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26 October 2008


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Mad Dogs

Pat, like you I was pondering the fate of the Republicans. I had posted this over at Emptywheel's place just yesterday:

Depending both on just how badly the Republican party loses during this election as well as the depths of political wilderness they find themselves in during the next Congress, I would not be surprised at all if a real schism occurs in their ranks.

One that that literally splits the party into two.

A “crazy” rump, which retains the official name of Republican party, populated by fire and brimstone fundie social conservatives, anti-immigrant klansmen and last-legs imperialist neocons.

The other “New Republican Party” will be comprised of “sane” old-style Rockefeller adherents, pay-go fiscal conservatives and neo-isolationists.

For those who’d laugh, a reminder that many such formal splits have occurred in our 200+ year history. Federalists, Whigs, Bull Moose progressives, and many, many more.

David W.

Frum is living in utopia, because it is the only place left for the discredited philosophy he represents. He and the rest of the 'perfumed punditocracy' of the right (David Brooks, Bill Kristol, etc) are rudderless because events on the ground have caught up and outdistanced their kool-aid laced predictions the past 8 years.

If McCain's campaign were true-to-life, instead of Joe the Plumber, he'd be featuring people like Frum. Indeed, when pundits talk fearfully about the 'end of our way of life,' they are talking K Street, not Main Street. Frum even discloses his fears of life under an unjust Obama regime. From the article:

Unchecked, this angry new wing of the Democratic Party will seek to stifle opposition by changing the rules of the political game. Some will want to silence conservative talk radio by tightening regulation of the airwaves via the misleadingly named "fairness doctrine"; others may seek to police the activities of right-leaning think tanks by a stricter interpretation of what is tax-deductible and what is not.

Despite the plum media space handed to these courtesans, they are becoming enfeebled before our very eyes. Frum tried his schtick on the Rachel Maddow show the other night, and he looked like what he and his fellow travelers are; cynical, beaten and tired, because they can't beat anybody with the old schtick anymore.


Perhaps I'm super naive but I continue to hope and pray that from the ashes a new GOP might emerge. A classic conservative Ron Paul style party that is a defender of civil liberties and minimalist foreign policy, an opponent of bankster corporatism and Federal reserve money manipulation.

Sounds implausible but I continue to hope. Maye after the election Ron Paul will be able to point to what's left of the leadership and tell them their current coalition is a looser. A new one is needed.

To that end I'm watching BJ Lawson's campaign for congress in North Carolina. My hope is that he will be the only Republican to win, thus illustrating the point.

Well, here's to hoping.

John Hammer

Now that neocons have sucked the life out of the Republican party, they will need to seek out a new "host". Their next move will be to hijack well meaning initiatives such as R2P. To paraphrase The Who, let's don't get fooled again.



Col: This was the most interesting quote from the Frum article:

"Unchecked, this angry new wing of the Democratic Party will seek to stifle opposition by changing the rules of the political game. Some will want to silence conservative talk radio by tightening regulation of the airwaves via the misleadingly named "fairness doctrine"; others may seek to police the activities of right-leaning think tanks by a stricter interpretation of what is tax-deductible and what is not."

He seems to fear liberals adopting a Wingnut Methodology. Is that a Frum-dean Slip?


This week's column by Frank Rich, titled "In Defense of White Americans," is a satisfying one for me to read. I'll elaborate after the jump, but want to start with his conclusion:

[Conservative warriors like George Allen, John McCain, and Sarah Palin] see all Americans as only white or black, as either us or them. The dirty little secret of such divisive politicians has always been that their rage toward the Others is exceeded only by their cynical conviction that Real Americans are a benighted bunch of easily manipulated bigots. This seems to be the election year when voters in most of our myriad Americas are figuring that out.



PS. now, does anybody see the original approach to Iraq problem? (sunni-Shia?) It undoes a nation like nothing.

Even in the US. little race talk can shear the politics like hot acid.


btw. count down until global backlash to neocon and pentagon "moslem-terrorist" trash talk.

That "global war on terror" terminology? People in that corner of the world will not forget.

Frankly, by now Afghanistan and Pakistan is a lost cause, considering how domestic politics and Pentagon function. We are part of the problem there.


While the Republican brand is deservedly getting damaged this year, the party apparatus is simply too big and valuable. There's lots of talk now about where the Rs are going next. And it would be much easier to rebuild the party than start from scratch.
Certain disgruntled factions will go to other parties. The logical alternatives that come to mind are the Libertarians and the Constitution Party. If the Democratic majority becomes the new favorite of business, there will be a lot more disgruntled factions of all sorts in the near future.
Who will be the future leaders of a new Republican party?


"Chutzpah: The quality that allows a man on trial for killing his parents to beg for mercy on the grounds that he is an orphan."

"...the political culture of the Democratic Party has changed over the past decade. There's a fierce new anger among many liberal Democrats, a more militant style and an angry intolerance of dissent and criticism


Unchecked, this angry new wing of the Democratic Party will seek to stifle opposition by changing the rules of the political game. "

I will say this for David Frum, he and other movement conservatives have no shortage of chutzpah. Having spent the last 10 to 15 years stifling dissent, stoking the anger of their base and trying to rewrite the rules of the game, the Republicans are now somewhat pathetically coming to the realization that Rove's "Permanent Republican Majority" was a pipedream, and that the tactics they perfected can very easily be used against them. Too late chums, too late.


The GoP will change and live on. Both parties are too entrenched in American political life for one to die off completely.

Conservatives of all stripes are already looking at rebuilding the conservative movement. Whatever form that rebuilding eventually takes will form the intellectual basis of a refurbished GoP. I hope the GoP becomes a big-tent conservative party again - the only thing worse than the current two-party duopoly would be the ascendance of a single party controlling the levers of power for a prolonged period.

Bill W, NH, USA

There's Ron Paul, a man the Republicans just had to shut up. As it turns out, he was the one who was right all along and may have been able to beat Obama in the election. Very early polls indicated he could have beat HRC in the '08 election.


Ron Paul? The guy who wants to have Washington legislate who is or is not a citizen? You would do well to actually read his policy proposals.


Thanks, colonel, for the provocative post.

However, I'm not sure what exactly you mean when you refer to the "centrist" wings of the democrats and republicans as somehow more closely representing the electorate's views on policy. If by the centrist wing of the democrats you are referring to the likes of the DNC, I disagree.

In poll after poll, and generally by fairly large margins, the electorate has expressed a preference for universal healthcare even if taxes are raised to pay for it, an increased measure of progressivity in our tax structure, a date certain for an Iraqi withdrawal, increased protection for organized labor, etc.

If those policies are considered "left", then I would say that the "leftist" wing of the democrats more clearly represents the public than the DLC "centrists", and obviously moreso than whatever mythical moderate/centrist republicans exist.



We all have Virginia to thank for this.

If George Allen had been re-elected, he would have been in place to accept the mantle Bush passed. The current Administration would have transferred themselves almost seamlessly forward. He was a Rove candidate, a Cheney candidate, and a Frum candidate. With a healthy serving of NFL hoo-rah and jingoistic ranting, they would have stolen another election and gone along on their merry ways.

The guy who was called a 'macaca' and filmed it should be given the Nobel Peace Prize. Thanks, Virginia. Although the Republican Party may have self-destructed at some point in the future, only your mid-term Senate election allowed it to happen now, when we need it the most.

William R. Cumming

Hard to measure change during the midst of a long-term realignment of parties. Elections like it or not are usually won by coalitions. Internal inconsistencies (cognitive dissonance) seems to be plaguing both Republicans and DEMS. My guess is whomever wins a week from Tuesday will only be able to govern by forging completely new coalitions. The old labels will be a hindrance not a help. after all William Grieder pointed out in his book "Who Will Tell the People" that really only one party inside the beltway. Incumbent party. Here's to voting the INs OUT!

JT Davis

The time may be coming when the centrist parts of both parties have more in common than they have with the existing party structures. pl

Interesting post, Pat, on a fascinating and little understood phenomenon. But I think it has always been like that since our first election when the framers original intent went wrong. It is almost paradoxical and somewhat counterintuitive but that partially explains why people can perceive that there isn't a "dime's worth of difference" between the parties, as Gov. Wallace once said, yet these two parties appear to polarize the country. If we go all the way back to the Founding era, we find that the original intent of the Framers was to avoid the factionalism of the many political parties that they saw tearing Europe apart. Our two party system was a result of the Law of Unintended Consequences that arose spontaneously from our single member district plurality, "winner take all" electoral system. They envisioned no political parties at all. The best laid plans and all that...

Some argue we might all be better served by revisiting that and perhaps realizing that the Framers intent, though well meaning, was ill advised, and perhaps we should consider the benefits, as well as the drawbacks, of a system that encourages more parties, and proportional representation like they have in Europe and other countries, rather than two ossified political machines that limit participation and produce such bizarre and polarized results. Some links for those who may not be familiar with Duverger and his Law.

In political science, Duverger's law is a principle which asserts that a plurality rule election system tends to favor a two-party system.

The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a “law” or principle. Duverger's law suggests a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster party development while a plurality system marginalizes many smaller political parties...

For those interested in a more thorough examination and explanation, I suggest this book by political scientist Steven Hill:

Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner-Take-All Politics

That's the link to Amazon but there is a website for the book which is out in paperback:


With all due respect, Bill W., Obama was going to trounce anyone who ran against him, including Ron Paul. We live in an interesting time, and to those who wonder, the constitution is mute on how states may or may not conduct elections. Changing (doing away with the Electoral College and choosing the president by the popular vote) would require amending the constitution but proportional representation that encourages multiparty participation in the process is possible if the people choose to go that route in their local and state politics.


Dear Sir, as usual you have something to say that creates thought on the part of others. David W.'s comment on Frum's current home address, priceless. One thing that is certain to catch your readership's eyes is the "backing away" from the Alaskan Queen. The GOP chiefs can read the signs as well as those who post here. The idea that Pallin could become the face of the Party and that their most radical element would form a "new" GOP around her must frighten them as much as it repels them.

Strudel & Shotguns

More like the Know Nothings.
wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know-Nothing_movement

Margaret Steinfels

Unintended Consequence Front

David Frum's predictions about the angry Democrats is self-serving neo-con harumphing.

The more likely outcome given past history: the new "Democrats" in Congress from formerly Republican districts (to say nothing of the pro-lifers described in Sunday's NYtimes--gasp!)are giving the Dems the kind of variety that has been missing, and that has kept them from winning. This is not going to be an "angry" party, though it may become by 2010 a party at war with itself.

In the meantime, let's see if the Repubs make an honest assessment of their dismal failures and eight years of dismal performance. They don't deserve more time to ruin the country.

Sorry, feeling a little partisan after watching John McCain on "Meet the Press," show why he doesn't deserve to win.


Is your bitterness and hatred so deep for the Bushies (who I regard as incompetent fools) to wish to replace them with the possibility of a Supreme Court of Ruth Bader Ginsberg clones, unions granted absolute power, tax "cuts" for people who don't pay taxes and a foreign policy driven by the rallying cry of "bend over"?

g. powell

Does anyone have a clue to what the new political debate will be about in this country after liberal v. conservative? I don't.

It seems that heavy govt intervention in the economy is now seen as necessary. No one suggests we should just sit by a watch a depression unfold.

I think the need for an economic stimulus package will also become obvious. Corps will no longer be interested in providing healthcare, so the govt will step in.

On foreign policy, everyone sensible agrees that the U.S. will need to take a much more modest approach.

So the details of policies will be debated, but not the overall approach. There will be kooks on either side of the aisle, but I don't think they'll matter much. We will be governed by the left-center for a while, with not that much ideological fury from either side.

On the other hand, there is always a bipolar political structure in this country. I just don't know what the poles will be. So what will a new right party or reborn GOP be?



Is your bitterness and hatred so deep... "?

Sounds like a bad case of psychological projection to me! Calling Dr. Freud!!


My quickie take:

- GOP has succession problem. The remaining party elders have all been discredited. (or simply too old to run next election) There is no credible middle player (governor, long time senators) The rest are too young/inexperience to enter national game.

- GOP is not the party of national security, foreign policy or hands off economy. Bush ruins all that. (It's pretty much neocon/evangelical/plutocrats/kleptocrat)

-GOP bases are too outside the moderate to win big elections. So they have to find new way to hold down the crazies while going moderate. Without expensive Foxnews/AM radio, the public will quickly drift away.

- Public knows that all current Bush problem is "policy" problem. Not natural disaster or mistake by one or two persons. It is a product of deliberate series of steps over long period of time. It will take a long time to win back people who lost their job and savings.

- Republican money machine advantage is broken. Via internet and small money Democrats find their populist root and stop the drift toward GOP style corporate-lobbyist nexus.

- If Democrats win filibuster proof senate, GOP K-street project will pretty much ends in pathetic whimpers (or maybe not)

- the up coming corruption investigation alone will eliminate 1/3 of GOP technicians and players. Those are difficult to replace.


I've long thought that it is sometimes helpful to look at American politics in terms of a parliamentary system. I mean this only with regard to what we here call "interest groups".

Imagine if each major faction were its own party. Each of our two parties can be seen as coalitions of smaller parties--ie, interest groups. It is interesting to watch the factional balance of power swing as a party responds to stress. What we have in this current cycle with the Republicans is essentially a group of parties refusing to form a coalition and therefore they cannot govern.


JT Davis,

Quite frankly, Duverger's Law, even in single-member, plurality elections, is a bunk. When the Progressive Conservatives in Canada broke, it really did break into several pieces--and the pieces could never be put back together. Since then, Canada hasn't had a real two-party system since (although that did yield a minority conservative government under Harper and a bunch of parties that couldn't get along with each other). It is possible, if enough current Republican backers decide that they don't want to put up with the present form of the party, it is well within the realm of possibilities that the present GOP coalition could splinter into multiple pieces permanently.

And no, I don't like that notion one bit--that's how Chile wound up first with Allende, then with Pinochet.


"Is your bitterness and hatred so deep..."

No, not at all - I simply refuse to reward incompetence (& greedy plutocrats, scheming ideologists & nutcase end-of-worlders, etc). Someone's got to do the quality control around here.

It seems a pragmatic consensus HAS emerged (+ youthful exuberance & the historically disenfranchised) - "let's screw things up in a new direction!" Works for me.

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