Democrats & Liberals Archives

Running to Stand Still

I think history will record this, for Demographic and other reasons, as the point at which the Republican Party as we know it today began its recession in earnest. Which is not to say that the Republicans are finished, finished, FINISHED! or anything hasty like that, but rather to say that the GOP has no real path to winning future elections without adapting to the changes in attitudes occurring beyond their base.

I like to think of political struggles like this in terms of inflection points. Don't be intimidated by that word, it's simply what you call the point at which a curve going up or down turns in the other direction.

Many had great expectations that Obama would simply sweep across the landscape and change everything all at once. Not me. I've been a political observer for more than half my life, short as it might be, and the one I noticed, while I was growing up, was that the Republicans did not change the country all at once. It took years for them to implement their agenda, and get us to the point we were between 2000, and 2004, which I believe is around the area of the Republican's inflection point, their point of greatest influence.

From which, we can obviously say, they have declined.

Obama, to me, was not some Messiah. He was and is more like a Liberal Reagan, a person who presides over the beginning of the inflection back into power for his party. His politics are fairly centrist, if you favor the method of actually looking at his policy positions, instead of just pulling them out of the air (I use a more graceful term than I might otherwise employ... ;-) ), and his rhetoric is very "let us come together and reason". It may have gotten sharper recently, but having an entire party against you can do this, often enough.

But that's the other important part: Liberals opposed Reagan, as Conservatives opposed Obama in this election. Both leaders, if you were some kind of purist, were fairly disappointing. But it's the mark of both leaders that they survived, and that what they did get done still constituted a major shift in American policy. Where Reagan oversaw the beginning of the New Deal Demolition, Obama has overseen the start of the pulldown of the Contract for America policies that a Republican Congress was able to impose on America.

The strength of these transitional figures is not in their ability to steamroll all concerned and get every promised policy initiative in place (Though Obama's batting average is nothing to be ashamed of). No, the strength in each case is that leaders ability to successfully pull the country along in spite of the resistance of their opposition. It's their ability to endure despite the challenges they face.

And Obama has successfully endured, and most likely we can attribute a significant part of that to what probably will turn out to be the signature Obama first term policy, apart from the Stimulus, or Healthcare Reform: The Auto Bailout. The successful recovery of an industrial sector in danger of extinction by government intervention.

Obama didn't merely win by dint of rhetoric and propaganda, he won because a policy he helped create did an enormous amount of good for millions of Americans in key
battleground states. Not just Obama had a victory tonight, but the theory that the Government can intervene and do some good had a victory. Americans no longer uncritically believes that the scariest words are, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

Is it all over? No. To extend the metaphor on these matters, though the curve of Democratic Party power is likely upwards, the acceleration of that curve is uncertain. But here's the dilemma that I think is going to have folks like those at FOXNews sleeping poorly at night: the epistemic closure, the sheer unwillingness to see the world from anything else than their own point of view, with their own sets of facts and whatnot, likely cost them the victory on several levels. But parting with that epistemic closure will be difficult for a party that's clung to it for so long as a means to keep voter turnout high, and reliably Republican.

You see where that's going? The Demographics are making it difficult for Republicans to rely on white men as their sole demographic, but much of the agenda they built is built on social and economic appeals to those people. The youth of all races have become less receptive to religious, social, and financial appeals from the GOP, which means that even the Demographic itself is going to evolve out of their hands. Latinos and Asians are going to become greater parts of the mix, meaning that alienating them will have long term consequences.

Will the Republicans learn their lesson, or will they learn to be satisfied with less?

There's still the problem of dark money and SuperPACs, which may have made a great difference in already gerrymandered local races, but despite pouring an insane amount of money into the election, they only managed a tighter margin, and the two reddest states of Obama's 2008 coalition. What does this tell you?

Well, whatever my current day job is, my training and education is in communication. My degree plan included a little bit of journalism, a little bit of debate and logic, but given my career interest, a lot about the media and production.

Most importantly, for our purposes here, I know movies, and their marketplace. Movies are a great example of the intellectual marketplace, where the real product is not something solid, but an opportunity to be an audience member.

If there's one kind of add we can get swamped with to the point of exhaustion, it's movies. As with politics, you have rich backers making huge investments in order to avoid losing. But we very often see movies flop despite having huge marketing campaigns.

Why? If we buy into the old model of marketing, then you might think that the audience is almost obliged to show up. They aren't, though. They aren't obliged to like the movie either. You can essentially be throwing millions of dollars against the wall, with none of it sticking.

Same thing with politics. If the voters don't like what you're selling, you're probably going to waste your money trying to convince them otherwise.

Guess who people wasted a lot of money on?

One of the highlights of the night was walking into my family's living room, probably after this moment, and finding Fox News staff interrogating their pollsters as to why they called Ohio for Obama. when I heard that Rove was more or less having an argument with a reporter backstage, it literally had me on the floor laughing.

Reality was intruding on Karl Rove's nice little universe, and he was not happy. It's sort of like that scene you find where the smug, master-of-the-universe type is confronted by the hero's extraordinary plan's success, and loses control.

"No, no, Ohio can't be going to Obama, it's not possible!" Would be something like it. Why did he think that? Why did so many Republicans think that? The best way I can put it is, the Republicans have grown to depend on their own internal information sources too much.

Remember my training in communication? Well, in trying to form a theory on storytelling and communication., I looked into things like networks, diffusion of innovations theory and Small Worlds theory, and I considered the politics from the perspective of how people connect within and without. That is where my analysis of the GOP's been coming from.

There's also the question, as per diffusion of innovations, as to where you are on the diffusion curve. If we compare selling people on a political idea to, say, selling people on a new technology like smart phones, there's a kind of s-curve we can follow, which starts with a few innovaters, go into early adopters, grows into a mainstream majority, and then tapers off as you get the laggards at the very end.

There's an emphasis in Everett Roger's Book on social networks. The early adopters tend to be influential people who help spread technology among others. Communication, positions of trust and authority. They also tend to be "heterophiles", which doesn't have anything to do with sexuality, but is instead his word for people who interact with people different from themselves.

Small Worlds Theory is most commonly understood by way of Six Degrees of Separation (Or Kevin Bacon). But hiding in its astounding conclusion, that you can reach any person on the face of the earth through a path, on average, of just six people, is a great big problem: clustering. Homophily, as Rogers might put it. You like folks like you. You make friends with folks, and they tend to be friends with others like you. Your family, of course, tends to be very similar to you in attitude as well.

I know, we can talk about this election being a cluster- you-know-what for the Republicans, but that might be more than just a figure of speech, in a sense.

When you talk about clustering in Small Worlds networks, you're essentially talking about your circle of friends. Emphasis on circle, because one friend tends to know another person you're just one or two steps away from. there are a lot of links that go nowhere different than somebody close to you.

So how do you get to somebody who knows somebody out in the middle of the Gobi Desert, or the Yukon Territories?

Well, not everybody you know is all that close to you, or you to them. If you have a bus driver who regularly takes you into work, or a waitress who serves you at the local coffee joint, or a person who sacks groceries for you at the local supermarket, that's as much a first step link-up as anybody you know personally, to whom you have strong ties.

The difference is, that person will have a multitude of connections you don't have, and their connections will allow you to step outside of your normal domain of connections, to escape your personal orbit of friends and family. Such connections as I made in my college days would enable me to reach the depths of that Babylon we call Hollywood (through fellow Baylor grads Derek Haas and Michael Brandt) in a few steps, as well as the inner sanctums of the Religious Right, through one professor's connection to the late Jerry Fallwell.

The political point of bringing this up is to say this: my hunch is that the more you try to appeal to just your sort, to the people who just have your ideology, the more you restrict yourselves to a familiar, comforting, but ultimately limited inner circle.

Innovations, both from within your group and from without, become stifled by this barrier, so a group becomes, at once, out of touch, and non-influential.

We need more willingness to reach beyond just those who share all or most of our treasured beliefs, political dogmas, and ideals, because otherwise, we cannot gather those to our side who we need to push elections one way or another. Majorities depend on our ability to relate to those who have weaker ties to our parties, our religion, our way of life.

I have the sense that the Republicans will fight that. Why? Because they want to stop the clock. Whether its demographic change that makes America less of a country that depends on white males, or a media environment that constantly bombards people with new ideas and challenges to tradition, or schools that give people scientific, historical, and social teaching that challenges their cherished beliefs, Republicans have done their best to stand athwart it and yell "stop!"

And that is what they call conservatism. There are other ways to define it, but unfortunately, fear of change has become their definition.

Thus the benighted attempt to restart the culture wars. The Republicans think that if they fight hard enough, they can force everybody to agree with them, and cram the beliefs and lifestyles they consider degenerate back into obscurity

And short of that? Short of that, too many wall themselves off behind private schools (which ironically they want the government paying their tuition for) and home schools, behind dedicated news outlets online and on cable. The price for having that control, or being able to avoid the things they don't like in education, in the media, and all that is that they develop into a more isolated culture.

You're free to do that as an American, but you trade your political influence for the right to be left alone like that. People will prefer to be represented by folks who are like them, and I don't mean simply in a narrow racial or ethnic sense. I mean they will want folks they know and trust to be in charge of them.

There's something else. Sometimes political power isn't best measured by seats taken but by your ability to persuade those outside your base. There's a lot Republicans got done without as huge a majority as Democrats had in the Senate after 2008. But that had a lot to do with one key fact: The Republicans had, on the Democrats side, several Democrats who would join with them from time to time to break filibusters. If Republicans do well in 2014, and win the Senate, do they have them anymore? No.

If by chance, Democrats take back the House, will Republicans have Blue Dogs out there, willing and able to compromise as much? No, not really. They gutted that caucus in order to win 2010. In their rush to take back Congress in 2010, and by putting Democrats through the ordeal and humiliation of the previous two years, Republicans burned a lot of their ability to gain compromise on their terms. Since they failed to take back the White House, they're essentially stuck with a Senate that is not only more Democratic, but more liberal, and a President who is just North Carolina and Indiana short of having won 2008's states, with the popular vote still on his side by a margin of millions.

The Partisanship on the Republican's side, this advertised refusal to compromise under any circumstances, might make for good political copy, and keep the relentlessly partisan on their side. It might forestall some sort of decline, but it really means that they're not leaving that large of a legislative footprint.

Obama did. However badly obstructed Obama was, he managed to get legislation through, and his Congress was merely turned from incredibly productive to somewhat productive. Republicans, though, have only gotten what they got through by virtue of a number of hostage-taking maneuvers. And what has been the effect of that? It's the fiscal cliff, the economic slowdown folks are so concerned about.

Is this the GOP's big play to gain voter approval, much less a productive means of pushing forward conservative policy priorities?

It doesn't really work, does it? Republicans can talk about rebuilding America, but what does that mean if they'll put people out of jobs, if they'll refuse to fund disaster recovery or repair and upgrade our infrastructure? What does that mean if they won't act to make America competitive on the world stage? It's just a bunch of glossy rhetoric, buzzwords meant to make people feel good, even though the trends Republican policies create works against what they actually want.

Americans are stuck on the sidelines, all too often, wondering why Washington can't get its act together, why obvious needs are not being taken care of, and why we're getting into the middle of these sort of destructive confrontations, like that over the Debt Ceilings. Is it really the plan of the GOP to make it clear that the reason things aren't changing for the better is the GOP?

And yes, people want change. The status quo was easy to defend when the status quo was low unemployment with a few nagging problems under the surface. The status quo was easy to defend when we were at peace, when the environment wasn't showing such obvious signs of being out of whack.

What Conservatives are suppose to preserve, if they're the kind of conservatives people want around, are helpful and necessary institution. Their priority should be neither big government nor small, but government that does what it should and what it has to, and no more. That doesn't sound like much of a difference, but if voters are asking for Washington to deal with a problem too big for any of them to deal with, like reforming Wall Street, so we don't repeat the disaster that just knocked this nation on its ass, then it's a critical difference, because one type of conservative is going to register that if voters don't get what they want, and another crash occurs, the wrath of the voters will be greater for what wasn't done the first time, and voters are going to be willing to indulge the more radical elements of society.

A true conservative, I would submit, wouldn't want that. They would keep the regulation streamlined and on task, keep it out of the way of legitimate business, but they would not let a problem fester that could undermine capitalism permanently if it got out of hand.

A true conservative would recognize that taking a chance on letting global warming get worse, or ignoring the warning signs, could ultimately lead to already destructive climate change getting more pronounced, becoming a threat to our way of life, and that also, as things get worse, the potential for more radical elements in society to push for an explosion of legislation and regulation beyond moderate means grows.

A true conservative would reflect on the experiment of the last thirty years, and admit that cutting taxes to create growth and to spur higher revenues has not worked, and that moderate increases in taxes, coupled with modest, well-timed decreases in spending, are the best long term approach to a fiscal strategy. They would understand that refusing to do that would hollow out any claim that fiscal conservatism actually meant anything, and would keep the party tied to the failed legacy of the Bush fiscal policy

So on, and so forth. Conservative used to mean careful. It used to mean you were the brake system that kept change, inevitable, unstoppable change, from going out of control. It used to mean that you would spend to help enhance our infrastructure and industry here at home. It used to mean that you would avail yourself of diplomacy overseas,.

It can mean that again. Conservatives can once again become the movement of maturity and calm consideration, and let their rivals become the folks with "personality"

But as long as Republicans maintain policy positions and political behavior that keep them trying to defend a dying, unwanted status quo, they are going to find themselves running to stand still, and any stumble they make is going to be costly.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at November 9, 2012 9:09 AM
Comments
Comment #356845

I don’t know which Obama you’ve been watching Stephen. Reckon it’s the one on the campaign trail and not the one in the White House. There ain’t one thing centrist or ‘let’s come together and reason’ about the one in the White House.
The only thing Obama has done for this country is get it deeper in debt. Other than that he ain’t accomplished a thing.
He didn’t win because of his record. He won despite of it. Something Bush managed to do in 2004.
Reckon Obama is just a better lair than Romney.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 9, 2012 10:30 AM
Comment #356851

I agree Stephen, and I have no doubt that the election results will tell the Republicans that it is time to do what they always do: Go along to get along. Bigger government and more government control, will be added to their platform. They will cave once again on their so-called beliefs on lower taxes, 2nd Amendment rights, social programs etc…

They have already started their campaign to let people know that they no longer care about illegal immigration, and by 2016 they will be fine with our new government controlled health care.

Sad for those of us who are stuck on what you consider the status quo, (the Constitution), but good for those of you who are willing to re-interpret and change it in the name of “progress.”

Posted by: kctim at November 9, 2012 11:59 AM
Comment #356859

“And yes, people want change.” Not much change in this election. We have the status quo…and so on and so forth.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 9, 2012 5:05 PM
Comment #356861

Did anyone read all of that? If so, would someone give me a brief synopsis?

Posted by: John Johnson at November 9, 2012 5:52 PM
Comment #356862

John Johnson, just more of Democrat liberals good, republican and conservatives bad, BS.

Posted by: KAP at November 9, 2012 6:05 PM
Comment #356864

John,

Your response is the exact type of behavior that is described in Stephen’s post. I’m assuming you are older than 14, and do not need an adult to summarize it for you.

C&J can also write longer posts. I often disagree with them, but at least I respect the fact that he makes arguments that are longer than three sentences and provides support for his positions.

Posted by: t at November 9, 2012 6:11 PM
Comment #356865

I stand corrected.

Posted by: t at November 9, 2012 6:14 PM
Comment #356866

John Johnson:

Not enough pictures in that book, I presume.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 9, 2012 6:16 PM
Comment #356876

Stephen

Perhaps we should talk again a year from now.

Re Reagan - Reagan was re-elected in a landslide. He won nearly 59% of the vote, against Obama who managed hardly 50%. Beyond that, Obama won by a smaller margin the second time, while Reagan got more than 8% MORE for his re-election.

What clearly happened is that when they got to know Reagan, lots of people liked him better. But when they saw Obama in action, they liked him less.

Re the end of Republicans - have you not predicted this before?

I have heard this prediction several times now. Maybe you guys will be right someday. Parties are not forever.

We probably have not adapted well to the conditions conservatives helped create. In 1980, things were going to hell. Good policies saved America. In the 1980s, we needed to fight against the growth of government. But today we need to recognize that government should be limited, but that it is necessary and that a strong - but limited government preserves liberty.

But what made America great was and is the idea of self-reliance, volunteerism and limited government. If those things are lost, America won’t be America anymore and I would rather go down in glorious defeat than change these basic principles to gain power.

I think it odd that some liberals gloat the Republicans are old, too middle class and white. What is wrong with that? Everybody will get old unless they die first. Most Americans are middle class and America is a country of middle class values and most Americans were throughout our history and still are white. How did this become a pejorative?

Posted by: C&J at November 9, 2012 9:50 PM
Comment #356884

The Republicans lost because their policies suck and their candidates are dicks. Pretty simple. Sure there are lots of back stories. Lots of people are tired of being lied to and have learned to recognize it when they are. This is bad news for the right wing propaganda machine and does foretell more electoral problems later. A greater problem for the Reps is of their own making. They refuse to look at the real reasons for their historic defeat and learn from them. Although we might have an opportunity to reach an accord on immigration because the GOP is finally fearful enough about the Latino vote to allow a common sense approach, they are still missing the point. Latinos, other minorities and a good percentage of Whites are still going to vote Democratic because Democratic economic policies are not only more fair, they are also by far, more successful.
Got to say that my favorite load of bs the GOP apologist are spouting is that two hurricanes are responsible for interrupting their convention and giving Obama a chance to do his job. Divine intervention, anyone?
People are waking up to their lie machine. This is evidenced by Ohio moving firmly to the blue column after yet more Rohmney lies about Jeep and GM moving jobs to China and these companies coming out publicly to call bs.It’s happening all over the country but California has a head start. For a long time rich special interest groups and sometimes just rich individuals have been able to put self-serving propositions on the ballot. Then they proceed to mislead voters into supporting them. This worked for awhile but not so much any more. The people of CA. stopped falling for it. Happily this is starting to happen nationally.
I have a hope that the grown ups in the GOP will once again take over. Powell, Huntsman, McCain(on a good day), Christie etc. just might pull it off. We need a responsible conservative opposition party in this country IMO. It should not be to hard to take out the trash. All they have to do if flush the Teabaggers and company into some irrelevant third party and they seem to be doing that themselves. “Liberty Party” or some such. Hope the door doesn’t hit them in the Norquist on the way out.

Posted by: bills at November 10, 2012 12:29 AM
Comment #356888

Ron Brown-
Obama won because of his record, not in spite of it. Ohio, at the very least, should be evidence of that. Ohio put him over the top, and exit polls show that the resurgent auto industry has something to do with that.

Let’s remember something else: Bush won ONLY because of Ohio in the last election, and because of Florida the election before. Obama, on the other hand, could have lost Ohio, Florida, and Virginia and still won the election. In the election before, Obama did even better.

And both times, Obama was elected with a majority in the popular vote.

As for the debt, Republicans constantly say that, and then turn around and suggest tax cuts that have already, and always resulted in deeper debt. They say its economically necessary to maintain this for the rich, which is what they originally said as a reason to create these cuts for the rich. The rich, though, haven’t been job creating as services rendered for this windfall.

But then, they turn around and say deficit spending to improve the economy is wrong. Despite the fact that in order to get these tax cuts they say will improve things, we have to spend more in deficit dollars.

As far as Obama’s centrism, the fact that a cornerstone of Obamacare is essentially the policy of his defeated opponent, should tell you something about that.

kctim-
God, it’s almost painful. Don’t you realize this is what people in the conservative media tell you to scare you away from voting for their rivals? Your assumptions aren’t founded on data, they’re founded on the intentional bias of propaganda, and as such, to anybody like me, it sounds like a bad parallel universe plot. I just have to wonder, do I wear a goatee in this world?

I believe in the Constitution. I just don’t share your views as to what it means. Now you think that means I don’t believe in it, because you believe only your intepretation is correct. But is it? Did the framers say interpret everything to the letter, and nothing else? Or did they write things like the Necessary and Proper Clause, which basically tells us they were afraid that some dumbasses, reading things by the letter, would dispute that the Federal Government had the power to go beyond the page in figuring out how to carry out its powers. They built in room for interpretation, and in fact empowered an entire branch of government to do that job of interpretation.

The Framers did not set up a system believing that everybody would agree on what that Constitution meant. They set up a system knowing people would disagree on its meaning. At the risk of sounding Sacriligious to some, Jesus did not walk into that Constitutional convention in Philadelphia and hand them the document as written. It was hashed out between the states, between folks who had different interests and different attitudes.

But what they all had in common was the impression that if they didn’t do something to change the loose, decentralized system they had, that their nation would be short lived. They did what they had to do to make things work.

I believe we have to make progress, because history isn’t going to sit still and make it easy for us. Things will not all work out for the best if we do nothing, and trying to rely on good fortune and best case scenarios is why we’re in the trouble we are in right now.

John Johnson-
The brief synopsis is that if folks like you actually paid attention to what other people were saying, rather than arrogantly ignoring it, you might be better policymakers and politicians.

And that’s actually a serious synopsis, not merely a dig at your expense. It just so happens that your problem here is that you don’t know what ideas I actually discussed, that by being so unwilling to deal respectfully with people beyond party, beyond ethnic background, beyond religion, you’re basically closing off avenues of growth for whatever politics you favor.

C&J-
You wrote this, eight years ago, if I’m not mistaken:

This election was the Gettysburg of the culture war. Both sides came in full strength. There was confusion and misdirection on both side, but in the end the Democrats risked it all in a full frontal assault and were decisively rebuffed. This is a crushing defeat, not because relatively small vote margin (51-48%) but precisely because both sides gave it their best shots. There is no reason to believe Democrats can regroup and hit with any greater force next time, nor that the Republicans will be much weaker in four years hence.

There’s no reason to believe Republicans can’t win the next Presidency, just as there is no reason to believe that Democrats could hold on to the Senate this election. But something changed in Democrats, and in the country between when you wrote that, and now.

What I am arguing is not that this “Picketts Charge” (to use your Gettysburg analogy) is the end of the Republicans, that they have no more to throw at us. No, what I’m arguing is that America’s moving past the current conservative movement’s policies, and it will take something new to gain new voters.

Question is, are they actually willing to change, or will the party put itself and the country through the ordeal of the fight they make not to change?

It’s arguable that in 2008, the Democratic Party, in choosing between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was faced with a similar choice, to go with a old-guard representative of the more conservative side of the party, or to go with a leader who had more of a liberal and a progressive sensibility. Democrats would have been in even better shape had more of their leaders been allied with the President, since his biggest problems in dealing with the Senate were that his party had quite a few conservatives willing to back Republican Filibusters, and no Republicans after the Stimulus package willing to make deals with him, without previous okay from the leadership.

Obama paid for that, I think, in the 2010 election. Even so, can you look at 2012, and say that the Democrats didn’t do better than one expected, and with more liberal candidates, to boot?

2010, I think, got misinterpreted by the Right as a mandate for everything, when it was really a mandate, thereafter ignored, for jobs. I think the fact that Republicans threw everything at Obama, including billions in SuperPAC dollars that they outspent him, that they had had their voters streaming in outrage to the polls, as enthusiastic as they have ever been, and they still lost says something.

But this is not the end of the fight. I made the mistake of thinking that the last time, and so did a lot of Democrats. No, I think Democrats will continue to be competitive, and that Republicans will continue to deal with Demographic and ideological problems that make it more difficult for them to appeal to people beyond the shrinking ranks of old dependable voters. Republicans were counting on turnout advantages to swamp a supposedly unenthusiastic Obama base. They were wrong. They mistakenly believed that 2010 meant they could be flamboyantly ideological and win, but they mistook the frustration they themselves were helping to generate in Congress for a return to Republican Priorities.

Republicans overstepped. The question is, can Republicans admit when they’ve done this anymore? Or is it politically incorrect for them to admit this?

There’s a lot in the Republican Party that is built on sacred principles, which Republicans can’t question for fear of being seen as weak on the given subject, capitulators to evil of one kind or another. It will take a difficult ordeal in the party to break free of this.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 10, 2012 12:53 PM
Comment #356891

For some…status quo represents winning something. What would that be?

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 10, 2012 4:19 PM
Comment #356894

Sacred Principles of Governing:

1. Government Spending should not exceed revenue. Tax first, then spend if you have the money.

2. Individual freedom trumps group rights

3. Regulate as little as possible

4. Equality of rights does not mean equality of results.

5. Show compassion for others with what you have, not with what government can tax from others to do the job.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 10, 2012 6:39 PM
Comment #356896

1) The government belongs to its people. People who are supposed to learn, through a combination of proper education and experience how its policies work best, and not so well. This includes spending policy. Sometimes, as in an economic crisis or a war, borrowing to forestall unacceptable consequences is the lesser of the evils. We shouldn’t be oblivious, though, to the cost.

2) What is individual freedom without group rights? It seems to be philosophical hairsplitting, self-serving in the name of promoting a political philosophy that promotes the individual’s desires and rights at all costs.

3) Regulate as necessary. As little as possible doesn’t exactly guarantee the best outcomes.

4) That’s not what Democrats ask for.

5) Some people, in promoting such policy ideas, underestimate the costs and the hazards of doing this on an individual level. Try paying for nursing home care by yourself, and you’ll see.

It’s not merely a matter of compassion. In the case of Social Security, studies found that folks weren’t able to keep jobs or get them as easily as they aged. Of course that meant they had to be taken care of by family, a burden that weighed down on economic fortunes. Medicare, similarly, grew out of studies that showed that Seniors were simply not able to get affordable insurance.

In other words, we already tried a system based on individual charity and compassion, and it wasn’t up to the task.

This is what bugs me about much of the change Republicans want. They don’t have enough perspective on history to remember what the former results of the policies were. Regulation arose for a reason. It doesn’t mean all regulation is good, but it does mean that when you do away with it, the results aren’t necessarily good either.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 10, 2012 7:19 PM
Comment #356899

“Try paying for nursing home care by yourself, and you’ll see.”

I see, since I don’t plan for that possibility by purchasing insurance when I am young and it is cheap, or by saving, I should become a burden on society.

Those that fail to plan then become advocates for “group rights”.

I am poor and didn’t plan…feed me.

I am poor and didn’t study in school…embrace me.

I am poor and in bad health…spend millions on me.

I am poor and promiscuous…abort me or pay for my child.

I was hired first…lay off the more talented teacher.

I won’t work for minimum wage…hire someone who will.

I am living here illegally…grant me amnesty ahead of those in the line waiting patiently to be naturalized.

I own land that harbors a special rat…prohibit me.

I could list a hundred more…

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 10, 2012 7:42 PM
Comment #356902

When there are no consequences for poor behavior and planning it encourages more of it. These folks then become pitiful and entitled to “group rights” at the expense of the individual who espouses good behavior and planning. They provide a bad example to others who are then encouraged to follow suit. In this country one can survive by knowing nothing…and doing nothing.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 10, 2012 7:57 PM
Comment #356912

Stephen

Re Gettysburg - Indeed I was mistaken and I learned from that. Now you guys are making the same mistake I made. History does not end. There are no final victories.

Beyond that, the position will change and so will circumstances. Democrats used to be the party of free trade and decentralized smaller government. Now it is the opposite.

In fact, a man of principle who lived 200 years would have to have changed parties dozens of times to maintain his integrity. The parties change. As the great Ronald Reagan said, he was a Democrat. He didn’t move away from the party; the party moved away from him.

The thing I dislike about current liberals and Democrats is their emphasis on group rights and what I consider nearly a cult of the victim. America is a great country. We can concentrate on our failures or our success. Failures should be studies in order to avoid them in future. But concentrating on success makes you more successful. I don’t give a shit about the bad things we did in the past, unless we are still doing them. IMO, liberals like to run down their country way too much. I don’t like that.

Posted by: C&J at November 10, 2012 8:57 PM
Comment #356955

Stephen
Obamacare was rammed down our throats while the Democrats still had both houses and Pelosi was Speaker of the House. No Republicans voted for it. So using Obamacare for an example of ‘bipartisanship’ won’t cut it.
I don’t believe that either Obama or Bainer intend to work together any more than I believed that Pelosi and Bush intended to work together. And we both know how that worked out. And given the record of Bainer and Obama over the last two years, what makes you thank it’s gonna be different now?
And don’t feed me the partisan line that Obama tired. We both know better.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 11, 2012 10:47 PM
Comment #356965

Ron: I don’t think there will be an agreement on the sequestration. There really isn’t a down side for the Democratic party to have all taxes go up. It is clear to anyone with a brain that tax increases on the middle class will be required to pay for the new “baseline” of 1 trillion plus deficit. The sequestration exempts the sacred cows of entitlement spending, and mostly cuts the military. The negotiations will fail On purpose), the Republicans will get blamed, and there will be another recession. As long as the economy starts a rebound of some sort before the next Congressional elections, it will likely work out for them. I think they will take that chance to have a larger govenment funded by higher taxes.

Posted by: Mike in Tampa at November 12, 2012 8:48 AM
Comment #356970

Stephen

Almost painful? Your need to blame some made up conservative media, your lack of basic comprehension and your insistance that people who are not liberals cannot think for themselves, is beyond any pain I have ever felt.
I actually agreed with you in that things have changed in your favor.

“I believe in the Constitution. I just don’t share your views as to what it means.”

I believe that is what I said. Our difference is that my view is based on what it says and your view is based on what you need it to say to support your personal beliefs.

“They built in room for interpretation, and in fact empowered an entire branch of government to do that job of interpretation.”

I have never denied that.
Funny how you can see that side of the equation, but yet totally ignore that they were mainly afraid some “dumbasses” would eventually interpret the Constitution to give the Federal Government more power than it was meant to have.

“They set up a system knowing people would disagree on its meaning.”

Which kind of explains why they set up a process to be follwed in order to change what they had written, eh Einstein?

“I believe we have to make progress, because history isn’t going to sit still and make it easy for us.”

I understand that, Stephen. But what you and your people fail to understand, or even respect, is that not everybody agrees with your views on how ‘progress’ is defined. You guys falsely believe that you know what is in everybody else’s best interest, and that force is justified against those who do not believe as you.

“Things will not all work out for the best if we do nothing,”

Nobody advocates doing nothing and what is “for the best” differs from individual, which is something your people simply refuse to accept.
Take health care for example: your people believe government taking care of it for you is what is “best” for you, and I know keeping my freedom of choice, is what is “best” for the country. My idea respects the Constitutional rights of all, your way satisfies your desires.

“and trying to rely on good fortune and best case scenarios is why we’re in the trouble we are in right now.”

No, we are in this trouble because we started trying to plan and control good fortune. Because we started defining good fortune by money, instead of rights.

None of that really matters anymore though. As I stated earlier, the majority has now accepted that your view is correct and that mine is wrong. You will get the “progress” you desire.
Your view of our government is the new normal.

For petes sake, ease up some and enjoy the fact that you got what you wanted.

Posted by: kctim at November 12, 2012 10:15 AM
Comment #356977

Mike
We’re in a huge crap pie and we’re all gonna have to take a very large bite to get out of it. Even if there is some sort of deal cut, which I doubt very much. And anyone that has a job is gonna see their taxes go up. How much I can’t say, but they will go up.
The problem is we can’t afford anymore debt. This means entitlements are going have to be cut as well as discretionary spending.
But I agree there’s no down side for the Democrats on this one. While I would like to see both sides come together one this the Republicans most likely will be forced to cave on this.
This ain’t the time to raising taxes, but it’s also no time to be lowering them either. But without eliminating the deficit I don’t see any way to get out of this without raising taxes.
I hold both parties to equal blame for our physical problems.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 12, 2012 3:51 PM
Comment #357025

Royal Flush-
You haven’t been hit with the kind of crap that folks like my parents get hit with. Hell, my Grandfather was pretty prepared, and it still took substantial resources to get him care near the end of his life.

People plan in the real world, and then the real world deals things out. Too many find their savings wiped out by financial crises, and the mismanagement of others. Too many find that as costs rise, the money they put aside for their care doesn’t stretch long enough. Some, like my Grandfather, live so long that they become confronted with the limits of what they planned for.

And really, do you not see the kinds of bad habits that the supposedly virtuous market has encouraged, even sometimes mandated on people, habits that lead to greater debt, and of late to overwhelming mortgages, medical bills and other obligations?

You live in a dream world, where the markets separate the sheep from the goats, and where the virtuous are rewarded. As somebody who’s lived much of his life in the vulnerable parts of the middle class, I’ve seen the costs and lack of availability of healthcare take their toll.

Let me just come right out and say that some aren’t given the opportunity to save for retirement, or if they do, they get hit with an economic crisis that leaves them lingering on in the workforce long after they planned to, with no diminishment of the pains and deprivations of old age.

You think you’re so fricking moral, lecturing the rest of us about how the people who depend on Government are all thieves, whores, and layabouts, while you support the efforts of those who load increasing burdens of debt, expense, and obligations on people, while paying them less, paying less for their healthcare, and so on and so forth.

Your people are defining the winners of this rigged game as the virtuous, deserving of authority and leadership, and the losers as takers and degenerates, who should be cut out of the decisions that affect their lives.

Elitism, distilled in its very essence.

Well, the truth is, when the game is like it is, moralizers like you don’t have a clue about who really benefits, and how deserving they are of it.

To hell with your stereotypes. People like me are trying to deal with the needs of this nation on a mature basis. There is room to prevent moral hazards, and that can be a real concern. We don’t want to encourage laziness, or promiscuity. We also don’t want adults having to care for aging parents as they decline beyond their ability to care for themselves. You really think that can work, at the same time we try to be workers in a modern economy?

C&J-
Do you even know the people you’re talking about? Democrats nowadays talk about lifting this nation up, creating jobs, repairing infrastructure, so on and so forth. We talk about improving the means by which people stop being victims, and start being victors.

But what have your people done, lately? You blame lost elections on voter fraud. You even have Allen West in Florida disputing his clear defeat on the grounds of irregularities nobody else can find. You convinced yourselves you had this one in the bag, and suddenly, it turns out you were literally fooling yourselves.

As of late, have you heard what your people have said about this country? Democrats aren’t talking down this country, Republicans are, labelling the folks who gainsayed them in the votes “takers”, mourning the death of traditional America, going doom and gloom about debt and the economy, and Obamacare.

So on and so forth. Your people are trying to come up with reasons why they shouldn’t believe that the people they considered their political inferiors somehow won. They wanted to believe that 2010 was something else than the frustrations of Americans combining with the natural declines in midterms. They even told themselves that the electorate that would come to the polls would look a lot like 2004.

But it wasn’t. It better resembled 2008.

Until Republicans realize that Americans are moving on from where their party stands, they will see diminishing returns at the polls.

Ron Brown-
Republicans could have promised their vote if certain things were added. They could have embraced the proposal, in no small part because it was theirs. Republicans could have used the filibuster to prompt productive negotiations, and claimed healthcare as a mutual success.

Instead, Republicans acted to prevent it from passing at all. They demagogued it to such a point where it would have been political suicide to open negotiations for more conservative legislation in there.

Republicans wanted to repeat the defeat of Clinton’s healthcare plan, but it didn’t work out that way.

Obama did try, and your annoyance with that fact doesn’t change it. The very fact that it was a mandate says it all. That was meant to be an olive branch.

To all:
My point is not that Democrats have the final victory. Rather, Republicans have tried to hold onto the old coalition they once held against time, tide, and the disillusionment brought on by the last decades failed policies. Unfortunately, Republicans have only made their problems worse over the last few years, because the Demographics are working against them, and in their attempts to keep white men of a certain religious bent on their side, they’ve managed to alienate everybody else.

The Republican Party can’t continue to push the same policies and try and please the same people, and still win what they seek to win.

Republicans are going to have to find a way to update their party, not merely wait around for the next scandal, economic downturn, or whatever to turn Americans against Democrats.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 13, 2012 2:41 PM
Comment #357026

Or, put another way: look at the resources summoned to defeat Obama and take the Senate. Look at all the vitriol and the constant attack, and all the energy spent to do that, and ask yourself, where is my party and this country heading, if all that we’ve done is only sufficient to have us lose by this much?

Something has to change, and I think after all the mouthing off the Republicans have done, the trashing they’ve done to their own reputation, only a serious, substantial write-off and revision of the way the GOP is now will work.

Whatever that means, Republicans ought to try and be useful. You don’t have to be ideological to get elected or re-elected. If you can come across as more useful, and you are, you stand a better chance of winning.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 13, 2012 2:46 PM
Comment #378773

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