A Few Random Thoughts on “Growth and Opportunity”

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The Republican National Committee released its long term assessment report yesterday.  Called “Growth and Opportunity,” the document is intended to spell out the current state of the GOP (not good) and ideas on how it can improve.  I haven’t read the whole report, but from what I’ve seen in the news I wanted to share these thoughts:

  • This report along with a some speeches by GOP leaders is in some aspects a breath of fresh air.  There is an honesty in the report that I haven’t seen in a while among Republicans; a willingness to admit that the current incarnation of the party is scaring whole sectors of American society away.  The first step is to admit you have a problem and this report does that.
  • I’m happy for the focus on minority outreach.  It would have been nice to have done this prior to getting their butts whooped in November, but it’s at least happening.  However, what remains to be seen is how this moves from talk to work.  I also haven’t heard of seen any policy ideas other than immigration that will attract minorities.  It’s good to extend a hand of friendship, but people vote on what a political party will do for them, not on how nice people are.  As Ben Domenech notes, the party needs to set aside things like the debt and tax reform and highlight conservative solutions to problems that Americans face and in this case what persons of color face.  Instead of talking about repealing Obamacare, there should be a focus on either reforming it to make it better or offer an alternative program like Health Care Savings Accounts.  Will people like these ideas? I don’t know. But you have to offer ideas to fit what problems persons of color face, not what the GOP thinks is important.
  • I’m glad for the focus on social media.  The problem here is they will have to link using new media with a credible message.
  • There wasn’t much about same-sex marriage or outreach to gays, but I never expected anything.  That said, Republican candidates and local parties, especially those in blue states, should try to reach out to the gay community and even show up at a gay pride festival.  Here in Minneapolis the city party has participated in Pride for years.
  • While the report was incredibly positive on reaching minorities, there will be a lot of pushback from the base and the conservative media.  The National Review scoffed the attempt to meet with groups like the NAACP and La Raza, saying these minority advocacy groups oppose much of the GOP agenda.  Their answer?  Destroy them:

RNC chairman Reince Priebus has promised to establish dialogues with groups such as LULAC, La Raza, and the NAACP, which strikes us as unhelpful and willfully blind to the fact that such groups are ideologically opposed to Republican principles. A truly conservative minority-outreach strategy would severely weaken these groups by challenging their claims to represent their respective ethnicities.

And they wonder why people call the GOP racist.

I’m not fan of the NAACP, but if the Republican party wants to be seen as legit in the eyes of persons of color, then the GOP needs to engage these groups.  If you go around them, if you work to weaken groups like the NAACP, then don’t expect to get votes from persons of color. For better or worse, groups like La Raza are seen as the legitmate representatives for various ethnic groups.  You gotta play with what you have, unless of course, you don’t give a rip about minorities.

  • Finally, despite what National Review says, you have to support immigration reform.  Opposing reform offends all Hispanics, even those who are native born Americans and it offends their friends.  It doesn’t matter if we don’t get a ton of Latino votes.  It doesn’t matter if you think they will just vote for liberals anyway.  Opposing immigration reform will send the message that the GOP is against Latinos and that will prevent many folks from throwing the lever to the GOP.

There’s probably more that I could write, but this is what I got for now.  After a good start, I’m interested to see how this report could change the GOP.

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174 thoughts on “A Few Random Thoughts on “Growth and Opportunity”

      • +1

        On a question like this, it seems to me that getting more viewpoints out there is more important than giving pride of place to ones that are “better” or “more right.” Tod would be doing his recently-adopted party a disservice not to share his own particular thoughts about reform, and whether they significantly reinforce Dennis’ or depart from them, either of those things would be not insignificant information for any slightly higher-placed would-be reformer who happened to read these pages. Or so I’d think.

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  1. Should we believe the RNC or the CPAC? The CPAC was about as racist as it could be.

    I don’t know how much the CPAC “drives” the GOP these days, but if it has any influence at all, don’t expect much from Reince Priebus.

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  2. “the party needs to set aside things like the debt and tax reform and highlight conservative solutions to problems that Americans face and in this case what persons of color face.”

    But what if the “conservative solutions” are “hard work and personal responsibility”? (and financial frugality, avoiding dependence on societal safety nets, traditional and stable family structures, etcetera.)

    Because when people trot those out we always hear that they’re either idiots who don’t understand the problems of poor people or racists who are happy to see nonwhites kept down.

    “Instead of talking about repealing Obamacare, there should be a focus on either reforming it to make it better or offer an alternative program like Health Care Savings Accounts.”

    See, I know that my thumb up your butt is probably pretty uncomfortable, and you’d like it removed. But maybe instead of talking about that we should just accept that it’s there now, and that there should be a focus on changing your position to make it less uncomfortable.

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    • “But what if the “conservative solutions” are “hard work and personal responsibility”? ”

      But see, you are presuming that the poor and black people are somehow in need of more “hard work and personal responsibility”.

      Yet amazingly enough, the “conservative solution” for corporate malfeasance is never “hard work and personal responsibility”.

      Those phrases are tired platitudes. Not that they aren’t valuable- its just that they are offered insincerely, and not intended to lead to meaningful change in the status quo.

      Examples-
      When a waitress manipulates her hours so as not to lose a means-tested benefit, that is an outrageous example of laziness and cheating.
      When a corporation makes billions in profits and manipulates its finances so as not to pay any tax whatsoever, that is shrewd business acumen.

      When that same waitress has unprotected sex and bears a child out of wedlock, it is a shameful act of irresponsibility; [insert conservative sex scandal here] is an example of “youthful indiscretion”.

      Gaming the system is fine, if you are of a certain class; otherwise, its lectures on “hard work and personal responsibility”.

      The Republican worldview assumes that the system is fair, and returns reward and punishment fairly.

      More than a few people just don’t believe that. People who believe that the casino is rigged, aren’t going to be receptive to arguments that they just need to double down here, and split there.

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    • Then you’ll sound like Obama.
      if you want credibility, show up and make a difference.
      Do it conservative style? Making jobs for poor inner city folk?

      If you can stand up and say, “I employ 100 inner city folk, and I listen to their problems”…
      and you don’t support health care reform (you’re allowed to ask for something that isn’t obamacare, dude, the liberals hate it anyhow), you’re full of shit.

      But if you have actual workable ideas (or even ones you’re willing to work on, you know, with liberals…), and some actual experience. Well, folks’ll listen.

      But, honey, please don’t pretend that Obama don’t preach hard work and personal responsibility to his brethren.

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    • But what if the “conservative solutions” are “hard work and personal responsibility”?

      That sounds an awful lot like the Newt Gingrich solution of teaching minorities how to appreciate hard work and getting them to ask for jobs instead of handouts. Not condescending at all, massa.

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      • So, yes, pretty much like I expected. The “conservative solution to problems” will be seen as obviously wrong and bad. And then people wonder why conservatives aren’t interested in having a conversation with them.

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        • it’s not obviously wrong and bad.
          It’s just that the Democrats are already preaching it.
          And they don’t fuck up and come across as racist.

          “We ought to make a national database of black leaders”
          … does that sound a bit creepy to you? Particularly coming from the friends of the NRA, who don’t want a national database of gunholders?

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        • No. It’s not like liberals don’t believe in hard work, self-reliance, and family. The conservative claim to have a monopoly on these values is galling. Moreover, they’re hardly solutions in a society where the game is rigged. The opportunity for social mobility has drastically declined in the last few decades not because more people are lazy slackers but because the kind of jobs that supported upward mobility are being shipped overseas. As our manufacturing base declines, so does our middle class. Meanwhile, wealth becomes ever more unevenly distributed. All the self-reliance in the world can’t help more than a few move up or even hold on.

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  3. See, I know that my thumb up your butt is probably pretty uncomfortable, and you’d like it removed. But maybe instead of talking about that we should just accept that it’s there now, and that there should be a focus on changing your position to make it less uncomfortable.

    Once upon a time, there was a political party that opposed Social Security. With some vehemence.

    These days, that political party routinely offers voters plans to save Social Security. Whether those plans will actually work, whether those plans are sub rosa attempts to undermine the program out of existence, whether those plans are well-intentioned or whatever — this political party’s platform has transformed from “repeal Social Security” to “save Social Security.”

    That’s what Dennis is talking about with respect to Obamacare. And I think he’s right — it’s out there, for good or ill, and now that it is out there, the public won’t stand for it being taken away from them. The public can be convinced that it should and can be reformed. But only by a party that has reconciled itself to the core concept. If the core concept is anathema to this party, then the public will rightly view that party’s reform proposal as insincere and ill-intentioned.

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    • “it’s out there, for good or ill, and now that it is out there, the public won’t stand for it being taken away from them. ”

      Sort of like when the government banned alcohol, and how that was never rescinded. I mean, obviously once something’s in the law it can’t be taken away, right? The public won’t stand for it. The best we can do is work with it and try to reform it.

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        • I mean, obviously once something’s in the law it can’t be taken away, right? The public won’t stand for it. The best we can do is work with it and try to reform it.

          Are you sure they want to stand up forthrightly for the repeal of Prohibition? I think there are more than a few Baptists in the Republican ranks who’d have some strong things to say about that.

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      • Governor Rick Scott of Florida has accepted the Medicaid expansion section of PPACA. Michael Cannon of Cato says:

        “The only reason to do this is that [Scott] cares more about his reelection than stopping Obamacare. It really calls into question his whole commitment to fighting Obamacare.

        That is, Scott has only reversed himself because PPACA is (horrors!) popular.

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      • Bitch about Nixon, if you want, sir. But if you’re going to mandate that hospitals care for people who need emergency care, you need some sort of way to pay for it.

        And if part of that pay is “make sure the folks take their diabetes medicine, so they don’t wind up costing us millions in the emergency room”… well, that’s Cost Savings.

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    • “These days, that political party routinely offers voters plans to save Social Security.”

      No, they offer cuts to Social Security, on the fraudulent premise that cuts now will prevent cuts later. On the next pages of their plans, they offer massive tax breaks for the rich, which is where money cut from Social Security goes. And then they’ll repeat.

      They’ve been playing that game since 1983.

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      • It might be fair to say that this party routinely offers plans to [do something] under the guise of saving Social Security. My point is not the substance of the policies but the political packaging those policies come in. Even if your thesis is right that Republicans have been trying to kill Social Security since 1983, it is still the case that they’ve attempted to sell their policies as “saving” it.

        They offer no (public) argument that “Social Security should not exist.” To my knowledge, such arguments have been absent from the GOP playbook since the 1960’s.

        I predict that that in a generation — or less — this will also be the prevailing GOP attitude about Obamacare. If you take the rhetoric at face value, it will cease to be an existential threat to liberty as we know it and begin to be something valuable and important but threatened by great events, something to be reformed so as to preserve it. Again, this does not delve in to the reality of what the substantive policies would do.

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    • I think a better way of putting it is:

      “The ACA was enacted to deal with a real , serious, and pressing problem — whether you think it helps or hurts doesn’t mean there wasn’t a big problem. The public expects that if you are going to repeal a solution — good or bad solution — that you have something better to replace it with”.

      Which is the GOP’s problem. The ACA was their solution.

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      • So you’ll only agree to pull your thumb out if I agree to jam mine in there instead?

        What I’m questioning here is why there needs to be a thumb at all, and why we we’re told that there’s some Silent Moral Majority who actually like the thumb and always wanted it there and the only complainers are a few sorehead losers who’d complain about anything.

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        • well the majority of the people did vote for the guy who’s name comes before the “-care” twice even. second time they even knew about the ACA. so i guess there is an actual voting majority that wants the thumb.

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        • *eyeroll*. You can keep with your idiotic analogy all you want, but healthcare costs are a massive concern to the majority of Americans. (Polls on this are quite clear). It’s certainly an uncontestable fact that we pay more (twice as much as the next most expensive) for healthcare, per capita, than any other First World country — and that we not only do not have universal coverage (which they do), but our results are worse than theirs overall. (Our infant mortality rates are shockingly bad, and our longevity rates aren’t particularly stellar).

          The ACA was an attempt at a solution to this problem. It is, in fact, the Republican’s own solution — which is again, not really a contestable fact. It was very similar to Romney’s own solution as Governor, and is — including the individual mandate — built on the framework offered by the GOP in 1994.

          So again: Repealing ACA does not fix the problem of healthcare costs, which is a pressing concern. At best, it restores us to the pre-ACA status quo of “pressing problem” — and the GOP has no solutions for it. They offer no solutions for it. They dropped “repeal and replace” with merely “repeal” because they could never articulate a replace that the public would take seriously.

          So you can make idiotic analogies about thumbs up your butt all you want — the reality isn’t the ACA as an unwanted and pointless intrustion. The reality — as percieved by the American public — is the ACA is an attempt to fix a problem they care greatly about.

          I’m sure you get all giggly with the butt metaphors, but it’s not going to win you — or the GOP — voters. Voters want sane healthcare they can afford, not solution-free idealogy that leaves them no better off.

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    • To the extent Burt is right, then the GOP and society in general are doomed. The system he describes is effectively one in which government reach and interference can only increase. The only way out, which becomes inevitable, is for the system to self destruct and a better or at least new Phoenix to rise out of the ashes.

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      • I don’t think that’s right, Roger. If the GOP can offer an actual small-government solution that’s better than the current big-government solution, people will listen. The problem is right now all they offer is complaints about current approaches to solve the problem and slogans as opposed to actual policy.

        Consider someone who was denied health insurance for preexisting conditions before the ACA and can get it now. Right now all the GOP is saying, as far as I can tell, is “we should go back to how it was before when I had insurance and you didn’t, and you should work harder, you slacker!”. Is it really any surprise that this doesn’t work well?

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        • The ACA is the small government solution, remember? It’s the 1994 GOP plan, individual mandate and all.

          The libertarian solution is, as best I can tell, “have the cash or hope you get better on your own” (which is idealogically consistent, if not exactly a winning messagE)

          Single-payer was the Democratic “big government” solution. (Nationalization would be the socialist one).

          Hence the GOP’s box. Obama passed the GOP’s own solution to healthcare costs, which means they must oppose it at all costs. Leaving them with…nothing, really. The status quo everyone hated and agreed was unsustainable, with no actual workable solutions that didn’t involve letting people die for lack of funds. (Which itself would be even hard to sell, since ‘death panels’ was a major GOP attack point on ACA).

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          • There are meaningful things the GOP can do in health care quite easily, all of which would be couched as major reforms to the ACA. For example:

            1. Part of the health care cost problem is simply supply of practitioners, which the AMA likes to keep restricted. Oversight regulations for nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, and licensing of doctors from overseas are all places that the GOP could get a lot of leverage on reducing health care costs.

            2. Drug costs are a major problem as well, driven by government-provided monopolies to drugs that limit competition. If the GOP were to propose meaningful patent and copyright reforms (for both the pharma and more generally), that could also have a lot of impact.

            3. Transparency of hospital pricing. REmoving barriers to contract physician care and high-deductible insurance. And on, and on, and on

            There’s no shortage of pro-market things that the GOP could advocate for health care. The problem is they captured by big healthcare just like the democrats, yelling “Obamacare Bad!” has been easy but boxed them in policy-wise in some ways, and most of the people who make noise in the GOP just want to gin up outrage to drive their advertising revenue. Advocating *for* changes apparently doesn’t drive traffic to your site.

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            • Drugs do not fall out of the sky. They are developed, and that development process takes years and costs millions of dollars, and no that’s not a jokey quote. It’s the truth. The reason that generic versions are cheap is that the generic manufacturers don’t have to pay to invent the drug in the first place, not that there’s some Magic Generic Power that makes them cheap, or that generic manufacturers are kindhearted good people instead of moneygrubbing profit-seeking bastards.

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                • Some do.

                  But drugs that don’t fall from the sky (or grow in the ground) are much more expensive here in the US then most other countries.

                  We pay a premium to be the guinea pigs that take them beyond clinical trial and discover what problems they might have.

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                  • Zic,

                    I’m no expert, but I’ve heard smart people argue that part of the reason our drugs costs are so high is precisely because the costs are so low elsewhere. If the firms can’t make back the R&D costs plus profit as readily in Europe, they’re going to have to charge more elsewhere (and that elsewhere isn’t going to be in Africa or most of Asia), so we in effect end up being the ones subsidizing Europe’s lower cost.

                    We could negotiate for or mandate lower prices in the U.S. as well, but that cuts into the RoI of R&D, so that presumably creates more incentive for firms to do even more of what they’re already doing that we dislike, which is invest in drugs that help rich people with their hair loss problems, since gov’t is less likely to control prices on those than on drugs to treat serious diseases.

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                    • Typically, a drug developed anywhere in the world that shows promise is released here in the US first because of the premium it earns in the US market.

                      So people in the US take those drugs first, becoming the guinea pig population that uncovers the side effects that were too unusual/rare or not long-term enough to show up in clinical trials.

                      Then those same drugs are sold in other markets at a much lower price.

                      So yeah, we subsidize the R&D. In more ways then one, if you want to look at it that way. We subsidize a good chunk of research that new drug development is based upon, we subsidize new drugs by out-of-control health-care costs, and we subsidize by being the guinea-pig population.

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                    • And this is where I think our current culture of increase-profits-at-all-costs has to break. While I generally don’t agree with price controls, if companies would satisfy themselves with modest profits over exorbitant profits, I reckon we’d all be a little better off.

                      And I’d like to see a shift in culture top-to-bottom. Keeping up with the Jones isn’t serving our interests collectively.

                      Unfortuntately you can’t legislate cultural atttudes. Not without being tyrants. People have to want it.

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                    • “We could negotiate for or mandate lower prices in the U.S. as well, but that cuts into the RoI of R&D…”

                      No, what it *does* do is make R&D not profitable and therefore nonexistent. Unless the government is going to front the cash to get the tests done, then the money has to come from people, and those people want to get their money back–and at a better rate of return than just putting it in the bank.

                      And the reason testing is so expensive is that the government declares that it must be, by deciding how big the clinical trials have to be, how long they have to take, and whether or not the trial was successful.

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                    • Jim,

                      How much more does the rate of return for R&D need to be relative to a bank before people are satisfied? That number seems to be evergrowing… “I’m only going to make 20% on my money over the year with the cancer meds? F that, I want the 30% on the hair meds.”

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                    • Kazzy, at least part of the issue is that drug companies never know what kind of return they’ll get on any particular drug R&D. Success with this drug pays for failure on that one. So there is a lot of reason to be concerned that they will focus on low hanging fruit (modifications of exusting drugs) if there is no payout for the long shot that works.

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                    • Will,

                      I recognize that the issue is more complex than I’ve made it out to be.

                      But, more broadly, it seems to me that we’ve reached a point where putting money first, second, and third on the priority list is the norm and I think that is, on the whole, detrimental to our society. I’d like to see it shift… though I don’t know how we get there.

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                    • Kazzy, that’s fair enough. Megan McArdle has actually been suggesting that R&D is in trouble no matter what we do. So it could well be that we’re not getting the advances regardless of what we pay for drugs and so we might as well pay less (that’s my argument, not hers).

                      I really don’t know. Just wanted to point out the difficulty in regulating profits in such a hit-or-miss industry.

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                    • Prescription drugs manufactured in the US are in general more expensive here than elsewhere. It’s illegal to re-import them back into the US, otherwise the difference would go away. The fact that re-importation is illegal amounts to a subsidy, and it’s justified by the fact that the subsidy is, in theory, plowed back into R&D.

                      The funny thing is that many people who are usually opposed to government subsidies to private business (McMegan being a prime example) support this one, and vice versa.

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                    • R&D, particularly for medical advancement has traditionally drawn on publicly-funded research — not all the time, but often.

                      Will, you mention McArdle, so I just have to point out one of my major beefs with her arguments here: it’s not just drug discovery. R&D for medical research includes research into the body, specific diseases, diagnostics, efficacy of different treatments, best medical practices, and a full range of treatments/preventions.

                      It’s only within the last few years they’ve begun to understand that my own chronic illness — migraine — is actually an inflammation of the brain; and thats thanks to the advancements in imaging technology. A few weeks ago, a friends son had life-saving laparoscopic surgery on a tumor in his head that just a few months before would have required open surgery; he’s already back in school instead of having months of recovery and increased risks of infection. I have investments in a diagnostic company that’s developed a blood test for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer — based on publicly funded research done at a university in Europe.

                      It bothers me that we frequently limit the discussion of R&D as it relates to health care to drug discovery; because that’s just one leg of a complex system. And it also bothers me that as we look to slash public spending, we slash money going into research, because that’s where many advancements are made and where many of the profitable companies of tomorrow will root.

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                    • Interesting, Will. I am against price regulations in principle and would rather see things (not just the Rx drug industry) right themselves because folks decide that they don’t need to earn $135M a year… that maybe $50M would be enough… and on down the line.

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                    • I find it interesting how I mention McArdle providing the basis for a liberal argument, and the critical response that ensues.

                      Mike, I have no problem with drug reimportation, provided that the potential safety issues are resolved (McCain was laughed at for mentioning this, but there’s apparently actually something to it).

                      Zic, I can definitely appreciate that there is a lot of R&D that occurs outside of pharmaceutical labs and that if you’re worried about drug company R&D then maybe you ought to be worried about government-funded R&D as well. Likewise, you can make the case of “screw the drug companies” and have the government take up all R&D. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that. I am generally non-committal on the issue as a whole.

                      (In part due to McArdle’s statement-against-interest with regard to future innovation.)

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                    • I know nothing of this McArdle woman other than seeing her name come up here and there and the ensuing response. Am I supposed to hate her? It would save me a lot of time coming to my own conclusion if someone would just let me know how to feel…

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                    • Will, while the ACA debate was going on, she and I went round and round on R&D; she finally went out and found some numbers that approx. 20% of drugs were based on publicly-funded research; but there was something odd about the numbers. It’s important to note that if 20% of all finished product is coming out of publicly-funded research, then there’s likely a whole lot of research that points out the dead ends, potentially saving private for-profits billions on R&D; there’s a benefit in the negative, if that makes any sense.

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                    • She’s a rorschach, I guess. A lot of people whose opinions I value believe that she is a terrible person or utterly inept thinker.

                      For my part, she has single-handedly caused me to re-evaluate my views on some issues and is responsible for my changing of mind or shifting my position on at least a couple.

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                    • For my part, she has single-handedly caused me to re-evaluate my views on some issues and is responsible for my changing of mind or shifting my position on at least a couple.

                      Me too. When she agreed with me.

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                    • “For my part, she has single-handedly caused me to re-evaluate my views on some issues and is responsible for my changing of mind or shifting my position on at least a couple.”

                      I’d say the same is true of you for me.

                      “A lot of people whose opinions I value believe that she is a terrible person or utterly inept thinker.”

                      Shit… that too…

                      :-p

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                    • Will, Some of us don’t like McArdle for pretty snobby reasons, I suppose. Something like this: if one makes an argument about a nuanced or complex topic which is disastrously wrong it reflects poorly on one’s intellectual abilities and/or credibility. It gives the impression – rightly, I believe – that that person isn’t a serious thinker about topics on which they opine. She’s a serial offender.

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                    • “if one makes an argument about a nuanced or complex topic which is disastrously wrong it reflects poorly on one’s intellectual abilities and/or credibility. ”

                      That’s not the issue. Anyone can be wrong. What matter is what happens next–do you passively change your mind? Do you re-evaluate your position as a result of criticism? Or do you double down?

                      “How much more does the rate of return for R&D need to be relative to a bank before people are satisfied? ”

                      How about “non-zero”?

                      It’s shocking how many people know nothing about the actual cost and success rate of pharmaceutical R&D, and confidently declare that drug companies make too much money and that all they care about is dick pills and antidepressants.

                      “It bothers me that we frequently limit the discussion of R&D as it relates to health care to drug discovery…”

                      We limit it to drugs because the regulatory system is focused on drugs, and drugs are where the lion’s share of development money gets spent–primarily because of the regulatory involvement. If the level of safety-and-efficacy testing for medical devices or procedures were the same as that for drugs, then that laparoscopic surgery you’re so happy about wouldn’t exist. (The last big new class of analgesics was NSAIDs–that is to say, Vioxx. And we all know how that one turned out.)

                      “It’s important to note that if 20% of all finished product is coming out of publicly-funded research…”

                      Research into the basic chemical formulas and pathways doesn’t produce finished treatments. No more than knowing the tensile strength of aluminum alloy means you can build a car.

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              • While there’s considerable cost to developing a drug, Pfizer spends more on marketing its drugs than developing new ones. The big deal now is developing isomers of existing drugs to get them back into patent shadow.

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            • Yeah, as Kazzy said, no. To be more specific, rhe Dixiecrats left the Democratic Party when it passed the civil rights act, in many cases for the GOP. The people in the GOP who proposed the individual mandate, eg Gingrich and Romney are still leaders of that party. Didn’t Romney have a major role in the GOP recently?

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              • The point is not that the Democratic Party abandoned the Old South vote in favor of the Progressive vote.

                The point is that it’s common to find some racist thing that an Old South Democrat did, and say “see this? A DEMOCRAT DID IT. DEMOCRATS ARE RACISTS TOO!”

                Which is stupid. Just like saying that Obamacare is a Republican plan because a Republican Congress proposed something sort of like it twenty years ago.

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                • “Which is stupid. Just like saying that Obamacare is a Republican plan because a Republican Congress proposed something sort of like it twenty years ago.”

                  Not exactly. As far as I can tell, the Dems of today have fully renounced their dixiecrat forbears (unless their last name rhymed with “Berd,” and even then, “Berd” had to disavow his past support for dixicracy). The GOP, however, seemed to have essentially the same people as the 1994 GOP did (many have since left office, etc.), but they haven’t as a party really denounced them or the think tanks that thought up of the plan.

                  Now, none of this “well, they started it!” argumentation means that Obamacare is actually a good idea. I support it because I think it’s better than what it replaced, but I certainly see problems with it and for all I know the critics might be proved right in 10 years’ time.

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                • Fine. The ACA was a non-controversial center-right plan twenty years ago. Feel better? Also, as Pierre noted, the people in the 1860’s Democratic Party share no common history with the common day Democratic Party, now that Robert Byrd has left the building.

                  OTOH, the think tanks, leadership, and right-wing apparatus is largely the same in ’94 as it is now. But, cleek’s law as always, is paramount.

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                • Did it ever get as far as Congress? I know that it was originally a Heritage Foundation plan, and it got trotted out back in ’94 as the “free-market” alternative to Hillarycare. Newt was in favor of it too, which makes it a bit more current than anything done or said by Lester Maddox or Richard Russell.

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                  • I believe the Heritage Plan was the first one to roll out and endorse the concept of mandating that private individuals must buy insurance, among all the rest of its similarities. To be frank Obamacare is just the Heritage plan plus support for low income people to buy insurance plus insurance exchanges and then the whole thing crusted over with the stuff they had to paste on in order to get it through Congress and avoid wide scale opposition from the insurance industry.

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                • Jim,

                  The fact is that a plan like the ACA is what the Republicans wanted not long ago. And while there is room for them to move in a new direction, it seems a bit… advantageous… that something they once advocated for is somehow now socialist. Does that mean the Republicans of 20ish years ago were socialist? Or that the ACS isn’t really socialist?

                  If you or another Republican can offer a principled reason for why the once supported the ACA but now not only oppose it but think it to be evil and socialist, I’m all ears.

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                  • Whatever was proposed in the 1990s was not proposed by “The Republicans”, in the sense of being an actual plan put forth by actual legislators. The 1990s plan was no more The Republican Idea than, I dunno, an International ANSWER press release represents The Democrats’ Position on something.

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      • The system he describes is effectively one in which government reach and interference can only increase.

        Not necessarily. In any given snapshot of time, yes. But things cascade back to lower layers of abstraction.

        Eventually some things get so easy (via technology) that the need to provide them with any systemic method disappears, at which point the individual can provide them (assuming the base infrastructure works.)

        It used to be if you wanted machined tools, you needed to build a factory to build machined tools. For a while, during WWII, the government built factories to build machined tools because we weren’t making them fast enough to win the war.

        Nowadays, you only need the factory to build the tool that can build machined tools. And, in fact, if you’re careful about things, you can buy a tool that can not only build machined tools, it can build parts for itself, so the only thing you need is for that machine to be produced cheaply enough (and raw metals to be available cheaply enough) that you can run a machined tool shop in your garage.

        This is a long way from a blacksmith’s shop, but it’s basically providing the same set of services at the same layer of abstraction that they were produced 1400 years ago.

        I don’t think health care is going to be provided by 3D printers any time soon, but progress takes things away from centralized control as often as it provides methods for things to be provided by centralized control.

        Assuming, of course, that you don’t make it illegal for people to build stuff in their garage.

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        • Yeah, thoughtful response Patrick. Taken at face value, Burt’s vision leads to infinite growth of government, a long term impossibility and one with many historic warnings.

          In reality, the entire system does not have to collapse, as long as individual segments self destruct or jump the barrier to non governmental solutions. I suspect we may see this soon in education. If health care is socialized worldwide, I can imagine free market versions springing up in the “verge.”

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      • I dunno, Roger. I’m trying not to be disagreeable here, but as society becomes more complex, more Rules of the Road would be needed, I’d think. Presumably — okay, we’re just now seeing the appearance of driver-less cars. We’re going to have to adapt to this new phenomenon and new rules will be required.

        So a guy gets drunk and climbs into his driver-less car. He fumbles around, finds the “Go Home” button, presses it and goes to sleep. The car drives him home, a cop gets suspicious, pulls him over — again, presumably, the police will need some way to force a driver-less vehicle to pull over, not beyond the reach of technology in those future times.

        Now what? Is this drunk guilty of DWI? He’s not driving. Presumably this goes to SCOTUS, they’ll have to make a decision. Contained in that decision will be dozens of predicates: driver-less cars will need to be road-certified. The Home Button will actually take the guy home and not endanger other motorists. The drunk wasn’t interfering with the driving software. And the civil libertarians will scream bloody murder when police get an Override Button.

        Sure would be an interesting court case. The system is constantly self-destructing and self-renewing, Roger, as surely as you trim your fingernails and cut your hair. But as varies risk, so varies the need for regulation. Personally, I think the drunk in the driver-less car shouldn’t be given a DWI. It’s no different than pressing the Home Button if he was sober.

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        • Yeah, I think you make a good case, as I mention above to Patrick. I also agree that rules may need to gain in number and complexity as society does. A key number may be the size and complexity of regulations vs the size and complexity of society as a whole.

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  4. Dennis,

    I do wonder about this:

    despite what National Review says, you have to support immigration reform. Opposing reform offends all Hispanics, even those who are native born Americans and it offends their friends.

    I think there’s a notion afoot that all or almost all Latinos want immigration reform, where reform means borders that are more open and/or measures taken to address the needs of people already in the US illegally. But I think it’s mistaken when some people (and I really don’t mean you, even though I’m riffing off something you wrote) seem to think that “yeah, all Hispanics want open borders, so just open the borders and they’ll vote for you.” Of course, I’ve heard exactly zero persons say it like that, but that *seems* to me to be one of the common sense “truths” about the politics of immigration reform.

    That said, I do believe that opposition to immigration reform is either grounded in thinly veiled racism or is catered to with thinly-veiled racists tropes. So I could certainly see why a strong majority of Latinos might be wary of politicians who oppose liberalizing reforms even if they might support the politicians when it comes to policy.

    Finally, “immigration reform” is a term of art. I can imagine most people being for “reform” but having different, even opposed, ideas on what “reform” means, with some, perhaps, thinking it means an even more restrictive policy.

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    • I don’t think that most Latinos really care so much about “open borders.” The ones that live around that border sure do though.

      But I think that’s one area where the GOP can make great progress.
      All the Dem. solutions are about “a path to citizenship.” That’s easy. Marry an American. Hundreds of Pakis are doing it.

      A special classification of long-term work visas should do the trick. Let them stay here for as many years ahead as they can prove that they’ve been here already. And give their kids some favorable status for an expedited immigration program.
      That should do it.

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      • I really don’t have much to add to the immigration debate, because my own open-border preferences aside, I have little idea what a workable policy reform and a reform that would pass Congress would look like. Extended visas, liberally granted and under established terms, and not easily revocable by the next Congress, are probably better than the present-day system.

        Marrying an American doesn’t work like it used to. I don’t know the laws intimately, but my niece married an undocumented person a while back (they’ve since divorced), and he was not automatically granted citizenship or, to my knowledge, even a path to citizenship. (This was all post-9/11.) And although even if it was easy to gt US citizenship through marriage, I’d carry no personal judgment about people who marry just for that sake, I imagine some of the GOP’s base might be touchy about marriage used in that way.

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          • Well, we can ask the French or Germans how having a significant portion of your population being segregated as second-class citizens who don’t feel as part of the country is working out for them.

            I mean, to many people, I realize that hearing the guy at Burger King speak Spanish to his co-worker in front of you is an affront to all that is American, but I have no doubt that kid speaking Spanish feels far more American than the fifth-generation Franco-Algerian.

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  5. As Ben Domenech notes, “It occurred to me the other day that there is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

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  6. The GOP’s still marching headlong into the 1970s. Look at the poor things, all concerned about appealing to Mah Norties. When are they going to quit thinking in racial terms? When are they going to care about the poor and downtrodden, the consumers, the wage earners? It just so happens an awful lot of those categories encompass the Mah Norties. Condescending to them, speaking a few words of (Cuban) Spanish and trotting out some Seventh Day Adventist neurosurgeon as a Token Black — it’s just offensive.

    If the GOP is ever going to attract women, the GOP needs to quit catering to the Anti-Abortion Crowd and pronto. They need to dump those sons of bitches immediately. If they were really Pro Life, they’d also be against the death penalty — and they aren’t. They would also give a damn about single mothers and their problems — which they also don’t. They might also care about the wretched statistics on live births in the USA, we’re down there with the Third World countries. The smart move, if the GOP is going to ever appeal to to women in this country, is to quit trying to repeal Roe. And do try to do something about all those laws about sticking ultrasound probes in ladies’ hoo-hoos: that sorta offends them. And start give a damn about the kids they do have. That’s what really seems to motivate women these days.

    And for crissakes, quit talking about Rape. Rape is a real problem but every time the GOP opens its mouth on this subject, it cannot keep its feet out.

    Social media! Gosh, ain’t the GOP just movin’ right along, getting hip to the times. Social media is useless without young people on the other end of the wire, willing to go door to door and get the message out. The Democrats make this work. The GOP lives in an echo chamber, a geriatric ward for old farts who still haven’t quite figured out how to clean out their AOL inbox and still think Facebook is just the cat’s meow.

    Young people avoid the GOP in droves. Their viewpoints on LGBT issues, their concern for each other and the harsh economic times in which they live — these are good kids, a lot kinder and more caring than my self-centred generation — and they’re never going to have the breaks their parents did. They’re burdened with student debt, they can’t get into a house, they work in crappy jobs for shit wages, there’s no job security. No pensions for them. They’ll probably never be able to retire, poor things. The last thing they want to hear is some nostrums about Work Harder from people who never worked a minimum wage job in their lives. Read Orwell’s Animal Farm, there’s Boxer the horse, bravely volunteering “I shall work harder” — so the pigs could rest easy.

    The Republican Party began when men of conscience broke free from the effete, no-count Whigs. The only real hope for the GOP will come when the current leadership is either buried or whipped out of town. There are people of conscience in the GOP. They’re either too frightened or too accommodating to speak up for the truths of conservatism, that there are abiding principles which ought to guide the governing of mankind, that we are our brothers’ keepers. While these good people remain silent, the maniacs will run the GOP asylum.

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  7. You know the RNC could have written a much shorter AAR if they had said “Stop talking and treating minorities and women like the help.” somehow people can tell when you have a deep seated aversion to treating them just like you treat white guys.

    but yeah if the RNC can actually get the elected members of the party to read and understand this report it could help. not going to bet real heavy on that though.

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    • This is a great document for one very specific reason. By looking at someone on the right’s reaction to it, you can tell who in the GOP is actually interested in governing versus who just wants to make bank by having as many boogeymen to demonize as possible.

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  8. “I’m not fan of the NAACP, but if the Republican party wants to be seen as legit in the eyes of persons of color, then the GOP needs to engage these groups. If you go around them, if you work to weaken groups like the NAACP, then don’t expect to get votes from persons of color. For better or worse, groups like La Raza are seen as the legitmate representatives for various ethnic groups. You gotta play with what you have, unless of course, you don’t give a rip about minorities.”

    and “And they wonder why people call the GOP racist.”

    To paraphrase your comment, And they wonder why it’s hard to take minority conservatives seriously. You are asking the GOP to throw away 50 years of their racist rhetoric and deliberately designed strategies in order to appeal to you. What you are going to get is exactly what you should expect to get. The tea partiers, the religious conservative crowd, and the racial supremacist crowd that were on full display at CPAC are the root of the party and they will completely reject any change to their positions.

    They are not going to take LULAC or the NAACP seriously because most of them are still on the “why can’t we just have segregation” page as expressed by the CPAC panel on race.

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  9. Michael Steele, former RNC chair, said on Morning Joe this morning that if the Republican Party wants to reach out to minority groups, one big thing it could do is stop getting so overheated about alleged voter fraud and quit taking measures to preclude people from voting. Instead, they should encourage people to vote and strike down any programs that suppress turnout. Actions speak louder than words.

    I think Mr. Steele has a point.

    BTW, he didn’t think much of the RNC post mortem.

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    • “Michael Steele, former RNC chair, said on Morning Joe this morning that if the Republican Party wants to reach out to minority groups, one big thing it could do is stop getting so overheated about alleged voter fraud and quit taking measures to preclude people from voting. Instead, they should encourage people to vote and strike down any programs that suppress turnout. Actions speak louder than words.”

      That’s their only remaining strength right now.

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  10. I have so very little use for the Republican Party.

    I’m a gay pro-choice atheist. I don’t think race-baiting is even a tiny bit funny. I think racism is embarrassing and stupid, and wanting to appeal to racists with coded language just makes you cowardly as well as embarrassing and stupid.

    I support open immigration and I’m only a baby step away from becoming a complete pacifist. I think the War on Drugs is the single biggest domestic evil that our government is now committing. (That I know about, anyway…)

    Basically, I agree with the progressive vision for society, but I don’t think that government has on balance been a force for good. (Note that this is a big balance sheet to draw up, and there is room I’m sure for mutual accusations of having done the sums incorrectly.)

    In short, my disagreement with progressives is not one of ends, but only of means. It seems therefore a lot more tractable.

    So why would I want the Republican Party to succeed? I don’t. I just don’t. Not until it changes in a fairly fundamental way.

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    • I know this might set off a fury on this blog, but I’ve never really understood the incredible disdain progressives have for Republicans. I could go into a long speech about how not all Republicans are evil, but I don’t think many would listen.

      To answer Jason’s question about the Republican party suceeding, my response to put it bluntly, is that I frankly don’t care if Jason wants the party to succeed or not. I do for the simple fact that I am a gay, African-American, Puerto Rican, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Republican. I want it to change. I want it to be better than it is. It’s what I’ve been doing for years and will continue to do so.

      For years, I used to say that it’s in everyone’s interest to have a reformed party. But frankly, if you are a progressive, that’s not in your interest and you don’t care. I want the Republicans to change because it’s my party, as messed up as it is.

      I apologize if I’ve upset the decorum here, but I just felt that needed to be said.

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      • ” I do for the simple fact that I am a gay, African-American, Puerto Rican, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Republican.”

        You realize that you are a walking example of the sort of person who was forced out the door at CPAC? As in I have seen the video of them frogmarching a guy like you out the door when he was attacked by one of the breitbart racist squads?

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      • I sure as Fuck care, Mr. Sanders!
        As a progressive, I do NOT want the Hillary/Obama spectacle to be our next Presidential Election.

        I want you guys in shape to offer someone with credible alternatives, who I might even vote for.

        Democrats be bound to get lazy if we don’t give ’em some competition.

        Tim had an idea on freeing some of the prisoners from those Cali prisons. I want you guys on top of civil liberties too (that used to be a Republican thing, way back when. That’ll get you some Northeast Liberals back in the fold–and some self respect *chuckles*).

        Sure, some of us liberals may be freaking partisans 24/7, but I’m for America first, and the democrats a far distant second.

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        • I would say it would be good practice not to prance another millionaire across the stage and have the struggling population cheer. And for love of gawd, please no more Bushes. The outreach to minorities has looked more forced than natural. I liked Hillary for a time, but she became so buried in unsightly policy that she no longer pulls off that appeal. The “new” democrats around here have a nasty habit of labeling anything that isn’t pro-Obama, a GOP. There is plenty of wiggle room if that continues.

          The great thing about Obama is that he has a overwhelming appeal in his speeches. He isn’t so suit and tie that his speech inflections are over shadowed. In short he doesn’t come off as out of touch in a way so many GOPs do.

          I figure if they could shine light on why the base is so strong, they could see where it starts drifting off mark higher up the ladder.

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          • Yeah. No more Bushes. even if Jeb is “the smart one”. Sorry. No More Bushes.

            And get some minorities who’ll act like they’re minorities, and not just republicans (note I’m not making definitions here, and I’m not saying that I’d know the diff. But if you want credibility, it’s not just because of your skin color).

            [Condi Rice, if she had spoken more about it, might have counted… man did she go through some stuff because of her color!]

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            • “Yeah. No more Bushes. even if Jeb is “the smart one”. Sorry. No More Bushes.”

              I actually remember the propaganda in 1999-2001. Bush was the MBA President, a Yale/Harvard Grad, a Businessman, a CEO. His cabinet was called the ‘CEO Cabinet’, due to the number of CEO’s in it. They weren’t calling him the dumb one back then, they were hyping his credentials and (alleged) record of success in the Real World.

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        • +1 to Dennis, Kim, and Jason.

          I would love a Republican party that can counterbalance the stupidities in the Democratic party. The democratic party pisses me off to no end all the time with well intentioned but stupid policies. This ranges from things like the assault weapons ban, to supporting corporate rent-seeking, to poorly-considered ham-handed market interventions as opposed to carefully crafted minimal interventions. Lots of the policies the democratic party advocates are just well-meaning nonsense.

          So, why am I a registered democrat despite this? Because many of the GOP’s social policies aren’t merely misguided, they’re simply morally evil. We’re talking about things like derailing peace talks in 1968 for electoral gains, aiding and abetting the systematic butchering of indigenous people in central and south america, lying to the american people to start an interventionist war in Iraq, and persistent voter disenfranchisement, race-baiting, misogyny, and homophobia. I just can’t stomach pulling the lever for or registering for a party that supports what the GOP has done recently.

          For people like Dennis can stomach trying to fix that party from within, more power to them. I’d love a better counter-balance to the stupidities of the democrats, because there are plenty of them. You’re doing God’s work, and are a braver man for your attempt than I am.

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      • I am a gay, African-American, Puerto Rican, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Republican.

        That is, you’re the sort of person the GOP apparatus demonizes, and that, as RR points out, gets excluded from CPAC and unmentioned during the presidential campaign and at the convention. You might not have left tho GOP, but it has surely left you. Not all Republicans are evil, but the way the organization treats good people like yourself is nothing but.

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      • I want it to change. I want it to be better than it is. It’s what I’ve been doing for years and will continue to do so…. I want the Republicans to change because it’s my party, as messed up as it is.

        With no disrespect… My perception is that you find both parties to be badly flawed. Why do you think it will be easier to change the Republicans to match your goals than to change the Democrats?

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      • My problems with republicans come quite honestly.

        I live in the south, my dad is a republican and so is my brother. I have had Fox News, Rush, and Presidential candidates rhetorically spit in my face too many times. I am done listening to people who accuse me of being the root of all societies ills because I am not religious. I can’t say that I am ok with the casual racism on holidays that comes out of nowhere.

        If republicans hadn’t spent my entire life attempting to turn liberal into an insult then I wouldn’t be so upset with them. Implying that I am not a real amercian is not exactly an outreach strategy.

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    • “I support open immigration and I’m only a baby step away from becoming a complete pacifist. I think the War on Drugs is the single biggest domestic evil that our government is now committing. (That I know about, anyway…) ”

      That last bit is frightening, isn’t it?

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    • Ideologically and at least in broad strokes, I’m pretty much a hetero version of your self-description, Jason. But I think it’s important to have a functional second party in our political system. Democrats do not have a monopoly on good ideas; indeed, Democrats periodically suffer from a dearth of good ideas. And the quality of an idea can be well tested in adversarial deliberation as between it and another competing idea proffered by a good-faith opponent. For that reason, a generalized failure of the GOP would be bad for the nation as a whole, worse even than its contemporary dysfunction.

      …Oh sure, eventually the Democrats would absorb the good-faith Republicans left with nowhere else viable to go as the GOP purifies itself out of existence (e.g., Charlie Crist). Project this process out several years and it’s not hard to envision the Republicans becoming irrelevant, and the Democrats growing large and internally fragmenting and eventually cleaving themselves off into two parties and eventually the system would get back to “normal.” But that’s a generation-long process, and given our economic and military prominence in the world, no one can afford to wait twenty years or so of uncomfortable spasming necessary for our body politic to heal itself in this fashion.

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      • But, as I pointed out way back at the start of the comments, whatever good ideas Republicans present are immediately declared “not good”. Even if the person admits that the ideas are good, they then go on to declare that the ideas aren’t particuarly Republican.

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