The GOP’s purity problem

The GOP’s purity problem
  •  emoticon

I think I can speak with some authority when I say 2012 was a difficult election to survive as a conservative.

The fact that Mitt Romney was a strong, competent, thoughtful candidate (granted, sometimes more on paper than in practice) could barely hide the fact that his party, increasingly, was dominated by some of the most flamboyantly unreasonable, sheltered, and just plain dopey figures to ever consume half the oxygen in a major two-party democracy.

From the vaccination conspiracy theories of Michelle Bachmann to the armchair psychoanalyzing of Newt Gingrich to the infamous “ten-to-one” tax pledge to the so-called “rape apologist caucus” to any of the other dozens upon dozens of cringe-worthy GOP anecdotes that dominated the 2012 cycle, to say the Republicans were a party ill-prepared for prime time was to revel in understatement — this was a party barely ready for nap time.

One really had to feel for intelligent conservatives like George Will, David Frum, and David Brooks, trapped as they were into defending this braying, unhinged mess that while ideologically like-minded (kinda), could not have been farther removed from their personal standards of decorum and self-respect. Hardly a surprise that their GOP endorsements were so drearily muted this time around; the very notion of a “Republican Intellectual” has rarely seemed more oxymoronic.

Thankfully, in the aftermath of November 6 the need for a phase of “Republican rebuilding” has been almost universally acknowledged by leading voices on the American right. From Ann Coulter to Karen Hughes, from Bobby Jindal to Pat Buchanan, conservatives across the spectrum all seem to concur that the Grand Old Party’ in dire need of some kind of prescription, though it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to settle on a common diagnosis.

When I was younger, one of the smuggest sources of my own conservative worldview was the simple observation that Communism and socialism — those purest manifestations of leftist logic — were so obviously the wrong choice. Wrong in ignorant theory, wrong in destructive practice, wrong in immoral outcome. This was back in my university days, when it was still common to encounter actual Marxists in positions of influence, and the astonishment that there still existed people who clung to such an obviously backwards, unpopular, and discredited ideology was a source of much righteous amusement as I headed down the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Memories of that self-confident phase probably explain why this editorial from American Conservative editor Rod Dreher hit so hard, because he argues, in effect, that contemporary American conservatism is now in danger of becoming the Communism of our time.

This idea, says Dreher, that “conservatism,” as it’s presently formulated, is a perfect ideology corrupted only by failed implementation is about as persuasive as those campus Commies who attempt to brush off the massive, observable failures of their own ideology with purist excuses that Marxism “had simply never been properly tried.”

Maybe conservatism, like Marxism, is just, you know, wrong about a lot of stuff, and maybe it’s failing to catch on because voters are smart enough to realize that. Maybe it is impossible to balance the budget and tame the debt without some tax hikes. Maybe there are ways to create jobs beyond enabling the rich to get richer. Maybe there aren’t rational arguments against gay marriage. Maybe global warming and evolution are real. Maybe constantly insisting otherwise requires a rejection of observable reality that’s so odious it can poison other ideas by proximity alone.

Conservatism doesn’t have to be this way, but this is what it has become. Its present leaders of thought and policy, particularly in the Tea Party and what David Frum calls the “conservative entertainment complex” have encouraged the conception of conservatism as a smotheringly conformist doctrine; a large, and increasingly arbitrary bundle of take-it-or-leave it prepositions of which no dissent will be tolerated. And it’s more than just abortion and tax cuts; today Republican primaries can literally be lost over a candidate’s insufficiently “conservative” position on issues as random and seemingly unideological as the gold standard or direct election of senators. For a partisan cause nominally devoted to preserving the freedom of self-reliant individuals, the Tea Party-infused GOP’s growing resemblance to a mini-totalitarian state is quite uncanny.

Now, what should separate conservatism from doctrinaire pseudoscience philosophies like Marxism (and libertarianism, for that matter) is an understanding that conservatism was always supposed to be a personal attitude as well as a partisan ideology; a natural “way of approaching the world” that’s cautious and prudent, in Dreher’s words, but never an infallible dogma.

More than granting amnesty to illegals, more than flip-flopping on gay marriage, more than any other loudly softened stance on any high-profile issue, as the GOP rebuilds there needs to be an admission that conservatism, first and foremost, must be a movement that’s measured, respectable, dignified, and fact-based in thought and deed, and not merely the “radicalism in the other direction” that defines Republicanism today.

The Republican Party has to be one that people from outside the narrow and useless Romney electorate — which is to say, any American who’s not a old, white, rural, male, reactionary southerner — can join and support without embarrassment or fear. This meagre goal can be achieved by means as obvious as not hiring candidates who spout biological nonsense disguised as embryology or cite biblical authority to justify secular law, but also by encouraging zero tolerance for anything that smacks of conspiracy theories, racialized code-talk, McCarthyism, or any other rhetorical technique that’s crass, ugly, vicious, or extreme.

Or, as we should start to say, “unconservative.”

Conservatives, in the small-c sense are everywhere. There are no shortage of people, in all states, of all races, religions, and sexual orientations, who carry themselves with a basic skepticism towards government excess (but not government itself), a basic affinity for American traditions, institutions, and culture, a basic desire to avoid radicalism in policy and ideology, and a basic preference for a certain degree of dignity and restraint to govern the affairs of daily life.

The fact that the Republicans are so clearly not the party of this kind of conservatism, the conservatism of history and the kind that had previously served them quite well, is a crisis both philosophically and strategically.

It’s hard to imagine any path back to power that does not begin by acknowledging it.


  1. JonasB

    A very interesting post. I never really thought of the comparisons between this hard-C conservatism and things like Marxism. Hopefully this will reach at least one person in the GoP.

  2. OldsVistaCruiser

    That's because the wrong comparison is being made. Marxism (extreme left) is the polar opposite of conservatism.

    Today's American conservatism is bordering on the ideologies of Fascism from 1922-1943 in Italy and Nazism in Germany from 1933-1945, which themselves were far right wing.

  3. OldsVistaCruiser

    On a lighter note, I like to joke that I'm a Marxist myself – I follow the teachings of Groucho. ;-)

  4. Etc.

    Seriously, you had to call them Nazis?

  5. J.J. McCullough

    The point was both Marxism and modern Republicanism are very dogmatic ideologies that refused to believe in their own infallibility. There is only flawed "implementation."

  6. spaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

    There's one big thing I think conservative parties up here have realized that they haven't in the US:

    Many immigrants are naturally conservative in values.

    If the GOP could distance itself of the small, very anti-Latino, anti-Immigrant block it could easily swell its numbers with many more traditionally-conservative Latinos and immigrants. If they sold conservative thinking as a basic philosophy instead of so much silly fluff about being a 'true american' or whatnot, they'd find many of those values about self-sustainability, hard work, ingenuity and the like are often the exact same values that are in the types of people who are willing to leave their own land and seek a new life.

    American values, in a lot of ways, are the values of immigrants.

  7. Jake_Ackers

    True and they don't even have to support amnesty. After all most voting Latinos aren't illegals and most never were. I think they GOP would benefit from a Cesar Chavez approach to immigration. Argue for legal immigration from a left wing perspective. Illegal immigration undermines the work class because it undercuts the wages and hurts legal immigrants. Etc, etc.

  8. Yannick

    The problem is that right-wing politics are naturally allied to nationalism in the ethnic sense. That's why all over the world and throughout history immigrants/minorities have tended to vote left/centre with few exceptions.

    Although, if Harper managed it, one would think that the Republicans can too.

  9. Jake_Ackers

    Very true. But the US is different. So the GOP must be different as well. Pro-life and traditional marriage aren't just white rural values they are values of a lot of of Latinos and Blacks. Actually more so even.

  10. Yannick

    And of the muslims, who tended to vote 80% republican pre-911, I'm told.

  11. drs

    Not any more.
    Exit polls show a majority of both groups supporting gay marriage.
    Most blacks say abortion should be legal, even though lots of them don't like it. 49% for Hispanics. That's at the moment; the numbers seem to be highly volatile even on a year to year basis.

  12. rmjones13

    I love a lot about this article.

    I have said it before, but I considered myself moderate before this election. I like a lot of conservative ideals the economy (though not all of 'em), and their historical approach to some issues.

    But dear lord, this election. With all the things you mentioned and more (even if Romney was strong on paper, I don't think I could have voted for him with the 47% comment, which the recent recoding of him claiming that the only reason Obama won was because he pandered and gave "gifts" to single women, blacks and Hispanics- which is, what? Heaven forbid me as a white person actually agree with immigration reform and the DREAM act on a practical and ideological scale, and lets ignore that Obama has deported more people than any other president which by Romeny's argument should have ticked off Latino voters….).

    It was like all the worst parts of the Conservatives were blown up and put on the big screen. And so few people spoke out and slammed it. I still am reeling from some of the republican politicians DEFENDING Rush Limbaugh for calling that girl a slut just for arguing for contraceptives.

    I am hoping that the Republicans kick out the idiots and reform themselves, because I want to have two viable options again. I want to not be worried for myself and minorities if the other side gets into power, because I don't trust all of that to just be rhetoric. I want to vote for a party that I am sure will hold middle class and poor Americans as just as important as the one percent. It scares me that Republicans have not only been denying facts this election, but suppressing them to such a extent that it is obvious.

    I don't think all Conservatives are like that. Heck, my dad's a conservative (who very grudgingly voted for Obama because of the craziness Republicans have been going through.), and I know he isn't like the insanity of the party. I just wish the sane ones would take over again.

    TL'DR: I think Americans in general, like me, are very frustrated with how extreme the Republican party has gotten as we feel robbed of a actual choice in the elections. Yes, plenty of people voted for Romney, but that was in a terrible economy and there is still a hard party line that many people won't cross. It makes me wonder what would have the stats been had Obama managed to really improve the economy by a wide margin.

  13. Jake_Ackers

    Frankly the GOP is not a top down party like the Dems. The GOP needs SOMEONE rather than to do SOMETHING. They need one person to take charge. And tell everyone who needs to shut it, to shut it. A Robert Taft sort of guy. Christie seems like it but he is a Governor, it has to be a Rubio who is in Congress. Someone has to just take the bulls by the horns, or the elephants by the tusk in this case and shape the party as needed.

  14. drs

    Haha that's pretty funny. You think the GOP is *less* top down than the Dems these days? With Grover Norquist and Karl Rove and a monolithic voting bloc in the Senate? While Reid and Obama had to wheedle and beg Blue Dogs to vote for the second most important bill of the session (health care; I'm rating stimulus as #1).

  15. Jake_Ackers

    Yah you prove my point. Rove and Norquist aren't in any official position. Obama and Reid have a an easier time conceiving the Dems than McConnell and Boehner does. Plus the GOP doesn't have an official spokesperson to go around disavowing these nuts. Unless you expect McConnell and Boehner to something. Which again because of the party make up I think won't mean much. Libertarian Southwestern Reps v New England Liberal Reps v Southern Social Conservatives, etc. etc.

    Due to the GOP having so many factions, they can't have one person saying this is what they all believe in. Dems to a degree can do that more so than the GOP can. Again only to a degree. As there are plenty of state level Dems who are conservative. However, on a national level you just get one ideology (left or center left) prevailing. While with the GOP the ducks don't line up as nicely. Even though McCain and Romney won the primaries, they right just whined. Same with Ford and Reagan. Even with Reagan and John B. Anderson in the 1980s.

    The GOP always has factions that stay largely divided while the Dems tend to unite better behind one person each election cycle.

  16. June

    I find it interesting that the comic derides an ideological purifying of the GOP, but your thesis involves how the GOP can be best served by ostracizing the "nonconservatives."

    "The Republican Party has to be one that people from outside the narrow and useless Romney electorate — which is to say, any American who’s not a old, white, rural, male, reactionary southerner — can join and support without embarrassment or fear. This meagre goal can be achieved by…encouraging zero tolerance for anything that [is]…as we should start to say, “unconservative.”

    It sounds like a reasonable and sound proposition, but the language of turning the radicals into No-True-Conservatives, like they themselves do, seems a little dissonant to me.

  17. J.J. McCullough

    That's a good point. I guess all political parties will have to have some doctrine of what constitutes an "other" in order for them to be coherent as organized groups. My point was that this "other" label should be directed primarily at people who lack small-c conservatism in their ethics, manner, and tactics, which will create a much more inclusive party as opposed one that "others" on the basis of non-conformity with very rigid standards of acceptable thought.

  18. Trenacker

    I've been reading your comic for a number of years now, J.J., and this is perhaps my favorite of all your many impressive essays.

    The Republican Party may not no longer be ready for prime time, but you certainly pass the test.

  19. Sven

    Time and time again, I ask Republicans: where is the logic in moving AWAY from the middle? What new votes do you think you can win? Is there any doubt that the Christian-supremacist super-conservative bloc will vote Republican even without the nasty pandering?

    And time and time again I am left without a coherent answer. The middle wins elections. Embrace the middle!

  20. RicardoB

    Well, the presumption they are making is that many far-right conservatives weren't voting at all because they didn't support the moderate policies of the GOP. Mathematically speaking, if turnout was high enough, the GOP could've won but it naively assumes what drives turnout (hint: it's not more radical ideas but rather ground game, charisma, & emotion).

  21. Jake_Ackers

    True. Reagan today would of been viewed as a major lib but still would of won. Romney could of pulled it off if he wasn't viewed as so much disliking the poor, thanks to Gingrich in large part with "vulture capitalism." 47% didn't help but he was own with his favorable long before that.

  22. Monte

    That is how a lot of conservatives see it, though I think its very much unlikely that there are more conservatives to get to come out and vote. With how livid conservatives seem to be with Obama, its hard to believe that any hard right conservatives would sit out this election; really most of those voting Romney were really just out there voting against Obama. So I would find it hard to believe that there is some kind of silent conservative majority in the swing states of all places that did not come out this election only because Romney was not conservative enough (despite making almost nothing but conservative promises)

  23. Max

    I fear that the Republicans have fallen into the same logical trap you keep finding people of the left wing fringe of the Democratic Party fall into. They see an electorate of which 40% doesn't vote already as it is, and to them, the conclusion is quite clear: The reason they don't participate is because the two big parties aren't left-wing/right-wing enough, and if they just went for pure ideology without any room for compromise, a landslide victory would be certain tomorrow.

  24. Jake_Ackers

    Except conservatives are a larger base of the voting electorate. So Dems need more moderates than Reps do. Reps need some of the mods but not as many as the Dems need.

  25. drs

    People self-labeling as conservative is almost meaningless, especially with Reagan/Bush making liberal a dirty word. What matters more is what policies people support — and majorities support universal health care and higher taxes on the wealthy and the pro-choice status quo.

  26. Jake_Ackers

    Actually most Americans fall in the middle. They want some gov't healthcare but not complete universal take over. Higher taxes on the wealthy is a new thing. Although an argument can be made they has been happening already. W Bush cut taxes for the poor proportionally more, again note proportionally. 10% down to 5% which is a 50% decrease. So the rich actually pay a larger piece of the tax pie, although the overall rate for everyone is down.

    Actually more Americans identify themselves as pro-life than pro-choice (Gallup this pass June). Although it has been largely even these pass few years However, most do support some legalization of abortion just not completely. Which I guess is why there is the split in the polling (more pro-life but yet still support abortion in certain cases).

    Most Americans are libertarian if anything when given the choice. When asked most say social liberal but economically conservative. Now that depending on what they think social liberal and econ con means. As liberal and libertarian are different. And what actually is a social versus economic policy.

  27. drs

    Again, economic (or fiscal, more common) conservative is a nearly meaningless feel-good term. Most people define it as balancing the budget, despite the fact that most of the debt is from Republican administrations. People aren't even consistent; the whole point of tax-and-spend is to pay for the spending!

    I'd bet you most Americans support Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, a strong defense budget, and paying interest on the debt, at which point you've accounted for 80% of federal spending. I'd also bet you that most people don't know that figure.

    Again, it's easy to generically say "government should be smaller and there should be fewer regulations." It's a lot harder — for most — to identify what should actually be cut. And the real small government advocates tend to attack popular things like labor laws and environmental protections, rather than clear examples of special interest stuff like farm subsidies, taxi licenses, and zoning laws.

  28. Jake_Ackers

    True that. Most people want to pay less but just want more services without paying for it.

  29. drs

    Point is which they'll break if the choice is forced. "Lower taxes but no more services or higher taxes and keep the services?" California just voted for higher taxes, Massachusetts affirmed income tax in a 2008 referendum. OTOH, one of MS or LA years ago voted down a tax increase for schools despite having the worst schools in the country. So it varies, but I think overall the country will opt for keeping services. And that's even truer among young people.

  30. Dryhad

    The logic is that victory is meaningless if it's attained by abandoning the values one wishes to act upon in victory. This is possibly the only thing I agree with the Tea Party on. Starting from a position of "Well naturally victory at any cost is the only logical goal" is just going to lead you to an incorrect conclusion. I'm sure there are some who assume that purity and victory go hand in hand, but I think at the core the motivation is not vote winning, it's simply ideology. And there's nothing wrong with that.

  31. Sven

    But that's not the refrain we keep hearing from Republicans. In 2008 and again in 2012, it was not "We must stick to our cause, even if we lose", it's been "We lost because we weren't conservative enough."

  32. Jake_Ackers

    Yah Romneycare and McAmensty are definitely not conservative. Both really bipartisan and got owned.

  33. Dryhad

    Oh yes, there's certainly an element of, shall we say, delusion at work. People tend to think other people agree with them (I take the unorthodox view that, in the end, nobody agrees with anyone and a democratic system must necessarily be riddled with systematic flaws to conceal this fact. But that's not important right now). However, I think when pressed to choose between electoral victory or party purity, they would choose the latter. It's the desire for ideological purity that makes them think they'll win, not the desire for victory that makes them want ideological purity.

  34. @Cristiona


    The assumption is that moving towards the middle makes you "Democrat-lite". Why would a large number of people vote for Democrat-lite when they can vote for the real thing? The theory is that moving towards the middle will accomplish two things: A) turn off hard-right voters (loss of votes) and B) completely fail to sway moderate or left-leaning voters (no gain of votes). If all your move will do is cause the base to stay home while not influencing non-base voters, then a move to the middle will simply be a net loss of votes.

    When hard liners look at 2008, they see the Republicans as trying that (by running John "Maverick" McCain) and getting trounced.

  35. Jake_Ackers

    40% Con, 40% Mod/Ind and 20% Lib.

    Mod to Con: Nixon, Reagan HW Bush (1st Time running), W Bush, Maybe Eisenhower (though on Communism/WWII)
    Mod to Lib: Ford, HW Bush (2nd Time Running), Dole, McCain, Romney, Maybe Goldwater (Libertarian but viewed as out there)

    Mod to Lib Republicans don't win. Moderate road is for Democrats. Dems need the moderate vote. Republicans don't need the conservative vote. A lot of conservatives who aren't Republicans just stay home because they don't like either candidate. Just look at the turn out numbers.

  36. Dryhad

    Hang on, are you seriously saying "The stats of people who vote don't match my baseless assumptions of the makeup of the nation, therefore conservatives are staying home"? It couldn't possibly be that your assumptions are wrong? Judging by this sort of thing:… I'd say the far left would be more likely to abstain out of protest than the far right.

  37. Jake_Ackers

    A 1% drop in conservative turnout could be hundreds of thousands of voters. A 5% drop in black or Hispanic or even liberal vote is less people even though the percentage is higher. 1% of a large pie can be more than 5% of a smaller one.

    And you have just proven my point. The far left is unlikely to vote regardless of who the candidate is. While conservatives will vote DEPENDING on the candidate. There is this assumption that conservative will vote regardless of who is on the ticket. It's not true. And again a small drop in the conservative turnout can cause a huge problem for a candidate who is relying on it.

  38. Dryhad

    Ok, so your response to "You've made a baseless assumption about the political landscape that is, in fact, refuted by the best available evidence" is "Even though you said nothing about percentages, I'm going to explain them in a patronising manner and act as though that backs up anything I said". I'm going to have to fall back on "You have no idea what you're talking about", ok?

  39. Jake_Ackers

    I still don't get what you keep criticizing. The Gallup Poll stated that about 40% are conservative.

    If the 40% is true, I know some like the poster drs disagree with it, but that is what people identify themselves as. My point is that if there are dissatisfied conservatives that means a lot less votes for a Republican. If there are dissatisfied liberals that doesn't hurt the Democrats as much as dissatisfied conservative hurt the GOP. Because there are less self identifying liberals in this country, that means the Democrat Party relies more on moderate voters. While the GOP depends more on conservative voters.

    Whether it is the liberals or conservative base who are less likely to vote isn't my argument. My point is that if the GOP runs liberal to moderate Republicans they will keep losing. Why is there an assumption that conservatives will voting regardless of who the nominee is? If moderate/independent or even liberal voters are turned off, why can't conservative voters be turned off for one election but not another?

    I was just simply reaffirming what @Cristiona was saying. Maybe you could explain exactly what you keep thinking that I am saying wrong. I'm not saying ideological purity is the way to go. But at least pay lip service to conservative with a moderate to conservative Republican like Christie or Rubio. As opposed to the wishy washy, or at least viewed as that, liberal to moderate Republicans like McCain and Romney. OTOH, individuals like Santorum and Bachmann are too far right to ever win any moderate vote.

    Lib/Mod Reps lose the Con vote. Far Right Reps lose the Mod vote. While Mod/Con Reps win some Mods and the Con vote. A balance is needed. Dole,McCain, Romney nor Santorum,Bachmann were the balance. While a Christie or Rubio much like Eisenhower can be the balance required to win.

  40. Dryhad

    Thank you for linking your source. That is what I was asking for. I don't know if you believed you had already linked it, but what I saw was you pulling numbers out of nowhere and making broad proclaimations about them.
    Surprisingly enough, I agree with most of your conclusions. The core cannot simply be assumed to be on side. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that was _the_ reason Romney lost though, after all 40% is still not a majority. But mostly I was just trying to get you to back up your numbers which you have done. Thank you.

  41. Jake_Ackers

    Oh okay no problem then. I just wasn't understanding what you wanted. Glad we got it figured out. Btw you should register for account on Intense debate too!

  42. Brandon

    I’m just troubled at how easily the republicans could shift their social agenda, but keep their economic and foreign policy stances, and swiftly dominate the democrats on most issues.

    Better to give up issues like same-sex marriage, abortion limitations, and instead focus on much more important issues for the country as a whole, like keeping our country from becoming another Greece, where atlas shrugged. That and carrying a very big stick to deal with countries that don’t respond well to speaking softly.

  43. drs

    At the moment it's Republican policies that would make us more like Greece. Greece is suffering under austerity policies imposed to balance the budget in a recession — exactly what the Republicans call for, and what their ideological allies in the UK have pushed through. Unemployment in Greece is 25% and the suicide rate has doubled. The UK isn't as bad off as that but is heading into its third dip of the recession, which has lasted longer than their share of the Great Depression.

  44. Jake_Ackers

    Unemployment in Greece is because they like Spain spent money they didn't have. Unemployment has been that high before austerity.

  45. drs

    Google Greece unemployment rate. You'll be shown a Google Data graph showing Greek unemployment soaring from 7.5% in 2008 to 25.4% now. The previous high point was 12.3% in 1999. So you're wrong. You're also wrong about Spain, which was running a budget surplus before the crisis. It and Ireland had *better* public finances than Germany.

    Spain did have over 20% unemployment back in 1994 but that's kind of a long time ago. The recent soar is again obviously due to crisis and austerity. UK unemployment hasn't soared, but it has gone up with austerity. Economic theory and evidence agree, balancing a budget in a recession is a bad idea.

  46. Jake_Ackers

    Okay valid point. I do agree trying to balance a budget in a recession is bad. Greece I have to agree to a degree because they are cutting both spending/benefits AND raising taxes. So the public sector has layoffs without the private sector picking it up. However, I'm saying the economy was been going to the tank for a while because of their general economy and the spending dependency. Plus the UK has a more varied economy than Greece does. Which is a guess is a high part why UK can have austerity.

    I guess I thought you were lumping right wing with austerity. Because the Right just came into power in Spain and Greece. My mistake.

    Although I agree with you on austerity in bad in a recession, again to a degree. My main point is that the austerity was a response too the bad economy. Not the cause. It has worsen the unemployment rate, yes. They have to cut spending because they can't afford to spend the same amount as they were before the recession. Austerity is a simply reality. However, they just took an axe to spending. Cutting spending a country as big as the US is different than Europe. Especially how most EU countries rely on it heavily. Except now they simply cannot afford all that spending.

  47. drs

    Glad we agree on something.
    And I'll agree Greece was pretty f-ed up going in. The crisis was sparked by the government revealing that the previous government had totally lied about finances, after all, and tax evasion has been called a national sport.
    OTOH, the general eurozone crisis has been because the euro structure is flawed; they have monetary union without fiscal union, like an artificial gold standard given European Central Bank policies, and that leads to regional mismatch and loss of competitiveness. Capital flowed into the periphery, driving up costs, then capital got spooked and flowed out again, leaving governments and people with high interest rates + poor competitiveness, because prices are sticky and don't go down easily. If they had currencies they could devalue; if they had fiscal union like the US then the rich countries would be supporting the social safety nets just as retirees in Florida don't depend on the Florida economy for their pensions. Instead, they're f-ed.

    The austerity policies are being imposed by the ECB and core euro countries, as a condition of bailouts. They're not working: the debt/GDP ratios — and ability to repay debt — are getting *worse* as the austerity policies shrink GDP. It's not even "take medicine to get better", it's more like medieval bloodletting, with jobs instead of blood.

    Except in the UK, where austerity is self-imposed by conservative ideology in the current government; the UK has its own money and has the same rock-bottom borrowing rates of every other country that has its own money these days. And they can't "have it", austerity is failing them as well, they're just not as bad off because they're not part of the eurozone periphery crisis. Also their austerity probably isn't as severe as that imposed in Greece.

    Eurozone austerity is a response to the initial crisis, yes, but it's also making things worse, both directly and because they're avoiding facing up to the real problem. The eurozone either needs to become more like the US, with rich countries helping out the poor ones, or the poor countries should get out of the euro, so they can cut costs and export again. Again, what they're doing now is like applying leeches to a fever patient.

  48. Nikki

    Thing is Republican aren't doing that bad. Romney got over 200 electoral vote and did better than McCain. The Democrats only gained two seats in the senate, and who knows how the 2016 elections will go.

  49. Jake_Ackers

    True. They spent $6 billion and nothing change. Mitt only lost by 2% and the Senate only changed because two idiots can't shut up about rape.

  50. drs

    Obama's current popular vote lead — have Arizona and Florida finished counting yet? why can't Republican state governments count votes? — is 3.1%.

    We have to ask why the GOP is so attracting to idiots who can't shut up about rape, and why the other Republicans waffled so much about disavowing them.

  51. Jake_Ackers

    I view it as because of the religious vote. More so with Murrdock than Akin. Trenacker before touched on it too. Murrdock is just some weird religious reasoning. So going after him makes you anti-faith or something. And Akin is because he was so scared to give an answer he gave some messed up scientific reasoning.

  52. drs

    Romney got more EVs than McCain, but he got fewer popular votes, despite the larger population. Of course, Obama got a lot fewer than he did in 2008… though still a lot more more than McCain or Romney. And Hurricane Sandy hit high population blue states, giving one reason for lower turnout.

    Earlier in the year people had been predicting a GOP Senate; instead they lost seats, despite the crappy economy and beating the Obamacare drum and all.

  53. Max

    May whatever deities that may or may not exist be praised for your existence, J. J. It has been virtually impossible to defend my votes for Republican candidates this election, not just to my leftie friends but to myself, as I find myself by association encouraging an increasingly sectarian party in this election, whose high-profile candidates keep endorsing the next absurdly doctrinaire policy one after another! Of course I believe in low taxes, reduced financial regulations and the like, but could the Republican Party please learn that realpolitik, horsetrading if you will, sometimes is actually the prudent course? Especially in a system of government designed to encourage individualism and maverickism.

  54. Jake_Ackers

    I understand that but I think its unfair to the other candidates when people lump everyone together. I won't hold Romney at fault for Murrdock or Akin. Elections should be candidate centered. But because of how this election played out, people just are lumpy everyone together lately. Identity politics helped the GOP in 2000 as the Dems were being viewed as just going to far left.

  55. Asha

    As a college student I am sort of dealing with the opposite of what you dealt with in your college days. As a fairly liberal person I am close friends with one of the super conservatives whose ideas are conflicting to say the least. For example, she is not against gay people but she is against gay marriage. It is odd. Even if the intellectuals within the GOP decide that reform is important the base might hold on to their long-held ideas. We'll have to wait and see I suppose.

  56. Colin Minich

    Asha, I feel your pain. I try to fancy myself a moderate but I remember the utter absurdity of my best friend's hyperconservative friends who went so far as to consider my moderate stance "glorified fence-sitting" like my position had to be dogmatic like a faith. However I did get the same from some very liberal folks who sneered at my logical opposition to an overarching UN that so far has shown its inability to settle conflicts but merely say "harsh words." They preach their ideals but carry an almost totalitarian manner. Some of these folks tried to tie their aversion to serving in wars/military to their support for actions like Iraq. Others wanted some socialist policies but dreaded higher taxes or even assuming responsibilities at the greater level.

    I don't see immediate GOP improvement…at least not for a year or two.

  57. drs

    "overarching UN"? Is this some theoretical thing you don't want to see come into existence?

    And conflict has come down a lot. If I remember Pinker right, there's some evidence that the existence of a talking shop and peaceful norms actually does have some effect, but I'm not certain.

  58. Jake_Ackers

    Well there are the carbon tax, regulating the internet, etc.

  59. Colin Minich

    I've seen plenty of college liberals in my day advocate that the US start to give more of its military power to the UN and that the UN start to develop a more power projective force that would start to overrule federal governments. I've seen enough UN incompetence from Kosovo to Syria to know they're completely worthless in such regard. I'm not talking about the sheer numbers, but the effectiveness of brokering peace in blooming conflicts.

  60. drs

    Steven Pinker said UN peacekeepers are actually quite effective at keeping the peace, something like an 80% success rate. Of course, the success stories don't make the news. OTOH, that's argument for continuing to support peacekeepers, not for giving more power to the General Assembly or Security Council as they're constituted.

  61. Colin Minich

    I'm talking the General Assembly and Security Council, both of whom I eye with much suspicion. And the UN also elects just about the WORST people for its Human Rights Council. Just saying…

  62. Rachel

    Meanwhile, Barack Obama nominates Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton. Republicans plan to block the nomination, Dana Rohrabacher calls the administration's reaction to Beghazi "worse than Watergate". McCain attempts to create a Beghazi special panel, to which Republicans leading investigations on three other committees already object, in some sort of in-fighting power play.

    The thing is, I actually think there should be investigations into this. It doesn't make sense that Operation Fast and Furious furor died with the election. But because of the way Republicans react in the media, they just don't have the credibility. I want an investigation into both…but maybe without the Republicans jumping to impeach Eric Holder a million times harder than they were ever willing to even investigate Karl Rove?

    As a liberal, I really think we need a much more effective opposition in this country! Just…one that doesn't set records threatening filibusters in the minority as much as it threatens to annihilate filibusters in the majority. Barack Obama still wiretaps without a warrant based on a faulty provision of FISA about wartime surveillance that Congress had no idea they were activating because they thought Authorizations to Use Military Force didn't count as declarations of war. But the liberal outrage over expanding executive power from the Bush administration is gone.

  63. Jake_Ackers

    Truth is that both parties are the same except in rhetoric. Looks at the actions.

    Gitmo, Patriot Act, Libya, Military Tribunals, even the Bush tax cuts were renewed. Both Bush and Obama supported the bailouts. Obama was even against same sex marriage. He still is against it but thinks it should be a state issue or w/e his position is. Even Obamacare and Romneycare were just two different versions of the Republican plan from the 90s.

    Libertarian Party with a preferential voting system would dominate as long as Ron Paul doesn't touch it.

  64. drs

    You're behind the times. Obama openly supported gay marriage in May. He'd also supported gay marriage back in Illinois way back when, making many people think his national level opposition was a convenient lie.

    Obamacare and Romneycare are very similar yet the modern Republican party is wholly opposed to them.

    I think you're wrong about Libertarian domination; the party doesn't even get 1% of the vote! Most people don't say they're libertarian. Many people do say they'd like "smaller government" but that doesn't mean anything unless they can agree to actually give up much of the government. If implemented the Libertarian platform would be terribly unpopular.

  65. Jake_Ackers

    My point was his position is evolving and still took him a while to nail his position down. he still favors the states making a choice. As in the link above: "The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states' deciding the issue on their own."

    On the Libertarian or rather small L point. It's more people identify as social lib or libertarian and economically conservative. I think I pointed it out in another post. It actually all depends on what people identify as a social or economic issue.

  66. drs

    There are Senate committee investigations. McCain skipped his classified briefing to have a press conference complaining about not being briefed.

    The liberal outrage isn't gone, just quieter.

  67. drs

    The fact that you reach for David Brooks and George Will as examples of intelligent commentators indicates the depths of the problem.

    "conservatism was always supposed to be a personal attitude as well as a partisan ideology; a natural “way of approaching the world” that’s cautious and prudent, in Dreher’s words, but never an infallible dogma."

    If you take that approach, Obama is a profoundly conservative president — as many have said over the past four years.

    Also if one takes that approach, then one may have to ask whether conservatism is the same as being right-wing, and whether the Republicans are and have been a conservative party of a right-wing party. What does right-wing mean? Well,it goes back to the monarchists right before the French Revolution, and a lot of 'right' positions exalt authority, hierarchy, patriarchy, and tribalism. And tradition, but not just any tradition.

    Of course another sense of 'right-wing' these days is market economics, which used to be 'liberal' and still is in much of the world. But then there's how purist one should be about markets, and whether cutting down government was more urgent and sensible when that meant monopolistic warmongering monarchs in 1776 rather than modern democratic mixed-economy welfare states.

  68. Jake_Ackers

    Yah US politics is newer so its the opposite. The right wing in Australia are the "Liberal Party." So freaken confusing. Like the right wing in the UK favor the monarchy while the ones in AU don't.

  69. drs

    US politics is newer than what, France? We're older than Australia. Or almost every other democracy. It's nothing to do with newness, it's that in the US 'liberal' evolved to mean a weak form of social democrat, whereas most other places just went with Labour or social democrat or just left. And on stuff like health care and vacation time most other 'right-wings' are to the left of most of the US Democrats.

    I thought the AU right-wing was pro-monarchy. Well, the conservatives anyway, I don't know what the free-market liberals think.

  70. Jake_Ackers

    Well AU politics follows British politics. So their lexicon in politics is older. That's what I meant. The word liberal is yes for free market. But in America the free market isn't "liberal" as in "new" but rather "liberal" as in freedom like you touched on. But sense the US was founded on the free market principles it, free market liberal just became conservative. I should of said in the US, we use liberal and conservative now as status quo versus change. The other countries use it as freedom (free market) versus non-freedom. We did before as you have stated. But not anymore because of the changing of the word for us. And yah even the Democrats in the US are to the right of most right wings in Europe.

    Yah you are right though there actually is a break without the right in AU. The loyalist versus the free market people. Although frankly most AU are for freedom. They just waiting for the Queen to pass.

  71. Etc.

    It's always bizaare to me to see people talking about how right-wingers in Europe are to the left of the liberals in the USA.

    It's highly dependent on where you go, for one, and for which issues you're talking about. Several folks in what we tend to think of as super-liberal western European countries such as the Netherlands have set up these very nationalistic parties that blatantly say their aim is to kick out all immigrants, muslims, etc. from the country, and they're not at all subtle about the manner. Lots of Eastern European countries have very rigid social conservative views, other countries are definitely running more on the right-wing economic side than the left one…

    It's never really a good idea to make generalizations about an extremely diverse continent of over 700 million people.

  72. Jake_Ackers

    If in that case you have to compare each individual US state with each individual EU country. A Dem in Montana is not the same as one in Massachusetts.

    I do know that Eastern Euros are more to the right. But there still is a EU parliament. And that is one governing body like the US Congress. What you are comparing are EU countries (which would be more like states in the USA) to the US Congress. I think generally most right wing EU parties

  73. drs

    This is true; people tend to mean the economic axis when they say this, what with universal health care being taken for granted everywhere outside the US, and worker protections tending to be stronger. True that the racial nationalism is more blatant in the European right-wing (on that axis), and probably having latent Catholic conservatism in Spain and Portugal, and oddities like the Dutch politician who was "I'm anti-Muslim because I'm gay".

  74. Mark G

    The further right the GOP go, the more of the centre they cede to the Democrats, with the perverse effect of pushing the US political stance to the left. Obamacare couldn't have happened if Bush hadn't alienated the political centre. And it couldn't have been bedded down if the GOP had won more of the centre over this time around.

    The notion of "purity" in the ideological sense is inherently anti-science, anti-intellectual and ultimately anti-individual. That's one of the defining lessons of the 20th century.

    I recommend this very brilliant xkcd which makes a similar point to JJ (albeit very differently):

  75. Jack

    I honestly think you are mistaken JJ. Racist jokes and undertones aside, which I loathe both in the GOP or in strawman arguments against it, there's something to be considered

    On some principles (let's say, for the sake of example, limited government, individual liberty, and personal responsability), you cannot compromise just to go with the popular opinion, or with the flavor of the month.
    If you do that too much you'll will simply be unprincipled, and your ideas will be worth nothing. And, by the way, you'll just appear as the late newcomer expousing ideas other alrready adopted before you.

    In general, I think you quite missed the mark on the last two or three posts, but they are an interesting and compelling read nonetheless.

    Cheers from your usual lonely Italian fan =)

  76. @mikehatedit

    Can I just note the immense irony in a conservative castigating the right for being swayed by "flavour of the month" solutions and "popular opinions"?

    (I see you, Grover Norquist!)

  77. Jake_Ackers

    I think its more about approach. The Tea Party and Ron Paul bots won't take 70%. It's 100% or bust with them.

  78. SparcVark

    "The Republican Party has to be one that people from outside the narrow and useless Romney electorate — which is to say, any American who’s not a old, white, rural, male, reactionary southerner — can join and support without embarrassment or fear."

    Well, I'm a middle-aged, white, suburban, male, reactionary northerner. Is there room in your idealized Republican party for me, or do I need to go caucus with Pat Buchanan and Steve Sailer?

    More seriously, what is the percentage of the population that can be told to get bent by both major parties in a two-party system before extremely serious problems start to emerge? 20%? 30%?

  79. J.J. McCullough

    The point is not that old white reactionary males should have no place in the party, just that the party has to be for and of other kinds of people too.

  80. @mikehatedit

    I'd like to talk about Linda Lingle.

    Lingle is a former governor of Hawaii. The first Republican elected to any statewide office in decades. And a fiendishly, deeply popular governor at that: she left office with an approval rating between 70 and 80%, depending on who you ask. (An approval rating normally associated with mothers and apple pie. And, remember, we're talking about a Republican in Hawaii.) She's a moderate with a demonstrated ability to work with Democrats. (The Republicans control something like 2 out of 60 seats in the Hawaiian legislature, yet her term was not especially fractious.) She also has a knack for winning over visible-minority voters, a matter of extreme importance in a state like Hawaii.

    In short, Linda Lingle is the ideal Republican moderate. A popular, successful former governor with a loyal following. A winner, even in an overtly-Democratic state like Hawaii. You really couldn't ask for a more impressive CV.

    She ran for the Senate in 2012, and she was an extremely competitive candidate. In the middle of the summer, the race was within 3-4 points according to some polls. Lingle out-fundraised her opponent by 30%, attracted the lion's share of PAC money and advertising, and even had some union endorsements. And as it happens, Lingle had already beaten her Democrat opponent in the Gubernatorial race a few years earlier.

    Despite all these advantages, she lost.

    In fact, she got spanked. Didn't even break 40%. The networks called it before 5% of the vote was counted.

    What happened to Linda Lingle? How does an incredible candidate with a real chance of victory end so badly?

    A few partial explanations:

    Lingle herself is pro-choice, but every time some jackass from Indi-hio-sconsin said something stupid about abortion or birth control, she essentially had to waste the rest of her week distancing herself from the sentiments and statements, even though she had nothing to do with them.

    Lingle herself has a great record of working with ethnic minorities and working-class voters, but every time someone in the Romney campaign said something stupid about poor people, black people, or some similar constituency, she–again–had to waste media cycles on distancing and clarifying and moving away from her national brethren.

    In addition to these significant handicaps, Lingle was never a sexy candidate to the right-wingers who have become the public face of the modern Republican party. Sarah Palin was never going to swing through town and endorse her. (Indeed, that would probably make Lingle's situation worse, not better.) The party itself just doesn't have all that many resources in Hawaii, and the fact that so many of the party's media and fundraising resources are sharply right-wing made it impossible for her to tap into the national infrastructure.

    In short, Linda Lingle got eaten alive by her own national party. They've created a climate in which even an incredibly well-qualified candidate in a highly competitive race not only can't access the party's resources, but will be actively hindered by the party's operations and messaging. There are some serious, deep-seated institutional problems here, and the problems are at the absolute top of the party: with the leadership, with the Senatorial candidates, with the way the party interacts with the media… this is very serious stuff.

  81. Rachel

    I remember Linda Lingle…it was 2008 and I was combing through biographies of Republican governors that could have been picked for Vice President or run for President. I figured that she decided not to run in 2008 because she was smart enough to see the direction of the wind headed Obama and save her run for another cycle. Hopefully she'll get to run again in a year with less Bachmanns and Akins.

    I agree with the Republicans about handouts, in a way — as things become more automated, there will be less jobs available for unskilled workers, and wages will rightly go toward the people doing the automating. Just putting more subsidies on unskilled wages can't be an answer. And I think it is possible that this trend could create an electorate that cynically wants gifts, not now, but in the distant future. Democrats need competition from a dignified opponent to force them to deal with these issues.

    And as a college student, I don't really want my student loans to be forgiven. I believe in a role for government in creating equal opportunity between those born into different economic classes, but I don't think that the federal government has a responsibility to subsidize someone's dream to be a dance instructor. Students should be forced to look at the economics of whether their major can actually pay off their student loans, and accept responsibility for a regretful choice…but maybe that's just because I'm a STEM major?

  82. @mikehatedit

    You, as someone going into STEM, need dance instructors.

    More importantly, you need *failed* dance instructors.

    You need people like that in order to subsidize *your* income. You need an economy with waiters and janitors and bus drivers and gas station attendants and supermarket restockers and melon-pickers and garbage collectors, because these are the people who will ultimately be buying the products STEM people turn out.

    The working class, as a proportion of their income, are by far the most actively consumerist members of society. They save hardly anything and spend almost everything. (And it's not a matter of greed or ignorance, it's a matter of "It will cost me $40 to feed myself this week and I have exactly $40 to spend on food. Welp.")

    You want a nice tenured job at a university? You need these people to pay taxes (if not income taxes, payroll taxes and sales taxes and VAT and liquor taxes and lotteries and…) in order to keep the lights on.

    You want a gleaming, private-sector pharmaceutical laboratory? You need millions of people taking your company's pills.

    Now, nobody is seriously advocating that unskilled or low-skilled workers should be made millionaires. But if the economy absolutely depends upon the existence of an underclass of this type and nature, can we maybe treat them with something other than utter contempt?

    Can we maybe stop describing their need to feed and clothe and house themselves as covetousness? (You want food stamps? God, you greedy poor people, always wanting gifts…)

    Can we maybe acknowledge that having cities full of millions of unemployed people with virtually no prospects for re-employment is an undesirable–and dangerous–state of affairs?

    And can we perhaps talk about the fact that STEM itself is no longer much of a shelter? (Only about 50% of recent PhDs in many STEM fields can find work in their area of expertise–and that includes postdocs, career TAs, and others who haven't really found work at all. It's bad, and it's getting worse.)

  83. Jake_Ackers

    All valid points. But I think there are two arguments here. We need unskilled labor but we do not need labor that ISN'T in demand. The market demands a lot more STEM majors than liberal arts. We aren't going to be competing with China and India if they keep turning out millions of engineers and doctors while we have millions of art history majors and photography majors. Do we need them? Yes. A lot less liberal art majors though. Unskilled labor is another matter.

    Unskilled or low skill workers can pay more in services than they use. The problem is the SKILLED workers that aren't needed like the dance instructor or the 50 millionth photography major. A person who is unemployed because they studied something that is not in demand like art history, well they made a choice. Albeit most people have been taught that a college degree is a guaranteed job regardless of major. That photography major now feels entitled to get free services so he/she can pursue their career which because of market conditions is unlikely to happen. I think that is more what Rachel was saying, I think.

  84. Jake_Ackers

    That's the NJ Republican problem. For example, NJ Republicans have dominated the Governorship in NJ. Even recently but completely get destroyed in the Senate. Why? Well compare it to the House. NJ House districts are shaped to be very fixed. So a moderate has an better chance to be Governor. Why? Because a Governor needs to compromise. You are picking an executive leader not a legislator. Legislator is a representative. So ideology matters. So a liberal state like NJ just picks what it is closer when it comes to the Senate. Or picks what resembles it's district.

    Thus the same happened to Lingle. Her experience and her ability to lead is pretty much useless in a Senate race. Cause Legislative races are about ideology. Simply as that. Executive races are more than just ideology.

  85. @mikehatedit


    No, no, no, no, no.

    You don't understand. So I'll repeat myself.

    Linda Lingle is ideologically acceptable in Hawaii. So much so that she was leading in some polling in June and July.

    That was before her campaign found itself wasting weeks at a time distancing Lingle from the statements that other candidates elsewhere were making.

    That was before family-planning PACs started making national ad buys. (They agree with Lingle, but when the message is anti-Republican rather than anti-individual candidates, Lingle gets caught up in the fray.)

    That was before "47percentgate", or whatever people are calling it.

    That was before the national party essentially crashed on moderates like her.

    And that's the story of Linda Lingle. She wasn't a non-starter. She isn't an ideological outlier. (In some respects, she's more left-wing than the Democrat she had hoped to replace.) Her poll numbers were good. Her fundraising is excellent. And she lost the election because the national party screwed her.

    Also, isn't it interesting that all of your comments in every thread on this post have exactly +1 votes. It's almost as if you're doing that yourself.

  86. Jake_Ackers

    The comments does it automatically as I am a registered member of the site. You use twitter thus it doesn't give you that. Just look at everyone uses an "Intense debate" login.

    I was referring of Senator v Governor overall. However, she maybe acceptable in Hawaii. But Hawaii is lib. Very lib. So why vote for a Lib Rep when you have a Lib Dem? If most Hawaiians lean left they would vote what is closer to them. Lingle positive's really only give her an advantage in Governor's race. Legislative races are about ideology.

    I understand what you are saying but I think most moderate Republicans in left leaning states simply lose because they aren't enough Cons and not enough moderates willing to vote for a person who is a Republicans or center-right. She might of actually won in Hawaii because he is popular if it wasn't for the national GOP. But again I was referring to legislative v executive races. As in legislative races people will just think the "moderate" will simply vote with their party in the end.

    Moreover its so unfair to her. She is not like the rest of the GOP but get painted as such. Elections used to be so much more candidate centered. If it was 2010 or 2014 she might of actually won.

  87. @mikehatedit

    No, you don't understand, because one key fact is still eluding you.

    Lingle has already won.

    Lingle has already been elected to statewide office in Hawaii. By wide margins.

    People don't need an "excuse" to vote for her.

    They already have.

    By wide margins. (In her second campaign, she attracted nearly twice as many votes as her opponent.)

    You're really just spitballing here, aren't you.

  88. Jake_Ackers

    A Senate race is different than an Executive race. Again she probably would have won in 2010 or 2014 if it wasn't for the stupid people in the GOP like Akin or Murrdock.

    Same applies to Lingle. Even if Lingle won the Senate race, it would of been narrower than her Governor margins by far. Simply because her moderate appeal isn't as strong in a Senate race as it is in a Governor race.

    I think we are talking past each other a bit. What I am saying is that a Senate race is more about ideology so a moderate Republican in a liberal state will fair better off in a Governor race than a Senate race. Lingle's popularity would of given her the win. But she still would of not had as wide of a win as her Governor one because Senate races are more about ideology.

    TBH all of Lingle's polls since March of 2011 had her trailing with the except of one odd one with Ed Case. Mazie Hirono was above 50 for most of about a year and a half. Lingle was never close anyways. Just look at the polls:

    View this as an example: Chris Christie would have an easier time to win a Governor race than Senate because of what I said. Even though he is massively popular in NJ, he would never win a Senate race. That's why Governor Kean nor Governor Whitman ever ran for Senate.

  89. drs

    One has to wonder why she's running with the GOP, then…

    …which actually connects to a point that Jake might be trying to make. I don't know if anyone did it, I avoid most ads, but there was talk of anti Scott Brown ads in MA pointing out that a vote for Scott Brown (fairly popular in MA) was also a vote for Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority leader and for a GOP majority in general (not popular at all in MA.) I don't know if this was a factor in the races in MA or HI, but it's valid, and will be increasingly valid as the Senate blocs polarize, to think of not just whether one likes this Senator but about the majority in Congress; this issue doesn't exist for a state governor. When you run at the national level as a Republican (or Democrat, but we're focusing on the GOP) you're declaring your allegiance to all the other national level Republicans.

    I don't think this contradicts what you're saying, rather it's another angle, or justification for tainting her with the 47% and rape crap. She may not agree… but she'd likely have ended up voting with those people anyway.

  90. Jake_Ackers

    Thank you. You summed it up better than I could. Frankly I don't know why these candidates don't run as independents. Take Washington State. All the GOP candidates in a open election lose by like a percentage of 1% of the vote. It's so narrow. Even if most know you are from the GOP, without a party name on the ticket, at least the voters who only look at party line will have to look at the issues somewhat.

  91. Colin Minich

    Holy Hell I remember Lingle. God if there wasn't a woman I felt more sorry for in politics…

    But yeah she was another unfortunately casualty that Republican hardliners threw under a bus or ate alive much like Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson, and my personal favorite…Jon Huntsman. All of these men and women can represent the intellectual and honorable side of the Republican party, but no they're not the ones with the rhetoric.

    I just get this feeling people want to see the loud, obnoxious, and vitriolic. Reason is too "boring" and people want something "different."

    Different is also what I hear from Ron Paul supporters who haven't a lick of evidence of how those fringe proposals would be better the way the Tea Party can't explain its hypocritical stance of being against taxes on higher incomes yet demanding we see more revenue by slashing alone and thinking that'll reduce the deficit alone. Different is not always good, GOP and Ron Paul fans. Different is not always good, inquisitors of the "RINO."

  92. SES

    It's always going to be easier for a figure from a minority party to win a race for governor. Party affiliation simply matters less for a governor than it does for a legislator. A governor is a unitary figure, so personal traits matter a lot. A single senator, especially a junior senator, doesn't really do anything critically important other than help one party or another control the Senate.

  93. Monte

    Stories like this are a big reason why I say that the tea party has been a poison to the republicans. They have the effect of making all republicans look terrible. Today, when a lot of moderates and liberals think of the republicans, they think of the tea party and are disgusted by their extreme conservatism. In a sense, they drag all the moderate republicans down making it harder for even them to win.

  94. Jake_Ackers

    Simply put. Someone needs to take the elephants by the tusks on this one. Tell Palin to shut it. Tell America that Murrdock has a "unique religious view" and Akin to just go away. Different ways to deal with each one. Simply put someone has to be willing to take charge of the GOP without officially being the head of the GOP. Someone like Robert Taft but without the official position.

    On the Mod to Lib Reps versus Mod to Con Reps. It all depends. If its a Christie v Santorum race and Christie gets the nod in 2016. He will lose the general because Santorum will paint him as a Lib and he will be trying to push from the Right side. So Christie will get the McCain and Romney look of being wishy washy.

    If Christie runs against a candidate who is to his left like Olympia Snowe. He viewed as right wing without having to change any of his positions. Thus he gets the conservative legitimacy without having to give up his moderate views. If Reagan didn't have Ford and Bush, he wouldn't of picked up the middle. Moving from the right to the center is progress. Moving from the center or left and going to the right is simply flip flopping.

    Just one thing though. Its amazing how it's always the GOP that is finished every single election cycle. Look at 2010. The GOP won more Hispanics than McAmnesty did. And almost as much as W Bush did. The GOP even got 51% of the female vote. The turnout in 2012 was just not the turnout in 2010. If it was Romney would of railroaded Obama.

  95. drs

    Yes, the turnout in presidential years is always higher than in off years. More Americans voting tends to shift things to the Democrats, which is why the GOP has been trying to make it harder to vote.

  96. Jake_Ackers

    True to a degree. Although the Dems get a lot of people who aren't even suppose to vote to actually vote. However, I was referring more to the demographics based on ideology. IE more conservatives voted. Even race I suppose has an affect because Obama got people who normally don't vote to come out and vote in 2012.

  97. drs

    "Dems get a lot of people who aren't even suppose to vote to actually vote"

    This is a conservative myth with no proof. Voter fraud is really rare, and if you think about it it's not worth the effort; too many people. Much easier to officially gimmick who gets to vote, or to mess with counting of the votes.

  98. Jake_Ackers

    Tell that to Norm Coleman. 1099 felons voted in a race that was decided by 312 votes. 341 alone in St Paul. Not considering that fact their were places in Philly that Romney didn't get a single vote.

    The problem isn't people voting who are someone else. The problem are people who aren't suppose to vote that are allowed to vote.

    What about in Washington state where absentee ballots of a certain city magically appear? Or how absentee ballots for military folks don't get counted nor even shipped out to allow them to vote?

    Voting in this country is a mess and a serious problem. Both sides are hurt and both sides benefit.

  99. drs

    You're repeating a debunked claim:

    As for places in Philly, (a) that's not people who shouldn't vote, voting and (b) is it so hard to believe that there are voting locations in black ghettoes where no one voted for Romney? Romney got only 6% of the black vote overall, and poor blacks would be even less likely, and Pennsylvania had voter ID laws, which caused backlash by people who felt their voting rights were threatened.

  100. zerocool

    I have a suggestion. Maybe "conservatives" should stop lying to everyone, and admit that they're basically liberals.

    Conservatism is primarily about maintaining social institutions, which "conservatives" have spent the last 20 years demonizing. There is nothing conservative about endlessly cutting taxes, deregulating finance, wrecking post-war institutions, privatizing schools and crown corporations, or demonizing teachers and public servants.

    "Government is the problem" is probably the most un-conservative statement ever uttered by a politician and yet "conservatives" repeat it endlessly, like a mantra.

    The individual liberties for which "conservatives" routinely profess their undying love, are the product of liberal philosophy. Actual conservatives would bristle at the Republican party's radical individualism.

    So yeah. A little honesty might go a long way. Stop trying to appropriate conservatism when you are clearly advocating a grab-bag of liberal concepts.

    (This is directed at secular "conservatives" such as JJ, not the even more horribly confused individuals who believe that Jesus Christ was a capitalist)

  101. zerocool

    Here are some more things historically advocated by liberals, now promoted by "conservatives"

    – the free market, aka trickle-down economics, aka "horse and sparrow theory"
    – military interventionism
    – property qualification for voting
    – separation of church and state

  102. Kento

    Modern Americanism doesn't want state in church, but it does want church in state.

  103. Jake_Ackers

    Thumbs up. Separation of church and state but not faith and politics. Frankly, people pass laws and vote however they want. Whether its scientific, moral, or religious beliefs in the end it all has to pass the Constitutional test. Which frankly, most of these positions and laws both sides hold and try to pass don't.

  104. Trenacker

    The fundamental problem in American politics today is entitlement spending. There simply aren't enough people contributing to end-of-life benefits to keep the system solvent, but nobody who's paid into that same system all their life is about to vote for a candidate who offers either deep cuts in benefits or difficult-to-understand reforms that easily become political fodder.

    Everybody, liberals and conservatives alike, want to believe that we can simply grow the economy, and thereby "cook" our way out of debt. Romney and Ryan were promoting this theory months before November: we'll avoid raising taxes, even though they are at historic lows, and thereby send a message of "reassurance" to the private sector, which will respond with increased spending, greasing the wheels of a stagnant economy. Unfortunately, that ignores the demonstrated failure of the Bush tax cuts to generate similar results over the past eight years.

    I don't like Obama's decision to tax the wealthy more than others. Even while I agree that tax rates are too low overall, there is something insidious about deciding that we can "raid" one group to service the needs of others without creating an expectation of consistency. This is the message that Romney attempted to send all along — one that got muddled by clumsy rhetoric that often took on racialized overtones, and helped drive voters away from the Republican Party. The main reason that I didn't vote for Romney was that he couldn't offer detail about his plans to achieve austerity. Instead, it sounded like he was selling a bill of goods: tax cuts for all, combined with spending cuts only on programs nobody cares about. Pie in the sky. My conclusion was that he would end up in a situation roughly analogous to that of Obama anyway.

    Conservative opposition to regulation appears to come from a widespread belief that regulation represents cost to business owners without equivalent benefit to society. It is simultaneously the byproduct of our fascination with the wealthy — which doesn't allow us to consider how an imbalance of wealth allows the entrenchment of particular interests, to the detriment, not the benefit, of competition and efficiency — and of our shared conviction that government intervention in economics smacks of what we have learned to call "socialism."

    The irony of all this, of course, is that religious conservatives are absolutely comfortable using the government to regulate personal choices. It is only business that they want to leave unconstrained.

    I would also submit that, ugly jingoism aside, most conservatives are leery of military interventionism whenever we are not already committed to a military intervention. They want a muscular posture that makes them feel like the beneficiaries of a strong global leadership, and a robust defense policy to support that posture, but are usually in no rush to see that military power applied. This is especially true of the putative leadership of what has come to be called the paleo-conservative faction of the Republican Party. In reality, the United States today represents the world's foremost non-status quo power. China, Russia, Sudan… these are all nations that cling stubbornly to the legacy of the Peace of Westphalia, concluded way back in 1648. Just as the prince's religion was to be that of his people, and no state was to interfere in the religious affairs of another, so too do Beijing, Moscow, and Khartoum insist that governments must be left free to manage their internal conflicts howsoever they see fit. It is only since 1945 that the United Nations, and increasingly during the 1990s when our hand was forced, the United States, has tried to change this. Most of the time, "humanitarian consideration" has simply been a convenient excuse to engage in realpolitik — to eliminate a liability in Panama, to prevent suspected Soviet clientelism in Grenada, and to try and alter the fundamental political calculus in the Middle East and eliminate a known enemy during a time when we felt especially wary of all enemies, by taking out Saddam Hussein.

  105. zerocool

    I agree with many of your points. Others I disagree with, for reasons you have probably heard before. However I must take particular issue with your final paragraph.

    Republicans (and many self-identified liberals as well, to be sure) are responsible for various bloody interventions over the years, most recently including the horrific Iraq catastrophe. I don't know what you were up to in 2002 but I was called a "faggot traitor" for not "supporting the troops" as George Bush threatened to send them into harm's way. To say nothing of the civilian population. Even Canada's supposedly moderate 'Conservative' prime minister said at the time that there was "no upside" to Canada's non-participation in that little picnic. Many of these same 'conservatives' are now cheerleading for an even more catastrophic Iran war.

    So, no, I stand by my assertion. Democrats are certainly no saints but Republicans, and their fellow travellers in Canada, are clearly the most prolific warmongers. With apologies to those conservatives who are true to the philosophy – who sadly have virtually no clout in the Republican institution.

  106. Jake_Ackers

    Bush maybe but not Republicans overall. Reps have been the part of non-intervention historically. It all depends who is in power. Look at Clinton and going in every little third world country. Obama for going into Libya. But that's right, Dems do because its genocide occuring and Reps do it for oil? Every party is against war until they get into power.

    Btw 2002 was right after 9/11. So yah we were attacked. Better support the troops. 2003 was the Iraq War. 9/11 and Iraq two different thing. Moreover, supporting the war is one thing and supporting the troops is another.

  107. Jake_Ackers

    Wow actually agreed with quite of few of your points this time, Trenacker. Thumps up. On the point of the Bush tax cuts,the first one Bush moved the rates. Just moving where people falls in the rates actually has little to no affect on the economy. So yah that one was pointless. The second one was done largely as a response to 9/11 and Iraq as to hold the economy. Overall we have seen an increase in revenue when tax rates go down.

    However, I think the important thing in this economy is to clean up the tax code. Keep the rate neutral but cut out ALL the deductions except those for charities. As a major tax cut for the middle class and poor. After all they only pay like a few hundred billion per year, so a little bit cut for them isn't going to cut the revenue stream much. Otherwise keep the effective rate for the rich the same if not a small 1-2% effective increase.

    Ideally I think the solution is this: Cut the rate to what it effectively is, 15%, or even increase it to 16 or 17 for the wealthy. While having no deductions or loopholes. And eliminate the income tax mostly for the poor and middle class which considering most of them don't fall in a paying bracket anyway. That way the revenue stream will actually increase because we have no loopholes and more people will actually pay instead of trying to go around. IIRC, doesn't the IRS fail to collect about 900 billion to a trillion dollars per year because of inefficiency in the tax code and people simply not paying? Cleaning it up would reduce that lost.

    And on Romney not being specific. He did have a 57 point plan but everyone early in the primary side it was too specific so he cut it to 5 points. Either way, Obama offered nothing in 2008 except Hope and Change. And that worked for him. I don't understand how the media kept giving Obama a pass on details but yet nailed Romney so much on it.

  108. Jake_Ackers

    You are pretty much just arguing over the definition of a word. Like I discussed before. Conservative in the US and Liberalism is different from the rest of the world. Since the US was founded on free market principles the "conservative" thing is to adhere to that. Back in the early days of the US, a conservative was viewed as you put it. Those conservatives would be pro-monarchy or a centralized gov't or w/e else.

  109. Guest

    Any political party in a western democracy that values purity over popularity is doomed to the fringes – fringes of the political process and society generally.
    Politics in the West is necessarily about compromise – anyone who can't see that is an ideologue and ill-suited for politics.

  110. Jake_Ackers

    Good point. Point of parties is to get elected. But I think the Tea Party and this ideologue streak is a response to the American sentiment that both parties would just rollover and support the same policies. Like no change. Both would spend, both would go to war, both would do the same thing. I think in the coming elections there will be a balance of that. Compromise on what needs to but stand firm on what you needs to as well and work a solution out. Frankly most people just want things to work, regardless of how it gets done.