The Civil Cold War

The United States is as politically polarized as it was in 1865.

Reflecting on Lincoln Chafee‘s switch to the Democratic Party, Harry Enten predicts the complete polarization of American politics.

If Republicans win Arkansas in 2014 and Le Page gets knocked off in Maine, it could be the final dent in the old coalitions of a Democratic south and Republican New England. Assuming no other changes in these regions’ governor affiliations, it would be the first time no Republican governor held office in New England and no Democratic governor did so in a confederate state since the end of Reconstruction. In other words, we’re basically back to civil war-era politics.

The inability for Democrats and Republicans to get elected to state-wide office in the south and New England, respectively, could have a significant impact on how these state governments operate. As I’ve mentioned before, and as has been well encapsulated by Abby Rapoport, state government has never been so polarized. The places where polarization is lowest are in the south and New England, in states like West Virginia – quite conservative and yet Democratic on the state level - and states like Rhode Island – liberal yet still with shades of Republicanism on the state level. It’s increasingly clear that party affiliation is trumping ideology in these states, as it’s been doing on the national level.

The policy ramifications of such a switch cannot be understated. Search Google for “Mike Beebe” and “veto”, and the first links that appear are vetoes of abortion bans and voter identification laws that Republican state legislatures tried to pass. Do a search for “Paul LePage” and “veto”, and you come up with vetoes for Medicaid expansions and cigarette bans. These governors are providing a check on legislatures that have already completed a full party conversion.

Once all the governors have switched and voters finish self-sorting, we could end with states that are very conservative and states that are very liberal. There will be little need for Democrats to play to the middle in formerly conservative New England states, and the same will be true for Republicans in the formerly liberal southern states. Whether that’s good or bad I don’t know, but it’s going to make us wonder whether we can call our states politically united anymore.

This is a culmination of a realignment that’s been underway the past four decades.

Most of the Deep South states have been more-or-less reliably Republican since 1972 but their congressional delegations, state legislatures, and governor’s mansions were either solidly Democratic or at least competitive will into the 1980s. As recently as 1992 and 1996, Democrats–granted, with two Southerners on the ticket–won several Deep South states even at the presidential level. And Republicans continued to win statewide office in New England well into the 2000s.

In recent years, however, the national parties have, as Dave Schuler has pointed out many times, moved from being catch-all parties (i.e., those whose primary purpose was winning elections by assembling a majority of voter support) to programmatic parties (i.e., those whose primary purpose is pushing an ideological or issue agenda). This, coupled with the 24/7/365 communications era (first cable news and talk radio, then blogs, and now Twitter) makes it next to impossible for conservative Democrats or liberal Republicans to survive. It’s far easier for a Lincoln Chafee or even a Charlie Christ to simply declare themselves Democrats than to find off two parties—the opposition plus their own—as Republican apostates.

The end result of this is anathema to the functioning of a large, diverse society of ours. In social science terms, we’re now a nation of reinforcing rather than cross-cutting cleavages. While I don’t think we’re liable to have another civil war, we’re in something like a civil cold war; Red America and Blue America not only don’t see themselves as having much in common but they scarcely regard each other as fellow countrymen.

Demographic changes would seem to be the main countervailing trend. Several once-solid Red States—Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia–as becoming increasingly blue through a combination of in-migration from Blue states, a rising Hispanic population, and a growing government sector.  California went from being a solid Red State as recently as 1988 to being a solid Blue State since, mostly because of the Latino vote.

One interesting outlier in the trend is Chris Christie, who currently has a 30-point lead in his race for re-election in solid Blue New Jersey. It’s a Mid-Atlantic state rather than part of New England but it does give some hope that it’s still possible to transcend party labels. Then again, Christie is, to say the least, not particularly popular with the Republican base nationally and, especially, in the Deep South.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 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. michael reynolds says:

    It may take two to tango but it does not take two to fight. It only takes one party, and this is the fault of one party.

    The fact that Chris Christie is doing so well in solidly Democratic New Jersey, or that Mike Bloomberg a nominal Republican is mayor of New York City is the proof that Democrats are not like Republicans in this regard. We remain open to electing capable people, even if those capable people aren’t “ours.”

    The idea that Democrats have moved further left is laughable. Mr. Obama put forward a Republican health plan and was attacked as a communist. He blows up anything that moves in Afghanistan and Pakistan and is attacked as a secret Muslim.

    This polarization is on your side, James, not ours.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: Democrats had a pretty significant course correction after the 1988 debacle and which culminated in Bill Clinton’s nomination and election in 1992. And, yes, the GOP is becoming increasingly radicalized, nominating hard right candidates even in places like Minnesota and Colorado, where they’re unelectable.

    Still, the fact remains that there are essentially no more New England Republicans. We’ve had a sorting out that makes that next to impossible.

  3. CSK says:

    The split isn’t about fiscal policy or foreign policy. It’s about social issues, more specifically God, guns, gays, and gynecology (abortion), and it’s fracturing the Republican party. Your average New England Republican has no interest in abortion (it’s the woman’s business) or gays (what two consulting adults do is their business). Similarly, your average New England Republican may own a gun or two for hunting, target shooting, or self-defense, but has no particular desire to see lunatics possess entire armories. As for God, your average New England Republican believes that who you worship, or fail to worship, is, again, entirely your affair and no one else’s.

    For a large number of southern Republicans, the Four Gs are the be-all and end-all. Nothing else matters. And they hate New England/Northeastern Republicans more than they hate Democrats.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    Well, Lincoln could have saved us all the time and the trouble and let the South go.

    As it was, the North “won” the Civil War, and yet we basically had a nation of apartheid and segregation for another 100 years following the “victory.” And the South effectively dominated 20th century Congressional politics too.

  5. Ben says:

    @James Joyner:

    Then how do you explain Scott Brown? Many of my close friends, all of whom are very liberal, voted for Brown in 2010. Granted, that was mostly because they all thought Martha Coakley was loathsome. But the fact remains that they were willing to elect a Republican to the Senate rather than toe the party line because they didn’t like the Democrat candidate. Now, Brown lost last year to Warren, but the left loves Warren so I’m not surprised. But the people of Massachusetts like Brown, and I guarantee you he could win another election in MA, especially since the Dems don’t have a very good bench standing by in MA.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:

    When you look at it, the fact that rational New Englanders have been made comfortable within the Democratic Party is still more evidence that the radicalization is all one one side. When old-school conservatives in New England come to that fork in the road, they end up with us, and we welcome them. Meanwhile the GOP actively purges anyone with even a hint of moderation — witness the attacks on Christie, witness poor Mitt having to twist himself in knots to appeal to loons.

    This is absolutely about social issues, especially abortion. Once the GOP decided to start calling anyone pro-choice a baby killer, the possibilities of rational dialog went out the window.

  7. Gromitt Gunn says:

    One thing to note (and if I am incorrect, I would like to be corrected) is that, among states that are changing color (red to purple, purple to blue, blue to purple, purple to red), I don’t see any states outside of the South heading in a redward direction. From what I can tell, any shifts in the Midwest and the Mountain West have been blueward shifts.

    Am I wrong in this?

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: The four Gs. I like it. I’ll steal it.

    But let’s not lose sight of the fact that your four Gs are not what the Party is about. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; conservatism is about protecting and enhancing the wealth and power of the wealthy and powerful. Everything else is marketing, to convince the rubes to vote against their own interest. As someone wisely commented around here months ago, the Republican party is nothing but millionaires and suckers.

    James – Pat Buchanan said they’d split the country, and they did. Your party sowed the wind of the Southern Strategy and now they’re reaping the whirlwind.

  9. Caj says:

    For some the Civil War rages on,if only in the minds of some! They can’t some to grips with the fact the south lost and are still so very bitter. The days of yore are long gone but how some hanker after those good old days when the south had the slaves and all was well with the world.

  10. Andre Kenji says:

    1-) In almost all countries there are partisan divisions that are related to geography. In most times, that can be perfectly explained by the fact that geographic divisions have similar economic and social interests. For instance, in United Kingdom, in Brazil, in France and so on many industrial regions people overwhelmly vote for parties that are related to unions.

    That does not mean a “cold civil war” in any sense. In many of the so called “Red States” it only makes sense to move if you are married – if you are single and you live in the rural areas of Oklahoma or in Wyoming you are going to die with boredom, because there is nothing to do there. Unless it´s hunting or fishing.

    2-) The real problem is that in the past it was possible for politicians to be elected on local issues. A Southern Democrat could be elected by appealing to White and Black voters in his own state and his own district.

    Today, national organizations can flood with money local races and many politicians have to appeal for national donors and national organizations. That´s why it´s so complicated to be a Republican in a Democrat State.

    In gubernatorial elections, where there is less presence of out of state money, it´s easier to spot crossvoting(Wyoming and Oklahoma had Democratic governors until some years ago, Massachusetts and Connecticut also have Republican governors until some years ago).

  11. CSK says:

    Ben and Michael: You both raise good points, particularly with regard to Scott Brown.

    James:

    The New England Republican isn’t quite dead and buried. Gabriel Gomez, who’s running against Ed Markey to replace John Kerry in the senate, has been quite explicit that he supports same sex marriage, and has stated that while he’s personally pro-life, Roe v. Wade has been established law for decades and that it’s silly to argue over settled issues. He has also stated that he doesn’t want crazy people to have guns.

    Now, I don’t know if Gomez has a chance of winning, but he’s quite intelligent enough to know that social issues are dead issues in this state. And in fact I think he believes what he says; he’s not a closet social conservative trying to make himself palatable to fundamentalists.

  12. CSK says:

    In the last line of my previous post, I meant to say “palatable to liberals,” not “palatable to fundamentalists.”

  13. Ben says:

    @CSK:

    Last I saw, Markey had a 5-8 point lead in a couple polls. So Gomez is certainly not getting trounced. MA actually has more people than you would think who like the idea of an economic conservative, but they will not vote for a social con. This is why Brown was able to do so well. He took the exact same approach that Gomez is to both Roe v Wade and gay marriage (That he was personally against it, but did not want to repeal either one, and considered it settled law and a dead issue).

  14. Dave Schuler says:

    See this chart from Gallup as evidence of what has happened.

  15. CSK says:

    @Ben:

    Oh, I know. I’m from Mass., with many generations behind me. Folks here will quite happily vote for a fiscal conservative just as long as he or she doesn’t start carrying on about the Four Gs. All our recent Republican governors fit that mold. Bill Weld once told a story about how he and his wife were told that their fifth child probably was going to be born with a severe birth defect. Susan Weld decided not to have an abortion, with Bill supporting her in that decision, and, happily, the child was born perfectly healthy. But both Welds were emphatic that they were glad the option to abort was available.

    That’s a Massachusetts Republican.

  16. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    MR,

    The Obama Administration put forward a healthcare plan that is designed to fail in order to justify going to single payer. That is why every Democrat describes it as a Republican-based plan when it is not really.

    Of course, James is wrong about the two parties. The Democrats are smart enough to know that no longer need to appeal to conservative whites because every demographic trend is in the Democratic Party’s favor.

    If you really want to dsecribe politics in the U.S. it is the rich (NYC, NJ, Californa) and the Detroit, Newark, St Louis against the middle. With the demographic trends all going to creating more poor people, the Democratic Party, in the future, will probably be incapable of screwing up enough to lose most elections.

  17. Modulo Myself says:

    @Ben:

    Sure, people in Massachusetts like the idea of economic conservatives, but they also didn’t freak out when RomneyCare was implemented.

    Overall, what the South has never had is any kind of solidarity that wasn’t based on Lost Cause/BBQ kitsch. Unions were run out of town whenever someone got the chance. Poor whites were given only the luxury of having poor blacks to look down on. It was a feudal place for a very long time, and if you read the bumbling attempts of someone who wants to make the conservative party more populist, still basically is.

  18. Dave Schuler says:

    For a longer term view of what has happened see here. Note, too, that what you think has happened is quite dependent on the timeframe you’re considering.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Dave Schuler: Very telling chart. In 2004, the end of W’s 1st term Rs, Ds, and Is were all roughly even at 33%. By 2011, the last year of the chart, Ds had dropped slightly to 31%, while Is were up 7 to 40 and Rs were down 6 to 27. Almost all the growth in Is was at the expense of Rs.

    Of course I always worry that the number of Rs didn’t really drop, that after W they’re just embarrassed to admit it. That did seem to lead to a jump in the number of self declared Libertarians.

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The Obama Administration put forward a healthcare plan that is designed to fail in order to justify going to single payer. That is why every Democrat describes it as a Republican-based plan when it is not really.

    Do you really believe that? Hahaha, that would be one of the greatest billiard shots of all time.

    Well, I for one hope that THAT’S true, and that we’re smart enough to move to a Single-Payer system. That said, I do not believe for one moment that we’re smart enough to implement a Single-Payer system.

  21. CSK says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I did read–at Politico, I think–that Obama actually talked Dennis Kucinich into voting for the Affordable Care Act by telling Kucinich that it was just a means of getting to single payer, and that it was never intended to be implemented as is. I have no idea if that’s true, but it certainly is plausible.

  22. @CSK:

    I did read–at Politico, I think–that Obama actually talked Dennis Kucinich into voting for the Affordable Care Act by telling Kucinich that it was just a means of getting to single payer, and that it was never intended to be implemented as is.

    Sounds bogus and not plausible at all.

    As to this:

    Once all the governors have switched and voters finish self-sorting, we could end with states that are very conservative and states that are very liberal. There will be little need for Democrats to play to the middle in formerly conservative New England states, and the same will be true for Republicans in the formerly liberal southern states.

    That sounds bogus too. Just judging from my own state (CO) it appears that the party that’s more successful is the one most effective at capturing the middle.

  23. Mr. Prosser says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): I don’t know, I’m a Lib in western CO and haven’t met a whole lot of the “middle” over here. If you check out Rapaport’s chart we’re the second most polarized state. I think it’s geography and ALEC in our state that splits it so much.

  24. Ben Wolf says:

    @michael reynolds: Let’s not miss the forest for the trees. There are two Republican Parties: the real party, devoted to securing the interests of wealth and power for the priviledged few, and the populist party, which acts as a smoke-screen by drumming up hate and fear among poor, uneducated whites.

    Suggesting anything of the sort gets one immediately branded a communist of course. Class struggle is only allowed if you’re on the side of capital.

  25. Spartacus says:

    This divide does not appear to be about red vs. blue. Instead, it’s deep southern vs. everything else. As Gromitt Gunn pointed out above, there are no blue states turning red – only red states turning blue – and that’s because, as Ezra Klein recently pointed out, the GOP has abandoned most of the policy and ideological spectrum to Democrats. Unless you’re evil, indifferent, uninformed or a committed SoCon, there’s absolutely no reason to vote for the GOP. For reasons that can be traced back to this country’s racist roots, there’s a greater concentration of those folks in the South than anywhere else.

  26. superdestroyer says:

    @Ben:

    Brown will not win another election. He won in a special election but stands zero chance of winning in a general election. If Ted Kennedy would have resigned his office when he became very sick, the world would have never heard of Brown.

  27. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Of course the Democrats want single payer. It increases the size,scope, and power of the government. It gives Ivy Leaguers like Krugman more power while putting all of the people smart enough to pass organic chemistry in their place. It makes it easier to be a freelance writer in Burlington, VT while it makes it harder to be middle class for whites who attend public universities.

    Remember, the future of politics is about entitlements, who pays for them, and who benefits. That is why the idea of polirization if politics is massively overrated. Most Americans think they are smart enough or clever enough to take advantage of a massive entitlement state while sticking others with the costs. They is why the Republicans are irrelevant.

  28. superdestroyer says:

    @Spartacus:

    One of the reasons for the Republican collapse is GW Bush and the Republicans failure to do with it. Of course, the Republican also have the problem that the big money donors like Sheldon Aldeson have nothing in common with the rank and file Republican voters.

    As I have written before, the future of politics in Democrats being the one relevant party and politics being about entitlements and how to pay for them. The idea that the U.S. will have a space program, much of a Department of Defense, or even a Department of Energy is in doubt because every dollar spent on foreign policy, defense, or basic research is a dollar that some group inside the Democratic Party wants spent on set asides and entitlements.

  29. James Pearce says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    I’m a Lib in western CO and haven’t met a whole lot of the “middle” over here.

    I believe it. Out here on the Front Range, it often feels the same. But Tom Tancredo isn’t the governor, both of our Senators are Dems, and they have a Dem majority in the Capitol building.

    If you check out Rapaport’s chart we’re the second most polarized state

    I noticed that too, just behind California, which also has a Dem gov, two Dem senators, and a Dem majority in the legislature. Polarized, sure. But look at who’s coming out on top.

    Another takeaway from Rapaport:

    Less-polarized states are not necessarily more moderate.

  30. michael reynolds says:

    Obamacare establishes that Americans have a right to health care. Just like the citizens of every other civilized nation.

    This is the reason I supported the ACA and thought it a successful effort. It was a necessary interim step given the fact that the southern half of the country is so determined to screw minorities they’ll happily screw themselves in the process. People already are beginning to forget that the GOP essentially took the position that it was perfectly acceptable for Americans who got sick to lose their jobs, lose their healthcare as a consequence, and not only die but die in a ditch in extreme poverty after first bankrupting their family.

    Will the acceptance of that right lead to single payer? Hopefully, yes. But first we had to establish the basic right — over the screams and cries of idiots who live in fear that a black person might benefit. This is not unusual, getting past the imbeciles is always a time-wasting and expensive part of any progress in this country.

  31. Ben says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Brown will not win another election. He won in a special election but stands zero chance of winning in a general election.

    Sure, don’t listen to me, I’ve only lived 95% of my life in MA, so obviously I have no idea what I’m talking about.

    Mark my words, as a born and bred MA liberal, Brown would have beaten Markey if he were running for Kerry’s seat, and he’ll win if he runs for senate or house again. And he would beat anyone other than Patrick if he ran for governor.

  32. Spartacus says:

    @superdestroyer:

    One of the reasons for the Republican collapse is GW Bush and the Republicans failure to do with it.

    As I’ve written before, blaming GW Bush for the collapse of the GOP and conservatism is like blaming Mikhail Gorbachev for the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism. They both simply happened to be the then-current lead practitioners of ideologies that were doomed to fail from the start.

    @superdestroyer: The idea that the U.S. will have a space program, much of a Department of Defense, or even a Department of Energy is in doubt because every dollar spent on foreign policy, defense, or basic research is a dollar that some group inside the Democratic Party wants spent on set asides and entitlements.

    This is an extremely odd statement since the GOP works assiduously to weaken the Dept of Energy and to cut research funds. Moreover, there’s no serious person today who doesn’t think the U.S. needs to spend less on defense. If you aren’t aware of these facts you should not be posting comments on this topic. You should instead muster the intellectual discipline to ignore your political prejudices and take a cold hard look at the facts.

    I also don’t see the problem with a democratically elected government choosing to spend more and more of its money on benefits for its citizens – especially if those expenditures come at the expense of defense and space programs. Can you describe the specific harm we will suffer if we divert more of our spending from defense to things like health care, education, increases in social security payments, care for the disabled, environmental rehabilitation, safe air and water technologies and similar things? When I look at other countries that have these kinds of spending priorities the results seem to speak for themselves.

    By the way, if you choose to respond, please try to do so without your usual hyperbolic delusions and stick to cold, hard facts.

  33. Spartacus says:

    @Spartacus:

    I scred up the block-quotes, but you should still get the idea.

  34. superdestroyer says:

    @Spartacus:

    As the U.S. becomes the entitlement state, the private sector will become smaller and the public sector will become higher. Progressives want to spend more money on education but all we get are barristas and cashiers with advanced degrees. Progressives want to spend more on helathcare without admitting that the worse thing you can do for a person’s health is make them poor. Democrats fail to admit that the only way that the U.S. has reduced pollution is by de-ndustrialization but support increasing pollution due to increased legal and illegal immigration.

    Ask yourself why the U.S. needs to spend more on education when it has too many lawyers, too many social workers, and way too many STEM degree holders? In reality, the U.S. should be spending much less on education because there are fewer jobs that require advanced education. AS the entitlement state crowds out everything else, there is no reason for sending everyone to college or trying to teach everyone calculus.

  35. superdestroyer says:

    @Ben:

    If the internal polls should have shown that Brown could have beaten Markey, Brown would have run. Brown would have lost in a rout to Markey because most Mass. voters have zero use for any Republican. Look at how Brown gave the homosexuals everything they wanted and got no benefit from it. Brown is just too stupid to win another election.

  36. Latino_in_Boston says:

    This is only temporary, though. Yes, the South has become a monolithic GOP stronghold, but the demographic changes will not let it remain that way for long. Already VA and NC have shown signs of a shift, FL is not far behind (especially after it has actually experienced what tea party governing is like), and I would expect the trend to continue in GA. Within ten yrs, I would expect all these states to have significant non-white populations that will make elections competitive again. That’s if the GOP doesn’t become obsolete by then.

  37. Spartacus says:

    @superdestroyer:

    You seem to be judging the value of a more highly educated society solely in terms of what it means for average incomes, yet you haven’t produced any evidence that less educated societies have higher average incomes. In fact, you completely ignored the very strong correlation between education and income levels.

    You’ve also ignored all of the other positive effects of a well educated society. Better educated children tend to live healthier lives, commit less crime (particularly violent crime) and avoid the welfare rolls.

    And, of course, you failed to answer a very straightforward question, which I will repeat:

    Can you describe the specific harm we will suffer if we divert more of our spending from defense to things like health care, education, increases in social security payments, care for the disabled, environmental rehabilitation, safe air and water technologies and similar things?

    Notice that I’m talking here about diverting government spending from defense and space programs into government spending on health, education, care for the disabled, increased SS spending, etc.

    Please focus really hard and try to answer the question that has been asked. Also, it’s okay to go ask your mommy for help with this before answering.

  38. Spartacus says:

    @Latino_in_Boston:

    Yes, the South has become a monolithic GOP stronghold, but the demographic changes will not let it remain that way for long.

    You’re absolutely right, but we still get to mock and ridicule the South in the meantime while we wait for most of its bigots and fundamentalists to die off.

  39. Andre Kenji says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The Obama Administration put forward a healthcare plan that is designed to fail in order to justify going to single payer. That is why every Democrat describes it as a Republican-based plan when it is not really.

    That was widely discussed here, but:

    1-) It´s very difficult to implement “single payer” per se, or, a system where the government is the only provider/payer of health care. In most countries you have mixture of public and private care.

    Unless it´s blocked by law you are always going to have some form of private care.

    2-) As I pointed out, a system where you´d have universal health coverage with strong cost controls and limitations(And with tax credits and incentives to people that buy private care) is something that Conservatives should be defending.

    3-) It´s insane to have people with no health coverage in any society because sick people becomes a health hazard to the rest of the society. That´s why you see many epidemics provoked by banal diseases in the United States, like the West Nile and all kinds of flu.

  40. anjin-san says:

    @ Ben

    Brown is not a bad guy, I actually like him more than either of our CA senators, both of whom I had experience with long before they became national figures. I just can’t undersand why he is a Republican.

  41. superdestroyer says:

    @Spartacus:

    If you want to see what happens to society when it becomes totally dependent on public spending, all one has to do is look at every HUD Housing project in the inner city. The residents become dependent on the government and the quality of life suffers. A massive amount of money is spent on education (more than in the suburbs), on healthcare, on social welfare, and in government make work projects. Yet, the quality of life is not very good. Why do progressives want to turn the entire country into some kind of public housing project?

  42. superdestroyer says:

    @Latino_in_Boston:

    But then the question is how will politics work in a one party state. How high will government spending go in a one party state. What parts of the private sector is fade away in a one party state? What happens to a country that believes it no longer has to manufacture any goods, grow its own food, or produce its own energy. At least when an opposition party, the Democrats have to consider the downside of their own policies. What happens when the Democrats have no downside for corruption or failure?

  43. superdestroyer says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    The Democrats do know that single payer will lead to a three part healthcare system that will resemble the current K-12 education system. That is part of the appeal of the system. There will be the expensive, private boutique system for the elite rich just like their children currently attend expensive private prep schools. Every health care consultant is advising providers to think about developing boutique services.

    Then there will be the healthcare in the middle class and upper middle class suburbs where people can organize themselves enough to force the government to deliver a moderately good product just like some cities and counties in the U.S. manage to produce quality public schools. One of the features of comprehensive immigration reform is that it makes it harder for whites and Asians living in the suburbs to organize themselves to demand performance and value from their local and state governments in a single payer system. .

    Then there will be the horrible inner city and poor town healthcare that will be staffed by desperate healthcare workers who can not find employment anywhere else, where the infrastructure will be lousy, where mangers will face an impossible task, and will many services will be unavailable. Of course, the residents will be the biggest supporters of single payer because they will believe they are being “hooked up” by the government with others being stuck with the bill.

  44. Tyrell says:

    I remember a relative telling me that he had moved and went to register to vote. This was back in the early 1950’s. He was a Republican. The rural county registrar looked at him like he was crazy and told that they did not have a Republican registration book. There were no Republicans in that area and probably much of the south. Most people today probably think that all southerners abandoned the Democrat party and joined the Republicans: not true. Contrary to opinion, most legislators and governors remained in the Democrat party even though they would cross lines in national elections. The Democrat party is still strong at state and local levels. Things changed in the last several years when the national Democrat party embraced big government. The southern Democrats still favor limited federal powers; most power is to reside in the states. Most people just don’t like the federal government coming down here taking over everything and trying to run everybody’s business. They can’t even run things right in Washington.

  45. Tyrell says:

    @Latino_in_Boston: NC? In November NC elected the first Republican governor in years and the legislature went Republican for the first time since pre-WWII.
    I think most of the South is getting more Republican and Tea Party! The south is getting more populated as the “rust belt” and northeast loses people.
    Come on down – the weather is nice and taxes are lower. A nice, friendly place!

  46. Kari Q says:

    @Tyrell:

    Things changed in the last several years when the national Democrat party embraced big government.

    In what universe did the Democrats embrace big government in the last several years?

    FDR created social security, the FDIC, and more government programs than anyone can remember off the top of his head while winning the South. Was he not a “big government” Democrat?

    Truman tried to nationalize the steel industry to end a strike. Was he not a big government Democrat?

    John F. Kennedy used the National Guard to enforce desegregation. Was he a small government Democrat? (And before anyone mentions tax rates, remember that the top rate during his presidency was 70%). He also created the food stamp program.

    Johnson created medicare and medicaid. Surely, a small government Democrat if ever there was one.

    Carter created the Dept of Energy and Dept of Education. No “big government” there, no way.

    Yep. It’s only recently, with Obamacare no doubt, that Democrats have started developing new government programs to address national problems. Never did it before in history. Not once.

    Come on, be honest. The South had no problem at all with big government. Judging by the number of federal dollars they take in compared to what they pay in taxes, Southern states still have no problem with big government. If you’re looking for the reason why the South went Republican, “big government” isn’t the answer.

  47. superdestroyer says:

    @Tyrell:

    The problem is that too many people from northern states move into the new south, they retain their old voting and policy habits. They move to the south for jobs and lower taxes and then begin to vote for higher taxes, more regulations, and fewer jobs.

    The Democrats have learned the lesson that instead of appealling to vote, they just need to create new Democratic Party voters with government jobs set asides and open borders.

  48. Mr. Prosser says:

    @James Pearce: Probably way too late to reply but I think we have the Dems in the State capitol and in the Senate because of geography. The Front Range is well educated, employed in high-tech and finance and service and outnumber the West Slope which is resource extraction, tourist and agriculture and sparsely populated. Many of the newly transplanted west slopers are gas patch workers from Wyoming, Texas and OK or retirees. It’s geography and numbers. As Drum points out it’s also true in CA. It’s not SoCal vs. NoCal it’s the whole coast vs. inland ag and resource.

  49. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    Those who perpetuate red states are not being replaced in sufficient numbers when they finally keel over and stop making that awful sound. Those who come after will have been raised in an entirely different age, one teaming with Other Ways. We need only wait.

  50. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    Democrat party

    Thank you for self-declaring that you are a person that should not be taken seriously.

  51. Spartacus says:

    @superdestroyer:

    If you want to see what happens to society when it becomes totally dependent on public spending . . .

    Actually, all I wanted was for you to answer the very straightforward question I asked, but as usual, you failed miserably and don’t even seem to realize it. You’re embarrassing yourself.

  52. superdestroyer says:

    @Spartacus:

    How many ways can one say that the middle class will shrink because the private sector will shrink. If the best jobs to have are government jobs and everyone else works in low end private sector jobs, the U.S. will not be a very nice place. Look at how Detroit spends all of its budget on entitlements and cannot raise enough tax dollars to fund itself. Think about what will happen if that is the U.S. overall. That most people work in the public sector.

    Also, the U.S. has doubled the amount of money spent on education (after inflation) from 1990 to 2010 and got no real value for the spending. Image what happens if the U.S. doubles down again on education spending. Employers will demand PhDs for all the entry level and a public university degree from a second or third tier university will be pointless.

    The great society spent trillions and got almost nothing out of it. The percentage of children born to poor single mothers has continued to grow. As the U.S. spends more money on entitlements the poor and underclass will continue to grow because why get up in the morning and go to work if your standard of living in unaffected by actually working.

    I hope that answer your question of what happens when the government is all about entitlements and shrinking the private sector.

  53. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    Most people today probably think that all southerners abandoned the Democrat party and joined the Republicans: not true. Contrary to opinion, most legislators and governors remained in the Democrat party even though they would cross lines in national elections. The Democrat party is still strong at state and local levels. Things changed in the last several years when the national Democrat party embraced big government.

    I know it’s a minor point but … there is no ‘Democrat Party’ in America, I believe it’s the “Democratic Party.”

  54. Spartacus says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Dude, did you read the freakin’ question? Are you able to read?

    I asked you what harm comes from diverting government spending on defense and space programs to increasing SS payments, cleaning up the environment and increasing the amount of money spent on education and you came back with more blather. Are you seriously trying to argue that society will go to hell in a hand-basket if, instead of spending as much money on defense and space programs, we increased the amount of the monthly checks we send to senior citizens? If so, you’re a damned fool.

  55. superdestroyer says:

    @Spartacus:

    How many times do I have to say that diverting money from programs that produce middle class Amerians into programs that produce more people who are dependent on entitlements will lower the standard of most Americans. Spending millions of dollar per acre to clean up land to the “picnic standard” is about the worst investment that the U.S. ever makes.

    Creating a country totally dependent on social welfare spending and with little desire to grow economically, with little desire, with no desire to challenge new frontiers will cause the U.S. to implode. Just like Detroit has shown what happens when government jobs and government entitlements are more important.

    Specifically, your ideas would lead to:

    1. Massive cut backs in the number of colleges of engineering because the demand for engineers would increase.
    2. The end of an aerospace industry in the U.S. and thus the end of a lot of high paid jobs.
    3. Many cities in the middle of the U.S. would die Places like Dayton Ohio or Colorado “Springs, Co would die.
    4. There would be a massive immigration to the few expensive coastal cities where private sector jobs that pay about minimum wages exists. that means the birthrate of the upper middle class will continue to collapse.
    5. The government will become even more hostile to private sector jobs. Social workers and teachers are economically decoupled with their local economy. They get paid and have jobs no matter how bad the local economy is. In reality, social workers and school teachers create jobs out of economic failure and out of unlimited immigraiton of third world immigrants. Thus, those trends will increase.
    6. Spending more money on SS will create an even greater wealth transference from the young to the old and if that transfer is too big it becomes lethal to economic growth and economic expansion. Look at Japan to see what happens when old voters are the biggest voting block.

    The real question is what do so many progressives want the economy to spiral in on itself and for so many people to become totally dependent on the government for their subsitence without working.

  56. Rob in CT says:

    I love how goverment spending is magically good if it’s military spending (good jobs for engineers!) but not healthcare (the healthcare sector is apparently choc full of terrible jobs, in sd’s mind).

    Thinking in terms of ROI, so long as we keep our military strong enough to deter real threats (real, meaning something more significant than Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc), our society should get more out of investment in healthcare than in the military. Yes, aerospace engineering would take a hit if we reduce the air force procurement budget. That’s true. But if we shift that money over to healthcare we will not only increase employment in that sector (solid jobs, btw), but also our citizens will benefit from medical care. We can argue about whether more medical care is always beneficial (e.g., ridiculous end-of-life stuff, over-use of diagnostics, etc), of course.

    The dependency thing is such a canard. Millions of Americans want to work but can’t find it. There are no jobs for them, however, for a variety of reasons: cheap overseas (and, to a much lesser extent, immigrant) labor, continuing automation, and the aftermath of a crash that has many developed economies struggling (not to mention poor fiscal policy on the part of a number of governments, and the mess that is the Euro).

    As for healthcare, it’s pretty amazing that anyone can look around at the various systems used around the world and conclude that ObamaRomneyCare is a socialist plot to harm middle class people (unless sd is using the magical GOP definition of middle class, where it means whatever he needs it to mean and then changes to mean something else). Whether it leads to single payer or not I don’t know. I could see that, or I could see the PPACA working just well enough to head that off. Time will tell.

  57. george says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    if you are single and you live in the rural areas of Oklahoma or in Wyoming you are going to die with boredom, because there is nothing to do there. Unless it´s hunting or fishing.

    I don’t know about Oklahoma, but in rural Wyoming there’s lots of things to do, if you include the parks as rural. Some of the best hiking and climbing around (including skiing, kayaking, canoeing). Boring is the last thing that comes to mind when I think of Wyoming; in fact I’ve vacationed there numerous times because of how much there is to do.

    Shorter version: different people find different things boring. If you love the outdoors you’re going have a different assessment of places like Wyoming than someone whose interests are more city based.

    @Rob in CT:

    I love how goverment spending is magically good if it’s military spending (good jobs for engineers!) but not healthcare (the healthcare sector is apparently choc full of terrible jobs, in sd’s mind).

    I’ve always wondered that as well. The mental gymnastics it takes to not consider big military as an aspect of big government is amazing. Its easier to believe that the GOP is well aware that its lying about being for small government than it is to believe they think the military is privately funded (ie not part of the gov’t).

  58. James Joyner says:

    @Rob in CT: @george: I don’t think this particular one is that complicated. “Big government” is about regulatory bureaucracies, taxation, and the welfare state. At least in the postwar era, conservatives have tended to also want a “strong defense,” so they support large defense and intelligence budgets. An extreme version of this view is the notion that we should essentially shut down every federal agency but Defense, State, and Justice, the parts specified by the Constitution.

  59. superdestroyer says:

    @Rob in CT:

    People do not want to spend more on healthcare but want to spend less on healthcare. Where do you think the term “bending the cost curve” comes from?

    The point that I keep trying to make and progressives want to ignore is that if you lower employment prospects in defense, aerospace, energy, transportation, healthcare, retail, etc then there will be fewer jobs for everyone. That means that the competition for the few remaining good jobs (finance and government) will be fierce and that most people will just begin leave the workce. If you get the same healthcare, the same educational opportunities, ride on the same bus, and live in the same subsidized housing whether you have a job or not, most people will just drop out of the work force.

    Progressives needs to ask themselves what the economic position the U.S. will be in a world where Americans are too lazy for manual labor and too stupid for high tech work. Also, progressives keep pushing for more education but keep watning to eliminate most jobs that require a high level education. Do progressives really feel the U.S. will be better off when a masters degree is required to work at Starbucks?

  60. Rob in CT says:

    People do not want to spend more on healthcare but want to spend less on healthcare. Where do you think the term “bending the cost curve” comes from?

    Yes, I know. But you were talking about spending less on the military and spending more on “the welfare state” which includes heathcare. My I suggest trying to keep your own argument straight?

    if you lower employment prospects in defense, aerospace, energy, transportation, healthcare, retail, etc then there will be fewer jobs for everyone

    By “lower employment prospects” you mean what, exactly? Government spending cuts? I thought you wanted less government spending?

    If you get the same healthcare, the same educational opportunities, ride on the same bus, and live in the same subsidized housing whether you have a job or not, most people will just drop out of the work force

    I think you have an utterly delusional view of the various things you think of as government handouts. You seem to believe that someone in subsidized housing, receiving food stamps and qualifying for medicaid is living high on the hog. No. The incentive to do better absolutely still exists.

    [if you dastardly progressives get your way,] Americans are too lazy for manual labor and too stupid for high tech work

    Well, I suppose we should just give up then.

    This idea that subsidizing poor people’s healthcare makes people dumber is asinine. The “it makes ’em lazy!” argument is slightly less silly, but I still find it unconvincing. You know what makes people less likely to succeed economically? Experiencing and being surrounded by poverty and untreated health problems.

    progressives keep pushing for more education but keep watning to eliminate most jobs that require a high level education

    By which you apparently mean healthcare (as you appear to think bending the cost curve down means “eliminating most jobs” in the healthcare sector) and engineering/defense contractors (apparently restraining the military budget will destroy engineering jobs).

    On Earth Prime, while government spending certainly impacts the economy it’s hardly the only factor. If the liberal project of universal but cheaper healthcare is successful, this will free up money to spend elsewhere (whether by the government or in the private sector). Like anything else (education included!), at some point more spending produces diminishing returns. Ditto “Defense.” Like I said, it’s true for anything.

    Our core problem isn’t a lazy populace, in my opinion. I think our core problem is that we’re having trouble selling enough stuff to the rest of the world, in part b/c the country got so rich that our stuff is expensive, in part because of the end of the Cold War, and in part because of suboptimal trade policy. These are not easy problems for us to solve, so mostly we yell at each other about other things.

  61. Rob in CT says:

    I should add another factor to my list of reasons we’re having economic trouble: resources. We used up a lot of resources during our rise to #1 status, and while we still have lots of resources, the low hanging fruit is largely gone. We want cheap energy, but we also don’t want to pollute so much we get sick, or that we unbalance the climate to the point where we’re all screwed.

    By the way, if military spending so engineers can have jobs is good, why is subsidizing “green” tech (on a much, much smaller scale!) bad?

  62. george says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t think this particular one is that complicated. “Big government” is about regulatory bureaucracies, taxation, and the welfare state.

    That seems like a very narrow (and artificial) definition of “big”. In general “big government” refers to both size and scope.

    It also seems to go against common sense. Having one department (say the post office) which employed say 90% of the population wouldn’t be considered to be an example of “big government”, because the scope is small? Does anyone really believe that? I think its a good example of the problem the GOP has with its message, because most people think having a large government in numbers is obviously big government, and the definition you suggest sounds like playing word games.

  63. James Joyner says:

    @george: I don’t think most people think of the military and post office as “the government” in they same way they do the IRS or the EPA. “Big Government” is a code word for an intrusive state, not a metric for the size of the public sector. At the silly end, it leads to such things as “Get your government hands off my Medicare!” Because, while people intellectually understand that Medicare is a government program, they don’t think of Medicare as government.

  64. george says:

    @James Joyner:

    Perhaps that suggests a divide on what is considered government between different groups. Most people I’ve talked to consider military and post office as part of the government, from what you say the opposite is true for the people you’ve talked to.

    As a generalization, I’d suggest that liberals and fiscal conservatives social liberals include them as part of the government (and libertarians too most likely, though I don’t know enough to say), whereas fiscal/social conservatives don’t.

    The example you give fits into that – a large group (most Democrats etc) considered the quote to be ridiculous because it obviously was part of what they considered to be the government, whereas another large group (Tea Party etc) thought it was perfectly natural because, as you say, they didn’t think of Medicare as government.

    In fact, the whole question of what constitutes Big Government is a good example of your thesis in this thread:

    The end result of this is anathema to the functioning of a large, diverse society of ours. In social science terms, we’re now a nation of reinforcing rather than cross-cutting cleavages.

    The two groups don’t even agree emotionally on what is part of the government. One group would say the military, post office etc is definitely part of government (in the “Big” sense), the other, as you say, don’t. Its just another source of frustration for both sides, since both would say their opinion is common sense (ie the one that the military is obviously part of the government, the other that the military is obviously not what is meant by big government).

    And as you say, the divide is getting bigger, not smaller.

  65. James Joyner says:

    @george:

    The two groups don’t even agree emotionally on what is part of the government.

    Right. My late father, who spent most of his working life as either a soldier or Department of the Army civilian, had a bumper sticker on his car that read “I LOVE MY COUNTRY; IT’S THE GOVERNMENT I’M AFRAID OF.”