Free Markets, Free People


GOP still clueless – it’s not about majorities, it’s about fundamental change

Nate Silver is someone I’ve come to enjoy reading when it comes to election analysis.  He knows his business.  But he too seems to have missed the significance of the New Hampshire and Delaware senatorial primaries, casting them only as elections – if they go to the “insurgent” Tea Party backed candidates – that could cost the GOP a majority in the Senate if the insurgents win.

Of course, that’s not the point, at least as I see them.  While Christine O’Donnell may not be the ideal candidate for the US Senate, she’s at least fiscally conservative.  Mike Castle, the GOP choice on the other hand, is described by Silver like this:

… Michael N. Castle, who has held elected office in Delaware for 30 years as its governor, lieutenant governor and lone United States representative. … Mr. Castle — a moderate who is unambiguously a member of the establishment …

Are any lights flashing and horns sounding in your head right now?  Silver describes Castle in terms that make him part of the problem, not part of the solution.  He’s a perfect plug-in to the Congress the country as a whole seems so unsatisfied with and is on the verge of changing.

Oh sure, he might nominally give the GOP another seat in the Senate – but to what end?  Voting with the Snowe/Collins Republicans and the Democrats on bills that expand government and spend more?

When is a seat not really a seat, or a majority not really a majority?  When you elect “moderates” of either party who are not averse to expanding the role of government. That’s part of the reason you see more and more polarization within the country.  Right now the left is having fun characterizing the right as “radical”.  But one only need look at the size of the liberal caucus in the House to know where the heart of leftist radicalism lies. 

I continue to harken back to polls which show the vast majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track – in numbers which haven’t changed much in the last 8 years or so.  In other words, the people as a whole are dissatisfied with both parties and their representation.  And again, I’ll point back to the Ned Lamont/Joe Lieberman race where the left tried precisely what is happening on the right in states such as AK, NH and DE at the moment.

These movements to effect change are indicators.  What is described as “radicalism” from “political activists” are the surface bubbles of a molten core of unrest among the majority of Americans.  They’re thrashing around for ways and means of changing something that seems never to change.  The Tea Party movement is one of those bubbles.  The Daily Kos left was another.  But nothing much has changed, has it?  And the “wrong track” numbers continue to remain at a constant level. And the frustration builds.

This isn’t  about majorities in the Senate.  It isn’t about the horserace in November.  It’s about fundamental change – and not many seem to understand that. The people in Alaska have said “enough” with the Joe Miller primary win.  The fact that the GOP primary races in both DE and NH are as close as they are should be sending unmistakable messages to the GOP leadership – one’s even they can’t miss – that establishment moderates aren’t who the people want in the Senate.  Naturally, it seems the Republicans are as tone deaf as everyone else.

If the GOP only wins 7 seats instead of 9 in the Senate, that’s fine, as long as the 7 are of the type that are committed to paring government down – reducing its sized influence and cost.  Those 7 are enough to keep the Snow/Collins branch of the GOP from pushing the numbers over to the Democratic side.  As it stands, in fact, not having a Senate majority is probably better for the GOP than achieving one right now – they’d just blow it and, as Mitch McConnell once said, being minority leader in the Senate is one of the most powerful positions in Congress.  And besides, we’d have to listen to Obama whine for 2 years about the “Republican Congress”.

Nope, the hand writing is on the wall if the GOP (and for that matter, the Democrats) would just pause long enough in the partisan bickering and bomb throwing to read it.  This isn’t about either of their parties, or them.  It’s about changing the direction of the country.  The party that first manages to absorb that message and then elect candidates that actually work toward that end is the party that is going to be in power for quite some time.  In principle, that should be the GOP.  But as usual, in their normal clueless way, they continue on the same road that put them in the minority two years ago believing instead that all this excitement about the midterms is actually because people are embracing their candidates over the Dems.  How they have missed the fact that the Tea Party insurgency indicates they couldn’t be more wrong still amazes me.

So continue on your merry blinkered way, GOP, and fight the movement and candidates who’re all but lighting the way with the platform you should be embracing.  Continue to put up your moderate establishment candidates and then wonder why, in two years time, you’re back on the other side of the wave as Democrats are again swept into office while you are pushed out.

It is the usual short term view that drives politics today and drives me crazy.  The belief that winning a majority is all that’s important because then the party can act on its agenda.  No – it can’t.  Not if those it has elected aren’t in tune with the principles of the platform.  Not if those elected are “moderates” who have no problem with big government, subsidies, entitlements and high taxes. 

If returning to the fundamentals of Constitutional government is “radical” then the GOP needs to become the radical party.  Until they absorb that, embraces that “radicalism” and runs candidates who believe in that fundamental principle, the wrong track numbers will continue to remain constant and the GOP will continue to be the clueless lesser of two evils, but not by much.

~McQ

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23 Responses to GOP still clueless – it’s not about majorities, it’s about fundamental change

  • If returning to the fundamentals of Constitutional government is “radical” then the GOP needs to become the radical party.  Until they absorb that, embraces that “radicalism” and runs candidates who believe in that fundamental principle, the wrong track numbers will continue to remain constant and the GOP will continue to be the clueless lesser of two evils, but not by much.

    And it will at lease flirt with its own demise.

  • This isn’t  about majorities in the Senate.  It isn’t about the horserace in November.  It’s about fundamental change – and not many seem to understand that.

    We just can’t seem to get this across to those whose mental model of politics is a complex football game, in which the most important consideration is for their side to “win”. For them, winning is more about bragging rights to their liberal buddies, and taking satisfaction that they’ve accomplished something by putting their side in control.

    Winning an election means nothing! If the people elected don’t move in the direction you want to go, you’ve accomplished nothing. At best, you might have slowed the pace of the march over the cliff, but I’d say even there the bad outweighs the good. Here’s why.

    If Republicans win with Snowe/Collins/Castle/etc types as a big enough segment to control what passes and what doesn’t, we get a double whammy against us. First, nothing of consequence happens, because those squishes tug on their chins and have sober, ego-boosting meetings with their opponents (in which they usually get rolled and are too damn stupid to realize it), and end up insisting that anything that can pass is so watered down it doesn’t reach the level of fundamental change. It’s just tinkering around the edges.

    Second, the rot continues, but limited government conservatives are blamed for it! They were nominally in control, even though in fact they were not because the squishes are not conservative. That nuance does not get past the media propaganda machine, which is determined to make limited government types look bad. “See! We let them try their whacky, extremist ideas. They didn’t work!”

    And then discontent starts building to throw out those Republicans, and the cycle begins again, with each turn of the crank making it less likely that the serious change we need to make is practical without breaking the system down completely and starting over.

    If we can’t have fundamental change, we’re screwed. I would rather see limited government devotees in a years-long minority, constantly warning about the coming calamties and polishing their proposals for fundamental change, than have them combined with squishes for a majority that does nothing of consequence but has to stay quiet about what’s coming for the sake of holding their coalition together. At least, that long term devoted minority might be given control when it matters most, because both the big government crowd and the “why can’t everybody get along” squishes have both clearly failed.

  • Wow, this post is as wrongheaded as it can possibly be.

    When McQ writes that this is “about changing the direction of the country“, he should recognize that his approach will never, ever, EVER accomplish the change he desires.  McQ simply fails to recognize that the American political system contains too many veto points to effect change in the method he advocates.  In order for McQ’s preferred method to effect the change he desires, he would have to elect in excess of 60 Senators that are “committed to paring government down “, PLUS a large majority of House members who are “committed to paring government down “, PLUS a President who is “committed to paring government down” PLUS have a judiciary that is willing to accept “paring government down” — all simultaneous.  The chances of that happening are pretty infinitesimal.  After all, the Democrats have had two successive extraordinary electorally successful cycles, and are not even near having those types of majorities.

    Contrary to McQ’s wrongheaded notion about how to effect change, the best way to effect change is to elect a large number of moderates to offices where non-moderates cannot win, and then convince the moderates to work with you to effect the changes you desire to the greatest extent possible.

    McQ writes that the Tea Party and Daily Kos constitutes”the surface bubbles of a molten core of unrest among the majority of Americans”, who are “thrashing around for ways and means of changing something that seems never to change.  … But nothing much has changed, has it?”  McQ ought to reread and contemplate that sentence more.  Daily Kos, like the Tea Party, is one of those bubbles.  And Daily Kos has had two extraordinarily successful electoral cycles in a row.  How successful does McQ think Daily Kos has been at effecting its style of change?  To the extent that Democrats have been successful at effecting Daily Kos-style change, it is because they worked to coopt Democratic moderates, not drive them away and drive their seats to the opposite party.  To the extent that Democrats have effected Obamacare (which is, to be sure, not even close to what Daily Kos would prefer as a health care system), it is because they were able to get the votes of the Ben Nelson’s and Blanche Lincoln’s of the world to vote for Obamacare.

    There will never be 60 Jim DeMint’s in the Senate, 250 Paul Ryan’s in the House, Ronald Reagan in the WH, and a majority of Scalia and Thomas’s throughout the judiciary — all simultaneously.  Never.  The only way to effect the change you desire is to elect 45 Jim DeMints and 15 Mike Castles, and then convince the Mike Castle’s to go along with the Jim DeMints. 

    • Contrary to McQ’s wrongheaded notion about how to effect change, the best way to effect change is to elect a large number of moderates to offices where non-moderates cannot win, and then convince the moderates to work with you to effect the changes you desire to the greatest extent possible.

      Heh … yeah, have to admit, so far this approach has had stellar success in accomplishing those goals, hasn’t it? /sarc

      • All that approach has accomplished is to falsely attribute failure to Conservative Principles because the Democrats say, hey the “R’s” are in charge, so Conservative Principles are failures.

        When in reality, anything but conservative principles were in effect.  Simply slightly diluted Democrat policies. 

        That is my biggest bone to pick with the last round of Replubicans Representatives and Bush.   They allowed the Left to label them as the far right, when they were anything but.  If they were at least honest about their wishy-washy, comprimised, or moderate natures I wouldn’t be angry. 

      • What’s that old definition of insanity, again? Something about doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result?

        By that definition, Republican partisans who keep insisting on politics as usual are insane.

        Here’s one of the points they are missing. The vast majority of American people would prefer not to have anything to do with politics. They have lives to lead.

        They only get involved and engaged when there is a specific reason to. Then they might work hard and get some people elected.

        But if nothing of consequence comes out of that, they shake their heads and stop caring. Why work hard, spend your own money, supposedly “win” by electing your candidate… and then see George W. Bush create new welfare state programs and sign unconstitutional restrictions on free speech?

        The problem has to be big enough, obvious enough, visible enough to get the critical mass of people in place to reverse the trend of big government. Admittedly, this is a risky strategy, with possibly a low probability of success.

        But we’ve proven (beyond a reasonable doubt as far as I’m concerned) that politics as usual has zero probability of success. We heard from the partisan Republicans how if the GOP just got both houses of Congress and the White House, boy you would see some changes then, yes sir! But we didn’t.

        So the establishment GOP must go. Mike Castles don’t help the ultimate cause – they hurt it. They encourage more squishes to fight for control of the GOP.

        If states like Delaware won’t elect real limited government types yet… well, let’s see if they still feel that way when we continue to see the outcomes of big government, which get worse every year. Electing a Mike Castle in the meantime will just make them cynical that “Republicans are just like Democrats” and continue to tarnish whatever brand the GOP still has left.

  • The only way to effect the change you desire is to elect 45 Jim DeMints and 15 Mike Castles, and then convince the Mike Castle’s to go along with the Jim DeMints.

    At gun-point.
    Seriously, did you become politically aware this year…???  I go back several decades now.  Tried that…doesn’t work.

    • I became politically aware round about 1980.  And not once during the last 30 years have we had 45 Jim DeMints in the Senate.  So when you write “Tried that…doesn’t work”, I’d ask: when?  As far as I can tell, there have never been 45 Jim DeMints and 15 Mike Castles, or anything near that.  There have been maybe 20 Jim DeMints, and 20 Lisa Murkowskis, and 15 Mike Castles.  That certainly doesn’t work.  But the solution is to get rid of the Lisa Murkowskis and elect in their stead Jim DeMints, as will happen in Alaska.  As I outlined above, getting rid of the Mike Castles and trying to elect Jim DeMints in their place will certainly not work.

      • As I outlined above, getting rid of the Mike Castles and trying to elect Jim DeMints in their place will certainly not work.

        First of all, you don’t know it won’t work. I grant that it’s a low probability, but low probability doesn’t mean zero. We’re reaching a sea change in how people look at government, and a lot of the old rules are out the window. We won’t really know until we make a full-throated try.

        Second, you don’t account for the damage caused by any significant number of Castles in the party. They encourage more squishes. They make deals with corporate types, and play politics as usual. They drive their own party’s base into cynicism and despair. They stroke their own egos by “affecting the process”, e.g. sabotaging any real attempts at change. 

        Then, and here’s the kicker, when you absolutely need their support the worst… they bail. See Jeffords, Jim and Specter, Arlen. They go to the other side to get their egos stroked, and pull away any chances for real change. 

        Convince 15 Castles to go along with 45 Demints? Ha! How many of them would just trot over the Democrats and whine about being treated badly, and be promised a plum committee chairmanship, and jump ship? 

        We heard exactly the same arguments you are making when Toomey took on Specter in 2004. See the outcome? Now, why in the world would we expect different outcomes this time around? 

        • First of all, you don’t know it won’t work.

          Yes we do.  Because only Scott Brown or Mike Castle can get elected in their respective states.
          Christine O’Donnell isn’t electable in Delaware.  Not only is she too conservative for the population, but she is also woefully underqualified to be a US Senator.  We have an incredibly difficult time electing candidates that are more qualified than the Dems (see Ferris Wharton vs. Beau Biden).

  • You know the Democrat Machine, if not the Democrat politicians, ignore the Tea Party movement as a political strategy.  They wouldn’t take the time to smear them as racist if they didn’t really take them seriously. 

    The Republicans are hopelessly in denial about the Tea Party movement.  They are being given a 2nd chance and whoa is them if they don’t make a serious effort to act on it.   But I believe the think the public would be satisfied with Clinton era quasi-gridlock.  They don’t appreciate that isn’t sufficient and there will be adverse consequences for them as well if they think it is. 

  • How do you pronounce “Christine O’Donnell” in Connecticutt-ese?
    — ‘Ned Lamont’

    It may make Conservatives feel better about themselves and their idealogical purity to vote for CO’D, but at the end of the day, but she’s a guaranteed loss in November.  And I’d rather have a guy that votes with us 75% of the time (Castle) vs. a guy that votes with us .05% of the time (the Dem nominee).

    And that doesn’t even factor in money.  With Castle on the ticket, the election’s already in the back and Republicans don’t have to spend a dime.  With O’Donnell, they’ll have to blanket the airwaves (the costly Philly and Baltimore airwaves, no less) just to make it competitive.  That money would be much better spent in NV, WA, CO, WI, OH…

    •  

      And I’d rather have a guy that votes with us 75% of the time (Castle) vs. a guy that votes with us .05% of the time (the Dem nominee).

      I wouldn’t, not when the 25% he doesn’t support consists of the things we absolutely must do to turn the tide of big government.

      What good are the 75% “voting with us” votes when the “us” is creating new welfare state programs like the 2001-2006 GOP?

      • You realize that the Democrat that will get elected if Castle loses the primary will vote for all the 25% as well.  And the 75% Castle wouldn’t.  And unlike Castle, he isn’t 71 with the potential to retire from politics in the near future.

        • You realize that Democrats will then be on the hook for the results instead of Republicans? That 2012 might be 2010 squared in terms of backlash against big government?

          As I said earlier, your arguments are the exact same arguments we heard from pragmatic Specter supporters in 2004. The voters followed that advice, thinking the professional pols knew what they were doing. We now know the outcome.

          There is enormous risk with either course; the left and several decades of squishy Republicans have ensured that. My judgement is that having the moderate squishes in place is riskier and more of an obstacle to long term change than having the Democrats in their place.

          I am completely aware that the course I advocate could lead to disaster. I am equally aware that the course you advocate has been leading us to disaster as long as I’ve been alive. I refuse to give it any further consideration as an option, when it has yet to show that it can do anything other than slow the journey to meltdown.

          • “As I said earlier, your arguments are the exact same arguments we heard from pragmatic Specter supporters in 2004. The voters followed that advice, thinking the professional pols knew what they were doing. We now know the outcome.”

            ??

            You lost me on that one.  If GOPers in PA had dumped Spectre for Toomey in 2004 then… what?  Bush would have started the surge 2 years earlier, would have cut spending by half, and would have ended up a popular President?  Is that what you are arguing?

            BTW, I supported Toomey in 2004.  Obviously PA can vote for good conservatives like Santorum.  But that says nothing about Delaware.

          • You lost me on that one.  If GOPers in PA had dumped Spectre for Toomey in 2004 then… what?

            I don’t see what’s so mysterious here. If Toomey had been the candidate, either he would have won or he would have lost. I claim that either case is better in the long term than electing Specter.

            If he had won, we would have had one more limited government voice for six years. He would be helping build the small government reputation the GOP must have to get to fundamental change.

            If he had lost, we would be pretty much exactly where we are now on policy. Specter did nothing to advance the small government cause, and then bailed and gave the Democrats 60 senators at the time it hurt the Republicans the most. But supporting even a losing Toomey candidacy would mean the understanding of what the GOP really stands for would be clearer, and that would help the limited government cause in the present, when people are waking up to the problem of big government.

            I don’t know how much more clear I can make this. Electing squishes gains nothing, and causes long term damage! They don’t have any particular animus towards big government, so they don’t work against it, and sometimes work for it. But they spread the blame for big government onto both parties, causing cynicism in the base and allowing left-leaning media to make it look as if the only reasonable course is a “bipartisan” one. Which only works to help the left, because when it comes time to be “bipartisan” for any small government effort, today’s Democrats are never, ever anywhere to be found, whether they are in the majority or minority.

            We will not see fundamental change without clarity. Some party must stand for limited government, wholeheartedly and stubbornly. Until then, the forces arrayed in favor of big government are too powerful and too well funded to allow fundamental change. 

            Supporting squishes makes that clarity impossible. The minor short run advantages of having one more vote for a few minor matters does not make up for that.   

            {removed some stuff I left in by accident when I first posted the comment}

      • I wouldn’t, not when the 25% he doesn’t support consists of the things we absolutely must do to turn the tide of big government.

        Ralph Nader circa 2000 approves of this logic.  

        “As I said earlier, your arguments are the exact same arguments we heard from pragmatic Specter supporters in 2004. ”

        Except that:
        * the pre-primary polls had Toomey down just a few points in the general instead of a slaughter.
        * Toomey didn’t come with the excess baggage that O’Donnell does
        * Toomey had a record to run on while O’Donnell is the Conservative version of Obama:  no experience.

        • I’m really, really not getting my point across. Electing squishes is worse than useless. By every account I’ve seen, Castle is a squish.

          I did not vote for John McCain. (In fact, I did not cast a vote for president in 2008, for the first time since I became eligible to vote.) I did not support him. I believed, and still believe, that we would have been worse off in the long term had he been elected.

          Obama and his leftist friends have re-awakened limited government desires in the general voting population to an extent that surprised even me. I knew it was a risk to elect him, but I considered it the lower risk for the long term, and still do. Because they own the big government problem in the eyes of the public. And the big government problem becomes larger and more obvious with each passing month.

          O’Donnell doesn’t look like much of a candidate – that much is true. But the establishment GOP must go, or the few remaining ones must learn that politics as usual is over. Until that lesson is learned, it does not matter in the long term how many senators are elected.

          Supporting a Castle, no matter how much you are holding your nose, sends the lesson to the establishment Republicans that they have a chance to retain the standard DC insider way of doing things they have always done. As the Bush era proved, these guys don’t really see anything wrong with big government. That allows the left to paint them as co-owners of it, diffusing the blame for our problems, and making it completely muddy about who might solve them.

          They have to be get the message clearly that those days are over. They have to learn that they must embrace limited government. Otherwise, they are doing us no good. At best, they are delaying the inevitable, and by muddying the problems of big government they are making it harder to eventually recover when the real meltdown eventually strikes.

          They’ve already seen Bennett and Murkowski taken out. Now is the time to keep up the pressure until even their DC-insulated brains get it.

          I don’t care what the odds are of winning a prize I don’t want. Therefore any analysis of how likely it is to see Castle elected over an alternative is irrelevant to me.

  • Imagine for a moment that Republicans were 100% conservatives as Democrats are 100% liberal or progressive or what ever we’re calling them.Then when neither party had a significant majority,all negotiated compromises would end with a policy in the center. When the Republicans had a significant majority, then new policy would be right of center and, of course, new policy would be left of center when the Democrats had the majority.

    But the Republicans are not 100% conservatives. More like 75% or 80%. Therefore, when the Republicans have the majority, new policy at best ends up at the center. When neither side has a significant majority, new policy ends up left of center. And when the Democrats have the majority, new policy ends up much further to left than it would if the Republicans were 100% conservatives. This explains why, over the years, government policy has tilted so much to the left.

    So I agree with Billy Hollis. The RINO’s have to go!

  • OK yeah. This Republican primary boils down to the old argument about “form vs function”
    The old choice between an iPod that looks like a toilet, or an iPod that explodes.
    I’ll take none of the above.

  • Looks like O’Donnell won.
    Get behind her, or the FREAK out of the way.

  • “…may not be the ideal candidate…”
    May be the political understatement of the season.

    This is the direction you want the Tea Party to take us???

    And the intellectual case against O’Donnell is overwhelming. A précis for those who have avoided the Delaware drama: O’Donnell lied about attending a Master’s degree program at Princeton University; claimed that her political enemies are creeping in the bushes outside her house; is opposed to the sinister habit of masturbation; is a supporter of the “ex-gay” movement, despite the inconvenient revelation that her former staffer Wade Richards “returned” to homosexuality and denounced those peddling “cures” for his sexuality; filed a $6 million lawsuit against the conservative group ISI for “gender discrimination”; was denounced by her former campaign manager as a “fraud” who uses campaign donations to pay rent and utility bills; and has implied that her Republican opponent is gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that.


    Bravo, tea party.  Bravo.  Does “anybody but Castle” really have to be just anybody?
    And congratulations to Chris Coons for winning the lottery today.
    Jeebus.

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