Republican Demise Overstated

Dan Balz of the Washington Post has an article in the “Republicans are DOOMED” genre. I don’t know why pundits feel compelled to write the obituary of one party or the other. Sure, if the next 3 elections were repeats of the 2008 election, the GOP would be in for some rough times. And, they’ll probably have to do some major retooling, but the U.S. seems to have a pretty short pendulum period.

I suspect the Democrats will fracture a bit, as one or more of its constituent parts feels like it isn’t getting enough of the pie. If they are in power enough, they will inevitably calcify and corruption will set in. Meanwhile, the Republicans will retool. They’ll get rid of their calcified, corrupt politicians. Ideology will, to some extent, give way to pragmatism.

Predicting what it would take for a Republican resurgence is probably just me projecting a wish-list on the party, but I’d hope it would be a “stay out of my pocket book, stay out of my bedroom” kind of party. A party of small business instead of crony capitalism. The religious angle would be tamped down, and the young earth, anti-science crowd would be marginalized. There would be a conservative rather than activist foreign policy. The Nativist strain of the party would be marginalized as well.

I’ll be clear. I’m not unhappy with the Obama administration yet. There are some things I would change — take a harder line on civil liberties; maybe go back in time and spend less under Bush so that less debt would have to be incurred for Obama’s spending initiatives. But, when it is eventually time for the Democrats to leave power, I hope there is a functional non-ideological Republican Party ready to go.

Comments

  1. says

    My dream — America finally realizes that two perspectives aren’t enough choice. As Republican move farther right, the Dems follow, and Greens become the third party on the left. Libertarians and all others are certainly welcome to participate!

  2. says

    Lots of folks don’t seem able to understand that criticism of one party is NOT explicit support of the other. Many things are multi-valued, and not binary.

    Many times its like the southern sportscaster’s response when asked who he favored in the Harvard-Yale game:

    “You’re all a bunch of Yankees and I hope you both lose!”

  3. says

    Doug, the Republican Party is a semi-functioning non-ideological party. They don’t stand for anything in particular, but with some organizational direction, they will become exactly that: a functional non-ideological party.

    What exactly is the value of a non-ideological party? What would be the principles by which a non-ideological party would unify its coalition? How could one differentiate that party from any other? And, why would anyone choose to stand with a party that stands for nothing?

    Is it the non-ideological nature of the Democratic Party that attracts you to it? Or, is it some set of principles that closest match your values?

    I find your closing statement completely baffling.

  4. says

    The Republican party will be coming into a new era when O’Reilly ,Limbaugh,Hannity, and G Beck get fired because no one listens or watches them.Ideology is hard to define in a context,but I would say those 4 pundits still lead the base , conservative, ideological faithful.Each one is different in style,but preach the same basic message: we’re at war with,and must stamp out liberals and liberalism,whatever it is,whoever they are . It’s bad and it’s foreign to ‘American values’,and we don’t need explanations,just examples..

    I’ll be visiting my family in Illinois shortly and the only news I will hear for 3 weeks is Fox news..I think this is a real problem for Republicans…a significant group are isolated and cut off from a broad understanding of what is going on,like my staunch republican family..
    Even as needy as they are for better access to health care, all they worry about is that ‘Dems’ are going to push through a ‘government’ health plan and we’ll be pushed into ‘socialism’…Beyond that there is no discussion..Not sure how typical,but fear it is widespread..
    Thank God we are all Cub fans so we can all complain about a common problem..

  5. says

    Is it the non-ideological nature of the Democratic Party that attracts you to it? Or, is it some set of principles that closest match your values?

    Mostly it’s been that they aren’t the party of Gingrich and Bush.

    I’m in a rush at the moment, and I’m not sure I could answer it adequately with a lot of time anyway. But, as a starting point, government is a tool to take the rough edges off a brutal state of nature (war of all against all, nasty, poor, brutish & short, etc.) Lately, the Democrats have proposed using the federal government as a tool in a way that’s more palatable to me than the Republicans. Fewer wars, less crony capitalism, less concentration of wealth, less concern by the government about our personal lives. This is all relative, of course.

    Ideology is fine, I suppose, if the ideas work. But too often ideologues just take failure as a sign that their ideas are needed, only more so: Conservative Republicanism got is into a mess? Great! Let’s redefine conservatism and have more of it! Minimally regulated businesses got us into an economic clusterfuck? The answer? Less regulation!

    Not for me.

  6. says

    See, borrow & spend is the biggest source of said clusterfuck that I can see, and both the Bush and Obama Administrations have engaged in it enormously. The failure of some banks and the impact thereof has been grossly overstated, and worse, in ‘fixing’ the problem, the federal government took on all of what was causing the banks to fail. If that isn’t a recipe for disaster, pray tell what is?

  7. Eric H says

    Too often, ideology and pragmatism are formed into a false dichotomy. If an ideology is valid, then it must also be, by definition, pragmatic, in the sense of being a practical solution to a problem. If its implementation proves to be untenable in practice, then it is not a valid ideology.

    If, however, you begin to put pragmatism against ideology in the political (public choice) realm, then the story is different. Then political success becomes a function of how far public opinion takes you from the ideological viewpoint in order to get something done.

    Depending on a stance, the terms for political success could take you far enough from the original ideology to make it completely untenable as a solution to the problem. In those cases, it would often be better to do nothing.

    With that in mind, I am hopeful for a “stay out of my pocket book, stay out of my bedroom” kind of Republican party, but I’m not holding my breath. My hope is that the public will begin to want the government out of their pocket books and bedrooms enough to influence both parties significantly enough to keep us functional and relatively free.

  8. Eric H says

    But too often ideologues just take failure as a sign that their ideas are needed, only more so: Conservative Republicanism got is into a mess? Great! Let’s redefine conservatism and have more of it! Minimally regulated businesses got us into an economic clusterfuck? The answer? Less regulation!

    Which brings up the real problem — we have to be able to successfully dissect the problem in order to disaggregate all the factors that went into its cause and make judgments as to their effect and weight. So the very ideology we cling to is inherently used to evaluate these factors and reach a conclusion.

    In my mind, your conclusion drawn above is based on false premises, but in order to convince you of that, I’d have to provide you with enough evidence for you to overcome your confirmation bias…which of course, I may have gathered in order to satiate my own confirmation bias. And to make matters worse, as per our previous discussion on another thread, “Conservative Republicanism” may mean something completely different to you than it means to me. ;)

  9. says

    And that’s even assuming we could agree to the desired policies in the first place. Person A has a Jeffersonian vision of yeoman farmer citizens quietly going about their business. Person B has a Hamiltonian vision of a powerful nation, respected on the world stage.

    Never mind deconstructing causes of the problem. You have to figure out what constitutes a “problem.”

    Makes a guy want to just say “to hell with it” and go drinking.

  10. says

    Ideology will, to some extent, give way to pragmatism.

    Why is this presumed to be a good thing, just in the abstract?

    Certainly, abandoning a wrong ideology is a good thing. But since when is doing what provides X practical benefits more important than doing what’s right?

  11. says

    It depends what “X” benefit is, of course, but at the end of the day — I believe — ideologies are to serve us, not the other way around. So, for me, the test of what constitutes a right or wrong ideology is going to center around whether it makes life better. (Now, better “for whom” is a good question — for me? for my family? for citizens of my country? for humanity?)

  12. says

    Better by what standards? Do the ends justify the means? Why is it necessarily better to have a “better life” by some arbitrary standard than to simply do what’s right regardless of the consequences?

  13. Eric H says

    Makes a guy want to just say “to hell with it” and go drinking.

    Indeed.

    Although, in most cases, agreeing on ends is not a problem, it is a matter of the means — the policy is not an end in itself. We would both agree that we want economic stability, and that we want it to be fair and just. Even with that common end, you are disgusted with deregulation where I am disgusted with over-regulation. Most of us want a peaceful, secure society — some think that means war in the Middle East and a Dept. of Homeland Security, where others see this as the antithesis of peace and security.

    There are notable exceptions to the agreement of ends, but in a heartbeat I’d take a society where those were the extent of our polarity.

    As for an answer to my implicit question about how we recognize and overcome our own confirmation bias, I think this is exactly why methodology is important, and why I am more inclined to adhere to arguments, especially in the economics sphere, that subscribe to an axiomatic-deductive logic approach (i.e. Mises).

  14. lemming says

    The Republicans will never leave the bedroom.

    There’s too much money tied up in keeping that area in the platform.

  15. says

    lemming says:
    “The Republicans will never leave the bedroom”.

    It was interesting insight back when Obama was having issues with Reverend Wright when it was pointed out in a rather intellectual discussion on NPR about religion, that black evangelical Christianity looks for sin in racial injustices,whereas white evangelicals focus on bedroom matters/sex to define sins…So in each case it’s a basic ideology manifested both culturally and politically.

    Not sure where this insight goes beyond this basic premise,but it’s an interesting seed that is planted for evaluation of how religion effects people’s judgments of others..It’s kind of ironic that religion dehumanizes as easily as helps us see the universality of human kind..It probably depends on which pew we sit in,and next to whom,and not so much the name of the church.

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