Progressive Conservatives

Progressive Conservatives
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I used to think it was possible — likely, even — that Elizabeth Warren might wrestle the Democratic presidential nomination from Hillary Clinton. My logic (hardly uncommon) was that a lot of liberal voters were going to take a second look at Hillary’s less-than-progressive record on economic issues one of these days, and conclude that they’d rather back a robustly left-wing, banker-hating populist than a former Wal-Mart board member currently making a living giving $20,000-a-pop speeches to Goldman Sachs executives.

The reason I don’t think that anymore, however, is because I’ve realized the modern American left doesn’t actually care about economic issues all that much. Indeed, one of the most interesting ideological shifts over the last decade or so has been the steady eclipse of traditional left-wing economic concerns — inequality, labor rights, progressive taxation, corporate regulation, etc. — by what we now call “social justice” issues — LGBT rights, anti-racism, multiculturalism, feminism, secularism/atheism, drug legalization, and so on.

Hillary, that proud glass-ceiling shattering identity-politics icon, has put a lot of effort into placing this kind of stuff at the centre of her brand. As secretary of state, she made the “promotion of equality for gay people a core value of U.S. foreign policy” and reformed the rules of the State Department bureaucracy to make it one of the country’s most LGBT-friendly employers. Active efforts at outreach towards the African-American community — who deserted her for Barack Obama in 2008 — have helped her regain a nearly 90% approval rating with black voters. She’s endorsed a so-called “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants, and viciously denounced voter ID laws. On pot legalization she’s been at worst agnostic, and has certainly left the door open for an Obama-style “evolution,” should the winds begin to decisively blow in that direction.

What all this has to do with Republicans should be clear. As we’ve all discussed ad nauseum, the GOP can only win the presidency in 2016 by doing one of two things: winning more support from minority voters — who are mostly all liberals — or winning over white Democrats — who are entirely all liberals. And if the essence of American liberalism is increasingly “social justice,” then it obviously behooves any would-be Republican presidential candidate to make inroads on that front.

And it’s been happening. Albeit in a bumbling, typically awkward Republican sort of way.

Mike Huckabee, who is fast emerging as the GOP’s 2016 dark horse, has given a few speeches in recent months in which he’s attempted to subvert the narrative of the so-called “Republican War on Women” by claiming that no, it’s the Democrats who are the real anti-feminists.

Most infamously, at a January conference of the Republican National Committee, the former governor denounced Democrats for promoting the idea that American women “are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.” Republicans are waging a “war for women” to protect them from state-dependency, he declared proudly.

It didn’t go over well, for the simple reason that there’s rarely any political benefit to be gained by a Republican saying anything about birth control other than “I’m for it.” Huck’s subsequent efforts at women wooing entailed telling Salon magazine that “equality doesn’t mean sameness.” It was about as well-received.

A different tent-broadening strategy has been pursued by Jeb Bush, who, in the wake of Governor Christie’s subsumption by the overrated “bridgegate” scandal, has emerged as the leading moderate, consensus choice among the Republican Party’s moneyed elite.

Bush’s appeal to the left has mostly entailed tacking a progressive course on Latino issues — which he, as a Spanish-speaking ex-governor of a Latino-heavy state with a Latino immigrant wife — is presumed to be naturally adept at, not unlike his border-state brother. In the past, Bush has loudly asserted the need for his party to “change the tone” on their immigration rhetoric, a tone-change which he himself demonstrated last week when he dubbed illegal immigration an “act of love” undeserving of vindictive criminalization. Sure, it’s a crime in theory, but not like a crime crime, he said. It’s a “different kind of crime.”

Bush’s rhetoric — which no progressive could possibly find fault with — was interesting in that it exposed the strategic paradox of a “more liberal” GOP. In the aftermath of his comments, the right wing of his own party jumped all over him, and Bush has now probably been inescapably tagged as the leading “soft on illegals” candidate in any future Republican primary. Yet Nate Silver doesn’t think that matters much, and notes that Republican voters as a whole are actually much softer on illegals than popular lore would have you believe. It all really comes down to what primary voters think — and they’re not always known for being the most representative slice of the electorate.

Case study three is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who’s gone furthest of all in explicitly trying to rebrand himself as a fresh, 21st century Republican whose independent opinions defy traditional stereotype. Paul seems to believe his famed libertarianism (and rejection of dogmatic GOP partisanship) makes him most suited to bridge America’s left-right divide, though his esoteric take on the philosophy has probably made the quest harder than it should.

Speaking before liberal audiences in places like Berkeley U, Paul’s preferred pitch to non-Republicans is to play up his credentials as a skeptic of the military-industrial complex and surveillance state, blasting the constitutionality of drone strikes and the NSA with language that would sound at home in a Glenn Greenwald column. And it seems to be going over well; at Berkeley his anti-spying tirade — which included name-dropping famed FBI victims MLK and Muhammad Ali as a way of race-shaming America’s first black president — received a standing ovation.

Yet while positioning himself as solidly anti-war isn’t likely to alienate those foreign policy leftists who rose to loud prominance during the Bush years, the question is how many of today’s liberals are willing to place concerns about surveillance and imperialism over identity-politics issues on which Paul’s record is decidedly less progressive.

Unlike many more doctrinaire live-and-let-live libertarians, Paul is not neutral on matters like gay marriage and abortion; he opposes both. And though the son certainly lacks the Confederate apologism baggage of his father — openly bragging before black audiences that his party, not the Democrats, freed the slaves — one of Paul the Younger’s most haunting legacies to date was an unsettlingly ambiguous position on the Civil Rights Act during his 2010 Senate campaign. Libertarianism is a fine something-for-everyone ideology. But you have to be consistent in applying it.

It’s obviously unfair to criticize Republicans for trying and stumbling, as opposed to not trying at all. The fact that all the leading GOP presidential candidates at the moment are at least trying to moderate their party’s tone and brand in the eyes of those voters they need the most is admirable, and indicates the party is indeed more adept at bending and evolving than smug Democrats — with their constant predictions of a party “extinction” are willing to admit.

Yet at the same time, there’s a difference between genuine outreach to minorities and liberals born from genuine empathy and understanding, and merely trying to cleverly repackage a set-in-stone agenda whose fundamentals you have no interest in altering.

No one’s going to out-progressive Hillary, but Republicans have to offer a candidate capable of co-opting at least a portion of her natural base.

Plenty of Democratic voters are open to an alternative, and it doesn’t have to be Elizabeth Warren.



  1. HeartRight

    The main point to be understood about Liberalism is the following:
    It is nothing but a vehicle for Monied Middle Class interests.
    It's why there was [ and remains] a seperate Labour Party in the UK:
    Liberals do not care about other folks, and do not want them in their midst.

    Just how much interest in Social Justice do the LibDems show?
    While they are interested in Mansion Taxes for those richer than they are, they are less vociferous when it comes to opposing the Bedroom Tax on those poorer than they are.

    <q>merely trying to cleverly repackage a set-in-stone agenda whose fundamentals you have no interest in altering.</q>

    Ah, yes. That is Liberalism in a nut-shell.

    Social Justice? Social Justice means redistributing goods.
    Pope Francis does Social Justice. Liberals do not – period.

    Conceded: your average US Republican does not do it either.
    And I take leave to doubt that Libertarianism will be a vehicle for social justice either.

    Social Jusitce is about: inequality, labor rights, progressive taxation, Wellfare.
    And not: LGBT rights, anti-racism, multiculturalism, feminism, secularism/atheism, drug legalization.

  2. Monte

    Wouldn't LGBT rights, anti-racism, multiculturalism, feminism, and secularism/atheism all fall under "inequality"? Also in the US, Liberals do place good deal of focus on Labor rights (support for labor unions, equal pay, raising the minimum wage, etc), as well as supporting welfare programs. Economics however, as JJ points out, is where democrats in the US tend to fall flat.

  3. HeartRight

    Oddly enough – sarcasm included – those are generelly included in the all-new department of civl rights.
    Anattole Framce called it out over a century agO: the equal right of poor and rich alike to dine in le Tour d'Argent and sleep under the bridge.

    Ift's about Bread on the Table. By and large, Democrats and Republicans are wedded to the same economic ideology: neoliberalism. They both have grown so far to the right hand of the spectrum that they both make Nixon look like Tony Benn.

  4. HeartRight

    Raising the minimu wage:

    Self-evident of just how much both parties have not delivered since…1968?

  5. Adam Evans

    "lso in the US, Liberals do place good deal of focus on Labor rights (support for labor unions, equal pay, raising the minimum wage, etc), as well as supporting welfare programs. "

    Really? Liberals in Seattle area are busy fighting Kshama Sawant (Socialist Alternative) over mim-wage and liberals in my state just gave Boeing tax subsidies and forced Union workers to cut pay and cut benefits to keep Boeing in Washington State.

  6. HeartRight

    I vainly repress a giggle.

    The core issues of Sawant's campaign were a minimum wage increase to US$15/hour, a "millionaire's tax" or income tax on wealthy Seattleites, and rent control.

    OK. She did not miss many ways to offend liberal sensibilities, right? Of course, it should royally upset Libertarians as well.

  7. Jake_Ackers

    What I think he means, if I am right, is that 1) Liberals in Seattle are social libertarians. 2) Liberals in Seattle are realistic when it comes to the economy. 3) If she gets her policies passed, Washington State will go down the tubes.

    Let's face it what the heck does WA State have? Water? There economic advantage is no state income tax. They put one in that state is done. Companies will move to Oregon or Vancouver. Moreover, the lady thinks the workers should own Amazon. She is on the wrong side of the border. She has a right to believe what she wants but it would destroy the city along with the State. Bluntly put, she is an ideologue ignores the economic realities.

    She is the left wing equivalent of those Republicans who thinks abstinence and not giving out some form of birth control works. Good in theory, bad in practice.

    Which leads to my main point. It's not that libs don't care about economic issues. Is that liberals favor ideology over economic realism. The Republicans do the same with social issues, ideology over social realism.

  8. HeartRight

    Jake, if you think that Realism = Long live Neoliberalism, then I grant you that your argument is internally consistent. But I think that what you discribe as Realism is actually profoundly in the wrong.
    Of course, Sawant may very well think that the Last Crisis should be provoled by any means.

    Yet I think we should be clear that Neoliberalism as an economic choice is a choice that the Western world cannot afford, and must not accept Beyond the enivornmental considerations, we have to face up to 2 major problems, A] the Kaldor Facts are wrong, and B] increased longevity means that a baby girl born now will on the average live beyond 100, that her earnings will neverr cover her life-costs, and that she will not work for more than half of her life.

    If the real return to capital is higher than the real growth rate, then the share of national income that accrues to capital will increase over time.

    Since capital is concentrated, this also means a steadily increasing concentration of wealth.

    For most of human history, real growth was low, and therefore there was a steadily increasing concentration of wealth.

    The period from World War I through the 1970s was an exception to this trend, as capital experienced a series of extraordinary shocks (World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, the end of colonialism and the expropriation of capital that followed, etc.) that resulted in massive redistribution of wealth.

    The developed world is now in the process of returning to the historical norm of low real growth, with the result that capital’s share of income continues to rise, which, in turn, will result in ever-widening gap between the wealthy and the rest of the population.

    This is not a market failure; indeed, the more efficient the market is, the more rapid this concentration will proceed.

    and 2 reviews

    In the long run, the Wellfare State miust be expanded massively, and the main source of taxation must be capital rather than labour. Because the economic contribution of Labour will decline.

    Meanwhile, that school of thought that wants equalised rights rather than equalised outcomes, is AFAIC not a friend, but simply Enemy Number One.
    You can't eat rights. And much as it may surprise you, from my POV the Trotters [ such as Ms Sawant] are simply part of that School.

  9. Jake_Ackers

    But that is my point. These social programs are unsustainable. People live more and work less.

    When SS was introduced people on average lived to 62. Guess what retirement was. 62. Most paid and never got a pay out. And those who did get a pay out got for only a few years.

    My main point is this though. Raise minimum wage and businesses will fire people. Biz are greedy. Raise taxes taxes and prices go up. Biz are greedy. Libs think biz will pay out. Biz won't. UNLESS you change other factors locally, nationally and globally. Dems try to squeeze from all sides without expecting biz to react. Biz must be nudged into the correct direction. Otherwise there will be a backlash. Reps do the same with social issues. They ban abortions without opening up education and contraception. Both sides take one step. They all ignore the second step, the release valve on these issues.

  10. HeartRight

    Biz must be taxed. Heavily. Globally.
    Biz must be taxed. Heavily. Globally.

    What, a country somewhere does not want to fall in line?
    Import Tariffs.

    Beling allowed to sell is a privilege, and not a right.

  11. Rachel

    "liberal" in the US means something different than it does elsewhere in the world. The Liberal side of the LibDems is what Americans often call classical liberalism, or a moderate libertarianism: individualism, free markets, socially progressive compared to conservatives. "liberal" in the US is more like a diluted social democrat. If you can't grasp that words mean different thing in different countries or at different times, you can't make sensible arguments.

  12. HeartRight

    That school of thought that wants equalised rights rather than equalised outcomes.

    That's your US Liberalism right there.

  13. HeartRight

    PS: I think that the one single outstanding part of the story of the Republican Party is sinply this: it is where poeple end once they are through with whiggish half-measures. If historically, the Republican Party is a party of stark contrast – meandering between radical opposition to Slavery and apologetism for the unlamentable Confederacy – thern that is best explained through just that: it's where you go after you're through with Democratic failure.

    The story is never the same twice, but the story never ends.

  14. projectiridium

    I don't think that it is either 'genuine outreach to minorities and liberals born from genuine empathy' or 'merely trying to cleverly repackage a set-in-stone agenda.' I think we are seeing a more subtle version of how parliamentary governments form coalition governments. The folks running the show don't honestly empathize with the new voters, but nor are they keeping the same policies. Someone has just done the political math and realized that the Republicans need to make their tent bigger, preferably by taking from the Democrat's tent, and to do so, they need to kick in a few inducements to get folks to shift.

    Let's not forget that the Republican's social issues came almost entirely from its religious wing, which has lost a lot of its clout. The tons of 'small' donations that wing could provide are nearly irrelevant in a post-campaign finance reform world (big donors on both sides just overwhelm everyone). Their former role as the everyman, door-to-door volunteer, megaphone of the Republican party has been usurped by the Tea Party wing, which shares the religious wing's social issues, but cares substantially less about them.

    The only remaining question is, once you remove social issues as a differentiator from the Democratic party, what new group is supposed to join the Republican party? I realize that there is probably some fundamental barrier to this, but I think the most interesting group to try to pick up would be the young college-educated. Youth have not done well under the current administration. To be fair, very little of the problems are the President's fault (the young are doing poorly worldwide). However, for a President that owed his nomination to young voters, he has done remarkably little to help them out. His efforts on student loans and tuition barely rise to the level of rhetoric. Youth unemployment reached ridiculously high levels during the recession (not necessarily his fault, but still painful). Obama's signature legislation is unquestionably health care reform, which sets limits on how many times more insurance can cost for older people than younger people (in other words, forces insurance companies to charge younger people higher rates than the cost of insuring them, so they can legally charge older people rates that match the cost of insuring them). If the Republicans could touch the same distrust of government nerve that Ron Paul was able to expose, the party could end up looking a lot less stodgy a few election cycles down the road…

  15. Jake_Ackers

    I think it depends on the election. Reagan was able to run a pretty conservative campaign without talking about religious/social issues. The past 2 Republicans can hardly be called religious wingnuts. It's the loud few (religious folk) that ruin it for the rest.

  16. Rachel

    Obamacare also lets people stay on their parents' insurance, if any, until age 26. Big win for them there. Also, insurance covering birth control, even expensive-up-front stuff like IUDs. Agreed that he's otherwise been disappointing, but what, are Republicans going to offer free college or full employment policies? That'd be at least as radical for them as genuine racial outreach.

  17. Stranger

    It seems like the Republicans just arent getting why minority and liberal voters disagree with them. There are certain issues that you can only choose yes or no on, and no matter how you dress it up, there comes a point where yo have to make that choice to either support or disagree with it.

  18. Jake_Ackers

    Agreed. Many Democrat voters are one issue voters. I know several people who are Libertarian or actually Conservative but don't vote Republican because they think Reps are all Santorums.

  19. JJ McCullough

    I don't want to sound too biased, but I really do think gay marriage is a HUGE component of this, maybe close to… 80-90%? I think Rand Paul or Chris Christie could probably be quite competitive with a Democrat if he was pro-gay marriage.

  20. Jake_Ackers

    Pretty much. I was going to say the something.

  21. Monte

    I wouldn't say its just the left that doesn't care about economic issues, but the right aswell. I mean the right have a tendency to ignore the economic policies of past republican presidents, some of which is stuff they are flat out against today.

    I think the reason why many people ignore economics is because its too complicated. There's a great deal of debate over what works and what doesn't and their isn't any one solid sure fire answer; no country in the world has manage to make the perfect economic system. Its difficult to say what precisely will help build up the economy… You can say the government should build jobs, but how should they build jobs? Should they spend money to build jobs, or are their others ways to create jobs? Do we hand out tax breaks or adopt new trading policies? Its gets complicated. And even when looking at the past records of candidates, its difficult to say how much of a negative impact their past actions would have in terms of the economy. It might not be that people so much ignore Clinton's economic record because they don't care, so much as they don't really understand what it means about how she might lead the country. You could probably find a lot of people who will say Democrats/republicans are better for the economy, but they won't be able to explain exactly HOW their stances would help the economy. It gets complicated, and thus their is a certain degree of uncertainty.

    Social issues however, seem a lot less complex. With most of the issues you are either for it, or you are against it. Do you support gay marriage? Are you pro-life or Pro-choice? Do you support equal pay? Are you for or against a path to citizenship? On a lot of these issues, people can tell you quite clearly where they stand… And they can see clearly where politicians stand on those issues as well and thus can throw their support confidently behind them. On social issues, its easy to find a politician who has your stances.

    The other problem is the two party system. The US is basically stuck between Republicans and Democrats. During an election we'll be given a democrat and republican to vote for. Who do we support? With social issues we know where each one stands, though on economic issues things could be a bit more blurry. So we vote with what we know, what we are confident about, the social stances. Heck even if we do understand economics enough to know which of the two candidates might be a bit better about the economy, those social issues might be too much to ignore; we might think the republican might have a few better ideas about the economy, but we fully support the democrat on social issues… we got no one else, so we might just go with the democrat because we don't want to support the republican's backwards social policies. If we could break out of this two party system, THEN we might be able to get a third party candidate that could give us the balance we desire; making sense on the economy while also supporting the social policies we like.

  22. Stranger

    It doesnt help that political ideals arent designed to deal with just how fickle and essentially random economic theory is. What worked 50 years ago is probably not going to work now, and there's only a handful of economic policies that have shown themselves not to work at all.

  23. HeartRight

    'I wouldn't say its just the left that doesn't care about economic issues, but the right aswell. I mean the right have a tendency to ignore the economic policies of past republican presidents, some of which is stuff they are flat out against today. '
    I agree 100% with that assessment.

  24. Jake_Ackers

    On your point about social issues. I think social issues are way more complex than economic issues. It's just that people are ignorant about economic issues. They understand social issues more (although ignorant about the law). So I guess in that way, social issues might be easier.

    – Gay marriage is not for or against. I'm for equal rights but I don't like the term marriage being used for straight or gay. Personal contracts is what I favor.

    – Abortion. Do you know how many people think that supporting keeping condoms legal makes them pro-choice? Most Americans actually don't want an abortion past the 3rd month. LEGALLY speaking, I put my mark on 5 months, a life can survive outside the womb after that point, and I am called pro-life. Even though I am to the "left" of most Americans. It's all about perception.

    – Everyone supports equal pay. Again its perception. That equal pay argument is politics at its worst (or best). Thing is older women works at nurses as opposed to being doctors. So the left misuses statistics.

    – Path to citizenship. There already is a path or citizenship. What most Americans support, already is in place. Albeit, the current system is so missed up, it doesn't work that way.

    My point is this. It's ALL perception. Republicans and Dems do overlap quite a bit. But Reps are so bad as communicating they let themselves appear worst. Like which politician goes around saying they want women to earn less? No one. But Democrats make it SEEM like that is the Republican position. They don't outright say it but they say they support. Making it seem like the other side doesn't.

    We need preferential voting system. We seriously need a third party.

  25. Rachel Bush

    I agree with you about the misusage of statistics. However, one thing is that when women that find out they have been getting paid less for their gender want to sue their employers, Republican senators will side more often with the employers. Their reason for this is that the law the Democrats are introducing will be ripe for abuse, a la the case with the spilled hot coffee, and a boon for trial lawyers.

    I think that's a pretty reasonable argument, if you imagine a long enough period of time after being fired, and one that invites subjectivity as to where the line should be drawn. What was happening in the case of Lilly Ledbetter was that the law said you have 180 days after your first paycheck to take action, and she found out after being fired, having worked there more than 180 days. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 reset the clock to 180 days after the last paycheck affected by alleged discrimination.

    One problem with this is that, of course, you can't allow honest people that have been really discriminated against and find out after being fired to sue without also allowing disgruntled fired employees a means to seek revenge. Republican senators made the judgement call that it's worth it if some women that haven't been getting equal pay don't ever get it, if it means enough employers don't get wrongfully sued.

    So, essentially we're dealing with a form of utilitarianism. As the date moves out a bit further, I think they'd eventually be right, but not at 180 days after being fired. It just offers voters that happen to be female employees a litmus test for their interests that goes beyond "perception."

  26. Jake_Ackers

    Agreed. I think the 180 days is not enough. My problem is how the debate goes in the public eye. The left in public make it SEEM like the debate is that Reps are sexist and don't support equal pay for women. And they still that perception stick. Reps do the something on other issues. It's dirty sleazy politics.

  27. JJ McCullough

    I think you offer a pretty good summary, Monte.

    Much of the appeal of "social justice" is the promise of swift justice, as in, very sharp rights and wrongs, which is another way of saying "easy answers." Indeed, in many ways I'd say gay rights and anti-racism and gender equality are answers that are almost TOO easy, which is I think where a lot of this ballooning interest in trans* rights and micro-aggressions and "privilege" and all the rest of it comes from. Social liberals won their big battles, the battles that affect the vast majority of Americans, and even the vast majority of American minorities. But rather than shift any energy to fight on the economic front, they prefer to dig deeper and deeper into more and more esoteric, fringy identity-politics stuff because even that is still easier than thinking about job creation or balanced budgets or whatever.

  28. HeartRight

    And meanwhile, not a single word or thought for The Precariat, and an omnidirectional lack of anger at companies that do NOT pay a living Wage. Interests in sex, but not in bread.
    Society is the exchange of good and services. And not sex and drugs and rock and roll. Anolher decade wasted. AFAIC, Social liberals are just part of the Enemy.

    There is an opening for Republicans to get interested in Bread and Butter for All, but they'd have lo dump a lot of old baggage that they are attached to. They are no less than the Democrat Party impregnated with the spirit of '68, but they are perhaps less comfortable with '68.

  29. Monte

    Thinking about it though, I think there is precedence for Hilary's past to come back to haunt her. Namely back in 2008 in the primary run against Obama. Back then Clinton was considered the front runner but she ultimately lost to a dark horse candidate. Obama had so little experience that he in turn had no past baggage. A lot of people actually ended up voting for a candidate they didn't know much about, rather than the candidate they knew everything about. For instance, back then the war was a big issue and during the campaign both candidates proclaimed to be anti-war, but Hilary had on her record a vote in support for the Iraq war, where Obama had none; that gave obama the advantage.

    If I recall, 2008 was right before the economic crash, and thus the economy was not that big of an issue and thus did not come as much. However, I do feel that what happened in 2008 could happen again in 2016 with the economy. During the primary, an opponent like Warren, might go after Hilary's economic record, and much like the anti-war stance in 2008, the message might just take hold.

    Though Clinton's lack of official political activity might work to her advantage. Back in 2008, her senate career was fresh on everyone's mind, but in 2016, her run as secretary of state would be more fresh, a position that has nothing to do with economy, as well as how she spent the previous four years with no official capacity. Its kinda how her popularity was able to raise because she can say whatever she wants that people might like to hear, but doesn't actually have to back it up with action. And in a 2016 primary fight, it will be harder to tie her back to her senate years as that would have been almost a decade ago. Clinton could basically try to win by keeping people thinking about who she portrays herself to be now, rather than let her opponents try to remind people who she was back then. Heck, since Obama isn't all that popular anymore, Clinton could even try to make voters feel buyer's remorse for picking Obama back in 2008 rather than her.

  30. Colin Minich

    There's no friggin' way Rand Paul said that silliness about the Civil War and the difference of Democrats and Republicans then, right? Holy crap…after seeing the links I'm still shocked.

    I mean, even in the 60s we had Dixie Democrats.

    I always knew politicians could be out of touch but how dumb do they really think the lot of us are?

    Don't answer that.

  31. Monte

    Pretty dumb. I mean on the surface what he says is correct. Democrats were the confederates down south, while Republicans were up North with the union, and it remained like that for a good hundred years after the war. Heck even during the civil rights movement, the republicans in congress were the bigger supporters.

    Understanding how Rand Paul's claim is wrong, requires doing the extra research and realizing what changed since the civil rights movement. Basically that Many of Today's republicans came from Yesterday's democrats. the republicans ended up embracing the dixiecrats down south by promoting states rights and small government and thus bought many of the confederate descendants over to their side, and those dixiecrats made their policies and opinions part of the republican party plan. Paul is basically relying on people being too stupid to do that extra bit of research and understand how the parties have changed over the centuries. Either that, or he never did the research himself and believes it himself.

  32. Jake_Ackers

    Not really. Because there is the protectionism versus free trade. The Republicans always favored trade even back then. As most of the industries were in the North and wanted to sell abroad.

    Moreover, there is party of order. Republicans have always been the party of order (I believe that is the term political theorist use). Wanting to enforce their order. Wanting to stop slavery and wanting to stop abortion. etc. etc.

    Moreover, Paul is opening up a can of worms for political gains. Neither party is racist. And it's dumb for politicians and people to say they are. Instead of healing, its opening up an old wound. That is what is stupid.

  33. Rachel

    "For trade"? Uh, the usual alternative issue that Confederate apologists trot out is tariffs: the North and Republicans were for protectionist tariffs, the South and Democrats for free trade. Cotton was the big export and the South wanted to buy imports at market prices, while the Northern manufacturers wanted protection from British industry. I don't think the slave states would have rebelled over tariffs, but it *was* an actual issue. So no, the Republicans haven't always been the trade party. …not that they are consistently now, either; Republicans will happy support sugar tariffs, I think steel tariffs, and embargoes of Cuba.

  34. Jake_Ackers

    Okay true. I guess I should of said Reps favor industry then regardless of the position. But that still makes my point. Reps still have always been the party of business.

    Moreover the "party of order" label still stand. Reps want to enforce their vision or beliefs. Anti-slavery and anti-abortion, etc.

    So still then and now pro-business and more religious socially. Either way you cut it. I still think it is still unfair and wrong for anyone to call either party racist.

  35. HeartRight

    'There's no friggin' way Rand Paul said that silliness about the Civil War and the difference of Democrats and Republicans then, right?'

    What – don't you know it is substantially true?
    But you should also know that the heirs of the Dixiecrats did move into Republican circles.

    This may be unknown to you if you are a millenial, but you ought to read up on the Louisiana Gubernatorial race of '91 – when all good Republicans had stickers saying: 'Vote for the Crook – It is Important ', Louisiana's arcane electoral system had resulted in a final showdown between 2 Democratic candidates – the Crook being Edwin Edwards, and his fellow-Democrat being David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan. The LA systen remains as arcane as before, which is why progressive Democrats recently helped to elect one Vance McAllister.

    Trust me. You really don't want to know who or what the other choice on the ballot was.

  36. Zulu

    Jeb Bush's wife is Mexican and he has been involved in Hispanic issues for many years. I think his words regarding immigration are sincere. But as to the other Republicans? Meh…

  37. Jake_Ackers

    Funny thing is that all pro-amnesty candidates and Presidents have been Republicans. Both Bushes. Now all 3. Especially John McAmensty (McCain). Even Reagan.

  38. HeartRight

    CORRECTION: in '91 Duke had switched.

    David Ernest Duke (born July 1, 1950) is an American White nationalist, writer, right-wing politician, and a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,[4][5] and former Republican Louisiana State Representative. He was a candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries in 1988 and the Republican presidential primaries in 1992. Duke has unsuccessfully run for the Louisiana State Senate, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and Governor of Louisiana.

  39. Amilam

    Rand Paul would have my vote. I feel that the greatest concerns for us as a county is the erosion of our checks and balances system in the face of 60+ years of more or less constant war. Paul is the only one willing to talk about reigning in some of that imbalance with any credibility. I'm worried that while he's a bit more practical than his father, he also seems a lot more opportunistic. When push comes to shove will he actually break with his party on issues like military spending and our wag the dog-esque relationship with Israel? Keep in mind that many in his base call things like stopping charity to Israel, a county with a higher power capita earning than ours, Hitler level antisemitism. Just how much is he willing to play ball on such matters?

    The problem with voting for a candidate from either party is that you're going to get these special favors and nods to their pet projects and fringe supporters. I have to balance the fact that I think Paul would be better for my country than Hillary Clinton, but I'm not just getting Paul, I'm getting the Rightwing apparatus that helped eject him. Inevitably this will advance many positions I'm against. If I feel that I'm getting a lot of zealous religious baggage and environmental deregulation on top of a heavily compromised Libertarian platform that Paul ticket looks far less appealing.

  40. Jake_Ackers

    I want Rand Paul too but problem is this. His position on that clause in the Civil Rights Act. If he changes it, he can have a change. Otherwise he will be called a racist.