Evolving the GOP into a Grand New Party

Image Credit: fotoviva.co.uk

by Djerrid

When 72-year-old John McCain revamped his campaign for president by hiring the very same character assassins who sucker punched him in 2000, the GOP lost a consonant. They were no longer the Grand Old Party; they were just the Old Party.

When he picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate, a long simmering fissure between the moderate pragmatists and the blind ideologues rose to the surface, they were no longer a unified party and so they lost another consonant. Now they are just Old.

An article in Time Magazine points to the end of the life cycle of Reagan’s political movement. For good or for bad, Ronny dawned a new light on the US and brought new ideas and optimism to a country stymied by crime, terrorism and a financial low pressure system. Nowadays conservatives yearn for these good old days but don’t know if they should shift their gear stick into drive or reverse to get there.

For the next few years, Republicans will be forced to do something they have long resisted; a little soul searching. They will have to redefine their core values and align them with the will of the populace. (There is nothing that nudges the two majors parties toward the center than a good ass-whipping on Election Day.) But what new role will they play?

Before ’92, Republicans long held the role of a throttle on the Democrats’ agenda – tamping down on spending and pushing for discernible results with their programs. But the Republicans moral authority to guard the purse-strings evaporated with Duke Cunningham, the Bridge to Nowhere, Jack Abramoff and the exploding federal budget. Likewise, social conservatives strived to create restrictions on the cascading changes unraveling around them. Instead Ted Haggard, Mark Foley, and Larry Craig branded them with a new Scarlet Letter – H for Hypocrite.

These old roles still have a place in America, but for a while they won’t look to Republicans to fill them. It will take a while to regain their trust – even longer if Obama is all that he cracks up to be. But instead of looking to gain or retain power just for the sake of it, they should look to serve their constituents with humility and patience. Instead of knee-jerk attacks on the Democrats’ policies, look to refine them to meet your constituent’s needs. The more that you work against the other party instead of work for the people, the longer you will remain in the dog house. You won’t regain the hearts and minds of Americans until you put them above your power plays.

The losses that Republicans have seen during the past two elections could have been mitigated with a bit of self-policing. Excising Foley and Abramoff and Tom DeLay years ago may have hurt in the short-term, but would have slowed the bleeding now.

Looking to the future, you should get rid of the deadwood (Ted Stevens comes to mind) and reclaim the mantles you have abdicated to the Dems. How the hell did the Democrats become the party that looked out for the welfare of those in uniform and veterans? Between lack of Humvee armor, Walter Reed and underfunding PTSD the Democrats saw a need and filled it. Take a page from their book and find an issue they have been ignoring and embrace it.

About six years ago, I finally switched my registration from Undeclared to Democrat. I used to read the voting histories of the county dog catcher before I voted for them. This year I went D straight down the line. And I hate that the Republics have become so far removed from this country’s well-being that I can no longer consider voting for them. A country’s overall political strength is built upon the checks and balances that two or more parties give to one another.

I honestly look forward to the day I can vote for a Republican again. But they will have to come to me and the rest of America. We will not go to them.

18 replies »

  1. As long as Milton Friedman economics and Leo Strauss politics remain at the heart of the GOP it will continue to be the Gang Of Pirates. If the Dominionist/third wave/Reconstructionist wing remains (which is basically Straussian in any case) real world discussions cannot take place.

    As long as there is two way communication, and open source knowledge that is the Internet they will have increasing problems being anything but grist for comedy. There is a real need for honest discussion and careful watch dog policies, but the clash of realities is a civilization killer.

    The Illogic of the past was an absurdity in the Sixties, but the conversation was destroyed by a huge influx of money that drowned it out. This time it is broader and deeper, and taking place from the inside instead of outside. There is one huge job to do, and has not even begun to start, but this time there is more hope, but it is also our last chance as a civilization to get it right.

  2. I predict a sort of “New Contract with America” in 10, or 12. Once the GOP realizes that there are just as many conservatives on the internet as progressives they will start to ditch their current base and replace it with a more sensible one. The country most likely wont be fixed in 2 years, and I’m pretty sure the GOP will blame everything on the new administration. I think it’s a safe bet they will be back in the majority in 4 years.

  3. But the Republicans moral authority to guard the purse-strings evaporated with Duke Cunningham, the Bridge to Nowhere, Jack Abramoff and the exploding federal budget. Likewise, social conservatives strived to create restrictions on the cascading changes unraveling around them. Instead Ted Haggard, Mark Foley, and Larry Craig branded them with a new Scarlet Letter – H for Hypocrite.

    This will always happen with depressing frequency. It is not only hardwired into Straussian ideology, but worse is hardwired into the very RWA/SDO personality structure that is drawn to it in the first place.

    I wrote on this some time ago and what I have learned since seems to keep verifying those conclusions even more. Even when circumstances make belief in Conservative policies impossible, and even the frames are destroyed, the RWA personality disorder (as caused by child abuse especially) still shines through with most of the issues Altemeyer points out still in place.

  4. Freedom,

    Particularly what aspect of Friedman’s economics do you take umbrage with? Just Curious…


  5. Some soul searching is right, and the shit they might be blamed for isn’t over yet.

    But i hope that the GOP comes back…so long as its return is not more radical than its last incarnation. I’ll take the country club Republicans any day. I’ll be happy with conservative small business owners. I’d be real happy if conservative thought was informed by a mind like Buckley rather than Limbaugh. I ain’t saying that i’ll vote for them, but i might. And more importantly, i’d like there to be honest debate between the two sides.

    When you’ve made Richard Milhouse Nixon look like a breath of fresh air, you’ve gone too far.

  6. Particularly what aspect of Friedman’s economics do you take umbrage with? Just Curious…

    Where to start…At the heart of everything lies the foundation that private power is naturally good and should be unrestrained and unaccountable unless by some other private power and that collective action (in the form of government or unions) to restrain it or hold it accountable is socialistic and evil…. The ultimate antisocialist, and indeed unsocialized behavior is precisely the result, and at the heart of the devastation of the civilization that Bush is the poster child of but hardly the entire cause.

    I have chosen Gang Of Pirates as the real expression of the GOP because the concept so exemplifies the ultimate expression of “get the government off our backs” , “greed is good”, ” We get the gold you get the shaft” crony capitalism, failed state (drowned in bathtub) kind of thinking.

    There is hardly any activity that can be accomplished except by a collective of people, each doing their part to accomplish a goal. One part that is absolutely necessary is a means of organizing who does what part, and how the costs and benefits of that goal are distributed. While necessary it is no more so than those actually doing all the other parts. Where it is different is the Power to make those decisions, and the Temptation to skew the benefits in your own favor and the costs on to others.

    Friedman posits an invisible God of “the Market” that would be the only legitimate force to restrain that temptation, just as earlier “divine right” of Kings had their invisible hand that would keep those in power honest. And we all know how well those invisible hands do at keeping folk honest in the face of temptation.

    Finally now, with nearly every source of wealth looted or polluted are folks beginning to realize that perhaps we need some visible hands to restrain temptation, and even more visible hands to guard the guards, but the time is late, and the unsocialized elements are everywhere conspiring to keep themselves “free” as any pirates might in an effort to evade real justice.

  7. Hmm I detect a bug I respond and it says it is done but does not show up (not for the first time) But this one does….much thought and work lost Arggggg

  8. WordPress has the Akismet spamblocker that not only blocks posts with three or more links (even from the S&R bloggers themselves), but it sometimes tags posts for no apparent reason. We’re not sure why, but posts that are legitimate and are caught by the spamblocker are always pulled out.

    We regret the inconvenience and have been working for some time now to correct the problem, with no success as yet.

  9. We regret the inconvenience and have been working for some time now to correct the problem, with no success as yet.

    Thankyou I do think that there have been some posts in the past lost forever. I will try and think carefully (and save a copy) before violating the three link rule.

  10. To answer your basic question

    When asked by Chris Wallace what “conservative solutions” the GOP would bring to their current minority-party status, Pence said social issues like “the sanctity of marriage” will remain the backbone of the Republican platform.

    “You build those conservative solutions, Chris, on the same time-honored principles of limited government, a belief in free markets, in the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage,” Pence said.

    The Gang Of Pirates will not be coming to the rest of America anytime soon

  11. According to Mike Pence, they won’t be changing a damned thing. It will still be the guns, gays and abortion mantra they have spewed for decades.
    In other words, nothing to see here, move along.

  12. Freedom:

    Private power is good.

    Individualism, not collectivism is good.

    But still, please point me to some of Friedmans published writings that you’ve read that cause you problems.

    I’ve read almost everything he’s written, and except for some currency issues and interest rate manipulation, find no problems. He was a much more accurate economist than Krugman is, that’s for sure…..and I’ve read his papers, but refuse to read his political diatribes in the NYT.

  13. Private power is good.

    Individualism, not collectivism is good.

    These are articles of faith. They are dogma. There is evidence to support the claims, and there is evidence to disprove it. However, neither these precepts nor the counter claims are provable.

    Like with Euclidean geometry, we all proceed forth from a set of givens. You can prove everything in the system EXCEPT the givens.

    So let’s not confuse faith with truth, any of us.

  14. I think it is not much of an article of faith that anyone who is not expecting to be held accountable for their decisions (involving others) is likely to be tempted to take the biggest part of the benefits for themselves and push the costs on to others.

    It is a huge article of faith to think otherwise, especially as the last eight years are proof of the point, from the billions that evaporated from Iraq without even knowing where it went, to Mark Foley left in charge of all the pages.

    There are a lot of folk who if they found a packet of money lying on the ground would try and find the owner, but I would not expect that to be the case with even the majority, much less a majority of Corporate CEO’s or other folk exercising a lot of power, but that is in fact what they do every day.

    There are many ways to hold folk accountable, and I think that might be a fruitful discussion in working out what way might be best, but blind faith in anyone who rises to power would certainly not be one of those best ways.

    I have not read everything written by Friedman, or everything written by Krugman for that matter, But I have read or watched everything here as well as much more, but I doubt I could quote per passage of much of any of it which is why I made note of the links to reread in any case.

    Individualism is a fraud in that all the self made folk are just not telling where they got all the parts. The day an Architect does all the parts from digging the clay for his bricks, and growing his own trees for the wood, smithing his own nails, after making his own steel and so forth till he builds a grand structure someplace where it does not affect any other person then perhaps that Architect might be an individualist.

    Done the way it is normally done it is a collective enterprise, in which some folk benefit more than others, depending how socialized or unsocialized the society is. In really unsocialized societies that would be slave labor that does all the work, an example of a socialized case might be an Amish barn raising. But in any case there is no individual that does everything.

  15. Freedom,

    Collectivism only works when there’s profit involved.

    As Adam Smith said,
    “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

    How can you quote Friedman or form an opinion about the merits of his economic theories without having studied his works?


  16. Jeff, you might want to check out Krugman’s blog at NYTimes – he occasionally (~1/week) gets “wonkish” on economics there, diving into math and theory. I’ve been enjoying it recently mostly for that reason.

    FWIW, I found myself a Keynesian in undergrad and find that recent events supported that original opinion. However, I suspect that, as with pretty much everything, the “optimal” economic system is in between the extremes (with monetarism on the other side from Keynesian) somewhere.

  17. How can you quote Friedman or form an opinion about the merits of his economic theories without having studied his works?

    Indeed how could we discuss anything without us both having read the entire Internet, with a side of the Library of Congress at the same time. I have read some of Friedman, and heard some of what he has said. I am sure there are some obscure details about his thinking I am unfamiliar with but his thesis is quite clear, and quite wrong as current events show. One does not have to read all of Lenin to find problems with his ideas either.

    There are other decorations on that Christmas tree by Nash, Rand, Etc that one might blame Friedman for them or them for Friedman. It matters little as the whole tree is in flames, just as Lenin’s tree blew up 20 years ago

    Only the original caveat is there that nobody should have any power over others where there is not someone or something restraining them to act in a Socialized manner. When only the restraints and the logic of one method over another are the frame of the argument, then progress can be made. To argue that power has any sort of divine right is both unsocialized and antisocial.

    As for seeing the economic meltdown in advance you might look here where Krugman saw it almost a year ago. You could also read everything Robert Kutter wrote or read his latest book or just get a gist of it here That outlines much that is similar to what I have said.

    You could read/see all I put into my “Basic Web for Literacy” site or just look for references to Adam Smith, Krugman, and Friedman with a look to Adam Curtis’s stuff as well in it. I would link to it but I have above and that would violate the “three links in a post” rule.