Extreme Party Makeovers


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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172 Responses

  1. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    I seem to have forgotten Bob Taft’s Presidency. Can Sean Trende fill me in?Report

    • Avatar kenB says:

      I believe Trende’s point was that Taft was the “makeover” candidate and Eisenhower the status quo candidate.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I would read this differently then. Party Makeovers do happen but the unfold after deacades.

        We can read Eisenhower’s victory in 1952 as being a victory for the moderate to liberal Republicans starting with Alf Landon in 1936, followed by Wilkie in 40 and Dewey in 44/48.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Which is completely wrong. Taft was Mr. Republican, and Eisenhower was the most popular man in the United States. No one was sure he was even a Republican until he turned down Harry Truman, who had asked him to run as a Democrat. Traditional conservative Republicans got Richard Nixon as their guy on the ticket.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        My maternal grandparents were so Democratic that they were upset about Adlai Stevenson losing to Eisenhower. Twice!

        Though I will say that Eisenhower did give us Justices Warren and Brennan.

        Of course the possibly false story is that Eisenhower called appointing those two, the biggest damn fool mistakes of his administration.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Sure, because Eisenhower was a Republican, if a relatively liberal one for those days. But recall that he ended the war in Korea, refused to start one in Viet Nam or use the military to support the revolt in Hungary, and warned about the military-industrial complex. Today he’d be to the left of Obama.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I guess it depends on how you look at it, but while I wouldn’t say that Taft was the “makeover candidate” he was, nonetheless, a serious departure from who the party had been nominating and was out of sync with the party’s establishment. He was an isolationist, wanted to expand the party to the South, and continued his opposition to the New Deal that the party’s establishment wanted to move on from. He wasn’t Bob Dole.

        Eisenhower was Thomas Dewey’s man. He was the fourth straight candidate (well, counting Dewey twice) from that faction.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        1. Gen. Eisenhower was a dispositionally conservative political temporizer. He had no interest in taking affirmative steps to dismantle the social democratic architecture which had been put into place after 1932 – or at least not any program with much of a constituency. Since about 30% of the congressional Republican caucus were vaguely liberal and crucial gatekeeping positions in Congress held by the main body of the Democratic Party during six of his eight years in office, he would have had scant opportunity to do much if he had been so inclined.

        2. Richard Nixon presents the perplexing conjunction of two phenomena: an intensely intellectual man who, however, had over his career very little in the way of a set of political principles. Issues were largely instrumental. He was quite antagonistic to the liberal establishment as a subculture and had some discernable tendencies (a dislike of federal manipulation of localities). An opportunist in either party is not going to breach certain boundaries. He most certain could not be described as a ‘traditional conservative’. The policy initiatives of the Nixon Administration were much more Rockefeller than Reagan.

        3. You have those in the electorate with firm partisan tendencies. Their proportions of the electorate are not fixed, but at any one time, this set is unmovable (and, one suspects, changes largely due to cohort variation). You have those with weak tendencies and those with no tendencies. Their distribution of preferences will vary according to ambient circumstances and things local to the campaign. The vectors at work vary in their effects and the effects largely cancel each other out. It is the net you are interested in and the net varies over time.

        4. An observation from James Neuchterlein: intelligent swing voters are sociological ivory-billed woodpeckers. Well-informed people generally have strong preferences. Real swing voters will vote against someone because, “she reminds me of my first wife”.

        5. Garry Wills offered that elections do not tell you what people want, but, in a vague way, what they will put up with.

        6. The recession one of your authors referred to ran from August of 1990 to April of 1991. The media (and Albert Gore) were given to chuffering as if the economy were in severe distress in 1992 and the public evidently bought it. It was, nevertheless, agitprop.

        7. You have an odd set of phenomena right now. The Republican Party’s electoral performance in state and federal legislative contests has, since 1994, been the best it has been since the 1928. As regards the balance of ideological and programmatic preferences, it is likely as internally uniform as it has been since around 1895. Yet, they could not manage to defeat an empty suit like Barack Obama and seem to be regarded very antagonistically by the public if surveys are to be credited. More subjectively, they are execrably led and often lack nerve and loyalty to their own. However, the decay in the quality of leadership on the other side of the aisle has been more rapid.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Re: Ike’s partisanship. My read is that Ike viewed his Presidency as a tightrope walk between fiscal restraint and maintaining sufficient military strength to keep the Soviets in check. There was little disagreement between the parties that these were the principal objectives of government that needed to be balanced against one another.

        His main complaint about Republicans in Congress wasn’t that they were more “conservative” than him, because with a broad consensus between the parties about the direction of the government in place there was no clear partisan cleavage on the policies Ike cared about the most. Rather, Ike was exasperated with his own party when they were simply too unorganized to be reliable when he needed help from the legislature.

        Consequently, he relied on unilateral and directly executive means of getting things done, with perhaps a bit too much reliance on the (admittedly very able) assemblage of aides he put together and most especially on the Dulles brothers.

        Evan Thomas’ study of Ike’s Presidency that I’m reading now hints that Ike was playing a waiting game in anticipation of McCarthy flaming out (which eventually happened) it seems like it more like Ike was as afraid as anyone else of losing face by appearing soft on the Commies — so in that sense he was pinned down by his right flank just like more contemporary Republican leaders are, too.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        [Nixon] most certain could not be described as a ‘traditional conservative’.

        Not as president, certainly. But in 1952, when he was nominated for VP (at 39! Though he turned 40 before the inauguration) he was best known as a fierce anti-communist, both for trapping Alger Hiss and for the red-baiting tactics he’d used to be elected to both the House and the Senate. In fact, the Wheeling speech that made Joe McCarthy famous was largely plagiarized from Nixon speeches. That is, Nixon was the epitome of one leg of the three-legged stool.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I think it’s largely forgotten these days, but Eisenhower’s failure to support his mentor George Marshall against McCarthy was a genuine act of cowardice.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Joseph McCarthy said rude things about quite a few people. Marshall did not suffer any career damage from it and retired a few months later. Eisenhower’s policy in dealing with McCarthy was not to wrestle with the pig.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Not as president, certainly. But in 1952, when he was nominated for VP (at 39! Though he turned 40 before the inauguration) he was best known as a fierce anti-communist, both for trapping Alger Hiss and for the red-baiting tactics he’d used to be elected to both the House and the Senate. In fact, the Wheeling speech that made Joe McCarthy famous was largely plagiarized from Nixon speeches. That is, Nixon was the epitome of one leg of the three-legged stool.

        Alger Hiss was bloody guilty. There was nothing irregular about bringing him to book. He was widely acknowledged as guilty by prominent mainstream Democrats (e.g. Arthur Schlesinger) at the time of his conviction for perjury in 1949. Nixon’s ‘red-baiting’ of Helen Gahagan Douglas consisted of hanging Vito Marcantonio around her neck like a rubber chicken; political campaigns are often unedifying and Douglas herself was not above that sort of thing – she just used different tropes. His ‘red-baiting’ of Jerry Voorhis consisted of pointing out that Voorhis had the endorsement of a political action committee which had an interlocking directorate with an acknowledged communist front.

        Cheesy campaign tactics are neither program nor ideology (though they might be mistaken for it by someone who conceptualizes opposition as illegitimate in and of itself (“mean-spirited” &c.). Before he ran for Congress, he was asked by a local Republican sachem if he were a Republican. His reply, “I guess so. I voted for Dewey.”. The old-line Republicans of that era (already a minority in the Republican caucus, but including Robert Taft) were very leery of both formal alliances and the maintenance of the large post-war military establishment; these characters were not washed out of Congress until the 1958 elections.

        Nixon was unopposed for the Republican presidential nomination in 1960, but he was still willing to incorporate Nelson Rockefeller’s preferences into the Republican campaign platform. He actually initiated discussions with Rockefeller.

        Nixon (and Spiro Agnew) were antagonists of the regnant liberal establishment as a subculture. Neither were actually purveyors of what might be called conservative policy. Agnew went to the 1964 Republican convention as a Rockefeller delegate and had made his bones in Maryland politics as an antagonist of machine Democrats and segregationists. Arthur Schlesinger in 1960 offered a brief primer as to what the election was about: “Nixon lacks taste”. It was that, more than anything else.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Alger Hiss was bloody guilty

        Yes, he was, and Nixon helped prove it by trapping Hiss into saying something incriminating. That word wasn’t intended to be pejorative.

        His ‘red-baiting’ of Jerry Voorhis consisted of pointing out that Voorhis had the endorsement of a political action committee which had an interlocking directorate with an acknowledged communist front.

        More precisely, pointing out that Voorhis had the endorsement of a union PAC with a name similar to that of a union PAC that was alleged to be largely run by Communists.

        And what of it? Even without the distortions, it’s idiotic guilt-by-association. Would you have voted for Obama if the Klan had endorsed McCain or Romney?

        Nixon’s ‘red-baiting’ of Helen Gahagan Douglas consisted of hanging Vito Marcantonio around her neck like a rubber chicken;

        And nicknaming her “The Pink Lady”, or had you forgotten that bit?Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        The insult “The Pink Lady” was coined not by Richard Nixon but by Helen Gahagan’s Democratic Primary opponent. Why would I care about that now and why would anyone? That sort of tripe is interesting to Ellen Schrecker and Victor Navasky, not to normal voters.

        The Congress of Industrial Organization had some problems with about a dozen unions run by Communist cadres and what Ralph de Toledano called ‘the red haze’. In 1949, the CIO expelled these unions and they went into a demographic decline. As of 1946, the red haze controlled the CIO’s political action committee, which is why Voorhis did not want their endorsement (and did not have it). They had an interlocking directorate with a different union PAC which did endorse Voorhis. It was not fair to Voorhis to stick him with this, but competitive congressional contests are often unfair. You want squeaky clean politics always and everywhere over a period of 65 years, fine. Just remember that there is a reason Harold MacMillan referred to John and Robert Kennedy as ‘the Borgia brothers’.

        Would you have voted for Obama if the Klan had endorsed McCain or Romney?

        Neither McCain nor Romney had anything to do with the remnant Klans at any time of their life and neither represented a strand of political thought with even a remote connection to it. A Klan endorsement would be non sequitur to anyone but a rabid Democratic partisan. The CIO was a big honking deal in the Democratic Party and Voorhis did want the support of organized labor (just not this one PAC).Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        No. Taft would have been the guy from the GOP; Eisenhower was a new face, from outside the party (and political establishment).

        As for the 1930’s, I think that Dennis is no appreciating the political effects of three years of relentless economic destruction (with the GOP calling for more and worse, to purge the blah blah out of things. Three years which were followed by *immediate* improvement under FDR.

        Anybody discussing the 1930’s in the USA should google a graph of the economy; the improvement under FDR from 1933 until 1937 was nothing short of incredible. The reason that the USA wasn’t out of the Depression by then was simply that there was 3 years of incredible losses to make up for.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Eisenhower was the outside in name only. He was the pick of the faction of the GOP that had won the nomination the previous three cycles. Taft, on the other hand, was the product of the faction of the GOP that failed – repeatedly – to win the nomination. Taft had run for the nomination, twice, and lost, in large part due to lack of support from the faction that picked Eisenhower. In between those two runs, Taft’s favored candidate also lost.

        Between Taft and Eisenhower, it’s seems pretty apparent to me who was “the party’s” guy and who wasn’t. That Eisenhower was relatively apolitical prior to it doesn’t change that.Report

  2. Avatar Morat20 says:

    I look at the GOP and see a party base — one that’s really flexing its strength in primaries and doesn’t seem to care that it cost them the Senate at least once and led to a circus of crazy in the presidential one — and I see people who think the problem is “Mitt Romney wasn’t a real conservative” and want to move right.

    I see a party locked into a demographic trap that will not change until dumping them gets them more votes than in gains them — and not seeing that happening anytime soon, even as it erodes their power. Had they not done so truly, amazingly well during redistricting they’d be hurting worse. Or perhaps they would have adjusted).

    I see the party being run by people in deeply safe seats. I see, basically, Karl Rove’s meltdown on election night as Mitt Romney performed exactly as the polls had predicted and lost.

    I don’t think the GOP is capable of more than putting lipstick on the pig, so to speak. They’re locked into some bad policies that are front and center and unpopular and they can’t change it. Too many very…visible…candidates from very red seats driving agendas, too much of a threat from the right on primaries.

    So I think “Rebranding” and I think the GOP’s base seems to feel the problem is people don’t understand their position, not “Some of our policies aren’t perhaps the most popular.

    I don’t think rebranding is on the menu. I don’t think change is on the menu. I think “Mitt Romney wasn’t conservative enough” is on the menu, and the favorable 2014 Senate map is just gonna lock that in.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      That’s exactly right, Morat. While the GOP can continue to blast away from entrenched positions in “safe” districts, they limit their mobility. A foxhole is a fine thing to be in when you’re on the defence — but it’s a static defence, brittle and vulnerable to a moving attack.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco says:

      Come back to Earth, Morat. There was no ‘circus of crazy’. The Republican congressional caucus is more populous that the Democratic congressional caucus and have a deeper bench in the state legislatures.

      There is a problem with the supply side: who is recruited into political life and retained. You see a secular decline in the calibre of politicians and that is reflected in who runs. To some extent, it may just be the bourgeois and patrician population in this country is increasingly decadent, thus the proportion who seek out political careers is as well. This is not a Republican problem, but a problem with the political class in general. The classiest and most capable of the notables who have sought the Democratic presidential nomination in the last 20 years has very recently dumped his wife for a tootsie less than half his age.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Are you saying the 41, what is the count now? — attempts to repeal Obamacare are not a Circus of Crazy? Or the Birthers, are they manifestations of some new Era of Reason in GOP politics? Will Rand Paul Math require every computer and calculator to get a new Arithmetic Logic Unit to accommodate this maniac’s curious summations?

        The GOP has lost its tiny little mind. It thrives because America is full to brimming with stupid and uninformed people.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        As for Classy and Notable, at least the ranks of the Democrats are not graced with Wide Stance Larry Craig, whose tootsies seem to find their way into other folk’s bathroom stalls as they rootle around for a bit of rough trade in airport restrooms.

        GOP perversity is positively Victorian. It’s spicier when it’s wrapped in the wrapper of Fine Upstanding Moral Values. A Democrat, venal beast that he is, has no more scruples than the Republican. His vices just don’t pay homage to virtue.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Not to take cheap shots, but wasn’t the Mormon one of only a couple serious candidates in 2008 to have only married once? I guess last time around they had more.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        I am confused as to what you mean. With regard to the last twenty years, the following notable candidates have only been married once:

        1. Patrick J. Buchanan
        2. M.S. Forbes
        3. W.J. Clinton (cigars and blowjobs on the side)
        4. George W. Bush
        5. Alan Keyes
        6. Albert Gore (later separated, adulterous)
        7. Wm. Bradley (later divorced, now has common-law)
        8. John Edwards (giver or take Lisa Jo / Alison / Rielle, later separated)
        9. Howard Dean
        10. Wesley Clark (now separated w/ 30 year old mistress)
        11. Mitt Romney
        12. M. Huckabee
        13. R. Paul
        14. Barack Obama
        15. Hillary Clinton (just like Lady MacBeth)
        16. R. Santorum

        In fairness to John Kerry, he was the defendant in his wife’s divorce suit. As far as I can recall, she had no dirt on him, she just wanted out (the modal reason for divorce suits).Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:


        I am not exactly sure why you are given to obnoxious non sequiturs, but here goes.

        Larry Craig was given a citation by a police officer who volunteered for duty in a public restroom. There was no security camera footage documenting anything and nothing but this screwball cop’s word that Craig had given stereotyped non-verbal signals. Why did the airport authority not install a security camera and put up signs warning people not to try cruising in their restrooms? A good deal less costly than putting a cop in there on PBA-scale, no? Truth be told, even if Craig did what was alleged, there had to have been some sort of dialogue between the cop and Craig – which is to say that the cop propositioned him.

        Now, I do not know why I am wasting time on this, since Larry Craig was one of 250-odd Republicans in Congress, is now retired, and was never cited for public lewdness, and has never run for President. He did have enemies in the Idaho press who were willing to print any unsubstantiated nonsense about him. There is a columnist named Popkey working for the Boise newspapers who offered a column listing the accounts of five people whom he said had come forward and given accounts of Craig propositioning him. I do not imagine he selected the five least plausible accounts he was given. One was a man who contended (in 2007) that he had had some sort of encounter with Craig in D.C. in 1986 and could recognize him by the sound of his voice. One was a hustler in Denver who contended that he recognized Craig as a one-shot client who had visited him between airline connections (said hustler was already on newsmen’s rolodexes because he had had a number of sessions with Ted Haggard and could prove it). One was some other shnook who met Craig at some retreat and just knew that Craig was propositioning him (not that Craig actually did proposition him). Another was a supposed homosexual active in Idaho Republican politics who contended he ran into Craig in an airport restroom in Denver &c &c. It is hard to believe a sophisticated reporter would print this claptrap under his own byline, but the Democratic Party / press nexus seems to get more pathological every year.

        I am not sure what you have against the Victorian Era.

        No, Blaise, attempting to repeal a trainwreck is not a feature on any Circus of Crazy. Your policy preferences are not written on stone tablets. Sorry to break it to you.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Art, you’re a brilliant parody. I know when I’ve been bested. My hat’s off to you.

        If, however, you’re serious…. heh, heh, well — my cynicism finds it easier to parse you as a postmodern clown than a serious person. Dennis Sanders is serious. Him I take seriously. Him I respect.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        The Republican congressional caucus is more populous that the Democratic congressional caucus

        Art seems to have forgotten that this is only due to very effective gerrymandering, and that the Democratic congressional candidates received more votes than GOP congressional candidates in the last election. In any non-rigged system*–that is, one that more accurately reflected the preferences of the electorate–the GOP caucus would be less populous than the Dems.

        *By rigged, I do not intend to imply cheating. The GOP has gerrymandered fair and square within the rules of the game. So have the Dems, just much less so at the present time. It’s really not the GOP we should be yelling about, but a bad set of rules.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Nothing wrong with cheap shots. Among 2008 GOP candidates that are serious using the criterion that I can remember their names:

        One wife:

        More than one wife:
        Fred ThompsonReport

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Keep in mind that the Democratic plurality in popular votes was smaller than the third-party vote in House of Representatives contests.

        I think if you noodle around with the descriptive statistics, you discover that nearly half of the 20 seat Republican premium is attributable to how the ballots were distributed among state electorates. The other half is how there were distributed among districts within states. If you had divvied up each state delegation according to proportional representation therein, you would still have had a small Republican plurality (~223 seats) when you tallied all the state delegations. Just one of those things.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:


        I included only candidates who had won delegates outside of areas in which they had been candidates for lesser offices, candidates who had placed or shown in early primaries or had won a certain threshhold of the total popular ballots. That gives you 5 candidates in 2012, 7 in 2008, 5 in 2004, 5 in 2000, 4 in 1996; or 20 total candidates (with 6 repeat performances). Your multiply married would be Robert Dole, John McCain, John Kerry (as noted), and N.L. Gingrich.

        Robert Dole’s ex was at peace with him, John McCain’s is very fond of him, John Kerry’s was largely mum, and the former Mrs. Gingrichs split in their offered opinions between “buzz off, Mr. Reporter” and “pond scum”.

        I did not bother about Fred Thompson (2x married) or M.R. Gravel (2x married, known adulterer) or Dennis Kucinich (3x, IIRC).Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Art, I watched the GOP primary in 2011. I watched as, every two weeks like clockwork, the next GOP saviour took the lead only to collapse as utterly crazy.

        THAT circus of crazy. The one put on in front of the public. The one that led to Mitt “Only Sane Man Here” Romney, who was the first choice of nobody, the second choice of nobody, but was everyone’s eighth choice after watching each of the other candidates take the lead, have the world take a close look at them, and realize they were absolutely unelectable.

        Honestly, I thought Sarah Palin was the nadir of GOP Presidential elections, but watching the clown car of crazy as the GOP base tried desperately to find someone — ANYONE — other than Mitt Romney and [i]fail utterly[/i] beat it all hollow.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I caucused for Mike Gravel. Leave Mike Gravel alone.


      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Art, I watched the GOP primary in 2011. I watched as, every two weeks like clockwork, the next GOP saviour took the lead only to collapse as utterly crazy.

        No Morat, you saw variation in results in polls taken of voters answering questions with a low information base. The ‘utterly crazy’ is a piece of terminology you impose on it because you do not make a habit of proper and precise description and think you political fevers are normal. They are not. Give it a rest.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      People are pining for change, longing for it. Liberals and conservatives both.
      A good deal of us can see that the strategic benefits have been swamped by their costs.

      Time’s ripe for a change, if someone smart can pull it off.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Obama might handle the next three years exceptionally well and the Republican House might handle them exceptionally crappily. If that’s the case, the Republicans will have to nominate someone ABSOLUTELY AMAZING to have a shot at the White House.

    On the other hand, it seems worth noting that it ain’t impossible that things go the other way in which case we’ll have a situation where the Democrats will have to make something magical happen.

    Back in 2004, I remember hearing stories from friends in Chicago who talked about how great it was that Obama won… not that Jack Ryan/Alan Keyes lost but that Obama *WON*… I don’t know that the Democrats have anyone like that in the wings.

    Then again, I don’t know that the Republicans do.

    Using the last few decades as basis for guesswork, I’d say that the Republicans are a little more likely to win than the Democrats… but the Republicans are awesome at screwing up sure things.

    Then again, so are the Democrats.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      I remember hearing stories from friends in Chicago who talked about how great it was that Obama won… not that Jack Ryan/Alan Keyes lost but that Obama *WON*… I don’t know that the Democrats have anyone like that in the wings.

      Really? My sense is that the folks who think it would pretty nifty to elect the the first woman president immediately after the first black president’s two terms don’t particularly care who she beats.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I may be in a strange part of the country but I don’t feel the energy and excitement for Hillary Clinton that existed for Obama.

        After Obama was elected, people were talking about how he’s a powerhouse who was going to be president someday.

        (Insert paragraph here about how it should have been Clinton/Obama in 2008 followed by Obama/Whomever for two terms)Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Well, the goalposts seem to be moving. Nope, she’s not exactly like what Obama was in 2005 (which for a really lot of people was a nobody). The feelings aren’t exactly the same. But the things you mentioned: a magical (which I read as uniquely powerful) candidacy, or one where there is a group of people that would be absolutely thrilled about *her winning*, not just them losing, seems pretty much the case with her. If you want to take the under on what kind of phenomenon her candidacy will be if she runs, be my guest.

        And, no, it shouldn’t have been Clinton/Obama in ’08 from the party’s perspective. Hillary was always going to keep being Hillary, but Obama wouldn’t have still been what he was eight years later. that goes to the inaptness of the analogy. Obama was a phenomenon; Hillary is an enduring quantity.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        But the things you mentioned: a magical (which I read as uniquely powerful) candidacy, or one where there is a group of people that would be absolutely thrilled about *her winning*, not just them losing, seems pretty much the case with her.

        And, again, I ain’t seeing it.

        Put Elizabeth Warren in the same place? Maybe I’d see it… but I didn’t see the electricity with Warren’s election that I saw with Obama’s and I don’t see the “magic” of having Hillary Clinton maybe be the first Female President… which was there in 2008 during the primaries.

        But, again, maybe I’m in a strange part of the country.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        It’s possible that your explanation is right, depending how you define the word “part,” or maybe “in.”

        I will say that, in terms of seeing the electricity, it may not be necessary for the electricity to have to cause wires to catch fire for it to still be running at something like the same level. There was a lot of uncertainty in those days; since then, the house has pretty much had its wiring redone. There is also the reality that that the government in power isn’t perceived as being as inimical to the preferences of the people considering the nomination you’re talking about, so the overall situation isn’t really a good basis for comparison.

        The relevant questions are: for a party-in-power presidential nomination candidacy (two-term president outgoing), is this a situation where there is likely to be an extraordinary degree of interest and attachment to the politician likely to receive that nomination if she seeks it, or not? And also: now that the first black president has been elected and served his terms, is there any reason to think the excitement over the prospect of the first female president likely to be any diminished from eight years ago when a candidate (the same one who would be seeking it this time) was narrowly edged for the nomination? I can’t see why it would.

        Whether we’re seeing it now is pretty much irrelevant; that we saw it with Obama was only notable because it would have had to be the case for him to make the rise that he did. There’s no reason that at this particular time Hillary Clinton would be receiving that kind of attention, but that doesn’t mean that the interest and excitement won’t manifest themselves when the time comes. There’s nothing particularly important about excitement for a newly-elected-to-prominent-office politician approaching Obama-’05 levels as a signal for the uniqueness of a potential candidacy, unless the person in question actually is just that newly elected and unknown. You’re looking for too specific a thing. No, Hillary in ’13 isn’t like Obama in ’05. Why would we expect her to be even if she is going to be a force of the kind Obama (and she) was in ’07-’08 in 2016? She’s an entirely different kind of entity. We’d only need to see that in someone like Elizabeth Warren if we were expecting that out of her (and you’re right; we’re not seeing it).

        Anyway, like I say, you can make the point of comparison as specific as you want, but at the end of that day that’s kind of irrelevant. Bottom line, you either think she’ll be a magical (i.e. exceptional) candidate – a phenomenon – or not. You’re long Hillary or not providing she runs. That’s your call.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Has there ever really been much excitement for a candidate from the same party as the incumbent? Roosevelt succeeded Coolidge, Kennedy succeeded Eisenhower, Reagan succeeded Carter, and Obama succeeded Bush. I think it’s hard for people to get excited about more of the same, especially since the reality never lives up to the hype.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Er…Roosevelt succeeded Hoover.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        No, I’m looking back at the energy that Obama had and the energy that Clinton is inspiring isn’t in the same ballpark. It’s not in the same league.

        Here’s a fun memory:

        We were all so young!

        How about this one?

        Even if you can’t stomach watching more than a minute of that, I *URGE* you to jump ahead to 3:50 and ride it out until 4:00. IT WILL BE WORTH IT.

        Anyway, after Barack Obama was elected in 2004, there was this weird energy. We saw it still in 2008.

        I don’t see anybody on the Democratic bench with anything freaking *CLOSE* to that. No, not even Elizabeth Warren. Arguments that Hillary Clinton would be an exciting candidate because she’d be the first female president? Well… while that may add a little hint of flavor, the democrats don’t have anything like what they had in 2008 waiting in the wings.

        But maybe the high-energy Hillary videos just haven’t made their way to my corner of the internet yet.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        I don’t see anyone on the Republican bench who inspires that kind of energy either. I haven’t see anyone else in American politics who inspired that kind of energy in all the time I’ve been following US politics (since around 2001). The enthusiasm around Obama was a pretty one-of-a-kind phenomenon. Maybe Clinton inspired something like that in his early years, I don’t know, but Obama was also historic in a way Bill Clinton wasn’t.

        But the combination of the apparent continued allure of the Clintons among significant portions of the Democratic base, the fairly high degree of respect she got during her tenure as Sec-State, and the power of the idea of electing the first woman president right after the first black president would all be assets to her campaign. You’d need either a poor economy, a major foreign policy failure, or a stunning Republican candidate that has not yet presented himself for the Republicans to feel confident in winning against her.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Democrats generally win when the economy is bad. Republicans tend to win when the economy is good. Of course, if we elect a Republican, case in point, Bush43, the Democrats get elected as clean-up artistes, picking up the beer bottles and broken crockery and rolling in the wet-vac to get the vomit out of the living room carpet after the Republicans have had a Big Party.

        One exception to this rule, Bush41, who got to clean up after Reagan’s colossal drunken toot. Bush41 acted responsibly. This cost him re-election.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Again, you didn’t say that there was no one in the wings who was like Obama after being elected in just about any respect you care to point out. You said

        Back in 2004, I remember hearing stories from friends in Chicago who talked about how great it was that Obama won… not that Jack Ryan/Alan Keyes lost but that Obama *WON*… I don’t know that the Democrats have anyone like that in the wings.

        Now, unless you’re just limiting this category just to people who just got elected to something and what people were saying about them in the analogous time period only (’05/’13), to me this refers to someone about whom people are or will be particularly interested in seeing winning, not just in preventing the other party from getting the into the White House (I mean, that’s the respect in which it’s relevant to whether the candidate wins). And you can’t be referring to the two-or-three-years-prior time period, because you’ve just posted videos from ’07-’08 (analogy: ’15-’16.)

        Now, if you don’t think an energy is going to arise around HIllary Clinton in the next two years that’s going to make her candidacy something of a phenomenon, that’s fair enough. But it’s just gameplaying to say that we don’t see a similar energy at this point – there’s none of the novelty to the idea of her running that there was to the rise of Obama. But the phenomenal energy that would arise around Hillary Clinton two years from now or so wouldn’t have anything to do with an unlikely election to the Senate and barnburner convention speech four years before the election in question to even put her on the map, so why would we expect a similar level of interest at the same juncture?

        But tell yourself whatever you want.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        Right, that’s what I’m saying. In political context, the bar is much lower for a Clinton candidacy to be a fairly singular phenomenon.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        MD, let’s say that I found out from my Secret Source In The Future that Republican Candidate 2016 beat Hillary Clinton.

        Would you be shocked? Flabbergasted? Flummoxed?

        Because had you told me, in 2005, that Barack Obama would run in 2008 and lose, I’d be floored. (To be honest, I thought that the margin by which Bush won in 2004 was indicative of nothing more than how *AWFUL* a candidate Kerry was.)

        Clinton? Does she strike you as someone who would inspire a feminist version of Will.i.am to do a “What difference, at this point, does it make?” video? An “I pledge to be a servant to Hillary Clinton” video?

        Because, to be honest, she doesn’t strike me as inspiring that sort of following. She strikes me as someone who is, quite honestly, beatable.

        Which is not to say that she’ll lose! Don’t get me wrong! The Republicans can frig up a two man parade!

        But there’s a difference between winning like Obama won in 2008 and winning because the other party is just so frigged in the head that they couldn’t find their ass with two free hands and a flashlight.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        So, yeah, we just have opposite intuitions on this. (And apparently my experience of 2004 and 2005 – in Chicago and Madison, no less – was just very different from yours.)

        let’s say that I found out from my Secret Source In The Future that Republican Candidate 2016 beat Hillary Clinton.
        Would you be shocked? Flabbergasted? Flummoxed?

        None of those, but pretty surprised.

        Because had you told me, in 2005, that Barack Obama would run in 2008 and lose, I’d be floored.

        Well, I wouldn’t have.

        (To be honest, I thought that the margin by which Bush won in 2004 was indicative of nothing more than how *AWFUL* a candidate Kerry was.)

        No, it was indicative of lot of things about that election, primarily the Bush team’s excellent organizing, his being a wartime president in an okay economy, and his team’s management of issues (particularly mobilizing socons via various messages and initiatives). Kerry didn’t help, but, well, tbh I’m losing the thread. Are we disagreeing that a fantastic Dem nominee might have made a difference on the margin? (I do actually disagree with your thinking that a magical candidate can turn the tide of an actually-bad environment, but I’m not disputing that’ I’m just disputing your assessment of the nature of a HIllary Clinton candidacy in the next election.

        Clinton? Does she strike you as someone who would inspire a feminist version of Will.i.am to do a “What difference, at this point, does it make?” video? An “I pledge to be a servant to Hillary Clinton” video?

        I mean, there are going to be some feminists making videos, you can count on that. Whether they’ll be “version[s]” of the videos you mention in the respects that are relevant to whatever point they make about all this for you, that’s just another thing where you’re going to be telling me ex-post whether they actually are like them or not in the relevant respects, which you haven’t listed. I don’t regard this video question as being very salient to the assessment that we doing here, so I’m fine just begging off even responding to you here. They simply carry far too much weight in your thinking about this. If that’s the basis on which you want to go on thinking you’re right, be my guest.

        Because, to be honest, she doesn’t strike me as inspiring that sort of following.

        Again, “that sort.” Yes, you will be able to find distinguishing factors between Obama’s following and Hillary’s. Are they salient, even dispositive, to the questions we’re asking about the implications of those followings, that’s the question I’m asking.

        She strikes me as someone who is, quite honestly, beatable.

        Everyone’s beatable. Barack Obama was beatable in ’08.

        Which is not to say that she’ll lose! Don’t get me wrong! The Republicans can frig up a two man parade!

        But there’s a difference between winning like Obama won in 2008 and winning because the other party is just so frigged in the head that they couldn’t find their ass with two free hands and a flashlight.

        Again with the “like.” Like in what respects? Do those respects matter? Note that the way Obama won in 2008 is unlike the scenario you’re laying out that would necessitate a candidate of his caliber for the party to win: he won in a favorable environment, not an adverse one. Hillary winning like Obama won in ’08 would look like running a competent campaign and riding favorable political fundamentals to victory (absent a lot of the atmospherics, though with a fair amount of different atmospherics surrounding her own place in history should that happen).

        Yes, there is that difference (“between winning like Obama won in 2008 and winning because the other party is just so frigged in the head that they couldn’t find their ass with two free hands and a flashlight,” though it might not be quite as stark as you think, and it’s possible that it could actually be debated whether the difference exists, depending on what we’d say about the Republican party of 2005-2008), but there are also other kinds of outcomes than those. And there are more than two possibilities for events over the next three years – neither party has to screw up so bad that it would take a magical candidate to make up for it. (In fact, those candidates are unlikely to potentially exist, to include Obama ’08.)

        So you’re right that the Democrats probably don’t have a candidate that would turn a significantly adverse environment into a winning year for them; no party is ever likely to, and the Democrats certainly didn’t have one in ’08. But you’re wrong that the Democrats don’t have a candidate who might well have an uncommonly motivated and committed following that could have a decisive effect in a closeish election environment (absent someone capturing the the country’s imagination in a special way on the GOP side).Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        @jaybird “But maybe the high-energy Hillary videos just haven’t made their way to my corner of the internet yet.”

        Aren’t they coming out on network causing the Republicans to consider having Hannity host their debates? Winning strategy for sure….

        Unless Judy Dench does the ad she won’t be locked in.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        “Because had you told me, in 2005, that Barack Obama would run in 2008 and lose, I’d be floored.”

        It took a good eye to see the moment when Obama could beat the Hillary Machine. Betting on Obama in 2005 would have been a real suckers bet.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Great piece, Dennis. Missed your stuff.Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    I think there is a problem with looking at everything on a left-center-right axis. we tend to do that but not everything really fits that way. Certainly just saying the R’ should move to the middle will make so many R heads explode its not really at option. What matter, at least as far as policy is concerned, is finding solutions that people want. What the R’s are struggling with is many people don’t like their solutions for things like health care ( like they even offer much of anything) or immigration or the economy. If people don’t buy your stuff you need to find something they will buy. The R’s are struggling with insisting they won’t do anything different because they have the One True Solution and if people don’t like it then the people are dumb. That isn’t a good place for a party to be in.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      I think that states it pretty accurately. I would go a bit further an say that the weighting of values in attribution to a particular position are generally off-putting to many.
      E.g. immigration. The same hard-line stance presented as one of “Should our labor laws be by-passed?” would likely win more support than framing the matter in terms of national security (an invasion!). Similarly, the D’s “path to citizenship” would be seen widely as inherently offensive were “What’s wrong with marrying an American citizen?” a central issue in that debate.

      I don’t think the R’s are particularly trustworthy on the economy. They tend to do good cleanup work after a period of Democratic excesses though.

      They really do need something more than “Repeal Obamacare!” to offer in the way of health care. Tying health care to the employer seems like such an inane idea, I can’t believe anyone would try to salvage it, or even modify it to make it slightly workable. It’s pretty much the same arbitrary grouping of people that would tie health care to membership in a homeowners’ association. Makes no sense.

      But I think you stated the issue fairly accurately.Report

      • Avatar Russell M says:

        I hate to quibble but who was the last republican who cleaned up the economy after a democrat? I cant think of one.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        And I don’t mean Christie Love.

        Looked like the Schwarzenator was going to do that for a time, but the endless regeneration was a power that the deficit had in that battle.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Insofar as “inflation” was a problem with the economy, we could point to what happened between the 70’s and 80’s, but I completely understand if there were a “but spending!” counter-argument given.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        Carter named Volcker to the Federal Reserve board, who actually was the one who jacked up interest rates enough to decrease inflation. After that, while, Reagan “created’ a million government jobs, which I wish Obama could point to as an accomplishment when his term is up.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        oh, will! Jersey is jersey, and it is its own animal, unlike any other in the union. 😉Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I don’t think that the GOP necessarily has to change to win elections. However, if they continue to act as the currently do than they are not going to necessarily be the best at governing and could end up loosing big.Report

  7. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Pain is the teacher of last resort. He is also the most effective instructor. I do not foresee any substantive change in the GOP party line, not while they are holding a majority in the House of Representatives and making headway at a state level.

    Yes, it is embarrassing to be a Republican these days, what with the current (white) ferocious know-nothings leading the charge. I have said before: Dr. King’s vision of a colour-blind America has failed: we are stuck with race-based coalitions, and more’s the pity, but thus the grain of the wood goes. The GOP leadership wishes it could find followers among the growing Hispanic and black populations, both of which have substantial conservative elements within them, especially the Cubans and the large numbers of family-oriented, homophobic blacks. Every time they’ve tried, there’s been howls of outrage from friend and foe alike, accusing the GOP of pandering for votes.

    Problem is, the Hispanics are not united: they are from many countries. Even within the Mexican population, we see several different constituencies. Nor is there a united conservative black coalition with its own agenda. Asians are culturally conservative, it’s not clear why the GOP hasn’t reached out to them. The GOP’s base is old white people growing older every day. Until this constituency cannot sustain the victories enumerated in the first paragraph, they are the final arbiters of the GOP’s positions. That’s not a complete enough statement: the unelected voices of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and assorted radio blowhards have influence far out of proportion to what they deserve. Look at Mark Levin, that vicious twerp, now offering to moderate the GOP debates.

    There’s no shame in pandering for votes. The GOP should simply divide itself, leaving the old bigots and xenophobes behind. They’re a disgrace to the cause of conservatism and everyone knows it. They ought to do as the Labour Party did, rebrand themselves as New Labour, with new positions. They won’t, of course. That would imply they have consciences and that just won’t do in today’s conservative modus vivendi.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Republicans could talk abut principles, ideology, and forming an understandable vision of a good future for the country, but I see far too much substitution of tactics, short-term political advantage, and raw electoral gamesmanship for the sorts of policymaking that could lead the GOP back into a position of leadership. My favorite example of this comes from a personal friend’s column on Townhall about same-sex marriage. While the author correctly adduces that the long-term trend on the same-sex marriage debate is against the position conservatives have taken, nowhere in his piece he address what kinds of policies conservatives might advocate to deal with the new reality he perceives, and nowhere in his piece does he try to find a way to reconcile conservatives to that new reality. It’s simply, “Look at all the ways we can win all these other fights now that we can marshall our resources away from a lost argument” as if political agendas were large columns of numbers strung out over pieces of a board game.

      The GOP will not shed the elements you correctly identify as being necessary to purge, @blaisep , precisely because the people doing the thinking and the donating and the writing behind what the GOP is doing today think like my friend — purely in terms of tactics and willfully blind to the long term. From a tactical perspective, it would mean a time of wandering in the wilderness for the Republican party to cleave away the more extreme social conservatives, a time that they would lack sufficient power to win seats and that the Democrats would actually hold power. They lack sufficient faith in experience to believe that Democrats will actually fish things up badly enough during that era that Republicans will still get elected, and they seem to lack even the ability to imagine that they might have a new agenda to advance in the future, one which could both make the country better and put people with R’s after their names in public office.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        A cogent observation, Burt: “Look at all the ways we can win all these other fights now that we can marshal our resources away from a lost argument” as if political agendas were large columns of numbers strung out over pieces of a board game.

        The tesuji of conservative politics ought to be straightforward. Simple and easy: we support what continues to be true and right in the world. Where some innovation has paid off, proven useful and wise, we’ll support it. We’re just not for innovation for innovation’s sake.

        Not so with this bunch of un-conservatives. All they want is change. For change’s sake.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Meh. Over it. Write clearer. Goodbye.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      If the US is going into race-based politics and coalitions,

      Where does that leave the majority of young people (described as under-35 or under-30 depending on who you talk to) who are increasingly becoming liberal including white members of this generational cohort?

      Does this mean Jews are simply voting for their old liberalism? Or are just one more ethnic group to fight over?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        America is more segregated than ever and let’s not kid ourselves on this subject. Every generation produces its share of conservatives: the armed forces are heavily skewed conservative, especially in the officer corps. They will become the leaders of the next generation as they have always done. They have soldiered, fought and bled for this country and they will come to power with those experiences fresh in their minds and their scars will guide them. They will have no truck with liberal causes. They will form a new generation of hard-core, no-nonsense leadership and the liberals will not gainsay them.

        The liberals of this generation, the less-than-forties, who never held positions of leadership and authority, they will do as did the Vietnam generation. They will — hell, they are wimping out. Where is their leadership? Where did the hippies go, them and their brave talk of revolution? To the disco, that’s where. They disappeared.

        When danger reared its ugly head
        He bravely turned his tail and fled.
        Yes Brave Sir Hippie turned about
        He gallantly chickened out.

        Bravely taking to his feet
        He beat a very brave retreat.
        Oh bravest of the brave, Sir Hippie.

        And so are the liberal kiddies. Hanging around at dKos. Obama suckered those kids so sweetly they never knew what hit them. Can anyone point to an actual liberal in Congress? Teddy Kennedy was the last of those dinosaurs. This isn’t a nomenclature issue. This isn’t about the Old Liberalism. Old Liberals are a contradiction in terms. Those old farts are forever reminiscing about fighting past battles. As for Jewish Liberals, they’re about as relevant as the old kibbutznik class, them and their high-minded ideals. Israel is now run by weapons dealers, tech-o-weenies and real estate schlubs.Report

      • Avatar aidian says:

        Can anyone point to an actual liberal in Congress?

        Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders? I think some people would count Elizabeth Warren, but I haven’t seen it.

        oops…the google reminds me Kucinich got drawn out of his seat in the last redistricting. What a pity, I’ll no longer get to see pictures of the freakish looking munchkin and his smoking hot wife. Those pictures always gave me hope….Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        If ever there was an irrelevant old high-minded kibbutznik, surely it is Bernie Sanders.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        @blaisep I’m always a bit confused when people talk about hippies. Who exactly are you talking about? The rock stars? Their fans? Wacked out folk self medicating? Seventy year old liberals?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        My parents were born in 1946 and 1947. Prime boomer years.They said very few people were actually hippies because most people needed to work and look presentable for that.

        They are still liberal. My guess is that hippie means boomers who protested against Vietnam and supported Civil Rights, and went against sexism. A good number of them tried to avoid the draft when possible. The number that grew their hair long, dropped out and experimented with drugs and communes was probably never very big.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Cascadian, you sorely tempt me to tell Old Fart Stories. I must resist, as much as is possible, for I obliged to listened to such stories in my Feckless Yoot and found them most terribly tiresome. But you did ask….

        In the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Sixty-Eight, America done lost its mind. Not one of these forgetful little episodes nor yet a regression into second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, etc — but a full-blown, baroquely obscene and unhinged schizophrenic fugue played fortissimo. The percussion solo was played by the B-52 bombers relieving the siege of Khe Sanh, Republic of South Vietnam.

        1968. I can give you a cook’s tour in exactly 9 minutes and 10 seconds.

        And America was not alone in needing a stern dose of haloperidol, which had just entered American pharmacology in that incredible year. The Baader-Meinhof terrorists were blowing up Frankfurt and assorted nihilists were hard at work giving birth to the Revolution in many places.

        The Hippies had come into focus in 1967. America had always harboured a counter-culture, going back to its colonial inception, communal living and simplicity, peace ‘n love had been Quaker virtues. The hippies had begun well enough, the followers-on to Kerouac and the Beat Generation. But where Kerouac had been a spiritual wanderer, very much in the mystic tradition of Thoreau and Emerson, the Hippies were just wannabes and Kerouac despised them for their shallowness. The intellectual paterfamilias of Hippiedom was Neal Cassady, a bizarre, bisexual, drug-addled man who would enter oblivion in 1968.

        The Hippies were not nice people, for all that Hollywood has tried to do with them. Where Kerouac had sought enlightenment, the hippies sought mere oblivion in drugs and sex. The best that can be said of them was this: the hippies were naive and somewhat pathetic while sober but horribly destructive people when they weren’t. They were barely distinguishable from the biker gangs and the two constituencies overlapped considerably for the bikers sold the hippies their drugs and often prostituted the hippie chicks to pay for them. An addict is usually a thief and the hippies were addicts.

        But ultimately the hippies were nihilists. They were a reflection of their times, an America gone horribly wrong, ultimately insane. The Allies dropped two million tons of bombs on Germany and Japan, including the atomic bombs, which would only sum up to 40,000 tons if converted to TNT. The USA dropped seven million tons of bombs on SE Asia.

        The Hippies have become the Jungian imago of American liberalism, thus we are described by conservatives to this day. But I wasn’t a hippie. I thought the hippies were bums, narcissists, addicts, their women disease-ridden to the point of unfuckability and their politics execrable to the point of horror.

        Liberals can’t escape their mythical Hippie ancestry any more than the Conservatives can abandon their mystical union with our loss in the Vietnam War. It’s pointless to ask who the Hippies were, not while that morbid black POW flag still flies on so many flagpoles. The Hippies have disappeared leaving behind their music. But the Conservatives have never yet abandoned that despicable POW flag and the self-delusion which lies behind it.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        @blaisep Good thing I asked. For some reason, the first person that popped to mind reading your earlier post was Alice Waters. I don’t imagine she had much truck with the Hell’s Angels.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        Now BlaiseP will tell us when he got his first real six-string…..Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        Naw, his tale helped me understand what he was referring to. It was a good thing. Hey Blaise guitar picker or vet?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Mary, Jeezus, Joseph and the burro they all rode to Egypt. Alice Waters. And all those Free Speech Movement ninnies, each competing for the Gold Medal in Uselessness. If anything, UC Berkeley was overdosing on Free Speech in those horrible years. If only it had been Intelligent Speech instead of Ridiculous, Self-Absorbed Whining about Free Speech, they might have brought on an American renaissance and advanced the course of human progress.

        But it wasn’t intelligent speech, was it? Those weedy, cowardly bastards melted away when those Ohio State Troopers opened up on those poor kids at Kent State in 1970 at the moment when they might have made a difference. If America has lapsed into a parody of Free Speech and the government now patrols the routers, we may thank the feckless generation of soi-disant liberals who ran away like so many Brave Sir Robins at the sight of blood.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        Interesting. Waters would qualify as a prophet at the very least in our household. I believe she changed and created a new culture that still thrives. I’m going for a community bike ride through a local organic farming community just to the North of us that wouldn’t exist without her. She wasn’t really in the business of free speech. I think we’ve delegated that to civil liberties associations.

        I can certainly understand and appreciate your frustration with the left. The basic problem is that the political system in the US is completely kaput. The only way you’re going to have success is if you define it as being ineffective or obstructionist.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        A distressingly accurate depiction of the folkies and their guitars. The last few seconds are important.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Politics are never kaput in this nation. Despite the GOP’s fervent attempts to restrict voting in this fair land, we cannot prohibit Stupid Persons from voting. In an even more distressing trend, more-educated people simply aren’t voting, though they’ve got more picture IDs in their wallets than is good for anyone.

        While both these trends remains in effect, we may rely upon American politics to be dominated by doctrinaire cranks.

        Liberals need to learn how to appeal to Stupid Persons. It ought to be pretty obvious. The Jack-Booted Thugs are not only knocking down their doors and shooting their dogs, they’re invading their bedrooms and bank accounts and making them take their shoes off in airports. This does not faze the Stupid and does not sufficiently motivate their more intelligent counterparts, those with enough education to know better.

        As for Alice Walker and Chez Panisse, everything on the menu costs far too much. French haute cuisine began as peasant fare. With fancier names came fancier prices. Now FLOTUS is on Da Youtoobs, telling us to eat our veggies. Inadvertent hilarity ensues.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        Alice Walker is a different individual. If Alice Waters was a hippie, then I’d say that she and those that created micro brews and coffee chains or Santa Cruz geeks creating ‘puters changed quite a bit. No they do not take the hard power route, that’s not their gig. They have however changed our culture or at least mine (talking to you seems like conversing with someone from a completely alien culture and place). Cops and grunts may be bible thumping conservatives in droves but they aren’t really controlling the dialogue. The problem is that this might only be true for where I live. I fear you live a different reality.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        They said very few people were actually hippies because most people needed to work and look presentable for that.

        I was wondering about that after watching Bullitt. Not a single hippie in sight.
        I talked with a friend who was from SF about that, and he was there around that time. He told me that they kept to certain areas, because most people didn’t want them around.
        Makes sense now.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        I come from a different reality? Were you around in those times? I’m often criticised around here for Argument from Authority, that is to say, by people who never saw a thing who think they understand that thing better than those who did see it.

        America’s always had a paradisical streak, going back to its founding, a rejection of the City and Authority and the Hypocrisy of Society. Off they go, first in ships to the New World, then by wagon through Injun Territory, off to some clearing in the woods where they’ll build a New Jerusalem. Those paradises become hells soon enough.

        The Hippies were never terribly numerous. Lenin described such people as the Vanguard of the Proletariat. The Hippies — may I make a seemingly condescending noise here? — I beg your pardon, for truly such is not my intention — made a bogeyman of The Man, the Business, the very entities which had given rise to them. They bought their bell bottom jeans at Sears Roebuck. Zappa scornfully summed them up in Who Needs the Peace Corps

        The tech people who emerged in the Bay Area were not hippies. They are a curious byproduct of the Vietnam War’s military-industrial complex, suburban kids whose parents built missiles and fighter aircraft.

        The Hippies failed because they were all as phony as a three dollar bill. They were plastic injection-moulded knockoffs of the Beatniks. Rebels without a Clue gone in search of Happiness in Things. In their loud rejection of The Man, the Business, etc. they became the most dishonest people of a thoroughly low and dishonest decade, becoming the very consumer society they had so patently scorned.

        Let’s put it this way: those frowsty Punk Music types? Remember them? I was never so glad to see a bunch of kids come along with new music in all my life. They were such a relief. They didn’t delude themselves about wanting to create some New Jerusalem. They just wanted to have fun, get up and jump around. So what, they didn’t play their instruments very well. That didn’t matter. They were honest people who lived what the Hippies had only said they were. They didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of — and if they squatted in houses and did drugs or got drunk a lot, they weren’t a bunch of preachy poseurs about it all.

        The Hippies didn’t just Sell Out. They became The Man, The Business. If there are a few people out there, living in harmony with nature, they hearken back to a far older tradition, a fundamentally American sentiment.

        The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “The Allies dropped two million tons of bombs on Germany and Japan, including the atomic bombs, which would only sum up to 40,000 tons if converted to TNT.”

        The two nuclear bombs alone approached 40 kT. Opinions and facts and entitlement and whatnot…Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        That’s correct, Kazzy. A kiloton is a thousand tons. Therefore, 40,000 tons. You do know what the kilo- prefix to a unit of measurement means, doncha?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        So all the bombs totaled 40 kT, even though two of the bombs alone were at or near 40 kT?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Simple addition, Kazzy. Two atomic bombs. Fat Man was 21 kilotons, Little Boy was probably 16-18 kilotons. So, for economy’s sake, we can call it 40 kilotons.

        Estimates of aerial bombing in WW2 vary. We didn’t just drop exploding bombs. Incendiary bombs were found to be more damaging, starting unquenchable fires created by thermite or napalm, usually in the wreckage created by standard exploding munitions. There were other incendiary agents, too, white phosphorus was one. The bombing of Dresden and Hamburg created firestorms, fire tornadoes which could be seen from over the English Channel by the returning bomber crews. Tokyo also burned in just such a firestorm, killing far more people than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

        I’ve always considered the aerial bombardment of cities to be a war crime. It’s laid out in the Hague Convention and addenda to the Geneva Convention.

        You’re probably thinking of hydrogen bombs, which are measured in megatons, millions of tons.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        You’re not making any sense.

        FM and LB = 40 kT
        All bombs (including FM and LB) = 40 kT

        That implies no other bombs were dropped during WWII. I find that a bit hard to believe.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Let’s review: The Allies dropped two million tons of bombs on Germany and Japan, including the atomic bombs, which would only sum up to 40,000 tons if converted to TNT. The USA dropped seven million tons of bombs on SE Asia.

        Parse the first sentence. How many million pounds of bombs were dropped on Germany and Japan? Conservatively, 2,000,000 tons. That’s two commas. Forty kilotons of bombs is 40,000 tons.

        2,000,000 total tons
        – 40 kilotons of nuclear weapons, which converts to 40,000 tons of conventional munitions
        1,960,000 tons of conventional munitions

        Is this a joke or something? Dragging me into some stupid subtraction problem any sensible person could manage in his head? I can’t believe you’re serious.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Dude, you wrote a poorly constructed sentence. You can blame me for that. Or you can take accountability. It is clear which route you’ve chosen.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        The Allies dropped two million tons of bombs on Germany and Japan,
        including the atomic bombs,
        which would only sum up to 40,000 tons if converted to TNT.

        I cannot be responsible for your inability to parse an English sentence.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        @blaisep Yup, I wasn’t there. Or, at least, I was still in diapers. I’m going to be around ND’s age my parents are ’46 ’47.

        However, your concept of hippie doesn’t seem stable. On one hand I see diseased drug addicts with shriveled wombs. We still have drug addicts. I’m sure most of the ones from the sixties/seventies are dead.

        On the other hand we have:

        “The Hippies didn’t just Sell Out. They became The Man, The Business. If there are a few people out there, living in harmony with nature, they hearken back to a far older tradition, a fundamentally American sentiment.”

        Which I fundamentally agree with. What happened to the hippies? They became yuppies. And yes those that are trying to develop urban agriculture, organics, or any of the other ideas bouncing around are at the core conservative.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Bless your heart, Cascadian.

        Ancient poetry and mythology suggest, at least, that husbandry was once a sacred art; but it is pursued with irreverent haste and heedlessness by us, our object being to have large farms and large crops merely. We have no festival, nor procession, nor ceremony, not excepting our cattle-shows and so-called Thanksgivings, by which the farmer expresses a sense of the sacredness of his calling, or is reminded of its sacred origin. It is the premium and the feast which tempt him. He sacrifices not to Ceres and the Terrestrial Jove, but to the infernal Plutus rather. By avarice and selfishness, and a grovelling habit, from which none of us is free, of regarding the soil as property, or the means of acquiring property chiefly, the landscape is deformed, husbandry is degraded with us, and the farmer leads the meanest of lives. He knows Nature but as a robber.Report

  8. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


    1. I’d be cautious about drawing lessons from very highly unusual periods in history. Maybe the Republicans just lost badly in 1936 because they were still blamed for the financial crash. One reading of history suggests FDR didn’t actually improve the economy much those first four years, but as one old prof I had said–a libertarian who grew up in an FDR household–“He gave us hope.” And let’s not forget FDR’s charm; never discount the role of personality in politics (or lack of: see; Romney, Mitt).

    2. Here’s a question for you and other centrist Republicans that a liberal friend of mine posed to me yesterday. Is it possible the Republicans have given up trying to win a democratic game, and are looking to hold power by other means?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Is it possible the Republicans have given up trying to win a democratic game, and are looking to hold power by other means?

      (Wildly waves hand at teacher) Me! Me! Ask me!Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I think opinion whether or not FDR approved the economy depends a lot on partisan feelings rather than objective fact at this point. The economic situation was so bad when FDR became President that even if he did improve the economy greatly, it could still be pretty sucky. Even if FDR did not approve the economy, he gave people hope and the New Deal did do a lot to make living in a really horrible economy more bearable.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      “Is it possible the Republicans have given up trying to win a democratic game, and are looking to hold power by other means?”

      It certainly seems that way at times. For example, look at how George and Art Deco respond whenever gerrymandering come up and the more liberal people here talk about how the Democratic Party and candidates won more votes in 2012 than the GOP over all.

      I don’t think Will, Tim, or Dennis have given up on winning democratically. George and Art just enjoy being snide.Report

      • Avatar aidian says:

        The GOP in the short term counts on winning power despite not having the support necessary to win it by democratic means. They hope to capture the U.S. Senate, the most deliberately malapportioned legislative body this side of the House of Lords.

        Here’s the GOP’s ‘other means’: The U.S. Senate is critical to national public policy, and my vote as a Californian counts for 1/76th as much as the vote of someone in Wyoming.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        The U.S. Senate is critical to national public policy, and my vote as a Californian counts for 1/76th as much as the vote of someone in Wyoming.

        There are days when I get tired of this. There are 14 states where California’s population is at least 20 times as large. Some red, some blue, some swing. There are 9 states where Texas’ population is at least 20 times as large. Some red, some blue, some swing. 54% of the US population lives in the ten biggest states. Some red, some blue, some swing.

        You know what steams me? I live in a Western state where the federal government owns 40% of the land. Where the official national policy now is that that land will always be held by the federal government, even though no Senator or Representative from any state with large federal holdings voted for that policy. Where the DOE refuses to allow independent testing of the quality of their clean-up of a former nuclear weapons site; but the National Park Service, now in charge of that particular land, refuses to let their employees go on-site because they think it’s too dangerous. Where the US Army continues to periodically threaten to use eminent domain to take even more private land, an area bigger than some of the East Coast states. I may not agree with Wyoming politics, but their federal land holdings situation is even more extreme than ours, and I damn sure understand that the US Senate is the last place where they have a chance to defend themselves from land use policies set by people who will never step foot in the state.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        my vote as a Californian counts for 1/76th as much as the vote of someone in Wyoming.


        As a Californian, your vote counts nothing, because we already know who those Senators are going to be.
        Wyoming, OTOH, poses a bit of a question.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Well, said, Mr. Cain.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        @michael-cain There’s just no winning for losing. Remember the Sagebrush Rebellion and the problem that was James Watt?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:


        I’ve lived in that same state a long time and I’m pretty well pleased that the Fedrul Gummint owns a bunch of our state. I’m not sure I understand the complaint.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        There’s just no winning for losing. Remember the Sagebrush Rebellion and the problem that was James Watt?

        Indeed. Which is why my hobby, now that I’m mostly retired, is to foment a secession movement for the 11 contiguous Western states :^) I think the West ends up better off as a separate country in the long term (based on energy considerations) than as part of the current 50-state arrangement. The hard part is to convince the rest of the country that it’s in their interest to let the West go.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        Well given my user name you have to know I’m on board. I always figured the best way was to wait for the South to go again and just not say anything until after it’s over.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        MC- “11 contiguous Western states” Speaking as an alaskan i will not put up with anymore ugly contiguous-ism. We exist even when our state spokesmodel doesn’t have a tv show.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        I’ve lived in that same state a long time and I’m pretty well pleased that the Fedrul Gummint owns a bunch of our state.

        Ignoring funding for the moment, which would be complex because of history, what aspects of federal government policy with regard to those public lands do you think would be superior to what Colorado (the state I’m talking about) would do? Why? And in particular, today rather than 100 years ago? Why should the Congressional delegation from, say, Ohio be trusted to make better decisions than the delegations from Colorado or California or Wyoming? Please note that I’m politely asking a serious question, deserving of a short-essay-length answer, not being snide or trollish.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I like – no LOVE – the fact that those lands are politically “untouchable”. That’s one of the main reasons I moved here, to be honest. And personally speaking here (can I be honest with you?) I think the state government would have corrupted those lands to a far greater extent than the feds. Or sold them off. Or leased them with reckless abandon. This is Colorado, after all.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        I say let the Western states pump out their aquifers, cut down all their timber, generally turn their states into moonscapes digging out all the coal — and when they’re all done, (and it won’t take long) we rename it the Western Wastelands.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Speaking as an alaskan i will not put up with anymore ugly contiguous-ism.

        No disrespect intended :^) If I can pull off a Western Secession, you’re welcome to join. I think mostly in terms of electricity supply, and you guys are pretty much on your own up there, rather than being part of the Western Interconnect. Personally, in the case of a break-up, I think you’d be better off with Canada, unless I can convince BC and Alberta to join the WSA.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Wait, Alaska has electricity?Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Electricity, well yeah…except we have moose running in giant wheels instead of using hamsters.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        unless I can convince BC and Alberta to join the WSA.

        That would have to be priority one. We (err, you, but maybe me again someday) would need to work on a catchier name than WSA, though.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        I say let the Western states pump out their aquifers, cut down all their timber, generally turn their states into moonscapes digging out all the coal — and when they’re all done, (and it won’t take long) we rename it the Western Wastelands.

        What a load of crap. Most of the forests outside of the carefully-managed Northwest are no longer harvestable — federal forest management has given us overcrowded stunted forests dying of beetle-kill, burning down in increasingly severe fires. “Havestable timber” in Colorado means finding ways to make use of two million acres of beetle-killed pine. Coal is concentrated in specific areas, and developers want access to federal rather than adjoining state/private land because the federal taxes and remediation are less than the states currently demand. Water’s an issue; but I assert that Arizona is more likely to make the tough decisions that will eventually be necessary to stop silly things like growing cotton in the middle of the desert than the feds are. And water’s no longer just a Western issue — Florida announced this week they’ll be taking Georgia to the Supreme Court over river flows. If you’re including the Great Plains, well — I consider them the increasingly empty divider between East and West, not the West proper. I love a whole lot of things about the northern Great Plains, but have to agree with the Poppers about the southern parts; the agriculture experiment was a disaster and the sooner we give it back to the bison, the better.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        Cascadia already includes BC.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        I say let the Western states pump out their aquifers, cut down all their timber, generally turn their states into moonscapes digging out all the coal — and when they’re all done, (and it won’t take long) we rename it the Western Wastelands.

        People in the timber business plant, tend, and harvest…timber. The one force which does promote neglect of husbandry is property taxes.

        The Lorax was fiction.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        And personally speaking here (can I be honest with you?) I think the state government would have corrupted those lands to a far greater extent than the feds. Or sold them off. Or leased them with reckless abandon. This is Colorado, after all.And personally speaking here (can I be honest with you?) I think the state government would have corrupted those lands to a far greater extent than the feds. Or sold them off. Or leased them with reckless abandon. This is Colorado, after all.

        Yes, absolutely, you can always be honest with me. If you think I’m saying stupid things, by all means feel free to say so (telling me why you think it’s stupid is always appreciated, too). I spent three sessions working for the Colorado legislature’s Joint Budget Committee — I’ve been told that I’m saying something stupid by professionals. If you asked me what Colorado would have done with the private lands 60 years ago, I would agree with you. Of course, at the same time the feds were in the process of setting off what would eventually add up to 1,000 nuclear bombs in Nevada, spreading fallout across several other states.

        In today’s West? My perception today is that the Front Range (with easily enough votes to set policy) would be a more demanding shepherd of the public lands in Colorado than the feds. Same for Seattle in Washington and Portland in Oregon. Is there any question about California? Utah is headed the same way, as the Wasatch Front grows to the point where it can set policy; do you think Utah would approve the massive coal-fired Intermountain Power Plant if it were being proposed today, rather than in 1980? I find it telling that at this year’s Western Governors’ Conference one of the topics was a regional fleet of airplanes for fire fighting — because the governors don’t think they can trust the feds to maintain an adequate fleet.

        The real place to criticize me is financing. Colorado probably can’t afford to take care of public lands comprising 40% of the area. OTOH, by the available simple measures (yeah, Blaise, I know) the 11 western states that I talk about are, as a region, substantial net federal tax donors. Even more so if you substitute state severance taxes for federal mineral lease payments, and state/local property taxes for federal payments in lieu of taxes. I claim that those 11 states could support very large public lands these days.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:


        From a pure economic standpoint, if we were to base it off That Map, a whole lot of the heavy lifting as far as donor/beneficiary is concerned is four contiguous states: California, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada. From a self-interested standpoint, what would stop the four of them from going off on their own? I think if you take the rest, you might be in the red.

        Colorado would be a get, of course. As would Wyoming (which is technically beneficiary, though it wouldn’t be if you didn’t count NMLA). Maybe Utah would be worth it for those two? That would leave Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, and Montana. Maybe Arizona for Phoenix (a lot of their beneficariness is due to federal contracts that WSA would still want done). New Mexico? Only if you could get Texas, which isn’t among the eleven but has mineral wealth, economics, and perhaps most importantly would make WSA bi-coastal (cultural mismatch would be the primary issue, and/or fear that the bottom would fall out of their economy at some point). Idaho and Montana might need some good salesmen.

        Or, on the other hand, perhaps you wouldn’t want to look at it in such mercenary terms (Which, again, if you did, might just result in The Nation of Pacifica) because they’re a “natural fit” and economics bedanged. Perhaps some advantages of having more open spaces for growth, if you can get a handle on the water issues. There might be some good “long game” arguments there, though you have thought more about the long game than I have.

        East of that, the plains states mostly aren’t good fits because their population tends heavily towards the eastern side. The Dakotas’ economic ties are to Minnesota and Iowa. Kansas to Missouri, and so on. Other than Texas (also an eastern population, but Gulf Coast), there’d be Oklahoma, but Oklahoma would need a really strong salesperson. (And if Texas is out, then they shouldn’t bother even trying.)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Michael, I apologize if my comment sounded insulting or condescending. I’m aware that you follow these issues as a matter of profession as well as concern. My only point was exactly what you touched on: that in today’s political climate, the Front Range is able to determine electoral outcomes, with all the liberal, tree-hugging concern expressed their. In the past, tho, that wasn’t clearly the case. And given the old maxim that all politics is local, it seems pretty apparent to me that without Federal intervention, places like RNMP, the Zirkels, the Flat Tops, Colorado national Monument, national forests galore, BLM out the wazoo – all stunningly beautiful places that remain accessible to civilians (!) – wouldn’t be the case.

        Alsotoo, the liberality of the front range is real (the best gluten free bread I’ve ever eaten is made in Colorado Springs!) but we don’t dominate the state like, for example, conservatives in Oklahoma. Most of the conservative old guard would vote to dismantle the Federal Land Regime in a heartbeat.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        Do the numbers count funding for Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs in NM? (And there’s the Idaho National Lab, too.) If so, the numbers are a bit misleading, and thst’s a hell of a lot of brainpower sitting in the WSA.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @jm3z-aitch, yeah, places like INEEL and Los Alamos are included there. As are all of the defense projects in Arizona. Which are reasons why I am not a big fan of the map to begin with. There’s a lot of human capital. On the other hand, you have huge reservation populations in Arizona and New Mexico. You have rural populations in Idaho and Montana. Even there, though, there’s human capital that becomes important later. People for whom taxes are spent in Montana or Idaho who graduate and then pay lots of taxes in Washington or Colorado that could be advantageous to the WSA.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        And some of the net donor/net recipient status has to do with the committee positions and political skill of the state’s congressional delegation. So other than looking at poverty figures, for welfare recipients, I’m pretty skeptical that those numbers say much about how those states would fare if independent.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Yeah. Each state is kind of different. Idaho and Utah are actually “bargain states” where we spend less per capita there than we do nation-wide. They’re beneficiary states due to the lack of tax receipts. Utah is youth-heavy, for example. Which matters as to whether or not Utah could make it on its own, though the dynamic changes I think if you’re talking about bringing Utah (and its future-productive young people) into the club. Idaho… is just a tougher sell all-around. (“It’s inexpensive and you can retire there!”). Montana both gets above-average federal funds and puts less-than-average into the coffers, which puts it at a disadvantage.

        On the other other hand, some of these things don’t occur in a vacuum. I mean, we pay people to live in god-forsaken northcentral and northeastern Montana that has no economy and it’s expensive to educate their kids, provide utilities, and so on. Under a different tax-and-spend regime, you could mitigate or put an end to some of the inefficiencies (without relocating them all to California). It would probably be a question of how valuable the WSA would consider the land to be, as well as the future human capital.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        @Will Truman… The reasons in my mind that the West Coast wants the interior West come down to two words: water and energy. We all know I’m more pessimistic on the subject than you, eg, you think SoCal will get low-cost low-energy large-scale desalinization and I don’t. Anyway, first thing is control the headwaters of your rivers: Colorado, Wyoming and Utah for the Colorado River, Idaho and Montana (and BC :^)) for the Columbia. On energy, for SoCal in particular, look at where an awful lot of their electricity is sourced (either directly, or in the form of natural gas): Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, West Texas.

        Ah, Texas. One of my basic beliefs about the future is that energy considerations will limit long-distance transportation (for multiple categories of “long”). And that those limits lead naturally to regionalization on a particular scale, and each region is going to based on a high-population core. My candidates for those cores are BosWash; Florida; Chicago; the Texas triangle of DFW, Houston, and San Antonio; and California. In my scenario, you’d never see California and Texas in the same region; the question is where the dividing line between them falls.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        @michael-cain Of course, this is all conjecture. I imagine if the US was forced to split into regions the nature of the impetus would play a role…. how desperately do we need this done. If the threat was big enough I could see hunkering down with less than optimal partners. If it were more gradual with a less than existential crisis I could see partnerships of convenience between states and regions.

        I tend to look at cultures rather than economies. The PNW seems distinct from the Mountain West. Is it really the case that the MW couldn’t make it on its own? If you’ve really looked at this, what kind of financial hit would they take if they were on their own.

        On the water front. Hasn’t the Colorado already been divided up? How much water is left for growth in the South West. I’d think they’ve already hit their max and need to start recycling more of their water….Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        @Cascadian The Lower Basin of the the Colorado River is overallocated. For most of the time since the Colorado River Compact was first put in place in 1922, the Upper Basin delivered enough surplus water to paper over the shortage. With California, Arizona, and Nevada now trying to take their full allotment each year, the problems are becoming apparent (eg, none of the formulas have ever accounted for the 900,000 acre-feet that disappear from Lake Mead each year through evaporation). One of the major issues that would be on the table if California or California/Nevada were leaving but the other states were staying would be what the new international treaty that replaces the Colorado River Compact would look like. Water rights isn’t just a Southwestern thing. Oregon’s Willamette Valley right there by Portland is drier in July and August than Denver or Phoenix; farm land there with water rights is more valuable than land without rights.

        Recycling diverted water is an interesting subject in the West, and depends a lot on individual state water law. In Colorado, the water rights for an intra-basin diversion and use are for a single purpose — so recycling isn’t allowed. Inter-basin diversions are not subject to the same rule. Denver Water’s recycling program requires some tricky accounting — the water diverted from the Colorado River and pumped under the Continental Divide and dumped into the South Platte river can be recycled, but the water from precipitation that flows naturally into the South Platte basin can’t. Arizona has defined a third water source, treated effluent from sanitary sewer systems, which is neither surface- nor ground-water and operates under its own set of rules (eg, water flushed down a toilet can be recycled, runoff from sprinklers can’t). The Palo Verde nuclear plant’s cooling water is exclusively effluent. Twain’s adage that “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over” remains as true as ever.

        The culture question is an interesting one. My own perception is that it’s important to keep in mind the population pattern that holds all over the West: six or seven major population areas separated by vast expanses of nothing (see the map here for a good representation). My suspicion based on working for companies that spanned most of the West are that there’s more in common across those cities than there is with Eastern cities. The community here is a varied one; maybe you could write a post about why you think not?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @cascadian @michael-cain It’s worth noting that there is a lot of cross-migration from the west. There are a lot of people in Seattle who come from Montana or Idaho. There are a lot of people in Idaho and Montana who moved there from California. Which is important on some level because that means you’re going to have family ties. This is especially true if you include Texas, which actually seems to have as much migration to and from the west as the east.

        I’d thought about the water issue a while after I asked MC on the subject. That, it would seem to me, would be enough to bring those states along. The question is, under Cain’s scenario, whether or not anyone would actually live there or they have to start migrating to his limited number of cities? But then, for at least the mineral and energy parts, you’d need some people out there.

        Out of curiosity, MC, do you see Idaho as being essentially depopulated, or it basically being Boise and little else? The latter tends to make more sense to me.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        @michael-cain @will-truman Writing a post on this for its own would be a good thing. I haven’t been around for a few years but I came to this site from Culture 13 I think is what it was called. Most of the faces are familiar if I’ve forgotten the details.

        Culturally, I think it would be problematic for Oregon to partner with Washington other than as an equal. North California would need a salesperson. They are historically insular and distrust the business class from both the left and the right.

        Water. Yes the water. These States and Provinces are governed from the wet side of the mountains. It takes a certain kind of individual to not just survive the rains but to anticipate them. Needless to say we aren’t known as the most friendly or happy of places and our newspapers often run articles from transplants that have lived here ten years and still didn’t feel like they were entirely welcomed or included.

        Any mention of shared water will put any deal to an end in the PNW. From Oregon being on guard against Californian attempts at export to the freak out you’ll find in BC at any notion of bulk water transfer, water is off the table.

        I’ve railed on these topics for years here and elsewhere. I’m surprised to find the two of you interested in this topic. I don’t recall you having positions on this when I was active here before. I imagine that you both have come to realize the mess that is US politics, that yes the West would be a better functioning unit than what we have now. For me that has led to a greater appreciation for federalism. Even with Cascadia I would prefer a confederation over one single rule.

        There is migration within the greater West as there is between Canada and the US. I have nothing against the Mountain West. I was actually born in Denver to prove Will’s point. It’s just that it is different. Just as the West is different from the East, there is a cultural difference between Portland and SLC. There’s no reason that people can’t have family where ever they’re fromReport

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @cascadian The question isn’t really who likes each other and who doesn’t. It’s who needs one another and who can live with one another. I think “like” will tip the scales, but anything short of “detest” won’t count anyone out unless they’re not needed. Which is why I think there’s a good chance that even Texas would have an invitation, even though it would be an odd fit.

        What @michael-cain is talking about is more a matter of necessity. I don’t personally see the dour future that he does, but in the event that it occurred I don’t think the cultural differences would be that all-important as long as their primary needs were the same. In this case, basically the west coast would offer economic value as well as coastal access, the mountain west would offer water, electricity, and just the benefits of more land.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        @will-truman I briefly brushed by this in an earlier post. The people you’re willing to jump into bed with vs. just be friends with depends on the nature of the event that would lead to this. If it were cataclysmic and dire, yes, you put together a whole that is survivable with some extra. If it’s less immediate then a more cautious approach would be taken assuming the initial break up of the States was due to a failure of federalism.

        We have plenty of water and electricity. I was just mentioning this thread to mbh she seems to think California is screwing BC over electricity even as we speak and wants nothing to do with them.

        The only thing would be the land. This is like original sin for me. I’m a mountain person. I even love Idaho. But this brings to mind Jefferson’s Louisiana purchase. For all those ideals, it was to much to pass up a good deal. I’m torn. I’d say fund the MW as a good will gesture until they are viable on their own. No water.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @cascadian For the sake of this conversation, I’m going by the dire predictions @michael-cain . If it’s simply due to a failure of federalism… well that would change the calculus. I don’t think federalism would ever fail to that degree (and I’m someone that would prefer dispersed power and decentralization).

        We may be talking past one another on water. It’s not that the mountain west would need water from the west coast, but that much of the west coast would need water that runs through the mountain west. Michael can explain it better than I can. Personally, I see desalination as a relative fix for that, but Michael is more pessimistic. If he’s right, then California can’t have the water from the Colorado drying up (being snatched, basically) before it gets to SoCal. So they’d need the mountain western states.

        Anyway, if Michael’s wrong about the dire situation, and I’m wrong about it requiring a dire situation, I would honestly expect fragmentation. I’m not sure any of the states would merge and state borders would actually remain more or less what they are now, except with a couple of Californias and the mess that is Idaho getting sorted out.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian says:

        @will-truman OK. Dire. It would be hard to take in SLC. Texas is out of the question. It’s a cultural bogey man. Yes I know there is Austin. You may as well suggest Shrub be the first President of the West. Otherwise, I could accept most of the Mountain West.

        I’ll have to wait for @michael-cain for the water story. If it’s just SoCal, no one likes them. They’ll have to recycle if they can’t find the energy to desalinate…. let them drink pee.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @cascadian It’s hard to say what would happen with Texas. On the one hand, there is a cultural mismatch and Texas’s population centers are on the wrong side of the state (which, in Cain’s future of transportation being expensive, could hurt both sides). On the other hand, there are energy considerations, economic considerations, and direct access to the Atlantic. I’m honestly now sure how much either the pros or cons would factor in. I’m also not sure the extent to which Texas would be interested. And lastly, it’s hard to determine for sure without knowing what the structure of the WSA would be. The more of a confederation it is, the more likely Texas is to be included. The more they expect to be governed from Capital City, the less likely the two are to come to an arrangement.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Random catching up — we’re in the second day of a Comcast service outage (now using the wife’s iPhone as a router) and the new granddaughter was born. Also apologies to Dennis, for having what was a throw-away rant turn into a sizable hijacking :^)

        @Cascadian I don’t think Oregon has to worry about California stealing their water, at least not directly. If I were SoCal looking for water from the Columbia basin, I’d be inclined to go talk to Idaho about buying a million acre-feet per year and pumping it under the Continental Divide to the upper reaches of the Colorado. Not that that’s a big dent in the total Columbia flow — discharge at the mouth is about 190 million acre-feet per year, more than ten times the size of the Colorado River.

        @Will Truman Looking 25 years out, what “need” does Texas provide my 11-state West? Some energy resources come to mind, although it’s not clear to me that Texas won’t be hoarding those for itself by then. I don’t see what benefit a “two coast” West would enjoy. My understanding of the freight traffic patterns is that the West doesn’t do much business through the Gulf Coast ports. After all, Denver is closer to Long Beach than to Houston. As for population trends, I agree that we will continue to see population shifting out of rural areas and into the more urban ones, but doubt that the existing urban areas will go away. Except for Las Vegas, perhaps — in a transportation constrained world, I’m not sure that Las Vegas survives.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @michael-cain Congratulations!

        I would think that access to the Atlantic would be important not because it’s proximity to Denver, Abq, and so on, but because of the Atlantic shipping channels. If Germany produces something, the Atlantic would be better than the Pacific to have it shipped. And having it land and transport solely on WSA soil would be advantageous. If I’m wrong about that, because of a European collapse or a diminishing of international trade in general, then yeah, that would factor in on the side of stopping at New Mexico.

        Also, if Texas is primarily interested in hoarding its own energy, it would probably be content to strike out on its own if it could and wouldn’t be too interested in joining a country so influenced by the west coast so many hundreds of miles away.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Well, vote suppression tactics — however legal — are generally not the sign of a flourishing party.

      While the excuses and rationales are myriad, the simple sight of the GOP scrambling across multiple states for ‘voter reform’ to address non-existent problems in ways that just accidentally, as purely unintentional and unavoidable side effects, might make it harder for Democratic demographic groups to vote….

      That’s not a confidant party. That’s a party that’s digging in the trenches, huddling behind the walls, and generally acting like the world is against them.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Voter suppression shows confidence. During Reconstruction, President Grant tolerated the systematic disenfranchisement of blacks and poor whites — because he needed the Congressional votes. Thus it was, right through to the era of Nixon, who courted the racists.

        The GOP are confident their actions will never be punished.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Comparing this to Reconstruction is fallacious. (I live in a Reconstruction state — in fact, one reason I was against Dubya was I was aware of all the little ways states end-ran the process — specifically the fact that the Texas Governor has less power than most Lt. Governors — because Governors were appointed, but Lt. Governors were elected. And Texas didn’t want northern appointees with any more power than possible).

        The GOP is engaging in voter suppression most heavily in the deeply purple states, states trending away from the GOP — that’s where the most egregious changes are being made. Like eliminating early voting, Sunday voting, trying to get rid of college students voting….

        Bluntly put, parties with a comfortable popular vote margin see no reason to turn to obvious legal shenanigans to reduce the vote. Parties who are only holding onto office due to gerrymandering, however, DO.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        There is no voter suppression. Morat20, you need to learn the difference between your imagination and what’s out there.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        There is no voter suppression.

        True. So far there are only failed attempts; failed because they have, deliciously enough, promoted more vigorous get-out-the-vote efforts in response. “Don’t let them take away your right to vote!” is, if not strictly an accurate statement, a pretty motivational one.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Also failed because the federal courts have quashed a lot of them before they could go into effect. Pre-clearance, that’s called. But that’s gone now, so we’re likely to see real voter suppression in the near future.Report

  9. Avatar dexter says:

    Cascadian, You have to realize that, although very bright and articulate, sometimes Blaise esta llena de mierda.
    Just because I didn’t spend the sixties murdering Vietnamese, the eighties running coke from central America so Reagan could arm death squads or the aughts protecting Haliburton’s supply lines doesn’t mean I gave up.
    If you feel the need to see a hypocrite, one needs to go farther than a fundy church where they claim to be followers of jesus but really are followers of the psychotic homophobes that ran roughshod over the old testament jews and anybody else within axe strokes..Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      At turns, Dex, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal, the Internet proves Bertie Russell’s old axiom about what’s wrong with the world is the stupid are cocksure where the wise are full of doubt. In this case, you are that proof of certainty. I never ran coke, unless we’re talking about running Coca-Cola out to a restaurant table for thirsty tourists.

      I haven’t quite given up on idealism just yet. I’ve just come to the realisation idealism without action is worse than worthless. Such idealism becomes a trap for the unwary. Where has your idealism ever translated into action? Get back to me with the truthful answer, if you dare.Report

      • Avatar dexter says:

        I am one of the people that paid the price so you could have your non-drafted mercs.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        I was never a merc. I didn’t run mercs. I never dealt drugs and would resent the implication if it wasn’t such a bizarre charge. What is your point, Dexter? What price did you ever pay?Report

  10. Avatar NewDealer says:


    Bullitt is an excellent movie and probably has one of the best chase scenes in cinema history.Report

  11. Avatar dexter says:

    Blaise, First I had no intention of giving you the impression that I thought you were running drugs.
    Second: You are a very smart man so I think with a moments thought you should be able to figure out why there is no draft.
    Third Thanks for the comedy. I am still chuckling at the thought of you saying I am stupid because I am so sure that I am right. I am not the one that is screaming how everybody but me is wrong and dumb and then threatening them when they say something I don’t like.
    Forth Now is the time for you to don your DI uniform and climb on your high horse and swat a gnat.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Why don’t you just lay off me, nu? You aren’t making any sense.Report

      • Avatar dexter says:

        I’m willing. Just don’t tell me that hippie women are nonfuckable and expect me to remain quiet.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        I found them unfuckable. They fucked everyone. They all had gonorrhoea and most of them ended up with their heels in the stirrups of their gynaecologist’s, their fallopian tubes scarred shut from it, grief-stricken because they couldn’t have children. Call me a romantic. I still hold with the concept of love and commitment and found the Free Love wasn’t quite so free as all that — and so did all those poor girls, often as not prostituted out to pay for their addictions.

        All this I saw and you did not, you angry little man. I survived all this. Who the hell are you to gainsay me?Report

  12. Avatar dexter says:

    Blaise, I will gainsay you anytime I find what you are saying to be not only a lie, but a vile lie. I do have to admit I am impressed and awed by your ability to give 200,000 gynecological exams in a few years.
    As long as everyone genuflects before your wisdom you are peaches and cream, but pity the poor person that has the audacity to say anything about your vitriol and watch out. You are nothing more than a bully with the ability to write.Report

  13. Avatar Barry says:

    Art Deco: ” The recession one of your authors referred to ran from August of 1990 to April of 1991. The media (and Albert Gore) were given to chuffering as if the economy were in severe distress in 1992 and the public evidently bought it. It was, nevertheless, agitprop. ”

    For those who believe him:


    “Job losses and unemployment continued to rise and peaked at 7.8% in June 1992. Gross domestic product grew at a slow and erratic pace in the year that followed the official March 1991 end of the recession, but picked up pace in 1992. Exports, typically a driver of economic recovery, weakened due to persistent economic problems in Europe and Japan.[6] Perhaps the largest impact on the protracted period of unemployment following the early 90s recession were large layoffs in defense related industries. Cumulative defense downsizing resulted in 240,000 job losses from 1990–1992, representing a full 10% reduction in that sector. These cutbacks also spilled over into transportation, wholesale, trade, and other sectors tied to defense related durable goods manufacturing.[6] For all of 1991, the United States incurred a net loss of 858,000 jobs, with 1.154 million created in 1992 and 2.788 million in 1993.”

    Anybody who was in the labor market in the early 1990’s knows that the job market took a looooooong time to recover. Which, IMHO, also explains why the GOP did so well in 1994 – for election purposes, the economy was still in recovery.

    Remember, by the standards set by economists, the Great Depression ended in 1933 🙂Report

  14. Avatar Barry says:

    Some comments on Paul Waldmann’s article:

    “In the aftermath of the ’32 blowout (when Democrats gained almost 100 seats) and the affirmation of the New Deal in the 1934 midterms (they gained another nine seats), Republicans decided they needed to change.* In 1936, they nominated a governor from the progressive wing of the party, Alf Landon of Kansas (pictured). Landon had actually broken from the party and supported Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose run in 1912, and represented an attempt by Republicans to re-energize the party’s strength in the progressive West.

    The result was an even worse loss than it suffered in 1932 with the more conservative Herbert Hoover. Notwithstanding Landon’s support for organized labor and large portions of the New Deal, he won just eight electoral votes. Republicans were reduced to 88 House seats, 16 Senate seats, five governorships, and control of 21 state chambers (out of 92). Republicans stuck with the model, though. In 1940, they nominated a former Democrat (Wendell Willkie) who supported large portions of the New Deal. Likewise, Tom Dewey was a cautious centrist, whose campaign (twice) focused on his ability to manage the New Deal better than Democrats.”

    This ignores the facts that (a) there had been massive improvement under FDR, and (b) assumes that people believed the GOP, which had been fighting the New Deal.

    Perhaps people were not dumb enough to believe a quick, convenient makeover.Report

  15. Avatar Barry says:

    (BTW, I apologize for the number of comments; I’m working through links).

    There’s an analysis of the early 90’s recession here: http://www.epi.org/blog/worst-recession-70-years/

    You can compare the job losses/recoveries of the early 90’s with the early 80’s; the 90’s saw a far slower recovery. The article postulates that it’s due to the fact that the early 80’s was due to the Fed, which raised and then lowered interest rates; the early 90’s was due to a financial crash, and so couldn’t be ‘switched off’ as easily.Report

  16. Avatar Barry says:

    More from the original article: “For example, Romney could have won with more whites, more blacks, more Hispanics, or some combination of those.”

    The ‘missing whites’ hypothesis has been analyzed; there were also many missing minority voters:

    BTW – Romney could have won with more blacks? When h*ll freezes over. The modern GOP was *formed* by the crossover of the ‘we hate n*ggers’ faction from the original ‘we hate n*ggers’ party, and has regular regenerations. By the time that the GOP is getting more than 10% of the black vote, the USA will be in such a different political (and economic and social) world that we might as well discuss post-Singularity party politics.

    More Hispanics is a good suggestion, albeit one which the Base resoundingly rejected.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      For what it’s worth, Trende has written a great deal on the subject. He’s not talking about winning an unrealistic percentage of the black vote, and he has addressed the missing non-white voters in previous writing. I don’t know that I agree with his analysis – I think I don’t, at least not past the short term – but he has actually put more time into this than you, me, or Think Progress.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        The missing white voters argument doesn’t seem to actually mean that much. Romney couldn’t get more people to care enough to vote for him. Getting people energized to vote and having an organization that makes that happen is pretty basic politics. That he didn’t just mean he was a mediocre candidate with a poorly run campaign. Every losing campaign could have won if they just got more people to vote for them.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        That he didn’t just mean he was a mediocre candidate with a poorly run campaign.

        Or that the issues Romney spoke to didn’t inspire these voters*. The point of this is to find out where your potential voters are so that you can try to appeal to them. The MWV is little different than minority outreach, woman outreach, and so on, in this respect. If the GOP wants to get back into power, this is precisely what they need to be doing: figuring out where their most likely voters are.

        Trende has advocating taking a softer line on economic issues, for instance. He speculates that a lot of these voters are turned off my Republican economic policies. Others argue that Hispanics are turned off by Republican opposition to immigration reform, and so they should re-evaluate that view. Others think it is women issues, and so on. These things are actually kind of important.

        The point is to get more people to vote for them in the future.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        “…but he has actually put more time into this than you, me, or Think Progress.”

        In theory, so did Romney 🙂Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Actually, I think the Republicans could win by having fewer people vote for them in the future.
        And, that’s a post: “How to win by changing the game”Report

    • Avatar trumwill says:

      Romney didn’t have access to the exit polls of the 2012 election. Anyway, I’m not arguing that Trend is right. Just that he has addressed to some degree or another what you presented.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      What Romney needed most was MORE WOMEN.Report

  17. Avatar Barry says:

    Will: “The point is to get more people to vote for them in the future.”

    No, the point is voter suppression, which the GOP is enacting as fast and as hard as they can, in a number of states, quite deliberately.

    The GOP has chosen. Some prominent ‘leaders’ might still disagree, but the people making the decisions[1] have clearly grabbed the rudder and set the course.

    [1] The Base, the Tea Party organizers, the Tea Party backers, various billionaires, probably a lot of evangelical/fundamentalist churches[2], most of the GOP politicians in Congress, a very large number of State governments, etc.

    [2] Yes, there are splits, but for example I haven’t heard of any major right-wing evangelical/fundamenatlist churches speaking out against voter suppression, and the ones who are in favor of immigration reform have clearly lost that fight.Report

  18. Avatar Barry says:

    greginak: “That he didn’t just mean he was a mediocre candidate with a poorly run campaign. ”

    IIRC, he did better than the GOP Senate candidates.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Absolutely correct, Barry, and it was a consistent margin. That’s the real hole in the argument that “It was Romney’s fault!” No less a stalwart than Ramesh Ponnuru has been making the case that it was the party dragging Romney down more than the other way around. He has a better statistical argument than those who just want to blame Romney.Report