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November 12, 2009

Half a Loaf? Or None?

OK, peoples. I have not made anyone angry for a few weeks so it's time to poke the ant hill :p

Behold the unacknowledged elephant in the GOP room:

... maybe Conor is having trouble grasping this, but the reason so many conservatives are hacked off at moderates is because they are the ones who supported many of the dumb positions that decimated the GOP over the last eight years. It wasn't the conservatives arguing for deficit spending, amnesty, and a prescription drug benefit -- it was the moderates. When they won the day, the Republican Party, conservatives, and America lost.

Then, moderates got their dream candidate in 2008: John McCain. So, what happened then? They didn't rally to his side. They spent their time attacking his running mate, sulking that the ultimate moderate was still "too conservative," and many of them voted for the other side.

Interesting take. A few points:

1. My father and I both consider ourselves to be moderate Republicans. Neither he, I, or any of our moderate Republican friends supported "... deficit spending, amnesty, and a prescription drug benefit". In fact, I don't know a single Republican - moderate or otherwise - who argued for these things.

Not one. I have argued, however, that there are a lot of folks out there who either want conflicting things or lack the political will to see their abstract principles transubstantiated into political realities. There are a lot of things that people believe in their heart of hearts but can't say publicly. One of those things is, "I don't care about your pain/hardship." But don't confuse pandering with political conviction.

2. "...moderates got their dream candidate in 2008: John McCain...". Huh?

Every moderate Republican I know was utterly dismayed when McCain got the nomination. I knew we were sunk at that moment. But I fought hard for him anyway because I rightly understood that even McCain would have been better than Obama.

Let's not rewrite history here. Not only did some voters who voted Republican in 2004/2000 vote for Obama, but significant numbers of "real conservatives" stayed home entirely. Every time I hear a "real conservative" whining about how we'll never be able to reverse the changes Obama is making to our economic system I have to wonder: how's that whole "We'll teach them a lesson" working out for America?

Don't get me wrong: you have the right to stay home. What you absolutely DON'T have the right to do is blame me for the fact that Obama's in office today.

I voted. And I voted Republican.

3. But the most telling "argument" of all is here:

[Moderates] spent their time attacking his running mate, sulking that the ultimate moderate was still "too conservative," and many of them voted for the other side

It's fine for the "real conservatives" to argue that they shouldn't have to listen to a significant part of their voting base. But this argument would be a lot more convincing if they had the votes to put a "real conservative" in office.

The fact is, they don't.

What "real conservatives" don't seem to understand (even when they just admitted it) is that the "Do what I say or I won't vote for you" argument cuts both ways. It's utterly bizarre - in addition to being utterly illogical - to hear conservatives arguing that they shouldn't have to bargain with moderates because they can't count on their votes while simultaneously arguing that the RNC *had better* listen to "real conservatives" because otherwise they'll stay home!

As someone who considers herself a moderate Republican, I have no quarrel with anyone trying to form a "real conservative" party. But I'm a realist. Right now we don't even have half a loaf. We have none.

And I didn't put us there. When things get so silly that Republicans who vote the straight party line 90% of the time are excoriated as "RINOs", I start looking around for a giant clue bat. When you can come to me with an electable conservative candidate AND you have managed to persuade enough of your fellow Americans to vote for this person, you can blather on about sidelining moderates.

But let's be honest about why you'll be able to sideline them: it will be because you don't need them any longer. And that's a state of affairs that doesn't exist at the moment and hasn't existed for the past 30 or so years.

So your first job, if you want to sideline moderate Republicans, is to tell me how you're going to do that and still win an election. Convince your fellow Americans, and then talk to me about ideological purity because I've had about all I can take of watching Obama teach the RNC a lesson about the supposed power of the base.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Posted by Cassandra at November 12, 2009 08:40 AM

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Comments

I think there's a definition-of-terms problem here. The commenters who are complaining about "moderates" are, I think, referring mostly to swing voters. It was the swing voters who wanted the GOP to nominate a centrist candidate -- "you guys always nominate scary people; nominate a nice, non-threatening, bipartisan guy and we'll vote for you." But it is inarguable, clearly supported by the data, that those same swing voters broke heavily for Obama in the general election. In the face of that, it didn't matter if the conservative base stayed home on Election Day or not; they lacked the votes to overcome the swing vote. (And for the record, I did vote on Election Day, and I voted for McCain, whether I liked it or not.) That's what the conservative base is complaining about; they threw a bone to the swing voters, and in return, the swing voters snubbed them.

Of course, snubbing them back isn't going to work. Given that neither party has a solid majority, you need the swing voters to win. The trick for the Republicans is to figure out how to establish a set of core values that will attract the swing vote without insulting the base. Two years ago, I would have said that I don't see a way to do that. But things have changed in an interesting and positive way. Obama has been exposed for the leftist that he is, and a lot of the swing voters have learned a hard lesson. The opportunity is there for the GOP to capture that and hold it for a long time. The trick is to get back to Buckley fusion conservatism -- solid principles based on the ideas of small government, free markets, and individual self-determination within a framework of a reasonably orderly society. Of course, we should not just throw the needy overboard, but the truly needy (as opposed to the merely dependent) are a pretty small number.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at November 12, 2009 11:23 AM

I think there's a definition-of-terms problem here. The commenters who are complaining about "moderates" are, I think, referring mostly to swing voters.

Couldn't agree more. Though I'm a moderate, I've NEVER been a swing voter. Nor is my Dad, my Mom, my brother, or any of the countless moderate Rethugs I know.

As a matter of fact, I pretty much agree with everything you said. But we have a real problem here b/c a lot of the trash talking is alienating not just swing voters (who I agree can't be counted on, hence the moniker) and moderates (who generally *can* be counted on).

It has alienated me and pissed me off. I'm already disgusted with the Republican party but I don't appreciate being trashed when I did everything in my power, not just during this last election, but during the preceding 8 years, so support my party.

I think the "base" really needs to wake up and smell the coffee. I also think staying home is a perilous tactic given that election results are rarely predictable with any degree of accuracy. It may be comforting in retrospect to say "Oh, it didn't matter b/c we were outnumbered by swing voters who went for Obama" but the fact of the matter is that this information was not available when the decision to stay home was made.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 11:33 AM

I agree, the problem is mostly terminology. What are called "moderates" by many, including the press, are actually liberals. What the press calls "moderate Republicans" used to be "liberal Republicans". What used to be "moderates", as you describe yourself, are now "conservative Republicans". What used to be "conservative Republicans" are now "hardcore rightwing ultraconservatives".

The "moderates" that lusted after McCain were, of course, not "moderates" as we moderates would think of them, they are liberals.

This all demonstrates a great success of the press over the past few decades, including on the other side of the aisle. So-called Blue Dog Democrats are commonly referred to as "conservative". They are not - they are perhaps "moderate" - but the old "moderate" has been defined right and "conservative" is the new "moderate". Straight-up liberal Democrats are now the "middle of the road, moderate" Democrats - they usually put Hillary here. And, of course, hardcore leftwing socialists occasionally warrant an un-adjectived "liberal" tag...sometimes.

It's all a parallax that the press has successfully implemented - everything has shifted away from the hated "liberal" tag. It is most noticeable during elections. Way, WAY left Obama, the most liberal Senator, after applying the parallax shift, is now in the middle. McCain, who used to be pretty close to the middle, after the right-shift is implemented, suddenly becomes a rightwing conservative during the election in the press.

It's all about perspective. Moderates need to fight to take back the term "moderate" :) Unfortunately they first need to overcome the hordes of liberals desperate to retain the term for themselves and not have to go back to being liberals or even "progressives".

Posted by: Falze at November 12, 2009 11:33 AM

I guess on the average you could consider me moderate - when it comes to the size and scope of government, I'm way out on the right with the ghosts of Jefferson and Madison, but when it comes to social stuff I'm very libertarian. Which the Religious Right corner of the GOP probably considers to be right up there with the abortionists (I find it morally repugnant, but probably protected. But I also think you should be responsible for your own actions, which unless the lady got raped, means having the kid.) and militant athiests (Can we all just leave God, or the lack thereof, out of politics already?)

Quite honestly, I don't care about gay marriage - I don't think the State should be involved in marriage at all. Or prostitution - although it should probably be regulated for health reasons, and that's it. Same with drugs - but don't come asking me for money when you've screwed up your life. Can't we just keep the government out of everyone's personal life?

What I do want to see is the wholesale demolition of large, unnecessary, wasteful, unconstitutional parts of the federal government.

Which would have the nice side bonus of radically shrinking all those Dem-supporting government employee unions. (SEIU, some of Obama's most vocal - and violent - supporters, are largely a .gov union.) I'm amazed the GOP hasn't figured that one out.

I held my nose and voted for McCain, and Bush the second time. Because, with the possible exceptions of Arlen Specter and those two from Maine, just about anyone in the GOP would have been better than The One.

And I think I can say with reasonable confidence that McCain would have made a decision about Afghanistan by now.

Posted by: Heartless Libertarian at November 12, 2009 11:34 AM

Heh, you may be to the left of some hard core righties, but you are not as "moderate" as you think. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Nonetheless, your points are right on. The future of a conservative Republican needs to include a different way of dealing with social issues I think. The economic conservatives need to learn to appreciate that compromise and repackaging of the social issues is necessary to getting young conservatives. Young conservatives don't realize that the real important issues are economic. They think more about fun stuff - the stuff that they hear a conservative Republican talk about and tune them out. Some compramise is necessary from the right. Some repackaging. A majority doesn't come from 20% on the hard right alone, just like Dems won't get a majority from 20% hard lefties. They sell something to moderates, even if it is smoke and mirrors, and while 50+% of the platform is the opposite to the thinking of many people, they get their vote anyhow based on issues that must be more important to them. Conservatives need to understand this. Some do. Most don't.

I think RWN has a point though about the issues that pissed the "Right" off. What kind of moderate is a mostly conservative Republican Party seeking under the tent? Because if I am to vote Republican but I get Prescription Drug Plan, big spending and Amnesty supporitng moderates (like, e.g., W), what's the point. I'd gladly support the status quo on abortion and a few civil unions and make our economy more free, our taxes lower, our national defense strong, and less government smaller.

In recent years, when the Republican Party has compromised, it seems to be with the issues I value most in the platform. I am not getting anything I want from the Republicans (except W's foreign policy leadership during his terms and 2 pretty good SCOTUS judges - but see above).

Maybe I'll just never be in the majority. But I will always seek Cass's vote, b/c I want the right kind of people on my side.

Posted by: KJ at November 12, 2009 11:41 AM

Because if I am to vote Republican but I get Prescription Drug Plan, big spending and Amnesty supporitng moderates (like, e.g., W), what's the point.

I think the point is, you don't get Obama.

This is hard to swallow. I get it. It INFURIATES me. But I really think that we need to fight the ideological battles as hard as we can with the realization that, at the end, if we are outnumbered then it won't be a question of whether we support a prescription drug bill or the continued creep of government expansion, but outright socialism.

I guess in the end, I prefer half that loaf to no bread and no voice at all in my government. That said, I'm all for doing a better job of arguing our ideals because we're not doing so hot.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 11:47 AM

Falze, that's a great point. I didn't see your comment earlier before I responded to KJ.

There's another thing going on here too and it doesn't have much to do with logic. I think there is a lot of anger out there and a lot of people looking for someone to blame.

So when a politician says something they disagree with, it's no longer, "I think he's wrong" or "I disagree with him on issues a and b".

It's "He's a dirty, stinking RINO". And that is just dumb. Name calling is not a refutation of anything, and what really makes the tactic unwise is its demonstrably random application. I don't agree with Lindsey Graham on several issues but I'd never try to claim he is a liberal or a RINO. If we vote every Republican who votes with the party 90% of the time, there will be no one left.

His constituents have every right to hold his feet to the fire, especially if they have the votes to remove him from office *and* replace him with someone more conservative. Personally, I doubt they do.

But I haven't seen too many cases where a very right wing Republican consistently wins elections. The RINO hunters can't seem to point out large numbers of these election winning purists, yet they maintain (on no evidence I've seen to date) that theoretically, it could happen.

Theoretically, I could win the lottery tomorrow. But absent some hard evidence that my chances were a lot better than they were yesterday, I wouldn't quit my day job in anticipation of the sudden windfall :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 12:15 PM

If we vote OUT every Republican who votes with the party 90% of the time, there will be no one left.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 12:15 PM

Cass, it all depends on who you're talking about. McCain was no liberal, it's true. He's got some beliefs that are more left than I would like (Anthropogenic Global Warming being one of the bigger ones), but he's no Obama. And I fear that folks DO lose sight of that.

But by the same token, Dede Scozzafava was no Republican. Helk, she threw her support behind the Democrat candidate when she dropped out! Her voting record was not 90% Republican, or even 40%. How she got that nomination is beyond me. And really, those are the cases when I come to the conclusion that although the phrase "litmus test" has a negative connotation, it really needs to be in place.

In order to be a "Republican" there probably should be at least a FEW inviolable principals (smaller government, lower taxes, Constitutionality, personal responsibility... those kind of things). Because otherwise, you get a Democrat candidate running as the Republican against a carbon copy Democrat, and what does that gain those of us on the right hand side of the spectrum?

I'm no hard core conservative. I've got very strong Libertarian leanings, and personally, I want the government out of my wallet (unlike the Democrats), my dinner table (unlike the Democrats), my relationship with my insurers (unlike the Democrats), AND my bedroom (unlike the Republicans).

Posted by: MikeD at November 12, 2009 12:31 PM

This is nothing new. What is new is that people have lost the realization that politics is all about compromise. As a young man (16) I was serving the drinks at a neighbor's house who was the chair of the state GOP. He and the new Senator, Jesse Helms, were arguing the party platform for the NC primary in 1976.

I thought it was going to lead to blows, but in the end they both got about 60% of what they each wanted. The issues then were just as heated as they are today, maybe moreso. The point though was that they compromised and built a coalition that has been credited with keeping Reagan's aspirations alive.

Did either of them like it? Heck no, but they did a deal for the larger picture. The simple fact of the matter is you have to compromise to win elections and hold the House and Senate. If you don't find a way to do that, say goodnight Gracie.

Posted by: Allen at November 12, 2009 12:36 PM

Allen:

With that comment, you have captured why I think of myself as a moderate.

I'm all for fighting for your policy preferences. It's just that at the end of the day, having fought your hardest, you have to live in the real world and unless you've managed to convince enough folks that you don't need votes from those who don't agree with you, that includes compromising and making deals.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 12:41 PM

re: Dede Scozzafava.

I will admit to not having paid the slightest attention to that. I saw how it was going early on and tuned out.

I am a little disturbed by seeing the national party get overly involved in local elections. A rep owes her/his constituents. They are the ones he or she is paid to represent. It's less clear to me what such a person owes a national political org. I want my rep to listen to ME, not Michael Steele or his counterpart.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 12:44 PM

Once in a while, I would like the compromise to be made on an issue I don't mind losing. This is just an example, and I'm not picking on the guy, but nearly everything I liked about Bush's campaign promises I did not get, and everything I swallowed hard about and voted for him anyway, he successfully passed. That is my problem with the Republican party. I'm only giving with them. I hardly ever win on an issue important to me, and then it is only a temporary win (like taxes - increases are coming).

Posted by: KJ at November 12, 2009 01:26 PM

But Cass, congressional representatives set national policy. They determine leadership roles in the Congress. They give us socialized medicine, or they prevent it.

They get campaign support and helpful ads from the national party and support from popular (and not so) national figures. They are national politicians voted on by a small segment of the population.

There is a balance, but they should be listening to Steele as well as those "back home."

Posted by: KJ at November 12, 2009 01:30 PM

nearly everything I liked about Bush's campaign promises I did not get, and everything I swallowed hard about and voted for him anyway, he successfully passed.

Yes, KJ. That happened b/c those were the compromise issues he needed to get into the Oval Office in the first place.

But can you really argue that we would have been better off with Al Bore or John Fraud Kerry in office? That Bush wasn't better than either of them, even if some things got passed that you didn't care for?

I suppose it's possible but I'll be surprised if you - or any conservative for that matter - says 8 years of those guys was better for the country. 8 years of Dem Supreme Court picks. 8 years of Dem federal judge picks?

Really?

I think some people look at 1/2 a loaf and see only a few crumbs. But that is only b/c they aren't considering what it would have been like to have no loaf at all for 8 years.

It's like the conversation I had with my brother recently. We were talking about health care. I wanted to talk about the proposals on the table right now.

He wanted to talk about his "ideal" health care bill - something that NO ONE has put forward. To me, that's an interesting conversation but it doesn't move us forward any more than comparing reality to a fantasy world moves us forward. It's a less than perfect reality vs. the reality of a Dem president and Congress.

And that's exactly what we're looking at now. Hard to say Bush wasn't "worth it" when the real alternative isn't your ideal candidate, but the demonstrable reality of being governed by Obama and Clinton.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 01:34 PM

Trust me, I understand that it's painful. When the Rx bill passed I gulped - hard.

But I also understood exactly what had just happened.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 01:38 PM

I'm not arguing voting for Gore or Kerry. But to suggest that I'm getting 50% of a loaf is not true. The Rep Party is giving me a few slices of bread. It beats starving, but it doesn't motivate me in the least. Truth is, the Clinton years mostly worked because the Congress and the President were opposite (after 94).

I will vote, and I will vote for the lesser of the sucky ass parties or candidates. That's my commitment. Most days I feel like the Rep Party is telling me how great it is that it is raining while it is pissing on me. But I admit that it is usually better than the crap filled septic tank of its opponents.

Posted by: KJ at November 12, 2009 01:43 PM

Well, my argument isn't over how much of the loaf we're getting so much as it is that this is not a dissimilar issue from the issue of price controls.

You can let government set prices in order to "control" costs. But that doesn't change the underlying forces that operate to set those costs.

Likewise, you can say, "I want the RNC to ignore the mean, nasty old political forces that cause politicians to make compromises that we don't like". But just saying that doesn't do diddly squat to *change* those underlying forces.

All that just happened is that we closed our eyes and pretended those forces weren't there (when in fact, they never went away). Where I differ from so many people is that I want them to openly acknowledge and account for those forces. Just because they're unpleasant doesn't make it smart policy to shout, "la la la la I can't heeeeeeear you!" :p

Not that that's what you're doing. But I hear a whole lot of that kind of thinking from conservatives these days. I don't like it either, but I see no useful point in a strategy firmly grounded in the ether :)

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 01:56 PM

Let me try to give an example of what I mean by compromise within the GOP, and how that might be used to steal some of the democrat's thunder.

Global warming. The cap and trade bill passed by the House is a bad idea. Here's how the GOP needs to re-frame the debate and requires different factions within the party to go along. First, it's not about warming, the actual true effect of increasing CO2 is endlessly debatable. However, many of us could agree, that changing atmospheric chemistry might have deleterious long term effects we don't yet unerstand.

So, the GOP needs to campaign on a real technology based plan to reduce CO2 production. The current cap and trade bill is pure politics and only loosely connected to technology. In other words you offer a concrete technological based plan. Yes we want solar, put up a plan to sequester 1 million acres of land in the desert for initial solar production. Actually begin production of the most efficient solar systems available. Talk about publically owned nuclear reactors (lot's of compromise in that one.)

I've been longwinded, so I'll climb down off ye olde soapbox.

Posted by: Allen at November 12, 2009 01:57 PM

I don't think the Rep. party can win a national election or lots of Congressional battles with a hard right platform. That does not mean, however, that the compromises that the Rep. party has made over the years were the right ones. Cass, you seem to assume the compromises that happened were ixpo facto the right call for political purposes. I think the Rep. paid a heavy price with conservative and conservative leaning swing voters by running up huge spending bills and deficits. When you don't even look like what your platform says you should, why should anyone trust you or your platform?

And I still think the way to win the swing voters is to soften on social issues and speak conservative economic talk like Romney or Reagan.

Posted by: KJ at November 12, 2009 02:48 PM

Every moderate Republican I know was utterly dismayed when McCain got the nomination.

First:
That rather begs the question, if moderates didn't want him and conservatives didn't want him, how did we get him? The conservatives staying home only cedes the selection to the moderates. So if they didn't want him, who did?

Second: Yes, getting pissed on (McCain) is better than being crapped on (Obama), just don't ask me to be excited about a candidate whose primary sales pitch is "Vote for me, I may be going to piss on you, but that guy is going to take a big nasty smelly dump on you". And don't expect others to get to excited either.

Third: Compromise is necessary, if for no other reason than the public expects a certain level of "playing nice". You will never get everything you want. This is why starting with the compromise position is a losing strategy. You will *still* be expected to give something up as a show of "good faith". If the R starts with the +8 position and the Dem starts with the -8 position but the R has the 55/45 split on his side the R may have to compromise to the +3. But if the R starts with the realistic outcome of +3 and the D starts with -8, even with the 55/45 split, the R will *still* have to compromise to a 0 or even -1 position.

Posted by: Really, you got a better explanation? at November 12, 2009 02:54 PM

you seem to assume the compromises that happened were ixpo facto the right call for political purposes

I think that politicians who are successful at getting themselves elected are probably pretty good judges of what it takes to get elected :p

Better, I think, than outraged voters who have never run for office.

I also think you need to get elected before you have a snowball's chance in Hell of doing *anything*. Right now we have... what?

Oh yeah. Nothin' :)

I still think the way to win the swing voters is to soften on social issues and speak conservative economic talk like Romney or Reagan

So did I. That's why I backed Romney. But if you recall, he was the front runner and was deemed by the party base to be "too liberal".

*sigh*

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 02:56 PM

Oops, forgot to change the name back.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 12, 2009 02:57 PM

I still think the way to win the swing voters is to soften on social issues and speak conservative economic talk like Romney or Reagan --

First, I meant the "like" phrase to modify the "conservative econ talk" only - not the social issue part of the sentence. Reagan usually spoke conservative social talk.

Second, I didn't say this was the way to win primaries. I said it was the way to win swing voters. If the Republican Party could force itself to nominate a protestant form of Romney, it might win a general Presidential election come 2012. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Posted by: KJ at November 12, 2009 03:08 PM

I still think the way to win the swing voters is to soften on social issues and speak conservative economic talk like Romney or Reagan - KJ

So did I. That's why I backed Romney. But if you recall, he was the front runner and was deemed by the party base to be "too liberal". - Cass

My recollection of Romney was that while he may have talked the economic conservative talk, he didn't exactly walk the economic conservative walk. Maybe this was just due to being the governor of a really blue state, but for me, the lack of the walk gave me doubt as to whether I could trust his talk.

Ultimately though, after 8 years of the media poisoning the well, I don't think anyone with an R after his name could have won this past election.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 12, 2009 03:11 PM

Speaking as someone who was a Republican for 25 years, and worked for Reagan's 84 re-election at the state level, I am done with party politics. I no longer consider myself a Republican, although I still usually vote that way.

I am, first and foremost, a conservative (although, like KJ, I tend to drift libertarian on some of the social issues). Therefore, whichever candidate or party stands for smaller govt, less taxes, fiscal responsibility, strong defense, pro law and order, etc. will get my vote. Period. If neither candidate or party does so, then I will not vote. I will no longer listen to "the lesser of two evils" argument, because I don't care if we go to hell in a handbasket less quickly than we might. It is still the wrong course either way.

Being from Arizona, I knew John McCain very well. I stated early on that, if he got the nomination, I would never vote for him. He is a faux conservative to an extreme degree. He has consistently been two-faced and a media whore, and those are only the nice things I can say about him. I kept my word and did not vote in the last election. I have no regrets doing so.

If this country wants to flirt with socialism, then by God let it get a long and deep taste and see how much they like it. Only then will there be a real chance of repudiating it. It took Jimmy Carter's disastrous presidency to make liberal a dirty word and usher in a conservative revolution under Reagan. Bill Clinton's ultra-left initial policies created the backlash which the Contract with America Republicans rode to power in 94, overturning 40+ years of liberal democrat control of Congress.

As any 12-step program will tell you, sometimes the addict or alcoholic needs to hit rock bottom before they realize a need to turn their life around and the healing can begin. Those loved ones and friends who try to cushion the fall are really just enablers who help the negative behavior continue. I think this can also apply in a macro sense to the political process.

Posted by: a former european at November 12, 2009 03:36 PM

Well, AFE, I want to believe that people will "learn the lesson" of socialism and repudiate it. But how many people in the Eastern Bloc learned the lesson. At least, before it was too late to do anything about it? How many years of subjugation and millions of people died (and are still dieing) from communism?

Hell, I've had a Chinese national working right here in Tennessee tell me to my face that communism is better than capitalism because while everyone is dirt poor, at least they are equal and thus happier.

What the hell do you say to that kind of irrationality?

I just don't have the faith that people will "wake up and see the light" when they get what they've asked for.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 12, 2009 03:50 PM

if they didn't want him, who did?

I am not sure anyone "wanted" him. The conservatives wouldn't accept Romney. Besides Romney, there was no clear front runner. So, lacking any real passion, we frittered away any real power and had to go with the name recognition candidate.

Blaming moderates for this, however, is beyond dumb. It's just math. Railing against math has never struck me as all that smart.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 12, 2009 03:55 PM

But they didn't accept McCain either so I don't see how that changes anything.

The math, as I see it, is that if 50% of Republicans are conservatives and 50% are moderates but half the conservatives stay home that gives the moderates a 2:1 advantage to choose their preferred candidate without any regard for the conservative wings opinion. So if the moderates preferred Romney, they could have had him quite easily.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 12, 2009 04:08 PM

Actually, I've been crunching a few numbers over lunch, and based on what I came up with, I would challenge the contention that the conservative base stayed home in droves in 2008. I compared it to the 2004 election, with some assumptions (which I admit are challengeable). The first assumption is that the electorate is split into three equally-sized groups: hard-core Democrats, hard-core Republicans, and swing voters. Now some vote totals:

2004 vote totals (in millions):
Bush  59.4
Kerry 55.9
Nader  0.4
----------
     115.7 total

2008 vote totals (in millions):
Obama 64.4
McCain 56.7
-----------
121.1 total

Second assumption: The swing vote split evenly in 2004, but broke 75% for Obama in 2008. Based on the vote totals and the first assumption, there were 38.6M total swing voters in 2004, and 40.3M swing voters in 2008. Doing the percentages based on the second assumption, the "core" and "swing" votes received by Bush in 2004 and McCain in 2008 work out to:

           Bush      McCain
Core       40.1      46.6 
Swing      19.3      10.1

So the GOP core actually gave McCain 6.5M more votes than Bush received. Of course, we don't know what the total percentage of the GOP vote these numbers represented; the core no doubt grew in the interim, and anecdotally we do have reports of more right-leaning voters either staying home or voting third party in 2008. However, the contention that the Republican base sat out the election en masse is very questionable. It was the change in the swing vote that killed McCain's campaign.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at November 12, 2009 04:18 PM

I'm not big on purges of any kind and I understand there were mitigating factors in Medicare D. But.

It does seem to me that Republicans are a lot more comfortable with deficit, debt, pork, and corporate welfare than a small government, fiscally conservative party should be. I agree with Cassandra that McCain would have been better than Obama but I also think it would be nice to be able to vote for a party that *is* actually fiscally conservative - instead of just occasionally less fiscally liberal than the Democrats.

So for me the question is, where's the disconnect? Are swing voters not voting Republican because they want a more fiscally liberal government? Or are they not voting Republican because they want a more socially liberal government?

Posted by: Elise at November 12, 2009 05:45 PM

That's the thing for me. I am fully aware that half a loaf is better than no loaf.

But what I'm seeing is not a party that asks for a whole loaf and settles for a half a loaf. I'm not seeing a party that asks for half a loaf and delivers half a loaf. I see a party sriving for half a loaf and settles for a single slice...

that's dripping wet.

Is it better than none? Sure. And I'll do what I can to get it. But I just can't seem to get excited about it.

And that's what I see as the problem. No one wants to talk about the big ideas. No one has the big vision. That's what made Obama so attractive. He has absolutely no idea what it takes to actually lead people to that vision and no idea how to go about actually obtaining it and no clue that it's a bad destination to start with. But he has the Big Idea™.

Where's the republicans with The Big Idea™? I see a whole lot of republicans, conservatives, and moderates talking about the tactics of winning elections ("We have to compromise"/"Toss out the compromisers") but no one is talking about what we really want to accomplish if we do win.

"I'm not as bad as the other guy" doesn't qualify as a strategy or a vision of governance.

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 12, 2009 06:58 PM

no one is talking about what we really want to accomplish if we do win.

Very well put.

Posted by: Elise at November 12, 2009 07:08 PM

Newt has the Big Ideas. But he is not the person that lead us there. As I have said many times, I'm an idea man. I leave implementation up to others.

Cass, stirring debate. Thanks for dragging me away from trial prep for a few minutes today.

Posted by: KJ at November 12, 2009 07:16 PM

Why is it that every time someone talks about compromise the results end up looking like something Mrs. Pelosi wrote? I find it funny that when the Democrats lose everyone says they should have run further to the left and when the Republicans lose everyone says they should have run further to the left. I am conservative, try compromising my way for a change.

Posted by: Russ at November 12, 2009 07:36 PM

Compromise, in and of itself isn't a bad thing. Reagan compromised a ton.

The difference I see between moderates and conservatives is attitude. Moderates seem to start from a position of "Well, *that* might be nice, but *this* is all I think we can realistically get so let's not even try". They may be correct that we can't get it, but it seems to me to be too much like pre-emptive surrender: "I donwanna, it's too hard!". Not exactly inspirational leadership, that. And that's why Reagan is remembered as "a true conservative" even though he compromised so much. He went for it, he made the effort. Sure, he didn't get everything he or we wanted. But at least he *tried*.

That's not to say I think purging moderates from the ranks is a good idea. It isn't. It's a very bad idea, in fact. The conservative wing does not have the numbers in a general election, in the house, nor the senate (even when we had R majorities). To get the numbers we have to have the moderates, and yes, even the liberal republicans. I just don't want them in leadership positions.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 10:09 AM

Moderates seem to start from a position of "Well, *that* might be nice, but *this* is all I think we can realistically get so let's not even try".

I think that's a perception. It's certainly the exact opposite of everything I've been saying for months.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 10:14 AM

no one is talking about what we really want to accomplish if we do win.

There's a good reason for that: you all seem to assume all the "base" wants the same things. In 6 years of blogging I've watched conservative blogs and conservative politicians very carefully and I don't believe there's anything *close* to consensus on what they want to do, not to mention what it means to be a "real" conservative.

Everybody's happy so long as you stick to bland generalities. This is how Obama won and how Newt Gingrich engineered the Rethug revolution in the '90s. It's those durned specifics that not even the so-called "base" agree upon.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 10:17 AM

are they not voting Republican because they want a more socially liberal government?

From what I've been reading, mostly this. The problem is that if you tone down the social conservatism the base rebels.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 10:18 AM

I think that's a perception. It's certainly the exact opposite of everything I've been saying for months.

Which is why, despite your protestations, I don't think you are near as "moderate" as you claim.

And while it is a perception, I think it one based in a decent amount of evidence. I think exactly that mentality in the RNC is what was behind the entire Dede Scozafovagohabova thing. The RNC thought a conservative couldn't win, so they did not even want to try.

But even a third rate conservative (the guy didn't even come in 2nd or 3rd in the R primary) with both the R's and D's actively campaigning against him and Dede even endorsing the Democrat when she dropped out still came within 3 percentage points of winning. They guy had the deck stacked so far against him, and still almost won.

But the RNC still expects me to believe that trying would have been a losing strategy. They just flat gave up, and pre-emptivly surrendered. Would Dede have been better than the democrat? Perhaps marginally. But when we missed out on someone even better because the RNC was too chicken to try, that's not much of a consolation.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 10:40 AM

Yu-Ain, all I know is that every day I hear people who I agree with described as "RINOs" by those in my own party. I see politicians with SOLID voting records vilified and disrespected for daring to have opinions that stray off the conservative reservation. If I want the Politburo, I'll go to Russia. I happen to think more ideas are a good thing and I have no time for people who get all in a snit just because they can't defend their ideas well enough to win support for them and then want to purge the party of folks they can't compete with. That's not conservatism. It's protectionism.

Every day I listen to stupid, ugly rhetoric about purging people who hold many of the same opinions I do from the party.

I don't even recognize the Republican party anymore. For the first time in 30 years I am seriously considering voting ANYTHING but Republican. And I can tell you I'm not the only moderate with an unimpeachable record of supporting the party who feels this way.

I've never demanded all that much of the party but if they don't want my vote, I'm certainly willing to give them what they want - a big, fat nothing - and they can all go hang for all I care.

That's not aimed at you, but it's a stone cold fact. I've had it with these morons. I've been a loyal voter for three decades now and if that's no longer good enough, the RNC can go fly a kite.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 10:58 AM

...but if they don't want my vote, I'm certainly willing to give them what they want - a big, fat nothing - and they can all go hang for all I care.

And I think that's pretty much where the conservative wing is too.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 11:23 AM

There's a HUGE difference between quitting in disgust because you don't get to be the only voice that is listened to (what "conservatives" are arguing right now) and quitting in disgust because you're sick and tired of being told you're not wanted, not needed, and ought to just STFU and vote as you're told.

No one is going to vote for a party that wants them silenced or gone.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 11:31 AM

Actually, that pretty much is exactly the conservative wing's thoughts.

We are being told to sit down, shut up, you can't win anyway, this is the best we can do and you ought to be happy for it.

After all, who else are you going to vote for?

And while that maybe true, just don't expect me to like it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 11:39 AM

I haven't heard anyone saying that.

The debate I linked to (which is more reasonable than most) essentially says, "*We* ought to be driving the bus. It's "ok" for moderates to belong to the party (Gee - thanks a lot - that's really white of you) but just don't expect us to give a rat's ass what you think."

That's not the way to win elections. Getting votes from a diverse population means compromising and it also means allowing various factions to be heard. Right now the self-styled "conservatives" want to be the ONLY voice.

Well, they can do that.

I don't think they can do that and expect to win any elections though. Again, there's a difference between saying, "I don't agree with you" or "I don't think this is a winning strategy" and "You shouldn't even have a voice". I've yet to hear one single moderate - NOT ONE - say the self-styled real conservatives shouldn't have a voice.

I DO hear conservatives telling moderates to go to the back of the bus or even to get off completely. All the time.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 11:45 AM

And I hear it quite a bit.

It's not so blatent, but it's there.

We're like the nerdy kid at the party. You try to introduce yourself, but they immediately go back to their conversation and ignore you. The host asks for suggestions for music, you pipe up, and the host responds by asking for suggestions for music. No one is so rude as to say "Get out, You're not welcome", but no one really wants to be seen with you either.

That is until it's time to vote, and then they're all, "You have to support us, the other guy is *worse*".

Eventually, you get tired of being ignored and taken for granted.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 12:25 PM

...especially, when you get your a$$ handed to you two straight elections.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 12:27 PM

...and for the record, I don't think the "moderates" shouldn't be allowed in leadership, I just think that the "let's not bother trying" attitude of the current RNC (as evidenced by things like Dede's selection) *isn't* leadership.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 12:33 PM

Yu-Ain, like you I don't happen to believe Jesus H. Christ could have won the last presidential election with an "R" next to his name :p

I've run the analysis of party power sharing for the last 100 years here at VC several times. The odds of 3+ consecutive terms of Republican leadership were (historically speaking) slim to none.

Obama ran on "change" b/c he adroitly assessed the national mood. People wanted "change", not so much "Obama's brand of change". And he was smart enough to go cleverly fuzzy whenever anyone asked for the specs on the "change" that he promised.

This is what I mean about not being overly specific. It works b/c at the heart people either don't agree or don't care about specifics, so going detailed is self defeating.

What we need is a charismatic candidate who discusses the issues from 40,000 feet while instilling confidence in his trustworthiness and not pissing off swing voters unduly :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 12:36 PM

If you don't get elected you don't get to put in anyyour policies.Therefore to get elected compomize is needed.However, if you keep settling for 1/2 a loaf pretty soon you only get the heel piece.Somewhere you must have core principles or the fight isn't worth it.

Posted by: MATT at November 13, 2009 12:36 PM

No one is so rude as to say "Get out, You're not welcome", but no one really wants to be seen with you either.

*sigh*

If you all are going to get offended over something that you perceive (that isn't even SAID openly) then you ought to understand why moderates are disgusted when "conservatives" are coming right out and saying it. :p

Sorry, I understand how you feel but there's no guarantee in life that you will feel liked. I think conservatives and moderates have a perfect right to fight for their vision of where the party ought to go. But we can do that without calling for Stalinist purges.

It seems rather ironic that you're complaining that being treated better than moderates are right now is a reason to be fed up. You're making my case for me.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 12:40 PM

Somewhere you must have core principles or the fight isn't worth it.

I agree, but the question tends to be, "whose core principles"?

What I see right now is the very conservative wing saying that if they can't get all of "their" core principles, it's not "worth it".

Worth what? Not ending up like France (which is where we're headed now). I'm not ready to cede this country to people who think it's government's job to equalize income and prevent anyone from making a profit. To me, that will always be "worth" the fight, even if I don't get my way on some things.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 12:44 PM

The odds of 3+ consecutive terms of Republican leadership were (historically speaking) slim to none.

For president, yes. Congress, is another story. Congress can, and has, been held by a single party for very long stretches. And while Jesus himself couldn't have won the presidency with an R behind His name, a strong (vice "safe") candidate may have been able to save a couple of congressional seats. At least going down in a blaze of glory can rally people on your own side better than folding like a cheap suit.

then you ought to understand why moderates are disgusted

I'm not saying moderates don't have a gripe. Just that the conservate wing has a legitimate one too. And that after essentially trying it the "moderate" way and getting thumped in the 06 and 08 congressional elections I don't think the attitude "We tried it your way, now let's try it *our* way" is out of bounds. But apparently, that's childish and we should just leave things up to the grown-ups.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 01:02 PM

Not ending up like France (which is where we're headed now).

The problem is that is looks the like RNC has already resigned itself to us ending up like France. They only hope to delay it a bit.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 01:09 PM

"We tried it your way, now let's try it *our* way" is out of bounds."

And if that were what I was hearing, that would be a different ball of wax.

Unfortunately, "Let's get rid of all the RINOs" or even "You can stay in the party but you have no voice in setting policy" doesn't equate to anything like that.

I don't want this to get nasty. No one here has said anything about 'leaving it to the grown-ups" so I'm really not sure where that is coming from.

I have said many times that everyone ought to be able to fight for their preferred policy options. How that could possible be translated into what you just said eludes me but maybe it's time for me to back out if that's where this is going.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 01:14 PM

That's because you aren't the one saying it.

But the RNC seems to be pretty clear about it. We're useful only in so much as we have no other options.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 02:03 PM

That ought to be the message the RNC receives over Dede's selection as the "electable" choice. There are a lot of people that are a lot more "electable" than the RNC realizes if it would just *try*.

And it's frustrating that they won't. You can only be ignored so long before you get angry.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 02:26 PM

You know, there are a lot of very short memories out there.

I listened to Newt Gingrich on CSPAN a few weekends ago. He was talking about the first election that started the Republican Revolution. And he talked about the fact that it was touched off by regaining 4 seats - and that 3 of them were won by candidates who were ANYTHING but real conservatives.

You need to read this. It says precisely what Gingrich said.

http://belowthebeltway.com/2009/05/14/republicans-rinos-and-the-1994-election/

Facts are stubborn things. They don't conform to our subjective preferences - mine OR yours. There's a serial rewriting of history going on right now and I'm not going to go along with it.

I think it's fine to argue (as you have) that you want to take a different route than the only ones that have EVER resulted in Republican majorities. It's just that you need something more persuasive than your opinion to win people like me over, because from where I sit, there aren't any facts that support the course you advise being a successful one.

The fact that I would also prefer more conservatives is utterly irrelevant.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 02:43 PM

And I'd just like to clarify one other thing.

Do I think it's possible that we could get more conservatives - and more conservative politicians - elected? Sure. It's possible.

And we have the technology to do a pretty good job of telling us whether the votes are out there. So far, I'm not seeing that happen. If I saw it happen, I'd be more inclined to believe that something I've never seen happen in my entire life were a possibility.

What I am NOT going to buy off on is all the BS about "running real conservatives is how we won in '94."


Because the facts don't support that argument, and it's the #1 argument being posed by the party base right now. When your #1 argument is contrafactual, people like me can't be expected to ignore the facts and say, "But of course!"

It all comes down to being able to persuade enough people, and if you - or the base - can't do that, they shouldn't blame RINOs, moderates, swing voters, or any other outside group. Make your argument. But... you still have to make it. Simply believing you're right isn't good enough, and rewriting history when the facts are readily available really won't cut it.

I think you've made some good arguments, Yu-Ain. I think if the party hadn't run from Bush they actually might have had a chance, and Bush isn't even a "real" conservative. So that argument resonates somewhat with me.

Most of the others don't because I can look at the numbers myself and tell we need swing voters and moderates in order to win.... or what Dave said in the very first comment.

That is all I'm saying.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 03:07 PM

I think it's fine to argue (as you have) that you want to take a different route than the only ones that have EVER resulted in Republican majorities.

The problem is that republican majorities of the 90's didn't really deliver very much of what I wanted. Only slowed those things I didn't want.

And while it's better to lose slowly than quickly, I'd really like to try winning for a change.

And like I said, I think conservative candidates are a lot more electable than they are given credit for if the moderates would just give it a chance and *try* instead of pre-emptivly declaring defeat. Hoffman could have won and so could others.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 03:13 PM

The problem is that republican majorities of the 90's didn't really deliver very much of what I wanted. Only slowed those things I didn't want.

Well, I think the same thing but in a pluralistic country where we have representative govt. I think that may be the best we can hope for.

What you seem to be saying is that (though there is no evidence that large numbers of conservative candidates can win running on a conservative platform) you're willing to put it all on the dice and accept the consequences, even if that means we don't have a Republican majority in Congress for another 40 years?

I understand the sentiment. I'm just not sure the country would be better off.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 03:20 PM

And as you know, I've essentially argued your side of this issue with AFE previously.

But with Hoffman and the Tea Party movement, I see a lot of opportunity for strong conservative types as there is a very vocal core, (which absent real astroturfing, is like an iceburg, most of it you don't see) that wants gov't to just butt the helk out that hasn't been present in most of our recent history.

I think the facts on the ground are just different now than they were in the 90s.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 03:23 PM

Again, I'm not averse (at all) to that argument.

I just want to see some actual numbers. It doesn't even have to be a sure thing. I'm just not willing to bet the farm on a hunch.

Like I said, I happen to agree with a lot of what you said, or at least I can see the reason in it. The missing piece as far as I'm concerned is the demonstration that there is anything like a sizeable enough voting base to translate it into reality.

No one would be more happy than I to be proved wrong there, but when the country has moved to the left rather than the right over the past 3 or 4 decades, it's hard for me to see where this sufficient number of conservatives is going to come from?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 03:41 PM

I think that may be the best we can hope for.

This may come out more harsh than I intend, so I'll apologize in advance.

This is what I mean by pre-emptive surrender. That's not leadership. People don't follow "This is what we'll have to settle for". No one wants to die on the hill of "we can't do better".

I also don't see how taking a couple of congressional election cycles to try something new will lead to 40 years of wilderness. If it doesn't work we can always go back. The world will not end in 4-6 years.

As for evidence, I think Hoffman was it. A third rate nobody conservative fights off a Democrat *and* a Moderate Republican (who even endorses the Democrat) all without the help of the RNC (who for the longest time was working against him) and comes within spitting distance of winning in a rather purple district. Had Dede and the RNC put their weight behind him from the beginning I think it very likely that he could have won.

It's only one test case, but it's also pretty much the only time it's been tried.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 04:12 PM

You're a statistics guy so I don't need to tell you the problems with generalizing from a sample size of 1 :p

I haven't said, "Don't try". Nowhere have I said that.

What I'm saying is that no one is making a very strong case for this working and the fact of the matter is that 4-6 years of Democrat majorities can result in another Great Society piggybacked on top of the one we already have.

Now you tell me how that gets reversed once it's in place?

I take your point, Yu-Ain, but it's not "pre-emptive surrender" to look before you leap. And that's what I'm saying: I'm not a blind leaper. Especially on a national scale when you're not talking losing just one race but advocating this being the tactic to be applied across the board.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 04:22 PM

And by the way, you're talking to the wrong person if you think I believe timidity in leadership is the right answer.

I headed up Valour IT only twice. The first time we outraised all the other teams with a smaller base. The second time, we won.

There was no history to suggest we could win. That didn't stop us from winning.

So I understand your point. But I also understand the risk/benefit calculation. All I'm saying is that the RNC needs to do their homework and make a strong case before shouting, "follow me!". Once again, I don't see anyone doing that.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2009 04:25 PM

I know you haven't said don't try, but it also seems the RNC *won't* try. They just stick with the old "it can't be done" theory. And while a single point isn't a sample (much less a trend) it does only take a single datapoint to disprove a theory.

It can be done. Maybe not everywhere (I wouldn't suggest running a hard-core conservative in Pelosi's district).

I'm not saying not to look before you leap, but dammit it seems that the RNCs method of not leaping into the wrong place is simply to never leap at all.

It's like preventing a divorce by never getting married. Sure, it works, but damn if it ain't lonely.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 04:40 PM

And by the way, you're talking to the wrong person if you think I believe timidity in leadership is the right answer.

I know *you* don't believe that.

The RNC on the other hand, I'm not so convinced.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 13, 2009 04:43 PM

Maybe I'm not really following this argument but it seems to me there's a good chance a Republican candidate who is fiscally conservative but neither socially conservative nor socially liberal could win. That's sort of what Blue Dog Democrats are - although they may tend more toward socially liberal. And I don't think the Republican would have to be 100% behind abortion or same-sex marriage or issues like that. He - or she - would just need to not make them the most important issues in the campaign.

Republicans sound mean-spirited to those who don't share conservative social values. I don't think that has to be. It's possible to oppose abortion or same-sex marriage and not sound just plain mean. And, yes, I know the people on the other side do a lot of demonizing. But it's always easier to sound "nice" when you're giving people something. The trick for social conservatives (and fiscal conservatives, too) is to be able to not give people stuff and explain why in a way that doesn't sound hateful. Liberals don't have that problem: they just give people stuff. Which I think is a reason why conservatives are more in need of an integrated philosophy than liberals. The Democrats can just give me stuff; the Republicans have to explain to me why not getting everything I want is really better for me.

Posted by: Elise at November 13, 2009 09:55 PM

But it's always easier to sound "nice" when you're giving people something...The Democrats can just give me stuff; the Republicans have to explain to me why not getting everything I want is really better for me.

Neither the Dems nor the Repubs can *give* you anything that they first haven't *taken* from someone else. Therein lies the rub.

I have no objection to the Congers using my tax dollars to fund a project that the majority of Americans will use, such as the interstate highway system.

I *do* object to them taking something from me that I have already worked and *paid* for and giving the accrued funds to a special interest group which, in turn, will provide votes for their re-election.

Posted by: BillT at November 14, 2009 02:45 AM

Neither the Dems nor the Repubs can *give* you anything that they first haven't *taken* from someone else. Therein lies the rub.

Yes, but most people have gotten used to having the government take from them. In other words, most people think taxes are just the way it is. People don't really view taxes as intrusive or confiscatory. To a large degree they've learned to buy into the mindset that their money is the government's money and what doesn't get taxed is what the government is "letting" them keep.

Even though the Tea Party movement talks about taxing and spending, I think what really triggered it was the threat of government intrusion into most people's health insurance. Taxes are a subtractive government thing: the government takes away your money but other than that it leave you alone. Health care is an additive government thing: the government is going to interfere with your actual life not just your money.

And, yes, I do know that there is a very valid argument to be made that the government taking your money *is* the government interfering with your actual life. I just wish there was a political party that was making that argument clearly and consistently.

The Republicans (or whatever party arises to be the conservatives) needs to be a party that speaks in positives, not negatives. School vouchers are good not because they break the back of the teachers' union but because they let parents who have kids in crummy schools get their children a decent education. Lower taxes are good not because they "starve the beast" but because they let people use more of their own money for what they want. I sometimes have this vision of a political party that doesn't spend 99 and 44/100% of its time talking about what's wrong with the other guys but instead spends it's time talking about what it believes is the right path - and explaining why.

One final note. In the United States today, those who call themselves conservatives by and large are not interested in conserving. Everything they (we) want to conserve is almost gone. It's the "conservatives" who actually want will amount to radical change.

Posted by: Elise at November 14, 2009 01:13 PM

I have to disagree with you, Cassandra. Here's why.

In the NYC-23 election, Dede Scozzofazza (and I'm not going to bother finding out the correct spelling) ran as a Republican, with the national GOP pumping in $900,000 into her coffers, and Newt (for what he's worth, which ain't much, but you know) endorsing her, and so on. Mind you, Dede's actually more left-wing than the Democrat in the race.

Now, you have Doug Hoffman. He's an outsider, who campaigned on national and not regional issues. He also was none too specific about what he wanted to get done, except that his platform was one of more libertarianism and conservatism. All he had was Rob McCain and Sarah Palin endorsing him - many agrees his own campaign was lacklustre and he himself had the charisma of a dead fish.

He came within 3,000 votes of winning against Owens, and he did the GOP the monumental favour of kicking Dede out, whereupon she went ahead and endorsed the Democrat.

So, you see, conservatism in and of itself is not enough, no, but it sure as hell packs a punch. Couple it with a more charismatic guy who can put across the message in a more accessible manner (like, say, the Gipper), and wham! you have a winner.

Does it have to toe the line 100%? Of course not! But it should toe the line at the core areas.

Posted by: Gregory at November 15, 2009 11:19 PM

Again, Gregory, I don't think a single case makes a terribly effective broad based argument.

If Hoffman did what you say he did, then he did exactly what I think I just said a rethug needs to do to win: not be too specific :p

And be charismatic. It's not nearly so hard to get people to "agree" with you if you're not overly specific about what you say. Everyone imagines you'll do what they're thinking, even if they all have 10 different ideas of what that is. That's why Obama won, and why people are disenchanted now that he can't avoid those pesky specifics.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 15, 2009 11:26 PM

Everyone imagines you'll do what they're thinking, even if they all have 10 different ideas of what that is. That's why Obama won...

Obie helped that along by *promising* to do 10 different things, depending on which audience he was addressing -- with the *wink-wink nudge-nudge* to the audience he was currently addressing that it didn't matter what he'd said previously, because he was *reaaaallly* gonna further *their* agenda.

Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Posted by: BillT at November 16, 2009 12:38 AM

Sure, but I do think we're talking about two or three different things here, right?

Firstly, should moderates be reached out to by and included in the Republican party? Absolutely! In the same way that prostitutes, homosexuals, child molesters, kleptomaniancs, nymphomaniacs and serial murderers should be reached out to by the church. The attraction behind the GOP is supposed to be the Big Tent politics.

Secondly, should moderates be allowed to voice their opinions in the GOP? Sure; 1st Amendment rights apply equally to NAMBLA, NAACP and the KKK, so moderates should at least be accorded the same rights. Should they be listened to and tolerated? I believe the answer is yes; such viewpoints are the basis for healthy debate and arguing (in the old sense of the word meaning to discuss) different viewpoints strengthens everyone.

Should the moderates be representing the GOP? Alas, there I fear we part company. Although, bearing in mind I don't have any skin in the game.

You know what you're getting with the Democrats - they're a proven quantity. You know what you're getting with the GOP; you're gonna get Democrat-lite, most of the time.

You will notice where the Republican candidate consistently adheres to - and properly explains - a fiscally accountable, limited government platform, said candidate wins. Big.

And how would you define 'moderate', which I think is a question already asked and answered here. If you mean fiscal conservatism and socially moderate - or even liberal - I can live with that. If it's the other way around, then it's a problem.

Posted by: Gregory at November 16, 2009 01:43 AM

Again, Gregory, I don't think a single case makes a terribly effective broad based argument.

But in a sense, therein lies the catch-22. You say you want data before you try it, but there won't really be any (reputable) data until after you try it.

In '94 liberal republicans may have been the key, but let's face it, until the Tea Party movement "Republican Protestor" was kinda an oxymoron so I think most of the historical data we have isn't really representative of today's political climate, anyway.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 16, 2009 11:25 AM

But I'm not just talking about 1994. I brought that up because that's the false argument that is cited by the far right to "show" that "real conservatives" are electable in sufficient numbers to give us control of Congress.

And I pointed out that both times we've had a majority in Congress, it was ONLY because a fair number of elections were won by moderate Rethugs.

My argument was that far right candidates have not been electable in the broad sense in Congress (i.e., nationwide in sufficient numbers to give us control of Congress) in my lifetime. And there have been quite a few shifts in the political climate during my lifetime.

Look, if you think that a single candidate who (you admit) was charismatic and ran against a very weak conservative opponent is enough evidence to outweigh a good 40 years of contradictory evidence, nothing I can say is going to convince you.

I'm not even saying you're wrong. I am just saying it isn't a strong enough case that I'd want to base my party's entire national strategy on it.

I am not going to convince you and we are just going around and around. If you already think this is a good idea, it's only going to take one case to confirm your belief. If one doesn't think it's a good idea, one case certainly shouldn't be expected to cause them to completely change their mind.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 16, 2009 12:44 PM

Also, I think it's pretty telling when moderates are compared to "prostitutes, homosexuals, child molesters, kleptomaniancs, nymphomaniacs and serial murderers;" or "NAMBLA, NAACP and the KKK".

There's a common theme here: can anyone tell me what it is? I wouldn't have thought that needed pointing out, but then a lot of things surprise me these days.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 16, 2009 12:47 PM

But I'm not just talking about 1994.

Neither am I.

My argument was that far right candidates have not been electable in the broad sense in Congress ...in my lifetime.

"Republican Protestor" also hasn't existed during that time either. And yet, today, they do. And in fairly sizable numbers.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 16, 2009 01:26 PM

We are arguing over my subjective risk tolerance, and that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I have never argued that it's not possible that you're right, Yu-Ain.

I do argue that one case doth not a slam dunk make. And I do argue that subjectively, I don't find one case to be very strong evidence of a general trend. You obviously have come to a different conclusion, but arguing my subjective sense of whether a risk is "worth it" isn't likely to enlighten either one of us.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 16, 2009 01:42 PM

Cassandra: You do realise, I hope, that I am using hyperbole to illustrate a point? Something along the lines of "well, we allow Extreme Situation X, so Moderate Situation Y should not even be a blip on the radar."

But then, perhaps you have been oversensitised to 'moderate-bashing' so maybe in retrospect not the best idea in the world.

Right, so let's see who are the ultra-conservative people and how they fared, shall we? Not only in politics, but in the public sphere as a whole.

Rush Limbaugh, unabashed conservative - 20 million listeners, and one of the most influential AM talk radio hosts in the country.

Sarah Palin, privately social and fiscal conservative - most influential person on Facebook, with a ridiculously high approval rating pre-McCain in Alaska.

Glenn Beck, unabashedly conservative and even fiscally libertarian - Oh yeah, he's enjoying himself.

McDonnell won handily against Deeds.

Chris Christie, who by most accounts is *not* a moderate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_J._Christie), blasted Deeds out of the water. Of course, I have a specific standard by which I call someone 'moderate', which may differ from yours.

Now, maybe you can think that it's a backlash against Obama more than anything else, but the fact remains that when given the choice between clear-cut socialism vs conservatism, Americans go for conservatism 9 times out of 10.

I think most people are sick and tired of having naked socialism rammed down their throats. By definition, a conservative wants people to make up their own minds by having a large number of competing voices out there.Any co-called 'conservative' who wants to ram *his* ideas down your throat is no such thing.

But by the same token, if I wanted a wishy-washy half-liberal dude as my representative, I would have voted for the Democrat.

Posted by: Gregory at November 16, 2009 08:49 PM

What I'm saying is that no one is making a very strong case for this working and the fact of the matter is that 4-6 years of Democrat majorities can result in another Great Society piggybacked on top of the one we already have.

Now you tell me how that gets reversed once it's in place?

This leads me to something I think would make great fodder for it's own post: What are Democrats afraid republican majorities could enact in a 4-6 year timespan that are irreversable? Anything? And is that essentially the problem?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 17, 2009 01:28 PM

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