Another response to Conor

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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21 Responses

  1. Nob Akimoto says:

    How do you engage them when trying to do so is simply used as fodder for their personality politics?Report

  2. Lev says:

    I find this mildly convincing, though it does implicitly assume that most conservatives are merely distracted by identity politics from their true conservatism, which doesn’t exactly jive with my experience.

    I think the only way that your plan might work is if you presuppose continued GOP electoral failure for the foreseeable future, and wait for the demographic trends on the right to diminish the power of Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity. I’ve read that the average Fox News viewer is 67 years old, so by the end of Obama’s second term (and yes, I am making that assumption) their power in the conservative coalition should be diminished to a large extent. Plus, after eight years of Democratic rule I imagine that most Republicans would be desperate to be in power again and might go with a reformist type.

    So, I think there might be a conceivable path back to power for conservatives under the strategy you describe. But what I think makes Frum and other reformist types reluctant to wait is the prospect of the under-30s–you know, the ones that support Obama more strongly than any other age group–will be less than receptive to a conservative message after 8 disastrous Bush years and 8 successful Obama years (let’s presume) in which Rush and Glenn are the official GOP spokesmen. If you view it that way–as a way of trying to marginalize the clowns–it makes sense for Frum & Co. to do what they do.

    I guess it depends on if you see Limbaugh and Beck as stupid and blustery but essentially harmless, or if you see them as mortal dangers to the GOP. As a Democrat it’s probably obvious what I believe, and how I feel. But I do see where you’re coming from. In the end, I’m guessing someone in the GOP will come forward in 2016 as a fusionist candidate that will try to bridge the two groups, like Bill Clinton did in 1992 after decades of bitter division between old-guard New Dealer-style liberals and Gary Hart-like moderates.Report

    • matoko_chan in reply to Lev says:

      Yup Len.
      E.D. is wrong, the base must be reformed inorder to reform the leadership, because the base dictates the leadership.
      Beck and Rush are just cheerleaders for the lowest passions of the base.
      Frum and E.D. and Conor are trying to lead, but they aren’t legit….they represent what? .0001 percent of the electorate?
      The base is a like a riderless horse that has into the barn and is gorging itself on a big grain bin of rightist populism. The grain is going to kill the horse, but Conor and Frum can’t even get its head up out of the bin.Report

    • matoko_chan in reply to Lev says:

      pardon, Lev.Report

  3. matoko_chan says:

    Engage the demographic timer, E.D.
    Your problem is the GOP has become a wholly religious party, and the leadership is enslaved to the WEC base.
    You can only run WEC or mormon candidates on a platform of evangelical doctrine, which is distintly lacking in appeal to the demographics you desperately need…, youth, and minorities.Report

  4. I hear what ED and others are saying, but I still have a hard time taking it seriously. Erm, seriously is not quite the right choice of words here. I do take their arguments seriously, but I think they are far too theoretical and not grounded enough in reality. I see very little evidence that the base of Beck/Limbaugh wants to hear anything other than- socialism, czars, and ACORN.

    Yes, there are places on the web where non-batshit crazy viewpoints are expressed and discussed. But the average Redstate commenter is never, ever going to set their eyeballs here or on any of those other ideas-based places.Report

  5. What Conor is suggesting is that a war against the pundits – against Beck and Limbaugh, et al. – is a fight over ideas.

    It is, for reasons that need no explication, impossible to engage Beck or Hannity in a war of ideas.

    At any rate, the point that Conor and Frum are trying to make more about tactics than about what are usually called political ideas. Their point isn’t that any of the positions Hannity has memorized are incorrect; it’s that repeating them at increasing volume while calling the president an illegal alien is the wrong way to further them.Report

  6. matoko_chan says:

    But I don’t see how this amounts to strategy……Rush and Beck are exactly representative of what older, less educated WEC christians want to hear, and what they are willing to pay to hear.
    And currently WEC comprise 20% of the electorate and they all seem to be republicans.
    Half of the electorate trends conservative….half trends liberal. But the GOP problem is they are locked out of the minority, youth, and college-educated conservative demographics, because of Palin, Huckabee, Rush, Beck, etc.
    What Johnson is doing is fighting against branding– he refuses to let racism, homophobia, creationism, and fascism be the “face” of the GOP. Because that brand drives off the youth, college-educated, and minority voters even if they lean conservative in ideology. It is true that at least half the electorate is conservative….but that doesn’t mean they will vote that way.

    I’ve read that the average Fox News viewer is 67 years old

    AND a White Evangelical Christian.
    The GOP has become a purely religious and purely white party…made up of WECs, White K-Lo Catholics, and mormons.
    I think that is very unhealthy.Report

  7. E.D. Kain says:

    Here’s my point – the war of ideas does not require us to engage in a war of personality. You can propose alternative visions without constantly saying “Beck is a loon” and “Levin is an ass.” You can propose alternative visions without constantly evoking the specter of white-evangelical-Christians (oh horror of horrors!) You can co-opt the movement with tact and grace and turn it through nudges rather than berating people and beating them over the head with your indignation.Report

    • matoko_chan in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      No you can’t.
      I’m sorry, E.D., but pandering to the base, like telling them “oh noes, youre not RELLY racists” is Fail.
      You need to admit your base composition.
      In a country where there is an accepted separation of church and state, a religious party is non-viable, particularily as the WEC demongraphic declines.
      The party’s enslavement to the base guarantees you can never front candidates except for WECs and Mormons….and those candidates have zero appeal to the demographics you need to court.
      Conservatives have to chose who they are….if the GOP is WECs only…well then you’re DOA.Report

      • matoko_chan in reply to matoko_chan says:

        What is wrong with just telling the base the truth?
        That is what CJ is doing. He say– ok, you’re racists…..but racism is wrong….and you have to get over it, or the GOP is going the way of the Whigs. Rush and Beck are feelgood narcotics for the base– they say– You are not the racist/fascist/social undesireable— the libruuls are!
        If the GOP is to remain viable you have to flatout admit that racism is wrong, homophobia is wrong, and trying to force IDT/creationism into high schools is wrong.
        That is what Johnson is doing.
        He is treating the base like adults.
        I don’t see his traffic falling off.Report

      • E.D. Kain in reply to matoko_chan says:

        Matako – you’re WEC-GOP-base story is just a convenient myth. One you have bought into and believe despite the fact that it is only that – a myth, a creation of your own perceptions, your own filtering of the media and pop culture. The problem with the GOP is this: they failed in the last 8 years. But they’ll be back, and so will conservatism, and the WEC’s aren’t going anywhere.Report

        • matoko_chan in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          In 2008 WECs were 50% of the GOP in exit polling.
          The current GOP candidates are 1 mormon, 3 WECs.
          My hypothesis is WEC/GOP >> 50% now, because non-WECs are leaving the GOP to become independents.
          I could prove this by buying a month of house bias from Rasmussen in order to see the crosstabs….but I’d rather spend the money on something else. 😉
          Someone is going to do it, sooner or later.
          And then the weeping an gnashing of teeth will begin.

        • matoko_chan in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          Your pendulum theory is affected by environment.
          Scientific advances and demographic evolution are going to damp the return swing.
          If the GOP cannot broaden its appeal to minorities and youth, the declining WEC population can’t carry it.
          In 2008 for the first time minority children under 5 outnumbered non-hispanic cauc children under 5.
          In 2030 non-hispanic cauc becomes a minority in the electorate.
          As long as the GOP is pure white, they are doomed.Report

        • Bob in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          E.D. I’m obviously sympathetic to matoko’s views. And I think you offhand dismissal of her views as “myth” and “pop” culture is extremely glib.

          Please spend a few minutes with the linked article, the author offers a lot more than opinion.

          Here is the authors conclusion:

          “Since the potential for additional Republican gains among married white Christians appears to be limited, Republican leaders will need to find ways to reduce the Democratic advantage among voters who are not married white Christians in order to maintain the party’s competitive position. However, given the generally liberal views of this group, this will not be easy. In 2006, according to data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, 57 percent of these voters supported a woman’s right to choose an abortion under any circumstances, 66 percent opposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, and 71 percent favored a single-payer health care system. Any attempt by Republican leaders to significantly increase their party’s support among voters who are not married white Christians would therefore require changes in some of the party’s longstanding policy commitments — changes that would clearly upset a large segment of the current Republican base.”

          • matoko_chan in reply to Bob says:

            This is why I get so frustrated with you guyz.
            If you want to be leaders, LEAD dammit.
            Quite tiptoing around the base like a bunch of political eunuchs.
            Put a damn bridle on the populist horse and get back in the saddle.
            If your memes are worth a damn, why then, forward seat, kick on, and let the devil take the hindmost!Report

  8. Cascadian says:

    It seems weird that we’re talking about putting humpty dumpty back together. We need at least two viable parties (preferably more) for our system to work. There are places (like the NW) where that just isn’t the case. Washington is pretty much a one party State. What we need are regional manifestations of what conservatism can mean. One of the problems is that there isn’t enough difference between State parties and the National. For a party that at least ostensibly favors federalism (meaning division of powers) investing in regional autonomous units that seek to formulate new coalitions would seem the obvious answer. Motoko’s WECs may very well be necessary in Iowa but she’s right; they will be the death of the party in many other parts of the country. As the new wave of atheism seeps into the culture and more of the older generations die off, this will be even more true.Report