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November 02, 2010

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If it's true that the President's party almost always loses seats in the first mid-terms, the flowchart MAY be a bit more complicated. Alternatively, it really is that simple, but the definition of "suck" is always biased in first mid-terms.

As for the Democrats' boundless stupidity, you might add their failure to make a BFD of the Obama Tax Cut, instead of tamely hewing to the "extend the Bush tax cuts" frame.

It will be interesting to watch whether the sucky economy in 2012 will result in the GOP losing the House again, or winning the White House again.

--TP

The worst part of all this is the dishonesty with which the GOP so easily took advantage of the Democrats, and how the Dems let themselves be bullied like this. I vote via absentee ballot, and I can't recall an election I was more dispirited by, more utterly uninterested in because I had had the feeling that participation in it made me complicit in it, rather than proactive against those that are disfiguring electoral politics even more than what they have been.

It's really not that I am that gigantic an admirer of the Dems, because they have proven themselves so often to be incompetent and weak. It's that under the bluster, I know the GOP has no policy proposals at all that don't benefit the moneyed, and has positioned itself more about what it is against rather than what it is for. In an ideal world, they should be easy to embarrass into obscurity for the bankruptcy of their positions, the inanity of those in their vanguard, and the parochial, moralistic frigidity about them - jackasses, draughthorses, and cows, which happen occasionally to come in tailored suits and designer dresses.

But, yawn...sigh...trust these other guys never to pass up an opportunity to pass up an opportunity, and for Americans to let themselves be buffaloed - again.

you don't get results by passing half-assed stimulus bills, letting the banks get away with murder, and then hoping to make up the difference with happy talk.

Preach, brother.

The patient is still anemic, we didn't bleed him enough....

lose the House but keep Harry F'in Reid.

heckofajob, Democratic caucus.

I first voted in '66 (the age was still 21).
One of the people for whom I was glad to pull a lever was Mike Dukakis, for state rep or maybe state senator (looong time ago!)

In '88, you may recall, Mike ran for president against Bush1. And lost, largely, but not entirely, because of Lee Atwater's mendacious campaign.

I know Mike, and I know he was thinking for the whole time: The voters aren't going to fall for that snit!

Well guess what, Dems. Enough of the voters (a small percentage, but enough) fall for the snit, every time, that coupled with a bad economy and the normal tendency of the president's first mid-term, we got hammered. But good.

It isn't all tactical. Historical trends predicted good GOBP gains. But tactically, today's Dems remind me of nothing as much as the early political generals in the civil war. McLellan would feel right at home.

It has nothing to do with policy whether left or right.

It never does, since those categories are completely meaningless in American politics; if you spent a few years and millions of dollars branding nationalized health care as 'conservative', people would indeed think it's conservative. If you spent 30 years calling any policy that might have been advocated by Eisenhower 'liberal'...oh wait, that actually happened.

Republicans know this, of course. OTOH, it's a perpetual oddity that so many Democrats are in a business (politics) they evidently don't like, don't understand, and aren't any good at.

lose the House but keep Harry F'in Reid.

Reid winning is one of the bright spots. I'm not a huge Harry fan, but US Senators have an absurd amount of personal power to screw things up, and a Senator Angle would surely have used it extensively.

Tactics, shmactics: "it's the economy, stupid."

(A quotation not directed at anyone here at ObWi.)

The chart above only applies to about 10%of the voters who are middle class and white. For non-whites, the chart is always vote for the Democrat.

One of the lessons that the Democrats are going to take away from this election is that is there are enough non-whites, the Democrats will win the election no matter how bad the economy is. Look at California and Maryland where the Republicans are basically irrelevant to politics. In both states, the Republicans have zero chance of winning state wide office. Look for the Democrats in blue states to push for more immigration and to try to push middle class whites out of their states.

Or how about the GOP appealing on non-whites? Crazytalk, amiright?

@Gary Farber

Of course it is. It always is.
That having been said, the Dems were and are hideous tacticians.
Good tactics can minimize losses, even if the loss is inevitable.
For instance: Its a foregone conclusion, that Issa, the idiot from San Diego, is going to start issuing subpoenas for anyone and everyone in the administration.
What if Obama said: Ignore them.
Constitutional crisis? Maybe. But maybe not. Watch the GOP sputter and fume. See if anyone outside the beltway and Fox cares. In the long haul, did Newt win?
Or: Suppose some GOBP starts bloviating about spending.
So, the Dems should have the guts to call that person out, and say: "OK, what expenses in YOUR state/district should we start with?"
Make them put their fncking money where their fncking mouth is, which is up Sam Walton's corpses' @ss.
Make Al Franken chairman of the DNCC.
Start the new Senate session with some version of the nuclear option (Yeah I know. Harry Ried. :::sigh:::)
Be Lee, not McLellan.

Regarding your flowchart, Jacob:

If that were actually the rule, the other guy would have won in an overwhelming landslide. Probably it's more accurate to model it as a Gauss-Markhov process with a small added bias determined by economic factors. As well as, certainly, other added biases whose values are determined by other factors.

Witness, that the economy didn't really suck back in 2006, for instance.

I mean, it wasn't really a surprise that Alan Grayson (FL) lost (was it?), nor was it a surprise that Corrine Brown (FL) was reelected with a comfortable margin.

efg:

[...] That having been said, the Dems were and are hideous tacticians. [....]
Oh, I'm not trying to discourage stomping and yelling about the faults of the Democrats.

In fact, I'll yell at Nancy Pelosi here:

[...] “Over the last four years, the Democratic majority in the House took courageous action on behalf of America’s middle class to create jobs and save the country from the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression,” Ms. Pelosi said, adding:

“The outcome of the election does not diminish the work we have done for the American people. We must all strive to find common ground to support the middle class, create jobs, reduce the deficit and move our nation forward.”

What words are missing here?

"The poor"? "Fighting poverty"?

Those used to be primary liberal, progressive, goals.

But the poor don't vote, relatively speaking, and they most certainly don't make campaign contributions.

And the middle class is worried about the middle class.

So fscuk the poor, and the goal of fighting poverty. It's no longer a Democratic priority.

So much for leftist commie Marxist Nancy Pelosi, and her Manchurian candidate ally who is run by Bill Ayers.

Their real secret plan is President Malia Ann Obama-Kennedy.

The communist Islamists plan just that long ahead -- when they colloborate with the Red Chinese!

Sorry, "Obama-Clinton."

superdestroyer has a history of all comments being on his sole topic that "white" Americans are being outnumbered by minorities, and thus inevitably, shortly, America will be a one-party Democratic state due to demographics of race.

Note how he fits the current election results into his obsession. It's interesting in a clinical way, really.

For non-whites, the chart is always vote for the Democrat.

I'm wondering, for the sake of discussion, whether Marco Rubio is to be considered white or nonwhite.

I'd guess white, because he couldn't possibly have run and been elected as a Republican were he nonwhite. Unless superdestroyer is in some way dead wrong about his generalizations.

So: probably insufficiently dusky.

"The poor"? "Fighting poverty"?

Those used to be primary liberal, progressive, goals.

....

And the middle class is worried about the middle class.

You know, if Democrats were effective at communicating with even the *middle class*, I'd be happier. They aren't.

The failure to understand this - and the failure to understand that a too-small stimulus with a large and completely worthless tax cut component was not going to do the job - is the only reason the Democrats are losing.

The GOP ran explicitly against HCR and explicitly against the stimulus. The Dems ran away from both. As unpleasant as it may be, this was an election about policies and issues and the left's policies and issues lost. There was no lack of communication: Obama and his administration were on the waves more than any other president hawking his programs. The back room deals, the last minute buy-offs, the 2400 page piece of legislation that was never debated on its merits, a stimulus cooked up by only one party and rammed through with only the barest pretense of a debate, all at a time when our deficit is out of control--all of this was noticed by people other that progressive Democrats and found to be wanting.

The worst part of all this is the dishonesty with which the GOP so easily took advantage of the Democrats, and how the Dems let themselves be bullied like this.

The other side never wins on the merits, it just can't happen. Sure. The GOP campaigned against expanding gov't and expanding deficits at a time of a receding economy. The Dems could have argued for more of the same, more spending, higher taxes at the higher end, etc. If that was a winning argument, why not make it? Because those mean ol' GOP people will distort your positions? Please. Like distorting the other side's position hasn't been standard US politics for centuries. Commenters at this site routinely, as a matter of course, impute the worst possible motives and subtexts to GOP supporters and candidates and do not for even a second see themselves as misstating or unfairly presenting their opponents' arguments. It's only those other bastards who get it wrong, not us!!!

the GOP has no policy proposals at all that don't benefit the moneyed, and has positioned itself more about what it is against rather than what it is for.

And yet, they won. Obstruction can be a sound policy approach, such as opposing further growth in a gov't already percieved as too large and too costly by (apparently) a lot of people. Even if they often voted otherwise, most GOP'ers talked the talk on limited gov't. Supporters of limited gov't will oppose expanded gov't, which includes opposing the version of HCR that passed and the stimulus and the GM bailout. That is the essence of being a small gov't person. You may disagree, but it isn't pedophilia or larceny, it's just at different take on how people want to be governed, or not.

Too much what is being said here sounds like my GOP friends after Obama and the left steamrollered the Repubs two years ago. It wasn't fair, they weren't honest, they misled everyone, wah, wah, wah. That Bush et al had governed like d**ks and got us into a war that, looking back, didn't seem like such a grand idea and that economy tanked, well that was all just, you know, whatever . . .

Here's the deal: there is a reason why Progressives are a minority within a party that is itself a minority. It's not a matter of morals, integrity, good intentions or whatever: Americans, to the extent they have a preference prefer smaller national gov't and more local gov't. They are debt-sensitive and the left and Obama haven't acted as if they give a damn about deficits.

That said, for anyone who's read this far, the problem with the Repubs is sort of the mirror image of the Dems: once they get in power, they get hijacked by the true believers and start doing stupid stuff. Or, in this case, maybe they'll just do nothing. We are in uncharted waters now. In 1994, with Clinton in office, you had a deal-maker with a constant eye on his political fortunes. He tacked center and got 4 more years. Is Obama even half as nimble? I doubt it. Can the GOP and Obama find common ground? I doubt that too. Voter forecast for 2012: a pox on both their houses.

My vote for Elaine Marshall made no difference in terms of her losing, because that was a foregone conclusion. If you like other measures, such as her losing by a close margin in my county, Wake County, or any number of other statistical ways the vote more abstrusely, sure, they're there to be found.

It's hard. I told someone on Facebook, for me to be cheerful when Burr was a foregone conclusion to win, and so many other Republicans were, and the Republican House became clear a while ago.

North Carolina:
Richard M. Burr
Rep. 1,447,884 55.0% Incumbent
Elaine Marshall
Dem. 1,130,281 42.9%
Mike Beitler
Lib. 55,122 2.1%

Congressman Brad Miller, Democrat, on the other hand, was foregone in Wake County:

55.4% Miller*

44.6% Randall

This rather stupid ballot measure passed overwhelmingly, as I figured it would, but personally, I could care less if say, someone convicted of buying three ounces of marijuana were allowed to be on the ballot:

Major Ballot Measures
Measure Yes No Reporting
Prevent felons from being elected sheriff
85.0%

15.0%
100%

The Dems ran away from both. As unpleasant as it may be, this was an election about policies and issues and the left's policies and issues lost.
These two sentences contradict. The Democrats, I agree, did not run on those issues; most did not defend Bush's TARP, or bank bail-outs, or Obama's overly-mild stimulus, or health care bill.

By the way, see also the chart from the Sara Robinson piece I updated my post just below this one with, just a little while ago, along with the quote, and I commend the whole piece to everyone's attention, naturally, though it's a partisan progressive perspective, if that leaves you bored.

The GOP campaigned against expanding gov't and expanding deficits at a time of a receding economy.

more accurately, the GOP created a fictional universe where they hold no blame for anything, where Obama raised taxes, where Obama created the unemployment situation, where TARP is an Obama plan, where the 2009 deficit is due to Obama's budget, and the GOP has always acted 180 deg from the way they have always acted in our universe.

they campaigned as champions of a fantasy universe and the Dems utterly failed to point this out.

when more than 80% of voters do not know that Obama lowered 90% of working families taxes, the GOP cannot claim to have won on "the merits".

Or: Suppose some GOBP starts bloviating about spending.
So, the Dems should have the guts to call that person out, and say: "OK, what expenses in YOUR state/district should we start with?"

I probably heard that exact conversation a dozen times in the weeks leading up to last night. Usually not with the "in YOUR state/district" qualifier, just the simple question "What would you cut?"

The answer was invariably something so vague as to be, essentially, horsecrap.

"All options are on the table".
"We are going to take a close look".
"Hard decisions will have to be made".

Stuff like that. Non-answers. You know, horsecrap.

There are no realistic Republican plans for trimming back the size or scope of the government, or for reducing federal debt, or for expanding the scope of personal liberty.

Sure, there's the occasional bomb-thrower like Miller who wants to dismantle, frex, the Department of Education in its entirety, but the reason he can say stuff like that is because it has no chance whatsoever of happening. If he somehow managed to make it happen, his constituents would be looking for his head on a platter shortly thereafter, because it would suck for them.

The Republican party stands for the privileges of private property, which they generally construe to be large piles of money.

The Democrats like the money, too, but they retain an odd, vestigial sense that there are people living here who aren't wealthy.

And those are our options.

In MA, we have Jill Stein to add local color, in TX they have Ron Paul. Other than that, it's Democratic noblesse oblige, or Republican joie de f**k you.

Folks who voted R to achieve smaller government, tax cuts, and a respect for the Constitution will see tax cuts, maybe.

So, one out of three.

We *will* see the R's use their gains in Congress to do anything and everything in their power to cripple Obama, so that they have that much better of a shot at the White House in 2012.

And that will be our next two years.

Look at California and Maryland where the Republicans are basically irrelevant to politics. In both states, the Republicans have zero chance of winning state wide office.

Fun Game! Fill in the blank: The governor of the state of California is a member of the _________________ party.

My opinion on this is pretty much that the Republican party is going to think that the vote is a validation of whatever policies and values they hold most dear, while Democrats are going to see it as a bunch of people voting the wrong way because they're too stupid to know better.

IOW, both will get this completely wrong, and continue making the same mistakes that got them in their respective fixes in the first place.

I used to be an optimist.

more than 80% of voters do not knowhave not noticed that Obama lowered 90% of working families taxes

Amended, slightly.

Americans, to the extent they have a preference prefer smaller national gov't and more local gov't. They are debt-sensitive and the left and Obama haven't acted as if they give a damn about deficits.

This overreaches.

About half the country has a stated preference for smaller national government and more local government. Maybe a bit more than half is "debt-sensitive".

And all of those folks' preferences for less of everything federal tend to be limited to what the other guy gets.

Also, what cleek said.

The NYT goes for the lolz:

Among the first things that Mr. Boehner has said he will seek to accomplish are reversing cuts to the Medicare program and extending the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, steps that are hard to reconcile with a commitment to reining in the national debt.

Fun Game! Fill in the blank: The governor of the state of California is a member of the _________________ party.

Another fun game: The California state legislature is, in both houses, nearly two-thirds _______ Party majority.

The GOP campaigned against expanding gov't and expanding deficits at a time of a receding economy.

This says to me, considering the bolded parts, that the GOP ran against the laws of arithmetic.

It should be blindingly obvious at this point that households are attempting to pay down the debt they incurred while unsustainably fueling the economy by borrowing over the last decade or two and that firms are sitting on piles of cash, not wanting to expand capacities or inventories for lack of demand. The economy slows, tax revenues go down and welfare payments go up. The result: deficits grow. It's unavoidable short of allowing a depression to ensue.

You have a choice between undirected deficit spending where, generally speaking, you pay people to do nothing, or you can have directed deficit spending where, generally speaking, you pay people to create value and lay the groundwork for future growth.

Either that or you somehow magically expect your big trade deficit to turn into a big trade surplus.

Slarti, I'm not sure how your counterpoint (such as it is) is relevant to superdestroyer's statement that Republicans have "zero chance" of winning statewide office. Or is it not supposed to be, or . . . ?

I mean, zero, as I understand math, means zero, and yet there is at least one Republican holding statewide office, so . . .

Walk me through this, if you would.

Among the first things that Mr. Boehner has said he will seek to accomplish are reversing cuts to the Medicare program and extending the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, steps that are hard to reconcile with a commitment to reining in the national debt.

The NYTimes isn't thinking hard enough, in RNC world circa 2010 (a) Medicare is not a government program, and (b) tax-cuts pay for themselves. No reconciliation needed.

We'll know if the Democrats learned their lesson if Tim Kaine -- the Blue Doggish Southern Governor who replaced Howard Dean as Democratic Party National Chairman -- loses his job as a result of yesterday's debacle.

"Sure, there's the occasional bomb-thrower like Miller who wants to dismantle, frex, the Department of Education in its entirety, but the reason he can say stuff like that is because it has no chance whatsoever of happening."

It also wouldn't save much money, for several different reasons I leave as an exercise to the reader.

This says to me, considering the bolded parts, that the GOP ran against the laws of arithmetic.

Exactly right and very well said, hsh.

Oh, here's the only election analysis you need if you're a Democrat: Thank you, Christine O'Donnell!

Phil was responding to superdestroyer's:

[...] Look at California and Maryland where the Republicans are basically irrelevant to politics. In both states, the Republicans have zero chance of winning state wide office.
I gotta go.

Phil was responding to superdestroyer's:

Ah. That was me responding to something that Phil didn't say. Please consider my 10:19 comment retracted, doused with a suitable accelerant, and set afire.

Probably it would have been even better form to have addressed that last to Phil.

Phil: I shamefacedly retract my 10:19 comment.

What I really want to know is (a) when do the hearings on Obama's birth certificate begin, and (b) how soon after that do the articles of impeachment pass?

McKTX - The GOP ran explicitly against HCR and explicitly against the stimulus. The Dems ran away from both. As unpleasant as it may be, this was an election about policies and issues and the left's policies and issues lost.

Nope, this was an election about policy rhetoric and the Democrats have a tin ear and no stomach for conflict.

Where exactly was actual policy being discussed on its merits?

I would point out that the least qualified high profile Tea Party candidates lost. Angle, O'Donnell, Fiorina lost because, despite Tea Party rhetoric, they were bad candidates.

I only point this out because the "smart kids", Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley won because they were BOTH Tea Party supported and competent.

It was nice for me to see that people could discern the difference.

I rate the chances of the Democratic Party learning this lesson as less than zero,

Jacob, how do you rate the chances of the Republicans learning the lesson, and realizing that their victory is something less than an overwhelming endorsement of their positions?

Look at California and Maryland where the Republicans are basically irrelevant to politics. In both states, the Republicans have zero chance of winning state wide office.

FYI, not only is the out-going (2 term) governor of California a Republican, the in-coming Attorney General is, too. Californians do split-tickets in state-wide races all the time. And would do so more often, if non-nut-cases managed to make it thru the Republican primary more often.

Arnie's a special case, wj.

If the CA GOP could put up non-nut cases in general elections, it wouldn't be the CA GOP.

The Attorney General race is still undecided (with the Democrat, Kamala Harris, currently leading).

Jacob, how do you rate the chances of the Republicans learning the lesson, and realizing that their victory is something less than an overwhelming endorsement of their positions?

Having just made a quick visit to Althouse's site, I'd say the chances are less than zero.

Arnold isn't a particularly strong refutation of any proposition weaker than "it is against the fundamental laws of nature for someone with an (R) next to his name to get elected to statewide office in California".

So, without defending superdestroyer's super-strong formulation, there are a lot of observations one could make about the political system and the fact that there are lots of states and political races where one side or the other is almost never really in play. And in fact I think I will in a post right now. ;)

superdestroyer's like the triangle player in the marching band: he's only got one note to play, and it's the same note no matter what the song is, but he's going to play it with everything he's got, every chance he gets.

ting ting ting! single party system!
ting ting ting! single party system!

I only point this out because the "smart kids", Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley won because they were BOTH Tea Party supported and competent.

What, exactly, is Rand Paul competent at? And what, exactly, demonstrates that he's "smart?"

This reminds me so much of Clinton's first term. Over the next two years I expect to see a lot of useless pontificating, Republican overreach, the Obama administration beginning to look at cleaning up government, and a Democratic Party rebound in 2012. How the Buffalo Bills aren't losing Super Bowls is beyond me.

"Here's the deal: there is a reason why Progressives are a minority within a party that is itself a minority. It's not a matter of morals, integrity, good intentions or whatever: Americans, to the extent they have a preference prefer smaller national gov't and more local gov't. They are debt-sensitive and the left and Obama haven't acted as if they give a damn about deficits."

That's the rationalization, the myth, the misconception that distorts our political conversation and makes it so hard to have an intellectually honest discussion of our economy or our federal budget.

Most Republicans and conservatives like big governemtn spending programs that go to them and love earmarks fir their own districts. This is an fact because the red states and the red parts of states are the ones most heavily subsidized by Republican politicans delivering federal dollars to their voters. Farm price supports, Bonneville power TWA federal lands leased at below market value, timber from federal alnd sold at below market value, gazillions dollars for pork barrel water projects, gazillions of dollars for pork barrel miliary spending...Alaska is the biggest recepient of earmarks in the USA. And of course there's all those Teabaggers on SS, Medicare or veterans' benefits.Republicans and conservatives may oppose big government spendinng in theory but in actuality they love them THEIR big government programs.

But they do not want to pay for their big government programs or anyone else's. Hence the huge increase in deficits every time the Repubicans get ahold of the federal government. Something cannot be gotten for nothhing and big government programs for conservatives cannot be paid for with tax cuts for the rich.

But what about those nig--poor people wasting our tax dollars? We can have big government programs for conservatives, cut taxes for conservatives and balance the budget if it weren't for all the money being wasted on (fill in the whoever is the current scapegoat of the right). That's the argument put forth by Republican politicians since Reagan took George Wallace's slogans and sanitized them for the mass market.

So it is a matter or morals, integrity and good intentions.

Especially given the influence of Grover Norquist and Karl Rove on the Republican party. They don't want the budget to be balanced. They want to drownd us in debt.

The flowchart should probably have been introduced with "How elections turn out" rather than "How Americans vote", but hey, this ain't the NYT here and we don't have editors.

I'm just sick of the thumbsucking idiocy that passes for advice after an election like this. If the economy was better, the Democrats would have won the House. If the economy was worse, they would have lost the Senate. Everything else is peripheral. Unfortunately, the focus on the peripheral is what distracted the Democrats from actually accomplishing what they needed to.

Krugman says it better here:

So, we’re already getting the expected punditry: Obama needs to end his leftist policies, which consist of … well, there weren’t any, but he should stop them anyway.

What actually happened, of course, was that Obama failed to do enough to boost the economy, plus totally failing to tap into populist outrage at Wall Street. And now we’re in the trap I worried about from the beginning: by failing to do enough when he had political capital, he lost that capital, and now we’re stuck.

"For non-whites, the chart is always vote for the Democrat."

I'm wondering, for the sake of discussion, whether Marco Rubio is to be considered white or nonwhite.

It's all coherent- as long as Rubio voted for Meek.

I would point out that the least qualified high profile Tea Party candidates lost. Angle, O'Donnell, Fiorina lost because, despite Tea Party rhetoric, they were bad candidates.

I only point this out because the "smart kids", Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley won because they were BOTH Tea Party supported and competent.

I would've put Rand Paul in the first category, but lucky enough to live in one of the Reddest states in the country- put his foot in his mouth a few times and then let his handlers basically keep him the &$%^ away from anything but friendly press. Which is what Angle did, but for a less friendly crowd.

And neither Rubio nor Haley are creatures of the Tea Party the way that Rand, Angle, or O'Donnell were. Nor Fiorina, she was a pretty typical businesswoman-turned-politician. Unless by "Tea Party supported" you mean most R candidates across the country.

The GOP ran explicitly against HCR and explicitly against the stimulus. The Dems ran away from both. As unpleasant as it may be, this was an election about policies and issues and the left's policies and issues lost.

'As unpleasant as it may be' is not an argument in favor of the proposition. Two arguments against:
1)historically, this is pretty normal for a midterm election with the economy in the tank
2)were the American people really against liberal policies in '04, then in favor of them in '06 and '08, but have now turned against them again? Or, is it that you think *this* election was about policies and issues, but elections where the GOP lost were not?
I mean, that does explain why you think the American people favor the policies that you favor (something you're quite fond of saying): they get confused sometimes and vote for Dems, but then come to their senses and vote GOP- and *mean* it.

The other side never wins on the merits, it just can't happen. Sure. The GOP campaigned against expanding gov't and expanding deficits at a time of a receding economy.

Heck, they campaigned against stuff that *they did* (eg TARP), successfully blaming it on Obama. Now, you can call that winning on the merits. I call it victory by BS. But I don't think it mattered how they campaigned, and history supports my position that the losses are typical for a midterm with a bad economy. Barring something incredibly stupid like running on their actual policies (ie dismantle Social Security, cut taxes while preserving spending, etc) the GOP was guaranteed a win.
There will always be a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking; praise for winners and scorn for losers. Evaluations of various strategies, etc. In this very thread, we see the genius of Rand Paul praised for managing 55% in Kentucky in a GOP-wave year, for example. Or we see the head of the DNC excoriated for not coming up with a winning plan in the face of: a midterm election and a bad economy.

Too much what is being said here sounds like my GOP friends after Obama and the left steamrollered the Repubs two years ago.

If they said 'Bush hosed the economy and led us into two wars, neither of which is turning out very well- and now we are not being judged on our current proposals but on his jackassery', then they were right. Al Gore lost an election because Clinton fooled around with an intern. Bush I lost because of an inevitable end to a business cycle. etc.

I think it’s funny, that superdestroyer and I agree, about the state of the political parties and their relationship to people-of-color. Except, I’m part of the hard-left, while he’s a right-winger.

I think the Democratic Party is a “conservative-to-left” political organization, while the Republican Party is an ethno-nationalist, reactionary Political Party.

Because the Republican Party is so extraordinary ethno-nationalist in its make-up it is incapable of developing relationships with conservatives-of-color, in any meaningful way. It’s commitment to “smaller-government” is usually code for “smaller-government” for non-“real-Americans.” And conservatives-of-color mostly realize this.

The Democratic Party is conservative because it is conserving the institutions of the Progressive Movement, the New Deal and Great Society. The Republican Party is reactionary, in that it wants to destroy those institutions and long for the ethno-nationalistic nation of yore.

As a Leftist, I think those institutions did not go far enough, and the goals of the old school Democratic Party only softened the boom-and-bust cycles of US capitalism.

Leftist-of-color and conservatives-of-color, have had to make alliances with each other and with whites, who may not agree with everything, but do believe in a pluralistic America.

Of the 39 House Democrats who voted against HCR, 27 lost yesterday. If voters are punishing those responsible for HCR, they're doing a pretty lousy job.

Having just made a quick visit to Althouse's site, I'd say the chances are less than zero.

Black Box merlot is a hell of a drug.

Black Box merlot is a hell of a drug.

Is that a Rick James reference?

Oh my yes.

In that case, keep your muddy shoes off my white couch.

Fnck yer couch, honky!

I wish I had four hands . . .

Marty: "I only point this out because the 'smart kids', Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley won because they were BOTH Tea Party supported and competent."

What's Rand Paul competent at? What would be three relevant examples?

I think the Democratic Party is a “conservative-to-left” political organization, while the Republican Party is an ethno-nationalist, reactionary Political Party.

Naturally. It's perfectly normal to think that your party is...well, normal, while those other guys are depraved maniacs.

Plus, I can't believe you used the word "organization". Aren't you a Democrat?

Sprinkle smileys as needed.

More Krugman:

Nobody cares about process... they care about results. Nobody really cares about earmarks; they’re just code for spending less (less on somebody else, of course, not me). Nobody cares about civility and bipartisanship, which in practice are code for Democrats giving in to Republican demands. Nobody cares about parliamentary maneuvers: we can argue about the role of health reform in the election, but I bet not one voter in 50 knows or cares that it was passed using reconciliation (as were the sacred Bush tax cuts we must, must retain).

If Obama had used fancy footwork and 2 AM sessions to pass a big public works program, and this program had brought unemployment down, Republicans would be screaming about the process — and Democrats would have comfortably held control of Congress. Remember the voter backlash against the way Medicare drug benefits were passed? Neither do I.

Oh, by the way — nobody cares about the deficit, either.

Until Democrats learn this we're doomed to repeat the cycle of the last decade over and over again.

Well, it'll probably be much worse next time. If the Republicans try really hard they might be able to crash the US economy for real. Yay?

Agree with Krugman, and Jacob's 4:20 p.m.

I said "p.m."

Nobody cares about process

Noted.

Republicans would be screaming about the process

But I thought you said...oh, never mind.

Slartibartfast,

I don't think it’s "normal." I think that’s why it is a dis"organized" political organization.

A Parliamentary system could possibly be an answer, but I’m over that debate.

Think about all the different Leftist Political Parties compared to the right-wing parties, running candidates and “siphoning” votes, even today.

The US Left has always been fractured, and has had to deal with the Democratic Party; I don’t think there is much equivalence on the Right.

My theory is that "caring" and "what a politician says in public" may not be the same thing.

It doesn't seem too radical a thought.

Also, quickly, if you read Krugman's piece, he's consistently using "nobody" in this context as a stand-in for "the average American. In the other case, he's referring to Republicans in Congress. Inconsistencies between these two groups are unsurprising.

What's Rand Paul competent at?

Billing Medicaid.

*rimshot*

Self-certification, maybe?

Megan McArdle linked.

someotherdude,

I have never found those alleged conservative blacks who just happened to always vote for Democrats. I suggest looking at the website of the Congressional Black Caucus. Not a single conservative idea or policy to be found. The members of the Congressional Black Caucus are generally to the left of Bernie Sanders.

If you look at the website for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, you will find the same level of liberalism.

superd, per wikipedia only 4 blacks have been elected to Congress from the GOP since the Congressional Black Caucus was founded in 1971 (about one per decade). 3 of those 4 did join the CBC, but you can hardly expect them to be running the place.

Not that I expect facts to help you with your, er, problem.

So then what is “conservative”?

I was under the impression that, unlike “ideology” conservatives sought to protect established institutions and slow down change.

"Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself."


I think most of the activists within the Republican/Tea Party believe that the current institutions, as they have been developed since Woodrow Wilson, should be overturned (many Leftists would agree). However, I suspect right-wingers have a ethno-nationalist view of that era and Leftists…not so much. Many of the conservatives of color, however are very happy with those institutions, and would want to slow down expanding those institutions to include same-sex-desire.


I think many right-wingers have defined “conservativism” as “things we like,” but I think, if we were using the foundations of Western Thought (I think the US is still part of the tradition) the modern-day Republican Party is an ethno nationalist political organization with reactionary leanings.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus seeks to protect the institutions of the Democratic Party as they have developed since Woodrow Wilson, as well. They might be "liberal" but they are certainly acting like conservatives. And they are far from reactionary. And they certainly are not Leftists.

However, they do share some of the Old Right's isolationism, but again, they would only seek to limit the role of the military and ramp-up the role of State Department...the Old Right would have different views about the State's role.

The key to these election results are the three M’s: money, media, and the map. I am sorry to say that money matters and it matters a lot. With respect to the tribe thing, the tribes exist, they change over time but there is this pretty big tribe, the so-called Independents a.k.a. my tribe is not to have a tribe, that cannot be counted on but must be won over by hook or by crook. So the objective is three-fold: 1) get a large per cent of your tribe to vote, 2) try to convince as many Indies as possible, and 3) depress the vote of the other tribe and Indies who may be leaning towards the other tribe. Money can help do this. It buys name recognition, it buys a GOTV organization, it buys attacks on the standard bearer of the other tribe. Admittedly, you can blow a ton of money in an election and it may not make the difference if you are a pathetic and lazy candidate, or if you are trying to sell a message that just does resonate with the electorate. But money spent wisely will help you craft that resonating message. It seems obvious to me that when all other things are equal, a big money advantage will usually make the difference, of course other things are rarely (if ever) equal.

I do think that most of us here have a hard time imagining how the Indy non-tribe thinks, I remember seeing a poll after the 2006 election that asked when people had made up their mind on which Congressional candidate to vote for, the results absolutely floored me, I do not recall the precise numbers but an absurdly high number did not decide until the last week of the election and I want to say 5-10% did not decide until the day of the election and in 2006 those late deciders swung dramatically Democratic and that was clearly the difference in a lot of close races (and I would not be surprised if a lot of the incumbent Democrats that lost last night were in that class).

I actually think the election we just had is a pretty good example of the effect of money, I saw unusually large amounts of money being spent at all levels, local, state and federal. Money buys media and media slant which is probably more important. I just saw the AP story on our governor’s race, there was the statement that the two campaigns had spent a collective 15 million bucks, but no breakdown, i.e. the Republican spent 9 million versus the Democrats 6 million, and if you want to know why that governor’s race was so close, those figures were a big part of the story and it got very little press. I am not quite up for a rant on the media advantage that the Republicans currently have but I think that money explains a big chunk of it (but not all).

As for the map, I am actually amazed that the Democrats have done as well in the Senate as they have when you look at all those southern, midwestern and Rocky Mountain states that lean decidedly red. As for the House, I think that it is well established that the Dems have a distinct disadvantage as they are densely packed in fewer urban districts while the Republicans are more dispersed in rural and suburban areas, and redistricting/gerrymandering plays a big role there.

So, a personal comment on the tribal aspect of things, the first and only Republican I voted for in a Federal election wrote this ca. 60 years ago, when he was an academic, long before becoming a candidate for office.


everyone needs to have a habitually critical attitude towards language — his own as well as that of others — both for the sake of his personal well being and for his adequate functioning as a citizen…but if the majority of our fellow citizens are more susceptible to the slogans of fear and race hatred than to those of peaceful accommodation and mutual respect among human beings, our political liberties remain at the mercy of any eloquent and unscrupulous demagogue.

While the ‘race hatred’ may have gotten a lot more subtle I still think that quote is pretty much right on. That Republican was a smart guy and since I was relatively young at the time I may have voted for him in some part as a way to proclaim my rejection of tribal affiliation, but what a wasted vote that was. I was going to vote for one other Republican but he was too moderate (and that was 30 years ago!) and became an independent before I could actually cast my vote. I guess the moral of the story is--if the tribe fits, wear it.

someotherdude,

The only time that the State Department is mentioned on the CHC website is the desire for more quota hires at the State Department. Not conservative in the least and not trying to preserve anything.

Look at Steve Cohen (D-TN), the only white rep that represents a majority black district. He is far to the left of Bernie Sanders or Pete Stark. No elected black would be considered a blue dog democrat. The CBC votes along a very liberal line and so does the CHC.

You can argue symantics all you want but it is not doing to make the black voters who keep re-electing Barbara Lee any less liberal.

Swarthy socialism - it's the future, superdestroyer!

Why fight it?

Might as well get a good tan on and join the club.

What I'm arguing, superdestroyer, is that words have meaning. And if you’re not some nihilistic postmodern poet, then the terms "reactionary", "conservative" "liberal" "right-wing" "leftist" "capitalist" "socialist" "communist" all have meaning.

If we were to use the Western Tradition as our foundation for how these terms were developed and used and how our politicians position themselves, then most, if not all, Republicans are ethno-nationalist reactionaries.

The politicians of color who operate within the Democratic Party are far from "Left". However, because race has determined so much in US politics, the definitions seem to change when they are politically expedient among certain white-ethno-nationalist-right-wing-political activist.
(Wow, I hate when those minorities with funny names,…but what a powerful minority they are, with so much power).

I'm looking forward to superdestroyer explaining how the current election results fit into his prediction that the US was going to one party Democratic rule. Of course, his Cassandra like ability to see the US in ruins depends, as Russell points out, on his perception of the more swarthy elements in our society.

most, if not all, Republicans are ethno-nationalist reactionaries

Whatever that means. "Ethno-nationalist" could use some unpacking. I suspect what it means, based on your previous body of comments, is more or less that Republicans are racist fascists. Pretty much all of them.

If someotherdude had meant to say that Republicans are "racist fascists" he would have said so, Slartibartfast.

Surprised to see a stickler for the difference between what's been said and what's been inferred, such as yourself, take that line.

I agree, however, that "ethno-nationalist reactionaries" could use some unpacking.

No, ethno-nationalist is what I meant, a nationalist identity formed around an "ethne" it's not, necessarily a bad thing, but I get annoyed when people deny when it’s happening, as if the US is above all that ethnic-stuff....fascism seems a couple of terrorist attacks away.

Since the US divided the different ethnic migrants into separate races...I guess "racist" and "race" would have an influence, as well...but not strictly...identity can be so fluid...sometimes.


Anthony D. Smith, who co-opted the French word ethnie as a specialist term to describe a pre-national ethnocultural group. He posits six pre-requisites for an ethnie: a collective name, a myth of descent, a shared history, a "distinctive shared culture", an association with a particular territory, and a sense of solidarity. Such entities have existed throughout history, although their persistence is not inevitable. Some such will make the transition into nationhood, others will remain ethnocultural groups; there appears to be no feature which makes it possible to predict in advance whether this transition will take place.


From The Wiki:

Ethnic: An ethnic group (or ethnicity) is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and a tradition of common ancestry (corresponding to a history of endogamy).


Members of an ethnic group are conscious of belonging to an ethnic group; moreover ethnic identity is further marked by the recognition from others of a group's distinctiveness.[5][6]

Processes that result in the emergence of such identification are called ethnogenesis.

######

If your understanding of what being "American" is about is "practicing Judeo-Christian, northern European ethnic background" then I'd say "ethno-nationalist" is not far off.

That is far from all Republicans, however folks like that are probably more likely to be Republican than Democrat.

Probably equally likely, some version of "independent", but likely not Democrat.

Fascism goes somewhat beyond that, to include an idea of the innate superiority of your ethnie, and usually to the belief that making your superiority manifest through aggression and violence is not only reasonable and justifiable, but inevitable to the point of duty.

Not too many of those here, although there are a few.

My argument about them being reactionaries is based on the Right’s view of the institutions that were developed around the Progressive Movement, New Deal, and Great Society. They may have seemed “radical’ in the 19th century, but have become institutional in the 20th Century, and were attempts to keep US capitalism intact. Democrats have spent the last couple of decades preserving those institutions, Eisenhower Republicans and Nixon Republicans sought to preserve these institutions as well. At this point, dismantling and repealing the institutional work of the last century is no longer “conservative” but reactionary. Those who seek to conserve them, but prevent their growth or only allow them to grow slowly, would be “conservative” and Leftists? Well, who knows what they think…once the reactionaries labeled Eisenhower Republicans and NPR as “The Radical Left” I don’t even know what it means anymore.

As an aside, the Progressive Movement was in direct opposition to The Left, and not because of The Left. Progressives in the US sought to save Capitalism from the threats of the various Leftist movements, gaining steam. (In Europe, I guess it would have been Bismarck and certain Tories and Fabian Society, not to strong in that history)

No, ethno-nationalist is what I meant, a nationalist identity formed around an "ethne" it's not, necessarily a bad thing, but I get annoyed when people deny when it’s happening, as if the US is above all that ethnic-stuff....

;-)fascism seems a couple of terrorist attacks away.;)

There.

My argument about them being reactionaries is based on the Right’s view of the institutions that were developed around the Progressive Movement, New Deal, and Great Society.

Also a good point, IMHO.

A political agenda whose goal is reversing 80 to 100 years of social and legal history seems, to me, to be the very definition of reactionary.

Or, maybe, beyond reactionary, we're talking 3 or 4 generations of rollback here.

Goldwater was reactionary, and that was almost 50 years ago.

And again, this isn't so of all Republicans, but folks of whom this *is* so are very much more likely to be and/or vote Republican than not.

And again, this isn't so of all Republicans, but folks of whom this *is* so are very much more likely to be and/or vote Republican than not.

I'm not going to argue with that, but this is a substantially different point than the one SOD is, as far as I can see, making.

All kidding, aside, what do you think I was saying, Slarti? (in my clumsy and coy way).

what do you think I was saying, Slarti?

I'm still not quite sure. Certainly you can't have a group of people that contains at least some minorities and still claim ethno-nationalism (new term for me, I admit), unless you can claim that by joining said group, they've in effect renounced their ethnicity.

In which case ethnicity itself is going to need some redefinition. The more ethnicity starts to resemble ideology, the more the notion of ethno-nationalism starts to look like any and every ideology.

I know quite a few Republicans that are dark-skinned and/or atheist or other religion. Do those things bust your label, or simply make it more fuzzily apt?

I'd point to russell's last statement, again, as something I think of as pretty close to right on. As always: WRS.

Well, one can "conform" or "assimilate" to an ethnicity, if the ethnicity allows for that.

Anglo-Conformity

Which race, the ethnic group came from would determine if that was even possible...could Jews assimilate? The Jewish Question? Roman Catholics? French Protestants did, (Paul Revere and his clan) but could French Protestants conform during the rise of eugenics, at the turn of the century?


Then Anglo-Conformity had to compete with the Melting-Pot Thesis, and that came with problems, as well....especially since it seemed to suggest everyone would melt into a Anglo-Protestant, but that may be a whole other thing.

I’m not familiar with your friends, but I have quite a few (wonderful people, some of my best friends are dark Republicans) and they have great intentions, and beautiful hearts, and that doesn’t stop them from engaging in ethno-nationalist discourses with reactionary leanings. That doesn’t make them bad, or anything, but if they believe they have assimilated, which I’m sure they do…they assimilated into a type of US identity.

one's political stances seem to be informed by one's identity... about themselves...and their relationship with their community and the state.


I said all that to say, ethnic identities, much like racial identities socially constructed to reflect the political and social trends of the era.

What seems to be the conservative political organization/voice in the US is the Republican Party. However, upon closer investigation, they resemble a typical ethno-nationalist party with reactionary leanings, one we might find in any other European democracy.

that doesn’t stop them from engaging in ethno-nationalist discourses with reactionary leanings

I have no idea what that could possibly look like. That's about as nondescriptive a sentence as I can recall reading.

Look: if people can, in your eyes, exit alive from their own ethnicity, then ethnicity has no meaning at all.

If you think, for instance, that you cannot be simultaneously black and Republican, then you've made mushed ethnicity and ideology together until they're inseparable. I don't know if this is exactly what you're getting at, but it seems to be close.

Such a notion would be convenient, if you were trying to make your thesis tautological.

You can think of conservatives as reactionary, or you could think of conservatives as people who want to proceed with caution, because bad things can happen if you don't. And then go out and prove it to themselves (and others, one would think) in some spectacularly disastrous fashion from time to time.

Both major parties are, IMHO, "nationalistic" to a degree people in many other countries would find odd, if not troubling. Sure, the Republicans are a bit noisier and in-your-face about it at the symbolic/rhetorical level, a bit more absolute in holding "the nation" above all criticism, and a bit more prone to indulge in the rooting out and condemnation of "un-American" elements.

But let's not kid ourselves: American exceptionalism/triumphalism/messianism, like American militarism, is a bipartisan tradition -- it's absolutely fundamental to mainstream political discourse among "conservatives" and "liberals" alike. And any political aspirant who attempts to challenge the mythology of "God's favorite country" is swiftly relegated to the lunatic fringe.

While ethno-nationalists believe there is actually a core group of "real Americans" and there are outsiders threatening that core. And there are people, who have been accepted, in their own conception, by the “official group” and embrace their myths and symbols concerning “real Americans” .

The "universalist" or "pluralist" or "international leftist" or ‘liberals” have a different relationship to the myths and symbols of “real-Americans” the US’s ethnic identity, they even view the “heritage” in a much more universal way. They police the boarders around the “ethnie” identity like mall cops, while the ethno-nationalist wants professional killers to police those same borders.
Nationalists hate liberals for their ability to stab their brother in the back, so easily.

Now that a bunch of new identities are accessing the institutions that were developed for "real Americans" many of those "conseravtives" have morphed into reactionaries. And many "liberals' are conseraving the old institutions the reactionaries want to destroy.

I think "race" and "ethnicity" are variations on the “tribes.” As tribes become more bureaucratic they use the terms of modernity to civilize their tribal ways.
I think “ethnic” and racial identities tend to first and foremost political identities, like most identities and it’s in the cutting of the pie where all the real action is happening. “Culture” is the aesthetics through which power manifests itself, as a result of the pie cutting.

And I certainly agree with UK, maybe we can call the liberals "multi-cultural nationalists"?

Both are deadly and leave mass death in their path...one is more inclusive than the other (if you can afford to become part of that power elite).

I think “ethnic” and racial identities tend to first and foremost political identities

"ethnic" as opposed to, well, ethnic? I suppose if you redefine ethnic so that it fits, well, tautology.

Nearly everyone is tribal. There isn't any rule that says you can't belong to and identify with multiple tribes, except for when one tribe declares you a nonmember because you belong to another. Like Michael Steele, for instance.

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