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The Republican Autopsy
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Interesting stuff. From a recently completed pre-election survey:
The decisive defeat Republicans suffered in Tuesday's election came because conservative voters decided the party had lost its way, not because the electorate has shifted to the left, according to Issue Autopsy '08, a survey of swing state voters in Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia commissioned by the American Issues Project, the group that accounted for the largest outside expenditures made to advocate conservative issues during this election cycle.
Some specifics:
The survey found that approximately 72 percent of those voters agreed that: "The Republican Party used to stand for keeping government spending under control, but not anymore." More than 75 percent of likely voters agreed with the statement: "When the Republican Party took control of Congress in 1994, they promised to reform government and clean up corruption in Washington, but they failed to live up to that promise."
This is the legacy of the Bush administration's expansion of both government and spending, aided and abetted by the rubber stamp Republican Congress. I'm not arguing that the Democrats are going to be any better, but then Democrats never claim to be small government types. What is being said here is that the Republicans basically betrayed their principles and the voters held them responsible.

The question, of course, is whether they'll learn something out of this.

Republican Congressman Jeff Flake hits the old nail on the head:
This is not to say that it will be an easy transition. Congressional Republicans picked up some unattractive habits over the years in an effort to hold on to power. Whether it was relying on the redistricting process to help us choose our constituents, using the appropriations process as an ATM or passing legislation — such as a generous prescription drug benefit and a bloated farm bill — to pacify individual constituencies, these habits and voting patterns will be hard to break.
The good news for Republicans is after all their yammering, whining and complaining, Democrats now have to govern. And it goes without saying, based on past history, that they will indeed present the Republicans an opportunity to get back in there in the very near future.
"Tuesday's elections were a shellacking that revealed the Republican brand is diluted to the point where the American people do not really know what the GOP stands for anymore," said Ed Martin, the organization's president. "The clear lesson from the American Issues Project survey is that while the United States remains a center-right country, voters no longer trust the Republican Party to represent those interests in Washington."
The question is will the Republicans figure that out and be ready to take advantage of the opportunity the Democrats are sure to present?
 
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Comments
Den Beste has a great post on all of this
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Congressional Republicans picked up some unattractive habits over the years in an effort to hold on to power.
Stop trying to hold onto power as individuals in seats, but as successions of individuals as proponents of ideals—adopt a plank of ending incumency and mandate that no one can serve a back-to-back term in any elected federal office, but that any number of terms may be served.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Anecdotally (read my lips, ANECDOTALLY), this sounds right to me. I know several Republicans who, basically, voted against Palin. She inspired a lot of Republicans, but the northeastern, socially centrist, fiscally relatively conservative, strong-defense Republicans I know didn’t like her one damn bit.

Aggressive, religious, red-meat, culture-war conservatism is a lot of fun for some of us, but a major turn-off to a lot of the voters we need to win a national election.

In office, Palin has been the kind of conservative that people like, but she has not learned to campaign that way. If she does, she’ll be another Reagan. Don’t focus on how bad your opponent is; focus on how great we are. That’s what Americans want to hear. We’re kinda goofy like that, but lovable, in a way. We want to hear an optimistic vision of America. We want it so badly we’ll even buy it from clowns who yap about "redistributive justice".

You don’t win with all Americans by throwing crap at the half who haven’t already decided to vote for you. If Obama had stuck with the bitter-gun-clinger rhetoric, it would’ve hurt him badly.

We should bear in mind that Obama’s record is as unpalatable to most Americans as Palin’s campaign persona — and he just got elected. He campaigns the way Palin governs. He governs (or legislates, really) the way Palin campaigns. To me, that sounds like a good reason to vote for her instead of him, but most people haven’t got enough attention span to look at the candidate’s record and compare it to the sales pitch.

If we can field a candidate with the record and the sales pitch, we’ve got a decent chance at winning.

Never mind what happened this year. If she gets it right next time, she’ll be forgiven. People vote based on the image they’re seeing in front of them on the television at the moment.

Palin could be a historic figure, or a hugely talented flameout.

All of this is painfully obvious in hindsight. Why the hell weren’t we saying it six weeks ago when it might’ve done some good? I mean, yeah, it’s great the Dems have enough rope to hang themselves, but they won’t let the rest of us hang separately.
 
Written By: Midget Launcher
URL: http://stfuretard.blogspot.com
McQ - The question is will the Republicans figure that out and be ready to take advantage of the opportunity the Democrats are sure to present?

No, for the principle reason that Republicans themselves are divided about what the party ought to stand for. The presence of a filthy dem (spit) in the White House AND a dem (spit) majority in Congress will unite MOST Republicans, but not all. Some, such as the RINO’s from the northeast, will find working with the dems (spit) perfectly congenial in many ways: they share the same sort of big government vision. A few others - moral cowards and opportunists - will go along to get along, providing the disgusting troika of The Annointed One, SanFran Nan, and Dingy Harry with some "bipartisan" window dressing for their socialist schemes in exchange for a few legislative bones and some appearances on "Meet the Press".

The rest of the GOP will spend time trying to blame each other for losing in ’08 and figuring out their place in the New Order until at least the ’12 elections. Then it’ll be a war between liberal and conservative wings of the party to see who gets the nomination and sets party policy. I’m betting on the liberal wing, people like McCain, Hagel, Graham, the Maine Girls, Spector, etc: they’ll get (as McCain did) the temporary support of the MSM as the "good" Republicans, and The Annointed One will run against McCain v2.0 in ’12. I just don’t see another Reagan coming down the pike any time soon.

We shall see.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Den Beste has a great post on all of this.
Absolutely. That’s Not the End of the World by Steven Den Beste.

The loss of Den Beste’s political and engineering blogging due to chronic illness is profound. His work after 9-11 was crucial for many of us to understand the new, dangerous world in which we live.

See his best entries.

 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Once upon a time...

Bush tried to buy the Left with hand-outs.

They still hated him.

And it cost the GOP in 2008.

The End.
 
Written By: ACORN
URL: http://
It is really simple, you stick to your principles of small, limited government. You make the case for greater individual rights and lower taxes, trade, and a healthy economy. And you don’t give away the store to big business, special interests, or political payoffs.

If you do those things then all that is necessary to win is for the other side to screw up. And they always do. These liberals will overreach and screw the pooch.

But the Republicans have to offer an alternative, and some credibility or they cannot capitalize on it.
 
Written By: kyleN
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
In these autopsies I see two things missing that I feel may have decided this election or played a major roll.

1) How dramatically Obama outspent McCain. I mean it was something like 2 or 3 to 1. I guess I’m sensitive to it be cause if the shoe was on the other foot, you’d heard nothing but whining about how Republicans bought the election.

2) The bailout and as important, the timing of the bailout. A worse thing couldn’t have happened for McCain’s campaign at a worse time. 4 weeks one way or the other an it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as important.

There is a long list of problems and many of the problems listed above discuss fundamental problems with McCain and the Republicans which are true. But these circumstantial issues did play a roll.

The one that concerns me is the campaign financing. The system is broken and will likely still be broken for the next Republican.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
"When the Republican Party took control of Congress in 1994, they promised to reform government and clean up corruption in Washington, but they failed to live up to that promise."

Absolutely true.

OTOH, the next couple years will probably see spending and earmark corruoption that will make us marvel we once called the GOP spendthrift and ethically challenged.
 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://deanesmay.com
I’m with jpm100 on campaign finance. Maybe the biggest mistake McCain’s campaign and the Republican party made was not jumping on the question of where was all of Obama’s money coming from and how.

If they had early on, they could have cast doubt upon the whole high moral appeal of the Obama campaign, reminded voters that Obama had betrayed a campaign promise before he even gained office, and cut off the questionable and illegal donations thereby reduced Obama’s huge financial advantage.

From a glass half-full vantage, it is amazing that McCain did as well as he did.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
My suggestion is to follow Obama’s concept of camouflage.

Run Palin on a limited government, economic platform.

But do the wink, wink, nod, nod on the social conservatism.

When asked by the press corps, have a strict policy of saying:

"Personal beliefs do not necessarily reflect how people govern, because we have to obey the law. For example, a muslim congressman may not wish to ban alcohol, no?"

Then they will bring up the church, associated pastors, etc.

"These are distractions. In a time when the economy needs serious reform, bringing up mere associations is not helpful."

It worked for Obama and we can of course point to his example for cover.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I know several Republicans who, basically, voted against Palin. She inspired a lot of Republicans, but the northeastern, socially centrist, fiscally relatively conservative, strong-defense Republicans I know didn’t like her one damn bit.
[...]
In office, Palin has been the kind of conservative that people like, but she has not learned to campaign that way.
She was cloistered; and I’d argue that this was one of McCain’s biggest mistakes. McCain’s brain trust blew it by trying to prepare Palin for facile interviews with legacy media types (yes, she faired poorly with Curic anyway.) Had they "unplugged" her, it is quite possible that the coastal elite narrative would not have taken hold. (Rabid anti-abortion fanatic/religious extremist.)

Which brings me to what I think is the largest impediment to a Republican reformation. The arrogance and condensation of the coastal elites. No, not their ideas, but the way they dismiss those with whom they disapprove. Sure Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, or Jim Dobson have all said things worthy of scorn, but to dismiss their millions of supporters because they don’t have the where-with-all to understand the intricacies of a Georgetown parlor conversation drew the internecine battle lines we see ripping apart our party today.

John McCain petulantly dissing the religious right in 2000 opened many sores. McCain/Feingold and gang of 14 were sold as beneficial, or right, for our political betters know what us bumpkins can not comprehend. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and all their supporters (Huckabee, Michael Medved etc.) their acrimony directed at those of us that realize immigrants are a good thing, but want a way to prevent many more illegals from gaining entrance (build a fence!) after we issue the next amnesty, did not serve any party unity good.

Treat us as the adults we are - tell us why you thing a policy is good, how much it will cost, and why that cost is justified. Don’t castigate us as racists because we disapprove of your plan to buy Hispanic votes by opening up the border. Don’t castigate us as sheeple because we talked with our sons and daughters and agreed to help them raise children from un-planned pregnancies - not everyone has a reputation (or secret) at Walt Whitman HS to uphold (or conceal).

I have always been struck by just how judgmental the oh-so tolerant coastal elites are, and how utterly contemptuous they can be towards those with whom they disapprove.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
The question is will the Republicans figure that out and be ready to take advantage of the opportunity the Democrats are sure to present?
It’s not really up to the Republicans. It would be nice if the Republicans reprioritized their core principals, but it really doesn’t matter. The same Republican party that is in apparent disarray today could make big gains in 2010 and take the White House in 2012. Or, if Democrats manage to do what the Republicans failed to do in 1994, make serious improvements in the way this country is governed, then a completely renovated Republican party with the best message ever, could still get hammered in ’10 and ’12.

Until Republicans win again, and show a period of governing responsibly (or successfully), whatever message they want to have will be irrelevant, they are going to be running against what people think of how things went between 2001 to 2009.

Democrats don’t even have to be great, they just have to not suck as bad as people perceive Republicans to have sucked during "The Bush Years".

I guarantee, every Republican running in two years is going to have an opponent asking voters, "Do you want to go back to the BUSH YEARS?"

The sad thing for me is that even if the Republican party does remake itself into something worthwhile (it’s not now, and hasn’t been for a while), it may be hard for them to win again, and the environment that would allow them to win again would mean that the Democrats will have to do an incredibly awful job, which puts Republicans in the position that they accused Democrats of for the last million years, wishing bad on the country for their personal gain.

What Republicans really should be hoping for is that they don’t win again, because they don’t need to. But I suggest they try and ready themselves to lead, just in case.



 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I have always been struck by just how judgmental the oh-so tolerant coastal elites are, and how utterly contemptuous they can be towards those with whom they disapprove.
There’s only two things I hate; Intolerance and The Dutch.

My opinion as to why the cultural elites despise religious conservatives, and vice-versa can be summed up in one word - certitude.

With all their fancy edumacation, one of the defining characteristics of the "culural elite" is that they don’t know. They have opinions, they have lots and lots of facts, and they may present a rhetorical certidude in their opinions and beliefs such that they are on occassion willing to give their opinions the force of law if they can, but they don’t KNOW, and they know they don’t KNOW. Religious conservatives, often lacking education, often lacking facts, are not bothered by these trivialities, because they KNOW. The religious conservatives despise the moral ambivelance that comes with the cultural elites refusal to KNOW, and the elites despise the zealous faith that religious conservatives have that what they believe reaches a higher qualification than faith or belief, but rather an incontrovertible KNOWN.

This is an unbridgeable gap, except when what religious conservatives KNOW happens to coincide with what a cultural elite believes. When this occurs, cultural elites get a new designation... Republican.

I am not trying to cast aspersions on faith, I admire it, and it serves many people very well. I just think that the politics of faith has been turned into a very ugly thing.



 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
KyleN said it better than I could. The small government landslide of 1994 morphed into "Dem Lite." ("Compassionate Conservative" in other words.)

I voted for McCain, with no enthusiasm whatsoever. He was, to me, not as bad as the other, but I can think of nothing he was for that I agree with except judges.

The country is conservative, not neoconservative or religious conservative. Had the Republicans acted that way, they’d still be in power. "Dem Lite" didn’t win. It’ll never win.
 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
if Democrats manage to do what the Republicans failed to do in 1994, make serious improvements in the way this country is governed,
No possible chance of that.
would mean that the Democrats will have to do an incredibly awful job,


I can see that happening. I see Carter-esque qualities of the new guy.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
There’s only two things I hate; Intolerance and The Dutch.
Your head must spin with that level of cognitive dissonance. :)
This is an unbridgeable gap, except when what religious conservatives KNOW happens to coincide with what a cultural elite believes. When this occurs, cultural elites get a new designation... Republican.
So evil is .... republican. Well, ok then
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
CaptinSarcastic,

An excellent analysis. Not entirely sure what you mean when you write, "I just think that the politics of faith has been turned into a very ugly thing." By whom? How?

I think that there is room on both sides for blame. Those of us who fall into the "faith" category can sometimes be overbearing about it because some things are so self-evidently and unmistakably "true" to us that we can’t see why other people can’t accept them*. On the other side, those who don’t "KNOW" often come across as querulous, cynical, pseudo-intellectual, indecisive, and often outright condescending.

There are two problems for EVERYBODY. The first is knowing where to draw the line when it comes to foisting one’s beliefs on other people; what’s right for me may not be right for thee. This is hard to do when something seems not only self-evidently "right" but also necessary for the health of the general society, whether it is allowing people guns to defend themselves or allowing women to murder their unborn children in the selfish interests of their own convenience. The second is being able to accept majority rule - even if it conflicts with one’s own core beliefs - and live life as well as possible under those conditions even while peacefully working to change (or even eliminate) disagreeable laws.

———

(*) Oddly enough, libs fall into the same category though they like to pose as "intellectuals". O’ course, many of the things that libs believe in, such as socialism, abortion, gun control, AGW, etc, are demonstrably false and even harmful; the lib "religion" in my view is akin therefore to a sort of death cult.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
"but they don’t KNOW, and they know they don’t KNOW. Religious conservatives, often lacking education, often lacking facts, are not bothered by these trivialities, because they KNOW"

And you KNOW this.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
And you KNOW this.
No, just my opinion.
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
No, just my opinion.
Along with your intolerance of the Dutch
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
CaptainSarcastic, in my edumacated immediate family of six, there are nine undergraduate degrees, and five post-graduate degrees (three from Harvard), with me as the exception all live on the coast (NY CT MD CA), and all KNOW that the religious right are hopeless idiots. Anecdotal, certainly, but their level of certitude blows away my bible thumping friends here in middle America.

The primal fallacy of all science is an unquestioned premise.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Along with your intolerance of the Dutch
You know that was a joke, right?

It’s a line from the Austin Powers movie, Goldmember...

Nigel Powers: All right Goldmember. Don’t play the laughing boy. There’s only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures and the Dutch.
but their level of certitude blows away my bible thumping friends here in middle America.
If pressed, your family members will acknowledge the potential for their beliefs to be wrong (or they need to get a refund), but if pressed, will your born-again friends acknowledge that they might be wrong about what they KNOW?

Look, it’s not rocket science, religion is about being certain without evidence, it’s just the way it is, and that’s fine. It only becomes less than desirable when people want to make laws based on what they know, when others do not know that same thing.

I need to add, it was rude for me to suggest this...
This is an unbridgeable gap, except when what religious conservatives KNOW happens to coincide with what a cultural elite believes. When this occurs, cultural elites get a new designation... Republican.


While it may be accurate, it is an error of omission, because when what religious liberals KNOW coincides with with the what the cultural elite believes, then the cultural elite will happily align themselves with said religious liberals.
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
You know that was a joke, right?

It’s a line from the Austin Powers movie, Goldmember...
Yes, I know.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
If pressed, your family members will acknowledge the potential for their beliefs to be wrong...
Missing the point. My mother KNOWS that human life does not begin at conception. Her defense of unrestricted abortion on demand is predicated upon this certitude. (It allows her to sidestep the inconsistancy present in her opposition to the death penalty.)
...but if pressed, will your born-again friends acknowledge that they might be wrong about what they KNOW?
A common misperception regarding communities of faith. They realize that it is their faith in God that seperates them from me (I do not believe in god). Yes they can concieve of a world without God, but they have faith that it is not. (Look at Mother Thersa’s posthumous relevations, and more importantly, note just who was astounded by that relevation - it was not communities of faith.)
Look, it’s not rocket science, religion is about being certain without evidence, it’s just the way it is, and that’s fine.
Again, you misunderstand. It is about faith. Religious communities understand this; it is those outside these communities that offer, with certitude, the opinion that members of faith-based communities are idiots.
It only becomes less than desirable when people want to make laws based on what they know, when others do not know that same thing.
You mean those who know that guns are bad and ought to be banned? Or those who know that trans-fat is bad and ought to be banned? Or those who know that tolerance is good and ought to be forced? Or those who know that education will be improved with only more money? Or those that know that the rich have necessarily attained wealth at the expense of the poor and ought to have that wealth stripped from them? Or those that know that humans cause global warming and draconian laws ought to be enacted to prevent AGW?
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
You mean those who know that guns are bad and ought to be banned? Or those who know that trans-fat is bad and ought to be banned? Or those who know that tolerance is good and ought to be forced? Or those who know that education will be improved with only more money? Or those that know that the rich have necessarily attained wealth at the expense of the poor and ought to have that wealth stripped from them? Or those that know that humans cause global warming and draconian laws ought to be enacted to prevent AGW?
You confuse certitude with point of view.

I might say that I know that supply-side economics has not worked, because I can point to empirical evidence that leads me to this conclusion. But intellectually, I recognize that this is nothing more than an (informed) opinion. Further, I recognize this as a relative opinion.

Can you say the same of people who know the earth is 6000 years old?

I know you’re trying, but there really is no debate here. Religious Faith, especially literalist religious faith, is a far different kind of KNOWING from the kind that simply uses words of certitude.
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I gotta say, capt, you represent precisely what I find objectionable within coastal elites. Over the several responses, you have expressed absolute certainty regarding how the faith-based communities view the world. You KNOW! That is the arrogance of which I speak. The condensation follows because I dare to oppose your learned proclamations.

 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I gotta say, capt, you represent precisely what I find objectionable within coastal elites.
I find it hilarious that because can’t make a rational case for your argument, you conclude that my OPINION is a matter of faith as unmoveable as an Evangelical’s faith in God. That’s just arrogance.

And yet, I am not on the East Coast, here I am, living a few miles away from James Dobson, with an OPINION that I gained from interaction with my Evangical friends. More to the point, the conclusion I shared is the result of discussions of this very subject with Evangelicals.

You see, while you are trying to argue that East Coast liberals have this unshakeable faith in elements of political ideology, one of the dividing factors between religious conservatives and the cultural elite is relativism versus absolutes. Who do you think believes in the absolutes and is frustrated with the lack of absolutes on the part of the other side of the gap?

I’l try and tell them that the liberals have absolutes too, but I don’t think they are going to buy it.

I could be wrong. You have done nothing to convince me that I am. Might you be wrong?
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Might you be wrong?
Yes, but then I am not the one expressing with certitude how faith-based communities think.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Yes, but then I am not the one expressing with certitude how faith-based communities think.
When I say it’s my opinion, which I have, repeatedly, and that your arguments have failed to sway my opinion, that’s not certitude on my part, that’s an arrogance regarding the quality of the argument on your part.

Let’s consider what we appear to agree on. ..

I think we agree that Christian Evangelists have an absolute belief in the truth of the Bible as they understand it.

And what we disagree on...

We disagree that ideological opinions held by liberals are held as absolutes, unyielding to any new information, facts, or outcomes.

I would acknowledge that some folks hold opinions too tightly, but that when it comes right down to it, even these opinions can be changed, and often are.

So you have failed to convince me that liberals hold opinions as absolutes, therefore my initial argument still stands. This does not mean my opinion cannot be changed, therefore it is not absolute.

 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I think we agree that Christian Evangelists have an absolute belief in the truth of the Bible as they understand it.
No, I would not be so presumptious to suggest that all Christian communities of faith believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

What is at question is just how they understand it. Whereas I will let them explain it, seems to me, you want to put words into their mouth.

Yes your argument still stands, wholly unpersuasive, authoritarian as it is. You are the one tucking communities of faith into convenient boxes, not I.

I have little faith that I could persuade you to see things differently, given your apparent dogmatic affliction. C’est la vie, many people mistakenly think their opinions are not inflexible.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://

 
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