Clause 61: The Pushback Blog

Because ideas have consequences

The Republican Coalition

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Could it really be happening? Some new political party birthing itself out of the side of the Republican Party?

The Atlantic finds evidence for it: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/09/meet-congress-new-third-party-and-its-leader-junior-senator-texas/69976/. The article claims that Speaker John Boehner’s control of the House depends on a coalition of two parties, and Boehner has to make moves he would not otherwise make in order to hold his coalition together.

However, I beg to differ in one important respect: this is not a new third party, but a candidate for a second party.

The Lite-Democratic Party

Following the defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964, the Republicans sought to come to terms with Progressivism. The GI generation was deeply Progressive, and to politicians such as Richard Nixon and Robert Dole, the way forward seemed to be to embrace Progressive goals while directing their implementation.

However, this made the difference between Republicans and Democrats paper-thin. Seen from the perspective of 1970, there was still a significant difference between the parties in terms of their attitudes to order, experimentation and central control. However, from the vantage point of 2010, both parties have bought into an expansive reading of government authority that moves accountability away from elected legislators and toward the permanent bureaucracy.

In order to stay in office, the Republican establishment has been willing to compromise. I have addressed this perspective in a previous posting. However, in the face of current conditions, the Republican establishment is too compromising, being “in office but not in power.”

So on Election Day, we continually find ourselves with the choice between Frick and Frack. Each candidate mouths the platitudes, comes out in favor of such controversial issues as motherhood and the flag, and tries to light up the opposing candidate with attack ads. Whoever we vote for, the end result has been the same: more intrusion, more spending and more dependency. We had choices that were really no choices at all. The Republicans were often the Democrats-lite, with 65% less distribution of benefits.

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon.
Going to the candidate’s debate.
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you’ve got to choose
Every way you look at this you lose.
— Paul Simon, “Mrs. Robinson”

The Progressives are bankrupt. They have promised too much to too many people, and the wealth to make good on the promises simply does not exist. As the claimants all come together in the public square, asserting the priorities of the promises made to them, the conversation will get ugly. There will be no room for compromise: many people are going to go home empty-handed.

President Obama has no private sector experience and no concept of how wealth is created. He chose to double down on the Progressive agenda by establishing a right to health care. He did not get all he wanted, but he got plenty. However, health care is truly a bottomless pit; there is no satiety. Furthermore, if health care is a right, how is it provided? It’s not like life or liberty: to deliver health care requires production of wealth. Whom do we enslave to provide those who cannot afford it the care to which they are deemed to be entitled?

The heirs of Nixon and Dole, such as John McCain and Karl Rove, are not ready to address these questions. They want to go along with Progressives in order to get along, continuing to divide up the pie. But they are all committing money to promises faster than Ben Bernanke can print it. Soon there is not going to be enough pie to go around. The day of reckoning is coming to an economy near you.

The Something-else Party

There have been an increasing number of people who were aware of something painfully wrong here. Is that number reaching critical mass to support political candidates?

We need a credible alternative to the Democrats so that we have a meaningful choice in elections. The Lite-Democrats that we have come to know as the Republican party do not offer that choice. They buy into the same corporatist beliefs as the Democrats.

What’s Missing?

Although the idea of a new political party is intriguing, there is far to go before it would be a viable political actor.

Voters in Metropolitan Areas

As Ryan Lizza notes in The New Yorkerthere are not many Representatives with districts including metropolitan areas:

  • Cobb County, outside Atlanta, is represented by Phil Gingrey.
  • James Sensenbrenner has some of the west suburbs of Milwaukee.
  • Randy Hultgren has a district in Illinois that gets as close to Chicago as Wauconda and Warrenville.
  • Some suburbs northwest of Detroit are represented by Kerry Bentivolio.
  • Some suburbs north of Dallas are in the district of Kenny Marchant.
  • Ted Poe represents some suburbs north of Houston.
  • The district of Keith Rothfus cuts as close to Pittsburgh as Ross and O’Hara Townships, but most of the district is rural.

There is the danger that the growing political entity could also be identified, or even identify itself, with anti-urbanism. This is a force that is underappreciated in American politics; it helped push through Prohibition and the National Origins Act of 1924, and has never really gone away. A new political party that is nativist and anti-urban would not be seen as a positive development, at least by this writer.

Coalition Building

Success in politics depends on addition, not subtraction. If this new force is to be successful, they will have to broaden their appeal beyond their current core constituency. This will be difficult, because their energy comes from highly motivated supporters rebelling against what they don’t like about the Republican Party, and these people will strive for purity. However, they will have to decide what are the important issues on which they can make common cause with other disaffected segments, and to what issues they must hold firm.

Similarly, I don’t offer an unqualified endorsement to this group or their followers. I am less than impressed by what I know of people like Michelle Bachmann. Nevertheless, I also recognize that success in politics requires making common cause with others with whom I may disagree on some points.

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Written by srojak

October 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm

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