Republican Insiders Still Talking About Quixotic Independent Run For POTUS
With Donald Trump now destined to become the GOP nominee, some Republican insiders are trying to put together another 'too little, too late' strategy to stop him.
The Washington Post’s Robert Costa and Philip Rucker are reporting on the efforts of several Republican insiders, including Mitt Romney, to put together a third-party challenge to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton:
A band of exasperated Republicans — including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a handful of veteran consultants and members of the conservative intelligentsia — is actively plotting to draft an independent presidential candidate who could keep Donald Trump from the White House.
These GOP figures are commissioning private polling, lining up major funding sources and courting potential contenders, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republicans involved in the discussions. The effort has been sporadic all spring but has intensified significantly in the 10 days since Trump effectively locked up the Republican nomination.
Those involved concede that an independent campaign at this late stage is probably futile, and they think they have only a couple of weeks to launch a credible bid. But these Republicans — including commentators William Kristol and Erick Erickson and strategists Mike Murphy, Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson — are so repulsed by the prospect of Trump as commander in chief that they are desperate to take action.
Their top recruiting prospects are freshman Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a conservative who has become one of Trump’s sharpest critics, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who withdrew from the 2016 race May 4. Romney is among those who have made personal overtures to both men in recent days, according to several people with knowledge of the former Massachusetts governor’s activities.
Earlier prospects included former senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and retired Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis. Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and retired Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal have been bandied about as potentially potent political outsiders.
The recruiters also delved into the world of reality television for someone who might out-Trump Trump: Mark Cuban, the brash billionaire businessman and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team.
Again and again, though, these anti-Trump Republicans have heard the same tepid response: Thanks, but no thanks.
“I don’t see it happening,” Cuban wrote in an email
Draft promoters have been telling potential candidates that 2016 already has proved to be an unpredictable cycle and that anything could happen, such as Trump’s candidacy shriveling under the expected Democratic advertising assault. What’s more, they tell them, you would have no bigger platform to promote your ideas than in a three-way general election that would attract global attention.
Pollsters have been conducting private surveys over the past week to measure the plausibility of an independent candidate, said three people working closely on the project.
Whether wealthy donors would fund a candidate with such long odds is unclear. Dan Senor, a former Romney adviser and a confidant of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), has been informally briefing high-level GOP donors opposed to Trump on how an independent campaign might work and has found them to be willing to invest if the right candidate stepped forward, according to people involved.
Spencer Zwick, who was Romney’s 2012 national finance chairman, said, “If this was just a ‘Never Trump’ option and there’s no hope of actually winning — in other words, a kamikaze mission — I’m not sure there’s enough money. If there were a real alternative, it changes the dynamic. But who’s going to do that?”
So far at least, the answer to that question appears to be nobody.
Based on Costa and Rucker’s reporting, none of the candidates that the group has approached have been the least bit interested in taking part in what appears to be a campaign that would be doomed from the start and which would seemingly destroy whatever political ambitions the potential candidate(s) might have in the future. Looking at the reality, it’s easy to see why. Right off the bat, there’s the fact that it is arguably too late for any candidate on the right to launch a third-party bid due to the fact that we’re already in the period where it will be next to impossible for a candidate to get on the ballot in a sufficient number of states to actually make a difference in the race. The deadline to get on the ballot in Texas, for example, has already passed, and deadlines in other states are set to expire in swift succession over the coming weeks and months. While the group apparently believes that they can use the courts to get around these deadlines, but there’s no guarantee that a court would rule in their favor, or that such a ruling would come in sufficient time for them to be able to launch a campaign, and the fact that they would be filing lawsuits challenging these deadlines well after the deadlines suggests that they could run afoul of the same laches argument that doomed several Republican candidates who waited until after the expiration of Virginia’s signature deadline to challenge the ballot access rules in the Old Dominion four years ago. In addition to ballot access issues, a third party bid that starts this late would face serious issues when it comes to fundraising, voter outreach, and even the seemingly simple task of finding people to work on the campaign.
Even if this group did manage to convince someone to run as a conservative alternative to Trump and Clinton, and even if they were able to get beyond the logistical challenges noted above, it seems clear that such a run would be doomed to failure at this point. For one thing, unless the campaign were headed by some well-known candidate that voters on the right and in the middle could get behind, the most that a campaign could hope to do would be to split the conservative vote in a host of traditionally red states with Trump and potentially allow Clinton to win with a plurality of the vote in states that she would otherwise lose, thus having an impact similar to the one Ross Perot had in 1992 and, to a lesser extent, 1996 to the benefit of Clinton’s husband. This would lead to a larger than expected Clinton victory in the Electoral College, and could potentially put the Republican majority in the Senate at even further risk than it already is today. In almost no conceivable scenario would it lead to the “independent” candidate getting 270 Electoral Votes, or Trump doing so either. This reality has apparently led some of the insiders to consider even more alarming scenarios:
Some anti-Trump Republicans are downsizing their ambitions to a more focused, state-specific effort. Murphy, who ran a super PAC for former Florida governor Jeb Bush in his failed 2016 bid, is pushing one such proposal. Murphy envisions an independent candidate on what he termed “an honorable mission” in Colorado, New Hampshire and Ohio — three battleground states with relatively lax ballot-access rules.
“Running an anti-Trump protest candidate in a handful of swing states really appeals to me,” Murphy said. “You could deny Trump the presidency and perhaps help important Senate and other down-ballot races by giving another choice to Republican voters who abhor Hillary Clinton and can’t cross the moral line to vote for Trump.”
One related objective is to prevent both Clinton and Trump from clinching a majority in the electoral college and thus throwing the presidential election to the House of Representatives, under the provision of the 12th Amendment of the Constitution. This scenario played out in 1824, when Andrew Jackson won a plurality of electoral and popular votes but was defeated in the House by John Quincy Adams.
The hope of such a strategy, of course, is that the House of Representatives, which would likely still be controlled by Republicans in January 2017 would hopefully choose to elect the independent candidate to the White House even if it turned out that one of the other two candidates had more popular votes and more electoral votes. This is what happened in the Election of 1824, when John Quincy Adams was elected President by the House despite the fact that Andrew Jackson had the plurality of both Electoral and Popular votes. The result of that outcome was four years of political conflict that saw Adams unable to accomplish much of anything and only served to focus the anger of Jackson and his supporters, who returned four years later to easily beat Adams in the Election of 1828. The result of such an outcome would likely be similar if an ‘independent conservative’ were elected to the White House in this manner.
If nothing else, reports like this speak volumes about how Republican insiders are really reacting to the idea that Donald Trump is going to be at the top of the ticket. While there have been a number of top Republicans on Capitol Hill and elsewhere who have started to rally around Trump as the nominee, it’s clear that there is a significant segment of the GOP base that still isn’t accepting the idea of Trump leading their party and are willing to consider even the most bizarre, convoluted scenario designed to prevent him from winning in November while at the same time trying to save the GOP’s down ballot candidates. As I said weeks ago, though, the entire effort to stop Trump has been the story of too little, too late. Rather than trying to take him on last summer, or last fall, when his campaign had turned into a constant and nearly daily barrage of insults, racially tinged invective in stump speeches, and policy proposals that were both clearly unconstitutional and at odds with long-stated conservative principles, insiders and most of the candidates running against Trump chose to hold their fire and let him continue with his nonsense as he rose in the polls. Instead, they waited until Trump had won one primary after another and clearly taken command of the race to try to stop him. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that they failed to deny him the nomination and now are acting in obvious panic mode as they face the prospect of seeing the party of Lincoln and Reagan ripped apart by a clown. It’s their fault, really, but one wonders if they’re capable of being introspective enough to realize that.
True. And for reasons that go way beyond failing to get serious about Trump early enough.
The usual criticisms of Hillary are that she’s too much of a neocon, too close to Wall Street, and dishonest. Those are all good things from the establishment conservative point of view. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just support Hillary?
More electoral votes for the Dems. I like it.
No, they’re not that capable…
The Washington Post’s Robert Costa and Philip Rucker are reporting on the efforts of several Republican insiders, including Mitt Romney, to put together a third-party
The more time they spend on this is the less time they spend on bathroom laws, reducing the minimum wage and killing the environment! It’s a win-win for everyone!
Right you are, although I must admit, I’m not sure that I’d rather have Republicans worried about the transgender threat to capitalism and bathroom etiquette than actually running the country (or, as knowledgeable observers call it, shutting the government down and entertaining default on American debt.)
Funny thing is, with the exception of Reagan and Clinton (under the influence of the Gingrich congress), there has been historically little difference between Democrat and Republican presidents in regards to discretionary spending and growth of government.
Charles Murray has some charts that reveal this in a bid to salve any #NeverTrump doubts about voting for Hillary.
So really, this third party bid is just an attempt to take their turn at screwing the American people. Sure, there would be some changes on the social side and perhaps who gets the favors, but nothing significant in slowing the decline of American liberty.
Now, Trump has some big plans and both sides are rightly concerned that the Executive power they’ve both been increasing will now be in Trumps hands. So common cause if Trump is elected. Members of both parties will be working hard to roll-back the move toward imperial Presidents. And Gingrich is already in Trumps camp, as the only living politician who has a track record of actually limiting government, that’s a good person for Trump to have.
Of course, the bloodsuckers in DC are horrified at a possible return of sovereignty to the People.
Um, yea … 🙂
It would have been nice if this statement (as redacted) were at least passingly accurate. Then, Ted Cruz (The Last True Conservative [TM pending]) or one of the other pretenders to the throne out there would have taken on the mantle of conservative principles instead of running as the only “real Trump” in the pack. (I have no objections to identifying Trump’s proposals as unconstitutional, but I don’t recall any of the candidates even doing that.)
This is all nonsense. The Republicans will line up behind Trump. They would rather ride him into a landslide loss than break up the party. The only reason to run an independent would be to get disgruntled Republicans to the polls to vote in a GOP Congress but I don’t see it making much of a difference.
Of course that is bull$hit, but let us consider the source of the above quote…
At this point, the only thing the GOP “leadership” should be doing is worrying about Senate seats.
Any thoughts on what their best strategy for that might be, given the 800-pound Donald in the room?
@Hal_10000: At a guess, they’ll keep doing what they’ve been doing this week: endorse the nominee, and refuse to name who that person is, and then angrily claim that speaking about Trump is distraction from important issues.
@Hal_10000: At a guess, they’ll keep doing what they’ve been doing this week: endorse the nominee, and refuse to name who that person is, and then angrily claim that speaking about Trump is distraction from important issues.
Can we please stop this triumphalist talk of electoral landslides? I can read the electoral map as well as anyone, but the assumptions behind it may not be as applicable as many Democrats are assuming.
60% of voters in this country are white. 49% are male. We’ve been winning by narrow margins in several swing states, and those narrow victories were in very different elections with very different candidates. We have an un-loved, unattractive candidate who about half of my fellow Democrats have been sh–ting all over for months. The FBI is out there, ISIS is out there, and the idiot campus Left is out there, so can we please knock off this glib talk of landslides?
You know when I count my money? Not when I make the deal. Not when I’ve signed the contract. Not even when the initial payments are made. I count my money once it’s in my bank account. Even then I’m not 100% sure.
@michael reynolds: One problem I’ve noticed for years is that nobody’s ever come up with a clear, consistent definition of “landslide.” Just the other day in another thread, one commenter referred to Obama’s 2012 win (26 states, 332 electoral votes) as an “electoral vote landslide.” When people talk about Clinton achieving a 1964-level blowout, I can only roll my eyes. But I think it’s well within the realm of plausibility that she could expand on Obama’s 2008 map.
@michael reynolds: Can we please stop this triumphalist talk of electoral landslides?
Some people are just too far gone. If the GOP hadn’t been taking a slow-motion dive into an empty pool for the last quarter-century, the emotional and ideological meltdown in the Demcratic Party would be a lot more obvious.
A good analogy might be to war. Every war in history was going to be “over by Christmas.” And in reality zero wars are over by Christmas.
I’m in Australia at the moment, was in NZ the other day with a driver who was young, way to left and said basically that though he despised Trump, there was this secret nihilistic urge to “see what would happen.’ There’s a lot of that out there, a lot of Americans figuring, “Eh, what the hell?” If we go into this cocky we may well lose, and I don’t just mean the election.
I absolutely agree. They have cancer, we only have tuberculosis: not a reason to celebrate. We have major internal ideological contradictions in the Left, we are inches away from our own breakdown and the only reason it isn’t obvious is because the two-party system in which the opposition disciplines and corrects us, no longer functions.
1) Do we believe in a borderless world?
2) Do we believe in pre-emptive war?
3) Do we believe we should be a superpower?
4) Do we believe that fact trumps ideology?
5) How much inequality do we accept?
6) How much of a taxpayer’s money can we take?
7) How much ideological purity do we insist upon?
8) Do we believe in free speech or do we believe in speech codes?
9) Do we have even the first clue how to make the pie bigger, or are we just slicing it differently?
10) Do we believe that rights attach to the individual or to the group?
11) Do we believe in a melting pot or a stew pot?
12) Do we believe in a country with a single language?
There’a a dozen, and I could come up with another dozen. “We” don’t have agreed-upon answers, and these are not trivial questions. We act as if we know and we don’t. We act as if we agree and we don’t. It’s a bit much to act as if we have all the right answers when we don’t agree on what the right answers are, no?
Our candidates are a dishonest old fraud pushing leftover 30’s socialist crapola and promising free college at a time when just about the last thing we need is to pump a trillion bucks into creating more unemployed literature majors; and a directionless party apparatchik who boldly advocates for herself being president and, um, . . . wait it’ll come to me. . .and who only really shines when she’s under attack for one or the other of her stupid decisions.
Thank God the Republicans are racist, bigoted morons, because if they weren’t someone might notice that aside from our principled defense of minorities, we haven’t got the first clue what we’re doing.
@michael reynolds: For most of those questions, Democrats believe in a mushy middle, eschewing both extremes of the either/or position. None of that makes a great bumper sticker though.
Melting pot, or celebrating diversity — melt some, but retain your amazing cooking and open a few restaurants, thank you.
Free Speech or Speech Codes — free speech up until you’re being a smug ass and ruining things for everybody.
Rights belong to the individual and the group, and need to be balanced against each other.
Facts trump ideology when we know what the facts are, but all too often, we’re just kind of guessing.
We’re an English speaking country, but we don’t like the people who scream “learn the language” so we pretend otherwise just to annoy them.
And everyone thinks they know how to make the pie bigger.
Republicans have simple, pat answers to all of these questions. The simple, pat answer might change on a day by day basis, based on what they perceive the mushy middle of the liberals position is, but it will always be a simple yes or no.
The “we” here area a party that contains half the body politic. If it agreed on a single answer to ANY of these questions, then something would be wrong. And honestly, for most of your questions, anyone who answers anything other than “it depends” is a damn fool.
Trump called Elizabeth Warren, “Pocahontas”.
Stay classy, Republicans.
Paging Mr. Thomas Friedman. ;0)
The pie has been growing just fine, other than when GWB trashed the kitchen. The problem is who we’ve been allowing to slice it. A bigger pie doesn’t help if all the additional pie goes to the 1%.
@JKB: “Charles ‘The Bell Curve’ Murray has some charts that reveal this in a bid to salve any #NeverTrump doubts about voting for Hillary.
Fixed it for you.
I’m pretty sure the last time Doug used the word “quixotic”, it was to describe Bernie Sanders running for the democratic presidential nomination. So, I will take an opposing angle and say that a 3rd party/independent GOP run is exactly in the best interests of the GOP (in DC, especially), since Trump turns off ~1/3rd of the normal republican electorate. They don’t want Trump to win. They don’t want to lose the house and senate. Solution? Boost turnout with a republican 3rd party candidate. Doom Trump, improve turnout and give house/senate members the boost they need. Win/win.
Finding the right fool to make the run, on the other hand, is a real quandry. I think Romney is the only person who could really make a dent (above 15%, get into the debates).
@JKB: I wonder why Charles Murray did not show a chart of budget deficits when contrasting Reagan/Clinton.
Michael Reynolds: great to see your byline…isn’t it winter in New Zealand?
You’re in large part proving my point. For example, I don’t believe the ‘smug ass’ exemption to free speech is a thing. I believe in freedom of speech, full stop. To use the old ‘yelling fire in a theater’ example, I think you have a perfect right to yell fire in a theater, but you may be prosecuted for the separate crime of knowingly causing panic.
And quite clearly many of our college administrations and students do not agree at all. Many are asserting “group rights’ as a counterpoint to free speech rights – asserting rights I do not believe exist, to limit a right that quite clearly does exist, or at least should. There are groups which I otherwise support who act deliberately to shut down the free speech rights of, say, Donald Trump, and a great many of us on the Left think that’s just swell. Our intellectual betters in academia write and enforce specific speech codes, and have we on the Left universally condemned them? Nope.
And I do not believe the Left generally accepts the idea that we should be an English-speaking country, in fact I could find you many people on the Left who do not. Nor do many on the Left believe in a melting pot, a concept which is diametrically opposed to such Leftist constructions as “cultural appropriation.”
And you chose not to address the question of open borders. I was supposed to be at a debate on the topic the other day (I decided sensibly to go drink Scotch instead) but among the quasi-intellectual group I was with the sentiment was on the side of open borders, and to such an extent that any countervailing opinion was seen as racism. And this is not a trivial question.
As for facts and ideology, how is it we maintain there is absolutely nothing to condemn in an ideology which holds that women are second-class citizens and gays should be punished? We loudly tout our support for an ideology which – if we called it ideology and not religion – we would openly despise. I speak of course of orthodox Judaism. Well, that and the other religion we aren’t supposed to mention because in fact our muddled ideology all-too-often does trump the facts. There is not a single competent, free Muslim nation on earth, that’s a fact, which we are required to ignore because of ideology. In fact Muslims who do love freedom, who long for reformation and reform and point to problems in their religion/ideology are shut down by the Left not because they are factually wrong, but because of ideology.
And you avoided the question of what we owe our government. Bernie Sanders would raise my effective tax rate to 70% in order to funnel my money to his preferred special interest groups. Much of the Left apparently has no problem with that. I do.
I was for civil rights before many of you were born and I always supported full legal equality for women and gays. I believe in the principle that those who have must help those who don’t. Obviously I’m on the Left side of the spectrum. But if Bernie Sanders were elected and by some miracle enacted his programs, I’d be off-shoring my money like crazy and looking for a sunny non-American island to live on. That’s how much of a disconnect there is between leftist me and a large swathe of my leftist party.
We get away with these contradictions and paper over this fissures because we are not effectively challenged by the other party.
Well, then I guess I’m a damn fool, because I believe in freedom of speech, full stop. And I believe rights are the possession of individuals and not groups. I also believe we have a perfect right to maintain the integrity of our borders. No ‘depends’ about it. And I think the fact that the US is a superpower has resulted in the longest period in modern history without a major war, a 70 year Pax Americana.
In each of those positions I am absolutely at odds with the campus left and none of those are trivial matters. Which is my point: we are not united and we do not have a coherent world view that extends beyond our universal and wholly admirable belief that all people are born with equal rights.
Dude, it’s killing me. It’s autumn here, and I have a definite tendency to seasonal affective disorder so going from a Bay Area spring to an Auckland/ Sydney fall is rather depressing. I’m losing my favorite season: convertible season.
Of course you know what I really want to do here? I want to drive a Jensen Interceptor at 120 mph through the Outback with Imperator Furiosa riding (literal) shotgun. That would shake off the gloom.
Perhaps because you have (twice now) phrased it in “have you stopped beating your wife yet?” formulations:
“6) How much of a taxpayer’s money can we take?”
Back it up. How much of a taxpayer’s money can a taxpayer legitimately claim is entirely his own, no thanks to living in the most prosperous nation the world has ever seen? How much individual fortune should people be required to share with their fellow Americans, and it what forms? How best to structure the government to facilitate that mutual aid in the most efficient and effective ways?
These are legitimate questions that, yes, we need to discuss openly. I will note in passing that the period of most extreme taxation in US history corresponded precisely with the period of fastest rise in both average and lower-end prosperity. Can we agree that the questions of how much to tax and what to spend it on and how to administer that are all thorny, and should ideally be treated simultaneously?
After June has come and gone, they will be whistling into the wind. Even though they can’t see the reason that Trump is garnering in some many supporters (it’s because of their lack of action in past years [broken promises] and political pillow games, they still can’t figure it out but to continue in some stupid, late, benign effort at this time defies intelligence….
@DrDaveT: These are legitimate questions
No, they’re really not. We had this little thing called The Cold War that answered them.
The question is what do we want our government to do and how best can we pay for that. My money belongs to me, that’s why my money is called MY money and your money is called YOUR money. I’m not “required” to share my fortune, such as it is, with you and you’re not “required” to share yours with me.
The difference between talking about things in practical, pragmatic terms and defining them in Marxist terms is more than just semantics.
I speak English as a second language. Learning a Second Language is pretty difficult(There are many journalists and academics in the United States that don´t read in any language other than English), I know that because I frequently do things like writing texts in English that does not make sense or using Latin Structures in English.
To me, that´s the problem when people(Yes, monolingual people) demand that other people learn English.
Democrats don´t defend “Open Borders”. Many Democrats voted against Immigration Reform in 2007(One of them is running for President) and one could argue that they are not doing enough for Hispanics. Even Hispanics on the left of the Democratic Party don´t talk about “open borders”.
The issue of families and the fact that Mexico(and the rest of Latin America) is not another planet makes these things more complicated. There is the idea of America that´s beyond the idea of the country that people calls America(My grandparents came from Japan to Brazil, they could have landed elsewhere in the Continent).
Besides that, welcome to the Southern Hemisphere, Michael. 😉
@MBunge: Ben Franklin would love a word
I don’t necessarily agree with this, but to equate any and all skepticism of the concept of unbridled private property with Marxism is to exhibit profound historical ignorance..
Well, I’m convinced. If a random driver in a foreign country said it, it must indicate a trend with direct predictive power regarding the US election.
We’re ALREADY pumping a trillion bucks into creating college graduates — but we’re doing it by imposing that debt directly onto the students and their families, thereby resulting in an entire generation which can’t buy a house or a car or get a mortgage or switch careers or start a family or become entrepreneurs because they’re hampered by student loan debt. And most of those payments are going right into the banks’ pockets.
This complaining about free college is complete idiocy, by the same type of people who were complaining about free high school a hundred years ago. Well, college is the new high school, and if we don’t take some of the debt burden off the young we’re going to sink our own economy by sabotaging what should be our future entrepreneurs and home buyers and and consumers with unsustainable debt.
Oh no! But we can’t afford to lose you!
(Also, pro tip: whatever sunny non-American island would have you, as an American citizen you owe tax on the entirety of your worldwide income. So merely moving gets you nothing).
Well, how about half? Because that’s my tax hit right now. 50%. And if you think I’ve got some brilliant rich-guy way to avoid all that, no, I don’t. In fact I take fewer deductions than I could – my wife and I have self-financed a small charity in Minnesota for the last 19 yeas and never bothered to make it deductible because we figured it was our decision, made for our own reasons.
Unlike a lot of folks, DrD, I have voted twice in just the last few years to substantially raise my own taxes. First by voting for Mr. Obama, and then by voting for Jerry Brown in California. Those decisions have cost me a whole lot of actual cash.
At some point enough is enough.
No, duh. Thanks for clarifying the obvious. I would never, ever have thought of that.
Just like it would never occur to me that I could transfer my overseas royalty income to a corporation in a country that has no corporate tax, use that corp to buy a house, a car, etc…
BTW, my heart really bleeds for people who rack up huge amounts of debt to get an effectively useless education. (Did I mention I’m a high school drop-out? So not overly impressed by college kids who want me to pay them to study Renaissance art?)
And don’t you think it’s kinda obvious that free college would equal more college, thus more expense than is currently be run up, thus invalidating your argument that we’re already spending the money?
Actually coterminous with these writers festivals I’m doing there is some kind of moving borders debate being carried on, and yes, people do call for a borderless world, I know because I’ve been hanging out with some of them.
1) I don’t object in any way to protest. I object to protest aimed at stifling free speech. And since I don’t imagine a vote is taken of all the students on any given campus, efforts to shut down speakers are made by a sub-group of the whole, a sub-group we have no reason to assume represent the majority. The group opposed is effectively depriving other students of an opportunity to hear diverse voices.
No, sorry, that’s just incorrect. Individuals cannot be deprived of their individual civil rights merely because they are a member of a racial, religious, etc… group. Individuals also cannot deprive other individuals of their rights, Civil Rights is not simply about government attacks on rights, it goes back to lunch counters in the south, which were not government.
3) We don’t need a police state to sharply diminish illegal immigration, just a quick and easy ID check. The technology obviously exists, it would just need to be implemented. Eliminate the possibility of employment and you cut the number of people coming here for work. Right?
4) The Democratic party does not represent over half the body politic, something like a quarter of Americans are members of the Democratic Party. And the idea of a party does presuppose a core set of beliefs, otherwise it’s not a party, it’s a gaggle.
The above exchanges make my point – there are sharp divisions on the left. And that’s not even getting into the nasty little war going on over intersectionality. Gays vs. various iterations of feminism vs. trans folks. Or the idiotic debates over cultural appropriation. Or safe zones vs. free speech.
For example, I’ve had vitriolic debates with progressives who insist that white writers segregate their books, avoid writing POC, even as other progressives insist we need more POC in more books.
All due respect, some of you don’t know what’s going on. It is getting nasty and weird on the left.
I’ll point out that in America in 2016, this is still a big damn deal, especially since our entire national identity was built on the current definition of the “white race” exploiting minorities.
As for the rest, it’s hard to have definite positions on as an ideological group since we’ve defined racial and sexual tolerance as “good enough” to join the Democratic Party. So you’ve got a spread between Dinosaur Democrats in the South and the full-blown Maoists at Berkeley. That’s a big tent and ideologically, it’s not going to make sense, because the parties in America obey demographics and geography more than they do ideology.
I’m a liberal Democrat in Tennessee, but I would probably be a moderate Republican in California or New York.
Still, I appreciate you as a writer and a thinker, so keep asking the hard questions, like why are Sharia law zones so scary for Republicans but Hasidic zones are hunky-dory to both parties? What if the American military, so big and bad and evil, has saved billions of lives by its simple presence? If a borderless world is so great, when are you going to allow 400 Syrian, Somalian, and Venezuelan refugees to live next to you and drive down your property value? And how much inequality and environmental destruction will we allow? A whole damn lot, as long as we can get those exquisitely affordable clothes and tech gear and never see the consequences.
Much of what you’re complaining about is how the Left acts when they’re in the majority and authority. Meet the new boss…
We’re all really good at remembering that too far right = Hitler. Not so good at remembering that too far left = Stalin.
You make an excellent point, one I make frequently. The western world has had it’s longest period without a major war in modern history. 70 years of Pax Americana. World War 1, World war 2 and. . . no World War 3. About 20 million people died in WW1, round numbers.The Americans withdrew into isolationism and then 60 million people died in WW2, mostly civilians, and we’ve had no repeat, because the US of A has not allowed a repeat. There are more free nations, more free people on earth today than ever in human history, because we built international institutions, and we eliminated the need for Europe to be an armed camp.
@humanoid.panda: Indeed. Franklin was following the lead of Locke, whose labor theory of value (not to be confused with the Marxian variant) was a doctrine quite familiar to the Founding Fathers. Boundless wealth in Haiti or Somalia is useful primarily because it would enable you to have a jet on constant standby, ready to fly you and your family to safety on a moment’s notice. Even with taxes, wealth in the Western world is more secure.
Nuclear weapons also played a part in why there was no World War 3…
So to paraphrase Galbraith, Michael, like the modern conservative he is coming more and more to resemble, is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
@An Interested Party:
And the fact that there were no foes like Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan that had both the means and the desire to engage in all-out war to conquer half the globe.
A party represents those who vote for it, not just those who formally register as members.
@humanoid.panda: exhibit profound historical ignorance.
Like the profound historical ignorance of everything that has happened since Franklin made that statement. We can find famous figures in history enthusiastically embracing ideas like eugenics, racial supremacy and a whole host of other things considered absolutely abhorant today.
Franklin said that in a world where aristocracy and landed gentry was still an actual thing, the modern middle class wouldn’t exist for another century or more and the size and scope of government was radically different than now. Looking at his words in the context of today, they are plainly an appeal to tyranny where the government decides how much everyone should have and who should get it.
People can quote parts of the Bible which clearly accept the existence of slavery as a normal societal institution. That doesn’t mean slavery is actually okay.
So some people at a writers’ festival? Not exactly a representative sample of where the bulk of the thinking on this matter is, is it?
@michael reynolds: actually the best way to study Renaissance art is to bone up on your Latin and whatever language you need to be fluent in the country and then go to A European institution. Even at the non-EU inhabitant prices it’s far cheaper than a US program and it’s much better.
For your readers’ sake, I really hope that your writing doesn’t consist of the same lazy, hackneyed, old-man cliches that you spout off here.
No, it’s not all obvious. The sum total of tuition that public (note that) colleges collect from undergrads in a year is about $62 billion, give or take. (Public colleges account for three-quarters of all undergrads). The federal government, meanwhile, already spends about $70 billion/yr on financial aid, including Pell Grants for low-income students, tax breaks, and work study, but not counting loans. So we could offer free tuition for only $62 billion on top of what state and local governments already pay to subsidize public four-year degree programs. That is an extremely small amount of money given the size of our economy (less than 0.5% of GDP) and would in the long run repay itself many times over with the increased economic activity it would spur.
But instead of efficiently allocating public moneys to maintain a cheap public system, we instead subsidize a wasteful, inefficient and far more expensive for-profit hodgepodge of private sector loans.
But please, don’t rebut with numbers. I’d prefer an anecdote about what your driver said about lazy undergrads studying feminist-Marxist theory.
@Rafer Janders: The problem of providing free *Public” college is not that you are taking money from péople like Michael Reynolds to pay for some fraternity dude to study a random byzantine subject in Liberal Arts, but that´s completely regressive.
You´d have upper middle class students going to the Free Public Colleges while lower income students would have to go to Private for Profit Institutions.
What Cristopher Beha wrote about universities some years ago rings completely true today.
Er, no. Some people on the fringe left may disagree with the rest of the left, but the Democratic Party is reasonably united-indeed, more than it’s ever been. The current primary campaign is between someone who is center left and someone who is a little more left wing.Bernie Sanders, self description notwithstanding, is no Marxist.
It’s become fashionable to poor-mouth the Democratic Party and it’s presidential candidate, but let’s face it: The Democratic Party today is the party of sane policy versus the party of insane policy.
You might disagree with the Democratic Party’s program, but at least that program is based on sane evidence based arguments. The Democratic Party policy makers believe that:
1. evolution is a thing
2. climate science-indeed science-is a thing
3. That minorities, and LGBT people aren’t subhuman.
4. Free markets don’t solve everything.
5.Tax cuts for rich don’t solve everything, and aren’t self financing
6. that government can help, and indeed should help the less fortunate and indeed all Americans.
7.That there are both individual and group rights that must be balanced against each other.
8. That we can solve foreign policy problems in ways other than bombing foreigners.
Republicans believe none of those things, and have elected as their Presidential nominee a buffoonish demagogue who pandered to their view of the world.
To me that’s far more important than whether some fringe leftist in a college classroom somewhere says something stupid.
Well, no. That’s ridiculous. Why would lower income students “have to go” to inferior for-profit institutions when they could go to public schools for free? That makes no sense.
And who cares if upper middle class students go to free public college? They already go to free public kindergarten and free public grade schools and free public junior high and free public high school (and drive on free public roads and walk on free public streets etc. etc.). Certain goods and benefits are — or should be – guaranteed to all Americans, rich, poor or middle class. It’s part of sustaining and stitching together a society with common interests.
Considering that we have levels of inequality in this country not seen since the Gilded Age, clearly it’s not enough yet.
Because Public Universities can´t have infinite enrollment. If Public Universities are free you´d have more Higher Income students competing for them, and that would make more difficult for lower income students to be admitted there. That´s precisely what´s happens in lower income countries that have Tuition Free Public Universities.
In France, *everyone* has the right to go to a Public University for free, but the only college degree that makes any real difference comes from the highly selective Grande Écoles.
College is not high school. It´s far more expensive and far more selective.
But this isn’t France. We have a far more extensive network of dozens and dozens extremely well-regarded public universities, including UCLA, Berkeley, UT-Austin, UNC, USC, University of Michigan, University of Ohio, University of Virginia, William & Mary, Virginia Tech, Penn State, U. Minnesota, U. Iowa, U. Washington, U. Madison-Wisconsin, etc. etc. etc. Any one of those schools can provide a degree that makes a difference.
@Rafer Janders: They can because not everyone can go there.
No, of course not everyone can go. But first, not everyone will want to go. And second, the number of well-regarded public universities is far greater in the US than it is in countries such as France, Germany, Brazil, etc. We have capacity (and the potential to expand our system of public education further if only we got serious about it).
The period between 1940 and 1975 was a period of high marginal income tax rates. It was also the greatest period of sustained prosperity in US history-as well as a period of declining economic inequality. I consider it a triumph of right wing propaganda that Americans-including quite knowledgeable types like Mike-seem unaware of this.
Yes, but isn’t that kind of a feature? When I was an undergrad, way before Reagan, didn’t CA have a policy of free secondary education? Illinois did not, quite, but my tuition at U of I, a top ten school in my field, was IIRC, a few hundred dollars a semester. Less than living expenses, even in a cheap dorm.
Yes. That´s because the United States charge tuition and has competition between schools.
I think a reasonable argument can be made in favor of free public college. But I can’t take the argument too seriously, since there is no possibility of free college being passed into law anytime soon .Like single payer, it’s a nice aspirational goal, which we will get around to in 2036 or thereabouts.
Frankly, I think Clinton is right and we should focus first on universal pre-K. That will help far more people at bottom of economic ladder, than free public college. Of course, the main obstacle to both is the Republican Party.
@Rafer Janders: Even more important in the context of this discussion is the possibility of greatly expanding the role of two-year colleges (which is where the center of the early “free tuition” debate was centered until someone decided to raise while on the stump somewhere). Many students who would not be interested in fields that require 4-year degrees can’t currently get the money to even go to these institutions–to which UMC kids have resisted going (except for the one’s I met who could do math and see the difference between $3 or 4,000 and $15,000+ times 2 years).
Who’s advocating for eliminating the border, besides Sean Hannity’s straw democrats?
Some people at writers’ conferences. And once you’ve won them over, it’s just a matter of time.
@stonetools: Your list (I think) illustrates exactly what’s wrong with US political discourse these days. There are some topics that we’ve had plenty of time to discuss and should* all be able to understand at a common level; everything you listed here has significant agreement among the “rational” supermajority of Americans. Where divergence happens is what we should be discussing, because that’s where the most relevant — and most interesting — political debate can be found.
Instead, we have some non-negligible portion of the population that refuses to acknowledge facts and is trying to bring back Reconstruction-era society. And we spend about 80% of our political energy discussing the topics they yell about. So instead of evaluating the best way to, say, isolate ISIS, or discourage both Israeli abuses of Palestine and Palestinian terrorism, or maintain an economy that can reasonably ride out the next real estate bubble, we talk about whether female-gendered kids should be allowed to use the girls’ bathroom, or whether we can force women to carry fetuses against their will, or whether cops shooting blacks is acceptable.
So while MR should be what I consider politically “right wing”, we’re instead on the same team (by ticket party), each of us getting a set of candidates who agree on those core principles but are otherwise in vast disagreement with one or the other of us. It’s like being given a choice between the actual candidate with very specific views on infrastructure improvement and the nutball who wants to throw poison into the well — you stop caring what those improvements are because you don’t f!cking throw poison in your town well!.
But I don’t think this is a pending breakdown of the left wing, I think this is the separation between the two remaining parties, whatever they will be, after the Republicans fall apart.
With luck, the aftermath of this election will be that the 20% of the nation that doesn’t seem to understand the situation is no longer catered to and the other 80% finds more realistic ideological lines to draw — ones that don’t trade on racism, sexism, or the ideals of Christian crusaders. If you want to fight on the losing side of the civil rights war or press your theological views on everyone else instead of, say, looking for ways to reduce rampant overfishing around the world, bugger off to a cave in Utah and let us solve real problems. And please don’t make babies.
* Note: should.
@michael reynolds: “So not overly impressed by college kids who want me to pay them to study Renaissance art?”
I’m wondering — in your mind, what do we do about the study of Renaissance art? If we don’t subsidize education in it, do we revert to a Victorian-era model of “amateur gentlemen scholars” who pursue such things as a hobby? Or do we continue the education, but make it available only to those who are already wealthy and can afford to pay for it themselves? Or do we just decide that Renaissance art — or any art, or literature, or history, or philosophy, or any of the myriad subjects that don’t immediately translate into large incomes — isn’t worth our time and money and simply push everyone towards STEM studies?
Is the culture produced by our civilizations over the last centuries worth the money it costs to preserve and study it, or should we just let it be and see what happens? Or does it become something we preserve for the rich to enjoy?
Not snark here. Really curious.
@Andre Kenji: “Because Public Universities can´t have infinite enrollment. If Public Universities are free you´d have more Higher Income students competing for them, and that would make more difficult for lower income students to be admitted there. That´s precisely what´s happens in lower income countries that have Tuition Free Public Universities.”
Apparently you have never met a rich American. If there is a free public option, the children of the rich will not be taking it over — they will be shunning it and going in droves to the expensive (and presumably superior) private option. Just as they do when they are given the opportunity to send their children to free public schools and instead pay $80,000 per year to send them to private ones.
I did not write Rich American, I wrote Higher Income. I see this happening in Brazil, and Rich Brazilians are even douchier than their American counterparts.
As someone else already pointed out, Democraric coalition includes people who vote Democratic, or might be induced so. And AFAIK studies show that democratic-leaning indies do not differ from registered Democrats ideologically.
And as for a core set of beliefs, here is one: Democrats, in the US, are people who believe that at least some hierarchies created by market, custom or religion, have unjust origins or problematic outcomes, and government action is required to overthrow or ameliorate them. This definition is, I think, wide enough to include both you and the campus left- and yet leaves a wide space for disagreement.
But the Grand Ecoles are government owned and operated, and the reason people go there is because they provide a shortcut into the elites. Which is the function of elite private universities here, and the reason why even if we decide to make public colleges free, upper-middle class people will still flock to top private universities.
@Steve V: Extreme libertarians, some segments of the Vox crowd, and some radical campus activists. A political godzilla these groups aren’t.
@Andre Kenji: “I did not write Rich American, I wrote Higher Income. I see this happening in Brazil, and Rich Brazilians are even douchier than their American counterparts.”
I can’t argue the relative douchiness of our rich, as all the Brazillians I’ve met have been middle class and lovely. But whatever is happening in Brazil, in America those who can afford them run screaming away from any public offerings, no matter how good they might be. Our strivers will always try to get their kids into Harvard and Stanford and let the losers go to free public schools. If this is the opposite of how it is there, then that’s just a cultural difference – but please understand that it IS a difference.
Some of them would go to top private universities, people that would go to a mid-level private university could decide to go to a state school. I see this happening all the time: Brazilian Public Universities are notorious for the absence of Black Students, that´s in the country with one of the largest population of African Descent in the World.
Latin America is not another planet, it´s a part of the same continent that shares a lot of History with the United States.
Some of them require public service as a tuition, and there are lots of studies pointing out to these Grande Écoles as a major cause of inefficiencies for French companies. You can say whatever you want about American Universities, they easily beat tuition-free universities in rankings.
@wr: Harvard is a elite school. Not all rich Americans can send their children there.