What happens to the Republican Party after the election?

A vital opposition party being essential in a two-party system, the fate of the Republican Party will deserve almost as much attention as the activities of the newly dominant Democratic Party.  Here are some guesses about the future.

  1. Collapse of the Republican Party
  2. Defectors from the Party, foreshadowing doom
  3. Door #1:  Purge the Party’s membership, keeping only the faithful
  4. Door #2:  reflection and rebuilding
  5. A historical note on the two Party system

1.  Collapse of the Republican Party

After a quarter-century in power, to varying degrees, the Republican Party not only faces defeat but disintegration, political and intellectual.  The Administrations of the two Bushes have ripped the Party from its modern foundation forged by Barry Goldwater and William Buckley in the 1960’s.  A massive tax increase and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 under Bush Sr., the latter of the largest expansions of Federal power for decades — until Bush Jr.  Bush Jr’s contempt for civil liberties (other than gun control), massive spending and deficits (a Republican tradition since Reagan), massive expansion of government power, pro-open borders, and enthusiasm for foreign wars. 

McCain’s erratic political history — spun as being a “maverick” — gave few signs of change to this mess, other than his steadfast enthusiasm for foreign wars.

As a result the party has almost no doctrinal coherence — what does it stand for?  The only strong, consistent policy is opposition to abortion — a long-term aspect of its platform that has over decades has had little impact on public policy.  Probably because of the strong public consensus for a position between the extreme views held by the two major parties.

Politically the party has alienated many of its core constituencies.  McCain’s long-held contempt for the “religious right”.  Bush Jr’s and McCain’s strong support for open borders –opposing one of the most strongly held beliefs of the party core.  Most of all, Bush Jr’s disastrous management of the domestic economy and our foreign wars.

Note:  before commenting that we have won in Iraq, please explain what we have “won” — in terms of American national objectives.

2.  Defectors from the Party, foreshadowing doom

A tangible indication of the Party’s internal weakness is the defection of so many conservatives from McCain-Palin ticket.  This has few parallels in American history.  Here is a partial list of well-known conseratives or Republicans (distinct but overlapping categories) who have expressed serious concerns about Gov Palin’s fitness as a potential President — some to the point of outright support for Obama.

  1. Christopher Buckley (source)
  2. David Frum and Kathleen Parkerat National Review Online.
  3. Peggy Noonan (President Reagan’s speechwriter) at the Wall Street Journal.
  4. Colin Powell.
  5. Kenneth Adelman, long-time diplomat under several Republican administrations (source; bio).
  6. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and former Securities and Exchange Commissioner William Donaldson (source).
  7. Douglas Kmiec, diplomat, long-time conservative (source; bio).
  8. Lawrence Eagleburger, Sec of State under Bush Sr. and whose endorsement is often cited by McCain, speaking on NPR (AP story, recording) (bio).  Later, his walkback (quote here; video here).
  9. Ken Duberstein, President Reagan’s Chief of Staff, on CNN (bio).
  10. Bruce Bartlett, historian, domestic policy adviser to Reagan and a treasury official under Bush Sr (source, bio).

How will the Republican Party’s core react?

3.  Door #1:  Purge the Party’s membership, keeping only the faithful

Door #1 is to purge all but the faithful remnant.  Key Republicans are already digging holes for the stakes and gathering firewood.  Two examples follow.

Sarah Palin’s Future“, Fred Barnes (Executive Editor), Weekly Standard, 27 October 2008 — “Alaska’s most valuable resource.”  Excerpt:

Palin, by the way, is unsure about her ultimate role in national politics even if McCain wins, but it’s bound to be more complicated if he loses.

“I don’t know what kind of role the Republican party would want me to play,” she told me. “In the past, I have not been one to be considered for anything by the hierarchy of the party. Certainly not in my state. In some sense, I ran against my party.”

Palin remains skeptical of Republicans. “I would love to promote the party ideals if we’re going to live out the ideals and maybe allow other American voters to understand what the principles of the party are,” she says. “We’ve got to be assured we have enough people in the party who will live out those ideals and it’s not just rhetoric. Otherwise, I’d be wasting my time. There are a lot of things I would and should be doing.”

Rush Limbaugh spoke more explicitly during his 24 October show: “Good Riddance, GOP Moderates.”  Excerpt:

This is Sarah Palin to Fred Barnes; and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the rebuilding of the conservative movement — even if there is no direct leader in charge of making it happen, it will happen by default because it’s going to have to. Even if McCain wins, Colin Powell going to come running back? Is Bill Weld going to come running back? Hell, yes, they will! Hell, yes, they’ll come running back. They’ll do everything they can to stay in the circle of power. Of course they’ll come running back. All these people are out for self-interest. That’s what Sarah Palin is saying. She’s not in it for self-interest. The party had better be what the party is or I don’t have any future in it.

We’re going to rebuild it even if McCain wins. We’re going to have to. These people, these moderates who wanted the big tent, they have taken the party exactly where they said they wanted it to be — and when it got there, these little cowards jumped the ship! I have lost all respect for these people.

And, folks, when I said at the beginning of this that I wanted to turn around and pat myself on the back, it’s because I (and so many like me) knew this exact thing was going to happen and tried to warn people about it during the primaries and so forth. I am not happy it’s happened except for one reason. We flushed ’em out. We found out they’re not really Republicans and they’re by no means conservatives, and now they’re gone. Now the trick is to keep ’em out.

Update:  Operation Leper“, Erick Erickson, Redstate, 5 November 2008

RedState is pleased to announce it is engaging in a special project: Operation Leper. We’re tracking down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin to Carl Cameron and others. Michelle Malkin has the details. We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them. Naturally then, you’ll see us go to war against those candidates. It is our expressed intention to make these few people political lepers.

What might be the results of this course:

(1)  Becoming irrelevant extremists, like the Green and Socialist parties, as both membership and (equally or more important) funding dwindle. Few Americans, and even fewer in our ruling elites, have much interest in losers.  No matter how pure their ideology.

(2)  The center of gravity to America’s political ideological spectrum shifts left.  In most of America the primaries become the key contests in local, State, and national elections, are they are in so many areas today (due to both local political dominance plus gerrymandering).

4.  Door #2:  reflection and rebuilding

The second option would be far more difficult.  What did the Party do wrong?  How should its platform change to better express its beliefs for the 21st century?  How can it offer something to America that is more than a weak echo of the Democratic Party’s solutions, but not policies attractive only to a small extreme? 

5.  A historical note on the two Party system

For most of American history the two Party’s were divided by cross-cutting fractures, as a result of the Civil War making the South solidly Democratic terrain.  Many of the most conservative factions were in the Democratic Party.

After Johnson’s “New Society” much of the South changed affiliation, but this gave a racist tinge to the Republicans.  This weakened or even polluted the foundation laid by Goldwater and Buckley.

Now Obama gives new life to the Democratic Party, but also an opportunity for a fresh start to the Republican Party.  America needs a strong second party to provide not just alternative policies, but an alternative view of what America should be.  Are the Republicans up to this challenge?

Afterword

If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

Some solutions, ways to reform America:

  1. Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III – reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
  2. Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008
  3. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008
  4. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008  
  5. Fixing America: elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
  6. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
  7. Fixing America: solutions — elections, revolt, passivity, 18 August 2008
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26 thoughts on “What happens to the Republican Party after the election?

  1. How will the Republican Party’s core react? Possibly, by rattling their cups against the cell door.

    CIA Officers Could Face Trial in Britain Over Torture Allegations“, The Independent, 31 October 2008 — Video attached. Excerpt:

    “Senior CIA officers could be put on trial in Britain after it emerged last night that the Attorney General is to investigate allegations that a British resident held in Guantanamo Bay was brutally tortured, after being arrested and questioned by American forces following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001

    “The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has asked Baroness Scotland to consider bringing criminal proceedings against Americans allegedly responsible for the rendition and abuse of Binyam Mohamed, when he was held in prisons in Morocco and Afghanistan.

    “The development follows criticism of US prosecutors by British judges who have seen secret evidence of torture committed against Mr Mohamed, including allegations his torturers used a razor blade to repeatedly cut his penis. The Attorney’s investigation is expected to include allegations that MI5 colluded in Mr Mohamed’s rendition. Mr Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian national and British resident, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002, when he was questioned by an MI5 officer.”

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  2. If Obama does not win, the Republicans don’t need to do anything. If Obama wins, the questions are what can the Republicans do if anything, and what are the possible outcomes. How to approach this depends on how you view this turning point. The prism of the Civil War is the best one I’ve heard.

    The ‘Republican base’ that supposedly will remain in this case, the Palin 2012 people, constitute about 25% of the populace and are very coterminous with the states that went Confederate or stayed neutral in the Civil War, and pretty close to those who fought the slavery battle constitutionally from the Convention through the Missouri Compromise and Dred Scott and Fort Sumter. They culturally desire a fundamentalist, Christianist, militarized expansionist state based on prophecy that legislates morality and conquest but leaves business alone. They are currently ‘shrunk back’ to that size because their coalition with more centrist conservatives has broken down now that their policies were enacted, at least in one way by means of a soft coup (impeachment, Florida, the Supreme Court).

    One way to view the question, then, is what is to happen. One thing is this faction continues to shrink, perhaps taking the name ‘Republican’ with it and a new party rises. That could happen quickly given modern communications. Otherwise, the question becomes how this faction can achieve another alliance with the more center right portion of the country. Given the complexity of the modern world and how recent policies played out, and the urgency of the situation, what would probably be best would be for Obama to win and his consensus-based, citizen-involvement model to take hold. This is the way back to the Republic. I think it calls for intellectual and ethical conservatives at this point to attempt to join the Obama government and support it and see what happens, speaking out as indicated when they perceive liberal overreach. There are a lot of smart people who think that way and rather than moving to the cynical sidelines to second-guess, I think such people should engage instead. Try to make it work.

    Should this happen it could initiate a unity era of a centrist government, and while in name it would be Democratic and in essence anti-Confederate; that is, socially liberal, militarily conservative, and with some amount of regulation and government involvement (soundly based in the interstate commerce clause of course) of business, certainly more than that favored by the Confederate faction.

    What might appear to be one party rule might, if properly managed, lead to a situation where legislative debates were more on substance than partisanship. Obama’s model invites participation from all, and explicitly intellectual conservatives and people serious about governance. A period of this type could buy time for more of that Confederate quarter to be Virginianated, and needless to say the nature of an Obama victory would settle the major question that has always vexed this great country.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Like so much on this site, this is on the edge of what we know. Keeping that in mind, and esp that this is outside my expetise, I disagree with much of this.

    (1) “the Palin 2012 people, constitute about 25% of the populace”

    I would like to see polls on this. I doubt this is so large a fraction of the adult population, and even more strongly doubt it is 25% of voters.

    (2) “very coterminous with the states that went Confederate or stayed neutral in the Civil War, and pretty close to those who fought the slavery battle constitutionally from the Convention through the Missouri Compromise and Dred Scott and Fort Sumter.”

    Just a guess, but I suspect her strength is far more centered in the West (not States during Civil War).

    (3) “Obama’s model invites participation from all”

    Given the Obama’s campaign frequent attempts to intimidate opponents, this seems quite false. This has been a persistent theme during the campaign.

    * “Three Reporters From McCain-Endorsing Newspapers Removed From Obama’s Plane“, Fox News, 31 October 2008
    * “Obama campaign cuts off WFTV after interview with Joe Biden“, Orlando Sentinel, 24 October 2008
    * “Obama Lawyer Asks for Probe Into Vote-Fraud Claims“, Bloomberg, 17 October 2008

    Plus the Missouri incident:
    * “Obama campaign cracks down on misleading TV ads“, KMOV TV St. Louis, 23 September 2008 — They ask the Missouri Attorney General to harass opponents.
    * “DOJ Confirms It Has No Plans to Investigate Donors and Independent Citizens Groups“, American Issues Project, 16 September 2008 — Federal AG says no.
    * “Gov. Blunt Statement on Obama Campaign’s Abusive Use of Missouri Law Enforcement“, Office of the Governor, Missouri, 27 September 2008

    Of course, the Republicans have their own problems dealing with criticism. Gov Palin appears to believe press criticism violates her First Amendment Rights (ABC News article, listen to the interview here).

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  3. While Fabius is correct that this election is probably going to take the country to the left and re-energize the Democratic party, I believe that the Democrats will be not be able to fix the major structural issues this country faces without causing great unhappiness and that unhappiness will re-energize the Republicans and lead to them recapturing the House in the 2010 elections.

    Fabius’ article correctly identifies the many problems that the Republicans face but I would point out that the Democratic party’s house is not in order either. If anything, I’d argue that the Republicans are currently in better shape than the Democrats because they still retain a key power that the Democrats have long since lost: the ability to push legislation (even unpopular legislation) through Congress.

    Not having done any particular research on the topic, I cannot recall a single bill in the last 16 years that became law without at least 50% of the Republicans voting for it. The same cannot be said for the Democrats.

    I’m guessing that the Republicans will retain somewhere between 33-45% of their House seats and will have at least 41 Senators left after the election. Since they are very unified (having taken Fabius’ first door) this will give them a tremendously powerful bargaining position for either stalling Democratic bills or for breaking off portions of the loosely-bound Democratic party to assist in pass their own bills.

    Even though the Democrats are probably going to win the election with some pretty impressive numbers, they should court the Republicans to ensure smooth passage of their legislation (which I hope they will start crafting immediately after the election instead of waiting until after the inauguration like they did in 2006) otherwise they may be facing bruising fights over every single piece of legislation as the Republicans try to show that the Democrats are even worse at deal with the country’s problems than the Republicans are.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: We will see. You might be correct. My forecast assumes the opposite, that the Democrats have the ability to push through legislation. I very much doubt that the Republicans would filibuster economic reform legislation — no matter how much they oppose it. To do so would risk total absolute annihilation in 2010 and 2012 as “obstructionists.”

    As for their ability to solve our problems, I doubt that (and have a future post discussing the reasons). But since the problems will be blamed on the Republicans, I doubt the Democratic Party will suffer for that. They will, however, get credit for the government money distributed.

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  4. In what way have the Democrats, under Clinton, or hypothetically under Obama, pushed the country “left”? Clinton balanced the budget, under Rubin’s guidance, and passed the Welfare Reform Act — i.e. gutted the federal welfare program. Clinton/Gore championed “more efficient government”. Did Johnson, Carter or Clinton make any move to restore a progressive income tax? (I dont actually know, but doubt it.)

    What is meant by a party’s “core”? Does it mean key intellectuals who formulate the party’s ideology? Or does it mean the popular beliefs and slogans by which the parties attract a gullible electorate? In any case, does either party’s ideology reflect what they actually do, once in office.
    The current bailout, virtually orchestrated by big finance (no longer even national, but global) sets the template for future government actions, whatever the administration. The question, in my mind, is which party has the intellectual and moral resources to challenge the hegemony of the financial elite and actually try to represent the people. I frankly don’t know the answer.

    A meaningful question would be how will either party respond when faced with 10% unemployment, mounting homelessness and hunger, and an inability to borrow money from abroad? Current party stereotypes won’t be good predictors of action under those conditions.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Interesting questions, but shows few signs of actually reading the post.

    “In what way have the Democrats, under Clinton … pushed the country “left”?”

    OK, I give up. How? (By the way, why do you ask? This post does not mention Clinton.)

    “What is meant by a party’s “core”? … Or does it mean the popular beliefs and slogans by which the parties attract a gullible electorate?”

    The phrase in the post is “core constituencies.” Obviously this refers to people, not ideas or slogans.

    “In any case, does either party’s ideology reflect what they actually do, once in office.”

    There must a rough correspondence, or the party’s core constituencies will rebel or leave. This post explains that this is one of the Republican Party’s problems.

    “Current party stereotypes won’t be good predictors of action under those conditions.”

    On what basis do you make this forecast? I suspect the Obama administration will respond with large scale government programs — public works, social services, and regulation (both expanded and new). Exactly as one would expect from their history and platform.

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  5. The Republicans are a shambles. In order to “better express its beliefs” a party needs to have beliefs. But George W. Bush has seen to that. He has been his party’s very own Katrina.

    The problem is that names must refer to things, words must have meanings. “Conservative”, for example, means forbearance, fiscal balance, governmental restraint, individual responsibility, free association, rule of law, and so on. Well, George Bush would just say, “Mission Accomplished”, meanwhile no taxes, expansion of government, “war on terror”, pre-emptive aggression, Gitmo, torture, kangaroo courts, wiretapping, politicizing Justice Department, subverting Constitution, with total collapse of free markets thrown in just for laughs. Almost the entire Republican party stood by cowering throughout eight years of this tyranny, for that is what it amounted to.

    The Chinese have a saying:”The only pleasure of being a prince is never having to suffer contradiction.” This is called the one sentence that can ruin a state.

    In 2010, even more Republicans will retire or be voted out of office. Republicans will come to represent an ever narrowing interest group said to be typified by one man in this election. Only his name isn’t Joe, and he isn’t a plumber.

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  6. Note: before commenting that we have won in Iraq, please explain what we have “won” — in terms of American national objectives.

    We’ve won a ticket in the history raffle, to be drawn in a decade or so. If there remains a recognizably representative, economically viable government there, then W is a visionary who took risks, stuck to his agenda, and enjoys a somewhat favorable verdict from history. Or not.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That would be a nice outcome, but how does that support any American national interest? Iran meets these criteria moderately well, so was the Iranian revolution in our national interest? Ditto Russia — and Hitler’s government in 1932.

    If the Iraq government is strongly anti-American, will the War still have been in our national interest?

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  7. Coup d’état, Smedley Darlington Butler I mean David Petraeus will fix everything.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: To save you all the trouble, here are the details from Wikipedia:

    Smedley Darlington Butler (1881–1940), nicknamed “The Fighting Quaker” and “Old Gimlet Eye”, was a Major General in the US Marine Corps and, at the time of his death, the most decorated Marine in US history (2 Medals of Honor).

    … In addition to his military career, Butler was noted for his outspoken anti-interventionist views, and his book “War is a Racket”. His book was one of the first works describing the workings of the military-industrial complex and after retiring from service, he became a popular speaker at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists and church groups in the 1930s.

    … In 1934, Butler came forward and reported to Congress that a group of wealthy pro-Fascist industrialists had been plotting to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a military coup. Even though the McCormack-Dickstein Committee (precursor to the House Un-American Activities Committee) corroborated most of the specifics of his testimony, no further action was taken. (see here for more details about this plot).

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  8. Addendum about Gov Palin’s future as a Republican Party leader

    One thing that can slow or even stop a political career are health problems. From Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 1 November 2008:

    “On a different note: where are Sarah Palin’s medical records? I tend to believe that even candidates for the highest offices are entitled to more privacy than most people seem to believe they ought to have, but release of medical records is something that all national candidates are expected to do, and the other three candidates (Obama, McCain and Biden) have all — with varying degrees of thoroughness {McCain, Biden, Obama} — released medical information and histories. But Palin hasn’t released any of her medical information and apparently now refuses to do so.

    “What makes Palin’s refusal increasingly strange is that she told Brian Williams two weeks that she would release them; the campaign promised ABC News — whose Kate Snow has tenaciously asked “every day [last] week” — that it would release them early last week {source}; and yet she still has not done so. It seems clear that she now has no intention of releasing them before the election {source}.

    “She is a 44-year-old woman who insists that she’s had no health problems. How hard can it be to gather her medical records? And what is the reason for her refusal? One can debate whether Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates should have to release medical records — I’m ambivalent on that question — but the standard is that they are required at least to release basic medical history, and Palin promised to release hers. So where is it, and why hasn’t it been released yet?”

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  9. Rant:

    In a country that is daily becoming less white and less grounded in the baggage of the 20th Century, the Republian Base are dinosaurs: White and over 40. Their small town America theme is “so 20th Century.” In general, in the West (except for Mormon Country), the rural youth leave small towns for the city (or army) and never return. The midwest and great lakes states saw this trend begin in the 1980s. (The only two areas I’ve lived.) As their base ages and dies, they will lose even more influence. I believe that part of Obama’s big draw is that he is not a Baby Boomer. Clinton and Bush were enough!

    Being an “X’er” (I’m 40) and having to deal with their (collectively) drunk, drugged B.S. as I was growing up (not to mention such things as “Zero Population Growth” birth control, and abortion which ensured we were out-numbered), I could relate then and I relate now.* They seemed to want to be so different than their parents, that they instead chose something worse. As Presidents, Bush and Clinton were both divisive and helped fracture the nation into divisions (as witnessed by charges of “un-American”). (Although McCain is not technically a baby boomer, his Vietnam Baggage, basically makes him one: Most people my own age, when asked, are really, really tired of hearing about the 1960s and Vietnam. I was a baby. The angst is nauseating. I don’t want to hear about it!)

    Only the Libertarian faction (note that Ron Paul is not a Baby Boomer), which does have youth appeal, can save the Rupublicans. You cannot have a strong political movement without the support of enthusiastic youth. Reagan enjoyed this asset, and were thus able to build a political power that lasted until the present. Obama has harnessed this energy as well. (Ironically, per Thomas Frank, Reagan’s appeal was a backlash against the 1960’s i.e. Baby Boomers.)

    One note about Palin: since my young people are found in Alaska (in the summer anyway), she probably believe the rural lower 48 is the same.

    By the way, I’m voting for Nader (as the only national recognized alternative to the present two party structure)–I can’t vote for someone who supports things like the “Bailout.” But I really don’t see any appeal in “Conservatism” as it is now defined for the 21st Century.

    *At the extreme end, I know of at least one case where the children residing a Vermont Commune all shaved their heads and became Skin Heads.

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  10. Their small town America theme is ‘so 20th Century.’

    Nineteenth century, my friend. ( To the extent that it is not actually 17th – see Salem. )

    One of the more exciting themes that we are going to encounter, IMHO, is when Latino groups begin to assert themselves not only in the sense of being some interest group in the traditional American sense but when they begin to import Latin America political themes, organizations, concepts, and the like and begin to mold things according to their own dynamic.

    I believe that salsa has already replaced ketchup and it seems to me that tortilla chips have replaced pretzels as the alternative to potato chips. Something like this is going to start happening to politics.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: We are already seeing this in the Southwest, as Latino groups introduce not only foods, but also their homelands’ politics: the client-patron system. I hope you enjoy it as much as you do salsa and tortillas.

    To better understand what we can look forward to, one of the best descriptions is

    * “The Class Basis of Patron-Client Relations”, Frances Rothstein, Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 6, No. 2, Views on Dependency (Spring, 1979). (I see no free copy online, available for purchase here).

    To varying degrees this has long existed in the southwest, as described in this article from The Economist (27 May 2004):

    “New Mexico is a poor place, with one of the highest proportions of people living on food stamps. … Because more than 40% of its population is Hispanic, it is usually grouped with immigrant states, notably California. In fact, few of its Latinos are immigrants: they include many families left over from the Spanish empire who have been in New Mexico since before the first English settlers arrived in Virginia. Its political tradition also long had a Latin American feel, based around a padrón system of clients and bosses. The bosses ran grocery stores, gave you credit, helped you if you needed a job. And all you had to do was vote for the Democrats. It used to be said that the votes in Rio Arriba County came in last because the local boss had to wait to find out how many votes were needed.”

    Massive immigration has given new force to the padrón system, as they adopt political relationships in forms with which they are familar. America’s low level of social mobility and high income inequality makes this a rational choice (see “Growing Unequal? Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries“, OECD, October 2008).

    To better understand the impact on America, I strongly recommend reading “Immigration and Usurpation — Elites, Power, and the People’s Will“, Fredo Arias-King, Center for Immigration Studies, July 2006. Fredo Arias-King (M.A. and M.B.A from Harvard) was a member of the Mexican delegation to Congress during Vicente Fox’s 2000 campaign, and as such heard many comments by Congress members that they would never make to their citizen constituents. No amount of salsa will make this pleasant reading.

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  11. Fabius properly corrects me for misreading “core constituencies” as “core”. He claims the Republican party has disappointed or abandoned its core consituencies. Well, so has the Democratic party, whose core or traditional consituencies were labor and minorities. My point was simply that consituencies and their desires are not what drive a party’s deep agenda once in office. Constituencies suggests people, but our two parties really represent different sectors of financial power.

    We don’t speak of the military/industrial complex, or Wall Street, or agribusiness, or basic industry, as constituencies, but that is what they are.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Polls, annecdotes, a multi-year collapse of fund-raising, and falling party membership — there is much evidence of Republicans’ unhappiness with their Party. Just to give one example that pre-dates the campaign:

    “The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors’ rebellion over President Bush’s immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors…” (source: “RNC fires phone solicitors“, Washington Times, 31 May 2007).

    The Democratic Party under Obama has extraordinary fund-raising success, increasing registration and membership, etc. On what basis do you say the Democratic Party has “disappointed or abandoned its core consituencies”? Both of the groups you mention, labor and minorities, are very active supporters in this election.

    Much of both parties membership consists of extremists, many of whose beliefs allienate voters in the vast center who are necessary for electoral success. So a balancing act is necessary, as Republicans have done with abortion and Democrats with the Iraq War. I believe in recent years the Democratic Party has done this far more successfully than the Republicans, and will find this even easier to do when in power.

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    1. Obama is set to give his first State of the Union this week and then appear in Florida and Maryland in sopuprt of the administration’s efforts to put Americans back to work.

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  12. Greg Panfile has a good estimate of hte situation, although, he 25% is just a guess on his part. The Whigs became Republicans following a similar back lash American Public, against a previous war of aggression our Mexican War. Funny how history can continue to repeat itself, as the Party to power and contained the South constantly running on the “war record”, this likely continued until the New Deal.
    Much of the West was settled after the Civil War by folks that Mr. Panfile would consider Palin 2012. A great 2009 example of this would be Washington State which has a number of public works in honor of Jefferson Davis (often justified for his work prior to our Civil War).

    My estimate is the Republican Party is about to dissolve or be renamed, as until a third party is available that operates in our national interests many conservatives have shifted in order not to reward losers at the strategic level (e.g. $700B bailout that likely reflects 400% increase in CEO pay or mortagage assessments by lenders over the bast 8 years) and hope for a new turkey in the pot at local level (e.g. legitimate blue collar cost-of-living jobs in US vice outsourced/globalized by CEO/strategic lieadership making excess profits while putting future US generations at risk across the DIME).

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  13. Greg Panfile has a good estimate of the situation, although as you point out, his 25% is just a guess on his part. The Whigs became Republicans following a similar back lash of our American Public, against a previous war of aggression[but not our first or last]: our Mexican War. Funny how history can continue to repeat itself, as the Rebulbican Party took power and contained the South by constantly running on the “war record”, this likely continued until the New Deal.
    Much of the West was settled after the Civil War by folks that Mr. Panfile would consider Palin 2012. A great 2008 example of this would be Washington State which has a number of public works in honor of Jefferson Davis (often justified for his work prior to our Civil War).

    My estimate is the Republican Party is about to dissolve or be renamed, as until a third party is available that operates in our national interests many conservatives have shifted in order not to reward losers at the strategic level (e.g. $700B bailout that likely reflects 400% increase in CEO pay or mortagage assessments by lenders over the past 8 years) and hope for a new turkey in the pot at local level (e.g. legitimate blue collar cost-of-living jobs in US vice outsourced/globalized by CEO/strategic leadership making excess profits while putting future US generations at risk across our US DIME).

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  14. I believe that – historically speaking – the greatest strenght of the GOP was that it was against any kind of Big Government. While that attitude certainly had many shortcomings and wasn’t relevant during times of war or depression it provided the American society with a strong influx of scepticism towards state power. Even when they themselves were in power. Like when Eisenhower – while in power – warned against the creation of a garrison state or what he later coined the term “military-industrial complex”.

    Something has changed since then. The GOP is still against Big Government, but most of the time only when the democrats are in power. Big Government is certainly okay when a republican is president. Another thing is that Big Government is only bad when it comes to the Welfare State and higher taxes. It is certainly okay when it comes to foreign interventions, the military and the expanding intelligence services. As a matter of fact the GOP has for all intents and purposes accepted the idea of endless warfare, surveillance, torture, extraordinary renditions and secret prisons. As wall as a staggering debt. Hardly traditional conservative values.

    I have no clue what will happen after the election, but my wish would be for a republican renewal that would recreate their traditional scepticism towards Big Government of ANY kind, accept the values of fiscal responsibility and prudent economic policy. That would create a healthy opposition against an Obama administration that most likely will increase Big Government in all areas.

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  15. The problem is, there really was never a modern republican party. You really had very VERY distinct groups. The two biggest being:

    * The evangelicals (often poor/middle class, religion motivated)
    * The fiscal conservatives (think Goldwater minus the racism)

    The problem is, both have been willingly betrayed by the leadership of the republican party. By the fiscal-conservative model, the two post-WWII “republican” presidents were Eisenhower and Clinton. And many of them (such as me) realize that the current republican party has nothing to do with such conservatism. And those who don’t are effectively duped.

    The evangelicals, OTOH, have been betrayed but just don’t know it. Outside throwing rhetorical bones and supreme-court appointees, the republican policies have hurt them far more than they realize. You have to make $250K+/year to even consider benefiting from the republican economic policies.

    I’m not sure what a new republican party should look like. We need a viable replacement.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I agree with your core message, but the opening is IMO not correct. To say that because the components are distinct groups there is not a “modern republican party” ignores the structure and purpose of the major parties in America. They are coalitions formed to gain power; the participants need not like each other.

    In multiple party systems, voters vote for the political fragment that most exactly meets their needs. The the party leaders go into the back room to make trade-offs that create a majority coalition. In the US the coalitions are formed first, and the voters choose between them.

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  16. The padrón system, as Fabius describes it, certainly seems inferior to salsa.

    Here is another perspective on potential Latin impacts on US politics: “The Reggaetón Factor in the U.S. Elections“, Marisol LeBrón, North American Congress on Latin America, 20 October 2008.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Some background for us grinos, from Wikipedia:

    “Reggaeton (also spelled reggaetón, and known as reguetón and reggaetón in Spanish) is a form of urban music which became popular with Latin American youth during the early 1990s and spread over the course of 10 years to North American, European and Asian audiences. Originating in Panama, reggaeton blends Jamaican music influences of reggae and dancehall with those of Latin America, such as bomba, plena, salsa, merengue, latin pop and bachata as well as that of hip hop, contemporary R&B, and electronica. However, reggaeton is also combined with rapping or singing in Spanish. The influence of this genre has spread to the wider Latino communities in the United States, as well as the Latin American audience. “

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  17. Check out “Obama for the Arts” by Rian Fike (an artist and teacher in Miami). Maybe the Republicans will also lose their grip on Education. Good times.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: You must be kidding!

    “Republicans will also lose their grip on Education.”

    The National Education Association is one of the core supporters of the Democratic Party. Teachers are usually the largest single occupation among delegates to the Democratic Party Convention. The number of college professors registered as Democrats dwarfs that registered as Republicans. etc, etc.

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  18. I would like to point out that many Republican candidates in Washington State prefer the moniker “GOP” to “Republican” on the ballot (source). New name?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Or just a tactical response to avoid going down with the rest of the GOP ticket (the article gives only 2 examples). Origin of the nickname “grand old party” (GOP):

    The nickname of the Republican Party didn’t get attached to it until 1888. Previously, the nickname had been used by Southern Democrats. After the Republicans won back the Presidency and Congress for the first time since the Grant administration, the Chicago Tribune proclaimed: “Let us be thankful that under the rule of the Grand Old Party … these United States will resume the onward and upward march which the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884 partially arrested.” (source)

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  19. I don’t think the democratic party is as fundimentally divided.

    The democrats tend to enjoy a circular firing squad mentality, but overall the individual groups actually have pretty similar interests, especially when compared the desparate interests of fiscal conservatives and religious conservatives.

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  20. Note, I hope Krugman isn’t right: He’s predicting a more radical Republican party: “The Republican Rump“, op-ed in the NY Times, 3 November 2008.

    If this does come to pass, this would probably be very damaging as it would mean the lack of a viable opposition party.

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  21. The author’s statement “a vital opposition party being essential in a two-party system” is no longer true, given the country’s changing demographics, driven by immigration. Only in a multi-party system, as found in a parliamentary democracy, does a vital opposition party play an important role.

    The Republicans are caught in what psychologists call a “double approach-avoidance conflict.” If they continue to pander to the growing minority voting bloc, they risk losing their traditional base (and further bankrupt the country). If they don’t pander, they lose more minority votes, if only marginally. In either case, massive immigration has doomed the Republican party.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Please explain why you say that “a vital opposition party being essential in a two-party system is no longer true”. How many well-governed one-party polticial systems can you name? Mexico … no. Japan… no (they did OK until their first major challenge, the post-1989 collapse. As predicted by Karel van Wolferen in “The Enigma of Japanese Power” the ruling party totally botched its response.

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  22. Update: Operation Leper“, Erick Erickson, Redstate, 5 November 2008

    RedState is pleased to announce it is engaging in a special project: Operation Leper. We’re tracking down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin to Carl Cameron and others. Michelle Malkin has the details. We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them. Naturally then, you’ll see us go to war against those candidates. It is our expressed intention to make these few people political lepers.

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  23. Some interesting results from the election, worth pondering:

    Californians voted for Obama but rejected state recognition of gay marriage 52-48%. (source). And although 95% of blacks voted for Obama (source), exit polls say that blacks voted for the gay marriage ban at a much higher percentage (70%) than the electorate at large (source).

    If voters were punishing the Republicans, this would seem to indicate that they weren’t necessarily rejecting social traditionalism. I think those who interpret the Republican defeat as a rejection of “divisive” social views are missing the mark. There are lots of reasons voters were angry with Republicans, but maybe social conservatism wasn’t one of them.

    My hypothesis is that voters who previously swung Republican were primarily upset about the economy (read: the financial meltdown and subsequent unfair and capricious bailout). Added to the overall incompetence of the Bush administration, this made it a bad year for Republicans, even if most Americans are still center-right. Would like to see data on this if anyone has it.

    The bad news is that only the “soft despotism” of big-government Republicanism and Democratic liberalism were on the Presidential ballot–those of us pleading for more individual freedom and a smaller role for the federal government in our lives never even made it on.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: A large body of analysis shows that the performance of the economy in the previous one or two years is the single largest factor affecting Presidential elections. Beyond that we can only guess why people vote. Ballots say how each citizen votes, but not why. Nor does it matter, in any substantial sense.

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  24. I will clarify my terse comment about “a vital opposition party being essential in a two-part system is no longer true”. An opposition party that has no chance of getting elected, no matter how vital it may be, is irrelevant in a two-party system. The Republicans are unelectable now because American has shifted to left-of-center, and this shift will continue thanks to our immigration system. All they can do now is try to imitate the Democrats, which will exacerbate the welfare state with its endless handouts and bailouts. Look at how much has changed since the Democrats took control of Congress two years ago: bailing our homeowners is now acceptable to both parties, and the Democrats are now discussing plans to rob peoples’ retirement savings accounts. Don’t expect the Republicans to offer much resistance.

    I was thinking of Canada and its parliamentary system, where multiple parties exist and a vital opposition party is important. They have two fairly centrist parties, the Conservatives and Liberals, who jockey for dominance. There is a socialist party, the NDP, that panders to unionists. There is a Green Party that panders to environmnetalists. The two left-wing parties draw off the radical left-wing voters, leaving the two centrist parties to put forth policies that serve the national interest. Compare that to America; when is the last time you heard either a Democrat of Republican talk about the economy in terms of the national interest? They are both too busy trying to outdo each other as they pander to nanny state beneficiaries.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for explaining, and providing these very cogent observations.

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