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How To Fix a Broken Elephant: A Recipe for Electoral Health In Six Incredibly Difficult Steps

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[Note: Those who have not read the prologue to this post should probably do so. You can find it here.]

 

Here is a truth I believe to my absolute core: In order for a robust liberal democracy to thrive in a pluralistic society, it is necessary that said democracy be anchored by a principled and disciplined conservative party.

There is also a need for progressivism, of course. Eliminate progressivism from our nation’s history, and you have a place where people are still allowed to own other people against their will. But progressivism untethered and set free to sail the winds of populism and capital-I Intellectualism can be a wholly dangerous thing. Progressivism works best when it has a stable counterpoint grounding it. Conservatism provides needed context for those bright, shiny, and tempting radical notions that inevitably pop up in pluralistic societies. Conservatism prevents us from careening headlong over cliffs, lemming-like, in our well-meaning pursuit of being something better than what came before. In addition, conservatism provides us with common roots, tying us to a shared heritage in a way that fosters a sense of community even amongst those who are different. A pluralistic democracy without the tension of both healthy progressivism and healthy conservatism is, I believe, doomed to failure.

Because of this, I confess that I stand opposed to my liberal and leftist friends who are delightedly “passing the popcorn” as they watch the Republican Party descend into the chaos of Trumpism. True, some of my personal horror at the GOP’s collapse likely stems from my dislike and distrust of the great Clinton Machine, because unlike most liberals and leftists, I believe to the Clinton Machine to be utterly corrupt, manipulative, and self-serving. But more than that, I genuinely fear any long-term future without a stable and disciplined conservative party to anchor the nation.

To that end, I humbly offer this proposed set of six steps which, I believe, the GOP and conservatives will need to undertake in order to reverse the angle of list toward which Trumpism currently pulls.

None of these steps are intended to be magic bullets. Indeed, I expect that each will be incredibly difficult for most conservatives to embrace, let alone achieve. Still, I argue that each step is absolutely necessary if the Party of Lincoln wishes to be anything but the future depository and breeding ground for demagoguery, drunken populism, and tinpot fringe movements. If you are a conservative and Republican that has been horrified by Donald Trump’s ascendancy, I believe that you ignore these steps at your own peril.

Here, then, in no particular order, is what must be done.

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1. The GOP Must Go Back to Being an Actual Conservative Party

One of the problems with conservatism having its political fortunes tied to the Media Machine’s television and radio ratings is that actual small-c conservatism isn’t sexy and it doesn’t sell ad space. People are simply more inclined to tune in to see something shiny and new than they are the things they’ve seen over and over all their lives. Because of this — and because of of how irreparably they have entangled themselves with their media — it’s been quite a while since American conservatives have been… well, conservative.

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 4.51.21 PMHere is a highly-truncated list of some of the bright and shiny objects that have been peddled in the conservative media in just the past few years: The elimination of public education. A total scrapping of the global monetary system. Allowing the government to prevent the building of houses of worship. Eliminating the teaching of civics in public schools because it is “brainwashing.” The elimination of all social safety nets. Mandatory gun ownership. Setting up internment camps. This guy. And that’s just the big, multi-week, national headline-grabbing stuff. I’m not even getting into all of those radical ideas tossed out by radio hosts every day that never live long enough to be Fox News staples.1

Please not misunderstand. I am neither arguing for nor against any of these ideas. Whether they are good ideas or bad ideas is unimportant for our purposes here. What is important is that they are all highly radical proposals. As such, they are by definition the opposite of conservative. In fact, I would argue that the current GOP platform has but two truly small-c conservative planks: supporting the second amendment, and opposing gay marriage. The rest of it is a hodgepodge of sweeping policy ideas that are largely untested in modern American society. There’s a word for a political party that promotes sweeping policy ideas that are largely untested, and it ain’t conservative.

Consider if you will the trajectory of the pool of leading candidates for the Republican presidential primaries since the emergence of conservative talk radio and Fox News as the major influencer on the Party.

In 2000, the race quickly narrowed to one between a successful big-state Governor (Bush), two highly respected US Senators (McCain and Hatch), and one accomplished Cornell and Harvard academic and diplomat (Keyes). 2008 saw a battle between one successful big-state Governor (Romney), two highly respected Senators (McCain, Thompson), one candidate who advocated for making the US a Christian nation and who used his campaign to Palin2 himself to a Fox News gig (Huckabee), and one wacky Congressman who had a history of publishing that was, shall we say, “colorful” (Paul). The primaries of 2012 saw a constant reshuffling of poll leaders, that included two successful big-state governor (Romney, Perry), one wacky Congressman (Paul), another person running on the idea of a Christian Nation (Santorum), one disgraced ex-Speaker hawking books and conspiracy videos (Gingrich), one wacky US Rep who used the elections to go on CSPAN and peddle the idea that Obama was working with a secret cadre of Muslim agents to make Christianity illegal (Bachmann), and the guy best known for saying he didn’t see the need to know anything about Ubecki-becki-becki-stan (Cain). This year, only two people ever led in the primary polls. One was an intemperate reality TV show host (Trump), and one was someone using Gingrich’s people to peddle books and speaking gigs (Carson).3

In other words, #NeverTrumpers, despite what you may be telling yourselves, Donald Trump is not a thing that has suddenly happened. We’ve actually been trending toward him for a while now.

In an effort to keep people energized about tuning back in, day after day, the Media Machine has chosen to regularly embrace radicalism and/or an alternative kind of progressivism and simply label it “conservative.” And in an effort to be assured of free and friendly airtime, Republican pols have largely followed suit. But right now the country doesn’t actually need an alternative progressive party. It needs a major party that is first and foremost conservative — and where the definition of “conservative” isn’t simply “hates liberals.”

This plea to return to small-c conservatism brings us to Step 2, which is…

 

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2. Trumpism Must Be Openly and Visibly Opposed

Let’s be honest. By November, many or most of those in the #NeverTrump camp will have likely have agreed to “temporarily” embrace Donald Trump and Trumpism. The given reason will be simple, and it will tug at the same human instincts as does loyalty in a professional sports team: A Republican Donald Trump presidency will be better than a Democratic Hilary Clinton presidency.4 This thinking is complete hogwash, and the strong impulse to buy into that narrative must be resisted.

I’m going to go ahead and quote my fellow editor Will Truman here, because he makes the point better than anyone on the intertubes that I have seen thus far:

It’s not that I know he would be a tyrant, but I consider it a non-trivial possibility that he will simply ignore all of the institutional controls we have because he doesn’t respect them. That sounds like rhetorical excess, but I see no reason to believe he would not simply ignore unfavorable Supreme Court rulings, and almost always involving his ability to act independent of congress. A number of Democrats look at Cruz, and Republicans look at Hillary, and say “Actually, they’d be worse because…” and I reject those arguments.

Will is absolutely correct. Indeed, Trump has already pledged that if the courts rule against him or his policies, he plans on simply ignoring those rulings. And if that’s not enough to turn you away, small-c conservatives, there’s plenty more:

Trump appears to be actively and purposefully signaling pro-white nationalism; at the very least, he is willing to let it fester to his benefit. He encourages his supporters to use violence against those who oppose his being president. He’s suggested to the press that if they don’t play ball with his campaign, he’ll “open up” libel laws and put them out of business once he’s elected.5 He has promised that if he is Commander in Chief, he will flout US and international law and kill the families of suspects terrorists and enemy combatants. He’s said that if he is elected President, he will follow China and North Korea’s lead by having the government “turn off” parts of the internet he believes to be a threat — a proclamation which suggests that in addition to not being well versed in the Constitution, he’s not particular curious about the way the technology he hopes to reign in works. He has floated the idea of simply defaulting on US debt, and suggested using the threat of nuclear weapons to stop terrorism — in Europe.

To be very, very clear: These are not things political enemies of Trump are slyly suggesting he might do once elected. These are the things Trump himself has publicly declared that he will do.

This is not the equivalent of illegally cutting corners and sending emails from home instead of your office. It is not the equivalent of having “friends on Wall Street.” It is not the equivalent of awarding government contracts to people who donated money to your campaign. It is not the equivalent of saying you have always supported X when in fact you’re on record as once having opposed it. To quote PJ O’Rourke in his surprising endorsement of Clinton over Trump, “she’s wrong about absolutely everything — but she’s wrong within normal parameters.” What Trump is promising to do as President is very new and very dangerous territory. #NeverTrumpers, if your main issue with President Obama truly is that the man’s liberal and sometimes-illegal reading of the constitution is worrisome, then the idea of President Donald Trump should scare the living shit out of you.

If nothing else, let self-preservation be your guide here. Trump is absolutely going to get trounced, because despite the drama that media pundits are going to peddle to you over the next six months, people with favorables like Trump do not win national elections. Not even against Hillary “you-could-have-run-just-about-anyone-else-not-named-Ted-Cruz-or Ben-Carson-and-beat-her-like-a-drum” Clinton.

To get even a whiff of that new Oval Office smell in 2020, you cannot be seen carrying a Trump banner in 2016.

 

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3. You Must Learn to Be More Discriminating In Your Battles with Political Correctness

More than any of the steps I am listing, this is the one I am gobsmacked that Republicans and conservatives still haven’t figured out.

Look, political correctness can indeed be irritating, and in some cases (such as policing unfashionable ideas in college and university faculty) even dangerous. Likewise, there is no doubt that the words like “racist,” “misogynist, and “bigot” can sometimes be used reflexively by non-conservatives as a way to limit conservatives’ place at the table of ideas. All of these things are, for the purposes of this post and its intended audience, givens. Hey, I am an upper-middle class, CIS, white male that writes about politics and culture online, and because of this I too have been on the receiving end of accusations of bigotry that I totally did not see coming. I get that it can rankle.

But here’s is the thing: Even if we grant that some SJWs should chill the fish out, it does not follow that therefore nothing is offensive or that all accusations of bigotry are simply proof of a PC Culture gone amok. And if it’s too much of a reach for you to accept that as a moral or intellectual truth, then for now just accept it as an electoral one. If you cheer, defend, or even ignore those things coming out of the conservative media that will absolutely offend women and minorities, you will suffer in national elections. And no, that doesn’t mean you just roll over each time an SJW calls you a bad name. But it does mean that you have a responsibility to your party’s brand — and like it or not, to independents and moderates whose support you need, your most visible media outlets are part of your party’s brand.

Imagine that you are part of a team pitching whatever product or service your actual place of employment sells, and the potential client you are pitching to is a woman. Or African American. Or Mexican American. Now imagine that in the meeting, someone on your team says the kind of thing about women, African Americans, or Mexicans that Breitbart, the National Review, or people on Fox News regularly say. Do you nod along, or laugh? Do you pretend they didn’t say it, because you don’t want to look uncool to the coworker who said it? Or do you step in and do something to try to salvage the sale — and even if you can’t salvage it, pull that coworker aside and have a bit of a chat before the next sales meeting?

In other words, because it’s a free country, if you want you can choose to giggle over how angry African Americans get over your Media Machine publicly broadcasting the Barack the Magic Negro. Or you can choose to simply ignore the fact that it ever happened, or choose to be ignorant of the fact that it got so much airtime on conservative media. Or talk yourself into believing that the vote of anyone who was offended by the song was one you didn’t need anyway. As I said, it’s a free country, so knock yourselves out. But if you make that choice, have the self-awareness to understand that the reason those same African Americans will rabidly refuse to vote for your party in November isn’t really that they “get free stuff” from the other side.

Below is a video which is a pretty good (and typical) example of what I’m talking about. It’s a clip from Fox News that discusses the liberal issue of gender pay equity, and juxtaposes it with a story from the Washington Free Beacon claiming that female Clinton staffers make less than male staffers. Both topics are fine targets for conservatives to hammer away on, and indeed the segment starts out well. It’s the kind of non-objective reporting that, if you left it at that, wouldn’t necessarily get you all of the independent woman vote — but might conceivably get you some. The segment even features a kind of hapless token liberal, who does a pretty terrible job addressing any of the points being made. Liberals won’t agree, but for a lot of independents it starts out as a clearly biased but potentially strong piece of opinion infotainment.

But watch where the conversation and the “conservative” political commentary quickly goes. And as you do so, ask yourself exactly how this is going to help you reverse the growing trend among the nation’s largest single voting demographic:

Right now, one of the most trafficked, famed, and visible sites that trumpets “conservative values” — Breitbart — has a stable of writers that are not only rabidly waving the flag for Trump, but also raising the warning flags against “mudsharking.”6 Perhaps the most used term on conservative sites and twitter feeds to disparage a person today is “cuck,” a term that absolutely is meant to have anti-African American connotations on today’s alt-right sites, which is where the insult started.7 The man Ted Cruz calls one of the country’s six greatest conservative leaders is a radio shock jock who refers to black students as “jungle animals” and “pack animals.” As I noted in my previous post, the National Review — a magazine that for decades has been synonymous with conservative intellectualism — now posts screeds declaring daughters inferior to sons by virtue of their sex, and refers to black children as “primates.” If you want additional examples, feel free to tune in to your local conservative talk radio show and listen for an hour.

“Mudsharking,” “cuck,” “jungle animals,” and “primates” is not dog whistling. It is overt, and purposefully so. This kind of messaging needs to be driven from the party and the movement. Period.

Of course, none of you have no control over what Erick Erickson, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, or Milo Yiannopoulos chooses to broadcast to the world. But you very much have a choice as to what you communicate. Don’t concede the state of your party to these people. If the New Review posts decides it’s “funny” to call black kids “primates,” speak out — and speak out where people can see you doing so. Let people on the NRO comments section, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit know that you are a conservative and a Republican, and that such boorish behavior has no place in the movement or the Party of Lincoln. Encourage other conservatives and Republicans to do the same. Trust me, people will notice, if for no other reason than at the moment it’s sadly “man-bites-dog” territory. Refusing to do so doesn’t make the Republican Party a brave and enlightened force fighting the insufferable PC police. It makes the insufferable PC police right about the Republican Party.

If it helps to steel your resolve on this, consider: Your attempt to keep Democrats from “scoring points” by ignoring these kinds of statements from your own side of the fence — rather than regularly condemning the statements and the writers, talk show hosts, and anchors who make them — is actually exactly what Democrats are hoping you will keep doing. When you pretend all of this doesn’t exist, or when you label it acceptable because it’s just in good fun and it tweaks people you don’t like, you’re not standing up to liberals. You’re playing their patsy.

 

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4. You Must Develop a Better Sense of Proportion

A year from now, there will be a new Democrat in the White House, and it’s a damn good bet that Democrat will have to be watched like a hawk in order to mitigate potential corruption and abuse of power. But such public oversight can only be effective if the party limits itself to actual malfeasance, and resists the temptation to dive into ridiculous, imaginary fantasies that sell ad space.

Here’s the stone cold truth of it. You can be the opposition party that is seen by the public as standing against corruption, abuse of power, and Presidential overreach. Or you can be the party that is seen by the public as peddling chimeras such as secret Kenyan plots, conspiracy theories about the President preparing for a UN take over America, or crazy talk about the US government’s secret plan to make you a Muslim. You cannot be both of these things.

So for heaven’s sakes, choose wisely.

 

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5. Your Party Must Start Taking Some Personal Responsibility and Stop Blaming Its Every Misstep on Liberals

Here is the current thinking of most of the #NeverTrump writing I have seen over the past several weeks: Donald Trump won the Republican nomination because something something liberals.

No, he didn’t. Donald Trump won the Republican nomination because he was the candidate the Republican Party liked the best.

Further, George Bush didn’t abuse the power of executive orders because liberals were being all liberal, any more than Obama did the same because conservatives were being all conservative. Both men did it for no other reason than that there was unconstitutional power to be taken, and no one was willing to stop them.8 Obama didn’t make Republicans abandon decades of wise conservative thought and come out against teaching civics in schools. SJW’s didn’t make conservative writers in well-trafficked sites take on the issue of “mudsharks” or call African American children “primates.” Hillary Clinton didn’t make the GOP nominate a man who has vowed to ignore the First Amendment when dealing with those critical of him. No one made the party or the conservative movement do any of that. Everyone just did it all on their own.

And if you want to turn the party around, #NeverTrumpers, you need to come to terms with that.

 

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6. You Must Uncouple Your Political Arm From Your Media Machine

This is the most important step, I believe, because most of the problems noted above are a direct result of turning the Republican National Party into an apparatus whose primary function is to drive media ratings and increase book sales. This fusing of the Party and the Media Machine has led to several disastrous results.

Mike Huckabee David Barton Founders of the Constitution 080109.flv

One of these results is that allowing up-and-coming right-wing politicians a media path where they are rarely if ever challenged has predictably resulted in a slate of weak national candidates unable to stand even the tiniest amount of national scrutiny. I noted after the very first primary debate last summer that assumed forerunners Jeb Bush and Scott Walker looked “tepid, weak, and out of their league.”  Conservatives here pooh-poohed that assessment at the time. I believe the reason they could not see the obvious back then was that they believed the candidates would eventually go back to looking like the men they had seen interviewed and talked about in years of conservative media photo-op love-fests. But at the level of a national election, sooner or later you have to face journalists who aren’t there to spoon feed the public propaganda about how awesome you are.

You may be correct that the NYT has a liberal bias, conservatives, but the Grey Lady still lets mis-stepping democrats have it with both barrels. Had the conservative media treated Bush and Walker like the NYT treats Obama, Clinton, and Sanders, one of two things would have likely happened long before Trump was nominated: Either Bush and Walker would grown into stronger candidates for that pre-primary scrutiny, or the GOP would have found a better set of candidates on which to pin their dreams of a GOP White House.

Rush Limbaugh – "It Makes Her A Slut, A Prostitute"

Another problem with the party-media fusion is that there is no longer a downside to being an overly-divisive conservative who loses elections and makes the party less popular with the general public. In previous eras, when winning was more important than ratings, being the bat-s**t crazy candidate that lost you an election and embarrassed that party got you a one-way ticket to Exile Island. Today, it gets you your own syndicated radio show.

The only reason Trump was ever in the race was to cash in on the free publicity he’s seen others get by flaming out large. Had he quickly cratered, as so many were sure the he would, he would have make a fortune for his troubles. See also: Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Sarah Palin, and every other conservative media darling that cares more about being famous and making a quick buck than the long-term viability of the party. Sure, Scott Walker might have beat the unions, and Jeb! might have proven that a Republican can effectively govern a swing state, but mark my words: You’ll see precious little of them in the years to come on conservative media, while Carson, Jindal, and Huckabee will continue to be daily fodder. (And likely well-paid “consultants” for Fox.)

Finally, and most importantly, there is the issue of calling the wolves to your door.

Immediately after the 2012 election, there was a League podcast where conservative writers and readers from this site dissected the failed GOP efforts to take the White House. In that podcast, Burt Likko raised the question, to what degree was that Tod Kelly guy right when he said the conservative media was doing more harm than good? The responses Burt got were pretty much what every reasonable, well-read conservative says about the Fox News and talk radio phenomena: Real conservatives don’t watch that stuff anyway, and even if they did, everyone knows it’s just entertainment to tweak liberals and so there is zero harm. My response at the time was essentially this: If you keep broadcasting tripe that includes insane conspiracy theories, sexist trolling, Mexican bashing, and an inordinate amount of time talking about what you believe to be the evils of today’s black culture — even if it’s all in the spirit of good old fashioned, wholesome, anti-PC, liberal-tweaking fun with no harm intended — you are going to attract people into your movement that don’t necessarily see things the way you do. And when they arrive, the people who don’t already sit in your camp are going to look at those you have attracted and judge you with one single broad brush stroke. And when they do, it isn’t going to go well for you in a country that is becoming more racially diverse every day.

And now, four years later, here we are: Going into a November battle with an army led by an undisciplined, volatile, vindictive narcissist who retweets offensive remarks by white nationalists, who until now was primarily known as the reality TV villain best know for belittling employees and telling  female workers under his employ that he thought they’d look good getting down in front of him on their knees, and who has vowed that if elected he will ignore laws and suspend basic Constitutional rights for those he doesn’t trust or whom he doesn’t think respect him enough — nominated by the country’s conservative party. 

 

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I have been saying this for years on this site to my fellow Republicans, and I will say it again here: If you choose to value shock radio ratings more than you do national electability, there will eventually be a price to pay. If you choose to value being able to go on your own news network and tweak liberals more than you do building coalitions with women and minorities, there will eventually be a price to pay. If you choose to value a political farm system that promotes the Michele Bachmanns, Sarah Palins, and Frank Gaffneys of the world over the Brian Sandovals, Gary Herberts, and John Kasichs because the former are more likely to say the kind of outrageous shit that gets viewers and listeners to tune in, there will eventually be a price to pay. Trumpism, as it turns out, is that price.

And now, the question for #NeverTrumpers and real small-c conservatives is this: Is that price really worth it?

If so, then feel free to ignore all of these steps.

  1. A perfect example of this would be the Constitutional Tender Act, which was praised by Portland’s local shock jock Lars Larson on his show a while back. The CTA is a quirky Originalist scheme based on Article 1 Section 10, which reads in part that no state “make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” Proponents of the CTA maintain that because of this wording, in order to pay proper respect to the wishes of the Founders, Federal law should mandate that all citizens and businesses be required to purchase gold and silver coins and use said coins to pay all federal, state, and local taxes. []
  2. I am officially making Palin a verb. []
  3. The only other candidate remotely in the running this year was a Texan whose entire pedigree of accomplishments during his single term of public office was his impressively huge number of hours clocked in on Fox News and talk radio. []
  4. In fact, here’s a prediction you can likely take to the bank: The anti-Trump National Review will, by November, be among the Donald’s most rabid supporters. []
  5. As I was writing this very paragraph, in fact, I got an email notification that Donald Trump had threatened to use the might of the Federal government to come after and punish Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post for the crime of writing things about the Donald that the Donald feels are insufficiently flattering. []
  6. If you don’t know, a “mudshark” is a white woman who is attracted to a black man. To the people who use this term, it is assumed that by its very definition that “mudsharking” is whorish behavior. []
  7. And yes, #NeverTrumpers, I get that you may not have been aware of the fact that “cuck” or “mudsharking” is meant to carry a purposefully racist message. The important point is that every African American that sees it used by the conservative writers and tweeters absolutely is aware of this. []
  8. And no, the other parties didn’t ever really try. All measures taken against both presidents were an attempt to curb the man, not the practice — because everyone on both sides wanted that unconstitutional power to still be on the table when they got to the White House. []

Editor Emeritus
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Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular contributor for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter. ...more →

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320 thoughts on “How To Fix a Broken Elephant: A Recipe for Electoral Health In Six Incredibly Difficult Steps

  1. I am largely in agreement with this post, but I do have a few points of dissension.

    – Kennedy (yes, that Kennedy) didn’t voice an opposition to public education; she voiced an opposition to a certain model of public education, one based around the public school. It’s not a conservative argument, it’s a libertarian one that advocates replacing publicly funded government-run schools with private schools and government subsidized vouchers.

    This may seem like a pedantic point, but it’s important to make a distinction between some guy arguing for throwing the poor out on the street and someone arguing for moving education to a total voucher system. Is the latter still a radical proposal? Yes, but so is a UBI or a nationalization of the banks or, at this point, even single-payer government run healthcare. But you probably wouldn’t ask Democrats to banish anyone making those proposals from their ranks for the purpose of holding the center.

    – On the second point about culture war, I agree with what you’re saying but I don’t see how the right has any ability to unilaterally cut it out. My running theory is that the right watched jealously as the left got mileage out of its own operationalizing of “the personal is political” and eventually raised its own army and entered the fray of the culture wars. The nature of war is that it generally doesn’t end until one side wins or both sides come to accommodation. As long as there is Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes looking smug on MSNBC or TPM/Occupy Democrats/US Uncut/Rawstory to spread lefty click bait on Facebook or the SJWs of Twitter and Tumblr, there is going to be a conservative response. The only way that I can see this ending is if the media stops making money off of it.

    – On Trump, it’s too early to say anything definitively. One of the memes coming out of Romney’s loss was that he wasn’t conservative enough; he was milquetoast and tacked to the middle. What the GOP needed was a real conservative who wouldn’t run from being a conservative. I thought that idea was solid nonsense, but the last six months have so far proven me wrong. If Trump goes on to get soundly thumped by Hillary, I can save some face in being mostly right. But I’m not totally convinced that’s going to happen. What happens to this narrative if Trump wins?

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    • Re: Culture War, isn’t a cease-fire or accommodation impossible? After all, there’s nobody giving orders or coordinating millions of Thanksgiving table arguments and twitter flame wars, and there will always be an asymmetry between how each side sees the prominence and loathsomeness of the more intemperate voices.

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      • I think that the idea that either side needs to back off cultural issues or even call a cease fire is overshooting what I am asking for. (Though I agree with you, Don, that it would be nice if people could break bread together without labeling everyone w didn’t agree with them “Other.”)

        The issue for me is what kind of culture war you want to fight. You’ll notice, for example, that I didn’t say that conservatives need to lay off the gay marriage or transgendered bathroom issues. Those viewpoints are ones that I disagree with, and I think in time they will be non-issues my side will win. But I also get how things like that are going to need time.

        But mud sharking, cuck, and primates?

        It’s not really an issue of don’t raise any cultural issues, it’s one of be more careful about the ones you’re associated with raising.

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        • More to the point–and this my role as a litigator speaking–you don’t win by getting the other side to agree with you. They are paid to disagree.

          You win by taking responsible positions that the other side will look bad opposing and abandoning unreasonable positions you would look bad asserting. There’s no law, for example, requiring conservatives to support police violence in EVERY case, instead of letting the particularly bad ones go and focusing on the ones where you can actually imagine the officers had a reasonable fear. If you only fight THOSE battles, reflexive “SJWs” who think all police use of force against minorities is wrong will lose the middle. By fighting the losers, you get the opposite result.

          Likewise, there was no law requiring the GOP to decide that obamacare was going to trigger an immediate apocalypse. Had the GOP instead said something like, “thank god you idiots finally figured out this policy we’ve been trying to explain for a decade, and that we proved-out in Massachusetts” they would have both gotten a ton more leeway to push the law in their direction and wouldn’t now have to pretend the thing isn’t working by hyping every minor criticism and ignoring every major success. They’d also have done a lot better in 2012.

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          • >>There’s no law, for example, requiring conservatives to support police violence in EVERY case, instead of letting the particularly bad ones go and focusing on the ones where you can actually imagine the officers had a reasonable fear.

            And for an example of this, review the spectacle of Republican candidates claiming that Eric Garner died because of liberal cigarette taxes and not because, um, he was strangled by a police officer and not provided medical assistance when he said he couldn’t breath.

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            • The Republicans are often on the wrong side of this and would never be so subtle to argue this point* but liberal cigarette taxes (if they get to the point where illegal resales are profitable) are the types of policies that enable police violence. There are a lot of nuisance and quality of life type regulations that progressives support which in a vacuum sound reasonable. However when they meet the realities of how law enforcement works in this country they become another reason for the police to detain poor people and/or minorities.

              *I understand what I’m saying here is more of a libertarian argument and not what Republicans were saying when this incident was in the press.

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              • I get what you’re saying, but there’s a root cause and there’s the final straw. If you got rid of liberal cigarette taxes, do you think Garner (or people like him) would still be getting strangled? What if you got rid of aggressive policing?

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                  • “He wasn’t strangled. He was tackled. The police officer’s arm and baton were across his neck for all of nine seconds.”

                    You know, a through-and-through bullet wound involves a foreign object in the victim’s body for much less than that.

                    And here I thought that bullet wounds were *bad*

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                    • Art Deco illustrates Todd’s points very, very well here.

                      In the past few years, we’ve seen the right back a number of killings of black men by the police, killings which were then ‘taken care of’ by prosecutors working hand in hand with the police.

                      But dare to try to even arrest a white right-winger, and the howls reach to heaven.

                      Us liberals notice this.

                      And don’t think that non-Herrenvolk don’t notice it.

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                • I think we need to have a greater appreciation of how blunt a tool criminalization is and do a better job of understanding concepts like diminishing returns when we craft policy. Reforming the police is a noble project but also a very long one.

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        • Personally, I think that both sides ought to back off most cultural issues, but that wasn’t what I was saying in my comment. I was saying that I can see no incentive for the right to unilaterally start doing things differently.

          As I said, much of this is predicated on the idea that Trump gets soundly beaten by Hillary and the 2016 election is just another step on the GOP’s road to irrelevance. Well, what if Trump wins? Then you have a situation where the Republican Party holds the White House, both houses of Congress and will have the opportunity to appoint at least one, but maybe as many as four, Supreme Court justices.

          If that happens, then the reality will be that the conservative movement will have effectively won and done so by employing exactly the strategy that folks like you and I have been decrying as disastrous.

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          • Well, what if Trump wins? Then you have a situation where the Republican Party holds the White House, both houses of Congress and will have the opportunity to appoint at least one, but maybe as many as four, Supreme Court justices.

            If that happens, then the reality will be that the conservative movement will have effectively won and done so by employing exactly the strategy that folks like you and I have been decrying as disastrous.

            This presupposes that Trump would actually appoint 1-4 Supreme Court justices that look like Antonin Scalia.

            Given that the Senate has precisely zero chance to go 60+ for the GOP, the likelihood of that happening is pretty small.

            Trying to predict what Donald Trump will do is probably not the best idea, so I won’t predict what his nominees would look like. But I will say that Trump does have a rather deep and abiding love of winning.

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            • “Given that the Senate has precisely zero chance to go 60+ for the GOP, the likelihood of that happening is pretty small.”

              I would expect the GOP Senate to shut down the filibuster for SCOTUS justices, and very likely for everything they really wanted. And to scream to high heaven in the 2020’s, the instant that the shoe was on the other foot.

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              • I wonder, from time to time, if the Republicans played state sovereignty “properly”, if they couldn’t get a solid 60+ Senate seats. Tell the political class in California, for example, that they get control of the public lands, the water thereof, and a block grant equal to the amount of current federal spending on those lands, and their own say on marriage and abortion, but they have to allow Mississippi some restrictions on who can be married and voter ID. Ditto promises to the political class in Mississippi, that they get to be a modest theocracy but they no longer have a say on how the public lands in California are operated, or how abortion is handled in California.

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                • Excellent comment Michael. A bit ago I was mulling why the dems are so bad at the less-than-national level and why the GOP is so good, and I think you hit the nail on the head: states sovereignty is an intensely local issue (and as we know, all politics is local…) so they really have the upper hand there. And given what you say – with some tweaking here and there entirely consistent with the concept of state sovereignty – it’s easy to imagine their state-level gains being even greater than they are right now.

                  Of course, my thinking at the time was more focused on the Dem party and trying to figure out how it can resuscitate itself. (Is self-resuscitation even possible? maybe that’s why I couldn’t come up with any clear solutions.) Nevertheless, I agree with you.

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            • Over optimistic Patrick. In any scenario where Trump wins the Presidency and the GOP gets majorities in the House and Senate I’d bet dollars to doughnuts they’d heave the filibuster faster than you could say ‘nakedly partisan power grab’.

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              • Well, that’s a point, one that I myself argued for yesterday actually, somewhere else.

                Because the clock.

                Fifteen years ago, I would wager on the GOP not jettisoning the filibuster because they like having it when they’re in the minority. But they are so unlikely to take the Presidency post 2016 without a massive inroad into the non-white population that this may be the point where they say, “Whelp, if we’re going to have a shot at a GOP-friendly SCOTUS, this is it, and only it.”

                Because they can’t take the Presidency in 2020, not the way the numbers look now. If Trump wins, he’s a one-termer.

                On the other hand, the GOP has been looking at the wasteland for a long time and ignoring it, so there’s that.

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              • Here’s where I think that you’re overly optimistic.

                In my scenario where Trump wins the Presidency and the GOP gets majorities in the House and Senate, the Republicans won’t have the issue of abandoning the filibuster ever come up because the Democrats will always have the necessary number of defections necessary to make any and every law and appointment and appropriation “bipartisan”.

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                • So, what’s on your short list of bills that will get passed? Mine starts off like this: (1) one-sentence addition to the Clean Air Act that says, “For the purposes of this Act, carbon dioxide shall not be considered a pollutant”; (2) the PPACA is repealed, except for denying coverage for pre-existing conditions (no restrictions on what the premiums can be) and kids can stay on their parents’ policy through age 26; (3) Medicaid is converted to a block grant at each state’s pre-PPACA level, with no automatic inflation or population adjustments; (4) the EPA’s latest “navigable waters” expansion is repealed.

                  My guess is that none of those reach the Senate floor unless the filibuster is trashed.

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                  • The first one will happen, the second one will *NOT*, for some reason. No one will be able to explain why.

                    “It keeps dying in committee”, an unnamed source told us via YikYak.

                    Same for 3.

                    Agree about 4.

                    Something’s going to happen with weed. It’ll either be rescheduled or the hammer will come down on Colorado like the fist of an Angry God.

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    • j r: I don’t see how the right has any ability to unilaterally cut it out.

      Genuine questions:
      1. Do both the right and left engage in this sort of thing to the same degree?
      2. Do party leaders on the left pander to, tolerate, and endorse those with radical ideas just as much as party leaders on the right?

      j r: Romney’s loss was that he wasn’t conservative enough; he was milquetoast and tacked to the middle. What the GOP needed was a real conservative who wouldn’t run from being a conservative. I thought that idea was solid nonsense, but the last six months have so far proven me wrong.

      Donald Trump is a real conservative who wouldn’t run from being a conservative? It seems you have gotten the exact opposite lesson than I have extracted from the same events!

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    • jr,
      “it’s a libertarian one that advocates replacing publicly funded government-run schools with private schools and government subsidized vouchers”

      Fine and dandy, but when the Powers That Be are funding the voucher-programs — and the Powers That Be don’t want to give a dime to public education…

      I can tell a stalking horse when I see one. Good ideas that masque bad agendas aren’t going to win my vote.

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    • j r: This may seem like a pedantic point, but it’s important to make a distinction between some guy arguing for throwing the poor out on the street and someone arguing for moving education to a total voucher system. Is the latter still a radical proposal? Yes, but so is a UBI or a nationalization of the banks or, at this point, even single-payer government run healthcare. But you probably wouldn’t ask Democrats to banish anyone making those proposals from their ranks for the purpose of holding the center.

      Mr Kelly seems to be taking it as axiomatic that the Republicans should be “small-c” conservatives. If you believe that, it really doesn’t matter that the norms for the Democratic Party might be different. I don’t know how much of the piece I really agree with[1], but I don’t see any terribly good reason for the parties to just be mirror images of each other, and if that means there’s some asymmetry in how they react to fringe-y policy proposals, so be it.

      My running theory is that the right watched jealously as the left got mileage out of its own operationalizing of “the personal is political” and eventually raised its own army and entered the fray of the culture wars. The nature of war is that it generally doesn’t end until one side wins or both sides come to accommodation.

      The culture wars are metaphorical wars, not real ones. If Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow keep on being smug on MSNBC, well, so what? Likewise with the clickbait garbage.[2]

      [1] For one, it’s not impossible Trump wins, and even if he loses, losses can be more or less catastrophic.

      [2] I admit that it’s very hard to resist the impulse to say, “Hey, this person who’s a third tier Salon contributor/county GOP chair in Idaho/Twitter dingbat with 37 followers said something amazingly stupid. Since nobody has ever said something amazingly stupid before, we should all go pay lots of attention to it!”

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    • and

      Just to be clear, I am taking no position on the relative merits of either side’s culture war beefs. Whether BSDI or one side is clearly in the wrong is an issue that is completely orthogonal to my comment, as is the question of what either side ought to do. My comment is wholly descriptive, an attempt to describe the present state of things, how they got that way, and make some estimation as to where they are headed.

      Donald Trump is a real conservative who wouldn’t run from being a conservative? It seems you have gotten the exact opposite lesson than I have extracted from the same events!

      The best way to extract a lesson from a series of events in the outside world is to remove yourself from the equation. It doesn’t matter whether I think Trump is a real conservative, it matters whether the voters think so.

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      • Just to be clear, I am taking no position on the relative merits of either side’s culture war beefs.

        I’m not really, either. I just don’t think the fact that some TV liberals are allegedly smug dicks, or the fact some liberal websites undeniably run clickbait garbage, makes the right-wing culture war response inevitable, let alone actually helpful for obtaining policies that conservatives want to see enacted.

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        • Remember when the NYT did that dumb-assed article about how we need to put peas in guacamole?

          It came this close to starting a shooting war.

          All that to say, it may not be helpful but it is pretty damn close to inevitable. Close enough that when any given “hey, we should totally change this thing!” movement starts up, we should be surprised when it *DOESN’T* start a countermovement.

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            • Well, the point wasn’t the peas in the guacamole. (That recipe was here and here is a small sampling of all of the articles discussing the phenomenon here, here, here, here, and I talked about it here.)

              The point was that any suggested change, anywhere, will result in pushback. Even over matters of taste. When it comes to things that we think are matters of morality that, suddenly, we’re facing arguments over whether and how much we need to change (and, even more fun, when we’re being told that it’s not only a matter of morality but “YOU PEOPLE ARE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THIS MATTER OF MORALITY!!!!” for something that we’ve been doing, apparently immorally, since civilization started), we should see culture war as inevitable.

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              • The point was that any suggested change, anywhere, will result in pushback.

                The pushback being described isn’t so much against change as it is against some fraction of liberals being complete assholes. Some fraction of liberals being complete assholes is, well, not a change.

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  2. RON PAUL! was a Congressman, not a Senator. And I think you’re being a bit unfair to Huckabee *as he was in 2008*. (especially since Keyes is in ‘normal parameters’ in your timeline). Huck is a so-con through and through, but he was also a multi term state governor for about as long as Bill C was when he got elected, from the same state, and Huck was making noises about economic populism years before anyone else did.

    Even Palin wasn’t that bad *on paper* before being thrust on the national stage. That might be the inflection point – late 2008 early 2009 – when everyone who was even remotely respectable and ‘professional’ started cashing in. (including Gingrich – including just a bit before, Kasich)

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  3. Some thoughts:

    What if all the stuff you deplore is stuff the Republican base/”Conservatives” sincerely believe in? I remember you wrote an essay a few years ago about switching your party membership to the GOP but you are clearly not a typical member of the Republican Party. IIRC you switched your membership to save it from the crazy.

    1. “Radical Party/Conservative Party”

    I think the mid-20th century version of the GOP that you are longing for was defeated a long time ago. There has always been a strain of thought in the United States that was relentlessly against even the smallest form of Welfare State. They have gone by various names but have generally (but not always) gone with the Republican Party. In the Great Depression, they were called the “Liberty League.” In the early 1950s, they called themselves the “Old Right” and were led by Robert Taft. Then came Goldwater and his followers who were generally Midwestern and Western and loathed the East-Coast Republicans. Nelson Rockfeller was considered a RINO way back when. How else can you explain the constant attacks on the Affordable Care Act? They are mounted by ideologues who refuse to bend for reality which is fine enough if they are sincere I suppose even if the results are clearly disasters. Look at the finances of Louisiana and Kansas after their experiments in tax-cutting mania.

    2. What if Trump is closer to the base of the GOP than you realize? The GOP standard bearers like Walker and Bush the Jebber fell quickly. One of the early lessons was that it was pretty clear that a good chunk of the GOP base did not really care about destroying Social Security or Medicare. But they do care greatly about what they see as decline in the United States. Recent studies and polls show that Trump’s main support comes from that old-standard of Right-wing Nationalism, the petite bourgeois. These are small business people (but usually not educated professionals, more like one truck contractors) who never worked for anyone and might be psychologically unable to do so. They are also most likely to disagree with social changes and perceive them as a reduction in authority and power.

    3-6. Are related. You seem to think that these are all just cynical tactics and tricks to gain lots of money. For some at the top of the chain, that might be true. However, I think that a lot of people sincerely believe in all these things. The LGM crowd would tell you that you are severely discounting the roles white supremacy and racism have always played in American politics.

    Now I generally think the GOP is nuts. You are writing something that should theoretically help moderate them but I think the rot has gone too far.

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  4. And so, a list of six things that Tod wants, with no real thought to what conservatives (who presumably want these thing) want in a party. They must be small c conservatives, and not take stands in a culture war that RTod dislikes, nor have voices that Tod dislikes.

    All the while the R’s are taking names and kicking ass at all levels of gov’t outside the presidency, which more than anything seems to be on its normal two term cycle. Reguarding which, Clinton has fallen in the number from 11.4 to 3.7 in the last month, whether it is due to the R’s solidifying under Trump or Hilarys inability to close the door on Sanders is indeterminate at this point.

    Tod, you have been writing this same post for, what, six years now? The R’s are never going to be the party of Tod, they are going to do the things they want, and all the hopes for change, that don’t take into account the actual members of that party, are a fools errend.

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    • , are you personally happy with the things in Todd’s bill of indictment? Are you satisfied with the policy proposals of the current Republican nominee? I get that you don’t think these things are nearly as important as Todd does, but if you aren’t happy with, say, Trump’s proposed trade and immigration policies, that’s a problem you have with the party you prefer to hold power. And even if you think the other party is far worse, wouldn’t you prefer that the party you’re closer to more closely adhere to your understanding of good policy and good governance?

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      • Personally, I am indifferent to them . I am not a Repub, nor have I ever been one. I have some in my family, but I also have more than a few on the far left. But that begs the question, what should I demand of a party that I am not a member of? I am not going to demand that the Dems be and do what they are not, simply because I am no longer a member. I moved on.

        Under current Dem. leadership, politically they have lost, what, 13 senate seats and 70 house seats? How many state chambers and governerships? HCR seems to be in as big a fight as she was with Obama in ’08, wasting time and energy mopping up Bernie. Should we say that the D’s are broken? Shatered on the lower levels? That the only thing they are winning is the culture war?

        Deciding between Trump and Hilary is like deciding between bone cancer and a fractured skull. I don’t want either.

        “And even if you think the other party is far worse, wouldn’t you prefer that the party you’re closer to more closely adhere to your understanding of good policy and good governance?” That all depends on what you consider good governence. I generally think, that while both parties have aspects of good governance, D’s on abortion and R’s on gun rights, for the most part both parties are trying to make their morality the law. And they haven’t convinced enought of America that they are on the right track. So if I seem to be sidestepping your question, its mainly from the point that my politics don’t lend themselves to answering that question.

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        • Political parties don’t really work like that in our system. The Presidency actually does have a lot of importance in our system, and it’s not like the Democrats contented themselves with their control of Congress after Dukakis went down in flames in ’88. If nothing else, you will have elected Republican officials–Senators and Governors, mostly–who want a shot at stepping into the Oval Office, or at least serving as senior officials in a Republican Administration.

          Finally, losing Presidential elections is just plain upsetting for most partisans. They really, really don’t like it, and they don’t want to do it. Maybe everybody should have more perspective on this sort of thing, but they don’t. I’m skeptical that ‘s set of proposals could be implemented, and if they were, that they would result in a viable party that many #NeverTrumpeters would be happy with, but they’re a lot more plausible than large numbers of Republicans saying, “Hey, letting Democrats hold the White House indefinitely actually isn’t a problem!”

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          • It isn’t that not holding the presidency is cool, it is that both sides have serious problems with how they are conducting business, and it shows up ticked for R’s and down ticket for D’s. But only one party is broken? That is why all of these culture warriors on the right are so active, so heeded. Because only half of our political story is told in the media outside of them. Both parties are broken.

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            • aaron david: It isn’t that not holding the presidency is cool, it is that both sides have serious problems with how they are conducting business, and it shows up ticked for R’s and down ticket for D’s. But only one party is broken?

              Yes, because Ds are a helluva lot more willing to content themselves with losing down-ticket than Rs are with losing up-ticket. When the roles were reversed, as they were not so long ago, so were the attitudes.

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        • Perhaps this is distinct from the point that Todd is making, but my issue here isn’t that I think the R’s are going to lose elections, nor is it that I think they’ve gone too far to the right (I mean, I do, but that’s why I’m a Democrat). My problem is that the R’s have made a virtue about flouting the non-partisan, non-ideological rules of the game that allow government to perform its core functions adequately and that allow us to keep handing power back and forth smoothly.

          Or, to put it another way, I detest Paul Ryan. I think he’s a total fraud who pushes a radical agenda that would cause immense harm if implemented, and that he gets a pass on all of this because he knows how to manipulate the mainstream media. But I would be far, far, far less concerned if Paul Ryan was the Republican nominee, even though i think Ryan would be far more likely to win in the fall. Ryan is a real politician with a real policy platform. He is interested in public policy, knows things about the world, and has some idea of how to run a political campaign and use political power once it has been acquired. He doesn’t explicitly threaten to use the power of the state to harass hostile media outlets, he doesn’t promise to commit unambiguous war crimes, he doesn’t welcome the support of the KKK, and he doesn’t change what few semi-coherent positions he has in the space of hours.

          But Donald Trump does all of those things, and the fact is that he’s the Republican party nominee, not Paul Ryan. So what I can’t get my head around is the stubborn refusal of seemingly intelligent, discerning guys like you or Jaybird to admit that this is a different kind of person, one whose flaws go beyond the normal team red/team blue divisions. i’m not asking you to vote for Clinton or agree that Obamacare is great or anything like that. But the fact that it’s this hard to get people to admit that the Trump candidacy is not normal and is not ok? That scares the fish out of me.

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      • This will be the last post I will be doing on this topic.

        No, no, no! Not this time. Not another series — not all of them yours, admittedly — that stops after going on at great length about the brokenness of the Republican Party, with a casual mention equivalent to “of course, I could never join the Democrats.” ‘Cause in my experience, your small-c conservatives — standing athwart history shouting “Let’s move forward at a measured pace!” — sound a whole lot like most of the Democrats between the Appalachians and the Sierras.

        The way I see it, you owe us a minimum of at least one more piece. If you can spend 10,000 words on why the Republicans are so hopelessly broken that you’ve had to leave them, you owe us something on why the Democrats are so hopelessly broken that you can’t possibly join them. Or why they’re not broken, but there are policies that mean you can’t join them.

        And possibly one more piece. Can the Republicans be fixed? Can the Dems be weaned from the policies you object to? Which one seems more likely? Because the answer to the last one is what ought to be determining whose side you’re on.

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        • Oh, to be clear, I meant the topic of the GOP and its media. Not politics.

          “you owe us something on why the Democrats are so hopelessly broken that you can’t possibly join them.”

          I wrote that piece already, didn’t I? If anything, I’ll likely have to do a piece on why I will be rejoining thing this month, despite hating the thought of it.

          “And possibly one more piece. Can the Republicans be fixed?”

          That doesn’t really need a piece, because the answer is short. If they continue to have a core rallies against Trumpism, then yes, they certainly can be fixed. But, as is becoming more and more likely each day, even the #NeverTrumpers fully embrace Trump and Trumpism this fall? Then, no, they can’t. They can be successful for as long as a party that overtly signals white nationalism and sexism can be in a country with our demographics can be — which means possibly quite successful for a good while, maybe even a decade — and then they’ll die. After two or four years go by, you can walk back from a flat tax push or shutting down the government and voters won’t care much too much. But you can’t walk back from white nationalism. That’s going to stick.

          And hey, if that’s who they decide to be, then good riddance. In that case, it turns out they were never who I thought they were to begin with.

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    • I think a lot of Tod’s advice is right on the mark. I think some of it is off a bit. Where to go from here is a pretty intense subject for debate among people dissatisfied with the status quo.

      But here’s the thing: It’s not just Tod that’s dissatisfied with the status quo. His investment in the GOP may be somewhat marginal, but I have approaching twenty years of involvement in the party that is threatening to come to an end. Of course, I have a degree of ideological promiscuity so hey. But then look at The Weekly Standard, most of the National Review, half of The Federalist, most of RedState, Look at a lot of people, including a lot of real bona fide conservatives. There is a lot of discontent. If not in numbers, then in volume. And it’s not all coming from Tod. (Arguably, it’s coming most loudly from Actual Conservatives.)

      So yeah, there’s actually a market for What Can We Do To Fix This S**t. It’s not something that Tod and a bunch of outsiders made up.

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      • The discontented among those you name are concerned with the chronic ineffectuality and essential commercial orientation of the Republican elite. You have some others like Pete Spiliakos whose complaint is that the Republican elite is sterile; a variant of that view would be that the intellectual fertility is found in policy shops who are often considering exceedingly narrow questions. R Tod’s 5,000 word yammer is irrelevant to these sorts of concerns.

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  5. The small-c conservative party you want already exists; it is called the Democratic Party.

    The Democrats meet all your criteria for what the Republicans should be:

    1. D’s (Democratic presidents and the party as a whole with a few outliers, I suppose) oppose radical changes and prefer to move slowly and incrementally. Technocrats and compromisers to the core. They are conservative and not radical.

    2. They oppose Trumpism and White Nationalism and Fascism.

    3. D’s try to appeal to the Social Justice crowd and the political correctness movement but are skeptical and more small-c conservative. They engage with this movement but don[t accept all of it.

    4. D’s are clearly not controlled by a media machine like Limbaugh and Fox,mat least not to the same degree or in the same pernicious way.

    So we need two (or more) parties, yes. I argue the D’s should be the conservative party, you can have a more radical libertarian party, and a more radical socialist party. White Nationalism should not, ideally, have a major party.

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    • Basically right. I have a feeling that if you split the Democratic Party in two, you would have a small c-conservative party represented by the Clinton crowd and a liberal party represented by the Warren/Sanders crowd.

      I suppose what would be partially or wholly missing is some forms of social-conservatism. Both parts are strongly aligned on LGBT rights (though I would guess HRC does not want to have the HB2 debate now even if she agrees with it.) Both would favor keeping/expanding the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act. Issues like drugs are different. I suspect you would see more marijuana legalization but it would stop there. Neither party would advocate for the legalization of harder drugs like cocaine, heroin, etc. Legalization of sex work would have critics in both crowds I imagine too.

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      • Basically right. I have a feeling that if you split the Democratic Party in two, you would have a small c-conservative party represented by the Clinton crowd and a liberal party represented by the Warren/Sanders crowd.

        That is just silly. Hellary is not distinguished from Sanders by stated programmatic content to a degree which would interest anyone but liberal sectaries. She’s distinguished from him in two senses: for Sanders, issues and programs are the end; for Hellary, they may be that, but they’re primarily a means for her self-aggrandizement. Sanders is fundamentally honest bar at the edges where people commonly fudge. The Clintons are the most politically prominent members of the criminal class since Aaron Burr.

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    • >>The small-c conservative party you want already exists; it is called the Democratic Party.

      This is a terrific point, and I think if Tod wants to persuade his conservative readers he needs to address it directly. What is the conservative party that he actually wants to see? Does he want Clinton to become the typical Republican and Sanders the typical Democrat? That is certainly the impression I get from these posts, and it’s going to go over with conservatives like a lead balloon.

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    • The small-c conservative party you want already exists; it is called the Democratic Party.

      This is actually an idea I have been toying with inside my head for a while. I certainly think that, with the success of Trumpism, it’s become the de facto pro-business and pro-capitalism party. Which, for someone old enough to have volunteered for the Jesse Jackson campaign when I was in college, is freaking weird.

      On the one hand, of course, there are things like Obamacare and the calls for min wage hikes, which strike me as inherently progressive.

      On the other hand, it’s been interesting this week to watch to two presumptive nominees. One is proposing grand, sweeping changes that will remake America. The other is hammering away on prudence, not rocking apple carts, and respecting tradition. In other words, the exact same contrast we have every POTUS election year — but coming from the opposite parties one expects them to come from.

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      • There is this growing pool of people like me and John Cole, ex-Republicans turned Democrats, who joined the Democratic Party.

        Part of it was a true conversion- we saw our old ideas about gays and culture as incorrect; But part of it was that the Dems exemplified our small c conservative beliefs.

        What doesn’t get commented on much, is the effect we are having on the Dems just by our new presence. One of the reasons the Dems are so “conservative” is that the base is increasingly people who are invested in America as it is and is becoming, and very much don’t want that boat rocked.

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    • White nationalism certainly should have a major party. That way we know where they are and can see them coming. It’s not like that’s a constituency that’s going away any time soon.

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  6. Oddly, after meeting with Facebook, Glen Beck posted this, in which he says he doesn’t think the Conservative Movement is very conservative, either. Or at least a good part of it weren’t acting like it in the meeting.

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      • I always has a funny feeling that Beck was selling a line of BS he didn’t believe. Of course, it was also because he’s a Mormon and Utah is the home of MLM schemes so they know how to sell people some BS.

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        • I listened to Beck’s show yesterday on this and it was honestly bizarre to hear him trot out the “a few bad apples”, “nothing has been proven”, “they’re trying hard to fix it” defense for a liberal media target. This is the kind of argument he himself would compare to Hitler/Chamberlain were it made about the government. I think he was (a) legitimately charmed by Zuckerberg; and (b) just flat-out trusts big corporations. I don’t think this is a come to Jesus moment, I just think that once you’re in his fave five you get much more leeway, and big corporations (even liberal ones) are on that list … somewhere between racial conspiracy theorists and fiat currency conspiracy theorists.

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  7. How about these four parties?

    Conservadems a la Lieberman or Ben Nelson
    Lefty Moderately Radical Progressives, a la Sanders.
    Religious Social Issue Reactionaries, a la Huckabee
    Libertarian Moderate Radicals, a la Poppa Paul.

    Trouble is the white Nationalist racist homophobes could corrupt any one of these parties, I guess. And four parties for this country sort of would be a radical change. Oh well. A more just society will just have to get put on the backburner for fifty years. Let’s watch TV.

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  8. I’m going to echo Saul at point one. What the Republicans are advocating isn’t really that unique in American history. Its just that in the past you found this radical, anti-welfare, pro-market and Protestant morality ideology in both parties rather than concentrated in one party. You also had liberals in both parties. Its the great sort that started in the 1960s that led to the Republic emergency as radical party.

    Another good step for the Republicans would to be stop treating reality TV stars as people with something noteworthy to say.

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    • “Anti-welfare’? I’ve seen BO called ‘the Food Stamp president’, I’ve seen complaints about Section 8 vouchers (mostly by alt-right types who exaggerate their importance considerably, not from conventional Republicans), and I’ve seen complaints about the ever-more relaxed definition of ‘disability’. Is anyone not in the pocket of the National Association of Social Workers ‘anti-welfare’?

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          • You’re going to have to spell that one out for me.

            I think it’s fair to call the party that wants to strip massive amounts of funding for something the anti-that-something party. If you disagree, show your work.

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            • What ‘massive amounts’? Did Messrs. Hastert and Frist manage to get a bill on Mr. Bush’s desk to scrap the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Department of Education, to mention two federal pustules (whose spending puke is a fraction of Social Security and Medicare)?

              The one thing the Republican Party managed to do was put some time limits on a small but dysfunctional and socially injurious program, AFDC. Upset Marian Wright Edelman greatly.

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              • I’m sorry, but why does that question have anything to do with what the GOP wants now? The speaker of the house explicitly wants to cut welfare programs by trillions of dollars. That’s anti-welfare under any honest interpretation of the term.

                Also, to the extent you’re suggesting Bush wasn’t anti-welfare, he tried to privatize social security which would have wiped out a LOT of people’s safety nets when the markets crashed in 2008. Which is the whole reason liberals fought (and won) the battle to stop him.

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                • I’m sorry, but why does that question have anything to do with what the GOP wants now? The speaker of the house explicitly wants to cut welfare programs by trillions of dollars. That’s anti-welfare under any honest interpretation of the term.

                  He likely has the sense not to confuse expenditure flows with lump sums.

                  Bush’s actual proposal was to allow a portion of FICA revenues to be placed in private accounts.

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  9. So, there’s no room for a conservative party that, for example, believes that the government shouldn’t be involved in paying for health care? Or that, at least, the federal government shouldn’t be involved in paying for health care? We’re all progressives now, the only debate is about pace and technocratic details of implementation?

    I guess I’m a progressive, since I believe that for a society to be stable long-term, it has to guarantee floors under outcomes to some degree — opportunity is not enough. And that the state will be involved in those guarantees. And that policy directed to that guarantee can take many forms. I also understand that there are lots of people who don’t believe in such a guarantee, for various reasons.

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    • That question can be answered by collecting a representative sample of Republicans and asking them if there is room in the Party for someone who wants Social Security and Medicare repealed tomorrow.

      YMMV, but I’m betting the answer is NO.

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    • Michael Cain:
      So, there’s no room for a conservative party that, for example, believes that the government shouldn’t be involved in paying for health care? Or that, at least, the federal government shouldn’t be involved in paying for health care?

      If you’re using ‘s understanding of the word “conservative”, as being opposed to radical change–then the answer seems to be, “Yes.”

      Whether this indicates a problem with the belief, or instead indicates a problem with ‘s definition, is another matter entirely.

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  10. Conservative, in this case, seems to mean “the type of liberalism that was mainstream in 1986 or thereabouts”. A good, straightforward, Walter Mondale/Mike Dukakis tax and spendism, a return to a less vigorous foreign policy, embracing the welfare state and shoring it up (but not *TOO* much, of course), and otherwise being staid and genteel.

    Well, plus gay marriage, of course.

    The liberalism of 30 years ago.

    Now, of course, back in the 80’s, you’d still have conservatives (or “conservatives”) who argued that we needed to abolish this or that Federal Department of This Or That. (Remember when “We need to abolish the Department of Education!” was something that presidential candidates said? Good times.) Now, of course, those Departments are no longer fairly new and getting rid of them is no longer “going back to the way we were before” but “let’s change this thing that we’ve had for a long long time”.

    Conservatism as a brake, as a voice that says “let’s do things the way my parents did them (but not my grandparents, because that’s crazy talk)”. A conservatism whose job it is to lose every battle, but lose it slowly, and with dignity.

    I can see why we’d want those people to be like that.
    I just don’t see why they’d agree to it.

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    • Jaybird: Conservatism as a brake, as a voice that says “let’s do things the way my parents did them (but not my grandparents, because that’s crazy talk)”. A conservatism whose job it is to lose every battle, but lose it slowly, and with dignity.

      I can see why we’d want those people to be like that.
      I just don’t see why they’d agree to it.

      Well, I’m not sure why they’d agree to it either, but one way or another, they often do–at least rhetorically.

      Especially when the alternative so often seems to boil down to losing slowly and without dignity.

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    • >>A conservatism whose job it is to lose every battle, but lose it slowly, and with dignity.

      I see the 2nd Amendment fight as a counterpoint. Liberals tend to pray and spray with appeals to emotion, bogus statistics, vague policy proposals, and no desire to understand the other side. Conservatives build up coalitions, message discipline, and agitate in the institutions that matter (SCOTUS). And they’re winning. I see not reason why the same cannot apply to other aspects of the conservative agenda.

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    • “I can see why we’d want those people to be like that.
      I just don’t see why they’d agree to it.”

      Like the old joke about how we all agree that everyone else should take mass transit.

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    • Now, of course, back in the 80’s, you’d still have conservatives (or “conservatives”) who argued that we needed to abolish this or that Federal Department of This Or That. (Remember when “We need to abolish the Department of Education!” was something that presidential candidates said? Good times.) Now, of course, those Departments are no longer fairly new and getting rid of them is no longer “going back to the way we were before” but “let’s change this thing that we’ve had for a long long time”.

      I’d wager Ted Cruz would readily come up with a list of federal agencies to liquidate, including that one. The trouble is getting it past otiose creatures like AM McConnell.

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  11. Re: #1 – I’ve noticed that one thing certain Conservatives do — especially around religious issues — is to make a change, insist it always was, and argue tradition. This is often fueled by the media because of their proliferation and how much of their audience takes everything they say as Gospel. You have actually discussed this elsewhere, such as the idea that Black Friday is some brand new thing and that Thanksgiving was always about a certain thing done a certain way… only it wasn’t. So I think these people, especially in the audience, genuinely think they’re being small-c conservative because of this misperception of how things used to be/always have been. Which doesn’t excuse it but might help explain the disconnect.

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      • I got into a recent discussion (a very productive one, I might add!) about the inclusion of a prayer at a Little League opening day. A question arose as to when the practice started and what its roots were. No one could answer one way or the other. And yet at least one of the people defending the practice took a “traditionalist” stamp and accused those of us opposed (though I would categorize my position as more “very curious and mildly uncomfortable”) as trying to change things.

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        • I saw on Facebook one of those memes-

          “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
          My generation grew up saying this every morning at school- Click Like and Share if you agree!

          To which I wanted to respond:

          “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
          My parent’s generation grew up saying this every morning at school- Click Like and Share if you agree!

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        • As Fred Clark notes, the idea of absolute opposition to abortion being the defining characteristic of social conservatism is newer than the McDLT.

          Placing the hand over heart when reciting the Pledge dates from 1942. Before the Nazis co-opted the Bellamy Salute, US schoolchildren were putting their hands in the air (and they were doing the same salute for 10 years).

          “In God We Trust” wasn’t on paper money until 1957.

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          • As Fred Clark notes, the idea of absolute opposition to abortion being the defining characteristic of social conservatism is newer than the McDLT.

            Abortion was generally illegal prior to 1973. Abhorrence of the practice has been a signature of Catholic political action ever since the issue was bruited about ca. 1962. Regarding evangelicals, opposition to it has been adhered to since conservative evangelicals began to organize in a systematic way (around about 1979).

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            • You agree with me! I’m touched. The McDLT was introduced in 1984.

              As a shibboleth, abortion dates to the mid-80s. As you note, it was a matter of individual conscience since about 5000 years before the scriptures that would be collected into a Bible were collected.

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              • And prior to the mid 19th century, the Catholic Church permitted abortion up until the time of “quickening”, around the 2nd trimester.

                Its like Chesterton’s Amnesia, the willful forgetting that there never was a fence.

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              • I don’t agree with you, as anyone with ordinary reading comprehension can see. The notion that it ‘was a matter of individual conscience’ for ‘5000 years’ has no reality outside your imagination (as anyone who consulted the statutory law in effect in 1966 could see).

                As for the issue being a ‘shibboleth’, I was aware that liberals had no understanding of or interest in anyone else’s concerns without another demonstration from you.

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            • ever since the issue was bruited about ca. 1962. Regarding evangelicals, opposition to it has been adhered to since conservative evangelicals began to organize in a systematic way (around about 1979).

              You’ve fallen a bit for rewritten history. (Don’t worry, they’re really good at rewriting it.)

              Evangelicals organized politically slightly before that. It’s just they had organized around a goal that few others supported, so they latched onto abortion as a way to get somewhere. And then later, their original goal was so unpalatable they just sorta rewrote history to make it always about abortion.

              Evangelicals had organized on the basis of *pro-segregation*, demanding the right to run tax-exempt private segregated schools. (Which had popped up after public school integration.) But we’re all supposed to forget about that, because now it was always abortion.

              But it wasn’t that before 1979 they merely hadn’t *organized* about about abortion. It was that, pre-1979, they *had no position* about about abortion, or had a much less harsh one.

              Here is the Southern Baptist Convention *praising* Roe v. Wade:
              https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2010/05/06/baptist-press-initial-reporting-on-roe-v-wade/

              Question: What is the Southern Baptist position on abortion?
              Answer: There is no official Southern Baptist position on abortion, or any other such question. Among 12 million Southern Baptists, there are probably 12 million different opinions.

              Granted, assuming the SBC is ‘evanglical’ is not entirely correct, but going into what exactly ‘evanglical’ is somewhat difficult to do here, and you can find the same sort of quotes in Christianity Today (the standard bearers of ‘evanglical’) in the mid-70s also. In fact, being anti-abortion was seen as being a bit…Catholic, and thus suspicious.(1)

              The actual *religious position* on abortion for evangelicals changed *really quickly*, pretty much entirely for political purposes, in 1979 or so.

              1) Which, incidentally, was how being anti-*birth control* was seen when I was growing up! I went to a ‘moderate’ Baptist Church (You could tell we were moderates because we gave some money to the SBC, and some to the CBF.), and in my youth group in the mid-90s, as people got older, there was sorta the expectation that a) people would be using birth control once married until they were ready to support kids, and b) never quite as bluntly stated, but hinted that, if you were *going* to have sex before marriage (Which you shouldn’t), you should probably use birth control. (In the same way that if you were going to drink underaged, don’t drive.)

              Now, apparently, all *that’s* been rewritten, and birth control is now a sin itself. Which, when I was a teen, was a position that Baptists *flatly rejected* as Catholic nonsense. We even specifically talked about the Bible verse that Catholics based that on, with the conclusion being ‘The sin was disobeying God, and to conclude that ‘spilling your seed on the ground’ is a sin generally is like taking the story of Jonah and concluding it is a sin to travel anywhere but Nineveh’.

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              • You’ve fallen a bit for rewritten history. (Don’t worry, they’re really good at rewriting it.)

                I actually lived through that period and read the newspapers.

                Evangelicals organized politically slightly before that. It’s just they had organized around a goal that few others supported, so they latched onto abortion as a way to get somewhere.

                The mixture of stupidity and projection in this sentence is an amazement. Jerry Falwell wasn’t some Hollywood agent on the make. He and his confederates already had large institutional responsibilities – congregations to run, schools to run, businesses to run. They were organizing and giving voice to their own discontents. I realize liberals cannot process the opposition of others, but you might make minimal effort now and again.

                It’s a minor point, but you’re wrong about the chronology. All the notable supralocal organizations were founded within a few months of each other in 1978 and 1979. There was another circle of organizations around Richard Viguerie which appeared 2-5 years earlier, but they had less sectarian concerns. Fallwell et al upstaged them.

                Evangelicals had organized on the basis of *pro-segregation*, demanding the right to run tax-exempt private segregated schools. (Which had popped up after public school integration.) But we’re all supposed to forget about that, because now it was always abortion.

                The parties in the disputes regarding those academies were the academies themselves, not supralocal bodies.

                Falwell and others had complaints about IRS rulings as well, though Falwell in particular was not invested in the issue re segragated academies. Neither Falwell’s nor Robertson’s institutions were segregated.

                Question: What is the Southern Baptist position on abortion?
                Answer: There is no official Southern Baptist position on abortion, or any other such question. Among 12 million Southern Baptists, there are probably 12 million different opinions.

                It’s a non-creedal denomination and the intramural disputes within the denomination at the time concerned modes of biblical interpretation. The ecclesiology of the SBC is quite different from that of the Catholic Church. That is relevant just how? (While we’re at it, Falwell was affiliated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship, not the Southern Baptist Convention). Pat Robertson was ordained by the SBC but was a free-wheeling devotee of charismatic practices most fundamentalists abhor. Tim LaHaye’s denominational affiliation is unclear; his old congregation admits to no denomination and the schools he attended are not associated with SBC).

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                • It’s a minor point, but you’re wrong about the chronology.

                  My claim: Evangelicals organized slightly before 1979 based on segregated schools, but that goal did not actually get traction. That didn’t happen until evangelicals started talking about abortion in 1979.

                  Your claim: Evangelicals organized 2-5 years before 1979, but had less ‘sectarian concerns’. The latter, abortion-issue groups upstaged them in 1979.

                  Everything you just said in that paragraph was correct. It is also everything *I* just said, except you notable refrained from noting these ‘less sectarian concerns’ (Whatever that means.) were, in fact, segregated private religious schools.

                  Falwell and others had complaints about IRS rulings as well, though Falwell in particular was not invested in the issue re segragated academies. Neither Falwell’s nor Robertson’s institutions were segregated.

                  …uh, okay? I don’t know why you think I said anything otherwise. I didn’t even mention those people, much less talk about why *they* entered politics. They were not the first evangelicals in politics.

                  It’s a non-creedal denomination and the intramural disputes within the denomination at the time concerned modes of biblical interpretation.

                  If you actually want to get into the *weeds* of what ‘evangalical’ actually means, we can do that…but I’d really rather not.

                  As I said, while the SBC is not a particular good example of ‘evanglical’ (But they are a good example of the rapid change), there are plenty of gatekeepers of evangalical, like Christanity Today, and *they were not opposing abortion before 1979*.

                  There was not only not any sort of consensus, the consensus was *the other way around*, that abortion was perfectly fine. You can find articles they published citing Bible verses about how it was fine, or about how it was fine before the quickening. (Along with a hearty dose of ‘You have fallen for bad Catholic theology if you think otherwise.’)

                  And then, within about two years, not only was it not fine, but *saying* it was fine would get you drummed out of evanglical circles.

                  The ecclesiology of the SBC is quite different from that of the Catholic Church.

                  I don’t know how the Catholics got into the post, but you are aware I am talking about evangelicals, right? I haven’t said *anything* about Catholic opposition to abortion. I don’t dispute that they’ve always opposed it.

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                  • My claim: Evangelicals organized slightly before 1979 based on segregated schools, but that goal did not actually get traction. That didn’t happen until evangelicals started talking about abortion in 1979.

                    I realize that ‘evangelicals’ are a big blob of people you don’t like in your mind. Out here, people have particular interests that are not shared by or advanced by others in the same category.

                    Your claim: Evangelicals organized 2-5 years before 1979, but had less ‘sectarian concerns’. The latter, abortion-issue groups upstaged them in 1979.

                    That was not my claim. My claim was that Falwell, LaHaye &c upstaged a crew of people who had organized earlier and had a more variegated program. I am not aware that any of them were evangelicals (Paul Weyrich was an Eastern-rite Catholic, Terry Dolan was a roue, and no clue about the others).

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                    • I realize that ‘evangelicals’ are a big blob of people you don’t like in your mind. Out here, people have particular interests that are not shared by or advanced by others in the same category.

                      I have no problems with evangelicals at all. I have a bit of a problem with the self-appointed current *gatekeepers* of evangalicism, but that’s any entirely different religious discussion that we’re not having.

                      That was not my claim. My claim was that Falwell, LaHaye &c upstaged a crew of people who had organized earlier and had a more variegated program. I am not aware that any of them were evangelicals (Paul Weyrich was an Eastern-rite Catholic, Terry Dolan was a roue, and no clue about the others).

                      LOL. You appear to not have realized I was trying to make evangelicals look *better* than actual history. But you caught me.

                      The pre-1979 attempts at religious political groups were indeed *not* evangelical (Although they often *targeted* them) pre-1979. Mostly the Christian Voice. They were concerning themselves mostly with pornography and school prayer and other silliness.

                      But, uh…that’s sorta the opposite of making the evangelicals look good. As you have now revealed, the evangelical leaders started showing up for politics solely for *Green v. Connally*, where things actually took off. Jerry Fawell, James Dobson, they showed up *because of non-profit status of segregated schools*….claiming the evangelicals weren’t involved before that doesn’t make them look *better*!

                      “In some states it’s easier to open a massage parlor than to open a Christian school.” -Jerry Fawell.

                      But, hell, let’s me quote Weyrich: “I was trying to get those people interested in those issues [aka, the pornography and school prayer I mentioned earlier] and I utterly failed. What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation.”

                      It’s pretty funny you’re accusing me of trying to make evangelical look bad. I was trying to be nice! Your version of history, where evangelicals weren’t involved *at all* in the stuff happening pre-1979, makes them look even worse! I was just trying to imply they started institutes for more noble purposes, but sorta used segregation to get votes until they rewrote the current beliefs about abortion…and you ruined that by pointing out evangelical leaders actually just straight up started those institutions about segregation, and the previous stuff wasn’t evangelical at all! (Except, as I said, a lot of the *supporters* were.)

                      Well, you sure showed me.

                      Meanwhile, my point about this pro-segregation platform not actually being palatable for the American public in 1979, and thus the deliberate campaign that started at that point to alter to religious beliefs about abortion so they could use that *instead*, which worked *incredibly quickly*, still stands.

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              • Purely with regards 1).

                In what way has the SBC defined contraception as a sin? I’m not Protestant, but whenever I talk to conservative (theologically) Protestants, there is no sense of this. Overwhelmingly my experience has been that they take two points:
                1) Contraception must be viewed within the entirety of the Marriage… that is, the Marriage ought to be open to children, but at any given moment based solely upon personal discernment, (artificial) birth control is permitted.
                2) The method of artificial birth control must not be an abortifacient.

                Here’s a link to SBC’s Albert Mohler’s updated 2012 article on Birth control

                I recognize that I’m not fully to speed on all the factions of Protestantism/Evangelicalism, but you mention the SBC specifically, so I’m wondering whence the hyperbole?

                This is, incidentally, a facsimile of the Orthodox position.

                That’s certainly not the Catholic position (the one I personally adhere to), and Mohler critiques my position as non-biblical, philosophically imprudent, and a little silly; So, I’m a little at a loss at how this is being spun into some sort of total war on Contraception? By Protestants?

                I’ve certainly heard of Protestants who embrace an..exuberant…openness to children; but then I’ve also heard of Protestants who embrace celibacy… neither the former nor the latter makes the other way a sin.

                I assume this is a result of the Hobby Lobby case and the increasing factionalization of America. The fact that they permit artificial birth control but suggest scrutiny as to means which might limit some options, and ends which might limit some life choices, is now simply intolerable?

                As far as I can tell, the SBC position today is fundamentally the position you said was the case in your youth. How has it changed?

                p.s. I rewatched this teaching video, and as far as I can tell it is still factually correct from an SBC perspective.

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                • The method of artificial birth control must not be an abortifacient.

                  With abortifacient defined as “It cannot be logically disproven that this reduces the probability of the implantation of a zygote. If the same standard were applied to foods, it would result in starvation.

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                  • Well, no… and this is the source of my confusion on this topic. While I may be accused of starving, Protestants and specifically Hobby Lobby cannot.

                    The Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case doesn’t currently affect the birth control methods that are most commonly used. But Planned Parenthood Federation of America spokeswoman Justine Sessions says the decision “opens the door for other corporations to be able to opt out of providing any form of birth control.”

                    It doesn’t affect:
                    • Most birth control pills
                    • Condoms
                    • Sponges
                    • Sterilization

                    It does affect:
                    • Plan B “morning-after pill”
                    • Ella “morning-after pill”
                    • Hormonal and copper intrauterine devices (IUDs)

                    Guttmacher puts IUD and PlanB at approximately 10.5% of all contraceptive users. I assume that’s a fair source for this type of information?

                    I’m not really interested in re-litigating HL… but as I note above I’m a little mystified by how Protestant contraceptive users are being othered so effectively.

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                • 2) The method of artificial birth control must not be an abortifacient.

                  That, right there.

                  That’s the new thing, the invented wedge that pulls non-Catholics in.

                  I spent *years* sitting in Baptist Sunday schools, and never heard that idea *at all*. No one believed that was how birth control worked.

                  And as far as I know, the SBC has stayed silent on that, and I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. My point was this thinking has *now* infected protestants, especially ‘religious’ voters, when not only was it not true when I was attending a Baptist church (which was probably *more* conservative than most of the churches they attended…we had a vote a decade ago if *women* should be deacons…although admittedly we voted yes.), but being anti-contraceptive was something my church flatly *rejected* as being Catholic silliness.

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                  • Thank you I appreciate the perspective; it does seem there was some revisiting of the practice in the late 70s. It still leaves me confused as to why the current fights aren’t seen as arguments over prudence/practice but instead seem elevated to existential denial, which just doesn’t fit the actual practice nor the limitation thereof.

                    Your use of the term, “wedge issue” (by whom and to what end?), is curious to me, but not something I’ve much interest in pursuing here in this form. Perhaps over a pint somewhere someday.

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                    • Thank you I appreciate the perspective; it does seem there was some revisiting of the practice in the late 70s.

                      People often think mixing politics and religion just changes politics.

                      It has actually caused *massive* changes in Christian protestant beliefs, which have been hijacked by the right in many, many ways. (And also Catholic beliefs, or at least *American* Catholic beliefs, which is why the Pope sometimes slaps American bishops down.)

                      The thing is, and I know this sounds bad, but most Christians really have no idea of what they are ‘supposed’ to believe. They don’t really know what their denomination says, they don’t really know what the Bible says, they have spent very little time themselves trying to figure this out…

                      They basically just go with whatever vague memory of any sort of Christian authority figure said last, plus some cliff note version of what their denomination split over. (Baptist answer ‘Baptism by immersion!’)

                      And it gets even worse in ‘sola scriptura’ denominations. Sola scriptura, as I have mentioned before here, is a Christian term actually meaning ‘We have as many just as much specific beliefs and interpretations of the Bible as any church, but we *refuse to write them down*.’. (And then, in the case of Baptists, ‘Also stop calling us a denomination’.)

                      Please note I’m not intending to insult Christians. I *am* a Christian. But the fact is, quite a lot of them…if you start printing in Christian magazines that they read that abortion is considered killing babies by God, they will believe it, pretty quickly.

                      If you print that contraceptives are the same thing, same thing happens…and that’s already started happening, believe me.

                      And if you print the opposite, within a decade, the opposite belief will be mainstream. (Not quite as fast, there’s a lot of inertia to overcome.)

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          • And let’s not forget, the NRA’s absolutist position against any sort of gun regulation at all is from the mid 70s. *And* the NRA essentially created that as a political issue, in the 90s or so.

            You go ask someone in the 60s or earlier about opposing gun control, unless they were within the specific sportsman and hunter community, they’ll look at you blankly and ask what specific gun control you’re talking about…but probably, yeah, gun control sounds like a good idea. And even the sportsman and hunter community was pretty divided…the NRA was a big part of that community, and in *favor* of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

            Note *even the people that opposed that law* didn’t argue there was any sort of *right* to own guns. They simply said it would damage the community, while not doing anything about crime.

            Then, due to the NRA’s support of that bill, absolutists managed to take it over in the 70s, and they started making it an issue *not just for hunters*, and explicitly tying it to the right. I’m not quite sure when they started presenting gun ownership as a constitutional right, but I think that didn’t happen until the late 80s, as part of their lawsuits against the Brady Bill.

            A lot of ‘conservative’ positions are a *hell* of a lot more recent than people think.

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            • In the same vein, outright bans on guns were a common feature in the “wild” west.

              Its not commonly discussed on the right that Wyatt Earp became famous when the Clanton gang dared him to “come and take it”, and he did just that.

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  12. I wrote variations of Tod’s post, back around 2004 when I was slipping away from the GOP.

    What I’ve had to come to grips with is that “conservative” in the modern GOP base is nothing at all conservative, in any coherent fashion.

    This has been pointed out in a myriad of ways, from the intrusiveness of anti-abortion laws to the massive Department of Ethnic Cleansing under Trump, to the demand for Christian madrassas, to the reflexive righthand salute to any and every new military program or war.

    The GOP base doesn’t want small government, they want what people are calling Herrenvolk authoritarianism, an ethnic tribal based system of mixed markets and government supervision.

    As Saul Alinsky noted, you have to work with the terrain as it is, not as you wish it to be.

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      • When you wrote this-

        A conservatism whose job it is to lose every battle, but lose it slowly, and with dignity.

        It made me think of that quote from maybe Buckley or someone, who griped that he was tired of conservatism as being merely the “tax collectors for the welfare state”, that is, the Eisenhower-era conservatism that made its peace with the New Deal, just wanted to keep it on the level glide path rather than ramping it up.

        But that’s the problem- if a conservative isn’t comfortable being the cautious brake, but accepting of gradual change, then what is he?

        Wanting wholesale rollback to some earlier state is revanchism, and becomes inherently wedded to a bitterness, a paranoid and fearful outlook.

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        • Wanting wholesale rollback to some earlier state is revanchism, and becomes inherently wedded to a bitterness, a paranoid and fearful outlook.

          It often seems the “paranoid and fearful outlook” has a lot to do with what’s animating the Republican Party at the rank-and-file level these days. Its leaders are unable to imagine anything else that will make the engine go, other than the fuel of fear. Fear of Muslims. Fear of demographic change. Fear of poverty. Fear of new cultural norms. Fear of losing guns. Fear of receiving moral opprobrium.

          Expose an individual to so much fear for a long time and you risk inducing psychological conditions like post traumatic stress disorder. How does that work on an entire population?

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          • What would a 21st century small c conservatism look like?

            Well, what if there was a party that viewed America with a loving generous heart, that saw gay couples in committed marriages as part of the ideal community, that saw a mixed economy of private markets matched by efficiently socialized legal and physical infrastructure, where tax revenue and spending were prudently balanced; That viewed America’s place in the world as a brother among peers, rather than the fearsome bully.

            There isn’t anything in that statement that couldn’t be extrapolated from the current GOP, except…the lack of fear and rage.

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    • I think you’re dead on. The type of blue blood (maybe at this point ‘blue state’ would be better) Republicans these proposals would appeal to haven’t left the party. The party is in the process of leaving them. It probably has been for at least a decade. Trump has just made it impossible to ignore.

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      • I have news for you. The type you refer to decamped to the Democratic Party 30-odd years ago. A scatter of politicians who made their career in the Republican Party and calculated they would have been injured by attempting to run in the other party remained as a vestigial set for about 25 years, the last one retiring from the House in 2007.

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  13. I am not really sure who this #NeverTrumpers audience is, or what portion of the conservative faction it represents. On the grounds around I see the conservative base pretty pissed at the policies that Obama deployed. Are both Todd and Will in the north west?

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    • Examples?

      Are we talking Obamacare?

      Are transgender high school students in bathrooms of their own choosing really that important?

      Obama didn’t enact same-sex marriage. SCOTUS did that — after a number of states did it on their own, either judicially or democratically.

      Particularly in the Mountain West, how has Obama’s stewardship of BLM lands been materially different than Bush’s, or Clinton’s before him, or Bush’s before him?

      Are we talking immigration? Obama has been more aggressive on interdiction than Bush before him. And equally as forceful and effective in getting reform passed through Congress (which is to say, not at all).

      So I’m a bit at a loss for what non-Obamacare policy might be at play because I see more continuity than change over the past sixteen years — indeed, over the past twenty-four years if the ground wars in Asia are left out of the equation.

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      • Well, ACA is a biggy, as the fines are arriving.
        O’s push for more refugees. Who are these foreigners camped on stateside military bases again, did Bush do that?

        The notion/policy consideration to greatly increase taxes on oil.
        (geebus at the hispanic minorities oilfielders busting my eardrums to vote Republican or the sky will fall)

        Remember way back along time ago when the BLM feds and local law enforcement didn’t kill a reported militia guy on the side of the road. Remember way back when the BLM didn’t look like hired mercs?

        Dammit at the propping up of those alt energy clusterfish companies.

        Who was the IRS targeting again?

        just general rumblings ya know

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      • I’ve repeatedly seen that there is majority support for “A healthcare program that would do X”, while if the pollsters ask what people think about “The ACA/Obamacare program that does X”, enough conservatives freak out to drag the numbers under 50%. Same program. Same people.

        It was originally a Republican plan, after all…

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    • #NeverTrumpers seem to be the conservative ideological policy elite who are dismayed that Trump walked in from nowhere and managed to pretty easily win the GOP nomination. They range from neo-cons like Bill Kristol to establishment figures like Bush I, Bush II, and Nikki Haley. There are also some firebrands like Erik son of Erick that were quite trolling themselves who are dismayed at Trump.

      In my (liberal and partisan view), there is a mix of sincerity, I think that Ryan and some neo-cons truly believe that their policies are best for all Americans and are generally not prejudiced or bigoted. I haven’t paid much attention to his campaigns but Ryan generally strikes me as a guy who does not dog-whistle and would probably prefer avoid talking about social issues. I don’t think he is liberal but he is non-evangelical in his social conservatism.

      Others are pretty rich. Eric Erickson made a career out of inflammatory rhetoric and now he is going all against Trump.

      The big divide seems to be over gutting Social Security and Medicare. The GOP ideological-elite are shocked to discover that this is not popular and maybe their base is not made up of small-government wanters.

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  14. This is all well and good, but the real issue is that Republicans have had nothing to show their voters. Hate it or love it, Obama’s main accomplishments were a massive expansion of health insurance to his constituents and the end of major combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s something you can put on a GOTV postcard. Bush’s main accomplishments were were a temporary tax cut and a disastrous war. The subsequent McCain/Romney agenda was simply to undo what Obama did. At some point, you cannot continue to run on the fumes of “tax cuts will stimulate growth”, you have to actually show that you got something done. And when you can’t, your people are going to start demanding a gleaming wall.

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    • What did (Bill) Clinton do for frustrated liberals? Passed NAFTA and welfare reform, failed to pass healthcare reform, signed a compromise budget and crime bill, etc.. Then Bush took over, and elected democrats compromised; they voted for the Iraq War, they voted for Bush’s tax cuts, they voted to confirm John Roberts and Samuel Alito. So why did Democrats react to that frustration by nominating BHO, but Conservatives reacted to their time in the wilderness by nominating Donald Trump?

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        • Well that’s what I’m trying to get at. One could make an argument (which I think would be badly flawed, but whatever) in 2008 that the Democratic party had badly failed their voters since the 60’s. After all, Carter’s presidency was a bust, then they sat through 12 years of Ronald Reagan, then Clinton spent 8 years (from the POV of a liberal) compromising with Republicans, then Dem congresscritters compromised with Bush and put their names on his wars and his tax cuts and his Supreme Court justices. And so after all of those perceived betrayals and failures to produce anything worthwhile for them, liberal voters suddenly had a chance to nominate a President who would likely come into office with big congressional majorities. There’s a similarity there to the position of GOP voters this year, right?

          But unlike today’s Republicans, Dems in 2008 nominated Barack Obama: a young black and charismatic candidate, but also a more or less mainstream Democrat who behaved more or less how major party Presidential nominees behave. If time in the wilderness and frustration with a party that the base thinks doesn’t produce for them produces a guy like Trump, why didn’t it happen in 2008?

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          • Well that’s what I’m trying to get at. One could make an argument (which I think would be badly flawed, but whatever) in 2008 that the Democratic party had badly failed their voters since the 60’s. After all, Carter’s presidency was a bust, then they sat through 12 years of Ronald Reagan, then Clinton spent 8 years (from the POV of a liberal) compromising with Republicans, then Dem congresscritters compromised with Bush and put their names on his wars and his tax cuts and his Supreme Court justices.

            Clinton faced a Republican Congress. And, again, the Democratic caucus did not support either his tax cuts or Mr. Justice Alito. It does not surprise me that partisan Democrats lie to themselves. What’s their excuse?

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            • To review, the Tea party thought Boehner was a traitor because he didn’t default on the US national debt in order to force Obama to do things Obama didn’t want to do. Nearly half of the Democratic caucus in the Senate voted for the Bush tax cuts, and nearly 2/3 of that caucus voted for the AUMF, but those Senators were accepted back into the party and one of them is about to be the Democratic Presidential nominee. What do you figure would be the equivalent on the R side, Art? I would ask you to imagine a GOP Senator that voted for Obamacare being nominated, but first I would have to ask you to imagine a GOP senator voting for Obamacare.

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              • No, only about nine Senate Democrats voted for the conference report and about 13 House Democrats (in the Senate: Baucus, Breaux, Carnahan, Cleland, Feinstein, Johnson, Kohl, Lincoln, Miller, Nelson, Toricelli). You don’t seem to recall that the functional pacifism and the reflexive hostility to the military (along with the usual myth-memes) which later characterized the mode of intramural Democratic Party culture was not in full flower in 2003.

                As for Boehner, recall Sidney Blumenthal’s description: “louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle”. He starts out with a substrate of disrespect to which was added a loss of trust due to all the fan dancing of the Capitol Hill insiders over immigration policy. Its a reasonable inference that Boehner was in the position because he had more seniority than all but a scatter of House Republicans and because he has some mastery of parliamentary procedures and some skills re the satisfaction of various parties re the distribution of bon bons. Newt Gingrich is the only idea man who has led the House Republican caucus in the last 50 years. Well Boehner’s skills were not enough in the end, and, in any case, he was vested for his pension.

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          • But unlike today’s Republicans, Dems in 2008 nominated Barack Obama: a young black and charismatic candidate, but also a more or less mainstream Democrat who behaved more or less how major party Presidential nominees behave.

            It’s misuse of the term ‘charismatic’ to apply it to politicians who put together some applause lines. A more precise description of BO is that he’s a summary of the vectors at work in the Democratic Party and adds little of his own. However nominees behave, BO’s behavior as a member of Congress was odd. You’d be hard put to find a consequential presidential candidate with so little preparation for the office or personal accomplishment. The Republicans replied with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, but even they compare favorably to BO (Rubio was speaker of the lower house of the Florida legislature and Cruz comes out of the elite bar).

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              • Your point seems to be that Democrats have a subjective feeling of frustration, ergo nominate BO. I’m pointing out it’s almost purely subjective, not rooted in what actually happened prior to 2006.

                I find BO vaguely disgusting and would like to see him inconvenienced and vexed after he leaves office. He’s not worth hating.

                I’d be more congenial re partisan Democrats if they’d stop lying and striking attitudes even for five minutes.

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                • My point was that I don’t think Joe’s explanation for Trump, that R’s are frustrated with their existing political standard bearers, holds up. At minimum, I don’t think it’s anywhere near the whole explanation, because their frustration at failing to pass very ambitious reforms in a Madisonian system aren’t anything new. The Democrats had similar perceived cause for frustration prior to 2008 but did not nominate a candidate anywhere near as abnormal as Trump.

                  Your nitpicking and special pleading to the effect that none of the reasons a Democrat might be frustrated with her party in 2008 exist are wrong, but they’re also irrelevant, because I’m making an argument about why different groups of partisans at different times behave in different ways. For the purposes of understanding that behavior, there’s no need to determine whether a perceived truth is an actual truth, merely to note that it is part of how the person making the decision perceives the world.

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          • Well from the cheap seats, in 2008 Bush really was disliked and McCain appeared more of the same. Obama is a very good speaker, and at the time could talk of a bright future of ‘change’ that could be different than the status quo.

            The change quickly turned into a problem. It wasn’t the change that was expected. This created some polarization in the first term, the second term, well, it went far enough out of the comfort zone to weaponize authority. Tons of condescension was turned to fuel.

            “There’s a similarity there to the position of GOP voters this year, right?”
            I think you nailed it here. Just modify the idea that Trump represents ‘hope and change’ in the opposite direction.

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        • Art, I’m trying to describe the perceptions of a stalwart liberal here in order to make a broad comparison. Also, since the comparison is between the Dems in 2008 and the GOP today, that level of cooperation with the other party would be seen as a massive, historic betrayal if it came from the Tea Party Era GOP.

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          • Two of your four examples are dead wrong. As for the other two, the Democratic caucus was split.

            You have ready analogues from the last 4 years. One third of the Senate Republican caucus cast a ballot in favor of upChuck Schumer’s amnesty program.

            You were not going to get the type of co-operation with BO that you get with Bush because the background and attitudes of the two men are quite different. Bush is a businessman, he negotiates readily, and he was never inclined to be confrontational on domestic questions. His signature initiatives consisted of one GOP staple (a tax cut), a prescription drug plan via Medicare, and an update to federal aid to education. BO has no background in business and not much in banal law practice. BO regards the opposition with contempt and does not bother much with negotiation. He’s oriented toward public relations, not policy.

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      • Clinton presided over prosperity that the Democrats could then point to as an indicator of their success. Bush didn’t. It was, and continues to be very easy to sell Democrats on “Clinton-era [FILL IN THE BLANK]”. Then Obama secured the ACA: another feather in their quiver of constituent services that will be paying dividends for several elections. In contrast, the Republicans have to reach all the way to Reagan for policy victories, and those victories hardly resonate anymore (“he got us out of the Carter malaise”, “he defeated the USSR”). Absent recent accomplishments, the GOP needed to offer a gleaming future, and if you look at it from that perspective you can see how weak Jeb, Walker, Perry, Rubio, and Cruz really are.

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        • I think you’re quite right to point to the general peace and prosperity that Clinton presided over, but I’m interested in the 2008 campaign, so Obama’s various liberal accomplishments are outside the scope of the question. They do run into another question that I think is quite interesting: why are so many Liberals dissatisfied with Obama’s accomplishments?

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  15. Some questions for you Tod:

    1. Why do you think these six steps are massively difficult?

    2. Why do you think the GOP will not want to take these steps? Are you willing to concede that many GOP supporters like things the way they are?

    3. What do you think it will take for the GOP to moderate?

    4. How do you deal with contentious social issues like LGBT-rights? Legislation like HB2 seems more like massive resistance to social change than anything else. What is your small and slow incrementalism to expand LGBT rights? What is the slowest pace that should be acceptable for LGBT people?

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  16. I genuinely fear any long-term future without a stable and disciplined conservative party to anchor the nation.

    I think this, from my perch as an unrepentant tax-and-spend redistributionist liberal, is the most important line. And it’s a feeling that I have all too often (not least because I follow San Francisco’s politics, where we thoroughly lack any view anywhere near this category).

    If I’m trying to think through why I believe such a party is important, I think the reason is that it ought to keep liberal policy grounded. Single-payer is a good example of this. I have strong philosophical support for a one-page law that amends the age at which US Citizens qualify for Medicare to 0 years old. I think it would be an ultimately-great development that would trigger a ton of necessary reform throughout lots of American life (no medical bankruptcies, access to healthcare, no more price-gouging from providers, massive negotiation efficiency, space for those who want additional care to pay for it, etc.). I also think it puts the straightforward job of processing/reimbursing claims in the right place (Government is good at efficiently doing clerical work, and has strong enforcement powers, private insurance will seek profits both by denying valid claims and generally larding up overhead). That said, it would be an undeniably radical change in nearly everyone’s life, and would drastically increase the amount of tax revenue our country would require. A small-c conservative party would be a good partner in making sure that I don’t get the policy I want until and unless it satisfies skeptical members that it would actually work, and actually be an improvement.

    I think the biggest lesson from that text wall is that I want my opposition party to be reality-based. I want them to be able to admit that the world is getting rapidly hotter and to help me solve the problem in a way that can get broad support. I don’t want a party that pretends any step towards solving the problem will be immediately-disastrous (even though every step before has survived equally overblown concerns) or that says global warming is fake because it snows in the winter. I want a party that can discuss economic policy honestly, rather than pretending tax cuts amounting to $5.7T will somehow be revenue-neutral.[1]

    I think ‘s point about wanting an opposition that will lose, but slowly and with dignity, is the best critique to all of this, because it’s true. Obviously I want an opposition party to lose. If I didn’t, I would support that party. But I don’t think that’s all I want. For example, I completely understand why elements of the conservative platform win. The second amendment says what it says, so gun restrictions are difficult. Abortion is a tough issue that reasonable people can (easily) disagree on. Capitol punishment too. I just wish the opposition wasn’t fighting on benghazi-investigation-#218 or into the 73rd-dimension of Obama-is-a-secret-Kenyan chess.

    [1] My desire for engagement with facts is, of course, one of the reasons I can’t support Bernie. His policies require equally (or, in some cases, more) absurd fantasies to pencil out.

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    • How would you define the ideological differences between the Scott Weiner faction on the Board of Supervisors and the David Campos/Jane Kim faction?

      I think that you can basically describe the SF Board of Supervisors as being divided between the HRC crowd and the Sanders crowd.

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      • I don’t think it really nationalizes that well.

        HRC’s big pitch is that she can’t control the GOP but she can try to identify narrow opportunities to move forward. Bernie’s big pitch is that our nation should be having a revolution (but clearly isn’t, at least yet).

        In SF there’s no GOP to be incremental with. I don’t know where, for example, Wiener’s towel-requirement for Castro nudists (or the nudity-ban) maps nationally. Similarly, I don’t know how to map the soda-tax debates, which have an entirely different set of objections in SF than in their national version.

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        • I suspect that there are not many areas outside of the Bay Area where the nudity ban is an issue. I could be wrong though.

          But I do think when it comes to economic/fiscal issues, SF has a strong split between Clintonian moderation/incrementalism/somewhat pro-business but not rabidly so (Weiner’s famous Medium essay on the laws of supply and demand and SF Housing) vs. further left voices like Peskin.

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  17. A basic premise that I see baked into this post is the idea that conservatism represents gradualism, incrementalism, slowing down the pace of change. “Burkean” conservative ideas. I don’t think this is true, in the sense that conservatism has not just been about this, whether in its intellectual golden age when Bill Buckley used National Review to tell the John Birch Society to get lost, or today in the gnashing-of-teeth about the Rise Of Trump, or anytime in between.

    Conservatism, best writ, is about the community. It is about how to best deploy institutions –governmental or not — to strengthen the community. It is about how norms of culture and behavior and morals create and define the community. It is how the community prospers and thrives. “Small government” is code for this: the government does what is necessary to enforce these norms.

    Conservatism is far, far from its best writ state now; few on these pages would disagree. Maybe it’s because cynical leaders have perverted the enforcement of those norms, or maybe it’s because the community has become too diverse and ill-defined to have a consensus of what those norms are, or maybe the norms of the past no longer serve the community well.

    The conservatism of “anti-everything” or of “less of what progressives want, and slower,” isn’t ever going to be anything other than “revanchist,” to use phrase. What are conservatives for? What do they want (beyond “liberals go away”, itself a form of reactionarism)?

    This is a step left out of the prescription in the OP: forming an affirmative agenda. Ronald Reagan had one: the defeat of the Soviet Union, a robust military, and a governmental budget that could survive indefinitely on a top marginal tax rate of under thirty percent. (Whether that was achievable or not is irrelevant to this point.) I know Donald Trump wants a wall so the Mexicans will go away and he wants to repeal Obamacare and he wants the Muslims to go away too. Is that the agenda of conservatives today?

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    • I know Donald Trump wants a wall so the Mexicans will go away and he wants to repeal Obamacare and he wants the Muslims to go away too. Is that the agenda of conservatives today?

      You should probably include some stuff about the trade deficit and bringing the jobs back. Check this out:

      Speaking not far from a Carrier factory, Mr. Trump on Wednesday repeated his pledge to impose a 35% tariff on products the company makes in Mexico. “They’re going to call me and say, ‘Mr. President, Carrier has decided to stay in Indiana,’ ” he told a raucous crowd.

      That’s going to be interpreted as a positive message by a lot of folks.

      An affirmative agenda, even.

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    • Discussing the animating principles of one’s political opponents is very dangerous ground. And the Bernie campaign shows that Democrats can be just as mathematically unrealistic as Republicans. That said:

      1. When HW Bush promised no new taxes, then raised taxes, then was defeated, fiscal discipline for the Republican party vanished. conservatives (please everyone stop writing “small-c”, just type it that way) who cared about that issue have gotten kicked to the side. Witness (a) the impact of the W Bush tax cuts, (b) the tax cut promises of the current round of Presidential candidates, including Trump, (c) the financial state of Kansas and Louisiana and (d) Oklahoma just now caving on the Medicaid expansion.

      Fiscal discipline is hard, and boring. The Democrats at the federal level for years have run on campaign promises of great new programs that will make everyone’s life wonderful. I can understand why the Republicans flipped that message and are now promising the exact same government we have now, but with much lower taxes. Both parties are lying on the campaign trail, but since 1980 only one party has persistently tried to enact those fiscally ruinous policies.

      2. The culture wars are a great way to get people riled up. But once riled up, people are a lot harder to settle down. If you parse through the complaints about gay marriage, the principal issue appears to me to be the idea that being gay is acceptable. What really enrages Dreher (to take an extreme example) is that religious organizations can no longer teach that homosexuality is objectively disordered without being called bigots by an ever-growing segment of society that disagrees with that teaching.

      He and many others long for the (mythical) day when straight white men were naturally and comfortably at the top of the social pyramid. Again, I understand the anger at the loss of relative position. But it’s really not a terribly healthy approach to call those who disagree with you your enemies. That makes compromise a lot more difficult.

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      • He and many others long for the (mythical) day when straight white men were naturally and comfortably at the top of the social pyramid. Again, I understand the anger at the loss of relative position. But it’s really not a terribly healthy approach to call those who disagree with you your enemies. That makes compromise a lot more difficult.

        1. You don’t get Dreher. With that man, the personal is the political in a the most literal way. He hasn’t gotten over getting the s**t kicked out of him in high school in 1981, or that his sister was a better son to his father than he was.

        2. You have trouble understanding these people because you think the frames you use to sell your point are a description of their actual thinking.

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        • I get Dreher just fine. I think his diatribes about the end of the world are actually quite funny. The point is that other people read him, link to him and talk about him.

          As a person who consistently insists on mind-reading the other commenters (just see below for examples), you’re not really in a position to complain when others do it.

          But since I come here seeking enlightenment, please tell me – oh wise one — what it is that troubles social conservatives and the petit bourgeois who make up a solid fraction of Trump’s base? If we are to make America great again, when was the last time that America was so great? And what were the essential elements of that greatness that was lost and need to be regained?

          (According, of course, not to you but to the cultural warriors to whom I was referring.)

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          • I have no comment on what Mr. Trump’s voters think. People vote for a candidate for disparate reasons. It’s a reasonable inference that discontent over immigration is the modal reason, but I cannot say.

            Vociferous social conservatives are people I know and have been reading for twenty-odd years. Consider the following phrase, “He and many others long for the (mythical) day when straight white men were naturally and comfortably at the top of the social pyramid.”

            Francis, ordinary human beings do not think this way or talk this way. A subaltern in the dean of students’ office talks this way. A low rent academic talks this way. Gliberals and leftoids playing rhetorical games talk this way.

            Strata of recognition are inherent in human societies and they are implicit in the judgments people make and the actions people take. There are people who are power motivated or narcissistic for whom obtaining this or that is an end in and of itself. If you fancy such people are not operating on your side of the argument, you’re a deluded jackass. (See Stanley Rothman’s research on occupational groups: one of the more power-motivated are journalists; business executives tend to be achievement motivated). However, most people are not primarily self-aggrandizing in this way and some are not self-aggrandizing at all. The hospital supply salesman is not standing outside the Planned Parenthood clinic with a home-made sign because he wants to lord it over post-adolescent sluts. He’s there because he has a horror of what goes on inside those clinics.

            I was involved in a liberal political action committee for a number of years a generation ago. The topic of homosexuality took up almost no space in our heads apart from some glancing references to public health matters. There was too much else to discuss and to do to be all that concerned with boutique causes. How dispositions toward homosexuality came to define the sense of self of liberals and define in-groups and outgroups among a certain sort of bourgeois is an interesting question for the anthropologist. It has both gross manifestations (a physician in Boston fired from his job for reciting some banal facts in an intramural memorandum) and weirdly comical ones (the editor of this site deleting as a ‘slur’ colloquialisms used by lesbians, among others, or going on a silly jag about psychotherapists &c).

            People from my side of the argument are not and have not been fretting over their ‘position’, but over the insistence that the rest of the world adopt the obsessions of the professional class twits who have been so fixated on this subject. There is no need, none at all, to have babble about sexual subcultures imported into school curricula. There is no need, except to please the homosexual population itself, to sic lawyers on merchants and landlords. There is no need to grant any sort of legal recognition to homosexual couplings These issues have been raised by others, democratic deliberation has been denied by others, and yet somehow the whole problem is our drives for power or recognition.

            As for the racial angle, that’s a hoot. The black population is predominantly working class and not thickly populated with financially or socially ambitious people. There aren’t any racial resentments of any degree of prevalence deriving from blacks in management. The continual manufacture of patron-client relationships bothers people (and is wholly contrived). Obnoxious hustlers like Ben Crump bother people. Urban crime bothers people. You have those inane patronage programs not because so-and-so’s social position is threatened, but because, under most circumstances, it really would not be. And it does not do its beneficiaries any good; it just makes the supplicants of people like you. The same deal applies regarding the mestizo population. Ordinary people can see mass immigration and racial preference schemes for what they are: contrived efforts to displace them tinged with petty insults directed at them. The perpetrators are … people like you.

            It’s pretty obscene for someone in a predatory occupation like yours to look at an ordinary man who has been through the wringer of contemporary divorce proceedings (or, more rarely, put in front of a campus star chamber) and babble about ‘being at the top of the social pyramid’. That’s not what’s on his mind.

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              • Technically it is an if statement describing a possible you.

                Are you prepared to claim that there are *No* “power motivated” or “narcissistic” people for whom obtaining a given end are operating on your side?

                If yes, then j’accuse. Because right now, its a classic schrodinger’s jackass scenario.

                p.s. new idea for [report] button name.
                p.p.s. I know I’m not helping.

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                • It’s in a gray zone, for the most part. A category of things I would rather not see, but defensible. Ultimately, though, we’re disinclined to try to hash our precisely where its proximity is with the line, if the commenter in question refuses has no intention of trying to be on the right side of said line. Otherwise, I think we can let the comment stand with the assumption that it is meant as a more general critique and not directed at Francis in particular.

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                  • Yeah, I know. He’s abrasive in an intentional way; he could easily have written the same sentence and said Francis would be a fool… who hasn’t been called a fool here?

                    If ever there was a need for a write a good post earn another post commenting policy and technology to support it, it would be in this case.

                    [this is just between you and me, right? He can’t see this can he?]

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