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they speak of themselves as leading a “conservative reform project”
May 31, 2014 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Are Reform Conservatives Serious?
A crop of young thinkers trying to steer the right toward the future needs to both vanquish the Tea Party and show it has more than just a marketing campaign.
posted by davidstandaford (40 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm gonna go with not-serious due to lack of any political power behind the desire for reform. The Republican voters aren't yet on board. Give them a few years of Hillary and maybe they will be ready to talk about a new pizza sauce.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:19 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I would say that most young conservatives don't see themselves as Republican because most of them are anti-war.
posted by michaelh at 12:20 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


I generally like Dionne but that article was unedited, interminable and unreadable. Hoping he publishes a 1,000 short version somewhere soon.
posted by twsf at 12:22 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Young conservatives should properly call themselves Democrats. There are few truly liberal voices in the national conversation right now.

The current Republican party is, I'm sad to say, a pack of grifters preying on older, uncertain voters.
posted by SPrintF at 12:26 PM on May 31 [29 favorites]


The movement should abandon its insistence on making abortion illegal and replace it with a promise “to cut the number of abortions by two-thirds over the next ten years.” In the process, Republicans should be “just banishing the idea that the purpose of your party is to regulate the intimate behavior of women.”

There's a reason they don't go there. Conservatives preach a freedom and market approach to things, but when abortion comes up they carefully open the door to moral arguments, but limited to their angry theocratic religion. Ethics are thus avoided, which demands welfare and birth control as an abortion reducer. As more young people abandon their religion, the theocratic urge/void is replaced by dogmatic libertarianism, which preserves the feudal tradition of minimizing any humanistic response to the world's problems.
posted by Brian B. at 12:47 PM on May 31 [58 favorites]


Yeah, it seems ideologically to make more sense for 'conservative reformers' to join the Democrats and for the far-right to form an anti-government coalition with the far-left, but idiotic Fox News driven hatred of Obama, Clinton, etc., makes that impossible.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:58 PM on May 31


Brian B. that is very insightful.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:03 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


No rebranding exercise is ever serious.
posted by srboisvert at 1:34 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Is their platform still "fuck you got mine"?
posted by basicchannel at 1:44 PM on May 31 [6 favorites]


Brian B. that is very insightful. And depressing.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:08 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Give them a few years of Hillary and maybe they will be ready to talk about a new pizza sauce.

A Hillary candidacy will most likely be the mega-catalyst that brings the right together in a big kumbaya of reactionary glee.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:30 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Somehow I've been signed up for an endless stream of GOP.com email newsletters and fundraising attempts (presumably fatfingered) and I haven't bothered to unsubscribe yet because they're so bad, so clueless and so surreally depressing I haven't bothered to spamcan them or unsubscribe.

The first one I received was an offer for a pair of incredibly ugly stripy colorful socks ostensibly designed by G. H. W. Bush, senior, complete with signature.

The main drumbeat is right now, of course, trying to reclaim senate control, but the tone and language is so ridiculously over the top and breathless that I have yet to fail to laugh at them. They're really quite bad and logically inconsistent.

If you're feeling masochistic, I highly recommend signing up, perhaps with a throwaway email address. It's better than CatFacts.
posted by loquacious at 2:33 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


You can't really calculate how serious they are until you subtract their Useful Idiot Quotient (UIQ), which is the degree to which they exist only so the larger brand can claim they're welcoming of particular viewpoints (c.f., Log Cabin Republicans).
posted by fatbird at 2:43 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Brian B. that is very insightful. And depressing.

I suppose it is depressing. The major difference between American left and right seems to be that the right must cater to those stuck in ancient norms and traditions, or risk losing the easy knee-jerk voter who may have least capacity for change. Their message is outdated by hundreds of years already but they worry about losing so many to not voting, or worse, forming reactionary third party spoilers (something they have shown a talent in avoiding up to now). It's also why they maintain imaginary golden eras, because they need to supply a false hope to go with their depressing outlook.
posted by Brian B. at 3:03 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


What amuses me is when real world practices so blatantly contradict party-wide campaigning world rhetoric. It happens with any political party to be sure, but we seem to be in a rut where the Republicans are the current poster children of it beyond par excellence.
Prime example, and I know this is just State level, but it is amusing. So, in Minnesota, the Republicans lost a few rounds of elections and are the minority right now. They still are banging on about fiscal responsibility, morality and voter ID. However: the state party is multiple years into being in pretty serious debt, the last Senate majority leader they had quit because of adultery (which they failed to cover up while happening), the author of the failed state constitutional amendment to implement voter ID just won endorsement to run for Attorney General. I don't know about nationally, but that seems like a three legged stool without any legs. And yet they are still taken seriously. :/

Meanwhile, nationally via mother jones
posted by edgeways at 3:05 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


They're really quite bad and logically inconsistent.

When has that mattered in US politics?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:24 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


SPrintF: The current Republican party is, I'm sad to say, a pack of grifters preying on older, uncertain voters.

Oh, I wish that were the case. There are still a lot of young people who fall prey to the ideologies of the current Republicans, possibly due to being in the shadow of their parents viewpoints. This link about Obamacare requiring all Americans to receive an RDIF microchip implant by 2017, with an embedded YouTube video from 2010, was shared by a young lady who studied biology and is applying that knowledge professionally for a government agency. Her friends and family chimed in with references to Hussein the Tyrant and "mark of the beast," even though the first link was to Snopes debunking the whole mess.

There are still plenty of Young Republicans. There will be a future shift in certain norms for the "average" Republican, but it's not going to end the division between the US parties.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:38 PM on May 31 [4 favorites]


the far-right to form an anti-government coalition with the far-left

I will never get tired of watching people pretend that the far right and the far left are identical just because they've both committed the sin of not being liberals.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:16 PM on May 31 [13 favorites]


It's less about not being liberals and more about being like Lambert quadrilaterals. The girl going on about doing away with money and just use barter may be non-euclidean elliptical and the guy who thinks all fiat money is criminal and all exchanges should be made in precious metals is non-euclidean hyperbolic, but from the point of view of people living in a plane geometry universe, any time they're off hammering out their new platform is a win for the rest of us.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:25 PM on May 31 [5 favorites]


There's nothing connecting those groups together other than a desire to end foreign interventions and an inability to keep from being ostracized in mainstream politics.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:33 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


... from the point of view of people living in a plane geometry universe, any time they're off hammering out their new platform is a win for the rest of us

Except during the times when they band together to stop a public good, e.g. Portland, OR's attempt to fluoridate its water which is a nice example of "30% + 30% > 40%."

Then they go back to their respective corners of "there's no way in hell I'll ever vote for the childhood dental intervention programs those mush-brained hippies were yammering about as an alternative to fluoridation because freedom" and "just buy the Tom's of Maine with fluoride in it if you're so worked up about it ... Aisle 5 at the New Seasons? Hello?"
posted by mph at 5:53 PM on May 31 [8 favorites]


I mean, a Kucinich/Paul (or vice versa) presidency would be hilarious, and so was Mike Gravel trying to become the Libertarian Party's nominee in 2008, but that's the extent of far side cooperation in American politics.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:36 PM on May 31


loquacious, the Democratic Party version is pretty pathetic, too.

Weirdly, when the Democratic Party uses the OFA mailing list, they get my name right. When OFA uses the OFA mailing list, they still use my old name, despite my best efforts. I have no idea how that happened.
posted by Corinth at 7:39 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


the degree to which they exist only so the larger brand can claim they're welcoming of particular viewpoints (c.f., Log Cabin Republicans).

Texas GOP Blocks Gay Conservatives From Having Booth At State Convention (Yeah, in Texas, shocker)
posted by Rykey at 9:47 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I haven't kept up with Transformers. I remember the Decepticons and Predacons, but I don't know what series the Reformicons are from.
posted by ckape at 9:56 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Just a note on language from this article. The only time I have run into premature as he used it is "premature anti-fascist." A friend of mine has a great uncle who fought in the Spanish Civil War. The label "premature anti-fascist" almost kept him out of the American army during the Second World War.

I have never heard anyone use the phrase "premature anti-communist." Whether it's because the far left just kind of muted out the fellow travelers and useful idiots or because no one thought to use the term, I think its misleading to use the comparison. But of course, using the term "premature anti-fascist" would be just a touch too close to the truth with the extreme right these days.

Reading these attempts at reform, they all strike me as ways to continue to strip away money from the middle and lower classes (remove overtime, turn it into flexitime or comp time, turn the EITC into block grants, etc.) indirectly instead of directly. To run with Frum's comment that the author mentioned in the beginning, it's changing the box, not the pizza. However, as the countless products that I have seen on the shelves that proclaim "New Look! Same Great Product!" sometimes that is all it takes.
posted by Hactar at 10:41 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


e.g. Portland, OR's attempt to fluoridate its water which is a nice example of "30% + 30% > 40%."

there's not exactly a lot of marxist sentiment behind opposing fluoridation
posted by p3on at 2:38 AM on June 1


Why go through the trouble and effort to be a consistent Republican of any stripe, when you can just jump straight to laissez-faire libertarian? So much less thinking. That's where years' worth of "no, no, no" have lead us.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:54 AM on June 1


Of course the Republican party is going to continue to exist and of course that will rely on fresh faces and new ideas (or at least the rebranding of old ideas into new packages). And what else would the alternative be, exactly? Domination by the Democrats at every level and branch of government? As much as I don't like Republicans, I only slightly dislike Democrats less and I don't think that democracy is well served by single-party rule, even by the ostensible left-wing (cf. with 100 years of the Solid South). It's fine to be anti-Republican but sincere efforts to kick out the kooks and have a genuine marketplace of ideas is a good thing. And when there are so few liberals/Democrats/progressives who will stand up for patently left-wing ideas like civil liberties and it requires right-wing libertarians like Rand Paul to do their work for them, then that's a sad state of affairs for the left as well.
posted by koavf at 10:15 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Kick out the kooks.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:03 AM on June 1


It's fine to be anti-Republican but sincere efforts to kick out the kooks and have a genuine marketplace of ideas is a good thing.

The problem is that they're not really making sincere efforts. The media fell for the whole "the establishment is beating back the Tea Party crazies" narrative hook, line and sinker; but the problem is that the current "establishment" is indistinguishable from the crazies. The crazy itself just moved even further right.

And when there are so few liberals/Democrats/progressives who will stand up for patently left-wing ideas like civil liberties and it requires right-wing libertarians like Rand Paul to do their work for them, then that's a sad state of affairs for the left as well.

Let's be clear: Rand Paul and his friends and followers are fair-weather fans of civil liberties. It's often conditional along the usual horrible axes such as race and socioeconomic status. The reason he gets so much play on this as opposed to the progressives you mention is because it's unusual for his party and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. People like to seize on his advocacy because it's somewhat idiosyncratic, not because it's something he's doing and progressives are not.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:28 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


I don't understand or believe the bad faith about Republican reform or about Rand Paul. I was even more skeptical than you are presently of him as being a neocon until he started filibustering on important issues and demanding explanations of why the president can kill Americans on a whim now. These things matter but they don't seem to matter to too many politicians. Even if Rand Paul isn't consistent enough (and I don't have any explanation from you for how), I don't really care that much when he's the only voice of sanity about important things. (Also, a shout out to Ron Wyden and Alan Grayson when he's in Congress.)
posted by koavf at 12:16 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I don't understand or believe the bad faith about Republican reform

There are a ton of articles out there about how the current crop of "establishment" candidates have swung to the extreme right rather than moderating their views on pretty much every major issue. Try reading up on Thom Tillis in North Carolina, for instance, where even mainstream sources point out that the GOP "rebranding" is largely Jim Crow plus market libertarianism that would have made Goldwater blush.

I was even more skeptical than you are presently of him as being a neocon until he started filibustering on important issues and demanding explanations of why the president can kill Americans on a whim now.

I'm not a single-issue voter, and I'm cynical enough to believe that Paul is trying to engage in personal rebranding. If he became President, I have zero doubts that he'd drop the issue pretty quickly. That's his MO: pick a position that rankles his party, then as soon as it's politically expedient (or he gets pressured by his colleagues, do a complete 180. Sometimes the process only takes a matter of hours. Unless it's part of the GOP's actual branding--we only like something if Obama doesn't, even if we built our party on opposing it previously--Paul's public persona is no different or shameless than any other politician.

Even if Rand Paul isn't consistent enough (and I don't have any explanation from you for how), I don't really care that much when he's the only voice of sanity about important things.

But he's not the "only voice about sanity" here. Even you note Wyden and Grayson, and if you do even the minimum of research, you'd find many more not just in Congress.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:51 AM on June 3


Let's be clear: Rand Paul and his friends and followers are fair-weather fans of civil liberties.

The Democrats are fair weather on rights too. You and I voted for a candidate who opposed gay marriage in 2008. There is no reason not to give Republicans credit when they are doing something right.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:25 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


It's fine to be anti-Republican but sincere efforts to kick out the kooks and have a genuine marketplace of ideas is a good thing.

The problem is that they're not really making sincere efforts.


If the media's memory could stretch all the way back to 2008-2010, they'd see that at that time, the establishment in the GOP was falling all over itself to cozy up to the Tea Party because it meant more votes for Republican candidates. They've learned since that the wingnuts don't care about politicking (shocker!), and that they're ruining the GOP's already-tenuous reputation, but it's too late-- they have a big enough coalition in Congress that they can throw big-ass wrenches into the establishment's gears. So for their own careers' sake, they're terrified to make efforts to kick the kooks out.

I am thoroughly enjoying watching the current brick-shitting circus, but I hope voters' memories are longer than the media's come November.
posted by Rykey at 8:58 AM on June 3


Oh, look, Brave Sir Paul is now running awaytalking up drone strikes:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) late Tuesday said if the United States discovered any of the released Guantanamo Bay prisoners were planning a terrorist attack, “there would be a drone with their name on it.”

On Fox News’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” Paul was asked if he advocates tracking them down and killing them if they plot against the U.S. “I would say that there would be a drone with their name on it,” replied Paul, who has been somewhat critical of portions of President Obama’s drone program.
Well, that’s not quite what Paul’s supporters expected to hear.

This isn’t the first time the GOP senator has strayed from his own talking points. Last April, also during an interview with Fox’s Cavuto, Paul said he’s comfortable with the executive branch having the authority to use drones on Americans over U.S. soil if an administration perceives an “imminent threat.” Paul even went so far as to say, “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and 50 dollars in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.”

But yesterday’s rhetoric seemed especially out of place given all of the senator’s recent posturing on the issue of drone strikes, and raises some important questions about Paul’s actual beliefs.

It’s possible, for example, that the Kentucky Republican is starting to engage in some chest-thumping, there-would-be-a-drone-with-their-name-on-it “tough” talk in order to impress his party establishment. As Paul gears up for a national campaign, he’s no doubt aware of the fact that many Republicans reject his foreign policy vision and fear his general preference for isolationism.

In other words, maybe the senator is starting to talk more like the typical Republican, talking up things like drone strikes during Fox News interviews, to make himself more appealing to his intra-party critics.

But let’s also not discount the possibility that Rand Paul doesn’t fully understand the issues he claims to care the most about. This applies to drones, but it’s not the only issue that has recently tripped up the senator.
[...]
As we’ve discussed before, it’s one thing for a politician to be ignorant; it’s something else when he’s ignorant about his signature issues. Paul isn’t just confused; he’s confused about the issues he claims to care about most.
As Charlie Pierce has been saying: I continue to despair of the "rebranding."
posted by zombieflanders at 8:27 AM on June 4


Thanks for this citation: it helps me see Rand Paul in a new light. Now I wonder how much of *this* is him being genuine or bellicosity for the campaign trail (like Obama in 2008 when he said he would send troops into Pakistan without prior consent or even notification).
posted by koavf at 9:37 AM on June 7


The American Conservative: Reform Conservatism Needs a Place to Grow
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:54 PM on June 10


zoinks
posted by tonycpsu at 5:40 PM on June 10


Came here to link to the same article, tonycpsu. Extra-large bricks are being shit this morning on Capitol Hill.
posted by Rykey at 5:50 AM on June 11


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