As the GOP faces day two of 40 years in the desert, the stories about what they should do are coming fast and furious, both nationally and locally.
The Columbian quotes Clark County Republican chair Ryan Hart thusly:
“I think that this is still a center-right country,” Hart said. “We have a message that reflects the majority of the electorate. … We just need to find candidates that can clearly articulate that message.”
To be clear, I’m not trying to mess with Hart, who has conducted himself as the Republican chair here with aplomb and decency. And what he’s saying is pretty common.
In fact, Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, said pretty much the same thing in a Politico piece this morning that is chock full of ruminations about the future of the Republican Party. More interesting are comments from a couple of Republican governors on page two of the same Politico article.
We have to have actual ideas,” said the 47-year-old Pawlenty. “The Republican idea factory has dried up. And we’ve got to catch up on the key issues of our times — health care, renewable energy and education.”
“We need real solutions,” adds Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, 37. “It’s not enough to be just against single-payer health care, for example. We’ve got to discuss how we promote private coverage, to apply our principles to the issues that affect people’s lives.”
I welcome Gov. Jindal’s explanations on how private insurance coverage, which routinely puts outrageous obstacles and Catch-22 situations in front of people who are facing dire health problems, can be improved. Really. Because you’d think if the private insurance market was going to solve these problems, it might have done so at some point in the last 50 years.
Here’s the nub of the conservative/Republican problem. Their vaunted stink tanks, generally speaking, are not set up to examine problems with an unjaundiced eye and examine how practical solutions can be found, they’re set up to start from a rigid ideological perspective and then shoehorn potential solutions into little boxes marked “free market” or “privatizing Social Security” or “clean coal.”
It’s their First Amendment right to do this, but when these supposed solutions are found to be ridiculous and dangerous, as in the case of putting Social Security funds in the stock market, or the work of corporate interests seeking to astro-turf things, as in the case of “clean” coal, it constitutes a failure by conservatives to engage in intellectually honest discourse. Has anyone who received a 401(k) statement in the last month opened it and thought, “Gee, I sure wish my Social Security money had vaporized too?”
Further exacerbating the conservative problem is that their stink tanks work in consort with what is often referred to as the right wing noise machine, the broad array of extreme-right talk radio hosts and certain cable television personalities whose sole mission seems to be pissing off liberals. (Which, given the results on Tuesday, let me just add, “Mission Accomplished!”)
Obviously, being pissed off only takes things so far. The goal now for progressive is to be as pragmatic as possible, both in ideas about solutions and in gauging the political landscape, while still trying to move the ball down the field. That’s far easier said than done, and I shudder to think of the all out assault the insurance industry might mount on even the most basic reforms to health care, but we have to try.
This isn’t an issue of civility or magnanimity. While there’s nothing wrong with those virtues, the purpose must be to figure out what in the heck is the best thing to do about the economy, the wars, our infrastructure and so on.
We have to continually remind people of the great things this country has accomplished. Under Franklin D. Roosevelt, we invented new quasi-public entities like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Bonneville Power Administration to bring electricity to millions of rural Americans. Dams were built, a world war was won. It wasn’t just that people tended to pull together, although sometimes I suspect that aspect may be a wee bit overstated, but more importantly the leaders of this country were willing to make their political case to the people, and then use the machinery of government to help meet the gigantic problems they faced. The conservatives did everything they could to stop FDR, and in some ways they are still fighting him. We should not shrink from this battle, but engage in it in the spirit of American democracy.
One can argue about the degree to which it is proper to use the government, but the argument that government itself must be “drowned in the bathtub,” as Grover Norquist infamously said, is now itself rather far under water.
Under Lyndon B. Johnson, we extended health care to seniors and the poor. Civil rights were enshrined in federal law. Whatever the other legacies, good and bad, those things endure to this day and were not a part of trying to destroy a free market society, but were an effort to save it and improve it so that all Americans can lead fuller, more productive lives. We are above all a practical people. Programs that don’t work should be abandoned, and lessons learned from the past. Huge high-rise apartment blocks built by the government are not a good way to deal with housing issues, for example.
Invention, experimentation and the taking of reasonable risks are supposedly the hallmark of America. Somewhere out there may be a young conservative with a brilliant idea about health care, transportation or global warming. But brilliant ideas often don’t fit in neatly labeled boxes. If the Republicans hope to bring good ideas to the table, the first step would be to free themselves from the straitjacket the stink tanks have placed upon their movement, and the second step would be to free themselves from the charlatans, liars and opportunists that take advantage of them by peddling the political equivalent of snake oil on cable and radio.
How Republicans might choose to achieve the goal of generating workable ideas is, of course, up to them. It is entirely possible to have an honest think tank, one that examines issues in an objective manner, discusses possible solutions and even chooses the ones it likes best based on the worldview of its researchers and board members. An honest think tank would be completely transparent in its funding and would not engage in mendacious propaganda like “intelligent design,” to name but one example.
On the noise machine front, when conservative personalities insist upon declaring modest income tax proposals “socialist,” not only are they deliberately using inflammatory language, they are being willfully inaccurate. Which, to stress again, is a First Amendment right.
But in the end such tactics are more destructive to the conservative movement than ours. This election showed that beyond all doubt.
headless lucy spews:
“…we’ve got to catch up on the key issues of our times — health care, renewable energy and education.”
Since honest, self-reflection is the order of the day for Republicans, they might want to reflect on why they have been stonewalling health care reform since Truman, turned back the clock on a modern energy policy since the Carter years,and why they want to use public money to enrich ‘private’ educators.
I would say that an admission that they don’t care about the well-being of the citizens of this country or of the world would be a good place to start.
I think the main question for them to attempt to answer is this: Is there anything of a positive or constructive nature that the Republican party has to offer?
My answer is: No.
Jim, (a genuine musician) spews:
It is no longer the Republican Party.
It is the Southern Party. Other than a few mountain western states, that’s all they have.
Just as an aside: Grover Norquist (of the American Taxpayers Union) was the money launderer (along with Ralph Reed) for Jack Abramoff and supported forced abortions in the Northern Marianas, Russian oil tycoons, Indian Gambling operations and slave labor conditions.
It is exactly this kind of corruption we need to clean up.
Short Ryan Hart:
All we (republicans) need to do is the same things we have been doing – but spin them better.
Richard Pope spews:
There could be some reasonable solutions with “clean coal”. You at least have a starting point, and can try to figure ways to make coal “cleaner”.
Piratizing social security? Looks like the voters were pretty strongly against piratization, and lots of the would-be Republican pirates got defeated.
There are certainly alternatives to single-payer health insurance. But none of the alternatives the Republicans have been proposing are all that practical.
All the other industrialized democracies have some sort of universal health coverage. Many of them require some sort of co-pay or co-insurance, except for their poorest residents. Some of them combine universal coverage with some form of private insurance.
However, it looks that Barack Obama will be coming up with alternatives to single-payer insurance, while Bobby Jindal might not have the political guts or wisdom to propose practical solutions himself.
A logical corollary to Lincoln’s famous statement is that it’s the biggest fool of all who fools himself.
It’s not just hate talk radio and Faux Noise on cable – it’s also legions of right wing poop for brains on the inter-tubes manufacturing wingsites and sending viral e-mails, usenet postings and robo-hatecalls.
They’ve been defeated and ignored for now. I hope it lasts.
The progressive internet has been way, way more successful mobilizing change. Thank heavens.
“I welcome Gov. Jindal’s explanations on how private insurance coverage, which routinely puts outrageous obstacles and Catch-22 situations in front of people who are facing dire health problems, can be improved. Really. Because you’d think if the private insurance market was going to solve these problems, it might have done so at some point in the last 50 years.”
Well, not necessarily…private insurance companies, like any other companies, can work in the peoples’ interest, but as our present state of clusterfuckery shows all too well, they won’t unless they’re forcibly enjoined from just taking their customers’ money, putting it in their pockets and walking away.
Blue John spews:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the party should take four primary steps:
The democrats absolutely should do three of those:
– Show no tolerance for corruption,
– stand for working families and small business, and
– embrace reform.
I don’t see goverment as automatically bad, so I don’t see a point for automatically limiting the scope of government.
Check it out. The Chimp’s mutt has been trained to attack the emm ess emm.
LMAO!! Makes that cur DOOFUS look like a piker. By the way, where has that shit-eater been lately?
Here’s another quote from Honest Abe, which seems highly apropos:
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
All Facts Support My Positions spews:
The GOP won’t be in the desert for 40 years.
They still control most of the media, most of the money, and have millions of supporters that must live in caves, and believe every single talking point without question. Their coming assault on Obama will make the attacks on Clinton look like grade school playground.
The top 1/10 of 1% that makes most of the money in America will fight tooth and nail to keep the $$$ rolling in regardless of how much damage is done to our nation, or our families.
If the Republipukes want to have a seat at the table, the have to get a grip on reality, stop the lies, smears, and corruption, and tell their inbred supporters to grow up. Till then I will treat them like the vermin they are, and have been for some time.
The people of Alaska voting for (7 felony convictions) Ted Stevens pretty much sums up the mentality of their whole corrupt slimy party of vermin.
Source: U.W. Borrows for Bailout
In addition, an amazing confession out of California: Gov. Schwarzenegger is calling for a tax increase (as well as budget cuts) to “stop the bleeding”. In doing so, he’s running into lots of resistence from his own party.
Source: Schwarzenegger proposes tax hikes
I found this rather ironic, in light of the Rossi’s campaign insisting that any projected/hypothetical budget shortfall in Washington state was solely due to Gov. Gregoire’s “wasteful spending”, and demanding – even in Rossi’s concession speech – that she not raise any taxes or fees.
Roger Rabbit spews:
I personally think seppuku is their best option.*
* Just kidding! Ann Coulter humor. Speaking of which, where is that bitch? She’s suddenly very quiet.
It seems to me that the Republican party casts a wistful eye back on the 1950’s, when many schools started the day with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, their was no racial conflict in school because schools were segregated, America was an economic powerhouse because Europe and Japan were still rebuilding factories destroyed in WWII, and white men who graduated from high school could pretty much have a lifetime career working for the same company, and college graduates could easily enter the world as professionals and business executives. If only it weren’t for those hefty income taxes!
They keep looking backwards, trying to restore America to the glory of the 1950’s. But in the meantime, the world has changed considerably. Europe, Japan, and even S. Korea, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China have become major manufactoring competitors – to the point where our manufacturing base has dwindled to nearly nothing in comparison. Our education levels continue to decline, but other countries are educating their students in middle school to a level many of our college graduates never achieve. U.S. companies needing engineers for work requiring security clearances are finding it very difficult to find new graduates who are U.S. citizens. We are paying more money in interest to other nations than we receive as a return on our overseas investments. Businessmen from other nations traverse the world easily with fluency in several languages, our own businessmen have rarely even been outside their own region of the U.S.
And health care? I can’t speak to Europe, but the level of health care in Japan and South Korea is generally better than it is in the U.S. according to those who have lived under both systems. And health care in both countries is nationalized.
Blue John spews:
Ann is still out there. And look at the uplifting and optimistic article she just wrote. I am not making this stuff up.
Nice piece Jon. Thanks
@16: Yup, the idiot with vitriol who did not even know that Canada never sent troops to Vietnam. She claims to be smart – but she is just a shrill mouthpiece that is good with insults but bad with facts.
I hope she goes after the leftovers of the republican party and chews them up. I hope she really is a Sarah (inept and unqualified) Palin supporter. It just shows her lack of integrity and intelligence that she supports Palin.
It is all about following the party line and not about the person. She would make a good party purity enforcer for the KGB or the Stasi.
@ 16 & 17: Yep, that’s just what the Republicans need! After realizing that they can’t win an election without having a candidate who’s main credentials was his claim that he’s a “maverick” among Republicans (i.e., not a “typical Republican), now the wingnuts want to drive every last of the moderates out of the party! Yep, that’s the ticket!
By 2012 the Republicans would pretty much be pulling in the same numbers – and pretty much the same voters – as Wallace and Buchanan did in their third-party runs for office. Their recruiting campaigns would be confined to the skinheads in the exercise yards of the various prisons around the country.
Politically Incorrect spews:
Republicans will be back. I’ve told them over at Stefan’s blog that they need to clean out the perverts and crooks and return to the party of smaller government, more individual rights and responsibilities, and get outta bed with the religious right. Plus they need to do an about face on getting involved in foreign adventures without the intent of winning. Let the Dems figure out the Middle East shit and take the heat for it.
Obamarama is getting ready to kick off in about 75 days. If the Milk Chocolate Messiah tries to get a bunch of Neo-socialist shit passed, he will be inviting the Republicans back to control the House and Senate in 2010. My guess is that he’ll be like Clinton and do the shit to get re-elected rather than try to get the “progressive” agenda passed.
Don Joe spews:
You know, that’s actually quite wonderful news. Let the Anne Coulters and the Rush Limbaugh’s and the Bill O’Reilly’s drive every sane person out of the Republican party, and let the Democratic party make room for those folks in a conservative wing. They have nowhere else to go.
At that point, the shrill and inane wingnuts will become a permanent minority, which is precisely where they belong.
@20 “I’ve told them over at Stefan’s blog that they need to clean out the perverts and crooks and return to the party of smaller government, more individual rights and responsibilities, and get outta bed with the religious right.”
That’s not bad advice. I hope that didn’t go over too badly over there. It’s likely going to take them a long, long time but, yeah, the Republicans will be back.
Politically Incorrect spews:
Bill O’Reilly is an independent. Read “A Bold, Fresh Piece of Humanity,” and you’ll see that he’s not a Republican or even a Conservative. He’s just an independent, and ideologues on both ends of the spectrum resent that.
Hey, Winners the elections is over change is here why are you talking about history?
Is ranting about the Republicans all you have. Are you that feed up with obama already.
Are you ashamed you fell for all the promises and now realize it ‘s not going to happen.
Let here about you king and how he going to screw the poor with his lie.
headless lucy spews:
re 20: My prediction is that your head is so far up your ass, you might as well get a glass belly button in order to see through a glass darkly, at least.
You’ve been using the socialist rhetoric for months to no avail. Americans in the past 8 years have learned two very valuable lessons:
1) Republicans are liars.
2) Republicans believe in a socialist nanny-state for large corporations, the financial sector, the military-industrial complex, and extremely wealthy people.
All they really need to remember is that Republicans are liars.
@25 “Republicans are liars”
The Republican party is also a magnet for pervs.
You’d think there might be some shame associated with that but, noooooooo, nothing but denial.
Don Joe spews:
Bill O’Reilly is an independent.
I didn’t call that list of people out for their views. I called them out for the kind of people they influence, and, while O’Reilly might piss off ideologue’s from both ends of the spectrum, the folks who give his rants any kind of weight tend to number among the wingnut crowd.
Mr. Idealistic spews:
I think it is a serious mistake to assume that the Democratic tide this year has any long-term durability. For example, this year really isn’t all that different than 1992 in important respects, yet only two years later the Republicans’ Contract With America swept the country.
Simply put, the Ds will stay in power if they get things done. If they don’t, the Rs will be back — and perhaps faster than anyone might expect.
Mike Davis spews:
When does “willfully inaccurate” become comparable to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater? (The latter being not protected by the 1st amendment).
When does it get to the point to be considered unlawful insurrection?
Blue John spews:
headless lucy spews:
re 28: What, pray tell, has any Republican administration actually ‘done’ since Eisenhower built freeways? Republicans are the wrecking crew. They tear down the progress that Democrats succeed at.
As any child knows, it’s a lot easier to tear down another child’s sand castle than it is to build your own.
Oh, really now?