Free Markets, Free People

A quiz from Bill Quick

Bill Quick has been pondering why the GOP establishment can look so lost:

I’ve been wondering why the suicidal wing of the GOP – the elites and others who want to turn the party into an echo of the Democrats – think that way. I finally believe I may have a glimmer.

He then summarizes the state of the disconnect between the establishment GOP and the wider world, and finished with:

It’s easy to say they don’t get it because they’re stupid, but the truth is much worse: They don’t get it because they don’t want to get it.

Your quiz for today, then, is to answer the question: Why don’t they want to get it?

The quiz answer has got to be some variation of “They’re getting what they want right now, so why change?” If it were not in their self-interest to try and perpetuate the status quo, then they wouldn’t do it, at least not again and again the way they have.

Here’s my own mental model: they are members of a separate society from the rest of America. That society consists of politicians, lobbyists, top-tier media people, A-list celebrities, and top-level bureaucrats. The GOP establishment politicians are far more loyal to the society they belong to (including the most liberal members of it) than they are the wider American society.

So they regularly and consistently do what their own tribe expects and demands, rather than what the rest of us want. They grow to see us as simplistic rubes who don’t know any better, and they talk themselves into believing that the ways of their tribe are the right ways. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just ignorant or confused.

Being chauferred around in limos and having 95% of the people you run into pay obeisance to you smooths their assimilation into the tribe and and serves to remind them every hour of ever day of their special status and the vast gulf separating them from the rest of us. They also get security in the form of big pensions, various perks from those who want to get their attention, and respect far beyond what their abilities would otherwise command.

When someone comes in who was not formerly a member of the tribe, they take special effort to initiate that person into the tribe and ensure that they know the unwritten rules of membership. This is how a Bill Frist goes from being a campaigner for limited government in his first campaign in 1994 to being a senator who helped pass a bunch of Bush welfare state programs – in only about six or eight years.

The tribe ostracizes anyone who does not take to the assimilation process, but that’s seldom necessary. The immense craving for acceptance that is a part of the typical politician’s personality profile is almost always enough to eventually suck them in.

This is perhaps an inevitable result of having a professional political class and ever-growing government.

Spending all their time in the tribe, and accustomed to being buffered and covered by the media wing of the tribe, it’s hard for them to assess when a level of dissatisfaction is reached that will seriously threaten very many members of the tribe. The tribe was caught flat-footed in 1994 and they saw several members forced into new roles or even retirement. As a whole, though, they recovered quite well. In two or three years things were back to normal. They assimilated the new members, ramped up the media control, and prepared to ride out the next such wave.

They passed a bunch of new rules to keep the outsiders in line: Campaign Finance Reform, Sarbanes-Oxley, and others. Since the nominal process they thought they controlled got a little beyond their control, they simply passed rules to give themselves more control.

That gave them the confidence that they can ride out any such episodes in the future; nothing the barbarians outside the tribe have attempted has worked to cause any real change in decades. So they’re paying lip service to the principles of the Tea Parties, but they don’t really think those barbaric outsiders can do anything that really threatens them.

Maybe they’re right. It’s up to us to prove them wrong.

28 Responses to A quiz from Bill Quick

  • For further enlightenment, see Sowell, Thomas “The Vision of the “Anointed”.  He would come to about the same conclusion.

  • Good analysis.  I suggest also adding an element of efficacy.  Politicians are elected to DO SOMETHING; voting, passing laws, writing regulations, etc, is their entire reason for being.  Plus, it’s a bit hard to be reelected on a platform of, “Vote for me and I’ll continue to do nothing!” even when “nothing” means that they are leaving us alone.

  • I sort of alluded to the same thing elsewhere, when I referenced Davenport’s Law of Everything: “No politician will ever, ever get a better job outside of politics.”

  • This is the problem conservatives have always had.  We really want the government to shrink for the sake of maintaining or restoring liberty.  Mark Levin correctly pointed out that it is pretty easy for any idiot Leftist to grow government.  We conservatives have the harder job of trying to beat them back…and then once that’s done reversing the damage.  Too many people are too easily led into believing that liberty means having all of their problems resolved.  Very difficult to fight that.

  • Still believe its the fact they believe they can take the right for granted and don’t want to alienate anyone in order to cling to office.
    They do that in order to keep their position.  Congressional positions have become cash cows.  The Democrats directly manipulate your money to the benefit of their friends.  The Republicans will blunt or slow them if you pay them enough.  The Republicans are a poorly run protection racket.  Hence they are almost entirely reactionary.

  • Mr. Hollis does such a good job of nailing this one that there is really not much need for additional comment.  Lots of folks are catching on to what has been going on;  probably stimulated by wondering how the hell we elected our current President and Congress.
    Peggy Noonan said in <a href=”Callous Children”:>
    <blockquote>”We are governed at all levels by America’s luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they’re not optimists—they’re unimaginative. They don’t have faith, they’ve just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don’t mind it when people become disheartened. They don’t even notice.”</blockquote>
    Jill Lawrence said in <a href=”Palin’s GOP Brand:  Exclusionary and Short-Sighted, but Who Will Stop it?”:>
    <blockquote>”… How does this grow a party that’s been contracting among minorities and in virtually every region but the South? [Not a clue as to WHY it has been contracting]  How many contests does the Palin approach cede to Democrats, who have been happy to recruit moderates and conservatives in places they believe candidates like that can win?
    Candidates like that have indeed won, and the complications posed by the Democrats’ diversity are now playing out for all to see in the intra-party struggle over health reform. But you better believe it’s a good problem to have. I’m pretty sure zero Democrats would prefer to be out of power and in perfect accord.”<blockquote>
    Ms. Lawrence cannot see the forest for the trees.  Have you ever seen a poll taken from ex-Republicans asking them why they no longer register as Republicans?  I’m guessing that the largest group of ex-Republicans are those (like me) who are disgusted with the RINO big government spenders that have taken over the party and given us big spending Democrat Lite President Bush(s) and others.
    The important issue is not how many Republicans there are, but how many Independent voters will vote for Republican candidates.  Will more Independents vote for Conservative candidates or RINOs, that is the question.
    I held my nose and sent money and voted for the RINO put up by the Republicans for President in 2008 only because of the whacko he ran against AND because he was smart enough to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate.

    • Oh, it’s a lot of fun to poke at the “elites” of a party out of touch; not that they don’t deserve it, you understand.
      But for the real problem the Republicans have, one needs to look no further than notherbob2.
      I held my nose and sent money and voted for the RINO put up by the Republicans for President in 2008 only because of the whacko he ran against AND because he was smart enough to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate.
      Bob here gave money to the republicans AND is encouraged by the nomination of an inexperienced social conservative populist.
      Bob, you do realize that merely holding your nose doesn’t make the stink go away, don’t you?  And you do realize that Palin has generally unfavorable numbers among the general populace, don’t you?
      I wonder.

      • What do Palin’s unfavorable numbers have to do with his decision to support her? If you support someone, you should support them regardless of polls.

      • For the real problem that PogueMahone has, one need look no further than his comment. I detect perhaps an overconsumption of hops-based beverage.  He repeats part of my comment, then he mis-characterizes the experience of Ms. Palin and correctly classifies her political status.  Nice.  I suppose that the meaning of his comment remains in his addled musings and just did not make it to the …uh, printed  page.  He then states the obvious and  goes on to wonder if I read the MSM.
        I am left to suppose that his prior comments here have enshrined his “thoughts” so well that he only needs to enter cryptic clues as to which of his hackneyed comments he is referring to here for his meaning to be clear.  Very nice.
        Earth to PogueMahone:  Not everyone who is not afraid to express approval of Ms. Palin is a knuckle-dragging ignorant populist tool, despite the caterwauling of those who fear her political savvy.  I like her and I like her politics (well, maybe not some of her social policy views, but, hey, who’s perfect?)  And thanks for the insult that I would cravenly fear to make positive statements here about her simply because her poll numbers were bad.  Is that how you determine how to express yourself here?  I wonder.

        • That’s cryptic to you?
          Okay then.  Well why don’t you go ahead and continue to hold your nose, give the GOP money, and consider Palinesque candidates to be a “smart choice”, and see how far that advances true conservatism within the Republican party.

          • Now that “The One” has been elected, there is no reason to give the Republican Party more money.  Not until the Republican establishment elite has smelled the coffee (NY 23) and decided that installing Daily Kos, ACORN-supported,  Democrat-endorsing candidates is not the way to go.
            Your use of  “true conservatism” implies that the Palin flavor is somehow inconsistent with “true conservatism”.  Now me, I don’t give a damn about “true conservatism”.  I care about America.  I care about Palin only if she can best bring about a restoration of the America that I grew up loving and thought would live forever.  Right now I think that she (hey, there a others out there who can maybe do it better – let’s see how everyone does between now and 2012)  might be the way we get it done.  Sorry, but the fact that you are part of the attack dogs doesn’t indicate to me that you are looking sincerely for a way to get it done.

          • ‘and see how far that advances true conservatism ‘

            So what is ‘true conservatism’ and how does one advance it?  By obeying Gingrich and voting for Dede Scozafava? Do, pray, enlighten us as to the True Conservatism and the Correct way to advance it.

          • So what is ‘true conservatism’ and how does one advance it?
            Oh, why try to hide your true feelings, Tim?  That’s not like you. –  How dare I have the audacity to know what true conservatism is???
            By obeying Gingrich and voting for Dede Scozafava?
            Since when have I ever advocated obeying anyone?
            Do, pray, enlighten us as to the True Conservatism and the Correct way to advance it.
            Think markets, and don’t keep buying the same old crap.
            How’s that for starters?

          • ” How dare I have the audacity to know what true conservatism is???”

            I see you not only know the secret of true conservatism, you can also read minds.

            If you don’t want to answer the question, just say so. Nobody here is fooled by chaff.

          • I see you not only know the secret of true conservatism, you can also read minds.
            Well, it helps when the comment is as shallow as yours.
            You know damn well what I mean by “true conservatism.”  Small government, greater liberty, limited regulation… all that jazz.  It’s not like you haven’t been reading my comments here for several years now.  What do you want?  A dissertation or something?
            I know I’ve been reading your comments here for several years. 
            And that’s how I know that it just kinda’ rubbed you the wrong way that – who is Pogue to tell Bob what is true conservativism.
            I mean, isn’t that right?  Or do you really wanna rehash conservative philosophy.
            ‘Cause if you do, I can definitely make the case that Bob’s support for the populist Palin doesn’t really cut it. 
            And that feeding that machine will only perpetuate it.
            Do you wanna make the case that Palin is a true conservative?  Do you???
            Or is all of this noise your making just a bunch of… chaff?

          • “You know damn well what I mean by “true conservatism.” ”

            No, I did not. That is why I asked. I know it may be hard to believe, but I do not memorize your comments or even, dare I say it, read them all. 
            Perhaps you can explain then why Palin is NOT a conservative, or why voting for an experienced  political hack is so much more preferable to voting for  inexperienced Palin.  The record would seem to indicate that running  experienced politicians (Dole, McCain, etc.)is not all that good.

      • Pogue offers the common plaint of libertarians and the like.  The basic problem is that if I were to vote libertarian in a close election, that give the edge to Obama.  What is going on now in NY-23 is the base is trying to drag the so called leadership back toward conservative principals.  It is also happening ing Florida.
        That is a far better strategy than going third party.  I argue that it was the desertion of the base in 2006 and 2008 that allowed the Democrats to build their large majority.  That majority is now capable of doing things no one in the base, who abandoned the party, thinks is OK in the hopes of “teaching the party a lesson”.  I suspect there are a lot of regrets.

        • “What is going on now in NY-23 is the base is trying to drag the so called leadership back toward conservative principals.”
          Good luck with that.  We saw that on a national scale in 1980.  How’s that working out?
          “You people have been voting for the lesser of two evils for so long that evil is all that’s left, now.”  (Me.)

          • Well, I am not too sure about the evil part, but since the road to he11 is paved with good intentions, the ultimate destination is the same, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

  • Two other possibilities come to mind:
    1. If you had a job where you had to mow a lawn once a week, but it was a full time job, maybe you would get bored and start looking at lawn maintenance, painting that shed over there, putting in  a new fence, etc., or just waste your time.  Shrinking government, oversight (that must be boring) probably don’t take that much time, and then they have this urge to “do something” for any problem. (Could be to get more famous, to get re-elected, etc.) Doing something entails growing the government.
    2. Power flows from the money, patronage, etc. of government spending, not government reduction. Nobody lobbies you to get rid of the EPA, but to get a favorable ruling. Thus, you end up supporting more government simply because its where the money and power is at.
    3.  Lawyers. Sometimes I wonder if they have the right mentality – any problem’s solution is a law, well that also leads to more government, no?

    • Harun, I once heard the most excellent interpretation of all of this from G.Gordon Liddy.  He told of how all the major companies, the big law firms and the major pacs had their democrat and republican people.
      When a republican wins election, then vice president of operations, Harry Republicanguy, gets a job in government, (after all there are a lot of jobs to fill) He of course looks after his company/industry interests.
      Then a Democrat gets to be president, and low and behold, Harry quits government, goes back to his old job, and then Jerry Democratguy, vice president of sales takes a job in the new administration.   It is all a colossal shell game.

    • Doing something entails growing the government.

      It doesn’t have to, but it often is.  The problem is that it is much easier to pass new laws that create new government than to reform old ones to work more efficiently.  The old ones have entrenched interests while the new ones are just looking to create them.
      The Republicans of the good old days still used to try though.  When I took PoliSci in college the textbook observation was that modern Republicans got elected to “fight the good fight” and Democrats were elected to bring home the bacon.  Sadly now both are elected to bring home the bacon.

  • This is nothing more than a repeat of the Moral Majoritarian takeover of the Republican Party in the 1980s.  <a href=”″>And it will result in the same cycle.</a>

  • How about the old standby:
    Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • I once worked with a fellow who believed that there shouldn’t be any assigned parking spaces at our company because (these are his words) “if you’re that damned important you should be here before everybody else“.
    Well, the “suicidal wing of the GOP” are those same folks with the assigned parking spaces.  They’ve lost sight of the fact that their party used to stand for something.  Instead, life is one long cocktail party and/or fund raiser.  Acomphishments are measured by how many deals you gone done, not the quality of the deal, mind you.

  • Bill Quick is confused,the next Presidential elections are in 2012.  The next elections are in 2010.  Presidential elections do revolve (in large part) around grand issues, mid-terms mostly don’t.
    Also mid-terms are decided by a smaller turnout who will overwhelmingly be a subset of voters from the 2008.  Voters in 2008 voted majority Democrat and substantial minority RINO, so to get elected in 2010 Republicans are going to avoid calling these voter choices “stupid”.

    • You didn’t read the post or the link that closely. Bill Quick doesn’t mention the upcoming elections, and it’s the GOP leadership that he calls stupid.

        You are correct that the GOP has a problem in that it can’t openly call the worst campaign outcome a ‘stupid’ choice without alienating voters.  I would bet very few people would say it’s ok for a candidate to spend twenty years in a racist group (even if they did it purely to gain local popularity), but millions voted for one.  The GOP never really pushed the issue, partly because McCain didn’t want to be seen as divisive, but also because it might alienate any moderates that supported Obama in the primaries. You don’t want to point out that a huge section of the population was either too lazy to spend five minutes on the internet or flat hypocritical, even if they weren’t likely to vote for you in the first place. But for any election it’s difficult to campaign against an incumbent without telling the voters they made a mistake putting him there in the first place. 

      Whether it’s unemployment numbers, the deficit, the health care bill or foreign policy; almost all the predictions made by independents or the GOP about the Democrats have come true. Even though all the evidence supports them, can a campaign be won on the basis of “We told you so”? Not if the alternative is a candidate that is merely ‘not as bad’ as the incumbent instead of being clearly different.

  • Uh, so…not to slice it to thin, but…the “old boy” network is alive and kicking.  They’ve just expanded it to include more than white males.  The mentatlity is the same.  It’s a club, we’re not in it (unless you have money and fame, in which case, why the hell are you here, stop spying on us!)

    Our grand fortune was at one point there were a group of them that actually seemed to believe they could elevate the rest of mankind while improving their own lot.  They rebelled,  fought a war, created a country, and unfortunately died, leaving the club, eventually, to the historically more typical types.