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The Republican "brand" is collapsing
February 26, 2012 7:19 PM   Subscribe

According to a report by Democracy Corps, the Republican "brand" in US politics is collapsing.
posted by reenum (149 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Given the past history of the Democratic party, the Republicans have nothing to worry about: nobody can snatch defeat like the Dems!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:25 PM on February 26, 2012 [25 favorites]


Yer seriously throwing out something written by an organization founded by James Carville as some kind of reliable opinion on the Republican party?
posted by xmutex at 7:26 PM on February 26, 2012 [22 favorites]


(not to mention Stan freaking Greenberg) Come on man.
posted by xmutex at 7:27 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's definitely an opinion all right. Maureen Down reaches the same partisan conclusion.
posted by crunchland at 7:29 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought "cool" was a positive thing. I don't know about this survey...
posted by fuq at 7:29 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given the past history of the Democratic party, the Republicans have nothing to worry about: nobody can snatch defeat like the Dems!

You know, they did win the last time.
posted by gerryblog at 7:30 PM on February 26, 2012


Negatives associated with the Republican Party have not been this high since right after they lost the country in 2008...

And we all know how permanent that was. I don't think they are really in a situation of long term doom, once they need to shift positions to win again they will. 2004, 2010...it's pretty clear they aren't there yet.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:31 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Evidence to the contrary. Granted, the increasing number of conservatives in America may throw their weight behind a new conservative party, but I think the Republicans will hold them for the time being, sullied brand or no.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 7:34 PM on February 26, 2012


A third parry will arise.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 7:35 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Politics aside, they need to stop selecting candidates who are creepy weirdos.
posted by Damienmce at 7:37 PM on February 26, 2012 [18 favorites]


This is Barack HUSSEIN Obama's fault!
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:37 PM on February 26, 2012


I don't doubt that there are a lot of Republican-identified voters who are disillusioned with the current field. I know some of them. But my sense is that they'll hold their noses and vote Republican when it counts, because most of the ones who identify Republican that strongly aren't going to vote for a Democrat, period.
posted by immlass at 7:37 PM on February 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


2012 or Never -- "Republicans are worried this election could be their last chance to stop history. This is fear talking. But not paranoia."
posted by ericb at 7:40 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it's not going to be the Republican guy who's turn it is next time one way or another. Either defeated-twice-Romney, Gingrich or don't-say-surging-Santorum are just terrible, terrible candidates for the next cycle too. Surely some new candidate who isn't noticibly borderline insane or a pandering liar has to arrive.

Also LOLWYOMING Reps:

"State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.

House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.

The task force would look at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier."

Now that's a useful amendement.
posted by jaduncan at 7:44 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


The GOPocalypse.
posted by empath at 7:44 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taibbi: Conservative Chickens Come Home To Roost. "These candidates are behaving like Stalinist officials in the late thirties, each one afraid to be the first to stop applauding."
posted by mek at 7:46 PM on February 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


I WANT TO BELIEVE
posted by the painkiller at 7:47 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've said it before: the current Republican party is not conservative. It is reactionary: morally, politically, intellectually and culturally regressive. As an ongoing trend, this is not surprising: what has been shocking is how quickly the slide has accellerated in the last six months. Did anyone expect that the Republican presidential nominees would be attempting to bolster their "conservative credentials" by being not just against abortion, but birth control for adults? Or claiming that higher education is somehow suspect, and all children would be better served if they were home-schooled?

Of course rational adults with anything less than a brainstem-level loyalty to the Republican party are forming negative opinions or questioning their former allegiance to the GOP You have a nominee field that is staggering in its combination of mendacity and delusion: from Newt, who wants to build bases on the moon, to Santorum, the best mind of the 13th century.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 7:48 PM on February 26, 2012 [68 favorites]


And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier."

An aircraft carrier? To defend the North Platte or Yellowstone Lake?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 7:48 PM on February 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


I haven't been following politics as closely this year as usual, but doesn't the GOP have a fairly good chance at capturing the Senate in November?
posted by Thoughtcrime at 7:53 PM on February 26, 2012


I know many people are concerned that a Santorum nomination would be bad, but I think a Santorum nomination and loss is what the GOP needs. Partisans hate presidential losers and if Romney gets the nom (which he will) and loses, we'll just see more clamoring for exceedingly right wing candidates.

I hope 2012 is a repeat of 2008, only more so, but 2016 is going to be a fucking free-for-all. Jeb, Rand, Marco and a handful of others are just slobbering for it already.

In the short term I have to applaud anything that depresses the GOP turnout, and the Republicans party big-wigs are certainly doing their damnest to makes sure their faithful just doesn't care to make it to the polls, with open talk of the candidates being horrible and how they are going to lose.
posted by edgeways at 7:54 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


That Richard Florida article is weird -- it goes on and on about the increase in self-identified conservatism, but in fact the trend here is pretty clear: the "moderate" identification is shrinking while "liberals" and "conservatives" get more numerous. Twenty years ago, conservative/moderate/liberal was 36/40/17; now it's 40/36/21. That's not a picture of a country with a serious conservative trend. Maybe the "moderate" brand is the one that's collapsing.
posted by escabeche at 7:56 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


An aircraft carrier? To defend the North Platte or Yellowstone Lake?

Defence? Defence? It's like Top Gun! With a carrier! I think someone hasn't understood the sheer military masturbatory potential implicit in "acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier."

That Colorado liberal hotbed. Damn that liberal hotbed. We would have to strike before there was a strike aircraft gap! Also they could have it in the sea; how else could Wyoming project power to the European and Asiatic theatres?
posted by jaduncan at 7:56 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


After the 2008 election, there was a lot of talk about the death of the GOP.

After the 2010 election, not so much.
posted by Trurl at 7:58 PM on February 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


I haven't been following politics as closely this year as usual, but doesn't the GOP have a fairly good chance at capturing the Senate in November?

Yes, but it's because the Democrats have so many seats to defend, not because of a voter trend toward the GOP.
posted by escabeche at 7:59 PM on February 26, 2012


If we are very, VERY lucky the following will happen:

Rick Santorum will be the Republican nominee. He will lose in a (predictable and not so) stunning landslide defeat. The GOP will tack back to the center, realizing that the right wing is not in tune with that 25%-40% moderate/independent core.

If it goes like the 2008 elections, Mitt Romney will be the nominee and lose. The GOP will tack considerably further to the extreme fringe and we will have more gridlock than we have now.

Having Santorum as the nominee is a grave risk, God help us if the man wins. The rewards if he loses though...
posted by Slackermagee at 8:01 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe the "moderate" brand is the one that's collapsing.

Maybe it's been rebranded as liberal and there's no true Left in America anymore.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:01 PM on February 26, 2012 [40 favorites]


After the 2008 election, there was a lot of talk about the death of the GOP.

After the 2010 election, not so much.


The 2008 hypothesis could have been correct, just on a longer timetable than two years. Demographically speaking it's hard to imagine how the GOP can survive without finding SOME new demo to appeal to. Their core constituency is running out.

Parties do die; it's happened before.
posted by gerryblog at 8:10 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obama's only beating Romney in polling by single digits right now, I wouldn't count the Republicans out just yet. We're talking about a country that elected George W. Bush twice.
posted by octothorpe at 8:12 PM on February 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


I am absolutely, positively certain that in the event of Rick Santorum winning the nomination and losing the election, a significant fraction of Republican party voters (possibly a majority of them) would deeply and passionately believe that he lost because he wasn't conservative enough.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:12 PM on February 26, 2012 [42 favorites]


Maybe it's been rebranded as liberal and there's no true Left in America anymore.
One can hope.
posted by planet at 8:12 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


never underestimate the ability of the American voter to make the wrong choice.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:16 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sarah! Sarah!












(I am so kidding).
posted by 4ster at 8:17 PM on February 26, 2012


Obama's only beating Romney in polling by single digits right now, I wouldn't count the Republicans out just yet. We're talking about a country that elected George W. Bush twice.

Current odds of a Romney win over Obama based off of recent and non-recent polls, as well as voting patterns in the last two presidential elections: 0.1%. Odds of Santorum or Gingrich beating Obama: 0.0%.

Okay, so I'm not completely sold on their analyses. Plus, there is a long way to go between now and November. But these analyses give me hope.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:17 PM on February 26, 2012


> We're talking about a country that elected George W. Bush twice.

That point is debatable.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:17 PM on February 26, 2012 [66 favorites]


Nobody can snatch defeat like the Dems!
You know, they did win the last time.


Actually, "the last time" was 2010, when the Democrats passed a Health Care plan that they couldn't in 1994, but lost 10 MORE House seats (but 3 less Senate seats) than '94 (the rise of the Newt).

The "Republican Brand" is not the problem, it's the specific Presidential Product. The "Republican Brand" survived Goldwater and won with Nixon 4 years later. For "Brand" comparisons: When Coca-Cola had its New Coke debacle, it didn't kill the rising demand for Diet Coke, which had hit the market three years earlier. If the "Brand" has been around long enough, it'll survive even a big stumble by its primary product.

Maybe it's been rebranded as liberal and there's no true Left in America anymore.

That's what the rest of the World is hoping for, because it will make us the Sears of Nations.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:18 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes and no. "Liberal" causes like gay rights has been a cultural battle that the "left" has won in the past decade or so. That shift has happened; more people in the country support rather than oppose gay marriage or gays in the military. There are plenty of Republicans who choose not to see the victory. They're still in the battlefield, against all odds, because they have no place else to go on that issue.

But there are still deeply entrenched, moneyed, corporate entities that seem to be totally immune to whatever social and political winds are blowing. The corporate prison system is taking 2.3 million Americans and destroying their ability to live a real life. That is a result of conservative thinking and racism and greed. But try to get any politician to even acknowledge that imprisoning 2.3 million people, with no actual rehabilitation, all for a profit margin, is wrong. So those of us on the "left" certainly lose this cultural battle.

There are any number of issues that the right wing is holding onto by their fingernails and will only relent when they slip off the cliff and the next leader comes up, looks over the edge, and says "We...uh...better rethink our strategy on this." But some issues the right is as comfortable and happy as a pig in shit. I'll leave it to others to balance out which issues will be won and lost in the future.
posted by zardoz at 8:19 PM on February 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Wait for the $5 gasoline. Then we'll see either a real collapse or the ugliest presidential election in memory. Actually, it will probably be both.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:20 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just want to know where the fuck Wyoming plans to dock their carrier.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:25 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.

Population of Wyoming: 568,158
Population of Chicago: 2,695,598
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:28 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wyoming plans to dock their carrier.

Perhaps they are planning on burying it up to the deck for a defensive bonus and a lower radar profile.
posted by zippy at 8:30 PM on February 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


The 2008 hypothesis could have been correct, just on a longer timetable than two years. Demographically speaking it's hard to imagine how the GOP can survive without finding SOME new demo to appeal to. Their core constituency is running out.

Parties do die; it's happened before.


When the time comes they appeal to the new demo and move on. If they have to respect something like gay rights, they will. The die hard, blind, stupid partisans will just argue that the public position they have on gay rights to gain votes is smokescreen for their true position.

The Democrats are much worse! They will doom America! We have to bite the bullet and vote Republican!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:31 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you want another Sotomayor on the courts or another Scalia? You have no choice but to vote Republican! The Supreme Court means you have to vote for the party closest to your views!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:33 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am absolutely, positively certain that in the event of Rick Santorum winning the nomination and losing the election, a significant fraction of Republican party voters (possibly a majority of them) would deeply and passionately believe that he lost because he wasn't conservative enough.

Also he's so fiscally liberal! He attacked Romney for his business! I mean he was good on social issues but he attacked wealth creators AND backed away from his statement that he wanted to go to war with China. I mean, how much of a pussy can one man be? Now Rubio...
posted by jaduncan at 8:34 PM on February 26, 2012


"Or claiming that higher education is somehow suspect, and all children would be better served if they were home-schooled?"

Aren't there left wingers who say this too?

The story is not very interesting, liberal think tank saying what it's being paid to say.
posted by shii at 8:35 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am absolutely, positively certain that in the event of Rick Santorum winning the nomination and losing the election, a significant fraction of Republican party voters (possibly a majority of them) would deeply and passionately believe that he lost because he wasn't conservative enough.

Can't dig up the link right now, but a PPP Michigan poll I saw put the Santorum "too liberal" number at 10% among Republicans in the state.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:36 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can't dig up the link right now, but a PPP Michigan poll I saw put the Santorum "too liberal" number at 10% among Republicans in the state.

Part of me would love to see the candidate that 10% want. I mean, just out of curiosity. I'm not sure I'd vote for NUKE-A-THON3000, regardless of it's belief in ethnic cleansing, theocratic dominionism and a man's right to deny his wife contraception or education. But I'd like to watch it debate Jeb Bush and criticise Fox News from the right.
posted by jaduncan at 8:40 PM on February 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


NUKE-A-THON3000 was built by scientists. Not sure we can trust it. I'm probably going to play it safe and cast my vote directly for the Pope.
posted by gerryblog at 8:43 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Look, this is rather simple to this non-American.

First, the difference between "liberal" and "conservative" is much more smaller to most Americans than it is to people with an interest in political systems (aka, you or me) So people do switch more easily than people like David Brooks suggest; Red-State America starts 30-40 miles out of downtown San Jose, not across the border in Nevada.

Second, in most places, the reality is that the US isn't a two-party system but a single-party system; I understand some local elections haven't switched sides in a generation. Always remember: all politics is local. If you don't succeed at the local level, you can't get much traction at the national level.

Third, what twitter/ Facebook/ Fox News have essentially done is to bring groups once separated by distance together on the same plate. As a result, opinion and positions percolate through networks at a much much faster rate than before.

Fourth, and finally, for any left-leaning person who feels the right is on the decline, just keep reminding yourself this: despite Al Gore, despite the Nobel Prize, record temperatures yada yada, support for corrective measures over anthropogenic climate change has gone significantly and dramatically in the wake of the so-called Climategate kerfuffle. And not just in the US, but in most of the Anglophone countries. It hasn't bounced back despite the scientists in question being vindicated/ cleared etc. Fact: the right's opinion-generating machine was, is, and will be, more stronger than the left's fact-based reasoning. Wish it wasn't so, but that's just how the last 12 years have been for me.
posted by the cydonian at 8:47 PM on February 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


Also it has to be said that all bets are off if Israel strikes Iran.
posted by jaduncan at 8:51 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Republican brand is never collapsing. The largest families in America are staunch Republican and will always be religious and in denial, and the most Democratic people rarely have children.
posted by Brian B. at 8:55 PM on February 26, 2012


The success of climate denialism is a huge, huge problem, but they were poisoning that well long before Climategate; it isn't really evidence that the right is resurgent.

The largest families in America are staunch Republican and will always be religious and in denial, and the most Democratic people rarely have children.

[citation needed]
posted by gerryblog at 8:58 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess I'm open to the argument that gloating over the never-ending clown-car shit-parade that is the current GOP field is bad, because it makes us complacent and/or makes us think that Obama has it in the bag for 2012.

But seriously, have you guys watched these debates? Four milquetoast multi-millionaires desperately trying to outdo each other to show off their Teabagger-approved bona fides? Santorum saying that kids shouldn't go to college (like he did)? Newton Leroy Gingrich and his plastic wife? Mittens Romney going to Detroit and saying the bail-out was bad no wait it was good no wait it was very very bad?

These guys are literally flirting with the idea that Griswold v. Connecticut should be overturned.

So yeah, let's not pop any champagne bottles just yet. But the Teabagger "victory" in 2010 may have been utterly pyrrhic. Lest we forget, they might have even taken the Senate if they hadn't been too busy kamikaze-ing sure things candidates in favor of witchypoo.
posted by bardic at 8:59 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also it has to be said that all bets are off if Israel strikes Iran.

The presidential election will be the least of our worries. $10 gas concentrates the mind.
posted by dibblda at 9:00 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't put it past Netanyahu to use the threat of a strike on Iran to further bend Obama to the Israeli government's will. So yeah, there's that.
posted by bardic at 9:04 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


So yeah, let's not pop any champagne bottles just yet. But the Teabagger "victory" in 2010 may have been utterly pyrrhic. Lest we forget, they might have even taken the Senate if they hadn't been too busy kamikaze-ing sure things candidates in favor of witchypoo .

They are well in range of possibly taking the Senate in 2012 even with an Obama victory. Consider that 2010 might not have been possible without the witch and friends, and that in 2008 everyone was talking about how doomed they were...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:05 PM on February 26, 2012


Once these jokers start to get national exposure it is going to be bad. You have the cartoon corporatist villain Romney going around saying he likes to fire people and Santorum, a total fucking loon, who thinks oral sex should be illegal.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:06 PM on February 26, 2012


If I think about it, I can't think of a movie in my entire life that has stayed with me more, or been brought back to my mind more than Mike Judge's "Idiocracy". Every freaking day.
posted by Trochanter at 9:06 PM on February 26, 2012 [20 favorites]


The largest families in America are staunch Republican and will always be religious and in denial, and the most Democratic people rarely have children.

Religious fundamentalists may tend to have more children then secular humanists, but neither group makes up the vast bulk of the population growth in this country. The reason America's birthrate is above replacement and Europe's is not is immigration, specifically Latino immigration. Aside from the Cubans --- even there, the younger people tend more Dem than their older relatives --- the majority of Latinos have tended pretty strongly democratic, due to immigration, etc. They would be a winnable constituency for the GOP, because they are in many respects more socially conservative than many native-born Americans, but the GOP's hard core xenophopic base creates and oil and water problem.
posted by Diablevert at 9:09 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somewhere deep in the cthonic dynamo of the Republican party, there is an analyst who is shaking their head because they know that all their candidates are unelectable lunatics.
posted by oonh at 9:09 PM on February 26, 2012


Well, here's how I see it: a black man having the utter gall to run for and win the presidency in 2008 drove the GOP establishment fucking nuts. They harnessed their big money boys to astroturf the Teabagger "grassroots" movement. They won big in 2010, no doubt, with the Bush recession in full swing.

Jump to 2012. The Teabaggers aren't just useful idiots for the Koch brothers to camoflauge their naked corporate interests any longer, now they're driving the fucking car. This is what has changed. And to get their support somewhat moderate wingers like Romney have to suck on the great big cock of more tax breaks for Paris Hilton and women getting wire hangars instead of basic first world health care.

Again, I'm definitely making plans to vote Democratic via absentee ballot. I don't want to sound complacent. But there has been a qualitative shift way to the right for Republicans, and it matters a lot. The question is, can the establishment swing the party back to something resembling a moderate platform that more than 30% of the American public could ever support?

I agree with Matt Taibbi. It can't be done, and these GOP debates have shown us why.
posted by bardic at 9:14 PM on February 26, 2012


I'm suspicious of this. It's way too sensible.
posted by Artw at 9:14 PM on February 26, 2012


The largest families in America are staunch Republican and will always be religious and in denial, and the most Democratic people rarely have children.

They can make the bodies and we liberals will corrupt their minds. Muahahaha.
posted by dibblda at 9:17 PM on February 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


There are serious long term issues here. This article discusses few of them.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:18 PM on February 26, 2012


Greed will never go out of style.
posted by goethean at 9:18 PM on February 26, 2012


You know, they did win the last time.

barely
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:20 PM on February 26, 2012


They can make the bodies and we liberals will corrupt their minds. Muahahaha.

It's the liberal/gay agenda. The home-bred, corn-fed muscular farm boy related gay agenda. *grins widely* We also have agendas about the Catholic urban dwellers though. Oh yes.
posted by jaduncan at 9:22 PM on February 26, 2012


The leaders of the GOP may currently be going down the rabbit hole, but it's only because they're chasing the support a big portion of the US electorate. When a black Democrat like Barack Obama is operating in many ways to the right of Richard Nixon, it's a sign that the country is much more conservative in many ways. 9-11 was a boon for conservatives.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:24 PM on February 26, 2012


I've been having repeated fantasies about Mitt Romney in hotel rooms. (Not those kinds of fantasies.)

In one, he's in the bathroom, staring in the mirror. He's doing a kind of "WIN MITT WIN, YOUR INTENSITY IS FOR SHIT!" thing, and then he bursts into tears and SLAMS his shaving kit into the mirror and it shatters and an aide pokes his head in. "Mitt? You okay?" and Mitt doesn't respond, just doggedly picks up the shards of glass and carefully drops them in the bin labeled RECYCLING. And he laughs hollowly and thinks about global warming, which he totally believes in.

In another, Mrs. Romney is tatting on the couch and Mitt is sobbing on her shoulder and saying "What do these motherfuckers want from me. WHAT DO THEY WANT? I am pretending to hate the gays and be opposed to abortion and I am handsome and white as shit... GODDAMMIT WHAT ELSE DO THEY WANT????" and then he makes frantic midnight calls to his staff to ask if maybe they could get a three-point bump out of pretending to think that lizard people are for real.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:26 PM on February 26, 2012 [32 favorites]


The rewards if he loses though...

FWIW, these same promises of "rewards" were made by the Democrats in 2008, and that didn't pan out so well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:26 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't put it past Netanyahu Saruman to use the threat of a strike on Iran Minas Tirith to further bend Obama Theoden to the Israeli government's Sauron's will. So yeah, there's that.
posted by sneebler at 9:28 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Somewhere deep in the cthonic dynamo of the Republican party, there is an analyst who is shaking their head because they know that all their candidates are unelectable lunatics.

Jeb Bush on this year, btw: "I used to be a conservative and I watch these debates and I'm wondering, I don't think I've changed, but it's a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people's fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective and that's kind of where we are. I think it changes when we get to the general election. I hope."
posted by jaduncan at 9:30 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, about conservatives having more kids. Yeah, that's true.

And scratch a hardcore liberal and/or atheist and often you'll find someone who thinks of themselves as utterly horrified by their hardcore Christian/conservative/Republican/Mormon upbringing.

I mean, how many of us share our parents' politics or faith to the letter? Being rebellious is the best part of being young.
posted by bardic at 9:32 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


And even Rudy...:

"I'm in a state of confusion about who to endorse like a lot of other Republicans. I like some things. I don't like other things... I like Rick's [Santorum's] approach to foreign policy. I like Rick's approach to the economy. We have big differences on social issues. That's why I'm a moderate Republican."

"We seem to be not modern enough on social issues, I'm not just talking about abortion... I think the gay rights issue is a more current one right now, and I think beyond all the religious and social parts of it, it makes the party seem like it isn't a modern party, it doesn't understand the modern world we live in."
posted by jaduncan at 9:33 PM on February 26, 2012




Jeb is going to look so fucking golden after whichever freakazoid GOP loser runs against Obama. Ooh, and maybe Canada's being set up to re-elect a Trudeau! Dynasties are being established!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:36 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Wyoming fleet will be based out of New Orleans. Cheney promises we will be greeted as liberators.
posted by humanfont at 9:40 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


[citation needed]

Not really. You are free to cite otherwise.
posted by Brian B. at 9:50 PM on February 26, 2012


Obama's only beating Romney in polling by single digits right now, I wouldn't count the Republicans out just yet. We're talking about a country that elected George W. Bush twice.

Obama only beat McCain by single digits (7.8%) in the 2008 election. And national polls are worthless anyway. It really comes down the the handful of "swing states" that matter.

I think that the most thinking people in the GOP realize that the parade of dunces they have running for 2012 are a lost cause. Instead, they'll concentrate on picking up seats in the Senate and House which and continue to torpedo Obama's agenda and drive the country into the ground.

In 2016 a new crop of republican presidential candidate will be ready Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mark Rubio will be more appealing than the turds on the stage now. These guys are definitely avoiding talking about 2012 to the point that Christie had to say no about 20 times. If the GOP holds onto Congress, they'll be able to get their agenda (which has nothing to do with abortion, birth control or any of that other shit) through.

I don't think 2012 is a lock for Obama. My biggest fear is democrat/independent apathy keeping people from voting in November in those swing states. Of course, GOP apathy might may help Obama. It will be a battle of who can be bothered to vote. Like 2000 it will come down to a few precincts in a few states.
posted by birdherder at 9:53 PM on February 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is the inherent risk of rewriting facts to suit your agenda. After repeatedly revising history, ignoring science, reassigning blame to victims, ignoring your record, willfully mischaracterizing the positions of your opponents, fabricating conspiracies, and generally pretending that "X" is "Y", it is easy to start believing your own rhetoric. What else explains the Santorum surge? That these people have serious discussions about how easily Santorum will beat Obama is concrete evidence that they are profoundly deluding themselves. It's like they don't realize that other people will be voting in the election.
posted by RavinDave at 9:54 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like 2000 it will come down to a few precincts in a few states.

If it comes down to a few precincts after these candidates goes forward US political culture is kinda screwed. Why not play to the base every year if that's the case? It's hard to see how they could go further right than 'higher education is indoctrination' and 'I want to go to war with China'.
posted by jaduncan at 9:57 PM on February 26, 2012


*after one of these
posted by jaduncan at 9:58 PM on February 26, 2012


pretending to think that lizard people are for real

Pretending. Yes. That's it.
posted by Lizard People at 10:18 PM on February 26, 2012 [24 favorites]


[citation needed]

Not really. You are free to cite otherwise.


Okay: Democrats have, on average, more children than Republicans, although people who voted for Bush had more children than people who voted for Gore. Of course, this says nothing about the propensity of children to inherit their parents' political views. There doesn't appear to be much of anything on Google (to say nothing of legitimate research) on the correlation between family size and political affiliation. Your turn.
posted by one_bean at 10:33 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Meh, I'd hate to draw any meta-conclusions, but it doesn't look like a good year for the GOP.

The only viable candidate in the GOP primary is a Mormon -- and considering how much of their constituency thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim, do you REALLY think they'll vote for a Mormon? Hah.

But I wouldn't count the GOP out in the long term. Remember 2008, how happy and optimistic we all were? And how everybody wrote the GOP off as a done deal? And then they came out the brilliant PR masterstroke that was the Tea Party, and all of a sudden, BOOM! The Republicans are no longer the party of Bush. Instead, you have all these rakish upstarts making up the Tea Party ... who all just happen to vote Republican.

The next few years will be interesting. The one thing the Repubs have on their side is war, and if we get heavily involved in Iran, expect the lizard brain of the American populace to swing heavily right -- even worse than during the Bush era, since unlike Al Qaeda and Iraq, Iran could actually put up a fight.

It is possible though for things to get better. People are getting more class-conscious, and that's pretty much always a winner for the left. The right literally has nothing to offer here, except for some Randian myths that ring increasingly hollow during times of economic strife. Also, the GOP for a long time has identified with the losing side of social change. Many of their leaders are openly anti-gay, anti-science, and anti-immigrant; it's gonna be really hard for them to shake that off.

So yes, there's great opportunity, and I do not predict the GOP will re-take the White House this year. But I would hesitate to extrapolate a larger trend from today's sampling of headlines.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:35 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The republicans march into madness has been very weird to see.
Given the past history of the Democratic party, the Republicans have nothing to worry about: nobody can snatch defeat like the Dems!

You know, they did win the last time.
Uh, no the 'last time' was 2010, where they were destroyed.
The task force would look at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier."
Wyoming definitely needs an aircraft carrier.
If we are very, VERY lucky the following will happen:

Rick Santorum will be the Republican nominee. He will lose in a (predictable and not so) stunning landslide defeat. The GOP will tack back to the center, realizing that the right wing is not in tune with that 25%-40% moderate/independent core.

If it goes like the 2008 elections, Mitt Romney will be the nominee and lose. The GOP will tack considerably further to the extreme fringe and we will have more gridlock than we have now.
Only if "We" are "Moderate Republicans" who actually want to see more moderate republicans elected. I, on the other hand, want to see the republican party destroyed, and it's possible that that may happen over the next few years. Why not? The U.S. has had other political parties go away. We could see a new left-wing party or maybe some bland centrist Bloomberg party. Or you could see the conservatives split into two or more parties like the Canadian conservatives were for a while.

But the ridiculous think here is this idea that you're willing to risk having Rick Santorum be president (not a very big risk, but still) in order to what, save the republican party? That just seems insane. That's the problem with "Moderates" in general who want to "help" the republican party, you simply can't get outside of the mindset that the government needs to be run by these two parties together, and that the future has to be like the past.

It's possible for parties to be replaced, and it's possible for one party to have full control (which is what happened in 2008)

That said I think it would be much more entertain if santorum were the candidate. I have to say I kind of home he wins for the pure WTF effect. Obama vs. Romney would be such a snoozefest. Romney knows that this crazy shit is not going to win votes. Santorum has no idea.
Okay: Democrats have, on average, more children than Republicans, although people who voted for Bush had more children than people who voted for Gore. Of course, this says nothing about the propensity of children to inherit their parents' political views. There doesn't appear to be much of anything on Google (to say nothing of legitimate research) on the correlation between family size and political affiliation. Your turn.
Bush got a decent chunk of the Hispanic vote. That… won't be happening again for a long time. Hispanics typically have larger families. Really the idea that republicans have the 'largest' families is completely ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 11:00 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can think of five reasons why the Republican party will keep on trucking.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:32 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obama only beat McCain by single digits (7.8%) in the 2008 election. And national polls are worthless anyway. It really comes down the the handful of "swing states" that matter.

Yeah, Obama only won by nearly ten million votes. And in the electoral college he won 365 to 173, so more of a 36% spread. California and New York both could have flipped, and Obama would have still won with votes to spare, or he could have lost the six closest states, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado, and still squeaked into the white house. That was a pretty damn solid victory even without mentioning the 21 seats picked up in the house and 8 in the senate, bringing the democrats to just shy of 60% in both houses.
posted by Garm at 12:13 AM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


There can only be two parties in the U.S.'s gerrymandered non-parlementary first-past-the-post system. Yet conversely, there must always be exactly two parties, otherwise creates a power vacuum, meaning the Republican "brand" collapsing sounds almost inconceivable.

At worse, they could reinvigorate themselves by adopting one popular reasonable position, like say legalizing drugs, like say by nominating Ron Paul or a future real libertarian. And they might not even need to adopt it in practice, simply rhetoric. I'd expect they'll simply continue with their current smorgasbord of insane positions which they adopt mostly only for rhetorical purposes.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:34 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog: "it isn't really evidence that the right is resurgent."

It's not even true. As of November, polling shows a majority believes that global warming is happening (62%) and well over half of those believe humans are primarily responsible. 65% claim to believe that global warming is a serious or very serious problem.

During the showdown over EPA's greenhouse gas regulations, fully 71% of those disagreed that EPA's funding for enforcement of those regulations should be cut.

The obstinate refusal to accept the fact of the situation is based in astroturf and Congresspeople on the payroll of a certain crowd.
posted by wierdo at 12:38 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Santorum, the best mind of the 13th century

Speaking on behalf of Thomas Acquinas, John Duns Scotus and Roger Bacon, I think you should take that back.
posted by Grangousier at 12:39 AM on February 27, 2012 [39 favorites]


There are people who think Obama isn't an American citizen.

Think about that.
posted by roboton666 at 12:41 AM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Disclosure: I was a Democratic operative at state and national levels for a couple cycles. So theoretically I should view this lengthy, painfully contrived mess of a report as a good thing.

Of course, this is all a bit silly. If you think about it for half a second, it would be patently obvious why American politics is a janky mess, and why such-and-such party's "brand" is a meaningless only-for-tonight kind of analysis. The GOP is giving us an in-your-face demonstration of what happens when you run out of bench depth.

Bench depth means that there are people waiting in the wings who are qualified to move up into the next elected position. That there's a "presumptive" nominee for every job. It used to be that if your bench ran dry, the other guy would just run unopposed. Not at the national level, of course, but that bench never ran dry. Not really. Because you could dip down into, say, the Chief of the NYPD.

The immediate problem is that the GOP bench depth is very shallow because the people who are most qualified to be elected to office - say, people like old Dick Armey who was a PolySci prof (second disclosure: I once was a student in his department) - aren't up for office anymore. They don't fit into the present GOP narrative. And even though Dick was/is a nutjob, he never was interested in completely burning down the body politic. Just the parts he didn't control. Which is approximately how the system is supposed to work, so that's okay.

That's not to say that the DP bench depth is any better. If we think seriously for just a second, we elected a first-term senator from Illinois to the presidency. Sure, he wasn't running the NYPD, but by the current standard, that's pretty weak qualifications. If you made me, I could probably name ten people far more qualified to be president. And he was my guy (seriously, like I was a contributor during the primary and everything) - imagine how I felt about the others. Of course, now he is the president, so at the moment, he's the most qualified. But after a second term, we'll get to go on the hunt again.

There's a much bigger problem that's at the root of that, though. The problem is that you have to be pretty much completely out of your mind to run for office. Again, this is coming from someone who's said to himself once or twice, "Hmm, maybe I'll run for something one day." You have to be completely howl-at-the-moon nuts to do it. And you have to be doubly nuts to be on the campaign staff, hold hands with all the other crazy people, and jump off that cliff.

Because, in the best case scenario, there's a 50% chance that this ship is headed to the bottom, baby. And that's in the general. In the primaries, gosh, you could have the seven dwarves nipping at you. Heck, you could be one of the dwarves. So you need to plan on running an insolvent business for eighteen months to two years, debasing yourself before the electorate, saying nasty things about your opponent - someone who is probably a perfectly well-meaning human being whose crime is that they're as crazy as you, and then being unemployed at the end of it all because you didn't win. Oh yeah, and you're the boss of this staff who's also out of jobs, demoralized, and also all kids.

It used to be that there were all kinds of consolation prizes built into the system. Yeah, you didn't win the primary, but here's a political appointment to this backwater thing. Do that till you can go back to your county and win a supervisor seat. Lick your wounds and come back in eight years. Oh, your political opponent won? Well at least you spent all that money on name recognition. Go back and become the mayor of your home town. You'll win that for sure. Then come back in eight years.

Those sorts of safety nets were the job of the party to create. They made sure that, as long as you weren't a completely embarrassing kook, you'd land on your feet. As a result of that, sane people used to run for office. And they used to be somewhat beholden to the party who would make sure that they stayed somewhat sane over the long haul. Because we want to be the governing party. So we need to create internal continuity in order to project a sense of external continuity.

Nowadays, you have to light yourself on fire and go running through a television studio. If the smoke coming off you isn't white, sorry pal... you can't be the Pope. And, oh yeah - you're dead now. Because the party infrastructure is a total disaster. It's entirely about winning elections, not about becoming the governing party. There's an implication that you can do one or the other, but not both. So we have to recruit people willing to appear on Electorate Survivor, and the only people who want to do that are crazy people.

Now you tell me, if everyone in leadership positions in such a system is running on that kind of adrenaline-high-cum-suicide-pact mentality... isn't the current political climate approximately what you'd expect to have precipitate out of it?

(I answered a question that goes into more detail about how Electorate Survivor came to be on Quora.)
posted by kochbeck at 2:45 AM on February 27, 2012 [94 favorites]


Warning: this is an excessively long comment. But it might still be worth reading.

I remain baffled why people continue to try to parse the liberal/conservative divide in the US in one dimension, rather than two. Yeah, I know, this is an old libertarian trope which is annoying and limited (and often wrong) in how they use it. But especially in the US we should be seeing left/right being independent with regard to the social and economic contexts. Not because the real value involved is "liberty", as the libertarians claim, but just because of the unique political history of the US.

For the rest of the world, the left/right divide is fundamentally economic. That is absolutely the bedrock of what it means to make that distinction. This is the assumption of marxism, of course, and socialism remains the organizing principle for how almost everybody around the world understands the left/right continuum. (That is to say, socialism is one direction, while capitalism in various forms and institutionalized politically in various ways represents the other direction.) It's possible, elsewhere, for someone to be very culturally conservative but be a socialist. That just doesn't happen in the US, and hasn't since the 30s.

A complex set of things happened in the 30s through the 50s that both killed the true left in the US—that is, the economic left—and basically set the cultural left adrift. Meanwhile, the economic consensus became market capitalism. The entire economic debate in the US from the 40s onward has been within an increasingly narrowed range that straddles free-market capitalism and free-market capitalism + safety net. True, I think arguably that range has itself moved very slowly and very slightly leftward. But this is more a kind of slow alignment with the rest of the advanced economies of the world—that is, they were largely much farther leftward and while they've shifted rightward, the US has shifted slightly leftward, bringing the two into what we call these days a neoliberal economic consensus.

So, really, there's hardly any real substantive debate anymore on economic issues in the US. The differences are so slight in practice, that on the one hand everyone argues passionately about very slight differences, and on the other hand argues about fantastical, never-will-be-enacted idealized policies that represent a kind of aspiration of an actual practical difference that doesn't exist. So conservatives talk about eliminating what they call the welfare state, and that's not ever going to happen, this is a kind of signaling of social identity, not actual practical politics. Sadly, the American left doesn't even do this sort of thing, I guess because for some reason I don't really understand, we're not as much prone to self-delusion. I don't think this is a function of being leftist, mind. I think it may merely have to do with the peculiarities of how and who becomes leftist in the US. I mean, while it's true what someone wrote above about rebelling against parents, I think that the larger idea behind that is false. For the most part, people sooner-or-later normalize in their political ideology to the socioeconomic group from which they came and almost always continue to belong. There's not much mobility in the US anymore, while children of conservative parents may flirt with liberalism during their early adulthood, most of them return to mean by middle-age. Meanwhile, since there's not that many actual leftists in the US anymore, there's not much of a leftist socioeconomic context for many people to grow up within and return to, assuming they ever leave it. There's a small leftist academic culture that becomes an intergenerational legacy. (I bet you that looking at PhDs is highly predictive of children getting PhDs and also predictive that they will share their parents leftist beliefs, in the case where the parents are leftist, which is far above average than the general population. Which, by the way, is part of why the US is now unique about this. While there's always been leftist academic intellectuals, there's also been working-class leftists, too. Those people are extinct in the US, but not elsewhere.)

Anyway, so economically we have a small range (by world standards) from very conservative to moderately conservative that accounts for about 90% of Americans. Back when the economic left went essentially extinct in the US, where were the people going to go who were culturally progressive?

Well, they attached to the not-quite-as-conservatives, aka, the moderates. This is in economic terms.

But, because of this, because economic moderate conservatism in the US is the equivalent to economic leftism (by US standards!) then this exclusive association of the perceived economic left with the cultural left came to be. It doesn't make sense to Americans for someone to be culturally rightist but economically leftist, because there is no such person anymore.

This means that the party which has come to represent conservatism has become, over time, more and more homogenously culturally conservative. Meanwhile, the other party, the party of the economic moderates, is more culturally diverse.

Also, the big thing is that outside of the US, cultural concerns are usually deeply intertwined with ethnic concerns. Cultural xenophobia is more often than not ethnic xenophobia. For the reasons often discussed, this has been less and less true in the US (though there's a recent resurgence of it as the Hispanic population has risen).

Elsewhere, the far right is often nationalistic in a very ethnic way. And you see that a little bit here, too, but it's the exception and not the rule. (Though it's a thread that runs through the hard right, nevertheless.) So what has happened here is that those angry passions that are so usefully exploited by xenophobic nationalists elsewhere against the ethnic enemy among them, here in the US becomes transformed into seeing cultural progressives in that scary role.

That's what these guys are appealing to right now.

The problem is that, culturally, the US has always been more culturally progressive, in general, than its peers. There's exceptions, of course. But it's not an accident that a lot of the so-called permissive attitudes of the modern world are associated with the US. It's totally wrong to think that the US isn't, in general, pretty culturally liberal and has been steadily becoming more culturally liberal through the entirety of the last hundred years. So, given this, the problem for the party associated with cultural conservatism is that while appealing to cultural conservatism works to get its base riled up, it hurts it with regard to the population as a whole.

This is what the GOP is grappling with right now. They're bucking several long-term trends. They've been pretty successful insofar as they appeal to the long-term trend of the US being economically conservative. And, it should be clear, while the US has very slowly moved economically leftward (on average, with some important exceptions), the American psyche is essentially conservative on economics and so while it doesn't so much mind that the US incrementally moves leftward economically, what it fears is that it will move leftward too quickly, or excessively. So it favors the conservative party. Not because it always agrees with the conservative party's argument that the US should move radically rightward, but because it doesn't really expect that to happen regardless, but does sort of worry that it could somehow move rapidly leftward (which it wouldn't, but we're talking about irrational fears and biases here).

What's really weird is how badly the GOP is screwing up. It should, by default, have the edge in terms of economic confidence. And, also, given the health care reform, it should be able to continue to exploit that American fear of too-much-too-soon. That's what it did in 2010. Also, since it has the confidence of voters with regard to economics, then bad economic conditions should favor it.

Part of its problem is that, Fox News propaganda to the contrary, most people know that the economic problems began during Bush and not Obama. So there's right off the bat some shaken confidence. As long as the economy didn't improve, then they could have weathered that little problem. But even though it did, they still could have played to their strengths: convincing voters that they're more competent economically. Their internal and external message should have been what Clinton's was: it's the economy, stupid. That should be on the walls of the candidates offices and bedrooms and wherever else.

So what have they done? Well, they've gotten completely sidetracked into cultural issues.

How did this happen? Partly, I think, it's because the Tea Party revolt wasn't about what it was supposedly about. The financial collapse and the recession and Obamacare were all proximate causes, but that stuff was really just the matches that started the fire. The fuel was long-standing cultural stuff and, particularly, what it represented to aging, middle-class white people that a black intellectual from Chicago, whose father was Kenyan and mother was white, and whose name is Barack Hussein Obama, is elected President of the freaking United States. In one fell swoop, all sorts of deep, long-simmering cultural fears came to a full boil. That's the real fuel.

And the success of those people in organizing themselves and being outspoken and all that in 2010 in electing Republicans locally and to Congress meant that they captured the attention of everyone in the GOP establishment. And they captured actual party positions, too. The real concerns of those folk, regardless of what they say about the health care reform, is cultural. The only reason they hate the health care reform so much is because they see it as emblematic of the larger cultural changes. I mean, things like "keep your hands off my Medicare" prove this. It's not at all about what this represents economically. What it is about, to these people, is that people not like them have increasing influence in their lives and this possibly means...death panels, for example. What freaks them out about the so-called death panels isn't that they might exist, but what kinds of people they think will actually be on those panels. Because they're damn sure it won't be people like themselves. It's going to be atheist muslim communist black lesbians or something.

And because Romney, the front runner, is such a weak candidate and has such strong impulses to pander to gain whatever support he can, and because he knows that on the cultural front he has always been going to be suspect to these people, even being a Mormon, and partly because he's a Mormon, he couldn't rigorously stay on an economic message and, instead, felt the need to bolster his cultural conservative credentials. I mean, it's not like he's a Mormon from Utah who was governor there and pushed for a law banning abortions. He's a midwest Mormon who became governor of Massachusetts, of all places, and formerly identified as pro-choice. He was vulnerable from the cultural right, he was insecure about his vulnerability on the cultural right, and so increasingly the discussion became about cultural conservatism. And, well, that's what those rabid Tea Party people want it to be about. That's their red-meat.

So this became a vicious cycle. We had Gingrich ratcheting this up, and now we get Santorum. I don't think there's any possibility for the GOP to extricate themselves from this mess now.

The thing is, this doesn't necessarily mean the end of the GOP. It does if they can't disentangle themselves from the cultural conservatives in terms of those folk controlling the party's narrative. But it's not impossible that they could distance themselves again from the cultural right, as they have in the past. The quotes above by people who we already think are likely to campaign in 2016 demonstrate this. Those people are ready to do this. Lest we forget, this was Bush's whole schtick through 1999-2000. They could do it again. They need to.

Will they? Their problem is that even when they've moderated themselves, they always keep going back to that well sooner-or-later. And it's always been like a magic well with water that is potent, but comes at a price. Goldwater is the beginning of this, and is kind of archetypical. And if everything remained constant, they could keep going to that well, and then moderating, then going back again, over and over, forever. But everything isn't constant. Because while the potency of that water has remained fairly strong, the level of the well has been continually falling. That base that they keep utilizing keeps getting smaller and smaller and older and older. This is no longer a long-term winning strategy.

Six years ago, when I was thinking in terms of Ruy Teixeira's "Emerging Democratic Majority", the angry white people we'd see were middle-aged. Through this Tea Party phase? More like retirees. The Reagan era was dominated by yuppies who were conservative and reverting to the norm from the sixties. Those people are old now. I'm almost fifty.

I know I've gone on too long. But it's just so weird how the GOP has screwed up so badly. Bushco's courting of Hispanics was the smartest thing the GOP had done in a long, long time. And it might have worked. It worked a little bit for him. Maybe if it hadn't of been for 9.11, things would have been different. That stoked those dark lizard brain fears that are more closely connected with the culture war concerns than economic concerns. The GOP badly needed to un-hitch its wagon to the former racist southern Democrats who'd defected to the GOP and then formed a resurgent core. It might have managed this. But then, well, it reversed course and tied its fate to that very group. Now it's sort of doubling down on that. It's stupid.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:45 AM on February 27, 2012 [48 favorites]


Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
posted by Wolof at 4:24 AM on February 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's a really great comment, kochbeck, and gets to the heart of everything that my comment didn't. I think there's a kind of unholy conjunction of how I describe the GOP is self-destructing and how you are. Both things are happening at once.

But I think I'd argue that what's driving what you describe is partly how the political culture overall has changed—which I think is what you are alluding to but not really describing exactly how it's changed or, more importantly, why it's changed as it has, and I'd love to hear more about that, by the way—but also in the GOPs case because of the factors I describe. That is, recently the GOP political establishment has been captured by the clown show. And, yeah, those larger cultural factors make it so that, perversely, this adds appeal to all the people who want to watch a clown show.

I don't think the Democratic Party establishment is nearly as in disarray in the way you describe as is the GOP. It is, and for the reasons I think you have in mind. But the GOP is well and truly captured at the moment by crazy people. There's few adults minding the store right now. That's part of the fruits of the Tea Party thing. Those people actually managed to get themselves inserted into positions of influence. That was an absolute disaster for the GOP. Because those people are convinced, deep in their bones, that all those things that you describe that kept things sane in the long run are a big part of why the GOP hasn't been addressing their concerns.

See, they believe that really, contrary to evidence, that the majority of their fellow Americans believe and think as they do. Yet, weirdly, even though the GOP has given lipservice to those beliefs, it's mostly not delivered on them. How can this be? Because, they reason, it must be that the actual people in control of the party are corrupt and it's party machinery itself which is suspect. So, once they got any influence at all, they've done everything they can to undermine everything about how a party manages to function over the long-term. These are people who think that not paying members of Congress a salary and having term limits will solve all ills. These are people who think that politics being any sort of professional enterprise at all is the essential problem.

So if you're correct, and I think you are, about what it means to run for office and how it takes a lot of stuff behind the scenes to make this work out to anything approaching something that is healthy, then these folk are actively dismantling all the stuff that makes it not be insane and dysfunctional.

This is a real problem of American democracy, I think. Our parties are weak as institutions. We have a tendency to believe naively in direct democracy. And, weirdly, the last thirty years of history in California has not made much of a dent in this fantasy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:27 AM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte."

Were that I could be in such august company and that such an assertion were justifiable in my case. It's probably not. I could have written all that, and then gone back and re-written and made it more concise and clear. It's not like there was a time limit on the thread, or that I myself lack for time.

It's sort of more that writing a comment doesn't arguably merit that much effort. Maybe it does, or should. Certainly, if I assumed that everyone would read it, if I expected that everyone reading this thread would read it, then I ought to have. As it is, I added the warning and am happy if people skip it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:32 AM on February 27, 2012


Most commentary here is ignoring the demographic basis for the claim, which is rooted in Ruy Texeira's excellent analytic work. He's a democrat, but he's not in the tank for anyone.

The GOP is aging out of existence. They won in 2010 because under 30 voters didn't go to the polls, and over 45s were up by 30%. Meanwhile, the emerging Hispanic/Latino majority in the west (and its huge growth in places like North Carolina) means that if the GOP does not solve its immigration challenge (how do you sell comprehensive fair immigration reform to a bunch of die hard elderly xenophobic racists, huh?) it can't win in Colorado, Nevada, or New Mexico, possibly soon Arizona and North Carolina, at a national level. Local politics and state politics is more reactionary and involves fewer young voters. But look at any of these clowns' rallies, and 3/4 of the people are over 50, and mad as hell about something I can't even figure out.

I hope just once during the presidential debates either Romney or Santorum let's slip with "we want our country back!" And Pres. Obama simply says "from whom?"

The only answer to that is "brown people" (well, and "all women who want to work or have sex in their lives" and "anyone under 30"). They can't keep disguising it as "secular liberal elites" for much longer. We SLEs are actually a small percentage of the Democratic coalition, just like Republican managerial class elites. The end of the white working class as we've known it is nigh, and with it, their politics. Whether Pres. Obama wins this election is almost not the point. He could lose it still. That won't change the demographics. The only hope the GOP has is doing away with representative democracy, which they are working as hard and fast to accomplish through voter suppression and super-PAC funding as they can.

And as for the Israel-strikes-Iran scenario, sorry but I think it helps the Dems. Or at least Pres. Obama. Come on, there's an all out war raging in the Middle East, gas is rationed and $10 a gallon, and you're going to vote for Gingrich or Santorum over the guy who got Osama bin Laden?

Also, if you look below the surface of the horserace reporting, the Obama campaign has spent tens of millions on its operational infrastructure. Romney, even, doesn't come even close to the reach and sophistication of this. Santorum hasn't got anything going on.

I'll go on record: Obama landslide, wins by approximately as many electoral votes as 2008, Senate stays Dem, House stays R but R's lose ground and become more willing to deal.

Just laying down the marker.
posted by spitbull at 4:37 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


and then being unemployed at the end of it all because you didn't win

LOL.
posted by spitbull at 4:42 AM on February 27, 2012


Of course Obama will win in a walk if Romney wins the nomination but keeps saying stuff like this:

"Asked by the AP reporter if he follows NASCAR, Romney responded, "Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners."

I can't remember a major national candidate with such a gift for damaging sound-bites. He's really an embarrassingly inept politician.
posted by octothorpe at 5:21 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hopefully the nominee is Santorum, who will get crushed; then the GOP can send the social conservatives back to the children's table and let the fiscal conservatives (who are socially liberal) handle things.

The only purpose of the bible thumper is to vote for people who will cut my taxes. They were never supposed to actually run the show.
posted by Renoroc at 5:28 AM on February 27, 2012


The only viable candidate in the GOP primary is a Mormon -- and considering how much of their constituency thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim, do you REALLY think they'll vote for a Mormon? Hah.

See furiousxgeorge's comment above.

There isn't a Democrat among you who would not choose party loyalty above voting for, say, a Scientologist.
posted by Trurl at 5:34 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I pretty much agree with you, spitbull. Did you see that I mention Texeira, too? You say that you can't figure out what they're mad as hell about, but what they're mad as hell about is exactly what you say is happening: the country increasingly doesn't look just like them. That's scary.

Again, I don't think that as a general principle, you can underestimate the power, the ferocity of tribal xenophobia in the context of politics.

In the US, that the country is more brown than it used to be is a big part of it. But, in the ways I describe in my previous comment, that's only part of it.

The larger context is that because of the fact that the pure tribal xenophobic impulse's ability to be expressed through ethnic solidarity in the US, in the internal context, is muted, it takes other forms. And in my opinion, besides war-mongering and related, the other principle form it takes is against cultural progressivism. Partly because this is the natural consequence of this xenophobia formerly being tied to explicit racism, and that anti-racism was and is explicitly tied to cultural progressivism. This makes for a kind of natural affinity for the racist and culturally conservative impulses. So while all demographics are subject to xenophobic fears (and we see this with war-mongering stuff), there's a particularly intense xenophobia among a certain white demographic against cultural progressivism that's a consequence of it being the natural successor to racism in conjunction with there not being any real internal ethnic xenophobia that's acceptable in contemporary America.

In a way, this explains why atheists are the most disliked group, more disliked than ethnic minorities, or gays. Atheists are easiest to "other", because one of the great successes of the civil right era was to make it just not acceptable, eventually, to be openly "racist", even among cultural conservatives. And atheism is associated (correctly or not) with the extreme of cultural liberalism.

It's not so much that there aren't other such xenophobic fears that could be stoked for political gain. It's more that white cultural conservatives are both a large and influential group, and have a particular fear so intensely, that it's one of the most profitably exploited by those with a mind to do so.

It's not just that the country, as a whole, increasingly doesn't look as much like these aging middle-class white people. It's also that the country, as a whole, also increasingly doesn't think and act like them, either. So that the country is becoming less white is a part (though a big and symbolic part) of a larger cultural fear by this particular segment.

"And as for the Israel-strikes-Iran scenario, sorry but I think it helps the Dems. Or at least Pres. Obama. Come on, there's an all out war raging in the Middle East, gas is rationed and $10 a gallon, and you're going to vote for Gingrich or Santorum over the guy who got Osama bin Laden? "

Here's where I have to disagree with you. And that's because, unfortunately, the GOP's inherent advantage with the general American psyche is even greater with regard to foreign affairs and especially war, than it is with economics. A possibility of war automatically cedes a political advantage to the GOP. Iraq and Afghanistan are one thing, but we know that all those fears were driven by 9/11 and WMDs and stuff. Iran is a perceived enemy of the US in a way that even Iraq never was. This is partly the legacy of the revolution and all that happened then. But keep in mind that what was nothing more than a bunch of BS in the case of Iraq is actually true in the case of Iran.

Ironically, besides not suffering the kind of setback that Iraq did from the first Gulf War, and being more developed and prosperous anyway, Iran because of this second invasion and occupation of Iraq developed an even stronger incentive to develop nuclear weapons than ever did Iraq. They want to be North Korea. Or Pakistan. They want to be untouchable no matter what, because the possible consequences of a military action against them would be too dire. It's easy to stoke American fears against Iran, even more than it ever was against Iraq.

And, yeah, an Israeli strike against Iran will destablize the middle-east and the oil market in a way far, far beyond the Iraq invasion. You think that $10 a gallon gas will favor the Dems, but it won't. It will radicalize the American public against Iran and in favor of Israel, ironically, and this will make the GOP the party with credibility on this matter to the public, not the Democratic Party. It's absurd, but there it is. It's the way things are.

I absolutely and completely agree with those above that such an Israeli strike against Iran would be an enormous game-changer to American politics. It's not inconceivable that it could work to the Dems advantage, but I think that's unlikely. And, in any case, it would be a Very Bad Thing. Incumbent Presidents are blamed for everything that happens on their watch. Including wars started by allied countries and worldwide economic depressions that follow from this. The GOP was doing better when the economy was still perceived as being in the toilet. The perceived improvement has helped Obama, a reversal of that would hurt him.

But, frankly, that's the least of my concerns. I think the consequences of such an event go beyond whether Romney or Obama is President. I know, given how insane the GOP is on war stuf, that this is hard to believe. But my thinking about this is informed by how I thought about the first invasion of Iraq. I believed then, and still do, that that invasion was necessary for no other reason than that if the US hadn't done it, then Israel would have. And if Israel had, then there would have been a domino effect, and we'd have seen wholesale war in the middle east, possibly including the use of Israel's nukes. Only the US, no one else, could have done anything that would have eased Israel's fears of Iraq. And that one thing was to pull Iraq's teeth.

Well, you know, we can't do the same thing with Iran now. And, really, I'm glad we can't for all the obvious reasons. But, also, the Israel of today is not the Israel of 1991, either. And that's fucking scary, considering that the Israel of 1991 was being bombed by Iraq. This Israel would never restrain itself in that circumstance today. The scary thing is, what frankly terrifies me, is that in the past it would have been possible for the US to pressure Israel into not bombing Iran's facilities, assuring them that we will work with the rest of the world to contain the threat and ensure the safety of Israel. I don't believe that we can convince them of that today. I don't believe that we can restrain them at all. I believe that there's a very good chance that they will bomb Iran because the country is controlled by crazy, paranoid war-mongering lunatics now. They've completely gone around the bend. And, for fuck's sake, Pakistan is destabilized, has nukes, and there's a lot of people there who are just waiting for the opportunity to fully radicalize the population into a full Islamic state. Cue up: Israel bombing Iran, an Islamic theocracy, to prevent it from developing nuclear capability.

People here forget, or mostly didn't know (and because of propaganda to the contrary), that the Islamic world didn't much like Hussein or Iraq. Hussein wanted to be Nasser, not Khomeni, because he was far more like Nasser than Khomeni. I mean, Americans think "Islam" and can't tell the difference between Shiite and Sunni, or Muslims and Arabs. Khomeni was everything Hussein opposed. Hussein was first and foremost an Arab nationalist, with only nominal religious affiliations. His background was Arab socialism. He wanted to be Nasser, but the Six Day War meant that the tide of history was against a pan-national secular Arabism, and instead moved toward a pan-Islamicism. Hussein didn't have credentials in that realm, had already placed his bets on pan-Arabism, and so he eventually became part of the perceived enemy of pan-Islamicism, not at all its friend. This is the deep absurdity of the Bush war propoganda that Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda and all that. So, anyway, our invasion of Iraq didn't make us very many friends, and made us many enemies, in the middle-east...but that's not anything like an action against an Islamic state like Iran, even though it's Shiite. (I don't think we can use Afghanistan as a counter-example, because it's kind of unique.)

We just had the Arab Spring, which was good for democracy, but bad for keeping the Islamic radicals in check who would be truly and fully mobilized by an Israeli action against an Islamic theocratic state. The last thing the world needs right now is Israel bombing Iran. If I were a crazy eschatological Christian evangelical, then I'd be certain this is what is going to start the bonfire. I'm not, so I'm hopeful that we'll avoid it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:50 AM on February 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


There isn't a Democrat among you who would not choose party loyalty above voting for, say, a Scientologist.

This would be something I'd primary against really very hard. I wouldn't want a group of people like the CoS holding recorded blackmail information on the POTUS. I mean, it's not like they don't have a history of messing with governance exactly via blackmail and threat.
posted by jaduncan at 5:51 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"There isn't a Democrat among you who would not choose party loyalty above voting for, say, a Scientologist."

I agree with your basic argument, but I think that's a terrible example, given Scientology's history, as jaduncan points out.

I would, in fact, vote for a Republican, even Santorum, over a Scientologist. It's not because I think the religion is nuts, although I do. It's because it's a religion that has a history of breaking the law, blackmailing its own members using private information it regularly collects from them, and pursuing vendettas against individuals it doesn't like using all available methods. I mean, really. A Scientologist as President is a pretty terrifying idea. As a belief system, meh. As an institution with access to the powers of the Presidency? Yikes.

I realize that some fundies might think the same sorts of things about a Mormon President. But while the LDS doesn't have a spotless history, there's no real comparison between the two in this context.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:00 AM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Most commentary here is ignoring the demographic basis for the claim, which is rooted in Ruy Texeira's excellent analytic work. He's a democrat, but he's not in the tank for anyone.

I'm aware of Texeira's work and think he has something going on for the long term. However, that's not going to keep die-hard Republican voters from continuing to vote Republican until they die. Nor do I think we can consider the demographic effects in the long term without discussing Republican efforts to limit the electorate and/or suppress the vote. It doesn't matter that you have the demographic advantage if you can't get your potential voters registered or to the polls.
posted by immlass at 6:08 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


There isn't a Democrat among you who would not choose party loyalty above voting for, say, a Scientologist.

Not sure what you mean? Do you mean if a Scientologist who is a Republican but holds social and fiscal agreeable stances runs against a more conservative Democrat who is ... what? an Atheist?... the Democrats here would vote for the conservative Atheist over the Liberal Scientologist? (or something like that correct?)

On the face of it, that is a pretty absurd "thought experiment" and I suspect was just tossed in there as a mocking jab at MF Democrats. Kind of akin to the 'would you torture someone to find the bomb'. As to the specific, I don't know. It is an impossible question to answer. For the record I know liberal Mormons who are pro gay marriage and little resemble the mainline Church, so I can envision an individual Scientologist being the same. Nowadays I don't necessarily see myself as a Democrat so much as an Anti-Republican these past 12 years because of the increasingly idiotic path the party has gone down on every single issue, and I have already flirted with and been burned by 3-parties thankyouverymuch.

So, I guess in the end Trurl I think you are wrong, and just a little mean.
posted by edgeways at 6:08 AM on February 27, 2012


There isn't a Democrat among you who would not choose party loyalty above voting for, say, a Scientologist.

Your phrasing is a little confusing but I think that you are saying that if a Scientologist ran for offices as a Democrat, we would vote for him/her out of party loyalty? If that's what you are saying, then I'm more than a little insulted. I don't know about the rest of the folks here but I've voted for Republicans before because the Democrat was worse; I'm not stupid. I vote for Democrats because 9 times out of ten, they're at least marginally better than Republicans and like it or not, those are the only two viable parties. The fact that there are fewer and fewer sane Republicans makes it so that generally I'm forced to vote for Democrats but I'm not voting out of some blind loyalty to the party; I'm voting for the better candidate.
posted by octothorpe at 6:31 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a left-of-Dem liberal green/socialist who frequently votes independent or 3rd party, and I wouldn't vote for a goddam Scientologist because all those people are patently insane.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:33 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately for civilization in general, the comeback of the republicans/conservatives/religious whackjobs/fascists/the right-wing (whatever you want to call them... they're all cut from the same cloth) usually coincides with the predictions of their demise.
posted by prepmonkey at 6:54 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


There isn't a Democrat among you who would not choose party loyalty above voting for, say, a Scientologist.

I wouldn't vote for a Scientologist over anyone, I don't care what party they are, (and I actually refused to vote for my own father for county commissioner, because he's a Republican.)
posted by empath at 6:59 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay: Democrats have, on average, more children than Republicans, although people who voted for Bush had more children than people who voted for Gore. Of course, this says nothing about the propensity of children to inherit their parents' political views. There doesn't appear to be much of anything on Google (to say nothing of legitimate research) on the correlation between family size and political affiliation. Your turn.

Okay, I'll rephrase my original statement to reflect political attitudes, not simply nominal or old party affiliation, which was my point. Large families are staunch conservatives, a fact affirmed by your link, claiming that more religious people have larger families, which might place the childless in the least conservative mold. Your link states it more bluntly: The trend in the United States is that poor, religious, and stupid people are having more children, while rich, secular, and smart people are having fewer children. Therefore, the Republican party will never die because it branded religious values to their success, and can better rely on birthrates to help them, assuming that religious people tend to breed more religious people.
posted by Brian B. at 7:02 AM on February 27, 2012


assuming that religious people tend to breed more religious people

Which is a very dubious assumption. In my experience, the children of very religious people often turn into militant atheists, and those of ultraconservatives are just as likely to become raging lefties...
posted by Skeptic at 7:14 AM on February 27, 2012


Therefore, the Republican party will never die because it branded religious values to their success...

As an aside, I always thought that that was one of the saddest things about the American political scene.

Imagine how much better the world could be if all the energy that Christian evangelicals throw into electing bigots, know-nothings and warmongers was expended on improving the lot of the suffering and the downtrodden. By raising up their fellows, they would raise themselves up. Instead, by believing the kind of debased rubbish about other people that Taibbi briefly sketches in his article above, they have debased themselves.

The sort of "orcish" spirit that animates the Republican party will never die entirely because it is (sadly) a fundamental part of human nature. Perhaps, in this instance, it will break and roll back. I hold out little hope, but its saving grace does seem to be a knack for buffoonish incompetence.
posted by lucien_reeve at 7:17 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


In my experience

I'd rather suspect that's because you don't have much contact with the children of very religious people who remain in the church.
posted by hippybear at 7:18 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


In my experience, the children of very religious people often turn into militant atheists,

Admitted atheists account for about 6-7% of the population, which is slightly up, but pretty steady around 4-5% over the last two generations.
posted by Brian B. at 7:18 AM on February 27, 2012


Can't dig up the link right now, but a PPP Michigan poll I saw put the Santorum "too liberal" number at 10% among Republicans in the state.

I read that opposition ads attacking Santorum have been portraying his time in Congress as having made him a Washington insider who has voted for tax increases, protecting strikers, and raising the national debt -- that is, gone along with some of the so-called Democratic agenda. I suspect that is what this 10% is reacting to.
posted by aught at 7:36 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


After the 2008 election, there was a lot of talk about the death of the GOP.

After the 2010 election, not so much.


Nice oversimplification.
posted by aught at 7:38 AM on February 27, 2012


Why can't we have preferential voting? Because then 3rd party candidates might have a chance?
posted by giraffe at 7:43 AM on February 27, 2012


There isn't a Democrat among you who would not choose party loyalty above voting for, say, a Scientologist.

Completely wrong. But thanks for trying to rhetorically demonize anyone who thinks anything but the very worst about the Democratic Party.
posted by aught at 7:48 AM on February 27, 2012


The comments upthread give me hope for the GOP's future. Once the whackjobs pass on or are drummed out, then we can get back to the business of rebuilding America's stature.
posted by reenum at 7:57 AM on February 27, 2012


There isn't a Democrat among you who would not choose party loyalty above voting for, say, a Scientologist.
posted by Trurl at 1:34 PM on February 27 [+] [!]


There isn't a Democrat Republican among you who would not choose party loyalty above voting for, say, a Scientologist member of the Ayrian Nations.

See how this statement sort of makes me sound irritatingly simplistic and contemptuous?
posted by jaduncan at 8:03 AM on February 27, 2012


On the other hand:

"[Republicans] plant their flag in an uncompromising position, and wait for the world to come around – which, quite often, it eventually does. This is because in a media environment based on the ideology of "balance," in which anything one of the parties insists upon must be given equal weight to whatever the other party says back, the party that plants its ideological flag further from the center makes the center move. And that is how America changes. You set the stage for future changes by shifting the rhetoric of the present."
posted by Bromius at 8:31 AM on February 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


There isn't any rebuilding in the cards any time soon, reenum, that'd involve stuff like educating poor people, and providing a social safety net for people who create things, including entrepreneurs.

Worse, it might require repurposing our spending on graft and corruption, like most military spending, most wider DHS spending, etc. Ain't happening.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:39 AM on February 27, 2012


"[Republicans] plant their flag in an uncompromising position, and wait for the world to come around – which, quite often, it eventually does."

That's not true, actually.

I think the notion of the Overton Window has merit, and particularly so with regard to the degradation of political reporting in the American press, as that quote mentions.

But, even so, it's very easy and tempting for partisans to overstate its importance and power.

Because, no, rolling back Griswold v. Connecticut isn't going to happen, no matter how strongly the right plants its flag in opposition to contraception. It's nonsense to suggest otherwise.

Abortion rights itself is a pretty good example, really. Yeah, the tide has turned against it in the last twenty years. But only gently, and the effect hasn't been very dramatic. RvW has been deeply weakened, and the religious right expected to be able to essentially illegalize it at the state level and essentially eliminate it that way. But they haven't. They've achieved far, far less than they expected. Because for all that the tide has turned against abortion rights, the American public still pretty staunchly supports it to a limited degree that is far beyond what the religious right wants.

Planting your flag in an extreme position and being uncompromising won't eventually force people to accept that position. What that does, is influence things at the margins. But it also makes some things more difficult, rather than less, and it's a tactic that should be used very sparingly and carefully.

Did taking extreme positions and blocking the business of Congress force the adoption of the policies the GOP wanted? Nope.

My view on Obama's preemptive compromising is somewhere between, say, Kevin Drum's and Paul Krugman's. I think that Drum is correct in that what is actually politically possible by a Democratic President (or any President) is quite limited relative to what most people expect, and by that standard, Obama has been extremely successful. But I also think, as Krugman does, that there's numerous examples where Obama could have gotten more than he attempted and his preemptive compromise was just dumb. A concrete example of where I am in between these two extremes is regard to the stimulus. I agree with what I presume is Drum's position that it was simply not possible for Obama to get out of Congress the amount of stimulus that was actually called for (arguably about two trillion). But I also agree that with Krugman that it was possible to get more than it asked for and that it lowballed itself by starting with one trillion and then allowing that to be negotiated downward. (And worse, that much of that number wasn't really effective stimulus anyway, having been preemptively made attractive to conservatives as much as possible.)

A lot of the left's harshest criticism of Obama is just fantastical. We couldn't have gotten a two-trillion dollar stimulus, half of which was direct aid to state governments. And we couldn't have gotten a government administered single-payer health care system, either. Or whatever other example you can come up with. Those things are just not politically possible. But there's so many examples where Obama could have gotten more than he did had he started from a better bargaining position. Why he does what he does is a bit of a mystery. It's infuriating, often.

But the stimulus thing is a good example. As Krugman often points out, the idea that the Obama admin asked for so little because they thought that was all that was politically possible isn't true. There was a majority of people in the admin, and Obama was one of them, who believed that the lower amount was enough. I think that in many cases, Obama is really a moderate and I know with certainty that many of his advisers are moderates. A minority in the admin probably wanted singlepayer. Not a majority, and none of those people were Barrack Obama. A minority in the admin want to repeal the DOMA and ensure that gay marriage is legal across the US. Not a majority. And none of those people are Barrack Obama. He's not as progressive as we would like. Neither was Clinton. Sadly, we're unlikely to get a President that's as progressive as we would like because, frankly, only a small number of Americans are as progressive as people who self-identify as "progressive". And this small group doesn't have much political influence, either. Unlike, say, the far right who punch far above their weight because they've got people like the Koch brothers and the overwhelming majority of the super-wealthy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:13 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, something I just thought of about the Wyoming aircraft carrier.

Population of Wyoming: 568,158.

Crew of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier:
Ship's company: 3,200
Air wing: 2,480

568,158 / 5,680 = one out of every 100 Wyoming citizens will serve aboard its aircraft carrier.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:16 AM on February 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier

one out of every 100 Wyoming citizens will serve aboard its aircraft carrier

Holy shit. It's like Zombie Shirley Jackson rose from the dead to write a sequel to The Lottery called This Week's Ass Of An American State, and it got made into a Coen Brothers' film starring Tom Arnold as Vice-Admiral Johnny I. Zurrender of the Yellowstone Lake Navy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Crew of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier:
Ship's company: 3,200
Air wing: 2,480

568,158 / 5,680 = one out of every 100 Wyoming citizens will serve aboard its aircraft carrier.


Ah. So, the Wyoming thing is actually a jobs bill!
posted by Thorzdad at 9:54 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Get 9 more, Wyoming could become the Sea Avengers!
posted by Meatbomb at 10:02 AM on February 27, 2012


It's definitely an opinion all right. Maureen Down reaches the same partisan conclusion.

It's certainly not a new nor partisan opinion, though. (That would be Forbes 2009 and Hoover Institution 2011 for those without "status bars"...)

Let's not kid ourselves. The GOP since Reagan has heavily depended on Christian fundamentalists and the Southern strategy. The power of both Christianity and white people is fading (the latter faster than the former).

I mean, take a look at the picture of Newt Gingrich's audience in ericb's NY Magazine link. That crowd looks straight out of the 1940s.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2012


Jacques La Ramee will return from his lost camp in the wilderness. Washakie shall rise from his grave carrying the Big Robber's heart on his lance. They shall gather at Lonesome Lake at the Cirque of the Towers. They will wait for the chosen one to arrive. After proving his or her valor and overcoming the riddles and tricks of the little people, Esther Hobart Morris shall rise out of the lake and present the sacred Pistol which shall enthrone the King or Queen of the West. They shall march towards Denver with a rowdy army of ghosts and cowboys. The people of Colorado will make a stand at Ft. Collins but the line at the Foothills Mall will fall. We will celebrate our victory at Elitch Gardens.
posted by humanfont at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2012


The incentives that drive who gets Republican campaign money contradict what the GOP would actually have to do to win over enough moderates to win the election.

The GOP primary campaigning business is good, and the money's rolling in. Unfortunately the good money comes from people who back unpopular, unsellable positions that make the candidates they fund unelectable.

In fact, it's the general unpopularity of Republican opinions that shifted a huge chunk of the overall GOP election earlier into the primaries, where at least people can spend the money on trading favors with the losers. If I know you're going to lose in the general election, and I'm still better off backing you than backing the winner, I'm gonna spend my money as early as possible back in the early primaries, so I can tell you "hey, I supported you back in Iowa and New Hampshire, you owe me."

Don't believe me? Look at the sports book for the election. The race is over, the rubes just don't know it yet. Place yer bets. Right now you Ron Paul supporters can go put your money where your mouth is and get 50:1 odds from an online sports book. I'll wait. Of course, you can support an unelectable candidate to make some sort of point, and in America you have a choice of where you spend your entertainment dollar.
posted by basilwhite at 11:14 AM on February 27, 2012


Ivan Fyodorovich (or however it's spelled): "Sadly, the American left doesn't even do this sort of thing, I guess because for some reason I don't really understand, we're not as much prone to self-delusion."

This is some huge self-delusional hokum right there. And I hate to pick that out of an otherwise interesting response, but it's the sort of "reality based community" self-serving back-patting that goes on that, well, kind of IS the delusion of the left... (and pro-tip "reality based community" wasn't meant as a compliment for our side in case anyone thinks it was).

Consider it a meta-self-delusion. "We're too *smart* to be fooled like those idiot opponents of ours. We're so hip, worldly, and astute."

Pride goeth before destruction. Not that I don't enjoy a good laugh at the idiocy of the right-wing... But let's not egotize ourselves into a false sense of superiority.

/endrant
posted by symbioid at 11:19 AM on February 27, 2012


I mean, take a look at the picture of Newt Gingrich's audience in ericb's NY Magazine link. That crowd looks straight out of the 1940s.

Andy Dwyer, no!
posted by dirigibleman at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2012


Consider it a meta-self-delusion. "We're too *smart* to be fooled like those idiot opponents of ours. We're so hip, worldly, and astute."

I think it's more along the lines of:

[Conservative Pundit]: WE SHOULD ELIMINATE WELFARE!
[Conservative Electorate]: YEAH! FUCK THOSE DARKIES! LOWER MY TAXES!

[Liberal Pundit]: WE SHOULD SHOVEL MONEY INTO THE UNDERCLASS SO THAT THEY CAN SPEND IT AND NOT HAVE TO LIVE IN ABJECT SQUALOR AND POVERTY!
[Liberal Electorate]: Good luck with that. It'd be nice if we could support our lower classes but it'll never happen politically.
posted by Talez at 11:43 AM on February 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


'Asked by the AP reporter if he follows NASCAR, Romney responded, "Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.'

I can't remember a major national candidate with such a gift for damaging sound-bites. He's really an embarrassingly inept politician.


"There isn't one of us here who doesn't like NASCAR and who isn't a fan." -- John Kerry, 2004. I take this as a sign that my feeling that the 2004 election the model for this year's election is correct.

In both cases we have a president with middlin' approval ratings, and in both cases the opposition party nominates a stiff, phony, gaffe-prone rich fucker from Massachusetts with a reputation for changing his positions with the wind.* In both cases the opposing candidate doesn't inspire much enthusiasm in his party.

Obama's favorability ratings are comparable with Bush's in 2004 and Romney's favorability ratings are significantly lower than Kerry's were (51% Kerry; 43% Romney). Romney's only advantage over Kerry is that he's handsome and doesn't look like Herman Munster.

* Although Romney is more of a phony than Kerry was. A few of Kerry's "flip-flops" or "gaffes" were distorted by the media. See the article on the NASCAR comment I linked to for an example.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:20 PM on February 27, 2012


Obama's big problem is going to be that the enthusiasm from last time isn't going to be there now that expectations have been dashed on the rocky shores of him actually holding office.

out of the two of them I'd actually be more worried about Santorum - he has that enthusiasm behind him, if only from crazy people, Romney has none whatsoever.
posted by Artw at 12:23 PM on February 27, 2012


"Consider it a meta-self-delusion. 'We're too *smart* to be fooled like those idiot opponents of ours. We're so hip, worldly, and astute.'"

That's why I qualified what I wrote and made it clear that I don't think it's that we're too smart to be fooled like those other idiots. I don't think that at all.

But I do think that the left doesn't have an equivalent propensity for believing that the entire rest of the American population secretly agrees with us about wanting nationalized health care, or that it secretly wants a return of widespread membership in muscular unions, or whatever else is equivalent. Sure, a small minority of the minority that is the American left may think these things. But the equivalent beliefs on the right? They're widespread.

Again, I don't know why this is the case. There's more symmetry between left and right in this context elsewhere.

If I had to guess, I'd say it's because outside of that tiny minority of a minority of the left that is cloistered in a handful of communities (and I don't just mean Berkeley or Boulder, but subcultures within Berkeley or Boulder), the rest of us on the left don't live in an echo chamber the way that the American right does. First of all, there's a lot more of them and they can legitimately live in hundreds of communities where tens of thousands of them all share the same right-wing views. That's not possible for us who are their leftist equivalents. But, also, the whole civic context of American media is asymmetric in this regard. We don't have anything like Fox News or AM radio. We have, at best, weak tea and small scale imitations of those things.

But that's just guesses. I am inclined to believe some of the research about left/right cognitive differences, but I think those are small differences that have, at best, statistical meaning and cannot even remotely explain the asymmetry that exists in actuality. And this asymmetry certainly isn't a universal thing, worldwide. There's something weird going on here in the US about this. It's not at all that "we're smarter than they are". That's not what I said or meant to imply. I took some pains to imply otherwise, actually.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:24 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


We don't have anything like Fox News or AM radio.

I'm going to plagiarize myself here ... the notion that the media is "asymmetric" only comes when you focus on certain segments with a laser focus. Yes, Fox News and right-wing AM radio are very popular among their respective audiences. You don't see as dense a concentration of hour-to-hour engagement with any specific show for "liberal" audiences, however you define it.

But we're talking about asymmetry, as if the airwaves were dominated entirely. And that's absolutely not the case. Looking at radio only for example, right-wing AM talk radio is not actually as big as it seems to be ... when you compare it to the reach and political point of view of FM radio.

Rush Limbaugh's audience size is somewhere around 15 million.

Before he left terrestrial radio, Howard Stern's audience was about that size.

And Howard Stern wasn't even No. 1 in Los Angeles, as an anecdotal measure. He competed with Mark & Brian, Kevin & Bean, Opie & Anthony, etc, etc. Los Angeles radio is dominated now by Spanish-language broadcasting. Piolin for the win! Don't get me started on the enormous number of people listening to sports radio.

And yes, those are all entertainment and light fare.

But, while the shows aren't political, how do you think their listeners vote? Do you think Howard Stern's audience was getting all juiced up over Obama's birth certificate? How do you think Piolin's audience thinks about immigration?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:49 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]




In both cases we have a president with middlin' approval ratings, and in both cases the opposition party nominates a stiff, phony, gaffe-prone rich fucker from Massachusetts with a reputation for changing his positions with the wind.* In both cases the opposing candidate doesn't inspire much enthusiasm in his party.

Except John Kerry was a war hero, which they mocked, and had extensive policy knowledge, which they ridiculed.

To me it's a false analogy. Kerry would have been a much better president than Bush Lite. Romney ain't got shit to offer.
posted by spitbull at 8:07 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Consider it a meta-self-delusion. 'We're too *smart* to be fooled like those idiot opponents of ours. We're so hip, worldly, and astute.'"

prescient.

Americans listening to politicians, ignoring climate scientists

"For Republicans, having a college degree didn’t appear to make one any more open to what scientists have to say. On the contrary, better-educated Republicans were more skeptical of modern climate science than their less educated brethren. Only 19 percent of college-educated Republicans agreed that the planet is warming due to human actions, versus 31 percent of non-college-educated Republicans.

For Democrats and Independents, the opposite was the case. More education correlated with being more accepting of climate science—among Democrats, dramatically so. The difference in acceptance between more and less educated Democrats was 23 percentage points.

This was my first encounter with what I now like to call the 'smart idiots' effect."

Seems to square with the researching showing people clinging even more tightly to their delusions once they are exposed as delusions.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:07 PM on February 28, 2012


Even on simple questions like "Is there solid evidence that the Earth has warmed?"—it's politicians that are driving public opinion, not scientists or the data they produce.

Well, duh howdy. Which one of those groups spends billions on media?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:08 PM on February 28, 2012


Looks like Snowe, one of the few remaining Republicans in the Senate would could be even marginally considered "moderate" is retiring.

timing doesn't give the GOP much time to recruit a top tier candidate and the whole thing has to be considered a ripe opportunity for the Democrats to pick up a Senate seat, especially in a presidential election year that, from this far away vantage point, looks good in general for the Democrats. Might just hold on to that Senate between this and Massachusetts, the news out of NE, and ND also looks competitive. Go figure.
posted by edgeways at 2:58 PM on February 28, 2012


And if WI can get Baldwin elected - we may have a more consistent LIBERAL (not just Democrat) in office as well, cuz Kohl was such a shit Senator.
posted by symbioid at 8:15 AM on February 29, 2012


OK, "shit" was harsh - maybe stinky turd of a Democrat, but still better than a Republican.
posted by symbioid at 8:15 AM on February 29, 2012


right-wing AM talk radio is not actually as big as it seems to be ... when you compare it to the reach and political point of view of FM radio. --- Here in DC, an FM rock station changed formats to right wing talk about 6 months ago, which is why I have started listening to Rush Limbaugh more frequently than I ever did before. The curious thing is that the DC/NOVA/MD area is predominantly liberal territory surrounded by a sea of conservativism. When I listen to Rush and Hannity and Levin, I'm kind of surprised how worked up they get, when, presumably, the lions share of their audience are already true-believers. I have to wonder who it is they're so passionately trying to convince.
posted by crunchland at 8:27 AM on February 29, 2012


When I listen to Rush and Hannity and Levin, I'm kind of surprised how worked up they get, when, presumably, the lions share of their audience are already true-believers. I have to wonder who it is they're so passionately trying to convince.

Think about why that tent-house preacher gives such a good performance. Imagine the attrition rate of all the afflicted who pray for relief from God and never get it. They need a damn good performance on Sunday or they might not be coming back.

It's a mostly racist house of cards, imo. It gonna fall one day. All of the "true conservatives" (the free-market, social libertarians) I knew from the 80s and 90s are all now either Democrats, Independents, or something other. I really think it was GWB that started the mass migration of "intelligent" conservatives from the GOP.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:40 AM on February 29, 2012


President-wise perhaps, but personally I think it was Gingrich et all during Clinton's term who are responsible for the germ of the latest exodus. And frankly the groundwork was laid pretty heavily with Reagan who started the normalization of pandering to Social conservatives. Not as outrageous as nowadays, but his absenteeism from actual governance let a lot of "garbage past the filter" so to speak.

Passions have always been high, Carter was Burned in effigy on the streets for turning Denali into a national park, the '68 Democratic convention was a nightmare, waaay back in the day presidential candidates would regularly call the legitimacy (as in being born from wedlock) of opposition into question, hell Ambrose Bierce penned an op-ed calling for the assassination of William Mckinley not long before he actually was. I don't think there has been an extended time where American politics has even been particularly civil, but Citizen's United has certainly not helped anything and imo made a bad situation even worse.
posted by edgeways at 11:53 AM on February 29, 2012


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