Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 23, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE MYTH OF THE PERMANENT MAJORITY....The Pew survey I linked to yesterday showed some pretty stunning reversals for the Republican Party, and I think it's worth taking a minute to deconstruct what the numbers show. The party ID catastrophe, in which Republicans have plummeted from a 43-43 tie in 2002 to a 50-35 deficit this year, obviously happened on George Bush's watch. He's the least liked president among moderates and young people in over a generation. But the survey also shows something more fundamental: a loss of sympathy for conservative positions, a trend that began well before George Bush ever set foot in the Oval Office.

In a nutshell, what I think happened is this: beginning in the early 90s the Republican Party hitched its wagon to two things: tax cuts and culture war politics. In the short term this worked nicely: people like low taxes and talk radio was pretty successful at keeping cultural conservatives in a constant state of inchoate outrage. George Bush and Karl Rove were this strategy's ultimate practitioners, and the attacks of 9/11, which they treated as a culture war issue, kept the GOP successful through the first part of this decade.

But in the long term this strategy has been a disaster. Even the wingiest of wingnuts understands that you can't keep cutting taxes forever, and after 2003 the tax cut jihad simply ran out of steam. There were no more taxes to cut. On the culture war side, as the Pew charts confirm, the problem is that America is getting slowly more culturally liberal as time goes by. Partly this is a generational thing and partly it's just a continuation of the same slow march of social tolerance that's been a hallmark of the past half century. Every year there's one or two percent more of the country that doesn't hate gays, doesn't want to ban abortion, and would just as soon see the Ten Commandments stay in church.

Both of these trends are only going to get worse for the GOP. As entitlement benefits grow, taxes are going to have to go up. Everyone knows there's no way around this, and insisting otherwise will increasingly mark you as a fringe crackpot. Likewise, as culture war issues slowly become the province of a dwindling band of senior citizens and dead-end homophobes, arguing about gays in the military will seem about as relevant as attacking the tin trust.

The GOP isn't dead, and Democratic victories in future years are hardly assured. But there's not much question that Republicans are going to have to find a new schtick. The combination of Grover Norquist and James Dobson had its day, but that day is fading fast. If they want to stay relevant, they're going to need some new ideas.

Kevin Drum 2:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (83)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

> He's the least liked president among moderates
> and young people in over a generation. But the
> survey also shows a more fundamental loss of
> sympathy for conservative positions,

It isn't clear to me that these attitudes translate directly into the action taking at the voting booth however. There seemed to be a disconnect there in 2004 and I wonder if it will happen again in 2008.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 23, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Every year there's one or two percent more of the country that doesn't hate gays, doesn't want to ban abortion, and would just as soon see the Ten Commandments stay in church.

Not to mention that the Republican Party has also made it a habit to kick out at immigrants and ethnic minorities, which might win them votes in the short term but in the long run is a disaster as the country becomes less and less majority white. The Republican Party's brand is that of the Angry White Man, but as there are less and less white men as a percentage of the population each year that means that they have to attract even more of those white men just to stay even -- and the more they do that, the more they alienate other minorities, ad infinitum.

Posted by: Stefan on March 23, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Partly this is a generational thing and partly it's just a continuation of the same slow march of social tolerance that's been a hallmark of the past half century.

Hence the right-whingers ever more desperate attempts to hold on to the levers of power...

Good post, Kev.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 23, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

If they want to stay relevant, they're going to need some new ideas

Permanent war?

Posted by: Chukuriuk on March 23, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I have to wonder whether this trend will ever fully marginalize the Limbaughs, Hannitys, and Malkins of the world (or even partially push them aside). It's sure to make their rhetoric even more hostile though. There still seems to be quite a big audience for them, and until that dries up, the advertising dollars they generate will continue to flow.

Posted by: FuzzFinger on March 23, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: If they want to stay relevant, they're going to need some new ideas.

The Mexicans are coming!

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on March 23, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

That's a splendid post, Kevin. As Chukuriuk suggests, what will probably see is a return to an emphasis on national security. This is going to require some intellectual jujitsu by the Republicans, since the Iraq war is demonstrably their fault, but I certainly wouldn't put it past them.

Posted by: Alex M on March 23, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

My dream is that the GOP gets confined to a southern electoral ghetto and eventually everyone realizes their day is done. Once this happens the big money that runs the party will realize it's a lost cause, and will abandon the GOP to the Dobsonites and start backing the DLC. With its money gone, the remaining rump southern party will collapse into irrelevance, and the Democratic amoeba will split, forming a true progressive party and a traditional big business party, thus leaving the theocrats to stew in their own impotence.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 23, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton supported the tin trust!

The Clenis, the Clenis! The Clenis is a gay tax-raiser!

Posted by: gussie on March 23, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

As entitlement benefits grow, taxes are going to have to go up. Everyone knows there's no way around this, and insisting otherwise will increasingly mark you as a fringe crackpot.

But they keep hoping everyone will eventually turn on entitlements, as long as the GOP keeps finding ways to break the working "entitlement" programs -- like Social Security, which isn't an entitlement at all, but has a big bankroll the GOP would like to steal rather than borrow.

Posted by: dj moonbat on March 23, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't want to make this post too long, so I didn't get into national security. There's no question that Republicans will continue to play up the war on terror as an issue, probably with some success, but I don't think it's going to be the winning issue that it was in 2004.

Partly this is because Iraq has ruined Republican credibility on national security. But it's also because, as the shock of 9/11 fades and the war on terror becomes an ongoing battle, people are going to start thinking of it in less emotional terms. It will become a policy debate, not just a culture war proxy, and that will allow Democrats to make a stronger case for themselves.

My guess is that Republicans will continue to have an edge over Democrats on national security, but it won't be a killer issue. The GOP simply won't be able to count on this to swing elections in the future.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on March 23, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

"As entitlement benefits grow, taxes are going to have to go up."

yes, they will have to go up. at which point the bastards can start all over again with their nauseous shtick: "the dems are coming after your wallet. you earned it; we think you should get to spend it."

I wish I shared your optimism that the tax cut forever orthodoxy has really been discredited.

Posted by: shams on March 23, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

The decline in Republican Party identification stems directly from Iraq. Even on those traditional GOP causes that Bush hasn't abandoned outright, like fiscal discipline, his advocacy has become counterproductive because it is identified with the debacle in Iraq.

Kevin seems to think of this in terms of the issues that matter most to him: reducing the public role of religion, eliminating the stigma that still attaches to various kinds of sexual behavior, and abortion. Most Americans, though, while they may have political opinions related to these things don't feel that passionately about them. If changing attitudes about social issues were the only thing happening Republican party identification would be doing just fine.

But it isn't, and the reason is Iraq. This holds a lesson for Democrats, too; if they count on issues leaving the Republicans, and screw up something big, their party ID could descend as rapidly as the GOP's has. Republicans are pretty much stuck with the political consequences of their President's having gotten the country mired in Iraq, but this doesn't represent a vote of confidence for Democrats. Only the next Democratic administration can win one of those.

Posted by: Zathras on March 23, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

...ad infinitum.

Posted by: Stefan on March 23, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Fortunately definitely not!

And given that there's not a lot of room to move to the right without the loss of democracy but plenty of room to the left, viz. Europe, and the long-term social trends...

Posted by: notthere on March 23, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Uli: I agree that immigration is another issue working against Republicans in the long term, although this is one where Karl Rove and George Bush tried to do the smart thing and were stymied by their own base.

Zathras: Yes, Iraq is a big issue in the immediate term. I was writing more about slow, long term trends.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on March 23, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

A successful social movement normally consists of a coalition of different movements finding each other and working together. This was evident in the sixties when the civil rights movement in the South, the anti-poverty movement, and the anti-war movement all came together. Soon this created new waves in feminism, gay rights, environmentalism, and a cultural revolution that shifted the arts, sex, gender, spirituality, and life purpose. W

We've seen a similar trend in the Right Wing. They have had various forces that have met up: anti-tax, a neo-conservative pro-military movement, as well as a cultural revolution that has also affected people's views on the arts, sex, gender, spirituality, and life purpose (and largely running counter to the cultural revolution of the Sixties).

But like the Sixties, this Right Wing movement has seen it's 1968. The fact that they've already won so much and that it hasn't seemed to work through tax cuts and war, nor through culture wars. The "conservative movement" is not dead just as the "progressive movement" never died. But the current manifestatiion of it that has evolved over the last few decades just peaked and is currently being split apart.

If progressives wanted to play hard ball, we could seize this time and make the word "conservative" the curse word that the Right successfully made the word "liberal." Whatever we decide to do, the peak of the movement is ending and the Right will be hard pressed to keep their tenuous alliances together. I believe a "ding dong, the Witch is dead!" is in order here!

Posted by: Andrew Slack on March 23, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

The fundamental problem facing the Republican party is that they don't believe in the validity of government. It's pretty hard to govern successfully when that is your bedrock position...

Posted by: global yokel on March 23, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

It seems the rest of the world doesn't mind too much an strong national government that takes its role of providing a variety of services, like health care, scientific research, etc. The current GOP/Fascist party seems to think it should only be the role of business/for profit to provide thoses services to *some* people and not others. I see nothing wrong with a government that provides these things. I really don't understand why they hate government as a service provider so much! but that's just me....

Posted by: Erika on March 23, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

This is a great post and I hope it's right. But I guess my worry is that the elite Republicans will one day notice these trends, and simply moderate accordingly, while demonizing the Democrats as further left than wherever the American moderate middle turns out to be. In other words, the Republicans will become the party of moderate gay civil unions, holding the line against marriage. They'll become the party of fake-"woman-protective" abortion "counseling," instead of stop-the-murder-every-sperm-is-sacred freakazoids. And the media, in the name of balance, will go right along, shifting the moderate middle that has swung so far right a bit back toward the left, but always finding that the magic point of balance is somewhere in between the D's and the R's.

Sorry to throw out a pessimistic scenario in response to such an optimistic post, but I guess I'm just not sure that the Republicans are as chained down to their right-wing positions as we might hope. Exhibit A: the three Republican front-runners for President, especially Giuliani.

Posted by: cranky liberal on March 23, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Majorities aren't going to be important if we don't get the separation of powers mess straightened out.

Posted by: workingclassannie on March 23, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Don't fear for the GOP -- Hillary will unite them and they will be stronger than ever -- and us Dems will get yet another candidate none of us want to vote for.

Posted by: Gatchaman on March 23, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK


Mark my words: This issue's going to scramble our political alliances and change the future of America.

I give it five years. And I'm currently willing to undertake any reasonable wager.

Posted by: screeching monkey on March 23, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

And if the economy goes down the tubes, as it surely must, and many people find that due to 'Compassionate Conservatism' there is no safety net of any kind remaining.

Already there is vast disconnect between all the government (Paulsen and such) happy talk and what ordinary Americans see around them.

All the money's been spent on the Pentagon and Republican contributors to aWol's $1B library and the deficit is soaring as collections fall.

I hope we don't see 1929 redux.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 23, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Slack, great post.

I think it's only natural for the various "conservative" interest groups to have a harder time finding common cause then their liberal counterparts. After all, their platform is divisive by nature.

The image that will always stick with me is the 2000 GOP convention, with the Texas delegates naturally seated in the front row. When the (gay) speaker from the Log Cabin Republicans was on stage, they all held hands and bowed their heads. I remember thinking to myself-- this is the Republican CONVENTION, for crying out, their once-every-four-years-party. And not all their delegates can even look each other in the face. That is a red flag.

Posted by: shams on March 23, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

If that graph is really meaningful, how did the Democrats lose in 2000 *and* 2004?

Posted by: smudge on March 23, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK
If they want to stay relevant, they're going to need some new ideas
Permanent war? Posted by: Chukuriuk on March 23, 2007 at 3:41 PM

Yup, that's why we've got the GWOT. It's a neverending war with no clear goals or victory.

Perfect for scaring the populace into obedience for generations to come.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 23, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

If that graph is really meaningful, how did the Democrats lose in 2000 *and* 2004?

We didn't lose in 2000. But in 2004 we ran the single worst candidate possible.

Posted by: Marcus Wellby on March 23, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Well I don't know if Kerry was the worse candidate. But he sure did run his campaign as if his heart wasn't in it.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 23, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Thanks. I don't think I've ever heard a more uplifting analysis.

Posted by: captcrisis on March 23, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Good post, as usual--but you mean 'analyze', not 'deconstruct'.

Sorry, I know that's trivial, but I can't help myself when it comes to that terminological issue.

Posted by: Winston Smith on March 23, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

There a couple of liberal commenters here who are asking valuable questions like, "why didn't we win in 2000 or 2004" if this is true. There are so many reasons that we didn't win. In keeping with the theme of Kevin's post, one of the main reasons is that Democrats did not have a coalition of small social movements coming together in one grand, well organized, and well funded social movement. The Right did. It wasn't just because we ran the wrong candidate. Cut Kerry some slack here. The fact is that if there was a gigantic progressive social movement in the country either Kerry never would have won the nomination or he would have presented himself for who he really is: a liberal child of the 1960s anti-war era. He sucked as a candidate because he didn't trust that there was a progressive infrastructure that could have battled the right wing infrastructure in place, and so he was stuck pretending to be something he was not (and he had been stuck doing that as a senator as well...like so many other Democratic legislators). The Progressive movement, in theory, has a developing infrastructure with netroots, etc....but it's still in early stages. John Edwards is the only major candidate addressing poverty in the bold, robust way that is reminiscent of an the old liberals who knew how to win elections...he is getting support but it's early for our new movement. We need to be persistent and patient.

And for goodness sake, we need to shed the neurotic, quasi-post-traumatic outlook of liberals who think the Right will always have one up on us because their "slytherins" and "slytherins" always win. The Right has created a mystique that they are unbeatable and that Karl Rove is always ten steps ahead. But that is not the case. In many ways, Karl Rove is a complete doofus politically...he's just good at and willing to manipulate a country whose willing to believe his every word, but whne your movement is cracking that kind of power of persuasion won't get you very far...and Rove's movement is cracking. The November elections in 2006 was the first hard hitting sign that the Right is not unbeatable...but any one who has ever studied the pendulum of social movements should have known that already. We progressives need to have a good cry and then we need to let go of the neurosis that the Right's victories have inflicted on us. It's time to "move on" if for no other reason than for the fact that we are on an upsurge here, that we have a chance of "taking back" the spirit of this country, and that we can do it with some courage, some creativity, and a commitment to the kind of compassion that neither George Bush, George Will, or any other of these right wing nut jobs seems capable of. Even if 2008 doesn't pan out in our direction (and I think it will), let's stop focusing on the game this Sunday afternoon and start focusing on the future of the team in the seasons to come. 'Cause we gonna to win!!!

Posted by: Andrew Slack on March 23, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Two issues the Republicans will exploit are immigration and defense spending. Be prepared to argue against deporting millions of people and spending trillions of dollars to repair the military W. Bush destroyed.

Posted by: Brojo on March 23, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Partly this is because Iraq has ruined Republican credibility on national security. But it's also because, as the shock of 9/11 fades and the war on terror becomes an ongoing battle, people are going to start thinking of it in less emotional terms. Kevin Drum

Some have suggested that as the war on terror shifts from the emotional to a policy debate, Republicans secretly pray for another "9/11" type incident. I strongly disagree. I suspect that the administration has been so badly damaged by its incompetence that another "9/11" type event on Bush's watch would be the end of the Republican party.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 23, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

I love the smell of realignment in the morning.

It smells like......victory

Posted by: The Fool on March 23, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

The right wing still has a powerful propaganda machine, so it's too early to count them out. They've got most of AM radio, they dominate cable TV, and evangelical churches are a vast archipelago of Republican re-education camps, complete with home-schooled indoctrination for the young. Plus they've got gobs of money and most of corporate America on their side.

Posted by: Heddy on March 23, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent post, Kevin. A big picture perspective that I think it's spot on. Sure, there will be leftover "tax cut" battles, but overall, I think your analysis is good.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 23, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Your celebrations of liberal ascendency in USA are quite premature. Wait till Jonah Lucianne's book opens every American's eyes to the fascism that lurks behind liberalism and the Democratic Party, what with Hillary smiling next to a smiley with a Hitlerian moustache.

Posted by: gregor on March 23, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

- There's a tin trust?

Posted by: Dave L on March 23, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatism is preventing others from having things, --anything at all the conservative might become aware of.


Every Republican idea about anything has failed in a way both dramatic and dismal, so they have nothing to offer but appeals to authoritarianism. All they have to offer now is who they are, stupid assholes.

Posted by: cld on March 23, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

The Rush and Hannity's of the world are shrinking.They never have had the listners they say they had,Rush had at his height 2 million listners that's it, not 20 million a week. More to the point people know you can't keep running up the Natl. Credit card.The Republicans got what they could out of what they had, but it's out of gas.

Posted by: john john on March 23, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Not to be too pedantic, but I suspect George W. Bush first set foot in the Oval Office around 1981, when his father became vice-president. He certainly had by 1989, when his father became president.

Posted by: Boots Day on March 23, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

The highest vote total the Nazis ever got was like 34%. They still managed to take over and destroy not only their own country but a half dozen others as they headed towards the toilet.

Global warming. It is too late to stop it. By the time any real efforts are made to reverse the damage it will have gone too far. All that can be done is reduce by a degree to two the peak temperature that WILL be reached. Why do I bring this up?

I bring this up because it IS going to devastate our economy (and that of the rest of the world). We ARE going to lose ALL our coastal cities. Every one of them. Our bread belt is screwed. Our desert southwest is going to expand. This is important because it was the economic collapse of the '28 stock market that ultimately allowed the Nazis to get control of Germany (Germany was THE most badly affected country by far of the US and world market crash). The coming, guaranteed crash of the US economy, and by extension, world economy, is all that it will take for a very small group of nutbars (largely made up of the current GOP base, the theocratic revisionists and the people that use them: the Bush's, Cheney's, Gonzales's, etc, etc) to take control in spite of being an extreme minority.

People in a disaster will grab any floating garbage that drifts by in hopes of getting out of the water. They garbage that floats by is ALWAYS some dimwit nutbars with (totally wrong) easy answers to difficult and complex questions. To borrow from an old southern slur: the GOP will rise again...because shit floats.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on March 23, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

And the primary reason the Dems lost in 2004 is that the national media decided the most important issue was the severity of the injuries sustained by John Kerry in winning one of his three Purple Hearts.

As long as the press continues to be trivia-obsessed amateur psychologists, it will be tough to win elections based on issues or governing or anything like that.

Posted by: Boots Day on March 23, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

there's not much question that Republicans are going to have to find a new schtick.

Assuming arguendo that the trends Kevin notes are due to the Republicans losing various battles, that suggests the Democrats will have to find a new schtick as well. Continuing battles you've already won is only marginally more politically useful than continuing ones you've lost.

Posted by: Shelby on March 23, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

People disagree with Republicans on the issues, but dislike Democrats as people. Or to put it another way, Republicans do bad things, but Democrats are bad people. It was establishing this dynamic that was the real accomplishment of the Limbaugh set, not actually changing peoples' minds about any one issue or collection of issues, and this is the thing that's preventing Democrats from assuming complete control of the government. The "MSM" had a hand in this as well, and is continuing to play a part, with the ceaseless character attacks on Democratic leaders (Read almost any column by a "center-left" pundit). Ongoing Republican success at the polls depends on the perpetuation of this dynamic, and I see few signs of it abating.

One other issue I have here is that these data don't include a geographic breakdown. For the purpose of how our political system actually doles out power, it doesn't matter if, say, 90% of Vermont now favors gay marriage as opposed to 55%: Vermont is already firmly in our column. We need to see these opinion shifts happening in the purple and red states to change what is essentially an unfavorable dynamic for Democrats. Is there data showing that attitudes in those states has changed?

Posted by: Steppen on March 23, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Bush didn't win on 2000, and the more I talk with people, the more I'm convinced that he won in 2004 because moderate voters wanted him to finish his war. I think the Rethugs are f'ed in 2008, Hillary or no Hillary.

Posted by: none on March 23, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky Liberal: Exhibit A: the three Republican front-runners for President, especially Giuliani.

Exhibit B: the socially liberal pro-business governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and William Clinton both believed that the way to raise more revenue was to grow the economy better, rather than to raise taxes. Clinton did pass a small tax increase, but then left tax rates alone.

Bush cut taxes, OK but the cut too much. Bush raised federal spending, OK but he raised too much. What's needed is someone who raises a few well targeted tax rates, reduces a lot of loopholes, and moderates the growth of federal spending. Someone like BushI and Clinton.

Whichever party nominates that someone will probably win the 2008 presidency. Not a prediction, just another guess for discussion.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 23, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

As entitlement benefits grow, taxes are going to have to go up. Everyone knows there's no way around this, and insisting otherwise will increasingly mark you as a fringe crackpot.

No way around? The problem in DC isn't tax cuts it's spending. Federal tax receipts have been growing for some time and estimated intake for FY2007 is $2.5 trillion. But spending has been growing more and so all of that plus some goes to: www.lib.lsu.edu/gov/tree . If anyone's a crackpot it's he who looks at $3 trillion in yearly expenditures and can't find enough waste, worthless programs and special interest handouts to pay for entitlements (or whatever the preference is).

Posted by: scouser on March 23, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

"They've got most of AM radio, they dominate cable TV, and evangelical churches are a vast archipelago of Republican re-education camps... (p)lus they've got gobs of money and most of corporate America on their side."

Heddy is exactly right on each of these counts. I would add a couple of unquantifiables to that list -- an inexplicable sense of entitlement, and enough resentment to pave the globe. I don't know that these things make for staying power, but it's enough so that they linger like a bad fart.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on March 23, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of budgets. David Stockton seems to have a few pressing problems. Something about accounting irregularities at a firm his investment group bought out going belly up after swallowing a dozen other firms.

What is it with these guys and accounting? Not to mention accountability.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 23, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that they've already won so much and that it hasn't seemed to work through tax cuts and war, nor through culture wars.

Actually Andrew, I disagree. What's been amazing about the progressive movement in the 60's (or the 50s and 40s too) and the conservative movement of today is how little the conservatives have actually accomplished in comparison. Yes, they got their tax cuts -- but those aren't exactly a pillar of strength. And they've managed to stave off the scourge of gay marriage for at least a few years. And...

Well, what else exactly? They've won power, certainly, but Roe V. Wade is still law (even as they try and outlaw it on a state by state basis) and this is after almost 30 years of stacking the judiciary. Gays, while demonized by the GOP and hated by their base, are far LESS marginalized now than at any other point in American history. They haven't gutted Social Security. They certainly haven't been spendthrifts. Government hasn't shrunk. Shit, they didn't even get rid of the NEA. This is to say nothing of the societal overhaul their base has wanted (in correllation to the progressive movement, which completely changed society) and hasn't really gotten.

In short, they've had significant power since Reagan -- and had a 12-year Congressional majority as well as nearly 6 years of complete GOP rule. Other than a couple of disasterous and mismanaged war, and the rich getting richer, what have they accomplished?

Posted by: Jay b on March 23, 2007 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

"As entitlement benefits grow, taxes are going to have to go up. Everyone knows there's no way around this, and insisting otherwise will increasingly mark you as a fringe crackpot."

That's a bit harsh and not quite right...if you mean taxes will have to go up to pay for benefits under current law, that's true, but the real debate is over how much they'll go up, and whether merely raising taxes or cutting benefits is the solution to the entitlement crisis that you're obliquely referring to.

i think in the article you link to schmitt makes clear that raising taxes is just one necessary component of a fix for long-term fiscal issues. the other part is fixing the health care system. this detail is lost in the sentence quoted above.

Posted by: zordon on March 23, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

The right wing still has a powerful propaganda machine, so it's too early to count them out.

I don't think any one should be counting them out. Of course the Right Wing still has power. They have lots of power. However, this Pew Poll should indicate what we could also take away from the November election results (including South Dakota's little talked about rejection of the abortion ban), Bush's negative approval ratings, and just a simple understanding of US social movements: the idea that there is a conservative majority is false. There never was a conservative majority and there is no conservative majority on the horizon. What happened is that a social movement hit a critical mass perhaps beyond what the left accomplished in the Sixties. But despite how much money they have, despite how much influence they wield on radio, and despite all the other places you can name, the alliances that make them up have always been tenuous and ready to break when trends like the ones this poll found begin to happen. Progressive optimism is the realistic position.

Posted by: Andrew Slack on March 23, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Dean Baker this morning on the 'entitlement crisis' - that seems to be the latest rightist code for trying one more time to let those prudent and entirely magnanimous cats on Wall Street 'manage' 'private accounts' for us , when the problem is that we're paying twice as much for health care as any other 'advanced' country:


NPR Pushes the Budget Scare Stories

Diane Rehm, who often has very good shows (especially when she has me as a guest), used her talk show yesterday to promote the fiscal scare stories. She allowed David Walker (the star of the CBS 60 Minutes horror show on the budget last month back) to spin his tale of the country going bankrupt without anyone presenting an alternative perspective.

As is easy to show, Walker's story depends entirely on projections of exploding health care costs. If the U.S. could contain its health care costs, as every other country has managed to do, then there is no serious problem. If health care costs grow as projected, then the economy will be wrecked, even if we eliminate the government health care programs.'

[snip]

http://www.prospect.org/deanbaker/

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 23, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jay B's point that the Right hasn't accomplished much is great. However, they did get their tax cuts through. And they did get us into a war. And those two things are what the fiscal conservatives and the neoconservatives really wanted. Ironically, the social conservatives' battles whose mission have the littlest to do with money out of the "big 3" of the Bush administration have recieved the fewest tangible and lasting victories. But still huge tax cuts and strong arming Congress to vote for action on Iraq even though they had nothing to do with 9/11? That was a victory of sorts for them. It just proved itself fruitless to everyone but a handful of terribly greedy companies. But Jay B, on the other hand, I see your point that they haven't accomplished too much on the whole, especially because any big thing they have accomplished has failed.

Posted by: Andrew Slack on March 23, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Praedor, Malthus would be proud of you,no doubt. The human race has grown to big and according to your view,it probably needs to shrink and if not on its own....

Andrew, I think you may be mistaking conservative and Republican. People can consider themselves conservative, fiscally,socially,morallly without being Republican. I think this poll shows how much damage Bush et al has done to Republican party politics. It will take years,maybe decades to fix that.By then the Democrats will have become as complacent as they were in the 90s.

Posted by: TJM on March 23, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

tpm has it that the US Attorneys were fired as part of a program to associate voter fraud with Democrats.

Posted by: cld on March 23, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is how the federal function is a single party state. Checks and balances do not work in a single party state.

Will national politics become like DC where the Democratic primary is the only relevent election? If 40% of Americans are left out of the politcal process will they resort to corruption? In states like Mass. that are functional one party states, people vote with their feet instead of at the ballot box. What will the middle class do to avoid super high taxes and onerous goernment regulation? Where can the immigrate to to avoid the political climate of the United States?

Posted by: superdestroyer on March 23, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

'In fact, the right's culture war was -- and is -- mostly bogus. Most of the deep societal changes it decried -- the decline of community, the loss of religious faith, economic insecurity, selfishness, social atomization, anomie -- cannot be blamed on liberalism: They are products of modernity itself and of the modern world's triumphant economic system, capitalism. (Daniel Bell pointed this out more than 30 years ago in his 1976 classic "The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.") And those changes have been greatly exacerbated by the monopolistic, heck-of-a-job-Brownie, corporate-crony version of capitalism -- one loudly championed by, naturally, the GOP.'
The Coulterization of the American right/Gary Kamiya - http://www.salon.com/opinion
/kamiya/2007/03/13/coulter/

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 23, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

In states like Mass. that are functional one party states, people vote with their feet instead of at the ballot box.

I know several Republicans who live and work in MA. Every time they bitch and moan about how much the state sucks because the Dems are in control, I suggest that they move to one of the numerous Red states with a higher of standard of living then they can find in MA, and all I ever get in return are blank stares.

Posted by: Disputo on March 23, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

In states like Mass. that are functional one party states, people vote with their feet instead of at the ballot box.

Massachusetts had an uninterrupted string of Republican governors from 1991 to 2007. The scandal that MA lost population was placed at the feet of their most recent Republican governor, Mitt Romney. Population loss has been traced to the fact that Boston has one of the highest average metro area housing costs in the country.

Also, the infighting within the Democratic party in Massachusetts was heated enough that the factions of the Democratic party pretty much are the two parties of Massachusetts. So it's sort of like a two-party system. :)

But, yeah, pretty much no Republicans in MA think, "gee, I'm going to move to Kansas! Better political climate there!" Mostly, they suck it up all the way to their nice houses in Weston.

Posted by: Constantine on March 23, 2007 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

I fail to see how you need actual taxes to shout tax cut promises... Since when is progress on policies a requirement to be allowed to use a message? (How are those abortion and gay mariage bans comming along, no progress? Guess there will be another election around gaybashing)

Just create a fake grover with a tax pledge you can keep, something about debt first, tax cuts later... or maybe by the time the GOP is back there actually is spending it can cut.

Looking from the European side of the pond there is an obvious potential schtick: libertarianism.

You can argue whether liberal ideas should drive on the left or the right side of the road in principle but thats besides the point.

* Muslim/immigrant bashing can morph into intolerant Muslim bashing
* State rights, gun rights by way of free speech rights could move to Gay rights ("Immoral but legal" is way to complicated though, that needs dumbing down and a straw man. “marriage police”? )
* Someone who cant sell religious freedom to religious nuts should stay out of politics. (churches should have the right to keep gays from getting married inside)
* anti-choice could move to defending the right to say no. (Painting the other side as pro-abortion rather than pro-freedom is already the standard)

On the money side, much of the republican money strategy wasn`t just aimed at getting more, it was also aimed at the other side getting less (k-street project, trial lawyers) What is an easier way of taking away democratic money than just taking it from the democratic contributers ;-) It might end up giving substance to the "left wing extremist" branding.

That the GOP is gonna spend a few years in exile (Challabi style) seems pretty likely. That is unless another 9/11 can be pinned on the left (post pullout: "they followed us home", from the left, "weather underground") Or they just follow the lead of Egyptian and Pakistani partners.

Fox news isn`t a conservative news channel, its a universal propaganda infrastructure for hire. Promise Murdoch he gets to broadcast with less tax trouble than the other side offers and fox is with you. The US parties are to big to have a single ingrained ideology, they are just political machines where you can wash the ideological color of, give em a new paint job and go! Should take at least 4 years, but not more than 12.

Posted by: ytr on March 23, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'll tell you what else they hitched their wagon to, the backward, unreconstructed, fundamentalist, racist South.

And now they're stuck there, with a set of 'principles' that are finally garnering the revulsion they deserve from the every other corner of America.

People get their backs up when things like this are said. I know there are liberals, and fair-minded conservatives, in the South. No region is a monolith. But that's highly irrelevant to the current situation. The worst elements of our democracy are in the saddle down there, and the assholes running the GOP have cast their lot with them. May they choke on it for two generations.

Posted by: fourmorewars on March 23, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo,

You should remember the problems with anecdotal evidence. Larry Sabato has on his homeage a proejction that Mass. will continue to lose congressional seats to the sunbelt. If the southern states are so bad, then why do people keep moving there.

Remember, one of the reasons that NH is now a blue state is so many people moved there from Mass. for lower taxes. Of course, those same people will probably start voting for politicians who support higher taxes.

Posted by: superdestroyer on March 23, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Steppen's post on how the GOP has demonized liberalism. I recently asked a very liberal woman who had 2 graduate degrees if she considered herself a feminist. She was horrified. Feminism no longer meant equal pay for equal work. To her, it meant uncomely women who don't shave their legs.

Posted by: D. on March 23, 2007 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

To be scientific about it, the graph shows what people are willing to say to a survey interviewer about their party preference -- not necessarily what their preference actually is. The stated preference can vary from the actual one for a number of reasons, including current political climate.

The difference in party ID shown in the graph (5% in 2000 and 2004, 10% in 2006) did not translate to similar differences in the vote in the corresponding elections. The Republicans scored consistently better than what this graph suggests.

And, as already pointed out above, the "one party state" of Massachusetts managed to elect a string of Republican governors recently.

So it takes more than party ID (stated or actual) to predict election wins, especially for the executive branch.

Posted by: JS on March 23, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Screw em. The GOP is in a hell of a fix. And I ain't in no rush to bail em out of their own mess. America is a beautiful country. Not perfect, but better than the rest. When we lose our way, like we did under Reagan and the Bushes, we always steer our way back. God Bless the Liberal United States of America. No longer should we let the neanderthals on the right make us cringe at the sight of the stars and stripes. Bush and Rove are the gift that keeps on giving.

Posted by: Elrod on March 23, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Now that the Democrats have the majority in Congress, they'll be judged on their performance, not just on GOP mistakes. Today they voted an emergency spending bill that has non-emergency agricultural subsidies, while offending the people who want to end the war and offending those who want to win the war.

It's kind of curious that there are representatives who will only vote to bring the troops home if their spinach farmers and peanut farmers are paid. Granted the GOP has put them in a bind, but what kind of solution is that?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 23, 2007 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

And the primary reason the Dems lost in 2004 is that the national media decided the most important issue was the severity of the injuries sustained by John Kerry in winning one of his three Purple Hearts.

True story.

In class this week -- in a blue state -- I was leaning on some kids who were failing because they didn't hand in major projects, and still wanted me to feel bad because they were failing. 22-student class.

ME: There's a limit to how bad I can feel for you guys -- no one gets the Purple Heart for a self-inflicted wound, you know

THREE KIDS (simultaneously, from different parts of the room): John Kerry did!

And so the next generation begins.


Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 23, 2007 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

May they choke on it for two generations.

Posted by: fourmorewars on March 23, 2007 at 8:00 PM

May they choke on it for twenty.

Posted by: Chukuriuk on March 23, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

And, as already pointed out above, the "one party state" of Massachusetts managed to elect a string of Republican governors recently.

At the same time, the high profile politicians who put their asses on the line to publicly oppose gay marriage lost their jobs. This happened due to refusal to run for reelection (Romney), indictment (Finneran), or being defeated in a primary (Ciampa).

Republican politicians will be elected president from time to time over the next generation or two, but they'll be more akin to post-2005 Schwarzeneggers, not Reagans and Bushes.

Race-baiting, demonization of the poor, opposition to gay marriage, and "government is the problem" rhetoric is going to be confined to Republicans in the south, Utah, and a few very conservative congressional districts in isolated pockets.

Posted by: Constantine on March 24, 2007 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting that the Left in Europe is going through a period of decline also. The old-style socialism is dead, and tax cuts are fashionable over there.

As for the GOP, I can see why Rudy is popular with so much of the right. He is a true authoritarian, and that explains why he's so popular in the South.

Posted by: mikeel on March 24, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Your article is dead on. I do think people who are swing and indies have been fed up along time. Alot switched with Reagan and since the "republican revolution' people have seen things going bad to worse.
Unlike the way Washington thinks of us, we are not stupid. We are usually ahead of them. Murtha knows it. And I think people see what republican rule has done to this country.

Posted by: vwcat on March 24, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, cat, the farce is being cancelled now that everyone is sick of the same jokes again and again, only louder.

Posted by: Kenji on March 24, 2007 at 5:43 AM | PERMALINK

To your last sentence, "If they want to stay relevant, they're going to need some new ideas," I would add, "Let's home this time they're better ones."

Posted by: Sempringham on March 24, 2007 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

marler: Today they voted an emergency spending bill that has non-emergency agricultural subsidies,


reminds me of the murderer who killed his parents and then claimed to be an orphan...

marler..dont you remember....

the do-nothing gop congress last year...

didn't pass a budget...

Posted by: mr. irony on March 24, 2007 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Moving the deck chairs around and squabbling over who gets the ones on the top deck.

'If you had asked me what I think actually will happen -- and again, I cannot foresee the future -- the economic news encourages me in this thought. I believe we will stagger along under the façade of constitutional government until we're overtaken by bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will not mean the literal end of the United States, any more than it did for Germany in 1923, or China in 1948, or Argentina just a few years ago, for 2001 and 2002.

But it would mean a catastrophic shake up of the society, which could conceivably usher in revolution, given the interests that would be damaged in this. It would mean virtually the disappearance of all American influence in international affairs. The rest of the world would be greatly affected, but it would begin to overcome it. We probably would not.' - Chalmers Johnson

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 24, 2007 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Most people prefer liberal positions on almost every issue. That's been true since the Great Depression. Conservatives are just better propagandists and liars than progressives.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on March 24, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP looks pretty good in that Whig. The flop sweat runs down from beneath though.

Posted by: Sparko on March 24, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Notice the Democrat leads in 2000 and 2004? We should have done better at the polls - I think "voting machines" is a big answer.

Posted by: Neil B. on March 24, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Other than a couple of disasterous and mismanaged war, and the rich getting richer, what have they accomplished"

At high concentrations, money *is* power. They've ripped off America, a trillion or so. They're not going anywhere. They still have dozens of multi-million dollar propaganda factories and plenty of double-dipping media moles.

What we need is for the Moderate Majority of America to recognize the MSM as unreliable and stop paying attention to it. Slowly, it seems to be happening. The Internet is a fundamental political revolution, and if it's not strangled by the oligarchy then democracy stands a chance here.

Posted by: Archie on March 24, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

"We can have democracy in this country or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both." - Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 25, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Us gen-x'rs are going to have to pay for the boomers in everything. I know the retirement age is going to creep up and our entitlements are going to get squeezed, but our class of '62 to '67 will still survive!

Posted by: doug r on March 25, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly