Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arlen Specter - Whoopdy Do

Watching people get excited about Senator Arlen Specter (Ambiguous-Pennsylvania) switching from a Republican to a Democrat is like watching a bunch of five-year-old analyze a chess match by counting the number of pieces each player has.

As a practical matter, the Democrats go from enjoying a 62-seat majority to enjoying a 62-seat majority. Just because Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have Rs after their names doesn't mean squat. It's how they vote that counts. And those votes were lost to the Democrats a long time ago.

As I've said before (well, not here), the Republican's best strategy would have been to kick Specter, Snowe, and Collins out of the party after the "2009 Stimulus" bill was passed with their votes. Not as an angry, infantile response, but as a dramatic gesture indicating a strong strategic shift in policy and as protection against the inevitable backlash that will occur once the repercussions from the massive increase in debt start to roll in. Apparently they're still convinced that the hill to stand and fight on is gay marriage (a wrong stand on so many levels). Americans really need a new party - one with libertarian ideas, but not so many Libertarians.


  1. Ya, the Sean Hannity proud Republican in me was really butthurt over this whole Specter thing...until I remembered that I pretty much hate my party (and Sean Hannity) and don't care what the hell they do anymore ("You're a great American!" "No, YOU'RE a great American." Awwwwww thanks...you're a such patriot") Since I've seen the Democrats come together and beat the Republicans heads into a pulp (of course the Democrats find a way to unite the party by rallying behind not an issue or anything of substance but behind the emotionally vague concept of "Hope") I've lost all confidence or interest in the (R)'s. Especially since their solution was sending the war hero John McCain with an arsenal of social declarations...that was impressive...like watching a kid with down syndrome trying to raid a castle with an unpinned grenade (sorry for the slight on down syndrome persons).
    I agree we need a new party. The Rep. party varies from born agains to libertarians. How the hell do you determine a direction with that? Unite under what!? The Rep. contradict themselves on virtually every issue practical, theoretical and philosophical. Show me a party that stands for: Individualism; Capitalism; Personal Responsibility; self-evident personal rights and liberties; Reason. Show me a party that lives up to that and I will sign in blood. And if anybody says that's what the DEM, REP, or LIB stand for I will bitch slap you with a bombardment of sound logic and pedigreed facts.

  2. Red--
    Well, I kind of agree with you about SpeCkleSnow (Laura Ingrham's term of art) but let's talk new party.

    Now, I have to do this in two posts. THIS IS #1:

    First, the name. In today's world, it's Conservative because it polls well (Liberal does not, note how true lefties like to call themselves "progressive"), and there is a strong intellectual tradition behind the name.

    Second, what it stands for. Everything Myrup said: 'Individualism; Capitalism; Personal Responsibility; self-evident personal rights and liberties; Reason'; AND preeminently touting Limited Government, defense of the Founders' understanding of checks and balances (Federalism), Ordered Liberty, the Bill of Rights and the Civil Society discovered by de Toqueville. Not exactly libertarian but grounded in the nation's libertarian roots. This party must still be a pro-life party in the Libertarian pro-life argument sense, that the fetus is an individual, and therefore possesses 'equality' and the state has an interest in protecting the life of the fetus. This is a non-religious pro-life argument that is still acceptable to the religious voters this party must attract.
    Because this is a Tenth Amendment party, it will also allege Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, that the issue is one for the States, not Congress or the Federal Courts. Similarly, it must take the same stand on gay marriage, but it will not be the hill to stand and fight on. That having been said, because radical gays are pressing this issue in the courts, the backlash of initiatives and constitutional amendments has been fiercely successful, meaning the voters remain against it. A party called the Conservative Party cannot ignore that and must stand with the voters. Although it is a slippery slope, the new party can tolerate all the accoutrements of civil union/domestic partnership while still defining marriage as boy-girl. If the queers can eventually convince the voters to go for gay marriage, then so be it and no counter-revolution will be necessary.
    The bottom line is that the conservative coalition writ large is still Reagan's three-legged stool, Fiscal, National Security and Social Conservatives. This coalition encompasses 60% of the electorate and is an effective governing coalition. Unfortunately, once it gained power, in 2003, it lacked the leader to advance the ball down the field: Bush was the anti-Reagan, a leader with no idea how to lead. Without direction, the Republican Congress wallowed in earmark corruption and engendered hatred from the Mryup's of the world.

    Third, how to get there. The new party cannot be created by pajama-clad bloggers at computers in basements with tin-foil hats on their heads. Such parties are always on the fringe, and, except for the Libertarians and Greens, don't last long. (OK, that's an exaggeration.)
    The party will need experienced leaders and the infrastructure (activists and donors) to gain ballot access, recruit candidates up and down the ballot and be treated seriously by the press and the voters. Otherwise, it will only get .5% of the vote, at best.
    We must look to history for the model. There have been several periods when new parties would form and the coalitions that make up 'major' parties would shift dramatically. The best examples were the 1820s and 30s and the 1850s.
    The earlier period resulted in two new major parties, the Whigs and Democrats. (Footnote: the Democratic party was NOT the old Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican party but instead was the Jacksonian faction of that party that quite consciously formed a new party--this is important. Note that Democrats hold annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners [for Republicans it is the Lincoln Day dinner] as an explicit recognition of Jackson's role.)
    The later period produced one new major, the Republicans. Both periods produced a multiplicity of new parties, several of which actually gained seats in Congress. In most cases, the new parties formed were led by officeholders who switched from their previous parties. This is the key.
    GO TO POST #2

  3. THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY, POST #2: (OK, there will also be a #3)
    The Conservative Party must be created by existing conservative officeholders who leave their former party and create the new. They mostly will be Republicans, but there can be a Democrat here and there, especially in state legislatures. When critical masses of officeholders form a new party, donors and activists will follow. I would predict that the new Conservative party will attract 80%, or more, of the activists in the Republican Party, which will be the death knell of that once great party. Donors will follow. In fact, new donors and activists will be created as they are attracted to the new party.
    Having experienced Republican activists will be critical because they will be the foot soldiers needed to gather petitions to gain ballot access in 2010. This is not impossible, Perot did it, Wallace did it, and, the best example, the Libertarians, although tiny, have managed to stay on most state’s ballots for nearly 30 years. In some states, the Republican Party will just morph into the Conservative Party. Also, candidate recruitment will be much easier because there is a large pool of potential quality candidates among Republican activists. But, to succeed this party must be organized this summer.

    Now, here is the reason I think this will work. As Peggy Noonan and others have pointed out, the Republican brand has been destroyed by George W. Bush and the inability of the Republican Congresses he had to demand that he lead from the right. Since the 1960s, party ID opinion polls have shown the country roughly at one third each Democrat, Republican and Independent. Over time, in most years, the Independents have been the plurality with Democrats second. Occasionally, the rankings change, but it is rare. Even today, based on Gallup, it is I 37%, D 36%, R 27%. Usually, independents are around 40%. That is a manifestation of the fact that a plurality of Americans are fed up with both parties (it may be a majority, lots of voters identify with a party but if they had another choice, they wouldn’t). Polling data also shows that a strong majority of independents are conservative or lean conservative. Conservative voters, unlike liberals, are not patient with elected officials who don’t keep their promises. This is why Republicans have lost, not because those voters want Socialism. In fact, there will be a strong backlash to the current Democratic socialism. There is a narrow window of opportunity for a conservative party to attract voters who will gladly vote FOR it instead of voting AGAINST Democrats. Reforming the Republican Party will take too long. Even so, the Republican Party will come back to power if a new party is not formed, but it will never gain the majorities necessary to dismantle the welfare state, while the new party will have that potential because it won’t start out with baggage.
    GO TO POST #3

    I think the upside potential of the new party is around 300 seats in the next House and a 60 or more seat majority in the Senate by 2014 and, of course, capturing the Presidency in 2012. Success will depend on the quality of leadership provided by the Conservative President and congressional leaders. Success in 2010 will be assured if the economy is still in the tank, which I think it will be because of legislation passed and currently being adopted. This is an opportunity that the Conservative Movement cannot miss. But it must capitalize on the opportunity by passing legislation that will create rapid economic growth. If they do, the voters will reward them with majorities that will create the opportunity for a counter-counter-revolution that returns this country to limited government. Again, superior leadership is the key to success. We need a new Reagan.
    By the way, if this works in the magnitude I describe, it will likely destroy the Democratic Party. Many current Democrats will join the Conservatives. Our new party should attract many middle class (read taxpaying) Blacks and Hispanics who also share our values. Turmoil within the Democratic Party after large losses will likely cause the socialists to split off and form a new Progressive Party, which will become the new major opposition party. Then the two parties will actually have descriptive ideological names, as they should.
    What do you think?

  5. Bill,
    Wow...a lot of good points and some not so good...
    I could be wrong but the social issues are not the way to get people enthused. You could argue for days about abortion and gay marriage and not get anywhere because most persons are not rational about social issues - they are emotional...REALLY emotional. Pandering to the exagerated and shifty opinions of the masses might win an election but the thought "once a whore always a whore" pops into my head. In that scenario the "people" are in the drivers seat which is OK as long as it's in the confines of certain prinipals (a constitution) but seeing as how most people haven't even bothered to read the one we have I don't see that working out. It needs to be based on objective, universally applicable ideas and laws, not people (one or many). That's the problem with appeasing politics...is the tail wagging the dog? "A leash is nothing but a rope with a noose at both ends". Remember, most people don't want to tell others what to do. Most people want to sit on their fat asses and be told what to do, how to do it, when to do it and how much their worth at the end. It's really just a matter presentation. Marketing. Cue some emotionally stirring music and tell everybody "if they don't elect you their children will be touched inappropriatly by Canadians. But not us...no...we believe in 'Hope' and 'Change'" Combine that with sound logic and the people will be salivating and humping your leg. Walk? They won't need a walk. They'll be so high on cloud9 they'll just do what they've been doing which is licking their own privates and eating their own poop...Or you could take the moral high road and just be honest with everyone...like that ever worked.

  6. Thank you, Mryup, for the compliment.
    The coalition I propose works PRECISELY because people "are not rational about social issues - they are emotional." I don't think it is necessary to argue for days about abortion and gay marriage to win over the social conservatives.
    What you do is argue for days about limited government and you win over the three legs of the Conservative stool. It may sound counter intuitive to you, but limited government encompasses the social conservatives. In the end, they don't want to tell others what to do, they just don't want to be told what to do. Before Roe, they weren't involved. After Roe, and a long battle, and rejection by Democrats, they captured the apparatus of the Republican party. Age and experience has made them pragmatic. They will quickly join the Conservative Party because they know they will have nowhere else to go. But, they won't be able to control it because the potential activist base among Campaign For Liberty types (Ron Paul's successor organization) and Independents who will be joining a party for the first time, will overwhelmingly outnumber the social conservatives. This new party, by its very nature, will have a much larger activist base than the current Republican and Democratic parties combined.
    I admit an argument from authority here because I have 45 years of activism in the Republican party and, as a minor party leader, I know the rank and file of the party well.
    But, we do differ because I disagree with you about 'most people.' I think your description only applies to about 20% of the electorate, so I am not near as cynical as you.
    Finally, there is an example of a Presidential candidate who took "the moral high road" and was "honest with everyone": Ronald Reagan. He won by 10 points in 1980 and 18 points in 1984.