Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Republicans Can Win The Senate? Uh, No

Fair warning: I’m going to crap on an article that’s all unicorns and happy dust about the Republicans winning the Senate in 2014. So if you want to believe that all is well, then ignore this article. But if you’re interested in getting a real sense of what is going wrong for our side right now, then read on. The article in question comes from Breitbart, but I’m seeing similar analysis all over the place. And this article highlights how blind the conservative pundit establishment really is at the moment.

The article starts by suggesting that the Republicans have an advantage in terms of taking the Senate in 2014 because 20 of the 32 Senators up for re-election are Democrats. Sounds great, right? Moreover, we only need to win 6 seats and 12 of those 20 Democrats are in “a state that is red or swing.” Gee, that sounds really great! What are those red/swing state? Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia.

Uh. . . no.

Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota and West Virgina are reliable blue states. So scratch them off the list. Moreover, states like Virginia and North Carolina are trending blue. And don't forget, we lost red states North Dakota and Montana in the last Senate election cycle, and we lost Alaska before that. In fact, reaching back, we lost both Montana seats, both Virginia seats, both West Virginia seats, both Colorado seats, and both Minnesota seats in the past few years. Not to mention the Democrats in Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and South Dakota are long-time incumbents, and the Democrats are very good at picking people who play well in those states. So what we're really looking at is maybe two vulnerable seats. Hence, forget winning.

But wait! This article also assures us the issues are on our side. Which issues? Well, Obama’s gun control push will force Democrats either to “back the President’s gun control agenda or risk handing their GOP opponents an effective talking point.” Really? What if the Democrats just do what they always do. . . they go home and talk about the need to save us from guns while simultaneously swearing they will protect the Second Amendment. Then they watch the House kill Obama’s proposal and the issue dies without them ever taking a stand. Huh, didn't see that one coming.

Wait, there's more!

“If the Republicans play their cards right,” the debt-ceiling debate is another “edge” the Republicans hold. Ha ha ha ha! Ok, first, the Republicans never play their cards right. Secondly, there is no right play here.
(1) You can’t play chicken with someone who wants you to hit their car, which is what the Democrats are. They want the Republicans to appear to wreck the government and the economy. . . it gives them cover.

(2) Do you really think anyone cares if the debt ceiling is $14 or $15 trillion? No. This is not an issue that you die for. And die it will be because the Republicans will be tarred with claims that (i) Social security will stop making payments, (ii) Medicare will stop paying doctors, (iii) soldiers won’t get paid, (iv) unemployment benefits will stop coming. . . all because the Republicans are trying to score political points to extract some worthless, meaningless promise of cuts that will never happen.
But more fundamentally, do you notice anything missing here? Yeah, the actual goal. This is Underwear Gnome Theory again: STEP ONE, hold country hostage... STEP TWO, _____... STEP THREE, profit. Seriously, this person is telling you the fiscal cliff holdup will win the day for us and they don't even realize there's no actual demand, there's just the holdup and the assumption of victory.

And they aren't done. Apparently, the evil Democrats in the Senate have “refused to pass a budget for the last four years. (Why aren’t we hearing more about this !?1?!)”. Good grief. We aren’t hearing more about this because it's technocratic bullship. Taxes get collected. Agencies get their share. Money gets spent. Programs continue. There is no substance to this argument, it's all procedure.

So look at what you're being sold here. You're being told there is the promise of a takeover of the Senate because 12 of 20 Democratic seats are vulnerable. The reality is we're talking about two. You're being told the Democrats will be forced to admit they want to round up guns, which won't happen. You're being told the public will magically fall in love with us if we disrupt the government for some goal to be named later. And you're being told the public will suddenly love us if we make the Democrats fill out Form A instead of Form B. This is delusional. Please do not believe this crap.

But even putting this aside, do you see the real problem? Ask yourself, what is our agenda? What are we offering the public? The answer which this pundit thinks is so wonderful is: (1) Stop Obama from doing something about guns. (2) Stop Obama from spending more money. Translation: vote for us so nothing changes!

If the Republicans ever want to win again, they need some actual ideas. They need to tell people how they will make the job market grow. How they will fix the housing market. How they will fix the student loan problem. How they will make the country safer. How they will make kids smarter and less ugly. “Vote for me and I’ll make sure nothing changes,” simply doesn’t work, and we need to stop accepting it.

Here are three names that are at least making moves in the right direction. Bobby Jindal is trying to eliminate the income tax in Louisiana. The same thing needs to be brought to the national level. Marco Rubio is talking about immigration reform. Again, we need to stop the bleeding on this issue and admit the inevitable. Rand Paul is talking about a foreign policy that involves a strong military, but dropping the idea that we should bomb everyone on the planet.

These ideas are a good start. They barely scratch the surface of what we need, but they at least are something more than “Vote for me and I’ll make sure nothing changes.” The truth is, we need an agenda that will create jobs, that will make people more secure financially and protect them from ill-health and old age, an agenda that helps people get out from under their debts, send their kids to college, and provides genuine protection from bad guys. And we need an agenda that promises personal freedom. I'm hoping to start unveiling such an agenda in a couple weeks, but in the meantime, start thinking about conservative solutions to problems people actually care about. Until we do that, more and more states will turn blue.

In the meantime, don't believe this garbage that everything is going great.


tryanmax said...

I think elimination of income tax is a real issue that is taking shape in the GOP. Not only has Jindal proposed it for LA, but so have Govs. Heineman (NE), Brownback (KS) and McCrory (NC). I don't know about those other governors, but I can comfortably say that Heineman's ideas don't necessarily come from Heineman.

AndrewPrice said...

I agree. And I'm actually going to propose something that makes a TON of sense for conservatives, but it will take a little effort to get over a few decades of brainwashing on the idea. I'll wait to unveil that for when I start with the agenda, however.

Tennessee Jed said...

Beats me what will happen, Andrew. I thought we had a good case in 2012 and that didn't work out so well. And, I see nothing happening on our side to change things. Sometimes, at the state level, it comes down to the candidates, and our side has not been good at picking dynamic young people who carry the message well. As an old guy, when we couldn't unseat a president as bad as this one, it bodes really badly for our side, nor is there anything making think this is going to change or that there is anything I can do about it.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I think you've put your finger right on a couple problems. First, our side is doing nothing to change things. They're mainly in tantrum mode right now and blaming the electorate when they should be looking to fix things. This article is the perfect example of that. The author of this articles seems to think everything is fine and is completely blind to the problems.

The other problem is "our side has not been good at picking dynamic young people who carry the message". We have been crappy at picking good candidates. Conservatives seem to love picking old white guys who talk like preachers or wear tricorn hats. There is nothing young or dynamic about the party.

K said...

I'm not feeling the elimination of income tax thing. That means either VAT or flat tax.

1. Flat tax is highly counter cultural in the age of income re-distribution and eat the rich. Therefore it is politically impractical.

2. VAT empowers socialism. It's tough to have greater than 50 percent taxation on income because some people start to notice. To get beyond that point you "hide the tax" by chopping it up and incorporating it into everyday prices in little pieces - which is what a VAT does. We're alreadying doing this with corporation taxes but VAT takes that to a whole new level.

I read that 54 percent of the country is now in favor of abortion. Hopefully this will be noted and moderate the Republican platform to something more in line with the electorate in that department.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I agree that the VAT and the flat tax are no good. BUT there's another tax we've been pretty much programmed not to consider, though you have to wonder why. I'll discuss it in the future, but it makes total sense along with conservative economics because it would actually encourage work rather than discourage it. Also, the rate would be incredibly low compared to the income tax rates... and asset tax. You could drop the entire income tax and replace it with a 3% asset tax with a floor of $250,000 so that nothing below that amount gets taxed, and you would actually get the federal government more money than it takes in today -- no deficit at all... no interference in the incentive to work... no tax on most poor and middle class people... the tax hits the people who support the Democrats the most (Warren Buffett and the idle rich).

On abortion, check out this poll from Gallup: LINK.

There are two polls there. The second one on the page says the country is split on abortion with slightly more being pro-choice than pro-life. BUT read the first one... the first one say that 80% of the public wants abortion to be legal in at least some circumstances. That's a damning poll to the pro-life movement and should wake up the Republican Party as to the problem of using this issue to build a party around.

K said...

I like the political aspects of the asset tax. What I don't like is how it would wack retirees that don't have large government pensions and therefore require large stock or money market investments for income.

Anthony said...

I suspect the 2014 will be different based on not only the fact that the Democrats will be defending a lot of seats, but the fact that offyear elections tend to feature older, whiter voters than presidential elections.

Andrew's essay makes a strong case that I am wrong, but even if I'm not, I agree with him that real reform is needed.

As I've said before, I worry that if Republicans do well in 2014, then they won't view it as an offyear phenomena but proof that nothing is wrong.

Patriot said...

I propose the following for the Big R(Republican) national platform. Remember, the beauty of politics is that you never have to follow through on what you promise the sheep, just promise them something sweet (a chicken in every pot).

1. Abortion: Abortions paid for by the government. Any time. Any where. No questions. The people have spoken

2. Welfare: Welfare for anyone out of work for any reason. It's not your fault, and we live in a country that can afford it.

3. Minimum Wage: Tie it to median income. The minimum wage should be whatever the median income is. That way everyone in the country can be middle class.

4. Defense: Eliminate the Defense Department. We don't need a standing army anyhow. Let's put that money to good use in our welfare system.

5. Medical Care: Everyone has a right to free medical care.

6. Illegal Immigration: Open borders. Anyone can come here at anytime, for any reason, and stay as long as they want. Hey, we're all a nation of immigrants anyway.

7. Fuel Economy: By 20xx ALL American manufactured vehicles must meet a minimum 50 miles per gallon standard. Just think of the gas saved by that!

8. Commerce: A 25% Internet tax on all internet transactions. That will help the economy.

9. Gun Control: All Amendments to the Constitution will be reviewed as to their applicability to these modern times. No mentally ill persons should be able to own a gun.

...and the big one...

10. Democracy: Our system has failed us. We've always known that the best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship, so we Repubs hereby resolve to support the President in any decisions he deems necessary to make this nation fair and equal.

Look, this is what the people want, so the Repubs should follow what they want and promise accordingly. Who could object? After all, it's for the children. They are our future.

Anthony said...

In regards to abortion, I don't think the actual Republican position will change.

Pro-life candidates will just receive training that will (ideally) keep them from mentioning 'rape, God's will, easy and/or legimitate' in the same sentence.

That will help among some voters, but it might not impress women much because Republicans who win control of states tend to immediately set about strangling abortion clinics and women seeking abortion with red tape in the name of safety.

The red tape approach tends not to cause a backlash so it has become the movement's favorite tool, but I doubt its impacting the abortion rate in part because people can just visit states which are more permissive about abortions and in part because there is no evidence that convincing legislators as opposed to childbearing women that abortion is wrong works.

Laws that restrict abortion did not seem to lower the number of procedures. On the contrary, restrictive laws were associated with higher rates
Granted, convincing millions of women is much, much tougher than convincing hundreds of legislators, but that is what is needed.

T-Rav said...

Yeah, I didn't believe it even without reasons not to, so this isn't exactly bringing me down. The public is brain-dead, the GOP is no better, and we couldn't win any seats last year, so why should we expect to pick up a sizable number next time, let alone win back the Senate? Whatever.

Koshcat said...

I agree with you, Andrew, but the problem is anytime someone does try to bring up a bold new plan, the dems start up the fear brigade and destroy the person. Talk about taking a conservative approach. For example, everybody with half a brain knows that the way Medicare and Medicaid are funded and ran is problematic. But if anyone tries to talk about it, such as vouchers they are accused of trying to kill grandma.

The other problem is dems do a good job saying the same thing. Nobody goes off the talking points. They sound like robots instead of thinking, breathing human beings. It turns me off but obviously it comes across differently to most people. If the dems position wasn't a good one then they wouldn't all agree, right?

I guess one approach is to stop talking about what was done in 1938 or what the primary purpose of Medicare was and how it has changed and take back the issue by continuing to talk about how to make it better. And play the meme game better. For example, instead of fighting Obamacare talk about how you would improve it by really providing health care to all (vouchers for everyone). Find people who are or will be hurt by Obamacare and as you talk about their hardship, maybe cry a little bit.

On abortion, stop talking about it. Do some research but perhaps taking the position that abortion isn't a federal problem and I don't think the government should routinely get between a patient and her doctor. The dems have often taken the contradictory stance "well, I am personally against abortion but support a woman's right to choose."

On taxes, again talk about how unfair the tax code is but be specific. How many of you know all the tax regulations? Don't you feel uneasy that you don't know how much you really pay? Do you realize that the rich and powerful put all those regulations in to squirm their way out of taxes but you can't? Go with the idea that a simple code is more difficult one to cheat. And flat out say that those who are against a change are protecting the rich and powerful.

Koshcat said...

I can't speak for other state except Colorado and Montana.

You are right about Senator Baucus of MT. He has been there since 1978. He is very crafty in that over the next two years you will see a more conservative Baucus than you had the last 4. I suspect he will be more critical of Obama and his policies. Don't expect him to do anything about them, just criticize. Most GOP don't even want to bother running against him. A lot of time and money just to get smeared.

Colorado GOP is in complete disarray. I think Mark "The Ghost" Udall is beatable by a competent candidate but I am not even sure one exists in this state. I've tried to convince my wife to run but she tells me to go do something to myself I don't think I can physically perform. Maybe Palin can move to Colorado and try or how about a Bush daughter? Not saying they are great but at least it would be interesting. Just NO MORE COORS!

AndrewPrice said...

K, I have three responses to that problem. First, that's why we would put in a floor at $250,000 with nothing below that being taxed. Secondly, a tax at 3% would take decades to really hurt you. If you retired with a million dollars and never earned another penny, it would take something like 27 years (top of my head) just to tax you down to the $250,000 level. And that assumes you never earn another penny. It's not hard to find CDs that could beat 3%. So I don't think it particularly requires risky investment. Third, we could exempt retirement assets up to say a million dollars.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That is the wildcard in 2014 -- turn out. If the election is most off-year elections, then the Republicans will get a slight boost across the board. BUT that still doesn't really make these seats vulnerable.

For one thing, these states are getting bluer and bluer. For another, these senators have a track record of winning in those states already. So while we do have a likely advantage in turnout, the odds are still very much against us.

Secondly, the total lack of any selling points is a killer. The Republicans seem determined to just try to sell the same worthless agenda. They want to fight over esoteric ideas like the ones in the article and they have yet to come up with a single word on how they will attract people who aren't already foaming at the mouth to support them.

That's the real problem. Colorado should be a red state, but it's not because the GOP offers the middle nothing worth supporting.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, I know you're being funny, but you actually make a point that needs to be addressed. What you have written is the view of the electorate that conservatives are currently telling each other as if it were true. That's the tantrum view of the electorate, and it's 100% false. Conservatives need to stop whining and admit that they haven't offered anything worthwhile to the public.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I don't think the GOP will change its abortion stance because the establishment (the real one, not the fake one conservatives like to shadowbox with) is obsessed with the issue. They have lost their minds on that point because it's a zealous theological issue for them and they are blind on the issue.

And I don't think any amount of training is going to help precisely because this is a theological issue for them. They simply don't get how they come across or that the public (80% of them) don't agree with them. To them, it's just a matter of screaming louder until the people accept God's will. And when they are rejected, they get off on the idea of being martyrs.

Moreover, as you point out, people would be fools to trust the GOP on this issue because their actions speak for themselves. In particular, the attempts to regulate abortion clinics out of existence, the whining about candidates not being pure enough, the demand for absolutist pledges, the steady flow of foot-in-mouth disease, the obsessive tone, etc. Only an idiot would believe that the GOP isn't obsessed with the issue.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The public's not brain dead. They are, in fact, a good deal smarter than conservatives at the moment.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I agree, with a caveat.

I don't think the public buys the Democratic line. I see no evidence of that. If that were true, the Democrats would be gaining support instead of bleeding support.

I think the problem is that conservatives are not making good points and they are horrible at selling the point they do make.

Take healthcare. The Republican position was (1) there's no problem, (2) how dare Obama try to socialize medicine, (3) if you don't have health insurance then it's your own fault, (4) yeah, we tried to force people to buy insurance before, but now it's an outrage, (5) why don't we help out the big insurers. Nowhere in there is there a sense that the GOP understood there is a problem or wanted to help people. Even when they finally stumbled upon an idea (a bad one) of letting insurance be sold across borders, they still didn't sell it at all. They just said, "we'll make it easier for big insurers to sell everywhere... problem solved." That's worthless.

How about admitting there's a problem in the first place instead of discrediting ourselves by claiming there isn't. Then offering solutions to people rather than attacking people and saying it's their own fault if they get injured and don't have insurance.

As for solutions, that's the problem. Conservatives have gotten stupid. They see the world as ON/OFF these days. Either we do what the Democrats want and we socialize medicine or we oppose it. They seem to have completely forgotten that there's this whole vast middle ground where we can propose our own solutions.

Think of all the things would could sell the public that we never did: (1) let doctors practice in any state so rural areas can get better doctors, (2) fund more doctors through loan forgiveness, (3) tax deductions for catastrophic care to protect you if you really are hurt, (4) legal changes to keep you from being dropped by insurers when you are sick, (5) requiring open pricing so people know what they pay, (6) legal/malpractice reform, (7) the feds picking up the tab for illegals, (8) funding low-income clinics, etc.

On Medicare, rather than talking about "privatize it," offer people "the option" to get private insurance. Tell people that everyone should have the same options as government employees and open those programs to medicare recipients. That sounds so much better than "privatize," but the effect is the same.

Conservatives need to learn to offer real solutions and how to sell those. The public is ready to buy, they just haven't heard anything worth buying.

BevfromNYC said...

But actually, there is a debt ceiling deal working around DC that is pretty smart. Temporary debt ceiling raise to keep the "government working" until May in exchange for a budget that we have not had in 4 years. How can the Dems refuse this and make it the Repubs fault?

AndrewPrice said...


Totally agree on taxes. Our system is a disaster and Republicans should be pointing out how much effort is wasted complying with it (or evading it), how the rich and powerful don't pay under it, how the deductions are for cronies, how it discourages work and hiring. So far so good... then they need to offer a genuine reform. And that's where things break down. The reform being offered these days is tinkering with the rates, extending some credits, and making everything more complex. That's not meaningful to anyone. We need to get bold on this one.

On abortion, I agree, but that's the problem. To the people who run the party, this is a theological issue and its really the only one that matters to them. And telling them to stop talking about it is like telling a priest to stop talking about God. In fact, I'm pretty sure people like Rick Santorum will see your statement as proof that you want to murder babies.

The rational solution is for the GOP to switch to a platform of no public funding and reasonable restrictions and then wait and see if the pro-life movement can ever win over the hearts and minds of the public for more... but this isn't an issue where these people are being reasonable.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I can't think of the last good candidate the Colorado GOP ran... or the last one the GOP didn't in-fight to death. The GOP here is horrifically destructive.

What you say about Baucus is typical of Democrats. They speak the language of the locals, then do the bidding of the national party in DC while claiming they aren't. This system works for them because it keeps them competitive in states where they shouldn't be. The GOP, on the other hand, screams about their purity and turns off the voters in all but the reddest of red states.

Koshcat said...

Interesting article as he basically states the same thing you have been talking about. Obama has grandiose and frankly unattainable plans but what is the GOP response?

AndrewPrice said...

But Bev, that will wipe out our 2014 election if the Democrats pass a budget!!!! Just kidding.

Actually, I think the Democrats will smear us by claiming we keep holding the government hostage, and the real smear will come in May when the Democrats claim that the GOP is stringing the government along "month by month" just to threaten the country. That's pretty much how I see it playing out.

I also think the GOP will get smeared when the budget finally gets produced because it will be unacceptable to them and they'll then be accused of being unhappy with their own demands. And when they vote for it, they'll be accused of selling out.

As an aside, a budget is not really a good thing. Without a budget, spending just continues with the automatic escalators. With a budget, new programs and new taxes can be created. So getting a budget will result in a bigger government and more taxes.

Conservatives might want to consider that.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Thanks for the link! LINK

I am seeing evidence that conservatives are slowly starting to wake up to this problem. There's still a lot of blindness, but I'm seeing cracks in the wall of blindness. If people are honest with themselves, the GOP really is offering nothing at all. So when someone says, "here's my plan to help" and the other side just says, "grumble grumble," people will go with the first guy.

It's really just a testament to the intelligence of the American people that Obama hasn't gotten hardly anything he asked for.

Koshcat said...

On the national level, I do have a sliver of hope coming from some.

Ryan, you can criticize his plan but at least there was a plan to criticize. He also seems to stay out of social battles.

Rubio really does want an immigration plan and "gets it." The GOP should immediately embrace him and his general plan.

Jindle seems interested in talking about true tax reform.

Throw in Nikki Haley and you could do much worse than embracing these leaders. Young, diverse, filled with energy and ideas.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I am hopeful about some of the national leaders. I like Jindal a lot. Rubio is making good moves. I don't know much about Haley truthfully, but I'd be happy if she fits into the picture. I think Rand Paul brings a lot of sane libertarianism to the party. I do like Ryan, though his lack of boldness disappoints me.

On Rubio, I totally agree and I think the GOP should adopt his plan as a group, vote for it right now in the House and dare the Senate not to support it. They can seize this issue from the Democrats if they act quickly.

One name I really am coming to dislike is Christie. Christie has offered nothing in the way of good ideas, and he spends his time cozying up to the Democratic establishment.

We need new thinking, not "moderate" thinking.

tryanmax said...

RE: Gallup abortion poll -- The leading charts and all the data on page one are interesting, sure, but not particularly useful in a political sense. The really telling information comes on page 2 in the first table. It shows that very few voters have ever felt strongly enough about abortion that their candidate must share their views. I would guess that number is pretty fairly split between both sides. But look at the second table. It shows that in almost every poll since 2001, a slim majority of Americans feel abortion is morally wrong. So while it's certainly not an issue to build a party around for either side, it's hardly damning to the pro-life movement.

Going back to the first-page graphs, it's a picture of a political tug-of-war wherein both sides must keep pulling because whoever stops pulling first will immediately lose. In spite of all the rancor, public opinion hasn't moved significantly since Roe v. Wade. The one noticeable shift in the early '90s coincides roughly with several states' attempts to ban abortion outright followed closely by the high-profile murders of several abortion doctors. Things shifted back to normal when the debate refocused on partial-birth abortion. If it weren't for what preceded it, PBA might have shifted things further against abortion.

But here's the clincher: conservatives have been steadily gaining legislative ground on the issue for 40 years without upsetting the opinion balance. The more I examine it, the less inclined I am to agree that this is a losing issue for conservatives. To the contrary, this is one area where the GOP is playing the political game very well--Todd Akin and friends notwithstanding. Now, if they represent a genuine rhetorical and tactical shift in the party, there will be a problem. But I only see that as a possibility if other Republicans continue to react so negatively to them (i.e. internal backlash).

* * *

"Laws that restrict abortion did not seem to lower the number of procedures. On the contrary, restrictive laws were associated with higher rates."

The Economist has misconstrued the findings. From the orginal article:

We found that the proportion of women living under liberal abortion laws is inversely associated with the abortion rate in the subregions of the world. Other studies have found that abortion incidence is inversely associated with the level of contraceptive use, especially where fertility rates are holding steady, and there is a positive correlation between unmet need for contraception and abortion levels. The unmet need for modern contraception is lower in subregions dominated by liberal abortion laws than in those dominated by restrictive laws, and this might help explain the observed inverse association between liberal laws and abortion incidence.

In other words, there is an additional factor at play, most likely cultural in origin. The greatest obstacle to reducing the number of abortions is the way contraception is generally coupled to abortion.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, So what that basically says is that the more access you have to contraception, the lower the abortion rate. So Ricky trying to ban condoms will lead to more abortions. Nice work Ricky.

I disagree that the numbers aren't damning to the pro-life community. The numbers tell us that despite the billions of dollars and hours spent by pro-lifers:

1. Public opinion hasn't changed over time. In other words, all that effort has been wasted.

2. The only time public opinion changes is when one side over-reaches. In other words, the very thing the pro-life movement wants is guaranteed to result in a backlash.

3. The public doesn't see this as an important issue for the political arena. In other words, an obsessive focus on this issue will only turn off the public.

4. 80% of the public is unwilling to ban it. That flies in the face of the pro-life goal.

I also don't see this wave of GOP candidates winning the public you are talking about. The only states where the GOP has been able to do anything about abortion are the theological states like Alabama. And at the same time, the GOP has become extinct in the Northeast, on the West Coast, and is losing ground in formerly conservative states like Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Nevada. They do manage to win some statehouses in the Midwest, but abortion is not an issue they touch in those places.

That's hardly evidence of progress.

Patriot said...

Re the abortion debate:

Read in the WaPo the other day that the DC school system is closing down something like 13 elementary schools. I would like to see a comparison of how many abortions have been done on minority women in the poorer sections of DC, where the schools are that are being shut down, and then translate that into the eugenics / taxes for abortion argument and show the people what their policies have wrought.

Conservatives need to start putting these arguments together to show the real life impact of abotion and tie it into liberal dems policies and aspirations.

Something to the tune of: "Liberal Dems want to kill off minority babies by making abortion free for inner city expectant mothers, thus meeting their budget goals by closing down schools for little children and meeting their long-held eugenics goal of purifying the world by getting rid of minority babies."

Conservatives need to be as outrageous and absurd as the left is in order to get people thinking and Dems explaining that they don't want to kill babies. Maybe not the best way to explain it, but something along those lines.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, Out of curiosity, did you hit post a bunch of times or is that a glitch on our end?

Anthony said...


What you quoted doesn't clash with the Economist's conclusion. The Economist didn't state that the law was the only factor at play they merely observed that anti-abortion laws didn't make for fewer abortions.

That holds true with what I saw in Latin America. Most of the region has very strong anti-abortion laws, but it has the highest rate of abortions in the world because the case hasn't effectively been made to women.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, I agree. Right now, true or not, the pro-life movement comes across as a white Evangelical movement that is basically male dominated. If they want to win over the public, the first thing they need to do is break that image. Getting minority support. Getting more minority and female spokesmen and leaders would help a lot. And the best way to do that is to point out the eugenics aspect of this and the fact that blacks and Hispanics are the most likely to be aborted.

They also need to decouple God from the debate. You simply cannot mention God in politics without people rolling their eyes, and that is all the pro-life movement talks about.

Anthony said...

The 'liberals want to kill minority babies argument' is an old one (its Alveeda King's main line of argument) has been around forever, but hasn't proven effective, probably because the people who choose to have abortions are not doctors or politicians, but pregnant minority women.

Its akin to blaming alcohol abuse on liquor stores or homicide rates on gun stores.

I think the black community's problems (one of which is the high rate of abortion) spring from the poor choices too many make (culture which isn't a prison, so it doesn't absolve individuals of responsibility for their choices) rather than conspiracy.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, Personally, I'm talking more broadly and less conspiratorially.

I agree that it would be impossible to sell the link "liberals want to kill blacks." BUT pointing out that blacks are by far the most likely to get aborted could get blacks into the debate. And if that happens, then the pro-life movement might be able to make itself appear like it has broad-based appeal, which it really doesn't at the moment.

Koshcat said...

Re: abortion

This is another area where we could steal the narrative. Basically, push for better education and contraception access. What drives me crazy isn't so much the people who think abortion is wrong it's the association with that thinking along with also being anti-contraception and anti-sex. It is so puritanical and it is this part that turns off the younger, fertile, and sexually active crowd.

Patriot said...

Andrew......For some reason it posted about 5 posts at the same time!

Also, I think that pro-choice does have a wide appeal, but that we need to link abortion, and the main provider of abortions via taxpayer dollars, to the eugenics movement by which modern mass abortion movement was founded upon. Quote Sanger's views on eugenics. Why not? Link her to the KKK and "Progressives." At this point the anti-abortion crowd is identified as a white, evangelical Christian movement. Fine, let's also start linking the anti-abortion views to the anti-slavery views...both pushed forward by white, evangelical Christians. Surely, we have some creative speechifiers that could prepare one-liners (which is the only way to get people's attention these days -- #retweets) and begin to plant the true ideas and history of what are now being vilified as racist conservatives.

Why can't we link abortion and racist progressivism together?! It's actual history.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I agree completely. That's the evangelical problem. As long as abortion is lumped in with belief in God, opposition to sex outside marriage, opposition to being single, opposition to women in "non-traditional roles", and opposition to contraception, the public simply won't buy it.

The pro-life movement doesn't come across as opposing abortion so much as trying to impose a lifestyle on people don't want based on their own theology. That's a loser every time.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, You can if you want to, BUT the problem is that doesn't work as a real selling point because the people pushing abortion aren't those people.

In other words, no one pushing abortion today is making statements like "we need to get rid of society's undesirable and blacks." If they were, it would be easy. But they aren't. Instead, they talk about personal freedom.

So when you see the two sides, you have women/men/young/old/black/white saying "personal freedom, let people be free to chose" versus old-white-guy-who-snarls-when-he-says-"women" saying "God told me we need to force rape victims to have kids." That's an easy one to tell you who is going to win that debate.

And just saying, "yeah, but the women/men/young/old/black/white who want to give you personal freedom are pushing something a eugenicist once pushed" isn't going to work. Hitler invented the highways, but no one believes that highway departments today harbor Nazi beliefs.

It's not where the idea comes from, it's how it's being sold at the moment which matters.

Koshcat said...

Believe it or not a lot of how to run a campaign could probably be learned by going back and studying how Bush II did it. Conservative are working so hard to be NOT BUSH that they forget that he was successful in getting elected, which is the most important aspect of a campaign. He had grand ideas like tax cuts and social security reform and he never stepped in the poopy on social issues.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, you misread me. I didn't say the GOP is sweeping statehouses, nor did I say the pro-life agenda is, but through gradualism pro-life aims are being realized while pro-choice strength is dwindling. TIME just did cover story lamenting that reality a couple weeks ago. You got into the point I'm making with Patriot a bit ago. It's not that the issue itself is a loser, it's that it's being framed wrong.

But Ricky is an idiot, there's not quibbling about that.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, There is always something to be learned from people who did it well in the past.

The one thing that I think Bush did exceptionally well was to talk directly to church groups rather than doing it through speeches. So he was able to attract social conservatives without scaring the rest of the public.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It's not that the issue itself is a loser, it's that it's being framed wrong.

I think this is true... BUT... you've got a real problem with the messenger. The messenger is messianic and won't believe that there is any other way this message could be framed.

Moreover, the messenger has rammed a lot of other things into the message -- the whole puritanical stuff Koshcat mentioned. Basically, they aren't just selling ending abortions, they are selling a return to Amish country. And that's a non-starter. So the message dies because of the garbage that is being sucked into it.

As for pro-life aims being realized, I just don't see that. When 80% of the public says "it must stay legal," and when there has been no real change in public opinion since Roe v. Wade, how does that show progress?

Patriot said...

Andrew...Agree on your points, however, ask yourself who gets blamed for Bull Connor, Southern racism, anti-civil rights? Why it's the old white Republican guys! When in reality, Connors was a Dem, the Dems controlled the South during Jim Crow, etc., etc., etc.

I'm saying we need to change people's perceptions of what actually happened. We have let the left distort history to the point where old white guys, republicans of course, get blamed for all of society's ills. We MUST change that or we will....hell, we have...lost the war.

I guess it gets back to many of the discussions we've had on this blog about what must be done to change the "conservative" brand. I suggest we fight back twice as hard and use their tactics against them. We know they're b.s. and idiotic, but we've got to use their own "rules" against them. Appealing to reason and intellect obviously hasn't worked.

Patriot said...

And as far as abortion......I think MOST people would agree that taxes should not be used for abortions. We should state we accept that Americans want abortions, but that federal taxes should not be used for it. And if we can't win an argument against Planned Parenthood then we really have lost......

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, I agree with all your points.

We do need to fight back to change the perception. We need to start linking the left with their ancestors the Nazis, the communists, the Eugenicists, slavery, Jim Crow. We need to beat the drums that FDR was a fraud. We need to point out that Johnson fought the Vietnam War, not Nixon. We also need to learn to mock their heroes and to deconstruct them. We need to do all of that. We can't just dismiss the importance of this stuff.

At the same time, we need more journalist and more publications. We need rich conservatives to buy newspapers, radio and television stations. We need to "Occupy Hollywood."

We need to do all of that because right now we are getting crushed in the culture because we've abandoned the very places where culture gets formed.

We also need to be willing to use the left's arguments against them. We can't play nice anymore and say "well, we won't do that." We need to get over the idea that we should fight "honorably." That's for suckers.

On abortion, I think starting with the idea of zero government funding and reasonable restrictions is the way to go. There is no support for more than that at the moment, but I suspect there is support for that. But will our side be willing to accept that? In my experience, they won't.

Anthony said...


It's kind of amazing a conservative Tyler Perry hasn't sprung up (he achieved massive success outside the system and despite critical derision because he understands the tastes of an under served audience).

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I've wondered about that. I think the truth is that you would be insane to identify yourself as a conservative because conservatives simply do not support their own. In fact, conservatives seem to hold other conservatives to a much higher standard than they hold liberals, and they are much quicker to dismiss conservative artists than they are liberal artists.

So my guess is that anyone trying to fit that role would need to claim they are nonpartisan or they would be attacked from the left and ignored from the right.

Anthony said...

Doing a bit of research, Alex Kendrick (founder of Sherwood Pictures, a Christian film studio) seems to be a pretty close analog to Tyler Perry. According to Wikipedia, they started off with a 20K donation and their films consistently make many times their budgets.

tryanmax said...

Anthony, you're right. What I quoted doesn't clash--and that's the trick of it. The closing statement, "On the contrary, restrictive laws were associated with higher rates" suggests strongly that a direct relationship does exist between anti-abortion laws and the procedure itself, just the opposite of the relationship intended. The paper being reported on, however, is asserting that no direct relationship exists between those two factors.

The Economist has created a half-fact, one which I have little doubt will be cited by other writers to smugly proclaim that pro-lifers should actually oppose anti-abortion laws if they want to reduce the number of abortions. The more appropriate assertion--the one The Economist does not even venture near--would be that pro-lifers ought to support broader access to contraception to reduce the number of abortions.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, then the answer is to drop the messianic types and not the message. I'm not saying it would be easy.

But you are looking for victory in the same direction as the people you criticize. Most pro-lifers are not abolitionists; how else do you get 50% claiming the mantle while 80% say "keep it legal?" The majority of both sides favors controls on the procedure and there are undoubtedly more of those.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I had that thought too, that there is a Christian film network out there who do pretty well.

As an aside, there's also an entire industry using the Roger Corman model where they make films for networks like the SciFi channel and those films tend to have a consistent profit -- though not a big one.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, In my experience, The Economist is very good at distorting facts and presenting half truths. I'm not surprised if they missed or skilled the idea that contraception reduced abortion.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree to an extent with your first point. I agree that dumping the messianic types would make a HUGE difference. That said, these numbers tell me that the public isn't going to accept "banned in all cases," no matter how nicely you ask. Maybe they will in the future, but there's no way to sell that right now.

The second comment, however, is where the problem arises. First, I agree that based on these numbers, clearly half the pro-life movement are not abolitionists.... but those aren't the people who define the movement.

The movement is defined by the messianic types for whom this is an all or nothing issue. I have seen this personally over and over where any suggestion of change is met with the same kind of anger as if you'd just said the US should convert to Islam. To them, anything less than "total ban right now" is pro-child murder.

And to back up my own experience, look at the way the GOP behaves. Candidates are made to swear to any number of extreme ideas to ban abortion completely -- everything from constitutional amendments to ban it outright to sneaky ways to try to ban it by giving the fetus rights over the mother. Look how important it was to them that abortion was the number one issue, that it was discussed constantly, and that their nominee had "passion" for the issue -- a word which came up a lot with Santorum. The platform was crawling with abortion mentions. And it clearly stated -- banned in all cases, the end. And look at what the GOP did in Mississippi where they were gleefully declaring that their regulations would end the procedure in the state. Banning is the only solution these people accept. It is an obsession.

And these are the people who control the pro-life movement. They define the pro-life movement. They set its agenda, they pick its candidates, they are the people who speak for it. That makes it impossible to approach the debate in any way except as an abolitionist debate.

If you want that to change, then the pro-life movement needs to find pro-life groups who aren't total abolitionists. No one is going to accept that people who go along with leaders demanding abolition aren't really abolitionists. We don't accept it when the Democrats talk about guns or abortion or socialism, so why should anyone accept it from us?

As for the majority on both sides favoring some controls, the problem with that is that as long as the pro-life movement continues to be run by abolitionists who use every sneaky trick in the book (see, eg. Mississippi) to ban it, people won't trust them to offer anything else. It's the same thing with the gun control debate. Liberals may propose some worthwhile regulations, but no one trusts them because everyone knows they have a hidden agenda to ban guns and most of their regulatory actions are aimed at making that happen. Same thing here.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The pro-life movement has hurt itself with its own words, its own deceptive actions, and its choice of leaders. It has no credibility with the public anymore except as a group of people who are obsessed with banning abortion totally (plus some side obsessions).

Until and unless the movement fixes that, it will make no headway with the public at large. And honestly, I'm not even sure it can be fixed. For one thing, I doubt its leaders will accept changes. For another, once you start trying to do sneaky things (see Mississippi), people stop trusting you and it becomes almost impossible to regain that trust.

The best bet would be to reform the movement with new groups who aren't abolitionists, and who aren't led by white, male evangelicals.

tryanmax said...

I guess what I'm failing to convey is that the GOP is reacting to itself way too much on the abortion issue. Yes, the pro-life agenda comes fully-featured with some vocal loonies. So what?

The Democrats have an amazing cadre of lunatics on all issues holding the very highest offices of the land spouting utter nonsense on a daily basis. They don't get away with that by sobbing mea culpa every time one of their own steps in it. Rather, they circle the wagons and collectively attack whoever it is that made their guy look bad. And if that person is nobody, then they just pick someone convenient.

I think we're all about ready to puke at the mention of Todd Akin again, but I have no choice b/c I have no idea who the reporter was who asked him the question. That's a huge problem. We should all know that reporter's name as well as why he/she was completely unqualified to even ask the question and how much of a dick/twat he/she personally is. But we don't. Because we did all that to Akin instead.

Half the country thought George W Bush was a retarded monkey, but he was still elected to a second term. Ditto for Barack Obama. This is only possible because their own teams weren't playing against them. People expect a person's opponents to oppose them. What they don't expect is that person's support to oppose them. When that happens, the sideliners figure that person has a major flaw.

The only reason independents are scared of the pro-life movement is b/c the GOP is scared of them. To independents, that means they must be really, really scary. Conversely, no one is scared of the truly scary nutjobs on the left because the rest of the left is like, "we've got this under control."

Finally, there's just no dropping pro-life for the GOP anyway. They wouldn't know how to spin it, first of all. They'd admit defeat and beg for people to be nice to them. In politics, that's begging to be kicked. No, the more I think about it, the only viable political option is for the GOP to nut-up and claim the issue. Only then can they talk louder than the crazies and drown them out.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm sorry, but that's not accurate.

First, the pro-life movement does a splendid job of scaring the hell out of people all on their own. It's not the supposed lack of cover provided by the GOP that turns moderates off.

Secondly, the GOP has only recently begun to turn against the flakiest members of the pro-life movement and even then only does so in the most extreme cases. This is long after attitudes have become fixed against the pro-life movement. So blaming the GOP for somehow not defending the movement and thereby causing the movement's PR problem is flat out wrong.

Third, as for the GOP "claiming the issue," do you seriously think the GOP doesn't fully, 100% embrace the looniest fringe of the pro-life movement? Show me the last Republican contender for almost any office who didn't sign all the pledges. Where are these armies of pro-choice Republicans keeping the pro-lifers at bay? Hell, show me a single pro-choice Republican leader. Show me when the GOP hasn't talked about abortion. They talk about it in almost every single debate and every single speech. They foam at the mouth over it. It's the only areas where most of the GOP's candidates actually know the issues. This idea that somehow the GOP and the pro-life movement are at odds is simply false.

tryanmax said...

Well then they certainly have a funny way of being chummy. What I have observed is a situation where the leftist media can reliably ask a question of a GOP candidate regarding abortion and one other hot-button topic and get some muddled answer from the candidate which they then make hay with and set their watches by the time it takes the remainder of the GOP to jump on the dogpile. None of this is to say that the pro-life movement hasn't been plenty scary on it's own. (I'm pretty sure I never said they weren't.) But can you honestly say they are any less scary than any of a dozen or so hard-left factions of the Democrat party that their politicians constantly kiss up to? The word "Teamster" is practically synonymous with broken kneecaps for crisake!

Maybe something is lost in the specifics, but what I roundly and soundly reject is that there is something inherently different about the pro-life position that makes it super-duper-toxic. In politics, it's always a matter of how you handle it. The more I study and ponder it, the more convinced I become of that.

Whatever other facts can be brought to bear, another fact that remains is the GOP is not burning to its foundations over abortion. The foremost problem is the lack of any other affirmative message on issues that Americans care about more than abortion. We're not scaring people away so much as we're going blue in the face over an issue that only 10% of either side is truly passionate about.

Heck, "obsession with abortion" only made honorable mention in your "I Hate To Break it To You" article (which I wholeheartedly agreed with, as you know). I'm not sure if that's your phraseology or theirs, but putting it that way just sounds like nobody wants to hear it. The hardliners aren't going away, and they aren't going to the other party. We're stuck with them like barnacles. The best best is to try cajoling them into a calmer state and present a better message so they can't be a distraction. That's what I mean by "claim it."

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Yes and no.

Yes. I agree with you that (for the most part) the pro-life position is not toxic. The "no exception for rape" part does bring real revulsion and anger, but the rest of it isn't a big deal.

The problem is the messenger. And yes, the GOP IS scaring people away as much as it's not attracting people because of that messenger. That messenger is seen as the core of GOP hate.

As for claiming it, honestly, the best thing the GOP could do would be to triangulate.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, In any event, this is all hypothetical anyways. Nothing is going to change unless these folks decide to make a change.

tryanmax said...

If it helps at all, I've completely shifted my attitude on the subject over the course of today, so my latter comments should not be regarded in the context of my earlier ones. Sorry.

I started from a position of thinking that the ugly elements of the pro-life faction could be driven off while retaining the more moderate elements. But somehow I concluded that they are a package deal.

When I say the GOP needs to "claim it" I mean that the pro-life part of the party needs to be subjugated to the rest of the party. You're absolutely right that they are running the show, and that's just weird given what our country currently faces.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think that's the problem, the messenger has become the message.

I also think it's highly unlikely that the GOP can fix this because these people are running the GOP and they don't want to believe there's a problem.

Individualist said...

"If the Republicans ever want to win again, they need some actual ideas. They need to tell people how they will make the job market grow. How they will fix the housing market. How they will fix the student loan problem. How they will make the country safer. How they will make kids smarter and less ugly."

This is the ugly truth. we can start making up a lot plans to start doing these things. We can differentiate them from the dermocrats and if our giveaways seem better than theirs we could even win over the electorate. We could say all of these things but in the end "saying" is all that can be done.

Government cannot do any of these things. Government will most likely only make things worse. The Housing bubble is an example of what happens when government starts instituting a banking policy. So what is the point for me. I don't want to go to the government for my financing needs. This does not help me. It is not in my interest to support these things. And this is not well the less fortunate need help because I am forced into their plans when I don't need or want them. It is not about taking my money any more, it is about taking over my life.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, No one is talking about giveaways. This is the problem with conservatives, they really think that the world is either do what liberals want or do nothing. That's just wrong. We're supposed to be the party of ideas.

Kit said...

As probably the most rabid pro-life person* here I can say I agree with you -sort of. I don't think the GOP should drop abortion. But they should downplay it, not make it a major issue at campaign events unless they are speaking at a church.
That's how Reagan did it, that's how Bush II did it and they both did a pretty good job with it.

*I am against it even in cases of rape/incest.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, On the one hand, I don't think dropping abortion is a good idea. On the other hand, the problem is that so long as the GOP maintains an absolute position on abortion, the crazies will continue doing what they are doing. The crazies need to be driven out.

But it's all academic because they control the party.

tryanmax said...

As probably the most rabid pro-life person*

You've got me beat by one condition: I oppose in cases of rape but not incest. Is that weird?

Anthony said...

Judging by Boenher's comments today and the recent proposal (with zero chance of becoming law) which would make it a crime for a victim of rape or incest to get an abortion, I don't get the sense the party is going to step back from the issue.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I don't either. They're determined to keep running with those issues because it is an obsession.

And let me point out that while pro-life conservatives love to whine that the Republicans are somehow pro-choice RHINOs, that is utter bull. From top to bottom, the Republicans (including supposed RINO Boehner) are all in the pro-life fringe.

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