Replacing the Republican Party?

Jennifer Rubin wants to build a new political party from scratch.

Inspired by George W. Bush’s eulogy at John McCain’s funeral, Jennifer Rubin muses, “If the GOP isn’t McCain’s party, why not build a new one?

In particular, I continue to mull these remarks from former president George W. Bush about McCain:

He was courageous — with a courage that frightened his captors and inspired his countrymen.
He was honest, no matter whom it offended. Presidents were not spared. (Laughter.)
He was honorable — always recognizing that his opponents were still patriots and human beings.
He loved freedom, with the passion of a man who knew its absence.
He respected the dignity inherent in every life — a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators.
Perhaps above all, John detested the abuse of power. He could not abide bigots and swaggering despots. There was something deep inside him that made him stand up for the little guy — to speak for forgotten people in forgotten places.

Sadly, none of that describes the current Republican Party, which seems set on systematically uprooting all these values. In the past, Republicans such as Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt — and McCain — exemplified those virtues. However, it’s getting more difficult by the day to imagine that the current GOP is the heir to the party of Reagan, TR and McCain — let alone Abraham Lincoln. Watching GOP lawmakers bemoan McCain’s loss but do nothing to rein in, admonish, restrain or check the man who threatens the values McCain stood for leaves one despondent about the prospects for the GOP’s future.

While I agree that  Lincoln, TR, Reagan, and McCain frequently exemplified the values in that passage, they’re not uniquely Republican or conservative. Beyond that, parties don’t maintain much consistency over long periods. Lincoln’s Republican Party represented the left wing of American politics at the time. Half a century later, Teddy Roosevelt was a Progressive, carving out vast swaths of land for environmental preservation, breaking up large corporations, and vastly expanding the regulatory power of the federal government. Reagan’s GOP, by contrast, was ostensibly about de-regulation and rolling back the power of the central government.

At any rate, Rubin’s new party would be different from the one that’s currently aiding and abetting Donald Trump:

Four principles come straight from the McCain playbook:

  • American leadership based on American values: Support democratic allies and the international economic system that has existed for 70 years. Stand with freedom-seeking peoples struggling against oppression.
  • Defense of the rule of law and civil liberties: Protect the apolitical nature of the Justice Department, an independent judiciary, a professional civil service, access to voting and the freedom to criticize our government. This takes effort and vigilance.
  • Truth in all things: Whether it is scientific studies, crime statistics or Russian interference in our elections, there can be no alternative facts. Truth is truth, and Americans should have the most accurate and complete information regarding what their government is up to (e.g., visitor logs, a Supreme Court nominee’s papers, responses to Freedom of Information Act requests). Unless release of information implicates national security, the public should be able to see it all — these people are our employees.
  • Public virtue, public service: A tough new standard for eliminating conflicts of interest and self-dealing is long overdue. A new national service initiative (perhaps in conjunction with student loan forgiveness) would be timely. No longer can we discount the important of character in picking leaders.

These four items cannot be separated from one another. America cannot lead on the world stage if we do not defend the rule of law and civil liberties at home. We cannot uphold the rule of law at home if we accept bald-faced lies and disinformation as truth — or come to believe there is no such thing as truth. We cannot address tough policy issues (e.g., income inequality, trade, immigration, climate change) if we live in a fantasy world where inconvenient facts are ignored and know-nothingism is prized. If we do not embody civility, empathy, kindness, tolerance and courage and show a willingness to defend and serve the country, then we will earn the enmity of other Americans and other nations.

We already have a political party that stands for those things: the Democratic Party. Until recently, the GOP stood for those things, too, with the possible exception of faith in the scientific consensus.

Rubin might argue that the Democrats fail in “American leadership” and “public service” because they’re more skeptical of military spending. Rhetorically, that might be true. As a practical matter, though, we’ve spent enormous sums on defense under Presidents of both parties. And she’d likely argue that President Obama’s tepid response to the atrocities in Syria, in particular, was problematic. But I don’t see sufficient groundswell for that sort of interventionism to spawn a new major party.

Rubin continues:

I would add a fifth item, which is required if we are to accomplish the other four: shared prosperity, without which, we’ve learned, the underpinnings of liberal democracies come undone, demagogues point to outsiders as the cause of trouble, and faith in government erodes. That means no more reverse Robin Hood schemes (e.g., freezing civil service employees’ wages while mulling indexing capital gains) and giving priority to the people who need it most, not the ones (e.g., seniors) who vote the most. It requires government to reassess regulations (e.g., zoning, professional licensing) that make the rich richer and the powerful more powerful. We need to promote and subsidize work, narrow the economic gap between rural and urban America, encourage robust legal immigration (which creates jobs, pays for entitlements and infuses our economy dynamism in every generation) and expand trade (with adequate help for those displaced).

There’s not enough detail to go on there but, arguably, neither party is doing much on those fronts.

Rubin’s party is arguably one I could vote for. Especially if the Democratic Party decides that growing antipathy for Trump is tantamount to support of a hard turn left.

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. While their ideologies have changed and traded positions over time, the Republican-Democratic two-party system has basically been around since the Election of 1860, and arguably since the election of 1856. The odds that we’re going to see one of them collapse and a whole new party rise in its wake strikes me as pretty low. Even the worst crises have not brought that system to an end. The Democrats survived the Civil War, Reconstruction, and a prolonged period in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries during which they were largely a regional party. Republicans survived the Great Depression and Watergate. Perhaps Trumpism is something that will tear the GOP apart to such a great extent that it leads to a new party, but it’s far too early to tell

    The more likely outcome is a realignment such as those we have seen several times over the course of the past century and a half. It may mean that the GOP will spend time in the political wilderness, although that seems unlikely as long as it remains strong in areas of the country where the population continues to grow.

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    So Rubin has joined Ponnuru and other reformicons in arguing that the Republican Party should become something reasonable, something decent, something that supports the welfare of the whole country, something entirely alien to what the Republican Party is. Pray tell me, Jen, how you plan to get the Koch Bros, Adelson, Friess, et al to go along.

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  3. drj says:

    I don’t think third parties are viable if you have plurality voting. And in a two-party system, someone is going to be gunning for the crazies, i.e., Fox News junkies, science deniers, gun fetishists, etc.

    But if Rubin really wants a third party, she should help build one. Start local, get some people elected and actually demonstrate that her party can change things for the better before taking things to the federal level. But that would require actual work, for which I don’t see people lining up quite yet.

    A third-party “a pox on both houses” hero swooping in to successfully convince the American voter that the US is properly a center-right nation (whatever that means) is just a silly pipe dream.

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  4. Kylopod says:

    Rubin may be a latecomer, but she’s arguing something that professional “centrists” in the media have been saying for years, the idea that a new party with the vague ideals of elite journalists, basically combining economic conservatism and social liberalism (a combination of views that, contrary to what the elites believe, is not terribly popular–indeed, Trump’s rise is a testament to the fact that the opposite combo carries more electoral punch), will spring up from the ashes of a supposedly dead GOP. And it’s just as much of a pipedream now as it was then.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Fever dreams. As long as the Koch brothers, Adelsons, and Friesses are whistling Dixie, the GOP will continue to dance to the tune. We need to find a way to tame the influence money has on our politics. Without that, it’s only going to get worse.

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  6. James Joyner says:

    @Kylopod:

    Rubin may be a latecomer, but she’s arguing something that professional “centrists” in the media have been saying for years, the idea that a new party with the vague ideals of elite journalists, basically combining economic conservatism and social liberalism (a combination of views that, contrary to what the elites believe, is not terribly popular

    You’re right. I didn’t recognize it in the way she formulated it but it’s basically the old Pundit’s Fallacy: “We need a party that advocates the policies that my friends and I like; it would be extremely popular.”

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  7. Kathy says:

    The best defense of the two party system, is that most people believe a successful third party is impossible.

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  8. KM says:

    @TM01:

    climate change and the scientific consensus: consensus isn’t science.

    No, it’s not. However, it is evidence-based and there’s a shit-ton of evidence that’s being conveniently ignored to make a quick buck by the GOP. We’re seeing in real time the effect of mild climate shifts with sunny day flooding in Florida, tornadoes in previously unknown areas, massive heat waves and storms lasting longer and spreading farther. Things like plants blooming slight out of season and animal migrations not when expected like the swallows not coming back to Capistrano like they have for decades. Seasons shifting slightly from when the calendar traditionally expects them to start. It used to be kids had to wear snowsuits under their Halloween costumes when I was little – now the snow doesn’t reliably start up there till mid- November.

    People can SEE something is slightly out of whack. It’s pretty damn obvious something is changing and science has pretty much figured it out and what to do about it. But since it will affect your pocketbook and make you change your way of life, you’ll merrily prance along to your doom and ignore the canaries GTFO out the mine.

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  9. Mikey says:

    @Kathy: Sadly, it’s not just a belief. As Marcel Duverger observed, America’s electoral system of first-past-the-post voting and single-member districts strongly favors devolution to a de facto two-party system.

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  10. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Hey, James, maybe before launching a new lifeboat – oops, I mean party – to get away from Trump, Republicans might want to consider what they did for over 20 years that resulted in Trump getting the Republican nomination in the first place?

    Like constantly fighting stupid culture wars – pledge of Allegiance, flag-burning, flag lapel pin sizes, the perennially popular abortion – instead of advocating good policy? Like not being a frenzied group of war-mongers?

    And James is worried about a “hard left” Democratic Party. Yeah, right.

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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM:

    you’ll merrily prance along to your doom and ignore the canaries GTFO out the mine.

    No, TM will be dead long before the piper has to be paid. It is our children, and our children’s children, and God willing and the oceans don’t rise too much, their children who will have to pay the price.

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  12. Jen says:

    Third parties are at a distinct disadvantage in our system, for many reasons. One of those is the way in which the two parties have developed over the years, particularly at the state level. It is extraordinarily difficult to establish a nationwide third party because you essentially have 50 separate states’ worth of rules to comply with for ballot access. It almost makes the development of an agreed-to platform look like the easy part.

    County committees, state committees, and national committees all have nominating rules. You need a fair number of people willing to shed their prior affiliation to run under a new party, there are state-level requirements, fundraising, organizing (most of these county and state conventions require chairpersons, treasurers, etc. all of whom must be members of the new party), and so on.

    All of this work, incidentally, is done for free by people in their spare time. It’s probably not impossible to have a new party form, but because of the way our system has developed (and this doesn’t even get into structural conditions such as winner take all/electoral college issues that end up casting third parties as spoilers), it is unlikely to be successful.

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  13. teve tory says:

    @Kylopod: Thomas Friedman has written the same column for years.

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  14. teve tory says:

    consensus isn’t science.

    This is a really stupid notion that Michael Crichton (not a scientist) came up with to bash global warming.

    In reality consensus is important in science, and you’re stupid to ignore it.

    If all the chemists in the world are part of a consensus telling you not to mix bleach and ammonia when cleaning your kitchen, you can be smart and listen to them, or be dumb and say consensus isn’t science, and then you’ll learn what chloramine vapor smells like.

    We’ve known about Global Warming since the late 1800s. It’s basic chemistry.

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  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @TM01:

    Or are you still pushing that fake news about women being paid less than men?

    Once again we see that “fake news” is anything you don’t agree with, or aren’t smart enough to comprehend.

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  16. Lounsbury says:

    @teve tory: Yes actually this is something that astonishes me with American deniers, who seem to constantly whinge on as if the basic science on global warming is something that jumped out of the Left in the past two decades. I recall quite well the entirely non-controversial classes in science in the 70s in school on the significantly warmer ancient Cretaceous and Jurassic climates and the clear evidence of significantly higher carbon dioxide…. it is not particularly a surprise that returning sequestered chemical to the atmosphere will drive climate back towards those states. Entirely non controversial observation until American ‘conservatives’ decided so for political reasons.

    Of course since USA is the land where Young Earth Creationism remains something that this same set of people take seriously, perhaps it is not surprising your country is also the land of climate denialism.

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  17. Kylopod says:

    @teve tory:

    In reality consensus is important in science, and you’re stupid to ignore it.

    Moreover, we have to consider credibility here. Scientific consensus can be wrong; it has been before. Nevertheless, I’d trust scientific consensus any day over people who have a vested interest in denying those scientific claims–people in the pockets of the fossil-fuel industry, for one (which I’m convinced is a large part of what accounts for even that tiny minority of scientists who deny global warming). The same is true of evolution: who has more credibility, people committed to the dogma of Biblical literalism, or people not committed to that dogma (including many religious folks)?

    Of course it’s ultimately a matter of evidence, not authority. But speaking as a layperson, even before looking at the evidence, the fact that 97% of the scientific community accept it is, to me, an overwhelmingly good reason for me to accept it. For one thing, scientific truths are not always intuitive, and sometimes you have to defer to the experts. My trusted doctor could misdiagnose me, but I’d listen to him any day over the faith healer or homeopath. He’s just got a better track record.

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  18. Franklin says:

    @KM: Not sure why you’re bothering. Some people’s heads are in the sand with no intention of coming up. If worse comes to worst, they’ll always point out that the models aren’t perfect yet (who knew that it is challenging to predict exactly what 100 quindecillion* atoms will do decades into the future?).

    There are so many knock-on effects of climate change that one can’t list them here. Only a small fraction of them are “good,” though.

    (* 100 quindecillion=10^50, an approximation of the number of atoms on Earth)

  19. @Mikey: Duverger’s Law is not as law-like as it sounds (see Canada, India, and even the UK). Having said that, FPTP + primaries to nominate candidate pretty much equals a two-party system. Any real third party impulse will be more successful at focusing on primaries, not the general election. See, e.g., the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus movement within the GOP.

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  20. Franklin says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Women being paid less than men is most clearly a fact. Now if TM tried to clarify, he’d probably get himself in even more trouble – claiming that women are less productive or something, like some stupid Texan (but I repeat myself) doctor recently claimed.

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  21. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    It is extraordinarily difficult to establish a nationwide third party because you essentially have 50 separate states’ worth of rules to comply with for ballot access.

    I completely agree. Setting up a third party with a chance to elect people into various offices would be a massive undertaking, requiring a lot of time, money and the efforts of many, many people. It would take years, too.

    And no one will even try if most people are convinced it’s not possible.

    Mind, the end result of a successful effort, would most likely be to replace one of the two major parties, rather than instituting a three-party system.

  22. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Scientific consensus can be wrong; it has been before.

    That’s what gives the deniers a semblance of credibility.

    As far as I know, though, there have been like two major instances when the consensus proved not just wrong, but egregiously wrong. One is the notion that stomach ulcers were entirely due to excess acid, with treatment consisting of bland diet and beta blockers that did little (the real cause in most cases is a bacterium, H. pillori, which can be treated with antibiotics).

    The other was the mismatch in the observed perihelion of Mercury vs the one predicted by Newton’s laws of gravitation. The consensus was that a planet had to exist between Mercury and the Sun, and it was perturbing Mercury’s orbit. Decades were spent looking for this hypothetical world, it was even named Vulcan, after the Roman god of the forge.

    It turned out Newton’s laws were incomplete. the issue was resolved with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, which extended Newton’s laws.

    Today there’s a similar problem involving dark matter. it makes perfect sense for it to exist (that is, it explains many observations), but none has been detected in several decades of trying. Some scientists believe Einstein’s extension of Newton’s laws is still not a complete picture, but the theories put forth, such as Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND), don’t explain all the odd observations.

    I tend to favor dark matter, but it troubles me that it seems to be so inert that it only interacts gravitationally, not just with normal matter but also with itself. Some physicists think that’s the nightmare scenario, others think new physics are needed.

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  23. SKI says:

    We already have a political party that stands for those things: the Democratic Party. Until recently, the GOP stood for those things, too, with the possible exception of faith in the scientific consensus.

    There is another exception, James. “Defense of the rule of law and civil liberties” is not something the GOP has defended for decades – at least when it comes to the rights of people other than white christian males.

    That said, as was noted above, this is another run at the same tired idea that there is some High Broderism center that is just begging for a party that will unite the country. Here is a dissection of a similar sentiment by the original high priest in 2006: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2006/10/31/264392/-

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  24. gVOR08 says:

    @KM:

    But since it will affect your pocketbook and make you change your way of life, you’ll merrily prance along to your doom and ignore the canaries GTFO out the mine.

    @Lounsbury:

    Entirely non controversial observation until American ‘conservatives’ decided so for political reasons.

    Little Timmy’s opinion hardly matters, nor other “conservatives”. The Koch Bros, Exxon, et al decided for purely economic reasons to oppose doing anything about AGW, even though they’ve known it’s a fact for decades, and they’re buying the loyalty of GOP pols. Meanwhile, Exxon wants Russia sanctions lifted so they can exploit oil on the Russian Arctic shore that would be unreachable without global warming. An incredible level of hypocritical asshattery by all concerned.

    1
  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen:

    It is extraordinarily difficult to establish a nationwide third party because you essentially have 50 separate states’ worth of rules to comply with for ballot access.

    This is undeniably true, but it presumes that the only meaningful way to create a third party is from the top down. But I’ve long contended that a true ecological based party could certainly grow from the hyper local level up. People see that their streets aren’t clean, they learn that the beach or the lake they use for recreation has dangerous levels of pollution on 50% of the summer days, or that the local schools have standing water in their air conditioning units, a potential breeding ground for Legionairre’s disease. A real ecological party could rally around local candidates and support them in getting real things accomplished when they win. And success would build upon success.

    And I suppose, if libertarianism actually had any value as a governance philosophy, they could do the same. Obviously from the way I phrased this I think that it doesn’t, but libertarians are more than welcome to prove me wrong. They could show that a focus on removing licensing issues results in more new businesses starting up, that making it simpler to hire people results in reduced unemployment in the area, and so on. Now, I would contend that Libertarianism got a big and hugely expensive trial in Kansas and it proved to be an unmitigated disaster, so that brings up something else these new parties would have to do: deal with reality and adjust their techniques and even their philosophy to suit the facts on the ground. This would mean judging their success on results rather than purity of theory.

    And there’s the rub. It seems that these local efforts don’t become national. The Green Party and the Libertarian Party both are simply havens for cranks and weirdos, people who engage in endless internal witch hunts to burn heretics at the stake. They attract people who are, in the end, more enamored with talking about issues than doing anything about them.

    From what I can see, when a local person with environmental concerns has success, they move into one of the major parties and try to use the existing structure to promulgate their successes. In the past that could mean the Democrats or the Republicans, but since Gingrich the environment has been wholly the responsibility of the Democrats alone.

    Perhaps Doug or one of the other commenters here who think Libertarianism has some value can show an example of a local Libertarian champion who succeeded in changing their community. But I would bet that if they stayed in politics and continued to have success they became part of the one of the parties, almost certainly the Republicans.

  26. Kathy says:

    BTW, CNN has excerpts of Woodward’s book on Trump.

    Previous books, while adding some value and some useful info, were more about scandal for the sake of scandal. Woodward is a serious journalist. So I’m looking forward to this.

  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kathy:

    Today there’s a similar problem involving dark matter.

    There’s also the “supersymmetry crisis” going on right now in particle physics. Basically the last 20-30 years of theory is based on an assumption of a particular property called supersymmetry, which until recently wasn’t testable. Now that it is for the first time testable, the results are not as expected. Supersymmetry hasn’t been completely ruled out, but it is looking a lot less likely than it did before, which could mean an entire generation of physicists wasted their entire careers on an illusion.

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  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod:

    the fact that 97% of the scientific community accept it is, to me, an overwhelmingly good reason for me to accept it

    There are of course, famous cases where 97% of the scientists turned out to be wrong, but a close look at these show more nuance than the average Republican could handle – more of a “exception proves the rule” then an “I told you so” moment.

    When I was a kid, plate tectonics was just becoming accepted, after decades of one lone crank who promoted the idea against the scorn of the entire geological community. Now it is taken as a given. Another: there was a lone crank who argued for years that parts of the western states showed signs of a great flood at high altitudes and he posited that a great land-locked lake had existed for hundreds of thousands of years before an opening had eroded and released a small oceans worth of water almost overnight (geologically speaking). Last time I checked evidence developed by satellites and other modern technology had turned that into the consensus theory. Finally, also in my lifetime, the idea of an asteroid being responsible for the extinction of the dinosaur went from laughable science fiction to virtually universally accepted theory to, oddly, one that is coming under increasing attack.

    But what all three of these had in common and in contrast to the climate deniers was that the evidence itself was generally accepted (putting aside the inevitable relatively short-lived arguments about the significance of new finds). The “cranks” worked within the scientific method to meet all the challenges the mainstream threw at them. The climate change deniers on the other hand are a bunch of conspiracy theorist web surfers who don’t understand the scientific method and would reject it if they did.

    Scientists as a community are one of the most conservative groups I’ve ever come across. Resistance to change is one of its fundamental principles. The philosophical reason for this is rooted in the scientific method. But the practical reason it is the secret dream of every scientist to prove a consensus wrong, the bigger and more ingrained, the better. Because you get tenure for proving the consensus wrong. You get funding, and your own lab, and invitations to lecture your fellow scientists. Hell, you get the Noble prize if what you prove wrong is important enough. And so they make their fellow scientists work for it, hard. Some Republican conspiracy theorist wacko who spends a few hours cutting and pasting from a bunch of random websites, and then announces that we should present “both sides” and “let the public” decide? That’s like saying there’s a group of athletes that train their whole lives for the Olympics, run the race, and win, but we won’t award the medal until we see if Breitbart readers think someone other than Usain Bolt is the fastest man alive.

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  29. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: I should clarify that scientific consensus can apply at different levels of certainty. There are always mysteries and conundrums in any scientific discipline, as well as theories that might be overturned tomorrow. And theories like Newton’s laws of mechanics weren’t so much disproven as shown to be insufficient; they continue to be valid at the levels where they were able to be observed in the past.

    In any case, a common misunderstanding about science is that its theories need to be proven, when in reality much of the time it works in the opposite direction: a theory is accepted until the data no longer support it, and it acquires increasing certainty through its survival after repeated testing. That’s why, for instance, evolution is so overwhelmingly likely to be true: there are numerous conceivable discoveries that could disprove it (for instance, a hominid fossil in rocks dated to the Cretacious) but which simply have never come to light. Every single discovery up to now, in numerous disciplines crossing biology, geology, astronomy, and more, has been consistent with the theory, even if the exact details of how the process occurred aren’t fully known.

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  30. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan:

    This is undeniably true, but it presumes that the only meaningful way to create a third party is from the top down.

    The only meaningful way to create a third party is from the bottom up.

    However, the organizing requirements are statutory. So, somehow, a political party must somehow amass enough people at the grassroots level to organize, either to push for legislative change at the state level, or to comply with the existing laws that are on the books.

    In order to amass enough people, there must be enough popular general consensus around ideas and principles to get people thinking and identifying with the [NAME HERE] party. That doesn’t happen at the local level, because peoples’ interests are varied.

    In short, if there are going to be enough people to identify with a replacement for the Republican party, there needs to be a unifying idea/principles and a name for them to adhere to–and then band together on the local level.

    It’s extremely hard. I say this as someone who worked in state party politics for a number of years–it’s a lot of work, being done by a lot of people fueled only by their identification with the party label. Getting a “replacement label” in place with enough of a unified mass behind it is going to be hard. Not impossible, but really, really hard.

    1
  31. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    I tend to favor dark matter, but it troubles me that it seems to be so inert that it only interacts gravitationally, not just with normal matter but also with itself.

    Between dark energy and dark matter, the observable stuff in the universe turns out to be little more than a rounding error.

    I can’t quite believe that our models are just fine when they only work out if you add a hidden 90% of the universe that only interacts to validate to models. Generally I would think this means the models are wrong, and we need to change the models, rather than find that missing vast majority of the universe.

    I would not be surprised if we discover that dark matter is the ether of the current age. Or if we found some wacky particle. Or something entirely insane like teeny tiny black holes created in the first 10^-1000th second of the universe, before atoms came about, with event horizons so small that nothing fits in. Or just never find the cause because it really doesn’t interact except by gravity.

    But there is something poetic and beautiful about a universe where we can only see a tiny fraction of what is going on. So, if I had to bet, I would bet on that last option, just because I like it more.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy:

    would most likely be to replace one of the two major parties…

    My sense of both the current Rubin and the near-annual Freidman third party articles is that replacing is the goal. They want to have a center to right party that they don’t have to be ashamed of supporting. Fortunately, at least on the international level spectrum of options, they have one–it’s called the Democratic Party as Dr. Joyner noted in his piece today. And even it that party takes the “Hard-Left Turn” (channeling Tyrell, Dr. Joyner?) that he fears it might, it will still be center to center-right compared to everywhere that is not the USA (or, possibly, the more fascist regions of the Third World).

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Continental drift is another one. Every scientist in the world just knew that Alfred Wegner was a complete nut case for proposing it, that the Earth was today as it had always been.

    1
  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy:

    others think new physics are needed.

    That’s the direction I’m leaning.

    Scientists hunt mysterious ‘dark force’ to explain hidden realm of the cosmos

    Physicists say a fifth force of nature would ‘completely change the paradigm’

    I’ll probably be dead by the time they figure it out, but it’s nice living in a time when there are still mysteries to be solved

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    an entire generation of physicists wasted their entire careers on an illusion.

    Not a waste if you confirm that something we thought was real isn’t, just the process of science doing what it does.

    Back to the larger topic–as I have been reading the thread today the ideas and goals along with the inherent difficulties already we already see in accomplishing them remind me of school reform–everyone wants to want school reform but doesn’t want to have any of the things that school reform tends to look like. As one of the parents in my little town put it at the time of No Child Left Behind,

    When I thought that all of this was about going after the teachers who I thought were bad, I was all for it. Now that I know that they want to look at my child’s efforts, too, not so much.

    1
  36. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I can’t quite believe that our models are just fine when they only work out if you add a hidden 90% of the universe that only interacts to validate to models.

    It’s not exactly like that.

    Begin with there being no reason to suspect dark matter exists. You develop models over time, and they seem to work for most, but not all, things. Then some observations don’t match. In this case, when Vera Rubin measures the rotational speeds of galaxies, and finds they’re spinning so fast they should be breaking apart. They’re not breaking apart. Therefore we either are missing some nuance or aspect of gravity, or there is more matter than we can account for (which means more gravity, which would hold the galaxies together at the speeds at which they rotate).

    For dark energy, start with Hubble’s discovery that the universe is expanding. from there things develop until we have a Big Bang and inflation and an expanding universe. Then some bright astronomers measure the expansion most accurately (by studying a specific type of Super Nova that shines at the same brightness everywhere), and they determine the universe’s expansion is accelerating.

    So it’s not that the models didn’t work, but that they didn’t take account of everything. So the model is wrong and needs to be changed, or completed, or augmented, but only to fit the new discoveries. They work fine for the rest of what’s known.

  37. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Not a waste if you confirm that something we thought was real isn’t, just the process of science doing what it does.

    Most of them weren’t involved in the “confirming something we thought was real isn’t” though. It was that while they were waiting for people who did do that confirming, they proceeded under the assumption that it was real, and if that assumption turns out to be false, then their work was completely irrelevant. They were basically just writing particle physics fan-fiction for their entire life.

  38. Gustopher says:

    Therefore we either are missing some nuance or aspect of gravity, or there is more matter than we can account for (which means more gravity, which would hold the galaxies together at the speeds at which they rotate).

    Oh, absolutely. But, when you are determining that you need more than twice the mass to be a new form of non interactive matter, it’s just as plausible to question everything else — the models we have, and the observations. Vera Rubin may be entirely right, or we may be missing something fundamental with our models at that scale, or we may calculating the mass wrong for other reasons.

    In an Earth-centric model of the solar system, peoplemcreated all sorts of weird forces to explain the motions of planets — or angels just shuffling them about. Two thirds of the mass of the universe being non-interactive particles sounds a lot like the angels, but with a scientific origin rather than a religious origin.

    People see what they want to see, such as James seeing a role for a new Not-Quite-Republican Party. (Ha! I’ve dragged it back to the post’s topic!)

    Vera Rubin thinks in terms of mass, so she starts from there and works backwards — with the real genius being that she didn’t stop when the results became absurd. Sometimes the absurd thing is right. Dark matter fits the measurements and the models. And it certainly sounds more plausible than little angels pushing the galaxies together so they don’t fly apart. But it also might be that we just don’t know how to ask the right questions yet.

    Dark energy is also amazingly neat. The fact that is is space expanding means that it is possible for something to be going away from you at faster than the speed of light, even though it is itself never traveling that fast. This pleases me.

    I’m not sure how dark energy affects my cat, though. Is she getting slowly bigger? Is she staying the same size because of the forces holding her together, and there’s a slowly growing bit of space around her? Or does dark energy only expand space where it’s a vacuum?

    (I always want to know how astrophysics affects my cat)

  39. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    But, when you are determining that you need more than twice the mass to be a new form of non interactive matter, it’s just as plausible to question everything else

    Yes, but that’s not how it happened.

    First you have the observation that galaxies are spinning too fast. the next step wasn’t “therefore dark matter.” It was “Why are the galaxies not flying apart?” I recall reading about this in Discover in the 80s. there was a search for the universe’s “missing mass.” Ideas and hypotheses were thrown around with abandon (or so nostalgia tells me). Maybe neutrinos do have mass? Maybe there are a lot of non-luminous massive bodies out there? And a lot more.

    It turns out neutrinos do have mass, but not big enough to account for Rubin’s measurements. Ditto for non-luminous objects (like rogue planets).

    So step by step, you get to “there must be some kind of weakly interactive particle or particles out there.” That’s a hard proposition to make, and harder to accept without some evidence. We will see.

    I’m not sure how dark energy affects my cat, though. Is she getting slowly bigger? Is she staying the same size because of the forces holding her together, and there’s a slowly growing bit of space around her? Or does dark energy only expand space where it’s a vacuum?

    My understanding of dark energy is that it is gets stronger in direct proportion to the square of the distance. So dark energy between to particles would be very weak, while that between galaxies would be strong.

    Now, I’m not saying this makes sense. Imagine a light source like that. if you placed it in front of a book, just a fraction of an inch from the page, it would be so weak you’d hardly even be able to see it’s light reflecting off the page. But if you placed it a million light years away, it would be brighter than the Sun.

    So I either misunderstand it, or the universe is as it is whether it makes sense or not.

    (I always want to know how astrophysics affects my cat)

    Well, the various super novae and stellar collisions that took place in the remote past, made the elements that make up your cat. Hydrogen fusion in the Sun provides light and warmth, which allow plants to grow, and animals to feed off the plants.

    In short, your cat exists at all, and can continue living, because of all that. All in all, a net positive effect.

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes, that’s different from what I was thinking about.

  41. Tyrell says:

    It sounds like she is describing the principles of the southern wing of the Democrat party. It seems that the national Democrat party gets more left – socialist by the day. This “No borders, no ICE, no nations” and “guaranteed income, 80% tax rate” line is not going to attract the working folks out here. The party of Johnson, Fulbright, Connally, Hollings, Ervin, and Carter is still around and does well in some of the local elections. And it is not racist. It is for sensible government and strong defense.

  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:

    But Trump also criticized Sessions for his Southern accent, reportedly mocking it and saying of his own administration’s attorney general: “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”

    You’re not a ‘dumb Southerner,’ are you, Tyrell?

    3
  43. Teve Tory says:

    There have been some very smart, and well informed, replies to my comment about scientific consensus. I’m pleased to see that the people who have commented on it have left very good, intelligent replies. I think that’s why I keep coming back here, at least in part. The commentariat here is very good.

    3
  44. Teve tory says:

    Everybody who supports Trump winds up humiliated. This includes dumbass Southerners, like I’m surrounded by, who are now being ridiculed by Trump.

    1
  45. @Tyrell:

    It seems that the national Democrat party gets more left – socialist by the day.

    Except that really isn’t true. It is a false perception based largely on media focus on a handful of candidates.

    6
  46. An Interested Party says:

    Godwin’s Law II: RUSSIA.

    Wow, that’s pretty stupid…when Mueller produces the actual evidence linking Trump to Russia, what do you do? Oh, that’s right, “deep state”, excuse me…

    Except that really isn’t true. It is a false perception based largely on media focus on a handful of candidates.

    Sadly, despite what you wrote being true, there are probably far too many people who actually believe the fantasy written by Tyrell…

    1
  47. Gustopher says:

    @Tyrell: Has Fox News started broadcasting to Mayberry?

  48. grumpy realist says:

    @Kylopod: I still like the response Herschel gave when he was asked what data would disprove evolution and snapped back: “Rabbits in the pre-Cambrian!”

  49. Kylopod says:

    @grumpy realist: I’m not sure I’ve heard that quote before, though I’m certainly familiar with the argument, which I’ve seen variations of many times. I looked it up and there’s an entire Wikipedia page on it. The quote is credited to J.B.S. Haldane.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precambrian_rabbit

  50. pasuteilka says:

    @gVOR08:

    Follow Les Wexner, top donor in Ohio who just left the party after hearing Obama talk. He stated ‘I was struck by the genuineness of the man, his candor, humility and empathy for others. Stop Fox news and people may see the truth.