The End of the Republican Party As We Know It?

Ronald Reagan famously claimed, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me." I'm going through the process in reverse.

ronald-reagan-salute-bw

Ronald Reagan, who shifted from an enthusiastic FDR supporter in his youth to the leader of the conservative wing of the GOP, famously and repeatedly explained, ”I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” Having grown up as a Reagan Republican, I’m going through the process in reverse.

America’s electoral structure virtually guarantees that there will be two and only two political parties. The natural course is for both of these to be what political scientists call “catch-all” parties, each constantly shifting their political agenda to appeal to at least half the electorate. So, it’s hardly surprising that neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party are what they were when Reagan first captured the GOP nomination 36 years ago. The Democrats moved to the right on economic and national security policy with Bill Clinton in 1992 and more or less stayed there. Republicans, eventually captured by the evangelical Christians that Reagan brought into the fold, have moved further to the right on social issues while treating Reagan’s tax cut rhetoric as dogma despite having won on that issue decades ago.

As a consequence of having left the Deep South fourteen years ago and, more importantly, thirteen years of near-daily political blogging, I’ve moved somewhat left on some social and economic issues. For at least a decade, I’ve been deeply uncomfortable with aspects of the Republican Party and some of its tendencies, especially at the Congressional level. I’ve increasingly had to qualify my affiliation with modifiers that all but negated the noun, such as “Phil Gramm Republican” or “Alan Simpson Republican” or “Jon Huntsman Republican.” But I’ve been able to maintain my loyalty to the institution because, at the institutional level, it remained relatively moderate. The Establishment tended to dominate the political agenda and, more importantly, the presidential nominating process. While the Herman Cains and Mike Huckabees and Rick Santorums all had their moment in the sun, the nominating electorate always rallied behind a George W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney. It was easy to justify voting for all of them, if not enthusiastically.

That appears to be have changed this cycle. The troops did not fall in line behind Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, or Chris Christie. Donald Trump, who isn’t meaningfully a Republican and seemingly has no ideological moorings, is running away with it. The scenarios for a non-Trump to win are decidedly implausible.  And by far his most competitive challenger is Ted Cruz, who’s conventionally qualified but is so doctrinaire that he’s universally hated even by his own caucus in the Senate.

This isn’t a simple matter of the Establishment misreading the situation and failing to take control of it. Even if the Establishment had somehow persuaded all but Rubio–seemingly the most widely attractive of this candidates—to drop out before Iowa and consolidate their efforts, it would only have mattered at the margins (Rubio might have won Virginia yesterday, for example). All the traditional Republican candidates combined don’t add up to anything close to Trump.

Nor is it a matter of the Southern Strategy and other GOP chickens coming home to roost. At least not in the way that Democratic-leaning analysts claim. Trump isn’t the natural evolution of Reagan and Gingrich (although perhaps Cruz is). Rather, he’s a rejection of a party that has promised small government and protection of the traditional culture and failed to deliver. His message is incoherent nonsense but it resonates with voters who are fed up with the status quo.

While eight months is a long time from now, I can’t see myself voting for either Trump or Cruz, even when the alternative seems to be Hillary Clinton. At the same time, I don’t see myself going full Reagan anytime soon. While there are Democrats I could get behind, the Democratic Party just isn’t very attractive to me.  Given the degree to which American politics is a team sport, I don’t know where that leaves me.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Best of OTB, Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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. gVOR08 says:

    I expect writing this was painful. The candor and honesty are noted and appreciated.

    Trump isn’t the natural evolution of Reagan and Gingrich (although perhaps Cruz is).

    No, they aren’t, not even Cruz. But the Republican Base is the natural evolution of the Southern Strategy and the Murdoch, Limbaugh, etc. echo chamber. A tiger establishment Republicans were happy to ride.

  2. Grumpy Realist says:

    Probably voting for the lesser of the evils, like most of us.

  3. Passerby says:

    Many Democrats have gone through the reverse process over the years.

    Obama is well to the left of Carter and Bill Clinton on economics, and the Democratic Party is now so left-wing on economic issues that there is little difference between the top two contenders in the 2016 Democratic Primaries, one of whom is a self-proclaimed socialist.

    Carter deregulated airlines and trucking; Bill Clinton pushed through NAFTA and free-trade measures that his wife now repudiates.

    Obama has imposed an avalanche of red tape on the economy, most of it having little to do with any valid health, safety, or consumer-protection rationale, and some of it intended to enrich politically-connected trial lawyers and pressure groups.

    For all the talk of the GOP’s supposed southern strategy under Nixon, it was Nixon’s education secretary who first managed to desegregate the schools in the Deep South. Carter did not even file a brief in favor of affirmative action in the Bakke case, while today, affirmative action and racial set-asides are virtually a religion for the Democratic Party.

  4. Moosebreath says:

    James,

    Thanks for this. Like gVOR08, I can see how hard that was for you to write. Having seen Michael Smerconish go through a similar progression on the editorial pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer over the last few years (which was quite a surprise, having vaguely known him in the days when he was a member of Penn Law’s chapter of the Federalist Society in the mid-80’s), this took much courage.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    I’m sure this wasn’t a piece of cake to write, and then publish.
    I’m not a big fan of Clinton, either.
    Given the alternative………………….

  6. SenyorDave says:

    @Passerby: Good cut and paste, where’s it from?

    Longing for the old days of the 50’s, with no pesky EPA, Lake Erie on fire?

  7. Franklin says:

    @Passerby:

    Obama is well to the left of Carter and Bill Clinton on economics, and the Democratic Party is now so left-wing on economic issues that there is little difference between the top two contenders in the 2016 Democratic Primaries, one of whom is a self-proclaimed socialist.

    This passes for gibberish. The post by Dr. Joyner that you are replying to directly contradicts the part about “the Democratic Party is … left-wing on economic issues” and so does reality.

    And for the last f***in’ time, Bernie Sanders is not a socialist (nor does he proclaim to be).

  8. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    who isn’t meaningfully a Republican and seemingly has no ideological moorings,

    This is part of Trump’s appeal–and the appeal of electing “an outsider” for many people. There is a sense on the part of these voters that the person they are electing will do what he or she sees as right without regard to the political agenda of the so-called elites. While I was in Korea, it was the explanation that people gave me for their support of Obama.

    It also explains why I am ambivalent about the perils involved with electing Trump. He, clearly, isn’t a Republican–a positive at this particular time (I left about the time of Reagan)–and without ideological moorings, he’s not likely to do anything particularly drastic no matter what he sounds like on the stump–particularly because Congress will have to pass most of it. He has no particular agenda beyond Trump.

  9. Passerby says:

    @Franklin:

    Facts are stubborn things. And the facts unequivocally confirm what I said above, about the Democratic Party’s movement leftward. Bernie Sanders explicitly describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist.” That is a type of socialist, by his own confession. Your use of profanity does not change this.

    Any honest economist would confirm that the Democratic has moved to the left under Obama on economic issues.

    Jimmy Carter opposed a national healthcare plan because it was too expensive. President Obama pushed through a far-more expensive plan than Carter opposed (a plan that contained major work disincentives, such as punishing income cliffs for tax credits, as Ted Frank and others have noted).

    Jimmy Carter pushed through railroad deregulation (saving America’s railroads from bankruptcy) and deregulated airlines and trucking.

    By contrast, Obama has harmed consumers through a mountain of red tape that has harmed consumers (for example, ill-conceived financial regulations that wiped out many free checking accounts).

  10. Tillman says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    He has no particular agenda beyond Trump.

    That’s the reason he’s frightening. Obama, despite having oratorical skill, didn’t use the bully pulpit of the presidency nearly enough. Trump as president isn’t going to make that mistake, and who knows what riot he’ll conjure with those half-mad ramblings of his?

  11. Argon says:

    while treating Reagan’s tax cut rhetoric as dogma despite having won on that issue decades ago.

    Huh? Laffer curve? Trickle down? And other economics delusions?

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @Passerby: Anyone who thinks that “Obama is to the left of Carter” doesn’t have that firm a grasp on history.

    60 years ago Obama would have been called a New England Republican.

  13. LaMont says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Longing for the old days of the 50’s, with no pesky EPA, Lake Erie on fire?

    Right – because who cares if we have more Flint Water Crises in America!

  14. James Joyner says:

    @Argon: The Laffler curve makes sense in an era of a 90% top marginal tax rate, as it was when JFK came to office and cut the rate to 70%. It makes sense in an era of a 70% rate, which Reagan cut and raised several times into the high 30s. It makes no sense when the rate is in the 30s and we’re niggling over a hike to 38%.

    @gVOR08: I don’t deny that there are some Southern Strategy elements here. But Reagan himself was very sympathetic to illegal immigrants, for example, rightly seeing them as desperate to make a better life for their families. I fully understand the angst of the lower classes about the resulting race to the bottom on wages and even sympathize with concerns about rapid changes to the culture. But Trump’s reaction is stupid and mean, not conservative.

  15. SC_Birdflyte says:

    The GOP’s congressional leadership is already starting to launch the lifeboats and save as many seats in the House and Senate as they can. They see the potential for another 1964, albeit on a more limited scale.

  16. Passerby says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Saying something false doesn’t make it true. Given that New England Republicans 60 years ago opposed supported national health insurance (as they had earlier opposed Truman’s suggestions to that effect), even when it was much cheaper than Obamacare, it is manifestly false to say that “60 years ago Obama would have been called a New England Republican.” New England Republicans also voted with the GOP-controlled Congress in 1946 to deregulate the economy (which contributed to the Post-War economic boom, at a time when many were predicting another depression).

    It is true that such Republicans would be disturbed by Donald Trump (and by Hillary Clinton).

    They would also be horrified by Obama. They would not have been horrified by Jimmy Carter, who some of them in fact liked, not just Jim Jeffords. Carter deregulated railroads, airlines, and trucking, and was willing to stand up to the unions when it was in the national interest.

    Northeastern center-left Republicans like Mac Mathias got along especially well with Carter. Obama has not deregulated anything, even when such deregulation would benefit consumers. Instead, he has imposed piles of new regulations. Many of his regulations have been counterproductive and defy economic logic. They have also imposed major costs on state and local governments, fueling rising tax rates at the state and local level.

  17. Pch101 says:

    @Passerby:

    Obama is well to the left of Carter and Bill Clinton on economics…Bill Clinton pushed through NAFTA and free-trade measures that his wife now repudiates.

    Er, you might want to type “Trans Pacific Partnership” and “US EU Free Trade Agreement” into your favorite search engine, and learn who has been squarely behind them. (Hint: tall black dude, lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.)

  18. Davebo says:

    @James Joyner: Actually we aren’t “niggling” at all. It’s 39.6% now.

  19. Slugger says:

    Why should you want to be a Republican or a Democrat in the first place? The political parties are vendors selling a service. The service they sell is governmental operations. I am a citizen and a potential client for those services and intend to opt for the best service provider that I am offered. In a similar manner, I might choose AT&T or Verizon, but I am not Verizon and do not owe them any allegiance other than the normal course of business.
    Obviously, neither organization is composed of angels, and it is clearly in my self interest to keep a close eye on them especially since there is no higher authority to whom I can appeal for enforcement of disputes. My vote is my only method of retaining any semblance of control, and it would be quite unwise for me to give it up too readily by identifying myself with them.
    Party operatives understandably want to short circuit my critical faculties. One way they do this is by throwing up charismatic persons who speak in glib slogans. Personally, I think Reagan was such a person. He was undeniably charismatic with literal movie star looks who talked ” conservative ” policies while actually running a very Keynesian economic plan and running up unprecedented deficits.
    Folks, if you have to give your heart and soul to something, let me suggest the Cubs.

  20. C. Clavin says:

    @Passerby:

    Instead, he has imposed piles of new regulations. Many of his regulations have been counterproductive and defy economic logic. They have also imposed major costs on state and local governments, fueling rising tax rates at the state and local level.

    I’d love to see that fleshed out some.

  21. CSK says:

    @Tillman:

    This. Exactly.

  22. Pch101 says:

    Nor is it a matter of the Southern Strategy and other GOP chickens coming home to roost. At least not in the way that Democratic-leaning analysts claim. Trump isn’t the natural evolution of Reagan and Gingrich (although perhaps Cruz is). Rather, he’s a rejection of a party that has promised small government and protection of the traditional culture and failed to deliver.

    When establishment Republicans talk about “small government”, they are referring to free trade, low tax rates for corporations and the wealthy, and reduced regulations.

    When social conservatives talk about “small government”, they are referring to the right to impose Christian sharia law, homophobia and voter suppression on their minorities without interference from Washington.

    Same rhetoric, very different meaning. The establishment GOP that remained after its liberals ad moderates left has been largely indifferent to civil rights and equality or doesn’t mind them if implemented slowly; social conservatives are opposed to those rights and want to reduce them. Social conservatives aren’t necessarily so concerned about economics.

  23. bookdragon says:

    Welcome to the club, James.

    My family had been Republican since Lincoln, but the party effectively left us in the late 80s- early 90s. For me the last straw was when the religious right types took over so thoroughly that the president of the Young Republicans on campus was writing editorial letters about how women shouldn’t be allowed to take ‘men’s spots’ in science, engineering or business and should be restricted to nursing and teaching colleges.

    I did not just switch over to Dem. I was registered Independent for almost 20 years, but GWB, Cheney and the Tea Party types finally drove me to giving up voting GOP altogether (with one or two exceptions for sane township candidates).

    In any case, I feel your pain. Good luck on your journey.

  24. Given the degree to which American politics is a team sport, I don’t know where that leaves me.

    Political Alienation

    Welcome to the club.

  25. C. Clavin says:
  26. Nitpicker says:

    James suggests the GOP is to the right of where it was in the 1980s. That is true only on a few issues: immigration (where the GOP was more ideologically diverse back then) and perhaps abortion (there used to be a large minority of pro-choice Republicans and anti-abortion Democrats, unlike today).

    But on gay rights and many other issues, the GOP is to the left of where it was in the 1980s. Reagan signed legislation criminalizing gay sex in the District of Columbia, whereas today, many Republicans support civil unions, and some GOP senators support gay marriage.

    On economic issues, the GOP has also moved the left. It now longer seeks to do much to trim Medicare or even Medicaid (both of which it once opposed in the 1960s). Indeed, Bush Jr. expanded Medicare with the Prescription Drug Benefit.

  27. bookdragon says:

    @Nitpicker:

    On economic issues, the GOP has also moved the left. It now longer seeks to do much to trim Medicare or even Medicaid (both of which it once opposed in the 1960s). Indeed, Bush Jr. expanded Medicare with the Prescription Drug Benefit.

    Yes, because seniors turn out to vote and principle will always take a backseat to winning for either party.

  28. al-Ameda says:

    @Tillman:

    That’s the reason he’s frightening. Obama, despite having oratorical skill, didn’t use the bully pulpit of the presidency nearly enough. Trump as president isn’t going to make that mistake, and who knows what riot he’ll conjure with those half-mad ramblings of his?

    As a matter of disposition, Obama clearly is not suited for the bully pulpit, that’s just not his personality and style.

    To me, Trump seems so Third World strong man. I keep waiting for someone to pull back the curtain so that we can see that there is no there there. But clearly, 35% to 40% of Republicans are very much attracted to the “speaks his mind” and “mad as hell” “I’m right because I’m wealthy” campaign he’s running. It’s interesting, the GOP has taken over about 30 states, as well as the legislative branch of the Federal Government, now GOP voters want a ‘strong man’ to steamroll the remaining vestiges of opposition to the Republican agenda.

    This Republican Party is the victim in deliverance, and the ‘deliverer’ is Donald Trump.

  29. Moosebreath says:

    @Nitpicker:

    “On economic issues, the GOP has also moved the left.”

    Not really. Their tax and spending plans transfer far greater portions of GDP from the poor to the rich than Reagan did in his initial tax cut, and both he and Bush the Elder found he needed to moderate it to keep the deficit from rising quicker than it did. The current crop of R’s have promised greater tax cuts, deeper cuts to the budget, and greater deficits than Reagan ever dreamed of.

    “It now longer seeks to do much to trim Medicare or even Medicaid (both of which it once opposed in the 1960s).”

    Not really. They want to transfer the programs to the states, which will inevitably mean trims whenever there is a budget crisis (which they can regularly create).

    “Indeed, Bush Jr. expanded Medicare with the Prescription Drug Benefit.””

    And the current crop of Republicans view it as Bush the Younger’s biggest mistake.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    It’s hilarious that someone is claiming that Obama is so far to the left because he was behind the ACA, particularly because that plan is based on Republican ideas

  31. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @An Interested Party: And is built on the premise of entrenching private insurance companies even further into the health care delivery system.

  32. MBunge says:

    1. Ted Cruz isn’t hated by his GOP peers because he’s too “doctrinaire.” He’s hated because Ted Cruz is, even by the standards of the U.S. Senate, a narcissistic jerk.

    2. I appreciate it may have been difficult to write this but…seriously? The previous Republican administration ordered the torture of prisoners and you could tolerate that but you simply can’t accept Trump’s non-ideological nature?

    This is the thing I have to constantly fight against when it comes to Trump. There are so many things to object to about him but he exists against a backdrop of a political establishment in general and Republicans very specifically that have UTTERLY FAILED this nation for at least the last 16 years, if not much longer. Yet is it Trump not belonging to that club and not being willing to play by its rules that seems to be the thing that most upsets people.

    Mike

  33. Passerby says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Obamacare is not mostly based on Republican ideas (Not that those ideas were very practical, either).

    Aside from the individual mandate (which was supported by some Republicans and opposed by others in the 1990s), the ACA is not based on any ideas proposed by Republicans. It is much more costly, and contains far more work disincentives, than anything ever proposed by the Heritage Foundation. It does not even contain token sops to conservatives, such as allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines, or containing even meager tort reform measures.

    An elephant and a mouse both have tails, but they are not anything alike. Obamacare has about as much in common with Republican ideas as a mouse does with an elephant.

  34. Scott says:

    I’ve been a registered Republican since 1972 ( of the Rockefeller kind). So the party has been leaving me for a long time. Fortunately, party affiliation has no impact on how you actually vote. And with Texas being an open primary state, you are not even restricted there.

  35. KM says:

    James, I second the welcome to the club. Kudos for being able to publish a difficult personal reflection. This kind of thing is never easy to accept, let alone verbalize.

    My family has been financial conservatives for generations and only turned Democrat when GWB showed up on the scene. By 08, they were so pro-Obama, you’d never believe they still privately use “liberal” as a insult. Most recently, my best friend since age 8 and fiercely rabid Republican, invited me out for drinks for the sole purpose of convincing me to vote Hillary. This, from a woman who gleefully giggled through the 90’s at every bit of ill news for Clinton and has been known to publicly state on multiple occasions if they were on fire, she’d wouldn’t piss on them to put out. I damn near fell off the barstool when she started talking about how Hillary was the only chance to take out Trump so “can she count on my support? ” The disgust at how her beloved GOP turned out was both palpable and sad; that she willingly is stumping for a personally despised politician just underscored how far off the rails the party is going.

    Trump and his ilk may be tapping into the wellspring of angry, betrayed voters to flock back for One Last Score but they’re creating and sending away so many more. The GOP died long ago, but like a zombie has been staggering around in an increasingly decrepit and rotting state. At this point, it’s a matter of how long you can hold out hope for a cure vs the smell getting to you…

  36. Scott F. says:

    While there are Democrats I could get behind, the Democratic Party just isn’t very attractive to me. Given the degree to which American politics is a team sport, I don’t know where that leaves me.

    James – I don’t know that the Democratic Party needs to be attractive to you while still being useful to you as a means to an end.

    As you note, our system compels two parties. If the Republican Party as we know it is going to “end” as a result of Trump, then make it count and make sure it’s good and dead. Give it a strong push and vote out incumbents wherever you can. Some opposing party will rise from the ashes of the GOP and I believe political voices such as yours could have an influence on what forms on the far side of the immolation.

  37. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    But Trump’s reaction (to immigration) is stupid and mean, not conservative.

    It is indeed. But Trump’s stupid, mean response is exactly what the Republican Base has evolved to want. It may not be conservative, but the conservative base is not conservative by conventional/establishment definitions. A large chunk of the electorate of your party has, indeed, left you.

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @C. Clavin: Well, from the viewpoint of “economic logic” we shouldn’t have regulations against pollution, adulterated foodstuff or child labor, either….

    I wish all those people who claim to detest regulations should move to a) Brazil or b) Somalia. In the first case, you will quickly learn what REAL overregulation is. And in the second case, you’ll understand why regulations are needed.

  39. Tillman says:

    @MBunge: To be fair, the “aughts”/Bush-43 years were a time of denial. It’s when the cognitive dissonance spiked. Everything since Iraq, Katrina, U.S. attorneys, the five million deleted emails, and the Great Recession has been Republican team players clawing at any little crumb of impropriety or failure on the part of Democrats to equalize that massive spike. The legislative scorched earth strategy since mid-2010, the debt ceiling showdowns and sequestration, Clint Eastwood talking to a chair…all leaps necessary to equalize that spike. This led to such great gulfs of dissonance that Trump wormed his way in without much hassle.

    So I think we can grant leniency on some oversights to the people just now realizing where the last sixteen years have left us. A severe response now will just alienate even further.

  40. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    The Laffer curve makes sense in an era of a 90% top marginal tax rate, as it was when JFK came to office and cut the rate to 70%. It makes sense in an era of a 70% rate, which Reagan cut and raised several times into the high 30s. It makes no sense when the rate is in the 30s and we’re niggling over a hike to 38%.

    Actually, it didn’t make any sense in those earlier cases, either. Seriously. For the marginally wealthy, their overall effective tax rate was well below 90% (or 70%), and they did not feel any significant incentive to stop making money. For the very wealthy, the marginal utility of the marginal income would have been essentially zero, at whatever tax rate — and that marginal income was generally NOT being used in ways that would stimulate the economy nearly as much as redistribution to the hand-to-mouth layers of society would do. More importantly, the income-generating activities of that cohort are not things you turn on and off, or that require any active effort. Disincentives don’t matter because it’s happening automatically.

    The Laffer argument is really about effective tax rates, not marginal rates. At a high enough overall tax rate, people will stop bothering to earn. The necessary rate far exceeds anything the US has ever seen.

  41. ISLM says:

    Long time reader. First time poster. It would have been useful, James, had you laid out where you differ from mainstream Democrats on the big issues of the day. My recollection is that you support marriage equality and some form of single-payer health care. You also believe that the Iraq War was a terrible idea because it was so incompetently executed through the Bush Administration (setting everything else aside). What are Marco Rubio’s views on these issues? He opposes marriage equality to the extent of wanting a constitutional amendment of one-man-one-woman to overrule the Supreme Court. He opposes the ACA and therefore anything that would resemble single payer. He believes that the Iraq War was good and necessary and, moreover, that the errors arose from our “premature” exits under Obama.

    Frankly, I think it’s just tribal on your part. You’ve live in cave Republican for so long, you simply cannot conceive of anything else.

  42. Recovering economist says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Brazil is highly regulated — more regulated than the U.S. in terms of complicated taxation, and unfree labor markets — and this both harms consumer welfare and economic growth. Hong Kong is less regulated than the U.S., and has a higher per capita income, and higher life expectancy (it has some regulations, but less than the U.S.), despite having few natural resources.

    Given your fallacies about economics and the economics profession (claiming that from the “viewpoint of ‘economic logic’ we shouldn’t have regulations” against pollution or adulterated foods, which few economists claim, including many of the economists who have questioned the logic of many contemporary government regulations, most of whom would say regulation is needed to address interstate problems like pollution), maybe you should move to Brazil, which is now in a recession partly due to the economic ignorance of its leaders (and the increase in regulation during the Workers Party government’s rule there).

  43. MBunge says:

    @Tillman: A severe response now will just alienate even further.

    The thing is, though, that Trump IS the severe response and if people don’t recognize and accept it now, we’re only setting the stage for something even worse in the future.

    And by accept, I don’t mean vote for Trump. I mean understand that he represents realities in the body politic that must be acknowledged and dealt with, not simply ignored.

    Mike

  44. grumpy realist says:

    @Recovering economist: Go read up on the history of child labor laws, anti-food-adulteration laws, and all the other protection-of-the-worker-and-consumer stuff that came about. The invariable reaction was squealing from industry and dire predictions that if said laws went through, they would NEVER be able to make money.

    And who cares what economists say? Alan Greenspan was aghast, absolutely AGHAST that the banks had actually been LYING when it came to all those liar loans on mortgages, because “a reasonable person wouldn’t do that.”

    The inability of economists to understand that humans will lie, cheat, and steal in business when enough money is involved never fails to amuse me. Like Libertarian or Communist economics, their belief system only works when humans act like non-humans.

  45. Gustopher says:

    I can understand why Trump is a few steps too far to tolerate voting for out of habit, and Cruz is so unlikable and smarmy that voting for him would be like petting a snake for the first time… But, what about Congress?

    All of the extremism we have seen from the Republican Presidential candidates this cycle has been on display in Washington in the halls of congress for 8 years. The nihilism, the refusal to compromise in good faith, the threats to default on the national debt… The Presidential candidates are finally beginning to catch up to the Congress.

    Many people don’t think of Congress at all, but that’s hardly the case for someone who runs a political blog.

    James, why is voting for a terrible Presidential candidate more repulsive (and, Trump seems to repel you) than voting for a congress critter who tried to default on the national debt? And, if it weren’t for Trump, do you really think you wouldn’t have rationalized away petting that snake and voting for Cruz?

    (Who doesn’t remember the fear of their hand being covered in slime when they first had to touch a snake or lizard? You like petting dogs and cats, because they are furry and lovable, but a snake is definitely not furry, and probably not lovable… And when you do pet the snake, you pull back your hand quickly and check for slime, and even though the snake was dry and you can see nothing on your hand, you feel dirty and have to scrub your hand clean)

  46. MarkedMan says:

    I empathize with James, and at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll repost from another thread

    A political party is not your family. They are not yours for life regardless of what they do. They shouldn’t even engender the same loyalty as a sports team because the control they exert over our government is too important for sentiment to override real deficiencies. Choosing a party should be more like choosing a hospital. In this case the Republican Party is seriously damaged and to continue to “bring your business there”‘ is actually harmful to the country.

  47. ”I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” Having grown up as a Reagan Republican, I’m going through the process in reverse.

    As a consequence of having left the Deep South fourteen years ago and, more importantly, thirteen years of near-daily political blogging, I’ve moved somewhat left on some social and economic issues.

    The Republican party and its base have moved decidedly rightward, you are correct. But as a very longtime reader of this blog (around since nearly the beginning) I can attest that you’ve also moved decidedly leftward – more than you like to admit. I’m not passing judgement. You are entitled to your views, and you’re entitled to grow and change as an adult. And, after all, I’m still a regular reader (even if I comment far, far less than I used to). But recognize and reject your own cognitive dissonance. You’re better than that.

  48. Passerby says:

    @grumpy realist:

    It’s telling that you urge disdain for economic realities (“who cares what economists say”?) in the context of defending the failed policies of this administration, which have resulted in years of sub-par economic growth, even though the economy usually expands rapidly after the end of a severe recession.

    Ignoring economics doesn’t work. The Obama administration has replaced the center-left economics of past Democratic administrations, which recognized tradeoffs in economic policymaking, with ideological blinders, and a contempt for basic principles of economics that used to be recognized by even liberal economists.

    The result is slow growth and low labor force participation rates.

    “Who care what economists say?” That’s sums up the thinking of the Obama administration, its misguided policies, and why the economy has grown so slowly over the last several years.

    The fact that some regulations are needed does not mean that more regulations are needed, or that all regulations are good. A more nuanced approach is needed.

  49. Pch101 says:

    @Passerby:

    You didn’t read my post about free trade agreements, did you?

    Facts are just too inconvenient for some people.

  50. gVOR08 says:

    @Passerby: Specifics, please.

    Also, the economy usually rebounds quickly after a normal interest rate recession. This was a “balance sheet” recession, gobs of paper wealth destroyed almost overnight. We typically don’t recover from them quickly. That said, we are recovering more quickly than we did from the first W Bush recession, i.e. the second of the three Bush recessions.

  51. Really says:

    On everything but immigration, today’s GOP is to the left of Ronald Reagan, not to Reagan’s right. Reagan was a right-wing extremist (at least by today’s standards). So it’s interesting that James prefaces his remarks by writing about “Having grown up as a Reagan Republican.”

    Reagan wanted a Human Life Amendment that would define a one-day old embryo as a person. Nobody seriously discusses that now (even those who want to sharply restrict abortion), given the weird legal consequences it would have.

    Reagan wanted to impose prayer in schools through a constitutional amendment. The GOP-controlled Congress shows no interest in that today.

    Reagan recriminalized gay sex in Washington, DC, signing such a bill into law that was supported by Republicans and conservative Democrats. Nobody is discussing doing that now.

    Reagan wanted to spend way more on the military as a percentage of GDP than Republicans do today. (Although maybe James likes that right-wing position, which our deficit-plagued country can no longer afford, especially given slow economic growth that will keep us from shrinking debt as a percentage of GDP. Nor can we afford to borrow even more money from the Chinese to wage more foreign wars, like Hillary’s War in Libya (the New York Times notes she convinced Obama to do that folly), and Dubya’s war in Iraq.).

  52. Pch101 says:

    One sure sign that someone doesn’t understand economics: The propensity to confuse the labor force participation rate with unemployment.

    (Big hint: The vast majority of the population that is not part of the workforce doesn’t want to be.)

  53. Jc says:

    The fact that some regulations are needed does not mean that more regulations are needed

    Huh?

    Also, the “severe recession” you are referring to just happened to be the loss of 8.7 Million jobs. Go back and review your economic reality data to understand just how significant that number was compared to other times i.e. 2001, early 90’s early 80’s

    I think you should also compare our growth, the country where the financial crisis originated, to that of other developed countries over the past 8 years – What you call sub-par I may call on par. Not solid but not horrible.

    The Obama administration has replaced the center-left economics of past Democratic administrations

    This administration’s policies are all center left, all the ideas are center left – one could argue the ACA is center left. You may be so far right that center left is now left to you.

    What were the regulations or plans that you would have implemented that would have provided 3%+ growth every year since 2008?

  54. Argon says:

    @James Joyner:

    The Laffler curve makes sense in an era of a 90% top marginal tax rate, as it was when JFK came to office and cut the rate to 70%. It makes sense in an era of a 70% rate, which Reagan cut and raised several times into the high 30s. It makes no sense when the rate is in the 30s and we’re niggling over a hike to 38%.

    Relatively few paid that marginal rate because of multiple loopholes. Consider the % of actual income that was paid to the government instead. In reality, Reagan used the fiction of the Laffer curve to drive tax rates down but focused primarily among the highest earners. The administration justified under the twin assumptions that the tax breaks would pay for themselves and that the benefits would trickle down to lower income workers.

    But the economic reviews indicate that the assumptions didn’t pan out or where not in evidence. Note that in cutting such taxes, Reagan also managed to drive up the deficit. George HW Bush called the whole package ‘voodoo economics’ in 1980 and he was right. To this day, the Laffer curve and ‘trickle down’ remain central dogmas among the GOP as a justification to keep reducing upper-income tax brackets.

    I’d say the GOP left me after Nixon, not Reagan. Reagan, with the un-holy alliance of the moral majority, the southern strategy, the corporate citizen and the complete disregard for science and the environment, was the final straw for me, and I think, the harbinger of the GOP today. I guess I was never a Michael P. Keaton at that age.

  55. Argon says:

    @Passerby:

    [The ACA] contains far more work disincentives,[…]

    Good in many cases for those who had pre-existing conditions to keep limping along in crappy jobs so they could just maintain health coverage and not got bankrupt. The thing with that is those people retire and more jobs open up for younger workers.

  56. BrooklynDave says:

    @Passerby: Excuse me? Romney wasn’t a Republican? RomneyCare called for exchanges, subsidies and mandates and the ACA explicity used RomneyCare as a model. Maybe you’d like to amend that statement?

  57. grumpy realist says:

    @Argon: The fact that almost all of the increase in GNP has gone to the tippy-top 0.01% rather than the poor bastards who actually do the work is what has been shoving me more and more towards outright socialism.

  58. David M says:

    @Passerby:

    It does not even contain token sops to conservatives, such as allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines, or containing even meager tort reform measures.

    This is worth addressing in more detail. First, the ACA does permit insurance to be sold across state lines. However, it’s not federal regulations that are preventing this, it’s the actual difficulty for an insurance company to set up and get started in a new state.

    Obama offered the GOP tort reform to try and win some support, but the GOP wasn’t interested. That’s actually the complaint you should have with the process, is the GOP had endless opportunities to join the legislative process and have a say in the final outcome, but chose not to. If the entirety of the GOP effort is to just vote against the ACA rather than cooperate and offer input as a moderate health care reform bill was passed, then it kind of seems like the GOP is to blame for the lack of GOP ideas in the final bill.

  59. gVOR08 says:

    By coincidence I stumbled across a poly sci paper by Grossman and Hopkins, The Ideological Right vs. the Group Benefits Left; Asymmetric Politics in America . My unfairly brief summary would be that the Democrats are a traditional political party, a coalition of “intense policy demanders”. The Republicans are a church. A group sharing common beliefs, and with mechanisms for enforcing orthodoxy. An orthodoxy you don’t share, James.

    …a hostile takeover happening within the Republican Party. The senior management of the GOP has failed its key shareholders, abandoning the founding vision of individual freedom, fiscal responsibility, and constitutionally limited government. …The GOP is freedom’s party, and we’re taking it back. 2013 – Matte Kibbe, director of Freedom Works.

    Need I remind OTB that Freedom Works = Koch?

  60. John Cole says:

    Been there, done that.

    I’ll save you a seat.

  61. John D'Geek says:

    @James Joyner: I know what you mean. I will not vote for someone that treats classified information as cavalierly as Hillary Clinton … but the alternative is Trump.

  62. Franklin says:

    @Passerby:

    Bernie Sanders explicitly describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist.” That is a type of socialist, by his own confession.

    I am afraid you are uninformed on this subject. Just because it is presented in an adjective-noun format here does not mean it is a type of socialist. A more correct name for what he supports is a social democracy.

    While socialism can have a broad range of meanings, Sanders does not want the state to own the means of production. If the meaning of socialism is so wide that it includes Sanders, than just about every country on Earth is socialist and the word has no meaning at all.

    Surely you would accept the fact that there are things in between capitalism and socialism? And that you can’t just call all of those things socialist?

  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Well, from the viewpoint of “economic logic” we shouldn’t have regulations against pollution, adulterated foodstuff or child labor, either….

    All 3 of those have extreme economic costs, like death, death, and death, which if left unregulated would be a drag on the economy. It is rather difficult for a person to contribute to the GDP from the grave or hospital bed for that matter.

  64. James Joyner says:

    @Russell Newquist: I haven’t moved that far on substance over the last dozen or so years. Even in my College Republicans days, I supported the notion of universal healthcare coverage, for example, probably owing to having grown up in the Army system. In 2003, I thought gays should have the right to live as they wished but that the public had the right to decide which types of unions to confer with the sanctions of “marriage” and that nothing in the Constitution required otherwise; my position on that has moderated only slightly. I’ve moved somewhat further on economic issues, mainly because I’ve come to have a better understanding of the rules of the game, path-dependance, and the like. Meanwhile, the moderates have all but been driven out of the institutional Republican Party. There are no Olympia Snowes in the Senate anymore, much less Alan Simpsons in the leadership.

  65. Stan says:

    @Passerby: “Obamacare is not mostly based on Republican ideas…”

    You’re winging it, and it shows. There was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health insurance proposal in California, which was defeated in the state legislature, and Romney’s plan in Massachusetts, which passed and is still in effect. Both involved a ban on denial of insurance because of pre-existing conditions, both included an individual mandate, and both provided subsidies based on income.
    Try brushing up on the facts before your next post.

  66. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: That is, in my view, the #2 political issue of our era. Most of the country used to be involved in agriculture. Now it’s what 2%? Why? Because we got very good at it. The same thing is happening in manufacturing. It will happen in services and transport and even to doctors and lawyers. We either institute socialism and end up with a society that looks a lot like Star Trek, or we end up with no one having any money except those people that happen to be rich when it happens. Which is to say we’ll look like czarist Russia. Except with no work even for serfs.

    #2 because if we don’t do something about carbon it doesn’t matter. Dr. K was right, in I think Monday’s column, saying a vote for any R is a vote to destroy the planet. It really is that stark. Dr. K also points out that the technological miracle Rs are waiting for to save us has quietly happened. We can transition to renewables NOW. And it would BOOST the economy.

  67. Stan says:

    @James Joyner: What is path determinance?

  68. David M says:

    @Stan:

    To be fair, it was based on Republican ideas…that they only accepted when forced to at the state level and had no intention of passing at the national level or in states not completely controlled by Democrats.

  69. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The invariable reaction was squealing from industry and dire predictions that if said laws went through, they would NEVER be able to make money.

    You seem to be confusing “business” with “economics”. They are not the same. They never have been. What is good for business is quite often detrimental to the economy, because business only cares about profit. Economics is about a whole lot more than that.

    Think of it this way, the internal combustion engine was terrible for the buggy making business but great for putting large #s of people to work which was great for the economy, and while good for the auto manufacturing sector of the economy, the pollution from the ic engine is horrible for the economy of the future because of the costs it will impose on future generations from climate change, not to mention the costs on past generations from airborne lead…. Yadda yadda yadda.

    Economics is about trying to strike the proper balance.

  70. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher:

    Who doesn’t remember the fear of their hand being covered in slime when they first had to touch a snake or lizard?

    Me, because I never had that fear to begin with. They aren’t slimy. Of course, touching actual honest to dog slimy things never bothered me either.

  71. grumpy realist says:

    @gVOR08: Historically, societies which have a bunch of rich people and a whole bunch of poor people who can’t support themselves have other things happen to them: like revolutions.

    That’s one reason why I’m for a high progressive income tax. (I’m also for treating income from capital and income from labor equally.) I think of it as insurance for the rich against getting hanged from lampposts.

    Historically, societies with large middle classes aren’t at equilibrium. You have to keep working against the oligarchy continually attempting to take more and more power and shoving more and more people down into the peasant class. At some point it goes too far and you get revolution…

    But the rich never understand that and think that they are on the top of the heap because of their own efforts and never have to worry about those underneath them.

  72. James Joyner says:

    @Stan: I’m was bastardizing the phrase “path-dependence.” Basically, I mean the fact that early choices or fortune tends to have a disproportionate affect later. It matters a helluva lot more at 30 than it reasonably should which college you got into—or, indeed, whether you started college—at 18.

  73. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Except that it’s the idiocies from the economists that get used by business to shore up their crass behavior. The Chicago School’s interpretation of How The Stock Market Works and the Strong Hypothesis is used to argue that we don’t need any laws against insider trading. Where anyone who has looked at reality (e.g. the Italian stock market) quickly realizes that if there’s no laws against insider trading, the system quickly devolves towards a state where everyone assumes that the only reason something is getting offered for sale is because there’s some hidden ghastly information. Which means people get even more suspicious, are less liable to buy, and you have to unload your stock at an even lower price. (It also cuts down on the amount of trading, which has its own ramifications.)

  74. jukeboxgrad says:

    If the entirety of the GOP effort is to just vote against the ACA rather than cooperate and offer input as a moderate health care reform bill was passed, then it kind of seems like the GOP is to blame for the lack of GOP ideas in the final bill.

    Your basic point is correct, but it should also be noted that there are in fact plenty of GOP ideas in the bill. Link:

    more than 160 Republican amendments were accepted

  75. jukeboxgrad says:

    Historically, societies which have a bunch of rich people and a whole bunch of poor people who can’t support themselves have other things happen to them: like revolutions … But the rich never understand that

    Yes, exactly. Link:

    The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.

  76. Pch101 says:

    Bernie Sanders explicitly describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist.” That is a type of socialist, by his own confession.

    So the Soviets must have been Republicans, since the “R” in “USSR” stood for Republics. Good to know, thanks for the tip.

  77. Tillman says:

    @grumpy realist:

    But the rich never understand that and think that they are on the top of the heap because of their own efforts and never have to worry about those underneath them.

    I swear Emmanuel Goldstein wrote something about this…

  78. Stan says:

    @James Joyner: “Initial conditions”, the phrase I’d use in place of your “path-dependence”, have a lot to say about how you do in all aspects of life. Is poverty due to poor character, an impoverished childhood, or just bad luck? Give me your answer and I’ll be able to make a pretty good guess about how you vote.

  79. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tillman: Okay. I can take that theory into consideration, but then again, I’m old enough to remember when some of my friends on the left were afraid of GHW Bush because he had been the director of the CIA, and “who knew that he wouldn’t use that knowledge to create a police state that would come and arrest us all.” I fully expect that if Trump becomes President, the bloviation will continue unabated, I just can’t see what it will accomplish: a paid-for-by-Mexico wall with “a big beautiful gate?” deportation of 11 million persons in less than a year? a ban on travel by Muslims? What will he do?

    There’s no telling, true. That’s why it’s call argument from an absence of evidence. But you’re right, it is something to consider.

  80. anjin-san says:

    @al-Ameda:

    There is a significant subset of conservatives that simply loves to grovel before money and authority. The first Trump has, and the second he appears to have in the eyes of the rubes. Just as Gingrich is a dumb persons idea of what a smart person is, Trump is the poor mans idea of a strong, dynamic tycoon.

  81. MarkedMan says:

    This may be a bit of a non sequitur but this is probably the best thread post it in. Partisan bias is baked into us deeper than we sometimes realize. For instance it has been obvious on this blog that Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches at industry functions engender a visceral reaction and a “knowledge” that they are just more examples of her corruption. This morning I opened an email and discovered a trade show I usually attend, HiMSS, had Mitt Romney as a keynote. So let me ask those who feel that visceral reaction to Hillary giving such industry talks: does your hackles rise at all when Mitt Romney does it? Or is your partisanship so deeply seated that there is no automatic reaction? I’m not really judging here. In my case I think of Ronald Reagan as such a terrible president that I have to force myself past my instant negative reaction to anything he did. And on the other end I was raised in an Irish immigrant family and accepted that JFK was the greatest modern president for many years. It took me decades before I got over that instant reaction.

  82. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: How about those of us who think that both Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton are a pair of political weasels?

  83. Tillman says:

    @MarkedMan:

    For instance it has been obvious on this blog that Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches at industry functions engender a visceral reaction and a “knowledge” that they are just more examples of her corruption. This morning I opened an email and discovered a trade show I usually attend, HiMSS, had Mitt Romney as a keynote. So let me ask those who feel that visceral reaction to Hillary giving such industry talks: does your hackles rise at all when Mitt Romney does it?

    Depends. Did healthcare IT cause or greatly contribute to a worldwide financial meltdown that went relatively unpunished?

  84. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    But Trump’s stupid, mean response is exactly what the Republican Base has evolved to want.

    I think it’s worth pointing out that the Republican base hasn’t ‘evolved’ over the last 40-50 years. It has been deliberately bred.

    Besides, Republicans don’t believe in evolution. The temptation to attribute the nature of present-day Republicans to Unintelligent Design is overwhelming.

  85. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: Up voted that. I’ve commented several times that this stuff didn’t exactly fall out of the sky on an unsuspecting Republican Party. They did build this, brick by brick and with malice aforethought.

  86. John says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Those that don’t have revolutions typically have to resort to rather nasty measures to insure they don’t have one, making living in said society unpleasant even for the winners. Though knowing the current state of the USA, maybe our elite is simply counting on an endless supply of entertainment and porn keep the masses entertained instead.

    @gVOR08:

    Correct, but I think it’s important to distinguish between the Cruz and Trump supporters. Cruz is a result of the Tea Party, Trump is more like a Wallace/Perot hybrid, or a relatively secular and political outsider version of Pat Buchanan. There are a lot of Trump supporters who couldn’t care less about the pieties of the GOP(some, as I mentioned on another thread, aren’t even Republicans) or are actively revolting against them-Trump even scored with 11 percent more on moderates in SC than Rubio did. Cruz’s supporters, on the other hand, think the GOP is corrupt because they aren’t enforcing orthodoxy strict enough.

    Some Trump supporters might be pious or “very conservative”, but there are many who aren’t.

  87. John says:

    @anjin-san:

    Here’s something weird I’ve noticed. Most Trump supporters or sympathizers I have actually interacted with-not the armies of racist trolls online or David Duke-are far more cynical than that. They view him as a good way of sticking up their middle finger and as not beholden to special interests or the donor class. They don’t think of him so much as the best option for America so much as not worse than Hillary or the GOP Establishment or Cruz. The gist seems to be that nominating an actual clown would be a great way of showing people what they think and if elected, he might burn the whole damn barn down. I don’t think that’s correct or a good idea, but it’s far more “rational” than outsiders (usually liberal or Establishment Republican) commenting on the nature of Trump’s supporters think.

    Trumpism is an attitude, not an ideology. When it comes to ideology, Trump is a blank canvas that they throw their hopes on, and Trump’s statements on most political topics (with obvious exceptions such as illegal immigration, free trade, and anti-neocon sentiment) are ambiguous enough to make it work.

  88. grumpy realist says:

    @John: If I were one of the poor white working-class bastards who had been continually told that my poverty was All My Own Problem and I just had to Horatio Alger myself into success, I’d probably have the same attitude.

    Supporting Trump is a big middle finger to people like Mitt Romney, the CEO who tells me oh-so-politely that for the Good of the Company all the jobs for people in my position have to be outsourced to Mexico, because y’know, labor costs.

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of Free Market blowhards.

  89. mylifematters says:

    @bookdragon: And what party’s ‘principles’ should include limiting the voting rights of seniors and their representatives’ duty to respond accordingly? I think it is fortunate that seniors exists in numbers able to protect themselves from the ‘principles’ some people hold.

  90. John says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Exactly. Is it really all that worse than having a convention in 2012, at a time of profound problems for America’s WWC, that sounded and looked more like a business meeting than a political convention?

    I can’t decide what I like more, actually-Trump ripping into the neocons or the Norquists. And these are the guys who basically hijacked the party of Brent Snowcroft and Jim Baker, so I find it amusing that they don’t like it when Trump does the same thing to them.

    Anyway, I’m an educated young man who intends to go for a Phd eventually, and Trump intellectually repulses me. But emotionally speaking, I get the nihilism fueling many Trump supporters, that desire to burn the Beltway down, that desire to really see the people who sneer at you-both Democrat and Republican-hurt or be pissed off. I’m not trying to be melodramatic or anything, but I honestly don’t think many outside observers quite understand the sheer disdain for whatever our elite, political, media, or economic have to say, or how ridiculous they look to the Great Unwashed. It’s not so much that Trump is a political genius so much as they live in an alternate mental universe and can’t see they have no clothes.

    They just simply don’t accept anything the GOP Establishment says, and for good reason. It’s been that way since the late 90s in places like the Rust Belt. Along with the Democratic Establishment that seems to prioritize social over economic progressivism-if the RNC seems to the average white working class man to be like the MBAs who want to ship their jobs off, the DNC must be the politically correct lawyers who want to give their job to someone who isn’t a citizen. (See Gompers for what a real left wing economic populist would have thought about illegal immigration.)

    I’m going to speak in the manner of Hans Bethe for Trump: the RNC is the father because they provided the seed, the DNC is the mother because they suckled the child. I think of it more as leaving a vacuum by completely destroying center-right politics in the course of 25 years and then pouring gas into said vacuum and lighting a match near it.

    Leaving the media to take the role of midwife, or really nanny, of course.