Tag Archives: republican party

A look into the GOP mind: untethered from reality and drifting in the wind

Summary: Scores of posts have documented the difficulty Americans have seeing the world. Of course this affects both Left and Right. But not equally. The Right has more fully exploited the powerful tools of propaganda developed during the past century, both to motivate the faithful and gain support. Unfortunately decades of shifting the Right’s viewpoint has broken its tether to reality, allowing a slide into delusions. Today we see some evidence of this in the polls.

No rejoicing by the Left, please. Schadenfreude, however natural, should be outweighed by the danger this creates for the Republic, that a large fraction of a major party has lost their bearings.

Alice when the Madness Returns

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Contents

  1. Poll #1
  2. Poll #2
  3. Poll #3
  4. Other posts about the Right in America
  5. For More Information

Poll #1

Democrats and Republicans differ on conspiracy theory beliefs, a survey by Public Policy Polling (PPP), 2 April 2013.

Q#1: Do you believe global warming is a hoax? — 58% of GOP say “yes”.

Poll: global warming by party

Public Policy Polling, April 2013

For more about Republicans’ views of global warming, see this Gallup report, this Pew Research report. And this Pew Poll:

Poll: global warming, by party

Contrast that with the consensus of climate scientists:

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”
— conclusion of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I. For more about this consensus see these studies.

 PPP Question#8:  Do you believe President Barack Obama is the anti-Christ? — 20% of the GOP say “yes”.

This is a disturbing next step from the “Is Obama not a US citizen” and “Is Obama a Muslim?” questions, whose weirdness we have become accustomed to.

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Look in the polls, as in a mirror, to see America drift to the Right

Summary:  How have the two major parties done in attracting and retaining the public’s confidence and allegiance, from February 2009 to now? The long slow recovery should have boosted the Democratic Party, who have controlled the Executive Branch and the Senate. It hasn’t. In fact the Democrat’s remain locked into the long decline of the Left, which they’ve ridden by following the public’s shift to the Right (Democratic leaders of the 1960’s would be considered radical commies if they ran today). This is interesting since so many Republicans have gone crazy.

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Poll by Hart Research Associates
Commissioned by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal
Done 22 – 25 January 2014.

Question #6:

“Now I’m going to read you the names of several public figures and groups and I’d like you to rate your feelings toward each one as very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative.”

Compare the results for February 2009 (soon after the inauguration) and January 2014 (% for each answer; the results are similar for December 2008). Political scientists have more sophisticated ways to measure people’s political alignment, but this is the bottom lines for elections.

One party running America

The Democratic Party:

Positive -12, Neutral +4, Negative +9, Don’t know -1

  • Very positive:………….20 vs 10…..-10
  • Somewhat positive:….29 vs 27…..-02
  • Neutral:………………….18 vs 22…..+04
  • Somewhat negative:…14 vs 20…..+06
  • Very negative:………….17 vs 20…..+03
  • Don’t know:…………….02 vs 01…..-01

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The achilles heel of both political parties, waiting to be exploited by reformers

Summary: The two parties in America stand as invincible barriers to political reform. They own the high ground; they control all the gates. No set of attractive policies will overcome them. Yet they have points of vulnerability exploitable by determined reformers who seek not just better doctrine but also organizational superiority. We can defeat giants, for they act stupid and slowly. Today we discuss one kind of advantage, part of a long series about ways to reform America (see links at the end). Not the fun of slogans and magic policies, but the specifics of building change.

Achilles

Democrats & Republicans: almost invincible


And every eye
Gazed as before some brother of the sky.
The Odyssey, Book VIII, line 17.

Contents

  1. Their weakness
  2. Lessons Learned
  3. For More Information

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(1)  Their weakness

Both Democrats and Republicans are “reality-based communities”, with a clear understanding — of each other. Both parties have in themselves the seeds of greatness, but are hobbled by their confidence in their beliefs, their preference for orthodoxy over truth, an unwillingness to hear criticism, and a disinterest in growth.

Epistemic closure” protects the members of each faction from learning. Information comes only from in-group sources, with heterodox thought discouraged by group norms. The Democrats see this clearly in the Republicans. The GOP sees this clearly in the Democrats. So each party understands that the other’s worldview has little credibility.

This is most often described as a problem of the Republicans. But the Democrats are equally afflicted. Perhaps the best-known example: their belief that its portfolio of Treasury bonds funds Social Security. Eminent economists, such as Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley) and Paul Krugman confidently state this absurdity. As if a bond is an asset when held by the issuer. Federal government pays social security; it cannot fund one obligation with another obligation. You might as well write an IOU to yourself for a trillion dollars and ask to join the Fortune 500.

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The Republicans are winning, leaders in the building of a New America

Summary: Many people believe the American political system has become some combination of rigid, dysfunctional, perhaps even stupid. All of these are false. The US political system is alive and evolving rapidly, as a New America rises on the ashes of the Republic-that-once-was, built to the designs of its plutocratic stakeholders. That so many remain blind to this reflects the quiet nature of the process, and the skill of its key actors. Today we examine some of the evidence.

GOP sunrise

GOP sunrise, from the “Right Truth” website

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After 30 years the shift of America has become obvious, along with the Republicans’ successful leadership. Especially after the events during Obama’s administration (aka Bush Jr’s 3rd and 4th terms).

Many social policies have become more liberal. But few of the 1% care who sleeps with whom, or the details of births and deaths among the proles.

What about the Democratic Party’s excitement over the debt crisis fiasco, and the resulting GOP dip in in the polls?  Even the most successful movement has reverses, often from over-confidence and excessive aggressiveness. Setbacks are not defeat. What matters is how they respond and adapt.

Consider instead the momentum of events, their intellectual and financial resources, their legion of shock troops in local communities, their powerful organizational support structure of think-tanks and advocacy groups. All they lack is skilled strong leadership — to replace their current collection of clowns and poseurs. When they have that missing piece, they can shift to a higher speed.

Let’s look at some articles of the past month, much like the news flow for the past few years. And the past three decades.

(1) Conservative Georgia District Urges G.O.P. to Keep Up the Fight“, New York Times, 6 October 2013 — Read the quotes!

(2) Take Back the House? Democrats Aren’t Even Ahead on Friendly Turf In 2014“, Nate Cohn, The New Republic, 7 October 2013 — Candidate selection is vital, and the GOP has the vital edge in enthusiasm.

(3) The mythical moderates?“, David Karol (Assoc Prof of Politics, U MD; bio here), blog of the Washington Post, 8 October 2013 — The GOP has stronger internal cohesion, giving them an edge in every conflict.

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Mechanics and consequences of America hitting the debt ceiling

Summary: The debt crisis deserves attention not just as a potentially serious event, but also because it illuminates many aspects of America: the flaws in our political structure, weaknesses in the GOP, and our excessively credulity. This post, the sixth in this series, looks at the crisis, and why we have difficulty seeing it clearly.

Debt Ceiling

Contents

  1. Significance of this debate
  2. The SecTsy warns us
  3. An analysis of the problem
  4. How quickly will the Treasury hit the wall?
  5. Effects of hitting the debt ceiling
  6. Other posts in this series
  7. For More Information

(1)  Significance of this debate

A characteristic of Americans today is our credulity. We believe whatever our political leaders tell us. Much of the Left believes that humanity faces not just a crisis but doom, or even extinction, from climate change — no matter what the IPCC and major climate agencies say.

On the Right their authorities give them a similar mixture of fact an fiction, but perhaps are even more delusional — Rush on radio, Fox TV, National Review in print, and countless right-wing websites.  Let’s look at the one example, concerning the debt limit crisis: “The AP Misreports the Debt Ceiling“, John Hinderaker, Powerline, 14 October 2013 — He makes several valid points. But he grossly underestimates the mechanical difficulty (and hence risk) of rolling over hundreds of billions in debt without violating the debt ceiling, and his conclusion is incorrect.

Would a default on U.S. Treasury bonds be a disaster? Of course. No one denies that. But what does that have to do with spending on programs like Social Security? Social Security is not a debt obligation; and, in any event, it is discretionary spending that would be cut if the debt ceiling were reached, not entitlements.

… The Treasury says that without the ability to borrow more than the $17 trillion we already owe, the federal government won’t be able to “pay its bills.” What they mean by that is that spending will be cut: henceforward, it will have to equal revenue, just as though a balanced budget amendment had been enacted. When Democrats talk about “paying our bills,” they mean maintaining spending at ever-growing levels.

It’s a common opinion on the Right:

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A new political party for a New America: the Tea Party GOP

Summary: This is the fourth in this series about the new politics now emerging in America, in some ways different than anything in our long history. Here we look at the new GOP and its shock troops, the Tea Party Movement. When reading the many articles describing it as crazy, ignorant, and doomed — remember that they are the dominant force today, dragging the political spectrum to the Right (due to the length of this post, supporting material about this is in the comments).

GOP sunrise

GOP sunrise, from “Right Truth” website

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Contents

  1. Introduction to our new politics
  2. The historical evolution of our new politics
  3. Our political parties are stronger than they have ever been
  4. This crisis was planned, but not by the Tea Party
  5. Understanding the people of the New Right
  6. Other posts in this series
  7. For More Information
  8. Flashback to a prophetic note from August 2011
  9. Reminder: the 2 parties agree broadly agree on many key issues

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(1)  Introduction to our new politics

While the shutdown and debt crisis probably ends in days or a few weeks, the lessons we learn from it can help us better manage the many crises that lie ahead. The two great lessons:

  1. Our government’s structure is exceptional because it is flawed, and so copied by few other nations. Part two discussed this.
  2. The two Tea Party and Evangelical factions of the GOP have allied, becoming a powerful force in US politics. This crisis shows that they have become a disruptive due to their alienation and unwillingness to compromise.

The first is the dynamite, the second the detonator. But the problem was inevitable, and would eventually have emerged, during this crisis or some future crisis. The Founders hated and feared “factions”, but made few provisions in the political system for their management.

Today we discuss the second factor. The US political system has matured into ideologically coherent parties, with both having an extreme that provides shock troops. It’s the logical evolution of our system, remarkable only in that it took two centuries.

The Republicans, as usual, do this much better than the Democrats. Elements in the GOP coalition have built the Tea Party movement into a powerful grassroots activist network. Surprisingly, with its powerful backers the Tea Party Movement has come to dominate the GOP, yet another of the historically commonplace instances of a tribe emerging from the margins to dominate the group.

Here are some articles that describe this new force, and how it fits into the politics of the New America now under construction.

(2)  The historical evolution of our new politics

Tea Party radicalism is misunderstood: Meet the Newest Right”, Michael Lind, Salon, 6 October 2013 — “Our sense of the force currently paralyzing the government is full of misconceptions — including what to call it.” Excerpt:

Allow me to clear away a few misconceptions about what really should be called, not the Tea Party Right, but the Newest Right. …

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Let’s learn from this inevitable crisis, which results from flaws in our system

Summary: While the shutdown and debt ceiling crisis probably ends in days or a few weeks, the lessons we learn from it can help us better manage the similar crises that lie ahead. Failure to learn and respond to these might have ugly consequences during the next decade. Today we look at one of the two vital lessons. This is the second of a four part series.

Blasting caps

Just like the Tea Party Movement

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Contents

  1. Introduction to our problem
  2. A brilliant but superficial analysis
  3. A deeper analysis
  4. Another forecast
  5. Other posts in this series
  6. For More Information

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(1)  Introduction

While the shutdown and debt crisis probably ends in days or a few weeks, the lessons we learn from it can help us better manage the many crises that lie ahead. The two great lessons:

  1. Our government’s structure is exceptional because it is flawed, and so copied by few other nations.
  2. The two Tea Party and Evangelical factions of the GOP have allied, becoming a powerful force in US politics. This crisis shows that they have become a disruptive due to their alienation and unwillingness to compromise.

Our Constitutional structure of a divided Executive and Legislature — with the Legislature further divided into two houses — allows potentially destabilizing political gridlock. The somewhat non-ideological basis of American parties for most of our history (with other strong divisions, such as regional) hid this. But now the parties have resorted themselves on more logical lines, sharpening the competition and making compromise more difficult.

Perhaps after two centuries we should worship the Founders less and strive to improve on their work. We can start by asking why most new nations adopt parliamentary systems, instead of copying ours.

The second factor is the maturation of US political system into ideologically coherent parties, with both having an extreme acting as shock troops. The Republicans, as usual, do this much better than the Democrats — building the Tea Party movement into a powerful grassroots activist network. It’s the logical evolution of our system, remarkable only in that it took two centuries.

The first is like dynamite (the subject of today’s post). Tomorrow we discuss the second, which is like a detonator. The combination can produce a ugly crisis, which the current one foreshadows. But the problem is structural. The Founders hated and feared “factions”, but made few provisions in the political system for their management. Its emergence seems inevitable during a crisis, eventually.

(2) A brilliant but superficial analysis

Shutdown’s roots lie in deeply embedded divisions in America’s politics“, Washington Post, 5 October 2013 — Excerpt:

The government shutdown did not happen by accident. It is the latest manifestation — an extreme one by any measure — of divisions long in the making and now deeply embedded in the country’s politics. At some point, presumably, the current standoff will end. The federal government will reopen, the ceiling on its borrowing power will be lifted and some stalled legislation could pass. Some sense of normalcy will return to official Washington.

But it also could be a new normal, as confrontation remains commonplace and true compromise rare. Meanwhile, the ideological, cultural and political differences that led to this moment of extreme governmental dysfunction are almost certain to shape elections and legislative battles in the near term.

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