Al – On the likelihood of a new party

Spectrum3 "The data are plain.  They argue for the need for the existence of a political party whether new or old that will address the need for “changes in some of the (Republican) party’s long standing policy commitments.” The most likely scenario, however, is that this will not happen.  The Republican Party will simply fade away both because it will likely be co-opted by Obama and his successors, and, more importantly, despite all evidence to the contrary, because it will continue to involve itself with causes that are relevant only to its ever declining voter base until nothing is left but “a white, rural, regional party.”"  Al


Al sent me this.  I asked him to do so based on an earlier discussion he and I had concerning the viability of the Republican Party.  pl

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31 Responses to Al – On the likelihood of a new party

  1. Kevin says:

    The solution is clear, purge the party leadership of neocons, then adopt and follow a paleoconservative-libratarian platform. Obama and his oligarchy of democrats will fail. The republicans can corner him. He is not the same man the urbanites and minorities elected into office.

  2. rjj says:

    What about the white rural regional concerns? They are legitimate.

  3. rjj says:

    make that “what about white, rural regional concerns ….”

  4. Cieran says:

    While I’m no fan of the current incarnation of the Grand Old Party, I do believe that its recent woes are less a reflection of its irrelevance than they are a symptom of a larger problem that is endemic in its electoral base, but also unfortunately widespread in American culture, namely a belief in the value of mere belief (as opposed to informed action).
    The GOP has become the political equivalent of a get-rich-quick scheme, and the nomination of Sarah Palin as VP is a good example of that problem. Republicans policies are little more than a veneer of apparent meaning, where real policies have to be solidly-crafted out of informed choices and principled dissent (of which the GOP has neither). Most GOP policies are nothing more than snake oil, a generic fake cure for whatever ails ya…
    Economy booming? We need a tax cut for the rich! Economy tanking? A tax cut for the rich is the cure! Attacked by terrorists armed with box cutters? Just deploy a ballistic missile defense! Putin rattling his thermonuclear sabers? Then put said BMD in Poland!
    And on and on it goes…
    A substantial portion of the American electorate buys into this insanity, unfortunately. Some folks are silly enough to believe that we can give up the ability to engineer products like refrigerators and electronics because we’ll engineer mortgage-backed securities instead. Some are credulous enough to believe that they can get raptured up to heaven from the comfort of their living rooms without that messy problem of mortality. Some are even clueless enough to believe that “getting elected” is somehow equivalent to “governing”.
    And it’s not that much of an exaggeration to say that the collection of such ill-informed folk is the electoral base of the GOP. And therein lies the party’s problem.
    If the republican party wants to survive, somebody has to actually do something beyond giving speeches and pretending to have expertise on subjects they know nothing about. The new GOP will need to recognize that having a spouse who works for an oil company does not an energy expert make, and that avoiding service in Vietnam does not constitute some special innate ability to wage war in the middle east.
    Sometime, somewhere, somebody in the GOP will have to open their mind and then crack open a book (and not one published by Regnery). The world demands no less.
    The modern GOP needs to decide what its stands for, and then it needs to form real-world-tested strategies for proving that the electorate should care. Whether there’s sufficient brainpower left in the party for this task is an open question.

  5. JohnS says:

    I don’t think the GOP is going away any time soon. Take a look at these Presidential Election maps from 2004 and 2008 courtesy of Matthew Yglesias. As Yglesias notes: “the actual shifts themselves can be pretty small in the scheme of things.”

  6. Dana Jone says:

    I do see the Republican party splitting into the Republican and the Conservative parties.
    The former will contain the centrist base, and the latter will contain the Far-Right, Fundie Fringe (FRFF), which will become more & more divorced from reality and eventually have about as much force as Ralph Nader & the Greenies.
    But I do think that the remaining Republican centrists can and will work with the Democrats to keep them from being pulled too far to the Left.
    If the Republicans don’t divorce themselves from the FRFF, they will continue to lose elections, except in the South and Mid-west, and will eventually become about as relevant as the Whig party. Know anyone who votes Whig? Don’t think so.

  7. John S. says:

    A viable third party is impossible in the United States. The mathematics of the winner-take-all election system ensure two dominant parties. Other parties can’t make any progress, because they end up helping their enemies. Ever hear the phrase “a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush”? Other election/voting methods, such as instant run-off voting, can change this.

  8. Duncan Kinder says:

    Given the current financial crunch, the various deficits, as well as similar constraints on the federal government, the idea that any ideology would organize itself with the idea that federal government should / should not pursue various policies and objectives will become increasingly anachronistic.
    Still the need for various social services and forms of collective action will persist despite the decreasing ability of the federal government to respond to such needs.
    Accordingly, the traditional American political party, which seeks to take control of state institutions in order to shape such services is likely to be replaced by organizations which seek to provide them directly – actually much as Hezbollah does today in Lebanon.
    In other words, henceforth community organizers may be less motivated to seek political office. And when they do, they are apt to remain more firmly linked with their community organizing roots, much as Hezbollah’s participation in Lebanese politics manifests itself.

  9. Curious says:

    The problem with Republican party is fairly simple. It’s still partying like it’s 1976, with Ronald Reagan as the patron saint.
    1. GOP is still fighting cold war. (the think tank, the policy, the power relationship, etc) It has no idea what to do with new Japan-China dynamic, central asia as massive energy source, big European Union, middle east emerging as capital market, … etc etc.. GOP wants the soviet back. (seriously look at Condi’s work so far. It’s really sad)
    2. GOP can’t handle internet. They are the children of Reagan’s hollywood and big network television. Very top down. They have no idea what to do with the rawdy kids on the net with blog and facebook. These kids actually want credible explanation.. and worst, they can spend money moving candidate.
    3. GOP patron is GE, GM, Walmart. The loud kids are all about, google, facebook.
    4. US demographic is much more diverse now than 30 yrs ago. GOP exclusive tent start to look like drab office party while everybody else is having a wild party outside.
    5. Ronald Reagan style wealth transfer from bottom and middle to handful of choosen circles actually create massive market instability. Huge sums of money is moved around and decided by very few people. And when those people panics, the market collapses. The liquidity movement is too big for market to handle.
    basically GOP is good at catering to well defined, well documented voting base.
    They have no idea how to work with messy new voter groups. The world is changing, people are becoming more informed and sophisticated. But the GOP still insist on old political tricks.
    They don’t know what to do when the kids start talking with informed experts, eye witness reporters, analysts and bunch of smart ass comments. Political narrative and carefully crafted media reality start falling apart.
    The emperor is naked.

  10. Cujo359 says:

    To be at all successful, an American political party must be a coalition. It’s just the way things work here. We don’t have a Liberal party and a Conservative party that stands alongside a Green or Libertarian party. We have two parties that are somewhat agreed on enough things to hold them together.
    Right now, the Republicans seem to be fracturing. I don’t even pretend to know how they will re-form, but suspect that it’s either going to be as a new, diminished Republican Party, or as part of the Democratic Party. The latter strikes me as a bad thing for several reasons, not the least of which is that the more former GOPers there are in our party, the less representative it is of us.
    Cieran has it right, I think. We’re barely smart enough as a society to run our own country any more. The state of both Congress and the last few Presidencies should be all the proof anyone needs to accept that we don’t have a clue.

  11. Paul says:

    It seems to me that the number of political parties is not necessarily the issue for the future. It is, rather, a question of whether those elected to congress will respond to the people who elected them. As it stands now, the political parties coalesce in favor of that person who will be elected to the highest office, the presidency.
    Given our constitution, it is kind of laughable to hear a president say that he will get this or that program passed. That president finds success with pet programs only if he or she has the majority votes “of his party” in congress. The last time I checked, congress (the “people”) pass the laws and the executive administers them.
    The Constitution has been seconded to the personality cult of the president. That wasn’t a large problem until GWB and his minions pushed the notion of a unitary executive. A small cabal of people in the White House (Bush, Cheney, Addington, Libby and a few others) took it upon themselves to invent – through secrecy and guile – the course of action for our nation.
    Woodward, Gellman and Mayer (“The War Within”, “Angler” and “The Dark Side”) offer cogent historical reference with solid documentary support and analyses as to how the White House, especially Cheney, orchestrated every move of the eight year Bush Administration. The law-breaking described by these three authors is breathtaking. Cheney had offices in the House and the Senate from which he issued instructions to a supine club of Republican representative and senators. The war in Iraq continued if for no other reason than to vindicate or validate Bush’s personal folly in invading that nation. It was Senate filibusters that extended the life of that war. It is doubtful that congress would have granted so much leeway to Bush had those members been responsible to their constituents.
    The recent election proved that ordinary people can and do read information available on the internet. The main stream media is a joke as it does not report anything in meaningful detail. The various blogs educate even if they sometimes go over the top. The adage “where there is smoke, there is fire” comes to mind when considering the value of blogs to a citizen. It is interesting to note that the majority of voters did not fall for that “Joe the Plumber” nonsense, and it did not take them long to learn that Sarah Palin was a fraud.
    This blog – Sic Semper – is unique in that it informs on primary and secondary issues, and the moderator allows reasonable argument on both sides of an issue – a phenomenon not offered elsewhere.
    Let’s hold our congressmen and women accountable and bring on as many political parties as the electorate desires. Power to the People!

  12. The GOP isn’t going anywhere. Their message and marketing infrastructure is still in place. All they need is a new product to feed into the machine. They will spend the next couple of years rebuilding their “brand” and introducing lots of “improvements.” Being conservatives, the obvious way to rebuild the brand is to return to some “classic” version. We’ll have to wait and see which version they settle on.

  13. As John S. notes at 2:12 pm, third parties are not viable in the US of A unless we replace first-past-the-post voting with instant runoff. Here in MN, there’s reason to believe that the Democrats lost two US House races last Tuesday because of candidates running under the flag of the centrist Independence Party. One of those two returned the loathsome Michele Bachmann to DC. ( It may cost Al Franken the Senate seat as well, although that remains to be seen.
    Several municipalities here have enacted IRV for local, non-partisan elections, where it saves the cost of runoff elections. An advocacy group is making headway with the now DFL-controlled legislature to enact it statewide. See links below:

  14. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    There are 50 Republican parties…one for each state. Then there is a National Committee composed of representatives of the state parties. This is why the “Republican National Committee” has a headquarters in DC.
    Thus, the current fight will be at the state level between normal traditional Main Street Republicans (“moderates”) ranging from Ike to Bob Taft types and the crazies (parasites): Neocons, New Right/”Conservative Movement”, Christian Right.
    It has been said that about 20 or so state parties have come to be dominated by the Christian Right etal. I don’t have the data one way or the other on this matter. Nonetheless, the issue is at the state level and will be fought out county by county I would presume. It is also said that the state Repubublican Party platform of Texas is a role model for the crazies….
    A new party? If the Republican Party(ies)/RNC cannot excrete the Neocons, Fundis, and New Right from its highest councils then perhaps.

  15. Will says:

    from the perspicous Pat Buchanan

    Ultimately, however, the Beltway Republicans are losing Middle America because they are ideologically incapable of addressing two great concerns: economic insecurity and the perception that we are losing the America that we grew up in.
    Economic insecurity is traceable to NAFTA-GATT globalization, under which it makes economic sense for U.S. companies to close factories here, build plants in China and export back to the United States. Manufacturing now accounts for less than 10 percent of all U.S. jobs.
    Social insecurity is traceable to mass immigration, legal and illegal, which has brought in scores of millions who are altering the character of communities and competing with U.S. workers by offering their services for far less pay.
    These are the twin causes of death of the Reagan coalition, and as long as the Republican Party is hooked on K Street cash, it will not address either, and thus pass, blissfully addicted, from this earth.

  16. Apologies to PL and readers for the length of this comment. Perhaps overstimulated by using a chain saw to clear brush today here in the country.
    Okay let’s grossly over-simplify a minute. A brief history of the Post-FDR Republican party (my version). IKE debates running as a DEM or Republican and finally decides the Republicans are more to his liking. Winning two terms cements notion that the Republicans are stronger on National Defense. Nixon probably won in 1960 because of vote fraud in Chicago and bought votes in W.VA. favoring Kennedy. So now Kennedy and LBJ. Kennedy launches Viet Nam pilgrimage after IKE would not bail out French. LBJ supporting the 1964 Civil Rights Act. LBJ knows in his heart surrending to long-term damage to DEMS because of racial issues but like Lincoln knows it is the right thing to do. Republicans skillfully use race to win consistently and of course appropriately nail LBJ with Viet Nam (even while they conduct war 5 more years and settle for what could have occurred in 1968 at Paris peace talks. Nixon/Kissinger (not sure who was President in those years) develop a foreign policy that picks up on FDR’s long range vision of China as major power insisting China as member of the UN’s Security Council with voting ability to block action. Also economics. Nixon devalues the dollar, goes off gold standard, floating exchange rates,etc. If Ford then pardons Nixon after the 1976 election instead of before probably wins and sanctimonius Carter defeated (the Navy being necessarily the least democratic of the Armed Forces–note the small “D”.). So REPUBLICANs actually help DEMS have one term. Then Reagan/Bush years succeed in another DEMS administration but perhaps only because Ross Perot helps DEMS by running. But Perot campaign does set stage for Clinton budget-balancing. NOTE REPUBLICANS. Again Clinton follies lead to Bush 43, since Gore like Humphrey does not know whether to be joined at hip or repudiate his President. An then of 9/11 history intervenes. By not breaking down in tears on curb side Bush shows mettle and helps win second term even while those things requiring thoughtfulness and not stubborness don’t get addressed. And now with OBAMA fate has intervened to end the long shadow of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 favoring the Republicans.
    So where do Republicans go and what do they become and more important what do they do? Pretty simple! Reject most of the things the DEMS do that mimic what the Republicans did, not what they say? How about big government? Well start down-sizing all those military-industrial-academic complex (s) that are so expensive, contribute so little in the long-run, don’t really meet the needs of National Defense etc. Perhaps mandate that all Commissioned officers serve minimum of 30 yeas even if reduced to NCO level if they fail promotion qualifications. Make the Service Academies post-grad. Enlarge them–No more ROTC except for special circumstances. McCain the maverick might like Ike have been willing to take on the issue of the Pentagon and its influence on American life and culture. Unlikely but maybe. Now like Clinton, Obama has no real feel for the national security portfolio and needs major help badly to see his way through to foreign policy success other than in Sub-Saharan Africa. Okay, what else for the Republicans? How about making the STATES really accountable? No more subsidization of STATEs incompetence and negligence in such things as failing to oversee mortgage bankers and unregulated lenders? Was it really the Federal Governments fault that the lobbyist made sure no one regulated? How about disasater relief where STATE and local negilgence in land use decisions and building standards is subsidized by FEMA! And of course give up all those Federal grants and cooperative agreements that allow huge STATE and LOCAL overhead costs to encourage bloated government. When the FEDS want the states to do it and make sure it gets done–no more fire and forget grants–specific contracts with the STATES with deliverables of services and products by the STATES to be itemized. And local governments too. Repeal OMB Circular A-87 and mandate overhead of no more than 5%-10% of the contract by the STATES and LOCALs. Probably the 150 largest cities should have fire and police federalized in certain circumstances like explosion of NUDET in one of those cities. In return make sure those first responders are really available (24/7 for minimum of 60 days by staffing) trained, equipped, provided logistic support etc. Build homeland security from the bottom up not top down the way it is now. Why do you think bumpers on fire trucks are not standard Height? Only NY STATE and now Florida mandate common hose and hook up sizes state wide. Would you be surprised that the Fire and Police vendors are fronted by men and women almost as good looking as BIG PHARMAs detail sales people. Give DHS some real standard setting and regulatory authority. Get serious about cyber-security and defense of critical infrastructrure and demand resilience be built in. Don’t let a private fortune be built by allowing a software system to be built that is subsidized by all those hours fixing security breeches and fire wall and anti-virus mechaniisms. Hey
    the Republicans are the defenders of the government middle-men. Speaking of middle-men the REPUBLICANS might lead the charge in suggesting to the STATES that we don’t need 87,000 subunits of government (yes that is the real number including special taxing districts and MUDs (Municipal Utility Districts). By the way the Republicans could look into German entrepreneurs buying up US water supply organizations. Departments like HUD really are not interested in housing the population of the US. More housing policy is made in the tax code than at HUD. How about tax reform as a Republican agenda item. Well of course there are thousands of things that the Republicans could usefully do like oversight and legislative drafting. Even if the bills are not taken up and voted on the Republicans in Congress have a bully pulpit and when the DEMS don’t take up something useful the Republicans could get on the record to explain why or find out why and disclose it publically. Personally, as a fuzzy headed liberal, I believe triangulation has killed both DEMS and Republicans but that is for the long term. Who is doing the heavy lifting to help not the middle-men (and Women) but the American people generally. Amazing how each day in the paper we learn that in fact Uncle Sugar has been subsidizing American business which is no longer lean and mean as a competitor (some exceptions of course)but has relied on the “RENTIER” and FIRE sectors and government dependence through contracts or corrupiton or manipulation to stay in business. Or and by the way how about the Republicans supporting a limit for salaries (I know the readers probably thought I was going to say business execs but am not) on all those IRS tax-exempt organizations which seem to me should earn no more than the PRESIDENT. What I am basically arguing for —and I am more a DEM than a REPUBLICAN–is that we need a strong loyal opposition. The problem is that the Republicans seem not to want to govern when elected and when in opposition want to cry in their milk and not pay attention. Even if they DON’T want to do anything, the Republicans could audit, investigate, and disclose on the record the secret subsidies UNCLE SUGAR gives out. And don’t worry because those subsidies benefit the DEMS as much as the Republicans, and more is some cases. Hey hoping for the best. Time will tell.

  17. john in thte boro says:

    I have to agree with Al that the likelihood of the Republican Party folding up is remote. Over its history it has managed to reorient itself from the progressive party of its youth to the radical reactionary albatross of today. Similarly, the Democratic Party has also reinvented itself over the years. The constant is the two parties’ arrangement of the political duopoly (as noted by John S).
    Just the same, if the GOP folded up, a new, not necessarily improved, version would take its place. After all, the Democratic Party requires competition. Obviously the two parties are not entirely representative of the public thus the existence of a large pool of so called independent voters. For the sake of argument, I have often wondered how the government would operate with three or more viable national political parties. The design does not appear conducive. Imagine either the Democrats or the Republicans forming coalition caucuses with other parties or each other. Imagine some minor boutique-issue party determining the passage of important legislation (not to mention the impact on earmarks, amendments, single-issue and other PACs, the lobby industry, and think tanks).
    Any change to the equilibrium so far obtained in our two-party system would require a radical (new Constitution) or revolutionary (new state) makeover in my opinion. The current structure is optimized for electoral stability and cross-cutting public opinion with two political factions or, as the founders preferred, none. The federal system does not permit the rapid legislative removal or public recall of poorly performing elected officials. Further, the strength of the electorate lies in the center for both parties. Indeed, my sense of it is that most Americans do not tolerate more than a very mild police state or more than a mild welfare state. That is, a sort of minimum standard for personal protection from crime and circumstance. However, each political party must deal with its fringe and suffer the embarrassment of active radical elements who, unfortunately, also tend to be the more reliable voters. Therein lay a goodly part of the GOP’s problems over the last three decades. The GOP fell captive to the outer limits of its side of the duopoly, the aptly named (h/t Dana Jone) far-right fundie fringe. For example, Rove’s “fifty plus one” strategy seems based on this (and voter suppression).
    Looking ahead to the future, I agree with Cieran in that the GOP appears bereft of intelligent leaders at the moment. But this condition requires naught but new leadership with new principles, certainly that is not outside the realm of possibility. Perhaps the GOP will use this time to reinvent itself through accomplishment instead of wasting it obstructing the new government while the many, many crises persist. The choice comes down to how long the Republicans want to remain the opposition and nothing more. (full disclosure: I am a so called independent).

  18. anna missed says:

    The Republican party might find a new window of opportunity if the economy really crashes and burns. Because that will force many people back into traditional (rural based) family structures, as a survival strategy. They’ll of course have to develop a more populist system of patronage, aka Palinesque socialism. Probably a pipe dream though.

  19. MS says:

    This is a very insightful discussion. My thought.
    1. One major strength of a conservative party (anywhere) is that it is very flexible, not constrained by any particular ideology. Basically whatever people want, it can reshape/re-market itself based on people’s needs. The GOP is losing this strength. Now certain ideological groups have a disproportionate influence on the party (Christian-right, neo-cons, for example). The most memorable symptoms of this disease are the Terry Salvo case and the Iraq invasion. (or think of abortion litmus test for office candidates)
    The only time the GOP can win now is when the beliefs/interests of the center/moderates coincide with those of these ideologue groups w/in the GOP.
    2. Globalization has had a profound impact in the society. We have exported jobs overseas. Until the stock market crush, we could hide it with the economic expansion with borrowed money. Not anymore. Tax cut won’t do you much if you don’t have a job. Whichever party addresses job security/creation will have an edge for next several years.
    If the GOP can shift its focus on limited government, sound fiscal policy, support of entrepreneurship (not just pro-big business.) backed by moderate or libertarian social policies, they would have a shot. (If you lose Indiana and have a tough time in Montana, it is time to look into the mirror.)

  20. srv says:

    Re comments about the Internet – if you watch youtube, you’d see that many of the “Obama is a Terrorist” or “Obama is a Marxist” videos were receiving as many hits as the top Obama videos. The right, catering to the low information vote, doesn’t have the blog-depth, but they do know email. The message just has to be short and sweet.
    All the Republican party needs is to chip away at the always-ineffectual Congressional Democrats who don’t know they’re the opposition. Their idea of leadership is to have pro-Iraq War types like Rahm Emmanuel setting their strategy. Or offering even bigger bailouts to GM and Wall St than their Republican counterparts. Like Clinton co-opting the right, it works for awhile until it blows up.
    While GW and crew have been architecting these disasters, the Dems haven’t been stopping any of it. Obama can only mitigate now. He may not be blamed for setting the economy and world on fire, but he can’t save the economy, please his base, and “win” in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    One big failure, and all it will take is for an iconic St. Patraeus, flags in hand and a veneer of competence to to win over the economy-weary folks of 2012.

  21. Cieran says:

    One big failure, and all it will take is for an iconic St. Patraeus, flags in hand and a veneer of competence to to win over the economy-weary folks of 2012.
    But “win” here means merely taking an election. Actual governance, especially in an era when other nations are acting strategically, requires a lot more than winning elections. And therein lies the problem for the GOP — the more they win elections, the more they risk losing their future (Exhibit A: Bush’s wins in 2000 and 2004).
    In the interest of full disclosure, I come from a staunch Republican background, grew up greatly impressed with Barry Goldwater, and my own political and economic views ought to make me a rock-ribbed Republican in the most traditional mold.
    But I vote based on my best estimates of the competence of the candidates, i.e., their ability to govern effectively. I’m no great fan of the Democratic party, but I haven’t lately seen a Republican running for office who I would trust with the keys to my car, much less with the keys to the White House. My votes are all about competence, not about gay rights or abortion (or asinine symbols such as Joe the @#$%^&* Plumber). Governing is job #1 for my ideal of an elected official, and it’s also job #2, and #3, and so on.
    What I’ve noticed in the last two elections (2006 and 2008) is how many of my Republican friends have come over to this way of thinking. The most stalwart GOP supporters I know (at least, the ones with functioning brains, whose past support for the GOP was based on principle, not on prejudice) have told me they now are voting Democratic because they’re sick of the incompetence of their former political party.
    This is what the GOP will need to overcome to ever win in the long run, and I’m not sure they can get there from here.

  22. JohnH says:

    One of the most remarkable aspects of the Republican Party’s Congressional Delegation was their discipline. They all voted together. During the last session they all stuck together to filibuster everything the Democrats wanted. Even Chuck Hagel, who ostensibly took an independent line on Iraq, voted the party line whenever called upon.
    Ultimately, the Republicans’ discipline showed them to be a bunch of lemmings, marching together in lock step into the sea. Even in the face of electoral disaster, few Republican candidates were willing to depart from the party line. Even McCain could not articulate a coherent set of policies that differed from the ones that Bush and the Republicans have advocated catastrophically for years.
    This raises several questions for Republicans. Who is their puppet master? Is there something about the Republican brain that needs an authoritarian puppet master, even one that is proven to create disasters for them (Iraq, Katrina, even shutting down the government under Clinton)? Given this minset, can they ever repudiate their puppet master and start to think and act independently for the good of the country, not the good of their puppet master?
    If Republicans continue to cling stubbornly to their ideology, they will spend a long, long time in the wilderness. Their renaissance will on occur when they join the reality based community again and offer solutions to real problems. Republican ideology RIP. If the Republican brand survives, the product will not be recognizable to the current bunch of lemmings. Let’s hope that the new brand will repudiate authority and promote openness, inquisitivness, inclusiveness and problem solving.

  23. Arun says:

    What both Democrats and Republicans have to remember is that neither government nor free markets are either problems or solutions. Governments and free markets are means to an end, not ends in themselves. You cannot drown the government in a bathtub, nor can you regulate away the irrational exuberance of the markets. The master craftsmen of our state have to use the tools judiciously for the betterment of us all.
    Right now I think that the Democrats have the edge in understanding this.

  24. trstone says:

    The GOP has to decide what it wants to be, the evangelical party (Huckabee), the Democratic party lite (Jindal), the anti-intellectal (Palin), the corrupt(Stevens), the inept(GWBush), the old(Thompson), from the past(Gingrich), or the snake-oil one(Romney). What a pethora of choices. I hope they choose wisely!

  25. zanzibar says:

    You certainly speak for me and my circle. We were all of Republican stock. The party of Lincoln. My ancestors did not much care for the party of Wilson and the Federal Reserve and income taxes although they revered Jeffersonian ideals. Patriotism was a given – but it meant fidelity to the Constitution and the defense of the community.
    The concerns with the Republican party began with Nixon and his general “lawlessness”. Grew more disenchanted under Reagan. Felt better under George Bush Sr and were repulsed by GW Bush & Dick Cheney.
    Competence is certainly high up there. But the context of governance is also important. The sanctity of our constitutional framework and libertarian values ruled the roost in our household for generations.
    Unfortunately for our family both parties have diverged dramatically from what we have believed for ages. We are indeed deeply concerned about the kind of country we will bequeath our children.

  26. Cujo359 says:

    Cieran and Zanzibar – glad to read that there are Republicans who feel this way. This last Presidential election, the fields of candidates from the two parties were so strikingly different. The least of the Democrats would probably have governed better than the most competent Republican. I don’t remember ever having felt that way about one party’s candidates before.
    We need a viable Republican Party that can make principled arguments for the things it believes in and respects the Constitution. I’m not sure how Republicans can make that happen. I have enough trouble imagining we progressives can turn the Democratic Party into such a thing.

  27. Ian says:

    I think the left-right axis on the graph is rather misleading. I think we need to go multivariable. For example, parties define themselves on the basis of issues such as:
    Free market vs. Planned economy
    Redistribution vs. Oligopoly
    Theocratic vs. Laicite
    Intervention vs. Isolation
    Open borders vs. closed
    Open government vs. closed
    Urban vs. exurban/rural
    Degree of Environmentalism
    Race relations issues
    If we see mutually compatible stances on these issues which would be popular
    Palin Republicans make sense as a party with a common ideological core, however disturbing (Theocratic, hawkish, rural, protectionist, often racist). This faction is large enough that the Republicans could not win without it, but repellent enough to so many Americans that the Republicans cannot win with them around. Yeah, that’s the sort of thing that can split a party.
    On the basis of the issues above, I can see no principled difference between moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats. The Mushy Centrist Party is in power now, and likely to remain there for some time.
    If I was going to form an American political party, I’d look for empty territory in issue-space. Doves are largely unrepresented, as are people who don’t like their government secret and unaccountable. The libertarians look lonely, just as both current major parties swing in the direction of a planned economy. There are a lot of Republicans and Democrats who are neither Mushy Centrists nor Palinites; given inspired leadership and an issue to rally people to a new flag, America could have itself a third major party.

  28. SAC Brat says:

    One of the funniest observations I heard during the last week was on Comedy Central’s election coverage show “Indecision 2008” with John Stewart and Stephen Colbert when they had a friend of Barack Obama from his Harvard days comment that at Harvard Barack and his wife Michelle were very conservative and everyone thought they were Republicans. The friend then said “They might still be Republicans”.
    It meshes well with my uncle the russian professor’s comment last January that he usually votes Republican but there doesn’t seem to be any left to vote for.

  29. Curious says:

    Well GM is practically worth zero now. They are not going to last after winter. (no suppliers will hand them parts, GM can’t pay. )
    General Motors Corp. plummeted as much as 31 percent after a Deutsche Bank AG analyst downgraded the shares and cut the price target to zero.
    GM lost $1.03 to $3.33 at 11:05 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, after falling as low as $3.02. Ford Motor Co. dropped 11 cents to $1.91. Detroit-based GM said Nov. 7 it may not have enough cash to operate this year.

  30. TomB says:

    It seems to me that the fate of the Republican Party depends on its present nature and from what I at least perceive that doesn’t make its future look very promising.
    I think it was George Will who observed that the all-important “base” of the Party right now—which of course is where parties get their leaders and workers and energy and resources from—really just consists of two groups now: the religious fundamentalists and the neo-conservatives.
    And the interesting thing about this to me is how fundamentally anti-intellectual both are. The former just because that’s their nature it seems, being believers in “faith” and the like instead and sometimes almost seeming to be at war with modernity, and the latter in terms of their Jacobin-like attitude to anyone and everyone who disagrees with them in the slightest degree. (Witness David Frum’s excommunication of people like Pat Buchanan and etc. from the Party back not long ago in the pages of the National Review I think.)
    So with this fundamental hostility to new or different ideas seeming to be the sine qua non of even being listened to by the Party, it’s hard to see it changing in any real way for a long long time. And this in a Party that’s never been known for its brains.
    That said it seems there is an institutional/structural bias in our system favoring only two major parties so I suppose it’s likely that the Republicans are here to stay for the forseeeable future as the “other” main party. But in terms of how long it will take it to recover and gain any real ascendency again I wouldn’t be surprised it if was a long long time now.
    P.S. And as Exhibit A of my thesis concerning how biased against ideas and thus how stupid and blind to reality the Party can be, overwelmingly the single biggest thing I have seen its true believers devote their insane post-debacle enthusiasm towards in terms of their future is … Sarah Palin.
    These people have gone so far that they’ve taken themselves out of the reach of rational discourse I think. And when someone does that it generally takes them a very long time to get back.

  31. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    God bless Glenn Greenwald.
    There may be an emerging intersection of beliefs among self-described New York Lefties (Greenwald, Phil Weiss et al.) and those of the Paleo/Libertarian bent (War Eagle Raimondo, et al.). And the center of this intersection recognizes the danger that arises from an imperial presidency. The rise of an imperial presidency, typically through the use of executive orders, is a historical trend promoted wholeheartedly by both Democrats and Republicans.
    Does this intersection of beliefs arise from the tradition of Williamsburg VA and that of Williamsburg, Brooklyn? Maybe the Williamsburg Party but who knows…

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