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Moderate Republicans are Outraged. Nobody Cares.

kansas-flag-SCI’ve never been that crazy about Sam Brownback.

Brownback was a Senator from Kansas for many years until he ran for governor in 2010.  Brownback is very much on the hard right. Since becoming governor he has basically run on a very conservative agenda that has angered not only Democrats in Kansas, but moderate Republicans as well.

The big news in Sunflower State today was the fact that 100 prominent Kansas Republicans have expressed their displeasure with the governor and decided to throw their support to Paul Davis, the Democratic challenger for governor.

I’m glad to hear of Republicans willing to speak out against Brownback’s radicalism. But I think the news from the Republican 100 is not as encouraging on a second look.  The moderates are making a strong statement of what they are against, but what are they for?  Does their support for Davis mean they support Democratic policies?  If they reject Brownback’s vision, what is their vision?

This is a problem with moderate Republlicans, not only in Kansas but nationwide:  a group that can say with a loud voice that they are against certain social and economic conservative policies, but they never bother to tell people what is their vision.

Several years ago, conservative pundit Ross Douthat came out with a post attacking moderate Republicans.  Since I am one, I responded in kind.  What bothered Douthat is that the moderates never really proposed new ideas, instead they just asked for a little less than what the Democrats were proposing.  Douthat shared his post from 2009 last May when talking about moderate Republicans and the minimum wage:

One of my first columns for the Times was a non-requiem for Arlen Specter’s career as a moderate Republican, in which I argued that the G.O.P. desperately needed “a better sort of centrist” than the Specter-esque, “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” northeasterners to whom the label has usually been applied. One theme in that piece, which has run through my commentary on the Republican Party ever since, is that a moderate wing of the G.O.P. that just imitates the Democrats on a few issues where the liberal line is popular isn’t necessarily doing either its party or the country any great favors. To be truly constructive in their moderation, the G.O.P.’s centrists should be advancing alternatives to popular liberal ideas — trying to create a different center of political gravity, in effect, rather than just looking for ways to take some losing issues off the table.

FIve years ago, I thought Douthat was wrong.  Five years later, I think he might have a point, especially when it comes to reforming the party.  In the case of raising the minimum wage, moderates like Mitt Romey (is he a moderate again?) have proposed raising the wage, but offer no other ideas.

That’s been a problem with the moderate wing; we tend to be the ones that want to get along.  So in times of liberal dominance, we propose a moderation of liberal policies.  I think there is a time to make a deal.  Sometimes you can only slow your opponent’s legislation instead of looking for a new idea.  In Kansas and in Washington, moderates in the GOP tend to play it safe.

Which brings me back to Kansas.  Brownback and his conservative allies have had bad ideas, but they were ideas.  They have a governing vision.  It’s a stupid vision, but a vision nonetheless.

What do Kansas moderates have?  Not much.  What is their vision?  What would they like to see happen in their state?  They never answer those questions.  Instead they throw their support to a Democrat.  What looked like a strong stand against Brownback ends up looking incredibly milquetoast.

Maybe that’s why I am more interested in the reform conservatives or Reformacons.  Politicians like Senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio are proposing ideas that are trying to solve problems.  Writers such Douthat, Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru share their thoughts on how their budding brand of conservatism can help middle class Americans.

I would have been excited if the Kansas Republicans against Brownback had come out with some kind of white paper on moving the state forward or have someone run against Brownback.  They had a chance to counter Brownback, but instead of having any guts, they just ran to the easiest shelter.

It was 50 years ago that Barry Goldwater ended up as the GOP nominee for President.  Goldwater was leading a movement of conservatives and said that the party has to offer a choice not an echo to the Democrats.

I never did like that statement.  But these days, I have to wonder.  Moderates in the GOP must be willing to present themselves as a viable choice in the GOP and against the Democrats.  If they can’t do that, then they are wasting my time and theirs.

 

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148 thoughts on “Moderate Republicans are Outraged. Nobody Cares.

  1. I don’t know what problems ail Kansas. I know that state governments traditionally tackle big areas of activity:

    1) justice (meaning law enforcement, courts, and incarceration),
    2) public education (at minimum K-12 and at least one postsecondary institution),
    3) infrastructure (transportation meaning mainly roads, and public safety institutions), and
    4) welfare (at minimum, administration of Medicare grants, unemployment benefits, WIC/SNAP/AFDC, public housing like TANF, and general relief).

    As a practical matter, that’s the bulk of what most state governments do. Some delegate some of these functions down to county or special district levels. Some do more public resource management (water, air, oil) than others. And although some kinds of welfare are lambastable, for the most part, these core activities of state governments tend to be incredibly popular; start taking them away and people scream about it.

    What you can do, though, is mold how they work, and if you offer a better way for these things to get done, you’ll surely reap political rewards. So for those Kansas Republicans, those are the areas where they have got to put together their ideas. There’s a hundred of them, you say? Some of them surely have some policy expertise.

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    • The way I heard it from a long-time California political type had a little more rhythm: the State:

      Incarcerates,
      Medicates, &
      Educates.

      [Infrastructure is usually done by bond measure, so its spending falls outside the usual budget process.]

      Which, by the way, gives a nice roadmap for moderate Republicans.

      Are current prison sentences sane? Can we cut back on the War on Drugs?
      Has the State enrolled in Obamacare, including the Medicaid expansion?
      Are our children learning? How do our high school seniors measure up against those from comparable states? What kind of university system do we want? Are we more excited about sports or graduate programs?

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  2. Maybe I am too much of a committed liberal and in the Democratic fold but I have no idea what reform-conservatives like Douthat and Rubio have to offer the middle class. To me it seems like they are just trying to repackage the same old goods that did well in the 1980s to newer voters and it is really not working.

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    • Saul,

      Have you read anything by Douthat or Salam? Yes, you are a committed liberal, but you should know what we are thinking. The whole point of reform conservativism is to get out of the 1980s.

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      • I’ve read some and they have good points but honestly Douthat strikes me as very concern trolly especially on social issues. I think the Times prints him to generate click bait which he generally does very well.

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      • I was asking similar questions in the other thread about reformicons. What exactly is their policy offer for the middle class apart from switching around the EITC to benefit married couples with children at the expense of unmarried taxpayers?

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      • Starve the beast. Drown it in a bathtub. All that nonsense. It’s a childish view, it seems to me. That lots and lots of adults subscribe to it implies something important. But not about politics.

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      • What about all those slutty McSlutburgers out there taking slutty contraception and having all that slutty nonprocreative, nonmarital slut sex, ? If we cut their taxes they’ll have more money to go out on the free market and buy their slut-pills there!

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      • Burt, the moral issue concerning all those McSlutties has to do with funding their immoral slutty ways. Didn’t HL v the World make that clear? Conservatives have shown over and over that they’re perfectly willing to tolerate sluttseville slutty sluts just so long as *they* are not compelled to abridge their contractual promises to God. Which are apparently negotiated by The US Constitution.

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      • Starve the Beast was never a plan. It was an after-the-fact rationalization after Reagan found cutting taxes easy but cutting spending impossible and needed some rationalization for why his fiscal policy wasn’t just pure irresponsibility.

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      • and needed some rationalization for why his fiscal policy wasn’t just pure irresponsibility.

        Alsotoo, he never raised taxes!

        Last night I was researching oddities and came across a graph which shows that since Reagan the ever-downward-slope in declining corporate tax federal revenue is perfectly counterbalanced by the ever-increasing slope of payroll taxes. I call that a shift, myself!

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        • That’s a very interesting chart! Significant hikes in percentages of employment taxes as a source of revenue increased under Nixon, Reagan, and Bush II. They decreased under Eisenhower and Clinton.

          Also, contrary to popular myth, corporate income taxes began dropping as a big source of Federal revenue under Eisenhower, a trend that pretty much continued regardless of who was running things until they bottomed out and then rose again under Reagan, and stayed more or less constant since then except for a hump (up!) during Bush II.

          Individual income taxes have been between 40-50% of all revenue for pretty much the entire postwar period, again, seemingly proof against varying partisan control of government beyond those ranges (which also don’t follow the Republicans-low-Democrats-high pattern).

          No data from the Obama Administration.

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      • “Starve the Beast” is also completely incompatible with the notion that cutting taxes increases revenue. You can’t cut taxes with the intent of simultaneously lowering and increasing revenue. You’re either increasing revenue or you’re starving the beast. Pick one.

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      • Burt,

        I’m glad you found it innerstin. I did too. You’re right about what you mention, but it’s also correct to say that under Reagan payroll taxes increased pretty dramatically. From 30 to 38ish (??) percent of total federal revenue.

        Of course, the really interesting thing about the graph is how corporate taxes + payroll taxes have remained relatively constant over that time frame, but the relative share of each has become, over time, radically different.

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  3. Although I find these handwringing posts about the Republicans a bit tedious, as you might imagine this is a very interesting development for me. Kansas has always reliably been conservative, but generally not crazy. There are other signs that the Tea Party ship may be sailing. My Congressional representative from the 1st district, Tim Huelskamp, is facing a strong challenger from the traditional/business right. Basically he’s pissed off the farmers for not being sufficiently supportive of farm welfare subsidies. It’s a weird time for me since, although I can’t stand the guy in general, he’s being primaried for the one and only position I actually agree with him on.

    In any event, our state politics are sure to remain awful for the foreseeable future. Just maybe not over-the-top and around-the-bend, cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs, crazy awful. It’s sort of like the way we have to purge the crazy out of our state Board of Education periodically.

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    • I find these handwringing posts about the Republicans a bit tedious

      Then don’t read them, eh? For my part, I’m damn glad we get posts from inside the Republican/conservative camp, because what I think is really tedious is listening to outsiders talk about group X like they’re the real experts on it. (And given my tendency to criticize conservatives, that tedium includes me, so I’m not trying to pick on anyone in particular.)

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      • You’re right, , and I should clarify that what I find tedious is the assumption that I should care at all about the future prospects of the Republicans.

        I always look forward to Dennis’ posts if for no other reason than just to glean some clues as to why he’s a loyal member of a political party where a good fraction call him a nigger behind his back and another good chunk call him a fag and the rest despise him for being a moderate. I’m not saying he owes me any explanation or anything but that doesn’t stop me from being curious.

        You may think that statement was intemperate or hyperbolic but I’m a middle-aged white guy living in deep red territory and they have a tendency to assume I’m one of the tribe and speak to me accordingly. Some combination of racist, sexist, homophobic and FYIGM really does accurately describe a large fraction of the Republican party.

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      • and I should clarify that what I find tedious is the assumption that I should care at all about the future prospects of the Republicans.

        Who’s assuming that you should care?

        And besides, you should. As long as the Democrats don’t have a sane opposition, they can get away with doing nothing and blaming it on the insane one.

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      • a good fraction call him a nigger behind his back and another good chunk call him a fag

        Man, I hate to be “that guy” again (seriously…I really do) and derail the substance of what you guys are talking about, but…surely there’s a way to describe the more unsavory aspects of the modern Republican Party without throwing these slurs around ourselves, unless this is a direct quote of some kind?

        Or do we have cites on these “fraction” and “chunk” percentages or something?

        What’s a “good” fraction – 50%? 25%?

        Do we even have a rough estimate?

        More importantly, is this really necessary?

        Can the same point be easily made sans slurs?

        I mean, I *know* those are not words we’d ourselves use to slur others…why would we use the jerkishness of others as an excuse to use jerky words ourselves in faux-attribution to those jerks over there (clearly, the jerkiest jerks who ever jerked, and we know what words they *really* mean, so we’ll just say them for them)?

        It feels good to be a “truth-teller”, especially when you get to reach into the box of the new seven dirty words to do it; but man, this stuff just seems gratuitous to me.

        I don’t even need a response to this. I’ve been beating this horse recently, and I am sure it’s tiresome; and when I say it to a righty the lefties nod, and when I say it to a lefty the righties nod, so I doubt responses would be all that productive anyway.

        But it’s not a right/left thing, or at least it shouldn’t be; it’s just common courtesy.

        Just please do me a favor, and consider it a little?

        Consider why you are using the slurs, and if using them is the most productive way to make your point.

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      • And besides, you should. As long as the Democrats don’t have a sane opposition, they can get away with doing nothing and blaming it on the insane one.

        Well, to be fair, with the House in Republican hands, they actually *can’t* do a lot.

        But, yes. Democrats are spending their time doing nothing, instead of hammering the Republicans with sensible bill after bill and having them vote against them. When your opponent is an irrational lunatic, help them keep proving it.

        I mean, where the hell is the new civil right’s act? What happened with that? Where are constant stream of ‘You can’t have clips bigger than 10 bullets’ and ‘Everyone must do background checks’ bills?

        Hey, here’s a fun one. Where’s the bill to delay the implementation of the business mandate under the ACA? Watch their heads explode for that one.

        Keep pushing them. They’re actually *crazy*, and if you keep pushing them, they will just get more crazier, or at least reveal themselves as crazy. What’s the worst that they can do? Impeach the president?

        Maybe this is happening already and I don’t know, but while I understand that the Republicans have a lot more control of the narrative than the Democrats because Democrats are idiots, I watch Maddow. I’m pretty sure if any of this was happening I’d know about it.

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      • As long as the Democrats don’t have a sane opposition, they can get away with doing nothing and blaming it on the insane one.

        Whu? The first congress of Obama’s first term produced more signed bills than any other congress in US history. (Didn’t it? If not, pretty close anyway.) SInce then, the legislative process has stalled but not because of anything Dems are doing. Maybe you the “nothing” you’re referring to refers to all the issues the Dems currently aren’t paying any attention to? Something like that?

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      • I always look forward to Dennis’ posts if for no other reason than just to glean some clues as to why he’s a loyal member of a political party where a good fraction call him a nigger behind his back and another good chunk call him a fag and the rest despise him for being a moderate.

        Are you also perplexed by the existence of high-income Democrats, despite the fact that large segments of the party view them as some kind of cross between Hitler and an ATM?

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      • James,

        As I was typing that comment a little voice kept repeating the same message in my head: “Ask James about this before spouting off.”

        Maybe I’m thinking of the number of bills to pass the Pelosi House? THo, I think the last House also passed a pretty high number of bills as well? Maybe I should just stop now to cut my losses?

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      • – not sure I follow…do you mean Brandon’s comment?

        If so, and maybe this is just me, but I don’t really see that use of “Hitler” as the same kind of slur.

        For one, the word refers to one specific person, now dead, not to any group, and the word’s not a slur in and of itself – look up “Hitler” in the dictionary, and you’ll get his picture and a description of the man. Look up “nigger”, and what do you get? A slur is *primarily* what it is (black reappropriation of the word notwithstanding).

        For two, “Hitler” is so obviously-over-the-top as to usually be clearly intended as hyperbole/satire on the ‘net, which is I assume what Brandon is going for (people also cannot literally be ATMs, no matter how wealthy they are).

        That said, W. Churchill’s “Little Eichmanns” 9/11 bit was BS-verging-on-libel and he deserved all the guff he got (B. Maher, on the other hand, got a raw deal on his 9/11 comments, which were taken out of context and blown out of proportion). ;-)

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      • The “high-income Democrat” (or supporter of other liberal or left-wing political parties) isn’t a difficult phenomenon to understand.

        1) Many people recognize that a stable economy overall, as well as often their own personal prosperity, has been facilitated by services provided by the government (education, support for universities, health care, financial support earlier in their or their parents’ lives when they weren’t as well off, regulations that keep the economy functioning [e.g., part of the reason Canadian banks didn’t fail during the Great Recession]). Since they have benefitted from these things, they support government providing similar support to other people.

        2) Many well-off people also recognize that they, and others like them, have more than they need, and that a world where they have easy access to luxuries while many people lack basic necessities is a fundamentally immoral one. Government is the only institution large enough to ensure that everyone in a country is ensured access to basic necessities, and to systems (e.g., education) that enable them to better themselves.

        3) If you’re already well-off, paying somewhat more in taxes doesn’t have a huge impact on your life, and so you might consider economic issues peripheral and instead vote for social policies that you support (or at least, against social policies you find noxious).

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  4. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always understood the difference between moderate Republicans vs. the rest of the GOP to be a difference over tactics, not over ideology. What are Mike Lee and Marco Rubio proposing that’s A) different from the bog-standard GOP party line and B) not a repackaged version of something the Republicans came up with 30 years ago? I’m honestly asking here, I really would like to know.

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    • Thats generally my impression as well. Moderate Republicans agree with the rest of the GOP on most policy and ideological points but realize that the GOP’s current tactics and much of its social policy is going to hurt them politically in the wrong run. They want to stop using Constitutional Hardball tactics and soften up on some social issues in order to make themselves more palatable for younger voters.

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      • I second this. A lot (but maybe not all) of current reformicon policy amounts to sweetly saying “We care about you” as they eliminate the safety net instead of saying “Burn in hell ya moochers” as they eliminate the safety net.
        Still, improvement in tone is something (not a lot but not nothing) and some of the more experimental and interesting reformicon musings have the green sprouts of potential new policy ideas so at least there’s hope there instead of the spam the main party is recycling.

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      • I’m going to push back on this. I can’t speak to Rubio or Lee specifically, but there is a hell of a lot of very substantial, non-tactical divide between moderate GOPers and their more vocal and visible brethren.

        Here is a short list of base-embraced, litmus-y positions that have been in the news over the past year or two that are not held by 90% of Republicans I know (90% of whom are, not surprisingly, moderate):

        ** Closing/blocking building of mosques

        ** Invasion of Iraq

        ** Banning SSM/Laws allowing GLBT discrimination

        ** “Building a wall” and/or jailing illegal immigrants

        ** Making the US a “Christians Only” or “Christians First” country

        ** Banning abortions even in the case of rape, incest, or where the mother’s life is at stake

        ** Shutting down the government

        ** Selling off all government owned land

        ** Switching to the gold standard

        ** Contraception

        ** A rebirth of Colonialism

        ** Eliminating public education

        ** Denial of the existence of global warming

        ** Ability to teach “the controversy” in public school science classes

        ** Elimination of safety nets

        And those are just off the top of my head.

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      • Look, Tod, I don’t disagree that there are Republicans voters out there who don’t hew to the insanity of their brethren. That’s great, really. What I’m trying to ascertain, though, is whether moderate Republicans have any actual, substantive ideas that differentiate them from both the rest of their party *and* the Democrats. I swear I’m not asking this as a “gotcha”, I really am curious to know what they have to offer in the ideas department.

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      • Oh, I wasn’t pushing back at you so much as I was the folks saying the moderates are on the same exact page as the far right ideologically but use different tactics. As to the question of what, really, are the plans on the moderates, I don’t know that they have any. That being said, I tend to disagree with Dennis that they need to have one.

        Most of my life, the GOP hasn’t really operated on a “plan” for the future. Their main operating philosophy was basically, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” I can’t remember a time prior to the past decade or so where they sought to break down the system and rebuild it; that was always the territory of the Democrats.

        And I actually think that’s a good, conservative position; what’s more I think it’s healthy for a democracy to have one side pushing for that. I disagree with Dennis that good governance requires a detailed plan to change stuff.

        Basically, I think the difference between today’s base and the GOP moderates isn’t one of degree, I think it’s one of basic philosophy. One group wants to maintain the status quo while making occasional minor tweaks, and the other is highly radical and wants some kind of peaceful revolution where they can metaphorically burn the country down and rebuilt it from the ground up.

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      • Excellent comment Tod. I’m on board ahunnertpercent. My one quibble is what you said at the end, something about the far right enacting their policies thru a “peaceful revolution”.

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      • Overall the political space for the moderate Republican went away when the crime wave did. And people moving back to (most) cities has paradoxically broken the democratic party machines in those but strengthened the democratic turnout in the municipal general elections (so dem primaries are now pitched battles between old school city pols and technocratic neo liberals with alternating winners)

        But as suburbanites no longer fear the city center (and as long those people are in those neighborhoods, many now in the suburbs) the old Nixon and Reagan era law and order voters have largely disappeared.

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      • Tod – So basically, moderate Republicans are ones who agree with the agenda and direction of the Republican Party, and are still very right-wing, but just don’t want their party to be insane.

        Which explains why they’re not offering the “different vision” that Dennis wants – their vision is the same thing the Republican Party generally pushes for (reduced government services, increased social conservatism), but with less crazy.

        And these ones, at least, are sufficiently repelled by the crazy to support a Democrat.

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    • I also largely agree. Maybe there are one or two Republicans who vaguely resemble the true old liberal-moderate Republican establishment in the Jacob Javits mold but those people are largely gone from the party.

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  5. I admit to finding what happened in Kansas to be surprising. I would have thought that making Kansas a little more “Texan” would have resulted in some Texas-like job growth. There are a lot of jobs, after all, where it doesn’t matter where you do them. Wouldn’t it be better to get a salary of $X/year in Kansas than in Seattle or San Francisco?

    That’s the difference between cooking staples every night and eating out whenever you want. That’s the difference between 800 square feet and 3200.

    But the businesses didn’t move to Kansas. Bummer.

    What’s the matter with Kansas? Well… I guess it kind of sucks.

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      • Oil is definitely part of what makes Texas Texas.

        Looks like Kansas has some shale oil in the Eastern part of the state, but I’m not sure how accessible it is.

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      • Well, at a guess, Kansas lacks:

        1) A large port.
        2) Massive refineries that are mostly immune to off-shorting. (Too much upfront investment to move them).
        3) Access to the Gulf and the oil platforms there.

        Houston’s always had a boom-bust relationship with oil, so I might be projecting onto Texas a whole — but if you think Texas is doing great because of ‘taxes’ you’re…well, simplistic in your analysis. (For one, not doing all that great. For second, the fact that we pretty much ignored the housing bubble because of Texas’ REALLY strict laws about mortgages was another. Not having all that debt really helps the ole economy).

        But really, thinking Kansas tax cuts were going to drive business there is drinking the kool-aid. For starters, state taxes aren’t that high — second, tax and regulatory structure is only part of any decision on where to locate or expand businesses.

        Does Kansas offer an educated workforce? Infrastructure? Ports? Support industries — consultants, contractors, etc?

        To use an analogy: How many people, each year, look at their jobs and family and say “Well, my tax burden would be 2% lower two states over. I’m quitting, moving, and we’ll all find new jobs and lives there!”. Not many, because ‘taxes’ is only a single factor. Business isn’t that much different.

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      • How many people, each year, look at their jobs and family and say “Well, my tax burden would be 2% lower two states over. I’m quitting, moving, and we’ll all find new jobs and lives there!”. Not many, because ‘taxes’ is only a single factor.

        How much of a raise would it take for you to move? How much of a raise would it take for you to move to a place that had a cost of living much lower than yours now (like, double your housesize or cut your rent in half or similar)?

        While the answer for you personally might be “hey, I like where I am” (Maribou’s happiness with her job certainly trumps a lot of the answers I have for those questions)… well, I would have assumed that there were businessfolk out there who would say “man, Kansas gives me the numbers that I’d need to change!”

        But, apparently, Kansas sucks.

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      • Texas’ economy is actually doing quite well. The state’s budget not so much.

        And if the economic boom in Austin shows anything, it’s that you can get away with shitty infrastructure, mediocre city schools, a housing shortage, and some of the worst traffic in the country, and still attract businesses if you have a highly educated workforce (and a big university to keep that workforce stocked, along with the sort of “hipness” that attracts them from elsewhere).

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      • Kansas doesn’t suck, but Texas has 6 of the 20 largest cities in the country, 4 of the top 11, while Kansas has… Topeka.

        Lawrence is a great little town, but it’s a little town.

        In short, ain’t shit to do in Kansas but leave.

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      • More than 2% — assuming I could even move. Kansas does not, to put it finely, have much of a need for my services. My wife would have to recertify (and expensive and time consuming process), and we’d be leaving behind family and friends.

        Businesses have the same general issues: They have to sell and buy new buildings, move or acquire new workers, lose access to at least some institutional knowledge as workers will not all relocate, and the new place needs to have both the demand, the pool of employee candidates, and the supporting businesses they need.

        Besides, you do realize that places with a lower cost of living, the same job tends to pay LESS not MORE, right? A 20% cut in expenses that comes with a 20% cut in salary is a wash.

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      • A basement is a basement is a basement. High-speed internet can give you all of the culture in the world. Now all you need is a restaurant that doesn’t screw up steak and eggs.

        Or so I would have thought.

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      • — Sometimes I like to go out, meet new people, and kiss them. A triving scene full of kissable people is a bare minimum of a livable place. Kansas? I imagine there my kissing prospects would be low.

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      • There are more than enough new people to meet on the internet. Damn near all of them.

        Sadly, there’s no way to exchange humors yet, but I imagine that there are people out there with a 3D printer who are working on such a thing.

        Run the “blow out the pipes” protocol before we get started (a whiff of peppermint fills the room) and we’re ready. Put this here, this there, this in the other place, put this over here and inflate it until it’s comfortable… there you go. The app is available for download at the website.

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      • Population centers in Kansas are Wichita and the Kansas part of Kansas City. Population cartogram of the Great Plains states’ counties here gives some idea of the scale of different metro areas from Texas up through the Dakotas (also New Mexico to Montana).

        From the Great Plains west, essentially all states are vast empty areas with reasonable urban centers here and there. Portland and Seattle ain’t the same as middle-of-the-state Oregon and Washington; San Francisco and the rest of the Bay area ain’t the same as far northern California or the middle of the Central Valley; Front Range Colorado ain’t the same as the San Luis Valley or the eastern plains.


        The Denver metro area lacks all three of those as well, but the population is booming and it’s growing steadily more liberal.

        Kansas had some oil and gas, but much of it is drilled and gone. IIRC, Kansas has more oil/gas wells per square mile — most capped and abandoned now — than any other state. As one analyst put it, “We know there aren’t any super-giant oil fields in Kansas because there’s no undrilled area that big.”

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      • It is true that jobs in less expensive areas pay less. However, a lot of people assume that it tracks closely when it often doesn’t. Some places are just plain expensive and increased salaries don’t compensate for it. Some places are inexpensive and salaries don’t actually fall enough to meet it.

        There’s not much reason to move from Texas to Kansas because a lot of Texas includes places with solid earnings-to-COL ratio.

        You might be surprised about whether Kansas has needs of your services. IIRC you work in IT and I actually know multiple IT people who have moved to Kansas. Specifically, the KC suburbs. Still doesn’t make the move a good idea because you already live in a pretty inexpensive place and your wife, but I thought I would mention it. Depends on the particulars of course, but in my own case should something happen to my wife, Kansas is actually a place I plan to look if I don’t find anything back home.

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      • I would move from SF to live in NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, London (the one across the pond, not the one in Ontario), D.C., and maybe Denver, Toronto, Paris, Montreal, Tokyo, Vancouver.

        I doubt I would move anywhere else. Cultural scenes are very important to me.

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      • — Short of a full, rich VR experience, you just ain’t gonna get there. And I think this is pretty obvious: the whole package, the chilly air in Autumn, plush clothes, somber colors, a chatty cab driver on the way to the club, the line outside, mixing with strangers, making jokes, person to person, our bodies close — a chat window ain’t the same — and then inside, coat check, sauntering up to the bar, larger than life, ordering my drink from a bartender who is no stranger, sipping, heading to the dance floor, still early, not yet packed, but the lights are flashing and the music booming — I feel it in my bones — surrounded by beauty I begin to move. Places matter, the streetlights, the sidewalks, the old brick homes. I really, really, really love Boston.

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      • Length of stay is a consideration. I can’t see relocating to Tokyo or Paris for years or a lifetime but if we were talking for a year or two, sure.

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    • As I understand it Jay one of the big Kansas experiments was cutting taxes and assuming that business would boom so much that net tax receipts would increase enough to make up for the loss. Laffer curve nonsense and fairytales; imagine how unsurprised liberals were when Brownback et all instead got themselves an ocean of red ink.

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      • Well, it’s not just business booming. There is also the hoping to poach (for lack of a better word) businesses from elsewhere with their attendant employees who would then need to purchase houses, and groceries, and oil changes, and scrapbooking supplies, and so on. The businesses would be seen as secondary to those tens of thousands of consumers.

        Who stayed where they were.

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      • Silicon valley isn’t moving to Texas either.

        The closest they’ve come is Austin, the most liberal part of the state. And with, I would have no doubt, some of the highest taxes in Texas. (All sales and property, of course).

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      • Right. There’s pretty much nothing in the world that would get me to move to TX, never mind KS. And even if I set aside the trans stuff, where I can maybe-kinda-almost-sorta imagine moving to Austin, since it does have a moderate cool factor, but actually, nope, not gonna happen.

        Which is to say, it’s pretty obvious that Florida’s theory (create cool, get rich) is totally bogus, but there is a kernel of truth there. I want to be surrounded by amazing people. I want a triving “scene,” which for me is both a queer scene and a tech scene. Some places have this; most do not. And whatever causes it, it cannot be faked.

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      • This. Silicon Valley stays in the Bay Area because the Bay Area has all sorts of ammenities that its current employees or even employers are looking for even though the cost of living is high like restaurants, bars, clubs, and stores to spend their money. You can go surfing in the specific, wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma, sailing in the Bay, and more. The society is liberal and practically everybody can feel comfortable there.

        You can’t create this type of society overnight. It takes years or decades of work. I had a friend who lived in KCMO for a few years after he graduated and I visited him there while doing a cross-country drive. Its not a bad city but there isn’t that much to do compared to the Bay Area and according to my friend its the sort of place where people marry and settle down early. Thats not going to be a good fit for lot of Silicon Valley employees and employers.

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      • Silicon Valley stays in the Bay Area because the Bay Area has all sorts of ammenities…

        I’ll push back on this some. The Bay Area is also one of the handful of areas in the US that has the somewhat peculiar infrastructure to be a start-up mecca. An established tech company like Google may make the call on amenities; someone deciding where to locate a startup picks an area where they will be able to hire the special talent they discover they need, have one-off or hundred-unit orders done, etc. Eg, the Colorado Front Range attracts start-ups in several fields. An example of the kind of business “ecology” I’m talking about is that you have a choice of firms in the Denver metro area that can do explosive forming of exotic alloys — something for a satellite today, something for a medical device tomorrow.

        My limited experience suggests that once you get to the point of talking to VC people, they get really picky about where you locate. Not just to be close to the VC people so they can watch, but in locations with a start-up ecology already in place.

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      • Yeah, Austin (and Houston, and maybe Dallas) have been in the process of trying to build a Bay Area-like cultural environment for a couple decades now, with varying degrees of success. Austin is growing as fast as it is (it is, I believe, the fastest growing large city in the country, and two of its suburbs were #1 and #4 on the list of fastest growing cities in the country last year) because it’s been pretty damn successful at building the sort of place that highly educated, upwardly mobile people will like. It also helps to have an entertainment district with the size and reputation of Austin’s, too. That is, it has an ton of bars and clubs in a relatively small area.

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      • Michael Cain, thats only because Silicon Valley started growing in the 1950s and 1960s. There are decades of work behind it. Even before Silicon Valley existed, you had the city of San Francisco to provide urban amenities and culture that would be alluring to young college graduates.

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      • Saul
        I think it’s mostly about college football. And because the two states are really more similar than either one of them would like to admit, so a fair amount of sibling rivalry. Although Ohio gets a raw deal on Great Lakes, ’cause they only got Erie (and it’s connected to a river that caught on fire.)

        And the joke I heard when we lived in the Tulsa area was that Texas stays connected to the rest of the US because Oklahoma sucks. So, evidently that joke is evergreen.

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      • Totally about college football. Ohio, despite its size, really only has one university in a top athletic conference, the so-called “The” Ohio State University. And UMich was for years the only one in Michigan, as they assiduously worked to keep Moo U (Michigan State, the ag college, in fact the model for the Morill Act that created all the land grant ag colleges) out of the Big 10. And as two of the premier football programs in the country, totally dominating the Big 10, they developed a fierce rivalry.

        ,
        I heard it from my Iowa friend, for whom it was Minnesota sucks and Missouri blows. It’s a good joke because it travels well. I actually don’t have anything against Kansas at all, except that as a woodlands boy the prairie kind of spooks me.

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    • It’s aggravating when people look at a place and say “It’s successful for this reason” or “It’s successful for that reason” as though it isn’t incredibly multidimensional and other places could replicate that success if only they did this or had that. It’s how Florida made his mint. A lot of people do it with regard to Texas, and some people seem to suggest that states like Louisiana could be a lot more successful if only they had the more progressive policies of [fill in the blank].

      I happen to think that Texas’ low-tax environment serves its economy well, but not in a way that California would particularly want to try to compete with because even with lower taxes it would still lack something that Texas has: cheap land. Kansas has cheap land, and they can try to replicate Texas’s tax structure, but they can’t replicate Texas’s large cities (for example). And without cities, cheap land is ubiquitous. Kansas having Wichita, Topeka, and part of Kansas City doesn’t particularly differentiate it from a dozen or more other states that are inexpensive and lack cities.

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      • The large cities also help overcome some of the problems caused by Texas conservatism. Texas politics runs just as conservatively as Kansas’ politics but there are enough Democratic oasis that people who can’t really fit into th conservative mold can find havens and sanctuaries in parts of Texas. Kansas doesn’t offer this at all.

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      • What Lee said about islands. Pull up a map that shows the red/blue split for the members of the Texas House (the 150-member state house). Blue along the Rio Grande, and a clump of blue districts smack in the middle of each of Houston, DFW, Austin, and San Antonio. And the last time I checked, no blue outside of those districts :^)

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      • Texas isn’t the only state following that pattern, which is why you occasionally here amusing comments from state legislators about things like the deep unfairness of the urban areas having more representation (due to more votes), or about secession and the like.

        Texas is pretty weird — our blue areas are very blue, but our legislature is dominated by about as hard right GOP as you can get. (You should read this year’s platform).

        I think, in a lot of ways, it’s because the Texas GOP can see the demographic writing on the wall more clearly than the rest of the GOP, so they’re a lot deeper into the hunker down and scream mentality.

        Honestly, Texas started exporting it’s brand of Republican back with Delay and just…never stopped.

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      • It wasn’t long ago, until 2 House elections ago in fact, that the Democrats had seats in West Texas and Northeast Texas as well as several areas outside of Dallas-Houston-Austin and the Rio Grande. Then in the last election, the Republicans demolished the Democrats in House elections. It was ugly.

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      • Yes I’ve visited Dallas, the city is liberal and quite gay friendly in (what I found to be) an odd way. My older friends who were travelling with me got all misty eyed and told me that Dallas is how all the gay cities used to be, enclosed gay refuges in a hostile sea. It was kind of cool (and wow the nightlife was wild) but I can see why both social cons and gay old schoolers flip out about the new paradigm in places like Minnesota; there is no gayborhood, the gays just live all over the place wherever they’d like like anyone else. If you do that how can you be picked out/set yourselves apart?! The horror!

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      • The redistricting the GOP did is basically shoring up their massive majority in the state leg. (And similarly, their re-re-re-districting for House seats).

        Texas is a bit lop-sided in that sense, but they’re not going to be able to do it in 2020. They hit their high-water mark — as deep red as Texas was going to get, with every possible advantage you can get in district creation– barring some huge realignment, already.

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      • , there was no redistricting of seats after the 1920 census because the urban population exceeded the rural population for the first time on a census. Maintaining a rural majority in Congress was seen as a necessary step to protect Prohibition. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Rural voters always believed that their votes should count more.

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  6. Moderate Republicans have this image problem. The moderate Democrats keep on stealing their issues!

    Cap and Trade is a moderate Republican issue.
    So is Obamacare.

    I think Moderate Republicans could do pretty well just saying “Hi, we’ll run things right” (after that cap and trade fiasco in congress, someone willing to simply implement it without distorting the market would be a welcome change!)

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    • Pretty good point Kim. Of course part of the reason that Obama went with those policies was the nieve assumption that he could convince moderate republicans to sign on since he was implementing their policies. That poor simple summer child.

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      • He’d have been a moderate Republican in the 80s. Heck, anytime prior to about ’94.

        He’d have been a far-right crank 50 years ago, at least on economic issues. (Socially, of course, not so much).

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  7. Well, there’s something to be said for a group pushing for the status quo, with only necessary changes — rather than sweeping ideological changes.

    Kansas embarked on a pretty big experiment. A big, untested program that had a lot of potential downside.

    You don’t necessarily need to be a party of “new ideas” to say “Wait, this is pretty risky. What problem are we solving here? What’s the need for this? How do we know it’ll work, since the whole ‘cut taxes and gain revenue’ thing has not panned out the last several times it’s been tried?”

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    • Well, there’s something to be said for a group pushing for the status quo, with only necessary changes — rather than sweeping ideological changes.

      No, there’s not anything to be said for that as a specific group.

      The way politics should work is that different people should be pushing for different things. Sometimes those people should be able to convince others, sometimes not. Sometimes people will want to change things that others think are fine, and it’s entirely reasonable to stop that. Sometimes changes will (or some people) obviously make things worse, so they should stop that too.

      But in politics, there is *always* something that needs doing. In fact, most of the time, the broken thing is obvious to all, the dispute should be over how to fix it.

      No person, or group, should have ‘Everything is fine, don’t mess with anything’ as a policy. The laws, right now, are a random mismash of things that have accrued over the years, and it is infinitesimally unlikely, statistically, that they are ideal, or even anywhere close to ideal.

      Saying ‘All laws should stay exactly the same in this country’ is roughly asking to saying ‘No construction or repair work should happen in this country’. It is an insane position to be taking.

      The only reason anyone *is* taking that position is because rich and powerful interests have managed to tilt laws towards them in a very large manner, so would rather no one mess with any laws at all. And have managed to bribe one and a half political parties for that.

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  8. This is an interesting post, Dennis. I don’t follow these state-level things closely, but I appreciate when a party gets a little intramural pushback.

    However, the complaint from Douthat rings at least a little hollow (can something be a little hollow? maybe porous?). Aren’t conservatives the one’s who like to declare that they’re “standing athwart history yelling ‘stop'”? As someone who has (in the past) considered himself small-c conservative, the idea that a vision of “I want less of this stuff” doesn’t count as a vision rankles.

    A lot of conservatives used to be very proud of being the people who moderate change and who keep other people’s Grand Visions in check. I still think this is a valid political function.

    Granted, you can’t constantly just oppose things without ever presenting an alternative, but at different times and in different contexts, straight-up opposition can be a good thing.

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  9. Typical Internet Argument. “Oh, you think this is a bad idea? Well, where’s YOUR idea? Because if you don’t have an idea of your own then you have to accept that MY idea is okay!”

    It’s what begging the question actually looks like, because the proposer is assuming a priori that there’s a problem.

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    • Even more than that, sometimes taking up a position somewhere between 0 and X is a perfectly reasonable idea all on its own. “I like your policy, but you’re taking it too far. I’d stop here,” sounds like an idea to me.

      Joe wants to do nothing about litter in the city. Bob wants to execute literers by stoning. Mary thinks littering should be punishable, but by a stiff fine. Somehow this gets whipped to a battle between Joe and Bob and we end up painting Mary as having “no new ideas.” How is Mary’s position not just as legitimate as Joe’s and Bob’s?

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  10. There’s a difference between governing from principles and governing from pragmatism in the direction of principles.

    The problem with being a moderate is “we’re willing to give up some things, particularly in the short term, to get some other things, especially in the long term” is susceptible to negotiation. You’re not always going to be making the sacrifices you want, you’re going to be making the least sacrifice you can take, for the best offer you can get, and a big chunk of that is dependent upon your negotiating partner.

    This whole, “lack of direction” complaint ignores the fact that “we want to be as conservative as we can be, while compromising on the things necessary to keep everyone on board and preventing future backlash” is an actual direction.

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    • There’s also the case that the long term always ends up meaning “in the future when we have more money” and the short term ends up being quite long.

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      • That’s not negotiating, that’s buying vaporware. Yes, that can happen, but only if you negotiate badly or if you take a clear definition of “long term thing” that only includes long term things that you’ll probably never get.

        Which, yeah, that’s dumb.

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  11. As I think I’ve said before, once you remove the othering-based social issues, and moderate the economic issues…I can’t actually figure out what moderate conservationism actually looks like.

    I don’t say that as some sort of insult, or attack. I mean I am honestly baffled. Here’s what I have come up with for ‘actual moderate conservativism’, over the years, and how they legitimately disagree with, for example, me:

    1) Smaller support units are better, starting with family (Which is why real conservatives are in favor of gay marriage.), then local community, and so on, upward.

    2) Non-market based solutions will almost always fail, so those should be the absolute last resort.

    3) The threshold for government action should be higher in general? (That’s not really a policy, though, is it?)

    That’s…it. That’s all I’ve got.

    The only sort of logical *policies* I can invent from there would be things like…income subsidies for parents that choose to stay at home with a child? Maybe? Which, uh, is not a policy I can conceive of coming from Republicans.

    I mean, at this point, the Pastafarians seem to have a more coherent political philosophy than what the ‘sane moderate conservatives’ have, once conservatives discard all their side’s obvious super-rich-sponsered tax policy and their side’s populist hate-baiting.

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  12. If you don’t like your party’s candidate, get someone to run against him. You’re not going to change your party’s path in the generals; you do that in the primaries. However many mistakes the Tea Party has made, they understand that. 100 Prominent Republicans – did none of them foresee that they’d have a problem voting for Brownback? Was their disagreement with him something that came up only in the past few weeks? And if they’re so prominent, why couldn’t one of them run? They’ve made themselves a lot less prominent in the party, and taken away a hundred votes from Brownback. That’s not much. In fact, of all possible things they could’ve done, that’s the one that would make the smallest impact. They’ve marginalized themselves and gotten nothing for it.

    You change a party by working for the candidates you like, and by running for office yourself. What these guys did carries as much weight as the people who “officially” stopped watching Fox after they cancelled Firefly. Dummies.

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  13. The problem with “reform conservatism” is that it’s basically Bush-era conservatism with a new gloss. Which isn’t a bad thing, if you’re a conservative who wants to win national elections. Or at least, it’s far better than the Romney-Ryan “47%” idea.

    But, let’s go over the actual ideas they have.

    1. “Premium support” for Medicare and “reform” of Social Security – In other words, privatization.

    2. Massive tax cuts, but as a sop to married people, we’ll give them additional tax cuts or expand the EITC or something. OK, not as bad as just massive tax cuts, but it’s still massive tax cuts for seemingly no good reason beyond “taxes are bad.”

    3. Reform immigration, but only to let in “high-skill” workers, thus continuing to make it look like you don’t want Hispanic’s in the country.

    4. Admit climate change might be real, but instead of cap ‘n’ trade or any other kind of scheme of making polluters pay for their externalities, we’ll say innovation will magically help us to get out of this program. Oh, and fracking! Because that won’t have any unintended consequences.

    5. Continue to try to repeal Obamacare and replace it with catastrophic health insurance, because well a $100,000 medical bill is horrible, a $10,000 medical bill can be paid off by selling some stocks your parents can give you.

    6. Block grant everything that’s not nailed down to the states, because then it’s not our fault on the national stage when red states do red state things to the safety net.

    7. Admit that yeah, probably gay marriage will happen and we won’t be able to ban abortion, but still privilege married two-person families.

    8. We’ll say we’re going to eliminate subsidies and enact copyright reform, but somehow still continue to receive millions in campaign funds from rich people who like copyright and subsidies (note this a bipartisan problem).

    The real problem, as other people have pointed out, is that moderate Republican’s have a party. It just passed Lincoln Chaffee’s health care plan, supports John McCain’s climate change plan, is continuing the bipartisan national defense consensus despite pressure from the right and left, and is attempting to pass George W. Bush’s immigration plan. It’s called the modern Democratic Party.

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      • How is any of what Jesse said inaccurate? That looks pretty spot-on to me. The Democrats have basically become the center-right party, while the GOP has become the party that’s somewhere to the right of the Kaiser.

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      • I hear the GOP talk a lot about Social Security reform when they’re not in power, and it’s always in general terms of, “We need to do something to fix this!” which isn’t terribly controversial and, “They’re not paying attention to this problem” which is largely true.

        Then when the GOP is in power, they put forth Social Security reform plans that are basically “wind it down and have people put money in the market”, and then complain that the Dems won’t negotiate in good faith.

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      • With Obamacare, the Democrats have driven social spending as a percentage of GDP to all-time highs, and are still demanding more, more, more. They’re pushing government policy not only to the left of where it is now, but in many ways left of anywhere it’s ever been in the past. There is no reasonable standard by which they can be considered center-right.

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      • So by that standard, Republicans 20 years ago and Mitt Romney 10 years ago were leftists? Obamacare was a center-right notion conceived by the Heritage Foundation; actual leftists want single-payer. I have a hard time believing you don’t know this.

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  14. There is so much disconnect here I don’t know where a person from Kansas would start.
    Do we have any native Kansas folk here?

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      • Road does peel a few layers deep there. The missing part is the animosity torwards the the whole “political/governmental system”. I can’t imagine sitting in a room of Kansas folks and not hearing the voices grow louder as the topics drift to politics and government.

        I guess this post would be for the fleeting few that still believe democrat or republican would make a damn difference.

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      • Is that due to your wide ranging experience with Kansas retail politics? Or just, you know, what you picture in your head?

        Because I’ve seen native Texans discuss politics, and strangely they didn’t sound like Senator Cruz. Of course, these were Houstonians, which we know aren’t real Texans because we don’t own horses and also vote Democrat.

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      • Yep. Native Kansan, born and bred. What you claim I missed is absent because it never really existed here the way you imagine. Until recently our politics has tended toward the boring brand of broad consensus between moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats. To give you an idea, while the last Democratic presidential candidate to take the state was probably Truman (I’m guessing without looking it up. ), the governorship has been held by a Democrat about half the time during my fifty years on earth. Kathleen Sibelius was reasonably popular and on at least her second term before being tapped for HHS Secretary by Obama. She was popular among voters on both sides of the aisle quite simply due to her display of competence both as governor and previously as Insurance Commissioner. Seriously, she was an excellent pick for what was inevitably going to be a very difficult task.

        Bottom line is that both our D’s and R’s have tended to be centrists until this double-damned Tea Party nonsense.

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      • Point of fact: Kansas voted for LBJ in 1964, but didn’t vote for Truman in 1948. The last Democrat before LBJ was FDR in 1936; ironically against your governor, Alf Landon.

        New Jersey is similar to Kansas in the sense that NJ is solid-blue when it comes to presidental and senatorial elections, but for gubernatiorial elections we tend to go back and forth.

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  15. The article is about a governor’s race. You vote for one guy, or you vote for the other guy. There aren’t a whole lot of options to stake out a stance all of your own in a first-past-the-post system.

    Steve Morris is one of those named as supporting Brownback’s opponent, and is notable for being the former Kansas State Senate president, before he lost from the right in a primary. Digging into the history, it looks like his hostility with Brownback started with opposition to a tax cut package in 2012. But the article appears to suggest he DID have an agenda of his own, not mere opposition to Brownback: he was pushing for a package of property tax cuts rather than the pure income tax cuts Brownback wanted.

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  16. I’ve been busy with work, so I haven’t been able to engage much. I will this evening-I’d like to talk about the old “how-can-you-be-(black, gay. latino, female, etc.)-be-a-Republican line.

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    • My question is not so much how you can be a gay black Republican—for any thinking person, political affiliation is going to be a question of the lesser of two evils—but rather why you’re a Republican at all. If you’re not with them on economics, and you’re not with them on social issues, what does that leave?

      As an atheist, I’m none too popular with the religious right myself, but the Democrats are so awful on economics that I narrowly consider the Republicans the lesser of the evils. But you don’t seem all that hostile to the Democrats’ economic agenda, either. Or am I misunderstanding you there?

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  17. Dennis: “This is a problem with moderate Republlicans, not only in Kansas but nationwide: a group that can say with a loud voice that they are against certain social and economic conservative policies, but they never bother to tell people what is their vision.”

    When your party is going to Nasty Whackjob Land, keeping it from going any further is a rather consuming job. It’s the defenders of the right who have the burden of proof.

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  18. Tod Kelly

    “I’m going to push back on this. I can’t speak to Rubio or Lee specifically, but there is a hell of a lot of very substantial, non-tactical divide between moderate GOPers and their more vocal and visible brethren.

    Here is a short list of base-embraced, litmus-y positions that have been in the news over the past year or two that are not held by 90% of Republicans I know (90% of whom are, not surprisingly, moderate):

    ** Closing/blocking building of mosques

    ** Invasion of Iraq

    ** Banning SSM/Laws allowing GLBT discrimination

    ** “Building a wall” and/or jailing illegal immigrants

    ** Making the US a “Christians Only” or “Christians First” country

    ** Banning abortions even in the case of rape, incest, or where the mother’s life is at stake

    ** Shutting down the government

    ** Selling off all government owned land

    ** Switching to the gold standard

    ** Contraception

    ** A rebirth of Colonialism

    ** Eliminating public education

    ** Denial of the existence of global warming

    ** Ability to teach “the controversy” in public school science classes

    ** Elimination of safety nets

    And those are just off the top of my head.”

    ‘90% of the Republicans I know’?

    Ever heard: “Nobody I knew voted for Nixon”? (warning, apocryphal)

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  19. Freddie, totally coincidentally, posted something just the other day that is highly germane to this conversation and I think worth discussing:

    “Frum, incidentally, is a product of reformocon affirmative action. The man is directly responsible for the demise of the post-9/11 rapprochement between the United States and Iran, which has unquestionably left the world a less safe place, had a hand in the Iraq imbroglio, and holds views on Israel-Palestine that are nutty even in the context of universal nuttiness on that issue. But because conservatism is so desperate for warm bodies that aren’t slobberingly racist rape-denialists, he’s ‘one of the good ones.’ Aside from being an attractive Republican woman or Luke Russert, there’s no lower bar to climb to build a career in media than being a not-entirely-crazy-or-obviously-despicable conservative. If the celebrated conservative reformers like Ross Douthat really cared for reform, they might ask about how the soft bigotry of low expectations keeps them from achieving it. But I suspect that essentially no one involved really thinks reformist conservatism is a serious enterprise. There’s a glaring unreality to it — everybody keeps writing think pieces about the next conservatism, people go on long disquisitions about who and how and why, but nobody really buys any of it. You think Reihan Salam is gonna carry the flag that leads the Cliven Bundy crowd out of the darkness? I kind of doubt it! Even if they could articulate a reform plan that maintains some semblance of modern movement conservatism — and they can’t — they couldn’t possibly win politically. But then, maybe nobody really expects them to. Rather, I think reform conservatism exists to give reform conservatives something to do. The existence of their jobs is the end itself. Nice work if you can get it.”

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    • I’ll put this here since it was supposed to be here in the fist place:

      I feel like I read that Freddie post six years ago on every liberal blog. And every year in between.

      The only thing less interesting and less original than moderate conservatives naval gazing about the state of their own party is liberals commenting about moderate conservatives and the state of their party. It’s like the blog version of a bounce DJ with a copy of “Rock the Beat.”

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