The Republicans are Going Nowhere
The party is unlikely to suffer consequences for its anti-democracy actions.
In the sub-heading of one of James Joyner’s posts, this morning that rightly underscored the Republican Party’s shame, is the phrase “It’s tough to see how they recover.” The sad truth is, I do not see the party suffering for the blatantly anti-democratic behavior it has displayed. As such, I would say that it is tough to see how the country recovers because we lack that ability to address the truly shameful behavior that we have seen and, moreover, we cannot forget that there is a sizable segment of the population that doesn’t see anything shameful here at all.
I cannot stress enough that the only way to truly damage a political party to the point that it either goes away to be replaced by something else, or changes enough that it is recognizably different, is via the ballot box. And as I have been writing for years, well before Trump was even a possibility, is that the entire structure of our democracy is skewed in favor of the Republican Party.
The list is pretty straightforward:
- The President can be elected by a clear minority of the population (even this year, one can construct plausible scenarios in which Biden wins by 6 or more millions of votes, and still loses the EC).
- The Senate is controlled by states that are structurally predisposed to the Republican Party (off the top of my head, I believe the number is that roughly 17% of the population can control 50%+ of the Senate).
- It is possible and happened as recently as 2012 for the Democrats to win the majority of the national vote, but not win control of the Chamber (in that year they won 50.6% of the vote, but only 46.2% of the seats. This is the result of a number of factors including a too-small chamber relative to the population, geographic sorting, and gerrymandering.
One can argue, as many have, that all the above are the rules of the game, and if Democrats want to govern they need to simply work harder and find a way to be more competitive than the Republicans. While there is some truth to the notion that, say, smarter/more strategic candidate selection can overcome the Electoral College disadvantage, there is no “working harder” to fix the Senate problem, or the structural advantage that the GOP has in House races (which translates, into a rough 4%+ bonus in seats over votes).
As such, I see no pending punishment for the Republican Party for the misdeeds that many of us see and that history will record, but that large numbers of GOP voters are currently supporting.
If we had a more reasonable electoral system, I think we would, in fact, see a split on the right into two parties (and splits on the left as well, but that is a different discussion). We are already seeing the fault lines. Seventy members of the House GOP caucus did not sign on to support the Paxton lawsuit before the Supreme Court. That cleavage might represent the difference between the Trumpist Republicans and the Romney types. There are also the Never-Trump Republicans who would prefer a home other than abstaining or dwelling uncomfortably with the Democrats.
The problem is: for the non-Trumpist Republicans to break off to form their own party means, given our electoral system, losing elections and fading into oblivion. Also, depending on the size of the split and the geographic location of the contests, this could lead to more Democratic election victories, which the non-Trumpists may still not be willing to help come to fruition.
In other words: breaking away from the GOP and creating a new party likely ends in electoral defeat for the break-aways, and the election of the party whose policy preferences the break-aways likely still don’t want.
The incentives for break-away, therfore, are low.
Now, yes, a massive break-away would force the GOP’s hand to find a way to bring that group back into the fold, lest the fissure on the right lead to Democrats gaining too much ground,
But, again, such a division would have to be large enough to matter. A small fissure might not affect, for example, Republican control of the Senate at all. And there days as long as the Republicans control the Senate, they are going to be content to continue to play the game as they have been.
All this talk of splits is also a bit of fantasy. Yes, there are some ingredients to suggest cleavages on the rights (Romney, Never-Trumpers, the members of the party who have done their jobs post-election in the face of Trump’s wrath), but when push has come to shove over the last four years, most of those people have caved. Maybe Trump’s obviously anti-democratic behavior will be enough to disgust them into a split, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Ever since Trump was nominated, the courage of Republicans vis-a-vis Trump has largely receded (see, e.g., Graham, Lindsey).
The bottom line is that in a representative democracy, the chief motivator for politicians is election and re-election. And right now there appear to be no electoral incentives for Republican officer-holders to break with the broader party. As such, I fear that the Republicans recover just fine from this episode, if by “recover” one means remaining a central party of American politics and government.
The real question, therefore, is the degree to which the country can recover from all of this. It was already a known quantity that the GOP is collectively less interested in governance than are the Democrats, but now we know that many members of the party are willing to actively subvert democracy to stay in power. This can’t enhance the ability of members of Congress to come to compromises on major policy issues.
I fear that the seeds of further public discord have been sown. It will become more difficult to discuss politics with friends, family, and co-workers. People, in general, are going to be even more likely to retreat into their media bubbles. This is not healthy for democracy, or for civic life in general.
Worse, I think that Trump’s rhetoric, as now endorsed by a huge chunk of the party, will lead to the radicalization of some citizens who are already primed by their media diet to see all this in extreme terms. I don’t want to engage in hyperbolic predictions, but I fear some level of terrorist violence to emerge from all of this.
There are people out there who think that, in fact, the election was stolen from Trump, that Biden and the Democrats want to install Venezuela-style socialism, and that the Second Amendment’s main job is to arm citizens to fight tyrants. This confluence of factors cannot end well, but I very much hope I am wrong.
One thing that I do think is certain: the inability of Congress to govern is going to put pressure on Biden, and on all future presidents as long as this pattern is in place, to act unilaterally. We saw it before Trump, with Trump, and we are going to see it after Trump, and I fear it is going to accelerate. Whether a president is the most well-meaning of persons, or the most corrupt, we have seen how hard it is to hold a president to account. The courts can curtail and constrain at times, but I predict an increasingly authoritarian presidency.
In other words, if Congress won’t act, somebody will have to, and it has been and will be, the executive that does so. This does not bode well for long-term democratic health. And, again, that pattern did not start with Trump, but Trump demonstrated that impeachment has no teeth and that presidents can do quite a lot (such as reprogramming money towards his wall) that one would have thought was solely the domain of the legislature. Trump also decisively demonstrated that one can flaunt the emoluments clause without consequence.
And before anyone points out DACA and Obama, yes, you are correct. This was an example of the failure of congressional action leading to executive action. Regardless of how one feels about the policy, it is a clear illustration of Congress not addressing a problem and a president finding a way to use his office to accomplish a policy goal, even if it can only last for sure until his term ends.
As a scholar who has studied democratic governance for several decades now, I find all of this unsettling. Indeed, I found all of the Trump administration unsettling, but this current moment may be the worst of it all, because the Republican Party has endorsed blatantly anti-democratic position based on nothing more than the rantings of their leader. That is unnerving because it is so dangerous.
It was bad enough when the GOP was acting like a party that didn’t really want to govern. It is substantially worse to see the party embrace a fact-free argument against respecting elections.
So, yes, they will recover because there will be no electoral consequences for their behavior. Indeed, there is a good chance that they will win control of the House in 2022.
Let’s not forget: Trump won over 74 million votes last month. Those voters are not going to abandon the GOP because of these shenanigans. They will either ignore it, rationalize it, or praise it. Maybe a handful will wake up to what they are supporting, but it is unlikely because the only other choice they have is the Democrats, and for a variety of reason many of them will find that unacceptable.
I know it isn’t the only issue, but institution matter and everything from the basic structure of our government to primaries to single-seat plurality elections all contributes to where we are.
We need reform, but the chances of it happening are slim and so, as I have noted for years, the only other way to get change is crisis, and we seem to be lurking ever closer in that direction.
Right, a variety of reasons. Much like the variety of reasons that led to the Civil War, like… Tariffs. Yeah, tariffs is what it was about.
Let me summarize the reasons why Republicans won’t reform. There are three: Bitches, Ni–ers and Dollars. Weak men, racists and greedy assholes.
Good post, Steven. I quoted David Frum in the comments to James’ post: “If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism, they will abandon democracy.” That seems to be the bottom line here.
DAMMM Somebody must have put extra Metamucil on his Wheaties this morning.
Sad, but true. Yet Joe continues to speak of reaching across the aisle and not abusing exec orders. Neither can be accomplished if one party refuses to legislate and there is every indication that McConnell intends to continue his obstructionist ways.
My guess would be ignore, but, sadly, the vocal segment will probably do a combination of rationalize and praise. That’s what I’m generally seeing in my little red corner of the state I live in and among the right leaning, evangelical sources that I look to for what the lay of the land is in evangelicandom, if not Christendom.-
This was my reaction to the subheading as well: recover from what, exactly?
Re governing by the executive… The Supreme Court today is much more inclined to restrict the ability of the executive agencies and departments to govern by rule and regulation than it was four years ago. In the policy area where I put most of my attention, I could easily envision the current Court reversing Massachusetts v. EPA and holding that the Clean Air Act does not empower the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide.
I’ve repeatedly pointed to misogyny around the abortion issue, in fact, since probably before you were born. For decades I’ve been pointing out that Republicans rely on racist votes to win. And four years ago I said Trump was a rather stupid psychopath, an active criminal and traitor. All generally met with rolled eyes and suggestions that I was just throwing bombs and indulging in wild rhetoric. Oh, that Michael Reynolds, he’s so over-the-top.
It’s good now to see official pundits like Kathleen Parker today, finally begin to come around to reality. Oh, they kinda, sorta got Trump but they did not get it through their thick heads that the problem was never Trump but Republicans. It wasn’t Trump that had me looking at overseas property, it was Republicans.
I told my wife and kids four years ago that there was a very real possibility that we would have to leave the country. Not just want to, but have to. Just last month I offered for the third time to get my trans daughter settled in Amsterdam or some other safe place. And that was waved away as hysteria, melodramatic hyperbole. Well, Republicans are actively trying to end democracy itself in this country, and suddenly I’m not so hysterical.
Doctor Taylor, I would like to respectfully disagree with your rather bleak assessment. I want very badly to disagree with your bleak assessment. I really, really, really want to disagree. But I can’t.
You’ve written a concise, accurate summary of where we’re at. The Republican Party is a threat to the country, and there’s no sign that’s changing.
I’m glad you got to the one thing I think is most important at this point: a system that supports more than two parties. Leet Drutman has a Twitter thread that starts here that advocates a breakaway party and implementation of RCV so third parties aren’t punished, similar to what you say,
As always, my favorite solution of dramatically increasing the size of the House would help with some of this by yielding better representation within states.
My fear is that precisely nothing will be done, other than cosmetic changes.
This is why I get annoyed that progressives have this short-sighted vendetta against the Lincoln Project. We need a Republican alternative. We need the Conways and the Boots and the Joyners and the Taylors to start a third party.
@Michael Reynolds: you can start a new better conservative party, but where are you going to get new better conservative voters?
@Michael Reynolds: I totally agree. The Republicans have successfully demonized Democrats over cultural issues, including abortions and guns, that many of them won’t consider Democrats. A third, and frankly a fourth, alternative is needed.
Our best hope, in my estimation, is a larger House and STV (single transferrable vote/RCV). I’m not optimistic, though I’m doing my part.
If the new Conway-Boot-Joyner party peels off 5% of the existing Republican voter base we win. They don’t have to be saints, they just have to have the basic decency and honesty to stay tethered to reality. So, yeah, that’d be about 5% of conservatives.
Of course there is. It starts with the Dems moving back to the center and talking to blue-collar workers–the type likely to be in rural and industrial areas. It starts with them addressing the budget (and the taxes we pay) and being a little bit more fiscally restrained. It starts with them being actually inclusive instead of pandering to minority groups that the Dems feel “owe” them their vote, while treating them like monolithic single-issue cultures with no variation or minds of their own.
I’ve talked about it at length before: There’s no reason Dems can’t take a huge swath of “red states”–but that requires them to tone their rhetoric back down to “liberal” instead of “progressive”.
oh get outta here with that bullshit.
@Michael Reynolds: But will that translate into elected offices? If not, where’s the incentive?
@Mu Yixiao: I think much of that is a fantasy.
Let me note this, for example.
1. Given the current behavior of the Reps in Congress, what pathway do you see for actual budgets being passed to accomplish this goal? And what would it look like?
2. Where is your evidence that fiscal restraint is what anyone even wants? The GOP certainly has not behaved like the party of fiscal restraint.
3. The fiscal restraint that would bring GOP votes in the Senate onboard would be at the expense of social programs, which would then alienate substantial parts of the Dem coalition.
I think your position is based on a false assumption about the distribution of preferences across the country being a normal bell curve. It reads to me like the long-held dreams of moderates that assumes that there is this third way of politics that can occupy the middle against the extremes.
Plus, the competitive context of the Senate simply stacks the deck in the GOP’s favor so dramatically, that even attempts at what you are discussing would not guarantee success in terms of numbers.
For the Dems to have a shot at unified government I think that they would have to be able to win nationally by 8% or more. Constructing a party that has 58% or higher support is hard to do. But given the nationalization of the parties and the deep identity issues that our strict bipartism entails, it is not a realistic vision, especially since you would need to keep the entire coalition happy enough to turn out to vote. Capitulate enough to the right and start losing leftward voters.
The problem is that no matter what the actual content of the rhetoric is, it will be defined by the GOP as off the rails. Biden is no socialist, but we have millions of voters out there convinced he is.
And most people only pay tangential attention to politics, so the notion that a subtle recalibration to “liberal” instead of “progressive” will win the day strikes me as simply incorrect.
Indeed, I am old enough to remember when “liberal” was the bad word (and, indeed, that is part of the reason some Dems starting using “progressive”).
BTW: there is a reason that most (all?) countries with competitive elections don’t have a party that regularly captures 58% or more of the vote. It is hard to build that broad a coalition across a society.
It is true that the Dems once had a far larger coalition, but that was an artifact of Reconstruction that took a century to work its way out, not because of genius messaging.
@OzarkHillbilly: Aye, there’s the rub.
@Teve: Yeah. Good question.
@OzarkHillbilly: What? Right leaning people who are decent are not going to be willing to fall on their sword so that a political philosophy they find unworkable can win? How unreasonable of them! 🙁
@OzarkHillbilly: I think the answer is a system change. We won’t get a sustainable third party until we have a system that supports one. Hence, my love for RCV.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Defund the police is a poorly packaged message.
Redirect funds to agencies better at coping with circumstances that don’t require a cop aggressively holding his or her pistol is a good thing.
Many European cities have done this. It works. It’s not magic, but it works better than the current US model of force first.
An aggressive label hurt the message.
How many Democrats ran on that? Very few and certainly not Biden. If one were trying to sabotage an election campaign, one could hardly do better than that.
This is why a *fourth* party is needed.
Redirect resources to other city agencies better equipped to deal with tender and fraught situations is not a catchy slogan.
Should be, but it ain’t. And folks who say they want substantive change chose the catchy slogan that’s gonna bite their butt.
Reallocate resources is not as catchy as defund, but it is true. It works per OECD evidence.
@Mu Yixiao: It’s convenient how the things Democrats need to do align perfectly with your ideological priors and still probably wouldn’t work, as others have noted.
Even so, it wouldn’t change the fact that the system is structurally set up for minority rule.
1. The Senate is not based on population and it confirms judges for a job the Framers never intended, namely determining the constitutionality of laws.
2. The electoral college picks the president and it doesn’t represent the people either.
So, even if Democrats do what you say and it works, the structural problems will remain.
Since we simply don’t have a more reasonable electoral system, I think more needs to be done to find other movitators. In 21st century America, there are cultural and commercial levers that we could doing more with.
Culturally, the GOP politicians who signed on to Trump’s anti-democratic gambit need to be made pariahs. No more invites to the Sunday morning and cable TV shows and when they do get media time they need to be made to answer for their anti-democratic stance. When Ted Cruz gives an interview, deference is still given him due his station as a Senator and that needs to stop. If he’s going to act like a fascist, he needs to be called a fascist. ‘Decent’ Republicans need to be called out at the Rotary Club and at cocktail parties for their willingness to coalition with racists.
It‘s been widely reported that the counties Biden won generate 70% of the country‘s GDP, so there ought to be commercial movitations that can be brought to bear. Boycott companies that contribute to Republican anti-democratics. Boycott advertisers on Fox, OAN, and Newsmax. Expand the peaceful protests.
Rs in my neck and nationwide ran on Order. They slagged Ds as the Party of chaos and rioting.
Defund The Police fear mongering was a fairly paramount feature in their ads.
This is not new information.
@de stijl: That’s why I said we need a fourth party.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Picky, but a party that gets 58% support would win the election by 16% of the voters. I think you mean 54/46.
First, no one cares about the budget, it’s just a cudgel used to prevent Democrats from enacting programs to help the poor — the Republicans might say they care, but all recent history show that they don’t. You, personally, might care about the budget, but you’re an outlier in that regard, and it’s silly to harp on it as if it is real concern.
But, other than that… We have folks like Sen. Tester and outgoing Gov. Bullock in Montana who do compete in red states (and sometimes, but not always, win). They aren’t going to agree with AOC on a lot of issues, but that’s ok. We need to tailor our message and our platform in order to be more competitive.
AOC is great. I love her. She’s NYC great though, not Montana great. I want folks like Tester, Hickenlooper and Simena to have their own little squad, and build another focal point for the party.
And we need a program to revitalize small cities in America. An industrial plan, possibly connected to the Green New Deal, to bring along the left. I would use the purchasing power of the Federal government to bolster companies that manufacture goods in these struggling communities — picking winners and losers, as the Republican critics would say, and countering that we are picking America as the winner. We don’t need to win the rural areas, or even the small cities, but we need to cut the losses so our wins in the big cities push us over the top.
We also absolutely fail to reach out to our minority communities, and depend on Republicans repulsing them. The Latino vote in this last election shows that we take them for granted. I’m not Latino, so I don’t know their issues, or how to solve the problem. And, honestly, I’m not sure it is a problem that we want to solve — if Republicans are aggressively courting Latino votes, that’s good for Latinos and good for America. It means the demonization of Latinos is coming to an end. I’d rather pick up the votes elsewhere.
@Steven L. Taylor:
And then we made the mistake of having a black man as President.
Joking/not-joking there. The Democrats used to be much more competitive — as recently as 2008 we had 60 votes in the Senate, briefly. It seems odd to say that 12 years later we are now facing an insurmountable obstacle to getting 50.
There’s lots of stuff going on, but part of it is that Democrats are effectively ceding a lot of the rural areas to Republicans, and have been focused on getting our base out. The geography makes that a bad long-term plan, even when it’s a good short-term plan. I think we did better with Howard Dean as DNC chair with his 50 state strategy, compared to the current practice.
It won’t change anything in deep red states, but winning isn’t about Alabama. It’s not about California or New York, either. It’s about Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and even Texas. In every one of those states even a tiny reduction in GOP votes translates into an overwhelming win in the electoral college.
I’m working on a 2021 prediction comment and one of the sections is the ongoing class warfare.
The Return of Republicanism; Class Warfare
The Biden administration/Democratic party’s policy suggestions to help the poor and middle class are being met with questions of cost. Even though there were extraordinarily few questions asked of the previous Republican administration / congress as they transferred much of the nation’s wealth to the rich, all while overseeing one of the largest increases in the national deficit and debt in our nation’s history.
Fact is, during Trump’s pandemic we have seen the rich’s portion of the nation’s wealth increase significantly while the poor and middle class have seen their portion of the nation’s wealth decrease.
@Mu Yixiao: @Steven L. Taylor:
I don’t think rebranding as liberal is the issue. More useful would be if progressives could stop alienating people for no purpose but virtue signaling. The defund slogan was self-harm. Antifa in Portland was self-harm. Progressives echoing right wing talking points about liberals (what’s the difference, man?) and Biden (he’s so old he’ll never win) was self-harm. If the Left had half the party discipline and message discipline of the Right we’d own this country. We can’t afford incompetence on the Left.
And how many Republicans of our acquaintance know that? None as far as I can tell. Virtually all of them go to “defund the police” as one of their front line criticisms of Biden. No matter what Ds say and do, the FOX description of Ds won’t change.
@gVOR08: Exactly. The right wing noise machine lies to them constantly and getting past that is the difficulty.
I would generally agree.
But, I do not think that message is enough to swing elections (indeed, I am not sure I believe any specific message has that power). I think that we want it to work that way (that people carefully weigh policy options and make choices) but that isn’t the way it works.
In terms of the hierarchy of issues that impacted 2020, it seems unlikely that “defund the police” was decisive in some way.
That’s just something we have to live with because of the structure of the parties. When you’re the Republicans, and you have one identity group to appeal to, it’s easy to maintain a simple, coherent message. The Democrats are a gumbo of different groups and interests, and that means there will always be some amount of internal squabbling.
@Michael Reynolds: The ability the control, or impose discipline, upon a vast swath of persons who are vaguely allied politics-wise is essentially zero.
This has to be taken into consideration in making these kinds of assessments.
The real change I am talking about came to fruition in 1994 (after having been brewing for a while) and was pretty firmly in place by the end of the 20th Century.
In regards to 2008, it was an extraordinarily good year for Democrats, to be sure, not the least of which because of the Great Recession. But I would be very careful about using it as evidence of much of anything in terms of longer-term trends.
Indeed, even while the Dems had a stranglehold on the House for over 4 decades, Reps had a far easier time winning the Senate (although, again, pre-94 is arguably a different party system).
@Robert Prather: Indeed. We need multi-party democracy. It would be no panacea, but it would solve a lot of very deep problems.
@Steven L. Taylor:
As @gVOR08 notes, you seem to be basing your analysis on the actual policy positions of the two campaigns, or at least on the policy positions of the Biden campaign. I think that’s a huge mistake. I think maybe 5% of Republican voters and 25% of Democratic voters could name 3 actual planks of the Biden platform. The Republicans were voting against the caricature of Democratic positions that they heard from their preferred sources of outrage; what Biden actually proposed was irrelevant. (The Democrats, in turn, mostly didn’t care what Biden was proposing either. There was zero chance of him being anything but a huge improvement.)
While I am going to agree that the party needs to address this, the real question to me is in what way are they “ceding” these areas. This, to me, is another version of Mu’s “try harder” argument. I understand the impulse to make the argument, but I am less convinced of its foundation.
The bottom line remains that urban politics tends to generate different kinds of policy needs and prescriptions than do rural parties. While it is not impossible to bridge that gap to a degree, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Sure. But if the argument is “don’t say things like ‘defund the police'” because the Reps will use it against you, but ultimately they are going to say what they want anyway, how does that equate to “defund the police” loses elections for Dems?
Defund the police is not a great slogan. It’s akin to being pro- gay marriage and anti- War on Drugs in 1988. That is, the premise is right. The police are not reformable and their terrible. But to get results you have to start doing the same triangulating stuff that drags on and on and on.
The problem is that you can’t sell this approach anymore. Talking and convincing bigots and idiots that there was not a threat involved with gay people getting married was a one-time thing. It’s not happening again, and the idea that it should, that American politics is based upon one side who knows something and the other who is terrified of everything, is probably why the progressives are not bending to the message.
Thanks for this analysis, Dr. Taylor. I wish (oh, how I wish) you were wrong about the greased flume we’re riding in.
Y’all might not agree with this old dude, but I’m predicting that not only do we run out of lampposts and ropes, but we’re going to run into a national shortage of entrails and tree limbs. I’m hoping it’s not in my lifetime, but I’m not sanguine about it.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Especially as the urban areas that are the Democrats’ strength are divided into two very different groups. The blue metro areas in the extended Rust Belt suffer — stereotypically — from a crashed urban core, stagnant growth, sagging infrastructure, etc, etc. The blue metro areas outside that Rust Belt — the West, the South, and parts of the northeast urban corridor — tend to suffer from nearly unmanageable growth and have thriving urban cores. Is there something to bring those together aside from both being despised by the surrounding exurb/rural areas?
I’ve lived in those areas my entire life and republican voters there would vote for hitler over a demoncRAT. Between abortion being murder, guns and immigrants taking all our jobs there’s no room for them to like any Democratic policy. Then there’s welfare and “tax and spend” democratic policies…
This is funny to me because in 1968 it was the GOP candidate that was pushing for universal basic income and universal healthcare. That clearly shows how far to the right both parties have swung. Your answer? SWING HARDER TO THE RIGHT!!11..
You like the above mentioned republican voters haven’t been paying attention. The last democratic president cut the federal deficit every year. Trump just like Bush Jr with the help of the GOP exploded the federal deficit so they could give tax cuts to the rich. Bush Jr straight up took a surpluse and exploded it into a massive deficit during his term. A while back there was a MEME image of the federal deficit under obama with the first year under Trump included as proof that Trump was cutting the deficit. Of course the number under Trump was actually Obama’s last budget. Anyone who is mildly educated in how the federal government runs knew that but these people don’t care and when I pointed it out they just stopped posting that image. No moment of reflection or realization they were getting played. They continued to spam MEMEs from the same liars. Hell some continued to link the image after having it explained to them that it’s wrong..
HAHAHAHAHAHA… In all my decades of living in red areas I’ve only run into a handful of people who were somewhat open to changing their vote to a democratic candidate. The rest are locked into the GOP for various reasons including their parents having voted for the GOP their entire life..
The biggest problem is that the GOP has a propaganda apparatus that makes the Democratic party look like a bunch of cavemen. Combined with pandering to the aggrieved and persecuted vote provides them with a significant number of voters. The GOP has wrapped up the majority of suckers leaving the democratic party crumbs.
@Michael Cain: I think that the ultimate problem is when you only have two containers (Rs and Ds) you are only able to get some many ways to sort people.
If there were three, four, or five containers, we would have very different politics that would be able to sort people (i.e., interests) differently.
I am struggling to under the way in which the Dems peel away voters who are adhering to the GOP due to white/male identity and the perceived loss of power that that group is feeling. Or to the staunch anti-abortionist (or, more broadly, the staunch traditionalist who thinks talking about pronouns is ridiculous and that the existence of gay marriage is an afront to religious liberty).
@Steven L. Taylor:
I left a very important “not” out of that sentence (although I suppose it could have been read as sarcasm).
Not picky at all–me being sloppy.
How? Also, the country is about 21% rural. If the GOPs want to split it that way and take rural, let them. But the split isn’t really just urban/rural.
There are things we can and should do to help rural, and urban blue collar, people. Top of the head:
– Support unions. Make Card Check a priority. But when Scott Walker attacked the teachers unions for being paid almost decently the Tea Party types didn’t say, “We oughta get us a union.”, they said, “We gotta stick it to those uppity teachers.”
– Aggressively pursue anti-trust. Breaking up the agribusiness monopolies would greatly help farmers, and many of them know it. Breaking up Walmart and national restaurant chains and national ad agencies, etc. would help local businesses. But how many Tea Party types are sophisticated enough to see it?
– Tax the wealthy to support better social programs. The GOPs will scream “tax and spend” and “welfare queens” and “socialism”.
– We should definitely not talk about retraining. Everybody knows that’s what you say if got nothing else. And they know there are no local jobs to train for.
– We can pump money into rural communities through health care and educational institutions. We’ve done that for years, and get no credit for it.
We as Democrats could do what GOPs do, lie. We should message better and pay a lot of lip service, but I don’t really want us to lie.
So what else do we do?
Where do we compromise between women being able to choose and not?
Do we cage every other illegal immigrant child?
Do we partially repeal LGBTQ rights?
Seriously, how do we attract the Tea Party types without betraying our constituencies? Where is the proper point of compromise between rational and crazy? And if we do, how do we cut thru the FOX noise machine to tell them we did?
And what is the incentive for either party to change a system that guarantees a duopoly? There is no guarantee that a third party will take from one party over the other.
And for the record, no, I don’t have the answer to these conundrums, I am just incapable of waving my hands and pretending they go away. The incentives are against it.
And I repeat, in any of those states does 5% of the vote translate into seats in either of the state houses? My math says a 45% vote v 42% vote v 5% vote v 3% vote means one is sitting on the sidelines. So… who wants to be left out of the equation?
I know that the existing powers won’t work for it. To answer your question directly, you do it from the state up because we have a federalist system. A hopeful starting point is California.
Now, it will be particularly difficult there because the Democrats are currently trying to choke the life out of the Republicans, and they’re doing a pretty good job. Indeed, to show how difficult it is and how the existing powers will fight it, in October of last year Governor Newsom vetoed a bill that would have merely allowed it at the local level, and then only if they wanted it.
However, they have a system of referendums that should allow people to bypass the legislature and governor.
I’m actually working with a group to get IRV in Georgia and we rely heavily on runoffs. It’ll mostly happen at the state level, at least initially. This is not hand waving.
As I said in a previous thread (after a moment of enlightenment re. American politics thanks to various commenters here):
If the party concerned cannot exclude, discipline, and expel from membership, those persons who have the right to select the candidates and participate in policy determination, how in hell can you prevent a takeover by a mass movement of “enthusiasts”?
Thought experiment: if the Republican Party vanished in a puff of smoke tomorrow morning, what would prevent Trumpkins taking over the Democrats, at least in “Red” areas?
@gVOR08, @Steven L. Taylor: re: ceding part of the electorate…
I go on a long-winded comment on the now nearly identical comment thread from earlier today… trying to paraphrase more briefly…
I don’t think most of the people who vote Republican are voting for antidemocratic, racist policies, they’re voting for the only people who acknowledge that they are suffering and put their suffering on the table, front and center.
Often, it boils down to “Democrats don’t care about people like me.” And there’s honestly some truth to that — we’ve been appealing to our base for too long, to the exclusion of others.
The middle class in America has been being eroded for decades. To get a middle class life — decent safe housing, healthcare, transportation, the ability to set your kids up for success, a vacation every year or two, retire at a reasonable age, and a pet — it is beyond a lot of two family incomes. Especially in the rural, and semi-rural areas. This is an actual loss. People are hurting.
And as we improve equality for minorities, their opportunities are actually rising and their outcomes are improving, as they are getting closer to reaching that middle class life. Things are improving for them faster than things are deteriorating for everyone.
Guess what? White folks resent the shit out of that. Loss of absolute economic power, plus a relative loss of power and status — that shit burns.
And when the Democrats focus on diversity and inclusion, we are ignoring that, and leaving it to others to exploit with shitty solutions that sound like common sense.
The solution isn’t to double down on ignoring the concerns of the Republican-voting folks, but to listen, understand, and accommodate where we can, while not abandoning out base and our values. When white, conservative-ish voters in Georgia or North Carolina hear “Trans Rights are Human Rights” many of them are thinking “What about my rights?” rather than just “eww, icky trans people, Democrats are perverts.” (They also assume that loss of middle class status is a violation of their rights… but these people aren’t constitutional scholars)
Dr. Taylor notes:
I would focus on the small cities, where that gap is narrower, and trust that policies that help small cities help the areas around them.
And now we have 250,000 dead, a massive pandemic and an even greater crisis. And the Democrats are not having an extraordinarily good year. If Trump did not underperform his party, we would have had a very bad year.
They’re different crises to be sure, and a scenario where Democrats need a crisis to have any chance is a disaster if that’s what this is, but it also shows that things are still fluid. Democrats have a disadvantage, but it’s not insurmountable, and it’s partly their own fault.
We ignore the Tea Party, acknowledge the problems of the small cities and their exurbs and hammer on the policies to help them. We use the power of the federal government buying programs to put a finger on the scale, and when accused of picking winners and losers we proudly own up to it. We send the Pete Buttigiegs of the world off to Fox to engage the viewers there rather than avoid the network like a plague.
We don’t abandon out constituencies and run on “cage fewer children” (or “cage less children” to be folksy and grammatically wrong), we do both. And we steer claims of “perverts in our bathrooms” to “trans folk don’t want special rights, they just want to be able to live their lives in peace, get married, raise kids, send them to good schools and set them up for success, like everyone else — a dream that is slipping away from far too many… yes, we want to protect trans folk, but we also want to …”
Speaking of which… Where is Mayor Pete these days? He was really good at connecting minority rights to majority rights.
I’ve seen him on tv several times in the last two weeks, talking up the incoming Biden administration and subtly knifing asshole Republicans.
And Republicans do? I mean, c’mon….
@OzarkHillbilly: Healthcare. Poor people care about that.
According to the Thousand Proud Boys March, the next MAGA step is to “Destroy the GOP!”
Maybe those 126 seditious congresspeople can run off with the Prouds and MAGA types and start the MAGA Party.
Trump Flies Over Stop The Steal Rally Where Supporters Chant ‘Destroy The GOP!’
@Blue Galangal: Just got back from driving VT to VA, and we stopped at the Biden Welcome Center, where a clutch of MAGA idiots – including one sporting a QAnon shirt – milled about masklessly discussing how the Deep State had stolen the election and “nobody is talking about it.” (I’m sure they were discussing OAN’s latest.)
These guys would gladly abandon the GOP if it told them to. But the Party knows they’re its only hope of staying relevant. Dropping 1/3 of its supporters would crush the GOP instantly. Better for them to embrace it, rake in cash on its back, and stay gloriously powerful than admit a good chunk of its membership is batshit crazy and/or irredeemably stupid.
@Steven L. Taylor:
It doesn’t. I was arguing against that position, not for it. But also against the position that better branding of what Democrats actually would push for would help. Nothing Democrats say (nor the relevant ground truth facts) ever reach the 70 million who voted for Trump; that’s the bottleneck issue. Can’t fix anything else until we fix that, and I don’t know how to fix that.
OK, you’ve said this twice now — can you cite some examples? Because I’ve only seen examples of Democrats pushing policies that would help these people, and Republicans pushing the opposite. The problem is not the policies — it’s that the Republicans are running a successful con.
How exactly do you think Democrats could convince Trump voters that they care about their plight*, given that Trump voters get all of their information from sources that will either filter out or flat out lie about anything the Democrats say?
*Only genuine plights need apply. “They want me to treat blacks and gays as if they were people” is not a plight the Democrats should sympathize with.
@OzarkHillbilly: Republicans care enough to show up and lie to them, at the very least, offering simple solutions that are evergreen because they never work and blaming the failures on not being strict enough and evil Democrats giving handouts to other people.
“We’ll bring back coal” sounds real good in a failing town with an economy based on a coal mine.
“Make America Great Again” sounds good when a two incomes can’t give your kids the start they need to succeed when your parents did it on one, and you know in your bones that something is very wrong.
People want simple solutions to their problems. They’ll settle for simple slogans when asked to choose between that and “through a combination of increased trade and reinvesting in America, along with subsidies on the healthcare exchange, we expect to slow the rate of decline while retraining workers for the service economy.”*
*: Not an actual Democratic slogan, but… closer than we want to admit.
@DrDaveT: I can tell you what I get from my brothers, which is a belief that the Democrats are only interested in advancing the cause of black people, brown people and gay people, raising taxes to help those people and ignoring the Real Americans.
And I can point to the Clinton ads which were so full of brown people and women that I felt excluded — and I was on her side. My fragile white male ego was not sufficiently stroked. I voted for her anyway, but I was very nervous that she was misreading the country.
But I would really say to take the time to listen to the people in your family from the shithole states or the desolate wastelands that surround the blue beacons of hope. And take the time to listen to the folks on local news — not the nutjobs who think they’re prayers will protect them from covid, but the normal folks. Maybe you’ll hear different. Maybe I’m in a weird bubble.
The Republicans are clearly running a con — trickle down economics never worked, after all — but these voters aren’t hearing anything relevant from Democrats. Democrats are strengthening a safety net for the people a few rungs further down the ladder, but doing nothing to fix the cracks in the rung so people don’t need the safety net — when you hear people say they don’t want handouts, what do you think they mean?
And Democrats are helping out queer folks, but suing bakers who just don’t want to be involved in gay weddings (it sounds stupid, but people really care about this, even people who aren’t very religious).
ETA: I have a working edit box, and it’s so inviting…
Everything the middle America folks say about the coastal elites — do you think this means anything more than they feel left out, as their states slide further and further behind and overlooked?
I would counter by saying that if you make someone do something they resent, they will hate you for it, so make sure you really need to do it. Recognize same sex marriages in legal contexts? Absolutely. Bake a fucking cake? No.
Edit 8 or so: So weird to have an edit button.
@DrDaveT: Ill bite. Democrats “policies” are often Programs. And Programs…Government or Commercial suck. You’re better off not needing to have to use them.
Ive talked before about human factors of systems. The systems itself can be perfect and efficient…yet not jive with human temperment and proclivities. Our current economic system is the foundational reason these people are in the place of ridiculousness they are.
Cities have industries, suburbs have profit centers. Rural areas have people with multiple side hustles with their names on pickup trucks. Young people have to move away to cities if they want to do better than the subsistence lifestyle.
Republicans can get away with the culture war diversions in rural States because State Democratic Parties basically parrot the messaging of the National Party. Do you think the DNC platform priorities means anything in say Alabama or Mississippi? Places who’s largest cities would barely be suburbs in more populous states.
We discuss alot here about changes to the political system to keep the GOP from destroying Democracy. You know what else we could do? Bring back some manufacturing and light industrial work.
Those jobs left because Wall Street decided it was more profitable and our Gov’t encouraged and incentivized it. Now, both Democrats snd Republicans say the jobs aren’t coming back as if its due to some immutable law of physics. This is what Trump exploited. The USA is basically an economy made up of Retail, Entertainment, Technology, and Financial Services. They generate a tremendous source of national income…but not for enough people and not in enough places to stave of social unrest of all flavors both left and right.
The LP never wins anything. The Greens never win anything. What they do, occasionally, is cost the GOP of the Dems a seat. That’s what I want the new Lincoln Party to do. No, they won’t win much if anything, they’ll be spoilers. But occasionally they’ll win something – maybe a House race, maybe even a governorship in a place like Utah or Alaska.
@DrDaveT: Gotcha. I misinterpreted your comment.
I always feel the need to point out: she won more votes than Trump, so I always find it problematic to then make the assessment that she misread the whole country.
I am not saying she was perfect by any means. But when we have these large over-arching conversations about messaging and national sentiment, it is a mistake to pretend like Trump masterfully read the country and HRC did not.
We only talk like that because the EC gave a popular vote loser the WH. And then our brains trick us into thinking the winner was a genius and the loser a fool on messaging.
Really, on the flip side, Biden did just win a decisive popular vote win, and a lot of folks are worrying about what effect “defund the police” had on the election with an eye towards fixing the messaging.
Put another way: I don’t see any ability of a Democratic candidate/party as a whole to effectuate messaging that will change your brother’s mind.
This is part of my point to Mu: there is no working harder to overcome those kinds of sentiments in the short term.
@Jim Brown 32:
How did the government encourage and incentivize it?
How would you stop the natural desire for corporations to maximize profits and minimize costs? With or without shareholders that’s where companies end up at some point if they can. The loss of any social responsibility in the eyes of owners combined with the shrinking of the world made this inevitable. As long as they can exploit a labor pool somewhere in the world this will continue.
So what Democrats really need to emphasize is the importance of unions? Somehow I don’t think that would win over your brothers. Correct me if I’m wrong about that.
That they want the government’s help but they don’t want it to look like charity?
@Jim Brown 32:
Well, duh. Of course you’re better off not needing help. But then, if you need help, you’re better off with a Program than with Jack Sh!t.
Seriously? Your complaint is that the vital assistance isn’t user friendly enough? That people are angry that their safety net wasn’t comfy when they fell from the 14th floor?