The Crackup of the GOP Coalition


Mark of New Jersey

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

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65 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    Tools of the Koch Brothers, or tools of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?Report

  2. Avatar Stillwater says:

    The GOP is sure cracking me up.

    I agree with you’re quibble, and I’ll add one of my own: the phrase “undo the damage.” Viewing grassroots movements gaining enough traction to challenge entrenched political interests and views as “doing damage” reveals – or at least implies – a disturbing and unhealthy way of looking at politics.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “and strongly suspect that everything will come to a head in the 2016 election, after which the rebuilding process can begin.”

    God, I hope so.

    Remember when we all talked about how the GOP was probably going to have no choice but to right itself after the then-upcoming 2012 election? Good times.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Yellen’s nearly appointed. Now the schmart guyz can move on to other problems.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I didn’t. I flat out said that the Romney loss would be excused because he wasn’t ‘a real conservative’ and that Tea Party victories in conservative districts would be used as ‘proof’ that’s what the country desired.

      Which is exactly what happened in 2008 and 2010. And will probably happen in 2014, even if the GOP loses it’s chance at the Senate again because of running electable, but base approved, candidates.

      I’m not so sure that article does justice to what can best be described as a combination of racial and cultural panic in a lot of the GOP base. Gays are marrying, states are starting to be majority-minority instead of majority white, those young fools are all Democrats and power — cultural, economic, and otherwise — is slipping through fingers as they age.

      A lot of the Tea Party anger and fear stems from that, at least unconsciously. America is changing, and they don’t like it. You can see it on the issues that enrage them — the ACA, but not Medicare. Immigration and amnesty policies, the revolutionary rhetoric and disproportionate fear of violence scattered in their gun rights stuff (violent crimes are at a low, but you’d think there were crack gangs roaming suburban streets to listen to some of them).

      America is growing less white. The people who have always held the reigns of power and culture and influence are finding it challenged. That the GOP base is facing this while it’s own lack of internal coherency (business, religion, and racists) are splitting apart is just…spectacularly bad timing, I suppose.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Morat20 says:

        I didn’t either, particularly not once they nominated Romney, who really was their best shot to minimize their losses but who also wasn’t going to do anything to shake the coalition up.

        I also think it’s not quite right to characterize it as a matter of “choosing” to right the ship. This isn’t something that the folks running a political party really can choose. You can’t win elections without keeping your coalition together, and the goal of party leaders is to win elections – party leaders aren’t really in a position to dictate what positions the party should or should not take; when the party’s healthy, the best they can do is set priorities to align with issues where most everyone in the party agrees, but when the party is unhealthy, they can’t even do that much since there’s precious little on which most everyone in the party agrees. So they keep the coalition together with bandaids, perhaps prioritizing issues where there’s agreement but which are otherwise trivial, and/or trying to define the party around fear of the other side, etc. But what they absolutely don’t do is consciously antagonize a large chunk of the coalition.

        No, what has to happen for an unhealthy party to get healthy again is for the divisions within the party to get to a point where one of the competing factions gets permanently defeated and walks away from the coalition for good, allowing the remaining factions to find new coalition partners. In essence, what needs to happen is the party leadership has to be totally neutered so that the competing factions can fight to the death and replace that leadership with leadership that will take the party in a different direction.

        With the GOP, either the Northern establishment types need to defeat the Tea Party so badly that the Tea Partiers go the third party route, or the Tea Partiers need to defeat the Northern establishment types so badly that the Northern establishment types just go over to the Democrats.

        The long-term history of the GOP makes the Northerners the favorites – they’ve got the money, control of much of the party’s infrastructure, even if they don’t exercise that control with much authority, and have been the party’s foundation for 150 years. The more recent history of the GOP makes the Tea Partiers the favorites, though – the Northerners have already been leaving the party in droves the last several years, and that seems to be accelerating, and much as was the case with Southern Democrats in the 40s and 50s they are now a distinct minority in their own party.

        I don’t know how it’s going to play out, but increasingly I get the sense that the Party of Lincoln and Unionism is about to become (or perhaps already has become) the Party of the South, much as in the 1970s the Party of Jefferson Davis became the Party of the North.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Morat20 says:

        @mark-thompson, an interesting comment.

        I looked the other day, there are not enough northeastern Republicans in the House to pass a clean CR. Now that’s not saying there wouldn’t our couldn’t be others, but if it depended on just the northeastern states, no go.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to zic says:

          I think you’d also have to depend on the rust belt to control some of that tendency. Granted, I’m not sure how likely that is, but remember Denny Hastert was a pretty powerful Republican in his time.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Morat20 says:

        @nob-akimoto Agreed – there’s a reason I pointedly said “Northerners” rather than just “Northeasterners” here. The historic power base of the GOP aligns more with what we now think of as the Rust Belt and/or Great Lakes region (and perhaps including rural New England) than it does with the Northeast, although the money funding that power base has usually come out of the Northeastern financial hubs.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Morat20 says:

        I stand corrected, thank you. My own geocentric distortion showing.Report

      • @mark-thompson

        “This isn’t something that the folks running a political party really can choose.”

        I agree, but with a proviso. There might be things the party leaders could do in the way the manage their primaries to tweak their party’s direction way one way or another. I’m thinking of something akin to the Dems’ superdelegate rule, which I had never even heard of until the Obama-Clinton embroglio.

        Of course, “party leaders” does a lot of heavy lifting in what I just wrote. The “leaders,” to the extent they can be identified, are disunited, too.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Morat20 says:

        The closest historical analogy to what we are experiencing right now is the lead up to Prohibition. The Drys were dearly concerned about the social effects of drink but Prohibition was also seen as the only way to preserve the link between Anglo-Protestant small town culture and American culture. The cities were growing, demographics were changing because of immigration, and social mores getting more liberal. Prohibition was the last option. After they got what they wanted, the Drys held on fast and broke the norms of American politics, by refusing to redistrict, in order to keep it.

        The Tea Party is doing the same thing now. The rural areas are in an even bigger decline, mores are getting more liberal again, and the country is changing because of immigration, in a way that seems more threatening because of race issues this time. The cities also seem to be on a rebound. Thats why the norms have to be broken.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I very much appreciate the pointing out that there are dynamics at work other than Koch Brothers money. Obviously, these are donors who have made themselves important — but the GOP is not their tool; they are players, yes, but they are not the whole game.

    As was discussed a lot in the SCOTUS thread a few days ago, there is a point of diminishing returns on the spending of political money. IMO, the Brothers Koch have spending habits that go well beyond that point. You can run lots and lots of commercials on TV for dog food, but unless the dogs actually want to eat the food, you won’t saturate the market. So too the various factions of the GOP are the way they are because the Republicans who constitute those factions want it to be that way.

    Where I was optimistic that a drubbing at the polls in 2012 would lead to a soul-searching and a reconciliation amongst the various factions, and where Mark seems optimistic that this will happen after another drubbing in 2016, I am now convinced that a drubbing in 2016 will accelerate rather than reverse the process.

    Socially moderate Republicans, and actually* libertarian-minded Republicans, sick and tired of being told repeatedly that they are RINOs no better than actual Democrats, will oblige the invitation and one by one actually become Democrats. Or more realistically, disaffiliate from parties altogether and vote for Democrats rather than Republicans, thus becoming Democrats in the voting booth even if they do not assume the label.

    Business-minded Republicans have found since the Clinton Administration that they can work just fine with Democrats running the show. And the Democrats are currently proving themselves to be more concerned about deficits, the debt, and fiscal responsibility than the Republicans. So budget hawks and low tax advocates have ample evidence that at least the DLC-type Democrats are their allies rather than their adversaries.

    Left behind will be a coalition of social/religious conservatives, burn-it-all-down Tea Partiers, and moatdiggers. Seems to me that these folks will still be able to find common cause and stay together in a winnowed-down version of the GOP, and will do so. And they’ll sputter in disbelief and insist that they’ve been cheated somehow when they find they can’t win in competitive Congressional districts.

    I see only two ways for this not happen: a) a massive war breaks out somewhere that elicits a massive national change of mood akin to the attacks in 2001, or b) a Presidential candidate of similar charisma and political agility as Ronald Reagan emerges during the 2015-2016 primary season. Since jockeying for position in that primary season has already begun, I feel fairly confident that of the people whose names have gained any kind of credible circulation (Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, and Scott Walker) there are none who impress me as possessing such dexterity.

    I hope with ardent fervor, as do we all, that there isn’t another war. So I can no longer bring myself to root against the inevitable winnowing to irrelevance of the GOP and the thereafter-inevitable fragmentation-through-bloat of the Democratic Party.

    * Lots of Republicans claim to be libertarian-minded. Few actually are.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Burt Likko says:


      As was discussed a lot in the SCOTUS thread a few days ago, there is a point of diminishing returns on the spending of political money. IMO, the Brothers Koch have spending habits that go well beyond that point. You can run lots and lots of commercials on TV for dog food, but unless the dogs actually want to eat the food, you won’t saturate the market. So too the various factions of the GOP are the way they are because the Republicans who constitute those factions want it to be that way.

      Off the top of my head, I recall so much money spent on TV advertising in the last presidential election that there was no room for business advertising. When you get used car dealers unable to buy time on UHF stations late at night, there will be a revolt of some sort. All the money, after a certain point, doesn’t really matter, doesn’t purchase any additional benefit. And I’d guess it lost even the Koch’s a lot of other business because of lost opportunity pushing products they’re invested in out in front of customer’s noses.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

        Though my impression is that outside an actual election or ballot initiative at the national or state level, the advertising buys most of the issue groups are doing are on like minded media – i.e. talk radio and Fox News. Making more of a self-perpretuating fund-soliticting grift vice an actual attempt to sway undecided voters.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        Making more of a self-perpretuating fund-soliticting grift vice an actual attempt to sway undecided voters.

        The word ‘grift’ cuts deep, zen master @kolohe.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

      As was discussed a lot in the SCOTUS thread a few days ago, there is a point of diminishing returns on the spending of political money. IMO, the Brothers Koch have spending habits that go well beyond that point.

      I would argue that while Koch money is being wasted, that’s because it’s being misspent rather than because they are spending too much of it. If I were they, I would be spending a whole lot more on the culture side to affect politics, and less on politics itself. They need to think bigger. Plus, then it wouldn’t matter what campaign finance laws are, until it starts being argued that political media content needs to be regulated on a campaign finance reform basis.Report

    • Where I was optimistic that a drubbing at the polls in 2012 would lead to a soul-searching and a reconciliation amongst the various factions, and where Mark seems optimistic that this will happen after another drubbing in 2016, I am now convinced that a drubbing in 2016 will accelerate rather than reverse the process.

      To be clear, I don’t think it will lead to a soul-searching. I don’t think parties are capable of soul-searching. I actually agree with you that what’s likely to happen in 2016 (assuming the nominee is someone other than Christie or Jeb Bush) is that the “socially moderate” and “business-friendly” Republicans will flip to the Democratic side, leaving behind the rump of social conservatives and Rand Paul-types. Notice, however, that I’m consciously avoiding the term “Tea Party” types for a reason, as the Tea Party types are, IMHO, more a symptom of the party’s problems than they are a cause – as I’ve written several times this year, the boilerplate conservatism of the Tea Party folks has little to do with principle and everything to do with trying to reconcile the irreconcilable.

      But here’s the thing – I can very easily see a coalition that started with mostly just Paul-ites and social conservatives evolving into a quite competent governing coalition over time. Already, both groups have started heavily pushing prison reform, and slowly but surely the latter group is coming around on drug law reform (e.g., Tom Tancredo); there’s also an increasing split within the party on foreign policy and civil liberties, with the religious conservatives reversing course and starting to gravitate towards the Paul-ites and away from the Peter King/John McCain faction; the big problem would be fiscal and economic policy, but even there I suspect the loss of the business-oriented Northerners would give the social conservatives influence on economic policy that they’ve never possessed, which would soften a lot of economic libertarianism’s harshest edges. Indeed, on that last point, one thing that’s interesting in the debates over the shutdown has been the extent to which I’ve been seeing the phrase “crony capitalism” uttered more than the word “socialism” both in reference to Obamacare and, especially, to the “compromise” package Boehner and Ryan have been floating (which features entitlement cuts and a cut to the medical device tax).

      Additionally, it would be a workable coalition with a pretty fair amount of flexibility to figure out policy. At some point, it’d be capable of evolving to a point where a good number of liberals found it significantly more attractive than an increasingly corporatist Democratic Party. Remember that the issues facing the country today will not necessarily be the issues facing the country in 10, 20, or 30 years.

      None of which is to say that I, personally, would find such a coalition attractive. I might, I might not, and in a battle of Rand Paul versus Hillary Clinton or even in the primary against Chris Christie, I’m not at all certain right now which way I’d go. What I do know is that I’d prefer any of those three to Ted Cruz’s thoughtless certainty or John Boehner’s impotent juggling act.Report

      • Mark,

        This is a very good point. I think if you and Burt are right (and I don’t find your arguments really mutually exclusive), then there will be not only a reconstruction of the GOP coalition, but a reconstruction of the Dem coalition, too. The idea that DLC-type Dem’s might turn their party into a corporatist party and the GOP turn into something else seems plausible.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Burt Likko says:

      “Left behind will be a coalition of social/religious conservatives, burn-it-all-down Tea Partiers, and moatdiggers. Seems to me that these folks will still be able to find common cause and stay together in a winnowed-down version of the GOP, and will do so.”

      I take your point, but the future does not necessarily need to play out that way… there are quite a few social-cons and paleo-cons and just con-cons that freed from Republican Big Business (and the Libertarian Free Marketeers) might just become free radicals in the body politic.

      Though fundamentally I think you are right that the Establishment Republicans will keep the house in the divorce.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I, too, doubt that everything will come to a head in 2016. I wouldn’t rule out it coming to a head in 2014, if a mini-reverse wave election pushes the Republicans out of the House majority over the current contretemps.

    But if that doesn’t happen, the reckoning is not going to happen until after 2020, when we get new congressional and state legislative electoral maps.

    The Virginia gov election strongly indicates that whomever the Dems pick in 2016 will be able to beat whomever the GOP picks in 2016 based on the gender gap, immigration policy, and either the right wing of the Republican party staying home in a Christie nomination, or the Democrats further energized if someone Cruz-like gets nominated.

    (but you know who could could potentially break through the logjam, unite the warring factions, and maybe not close the gender gap, but would be able to narrow the racial minority gap?

    Jeb Bush.


    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Kolohe says:

      I think the name is toxic enough still that you probably couldn’t get away with it in a general election. Just plaster W’s face everywhere and put family pictures all over the place. How long do you think that’d sustain him?

      W’s revisionism attempts aren’t going THAT well.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        If Jeb’s older brother was able to rehabilitate the name in eight years in the backdrop of a popular successor and a good economy, why can’t Jeb do it in the same time frame with a less popular successor and a weaker economy?

        You pit Jeb against Hillary, and the entire election becomes about the past, vice the future. (as compared with say, Obama vs McCain, Bill Clinton vs Bush I, or going back, Kennedy vs Nixon) Now if it is to be a referendum on the past, one would think this would automatically favor the Dems – but besides the fact that Hillary has long been the White Whale for Ahab Republicans, she doesn’t energize and solidify the Obama coalition because of her mixed record.

        Hillary would still be the slight favorite over Jeb, campaigns unseen, but it would be very interesting, in the fake Chinese proverb sense.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Kolohe says:

          I think that while Jeb might be able to avoid footinmouthitis when attacking Hillary, I’m not sure the rest of the GOP can maintain that sort of message discipline to make a race vs. Hillary competitive period. My inclination is to think that a few of their louder mouthed spokesmen will say horrible, sexist things that will continually hammer their popularity with women, and probably not allow them to overcome the gender gap nationally.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Kolohe says:

          Also, I think W. had the “dad was boring” thing going FOR him after 8 years of Clinton where everyone was tired of the constant scandal/drama bombs that were being dropped on Clinton. The damage W did to the Bush name was substantially worse than what H.W. did to the name. I mean, yes, H.W. didn’t win like was expected shortly after Desert Storm, but he was at least remembered as a competent foreign policy president. And that probably fed into enough middle of the road nostalgia to let W. win.

          Are you seeing a lot of Bush Nostalgia among non-rabid partisan Republicans? Because I’m not, really.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        I’m not seeing Bush nostalgia from anyone. But in 1965, nobody had Nixon nostalgia either.

        Nixon, though, was able to leverage a very similar disarray in the Republican party, unify the factions, and get the nomination.

        (he got the *Presidency* because the Dems went to war with themselves in that same interval)Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        There was quite a bit of Nixon Nostalgia in 1965. Nixon was making important friends, especially in Nelson Rockefeller’s circle. They, in turn, made sure he got quite a bit of face time, rattling on about the Dangers o’ Communism. There was loads of Nixon Nostalgia, much rubbing-together of hands and Big Plans.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        @kolohe, Nixon actually did some things of worth. He signed the Clean Air and Water Acts and created the EPA. Now I know there’s some discontent amongst Conservatives about the EPA, but I sincerely doubt the more egregious polluters of the 1970’s would be tolerated now; even by the likes of the Koch Bros., though we can debate offshoring it if you like. Nixon also opened talks with China. He was both good and bad, as all presidents are. They succeed sometimes, they leave a mark sometimes, and the screw sometimes.

        GWB also deserves some praise; the GOP would have been a lot better off if they’d supported him on immigration. I thought his outreach to Africa for help with AIDS truly humanitarian. I appreciated the notion that children shouldn’t be left behind, though testing and denying funding won’t get us there (actually, I suspect honoring teachers and teaching as a profession is the key, and we can debate that, too.)

        But Nixon paid for his sins, and the GOP is still pretending GWB’s never happened; I must be with the Christmas spirit, for it’s the second time in the last week my best metaphor is Marley’s Chain.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        @nob-akimoto, I think it must be important to forget Pappy because 1) He lost to Carter, 2) He’s a reminder of how to, if you’re going to conduct a war, conduct one with a limited mission, and 3) patronage presidencies are not such a good thing, even if political talent runs in the family. The sprout will not be held on a leash by Pappy’s advisors, and as Cheney reveals, the advisors themselves may have turned to the dark side of the force.)Report

      • @kolohe

        I know you’ve gotten some pushback on the Jeb Bush comment, but I agree it’s at least plausible. My wife, who doesn’t really pay close attention to politics, a few months ago saw a documentary in which he was interviewed, and she was quite impressed with the way he framed his ideas.

        Also, to Zic’s point about Nixon doing some things arguably worthwhile, I’d point out that Nixon had to be president before he could do those things. A Jeb Bush might be able and/or willing to some good.

        To be clear, I don’t see myself jumping on the Jeb train anytime soon.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Does anyone still care that Jeb helped steal the 2000 election? Yeah, probably not.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        <ithe GOP would have been a lot better off if they’d supported him on immigration.


    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

      Why would the 2020 districts be less gerrymandered, when they’re going to be drawn by the same gerrymander-elected legislatures? The Supreme Court just gave the states permission to do even worse with no pre-clearance.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Perhaps simple demographics change? Too many minorities to stuff into districts to maintain the current level of geriatric gerrymandering.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Because the Dems have already taken back some of the legislatures (in whole or in part) that they lost in the 2010 cycle. If the slow motion implosion of the Republicans continue, (and demographic trends continue), that should be enough to break through the purple state gerrymandering advantage that the 2010 & later legislatures drew.

        And I would also expect more solidly blue states to solidify their gains and continue to squeeze out Republicans, the way, for instance, Maryland did)

        (to be clear, I’m saying *after* 2020 – not in or after that year ). (> not >=)Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I get the sense that Virginia, at least, has gone blue and ain’t going back after this–You know who’s not getting a paycheck today because of the republican party today? A downright absurd number of Virginians.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kolohe says:

      (but you know who could could potentially break through the logjam, unite the warring factions, and maybe not close the gender gap, but would be able to narrow the racial minority gap? Jeb Bush. Really.)

      And you’ve been on the payroll since when?Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Unlike too many liberals, Judis also makes an excellent effort to dispel the belief that these groups possessing the backing of the Tea Party cannot be dismissed merely as tools of the Koch brothers.

    I suspect there’s an extra “not” there. (For myself, I’d agree they may not be tools; they could be fellow travelers or useful idiots.)Report

  7. Avatar Art Deco says:

    John Judis’ article at The New Republic arguing that the GOP coalition is disintegrating is outstanding, and not least because it emphasizes precisely the same point as I’ve been making:


    I would wager you that you could build a considerable bibliography by writers just like Judis, in outlets just like The New Republic, arguing just the same point, with samples drawn from most calendar years over the last generation. You might even be able to do the same with starboard-side general interest literature.

    Along time ago, David Broder said that if you are out of material, you can always invent a presidential candidate. Nobody remembers if nothing happens, and if something does, you said it first. Same principle applies to magazine articles. Just make the subject more abstract and up the word count.Report

  8. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    The reports of the GOP’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Look, the GOP is having a very bad hair week. They knew they had to go big or go home. This was their Last Big Hurrah for a while.

    They must take their beatings like men. Precious few women among them, except for Sarah Palin photobombing the show, grinning and mugging like a meth-addled macaque, shoving her big old boogamug into the frame and screeching from time to time. The GOP’s demographics stink. Their core constituency is being buried, one voter at a time. Who’s replacing them? Not women. Not Hispanics. Not black people. Not young people.

    Tell you who is, though. A disaffected rabble. The GOP is now paying the price for not having a coherent agenda. After Bush43, the brand was in tatters. So they went after Obama, everything he did was Rong. Largely true, as it happens, Obama was not always right. Made some big mistakes. But where was the GOP’s Big Plan? They didn’t have one. It was just one long tirade about what Obama was doing Rong and nothing about how they’d fix things. No intelligent person will put up with that forever. Fine, I’m wrong. Now what? We did it your way, PNAC, etc. Two expensive wars later and the economy blew up and what do we have to show for it?

    The apotheosis of the GOP’s empty rhetoric was Paul Ryan’s Big Budget Plan. Nothing but a big ol’ empty potato chip bag.

    Everyone hear knows all this. Is equally likely sick and tired of hearing about it. But the GOP is not cracking up. They’ve been cracked up since the era of Gingrich and Bush43 was proof positive these people have no overarching objectives. Stupid is perennial and hate sells like pint bottles of cheap rum at the corner tienda. Fox News is just killin’ em in both ratings and share. A new crop of stupids is rising up to replace their elders. But this crop has no memory of the GOP when it had any respectability, when it was capable of making deals, when it was actually conservative.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to BlaiseP says:

      “Sarah Palin photobombing the show, grinning and mugging like a meth-addled macaque, shoving her big old boogamug into the frame and screeching from time to time. ”

      Make sure you tell your lovely, loving wife that this is what you think of women in politics.

      Read it out loud to her face and watch that little flicker of her eyes, that slight twist of the mouth as, again, her mind goes to that place where she wonders whether you’ve ever thought anything like that about her.

      And then she’ll push the worry down, like she always does, and she’ll forget it for a while, and she’ll even forget that she forgot it. And it’ll all be happy again in pretend land.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        Oh, Heff. Sarah Palin is the stupidest woman in politics. The one dud in class everyone thanks for pulling down the grading curve. Every woman alive should be thanking her for making every one of them look as smart as Hillary Clinton.

        Women want respect and in the absence of anything particularly disqualifying, they deserve respect. But respect is earned. It’s hard to respect Sarah Palin. She says the president is palling around with terrorists. Far as I know, nobody else has said that.

        A relationship can survive almost anything except the death of respect. Once it’s gone, I’m sad to say, there’s no getting it back. Takes a lot to kill it. I deeply respect John McCain, always have. Think he’s a genuine American hero, a decent man. Here’s something I wrote about him in 2007.

        John McCain survived many disasters, five and a half years of captivity, a lifetime of disability and sliming by his own Republican party. The Republicans do not deserve such a man in their ranks, but McCain has served as his own worst enemy. He remains an enigma, an honest man in a deeply dishonest and self-deluding party, the most intriguing of all the Republican political candidates to this self-described Liberal Democrat.

        Sarah Palin proved McCain was his own worst enemy. As for the personal attack, that’s Just Me you’re talking about. She still has a McCain/Palin button hanging from the rearview mirror of her car.Report

      • Avatar just me in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        Ummm. not wife, but loving and lovely yes. I know perfectly well how Blaise feels about Palin. I also knew perfectly well while I was volunteering for the local McCain/Palin get out the vote that he did not like her too. Don’t worry about me, me and Blaise have this being on different sides of the political spectrum thing figured out pretty well. I don’t live in happy pretend land, I live in reality. If you knew me you would know that is one of the most hilariously funny lines you could have ever written.

        I wonder though if Blaise worries that when I am discussing some of the liberal short comings with him if I think those thoughts about him too. Does he get that little flicker in his eyes, does he have to push down the hurt and retreat into happy pretend land?

        Or are we two adults who have lived different lives, two adults who experienced different things in life? Are we two adults who can disagree and not make our political differences personal attacks towards one another?

        Blaise despises Palin, I have known that as long as I have known who Palin was. He’s not perfect, he has his faults, this just happens to be one of them.

        I told you Blaise, the McCain/Palin button holds all the poppies that I get when I donate to the vets.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        lovely yes.

        It’s the tuque, isn’t it? 😉Report

      • Avatar just me in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        @jm3z-aitch Yes, just like the ones my mama used to make me. Also with the right amount of green and golden hues to show my Packer colors. Green and gold makes most things lovely, at least in my eyes.Report

      • Avatar just me in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        Dang, we weren’t together during the 2008 presidential elections. We didn’t meet until early 2010. Now my whole statement is ruined.Report

  9. Avatar LWA says:

    I would be genuinely surprised if a thrid party emerged.
    But I do see plenty of reshuffling going on- people like me, who used to be staunch Reagan voters, who slowly migrated over to the other side.

    There’s much, much more animating the fury of the Tea Party base than fiscal conservatism. There is something existential about it.
    But this isn’t shared by the majority of Main Street business interests, or professional class. Even people who grumble about gummint regulations still want functioning government, and are happy to work with Democrats.
    I can see them shifting over to support a party that actually wants to govern.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to LWA says:

      Depends on what you mean by “emerged”

      I would be surprised if we maintained three parties.

      I would not be surprised for the Whozis to arise, knock enough GOP people out that they become a viable third party, and then seen the GOP collapse into the Whozis in short order.

      We’re a two-party system because we have a lot of structural bits that prevent three-party dynamics from being sustainable for very long.Report

      • Pretty much what you said, Patrick.

        Third parties as a phenomenon aren’t that rare. But keeping them around, without them being absorbed in or co-opted by one of the major parties, is.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Patrick says:

        I think three party dynamics can be sustained relatively long, especially from the dynamics of state-level politics, but that national trends will make it nearly impossible for one of those 3 parties to remain competitive for national offices. In some ways you’d get the same results as what the UK currently has. You have a centrist corporatist party (Labour), a centre-right conservative party (Tories) and an anti-corporatist left/libertarian coalition party (Lib-Dems). You also have a handful of parties capable of winning seats in European Parliament elections and local councils like the UKIP. Of the 3 majors, only Labour and Conservative parties really have any ability to govern at the national level, and the Lib-Dems are probably now effectively finished come the next major election (since they coalitioned with the Tories and basically betrayed all their core principles).

        You could see something like that happening in the US, where you have a corporatist Democratic party, perhaps a liberaltarian anti-corporate party of young-ish folks, and a soc-con/paleocon GOP. Of those only two would be viable on the national level, with the GOP being a state level rump that would hold onto some senate seats, house seats and governor’s mansions, particularly in areas where they’re already strongly entrenched and demographic trends remain favorable to them. (Like Alaska)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Patrick says:

        I think the structure is such that it’s going to be really, really hard for the GOP to be displaced like the Whigs were. I am actually pondering a post on the subject of the many hurdles that exist that make it unlikely, and how we could have a more multiparty system without multimember districts or IRV.Report

        • I think another factor that didn’t really exist for the Whigs or the Federalists is simply lifespans. The average life expectancy of a partisan Republican today is going to be much longer than say an ardent Federalist’s lifespan was. And since partisanship tends to be rather difficult to shift, party loyalty might be a lot stickier in a time where people live to be in their 80s, and further, are more likely to be politically active with advancing age.Report

      • @nob-akimoto

        Good point about state/local vs. national when it comes to 3d parties in the U.S. Now that you’ve made the point, I realize was thinking only nationally.

        You have another good point concerning lifespans. I do think party loyalty can be very sticky, even if lifespans are shorter. Lisa Kramer, who used to be an OP author at the League, wrote occasional posts in which she argued (convincingly, in my opinion) that party loyalties tend to endure across generations, even in spite of differences in ideology. If I remember correctly, she wasn’t arguing that there weren’t shifts in loyalty, just that shifts happened slowly and over generations.


        I agree that it’s very unlikely for the GOP to be replaced in the way the Whigs were. I’m no expert, but the textbook answer I’m familiar with is that they just couldn’t decide on how to address slavery. There doesn’t seem to an issue similarly fundamental and astounding in our polity now that might rend the GOP. I’ve also heard the argument that the Whigs were never really truly a national party in the Dems were and in the way both parties became by the late 19th century. I’m not sure I agree, either with the claim about the Whigs or the implicit claim that the Dems and GOP were national parties by the late 19th century. My bias is to believe the Whigs either were truly national, in at least some senses of the word, or had the potential to be (but again, there’s a lot I don’t know, and my expertise is not that topic or time period). For the latter point, the late-nineteenth century Dems and GOP strike me as parties largely defined by sectional coalitions….that’s not in my opinion “national” in some important senses of the term.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to LWA says:

      animating the fury of the Tea Party
      I have different concerns in this.
      I would say the voter motivation and turnout levels of the Tea Party have already hit their peak.
      By 2020, they may well be a distant memory.

      Might just be a lot of wishful thinking in that.Report

  10. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    The first question needs to be, “What rules will the Republican nominating process play by in 2016?” There are some fairly radical changes being tossed around, eg, doing away with caucuses entirely.

    The second question, then, is “Will the changes make the Romney/McCain strategy less efficient?” Romney in particular (but McCain to a considerable degree) won the nomination by (a) being sufficiently well-funded and well-organized to be on the ballot (or to have spokespeople in the caucuses) in every state; and (b) doing well in urban and inner-suburb areas where the social conservative message doesn’t play as well. How many Tuesdays did we see headlines about the assorted non-Romneys winning that week’s primaries, but with the subheading “Romney increases delegate lead”? In practical terms, he won the nomination in Obama country, and lost the general in the same places.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Cain says:

      McCain and Romney both got the nomination largely by hanging around while the flavor-of-the-month rivals revealed themselves to be idiots. I’m not convinced that in 2016 the GOP won’t go ahead and nominate an obvious idiot.Report

      • Avatar Russell M in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        well they could do no better then tailgunner ted. even if he does not believe his own act, the base loves him with the joy of a brony finding a secret hidden message in a pony poster.

        the Sparkle code.Report

  11. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    There is a crucial difference between the Democratic Party then and the Republican Party now. Despite the friction of the 1960s and 1970s, the Democratic Party still controlled the House just like the GOP controls the House despite their issues. However, the Democratic Party was much more willing to work with Republican Presidents like Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush than the GOP is willing to work with Democratic Presidents like Clinton and Obama. That meant that our system of government worked a lot better during the time the Democratic Party fractured in the mid-20th century.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Prior to 1998, there actually was a fair amount of cooperation between congress and the White House. Clinton+Gingrich+Dole/Lott gave us Welfare Reform, DMCA, Copyright Extension, IRS reform, and telecommunications overhaul. Not much happened the last two years, but that’s pretty typical and of course relations had deteriorated by that point.Report