The Return of the GOP as a National Party

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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130 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    “While we’re here, we may as well add Condi Rice’s highly praised, well articulated speech at the Republican National Convention to the list, given that its combination of passion and reasonability has already stirred up speculation about a possible run in 2016.”

    Does anybody else find it really weird that people seem to be getting excited about Rice – or Christi, or Rubio, or Ryan – running in 2016… in the middle of the 2012 GOP convention?Report

    • North in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Republicans, especially Republican politicians, can read Nate Silver at 538 just as easily as we can.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Dude, in 2006, I knew that the Republicans would lose 2008. Sarah Palin, of all people, made me feel a sliver of doubt, but she flamed out way early. The tea parties made me wonder if, maybe, the Republicans might not learn a lesson or three but, nope, those things got co-opted and turned from Republicans who wanted to discuss fiscal matters first and foremost into Culture Warriors who wanted to discuss The Culture War And The Economy And Abortion And Gay Marriage And Glenn Beck.

      The Republicans still don’t know why they lost in 2006. They don’t know why they lost in 2008.

      I suspect that they don’t know why they won in 2010… and I also suspect that the Democrats don’t know why *THEY* lost in 2010.

      So we’ve got two political parties taking turns not knowing why they lost the election.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

        dems lost 2010 because nob ody bothered to vote. Next Please!Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

        I thought the 2010 loss was pretty straightforward. “STUFF SUCKS! FIX IT!”.

        That’s pretty much how the electorate has always reacted to really crap economies going the wrong way. 2010, Congress was widely perceived — by both parties — as ineffective, useless, and in the way. With a “D” in the White House, that manifested as anti-incumbent rage with a kicker of pro-R “new blood/ideas”.

        Had McCain been President, I have no doubt the Democrats would have picked up tons of seats.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:

          I felt that there was more of a backlash to the backlash going on.

          I mean, dig this: Imagine if you were a voter whose mind could be changed between this and that party. Imagine that you voted for the Ds in 2006 and 2008 because of a particular grouping of failures on the part of the Rs.

          Now imagine that you voted R in 2010 because of a grouping of failures.

          If you make a venn diagram of the failures that might have inspired you to vote the way you did… how much overlap is there between the two groups of failures?Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jaybird says:

            JB, the UK looked like that to me. John Major’s gov’t was middling and was tossed for Blair’s New Labour, which ruled for over a decade until they got sick of ’em and pitched ’em for Cameron’s New Tories.

            Basically, things got settled toward the middle, Labour went neo-liberal and Cameron’s all about fixing the NHS.Report

    • I suspect most people do. Me? Not so much. But then again, I’m weird.

      To clarify a little more….I have a particular theory of the cycle of political parties in the US that I used to write about quite a bit at my old site and a little bit in the really early days of this site. I originally had a summary of my theory in my early drafts of this post, but it was going to make the post too long and muddled, and the nuts and bolts of the theory aren’t necessary to the point I was looking to make here, so I took it out.

      But if I were to get into the nuts and bolts of the theory, I’d start talking about how Romney is roughly the equivalent of the conservative Dukakis. Maybe Mondale, but more likely Dukakis (which would make McCain Mondale and Palin Geraldine Ferraro). GWB would have roughly been the equivalent of the conservative Jimmy Carter.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Nobody trolled Mondale.
        Romney is enchantingly easy to troll.Report

      • Scott Fields in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I’ve been thinking about this cycle idea and riffing off Romney as Dukakis.

        What do think about the likelihood that the path out of the wilderness for the GOP will be some good old Clinton-style triangulation? Maybe change won’t come from standing up to the base, but rather shunting the base off to seize the center?Report

        • The thing about Clinton is that, as much as he used triangulation as a strategy, I’m convinced that he sincerely believed in the justice of his policy agenda. The dude had an ability to relate to people more than any politician in my memory.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            I speak well of Clinton’s presidency. But “triangualtion” in leadership means leading the people where they want to go: welfare reform, balanced budgets in his case. They said disparagingly of Reagan that leadership is finding a parade and standing in front of it, but there’s a lot of truth to that.Report

          • Scott Fields in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            I didn’t mean to imply that Clinton’s triangulation was a ploy. Though his opponents cast it as such, he was a firm believer in the legitimacy of a third way – neither Right nor Left. I believe Obama won in 2008 as a third way kind of guy and the main reason he still stands a good chance at re-election (when he shouldn’t at a time when the economy is in such dire straits) is because most people don’t buy the radical leftist label folks on the Right have tried to pin on him.

            What will the Third Way look like in 4 years?Report

            • That is the big question, isn’t it? On that, I’ve got a much better idea of what it won’t look like than what it will.Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Scott Fields says:

              What will the Third Way look like in 4 years?

              What it looks like today: minimizing what cuts to entitlements become necessary & raising taxes on people richer than yourself – and maybe on yourself a little bit. Relaxing immigration restrictions slowly but steadily (because it helps alleviate the tradeoff problem in the first item). And chilling out on social issues.Report

    • Maxwell James in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      No. Plenty of folks (including myself) were excited about Barack Obama in 2004.Report

  2. NewDealer says:

    I question whether we are seeing the reemergence of a national GOP.

    Rather, I think we are seeing the doubling down of the Tea Party set.

    Connecticut and California are both very blue states with some red pockets. As was noted in a post by Burt a few weeks ago, the red parts of California have more in common with Alabama than they do with the rest of California.

    I think this going to be true nationally. Red counties and part are going to have a lot in common and blue parts are going to be in common. This is why Salt Lake City can elect a very liberal mayor even though it is in one of the most Republican states of all. The mayors of Salt Lake City and Austin probably have much more in common with Sam Adams of Portland than they would with other mayors in their state that happen to be Republican.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to NewDealer says:

      I’m not so sure. I was a little surprised to see not only how quickly the party leadership came down on Todd Aiken, but also the severity with which they did so. Recent interviews with Rubio I have seen have shown him say things that I do not believe he would have said publicly a year ago; same with Ryan (who I don’t see as a true believer so much as a smart and opportunistic politician).

      I see a lot of good signs.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        The question is “Why did they come down against Todd Aiken?”

        I’m a cynic and don’t think that they had any pure motives. They wanted Aiken out because his stupid statement turned a once safe-Senate seat into play. He also became fundraising gold for the Democratic Party. The establishment never wanted him anyway. He is another Tea Party candidate pushed to be a standard-bearer by doubling down reactionaries.

        That being said, Aiken’s stance on abortion is the same as the Republican party platform. The GOP just does not want to advertise this very much.

        There are people in the GOP who realize that they don’t have enough “Angry White Men” to continue winning forever but this has not caused any social liberalization from happening yet.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to NewDealer says:

          My point is that 12 months ago, most of those people would have hid in their offices and not taken calls for a few days, to avoid having to be caught on record saying anything bad about Aiken.

          And while it is what’s in the platform, it’s not what they’re deciding to run on.

          I agree with what Mark says just below, that this is just the first sign of light at the end of the tunnel. But you still need to see the light far away before you have any hope of it getting nearer.Report

          • In addition, for now I don’t think it really matters whether their motives are pure. Political realities have always been what forces parties to scale back their dogma. But you need leaders willing to actually lead to show what parts of the dogma are worth saving and which are not.Report

    • To be clear – I don’t think we are seeing that reemergence just yet. I’m just saying that there’s a new crop of GOP politicians that have the potential to lead the party back into the areas that it’s basically abandoned the last few decades. That can only happen if they get some control over the party’s messaging on the national level, which they have not yet done. However, the fact that they aren’t pariahs and are generally Republicans in Good Standing tells me that there is a good chance that they will get some control over that messaging over the next couple of years.

      I also get what you’re saying about there being red pockets in blue states, but I tried to specifically address that issue in the post by focusing on candidates who are doing well in statewide races in deep blue states. You can’t do well in those races without making substantial inroads in the working class suburbs and urban areas. I also tried to address it by pointing out how the victories that the GOP had in blue states in 2010 were primarily in rural Congressional districts.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I suppose I just don’t see the people you mentioned as being a new generation of moderate Republicans in the mode of Jacob Javits or even Olympia Snowe.

        We shall see how Scott Brown’s reelection campaign turns out. I think there are too many naysayer’s on the left who want to beat down and cry doom for Elizabeth Warren. I’ve heard her speak in person. She is smart and able and I don’t really care for the persona that Brown puts on. He is a rather successful real estate lawyer and Ms. Warren’s background is just as humble. Ms. Warren went to undergrad and law school at public universities. Her dad was a janitor. She was a mother while in law school. She is just as “authentic” as Mr. Brown in this regard and too many people are trying to make it look like she is from the manor born just because she seems a bit more professorial and upper-middle class now. So what if Scott Brown still goes around in a pick-up truck. The tarring of Ms. Warren (not by you) smacks a lot of sexism to me.

        I am also not certain that McMahaon will win again this time around. She is going against a more obscure Democratic candidate and this heightens her odds. But if she could not win in 2010, the year of the Tea Party; why should she win in 2012 when Obama is almost certain to carry Connecticut and help Democrats down ticket?Report

        • Oh, they’re not in the mold of Olympia Snowe or Jacob Javits. I completely agree on that – but that’s actually a good chunk of my point. These new politicians are basically conservatives at heart, but more importantly, they’re proud Republicans who aren’t scared of conservatives. They just have a different idea of what conservatism means, and they’re not afraid to express it.

          As for whether Brown or McMahon win, I’m not so sure that’s as important as the fact that they’re really, really competitive. McMahon’s polling numbers are, so far as I can tell, far better than at any time in her 2010 campaign, when she was pretty badly trounced. The tone of her ad above seems to be quite different from the tone of her 2010 campaign, when she seemed to be more interested in “following the base” rather than “leading it.” It’s a really, really good ad; for me, it noticeably changed my perception of her from overwhelmingly negative to at least ambivalent and definitely respectful, which is rare for a political ad.Report

          • NewDealer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            What do you think Brown and company “think conservatism” means?

            I admit to not knowing too many people my age (31) who are conservatives. As explained before, this is largely a fate of growing up in the NYC-Metro area and now living in San Francisco. I know three people in Gen X or younger who have “liked” Mitt Romney on facebook. One is a woman who does Wall Street work, the other two seem to be standard variety conservatives.

            I don’t see the people you mentioned as becoming more socially liberal or really distinguishing themselves in anyway from the current social conservatism that is part and parcel of the Republican Party. They might not be as rah-rah about the culture war as Santorum but there do seem to be large chunks of the party that don’t realize how far away they are from modernity. This includes youngish people like James O’Keefe and Breitbart. I saw plenty of super-young looking people at the GOP convention were just as enthusiastic about the culture wars as the Robertson section.

            In a more sane world, a place like Silicon Valley should be a natural home for a somewhat fiscally conservative but socially liberal Rockefeller Republican. However, the GOP has made this brand unacceptable and I think that the Christie or Brown type is still too conservative on social issues for Silicon Valley.Report

          • NewDealer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Perhaps we have different definitions of what will make the GOP sane again.Report

            • I’m not looking for a GOP with which I, personally, would feel comfortable belonging to in this analysis; just one with more of an ability to have an appeal outside of rural white America and with an agenda that amounts to something other than “Liberals SMASH!”Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                When Barack Obama’s gone from the scene, this “white” thing is up for grabs.


              • MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Well, they’re trying to appeal to the people who’ll be allowed to vote in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.Report

              • just one with more of an ability to have an appeal outside of rural white America

                Nitpickery: The GOP does have appeal outside rural white America. If they didn’t, they would be closer to the influence of libertarians. Suburbanites are a rather huge chunk of their pie. There is some question to how much ground they may lose here, but right now they are doing reasonably well outside of the most liberal parts of the country.Report

              • The operative word in the quoted section was “more.”Report

              • Fair enough. It just jumped out at me because the demographic you identified is not the demographic from which they get most of their votes (though it is perhaps the demographic that votes for them most exclusively – after Mormons, anyway).Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

                The Democrats basically seem to hold onto cities with over 500,000 people, a good chunk of cities with populations between 50,000-500,000 people, college towns, and certain inner-ring suburbs.*

                *Mainly the upper-middle class ones filled with professionals. The kind of suburb I grew up in. Marin County and Westchester are prime examples of this kind of liberalism.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

                The suburbs are generally region-dependent. Republicans have a general advantage, though where they lose… that’s where they lose the suburbs. Or rather, where they lose their hold on the suburbs, that’s where they lose elections.Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

                But how do you tell between the suburbs that Republicans lose and which ones that they don’t?

                Marin and Westchester are some of the wealthiest counties in the United States. Just as wealthy as an area like Scottsdale or some of the conservative suburbs of DC. What causes the GOP to lose in Marin and Westchester but hold unto Scotsdale and other wealthy suburbs?Report

              • My answer(s) that nobody likes: culture, self-sorting, and tribalism. Others argue it’s largely tied in to cost-of-living.

                A big concern for the GOP going forward is that they’re going to lose Scottsdale, Orange County, Fort Bend County, etc. Or, if not these places, more places like them.Report

              • “My answer(s) that nobody likes: culture, self-sorting, and tribalism.”

                Yep. The GOP wins in suburbs where people think they live in small-town America. The Dems win in suburbs where people think they’re part of a city. I’ve spent the last 24 years in a suburb that’s slowly making the transition. The light rail line is under construction, and once that’s up and running the transition will go faster.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Will Truman says:

                light rail, eh wot?

                So Agenda 21 IS a plot to impose librulism on America!Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Will Truman says:

                Must be some reason for the left’s obsession with it.


                1. Light rail can spend lots of tax dollars.

                Rail construction is extremely costly, so it is a great way for politicians to reward favoured contractors. Siemens, the company that is suing Ottawa over the cancelled north-south light-rail line, is obviously more interested in getting lucrative contracts than in improving your transportation network. If you are a taxpayer, hold onto your wallet: between cost overruns, high maintenance costs, and endless proposals for new rail lines, your costs will never end.

                2. Light rail cannot get a lot of people out of their cars.

                Studies show that transit riders care more about frequencies and speeds than about whether the vehicle they ride has rubber tires or steel wheels. Light-rail lines may boost ridership because transit agencies run the trains more frequently and (because they stop fewer times per kilometre) faster than buses. But, as the U.S. General Accountability Office has shown, transit agencies can run bus services as fast and as frequent as any light-rail line at a fraction of the cost of light rail.

                3. Light rail can inconvenience transit riders.

                While rail may improve service in one corridor, it is so expensive that it leads transit agencies to neglect service in the rest of the region. Many U.S. cities that built light-rail lines have seen total transit ridership decline because rail costs forced transit agencies to raise fares and reduce bus services.

                4. Light rail increases congestion.

                Most light-rail lines operate on streets for at least part of their length, and transit planners time traffic signals to favour trains over automobiles. The delays that result greatly exceed the benefit of getting a handful of people out of their cars.

                A new light-rail line in Minneapolis so disrupted traffic signals that people using a parallel highway found they were spending an added 20 minutes or more sitting in traffic. Internal documents revealed that the government knew this would happen, but the state says it can never be completely fixed because federal rules require that signals favour the light rail.

                5. Light rail benefits downtown property owners at the expense of property owners elsewhere.

                A study funded by the U.S. Federal Transit Administration found that “rail transit investments rarely ‘create’ new growth, but more typically redistribute growth that would have taken place without the investment.” Such redistribution, the study found, was usually to downtowns from other parts of the city.

                6. Light rail does not stimulate economic development.

                Claims by some cities that rail transit stimulated new construction ignore the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies going to those new developments. Without the subsidies, rail lines generate little in the way of new development. In fact, street closures during construction and parking limits after light rail opens put many shops and restaurants out of business.

                7. Light rail increases energy consumption and greenhouse gases.

                Light rail uses less energy and generates less carbon dioxide, per passenger kilometre, than buses (though not necessarily less than autos). But light rail does not replace buses; instead, transit agencies typically reroute corridor buses to be feeder buses for the light-rail line.

                Many people choose to drive to light-rail stations rather than wait for a bus and then transfer to a train, so feeder buses are much more lightly used than the previous corridor buses. When Salt Lake City opened its light-rail system, the average number of people riding its buses fell by nearly 50 per cent.

                When taken as a whole, then, most transit systems with light rail use more energy and emit more greenhouse gases per passenger kilometre than they did when they operated only buses. Most also use more energy and emit more carbon dioxide, per passenger kilometre, than typical automobiles.

                In the rare cases where light rail has reduced energy use, the energy cost of building it swamps any savings. If we want to save energy and reduce greenhouse gases, automotive improvements such as hybrid-electric cars can do far more at a far lower cost than even the best rail projects.

                8. Light rail diverts tax dollars that could be used for truly productive transportation projects.Report

              • That’s a good list, although I disagree with much of it at least in this case. None of this particular line runs on existing streets — most of it runs on existing lightly used freight rail track. Crossings of the major roads are all above or below grade. From this particular direction, there’s no real option for giving express buses their own lanes, so they’re at the mercy of accident-caused traffic jams and the hideous mess that appears when it snows. The passenger rail service will give this suburb a reliable regular connection with the urban core that it’s never had before, and would be unlikely to get other than by rail.Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Got it.

                I am not looking for that either necessarily. I am left-wing economically. Arguably I am more left-wing on economics than much of the Democratic Party.

                I do have a lot of friends who are Democrats but would love to be Rockefeller Republicans though. However, the social extremism of the GOP on gay rights and abortion is keeping them away. Other social issues as well.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

                It’s a sign of the national disconnect that I have to point out: The GOP position on gay rights isn’t extremism for most of the country. It’s no longer the most popular position, but it is still widely held. It’s only recently that it became something of a liability (if it even is) (though if it isn’t, it will be at some point).Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Will Truman says:

                Gay marriage on the ballot in MN, ME, MD and WA state. We shall see.Report

        • Shannon's Mouse in reply to NewDealer says:

          A quick detour regarding the MA Senate race… I’m quite surprised that it looks like there will be a significant number of voters here that will be voting a split ticket. I’d love to speak to those folks who will be voting for Barack Obama and Scott Brown on the same ballot to understand their thinking. Brown is a decent enough guy. But I think his reputation for reaching across the aisle looking to compromise is overrated.

          Maybe voters here in the Commonwealth have grown to loathe Mitt ever since he started running for President. His began badmouthing the state and engaging in quite a bit of wingnuttery in 2006 and hasn’t looked back…Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I also think that if rural Oregon or Washington is basically indistinguishable from the deep South, that will keep the GOP alive in state legislatures and the House at least.

        This is from 2004 but it seems apt:

        • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

          Not enough people live in rural, though. They won’t disappear from those states, but they can’t be competitive without the suburbs.

          (I also think too many people are quick to say “the rural population here is just like the deep south.” I live in the rural Mountain West. Even here, it’s not like the deep south. Quite conservative, but still different.)Report

          • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

            I didn’t mean identical twin alike but the rural Mountain west has more in common with Alabama than it does with Denver or Boulder.

            rural California has more in common with Alabama than it does with San Francisco, San Diego, or Los Angeles even if it is different than the rural South in key ways as well.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

              I get what you’re saying, but I’d still go with “rural Washington/Oregon is electorally Idaho.”Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

                How is Idaho different than the deep rural south in substantive ways politically?

                Especially social/cultural politics. They seem close enough to my blue-state eyes.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

                The South went for Goldwater and Wallace, the west went for Johnson and Nixon. People alive then are still voting now, as are their children. There is a legacy, a bloody history, and a cultural identity that exists in the deep south that makes things a lot more… intractable… there than elsewhere. Specifically among white voters. Race plays a much larger role in one place than the other (stories about Idaho/Montana militias notwithstanding – they segregate themselves for the most part). And though both are largely Christian, the religious dynamics are quite different.Report

              • greginak in reply to NewDealer says:

                ND- I can speak for red state Alaska where I live but i’ve traveled all over the West. There is much more of a libertarian streak in the rural mountain west then in the deep south. The south in general is much more religious. Its more acceptable to be pushy and overtly conservative Christian. In the rural west there is significant a “just leave me alone” feeling even if some of those people are also religiously conservative and not tolerant of any difference.

                The West is far more based on natural resource use so in some ways there is an acceptance of gov action for conservation and management. Of course many feel that management should be solely focused on helping ranchers, farmers, etc be more productive.

                People in the West can be easily stereotyped, just like everybody else. They are not all conservative at all. A good friend of mine from rural Nevada grew up ranching in a town of of a few hundred. She told me there a handful of male couples who lived together up in the mountains. Everybody knew they were…wink wink nudge nudge…and were fine with it.

                The West has far different historical baggage then the South. The South has the confederacy and jim crow and KKK. ( yes those things were not all just the South, but that is still what they carry). The West has the treatment of Native Americans which was evil in its own right. However the West has a lot of glorious myths of westerns and cowboys they can treasure. The West in many ways is symbolic of newness, natural beauty, escape, freedom and all that is new and good as opposed to the East. But some of the things it is symbolic of is also true. The West was pristine and the place for adventure, while the East/South was old, full, built up and citified.

                Many Westerners moved here within the last generation or three where many Southerners have roots going back 100-150 or more years. To a degree many in the West see the country east of the Mississippi the way Americans in general see western Europe. The eastern half of the country is the old homeland in the distant past but the West is the clean fresh home where everybody can get rich on The Big Rock Candy Mountain. Lots of people moved to the West because they thought they could get rich on gold or oil or to find room to farm or ranch that they couldn’t afford in the East/South.Report

              • James H. in reply to greginak says:

                Very well put, greginak. Exactly what I would have written if I wasn’t such a laggard, except done better. I loved the west and was completely comfortable there. But in the south, despite having been the recipient of truly amazing southern hospitality, I wasn’t comfortable, and probably could not be happy. The “feel” of the two regions is entirely different.Report

          • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

            There is still a whole lot of gerrymandering going on though. Enough people live rural and exurb for gerrymandering purposes.Report

  3. Ethan Gach says:

    To Tod’s point and the GOP on the culture wars more generally, I think that is all political opportunism. As the young people keep aging, I think demographics will continue to make resentment a more politically risky strategy, and so it will be employed less.

    I think the larger issue is that the GOP has no new ideas on how to address modern economic, environmental, or foreign policy issues. Not even more nuanced appropriations of past positions. Republicans don’t just differ on their solutions, they don’t even agree with the diagnoses (global warming, depressed wages, chronic unemployment, continued military hegemony).

    A tax cut for the middle class means less and less if the middle class’s pay checks continue to stagnate.Report

    • To your first paragraph, I completely agree; I just think that it’s part of a long-term cycle of coalition politics rather than something explainable only by reference to the present.

      To your second paragraph, I agree that this is the case at present. But that’s a big part of what distinguishes Christie (and to a significantly lesser extent, presumably Brown and McMahon) from the existing party leadership. Here’s Christie on global warming, for instance:

      Similarly, one thing that’s interesting about Christie’s fandom of Springsteen is that he openly talks about how it springs not only because he likes the sound, but also because he “gets” Springsteen’s lyrics, while thinking that the remedies Springsteen would support are ineffective and problematic. One of the more interesting things to come out of that particular interview with Jeff Goldberg was Christie’s point that most of the folks in Jersey who are the subject of Springsteen’s songs voted for Christie. On foreign policy, obviously Christie hasn’t had much occasion to opine, but his complete disavowal of Islamophobia is certainly cause for hope that he’s got a more rational approach on that front.Report

      • Liberty60 in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        At some point, the dominant party has to offer a simple theory that engages the mass of low information voters.

        Since 1980 the dominant theory among both GOP and Blue Dog Dems has been “less government= prosperity”; the deficit-fueled economy of the 80’s,and the tech-fueled boom of the 90’s and the housing boom of the 00’s allowed people to feel like the theory was working. The alternative theory was “social safety net plus Keynsian stimulus= prosperity”. But this theory wasn’t winning elections.

        But right now, the jobs aren’t appearing, no one feels prosperous, and patience is running thin with both arguments. Regardless of what politicos like us say, eventually people want the goods delivered.
        I can’t tell who will ultimately win the national argument, but I do think that whoever is in control when the jobs come back will ratify the mandate.Report

        • I think this is probably accurate, though it’s a slightly different issue from what I’m getting at. Still, I’d love to hear you elaborate on this.Report

          • Though I will add that in order to deliver the goods and solve the problems of the day (ie, even if the current economic problems are resolved before Obama leaves office, there will be new, if less severe, problems, or old problems that can become higher priorities), you need to have the courage to tell your base factual truths about the situation.

            The GOP, by and large, lacks this courage at the moment, at least on the national level; I am inclined to believe that the Democrats are less bad on this front at the moment.Report

            • Liberty60 in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              There isn’t any way to provide for the general welfare, aka restoring prosperity to the middle class, without a government that is fiscally stable.

              Fiscal stability will entail spending cuts and tax increases both.

              As long as the dominant ethos is “how does this affect my bank account” the truth will always be political suicide.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to Liberty60 says:

                “Fiscal stability will entail spending cuts and tax increases both.”

                A stable welfare system can be maintained only through economic growth. You get in a downward spiral when you try to cut and tax your way out. The unintended consequences of cutting and taxing, without a main focus on economic growth, creates less wealth so that there is less to tax, and the cutting will usually be at the expense of the unrepresented, the poor.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              If the Democrats embraced something akin to fiscal responsibility, they might be able to pull off shattering the Republican party.Report

  4. greginak says:

    “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”Report

  5. Kolohe says:

    I think this is a little premature to call a trend. The social cons and the hardcore right wing radio hosts have set themselves up perfectly, T’Pring style. If Romney wins, well they win by being team players, because they’ll get their judges and whatnot. But if Romney loses, which is again, more likely, they get to point out I told you so to the people that backed the Massachusetts Moderate as what not to do.

    On the other side of the coin to the people you mentioned you have Ted Cruz and even Aiken himself, who was cruising before he opened his yap. The future of the Republican party, though, will be determined by the likes of Rand Paul, Jeff Flake, and as mentioned above by Mr. Kelly, Rubio. Hetreodox conservatives that have not quite gone all-in with any particular faction of the Republican party. They are, in military operations planning terms, the Center of Gravity that will determine the outc0me.Report

    • Scott Fields in reply to Kolohe says:

      Until the Christies, Browns and McMahons knock the talk radio dogmatists like Limbaugh off their perch, nothing will change.Report

      • One thing I’ve learned is that the talk radio dogmatists are far more concerned with their own ratings than they are with who wins elections. In other words, they’re tapping into something that exists one way or another. They don’t lead the GOP base; they just give it a voice.

        This is what was at the core of the 2009 post I quoted from at the end above. The problem isn’t with certain conservatives; it’s with conservatism as it exists, and the only way to reform it is from within. The state of talk radio is a symptom, not a cause.

        The measure of change instead will be when a prominent Republican can go on Limbaugh’s show and tell Limbaugh’s listeners that they’re wrong about something. In other words, change will come when the GOP has smart politicians willing to treat their base with enough respect to be honest to them. I am convinced that the John Boehners of the world know a lot more than they appear to know; they’re either just too arrogant and paternalistic or too fearful to tell their base the truth.Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          Keep in mind Talk Radio was meh about Romney but he won the nomination going away.Report

          • Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            The base is still meh about Romney. Everyone whose last name doesn’t rhyme with Omni is meh about Mitt, and I suspect even Seamus might be meh about Mitt.

            But they burn with a rabid hatred for Obama, and thats enough for now.Report

          • Certainly. They viewed him (correctly, IMHO) as a phony. That’s kind of the point though – I suspect Romney’s support would have been less “meh” if he’d been more honest with them. At the very least, I don’t think it would have made his support any more “meh.”Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              Well, SOMEBODY voted for Romney, he won. “Republicans” and “conservatives” isn’t serving us well here. I mean, every day, we hear some folks insist Obama’s some sort of centrist, not nearly left enough, a No True Scotsman thing.

              Talk radio today is pretty danged happy with Romney and esp has been since he picked Ryan. The party’s quite united and rather excited about itself.Report

              • I submit that they are currently enthusiastic about Romney for the same reasons they were enthusiastic about making John Boehner the Speaker of the House in 2010.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                MarkT, that Romney was the only one of the primary field who could win was always the major calculus. There was that tantalizing moment that 2012 had brought us a New Newt, but he turned out pretty much the same as the old one.

                Reagans and Clintons and Obamas only pop up once in awhile. Otherwise, you make do. In an off-year, you can still win a Super Bowl with a Jeff Hostetler, and this is a very off year.Report

              • Absolutely. But that’s also exactly my point. Romney would have gotten the nomination almost no matter what, but like too much of the GOP establishment, he’s too contemptuous of his own base to trust them with the truth and develop an honest and sincere narrative that is likely to make inroads beyond rural, white America, and certainly not the inroads that he ought to be able to make in a year when the economy is still totally FUBAR.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Chris Christie’s speech was all about telling the American people the truth, that we can’t play Santa anymore. Somebody has to be the bad guy. Which is the only reason people vote GOP. Dubya/Rove tried to hijack the Santa thing with “compassionate conservatism,” but as Truman said in reverse, people will always vote for the genuine article.

                The GOP blew up the budget and was rightfully turned out in 2006. 2006, let’s remember.

                2010 brought the Tea Party and a reform movement to get the GOP back to its only claim to legitimacy—fiscal sanity.

                [We’re speaking of Congress here: the Gingrich congress was fiscally responsible, the Bush-era Congress was not.]

                As for Romney, his ideology is good governance. If the people of Massachusetts demand health insurance, voila! Romneycare. If the people elect Tea Partiers, then jobs and cutting the deficit will be the priorities. Mitt’s the fix-it guy. That’s what he does.Report

              • You are correct about Christie. Hence the reason I view him as a harbinger of change for the better.

                As an aside, I’m looking forward to next year’s gubernatorial election, when I get to actually choose between two politicians that I don’t absolutely despise. I might not even vote third party for once!Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Heh heh. Imagine that. Things are so bad here in California, I voted for Jerry Brown.Report

              • “Well, SOMEBODY voted for Romney, he won.”

                Look at the county-level maps for the primaries before everyone else dropped out (the LA Times had some nice ones). Romney won the urban and suburban vote, and lost badly in the more rural areas. Lots of ways to spin that. Romney won where “the base” is weak. Romney won in areas that will probably go for Obama in the general. Romney won in areas where you can make big media buys.Report

            • Tom’s point also speaks to my suspicion that the “base” that the GOP has been terrified of for several years is actually a minority in their own party, driven by a ratings-first media machine. I think a lot of good potential candidates that decided to wait, like Rubio or Christie, would have won if they had thrown their hat in.

              I also think it shows that had Mitt run as the MA-Gov moderate that I still believe he actually is, he would have still won the nomination – *and* been in a better place to win the general. I think he badly underplayed his hand in the primary, and is now stuck with needing to appease a part of the base with soundbites that are going to hurt him with the non-base undecideds he needs to convince November.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I agree Rubio or Christie could have won, but each had only a couple years experience. [Christie in particular said he felt unready]. And as you recall, Bill Clinton came out of nowhere in 1992 because the smart ones don’t want to run against the incumbent. [And besides, at 65, this was Romney’s last shot.]

                As for Romney and “the base,” whoever the base is, I gotta tellya as a GOPer everything’s just groovy.

                “Learning to Like Mitt:”


              • MikeSchilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Sure. A lot of people who are disappointed with Obama wouldn’t consider Mitt a despicable weasel if he hadn’t shown himself to be a despicable weasel.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                It is interesting that in l’affaire Akin, Mike Huckabee was one of few major names to stick by him. I think that may have been the first play for a 2016 run, I can’t think of any other reason for Huckabee to jump in with both feet like that. And I also think that reveals that at least one major and smart political player thinks there’s a substantial ‘base’ that is currently completely ignored.

                Mitt’s organizational and fundraising advantages going into the cycle may have allowed him to run more as a moderate during the primary. But I don’t think so; he probably would have just been a slightly more successful Huntsman. Stuff like the 60-40 Virginia split between Romney and Paul when everyone else was disqualified was telling. And the greatest gift Romney got was the spectacular flame out of Perry. Everyone other one of his opponents was either fighting their own history or was a complete unknown, but Perry’s star was the one actually ascendent when he declared. Were he just a little better, it would have peeled off a lot of resources from Romney.

                (I was kinda surprised Bachmann had such a glass jaw too, she had the reputation as a fundraising machine. Maybe just at that level)Report

              • MFarmer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                You really think GOP leaders are terrified of the base?Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to MFarmer says:

                Considering previously quasi-sane if right-wing politicians extreme dive to the far-far-right over the past few years, I say they surely are, especially if they want to stay in office.Report

        • Scott Fields in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          They don’t lead the GOP base; they just give it a voice.

          I agree, Mark, that talk radio doesn’t necessarily lead, but there is a reinforcement loop there at least. Change will take the prominent Republican going on Limbaugh’s show to tell his listeners that they’re wrong about something, BUT Limbaugh will also have to agree with said politician for there to be any progress.Report

          • I’m not so worried about Limbaugh agreeing to it – controversy sells. Surely he’ll lambast their argument (again, controversy sells), but he’ll also let them make their points. Say what you will about Rush, he’s no dummy.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kolohe says:

      “T’Pring.” Masterful.Report

  6. Derp says:

    Is it a mistake to assume that political leaders/elected officials are the ones writing the GOP narrative, as opposed to voters? Seems that would be a case of the tail wagging the dog, no? I would think it’s going to take much more than a handful of moderate conservatives to slap some sense into millions of angry white men.Report

  7. ktward says:

    Maybe there is a light at the end of this dark crazy GOP tunnel.

    In all seriousness, I don’t like being forced to choose between a candidate belonging to the Marginally Competent party and a candidate belonging to the Demonstrably Batshit party. (Voting for Marginally Competent isn’t all that satisfying despite what the brochure says.)

    And so, I do feel a teeny tiny bit encouraged after reading your take on recent events.

    Sigh. I also remain unconvinced that a few high-level Republicans of the reasonable & sane variety are reflective of a saneward drift of either loyal GOP voters or the GOP political machine that relies upon said voters.

    But since we’re talking encouraging notes … Sally Kohn is blazing quite the [unpaid] trail over at Fox News, and who could’ve foreseen that? (Poor Ms. Ingraham. As a sub for BillO, especially, I’m pretty sure she didn’t plan on this segment going the way that it did. But but, 51%!)

    Then again, after Kohn’s astute and now viral take on Ryan’s convention speech, it seems FNC might be trying to douse the flames of said trail, so I can’t help but wonder if the Kohn/FNC thing won’t prove short-lived. (Unlike Colmes, her toast isn’t dripping in milque.)Report

  8. Kolohe says:

    I think it may have been alluded to already in comments above, but the other piece of Republican moderation, or whatever one wants to call it, is this.

    If one can still have Bob Gates at Defense and Ben Bernanke at the Fed (and even Timmy Geitner at Treasury), why exactly does one need to elect a Republican?Report

    • ktward in reply to Kolohe says:

      [Putting on my GOP-think cap] Because POTUS isn’t the only elected office?

      Frankly, it’s the state of Congress I find most disturbing: re-electing Obama and holding onto a Dem Senate seems to me not much more than damage control. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that a GOP-controlled House is useless. The odds of Dems re-taking the House aren’t good.Report

  9. Mary G says:

    Authenticity has something to do with it. I’d be more inclined to vote for someone like
    Christie, who goes his own way, than someone like Romney who just takes whatever position will suit him today. The speaker that resonated the most with me, despite being completely unacceptable ideologically, was Rick Santorum. He means what he says more than most of these guys.

    The RNC was riddled with clumsy, condescending efforts to repair a bit of the gender gap – many paeans to mothers and Ann Romney’s “I love you, women!” that just struck a sour note. Like when Sarah Palin was chosen to attract some Hilary voters, this is too obvious for even low information voters.Report

  10. b-psycho says:

    While we’re here, we may as well add Condi Rice’s highly praised, well articulated speech at the Republican National Convention to the list, given that its combination of passion and reasonability has already stirred up speculation about a possible run in 2016.

    No, no, a million times no. She’s pro-choice, and even if she flipflopped on that all any opponent would have to do to destroy her is point out that she was National Security Adviser when 9/11 happened.Report