Thursday, December 6, 2012

Conservatives: Repetition As Insanity

These days, conservatives and the Republican Party make me think of a quote from Mugatu from Zoolander: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.” Seriously, Einstein said that insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, yet that is what is going on everywhere on the right, so why can’t people see this?

Consider the Republicans. They are in deep trouble. The party is toxic to half the electorate and that part is growing. Yet, you suggest that we need to at least stop scaring and hating these people and you get told “that’s pundit speak” and we can’t sacrifice our values to win these people. Our “values”? Is the purpose of the Republican Party really to stop rape victims from getting abortions, stop a few thousand gays from calling their marriage-like relationships “marriage” and whine about deporting Mexicans who will never be deported? Or you get this, “we’ll never win them all”. . . as if we needed 100%. This is like saying there’s no point in trying to stay healthy if you can’t be at your ideal weight immediately.

But the most frustrating one is this. Putting the social issues aside, the Republican Party just doesn’t stand for anything. Seriously. What vision does the Party offer America? Well, take a look. Pretty much since Bush, the Republican vision of America has centered entirely around the Bush tax cuts. . . nothing more. What do those tax cuts mean to average people? Do they promise jobs? Do they give you a chance to buy a home, start a business, raise a family, send the kids to college, ensure your health, protect your retirement? No. They’re just a hodgepodge of minor breaks here and there that amount to something like $400 a year to average people. They do nothing to create incentives to get people to start businesses. They do nothing about excessive regulation. They do nothing to make markets more fair or more open or competition more intense. They do nothing to make America better.

Then Obama took office and he created Obamacare. He also passed a whole bunch of new regulations. Suddenly, the Republican agenda doubled in size! Woo hoo! Now they also wanted to repeal Obamacare and rescind those regulations. Inspiring. Seriously, think about this. This promise basically amounts to “we want to return the healthcare system to the mess it was in 2008.” In fact, that’s exactly what the entire Republican platform is: we want to return everything to the glory days of 2008... deep into the recession.

That’s not a winner.

And the fiscal cliff shows this again. Now is the time to either step aside and let Obama have his agenda and suffer the consequences or to fight for something that will rally the American people. So what are the Republicans fighting for? Making sure the Bush tax cuts won’t expire for rich people. In other words, they are fighting to make sure the rich can party like it’s 2008 as well.

How less inspiring can a party be than to stand for this? And why in the world does no one seem to realize how stupid this is? This has been the Republican position since the mid-2000s and in that time they lost every single election except 2010, which had special circumstances because people were freaked out about Obamacare.... yet they think this is an effective strategy. At some point, don’t you realize that 10 years of losing in a row means you’re doing something wrong? Yet, Boehner and the rest are proudly standing before cameras saying they would rather plunge the country over this (fake) “fiscal cliff” than not see their vision of a return to the glory days of 2008 be enacted. Good grief. The price for this idiocy, by the way, is that the GOP is getting battered in polls with 53% blaming the GOP for the fiscal cliff and 27% blaming Obama.

Yet, they aren’t alone. I’ve heard several talk radio hosts lately who are whining that if they were in charge, things would be different... harrumph. See, they aren’t as weak as the Republicans, no siree. They wouldn’t be planning to surrender to Obama on this important issue of protecting the rich from tax hikes. They would tell Obama, “if you don’t agree to keep the Bush tax cuts in place for the rich... to get us back to the glory of 2008... then I’ll send the country right over the (fake) fiscal cliff!”

Think about this. The Republicans are following a game plan that has cost them every election since 2000 except for 2010. And talk radio is attacking the Republicans for being weak and then bragging how if they were in charge, they would do exactly what the Republicans are doing right now. . . to the letter. Moreover, they are shouting down anyone who suggests that a platform of “2008 forever... with venom” is a bad idea. This is insanity.

Is it really so hard to see this?

Is it really so hard to recognize that when something doesn’t work. . . you. . . don’t. . . keep. . . doing. . . it?

Maybe I am taking crazy pills.

On the plus side, it sounds like both Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio get this. Add them to the list with Bobby Jindal.

37 comments:

Anthony said...

Its theoretically possible that even without new thinking (which I honestly don't expect from the current leadership) 2014 will be a good year for Republicans given that the Democrats will be defending a lot of seats (including senators who came to office in the Democratic wave of 2008) but I really hope that the someone with the broader agenda you speak of is our nominee in 2016.

tryanmax said...

The largest irony in all this is that Limbaugh loves that Einstein quote and uses it in reference to liberals all the time.

Sadly, thanks in very large part to right-wing media, the right is becoming a cult of personality just as the left has been, only without the personality. What the radio talkers are effectively saying is that bad ideas will work if the right people would just present them.

Don't read me wrong; I still believe that conservatism works every time that it's tried and that it just isn't being tried. But I'm evermore refusing to call the voices on the radio "conservative" because they are less and less so each day.

Conservatism is a set of principles, real core stuff. All I the guys on the radio bloviate about anymore is window dressing.

Koshcat said...

I think this was a tad overly simplistic. It isn't like ZERO has come back with any realistic plan either except "tax the rich and give to the poor". He is Obamahood! Except he is really the Sheriff.

Any-who, Boehner has stated that he is willing to increase revenues from the "rich" but with limiting deductions rather than increasing tax rates. In either case, I expect to be hit hard because I am the "evil rich" even though our newest car is 5 years old. I think Peggy Noonan laid it out well this last weekend:

"Here's just one thing they should be discussing. Mr. Obama wants to raise tax rates on those earning $250,000 or more, as we know, on the assumption that they are "the rich." But if you are a man with a wife and two kids making that salary and living in Westfield, N.J., in no way do you experience yourself to be rich, because you're not. You pay federal payroll and income taxes, state income and sales taxes and local property taxes, and after the mortgage, food and commuting costs you don't have much to spare.

Tighten the squeeze on that couple, and they'll change how they live. They'll stop sending the struggling son to a neighborhood tutor, they'll stop going out to dinner once a week, they'll cut off the baby sitter, fire the guy who once a month does yard work, and hold back on new clothes. Also the guy will peruse employment ads in Florida and Texas, potentially removing from blue-state New Jersey his heartening, taxpaying presence.

It really is worth a discussion, isn't it? A closer look at the numbers? Shared thoughts on how Americans really live?"

Republicans also have promises to keep that got them elected. Many also know that going back on those promises is a good way to not get re-elected in two years. Due to the media, the republicans were in a no-win situation from the beginning.

Individualist said...

Andrew

I don't know what the establishment's agenda is but I know the Tea Party agenda and that is to cut spending. That I think is the agenda of every average Republican out there and that includes many hispanics that I know in Miami. who by the way agree that some protections are required over the border if anything just to stabilize it. The only peo[ple talking about departation are progs in their straw man rhetoric.

The problem is not that these memes have been repeated. The problem is that they have never been tried. I have listened to Levin lately and he is talking about SPENDING cuts which currently Boener does not want to deal with. Those few Tea party types that do want to deal with this Boehner wants to purge from committees.

I did not like Romney as a Candidate. I supported him in 2008 but only because by that time he was the only viable alterantive to MCCain. Romney was pro choice in MA. Now the reason I use Pro Life as a litmus test has nothing to do with abortion. I have found that if a GOP candidate is Pro Choice he does this to appease moderates. If he appeases moderates then he does not really care to fight for spending cuts which are the toughest battle in Washington.

The problem Andrew is that the GOP electorate wants real fiscal sanity. They want an actual reduction in spneding. They want a balanced budget. They are tired of five year plans to to get there which will have to be realized by the next election cycle politicians. They are tired of the cynical rhetoric. They are tired of the baseline budgeting increase game.

And this Fiscal cliff. It's real and it is not the tax rates. Our GDP is 14 trillion. Our debt is now 16 trillion. that is 1 and 1/7th. We will end up spending 1.2 trillion 90%. Our credit rating is downgraded twice. Every tick down exponentially increasing interest owed.

They should take last year's budget. They Should eliminate the baseline increase and decrease the appropriations for every line item by 1% including social security. They should pass this annual budget and send it to the Senate. They should then state that this is the budget. Reid is going to pass it in the Senate, Obama is going to sign it and if they don;t we will shut the government down and won't give you any appropriations until we have ensured that savingn at least equal to that have been realized.

I could care less if this hurts the party in 2014 because it damn sure might be the only thing that will save the country from becoming the Weimar Republic.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, 2014 will be a bad year for the Democrats. Mid-term elections on a president in his second term are always horrible for the incumbent party. BUT that shouldn't give us solace. The party really needs to change, and unfortunately, I hear too many people grasping at straws "oh, this wasn't so bad... oh, we were so close". It's like alcoholism -- they are looking for anything they can point to avoid seeing the truth.

I am somewhat hopeful about Ryan, Rubio and Jindal at the moment, but we'll see how they really follow up. There need to be changes people simply won't like because it will mean admitting they have been wrong... wrong in the way they've projected anger, wrong in the way they've gotten sloppy in their thinking, and wrong in their total lack of a true agenda.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I share your view about talk radio -- there is no conservatism going on there, just whining by conservatives who have forgotten their ideology. They are definitely an obstruction at this point rather than being helpful. But to me, all of this really starts with the party. They need to wake up to the fact they offer the public NOTHING. They need to "get it" that they didn't lose because of some magical turn out machine, but because they were never even considered by hundreds of millions of Americans because they gave the public no reason to want them.

On Rush, I see a ton of irony on the right, right now, and especially on talk radio. There is a lot of yelling about how they know what to do and how they would do it better... and yet it's almost always "do what the people I'm attacking are already doing only be nasty about it." I also find amazing irony in how often they attack liberals for being out of touch, for "not getting it", for "trying to control people's lives", etc..... when they are doing the exact same things.

Few people are using their brains right now.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I don't agree.

I think this was a tad overly simplistic. It isn't like ZERO has come back with any realistic plan either except "tax the rich and give to the poor".

He offered people this in 2008: (1) I'm going to guarantee you healthcare, (2) I have a plan to create jobs by building bridges and roads, (3) I'm going to restore America's credibility overseas, (4) I'm going to punish Wall Street for the recession, (5) I'm going to fix save you from your upside down mortgage and restore the value to your house, and I'm going to make the rich pay for it. Even in 2012, he was offering "still working on it, things are getting better."

That's total BS, but it was an agenda that people could at least understand and see how it would make their lives better if it worked. And compared to "we're going to freeze the country at 2008", that's a pretty compelling agenda.

I don't agree about this idea of trying to distinguish between people earning $250,000 or "the rich," either at the moment. That's just doing the Democrats' dirty work. The Republicans have let themselves be painted at the party of the rich. For them to stand up in these negotiations on behalf of people who are in the very top income bracket just reinforces that, and it just keep playing into this idea that all they care about is helping the rich.

I get that this tax will be highly destructive, but right now is a time for politics or policy. Right now is a time to rethink the entire approach to how the party presents itself when it comes to taxes. Defending the Bush tax cuts in any form just reinforces the idea that nothing has changed. They either need to step back and tell Obama -- go for it, or they need to present something brand new.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi,

The only people talking about deportation are progs in their straw man rhetoric.

Uh... no. EVERY right wing talk radio host talks about this. MOST Republican politicians talk about this. People have talked about it here. In fact, my suggestions that it will never happen often get met with "but they're illegals and we can't sacrifice our values by letting them stay." Face it, conservative constantly whine about deportation.

Indeed, this is another conservative fallacy. They say stupid and offensive things which blow up on them, then they pretend "well, it was the media's fault not mine" or "the left are the ones really saying I'm saying this, I didn't really say it." Hardly. You should seriously step back and listen to these radio guys without dismissing the bad things they say as "well, I know what he really means." You'll hear their broadcasts a lot differently.

As for the Tea Party wanting real cuts, I agree, but who is the Tea Party? You can't vote for the Tea Party. You have to vote through the Republicans and their agenda is "Bush Tax Cuts plus unspecified method to fiscal sanity." That's worthless to a public that thinks the country has been headed in the wrong direction for a long time now and doesn't want to hear "we like things just as they are."

Not to mention, there is no real vision coming from the Tea Party either. What do they want? Spending cuts. Which ones? Unknown. What about creating jobs or making the country better or saving people from their mortgages? No comment. Where is the agenda people can support?

Oh yeah, the fiscal cliff is real to the economy, but it won't be real to voters. It's a political gimmick designed to create a crisis, where there isn't one. The day after they don't do anything... nothing will happen. And nothing will happen the day or week or month after that. What will happen is the economy will slowly sink into recession while the "cliff" is forgotten and something else will get the blame.

That's the problem, they are describing the economy like a speed boat and the fiscal cliff like hitting a rock. The economy really is an oil tanker... the rock can be just as harmful, but it's going to be a very long slow sinking.

As for shutting down the government, that is a horrible idea. You only do something like that over a matter of principle. Shutting down the government to get us to go back to last year's bloated government would be a political disaster.

Ed said...

Andrew, I haven't commented in a bit, sorry, but I have read everything and I need to say, excellent work on this article. People should be uncomfortable about this because you've really put your finger right on it: Conservatives are offering the public nothing.

You are absolutely right that all you hear are defend those tax cuts and make some spending cuts -- just don't cut my stuff.

Conservatives need to offer more if they want to sway the public. It's not about offering them money, it's about offering them hope for a better tomorrow.

Ed said...

tryanamx, I'm not as down on talk radio as you and Andrew, but I agree with you totally that they don't talk about conservative principles anymore. They claim they do. They wrap themselves into the mantra "we need to return to conservative principles" but that's just talk, they never offer a single example of how except "vote against the Democrats."

I don't know how to change this, but I see it, and it makes me think conservatism is finished.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, No problem, comment when you can.

That is my point exactly: conservatives are not offering the public a vision they want. They are offering this muddled thing about defending some sort of tax cut for people making more than $250,000 a year and some generic idea of budget cuts and "fiscal sanity." But they have yet to really lay out an agenda to cause any of that to happen.

Reagan succeeded because he offered Americans hope that everything would get better.... not "I'm going to undo the Carter years so we're back in the age of Ford.

And on the fiscal sanity point, think about the difference. You find yourself in massive debt. What do you do? You sit down and look at all your expenses, all your income, all your obligations. You consider getting a second job. You consider changing where you money is sitting. You consider which loans to pay off in what order. Then you look at everything you can cut out. When you are done, you have a new plan.

Now look at what they are doing in Washington -- uh, if we do some gimmicks, we can count the end of the Afghanistan war as a cut in ten years. Maybe we can take a couple billion of unspecified cuts out of Medicare. Hmm. That should do it... we can do the rest later. That's not an agenda, that's a scam.

And talk radio is pushing the same thing, only with a lot of anger. The pundits at places like National Review are the same, only without the anger. NO ONE IS THINKING!!

Look at the jobs plans. Oh wait... there isn't one. How about the plan to reform healthcare to make it cheaper and expand access? No plan. How about making college affordable? No plan. How about protecting pensions? No plan. The environment? No plan. Stabilizing the housing market? No plan. Ending the cronyism that has dominated out government? Embrace... your inner crony. No one is offering any plans to do any of this. That's the problem.

Like I said, forget abortion and gays, we don't even have an economic agenda to offer.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, "Oppose" is easy. It takes no brains to complain about something someone else is doing. It does take brains (and guts) to offer your own plan. What you are seeing right now is the Wizard of Oz party -- one lost little girl with friends with no brains and no guts who is hoping a wizard will save her ass.

BevfromNYC said...

Okay, let's break this down in real words and platitudes for the stupid (which apparently works every time because most people in the world ARE simple folk and can really only process maybe 10 words at a time.

This is the Democrats platform
(1) I'm going to guarantee you healthcare,

TRANSLATION - I am going to guarantee you "free stuff" that rich people don't want you to have;

(2) I have a plan to create jobs by building bridges and roads,

TRANSLATION - More Goverment is good, so make the rich people pay.

It worked for Roosevelt and Truman Of course, Well, we had to kill 1/3 of our male workforce in WWII, so there were less jobs that needed to be created post War.

(3) I'm going to restore America's credibility overseas,

TRANSLATION - Americans are bad and I am going to make them pay. [Added subtext: THEN everyone will like ME because I am so honest.]

(4) I'm going to punish Wall Street for the recession,

TRANSLATION - Rich people bad and I will make them pay

(5) I'm going to fix [and] save you from your upside down mortgage and restore the value to your house, and I'm going to make the rich pay for it.

TRANSLATION - Rich people are bad and I will make them pay.

Their strategy has been to use soundbites and buzz words and short sentences. And because people are really stupid and have the attention span of gnats, it works. And when something is repeated over and over and over again, it becomes the truth.

So other than give away free stuff and offer to kill all rich people, what could a Republican platform possibly be that will win? Oh, we may be able to convince the hardcore to shut the hell up about abortion, gay marriage, and legalizing drugs, and then we can drop trying to fix anything - tax reform, fixing Mediscare, and Social Security or trying to defund Obamacare. The problem is that WE SPEND TO DAMN MUCH MONEY. But hearing that makes people afraid and feel bad about themselves, so we can't go there either. And scaring people by telling people that "the other guy is going to take stuff away" works every time. Because it feeds that most primal, "protect the stuff" part of the animal brain.

And no offense, I expect that in 2014 the Republican so lose the House too. I will bet you $100 real money.

Ed said...

Andrew, That is a brilliant description: The Wizard of Oz Party.

Tennessee Jed said...

our best shot is after things really start to collapse. "See I told you so" can be an effective tag line, although the horse will have long since left the barn.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev,

Their strategy has been to use soundbites and buzz words and short sentences. And because people are really stupid and have the attention span of gnats, it works. And when something is repeated over and over and over again, it becomes the truth.

True. But there's a more fundamental point behind this. I don't think people are cynical as we are here and I think people genuinely believe that when someone who has reached the point of becoming Presidents says "I can give you healthcare and we can pay for it with a tiny tax hike on the rich," they believe that.

Yes, the progressives want to see the rich punished, but I think the rest of the public just cares about their own circumstances and don't really want to see anyone made to suffer for them. And frankly, when you're talking about a 3-5% hike in tax rates, the public doesn't see that as punishing anyone.

On your question about what we can offer, we can offer the promise of a better America. Corny, but true. We need to offer them a promise of jobs, prosperity, financial security mixed with the chance to achieve the American Dream. Why did we ever stop talking about the American Dream?

We need to tell them "we will make sure you have a dozen jobs to choose from, or you can start your own business without the bad guys (govt, big business) stopping you. We're going to help you educate your kids in better schools, send them to college without saddling them with back-breaking debts. We're going to make sure that your roads are better, your air is cleaner, your food is safer, your healthcare is cheaper and more modern. We're going to make sure you have a decent pension. We're going to protect you from the bad people around the world and we're going to bring more wealth home by keeping jobs here." And the truth is that we can do almost all of the above without spending more money.

That's what we need to be promising. Not, "we're going to protect people above $250,000 from the Bush tax cuts expiring.

We'll do better in 2014, it's all but guaranteed.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed.

tryanmax said...

Quick point on the alleged "Boehner Purge"--There is no such thing; it is a fabrication b/w the bitter individuals who were dismissed and a complicit right-wing media eager to make a claim against "The Establishment." ♪♫ duh-duh-duh ♪♫

In reality, there were only three dismissals from a total of 57 Republican-held committee positions. Yes, all three dismissed had received Tea Party backing in their elections, but so did the vast majority of the people still on those committees, including Budget Committee Chair and Tea Party favorite Paul Ryan. Not to mention, 21 of those positions are held by members elected for the first time in 2010.

Finally, who are these "victims" of the purge? Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Justin Amash of Michigan, and David Schweikert of Arizona. I don't know about you, but I never heard of any of these guys before. I'm not going to take their conservative credentials on faith from a right-wing media that has lost its way. But even allowing their conservatism, they are certainly no more so than the committee members left in place.

In short, three dismissals do not a purge make.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree, BUT... we're doing it wrong. By standing in Obama's way WE will end up taking responsibility for what will happen because he will point at us for ruining things.

You watch, they will reach an agreement and the Republicans will be accused of everything bad that happens from now on because they (1) delayed the deal and there by caused problems and (2) stopped Obama from getting everything he wanted, which means his policies "never got a chance to be implemented."

They need to either pick a real agenda and fight for it, or step back and say, "it's yours" and start sniping him every chance they get. Doing what they are doing now is the worst thing they could possibly be doing.

tryanmax said...

They wrap themselves into the mantra "we need to return to conservative principles" but that's just talk, they never offer a single example of how except "vote against the Democrats."

That's my only point, Ed. People need examples. I need examples. (That's why I come here.) Conservatism is supposed to be about using sound principles to determine a course of action. "No, no, no, no, no," is not a course of action. Yes, throwing a tantrum draws an audience, but so can real vision.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I haven't looked into it but I would share you suspicions. The only thing I knew about these people was that they basically were total contrarians and pretty much just objected to everything. People like that are not helpful.

Like I said, I haven't looked into it, but it strikes me as not a real purge.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Also, what you are saying sounds like you think we just can't win the American people. If that's the case, then what's the harm in trying to change our approach? Clearly what we are doing isn't working, so rather than just keep trying it, let's try a more positive approach.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's what I'm hoping to do with the Agenda 2016 series. I really plan to get into details, both what we should be promising, how we should be promising it, and what the policies should be -- because those are very different thing.

The thing about real vision verses just saying "no," by the way, is that just saying no is easier, especially when people are upset. It is very easy to criticize, especially when you're never held to account for your criticism. Coming up with ideas is harder and takes a lot more risk.

But I have to say, I am happy to hear similar rhetoric to what I think we need coming from Ryan, Rubio and Jindal. I don't hear the cynical political calculations yet, but I am hearing some of the rhetoric. So I think we're at least about to take some baby steps in the right direction.

Ed said...

trynamx, Same here. I like the fact that Andrew always has a thoughtful view of things that everyone else just kneejerks. I wish we could find a way to get more people to read, especially people like real politicians.

BevfromNYC said...

"Bev, Also, what you are saying sounds like you think we just can't win the American people. If that's the case, then what's the harm in trying to change our approach?"

A. Maybe I was somewhere else, but didn't Romney RUN on "we will make sure you have a dozen jobs to choose from, or you can start your own business without the bad guys (govt, big business) stopping you. We're going to help you educate your kids in better schools, send them to college without saddling them with back-breaking debts. We're going to make sure that your roads are better, your air is cleaner, your food is safer, your healthcare is cheaper and more modern. We're going to make sure you have a decent pension. We're going to protect you from the bad people around the world and we're going to bring more wealth home by keeping jobs here."??

B. No, I do not think that in the long run we can change the American people when it is easier to tell lies and offer a free lunch. Sorry if I keep harping on this, but that is what the Dems offer...the promise of free stuff and it works for votes, but for nothing else (btw). Oh, we can lie and promise free stuff too, promise that if only we [fill in the blank], we promise there will be no more poor people in the world.

I want the truth. I want to know exactly how many unemployed/unemployable people we have in this country. How many people who die from lack of proper medical care. Who are starving because of lack of food, clothing, shelter etc. I want to know exactly where our money is being spent and how it is being spent. I want to know why Congress gets to opt out of all the stupid legislation they pass and WE let them. I WANT THE TRUTH, NOT MORE PANDERING FOR VOTES!!! IS THERE NO ONE ADULT ENOUGH TO DO THAT???? Knowing the truth is much more effective tool for solving the problem. It is much easier and more effective to solve problems when onwe know the unvarnished truth. But lies make us feel better and make us vote for the best liars who make us feel better. And exactly where does that get us? Votes and power and changes nothing.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Honestly, I don't think Romney really ran on this. I think he ran on a very muddled platform that offered no real specifics except tinkering with the tax code, lots of little ad hoc promises made during debates that he never followed up on, and a general sense of "I'm a businessman, I know what I'm doing." There was no platform you could point to. And his "I know what I'm doing point" got crushed in his coming from the world of finance and having shut down businesses.

He certainly didn't offer anything on healthcare or pensions or home values or education. And while he was much more reasonable on issues like regulation, he was surrounded by a party that was screaming "shut down the EPA" and hand the healthcare system to big insurance companies. Add in the heavy, heavy focus on social issues and the deportation comment and I think any economic message Romney had was lost.

On your second point, I disagree. I don't think the American people are at that point where they just want to be bought with promises of government goodies. I really do think the problem is that to the average person, the Democrats sound like they want to help people whereas the Republicans sound like they hate people. The Democrats aren't promising, "you will get goodies." They are promising, we will get you jobs and better services. The Republicans scream about "we want to kill the safety net" while handing money and power to Big Business while screaming excessively about imposing their very minority view of morality on everyone by brutal force of law. Of course, the Republicans will lose that. And it's only to the credit of the American people that elections are even close if that's what's being offered, because that means half the public is capable of looking past the rank stupidity of the GOP to see the value of the things the GOP supports, even if the GOP has no clue how to articulate them.

A majority of the people will accept non-pandering. They will accept the truth. They will accept austerity. BUT you have to given them a reason. You have to let them know how it will help them. You have to find ways to explain to them why it's in their interest. We don't do that right now.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I do my best. :)

K said...

Andrew:The Republicans scream about "we want to kill the safety net"

Wow. I must have missed that particular speech. The Tea Party people I've communicated with were all about going back to Reagan levels of government - and he was officially on board with keeping the "social safety net", in fact, I think that's where the term came from.

So you're saying Romney and the Republicans wanted to cut meaningful social services? Perhaps you can give some particulars.

AndrewPrice said...

K, Romney, hardly, but a lot of the others. When the debate came up about extending unemployment, talk radio, bloggers, and a lot of the more conservative politicians were describing people on unemployment as lazy and saying we needed to get the government out of the business of providing unemployment because it only promotes laziness and gives people a reason to stay unemployed... "those people don't want to work" was a common refrain.

Whenever welfare comes up, a vast number of conservatives again argue "those people don't want to work." That's the idea behind dumping welfare on charities instead of the government because charities can decide who really "deserves" it and can cut off the rest.

During the healthcare debate, the one thing the Republicans and conservatives never worried about was how to cover people who weren't covered or how to cover people who couldn't be insured.

The assumption with these conservatives is that anyone on benefits is there because they are lazy and don't want to work. And their "policy" suggestions are to dump the programs or make them incredibly restrictive so that only a tiny portion of people will qualify.

If you're a low/middle class person who doesn't take the time to parse which idiocy people actually mean and which idiocy is just verbal masturbation, then you hear this as "wipe the whole thing out and leave people to fend for themselves." And honestly, a good number of libertarian leaning conservatives have openly said things like that.

Tennessee Jed said...

This is a link to a good article by Arthur C. Brooks. It covers some of the same ideas being discussed during recent articles here:

http://www.aei.org/article/society-and-culture/the-once-and-future-conventional-wisdom/

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Sadly, the article requires a subscription... which I don't have. :( Here's the link though: LINK.

From the intro though, let me point out that I don't think this comes down to Americans suddenly hating the rich or the Republicans no defending them properly. I think the problem has been that the Republicans really have done nothing to help the economic benefits of anyone but the rich. I think the Republicans need to refocus on the middle class and be proud about that. They need to rediscover the American dream and push that. Right now, come across only as a party that want to protect a small group of rich people form a minor tax hike while they simultaneously do the bidding of crony donors. That's a horrible image.

T-Rav said...

I was busy today, so I'm just now commenting. But also, I don't have much to say on this that I haven't already said. I'm with Bev--the electorate doesn't seem willing to listen, no matter how palatable we try to make ourselves. And in that context, I'm not changing my opposition to abortion, gay marriage, or illegal immigration for anyone. If the people who think that's mean are also the ones who got upset by the phrase "binders full of women," then they can go screw themselves. Period.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Ultimately, I don't think conservative will change. They've decided to die as an ideology rather than even make rhetorical changes. Oh well.

Tennessee Jed said...

sorry about that. I didn't realize it wasn't the full article. I happen to still subscribe to the print version of National Review. Had you been able to see that, Brooks points out this is a decades old phenomenon. Obama did not create our economic situation. However, he did make it worse. He talks about 3 pillars of conventional wisdom that must change, and how we can go about changing them over time. 1) our economic system is unfair and income inequality is a problem per se. 2) Our ever expanding entitlement system can co-exist with the American experience. 3) The government can and should pick the right course for the economy to follow (e.g. winners and losers.) He adds some good ideas of how to change conventional wisdom, but like your own article, it is more designed with a long play than a quick election win. Actually, the current issue of the magazine has several articles, and although I know these guys are not your favorites, it would not be a bad one to pick up. (Hey, you still read The Economist l.o.l.)

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed, maybe I'll pick that up.

I think this is absolutely a long term problem. Fixing this problem requires (1) becoming a palatable choice again for the majority of Americans (which means stop scaring them and start offering something they can believe in), (2) creating a plan to reform the safety net to reduce the number of people on it and to provide incentives for people to stay off it (3) making everyone pay taxes (ending the 47% problem), (4) kick-starting the economy to get people generating wealth, and (5) reshaping things like the tax code, Wall Street regulation, etc. to wipe out the appearance of inequality in the sense that right now it appears that the rich get what they want and everyone else gets screwed.

Those are long term issues, but they are very doable. But right now, conservatism is stuck in the gate because too many people are clinging to the idea that we should not change on single syllable of anything we do.

That's really the problem right now.

It's amazing to me too. After 10 years of doing the same thing and failing time and again, you would think people would be more open to actually trying something else... but apparently, most aren't. I'm glad NR is talking about this. I think Jindal and hopefully Ryan and Rubio are on board. But so many others aren't.

ellenB said...

Honestly, I'm not hopeful. I think conservatism is lost because conservatives have stuck their heads in the sand.

AndrewPrice said...

Ellen, I'm not panicked because there are some rays of hope. But they are fighting uphill at the moment.

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