A 'constant chorus of skepticism' about the"establishment."
August 8, 2015 6:47 PM   Subscribe

"They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing... Once allied with but now increasingly hostile to the Republican hierarchy, conservative media is shaping the party’s agenda in ways that are impeding Republicans’ ability to govern and to win presidential elections."
posted by zarq (81 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
'if only there was a german word for pleasure expressed at another's misfortune'
posted by Sebmojo at 7:15 PM on August 8, 2015 [30 favorites]


Save the schadenfreude. They're still really good at state elections, which means they get to draw the electoral maps, rinse, repeat.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:17 PM on August 8, 2015 [50 favorites]


>They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing...

Inb4 post hoc ergo propter hoc
posted by johnnydummkopf at 7:23 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Save the schadenfreude. They're still really good at state elections, which means they get to draw the electoral maps, rinse, repeat.

That, and I remain confident in the Democrat's ability to find opportunities for defeat even in the face of Republican inanity.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:24 PM on August 8, 2015 [52 favorites]


This influence is troubling to leaders in the Republican Party, who Calmes interviewed extensively for the paper. She argues that today’s conservative media now shapes the agenda of the party, pushing it to the far right – at the expense of its ability to govern and pick presidential nominees.

"Today"?

TODAY?

Fuck. Spare me. Watch this.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:25 PM on August 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


Live by the sword, die by the sword.
posted by Windopaene at 7:26 PM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's no good reason for the coalition to exist anymore, especially with the Religious Rights realization after the state RFRA fight earlier this year.
Crack the Party.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:27 PM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Republicans can still reliably win during off Presidential years because turn out goes way down but increasingly their coalition of fiscal conservatives, small government types and christian fundamentalists is no longer enough to reliably defeat the Democratic coalition.

With identity politics driving the conservative media landscape where stuff like Trump's declaration than Mexican undocumented workers are thieves and rapists is actually getting major traction you have the Republican tribal identity crystalizing around "white, male, Christian" as the ideal and everything else as inferior and that's simply not a strong enough demographic coalition anymore.

The conservative media is awesome for maintaining cohesion of a minority party but is utterly garbage at governing because governing actually takes compromise. In the absence of Republican leadership the ground game is pretty much surrendered to the President who can't do a ton but can still do a decent amount with just executive power.
posted by vuron at 7:36 PM on August 8, 2015


We seriously need Donald Trump to run against Hillary if only for the comedy gold it would provide. I would watch that debate on Pay per View if I had to. All good Democrats, or anyone who has ever watched John Stewart, should immediately re-register as Republican and vote Trump in the Republican Primaries
posted by AGameOfMoans at 7:57 PM on August 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


I was reading an interesting article about climate change today that suggested that scientists may be giving overly optimistic analyses of our policy options for dealing with climate change because the politicians deeply want to hear good news. In particular, they want to hear that there are ways to avoid a crisis without wrenching sacrifice during their terms. And so the scientists may be emphasizing theoretically possible but practically unlikely descriptions of ways that geoengineering could help avert disaster down the road with minimal emission reductions today. And so the scientists, if they want to be heard by policymakers at all, are pressured to focus on those sorts of analyses.

I wonder if a similar phenomenon is going on in Republican politics- if Republican presidential candidates deeply want to be told that they can win a general election without compromising on immigration, or gay marriage, or taxes, and so those are the only advisers that are listened to. The fact that Romney's circle truly thought he would win going into election day 2012, despite all the polling, suggests that it happened at least then.
posted by gsteff at 7:57 PM on August 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


I'm not so sure about this. If anything, the right-wing media is lining up against Trump, unsuccessfully.

The right-wing media is actually put off by his "excessive" racism and misogyny, and yet his numbers continue to rise among potential Republican voters.

The GOP are pragmatists. They understand you cannot be openly racist and be elected to the White House. But the GOP base does not understand this, or simply does not care.

The real story here is that the right-wing media have created a monster that they can no longer control. Trump is the gnashing id of the Republican party made flesh. He is consuming the party (and soon, the whole country) alive.
posted by Avenger at 7:59 PM on August 8, 2015 [67 favorites]


I'd be amazed if actual Republicans noticed or cared that their theory of government isn't effective or good. They're anarchists who hate government because government takes their money away.
posted by bleep at 8:07 PM on August 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Hey I hate the government taking my money too. Does that mean I'm suddenly a republican?
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 8:11 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The real story here is that the right-wing media have created a monster that they can no longer control. Trump is the gnashing id of the Republican party made flesh. He is consuming the party (and soon, the whole country) alive.

Jesus tapdancing Christ. Stephen King's been insisting he's a liberal Democrat for all these years and yet here he is tearing open some otherwordly hellmouth into which your nation is falling.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:15 PM on August 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


As crusty a lefty as I am, I have a small few of small-government, local-control, fiscal-conservative-type old-school Republican friends who are not insane, and I think they are becoming more alienated from their party and from the way the media is pushing and characterizing them. If anything I would really love a reasonable opposition of economic and philosophical ideas of merit instead of the clown show of who can be the most hateful and extreme, but we don't seem to be able to handle that; we can't even handle coverage of issues and impacts rather than horse-race polling metrics and strategy talk. It's not a contest, it's our country.
posted by Miko at 8:17 PM on August 8, 2015 [37 favorites]


Deace (pronounced Dace)

That sure clears it up.
posted by No-sword at 8:24 PM on August 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'd be amazed if actual Republicans noticed or cared that their theory of government isn't effective or good. They're anarchists who hate government because government takes their money away.

Which is terribly amusing given that red states are where the "takers" live, both in percentage of population with no tax liability and in federal spending per capita.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:28 PM on August 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


“These people, practically speaking, are preventing the Republican Party from governing, which means they’re really preventing it from becoming a presidential party as well,”

Well, the whole point of the far-right is to kill-off government. So, keeping anyone from governing is job-1. That the group currently being stymied are Republicans isn't really a problem to the wingnuts.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:30 PM on August 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hey I hate the government taking my money too. Does that mean I'm suddenly a republican?

Yes, unless you're talking about military spending.
posted by oluckyman at 8:33 PM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


thebotanyofsouls... depends. Do you hate the government making your money as well? That would make you libertarian.
posted by grimcity at 8:34 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The greatest failure of American conservatism is making their mandate to break government rather than serve as its steward. In an alternate universe somewhere American conservatives are the tinkerers making government run smoothly and efficently and serving as a principled break on its worst excesses.

Conservativism has forsaken their valuable civic role. They're a drunk pissing on the carpet at this point. It's a god damn fucking shame.
posted by echocollate at 8:45 PM on August 8, 2015 [75 favorites]


Do you hate the government making it possible for you to make your money by spreading the costs of an educated civil society with working infrastructure proportionally across the population that uses it? That just makes for a hypocrite.
posted by Miko at 8:48 PM on August 8, 2015 [27 favorites]


One of the few verses of the Odyssey that I keep in my memory is this, about the Cyclops:
They have no assemblies to debate in, they have no ancestral ordinances; they live in arching caves on the tops of high hills, and the head of each family heeds no other, but makes his own ordinances for wife and children.
. . . [the island is] unploughed and unsown perpetually, empty of men, only a home for bleating goats. For the Kyklopes nation possess no red-prowed ships; they have no ship-wrights in their country to build sound vessels to serve their needs, to visit foreign towns and townsfolk as men elsewhere do in their voyages.
Every appeal to the basest of the GOP base makes me think of this. If "the whole point of the far-right is to kill-off government," then what the base wants is essentially anarchy, each woman and child kept in terror by the strongest man who can lay claim to them, and that man beholden to nothing but a man with a bigger gun, and none of them doing anything but eating and shitting and hitting and fearing.

The last generation of actual, civilized, grownup Republicans has passed from the public stage. They understood that you had to have some kind of a government. But they have long given way to the kind of politicians who live off of appeals to people who do not and will not understand that.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:50 PM on August 8, 2015 [81 favorites]


This article is nearly 17,000 words long. Apparently a lot of you guys read real fast.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:52 PM on August 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


tim no one here has read an fpp article since the eisenhower administration
posted by poffin boffin at 8:55 PM on August 8, 2015 [108 favorites]


And yet the Republicans will still win at least 47% of the popular vote.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:02 PM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Apparently a lot of you guys read real fast.

Grad school ain't for nothin' - worth the price for reading tactics alone. But apart from that, if you've been following the trajectory of the parties in general in think pieces like this, a quick scan gives you a sense of what this analysis covers - and that it does a lot of synthesis of stuff you've probably already digested.
posted by Miko at 9:07 PM on August 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Here we have (one of the only two allowed) political parties pulling forth morons like Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, all of them bizarre and all of them insane and all of them embraced by frightened, angry, arrogant, racist jesus jumping dopes/dupes. How I would love to see Trump running, with Palin as veep, sharing the podium with hands held high, Trump having just announced to a wildly cheering crowd of repubs gathered in motorized walmart shopping carts that if elected he is tapping Bachmann for state.

You might be shaking your head, thinking No. Way. could that happen, but would you ever have dreamed that "I can see Russia from here." could happen, would you ever have dreamed that Trump could be where he is right now?
posted by dancestoblue at 9:12 PM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


They key shift in the Overton Window is away from sanity.
posted by wotsac at 9:26 PM on August 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


We seriously need Donald Trump to run against Hillary if only for the comedy gold it would provide.

And people doubt the Boris effect.
posted by Artw at 9:27 PM on August 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


The GOP are pragmatists. They understand you cannot be openly racist and be elected to the White House. But the GOP base does not understand this, or simply does not care.

The GOP base would love nothing more than a return to a world where they can be openly racist without being excoriated or shamed.

Seeing a candidate who has demonstrated that it's possible to be openly racist or bigoted and avoid shame (by apparently, not having any shame at all) and still have some measure of success and people happy to be associated with him is what makes Trump popular.

Trump's value to GOP base (and his danger in general) comes not from the fact that he could be president, but from the fact that he is making it okay again to say racist things.
posted by Karaage at 9:33 PM on August 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


would you ever have dreamed that Trump could be where he is right now?

I can see why Trump is popular. He's the only one talking about China winning at economics, and he loudly blames non-voting immigrants for everyone's job anxiety while others are debating a convoluted citizenship. He's also taken on political correctness as a domestic issue, which for most people is like someone shooting a rabid dog they only know by name. As of today he's already running against Hillary Clinton by proxy, opportunely insulting women when it looks personal. Utterly brilliant, like those bands in the sixties that deliberately and soberly trashed their hotel rooms for free publicity, when everyone else was just being so nice. He can always apologize when he's drunk. My concern is that if Clinton doesn't insult him sometime this month she might miss a chance for setting him up as the frontrunner for the third party run (because he can't win against Fox News, as Nate Silver points out). And it wouldn't hurt if she mocked his Mexican Wall concept over and over, to pretend it is all he proposes, because it's stupid, and allows him to have it both ways: something to show off, but never succeeding and never hurting his bottom line.
posted by Brian B. at 9:33 PM on August 8, 2015 [5 favorites]




This article is nearly 17,000 words long. Apparently a lot of you guys read real fast.

I RTFA. If anyone else has, it would be interesting to discuss it. A lot of the 17,000 words are sheer thoroughness --- she provides about three cites for anything that even whiffs of a claim. But the overall trend was interesting, perhaps best expressed by these paragraphs from the conclusion:
The unanimity among establishment Republicans – many of them conservatives by the definition of anyone but purists – that rightwing media has become a big problem for the party, and their readiness to talk about it, was something of a surprise to this reporter of three decades’ experience in Washington. Of the establishment Republicans among several dozen conservatives interviewed, nearly all were flummoxed about how to moderate the party. Most expressed despair. The common hope was that the ultimate 2016 nominee could and would speak truth to power – the power, that is, of conservative media and their allies in the well-heeled advocacy groups. “You have to have national leaders emerge that are willing to have a confrontation, a real confrontation,” said Matthew Dowd, the former Bush strategist. He cited Bill Clinton’s impact in helping push Democrats toward the center. “It took a national voice to do this,” Dowd said. “That’s what Republicans are going to need.”[134]

As one prominent Republican put it, on condition of anonymity...
The conjunction of the two paras was striking, to me. She gets about a score of highly placed sources to state, in so many words, "our party has gone mad" and not a man jack of 'em were willing to do so on the record.

Given the landscape so effectively sketched in the piece, Jeb Bush almost emerges as respectable, simply for refusing to outright renounce all of his former views. Though I suppose with a Mexican-born wife him demanding that we send 'em all back and shoot the stragglers would ring a little hollow.

It is an interesting position to be in, living in a two party democracy where one party is held hostage by madmen. I am inclined to think it's unique, but perhaps that's my ignorance talking; surely other political factions in history have espoused a wholly delusional set of policies that betrays a profound ignorance of how their own system of government works, at the most basic level. Certainly there have been populist demagogues before. But to quote the Dude, National Socialism, at least it's an ethos, man. Hitler had stuff he wanted the government to do. A lot of stuff, which it did rather successfully, for a time. Here there is nothing. It's all just lullabies for the id, meant to quell colic. I mean, I don't have a fix, either. But at the same time I am inclined to think this cannot last. This is not a stable state. Something's gotta crack in these next couple cycles.
posted by Diablevert at 9:42 PM on August 8, 2015 [44 favorites]


Hillary should start attacking him, not as a clown but as if he were a serious candidate. That would stiffen his support and improve the chances of him getting the nomination -- not that he will -- and more importantly of running as an independent when he doesn't get it and doing a Nader/Gore thing to the Republican nominee.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:43 PM on August 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Absolutely- and if Fox wanted to destroy Trump they would stop feeding him easy targets to lash out and make pithy statements at. Just treat him like all the other candidates.
posted by dilaudid at 9:56 PM on August 8, 2015


That's an excellent point. If the GOP won't take him seriously, but Hillary will, then Trump's ego would absolutely compel him to run as an independent.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:02 PM on August 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


The GOP pays lip service to hot button issues. Once elected/selected, they usually forget about most of them and get to work siphoning wealth from the middle class and transferring it to their financial overlords. Joe Sixpack has finally started to realize this, but is unable to admit that progressives were right about Republicans all along. This leads to directionless anger. One manifestation was the Tea Party, which mutated into something it's creators didn't expect, a directionless uncontrollable mob fueled by their own humiliation at being screwed over by the same crooks they had been passionately defending. Now we have Trump, aka Tea Party 2.0, who has the same support that Palin had, right wingers who no longer trust the GOP establishment or their media shills, and this is on the GOP for thinking they could get away with shoving Jeb off on the voters.

Republican leadership has a long tragic history of being willfully arrogant (and ignorant), and they must be fuming over the fact that Jeb is simply unelectable. That's the big story from the debate, not Trump. Everyone's talking about The Donald (just like we're trained to do), but he was just a sideshow no matter how much he dominates the news. The only thing that mattered from the debate was how poorly Jeb was received. Republicans hate him, hate him more than Hillary, hate him more than mice hate cats, and he knows it and so do Republican bigwigs. It's not that Trump has no chance, it's that his odds are still better than Jeb Bush's, but let's not gloat too much, because progressives are now pushing back against the Clinton is inevitable narrative and are aghast that the first debate is being pushed back. '

Republicans are worse, much much worse, but Democrats aren't doing a very good job of showing the world how Democracy is supposed to work, either.
posted by Beholder at 10:23 PM on August 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


'if only there was a german word for pleasure expressed at another's misfortune'
posted by Sebmojo at 10:15 PM on August 8 [10 favorites +] [!]


16 GODDAMN MONTHS. Do you UNDERSTAND how long that is? Democrats celebrating with a fucking touchdown celebration while the ball is still on YOUR OWN FUCKING SIX YARD LINE is unbelievable.

And by "unbelievable", I mean, "entirely believable, because the only organized entity on earth that could screw this up is the Democratic Party in the USA in 2015, with Hilary Clinton as the nominee". Let's just put a cork in the the touchdown spikes for at least 15 months and 29 days, mmmkay?
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:24 PM on August 8, 2015 [40 favorites]


impeding Republicans’ ability to govern and to win presidential elections

this is a problem because why

The greatest failure of American conservatism is making their mandate to break government rather than serve as its steward. In an alternate universe somewhere American conservatives are the tinkerers making government run smoothly and efficently and serving as a principled break on its worst excesses.

until Harper this was called 'Canada'

That's an excellent point. If the GOP won't take him seriously, but Hillary will, then Trump's ego would absolutely compel him to run as an independent.

from your mouth to Trump's ears
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:26 PM on August 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Eccentric billionaire runs as an independent, resulting in a Bush losing to a Clinton. I'm pretty sure I've heard this song before.
posted by chimaera at 10:39 PM on August 8, 2015 [36 favorites]


'tis a sweet, sweet song though
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:44 PM on August 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Eccentric billionaire runs as an independent, resulting in a Bush losing to a Clinton. I'm pretty sure I've heard this song before.

Next thing you know Trump will be telling us that old people don't need companionship. They need to be isolated and studied so it can be determined what nutrients they have that might be extracted for our personal use.
posted by Talez at 10:44 PM on August 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I've heard this song before.

Those who will not learn from history, etc.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:55 PM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems Trump has gone full moron with that utterly bizarre 'bleeding from the eyes ... bleeding from the whatever' remark. He's had his invitation to speak at that redstate event withdrawn at least. I feel at last he's being correctly identified as the liability he is to the right wing.

Also reality has a left wing bias, regarding the fpp.
posted by adept256 at 10:56 PM on August 8, 2015


Everyone is a loser to Trump, Republican or Democrat. If you're not yet a loser in his book, you will be. Why would we wish to elect a leader who despises us? Why would he want to be President of a bunch of losers? To fire us? Then what??
posted by riverlife at 11:06 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


When a raging misogynist asshole like Eric Erickson says you've gone too far, well, you're the frontrunner for the GOP.

What was it Will Rogers said? "I belong to no organized political party, for I am a Democrat." This is gonna be a long year and some change.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:29 PM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Tea Party proclaimed their political forbears to be the patriots of the Boston Tea Party, but six short years later it's become clear that the true patriarch of their party is the Mad Hatter and that he has found political incarnation in a man named Donald Trump.
posted by mistersquid at 12:01 AM on August 9, 2015


Dave Barry, 1989:

I'm going to start my own airline. Hey, why not? This is America, right? Anybody can have an airline. They even let Donald Trump have one, which he immediately renamed after himself, as is his usual classy practice despite the fact that "Trump" sounds like the noise emitted by livestock with gastric disorders ("Stand back, Earl! That cow's starting to Trump!").
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:27 AM on August 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Eccentric billionaire runs as an independent, resulting in a Bush losing to a Clinton. I'm pretty sure I've heard this song before.

Except the idea that Ross Perot drew votes away from George H.W. Bush and cost him the election in 1992 is a myth.
posted by saul wright at 12:38 AM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Diablevert, that was Walter Sobchak, not The Dude.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:57 AM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


T.D. Strange: "16 GODDAMN MONTHS. Do you UNDERSTAND how long that is? Democrats celebrating with a fucking touchdown celebration while the ball is still on YOUR OWN FUCKING SIX YARD LINE is unbelievable.

And by "unbelievable", I mean, "entirely believable, because the only organized entity on earth that could screw this up is the Democratic Party in the USA in 2015, with Hilary Clinton as the nominee"
"

You're right. That's plenty of time for Trump to self-destruct or get bored and wander off, Jeb! to seriously get his shit together, Bernie to lose the nomination (sob), and Hillary to shoot herself in the foot with Bill's gun at least 3 times. Nobody can fuck up a sure thing like a Democrat.

AGameOfMoans: "We seriously need Donald Trump to run against Hillary if only for the comedy gold it would provide. I would watch that debate on Pay per View if I had to. All good Democrats, or anyone who has ever watched John Stewart, should immediately re-register as Republican and vote Trump in the Republican Primaries"

You know what would be really fucking funny? "I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States..."
posted by double block and bleed at 1:58 AM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Everyone is a loser to Trump, Republican or Democrat. If you're not yet a loser in his book, you will be. Why would we wish to elect a leader who despises us? Why would he want to be President of a bunch of losers? To fire us? Then what??

Um to engage in continent-wide daddy issues, self-loathing, spite and sublimated dom-sub sexuality. Have you ever been to America?
posted by 3urypteris at 3:26 AM on August 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


One of the realities here is that these people have always existed,” said Norman J. Ornstein, a political scientist at the center-right American Enterprise Institute and co-author with Thomas E. Mann of the book It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, about what the authors see as the radicalization of the Republican Party. “But they were at the fringes, the John Birch Society types. Now, because of social media and because you have a culture of extremism that is not culled out more generally, they can move into the mainstream and actually hijack a major party. And that’s what’s going on here.”

We've known for many years now that the Republicans have become the party that doesn't want no stinkin gubermint but how did we get to this point? How did we get to the point where one of the two major political parties of the richest, strongest, country in the world runs on a platform of "Let's drown the government in a bathtub."? Every time there is a gut check we discover that the majority of people don't want that-- they don't want a weak and hollow husk trying to run everything from Washington, DC. Yet that's what the GOP keeps giving promising to give us, albeit with a massively armed and intrusive militia.

The fact that the street corner nutjobs can now get their message out to millions through social media doesn't explain everything away for me. How does the extreme become the mainstream? Why does Limbaugh resonate so much that he has Senators and Congressmen dancing to his tune? How did Laura Ingraham convince people to throw away Eric Cantor? Is it just repetition? Is it sheer willpower? It is as if we are watching a mesmeric on cable TV convince a national audience that they are chickens and now everyone is running around clucking and flapping their wings.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:45 AM on August 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


I already miss Obama.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:52 AM on August 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


Beholder has it. The article documents from within GOP culture what many of us have been saying for years from the outside: current party power is not interested in governing, just getting elected in order to keep the cash faucet flowing for the oligarchs they work for, and sadly for all of us, they do know how to do that. Immigration provides a great example of a divisive issue with almost no basis in fact as a critical policy project: party leaders rarely provide any evidentiary rationale for their obsession with immigration - how it's harming the economy or the safety of the population - (because it's easy to show that the effects are nothing like they are painted). Instead, they use the issue to whip up xenophobia and anger at the loss of middle-class opportunity.

In the process, what's basically happening is that we're all being held hostage to angry ignoramuses in the service of enriching a small cadre of profiteers.
posted by Miko at 7:05 AM on August 9, 2015 [20 favorites]


The only thing that mattered from the debate was how poorly Jeb was received. Republicans hate him, hate him more than Hillary, hate him more than mice hate cats, and he knows it and so do Republican bigwigs. It's not that Trump has no chance, it's that his odds are still better than Jeb Bush's, but let's not gloat too much, because progressives are now pushing back against the Clinton is inevitable narrative and are aghast that the first debate is being pushed back. '

Fortunately for JEB, the rest of the media will carry water for him, as they always do when there's any chance of portraying a conservative as The Centrist to Unite Us All. And to finally "get" the Clintons, of course. And the bulk of the country relies on received ideas; the Overton Window wouldn't be a terribly useful concept if it didn't actually *work*, and it works because most regular voters get their politics from casual contact with mass media.

Look, it's true that It's true that the Republicans do have a White House problem, but as has been pointed out upthread, their insane rhetoric is usually well-supported at the state level. People will vote against a Republican presidential candidate, but turnout issues get Republicans into office, after which they can gerrymander their way towards permanent majorities.

In the process, what's basically happening is that we're all being held hostage to angry ignoramuses in the service of enriching a small cadre of profiteers.

So why don't people notice? I'd argue it's because of the deep, lasting success of the central message of the Reagan Revolution: that politics is a vehicle for the advancement of personal interests, and that the citizen is essentially a consumer and the government merely one model of institution competing for the consumer against all the others. Even when that interest is ostensibly an ideal like "justice" or "faith," it is understood as something in which one is personally invested. Like any investment, the expectation is that it will pay off in the form of personal benefit.

This was a powerful message in the context of profound distrust in political institutions: like Nixon's administration, they were corrupt; like Carter's, they were ineffectual; like Johnson's, they were deeply misguided and overly paternalistic. This ethos of politics as "personal interest," of the citizen and especially the voter as consumer, seems to me to be covertly accepted by the majority of both conservatives and progressives; it has become the default vision of our society for most people, the ideological substrate. Even most self-odentified progressives today think primarily in terms of the politics of personal interest; they just frame them in terms of utilitarian rationalism rather than nativist ressentiment.

With that as the baseline, I tend to think the turnout gap has less to do with the Parties and more to do with the infrastructure each party's base has gravitated towards. The GOP has a serious problem in that some of the big parts of their mobilization machine are Fox News and AM radio, both of which thrive on sensationalism. But their advantage is that they tend to have considerable networking power in the respected, local, identitarian institutions of the white working and middle classes: the megachurches, the small businesses, and so forth. These are places people *already* go regularly; even if you weren't committed to their ideas at first, they socialize you into certain groups. And so they have a very strong local presence, one that they have cemented via gerrymandering -- but that only works *after* you get into the state houses.

Couple this with the success of reactionaries in capturing the class and racial resentments of the white working class, and you have a strong, lasting base of voters at the local level who basically want affirmation most of all, and the conservative infrastructure gives this to them both through a set of parallel institution and through the incorporation of its message into the rituals and routines of everyday life.

Progressives, in contrast, have the Internet caucus. It's much better at being global or national than at being local, because of the very nature of the medium. Since the Internet Caucus is broadly progressive, albeit in a sort of wonky, STEMocratic way, this means you tend to get sensible neoliberal Democrats. The Internet Caucus tends to come out only in Presidential years, not in off-year elections, because it's more a widely distributed national network than one organized in terms of physical space. But of course it's physical space -- school district boundaries, town and county boundaries, and so on -- which are the organizing principle of local and even state-level politics.

There are other reasons that progressives have a serious problem on the local level. For one thing, progressivism tends to link self-determination with direct representation in terms of identity groups. This is a wonderful ethical principle, but it has led to very bad organizing methods. First, it make sit easy to create the impression that institutions and groups is sometimes perceived -- falsely, I think -- as de facto restricted to members of presently underrepresented political minorities.

Additionally, local progressive institutions or groups tend to demand considerable involvement -- which could fairly be perceived as *uncompensated labor* -- from their members. To some extent, this actually excludes the working poor, for example, from direct involvement in some progressive causes. (It's difficult to become involved with a "Moral Monday" protest when you work 60 hours a week at two part-time jobs.) Progressivism is participatory and DIY as compared to local conservatism, which mobilizes self-satisfaction and engages its members as consumers. So it becomes easy for progressive groups to look like small special interest groups to a majority of local voters; even those who wish to get involved are often people with advantages who are campaigning for relief, reform, or revolution aimed at people with considerable disadvantages. It becomes easy, then, for the ethos or "personal interest" to creep back in to convince such people that their efforts are not in their own direct interests at all, nor in the interest of some higher ideal, but are merely sympathetic efforts on behalf of others.

Finally, progressive organization on the local level tends to be stymied by a sort of cart-before-horse version of utopianism. (I am not opposed to utopianism -- quite the contrary -- but I am opposed to what I call the "proleptic utopianism" I find in a lot of progressive and lefty circles.) Basically, the initial members usually demand that everything from the way the group operates to the nature of the actions it will take to the basics of communication within the group be vetted and structured to match a utopian ideal of social interaction. Every fault the group wishes to address in the wider world must be banished from the operations of the group itself. But irregular rituals of profound self-examination will lose to regular rituals of self-affirmation almost every time.

So local action by progressives often looks pretty anemic; unfortunately it usually takes a particularly visible event to galvanize local progressivism into action. And even there, what you usually have is not a coalition to elect progressive politicians, but rather demands for specific reforms or the *resignations* of particular local officials. At its worst, progressive local action tends to satisfy itself with the demand for "awareness" of an issue, or with the demand that the whole system be uprooted at once: basically, a demand for revolution.

I am sympathetic to that demand myself, but for obvious reasons it isn't a good strategy for taking over the local school board or capturing the State Senate. If you want radical change, you are not in the business of wining elections in the existing system. It seems, in fact, rather silly to want to win elections in the existing system if what you want is total, radical change right now. At present, conservative politics has certain tactical advantages precisely because it is much less demanding, and because self-righteousness (and its corollary, the condemnation of others) is most successful as a majoritarian political program. Listen to the right people, get mad at the wrong people, and get out every couple of years to vote for the right people, and you are a good conservative. Organize your own party and change the world, and you are a good progressive.

Everyone is a loser to Trump, Republican or Democrat. If you're not yet a loser in his book, you will be. Why would we wish to elect a leader who despises us? Why would he want to be President of a bunch of losers? To fire us? Then what??

Think of it as a fandom, not as a political movement: they identify with Trump, and thereby get a proxy high off of his narcissistic supply. As long as Trump doesn't actually call *his supporters* losers in a direct, undeniable fashion, they get to pretend that Trump is only calling all those other people "losers." They're the same people who loved it when he'd say, "You're fired!" on The Apprentice even though most of them spend their everyday lives scared as hell of their boss saying the same thing to them.
posted by kewb at 7:13 AM on August 9, 2015 [48 favorites]


If you want radical change, you are not in the business of wining elections in the existing system.

This is wrong-headed, in an otherwise thoughtful post. You identify the problem elsewhere as, "a strong, lasting base of voters at the local level who basically want affirmation most of all, and the conservative infrastructure gives this to them both through a set of parallel institution and through the incorporation of its message into the rituals and routines of everyday life." Elections can radically disrupt this affirmation process. Putting blacks, women and socialists in power breaks down the conservative infrastructure by eroding the confidence of the populace in its nostrums.
posted by No Robots at 7:50 AM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sure, we're aghast at what we perceive as the obstinance and inanity of the common flyover tea partier, but I think it's helpful to look at the world from their perspective, and how utterly dire it *seems* to them, keeping in mind that, post 9-11, many of them imagined America transforming into a near-theocracy in accordance with the will of God Himself, in order to wage a 30-year war against the Caliphate.

Imagine, my fellow liberals, if history had swerved right instead of left; we find ourselves in a 2015 in which gay people are back in the closet or denouncing themselves, terrified again of having their lives ruined. Muslims leave America before they can be rounded up into camps. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann have led a successful Bible-based movement to get women out of the workplace and back in the kitchen, and there are Fergusons in every state as police power expands. President Romney and VP Santorum routinely lead public prayers, and anyone not swearing allegiance to some form of Christianity is viewed as "suspect." And even though Democrats are still 1/2 of Congress, they don't seem to be able to change anything.

If we lived in that world, we'd be doing exactly what the tea pertiers are doing -- ranting on our websites about what's been lost, how we've gone so far over the edge that no reasonable action seems possible, and praising Bernie Sanders for promising to relentlessly filibuster President Romney's budget until gay people get full civil rights back.

Now, that analogy may be a bit extreme, but that's the sort of world that they *think* they're living in.
posted by ELF Radio at 8:07 AM on August 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


If you want radical change, you are not in the business of wining elections in the existing system.

This is wrong-headed, in an otherwise thoughtful post. You identify the problem elsewhere as, "a strong, lasting base of voters at the local level who basically want affirmation most of all, and the conservative infrastructure gives this to them both through a set of parallel institution and through the incorporation of its message into the rituals and routines of everyday life." Elections can radically disrupt this affirmation process. Putting blacks, women and socialists in power breaks down the conservative infrastructure by eroding the confidence of the populace in its nostrums.


I took that to mean "People who want radical change unfortunately don't put their efforts into winning local elections", not "If you, the reader, wants radical changes, you shouldn't be putting your effort into winning elections in the existing system".
posted by Caduceus at 8:13 AM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


^Got it. Thanks, Caduceus.
posted by No Robots at 8:16 AM on August 9, 2015


Now, that analogy may be a bit extreme, but that's the sort of world that they *think* they're living in.

Well, sure, and during the Civil Rights era, a lot of people *thought* they lived in a world where non-white people were inherently inferior and threatening. (Yes, sadly a lot of people still think that, but go with the past tense for now.) You can certainly see why they might flock to George Wallace, given the sort of world they "thought* they were living in.

But WHO FUCKING CARES if they were right and justified in their anger and their alignment from their point of view? Their point of view was the problem!

The question is why they hold the views they hold, and how (if at all) it might be possible to convince them of other views. And if a shift in conviction is not possible, the question becomes how to diminish their influence to the point of irrelevancy.
posted by kewb at 8:40 AM on August 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Funny, I haven't heard anybody talking about the 2016 Congressional elections, wherein all of the House and 1/3 of the Senate will be up for grabs.

To my mind, the Republicans owe their strong 2014 showing to the botched Obamacare rollout and the tendency of midterm elections to favor the non-presidential party. It will be interesting to see what happens in 2016, with younger voters turning out for presidential race and Obamacare seen as either a modest success or at very least a more-or-less permanent fixture.

It's tempting to be like, "The Republicans are crazy and out of touch!", and it's just as tempting to be like "No way! They totally control the legislature!" However, let's not lose sight of the fact that the Congress we're dealing with now is the product of a bunch of stuff that was going on a year ago.

I look forward to the next iteration of this conversation.
posted by panama joe at 8:45 AM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


But WHO FUCKING CARES if they were right and justified in their anger and their alignment from their point of view? Their point of view was the problem!

THIS
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:46 AM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd be amazed if actual Republicans noticed or cared that their theory of government isn't effective or good. They're anarchists who hate government because government takes their money away.

Except for one small thing. Most Republicans
(rank and file) HAVE NO MONEY. Many are in the minimum federal tax bracket if they are even paying taxes at all.
posted by notreally at 8:51 AM on August 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Funny, I haven't heard anybody talking about the 2016 Congressional elections, wherein all of the House and 1/3 of the Senate will be up for grabs.

Because there's literally nothing to be done. The House has been gerrymandered to hell in the south and the Dems don't have enough places to pick up Senate seats. They may end up level if they lose Nevada and losing seats if they lose Nevada and Colorado while failing to pick up Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida or Pennsylvania.

The only way Dems get senate control is if they win Illinois and Wisconsin (likely), Florida and Pennsylvania (50-50) while holding Nevada and Colorado (50-50) while taking the presidency (likely).

It's not a pretty picture and none of them are democratic control of Congress since the House is probably gone for decades.
posted by Talez at 8:54 AM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


JEB! is now basically Jeb?.
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on August 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


From a rhetorical standpoint, the right-wing media are engaging in scorched earth tactics against their own political leadership. From the article:
Georgia-based Erick Erickson, with the kind of coarse locker-room talk so common in male-dominated talk radio, even from evangelical Christians like himself, suggested both on air and online that McConnell had been politically sodomized by the White House: “If they ever remake Deliverance, Mitch McConnell could be Ned Beatty’s character after the last few days,” he tweeted. His companion column on RedState.com was headlined “Eunuch Mitch McConnell Squeals like a Pig.”[90] (Similarly, Deace, also an evangelical Christian, broadcast on air and to more than 20,000 Twitter followers his disdain when Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence in early April agreed to alter a religious rights law he had signed, bowing to the backlash from both gay-rights supporters who said the law would invite anti-gay discrimination, and business groups that feared boycotts. “These manginas are killing us. Get a brain and a set,” Deace wrote. Later he added this: “Two-thirds of Americans agrees with GOP base on protecting religious liberty, but @GOP caves anyway to shill for corporatist pimps. #Whores.”)[91]
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:10 AM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


>You know what would be really fucking funny? "I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States..."

Only in the sames sense that a psychotic, evil clown would be considered funny.
posted by twidget at 12:05 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Most Republicans
(rank and file) HAVE NO MONEY. Many are in the minimum federal tax bracket if they are even paying taxes at all.


This still sort of makes me shake my head...in amazement.
posted by twidget at 12:26 PM on August 9, 2015


since the House is probably gone for decades.

Isn't that an exaggeration? It's the sort of comment that deflates voter participation, so I cringe when I hear it repeated.
posted by Beholder at 1:00 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Trump leads pack after debate, which Fiorina won, apparently.

Trump/Fiorina looks pretty formidable, if he can avoid throwing acid on her first.
posted by Brian B. at 1:21 PM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Isn't that an exaggeration? It's the sort of comment that deflates voter participation, so I cringe when I hear it repeated.

The Democrats got a 3.9% swing in 2012 which gained them a net of 8 seats. 1.4 million votes ahead of the Republicans in the popular vote and they're still 33 seats down.

I don't think its an exaggeration. The only thing that might save Democrats is that the next redistricting election is in a presidential year.
posted by Talez at 1:37 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


“These manginas are killing us. Get a brain and a set,”

An adult wrote these words.
posted by Artw at 1:45 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


An adult wrote these words.

An adult with a nationally syndicated and influential radio show.

God save us because we sure as hell can't save ourselves.
posted by Talez at 1:51 PM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


~“These manginas are killing us. Get a brain and a set,”
~An adult wrote these words.
~An adult with a nationally syndicated and influential radio show.


An adult who self-identifies as a Christian.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:49 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Artw: "“These manginas are killing us. Get a brain and a set,”

An adult wrote these words.
"

Only technically an adult and certainly not any kind of real man.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:11 PM on August 9, 2015


Get a brain

What a moran.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:09 PM on August 10, 2015


Trump leads pack after debate, which Fiorina won, apparently.

"According to the latest NBC News Online Poll conducted by SurveyMonkey" does not inspire a welter of confidence.
posted by psoas at 1:29 PM on August 10, 2015


It really would be entertaining to see Trump take down the entire conservative establishment along with him. Regardless what side of the political spectrum you're on, he's like one of those California summer forest fires, horrifically burning down the deadwood.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:28 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


They're anarchists who hate government

Things these Republicans are generally not: astronauts, hippies, evolutionary biologists, marsupials, climatologists, pacifists, dwarf planets, and most of all anarchists. They're better described as rappers.
posted by sfenders at 7:30 AM on August 11, 2015


THANK YOU DONALD TRUMP FOR GETTING SPINELeSS ROGER AILES TO EAT FROM YOUR SOILED DIAPER. Suspicions confirmed. Sigh.
posted by Brian B. at 11:36 PM on August 11, 2015


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