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Sailing to Irrelevance: Irrelevant is the New Normal

maxresdefaultEarlier this morning at A Healthy Commotion, Elias had a pretty gloomy response to a “crazy comment” from Louisiana congress-critter John Fleming.  Readers can link over to the good Mr. Isquith’s post for the actual NYT-reported quote, but the basic gist of Mr. Fleming’s remarks is this: Obamacare is such a pernicious Evil that it may well be worth wrecking the country in order to avoid having it become a regular feature in American life.

I share Elias’s malaise, if not his surprise.  (Elias finds the quote ‘jaw-dropping,” but to my ears it sounds pretty consistent with most of the quotes I’ve heard from the right regarding the PPACA over the past twenty-four months.)  However, reading his post did make me wonder about the future of the GOP.  Up to now, like most of the Republicans’ other critics, I have been asking myself just how many times the party will have to have the stuffing beat out of it nationally before it notices it’s lying in a gutter covered in its own vomit, admits it has a problem, and embarks on a twelve-step journey to recovery.  Indeed, I’ve been re-writing this question over and over these past two years.  But as I was reading Elias this morning, I was hit with a terrible, horrible thought:

Why on Earth should I believe the GOP is going to change, ever, regardless of how they do nationally at the ballot box? 

Why isn’t it reasonable to believe that this is just who they are now, and who they’re always going to be?

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From a political standpoint, nationally speaking the Grand Old Party is mess.  Last year Republicans lost what was probably its most winnable bid for the White House since George H.W. Bush rode Reagan’s coattails into office, as they simultaneously botched a slam-dunk opportunity to re-take the Senate.  At any other point in our nation’s history, this would be cause for the party to do some serious self-reflection and retooling in order to avoid future drubbings.  Now, however, that incentive is largely gone.

773-2Consider: Membership in the GOP as a percentage of the electorate is rapidly shrinking, and has been for a while.  The party continues to largely ignore women and minorities on its best days, while seemingly going out of their way to offend them on its worst.  This despite the fact that every electorate metric shows that capturing the white-male vote at their expense is a recipe for defeat at a national level in both the short and the long-term.  Worse, outside of their own bubble-enclosed base they’re pretty much laughingstocks with the rest of the country, including conservative independents. And yet despite all of this, thanks to its total integration with its media machine, the business of being a base-driven Republican has never been better.

Fewer individuals may be writing checks to Republicans, but those that continue to do so are writing bigger checks.  In last year’s election it is estimated that the various arms of the GOP collectively raised over three billion dollars.  That’s twice as much as it raised in the early 2000s, despite the fact that over that same period of time the percentage of registered voters who identified as Republicans has plummeted from 33% to 23%.

In the past, the collective size of political donations was largely tied to a candidate’s perceived electability; the greater the chances of defeat appeared, the quicker the income stream would dry up.  In today’s media-machine driven GOP, however, that standard has reversed.  When Todd Akin’s astoundingly moronic and tone-deaf rape claim produced secret electoral juices that shut all that potential-Republican-majority-in-the-Senate down, his war chest actually grew.  The same happened with Richard Mourdock’s war chest after he made similar comments, and with Paul Broun’s after he claimed that evolution and the big bang theory were evil conspiracies created by Satan. Hell, in the media-machine world of the GOP, you can be the worst major-party VP candidate in history, quit your job as governor mid-term out of boredom, become a shameless reality TV star along with the rest of your family, hint that you maybe, possibly, might kind of run for some office someday soon, and still snag more than a million dollars a year from the base.

fox_fns_gohmert_sandyhook_121216c-615x345Additionally, there is the problem that competence in today’s GOP has little reward.  A decade or two ago, being invited to the Sunday morning talking-head shows was a sign that a congress-critter was working on something big.  Think: Bob Packwood on tax reform, Phil Gramm and Jim Leach on banking regulations, Newt Gingrich with his Contract with America, John McCain and Feingold with campaign finance reform.  You might not have agreed with their ideas or strategies, but you couldn’t deny they were getting shit done.

Tune in those same talking-head shows today, and which Republican up-and-comers are you likely to see?  People like Louie Gohmert, who has done almost nothing of note as a legislator, but is able to gin up the media machine by making ludicrous conspiracy theories about terror babies, the US. Government being run by the Muslim Brotherhood, or how the Aurora theatre shootings were caused by the Supreme Court’s school prayer ruling.  Or Steve King, whose meaningful legislative accomplishments are as barren as Gohmert’s, but who nonetheless demands the spotlight by repeated hammering on Obama’s middle name, accusing the president of being a Muslim shill, supporting racial profiling, and making bizarre comments about Mexicans, marijuana and cantaloupes. Or maybe they’ll just book – God help us all – Donal Trump.

Is there a GOP legislator out there crafting real legislation designed to do something other than create sound bites that get them Fox News or talk radio airtime?  If so, I certainly never hear of them in either the mainstream media or the conservative media machine.  It might be that there just aren’t any left in the party; it might be that there are still plenty, but that they are relegated to obscurity by their own party and base.  Either of those options is equally depressing for patriots of any political stripe who value a strong and vibrant political system.

Screen-Shot-2013-06-07-at-10.56.47-AMOn top of everything else, there is the knowledge that most political careers come with an expiration date.  In years past, being so sack-of-hammers nuts that you cost your party an elected seat meant that you were post-defeat persona non grata with the party and the base alike.  That’s just not the way it works in today’s media-machine-driven GOP.  In today’s GOP, nutty gets you airtime, and airtime gets you notoriety, and notoriety gets you lobbying contracts and gigs in the very media machine that sucked ratings out of your bat-shit crazy gaffes.  Seriously, is there anyone out there that doesn’t beleive Michelle Bachmann is going to be highly paid Fox Contributing Editor after next year?  (Assuming, of course, she doesn’t get her own show on The Blaze.)

So where, really, is the incentive for the Grand Old Party to change?  If they keep losing the White House and never again get a whiff of major federal legislation passed – so what?  How does that actually hurt any of the party’s players – or at least those players that still matter?

Now that I think about it, its funny that it took me this long to consider this a possibility.  When considering my Sailing to Irrelevance series, you’d think I would have come to this conclusion long ago.  But until now, I’ve always assumed that they couldn’t keep going like this for very long. I took comfort in Andrew Sullivan’s oft-repeated mantra “It’s going to get worse before it gets better” because that meant that it would, eventually, get better.  I always assumed that if nothing else, pride would force the party to correct course.  But now I find myself considering the horrific possibility that this is just the new normal.

Hey, the market wants what the market wants – can’t fight the market.  And despite the degree to which it may be slowly killing this country, a radical, non-conservative, ineffectual and self-destructive political party seems to be exactly what the market demands of today’s GOP.

Maybe we’re just stuck with it, for now and forever.

 

Other entries in the Sailing to Irrelevance series can be found here.

 

Follow Tod on Twitter, view his archive, or email him. Visit him at TodKelly.com

 

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93 thoughts on “Sailing to Irrelevance: Irrelevant is the New Normal

  1. The death of the GOP is likely being greatly exaggerated. Go back to the pre-Clinton years or even to the election of W and you’ll similar writings about the death of the Democratic Party.

    There are two things that might be the most relevant factors of the American political landscape: (1) America is generally a center-right country and (2) the federal system that we have lends itself to two parties.

    This will go down roughly either one of two ways: the GOP will tack back towards the center and it will be the same as it ever was or the GOP will run itself into the ground and some new center-right party will emerge.

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      • That’s kind of my thought. Though it gets a little more complicated than all that, Carter wasn’t seen as being too far to the left as much as a bad manager of the economy and country.

        On the other hand, I do think it took Mondale and Dukakis to get to the point where the party would nominate Clinton.

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      • Dukakis was a liberal in the, “I’m a card carrying member of the ACLU,” sense, but he was a technocratic neoliberal when it came to economic matters, running on the Massachusetts Miracle.

        The fire-breathing liberals on economics in the ’88 field were Jesse Jackson and Dick Gephardt, for race and union related reasons, respectively.

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    • (1) America is generally a center-right country and

      Either that’s a meaningless comment, or it’s wrong.

      I actually think it’s meaningless. A country cannot generally occupy a location on the political spectrum, because the political spectrum does not exist in some sort of objective unchanging sense.

      And if there _was_ such a thing, if it was possible to average where all democratic countries of the world were and plot the US on it, the US is not to the center right of the average. It’s ‘generally’ to the left. For example, we don’t have a fascist party. And nativism and racism must be carefully disguised. (Although, again, I’m not sure it makes sense to try to compare countries like that.)

      And of the right, 80% of people appear to be either low-information voters or ones who have single issues. Right _now_ the right has an entire generation or two taught into being far right due to racial animus and propaganda, which sorta tilts the playing field.

      We are in a country where the right wing has won, for the last few decades, despite the people not actually appearing to agree with them on policy. We are in a country where people, if you ask them without relation to political party, think we should have a more progressive income tax than _Sweden_, think we should provide a lot more government services than we do in any _specific_ instance, and are in nearly complete agreement about every aspect of the ACA, despite half of them hating ‘Obamacare’.

      Everyone on the right saying we are ‘center right’ does not make us so. We’re actually more ‘middling-left’ people who have been convinced to vote right…except that also stopped, and right now the right is only in office there due to gerrymandering and low voter turnout.

      Now, of course this is going to change, as you talk about. No two party system will keep operating with one political party completely disliked. And with new parties we end up with new positions on the political spectrum. So I wouldn’t bother to mention this except you forgot one option…

      This will go down roughly either one of two ways: the GOP will tack back towards the center and it will be the same as it ever was or the GOP will run itself into the ground and some new center-right party will emerge.

      Or the _existing_ center-right party, aka, the Democrats, will continue their rightward movement, the existing far-right party will fall off the map (Which has arguably already happened. When was the last time the right proposed _policy_? Any policy? At all?), and we’ll get a new left party.

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      • And of the right, 80 90% of people appear to be either low-information voters or ones who have single issues.

        FTFY.

        We are in a country where people, if you ask them without relation to political party, think we should have a more progressive income tax than _Sweden_

        Are you referring to that study where they misrepresented Sweden’s wealth distribution in the charts they showed to people because Sweden’s actual wealth distribution didn’t differ dramatically enough from the US’s?

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      • By the way, all polls really show is that people don’t really understand what other people pay in taxes. When you ask people if the rich should pay more in taxes, they’ll say yes because they buy into ridiculous conspiracy theories about how the rich don’t pay taxes. But when you ask them for specific numbers, IIRC, most people will say that the top rate should be 33% or lower. Which is about what the average effective federal tax rate for the top 0.01% is; those living in states with state income taxes will see their effective tax rates pushed up into the high 30s.

        I’m not claiming that this has any normative significance. Just saying you shouldn’t either, when they’re on your side.

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      • Are you referring to that study where they misrepresented Sweden’s wealth distribution in the charts they showed to people because Sweden’s actual wealth distribution didn’t differ dramatically enough from the US’s?

        No. I’m talking about payment of taxes. I’m not entirely sure it was _income_ tax specifically. But Americans, when asked the percentage of their income that different groups should pay in taxes, picked a level that was closer to Sweden for high income people.

        Of course, part of this is due to the fact that people vastly overestimate what percentage of income the rich pay, because they are informed repeated that ‘the top 1% pay 33% of income taxes’, which is, of course, inherently a lie. (Did you know that 20% of the population pays 100% of the cigarette tax?!)

        So people polled pick something like ‘Rich people should pay 3 times more taxes on each dollar earned than people making average wages’, and _think_ that means they’re reducing that amount. Because they’ve bought the lie that the rich are paying 33 times more tax on each dollar (Huh? That’d be like 1000% tax rate?!) or whatever they think is going on. (The rich, of course, actually pay about twice as much on each dollar as average.)

        Sadly, I have no idea where this poll actually is, and can’t find it.

        I think you’re talking about some other poll about wealth distribution, which I’ve heard of and don’t know any problems with. Can you point to something discussing it?

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      • Oh, and I know that Sweden has less progressive taxes _on paper_ than America. It doesn’t have them in practice, however, because it doesn’t exclude so much of income from the standard rates.

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      • Maybe I’m wrong about this, but it sounds like you’re saying that the 47 percent of the people who voted Republican in the 2102 presidential election are either racists or suffering from false consciousness.

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      • Maybe I’m wrong about this, but it sounds like you’re saying that the 47 percent of the people who voted Republican in the 2102 presidential election are either racists or suffering from false consciousness.

        …?

        I’m pretty certain I didn’t say anything like that at all.

        I said that 80% are either single issue voters (anti-gun control, anti-abortion) or low information. (The president is a Muslim!) I have no idea which way that actually splits up.

        Some of these low information voters are, as I said, a single generation. And by generation I mean political generation, not ‘generation generation’. I.e., people who had their opinions of politics formed during the Reagan years, where dog-whistles abounded. They’re currently about 45-55, and believe all sorts of nonsense about the poor (by which they mean black) and welfare.

        I did not call these people ‘racists’. I said they had been taught racial animus and propaganda. They are not racists, they simply believe racist things they’ve been told about poor black people.

        And, of course, there are the much older ‘original racists’ still hanging in there. Who actually are racists…but those people are dying out.

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    • It is said, quite frequently, that we are to the right of most other western democracies. That our Democrats often have more in common with their center-right party than with their liberal party. In that sense, we are a center-right nation.

      The utility of the phrase has its limitations though. It’s significant when it comes to international comparisons, though has limited utility when it comes to internal politics.

      The phrase “Americans are ideologically conservative but operationally liberal” has a ring of truth to it.

      Ultimately, though, the center is defined by the public’s voting. Almost definitionally in between the two parties, though closer to one party or the other when elections start entering a majority/minority dynamic.

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      • Jonathan Chait aptly describes Americans as being “ideologically conservative and functionally liberal.” When you ask American general questions about their political beliefs, you usually get conservative or moderate answers. When you go into the specifics, you get more liberal or left-leaning answers.

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      • In that sense, we are a center-right nation.

        I would argue that, _politically_, at this point, the Federal legislature is mid-right. The Democrats are standing slightly right, with a few outliers like Warren barely stretching over to ‘moderate left’. And the Republicans have actually fallen off the far-right to the point where they literally have no policy to put forward for anything all.

        I actually think it would be best if everyone stopped talking about where ‘America’ was positioned, because no one knows what ‘America’ means in that context. The American people are in one location (moderate left to center-left, depending), and assert they’re in another location (center-right). Meanwhile, the legislators average way the hell somewhere else (middle right.)


        When you ask American general questions about their political beliefs, you usually get conservative or moderate answers. When you go into the specifics, you get more liberal or left-leaning.

        That’s sorta what I was trying to say above in my post.

        Americans often say they’re conservative. (Actually, Americans tend to say they’re whatever _hasn’t_ been recently been used as insults, so you find few ‘liberals’ and, now, few ‘conservatives’. Instead you find ‘progressives’ and ‘libertarians’. But whatever.)

        Anyway, Americans will often repeat conservative concepts about things, framing their political positions through a conservative lens, even asserting they agree with the right…and then demand liberal laws.

        However:

        Part of this is the weird misinformation campaign being waged by right-wing media to make the country’s left seem much more liberal than it is (And to bring this back to the article, they’re not doing it because it helps politically, they’re doing it because of ratings.), so you end up in surreal positions where people assume the laws are impossibly liberal, and they want them to be ‘more conservative’, where in actual fact the laws are father to the right than what they actually state they want.

        And I think another part of it is just the fact that the right has spent decades, since the 1980s or so, talking about the framing of issues.

        I’m not sure how much of this has anything to do with ‘Americans’ per se, as opposed to how _current_ Americans have been taught to talk about things. I mean, in the 60s, were Americans ‘ideologically conservative and functionally liberal’? The 30s?

        Is this how ‘Americans’ think, or is it just how Reagan made them think about issues, now combined with gibberish from Fox News flooding actual facts?

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      • DavidTC, do better understand your position, do you have a problem with:

        Idahoans are conservatve?
        Vermonters are liberal?
        Idaho is a conservative state?
        Vermont is a liberal state?

        I like the second two better than the first two, but I don’t have a real problem with either of them since I know what is meant. (Though I might object to specific usages, if I feel they are implying that all Idahoans are conservative and all Vermonters are liberal.)

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      • do you have a problem with:

        Those those statements seem to make sense, based on comparison to the rest of America. (I would argue that ‘Idahoans are conservative.’ and ‘Idaho is a conservative state.’ say slightly different things…the first is probably what we’re trying to say, what the citizens of Idaho think, whereas the second seemed to describe where the state currently is located. States can be located somewhere different than their citizens on the political axis, although that usually doesn’t last long. But that’s not that important here.)

        I’m just not entirely sure saying ‘America is center-right’ is supposed to mean. America is exactly in the center compared to, uh, America, just like the average IQ is 100. So clearly it can’t be that.

        I _think_ when people say ‘America is a center-right nation’ is what they actually mean ‘Americans are slightly to the right of where the laws of America are’. Which is just flat out, 100%, completely wrong, at least at the Federal level of laws. (An argument could be made, considering who Americans have elected at state level, that they want incredibly far-right state laws…but I rather suspect all examples of that recent nonsense is going to end in flames.)

        Alternately, people are trying to say something about the mean vs. the medium. They’re trying to say that most American are slightly to the right of center, with a smattering of very far left ones driving the average left-ware. Which is _also_ completely and utterly wrong. (If anything, that’s exactly backwards!)

        I can’t think of any way that ‘America is a center-right nation’ really makes sense, unless the people saying it mean ‘American politics are slightly to the right of where Americans are’…which, while correct, is probably not what the people saying it are trying to say.

        And comparisons to the rest of the world are not workable.

        I mean, are we more conservative or liberal than, for a random example, the Republic of Ireland? Ireland has, as far as I can tell, higher individual taxes (Slightly lower income taxes, but higher ‘sales’ tax, or rather VAT tax.), but it has lower corporate taxes. It has almost no legal abortion, but it has some of the strictest gun control in Europe.

        Talking about ‘left’ and ‘right’ is already hard enough, and nonsensical enough, within the US. It’s a system that squeezes a bunch of random vague things into a single one dimensional axis, and works extremely poorly to start with.

        It doesn’t really work at all when compared to other countries.

        I always find it interesting, when looking at so called comparison charts, to notice what was and wasn’t included as parts of the ‘right’ and ‘left’.

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  2. Why isn’t it reasonable to believe that this is just who they are now, and who they’re always going to be?

    Nothing is impossible, but the “always” is exceptionally unlikely for a variety of reasons. First, you know all that money they’re raising? Irrelevant parties don’t raise that kind of money. As the party “sails to irrelevance” the money will start drying up as it goes to people who matter.

    Right now they have the House and they have enough to perform a Filibuster in the Senate. That’s not going to keep people satisfied forever. And they won’t be able to convince themselves forever that victory is around the corner forever. Eventually, they’ll lose the court and be reminded that elections matter (not unlike those people who voted for Nader in 2000 but volunteered for Kerry in 2004).

    And even if they don’t care about ideology, they care about money. All that money you refer to? They don’t go to irrelevant parties. Just as Republican voters will get tired of losing, the money will dry up. (Doubt me that Republicans want to win? Remember how, after the first debate when Mitt put on his moderate face? A lot of people said he was going to alienate the base, but they didn’t care. They saw a winner).

    Worst case, I think, this takes a while to play out. They really will have to lose the court. Maybe another couple presidential elections. At some point, the Democratic Party stops fearing the Republican Party and start viewing their intra-party rivals as “the problem.” The Democratic coalition is pretty dependent on a viable Republican threat. It’s possible that the two-party system that emerges from there does not include the Republican Party as one of those party. I’d bet money that it does.

    Or, instead, we live in the same universe we lived in a couple decades ago, when the at this point after the 1996 election, the GOP was on the road to impeaching Bill Clinton against the advice of just about every poll out there. I don’t recall much talk at that point about broadening the party, but by 2000 they nominated the “compassionate conservative” who spoke Spanish and were pretty excited about him, because they wanted to win.

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    • It could be a long time before they lose the Court, though. Of the reliable conservative votes on SCOTUS, only Scalia is approaching retirement. Both HW and W Bush were very clever in their appointments – Thomas, Alito and Roberts will be around for decades.

      I think the watershed moment will be statehouse elections in advance of the next decennial census. I expect some redistricting comeuppance as Democrats take back legislative control of a number of purple states.

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      • Losing a single justice to a Democratic appointee loses them the court. It only takes one. Even losing Kennedy would be huge.

        Their hold on the court – to the extent they have one – depends on the health and vigor of two seventy-seven year old men.

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      • Its actually amazing to me we haven’t see a SC justice keel over unexpectedly in a while. While they are in an income and education bracket that is going to get great health care and likely take good care of themselves, it is still sort amazing. I don’t want to imagine the mega conspiracy freak out if one of the old ones does collapse suddenly not to mention the …ummm…. slightly contentious battle to appoint a new one.

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      • Thomas in particular is explicit about holding on to his seat until he dies. Alito is likely to be the same way, but since Alito has a much more conservative personal and judicial temperament it’s not necessarily easy to read him.

        Roberts may vote more in ways I don’t like than the way I like, but he writes such crisp opinions and is such a good administrator and advocate for the courts in general that I doubt I will mind all that much no matter how long he stays on the bench.

        Scalia, for better or worse, is 77 years old. Modern medicine is pretty good; he could be there ten to fifteen more years, or until he physically loses the ability to go on. He is by far the most interesting writer on the bench so unless he is replaced by someone who has similar epistolary abilities, the Supreme Court will be that much less enjoyable to follow when he’s gone.

        And, for the Democrats, this may be good news in disguise. A conservative Court gives them something to rally against and a bogeyman to motivate their own base. If the Democrats really do control everything, they really will start to think, as Tod warns in the OP, that rival factions within their own party are the real enemy. Which would create a very real opportunity for the Republicans. So a conservative court keeps the Democrats honest and working hard.

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      • Of course i have my own ideological biases but Scalia seems to be getting louder and crankier in public recently. He wouldn’t be the first older guy to get pretty far out there really fast as he ages. That doesn’t really help his standing or how the court is perceived.

        I don’t blame any of them for hanging onto that sweet job until the grim hand of death takes them. I’m not sure they are doing great work at their ages but that is a different thing.

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      • Arguments like this one are why we should switch to fixed 18-year terms for justices. It’s kind of ghoulish to speculate on the health of the justices, and it creates terrible incentives for them to hang on until an ideologically sympathetic administration comes around.

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    • This is about right. There is a market for votes out there, and while the people in team GOP who ought to be reading the market and correcting course to capture them seem at the moment unable to finish the job, it will happen eventually.

      While Natasha and I have been on vacation, we paid good money to take a sort of a ropes course up here in the mountains, willingly parting with money to strap ourselves to cables in trees and walk over wobbly rope bridges and such. We were in a group that included about two dozen twelve-year-olds. (This is really about the Republicans. Just bear with me.) One of them, who I’ll call “Omar,” was very timid. They had a setup with a bicycle suspended on cables thirty feet in the air.

      Poor Omar was scared to walk out on the cable to get on the bike, then he was scared to get on the bike, then he was scared to get off of it — so scared he kept one foot on the cable and one on the bike until we pulled the bike away from him while he screamed and hollered in fear, but had no choice but to commit to putting both his feet on the cable. But once he did it, he got where he wanted to be. It just took him having his safety crutch yanked away before he did what he needed to do. It was actually rather aggravating waiting for him to find the courage because we wanted our turn to do the high-wire stunts too. But eventually, perhaps with external circumstances overtaking him, Omar did what needed to be done.

      As you’ve guessed if you’ve read through my analogy this far, I think the Republicans today are like Omar. They know they need to do something, but it’s taking them a long time to steel themselves up to do it, to search within themselves and find the nerve even though consciously, they should know that they’ll be safe trying it. They know they had a formula that worked really well for them once, and they know they have a base that responds well to that formula even now. They also know, in their minds if not their hearts, that this formula isn’t going to work anymore and they need to find something new. But doing something new feels as risky to them as stepping out onto that suspended cable felt to poor Omar.

      They have leaders urging them to take the step. We see hints of it in pushes towards immigration reform — resisted in no small measure by the base, but that’s because it’s a posture they’re not used to. We see hints of it in admittedly clumsy attempts to reach out to Latino and African-American voters. They may only be able to think tactically now, but at least there is realization that there are voters out there to court and they aren’t doing it now. We see hints of it in awkward embraces of anti-war sentiment with respect to Syria and Libya: a realization that there is war weariness.

      So far no one has found a way to put these pieces of the puzzle together into something new, and there is a tentativity, a fear of doing something that seems risky and new. Like Omar, they will eventually find the courage to make a step into the unknown and change.

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      • If the GOP is Omar, does that make their base the bicycle? If yes, which section of the base?

        They have the Silent generation who will be largely gone from the realm in 10-20 years. They have a good chunk of the Boomers who can be around for a long time because of the wide age-range in the Boomer Generation. They have a chunk of Gen X as well with people like Ryan and Jindal and a others.

        Who they don’t largely have are people in their 20s and 30s according to the demographics.

        Omar might be able to keep is bicycle for a long time. Or maybe not if you interpret stuff like the De Blasio primary showing as a sign of progressivism reemergent.

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      • You’ve got the analogy down pat, ND. The bicycle being pulled out from behind Omar is that segment of the voters gradually dying out or otherwise absenting from the electorate. When that happens, they’ll have no choice but to change, as scared as they are of doing it right now.

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      • Who they don’t largely have are people in their 20s and 30s according to the demographics.

        They do well enough among whites in this cohort, and may be able to improve on that somewhat as these voters get older. The problem for Republicans is that this generation of voters is less white than previous generations of voters. And they’re not winning these voters by enough (and in enough places).

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      • We were in a group that included about two dozen twelve-year-olds. (This is really about the Republicans. Just bear with me.)

        It’s a pretty obvious analogy. Two-year-olds would be even better.

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      • Will,

        Most of my friends are white. My friends are not friendly towards the Republican Party despite what I wrote below. Some of them are Clintonesque and could possibly be persuaded/wooed by old-fashioned Rockefeller Republicanism but that is long dead. They would need a Jacob Javits-type to consider voting Republican if that.

        They might be winning with white 20 or 30 somethings who live in exurban and rural areas but those are an increasingly vanishing part of the electoral numbers as well. More and more people are moving in or close to cities and as this happens, people tend to become Democratic.

        IIRC Romney did win white men in the 30 plus crowd but not by too much. He did not win the 20-something crowd at all. Nor did the GOP win with white women especially those with some-college and above.

        Now there are all sorts of factors that make me an electorally strange so I am not sure where to fit in. If I counted as white, I am in a minority of 30 plus men who vote Democratic. If I am counted by my Judaism and my educational level, my liberalism and Democratic party affiliation make demographic sense and put me in the majority of my demographics.

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      • More and more people are moving in or close to cities and as this happens, people tend to become Democratic.

        That’s like saying people who relocate to red states become Republican. There is actually some truth to it, in both cases, but it’s not that simple. Sometimes it’s self-selection (people who are liberal move to the cities), sometimes people relocate and change the local culture (Colorado), and so on.

        IIRC Romney did win white men in the 30 plus crowd but not by too much. He did not win the 20-something crowd at all. Nor did the GOP win with white women especially those with some-college and above.

        You recall incorrectly. While Romney didn’t win the 2030 white crowd in San Francisco (or California, probably), he did win them nationwide.

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      • I’d also add to that a lot of people who move “to the city” move to the suburbs, which are not so solidly Democratic. Others move to places you and I wouldn’t consider cities, which vary greatly in terms of D vs. R.

        To the extent that the GOP has a problem with young people, it’s because (a) they have a problem with minority voters and/or (b) they aren’t winning young whites by enough (which is in part because of the gender issue you point out).

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    • At some point, the Democratic Party stops fearing the Republican Party and start viewing their intra-party rivals as “the problem.” The Democratic coalition is pretty dependent on a viable Republican threat.

      I accept that as a possibility, but I’m not entirely sure where the faultlines would be.

      In the past, before racism on the left jumped ship, the unions were pretty racist. So we can imagine a ‘civil rights’ vs. ‘unions’ situation, or even ‘immigrant rights’ vs. ‘unions’…but that would be a pretty difficult point to get to. (Not to mention, uh, the union influence even within the left is rather weak.)

      The only real faultline I can imagine is some sort of populist uprising WRT businesses and banking, aka, the ‘DLC vs. OWS’ scenerio.

      It’s possible that the two-party system that emerges from there does not include the Republican Party as one of those party. I’d bet money that it does.

      *If* some sort of DLC vs. OWS situation happens, I would bet on the DLC Democrats jumping ship to the Republicans, and the non-crazed Republicans (If, by that point, there are any remaining.) moderating.

      I.e., it’s hard to imagine a scenario that doesn’t include a party with the name ‘Republican’ at the end, but it’s easy to come up with one where both parties are mostly previously Democrats.

      Or, if they are Republicans, were previously forced out, like Lugar and Barr. Just as examples, I don’t think either of those are going to come back. It would be people forced out at the very very end.

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      • The only real faultline I can imagine is some sort of populist uprising WRT businesses and banking, aka, the ‘DLC vs. OWS’ scenerio.

        The fault line would almost certainly be some variation of DLC vs OWS. I tend to think of it as Fenty vs Gray, but same basic concept. The left-left accepts an awful lot because the alternative is Naderizing elections. But once that fear goes away, they’ll become bolder.

        I.e., it’s hard to imagine a scenario that doesn’t include a party with the name ‘Republican’ at the end, but it’s easy to come up with one where both parties are mostly previously Democrats.

        Possibly, possibly not. But whatever form the party that calls itself the Republican Party would look quite different. In some cases, you see some of the same people, just trying to appeal to different people. Many of the firebrands may still be a part of the party, but relegated to a more subordinate place to it than the one they currently enjoy.

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      • The left-left accepts an awful lot because the alternative is Naderizing elections. But once that fear goes away, they’ll become bolder.

        I think it’s less ‘fear of Naderizring’ and more whether or not the left-left can get people within the Democratic party. I.e., they don’t want Ralph Nader, they want Ned Lamont.

        I think the left-left is smart enough to keep the challenges within the Democratic party primaries. Why? They see exactly how successful the Tea Party is at primarying.

        The first question will be, at that point, can those candidates actually win the primaries? And I say yes. At least for state office and Congress.

        I think we actually both agree, as far to this point. We’re going to get conserva-Dems primaried from the left, and many of them winning. (If they don’t win primaries, all this entirely moot.)

        So now there are two question:

        1) Which way will the leadership throw?
        2) Will those left-left Dems win their actual elections?

        If the leadership throws left, the left-left Dems will win, the conservative Dems will look right, see a smoking crater of a political party standing there empty, and take that over. That is what I am thinking will happen.

        If the leadership throws right, and the left-left Dems win anyway…well, I dunno what we get. The Democrats become something like the current Republican party, maybe, where formerly moderate members now have to leap as far to the side as possible to keep their job, and the leadership is completely unable to work with anyone and constantly accused of being too moderate?

        If the left-left Dems start losing election, OTOH, the Democrats are in big trouble regardless.

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      • If the leadership throws left, the left-left Dems will win, the conservative Dems will look right, see a smoking crater of a political party standing there empty, and take that over. That is what I am thinking will happen.

        That’s exactly what I was trying to get at.

        Now, it’s possible that the lefty contingent of the Democratic primary voter is actually smaller than I think it is, and in an internal struggle, the moderate faction will actually win. I don’t think this is correct, but it could be.

        So the alternative to the above is that the left-left doesn’t worry about third party runs. They form an SDP. From here, one of two things happens:

        (B1) The SDP actually turns out to be competitive with the Democrats, and Republican voters start voting for the Democrat as the lesser of two evils. The Republican Party dies, and we have a Democratic Party and a Social Democrat (or Green or Labor) Party.

        (B2) The SDP becomes a third party, at which point the moribund Republican Party starts having elections dumped on their doorstep. There are many, many ways this could play out. It’s the most intriguing of possibilities, but also the least likely I think.

        (This all stipulates that the GOP ceases to be a viable party and doesn’t or can’t actually make an effort to moderate after repetitive losses.)

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      • Now, it’s possible that the lefty contingent of the Democratic primary voter is actually smaller than I think it is, and in an internal struggle, the moderate faction will actually win. I don’t think this is correct, but it could be.

        Ironically, this could happen, but only if the Republicans implode faster, so Democrats have a lot more right-ish voters that have gotten fed up with the Republicans and left.

        Most of what happens with the Democrats depends on what’s going on with the Republicans.

        So the alternative to the above is that the left-left doesn’t worry about third party runs. They form an SDP. From here, one of two things happens:

        I was actually thinking a third option:

        B3) Instead of an actual SDP, it’s something like the Tea Party, a group that puts forward candidates under the Democratic banner. Meanwhile, there’s all the DLC old guard, along with some new politicians who in any other times would have been under the Republicans, but they realized those folks be crazy, so they’re just a very conservative Dem now.

        Then Republicans start voting in the Democratic primary, (Again, this is almost entirely dependent on how fast the Republicans implode.) so we end up with a situation where the real election is happening in the primary, and the election itself has like 20% (Or whatever the crazy factor is.) voting for the crazy Republican, and 80% voting for the ‘Democrat’, where the ‘Democrats’ varies from far-left to middle-right.

        This is the point where it’s very critical which way ‘The Democrats’, or rather, the leadership, goes. And it’s very critical that the left-left not get fed up with a few losses and run off to start their own political party with blackjack and hookers.

        _If the leadership goes left_, and I have no evidence they will, but if they do, I suspect the conservative Dems and should-be Republicans will notice that unused political party to the right of them, and basically ‘hijack’ it. Especially if some of them came from there. That’s what I was talking about, where we end up with ‘Republicans’ and ‘Democrats’, but by ‘Republicans’ we mean ‘conservative Democrats’. (Along with a few Republicans who managed to escape before being forced into saying completely insane far-right things.)

        If the leadership goes right, or the left-left runs off before the leadership has to decide, we end up with a social democratic party, of course.

        And on top of all those possibilities, all this is very dependent on just how fast the Republicans eat themselves.

        I think we’re very rapidly reaching the tipping point. Perhaps it’s just my left-colored glasses, but I think the Republicans have been barely hanging on via a bunch of rather tricky moves, and once they hit a minority, either those will just go away or the left will start using them in reverse. No more voter suppression, in fact, voting for an entire month before the election! No more crazy redistricting, unless the left wants it. Etc, etc. And suddenly the percentage of people _voting_ for the Republicans is more in line with their approval rating. (I.e., 10 points lower than Dems.)

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      • DavidTC

        “In the past, before racism on the left jumped ship, the unions were pretty racist. ”

        That’s a ways in the past; unions were also leaders in civil rights. And if you look at the

        (snip)

        “Not to mention, uh, the union influence even within the left is rather weak.)”

        Yes, I don’t know for sure, but I imagine the days of unions supporting Republicans because ‘we’re safe’ are long gone.

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      • Then Republicans start voting in the Democratic primary, (Again, this is almost entirely dependent on how fast the Republicans implode.) so we end up with a situation where the real election is happening in the primary, and the election itself has like 20% (Or whatever the crazy factor is.) voting for the crazy Republican, and 80% voting for the ‘Democrat’, where the ‘Democrats’ varies from far-left to middle-right.

        Republicans voting in the Democratic Primary is a distinct possibility, though I doubt it will ever reach the point where there is something like an 80/20 split. If it did, though, that would certainly exacerbate things. At that point, if the left-left isn’t getting what it wants and the Democratic Party is still in the Obama/Clinton/Carter mold (or to the right of it), then the SDP is a foregone conclusion.

        I’d be really surprised if the GOP ever falls below the Mondale/Goldwater/McGovern floor of 37-40%.

        If it did, or if it hovered there for any extended period, that would open up another possibility we haven’t really discussed, which is another party on the right. Which is to say that if the party is polling 40% nationally, then Republicans in blue and blue-purple states that are too conservative to win a Democratic Primary, would seriously consider going Bullmoose. At that point, whatever running under the GOP banner had to offer, it wouldn’t be worth it.

        And that would destroy the right, at least until that all gets sorted out. And it opens up a whole world of additional possibilities of what would come next.

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  3. If by “market’ you mean the entire electorate, they just want stuff from the gov’t without paying for it. It’s the elected officials that ensure that gravy train. If by “market” you mean gop voters, well, I believe that they believe and support, in general, their party. After all, they voted for them. But I also believe that the other side is essentially the same. There are true believers, opportunistic traitors, deal makers to enhance their own side, and cynical manipulators on both sides.

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  4. 1. Nothing is forever. Everything changes. What the changes will be? I have no idea.

    2. I think the GOP is largely lost on my generation and 20-somethings. There are still young conservatives and such but all of the stuff you talk about in the series, my generation largely laughs it off even the more conservative-leaning ones. All the Trump stuff seems like it is aimed at an increasingly vanishing part of the electorate that is still the GOP base. They are not courting me or my generation. I know a lot of people even in super-liberal San Francisco that could be courted by Rockefeller Republicanism: socially liberal, fiscally moderate to conservative but not too insane. Rockefeller Republicanism is now the DLC/Clinton wing of the Democratic Party.

    But I need to stress that this is moderate fiscal conservatism. It is not riding off the rails about how Obamacare is the worst thing ever. It is also not the ranting against immigration, gay marriage, or the stuff Kyle posted about today on not letting your daughter go to college.

    I’m fairly far to the left among my friends. My support for universal healthcare is stronger and I also support a national vacation policy and trade-unions. My friends are ambivalent to hostile on unions. They also think I am a bit odd for supporting national vacation policies and laws like a European Social Democrat would.

    Yet my friends will almost certainly never vote Republican because of all the stuff you mention in these posts.

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    • “I know a lot of people even in super-liberal San Francisco that could be courted by Rockefeller Republicanism: socially liberal, fiscally moderate to conservative but not too insane. Rockefeller Republicanism is now the DLC/Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. ”

      It’s pretty much admitted that social liberalism is dead in the GOP, but they haven’t been fiscally conservative since Eisenhower. They *talk* lots of BS when out of power, but note that even the alleged high priests of fiscal conservatism were on board with Bush et al when the GOP was riding high.

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      • Concurred.

        My friends seem to be very socially liberal when it comes to criminal justice reform, immigration rights, gay rights, pornography/sex-positive type stuff, pro-choice views, narcotic reform and rights, etc.

        They are ambivalent to negative about unions interestingly. I was adamant in my support of the BART strikers while my friends are very opposed and think it hurts the economy. So they can have pro-Management sensibilities this way.

        It is all very interesting.

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  5. Tod, you’re using charts that only go up to 2008 – a historic low point for the Republicans thanks to Bush.

    It doesn’t make sense to dismiss as irrelevant a party that’s still garnering 45% or more of the popular vote in presidential elections, that holds the House (even though it’s losing the popular vote for the House and retains dominance only due to gerrymandering. Unjust political power is still, in practice, political power) and that has a decent change of regaining the Senate next year due to it being 6 years since the 2008 Democratic landslide. They’re not in anything comparable to the state of the Democrats (at least re: the presidency) in the ’80s or the Republicans in the ’30s-’40s. If nothing changes about the Republicans for, say, 20-30 years, AND if US demographic trends continue, then they’ll have a serious problem. But they don’t have one yet. A Republican victory in 2016 is very far from being inconceivable, even if I’d put odds on the Democrats at the moment.

    I’m not speaking to their policies and words here, only to their electoral chances. They’re completely nuts, I don’t argue with that. But the fact that they’re nuts hasn’t alienated an overwhelming portion of the US population yet.

    And honestly, I’m caring less and less about how nuts they are. The major problems for the US aren’t the areas where the Republicans are crazy and a lot of people (though not everyone) is rolling their eyes. The major problems are the policies that have become the political consensus – unlimited warrantless surveillance, government secrecy to the point of legally barring companies from even telling you if you privacy is invaded, the militarization and unaccountability of police, a predilection for wars of choice, unquestioning backing of Israel even as its ethnic cleansing and preparations for annexation of Palestinian land grow move obvious and egregious, defining anything that happens anywhere in the world as “a potential threat to American security”, the belief that you can go to war without Congressional authorization, to name some. And the drug war, although there seems to be a little more hope of increasing political opposition to that.

    The dangerous areas of policy aren’t what the parties disagree on; they’re what they agree on.

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    • Is that really the case? Offhand, there are a bunch of critical areas where the Dems are sane and the GOP is nuts or has no solution to offer: climate change is the big one, but taxation and the deficit are another and health care a third. I agree that there are areas where consensus is the problem, and that foreign affairs/national security is a big locus of that, but I’m not convinced that the other stuff is unimportant.

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      • I consider wars and abrogation of privacy rights more troubling in the long term than those three issues, particularly given that the Dems haven’t staked out strong enough positions on them that their differences from the Republicans outweigh the many negative ways in which they are similar.

        Climate change is a big issue, but the Democrats show no sign of taking more than mild and largely insignificant measures on it, and they’re quite willing to expand fossil fuel extraction and use in the US. The deficit is an important issue, but the Democrats aren’t remotely willing to propose the kinds of changes to the tax system that would be needed to resolve it. And I’m not entirely sure whether the changes to US health care are a plus or an overly-convoluted giveaway to insurance companies.

        In addition, the areas of war and privacy are ones where both parties are actively making things worse, and just as importantly, they’re creating a new status quo. People have come to see elective war and absence of privacy as normal; the longer the trend goes on, the harder it is to stop and the less interest people have in even trying to stop it.

        In something like health care, the support for some kind of change isn’t going to go away because it’s easier for people to see the problems with the health care system in their own lives and the lives of people they know, and to want them fixed. All the Republicans can do is delay improvement.

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    • : “Tod, you’re using charts that only go up to 2008 – a historic low point for the Republicans thanks to Bush.”

      True about that graph, but not about the low point. (I used that graph because I couldn’t’ find one that captured the old data and the most recent, and for the confusion that caused I apologize.)

      The graph rightly points out that the percentage of voters who were Rs in 2008 was a bit over 27%. This has actually continued to shrink in the years since, and as of 2013 that number is 23%. (I did link to that more recent data.)

      As to your larger point, I’ll leave that to my previous essays where I addressed it in far, far greater detail, but I’ll at least make this point:

      When I say that the GOP is becoming irrelevant, I do not mean that it is irrelevant as a part of the political landscape. I mean that the mission of the political party has ceded relevance to the financial interests of the media machine it created. In other words, the right is still highly relevant in US politics, but the GOP is not longer the relevant leader of the right. Ten years ago and prior, the conservative media largely did what the GOP wanted them to do in order to serve the interests of the party and to assist it with potential political successes. Today, the GOP largely does what it’s media arm wishes – at the expense of it’s own political success – in order to serve the interests of that media.

      Bachmann, King, Gohmert et al aren’t darlings of the GOP because of what they’ve accomplished politically or legislatively – indeed, in those areas they’ve accomplished jack s**t. (Worse, they don’t even bother trying to craft legislation or work for legislative victories; they’re political careers are based almost entirely on finding ways to get airtime.) Rather, they are darlings of the GOP because they drive ratings for the media machine. Michelle Bacmann’s predecessors weren’t people like Bob Dole or Phil Gramm, they were people like Wes Cooley and Bob Dornan. The difference is that fifteen years ago, the party hid, disowned or kicked people like Bachmann, Dornan and Cooley out of the GOP in order to minimize the political damage they did when they got caught making up batshit crazy whoppers that made the party look bad.

      When a political party is almost exclusively promoting legislators who accomplish nothing legislatively and who lose you elections nationwide because they boost ratings and ad revenue, your relevance as a political party is sadly lacking. In that instance the relevant player is not the party; it’s the media machine that drives it.

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      • I was going to agree with Katherine’s assessment of the Republicans national relevance vis a vis the Democrats, but I think you’re dead on with this emphasis on where the GOP stands in relation to their media machine.

        And I think you may be right that it could be nigh impossible to put that media genie back in the bottle. As I think about it in those terms, it occurs to me that the impetus for a return from the wilderness for the Republicans won’t be political, but commercial, say a profound crash in the ratings for Fox News.

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      • I think this overlooks why, exactly, the politicians rely on Fox News and the like. It’s because Fox can credibly say “Without us, you can’t win.” Implicit in that is “But with us, you can.”

        What happens when Fox can’t deliver that? I mean, what happens when catering to Fox means that you can’t? Why should the politicians listen to them then?

        The only answer to that is “Because they work from districts and states where there only competition is from the right.” But that only works when they’re a part of a relevant coalition. If they’re in a permanent minority, they won’t be. They’ll be the kings and queens of nothing. Politics doesn’t breed men and women of such limited ambition.

        If they cannot credibly promise action because victory is out of reach, then it’s lost. The big money won’t spend money on them. The crowds they want adoring them will stop showing up. And eventually, Fox News itself will suffer because people will lose interest in a dead movement.

        There is very, very little reason to give credibility to the notion that the Republicans will accept perpetual defeat. It represents to me a profound misunderstand of Republicans, politicians, and people.

        As it stands, the dangers can be – and are – denied. But that will only work so long

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    • The major problems are the policies that have become the political consensus – unlimited warrantless surveillance, government secrecy to the point of legally barring companies from even telling you if you privacy is invaded, the militarization and unaccountability of police, a predilection for wars of choice, unquestioning backing of Israel even as its ethnic cleansing and preparations for annexation of Palestinian land grow move obvious and egregious, defining anything that happens anywhere in the world as “a potential threat to American security”, the belief that you can go to war without Congressional authorization, to name some. And the drug war, although there seems to be a little more hope of increasing political opposition to that.

      This. And a bit more: these things are not just problems because government does them, but because the blur between government and private spreads. I don’t trust that information collected by NSA will not be put to non-governmental use. And if the information isn’t, the techniques will be. Privacy, when information was linear, was protected because finding things was like finding a needle in a haystack. Now it’s fractal, and the most valuable commodity out there right now may be information collected on us. Same thing with defense; government spending turns into defense contracting (so the US Gov. paying for developing data mining techniques will turned to private; see GPS info. for an example of the shift I’m talking about, as you read this in the internet that government paid to initially develop.) The war on drugs continues because private industry benefits from it. And when pot’s finally legal, there will be big, private companies to shut out small, agricultural producers.

      Yeah, I can hear you: we call this capitalism. But the middle class is vaporizing, and that’s the heart of capitalism. So how many of you feel about government overreach? I feel that way about a whole lot of big business and the way it uses government to jostle for a bigger slice of the pie. Feels to me like we’ve got the best government money can buy, not a democracy. And if you’ve got money, you can buy a whole lot of government.

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      • Yeah, I can hear you: we call this capitalism. But the middle class is vaporizing, and that’s the heart of capitalism. So how many of you feel about government overreach? I feel that way about a whole lot of big business and the way it uses government to jostle for a bigger slice of the pie. Feels to me like we’ve got the best government money can buy, not a democracy. And if you’ve got money, you can buy a whole lot of government.

        I couldn’t agree more with this, zic.

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      • “But the middle class is vaporizing, and that’s the heart of capitalism. ”

        From the POV of the rich, *they* are the heart of capitalism. There’s no moral or ideological reason that they couldn’t prosper in a USA composed of the 1%, a 10% middle class, and 89% strugglers.

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      • Barry, I’m not so sure about that.

        Because they cannot sell enough goods to their rich friends to maintain their wealth for long; they need that middle class as consumers.

        I realize that the wealth still have hopes of a good long ride skimming money from the middle class; but it is not an infinite prospect.

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  6. This is a problem and an opportunity. Even with electoral defeat, Repubs don’t accept defeat. Look at all of the petitions for secession after health care. Remember that this a regional party now, not really a national entity. Elect Clinton or someone even more scary to the base and they’ll be crowing to get out of the union on no doubt nationalist/exceptionalist arguments. Be ready to take their deal.

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    • I dunno, Mike. It seems to me you’re wondering if the same culture that demands to be left alone (conservatives whites?) is allowed to mess with other cultures (black teens?). Is that right?

      Unless I’m misunderstanding your argument, I’d have to say no.

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    • Look at all of the petitions for secession after health care. Remember that this a regional party now, not really a national entity.

      There are days when I wonder if there’s not an implicit strategy in this, at least for the short term. 22 or so states where they should be able to hold both senators; a few more where they may get one senator; currently better than that on governorships and state legislatures; plus the Supreme Court. Enough to block things at the federal level, and the Supreme Court to loosen some of the shackles on what can be done within states. Increasingly, two countries. In the one, the Republicans aren’t doing badly overall.

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      • There are days when I wonder if there’s not an implicit strategy in this, at least for the short term.

        Personally, I think there is. Republicans are just as intelligent as liberals (tho not as intelligent as libertarians, obvs) and I think there is a substantial faction within the party that’s adopted and acted on a “conquer from within” strategy. That is, they’ve focused all their resources on local politics first – city councils, schools boards, city councils, etc – moving up thru state legislatures with national politics sorta falling into place as a result. There’s some real genius in it, it seems to me.

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      • Stillwater,

        I think one of the biggest problems with liberals or the further left in the US is our general undesire to get involved with local politics to build up a ground mission and structure.

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      • I think one of the biggest problems with liberals or the further left in the US is our general undesire to get involved with local politics to build up a ground mission and structure.

        It does seem that liberals (generally) prefer one big program, where conservatives (generally) prefer things in much smaller bites: deal with it one person, one church, one school district, one community, one state at a time, each in its own way. Back when communication was slow, transportation was slow, the population was relatively immobile, businesses were small and almost universally operated in a single state, the amount of trash — for various definitions of trash — were small compared to the scope of the landscape, and so forth, it was possible to deal with things on a much more local basis. Today, not so much.

        Perhaps just my perception, but this leaves conservatives in some peculiar and contradictory policy places at time. Here, the school districts that are most adamant that control remain local tend to be poor and rural — and are also adamant that funding guarantees should be done at the state level, which translates into large subsidies for them.

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      • Michael,
        I’m not sure where anyone comes up with this nonsense.
        I can cite 30 NGOs from hereabouts, all pursuing small-scale solutions.
        Hell, some liberal companies too.
        Now, sure, part of this is because our local political leadership was
        a horse’s ass… But liberals tend to be pretty active at a local level, at
        least around here.

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  7. Excellent question, RTod.

    I don’t think the GOP as a party matters much right now; they are, as far as I can tell, in tatters. The masters of the GOP are not elected; the elected guys are toadies for the masters, who hold court in talk radio and cable news and from corporate boards that own media, defense, oil companies. And for these people, disinformation, political stalemates, and income distribution are all part of the same game. The political is entertainment, a distraction from the real business of making policy.

    So I think you’re right. Particularly because there are whole flocks of toadies in the pipeline throughout local and state governments, making sure that while we talk about this and fight about that, cash flows up.

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  8. I wanna echo Trumwill here my Tod; the GOP is in a bad position but they have not yet become irrelevant. They control the House (and have little prospect of losing control of it), they have tolerable odds of seizing the Senate (though a 60 vote majority seems beyond their reach) and while they have lost the Whitehouse (and the dynamics of the rust belt [democrat auto industry rescued] swing states and the border states [growing Latin population] look to keep that out of their reach) they did so somewhat narrowly (in popular vote terms if not electoral votes. The GOP doesn’t look like an irrelevant party and the money responds accordingly.

    The Fox news media complex that is sustaining the far right wing is not a perpetual motion machine. They’re burning through a series of finite resources. The first is the credibility of their party, with their opponents (pretty much gone) with independents (dwindling) and with their base (strong still but occasional cracks showing). When they run out of that the money dries up because they’re percieved as a waste of dough. Sure a Sheldon may sponsor Gingritch candidacies by himself as a vanity project but the national party will suffer financially. The second is their electorate and its financial resources. The Fox media complex is constantly tapping into the wallets of an aging if affluent population. That population is shrinking and that money is either running out or being passed off to more liberal heirs. The third resource is their state based party; I’d actually submit that on a state level the GOP is not doing too terribly, their control of state houses is nothing to sneeze at and while they have dingbats aplenty they also have a lot of sober state level parties. When the GOP is revived I expect the state level parties to be the source of it.

    Right now the GOP is hovering in a kind of event horizon. Their leadership (mercenary, victory focused and honestly somewhat moderate) has the engines on full reverse but they can’t pull the party back out of the gravity well (rabid partisanship) they attempted to cynically harness and slingshot into power. The partisans are too strong, the party can’t pull back without crippling itself and any moderate member of the leadership who gets out of line risks losing their job. No, the only way out for the GOP is through. The moderate veneer on the leadership needs to fail and some true believers need to take charge. Note that this is in process, the turtlish minority leader of the Senate is in a fight of his political life from a right wing attack; Boehner has blood and fire conservatives breathing down his neck. Remember also that both Mccain and Romney were considered moderate squishes forced on the party by leadership. Conservatism, as believed in by the base, has not yet failed, it’s only been failed by non-believer candidates. No, moderate leadership needs to fail, true believers need to take the helm and a true believer candidate needs to be nominated. Then the GOP will plunge into that gravity well and get well and truly shellacked in an election.

    Then, with their delusions blown away, their donor base deserting them, their electoral base dying or tuning out into senility and their electoral fortunes reeking like a rotten raccoon, the GOP will actually-finally- sit down and try and figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. They haven’t hit bottom yet and until they do it’s a sweet ride down for all the current participants.

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    • North, if the only way out is through, then the loss of another Republican presidential candidate or three would not be enough to bring about the plunge. Sadly, “the problem was the messenger, not the message” is a well that can always be gone back to, even if the nominees are true believers. Especially when you can blame character assassination by the lame stream media for any and all problems with the messenger.

      They’re going to have to actually enact the massive cuts to specific valued programs required to balance the budget at the revenue levels they favor (versus the unquantified cuts to unnamed programs they argue for in the abstract now) before it will become clear it’s their policies the people won’t abide.

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      • Maybe Scott, but I don’t think the GOP’s pathology goes that deep. McCain was a foreign policy hawk but was faking his domestic conservatism; Romney was faking -everything-. In both cases everyone knew it but played along in hopes of victory. Also in both cases the candidates tacked to the center in the general election. If the GOP put up an unambiguously conservative candidate who runs on his principles instead of tacking to the center he’ll be shellacked and will probably carry a few congressional seats down with him.

        If I’m right that’ll be the pop in the chops that the moderate elements of the GOP will need to get their radicals back under some semblance of control. If you’re right and they actually wrap themselves in the “wasn’t conservative enough excuse” AND it flies with their base then we’re looking at the GOP being up on cinder blocks for a good long while.

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      • I guess what I’m getting at is that “the candidate was not conservative enough” is only one of the reasons given for why conservatism is always being failed. Another important reason is the ol’ “conservatism is always being misrepresented” canard – that idea that, properly understood and executed, conservatism is pro-immigrant, pro-woman and it serves the interests of the middle class. I believe the curtain would need to be pulled back on both these excuses before the tide could turn.

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    • They control the House (and have little prospect of losing control of it),

      Why do you say this?

      They’re going to keep the House in 2014, of course, unless they do something inconceivably stupid. (Although they have already done several inconceivably stupid things, so who knows? They could default on the debt ceiling, for example.)

      But that’s doesn’t mean they’ll keep in 2016. Gerrymandering only goes so far.

      they have tolerable odds of seizing the Senate

      I don’t agree, but am I the only person who thinks the Republicans seizing the Senate while they had the House would be hilariously bad for the Republicans? Bad for the country, yes, but really really bad for the Republicans.

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      • Those are really ‘Reasons the GOP _should_ lose the House’, not reasons it actually will. ;)

        And some of those will happen too late for 2014.

        Health care, for example, might be slightly too late, especially with the deliberate problems states have engineered. (I predict it’s going to make some interesting _local_ elections, though. ‘What do you mean the Federal government would provide cheap health insurance to me via Medicaid but our state opted out?’)

        Likewise, voter suppression takes an election for people to notice.

        Immigration reform, OTOH, might cost them a few seats.

        I’d be happy _for_ them to lose the House, I just have to predict, at this point, they won’t. If they do lose it, it will almost certainly be because of something to do with the ACA. (Because Democrats will run ads talking about how that guy voted to repeal the subsidies you are getting to help pay for health insurance, or something like that)

        But barring some sort of ACA thing, I suspect they’ll instead lose the House in 2016. And depending on the president (And I assume the Democrats are going to win in 2016 simply because the GOP can’t possibly win a presidental election at this point. Also, whose turn is it? Santorum? Really?), the GOP _might_ win the House back in 2018.

        Then comes 2020, when all their hopes and dreams fall apart forever.

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      • “I don’t agree, but am I the only person who thinks the Republicans seizing the Senate while they had the House would be hilariously bad for the Republicans? Bad for the country, yes, but really really bad for the Republicans.”

        I don’t believe in the ‘they’ll screw it up and lose big-time’ theory anymore; notice that the absolute disaster of ’08 only caused a minor glitch for them, and the guys in there now profited from that glitch.

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    • “When they run out of that the money dries up because they’re percieved as a waste of dough. ”

      Or the money flows to the people with potential, and against the problematic people. No matter how friendly the Democratic Party becomes to the financial elites (or to the National Security State), the GOP will be far friendlier. This means that the elites will always want a strong GOP (and, of course, if the GOP did ever fade away, that’d take rightward pressure off of the Democratic Party).

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  9. Take the labels off these bastards and you can’t tell the difference. says The major problems for the US aren’t the areas where the Republicans are crazy and a lot of people (though not everyone) is rolling their eyes. The major problems are the policies that have become the political consensus

    Why are the Republicans so crazy? They have to be. In advertising, it’s not enough to be good. You have to be different from your competition. It’s called establishing a brand. The current GOP brand came of age in the era of Newt Gingrich, not by being Conservative, they weren’t. They were ignorant, loud and angry.

    Now with 20% more Stupid! Concentrated!

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  10. I think what’s going on here is what happened with gun control legislation last spring. I heard supporters keep telling us that 90 percent of folks were for some kind of background check so of course, something like this should pass. But people didn’t take into account that those opposed to any regulation were far more animated than the pro-regulation side.

    I think the same thing is going on the GOP. Moderates like myself and independents want the party to change, but they aren’t motivated enough to do anything about. They tend to think that surely in time the party will lose so much that they will see the light. Meanwhile, the far right is animated and ready to get their message out. As long as moderates and independents sit back and watch, then nothing will change. Inertia is not going to change the party or bring it back from some supposed brink.

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    • Here’s hoping the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth. You are badly needed, Dennis. I wouldn’t worry much about changing the GOP. Sit back and watch might be the best strategy of all: what is done in anger is done stupidly. They’ll destroy themselves faster than you could ever manage the stunt.

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    • This is true. Single-issue voters tend to be a lot more passionate than multi-issue voters or moderates. I’ve experienced this in debates with people who feel very strongly about one or two issues and vote on those issues to the exclusion of anything and everything else.

      Of course this can lead to weird things like people claiming that a true and harder conservative could win against a liberal when the liberal one 55 percent of the vote or more.

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  11. Ted Cruz spent the weekend exhorting the virtues of Jesse Helms. Under a government that had the laws Helms wanted, Cruz’s birth would have been illegal for racial mixing. Can we stop pretending the GOP is anything other than a collection of idiots and racists that needs to die yet?

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  12. It seems like part of this is a matter of perspective, though. If you disagree with the Republicans about everything, it’s easier to see them as self-destructive for not agreeing with you about anything and wonder when they’re finally going to get sane and agree with you. But, from their perspective, it might seem more like a period of waiting for America to come around to their ideas. One more terrorist attack might be all it takes…

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  13. Pingback: Wishes Won’t Change the GOP | Ordinary Times

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