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Let’s list the GOP’s problems. They’re all easily solvable.

12 November 2012

Summary:  After the election, with its typically thin margin of victory (in votes), comes the usual silliness — about the winning party establishing an enduring lead, structural, that will last for generations. We get this every decade or so, with the parties alternating as star and goat. Now the Republicans are the doomed losers. Today we look at the GOP’s problems (in the comments list any not shown).  The next will show that solutions lie near at hand. This is the 6th in a series about the results of Campaign 2012.

But the mass of the electors did not analyse very much: they liked to have one of their “betters” to represent them; if he was rich they respected him much; and if he was a lord, they liked him the better. The issue put before these electors was, which of two rich people will you choose? And each of those rich people was put forward by great parties whose notions were the notions of the rich — whose plans were their plans. The electors only selected one or two wealthy men to carry out the schemes of one or two wealthy associations.
— Introduction to The English Constitution by Walter Bagehot (1867)

Contents

We discussed the demographic doom in chapter V.  For an analysis of the usual “new era of dominance” foolishness see this by John Sides (Assoc Prof Political Science, George Washington U). Here we look at other factors wrecking the GOP.

  1. Poor congruence of its policies with those needed by voters
  2. Broken internal governance
  3. A party whose vision has disconnected from reality,
    seeing instead an imaginary world
  4. Update: Will the base let the GOP change?
  5. Are we a divided nation, by geography?
  6. Other posts in this series
  7. For More Information

(1)  Poor congruence of its policies with those needed by voters

The GOP, Real Parties, and Factions”, Daniel Larison, American Conservative, 8 November 2012

Everyone involved in politics would like to believe that the political coalition he supports is a “real party” rather than a self-serving faction, just as everyone likes to believe that his views are the moderate and reasonable ones opposed to the “extremism” of others.

What this “real party” talk obscures is the degree to which the GOP fails to serve the interests of many of its constituents and its most likely supporters while masking this failure with a generic appeals to “values” or American exceptionalism. Those appeals don’t really promise Republican voters much of anything specific or concrete, and so the GOP conveniently never has to deliver. If many white working- and middle-class voters stayed away from the polls this year, I suspect it is at least partly because many of them recognized that the GOP, especially one led by someone like Romney, had nothing to offer them.

(2)  Broken internal governance

How the Republican party sabotaged itself: the real story of the 2012 election“, Michael Cohen, Guardian, 5 November 2012:

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By el_Sooper_MexyCon at Photobucket

The single most defining element of American politics over the last four years is that the Republican party has fallen out of the crazy tree and hit every branch on the way down. It is no longer even appropriate to say the Republican party is dominated by its conservative wing; but rather, that the GOP is controlled by its extreme, radical wing.

The shift of the Republican to the far, far right is not a recent development. Instead, it is reflective of a four-decade shift in ideological orientation in the GOP: from a party once torn between distinct conservative and moderate wings, to one in which moderates have gone the way of dinosaurs and VCRs. But there is no question that in the past four years, the extremism of the GOP has increased dramatically – so much so that their most recent president, George W Bush, is persona non grata in the party because he is viewed as too moderate and not sufficiently conservative. Imagine that.

For years, the national Republican party emboldened this wing of the GOP and made it the vanguard of its efforts to maintain national power. That group now holds ideological sway in the Republican party. In the naked pursuit of short-term partisan gain, the Republican party has unleashed forces that it can no longer fully control.

The result is a set of policies that not only are radical, but also are out of step with the mainstream of American politics. This includes everything from efforts to privatize Medicare, eviscerating social security, rejecting any role for fiscal policy other than cutting taxes, and taking the position that illegal immigrants should not receive amnesty but rather “self-deport”. This is not to mention the GOP’s growing extremism on abortion rights and reproductive health in general.

Republicans once aspired to, and briefly held, the mantle of a party of ideas. Today, the GOP in its deference to the ideological rigidity of its radical wing has reached a position where Republicans have no serious ideas for reforming healthcare, creating jobs, stimulating the economy, or fixing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

The GOP’s problems are not just at the national level. Romney outperformed the Republican Senate candidates in most of the important races (Aaron Blake, WaPo).

(3)  A party whose vision has disconnected from reality, seeing instead an imaginary world

The View from the Cocoon of Denial and Epistemic Closure“, Alex Massie, The Spectator, 7 November 2012 — He reviews quotes from major GOP leaders, quote daft statements, and concludes …

When your rhetoric collides with voters’ sense of their own reality then you cannot or should not be surprised that voters prefer their reality to your imagination.

Note too amidst all this howling and wailing and gnashing of teeth how there’s no attempt to understand why Americans voted the way they did. No attempt to wonder why the Republican party offered such a paltry economic message. No attempt to ask why the GOP had no healthcare policy that would actually soothe justified concerns about both Obamacare and how an ordinary family on $50,000 a year might have better, more affordable healthcare.

(4) Update: Will the base let the GOP change?

Election Reflection” by Jared Bernstein, 11 November 2012:

The R’s are predictably doing the requisite soul searching, especially on their demographic problem that their core base is a shrinking share of the electorate. There’s lots of obvious stuff about “reaching out to Latinos, minorities, women” but there’s something missing from the stuff I’ve heard. Their conversations seem to assume that they’ll win if they can just move from base to base+X, with X being larger shares of the groups above (people other than older, white men). But this isn’t their core problem. That they can’t win with a growing share of shrinking base was obvious to many well before Tuesday.

Their problem is that base is inversely related to X. If order to reach out to X in ways that X might respond to, you risk alienating your base, many of whom blame X for their woes and very much resent any government actions to reach out to them. I haven’t heard any serious discussions of R’s solve that paradox.

(5)  Is America a divided nation? Does politics follow geography?

Let’s start with a look  at America, supposedly a divided nation, with a map prepared by Mark Newman (Prof Physics, U MI). It’s a cartogram, with the sizes of states scaled by population. Rhode Island (1.1 million appears twice the size of Wyoming (0.5 million), although WY has 60X the area of RI.

This cartogram shows county-level election returns, with party votes in red and blue — shades of purple showing the percentages of votes for each party.  Most of America is evenly divided, appearing in purple.  The large cities are mostly blue, the rural areas mostly red.

America has many internal divisions, but the geographic divisions between ideologies (liberal and conservative, each with their party) are relatively small — and exaggerated by our winner-take-all system, which creates a false picture of a nation consisting of large red and blue party blocs.

No, we’re not extremely geographically divided (although that is, as always, a factor). Not a strong foundation here for the secessionists.

By Mark Newman, U MI

(6)  The posts in this series about the results of Campaign 2012

  1. Conservatives, celebrate the historic victory you won today!
  2. The votes were counted and one wing of our one ruling party won. Rejoice!
  3. How Obama AND conservatives both won on Tuesday
  4. Civil rights just took a step forward, the slow hard way. The right way.
  5. The hidden major party, the key to political control of America
  6. Let’s list the GOP’s problems. They’re all easily solvable.
  7. The Republican Party is like America, and can quickly recover it strength

(7)  For More Information

Here’s a fun game about the past of the GOP.  Read about these liberals from our past.  Can you name them?

  1. Let’s play “Name that Liberal”
  2. Let’s play round 2 of “Name That Liberal”
  3. Let’s play round 3 of “Name That Liberal”

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. Todd Guthrie permalink
    12 November 2012 9:22 pm

    I’ve always found that cartogram to be very interesting way to look at our national political divide.
    It is clearly not a simple North vs South split. If anything I would say the nation is divided between urban vs rural. Blue areas are the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Chicago, Boston, New York, DC, and Miami. Red areas are the sparsely populated regions of the South and the Midwest. Purple areas are everywhere in between.
    That pretty much dispels any notions of secession, but I still wonder if it would be possible for some combination of the eight aforementioned metropolitan areas to secede from the USA and form independent city states? Highly unlikely, of course, but still fun to imagine the results.

    Another take that I’ve seen circulating around the internet recently is a map that shows an apparent geographical similarity between slave states in 1859, racial segregation in 1950, and the presidential election in 2012, with the implication being that American politics is still based mostly on race relations even 150 years after the Civil War. Take a look, and draw whatever conclusions you like: {URL to LiveLink: “The hash code for the file you tried to view has expired.”}

    • 29 December 2012 7:30 pm

      Todd,

      The URL to LiveLink gives the following error: “The hash code for the file you tried to view has expired.”

  2. Thomas More permalink
    13 November 2012 4:01 am

    Walter Bagheot was not only an insightful political commentator, his book Lombard Street remains one of the very best descriptions of how to deal with a massive economic depression. What a shame America has no one of Bagehot’s stature in public life to advise us today.

    • 13 November 2012 4:18 am

      I agree with More’s comment about Bagheot! IMO it’s sad we don’t have another Bagheot, but they are rare.

      It’s very sad we are not following the advice of the original Bagheot. In the bailouts we did almost the opposite — the central bank lending freely, but instead of at a penalty rate, they lent at a discount. Nice for bank profits, but bad for the financial system. And a terrible precedent.

  3. 13 November 2012 4:19 am

    Problem:

    Apart from its beginnings in opposition to slavery, the GOP has defined itself as the home of conservatives. Now, aside from a few social issues (and those only when the writing is on the wall), the Democratic party fills that function, leaving the Republican party nowhere to stand to their right that isn’t poisonously extreme.

  4. Thomas More permalink
    13 November 2012 6:46 am

    Au contraire, coises, I see the Republican party and the Democratic party as playing the roles of “bad cop” and “good cop.” Unnoticed by the great majority of voters? Both cops work for the same people — the top 1%. And neither cop is your friend.

    And now arrives proof in the form of Obama’s leaked negotiations with John Boehner: Obama offered cuts to medicare, cuts to social security, raising the eligibility age for medicare…a veritable wish list for the far-right neocons who run the Republican party. Yes indeedy, the Bad Cop Mitt Romney threatened and screamed at the electorate and they trembled in fear and ran for succor to the Good Cop Barack Obama, who reassures them and tells them everything will fine and they don’t have to worry as long as they agree to a few minor changes in our social safety net (i.e., getting rid of it).

    The triumphalist Democrats who now crow about the delusion and echo-chamber cocoon in which the Republicans exist need to look in the mirror. Because the Good Cop Obama is about to enact the very same “unacceptable” and “grotesquely draconian” cuts to the social safety net that the Bad Cop Mitt Romney promised. And the Democratic base refuse to admit this reality, instead applauding like millions of trained seals as their clay-footed “liberal” idol accomplishes the grand task attempted by George W. Bush when in 2004 he tried to privatize social security.

  5. 13 December 2012 7:31 pm

    Poor congruence of its policies with those needed by voters

    On this point I agree, conservatives need to do a better job of connecting ideology with real world benefits. Unfortunately, selling independence over “stuff from the government” isn’t quite as easy as it might seem.

    Broken internal governance

    Ironically, as I pointed out in another comment, 2 and 4 complain about the same problem from two different perspectives. Essentially they both have to do with the disconnect between the leadership and the members.

    A party whose vision has disconnected from reality,seeing instead an imaginary world

    Not really much meat in the “article” regarding this point. It would seem that the purported “reality” conservatives are being required to accept is that the country is doomed and thus we might as well go along with it.

    Update: Will the base let the GOP change?

    See above. If it does we will simply be ratifying the fact we only have one party.

    Are we a divided nation?

    Yes, we are and unfortunately the fact that the opposing factions are intermixed suggests the possibility of a much bloodier civil war than one in which the geographical distinctions were plainer.

    Thank you.

    • 13 December 2012 8:21 pm

      “purported “reality” conservatives are being required to accept is that the country is doomed and thus we might as well go along with it.”

      What? What’s your basis for this fantastic statement? Can you provide a supporting quotation?

      It seems you’re reading these articles through a very thick ideological filter, which appears to render you incapable of seeing their actual content.

    • 13 December 2012 8:38 pm

      I’m certainly willing to be schooled.

      I’m also not simply being contentious nor arguing for the sake of an argument,

      Rather than copying the entire passage, let’s take a look at what was quoted under…

      (2) Broken internal governance

      I understand you are suggesting I somehow have misinterpreted the point, but I have to say that I can’t really see any other way of interpreting it.

      “You” suggest that conservatives should give up being conservative and that by doing so they will garner more support.

      You disagree with my analysis….how so?

      Thank’s again for your response, I’m afraid I am now going to have to put this discussion on hold until a little bit later in the day.

    • 13 December 2012 8:51 pm

      “You disagree with my analysis….how so?”

      Look, it’s your assertion (it’s not an “analysis”). You should be able to provide some evidence for it.

      If you cannot provide a shred of support, why should anyone waste time providing rebuttal to you?

      That’s a very weak reply. Again, you’re providing more evidence that these authors are correct.

  6. 29 December 2012 1:18 pm

    As I already pointed out, a simple reading of the article provides evidence enough, but…

    I wrote an article, as yet unpublished, in response to your questions regarding my charges of bias related to our discussion under another one of your articles. Not that it’s really important, but I noticed a problem in both discussions. When it comes down to it, both articles are filled with assertions masking as authoritative conclusions and yet in actuality there is a paucity of facts.

    1. Poor congruence of its policies with those needed by voters
    2. Broken internal governance
    3. A party whose vision has disconnected from reality,
      seeing instead an imaginary world
    4. Update: Will the base let the GOP change?
    5. Are we a divided nation?
    6. Other posts in this series
    7. For More Information

    This is the list of GOP “problems” which, according to you are “easily fixed”.

    (1) What was really said? There is a disconnect between the leadership and their constituents? Sure is, and yet the ironic implication seems to be that it is the constituents who should change rather than the leadership. Biased? Absolutely.

    (2) The level of irony continues to be high in light of your request for any evidence supporting my views….how truly boring…but…

    CC: “Further, I doubt you will deny that you see the “problems” of the Republican Party being primarily a result of the base being too far right rather than the leadership being too far left.”

    FM: “That doesn’t make any sense to me, let alone appear relevant to the charge of bias — or anything written here. Can you explain, and provide some supporting evidence. By that I mean, as I requested before, a quote or citation — not more assertions.”

    Michael Cohen: “The single most defining element of American politics over the last 4 years is that the Republican party has fallen out of the crazy tree and hit every branch on the way down. It is no longer even appropriate to say the Republican party is dominated by its conservative wing; but rather, that the GOP is controlled by its extreme, radical wing. The shift of the Republican to the far, far right is not a recent development.”

    Seriously, what am I missing here? Which part of a quote you posted do you not understand? Per my quote above, and compared to the quote from your article, why would you even bother to deny my original assertion? I am truly interested.

    (3) Really just an attempt to make the same point using different language. You are suggesting I have somehow misinterpreted your position, perhaps you might flesh it out and make one small comment as to what this point says to you?

    (4) Four alleged “problems” that are easy to solve, and yet they all seem to be saying the same thing. It seems to me that me that the same “solutions” are also being suggested, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

    My guess is that you will avoid taking a stand and will continue to attack me for not providing enough evidence proving that you believe what you believe. Let me be clear so that there is no misunderstanding, I suggest that you support the opinions expressed in your articles. Is that really such a bizarre position for one to take? If I have once again misunderstood the position being taken in number 4, I welcome the chance to revise my opinion.

    (5) Even more disingenuous than the rest. What are you suggesting? That we are not a “divided nation” passed on some geographical distinctions which you wish to use as a way of redefining what is meant by “divided nation”?

    (6) Let’s agree that further comments should be directed to the particular articles themselves.

    Thanks, and I apologize for not taking the time to respond to your replies earlier, but I’m afraid I am not overly optimistic about getting any answers to my questions.

    Again, thank you.

    • 29 December 2012 7:24 pm

      constructiveconservative,

      Thank you for your comment, well reasoned and expressed. Before addressing your specific points, here’s some context you might find helpful.

      “both articles are filled with assertions masking as authoritative conclusions and yet in actuality there is a paucity of facts.”

      Agreed, and for sounds structural reasons. Which is why it is always in order (here, at least) to ask for supporting facts.

      The FM website runs like a book. Most chapters are examination of small, focused questions. Has the warming of the Earth paused? Did we win in Iraq and Af-Pak? What are Palin’s qualifications to be President? What are the odds the US economy is in or near a recession? We usually answer (or attempt to do so) using facts and expert opinion.

      Then we build on these posts, seeking broader conclusions. The previous posts provide the factual support. We cannot repeat that due to space limitations. The average Internet post is a few hundred words. For the FM website readership drops off after 1000 words; 2000 is the practical limit. This post is aprox 1400 words.

      I think that’s what the authors cited here are doing, in effect. They’re discussing the significance of viewpoints that their audience already believes. Rebuttal to these beliefs is one way of attacking their conclusions.

      I don’t believe that there is any practical alternative to this kind of division when writing on the Internet — except for the websites like the Baffler, running on-line magazines.

    • 29 December 2012 8:22 pm

      (1) “… yet the ironic implication seems to be that it is the constituents who should change rather than the leadership. Biased? Absolutely.”

      (a) I don’t understand what you mean by “bias” or “ironic”.

      (b) I don’t believe any of these discuss the GOP in terms of leadership vs constituents. Rather, they look at a faction of the GOP that has come to dominate the GOP. That faction has its own membership and leaders. As a result…

      Larison: the “GOP fails to serve the interests of many of its constituents and its most likely supporters while masking this failure with a generic appeals to “values” or American exceptionalism.”

      Cohen: the GOP cannot win national power, because it is “out of step with the mainstream of American politics”. Berstein says much the same thing.

      The right-wing need not change its views. But winning requires building large coalitions, which requires compromises the right-wing so far is unwilling to make.

      (2) I still don’t understand what you are saying. None of these articles describe the GOP’s problem as disconnect between the Party leadership and the base. Rather the “base” (in the sense of the far-right that dominate the party) and its leadership are pulling the overall GOP too-far right.

      (3) “You are suggesting I have somehow misinterpreted your position, perhaps you might flesh it out and make one small comment as to what this point says to you?”

      To what are you referring?

      (4a) “Four alleged “problems” that are easy to solve, and yet they all seem to be saying the same thing.”

      Everybody conceptualizes these things differently. There is IMO no single master perspective or description.

      (4b) “It seems to me that me that the same “solutions” are also being suggested, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.”

      I don’t believe that’s accurate. Cohen and Bernstein implicitly recommend that the right-wing form a broader coalition to win. Larison and Massie look to deeper problems in the GOP; I don’t believe they offer clear solutions.

      (4c) “My guess is that you will avoid taking a stand and will continue to attack me for not providing enough evidence proving that you believe what you believe.”

      Not a good guess given the history of comments on the FM website.

      (4d) “I suggest that you support the opinions expressed in your articles.”

      To some extent. Not every jot. Sometimes I post interesting articles on matters on which I’m confused. Here I agree with the general view of the articles shown, but politics isn’t something on which I believe anybody can speak with certainty. It’s not physics.

      (5) “Even more disingenuous than the rest. What are you suggesting? That we are not a “divided nation” passed on some geographical distinctions which you wish to use as a way of redefining what is meant by “divided nation”?”

      (a) Why do you believe this is disingenuous?

      “Disingenuous: Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.”

      (b) Good point. I should have said “geographically divided”. I thought that was obvious, since people so often talk of blue red states — and blue and red regions.

    • 30 December 2012 11:24 pm

      I plan on following your lead and responding separately to each comment.

      On the “house keeping” issues I tend to agree. The thing is, I see your comment as further supporting my original position.

      Yes, to the various restrictions and constraints you mention in your comment. In other words, the “back story” is an important part of today’s narrative. Today’s article is built on foundational premises established in previous ones. Nothing really new there, which can only mean that when I provide proof of bias…ie. crazed right wingers, etc., you are not denying your use of the words, but rather are claiming that because they are “true” my bringing them to your attention is not proof of your bias.

      Here’s the problem, also inherent in the forum, I am at a great disadvantage as assumptions you make are considered “given”, and thus require no further proof, whereas assumptions I make are not considered “generally agreed upon”. Not too bad, assuming two other factors are in place. Attacking the fundamental premises is not considered “off-topic” and the particular article where those fundamental premises were established is provided by the author, in this case, you. .

      I guess what I am saying is that from what I understand, your disagreement with me lies in the fact that you don’t consider calling someone a “homophobic, racist, right wing gun nut” biased, you just see it as reflecting an objective truth. (The words I just used are simply examples to prove my point and are not necessarily reflective of your exact position)

      Thanks.

    • 31 December 2012 12:23 am

      Constructiveconservative,

      Thank you for your clear and logical response!

      “Here’s the problem, also inherent in the forum, I am at a great disadvantage as assumptions you make are considered “given”, and thus require no further proof, whereas assumptions I make are not considered “generally agreed upon”.”

      Agreed, sort of. It’s something lots of folks have struggled with on the Internet. It becomes a severe constraint when experts mix with laypeople. Like Ed Dolan on the MMT threads. Or on WUWT when Lief Svalgard talks about solar physics.

      So we all do the best we can with the tools we have. I post links with supporting info; you ask for supporting info on specific issues.

      So your statement “requires no further proof” is the opposite of what I have said — and the operating rules of this website. (Note: you made a somewhat similar and equally false statement in your previous comment)

      When we solve this problem (commo in comments), we’ll work on the far more difficult task of communicating with our spouses.

      “Attacking the fundamental premises is not considered “off-topic”.

      Agreed. The worst mistakes are often in the assumptions.

      “you don’t consider calling someone a “homophobic, racist, right wing gun nut” biased”

      If that was irony, it’s great. Othererwise, you must be kidding.

      “are not necessarily reflective of your exact position”

      Only if you consider “exact opposite” to mean “not necessarily reflective”. Otherwise it’s a brutal FAIL, in the sense of being without basis in anything in this or any other post on this website.

  7. 31 December 2012 12:21 am

    (1) “… yet the ironic implication seems to be that it is the constituents who should change rather than the leadership. Biased? Absolutely.”
    (a) I don’t understand what you mean by “bias” or “ironic”.
    (b) I don’t believe any of these discuss the GOP in terms of leadership vs constituents. Rather, they look at a faction of the GOP that has come to dominate the GOP. That faction has its own membership and leaders. As a result…

    Our problem in communicating continues to lie in your defacto definition of the “good” Republican Party as being the one dominated by the faction represented by the present leadership. You see those on the right as a “faction” and thus dismiss them rather than recognizing that they are the ones who represent the true constituency. If, an idea which I reject, what you say is true about “a faction of the GOP coming to dominate the GOP” why would their legitimacy be questioned any more than any other faction? In other words, what you are suggesting is that the GOP should be defined by those at the top rather than those at the bottom. Why?

    Larison: the “GOP fails to serve the interests of many of its constituents and its most likely supporters while masking this failure with a generic appeals to “values” or American exceptionalism.”

    Cohen: the GOP cannot win national power, because it is “out of step with the mainstream of American politics”. Berstein says much the same thing.

    The right-wing need not change its views. But winning requires building large coalitions, which requires compromises the right-wing so far is unwilling to make.

    For the sake of brevity I considered simply deleting these quotes, but decided that would not be the best course of action.

    Essentially, responding to the comments would take much more space than I would consider reasonable. In some cases I would suggest there was a certain bit of picking and choosing, but let’s look at your analysis.

    How? Why? Let’s use a simple example to refute this mythical claim that the right is the one that doesn’t compromise. Gay Rights in America circa the “60’s”.

    Situation: Gays discriminated against in various ways, socially and politically.

    Let’s call that the default position of “the Right”.

    Left: Gays should be left in peace to go to their clubs and live their lives unobtrusively under the same restrictions as everyone else.

    Slippery Slope: Gay marriage.

    Let me ask you? Where is the compromise position on the “same sex” marriage issue? What position is further left other than outlawing heterosexual marriage?

    (2) I still don’t understand what you are saying. None of these articles describe the GOP’s problem as disconnect between the Party leadership and the base. Rather the “base” (in the sense of the far-right that dominate the party) and its leadership are pulling the overall GOP too-far right.

    And right here, you say it in your own words, the “base” is the (to you) “far-right” and I assume when you refer to “its leadership” you don’t mean the GOP leadership but rather the leadership of the, as you refer to it, base. In other words, the old leadership is not in tune with the base. You suggest it is moving the party too far right only because you are too far left. It’s all a matter of where you stand.

    (3) “You are suggesting I have somehow misinterpreted your position, perhaps you might flesh it out and make one small comment as to what this point says to you?”

    To what are you referring?

    I think I get you now. You don’t deny how you characterize the right, you just don’t consider it to reflect bias based on the fact you believe your position to be objectively true. We disagree, and I have seen nothing to support your position.

    (4a) “Four alleged “problems” that are easy to solve, and yet they all seem to be saying the same thing.”

    Everybody conceptualizes these things differently. There is IMO no single master perspective or description.

    I disagree, they all say the same thing, get rid of those nasty right-wingers who are messing up the party.

    That being said, is there a particular article of yours you would recommend where you clearly make the case against the right wing based on more than prejudice and bias?

    (5) “Even more disingenuous than the rest. What are you suggesting? That we are not a “divided nation” passed on some geographical distinctions which you wish to use as a way of redefining what is meant by “divided nation”?”

    (a) Why do you believe this is disingenuous?

    “Disingenuous: Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.”

    (b) Good point. I should have said “geographically divided”. I thought that was obvious, since people so often talk of blue red states — and blue and red regions.

    I’m assuming your (b) answered your (a).

    Thanks again…btw…is there any way to format comments. I can edit them on my column, but can’t seem to find the mechanisms required to do it here.

    • 31 December 2012 12:37 am

      I see we were posting replies at about the same time.

      So your statement “requires no further proof” is the opposite of what I have said — and the operating rules of this website. (Note: you made a somewhat similar and equally false statement in your previous comment)

      Great, as you see in my previous comment, I’m asking for just such proof. I’ll ignore your assumptions regarding our relative standing, or lack thereof, and continue to concentrate on the which is important.

      Interestingly, it is the maligned right who is fighting against the electoral system as defined in the quote by Walter Bagehot (1867) which you provide above.

      Ok, I admit I should have provided an exact quote rather than an example which I specifically noted was not necessarily reflective of your views. Here is it, from the body of the article:

      The single most defining element of American politics over the last four years is that the Republican party has fallen out of the crazy tree and hit every branch on the way down. It is no longer even appropriate to say the Republican party is dominated by its conservative wing; but rather, that the GOP is controlled by its extreme, radical wing.

      The shift of the Republican to the far, far right is not a recent development. Instead, it is reflective of a four-decade shift in ideological orientation in the GOP: from a party once torn between distinct conservative and moderate wings, to one in which moderates have gone the way of dinosaurs and VCRs. But there is no question that in the past four years, the extremism of the GOP has increased dramatically

      I’m still waiting for the article where you prove any of these characterizations to be true.

      Thanks.

    • 31 December 2012 1:16 am

      Wow. Based on our discussion so far, I suspect that nothing I say will influence you in the slightest degree. The differences in perspective are too great.

      I have a long list of posts documenting the shift you describe, but cannot post them via iPhone. Look at the FM Reference Page “Politics in America” to see the list.

      Even many in the GOP see these things.

      Like Mike Lofgren, 28 years as a GOP staffer in Congress. I recommend reading his work for information on this; his detail and analysis is far better than mine. See his articles here.

      Ditto Bruce Bartlett, senior official under Reagan and Bush Sr. See his articles at:

      And neo-com journalist David Frum, speechwriter for Bush Sr. See his articles at the Daily Beast.

    • 31 December 2012 1:36 am

      Cross-post of a reply made to constructive conservative made on another thread:

      I do not believe we differ on the facts. Or at least, that’s not the major difference.

      That is different than what we often see in discussions here, where we encounter hard core ideologues that refuse to see contrary facts. That is the result of successful indoctrination, like at the end of 1984. The posts today and tomorrow give some examples.

      Rather I think we have different political perspectives, which leads to divergent interpretations of the facts. It’s this kind of difference that drives a healthy political dynamic. Without those we have a sterile political environment, with one group unchallenged by a strong opposition. That produces bad long-term outcomes, on many levels.

    • 31 December 2012 12:59 am

      I am replying via iPhone, so in slivers. My previous reply was poetry, lost when the battery died. So I’ll try again.

      “Our problem in communicating continues to lie in your defacto definition of the “good” Republican Party as being the one dominated by the faction represented by the present leadership.”

      Disagree. I try to leave “good/bad” to priests and philosophers. Here we usually focus on operational realities, as in this post.

      “You see those on the right as a “faction” ”

      The 2 parties are composed of sub-groups. Political literature usually calls these “factions”. Call them what you will.

      “thus dismiss them rather than recognizing that they are the ones who represent the true constituency.”

      Groups represent primarily themselves, and secondarily those who voted for them in the most recent election. I leave determination of “true constituency” to God. Or Plato, depending on you taste in high level abstractions.

      “If, an idea which I reject,”

      this is, and has been for a hundred years, the standard description of the US political process.

      “what you say is true about “a faction of the GOP coming to dominate the GOP” why would their legitimacy be questioned any more than any other faction? ”

      I don’t. Why do you say so? You seem to be replying to things not in this post.

      “In other words, what you are suggesting is that the GOP should be defined”

      I, and most of these articles, speak of winning elections. None of your comments have obvious relationship to what we are saying.

      “by those at the top rather than those at the bottom. Why?”

      Where are you getting all these ideas? Please give some references, even brief, to this post. This statement is just odd. Groups in the US are defined by complex interactions between leaders and followers.

  8. 31 December 2012 2:27 am

    I appreciate the discussion and also wish to point out that, as I am sure you are aware, the nuances of tone are virtually impossible to convey over the internet. In other words, nothing I post should be viewed as mean spirited or posted with malicious intent. That being said, nothing is more likely to end with no resolution than a conversation where a shift of the fundamental paradigm is required on the part of one or the other. This, in my view, is the case here and obviously I believe my paradigm to be more valid.

    I am afraid that I question your claim that you do not make value judgments as to what is “good” and what is “bad”. I would suggest that what you mean to say is that we are using different criteria in order to come to our separate conclusions. From what I can tell, you see “good” as winning elections. If that is not the case feel free to let me know. I might suggest that such a view is more often accepted at the top than the bottom. This is because the self-interest of those at the top requires them to be in power, regardless of the reason, while at the bottom the issues in question actually matter. This is a disconnect that those at the top find almost impossible to really understand.

    I must further apologize that from some of your comments I can see that I must redouble my efforts to put my comments into a format which fits within your paradigm while at the same time examining it.

    Your apparent misunderstanding regarding my “faction” comment is a good case in point. I’m afraid it evidences the same kind of response I often receive in other areas and thus I must agree that the fault must be mine. The point being that whether it be a plumber today or a college professor from years ago, my actual point or question may well go unanswered while at the same time I am subjected to a lecture on some lessor point due entirely to the fact that the experts in question knew the answer to the one, but have not even grasped the concepts referred to in the question I asked. Let’s dispense with the assumption that a high iq person needs a refresher in basic concepts and instead consider the possibility that by raising our sights a bit higher the intended meaning of a comment might become more clear.

    So. this would suggest that your entire focus is on the winning of elections without regard to ideology and, further, that you see the “far right” faction as being the group that stands in the way of that goal. Aside from the fact that I disagree with your analysis in terms of electibility, I hope you can also see that we disagree on the relative importance of the elected individuals ideology. Once again, I would suggest that this has to do with a greater focus on the benefits which accrue to the successful office holder rather than on the needs and desires of the lower classes. In other words, for those without direct access to their various representatives, and thus the benefits of feeding at the government trough, it really doesn’t matter whether the Democrats or Republicans win if the only choice is which group of elites is further enriched.

    In short, ideology matters, a point which seems to either be misunderstood or willfully ignored. I don’t know any other way to say it, but that it is the paradigm that is being completely rejected. Sure, it is an uphill battle to convince the electorate that buying votes using Federal, or State, funds is not a good thing and that they should support a party which….

    “fails to serve the interests of many of its constituents and its most likely supporters while masking this failure with a generic appeals to “values” or American exceptionalism.”

    Are we doomed? Sure. Are conservatives outnumbered and fighting a rear action doomed to lose to those who are unwilling to learn the lessons of history? Absolutely. Are not then conservatives themselves showing that they are also ignoring the very same lessons of history? Without a doubt. I guess for those, such as myself, we still hold out hope that we have not quite yet reached that fatal tipping point, and understand that any further attempts at “compromise” will simply hasten the fall. (Yes, that might be a bit of a rant, but I have no doubt you are conversant with historical evidence and philosophical memes which prove the validity of what I have suggested.

    Let’s take a look at the next inexplicable, to me, misinterpretation of another one of my comments.

    “If, an idea which I reject,”

    this is, and has been for a hundred years, the standard description of the US political process.

    “what you say is true about “a faction of the GOP coming to dominate the GOP, why would their legitimacy be questioned any more than any other faction? ” ”? ”

    Why on earth would you split my comment? What possible interpretation led you to insert your comment? To what, exactly, does your inserted response refer? Let’s read my comment as written without the clause which seems to have given you so much trouble.

    “If what you say is true about “a faction of the GOP coming to dominate the GOP. an idea which I reject”

    Now, your response….

    “this is, and has been for a hundred years, the standard description of the US political process.”

    What is “the standard description of the US political process.”? My rejection of your claim that a particular faction has come to dominate the GOP?

    Sorry, but this comment shows the problem with becoming deeply enmeshed in a substantive debate in the comment section. Not sure of the word count, but it may be way over..cut paste or delete as it suits you.

    Thanks.

    • 31 December 2012 2:37 am

      You will be pleasantly surprised at the brevity of this comment…..

      I appreciate the limitations of the iphone.

      I can always be persuaded, by facts, founded on verifiable other facts.

      I appreciate your effort in linking other articles. My first impression is that they are all by those who have an interest in preserving their power. Not surprisingly their analysis will almost certainly support the positions of their factions and denigrate those who are attempting to replace them.

      As an aside, have you considered that by using only “experts” you limit yourself to their self-serving analyses?

      Now, off to do some reading. As you may have guessed,I happen to have little in the way of family obligations today

    • 31 December 2012 3:07 am

      “As an aside, have you considered that by using only “experts” you limit yourself to their self-serving analyses?”

      No. There are experts on all points of the political spectrum. Experts’ work is no more self-serving than anybody else’s — and usually much more insightful and reliable.

  9. 31 December 2012 5:07 am

    Hmm. I’m going to have to disagree, as well as clarify.

    I’m not simply dismissing all experts, or knowledge, but I have to tell you that in many areas “expertise” is over valued. I note that many of the authors here were in the service which means that prior to asking my question II should probably take to heart the old lawyer saying about never asking a question to which you don’t know the answer, but I’ll go ahead and ask it anyway.

    The answer might well depend on personal experience, but depending on the circumstances, it is sometimes the user or the man on the ground who is more knowledgeable than the man behind the desk or some other alleged expert.

    Another one of my memes, take it for what it’s worth, is that one doesn’t have to be the most intelligent, or even the most knowledgeable, person in the room as it is sometimes enough to know “enough”. Returning to my 2 plus 2 example. I don’t need to be the world’s greatest mathematician to recognize when such a man makes a careless error in computation. Yes, he may be the expert and know a lot more than I do in areas which I fully acknowledge his superiority, but not when it comes down to the answer to 2 plus 2. Unfortunately, hubris is not an unknown characteristic in those who fancy themselves to be the world’s best mathematician.

    And, actually I do disagree that expert’s work is no more self-serving than anybody else’s and thus can sometimes be less insightful and much less reliable. If one’s entire career or professional standing is based on a particular point of view there is obviously immense pressure to ignore anything which might threaten that standing. Look at Paul Krugman.

    As yet another aside, I read the article by Mr. Lofgren and found it to be less than impressive. The length of the article and number of issues (would) require(s) an analysis more fit for an article than this comment section. I’ll try to put something together and let you know when it’s published. Feel free to respond here, should I publish it, as the fact that I needed the additional space should not be interpreted as an attempt to promote my little effort at re framing today’s political dialogue.

    Thanks, and quite frankly, I’m not guaranteeing I will find the time and the energy to provide a rebuttal which would meet your standards. Suffice it to say that “The Party” is indeed “over” and of course someone such as Mr Lofgren would find it hard to make the transition from dispensing favors without regard to the cost to a more fiscally responsible and sustainable environment. Those who believe that we can continue to spend without consequence do indeed need to go.

    Thanks again.

  10. 31 December 2012 7:49 am

    I believe you can easily delete this comment and feel free to do so.

    I never claimed I don’t need an editor, but here’s my take on one of the articles you recommended.

    We have talked about agreeing on the facts, but apparently Mr.Bartlett has a completely different perspective.

    Thanks again.

  11. 3 January 2013 2:56 am

    Maybe “The Big Sort” Never Happened“, John Sides (Assoc Prof, Pol Science), The Monkey Cage, 20 March 2012 — Opening:

    “Many readers will remember the book The Big Sort by Bill Bishop. It argues that Americans are increasingly clustered in like-minded political communities. If one categorizes a county by how its residents voted in presidential elections, as of 2004 nearly half (48%) of Americans lived in “landslide” countries where one presidential candidate got at least 60% of the vote. In 1976, that number was 27%.

    A new article (currently and graciously ungated) by political scientists Samuel Abrams and Morris Fiorina challenges this account, however. Abrams and Fiorina argue that presidential voting is not a reliable indicator of partisanship, as voting may depend on idiosyncratic features of candidates. Better, they argue, is party registration, which more reliably measures people’s underlying partisan preference (if any).

    When landslide counties are identified using party registration and this same 60/40 threshold, the trend is the complete opposite of a Big Sort. The fraction living in such counties was 50% in 1976; in 2008, it was 15%. This same conclusion emerges using thresholds lower than 60/40. …”

    • 3 January 2013 10:16 am

      Assuming I’m understanding what you’re saying, I’m afraid I will once again suggest that the conclusions you, or they, reached is in error.

      First: The data says that less people are living in ‘landslide districts” in 2008 than in 1976…Am I understanding the data? If that’s the case, I’d like to point out another possibility. First, is my assumption correct?

  12. 3 January 2013 10:20 am

    ps…I couldn’t get to the data….something wrong?

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