The only Democrat I ever supported for President was Jerry Brown in 1992. I really like that guy and hope he runs again in 2016.
"why are you so annoying" TheKlein25
I'm looking foward to the debates. I wish I could get a tic here but I haven't seen or heard how you can get them. I took a week's vacation for the DNC so I guess I could run down there just to see what is up .... cr****
Tom is always so helpful!
Holy shit, the American Conservative has totally ripped the Republicans a new asshole.
Is the GOP Still a National Party?
By Daniel McCarthy • September 24, 2012
There are reasons to think it isn’t: Republicans have failed to win a plurality of voters (or a majority of the two-party vote) in four of the last five presidential elections. The single win was 2004, when George W. Bush was re-elected by the lowest margin of any successful incumbent since 1828. GOP talking points at the time touted Bush’s victory as a historic landslide because the map of sparsely populated counties he won (see above) covered almost the entire U.S. Therein lies a tale.
Republicans have enjoyed a state-level resurgence even as they have lost — and lost big — their once commanding national majority. The GOP was once the landslide party, the party of Eisenhower ’52 and ’56, Nixon ’72, and Reagan ’84. Even Bush I’s 53.4 percent in 1988 was very respectable. Reagan’s 50.7 percent in 1980 wasn’t a landslide but still demonstrated that an outright popular majority supported the Republican. In the five elections before ’92, the GOP won popular majorities in four.
The parties have almost switched places since then. The popular-vote success of the Democrats in the last five elections is less impressive: they won an outright majority only once, in 2008. Far from balancing the scales, though, this highlights all the more the magnitude of the GOP’s electoral erosion: from being a party that won with majorities, the Republicans have declined to one that loses to pluralities.
The period in which this has happened corresponds to a historic resurgence of the GOP in Congress and at the state level. There’s an intuitive connection. Significantly fewer people vote in state and congressional elections than presidential elections. The GOP base is better organized and more engaged locally than Democrats are. But this actually undercuts the party at the national level. So well organized are the GOP’s ideological constituencies that they prevail in legislative primaries and push the party’s overall identity to the right. (That’s not the same as making it more “conservative,” as I’ll explain in a minute.) These ideological groups also have a great deal of muscle at the presidential primary or caucus level, but even beyond that, their success at the legislative level means that a presidential contender’s loyalty to the GOP brand — proof that he’s not a RINO — has to be demonstrated by professions of fealty to what is an essentially regional identity, not a national one.
If it seems needlessly complicated to suggest that two effects — grassroots muscle and general party branding — have to be invoked to explain the GOP’s unsuccessful presidential branding, consider this: if the only effect in play were the strength of grassroots right-wing constituencies, you wouldn’t expect the party to consistently nominate moderates like both Bushes, Dole, McCain, and Romney. None of those nominees had impeccable conservative credentials — far from it. But once they got the nomination, they didn’t run as the moderates they were; most of them sold themselves as being at least as right as Reagan, even in the general election. At least since 2004, this is because the party has pursued a base strategy: an attempt to eke out a narrow win by getting more Republicans to the polls than Democrats, with independents — a small and difficult-to-market-to demographic — basically ignored. The party tries to leverage its regional identity and regional organization into presidential victory. It has failed four times out of five.
The Democrats are regionally weaker, but this has paradoxically helped them in presidential elections: it means that a Bill Clinton or Barack Obama is not really very beholden to base Democratic groups like black voters. Clinton and Obama certainly organize their ethnic constituencies, but when they campaign in general elections they do not relentlessly highlight minority issues that other Americans find polarizing. Oftentimes, they’re hiding or even actively downplaying those issues (think Sister Souljah, Reverend Wright, or the party’s hot-and-cold emphasis on gay rights). The Democrats are less ideologically constrained by their factional interests.
Republicans tend to have a clear establishment front-runner going into their presidential contests, and that individual pretty much always wins the nomination, in part because he usually has far more money than his opponents. Indeed, that financial advantage allows the establishment front-runner to discourage viable semi-establishment opponents — your Mitch Daniels types — from even entering the race. That leaves the ideological groups to field their own non-viable standard-bearer — Huckabee or Santorum types. Because the eventual GOP nominee pursues a base strategy, though, he winds up embarrassing himself by trying to sound “severely conservative.” He has to get religious right and Tea Party voters to turn out for him. But even if they do, they’re not enough: those constituencies don’t add up to 50 percent of the electorate. Republicans are actually closer than Democrats to being the real 47 percent party. (Though it’s more accurate to say the GOP is the 48-49 percent party and the Democrats are the 49-50 percent party.)
This isn’t all about elections, however. The policy options that Congress and the president get to consider and the intellectual life of the nation are also warped by the GOP’s “47 percent” ideology. Because conservatives over-identify with the GOP, and the GOP’s identity is determined by factional and regional ideologies, the result is that conservatives take their definition of conservatism from the party and that definition is more regional- and interest-based than philosophical. This accounts for the spectacle of the GOP periodically getting worked up about “big government” while in fact expanding government — welfare state, warfare state, banning internet gambling, you name it — whenever it’s in power. The blue state/red state psychological divide is more fundamental to the party’s understanding of the world than is any consistent view of the proper extent and uses of government.
This is also why One Nation conservatism or even genuinely Reaganite conservatism, with its appeal to independents and Democrats as well as the base, is impossible today. The ideology of suburbia (“porky populism,” with its hatred of organic food and fetishistic attachment to SUVs and Wal-Mart) and the most intense expressions of heartland Protestantism, together with certain Southern good ol’ boy attitudes (less overt racism than a scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours ethos), are the matrix of GOP and “conservative” identity. The financial and neoconservative elites have designed ideologies of their own to integrate with this matrix: neocons spin their foreign policy as an expression of values (God and America are practically the same thing, aren’t they?), as a token of Protestant-Jewish solidarity (support for Israel), and as necessary for national honor and the Southern economy (wars and bases). Wall Street relies on Mitt’s 47 percent myth: the people who aren’t part of the GOP coalition are lazy and lack self-responsibility; i.e., they are sinful and un-Protestant, while the Gospel makes you rich and happy.
None of this has anything to do with the historic conservatism of Edmund Burke or John Adams, Russell Kirk or Robert Nisbet. It doesn’t even look like the capacious conservatism of Ronald Reagan. It’s a scam: it does little for values in the culture as a whole because the values in question are those of an ideological minority only interested in winning through minority-organization politics; it can’t look at big-picture economics because doing so would tick off the financial interests and get anyone who broached the question read out of conservatism by Wall Street’s coalition allies. A traditionalist or consistently libertarian critic would be perceived as speaking up for lazy immoral city-dwelling welfare queens. This fanciful identity politics, and not principled economics, is what lies behind talk about “socialism,” “big government,” and the “47 percent.” If the case were otherwise, you’d see the anti-dependency case made against the Pentagon, defense contractors, churches taking government money, and red-state recipients of all kinds of largesse. I don’t see Republicans talking about that, with a handful of exceptions whose last name is usually “Paul.”
I’m not the biggest fan of Eisenhower or Nixon, but they (and Reagan) are clearly preferable to this post-Reagan Republican Party. Those presidents won national majorities for a reason. They weren’t strict conservatives, but they certainly weren’t any less conservative than the Bushes, McCain, or Romney. They didn’t pretend they were going to abolish the welfare state — often, they didn’t even pretend they would cut the welfare state — unlike so many of today’s Republicans, who don’t follow through but do use their rhetoric to polarize. That gives us the worst of both worlds: big government plus the delusional sense within one party that it represents the antithesis of big government and may freely hate other Americans who don’t mouth the mantra. And what goes for big government goes for Judeo-Christian values, a strong national defense, and all the rest: the GOP’s rhetoric occupies a separate mental compartment from its actions, even as its voters and ideological apologists continue to believe that there is a profound moral difference between them and the rest of the country. It’s a losing strategy, and worse, it’s made the country ungovernable even as government grows.
That was scathing. Who knew discouraged republicans made for such a good read.
That was awesome. Who knew that there could be such a thing as a sane, rational, coherent conservative!?
More context for that weird Romney mailer about Lyme Disease in Virginia that I posted yesterday.
Money shot:This is also why One Nation conservatism or even genuinely Reaganite conservatism, with its appeal to independents and Democrats as well as the base, is impossible today. The ideology of suburbia (“porky populism,” with its hatred of organic food and fetishistic attachment to SUVs and Wal-Mart) and the most intense expressions of heartland Protestantism, together with certain Southern good ol’ boy attitudes (less overt racism than a scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours ethos), are the matrix of GOP and “conservative” identity.
At this rate, Texas and Arizona will be swing states by 2016.
TomAz was probably the difference for the Republicans in 08.
Hubert Humphrey, where did it all go wrong?
"why are you so annoying" TheKlein25
Going back a page or two on the worth of one's vote:
My friend and Atlantic colleague Conor Friedersdorf has struck a chord with his piece "Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama," in which he explains why he won't support the candidate he supported in 2008 even though he doesn't want his Republican opponent to win. (If he votes, he says, it will be for Gary Johnson.) At last check Conor's piece had more than 160,000 Facebook recommends--a number that's up there in Romney 47-percent video territory.
I can see the appeal of Conor's argument. The Obama policies he finds unacceptable--such as drone strikes that kill innocents, the assassination of American citizens abroad without due process of law, and other assaults on civil liberties--are policies I've been criticizing for a long time. And Conor's principled stand on these "deal breakers," as he calls them, is inspiring. To say that you'd rather vote for someone who can't win than for a candidate with odious values is one of those stirring, consequences-be-damned pronouncements that usually win me over when I hear them in movies. But this isn't a movie, so I have a hard time ignoring the consequences of (implicitly) encouraging would-be Obama supporters to nullify their votes and thereby increase the chances that Mitt Romney will be our next president.
"Consequences" is ultimately the word that divides me and Conor. I'm what philosophers call a "consequentialist," someone who judges the rightness and wrongness of behaviors by their consequences. Roughly speaking, you could say I'm in that subset of consequentialists known as utilitarians--i.e., people who think that what's good is what maximizes overall human welfare. So if not voting for Obama only increases the chances of victory for the candidate I consider worse for America and the world than Obama, I'm not going to do it. (Unless you can show me that there are counterbalancing long-term consequences of a protest vote--e.g., that this will strike the fear of God into the 2016 Democratic candidate.)
Conor says he respects the argument of utilitarians who take the position I've just outlined--supporting Obama because he's the "lesser of two evils." But, in a follow-up piece, he says he wishes more of these utilitarians would at least confront a thought experiment that might get them to question whether they're really thoroughgoing utilitarians--whether they don't in fact believe that some values are so important that they should be honored regardless of consequence; or, as Conor puts it, whether these professed utilitarians don't in fact have "deal breakers." Here's Conor's thought experiment:
Suppose that President Obama was surreptitiously videotaped in private, and found to be "repeatedly using anti-Hispanic slurs to refer to Mexican Americans, musing that his personal dislike of Mexicans motivated the record number that he deported, and noting that while he'd never transgress against the law by unlawfully targeting Mexican Americans, he sure does hate them." Wouldn't that be a deal breaker for you, asked Conor? In other words, wouldn't some of us professed consequentialists, if pressed far enough, admit that we're not really consequentialists but actually hold some values so dear that their violation would trump consequentialist considerations?
I promise to answer Conor's thought-experiment question in a few paragraphs, but first I'll ask him to answer mine. Here it is:
Suppose that President Obama was what he in fact is: a drone striking, civil liberties disregarding president. Suppose you could be pretty sure (as I think you can, though Conor disagrees) that Mitt Romney's policies on drones and civil liberties wouldn't be any better. And suppose that--through the magical powers that are permitted in thought experiments--you knew that if Romney were elected he would start a needless war that would kill 100,000 people, and would also inflame the international arena in ways that led America (through the irrationality that has become its hallmark) to deploy more drone strikes, and disregard civil liberties on an even larger scale.
Of course, for purposes of the thought experiment, I could crank the stakes up even higher: Suppose Romney would start a war that killed a million people. Or 10 million. Or suppose he would go nuts and nuke half the world or the whole world. Is there any point at which you'd concede that casting a vote that increases the chances of a Romney victory is the wrong thing to do? If you'd rather see half the human species extinguished than vote for someone with a low regard for civil liberties and a high regard for drone strikes, just say so. But if you wouldn't, then it seems to me you're admitting that, actually, you've got a bit of consequentialist in you--that your "deal breakers" aren't really absolute, unconditional deal breakers.
By the way, the reason I started out with relatively small stakes--only 100,000 dead--before moving up to a million and beyond is that when the number is 100,000, this isn't a mere thought experiment. In 2000, a bunch of voters on the left decided that Al Gore's likely policies included some "deal breakers," so they voted for Ralph Nader. That's why George Bush became president. Bush then started a war that Gore probably wouldn't have started, and as a result at least 100,000 people died, and the international arena was inflamed in a way that gave his successor a rationale to (unwisely, but fairly predictably) conduct lots of drone strikes and disregard civil liberties. So my "thought experiment" is very much a real-world scenario--way more plausible than the average philosophical thought experiment.
Obviously, there is no way of knowing for sure what the consequences of a Romney or Obama presidency will be. But I'm convinced (for reasons I will spell out in a later piece) that Romney is more likely to get us involved in a war with Iran than Obama is. And I don't think the fact that I'm just talking about a likelihood, not a certainty, invalidates my argument. (Obviously, we're never sure what any president will do, so if probabilistic assessment isn't a valid basis for voting behavior, I guess I shouldn't vote at all.)
So here's what I'd ask of Conor: either (1) say that you'd rather see half the human population die than cast an unprincipled vote for a drone striking civil liberties disregarder; or (2) say that, actually, yes, the consequences of our choices are part of the moral calculus that should inform them. If my thought experiment is the inescapable trap that I hope it is, you have to do one or the other.
Now back to Conor's thought experiment: Would I vote for a closet racist if the alternative was to vote for someone who, in practical terms, would be even worse? Well, I don't live in a swing state, and, anyway, when was the last time a swing state's electoral votes were decided by a single vote? So if I were faced with that choice I'd probably stay home on election day and use the guaranteed insignificance of my vote as an excuse.
But if we assume--as I think we should for purposes of these thought experiments--that my vote would actually make a difference, then, yes, I'd vote for a closet racist rather than vote for someone who, in practical terms, was even worse (certainly including someone who wasn't racist but who out of political expediency would support policies more racist than the closet racist's policies).
Now over to Conor.
I'd be all for extinguishing half the world's population, as long as I am not in that half. If Romney were to promise as much I would break out the checkbook and hope to see that reality.
"why are you so annoying" TheKlein25
who watches the watchmen?
Voter ID laws overturned in PA
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Oh fuck you, that's a tired line.By the way, the reason I started out with relatively small stakes--only 100,000 dead--before moving up to a million and beyond is that when the number is 100,000, this isn't a mere thought experiment. In 2000, a bunch of voters on the left decided that Al Gore's likely policies included some "deal breakers," so they voted for Ralph Nader. That's why George Bush became president. Bush then started a war that Gore probably wouldn't have started, and as a result at least 100,000 people died, and the international arena was inflamed in a way that gave his successor a rationale to (unwisely, but fairly predictably) conduct lots of drone strikes and disregard civil liberties. So my "thought experiment" is very much a real-world scenario--way more plausible than the average philosophical thought experiment.
Tomorrow night I want to hear Obama counter Romney and top it off with, 'and you can bet on that, Willard'.
STRAIGHT TO THE MOON
I bet the 47% quote will be brought up a bunch...
Though the pundits will undoubtedly suggest that Obama went too far by using his real first name, or something to that effect.
Romney should be asked why Paul Ryan needed to provide ten years of tax returns before being tapped but he himself, running for the highest public office, only needs to show two years.
tom's article is great.
as for the other one that only argues hypotheticals, i'm torn about war. i'm not a fan. never have been a war supporter. but i also know that i don't have enough knowledge to make tough decisions about war. obama campaigned against the war in iraq, right? something has obviously changed though that makes me wonder what he knows that we don't. did he get into bed with some sort of lobbyist? or does he know some sort of secret or information that we don't know? i doubt the president matters when it comes to drone strikes. the military will likely use the best technology available, regardless who is president.
and it's naive as fuck to say obama is less likely to invade iran. just last week i was reading an article where obama was asked about libya, and he responded speaking about iran. totally out of context. but just like during the bush era, iran keeps finding it's way into white house conversations, even if that's not the topic. this may be cynical, but the government wants to be in iran. i have a feeling that's true under any administration. some may get us there faster than others i guess.
anyway, i'm on a lot of pain meds so i'm sure that doesn't make sense. i find war a hard topic to discuss since we aren't privy to the same information our leaders are. it's naive to think we can just walk away from all war whenever we want. presidents are damned if they do, and damned if they don't.
Iran has been a center figure in much of our policy in the region. It's a big nation: 75 million people, 330 billion GDP; and old: Persian Empire( 550 BCE), with a long history of hegemony over it's neighbors. It's been in a cold war with Saudi Arabia and the other gulf Sunni Arab states over religious(Sunni-Shia Muslim divide) and economic( gulf oil) issues. This bitter cold war is now violently unfolding in Syria and Iraq who both have substantial Sunni Muslim and Shia Muslim populations. The conflict has also become a proxy between Cino-Russo and Western interests.
Irans military coups d'état back in 2009 when the election was fixed and the people tried a revolution. Kind of like a No Country For Old Men moment.
Iran: Pissing Off US Presidents Since 1978.