How to Sustain a “Republican Spring”

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Dennis Sanders

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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134 Responses

  1. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    Cool post Dennis.

    Some initial bits of skepticism and questions on a few points.

    1.

    ” in some ways it offers a bizarro version of the far right: be as intolerant as they are. ”

    Being intolerant of intolerance is not intolerance.

    Well, it isn’t bad intolerance, in the way that intolerance of murder isn’t bad intolerance.

    Or no?

    2.

    “Offer an alternative with real policies.”

    Easier said than done. If you create Christian-right social policies, you lose the libertarians and whatever youth vote you have and, if you are really succesful, a whole lot of moderates.

    If you craft policies that transfer money or resources to the poor (even using subsidies in the magic of the market), and you don’t raise taxes you lose the ideological deficit hawks (some of whom are gold bugs). Or you raise taxes to pay for your programs, losing the libertarians, the pro-low tax for business types, the Norquists, and your edge with corporate money.

    You could offer a bunch of policies that don’t increase transfers of wealth to the poor, but just change how that transfer operates, like privatizing Medicare and Social Security. But that’s what they’re proposing now, so that hardly meets your demands for better polcies.

    What specific policies (of Douthat’s?) do you have in mind that will make a big difference for the GOP?Report

  2. Avatar zic says:

    To me, it’s a question of rebuild or rebrand.

    Rebuilding implies a party able to grasp with policy. Rebrand is taking the current party, incapable of dealing with policy, in part because of it’s activist base, and re-wrapping it in another package more palatable to that base but still leaving it incapable of policy because there’s nothing to resolve the conflicting goals between the Tea Party and moderates.

    Jonathan Bernstein says it better.Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    The GOP does not need to be rebuilt. It needs to be pulled down entirely and replaced. The GOP, as evinced by the likes of Mitch McConnell, are hell bent on a headlong march into the past. Look at him, quietly staffing the posts alloted to him with mouldy old Reaganites and Bush-era deregulators, perpetuating the same failed strategies which brought this nation low before.

    The GOP has learned nothing from its failures and seems fated to repeat every one. There are no GOP moderates: they were expelled from the ranks in the era of Gingrich and they have not been welcomed back.

    Nor will the Tea Party be coopted, not by you and your buddies. Get that through your head, right now. I am currently in a relationship with a Tea Party Girl: I know whereof I speak on this subject. The Tea Parties are the future, not the past, of the GOP.

    Like Al Qaeda, the Tea Parties are the ideological locus of the New Populism. And like Al Qaeda, they thrive because they lack a central nexus: they are not a Movement but an Ideology, a many-headed Hydra. Mainline Islam can fret and wring its hands over Al Qaeda and its many franchises, for all the good it might do their cause: at one time, Osama bin Laden was their darling. If he was a bit more nihilistic than they realised at the time, he was at least consistent where they were duplicitous. The same goes for the GOP.

    The GOP quietly nourished and protected this nest of vipers and now they must live with their pets. Michelle Bachman’s empty-headed bleating drowns out any semblance of comity and reasonableness. When such comity might have made a difference, it was not on offer from the obstructionist GOP leadership.

    I remember the 1980s. The GOP won elections, not because the Far Left kept the Democrats out of office, but because the GOP were bolder liars. Today’s GOP lack the testicular fortitude of their forebears.

    The GOP have never once offered an Alternative. All we get from those chumps is a negation of anything Obama might say, regardless of what it might be, a simple NOT gate. Such is not an alternative. Fact-free bullshit and many farts of outrage is all we get from them.

    Will this joint ever learn the possessive of IT is ITS, not IT’S? Irritates me every time I see it. It’s not just you, Dennis. It’s all over this joint.

    The reason John Huntsman never made it to the Big Leagues of GOP politics and Plastic Man Romney did — ? Romney was a witless wonder, a Corporation Kinda Guy. We wrestle not against Flesh and Blood, we are told in the Book of Ephesians, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against Spiritual Plastic in High Places.

    There is no GOP base, not any more. There’s only a vast, dispirited crowd of actual Conservatives out there, embarrassed by their own leadership but too cowardly to replace it.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Conspiracy theory of the week: key members of the Establishment GOP also knew about the IRS targetting of tea partiers prior to the 2010 elections. They didn’t care because: The Establishment GOP doesn’t like tea partiers either.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

        The whole IRS fiasco is a textbook case of message mismanagement. All these 501(c)(4) incorporations are supposed to be mostly non-political.

        But when a given incorporation has the word “Party” in its name, or is about “how the country’s being run”, that’s all about politics. We have incorporation standards. The IRS is well within its right to question these 501(c)(4) incorporations.

        I don’t like the idea of the IRS going political. But I have an abiding distrust of political organisations pretending to be 501.c tax exempt entities.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to BlaiseP says:

      You do realize that the Republicans have the majority in the House, 30 governors, a majority of state legislatures, more than 40 senators, and appointed over half of the Supreme Court, right? I always tell people in political discussions, keep your powder dry. All the victories that you think you’ve won are going to be fought again, and you’re going to lose next time, and you’re going to win the time after that….Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Pinky says:

        Permanent victory is a contradiction in terms.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Pinky says:

        You do realize that the Republicans have the majority in the House, 30 governors, a majority of state legislatures, more than 40 senators, and appointed over half of the Supreme Court, right? I always tell people in political discussions, keep your powder dry. All the victories that you think you’ve won are going to be fought again, and you’re going to lose next time, and you’re going to win the time after that….”

        That’s one reason for people in the current GOP to be skeptical of change. Right now, they control rather a lot, and are enthusiastically making sure that the systems is rewritten as needed, so ensure that majorities don’t matter much.

        This will probably keep them largely in power for the rest of the decade.Report

      • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Pinky says:

        bah!
        ” All the victories that you think you’ve won are going to be fought again, and you’re going to lose next time, and you’re going to win the time after that….”

        Demographics are destiny.Report

  4. Avatar Fnord says:

    The other thing is calling out the far right has never really been a successful strategy other than getting a lot of folks on the left rather excited. A number of folks loved John McCain’s “agents of intolerance” crack, but most of those enthralled by that didn’t support him in the 2000 GOP primaries. Jon Huntman got points for saying that he, as opposed to other Republicans, believed in climate change. Again, he didn’t get very far. Actually, we could go as far back as the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco where leading liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller slammed the insurgent and successful Barry Goldwater. Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson that year, but the moderates in the party didn’t succeed in becoming the dominant faction.

    It’s important to be clear by what you mean when you say “calling out the far right has never really been a successful strategy.” It’s not, based on the examples you gave, that it failed to be a successful strategy for the party. Rather, calling out the far right is apparently poor strategy for success WITHIN the party. You’ve got a moderate who lost the primary, and another who lost the primary, and one more who lost the primary. In two of the three cases you cite, the candidate who won in the primary went on to lose in the general.

    I don’t think anyone who wants to take on the far right actually LIKES the way the current primary system works. Indeed, I would presume that part of “taking on the far right” is taking on their influence in the primaries.

    This is not to say that your wrong, necessarily. You’re certainly correct that doing so would take moderates getting more involved in the primary. It may even be true that there’s no way to erode the influence of the extremists in the primaries without doing what you say regarding creating your own policy agenda and coopting them.

    Now, maybe I’m just a liberal indulging my fantasies. But it looks to me like that, when you say things like “A GOP politician has to deal with the electorate they have”, you’re referring to exclusively to the Republican electorate. That the reason “Democrats…sweep in and win” is that the moderates inevitably lose the “bloody intraparty fight”.Report

  5. Great post, Dennis.

    I think Zic hits the nail on the head about Rebuilding vs. Rebranding. The Republican Party almost certainly will rebound, at some point. It’s a question whether it starts in 2014 or 2024 (or, heaven forfend, 2034). It’s a question of how close to rock bottom the party needs to go and how much they’re going to completely depend on the fracture of the Democratic coalition.

    Obviously, those of us not-at-home in the Democratic Party with nowhere else to go would prefer it happen sooner rather than later.

    The OP is absolutely right that moderates will not save the party. I believe, though, that the establishment will eventually. The moderates do have a role to play here, though. That role is not waiting for the Tea Parties to collapse, which may happen but that’s no better than waiting for the Democratic coalition to fracture. Rather, the role of the moderates is to work at candidates and narratives in purple, purple-blue, and blue states. Don’t focus on fighting for the party, focus on getting candidates into office who in turn influence the party (it’s lonely being Chris Christie, while Jon Tester isn’t alone). The more people you have holding public office, the more voices you have.

    And, for the love of heaven, not candidates that primarily go to war against the party itself. These should not be people where people wonder “Why aren’t they a Democrat, again?” I was a Huntsman guy, briefly, but he ran a pretty ridiculous campaign and his flirtation with No Labels actively sabotages the effort.

    But beyond there, it’s rebuilding. And the key to that isn’t to willy-nilly make the party more moderate. It’s strategy. It’s finding the people who could have voted for you, didn’t vote for you, and figure out what you have to do (or, ahem, not do) to change their minds. A lot of people are trying to work backwards, finding the voters who will bolster their vision of what they want the party to be. My guess is that in the short term, it will be married white women and white midwesterners. Long term, they’re going to have to solve their minority problem (so they can’t win the white voters along racialist lines). Formulate the ideal candidates for each demographic that there’s a chance to win, then pump up the ones that are most feasible.

    The big thing, though, is to start listening. Not to the Democrats and pundits who don’t really have your interest at heart. Not to the factions of the party who think that the path to victory is to appeal to voters just like them. But to the people who should have or could have voted for you, but didn’t.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

      Oddly enough I’ve got a feeling the GOP may have successfully delayed their reformation for a good long while with the House. As long as they hold a House majority I suspect they’ll be able to claim that they’re doing fine the way they are. Also the GOP far right is running the party right now and I suspect they remember quite clearly what happened to the red meat lefties when the Dems reformed. Somehow I doubt they’d be eager to be sidelined.

      Then again I’m a Dem myself so I could just be wishful thinking.Report

    • Avatar Fnord in reply to Will Truman says:

      (it’s lonely being Chris Christie, while Jon Tester isn’t alone)

      Chris Cristie, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson. Rick Snyder isn’t mentioned quite so much as a high-profile moderate, but governs a state with two Democratic Senators and which went to Obama in both 2008 and 2012. Governorship seems like comparatively fertile soil for moderate Republicans.

      Jon Tester is a Senator, and as you say has lots of company.

      So, along the lines of “the role of the moderates is to work at candidates and narratives in purple, purple-blue, and blue states” do you think it’s fair to say that moderate Republicans do better contesting the governorship of blue-purple to blue states than they do running for those states’ Senate seats?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Fnord says:

        Between the initial three that you mentioned, only one currently holds office. The other two not only don’t hold office, but one isn’t a Republican anymore and the other has gone out of his way to antagonize the party. I honestly don’t know that much about Snyder, but he might be another good one.

        Republicans in general do better for governorships in part because they’re off-year, when Republican turnout is comparatively higher. Sometimes they’re moderate, sometimes they’re inordinately conservative (Rick Scott). But yeah, governorships are a strength and have been for as long as I can remember). More effort should be made to highlight the governors.

        Ultimately, though, they need senators and congressmen.Report

        • Avatar Fnord in reply to Will Truman says:

          Between the initial three that you mentioned, only one currently holds office. The other two not only don’t hold office

          Neither Huntsman nor Johnson left the office because of an election, though, neither a primary challenge or a loss to in the general. Now, Johnson was a while ago, but Huntsman easily won both the primary and the general in 2008, and his Lieutenant Gary Herbert did again in 2012 (though it appears Herbert is more conservative than Huntsman).

          I honestly don’t know that much about Snyder, but he might be another good one.

          Best as I can tell, he’s more conservative than other big name moderates I cited, though hardly far right. But, if that’s so, it’s an even stronger point about blue state governorship being easier than the Senate, given what I said about how blue Michigan is on a national level.

          Ultimately, though, they need senators and congressmen.

          So, why is it moderates have trouble winning national office? Off years? Senators run in off years half the time.

          By definition, in a blue-leaning state, the electorate prefers the Democratic party to the GOP, at least when it comes to the aggregate. But that doesn’t mean they can’t prefer a specific Republican politician on his own merits. Hence, a republican candidate can still be elected if the electorate prefers that specific candidate and his specific positions over his specific opponent. So far, so obvious.

          But is there a difference between a governor and a senator, here? I think there is. A senator doesn’t implement his policy positions the same way as a governor does. A senator acts only as part of the Senate. If party unity means that a specific senators policy positions (sometimes) take a backseat to the party’s goals, then a vote for a senator isn’t just a vote for that specific senator. It’s (to some extent) a vote for control of the Senate by that senator’s party as whole. And, by definition, the GOP as whole is loses in blue states. If party loyalty means that a vote for a Republican senator, whatever his individual merits, is a vote for the Republican party, if the electorate doesn’t think the candidate will stand up to the right to the extent of voting against them (and with the Democrats), blue states are not going to elect Republican senators.

          Now, look, I’m not a Republican. But to win election in blue states, you need the votes of non-Republicans.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Fnord says:

            The reasons moderates don’t win national elections with few exceptions is that the moderates and independents aren’t voting in the primaries. Just because you’re in a blue-leaning state means that you have a more moderate Republican party.

            For example, the California Republican Party. Arnold, aside from the fact he’s one of the 25 most famous people in the world, could’ve never won a Republican primary in California. Because the primary electorate in the California Republican Party is nearly as conservative as people in Alabama or Texas, they’re just outnumbered.

            In addition, over the past 20 years, people have largely aligned their votes for POTUS to their votes for Senate and Congress. So, many ‘moderate’ Republicans outside of the South who might have voted for John Anderson or Bill Clinton’s second term simply gave up the ghost and either became independents or Democrats. See Lincoln Chaffee and Arlen Specter for political examples.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Fnord says:

            Neither Huntsman nor Johnson left the office because of an election, though, neither a primary challenge or a loss to in the general.

            It’s not that they lost, it’s that they no longer have a perch to advocate from. They don’t have a “Here is what I am doing now…” in terms of policy and shaping an agenda, except from basic advocacy. That sort of thing matters.

            But is there a difference between a governor and a senator, here? I think there is.

            So do I. But Jon Tester can get elected from Montana (Romney +15), Heitkamp can get elected from North Dakota (Romney +20). So it can be done, with the right candidate.

            But to win election in blue states, you need the votes of non-Republicans.

            Absolutely! I’ve been very unclear if I left you with the impression that I thought otherwise. This is why I think this is where moderate Republicans are valuable. If they work together, they can help Mike Castle win in Delaware. Finding and rallying around candidates who can win. They’ve done a poor job with this, in more ways than one*, but this is where they can do the most good. Not by kvetching about the current state of affairs.

            * – Not only do they fail to organize, but they can rally around candidates whose main relationship with the Republican Party is antagonistic. Jon Tester isn’t Republican Light. Rather, he’s a senator who has found a way to frame issues and a persona in such a way to get his red-leaning state to vote for him even while voting for Romney.Report

            • Avatar Fnord in reply to Will Truman says:

              Jon Tester isn’t Republican Light.

              No, but he’s certainly not afraid to distance himself from the mainstream of the Democratic party (much less the far left) when he disagrees with them on issues, rather than worry about party unity. And, indeed, campaign on the fact that he opposes Democratic policies.

              “Senator Tester has supported President Obama’s policies in Washington at the expense of folks here in Montana, most of whom don’t approve of the Obama-Tester…” said Rehberg campaign spokesman Chris Bond…Tester’s camp points to numerous votes where he has differed from Obama

              Billings Gazette, published March 2012.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Fnord says:

                Sure, any cross-ticket senator has to have an independent streak. Big difference between that and being Zell Miller. He could clearly articulate why he was a Democrat and found those Democratic issues his state could support (environmentalism, government support for the little guy, etc.).

                Moderate Republicans – when they’re not careful – rally around people who have difficulty articulating anything but “I’m not like *those* Republicans”. It creates problems with their preferences represent genuine loyalty issues (by ‘genuine’ I mean ‘not like Chris Christie, despite what some say’).Report

              • Or, put another way, Tester presented himself as a maverick, of sorts, but he left no doubt as to why he wasn’t a Republican, and he spent more time running against the Republicans than the Democrats. To the point that if he switched parties – even after losing a primary – or endorsed a Republican presidential candidate it’d be quite a shock. Nobody was surprised about Specter, Chafee, Miller, or Lieberman.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Will Truman says:

                note: byrds friends down in WV seem to run against the Democrats more often than not. They still got a piece of the tent.Report

          • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Fnord says:

            Governor counts in two states. Texas and California. Most others are relatively powerless.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Fnord says:

        I live in Michigan. Snyder is not a moderate; he’s gone along with a lot, and I’ve not heard of much that he’s blocked from the Tea Party here.Report

      • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Fnord says:

        Corbett’s a dead man walking.Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Too often the GOP dissidents tend to see the problem as one that is focused on social issues like abortion or gay rights. But the moderates or dissidents need to come up with not only a social alternative, but present a clear governing vision that focuses on economic issues. While I might disagree with someone like Ross Douthat on social issues, he tends to be spot on when it comes to how the GOP should attend the economic needs of the middle and lower classes.

    What exactly do you mean by this? Still more downward redistribution? The government can improve standards of living over the long term through economic liberalization, but not in ways that are plausible to the average swing voter. How do Republicans win them over on economics, if not through more redistribution?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Not threatening to destroy the world financial system over a slight tax increase for top earners or taxing hedge fund managers income as income, and not insisting on cutting food stamps when so many people are out of work would at least camouflage their disregard of average Americans.Report

      • I’m not sure about food stamps one way or the other (that’s what polling is for), but you’re absolutely right about slight tax increases for the rich. From a purely strategic standpoint, one of the most frustrating things to watch was the extent to which Republican plans so consistently* included tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthy (while Obama could point to his payroll tax cut, which benefited everybody who works).

        If you’re going to talk about government cuts, that’s one thing. But then throwing in tax cuts for the least sympathetic group of people is strategic lunacy in the current environment. I happen to think that cutting or eliminating the corporate tax would be good policy. I think it’s insane to advocate it at the moment, unless you’re willing to talk about making it up in capital gains.

        * – To be fair, at least one of the plans that Romney presented wasn’t bad in this regard. Lowering rates across the board, cutting loopholes which benefit those who itemize. The problem is that by the time this came around, all credibility was lost.Report

        • Avatar Barry in reply to Will Truman says:

          “If you’re going to talk about government cuts, that’s one thing. But then throwing in tax cuts for the least sympathetic group of people is strategic lunacy in the current environment. I happen to think that cutting or eliminating the corporate tax would be good policy. I think it’s insane to advocate it at the moment, unless you’re willing to talk about making it up in capital gains.”

          It seemed to work quite well – the GOP screams ‘TAX INCREASE!’, and the Democratic reply ‘for the rich!’ is lost.Report

    • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Think along the lines of “We should be spending the money that we spend on X on helping you afford childcare while you’re at work” with X being some government spending thing that potential Republican voters don’t really benefit from (or see the immediate benefit from. Basically shifting the spending more towards voters they can win over.

      (This is a comment on the political value of the policy and not whether the policy is actually worthwhile.)Report

    • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      The GOP go after upward redistribution and win people over on economics. They could start with the elimination of the heavily subsidized loan rate big banks get through the discount window at the Fed – the rate Elizabeth Warren is currently shining the spotlight on with her student loan bill – and then call for a more muscular SEC that could more effectively regulate all the casino behavior in the FIRE sector.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Scott Fields says:

        No, they couldn’t – that would call for rebuilding their party from the opposite direction.

        There will be no genuinely populist right in this country. The right hates ‘elitists’ like college professors and school teachers; they’d probably give their kids’ kidneys to any actual 1%-er upon request.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Scott Fields says:

        They could start with the elimination of the heavily subsidized loan rate big banks get through the discount window at the Fed

        “Heavily subsidized,” you say? How heavily, and what’s your source for that?

        Elizabeth Warren

        Oh, FFS. In terms of reliability, information obtained from Elizabeth Warren falls somewhere between “defective magic 8-ball” and “acid trip.”

        Reality check: The Federal Reserve is self-funding. In fact, it has made a profit every year since 1947, and given those profits to the US Treasury. Discount window loans are one source of those profits, albeit a very minor one; the discount window has historically been used very sparingly, with total outstanding loans averaging less than $1 billion in most years, and having exceeded $5 billion only twice in history. Outstanding loans did briefly spike to $400 billion, but were back under $10 billion by January 2012 and are now under $1 billion.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          “Outstanding loans did briefly spike to $400 billion in 2008.”Report

        • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          $400 billion, $10 billion, under $1 billion – volume notwithstanding it’s all practically free (0.75 percent) money available only to big banks. That’s government subsidy and it’s upward redistribution.

          And, as Barry notes, upward redistribution is fine and dandy with the GOP and, apparently, you.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Scott Fields says:

            Which part of “profitable” do you not understand? Interest rates are low across the board right now. The reason that the discount window is used so sparingly is that the federal funds rate—the rate at which banks make short-term loans to each other—is even lower: 0.25%. Banks don’t need to borrow money from the Federal Reserve at 0.75% when they can borrow money from other banks at a rate of 0.25%. Are you going to claim, then, that banks are voluntarily making “hugely subsidized” loans to one another?

            The reason that these rates are so low is that they’re for loans which have virtually zero risk. Long-term consumer lending carries two different types of risk: The first is the risk of default—that the borrower will not be able to repay the loan. The second type of risk is the risk that interest rates will rise. Even with zero risk of default, it’s a bad idea to lend money for 15 years at 0.25%. You’re locking up that money for 15 years, and when interest rates rise, you can’t lend the money out at the higher rate. Long-term lending is riskier than short-term lending because you give up the ability to take advantage of rising rates.

            Look at the yield curves for treasury securities on the secondary market. The annualized yield on a one-month treasury bill is currently sitting around 0.03%. Not 3%. If you want 3%, you need to buy a 30-year bond. These prices aren’t set by government decree. These are yields on the secondary market. Investors are willing to pay $9,999.77 today for a treasury security that will yield $10,000 in four weeks.

            That’s how low market interest rates are for short-term, risk-free bonds. Banks have to pay 25 times that much to borrow from the Federal Reserve discount window. It’s not a fishing subsidy.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    The big one, to me:

    Stop thinking you can win with gerrymandering and vote suppression. Start looking for ways to build a genuine majority.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      “Stop thinking you can win with gerrymandering and vote suppression. Start looking for ways to build a genuine majority.”

      Why? They are. Again, I live in Michigan. They’ve gerrymandered the state, and so can probably hold the state legislature for several to many years, and many House districts will be held by the GOP against the wishes of a majority of Michiganders.

      And the important thing about voter suppression is that it’s free. The right uses state funds to keep people from voting, and thereby secure state power.Report

    • Avatar ktward in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      On gerrymandering, specific to your comment, Mike:

      At present and for the foreseeable future (All hail, our incoming majority-minority overlords!) gerrymandering is the only way the GOP can hope to hold on to the House. And since controlling either the Senate or the WH are a much longer shot, you can bet the GOP Establishment isn’t going to lift a finger that promises to make it harder for them to keep the House. No matter what the GOP might hypothetically do to retool their party, we can bet it won’t be at the expense of whatever political power they presently hold.

      On gerrymandering in general:
      Strictly speaking, this is a state-governed institutional issue that has been exploited by both parties. Granted, the GOP is waaay better these days at exploiting their gerrymandering opps than are Dems, but I’m not even sure the Dem Establishment is really all that invested in reforming this longstanding piece of our electoral institution, dysfunctional a piece as it is.

      On GOP vote suppression:
      The GOP will never give that up. Why? Because even on the official List Of Things Moderate GOPers Think Is Seriously Wrong With The GOP, it ranks very low. Not a priority for them, and frankly, they really do have a long list of messed up stuff to deal with. Also too, Vote Suppression barely registers, if at all, on the radars of plain ole everyday GOP voters, yet it’s a great way to rally the base. How awesome is that? Rally the base while not pissing off moderates. Solid gold, that.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to ktward says:

        “No matter what the GOP might hypothetically do to retool their party, we can bet it won’t be at the expense of whatever political power they presently hold.”

        Important point. To give up current existing power in favor of hypothetical future power is not something those interested in power do.Report

  8. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    Here are 7 proposals that I think could (WTH do I know, though, really) work for the the R’s. Not sure I’m im favor, but they could work to get votes and improve society.

    1. Creative sentencing for low-level crimes, including drug crimes. Make convicts do labor in their community instead of prison, make them join the Army (make a prisoner’s Devil’s Brigade) or pay big tax penalties over time to pay the community back. (Allows you to deescalate the drug war without decriminalizing, too.)

    Conservative Principle: Bad and troubled people can be fixed with hard work and paying back their community and learning discipline. (Saves a lot of money on prisons, IMO.)

    2. Gov’t subsidies for the retirement funds (say 50 cents per hour worked or whatever) of people who work in dangerous or physically damaging jobs that provide the necessities of life for all Americans: coal miner, farmer, mill worker, textile worker, police, fire dept., etc. (Paid for, partially, by removing ag subsidies to big ag and by means testing social security.)

    Conservative Principle: If you risk your life and damage your body to put food on America’s tables and heat in their homes, you should be able to retire a little earlier and a little easier. (Helps win over some union voters.) Makes social security age extension a little less awful.

    3. Subsidies for people who take care of their elderly family members in their own home instead of putting them in an old folks home. (Pay for by reducing funding to old folks home per person who is transferred to home care. Might save money, IMO.)

    Conservative Principle: Traditionally, families took care of the elderly, not the state. Families might be able to increase quality of living of the elderly (a lot, IMO) and save money on inefficient care. (Worth a shot, anyway.)

    4. Increased ability of psychiatrists to keep severely mentally ill patients (and addicts) institutionalized. This will reduce crime and improve blighted areas and reduce homelessness and poverty. (BTW, not sure I like this, but it could work and will sell well politically).

    Conservative Principle: It is new age liberal madness to think the severely mentally ill should be given the right to make the decision to live homeless and indigent. Rights are only accorded to the rational. (Again, not sure I agree.)

    5. Increased penalties (not necessarily traditional alimony) for anyone who divorces and isn’t the primary child care giver. The IRS should be notified of who is divorced with children, and
    they should pay tax penalties (dependant on income) that would be automatically transferred to the childcare giver. For people who make good money, the penalties should be pretty stiff.

    Conservative Principle: Divorce is bad for society, especially for kids. Disincentivize.

    6. Increase alcohol taxes. Make liquor licences rarer. Public health campaign about alcohol abuse akin to the anti-smoking campaign.

    Conservative Principle: Prohibition is impossible, but booze is one of our greatest enemies and the biggest cause of crime, and a massive health problem. (Just like prohibition, this is a win amongst women voters and helps with religious voters too.) People should be actively discouraged from drinking, as it is a public health hazzard amd should be taxed for doing something dangerous that we all pay for in the end.

    7. Reintroduce the teaching of traditional crafts and skills through schools. Rework “Home Ec” to be something great where students learn skills like canning goods, real cooking from scratch, proper diet making clothing, construction.

    Conservative Principle: Traditionally, these crafts and were the backbone of western civilization. They make our lives better as we do them for ourselves. Learning them is not a distraction from real school but is as much a part of a meaningful life as math and literature. And these skills will be part of the new economy as people start to value craft products more (craft beers, Etsy homemade clothing, fine cooking, etc.)Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      I don’t necessarily agree with all these, but I certainly commend the creativity and constructive nature of these suggestions. You da men, Shazbot,all 5 of you.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      You will be cancelling out the hipster vote with 6 and 7 😉

      I disagree on six (at least limiting the licenses). 7 is okay though this is where my neo-liberal bent comes in as being critical. I have a few issues with the new DIY/etsy scene. Largely:

      1. Large parts of it seem to be about reverting to a sustenance economy and I am a hardcore urbanist, not a ruralist.

      2. It doesn’t scale

      3. Many of the DIY people seem to be about creating niche luxury products over anything else.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      I also strongly disagree with 5. It is not the job of a government to be a moral watchdog that way and encourage people to stay in unhappy marriages for the sake of tradition.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        Yea, #5 could put people in a position wherein leaving an abusive spouse, already a very difficult position, could also mean dire financial ramifications (more than the choice already incurs).Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      …people who work in dangerous or physically damaging jobs that provide the necessities of life for all Americans: coal miner, farmer,…

      I’m just picking a nit with the first couple of jobs at the top of the list. Why should we reward underground coal miners — where the real danger/damage occurs — instead of simply saying, “For the next 30-40 years, no more underground mining. We have plenty of coal in Wyoming, Montana and Illinois that can be surface-mined, where the miners sit in air-conditioned cabs of giant earth-moving equipment, facing no more danger/damage than the rest of us. Even the most dangerous activities at a surface mine — blasting off overburden — is pretty safe; I can’t remember the last time I read about someone being hurt in such an operation.

      My father did worker’s comp inspections for an insurance company in a rural state for 20 years. He maintained steadfastly over that period that a very large majority of farm injuries happened because the farmer and/or hired hand cut corners, refusing to follow known best practices, or declining to pay the modest extra amount that safety shielding that would keep your hand out of the equipment would cost. Yes, some of farming is more dangerous than sitting in front of computer screen all day. But a lot of the perceived danger is bad practice, and I’m opposed to rewarding that.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      With tongue only partially in cheek, let me rephrase #6, and you can reflect on how to explain it to a significant portion of the Republican base: “Your beer’s going to cost more. Maybe a lot more.”Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      Re #3… we already do that. Tote up implied rent and other expenses and someone who takes an elderly relative in can almost certainly count them as a deduction against income taxes. Speaking from my time with the Colorado legislature’s Joint Budget Committee staff, and working with the state’s Department of Human Services on elder care issues, most elders (a) don’t want to go into institutional care (you’re on the mark on that), and (b) don’t want to go live with their children or nieces/nephews. They want to be independent. Often, moving in with the younger relatives means moving a considerable distance, an idea that they hate. Amongst the elderly, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — Medicaid especially in states that have obtained waivers to spend money on in-home services that keep people in their own houses — are enormously popular. I assert that this policy choice in particular reflects the Republican’s major problem: it’s terriric in small-town and rural America, not nearly so good in urban and suburban settings, and rural America is dying.

      Having nit-picked or worse at several of your suggestions, over the years I’ve had two suggestions for where the Republican Party ought to be trying to lead the way. The first is that they ought to champion simpler government — which is most definitely not identical to smaller. The second is that they ought to champion Main Street — reining in both big government and big business overreach.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Michael, Kazzy, and New Dealer,

        All fair criticisms. You’d have to add clauses to the plans to deal with those problems as well as possible. I am a liberal and would favor different policies altogether, though.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Shazbot5 says:

          I guess my more serious complaint about this type of list — which also applies in large part to the list Burt linked to above, and similar lists that have appeared at LoOG from time to time — is that they’re all about tweaking around the edges. They usually leave the big policy areas untouched, which implies that the Republicans are currently on the right track in those areas. Examples: (1) spending nearly as much on “defense” as the rest of the world is the right level of defense spending; (2) periodically invading the sovereignty of small countries (drone strikes, outright overthrow of the government) is the right policy for dealing with the perceived risk of terrorists; (3) the US’s social safety net is too big and must be cut substantially; and (4) reducing taxes immediately and reducing spending somewhere down the road is a sane way to decrease the deficit/debt.

          These are the Republican positions on those issues, right? They howl about the sequester’s effect on DoD (plus a minor bit of outrage about ATCs). They jump on Obama for being “soft on terrorism” when he says he’s going to reduce the drone program. Chained CPI, vouchers for Medicare, convert Medicaid to a block grant, cut back the food stamp (now SNAP) program… cut, cut, cut the safety net. Cut taxes now and cut spending later has been the main feature of Rep. Ryan’s budgets for the last few years. When I was much younger, I voted for Republicans. If they want to attract me back, I’m not going to make my decision on the basis of innovative sentencing (from your list) or an Apollo-like space elevator program (from Burt’s). They need to show me sane policy options in the big, expensive areas.Report

          • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Michael Cain says:

            Prisons are hella expensive.
            Ya gotta sound sane (tech-enjoying), and be willing to fix a variety of things.
            (think you’re selling burt short: “reducing defense spending” is hardly a sexy topic for a post).Report

    • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      “Just like prohibition, this is a win amongst women voters and helps with religious voters too.”

      bah. you’re COMPLETELY ignoring Video Games!!!Report

  9. Avatar Kazzy says:

    What are the core Republican values?

    I ask because I recently had a conversation with a friend who is pretty heavily conservative and identifies as “reluctantly Republican”. During the conversation, I mentioned that the Republican/conservative party I learned about in school had certain appeals… I can get on board with small government depending on which parts you want to shrink; I generally believe in markets, certainly moreso than most liberals; I’m a big fan of localism for most things.

    Problem is, when I hear Republican leaders (be they party leader or major media members), I rarely hear anything more than lip service being paid to these issues. What I do hear is a whole bunch of talk about same sex marriage, terrorists, abortion, special interest groups, and liberalism as a “mental disorder”. And I recognize that there are tenets of traditional core Republican values which justify to a degree the positions they tend to advocate on those issues (well, all except the whole liberalism is a mental illness thing). But when those tenets seem to take such extreme precedence over others, and when they then seemingly double down on antagonism by defining themselves as anti-liberals, I just can’t get on board. Not even close.

    Now, if Republicans can’t win elections by getting back to those values, if they can only garner the support they currently have via the tactic they currently employ… well, then the party is likely dead, given what we see with demographic trends. Which doesn’t mean conservatism is dead or that they need to move towards the center… but that the current incarnation of Republicanism and how it chooses to defines itself probably is.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:

      Kazzy, see Zic’s link to Jonathan Bernstein above. The main problem with the GOP forming a viable alternative view of governance is that most members of the GOP don’t believe in governance at all these days. You see this in their response to practically every problem facing America.

      Lets look at transportation as an example. America, in contrast to Europe, built a transportation that was heavily dependent on the car after WWII. European countries had a more balanced approach, building highway systems and good roads for cars and transit at the same time. I think its pretty clear that the European approach was better because some very car focused places like Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Denver. The GOP’s response was to respond to this in despair and speak about transit as a dangerous Europeanization of America that will destroy our freedom. I think the GOP nominee for governor awhile back lashed out against bike lanes in Denver as evil. This isn’t reasonable, they can’t really recognize that America’s car-focused transportation system might not be the best idea.

      This applies to nearly every policy choice facing America from healthcare, to security, to the environment etc. Many members of the GOP simply feel that government should not do anything but provide tax cuts for the rich and services to the right type of Americans.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Just asking. Does anybody actually know of any empirical data on transportation or infrastructure efficiency comparisons between Europe and the US?Report

        • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Roger says:

          Yes, but bear in mind, they’d be dependent on availability of waterways.
          (seriously, someone has this lying around. I’d wager the easiest folks to wangle it from would be US Military. Find someone in logistics, and ask. Again, it’s not like you’re looking for anything classified.)Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think the GOP nominee for governor awhile back lashed out against bike lanes in Denver as evil.

        He claimed that Denver’s bike rental program (rent a bike at one station, pedal to wherever you’re going, drop it off at another station) was part of a UN plot.

        Joking aside, the GOP’s 2010 selection process of a candidate for Colorado governor illustrates the problems the party faces. The nomination process started with the Republicans having a strong declared candidate in Josh Penry, the state senate minority leader with a sane history of governance. Instead, the big-money interests and Tea Party each pushed their own alternative, both of whom had serious flaws. Tom Tancredo, running as a member of the Constitution Party, got most of the Republican votes in the general election.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Michael Cain says:

          “He claimed that Denver’s bike rental program (rent a bike at one station, pedal to wherever you’re going, drop it off at another station) was part of a UN plot.”

          The sad part is that I can’t tell which Republican politicians/pundits say this stuff and sincerely believe it and which ones say this stuff for fun and profit. That might be a distinction without a difference.Report

          • The sad part is that I can’t tell which Republican politicians/pundits say this stuff and sincerely believe it and which ones say this stuff for fun and profit.

            This. I had no idea whether he was making outlandish statements because he really believed them, or simply because he thought they might play well. He claimed to be a successful small businessman — when his small business had been skating along the edge of bankruptcy for years. He claimed to have worked for the state police in a neighboring state as an undercover guy — but that state’s state police said they had no records of any sort about him working with them.

            The big-money candidate wasn’t much better. He had to deal with two problems. First, he had taken on the order of $300K in pay from a conservative think tank to produce ~100 pages of position papers, most having to do with water law in the West. At some point, it came out that most of that 100 pages had been ghostwritten without credit by someone with actual knowledge of the field. I think the real nail-in-the-coffin moment was when the think tank asked for a bunch of their money back.

            And the pundits here continue to shoot the party in the foot (or more serious parts). Former Republican president of the state senate, with a reputation while he held that position of being able to work across the aisle, now an occasional columnist, writes repeatedly that converting everything to a toll road is cool, as is converting all of the state colleges and universities to private schools to succeed or fail on their on. Seriously, you couldn’t pick two issues with a better guarantee of alienating the rural and suburban voters respectively.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Michael Cain says:

              Perhaps we really are on the road to Rome (as in the end of the Roman Empire)

              The Republican Party has gone bonkers and the Democratic Party seems increasingly entralled with a false-liberal reformers like Matt Y and Michelle Rhee. The money people in the Democratic Party are Silicon Valley billionaires who are disrupting the middle class and convinced themselves that they are a true meritocracy.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think its pretty clear that the European approach was better because some very car focused places like Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Denver.

        Is this sentence supposed to have a phrase at the end along the lines of “are making large commitments to rail-based public transit”?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

      Why do Republicans have to be about “core values”? Why can’t they be the party that finds the best answers to problems?

      If the idea is that a unified, three-sentence ideology will provide clear and effective answers to the myriad of complex problems facing society today, well, I for one am over that. This works better than that in such-and-such situation is sufficient for me. Why should I be a Republican instead of a Democrat? Because Republicans will do things that will make most things better.

      Frankly, I don’t much care about your core values. You’re going to have to deviate from them in office anyway. You’re going to have to make compromises. And you may be corrupted.

      Tell me what those things are and how they’ll be better for people, especially but not exclusively for people like me, than the Democrats’ agenda. That’ll get my vote back.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Pragmatism could be a core value. It would beat the hell out of the GOP’s current core values of the celebration of hatred, fear, and ignorance.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Why do Republicans have to be about “core values”? Why can’t they be the party that finds the best answers to problems?

        Imo, the GOP doesn’t have to be the party that actually finds the best answers, they just have to demonstrate they’re at least marginally interested in finding the best answers. Lord knows the Dems don’t have all the best answers, but at least they try.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Because what counts as “making things better” depends heavily on what your core values are.Report

        • Avatar ktward in reply to Dan Miller says:

          I’m not convinced that’s accurate. For instance, my brother and I share the very same core values, in the main. Yet, in terms of public policy we’re, literally, left and right.

          Whatever it is that we think, as individuals, will “make things better” politically has far more to do with our psychosocial makeup than it does with the values we espouse.Report

      • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Burt Likko says:

        “you may be corrupted”
        … I’m not certain any values matter, if we’re talking cold turkey. I’m not sure any policy positions matter, either, in the presence of blackmail.

        I mean, really, what did you learn about Spitzer? You certainly didn’t ask him “are you willing to die for your principles”? And, even if he was? What good would it have done us?Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Kazzy says:

      1. low taxes.

      2. Small government for others, but the services I need.

      3. Appearances of meeting 1 & 2 required only.

      /and this is half snark.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to zic says:

        4. Use of the government to punish and restrict anyone/thing I don’t like.

        5. Handcuffing the government so that it can’t punish and restrict anyone/thing I like (at any level: fed stopping the states, states stopping cities, etc.).

        6. Crony capitalism.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

        Half snark or not, it explains exactly why Republicans keep selling out libertarians. They implement the popular part of “small government” (low taxes), but not the important part (low spending). Why not? Because most government spending is downward redistribution from the top 10% to the lower 80%, which means that Republicans can’t get serious about cutting spending without interrupting the gravy train to most of their voters.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Because most government spending is downward redistribution from the top 10% to the lower 80%, which means that Republicans can’t get serious about cutting spending without interrupting the gravy train to most of their voters.

          http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_budget_fy13

          Defense 24%
          Healthcare 22%
          Pensions 22%
          Welfare 12%
          Remainder 20%

          And Wikipedia FY 2012:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Federal_Spending_-_FY_2011.png

          Somewhat similar.

          I agree that the AMT tax sucks. But capital gains at 15%?

          No, the problem is that capital is concentrating at the top; and those few at the top? They just let the pain of taxing that capital dip down to the 80% mark so that there’s a big-enough constituency to complain effectively, make sure that folks think we’re actually talking about the middle class. If you’re sitting between 80% and 99%, you’re just a tool. A useful tool.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

            Yes, I’m familiar with those figures, and that’s pretty much what I said. Government spending on health care goes mostly to the bottom 80%, and is funded mostly by the top 10%. Welfare goes exclusively to the bottom 80%, and is funded mostly by the top 10%. Social Security isn’t all redistribution, but it’s disproportionately funded by the top 10%, and disproportionately benefits the bottom 80%. Military spending, as a public good, is inherently difficult to account for, but since the bottom 80% are 80% of the population, it’s reasonable to say that they get most of the “benefits” (dubious though said benefits may be, the public largely act as though they consider it such). Certainly that’s more reasonable than absurd, thumb-on-the-scale claims that military spending is all for the benefit of the rich.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              To be clear, I’m taking lifecycle effects into account. A lot of people are net contributors to the government for most of their adult lives, and then start getting huge subsidies when they retire. So when you look at single-year snapshots, you’ll see the top quintile hugely subsidizing the bottom two quintiles, the fourth quintile moderately subsidizing the bottom two, and the middle quintile more or less breaking even. But forty years of small net payments to government followed by twenty years of large subsidies equals a lifetime subsidy.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

            I agree that the AMT tax sucks. But capital gains at 15%?

            Seriously? This, again? The 15% tax on capital gains and dividends is not the whole story. Corporate income taxes are taxes on investments, too, and they have to be accounted for when calculating the overall rate of taxation on investments.

            On top of that, there’s this, which explains why any taxation of investment income results in taxing it more heavily than wage income. I don’t expect you to accept it—though you should—and I’m not going to have this argument again here, but there it is. When the accounting is done properly, investment income is by far the most heavily taxed form of income under the US tax system.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              I don’t expect you to accept it

              And I don’t; the numbers don’t work, unless you assume that only wages should be taxed in the first place. This is called arguing in a circle.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                The math is airtight, and requires no such assumption. Consider a system in which all income of any type goes untaxed into a traditional IRA with no contribution caps. You get a $5,000 paycheck, and $5,000 goes into your account. No taxes are levied on contributions or investment income earned from funds in the account until you make a withdrawal. At that time, the withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.

                It’s obvious that under this system wage and investment income are taxed at the same rate. In fact, the system doesn’t even distinguish between wage and investment income.

                This system is mathematically equivalent to a system in which wages are taxed and investment income is not.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Consider Bill and Jim. They earn the same wages, but Bill is a much more fortunate investor. In your system, Bill pays more taxes, because he winds up with more money to withdraw. In a system in which wages are taxed but investment income is not, they pay the same amount. The two are not equivalent, or anything close to it. In fact, what you’ve described is a consumption tax, not an income tax at all, since neither sort of income is taxed until it is spent.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                You should have absolutely no problem with hedge-fund managers being taxes as income instead of investment, because it’s not their money, it’s other people’s money.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              BB, On you’re model – correct me if I’m wrong (we went down this road a while ago, so …) a person who threw $1000 at a startup which ten years later turned into $10,000,000 is being taxed at a higher rate (wage tax plus capital gains) than a person who made $10,000,000 in wages (subject to only a wage tax). I don’t think that math adds up. Do you? Where am I wrong?Report

            • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              Corporate income taxes are Schedule K, aren’t they?
              As in, any ducky corporation can get its stockholders to pay its taxes.

              ;-PReport

          • Avatar Kimsie in reply to zic says:

            Capital gains at 0% was an absolute monstrosity that should never have happened.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          My reply to Brandon’s stuck in limbo, if anyone cares to free it.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Kazzy says:

      You’re sorta bringing up an important point – the GOP and the right is not about ‘conservatism’; they are happy with radical restructuring of society. They are not about freedom; they love Big Guvmint whenever its paying and punishing those whom they want paid and punished.

      The right is the right, and the GOP is the right. They want certain things done, certain things punished and money. There are very few principles which we haven’t see them steamroller in the past 12 years.Report

    • Avatar ktward in reply to Kazzy says:

      I generally believe in markets, certainly moreso than most liberals; I’m a big fan of localism for most things.

      Most liberals believe in markets. Free markets, even. We just believe they should be well regulated. (aka effectively regulated.) Also too, you’d probably be hard pressed to find a liberal who wasn’t as much a fan of localism on some things as a fan of centralized governance on other things. All depends on the particular thing under discussion.

      Frankly, it seems to me that contemporary liberals, in the main, more easily grasp these distinctions and inherent nuances, while contemporary conservatives and their libertarian cohorts, in the main, do not.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to ktward says:

        Ktw,

        That may be so. But the liberals I know and hear speak usualky emphasize “regulation” over “market” and while they might support or accept localism, they rarely champion it.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Kazzy says:

          We have had some hard experience with unregulated markets* of late; perhaps there’s reason they speak that way?

          *synthetic derivatives markets in specific.Report

        • Avatar ktward in reply to Kazzy says:

          Then maybe you haven’t hung out with enough liberals. 🙂
          Have you noticed how popular Bill Clinton is? It ain’t because he’s anti-market.

          As zic touched upon, an under-regulated or ineffectively regulated market causes major problems for all of us. Do you disagree?

          Liberals are indeed champions of localism when it comes to some things. On other things, they’re champions for State/Fed governance. Like I said, it totally depends on the thing. Name a thing and perhaps I can speak to it. Are you opining that localism is the answer to nearly every market/governance issue? If that’s the case, then I guess I can better understand why you’d have an issue with liberals in general. I mean, that’s basically the problem libertarians have with liberals.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to ktward says:

            Ktward and zic,

            I believe in a well-regulated market. Of course, how we define “well-regulated” is the crux. Many liberals I know think any and every bad thing people might do in business should be illegal. Now, there are a lot of bad things that happen in the markets, much of which I don’t like, and some of which I do feel should be regulated. But not to the extent that many of my liberal friends do (and, ftr, I generally identify as liberal with libertarian leanings). Regarding localism, I recognize that on specific issues particular liberals might favor localism, but that tends to be when the local action is moving in their direction. I rarely hear localism as a broader theory advocated strongly.

            I’m not trying to paint liberals in a bad light. Again, I am one! But there are some things I disagree with my fellow liberals on, areas where a legitimate small-C conservative could get my support… If the lot of them weren’t so busy opposing SSM and demanding vaginal ultrasounds for prospective abortion patients.Report

          • Avatar Murali in reply to ktward says:

            Have you noticed how popular Bill Clinton is? It ain’t because he’s anti-market.

            The sense I get from lots of netroots types is that Clinton was a neoliberal sellout. His popularity IMHO among the left is in spite of his pro market* policies.

            *Let’s not has out the differences between pro market and pro corporate policies.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Murali says:

              I would say Clinton’s popularity comes for a few reasons but none or little of it is from the netroots:

              1. People especially young people who were old enough to remember Clinton but not vote for him. They saw the 90s as being good economically, remember the surplus, and disliked much of what happened under Bush I. Call this the “Clinton is the best President of my lifetime” effect. Or the Nostalgia effect. They might think he had faults and shortcomings but nothing compared to Bush II.

              2. The liberal class of the Democratic Party is relatively small compared to the far-right class of the Republican Party. There are more Democratic members who describe themselves as conservative or moderate than liberal. So a lot of people probably agree with his neo-liberal economic policies.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Murali says:

              The sense I get from lots of netroots types is that Clinton was a neoliberal sellout.

              Yes, he was. It’s at this point, Murali, that you need to distinguish between liberals-are-the-nutroots and liberals-are-Democratic-voters.Report

        • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Kazzy says:

          I want my gondolas! (localism, sir.)Report

  10. Avatar RJB says:

    Why not just vote for moderate Democrat, or run as one. Much of the OP and many of the supporting comments simply presume that a candidate willing to appeal at least somewhat to the tea party right will have more acceptable policies than a Democrat. Given how far to the right the Democrats have moved over the last two decades, I find this hard to believe. In fact, most of the load seems to be carried by the phrase “don’t feel at home in the Democratic party.” But that sounds less like policy than it does cultural affiliation.Report

    • Avatar LWA in reply to RJB says:

      The conservative movement lost its identity when it won. Nearly every policy proposal that animated the movement in the 70’s and 80’s has been embraced by the other party, and most of America.

      So what accounts for the nearly hysterical rage among the Tea Party? Their implacable hostility?
      When you look at the base, there is almost dead silence about policy- usually populist movements have some animating policy that sparks their anger- the Vietnam War, unemployment, crime; Yet what the Tea Party rallies always fixate on is taxes- but that is a dodge, a cover for whatever really moves them, because the average Tea Party member doesn’t really pay much in taxes- many of them aren’t even working. Or they rail about Big Government- yet a lot of them are on Medicare, or are veterans and you will never see a sign at a Tea Party rally protesting the civil liberties infringements that Glenn Greenwald or Radly Balko write about.

      There is something driving the Tea Party that isn’t being expressed openly, or acknowledged. It isn’t a policy, it can’t be addressed by a simple change of the law. It is something deep that causes these people to be so motivated, so driven and passionate.

      This is what causes people like me to suspect it is a tribal affiliation, a sense of being overrun culturally by factors beyond their control. This sort of passion can’t be compromised with- it is a triumphalist mindset that can only be victorious or defeated.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LWA says:

        When it got started, the Tea Party and its partisans floated the idea that “tea” stood for “Taxed Enough Already” and the idea was a return to core American ideas — the ideas that animated the American Revolution. Which has an appeal even a neophyte can understand.

        And there were some initial nods to civil liberties abuses, the sorts which were described in the Declaration of Independence. Those have, as you note, pretty much fallen by the wayside because it turns out that the core constituency of the Tea Party are basically indifferent to most of the civil liberties/due process kinds of concerns in the Declaration, particularly when applied in specific cases like accused terrorists.

        But I don’t think “Taxed Enough Already” is out of gas yet. Not so much that there’s a massive movement to dial back taxes, although certainly they’d like that. “Taxed Enough Already” implies that there’s an acceptance that a certain level of taxation is appropriate and thus a certain level of governmental activity which is appropriate. We’ve just exceeded that, you see.

        Another spark of the Tea Partiers was the big bank bailouts. That was seen as a flagrant abuse of taxpayer money, and there was resentment that the public would have to foot the bill for some big companies that were getting very special preferences. And to some extent, recognition that the government had been doing this sort of thing for a long time, on imbalanced budgets, passing the bill down to future generations.

        So I think the energy comes in part from the sort of resistance to cultural change you’re referring to, but also in part from resentment of the bill coming due.Report

        • Avatar Barry in reply to Burt Likko says:

          “Another spark of the Tea Partiers was the big bank bailouts. That was seen as a flagrant abuse of taxpayer money, and there was resentment that the public would have to foot the bill for some big companies that were getting very special preferences. And to some extent, recognition that the government had been doing this sort of thing for a long time, on imbalanced budgets, passing the bill down to future generations.”

          So what have the Tea Party politicians done about crony capitalism and government bailouts?Report

        • Avatar Barry in reply to Burt Likko says:

          “And there were some initial nods to civil liberties abuses, the sorts which were described in the Declaration of Independence. Those have, as you note, pretty much fallen by the wayside because it turns out that the core constituency of the Tea Party are basically indifferent to most of the civil liberties/due process kinds of concerns in the Declaration, particularly when applied in specific cases like accused terrorists.”

          I’m not sure when the Tea Party cares about civil liberties/due process save when the government goes after right-wingers.

          [BTW – Constitution, not Declaration]Report

        • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Tea Party was designed and run by certain wealthy men.
          Astroturf ought to be treated as such.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to LWA says:

        The Tea Party is a bunch of right-wingers who happily voted for Bush and the Republican Congress as they drove the country into the ground, and then formed an ‘independent’ ‘party’ as a false front. That’s important to remember. Also, that they were funded as an astroturf movement by a bunch of billionaires.Report

      • Avatar Kimsie in reply to LWA says:

        The research on this is fascinating.Report

  11. Avatar Herb says:

    “People want someone who they percieve cares about them. They aren’t going to support someone who looks down on them.”

    I think this explains why certain demographics are currently lost to the GOP.Report

  12. Avatar zic says:

    I agree with what others have said here, the lack of moderate/independent voters participating in the primary process is much of the root of the GOPs problems right now.

    Since I doubt those people are going to begin participating in numbers big enough to change things, it would seem needed change will not happen within the party.

    So I’d guess it will take outside pressure; acceptable moderate candidates running as independents or in another party — the Libertarian party might be a good option — who either actually win elections, or split potential GOP votes enough to tip elections to Dems.

    Otherwise, time. Demographics of an aging voter base and inability to attract younger voters due to extreme social conservatism seem to be a big problem. Even that conversation by party actors is baffling. Take American Individualism by Margaret Hoover. The editorial blurb on Amazon says, In American Individualism, Margaret Hoover challenges the up-and-coming millennial generation to take another look at the Republican Party. Although millennials rarely identify themselves as Republicans, Hoover contends that these young men and women who helped elect President Barack Obama are sympathetic to the fundamental principles of conservatism. She makes a compelling case for how the GOP can right itself and capture the allegiance of this group. She believes that her party is uniquely positioned to offer solutions for the most pressing problems facing America—skyrocketing debt and deficits, crises in education and immigration, a war against Islamist supremacy—but that it is held back by the outsize influence within the party of social and religious conservatives. In other words, a call to a group that rarely identifies as Republican to become Republican; not a call to Republicans to attempt attracting this group. From interviews I’ve heard Hoover give, this is not her message; it’s a call to the party to attract younger voters; Megan McCain also has a similar message.

    But to sell books, the blurb is a call to millennials, because you know, you cannot call the party to change.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to zic says:

      “She believes that her party is uniquely positioned to offer solutions for the most pressing problems facing America—skyrocketing debt and deficits, crises in education and immigration, a war against Islamist supremacy—but that it is held back by the outsize influence within the party of social and religious conservatives. In other words, a call to a group that rarely identifies as Republican to become Republican; not a call to Republicans to attempt attracting this group. From interviews I’ve heard Hoover give, this is not her message; it’s a call to the party to attract younger voters; Megan McCain also has a similar message. ”

      And the call is based on people ignoring what the right actually does, and supporting the right based on what it says that it does.Report

  13. Avatar Matty says:

    I’m not too clear on this independents voting in primaries thing. Isn’t a primary how the party selects it’s candidates who then go to the whole electorate – including independents- for the actual election?

    So it seems to suggest that people who are not members of a party should be able to take part in it’s internal decisions and even if there are enough of them impose a candidate against the wishes of actual members. How would that help the party?Report

    • Avatar Lyle in reply to Matty says:

      To study this compare states such as Texas where you can decide when you get to the polls which primary to vote in. That only holds for 2 years, the next primary you can change which primary you vote in with states that require declarations with registration, and make changing a much harder issue. Are the results different? If not then an essentially open primary does not make that much difference.Report

    • Avatar Matty in reply to Matty says:

      Actually now I think of it do American political parties even have members in the way European ones do? That is people who pay a membership fee in exchange for a say in party policy and candidates. The whole mixing up of party affiliation with voter registration suggests they may not but I don’t actually know.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Matty says:

        We don’t have membership fees in exchange for a say in party policy and candidates.

        However in many states only registered party members can vote in the caucuses and primaries, so this gives Democratic and Republican Party supporters the chance to choose candidates. I can vote in Democratic primaries because I am a registered member but not in Republican primaries.

        People also donate money to various party organizations and/or individual candidates. For example there is the DNC (overall national organization), DCCC (funds for the House of Reps), DSCC (funds for the Senate), etc.

        Generally the parties go searching for candidates but individuals can also choose to run on their own and often do.Report

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