Monday, October 18, 2010

Republicans Have Everything Going For Them

Well at least three things. Says E.J. Dionne.

1. Flexible Platform

At the first level are the party's candidates, who can be as reasonable or as angry, as moderate or as conservative, as their circumstances require.
You mean the Republicans are not a Borg? I dunno. That sounds like a pretty good feature to me. A range of ideas and candidates get tested.

2. Lots Of Money
Next come the outside groups that refuse to disclose their donor lists. They are doing the dirty work of pounding their Democratic opponents in commercials for which no one is accountable. The Republican candidates can shrug an innocent, "Who, me?" Deniability is a wonderful thing.
This may be true. But Mr. Dionne should look up election law. The law Democrats once championed. Outside groups can't co-ordinate with candidates or parties. And as for anonymous money in campaigns? It is a tradition since the founding. Something about free speech without retaliation or something.

3. Turn Out
And then on the far right, Glenn Beck and his allies cast President Obama as the central figure in a conspiracy against America itself, fueling participation by the most extreme 10 percent or 15 percent of the electorate.
A LOT of people who normally wouldn't bother with elections are coming to this one? You betcha. And so totally unfair. Heh.

Plus. E.J. is getting smarter. Much smarter. He has figured out who is behind this nefarious plot that claims to want smaller government and lower taxes. And it is a block buster. The John Birch Society. No really. I can quote him:
Their crackpot ideas, as the historian Sean Wilentz documented in The New Yorker recently, originated in the 1950s and '60s, in the paranoid theorizing of the John Birch Society. But whereas responsible conservatives such as William F. Buckley Jr. denounced the Birchers and the rest of the lunatic fringe back then, Republicans this time are riding the radical wave. In some cases (think Sharron Angle in Nevada), the extremists are their standard-bearers.
Run for your life E.J. the lunatics who want smaller government, lower taxes, and adherence to Constitutional limits on the scope of Government (where was that drug prohibition amendment again?) are coming to gettcha.

I could let him say more but he already looks foolish enough. Instead let me turn a little attention to Tim Rutten.
Though the actual voting is still 17 days [TEA minus 15 and counting as of today. - ed] away, it seems clear that this midterm election cycle will be defined by a surprising presence and a remarkable absence.

The presence, of course, is the "tea party," and what's absent are the social issues that so bitterly divided the electorate in recent campaigns. Demography and evolving public opinion are well on the way to making an electoral dead letter of same-sex marriage, which played a pivotal role in the 2004 presidential campaign. Despite the best efforts of Democratic candidates like Barbara Boxer to rally their base around protecting access to abortion, most voters' attention is fixed firmly on their ability to feed and clothe the children they already have. The Roberts court's declaration that the 2nd Amendment confers individual rights was an unintended gift to the Democrats because it essentially took gun control off the table.
Damn. The right refuses to have a serious internal war. Oh. There is some sniping. I have engaged in it some myself. But the all out - take no prisoners - action of the past is over - for now. Reminds me of when the capitalists and communists united to defeat the Germans (Godwin prevents me from saying more). It really sucks when your enemies unite against you.

See. I have discussed the abortion question. And my opinion is that other than regulation the Federal government for sure should not be involved. That Constitution thing all us crazies want followed. So we all agree on that. That it is a States Rights issue. So that takes a lot of the fever on both sides off the table. Now personally I think any states which enacted such laws would find them unenforceable. i.e. a lot of expense for not much result, kinda like the drug laws. But that is just me. And where exactly did the Feds get drugged on such power? They needed an amendment for alcohol.

OK. Tim (he is not Tiny) is just getting warmed up. And say. This is looking like he cribbed from the same notes E.J. Dionne got. Or he (or could it be E.J.?) is a psychic. Well never mind. Maybe they just read each other.
A secondary influence on this election is the novel role of so-called third-party money, much of it secretly contributed to groups unaccountable to either party. By election day, according to a report Friday in the Wall Street Journal, such committees will have spent $300 million in support of GOP candidates. And, unlike the Republican National Committee or congressional sources, these third parties have been perfectly willing to spend on behalf of those with tea party roots. (By contrast, about $100 million in independent contributions will go to Democratic candidates; organized labor will spend an additional $200 million, but the bulk of that is going to rally union voters, whose enthusiasm has waned.)
Dang. There is a market for smaller government, lower taxes, and Constitutional limits on government power? Who knew? And the union spirit not what it used to be? Maybe they know something about the looting of their pension funds. Which, with the Democrats going out, will no longer have an open tap on the US Treasury. Dang. Screwed just like the rest of us.

Tim is looking at the candidates and is just so damn annoyed that the Republicans seem to be running a few libertarians. That has got to hurt. Especially for a man who has never heard of the Republican Liberty Caucus in the now serving Congress. Nice of you to pay such close attention Tim.
At least three candidates are such programmatic libertarians that they'd really be more at home in that party.

On Friday, the New York Times reported that its pre-election analysis has 33 tea party-backed candidates running in congressional districts that are either leaning Republican or too close to call. Eight "stand a good or better chance of winning Senate seats," the paper says.

If that's correct, the next Congress is going to contain a significant tea party caucus, and that may bring social issue tensions back to the fore.
But Tim. We have already agreed that social issues are not a job for the Federal Government. The Gordian knot of social issues has been cut on the national level. I think that means some one is going to win big or something. Maybe for a long time.

And I guess since I'm shooting fish in a barrel I might as well have a few blasts at Lorelei Kelly at the Huffington Post. And she too has it all figured out. We are a lucky country to be full of such genius.
The Tea Party has done us all a favor. It has pointed out how absent we've been in building a common narrative about modern American citizenship. Their candidates are fascinating -- like watching campaign season through beer goggles. But every time I hear one of them speak in public, I realize what an advantage the rest of us have -- real stories, real characters, real democracy.

The Tea Party is taking a joyride through the world of American ideals.
She has that right. It is more than a joy to espouse smaller government, lower taxes, and Constitutional limits on Federal power.

Loreli says this is just a fantasy.
Along the way, it has grabbed the best revolutionary symbols, the cinematic frustration of the masses, and an irreproachable sounding plan (Fiscal responsibility! Constitutionally limited government! Free markets! Yay!)

But it's all emotions and fantasy. Despite the symbolic appeal, Tea Partiers don't really speak to tradition. They speak to nostalgia. These signals resurrected from the past are not representative. They are kitsch.
Just you wait honey. America is BACK. And it is taking no prisoners (metaphorically). We have the better symbols and the better arguments. We're gonna get your children (if you have any).

Enough time for her. Nodda clue.

Peter Berkowitz writing at the Wall Street Journal diagnoses the root cause of the misunderstanding so amply illustrated above.
For the better part of two generations, the best political science departments have concentrated on equipping students with skills for performing empirical research and teaching mathematical models that purport to describe political affairs. Meanwhile, leading history departments have emphasized social history and issues of race, class and gender at the expense of constitutional history, diplomatic history and military history.

Neither professors of political science nor of history have made a priority of instructing students in the founding principles of American constitutional government. Nor have they taught about the contest between the progressive vision and the conservative vision that has characterized American politics since Woodrow Wilson (then a political scientist at Princeton) helped launch the progressive movement in the late 19th century by arguing that the Constitution had become obsolete and hindered democratic reform.
There are a fair number of us who do not think the Constitution is obsolete. And we intend to do something about it. For starters we intend to start winning elections. Starting this November 2rd.
Enough Tea Party-supported candidates are running strongly in competitive and Republican-leaning Congressional races that the movement stands a good chance of establishing a sizable caucus to push its agenda in the House and the Senate, according to a New York Times analysis.

With a little more than two weeks till Election Day, 33 Tea Party-backed candidates are in tossup races or running in House districts that are solidly or leaning Republican, and 8 stand a good or better chance of winning Senate seats.

While the numbers are relatively small, they could exert outsize influence, putting pressure on Republican leaders to carry out promises to significantly cut spending and taxes, to repeal health care legislation and financial regulations passed this year, and to phase out Social Security and Medicare in favor of personal savings accounts.
TEA minus 15 and counting MOFOs.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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