Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's The Republican Ideology That's Killing The Republican Party... And Hurting American Families


The Republicans have a future?

Right-wing propagandist Ross Douthat seems mistrustful of the GOP's rising stars, Rubio, Jindal, Cruz and Cantor. "[P]oliticians, he writes, referring to the quartet of Tea Party darlings, "who talk up 'libertarian populism' or 'opportunity conservatism' or the 'Rawlsian lens' and then end by calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment, hard money and a flat tax aren’t actually reforming the Republican Party; they’re just wrapping losing ideas in slightly smarter rhetoric than poor Mitt Romney was ever able to come up with." Democrats, he continues, harshly, are offering policies that address real people's real problems. Republicans have no concrete ideas normal working families can relate to.

Yesterday Gene Lyons, a brilliant political observer, poked around in the smoldering wreck of the GOP to see what he could figure it out. And he sees hope for them-- really. But first some bad news (for them). He quoted former GOP staffer Michael Lofgren's post on his old party, "Scientology for Rednecks: What the GOP Has Become"-- to devastating effect: “As with many religions, political parties have a tendency to start as a movement, transform into a business, and finally degenerate into a racket designed to fleece the yokels. One organization which has gone out of its way to illustrate this evolution is the Republican Party... Compared to the current crop of congressional GOP freshmen and sophomores, even George W. Bush looks like Henry Cabot Lodge."

"Republicans," continues Lyons, "have allowed themselves to become the anti-science party, indebted to tycoon-funded 'think tanks' and in thrall to paranoid talk-radio ravers who encourage its dwindling voter base to see themselves as a 'martyr-like… persecuted remnant of Real Americans'.” And that's the root of the problem for the Republican Party. He agrees with Sam Tanenhaus that "conservatism Is dead" (or playing dead), "replaced by 'inverse Marxist' preaching backward-looking utopianism that promises a return to an America that never existed." No longer the party of Abraham Lincoln, now the party-- and proudly so, of John C, Calhoun. Is there hope?
Political parties rarely vanish altogether, and hardly ever over a single election cycle. So the demise of the Republicans as a national organization is probably exaggerated. At minimum, its strength across the old Confederacy and what Mencken called the “Cow States” should enable the GOP to keep Congress semi-paralyzed and the shrinking Fox News audience in a state of incipient hysteria even as it fights internal battles of surpassing nastiness.

...[T]here are signs that conservative thinkers are beginning to challenge moribund Republican orthodoxy. The water is moving under the ice. Heterodox opinions once limited to former GOP operatives like David Frum and Bruce Bartlett have started appearing all over.

Consider this shocking passage about tax rates by National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru in the New York Times:
When Reagan cut rates for everyone, the top tax rate was 70 percent and the income tax was the biggest tax most people paid. Now neither of those things is true: For most of the last decade the top rate has been 35 percent, and the payroll tax is larger than the income tax for most people. Yet Republicans have treated the income tax as the same impediment to economic growth and middle-class millstone that it was in Reagan’s day.
Ponnuru adds that GOP “tight-money” fundamentalism and scare talk about runaway inflation make absolutely no sense after five years of near-non-existent inflation. When it comes to fiscal matters, in short, Republicans are confronting today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions, substituting dogma for problem solving, and excommunicating heretics instead of encouraging independent thought. If Ponnuru can’t quite bring himself to agree with President Obama about the need for economic stimulus, at least he doesn’t sound like a parrot.
Grim? Well, yes... but. But there's is the gerrymandering and the election fraud and the money advantage and in 2014, Nate Silver makes it clear the Republicans have a more that reasonable chance to capture the Senate: "Twenty-one of the 35 seats up for election are now held by Democrats. Moreover, most the states that will be casting ballots for the Senate in 2014 are Republican leaning: 7 of the 21 Democratic-held seats are in states carried by the former Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, while just one of the Republican seats is in a state won by President Obama." And, despite a freak like Paul Broun (R-GA), the Democrats can't count on Republicans to nominate "subpar candidates" in all the races.

He identifies, in a very generic way, safe seats and likely seats and leaning seats for each party. The Democrats are safe in Rhode Island, New Mexico, Delaware, Hawaii, Virginia, Illinois, pretty safe in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota and New Hampshire with leans in Iowa, Alaska and Arkansas. Republicans, he posits, are safe in both the South Carolina seats, Texas, Nebraska, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma. Wyoming, Alabama and Idaho and likely to win Maine, West Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky and, their most plausible pick-up, West Virginia. That leaves 4 real toss-ups: Montana, North Carolina, Louisiana and South Dakota, with South Dakota being the most dire for the Democrats.

Silver has proven himself to be pretty good at this but he seems overly pessimistic about Democratic prospects in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon and Iowa. And he really seems ready to write-off Kentucky to Miss McConnell. His model shows a Senate with 50.4 Democrats and 49.6 Republicans.
However, the margin of error on the calculation is very high at this early stage. Keep in mind that in each of the last four cycles, one party (Democrats in 2006, 2008 and 2012; Republicans in 2010) won the vast majority of the competitive races. If Republicans swept all the “lean” and “tossup” races, they would gain a net of eight seats from Democrats, giving them a 53-to-47 majority in the 114th Congress. If Democrats swept instead, they would lose just one seat and would hold a 54-to-46 majority. Considering the uncertainty in the landscape, estimates from betting markets that Democrats have about a 63 percent chance of holding their majority appear to be roughly reasonable.

One last factor to consider is that as difficult as the Democratic Senate map looks in 2014, Republicans could face an equally challenging one in 2016. In that year, seven Republican-held seats will be up in states won by Mr. Obama in 2012, while no Democrats will face re-election in states won by Mr. Romney.

Thus, as ridiculous as it might seem to look so far ahead, the most important reverberations from the 2014 Senate races might not be felt until 2016 and beyond. Republicans will need to make considerable gains next year to open up the possibility of a Republican-controlled Congress after 2016. If Democrats hold their ground, conversely, it would provide for the outside possibility of their holding a filibuster-proof majority after 2016.
OK... but let's put ourselves out a little for the progressive Democrats in Minnesota (Al Franken), Oregon (Jeff Merkley) and Massachusetts (Ed Markey), where Silver isn't sure of a win. Please consider helping these three guys here.

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At 5:30 AM, Anonymous me said...

I have to agree with Nate Silver. As bad as the republican party is, the combination of their unlimited money and voters' unlimited stupidity creates a real opportunity for the gop to retake the Senate and the White House.

At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Ginger said...

I think any voter base who backs a politician who subscribes to the belief that 'the end time is nie' & is comfortable with voting that person (Michele Bachmann)into office, is pretty much doomed to ruination. However, while they may deserve what they vote for, does the rest of the country? We, as a saner based more pragmatic, thinking group must find a way of stopping this from going any further.


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