamental premise that white men are real Americans, and everyone else is inferior”. I think that is what is really keeping so many unhappy conservatives from just calling themselves liberal, they don’t want to relinquish that fundamental premise, even as they support liberal policies as you noted.
@Rob in CT: “I think “Responsibility to Protect” is pretty pie-in-the-sky. It arises from the general impulse to fix the world’s problems. ”
I disagree. As we saw in Bahrain (and the Congo, the West Bank, etc.), there is no ‘Responsibility to Protect’ when that would contradict the demands of empire.
‘Responsibility to Protect’ is just another imperial propaganda phrase.
@john personna: “I think Alex Tabarrok has the libertarian solutions collected here.”
I’ll hold off on reading those until the damage from the last set of libertarian ‘reforms’ has been fixed.