RGA: Center vs. Right is the Wrong Debate

I just got back from the RGA conference in Miami. And though most of the learning and listening for me happened in sideline conversations, Tim Pawlenty put his finger on why the "traditionalists vs. modernizers" debate David Brooks is trying to foist on us is the wrong one. Pawlenty argues we need to return to our core principles and apply them to 21st century issues. This is essentially Newt's argument too. And 21st century issues doesn't just mean taxestaxestaxes. It means we need to be for broad, sweeping, dramatic free-market solutions to issues like health care and the environment that don't let us get painted as any less visionary or aggressive on those issues.

Let me lay down a few propositions here for discussion and debate.

For the foreseeable future, the GOP will continue to be the party of the Reaganite triumvirate of a strong national defense, free markets, and traditional values. Any effort to displace any part of the coalition will be met by fierce and automatic resistance. When Bush tried to transplant free markets with "buying good policy" on Medicare and education, the patient nearly died on the table from blood type mismatch. With the GOP in the minority, now is not a good time to be throwing parts of our coalition over the side -- but to keep everybody in the fold and add new people.

American elections are by and large not referendums on ideologies. They are contests of personality, optics, and performance in office. This goes the same for when they win or we win -- whether it's 1980, 1994, or 2006/2008. The Democrats did not have to change their ideology to win; they needed to change the charisma level of their standardbearer and needed an economic crisis and a prolonged unpopular war.

Because ideology doesn't matter in elections, and so much of politics depends on ephemeral characteristics like personality and who was in when the economy cycled south, the parties paradoxically have relatively wide latitude to govern ideologically without fear of public backlash once they get in. This is why cries of "socialism" were so ineffective during the campaign, and likewise why Bush got most of what he wanted in his early Presidency, even before 9/11. If Barack Obama is able to adopt far-left policies and make it look like he's making the trains run on time, the country will enter a new liberal era not by virtue of public opinion, but by acquiesence to what appears to be competent governance. In 1993-94, the Clintons tried to move the country to the left and looked incompetent in the process. It was the latter more than the former that opened a door for conservatives in 1994.

There is a relationship between ideology and competence in that ideological governance makes the other side fight harder, while middle of the road policies usually stymie effective opposition (but don't move the ball ideologically). This means that Mitch McConnell must obstruct to increase the likelihood of Obama being seen as ineffective or incompetent (independent of his ideology), but we have to lead with our positive alternatives to inoculate against the inevitable charge that the GOP is too negative.

What does this mean for the current party debate?

It means that the GOP will stick to its traditional principles, while distancing itself from examples of Bush's botched execution. It also means that modernization will happen in other, more useful contexts  -- be it in the aggressiveness with which we apply conservatism to a nontraditional issues, revamping how we use technology and modernizing our grassroots efforts, and most crucially, by fielding younger, more inspiring candidates who can transcend petty battles between the "so-cons" and the "fis-cons" by providing a better hope of winning elections and restoring both factions to power.

This is not the United Kingdom, where there is a center-left majority in the population and the party as currently constituted could not possibly have won. In an ideologically flexible America, the political tenor of the times will be determined by the respective positions of the two major parties. If the GOP moves to the center and Democrats stay the left, America will be a center-left country. If the GOP represents the right and Democrats the left, America will be in the center. But if we can continue representing the right, and goad the Democrats into the center, as happened in the '90s, America will be a center-right nation again.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)


"What if we had an election and nobody came"...

"The Democrats did not have to change their ideology to win; they needed to change the charisma level of their standardbearer and needed an economic crisis and a prolonged unpopular war."

Negative.   This election was determined by the Non-Voter.  ( LINK )  As was 11/7/06.   Had not one thing to do w/Sen. Obama's personality or "charisma".   It was the Stay-at-Home crowd of former GOP voters.  Or those former Repub voters that protest voted for some 3rd party candidate, etc that swayed this election.   The GOP is driving Middle American voters away.   In droves.   Lets not shift the blame here.  Its time to point the finger of blame.  And, yes,  -  directly at the responsible individuals within the GOP Hierarchy and those outsiders that are influencing them.  Mentioning names.  Its an unpleasant task but it has to be done.  The "Purge" must begin.   Let it begin here. 

To say that ideology doesn't matter in elections? Oh Patrick.  Its because of ideology, principles, values  that these millions stayed at home!  Or chose another option.   If you think that continuing to discuss  national defense, free mkts and family values is the correct course, I feel grief for you.  Reminds me of the string quartet that continued to play their hearts out on the sinking Titanic.  Darvin Dowdy 

OK, here's a specific platform/agenda along these lines


From Jack McHugh's Blog:


Wandering Wolverine urges getting realistic about welfare, being sincere about valid environmental concerns, and getting serious about educaton reform. I've fleshed those out that program with a distillation of some big ideas from some of our deep thinkers, and added one more powerful plank to those items.


On welfare, check out Charles Murray’s proposal to supercharge the charitable institutions of civil society,  ”A Plan to Replace the Welfare State: The government should give every American $10,000–and nothing more”:


“The chief defect of the welfare state . . . is not that it is ineffectual in making good on its promises (though it is), nor even that it often exacerbates the very problems it is supposed to solve (though it does). The welfare state is pernicious ultimately because it drains too much of the life from life. The solution is to put responsibility for our lives back in our hands–ours as individuals, ours as families, and ours as communities.”


Murray’s proposal also has a universal health care voucher that “socializes” the cost of basic health care but leaves it’s provision in private hands, contingent on a suite of free-market reforms that restore the proper incentives for health care consumers to economize and providers to innovate and become more efficient. Check that mega-issue off the list too.


On the environment, check out “McHugh Favors $10 Gas Tax? Eek!”:


“If you want to quickly reduce the use of fossil fuels, there is one and only one honest, transparent, effective and non-economically destructive way to do it: Gradually phase-in over many years a $5 or $10 per gallon carbon tax on all fossil fuels – like 50-cents per gallon increase per year – but with one minor condition: It must be revenue neutral, with corresponding supply-side tax cuts. That makes the proposal not economically destructive; it would raise the disincentive on socially and economically non-useful consumption of fossil fuels, and reduce the disincentive on the socially useful activities of working, studying, saving, investing, and taking risks. It’s classic Adam Smith stuff.”


On education Wolverine cites vouchers and school choice, and I will add this, also from Charles Murray: “For Most People, College Is a Waste of Time.”


“Outside a handful of majors — engineering and some of the sciences — a bachelor’s degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance. The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people . . . need a certification, not a degree.”


Richard Vedder has noted that a certification from Microsoft is more valuable than a BA. I’ve said before that the current U’s can’t be reformed, they must be made irrelevant. This is how to do it.


Finally, on the broader issue of political reform and restoring our limited government democracy, check out my “Us vs. Them: The People and the Political Class.”:


“The fundamental problem facing our nation is that true representative government has been supplanted by an inbred, self-serving, self-perpetuating political/government class that does not represent the people. As a result, the government has escaped the control of the people. . . Those who would restore representative government must raise the public’s consciousness regarding this fundamental but little understood divide: The people vs. the political/government class.”


There you have a lively program of renewal that strikes at the root of core problems, gets beyond tired old debates and culture wars, and has the capacity to inspire and capture the public’s imagination. Even if they don’t buy it all people will apprectiate the creative and hopeful vision embodied in these proposals.


PS. These ideas are not original to me. I cited Murray for two, the others carbon tax and political class are my distillations of the thoughts of, as I said, some of our movement’s deep thinkers (on the latter one who prefers a low profile).


Health Care Plan idiotic

more than 5% of our GDP goes to denying people care.

This does nothing to solve that.

Plz find fix, don't care if it is conservative or not.

Cries of Socialism Worked

"This is why cries of 'socialism' were so ineffective during the campaign."

Actually, when conservatives cried "socialism" after Bush proposed (and McCain supported) nationalization of the financial industry, and again when McCain proposed having the federal government renegotate everyone's mortgage, it worked pretty well to doom McCain's campaign.

Of course, when McCain cried "socialism" about Obama, it just made him look like a hypocrite.



We are not going to win personality battles with Barack Obama. Therefore we need to link his ideas with his deficiencies.

A reason why Patrick Ruffini Should be the new Chair of the RNC

The argument advanced in this blog is another example of why Patrick Ruffini should be the next Chairman of the RNC. He's obviously NOT a brain dead Luddite.


Its time to point the finger of blame.  And, yes,  -  directly at the responsible individuals within the GOP Hierarchy and those outsiders that are influencing them.  Mentioning names.  Its an unpleasant task but it has to be done.  The "Purge" must begin.   Let it begin here. 

Who exactly are we purging, Darvin?

The Purge - Puncheko, lets start with...

...all of the situations, especially since 1/20/05, where the GOP opposed the Base.  Harriet Miers, Dubai Ports.  And then there's the  BIG 800 lb Gorilla in the room - the Illegal Immigration/Southern Border related issues which have not, in any way diminished in importance, despite what some think. This issue alone (& its many facets) is what drove the bulk of Non-Votes on both 11/7/06 & 11/4/08.

Behind each of these issues, especially the latter, there have been influential people within and outside of the party that have sought to influence the process against the Base and pro their particular agenda.  And the good of the Nation be damned!  Unfortunately the President listened to them rather than the Base.   The way-over-rated K. Rove has done a massive amount of damage to our Party. Now he's over at Fox living the good life.    Let me give you another example; Thomas Donohue, US Chamber and, in my opinion, an agent of the Mexican govt, (or I think he should be classified as such).  A "hater" of sovereign borders.   Some other names that come to mind, Tamar Jacoby, Grover NorquistJack Kemp.  All have fought hard against the Base to keep the southern border open, porous and the cheap labor flowing northward.  There's another nice list available, too;  any Republican who voted "for" McCain/Kennedy =  not trusted by these estranged GOP voters and never will be.  You want names, Puncheko?  Get that list together.  And there are many others. Who? ______fill in the blanks, please.

Fortunately the 2 chief culprits, Pres. Bush and John McCain are now completely irrelevant and are no longer an obstruction. 

Let me make one thing very clear, Puncheko.  The War in Iraq or the GWOT is not what is driving the conservative Base away from the Republican Party.   The War is not the reason for our GOP losses on 11/7/06 or 11/04/08.   So lets not go there and anyone who tries to shift the blame off onto the GWOT should automatically go onto "My Purge List".  Ha!  Nothing more than a diversionary tactic.   

The Battle is "now" & it is not with the democrats.  It is for Control of the GOP. We have so little time.   My opinion. Darvin Dowdy


You just hit the nail on the head.  Of course, the "reform minded" RINOs in the party don't want to hear that.

Not the Wrong Debate, if Debated Correctly


As the author of a center-right blog this topic is of deep concern to me, and I feel you may be misrepresenting the aurgument to a certain degree. As a centrist republican I believe in strong national defense, free markets, and traditional values. In fact I will be crossposting and article today on why the auto bail out is a horrific idea. However, I also hold some strong views about other issues that tend to be viewed as centrist: envirnomental policy, educational reform, alternative energy and immigratiopn reform. While I believe these issues can certainly be dealt with in a conservative way, I think we need to be working with the left to achieve progress here and thus the term centrist.

David Brooks has a point in his argument, though perhaps he goes to far. It is not so much traditionalist against modernizers, as it is people who are center right looking for a home for their issues. Most , myself included, feel more at home in the Republican party, even if I don't agree with every position it takes. I think most would be happy with a seat at the table in order to work with traditionalist to find conservative solutions to 21st century issues.

On a side note....JackinMichigan....I totally agree with that Charles Murray article on bachelor degrees vs certifications. As an educator myself I see a lot of value in at least pursuing that idea.

Can free markets, low taxes, and small govt solve our problems?

Two thirds of Reaganite triumvirate (strong national defense and traditional values) are much less improtant to voters that economic issues- jobs, energy, healthcare, stagnent or declining wages, retirement security, education etc.  Voters are rightly skeptical about republican free market approach to these challenges.

The debate in Washington will be over how much to increase spending. Many voices on the left such as Krugman, are advocating for large spending bills to stimulate the economy. Gop will have ample opportunity to reclaim the mantle of fiscal conservatism. Healthcare, energy, jobs, education-how bold will Obama administration and dem controlled congress be in  funding programs with major increases in the deficit.   Will GOP offer anything other than no votes and senate obstruction on spending bills?

It looks to me that Pawlenty is emerging as a national leader with some ideas for getting the GOP back on track.  Should be interesting at state as well as national level as a large deficit is looming over MN this coming year.  Because states have to develop balanced budgets,  T.  Paw will be ready to head  to Iowa in a couple of years with good fiscal conservative credentials.

On social issues I agree with EJ Dionne that Obama and dem congress should put some energy  into proposals for reducing the number of abortions and claim the middle ground on this divisive issue, although there probably isn't much common ground with some religious conservatives.

       "........Abortions did become rarer during Clinton's time in office, dropping by 11 percent. But since Clinton made no major public moves on abortion reduction, many pro-lifers who had been inclined his way felt he ignored the third word in his motto. There's no reason for Obama to make the same mistake -- and no reason for advocates of abortion rights to get in the way of his trying to build a new consensus. He should not lose his chance to make cultural warfare a quaint relic of the past. "




There's a lot of theory

There's a lot of theory this/that going on.  Theory is fine but here's the important question:  If we win the presidency in 2012 or 2016, what is it specifically that we want to do?  The American people have to know what it is that we stand for (and what we don't stand for).  Same question with each branch of Congress in the respective election years. 

Let me propose that fiscal conservativism as a soundbite is not good enough.  The American people look at the number of digits in the budget deficit and in the national debt, and they don't like it.  They understand why billions, hundreds of billions, are being thrown at this and that company right now, but they want leadership that will pay _down_ this country's debts and eliminate that deficit altogether.

Personality, optics, and performance.

It sounds like our presidential elections are nothing more than a very big nation-wide commercial. Is this how you would expect a sophisticated democracy like ours to be choosing its leaders?

We have just witnessed one of the greatest Congressional and Executive malfeasance in our nation's history with no one left accountable except the taxpayer, and all the taxpayer can look to to insure this type of thing never happens again is another commerical put on by the political elite in two years, and two years after that.

I hate to say it again, but I don't think our political system is accurately representing the political aspirations of its participants. If we could focus our rebuilding efforts to have the political parties more accurately represent their members needs, we could actually address  some of these failures. We need to strengthen the voice of the membership within our political parties so these political parties can work more for the common good of all instead of the self-interest of its leadership.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY we now have a tool that can actually empower the people in a democracy. All we have to do is step up to the plate, like other Americans before us have done when the nation was at risk, with the courage, willingness and determination to use it for the common good of all.

ex animo



We have just witnessed one of

We have just witnessed one of the greatest Congressional and Executive malfeasance in our nation's history with no one left accountable except the taxpayer

What specific malfeasances are you referring to, the bailout, the toture, the domestic spying, the war in Iraq, Katrina? The Republicans lost the past two cycles because they failed on a basic competency level. And I would argue this is because they tried to solve problems in a 'Conservative' way rather than simply being pragmatic. To illustrate the point, by 2004, it was clear that our strategy in Iraq had gone way off course. This is true whether one was for or against the war. Why did it take another two years and a congressional realignmnet for this to be corretted? Would there have even been a surge had it not been for Republican losses in '06? What would Iraq look like now if the Dems had not taken over the house and senate? It seems the Republicans put ideology above comptence when it should have been a given that many of the situations listed are about competency first and foremost.

I hate to say it again, but I don't think our political system is accurately representing the political aspirations of its participants.

In a nation of 300 million+, how can a two party system ever begin to accurately reflect its citizens' aspirations? Both parties are looking for ideological purity, when given the scope of the population of the country, is simply impossible. Dems and Repubs contain too many uneasy alliences. The social-con and fiscal-con would do much better if they existed as seperate entities that came together to form alliences when needed. When you have two extremes wrestling for the heart and soul of the party, disaster ensues. And both parties suffer from this reality.  The libertarian wings of each party are the ones that are really growing because it is this area where ideas can become more adaptable and dynamic. Just my 2 cents.

You are right, of course.

In a nation of 300 million+, how can a two party system ever begin to accurately reflect its citizens' aspirations?

 Please forgive me for harboring another opinion other than yours. What was I thinking? It was silly of me to even think in a nation of 300 million, anyone could have any other opinion other than your own.

However, I do hope you will do me the singular honor of at least reading some of my posts addressing exactly how we, as a nation of over 300 million, and growing, can, in fact, have political parties that do more nearly represent the political aspirations of their members, and in so doing, work more closely for the common good of all. 

ex animo






Re: Darvin

I agree with you 110%, Darvin. Flush the rats out!



...I go into a little more detail on some of these folks here:  ( link ) - if you have time. DD

Be ever for broad, sweeping, dramatic free-market solutions!!!

"... we need to be for broad, sweeping, dramatic free-market solutions ...."

Few are likely to quarrel with the honourable and gallant neocomrade when he describes the present aporia of the militant extremist Republican Party like that.  Yet bear in mind that P. Ruffini is discussin’ only Step One of the Recovery Process.  In addition to bein’ in favor of BSDF-MS, the GOP geniuses, at least, though not necessarily their base-and-vile, will undoubtedly require to know what these BSDF-MS substantially are. [*]

There are a great many additional sentences after the one which the present keyboard has singled out, but they contain scarcely a trace of substantive isness.   And, puzzlin’ly, Neocomrade P. Ruffini comes close to contradictin’ his own sentence, or appears to:

" . . .  [K]eep everybody in the fold and add new people[!]  American elections are by and large not referendums on ideologies.  They are contests of personality, optics, and performance in office . . . ideology doesn't matter in elections"

PO&PiO sounds plausible too, possibly even more plausible than BSDF-MS sounds, but it definitely does not sound like merely another name for the same strategy and tactics.   Still, along with PO&PiO comes some concrete:

"Mitch McConnell must obstruct to increase the likelihood of Obama being seen as ineffective or incompetent (independent of his ideology) . . . "

That bit is clear and distinct enough to be getting on with, though possibly the neocomrades should not say such things out loud in e-places where they might be overheard and their remarks subsequently used against them along the lines of "Aha! They have admitted that they are just plain 'obstructin’' ! "

To phrase the same issue more neutrally, will not Neocomrade Senator M. McConnell have certain "being seen" difficulties of his own?   An imaginer might rather easily imagine "ineffective or incompetent" colliding with ‘obstruct[ionist]’ much like the proverbial irresistible force and immovable object.  P. Ruffini’s particular wordin’s make the BHO Administration sound a bit like a clash of two immovable objects, which will, I daresay, be why he concluded the quoted sentence as follows:

". . .  but we have to lead with our positive alternatives to inoculate against the inevitable charge that the GOP is too negative."

This keyboard is uncertain how to take that clause.  "Lead with" is presumably drawn from the jargon of contract bridge, so it may be pertinent to recall that the first card on the table often fails to take the trick.  Does the neocomrade suppose that his Party will mostly talk about its (real, or ‘aspirational’, or entirely imaginary) "positive alternatives" but in fact deploy sheer obstruction as its ace of trumps?

"Look, Ma, we’re a pitiful, helpless minority, so you can’t expect poor us to actually DO anythin’ before you have helped us get rid of . . . [expletive deleted] . . . !"

’Tis not positively a bad paradigm for agitprop, and perhaps it suits ‘conservative’ agitprop particularly well, and yet it is hardly guaranteed to be effective.  Should the GOP geniuses decide to run with it, they ought to monitor the vital signs of the Holy Homeland continuously, for if everythin’ economic goes to Hell in a handbasket,  the Party of Big Management will need to prescribe a different panacæa with more activist ingredients.  (No harm in them havin’ a flask of Preparation B in their back pocket just in case – that’s just more plain good bigmanagment, innit?)

Again rephrasing a tad less polemically, I think the "talk big and obstruct ferociously" plan, whether or not it is actually the plan of Neocomrade P. Ruffini, tacitly assumes that the consequences and sequellæ of the Crawford Crash will be neither extremely severe nor very long protracted.  If Televisionland and the electorate ever thoroughly get into a "Don’t just sit there, do something!" frame of mind, BHO will threaten at once to acquire all the unfair psychological advantages that Palæocomrade POTUS H. Hoover once inadvertently allowed the fiend FDR to grab. [**]

P. Ruffini’s bottom line is quibbleworthy stylistically:

If the GOP moves to the center and Democrats stay [on] the left, America will be a center-left country.  If the GOP represents the right and Democrats the left, America will be in the center.  But if we can continue representing the right, and goad the Democrats into the center, as happened in the '90s, America will be a center-right nation again.

St. George Orwell once mocked that sort of drool with "The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song."   Comrades and neocomrades who manage to get their allegorice painted into a pretzel where one can ‘goad’ somethin’ towards oneself are not, he thought, likely to be payin’ a whole lot of attention to their literaliter either. [***]

Happy days.

[*]  As usual, a really determined nit-picker could find a chink in the sophistical armour.   "But how about M. Barák von Husáyn-Obáma?", might Cousin Nitty pick: "Did not he just get away with offering Televisionland and the electorate broadness plus sweep plus drama -- plus Psocialism, maybe, psorta -- plus ‘solutions’ – yet all of it pretty much sans details?

[**] "Life is unfair" – naturally if Lord Mammon’s Juggernaut is swiftly repaired and begins to look juggical again after only a few months of Crawford Crash, Televisionland and the electorate might easily be deluded into giving BHO & Co. a certain amount of credit for the recovery, regardless of anybody’s true deserts.  Accordingly, I think militant extremist Big Management probably ought to carry a flask of Preparation C in its other hip pocket, just in case luck should have it that Providence deviates in that direction.

Pious AEIdeologues rule out the possible of Her ever deviatin’ any other way, so plainly Neocomrade P. Ruffini is no pious AEIdeologue.  If he were, he would never dream of attachin’ any importance to what some mere hack pol like M. McConnell may say or do or propose or obstruct.

What AEI-approved pols ought to say is of course "Lord Mammon will heal Himself in a jiffy, ladies and gentlemen; kindly be patient for a few moments and try not to think any dark Psocialistical thoughts, please."   But it is scarcely necessary, in the AEIdeology,  that Big Management Party pols and hacks actually recite that mantra, or anythin’ else either.  Absolute Free Trade™ (a.k.a der Finanzkapitalismus)  is an immensely powerful system, a System-To-End-History-With, even, and thus verbal incantations by hostile witch doctors and by well-meanin’ Kentucky colonels are alike supererogatory.   If Psocialism still exists at all, and if it still retains any malicious animal magnetism, the degree of it must be very slight and in practice negligible.

For some reason that this keyboard fails to grasp entirely, not even the Wall Street Jingo goes 100.0% whole-hog for Lord Mammon, to proclaim  "Fear not, ye neocomrades!  Free Enterprise is so extremely omnipotent that it simply does not matter a whit what B. Husáyn and the Democrat Party decide to do."

(( Could it be that some of the Homeland’s private-sectorian bigmanagers are, in effect, malingerin’ – pretendin’ to be sick when in fact they are perfectly healthy --- and also on the lookout for a bailout?   A low suspicion!   But God knows best!  ))

[***]     "By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.  This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash -- as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot -- it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking."

Saying that debates between

moderate and conservative camps (aka fiscons and socons) are "petty" is not a good way to address the topic. You're just trying to define out the moderate wing of the Republican Party by attributing the modernization of the party to the means, not the actual ideas.

the clash between the libertarian fiscons and conservative socons is real. Gay marriage is a real issue to people. Abortion is a real issue for people. I know people who voted for McCain just because he was pro-life. I'm a fiscon who voted against John McCain in this election cycle because I saw his pick of Sarah Palin to be merely pandering to the socon base, when there were dozens of other candidates (Pawlenty, Romney, Ridge, etc) who were not half as stupid as Palin but couldnt rally the base in the same manner. I think his pick of Palin is what may have energized the base at first, but eventually killed his campaign. However, that is a seperate debate.

Polls done have already shown that there was no massive voter surge for Obama. It was that independents and moderate Republicans voted Democrat instead, including myself. If socons continue to maintain that fiscon and libertarian concerns about social issues are irrelevent to the party platform, Democrats will indeed become the big-tent party for the next generation.

Look at the candidates they fielded. Democratic blue dog conservatives in the South, and democratic fiscal conservatives in the west. Republicans shot down pro-choice Heather Wilson and moderate Tom Davis in NM and VA, respecively. Republicans won't win national races unless they become more pragmatic in who they field as candidates.

If socons continue to

If socons continue to maintain that fiscon and libertarian concerns about social issues are irrelevent to the party platform, Democrats will indeed become the big-tent party for the next generation.

Isn't the opposite also true?  If the socons concerns are made irrelevent to the party platform, they will leave in droves (and presumably start their own party.)

Having a social platform is important.  Having one that keeps to Republican principles is difficult.

I've always been a live and let live Republican.  I want the government out of my life as much as possible.  As a Christian I also think that the government shouldn't be mandating religious choices on myself, or anyone else.

I would probably come close to the mythical, fiscal conservative/social liberal voter.  However, I mean liberal in the classic sense.  I think we could and should do more socially and culturally through our communities then through the government.

The opposite could be true

but not necessarily true. Where are socons going to go? To the New England snotty rich Democrats?

The social values that the Republican Party adheres to don't really speak to your "live and let live" values. I would say youre "government should not be mandating religious choices" on yourself philosophy doesn't really speak to the Republican Party platform. Pledge in classrooms? Gay Marriage? Abortion?

The Republican Party needs to choose between social libertarians or socons. The party is going to maintain the socons in the present time because of the socon strength in the Republican Party infrastructure. However, when my generation comes to power (im 19, so when we start having kids), the Republican Party will have to do something about its social views, or else it will be the permanent minority party.

I do think it's consistent

I do think it's consistent with the stated principles though.

I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

MY freedom ain't honored by your disreputable party

PRO-life is anti-choice.

There are moral arguements for infanticide, and I consider that a country that forces me to carry a parasite for eight months is not doing my freedoms much good.


Those principles are about as substantive as Obama's "hope" platform.


"I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored."

Now does "each person's dignity" in response to a woman's right to her own body, or in response to every person's, born or unborn, right to live?

The platform means nothing. It's the actual policies that contain the inherent ideology of the party.


The way to win is to do more of what you have been doing, but this time not argue about it?  Ideology and policy don't matter, because people don't connect the results to the policies, or the policies to the ideologies?  It's merely bad luck that the GOP was saddled with the blame for an unpopular war and a fiscal collapse?  The way to win is to be as obstructionist as possible, keep anyone from fixing anything until the public turns back to you out of a desperate desire to get something done?  What you need is the right candidate, someone who doesn't scare middle america with their erratic behavior, and a new set of "wedge issues"?

Okay, set aside for a minute the completely self-centered, power-hungry, reality-denying, elitist, and amoral foundation that is built on.  You actually think that will *work*? 

In case you haven't noticed, you didn't actually lose that many votes this cycle compared to last, in VA McCain got 10,000 more votes than Bush did in 04, and still lost.  In CO, he got 19K more than Bush did, and still lost.  In NC, he got 170K more votes than Bush, and still lost.  In Florida, he got 40K more, and lost.  In MO, he got only 10K fewer votes than Bush (so far), but if he wins it will be by 4 digits at most where Bush won by nearly 200K.  The list goes on, the point is that this was not just a matter of failing to turn out the base, the only state you can point to and say that swung it is Ohio, and that was probably more from having to spread your ground game so thin instead of concentrating it there like you did in 2004.

So you need a lot more than just finding a way to get the base to turn out, you need a way to get these newly active Dem voters to either switch back, or not vote. And you've got a serious map problem, because even with the coming EV shift from blue to red states, Obama's base map, states he won by 8 points or more, is 271 electoral votes (after taking away 7 for redistricting).  IA, CO, NM, NV, these are now definitely "blue" states, so you've got to move the line across the board by 8 points just to reach *even* in the electoral college.

And you think the way to do that is by blocking and sabotaging Obama for 2 years, hopefully not losing any more Senate seats then (you're defending 22, 10 of which are contestable, while the Democrats are down to what was so strong you couldn't touch it in 2004, and don't really have any contestable seats), then doing it for 2 more?

Win by insuring America loses

"This means that Mitch McConnell must obstruct to increase the likelihood of Obama being seen as ineffective or incompetent "


What are our goals here, to get someone with an R in front of their name in office, or to reach the goals for America that both liberals and conservatives aspire to?

People who think and act with the tunnel-vision shown by the statement above are killing this country, on both sides of the aisle.

Political parties think their members can govern best, I get that, but when they lose, they have a choice to make. They can choose to give the winners an opportunity to advance towards the goals that all Americans aspire to, and if they fail, be there with a message and a plan to do a better job. Or, they can choose to actively cause the winners to fail, and then be there with a message and a plan to do a better job.

The second option, which is obviously the direction the author prefers, insures only one thing, a greater chance of failure for the American people. And then, when the opposition takes power, what do you expect the new minority power to do, play nice and give you a chance to succeed?

We have gotten horribly offtrack in this country, with people like this who actually influence strategic and tactical movement among the highest placed decision makers in the parties, actively attempting to insure perpetual failure.

I could give a history lesson describing how we got to a place where partisanship so heavily outweighs patriotism, and there are no innocents, except for the American people, who deserve much, much better.

I have not voted for a winner in a Presidential election since Reagan, but each time the other guy won, I said a prayer, wished them Godspeed, and hoped they did a better job than I expected. I have been pleasantly surprised, and I have been horribly disappointed, but never, ever, upon the arrival of a new President did I even consider how I might benefit from their failure.

GWB's election, contested as it was, and on the heels of the witch hunt that plagued the Clinton administration, was a perfect storm for immediate, harsh, and unwarranted criticism of the then newly elected President Bush. His term was shaping up to be a partisan hackfest, and then something happened, something horrible, but also potentially transformational; 9/11/2001. Bush's approval ratings rocketed to 92% among Americans, and partisan bickering, for a moment, evaporated. At that moment in time, GWB had the ability to turn a page in history, and erase the vicious partisanship that had enveloped government. Instead, he chose to use his popularity to advance a strictly partisan agenda. One may try to argue this point, but the proof is in the numbers. Bush had the American people, and though his approval was certain to drop from those precipitous highs, you can't blame partisanship, the media, or world events for his eventual fall to historically low approval ratings, these can only be attrbuted to the decisions he made, and the fact that he made these decisions by pushing them through, not by working with Congress in anything remotely resembling a bipartisan fashion.

So here we are again, with a President-elect enjoying very high approval, and a promise to work across the aisle to advance the goals of our nation. He might fail, and if he does, I hope a strong and competent Republican Party is there to do a better job. But to attempt to force failure is, well, counterproductive is the nicest way to say it (there are some other adjecteives that begin with un- and anti- that I refrain from using), and in fact are actively working against our country in favor of political party first.

if the Republican party wants a cohesive patriotic message that will bring it back into power without a guarantee of retaliatory partisan obstruction, here it is:

We congratulate the Democrats, and wish them the greatest success, because having a majority in government is far less important that having a government that works to advance the interests if the American people. We will strive to work together with Democrats, and when we think the majority party is making a mistake, we won't put all of our resources into blocking their plans, but rather will try and convince the Democrats how we think they can best accomplish the goals, and work together to hammer out policy that works for the American people. And if in the end, it makes the Democrats look good, and they maintain a majority, so be it. We will be content to be the minority as long as the interests of the American people are served. And if the Democrats choose to ignore our input, and if the policies of the Democrats fail, the Republican party will be developing plans to set our nation on the right track. This time in our history is far too critical for political gamesmanship, and though we may disagree with some of the principals and ideology of the Demcoratic party, they have won this election, and they deserve to have our full support and positive input, as we all try to accomplish the goals that must be accomplished in the near term, in order for our nation to be a viable competitor in the global economy for the next century.

Are we going to big men, or small men?



After 8 years of watching

After 8 years of watching Democrats being obstructionist, it is a natural impulse to say, we should be just like them.

So, now that the Democrats are going to be in power they're telling us, work with us or else.

Where both the goal and the method for acheiving it are compatible with Republican philospohy, sure, we should work with Obama, and the Democrats.  And where they conflict, we should oppose them staunchly.  We shouldn't oppose them reflexively, but we should cooperate with them to try and be popular.

Republicans can win elections by getting back to their roots, and actually acting on Republican principles.