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Republican Blues

April 14th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 11 Comments · Politics

During the ’08 campaign, one of the things I hoped we would see in an Obama presidency was a repeat of the Clinton years: a Democrat president harried and made ineffectual by the Republicans in the legislative branch. I am beginning to think it will not happen. Instead of Clinton or Carter, Obama could very well be another FDR — a president who does great damage to the country with his big government initiatives, but retains the love of the people with his smile, his positive rhetoric and a fawning liberal media.

The Democrats are thinking the same as I am, and they are beginning to crow. We got two pieces of Democrats triumphalism this week. Much of what the partisan Robert Shrum writes in The Republican Ruins is unfair, but amid the gloating and the spin there are a few nuggets of truth.

the White House intends to move ahead on immigration reform. This will guarantee conservative outbursts of barely disguised ethnic-baiting that is sure to alienate Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.

Whatever the problems of Obama’s immigration policy, the Republicans are heading down the wrong path with anti-immigration nationalism. I think there is a racist element as well. I suspect the reaction would be different if America were being flooded by blond-haired, blue-eyed Scandinavians.

…it is Republicans who are polarized, not the country.

This is true. The Republicans are a sorry coalition of pragmatist welfare statists, religious conservatives and fiscal conservatives. The fiscal conservatives seem to shrinking as more moderates like David Frum counsel making peace with the welfare state in order to remain a viable party.

The Republicans aren’t dead—just comatose. If Obama fails, they will be back. But that outcome appears increasingly chimerical. Meantime, amid the Republican ruins, delusion provides a temporary shelter and psychic self-satisfaction. How many defeats will it take for Republicans to rebuild a credible party of ideas? It’s bound to happen some day, but who knows how or when?

I think Shrum is right. More on this below.

Not to be taken as seriously as Shrum is Paul Krugman’s column, Tea Parties Forever. Powerline calls this column “venting,” but that is too kind. He is doing what leftist often do: spewing venom. (Given that public education is turning out ignorant conformists, mockery and intimidation are probably effective rhetoric these days.)

Krugman calls Republicans “crazy people” and says they “are refusing to grow up.” Call the first the psychotic explanation, and the second the neurotic explanation — seriously, they’re nothing but smears. Democrats write off a major political party as psychologically disturbed at their own peril; instead, they should work to understand the ideas their opponents hold.

The question is: what will the Republican Party be when it emerges from its coma? How will it regain power?

I fear the Republicans will position themselves against the nihilist, internationalist left as a religious/nationalist party. Both parties will be big government, welfare state parties; the differences will be in the margins. The Democrats will be a little more secular and environmentalist, whereas the Republicans will be a little more religious and nationalist. It looks like a European future from here.

In the near term I see no party standing for liberty and individual rights. In a country with free elections, the majority gets the government it deserves.

11 Comments so far ↓

  • Mike N

    Good analysis. I think the Repubs could go a long way if they would champion individual rights and dump the premise that the needs of some trump the rights of others. But sadly, I don’t know of any Repubs who even understand the concept of rights. It does look like a European future.

  • dismuke

    I sure hope you are wrong. And one bit of hope that I have is the fact that these tea parties DO seem to be centered around economic liberty and excessive taxation. I really don’t see religion or even immigration being too much of a driving force behind them, at least not yet (though obviously there are those attending them for whom such things are a huge issue). Most of the people at these tea parties are just as frustrated at elected Republicans as they are at the Democrats. Clearly the Republican Party is bankrupt (as is the Democratic Party – they just happen to be in power) and my HOPE is that perhaps the tea parties will have the effect of forcing it in a better direction.

    As for immigration – well, I am all for open immigration and oppose the position many conservatives have taken on the issue. But I am not sure whose position is worse on the issue – theirs of the Democrats when one considers the MOTIVES behind Democratic support. It is not like the Democrats are concerned for the individual rights of the immigrants or for the American who wish to hire and trade with such immigrants. The Democrats sole interest in the matter is to bring in as many ignorant, illiterate and “oppressed” warm bodies as possible and get them hooked on the welfare state, into unions and registered to mindlessly go out and push the D button every election cycle. I have a feeling that most hard working Americans are not especially keen on the idea of immigration under that context, especially given current economic circumstances.

    I am ALL FOR open immigration – but so long as we are stuck with a welfare state, immigrants should NOT be eligible for its benefits until they have been here long enough to have paid into the thing. And the process of naturalization needs to be strictly enforced before such people are allowed anywhere near polling places. In many states, Leftist groups have been challenging and changing laws that voters be required to show valid ID before voting.

    Personally, I think Bush – who, to his credit was pro-immigration – blew a huge chance in this area. Had he proposed sweeping immigration reform with very tough measures denying welfare state benefits and protections against Democratic voter fraud, things could have been VERY interesting. I suspect with such a proposal, Republican opponents would have had a harder time drumming up as much opposition to it as they did. And, of course, the Democrats would have VERY MUCH opposed it because it would have denied them the very things that made them interested in the issue in the first place. And, if by some miracle, such a proposal had been passed and immigrants were denied access to welfare state benefits – well, their subsequent success without them would have been a GREAT demonstration how it is possible for poor people to make it without them. But that was just one of many examples where Bush had an opportunity to actually do something that would have been for the better and acted in a way that only made things worse.

  • madmax

    Good points about immigration Dismuke. The left wants to admit as many open-to-socialism-immigrants as they can. This means they want as many non-white immigrants as possible. Race should be an irrelevancy but both parties will make an issue of it. Leftists want more Latinos in the country because they will vote Democrat and they can be used to argue that the Right is racist.

    The Left will argue that the Republicans are racist for opposing non-white immigration and they will point to the Paleo-Cons and other immigrant haters on the Right (Auster, Salier, Stormfront). The far-Right will in turn accuse the Left of trying to Hispanicize the country and stress the importance of protecting our European heritage, which to them is the product of whiteness. In the process they will be easy targets for leftists. The moderate Right will then walk all over itself to prove that it is not mean-spirited and racist. The whole thing makes Republicans look guilty.

    Immigration in a mixed economy welfare state is not an easy issue. But today’s Republicans are so bad in this area that the Democrats will use it to further hammer at the Republicans.

    The question I have is what is the future of the Republican party? Will it become officially the Democrat-lite party? Will it become the Christian Nationalist party as Myrhaf suggests (it wont become the White Christian Nationalist party as only a small section of the Right are Larry Auster types)? And if it does this, will that be a bad thing. Perhaps it would be best if the Republicans became an explicitly religious nationalist party. This might result in the creation of a more rational right wing party, maybe something like the secular right that Rob Tracinsky keeps talking about.

  • Richard

    “How many defeats will it take for Republicans to rebuild a credible party of ideas?”

    This is funny because I remember frequently hearing Jon Stewart bemoaning how the Democrats will ultimately always screw up elections “because that’s what they do”. That was during Bush of course.

  • TW

    I agree with Dismuke about immigration, and I think one thing that really sank the Republicans this election was the bizarre upsurge in anti-immigration sentiment in certain quarters. Laura Ingraham was a good example of this. At a time when the economy still seemed solid and we were holding our own in a war, it was almost like there was a neurotic need to focus on something really divisive and pointless.

    I live in Texas, and the situation with illegal immigration hasn’t changed here in decades. People come here from Mexico to work, and to do so reliably and cheaply. Everyone wins. But the demons that live inside the heads of Republicans just can’t leave well enough alone.
    The sad thing is, they never learn.

  • madmax

    “But the demons that live inside the heads of Republicans just can’t leave well enough alone.”

    This is true but it raises the questions what are those demons and why do the Republicans have them? I think because the Republicans are the more nationalist party they are the party that will tend to see America as a “people” and thus, deep down, view America as a white European people. Many Republicans resent the browning of America.

    The Left is the party of multiculturalism and of one-worldism. They have a hatred of anything associated with pre-20th century European history and they have a heavy dose of white guilt, one of the Left’s versions of original sin. Thus they tend to want the browning of America as an end in itself. This results in the Left/Right war over immigration with both sides having rotten motivations, racist motivations.

    The Left’s version of racism is multiculturalism and the Right has an undercurrent of anti-non-white sentiment which only the far, far Right ever explicitly names. The main driver of this is the welfare state. Without that, decent people (the overwhelming majority) would cease to care about race and the subject of immigration would lose its importance (or be greatly lessened in importance).

    So the bottom line is that so long as welfare-statism and multiculturalism are dominant, Republican opposition to immigration will exist and I suspect get stronger.

  • Myrhaf

    Usually when I mention the racist angle regarding immigration I get a comment or two from outraged conservatives. Maybe they’ve stopped reading this blog.

    With all the more important issues, it’s weird that immigration gets the airtime it does on talk radio. Last year George Bush outlawed the incandesent light bulb. Response on the right? Nothing. They’re too busy screaming about Ramos and Compean or whatever.

    I feel something the same about guns. I certainly support the second amendment, but the issue seems to me a sideshow at best. The more our culture declines, the more the Constitution becomes a meaningless scrap of paper. The ninth amendment is now a joke, completely worthless as a protector of rights. The other amendments will become jokes as well if our culture deteriorates. We should focus on philosophy and individual rights first, then on the specific provisions in the Constitution.

  • dismuke

    Glenn Reynolds has a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal which mentions that the people at these Tea Parties are just as frustrated at Republicans as they are Democrats. As I mentioned earlier, to me that is a sign for some hope. By and large, these protesters ARE protesting for the right reasons. No, understanding that we are overtaxed and being looted and getting made about it is not, in and of itself, enough to fix things in the long run – only cultural change will do that which takes time. But if we are going to even have that time, SOMETHING has to significantly slow down the Stalinist wannabes who are taking over everything – and THAT is something that I don’t think is necessarily too tall of an order.

    Certainly the people at these protests are significantly superior philosophically and in terms of backbone than elected Republicans – and hopefully there are enough of them to force the party to change.

    Here is the WSJ link and below are some excerpts:

    “There’s good news and bad news in this phenomenon for establishment politicians. The good news for Republicans is that, while the Republican Party flounders in its response to the Obama presidency and its programs, millions of Americans are getting organized on their own. The bad news is that those Americans, despite their opposition to President Obama’s policies, aren’t especially friendly to the GOP. When Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked to speak at the Chicago tea party, his request was politely refused by the organizers: “With regards to stage time, we respectfully must inform Chairman Steele that RNC officials are welcome to participate in the rally itself, but we prefer to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in Government as well as political parties. This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around.”

    Likewise, I spoke to an organizer for the Knoxville tea party who said that no “professional politicians” were going to be allowed to speak, and he made a big point of saying that the protest wasn’t an anti-Obama protest, it was an anti-establishment protest. I’ve heard similar things from tea-party organizers in other cities, too. Though critics will probably try to write the tea parties off as partisan publicity stunts, they’re really a post-partisan expression of outrage.”

    “What’s most striking about the tea-party movement is that most of the organizers haven’t ever organized, or even participated, in a protest rally before. General disgust has drawn a lot of people off the sidelines and into the political arena, and they are already planning for political action after today.

    Cincinnati organizer Mike Wilson, a novice organizer who drew 5,000 people to a rally on March 15, is now planning to create a political action committee and a permanent political organization to press for lower taxes and reduced spending. Tucson tea party organizer Robert Mayer told me that his organization will focus on city council elections in the fall as its next priority. And there’s lots of Internet chatter about ways of taking things further after today’s protests.

    This influx of new energy and new talent is likely to inject new life into small-government politics around the nation. The mainstream Republican Party still seems limp and disorganized. This grassroots effort may revitalize it. Or the tea-party movement may lead to a new third party that may replace the GOP, just as the GOP replaced the fractured and hapless Whigs.”

  • dismuke

    BTW – I plan to be at the Dallas tea party. I already have my sign: one side says “Atlas Will Shrug” and the other says “It’s Not Your Wealth To Spread Around.”

    This is only the second protest of any sort I have been to ever. The first one was in the 1990s when the HillaryHealthCare Bus Tour came to town.

    For those who don’t remember, the coast to coast bus tour was an attempt by the Clintons to mask over opposition to HillaryHeatlthCare that had sprung up by generating coverage in the Walter Duranty media to allegedly show that the entire country was just begging for HillaryHealthCare. The whole thing blew up in Hillary’s face.

    The tour started on the West coast and, at one of the early stopping points, protesters outnumbered supporters. To drown out the sound of protesters, the turned on some fountains which resulted in crys of “Whitewater! Whitewater!” The large crowds at that protest encouraged protesters in other cities to show up in droves. By the time the tour got to Texas, HUGE crowds of protesters were showing up at every stop. It was so bad for them that here in Dallas/Fort Worth they actually had to keep the location of the stop SECRET until the last minute, hold it at an indoor facility and have the invitation-only supporters bused in from a remote secret meeting place. The minute word got out where it would be held, the alert was sent over local talk radio programs. I went – and the crowd completely SURROUNDED the convention center that the rally was being held in.

    The crowds of protesters at these things were so huge that the Walter Duranty media COULD NOT ignore them if they wished to have ANY credibility. I was even interviewed by CBS News – though my interview apparently ended on the cutting room floor.

    By the time the HillaryHealthCare Bus Tour got to its destination in Washington DC, it was a total failure – so much so, that HillaryHealthCare was not even brought up on the floor for a vote – in a DEMOCRATIC Congress with a DEMOCRATIC president. Even Democratic politicians know that voting for it was toxic. Next election cycle, Republicans took over Congress for the first time in over 40 years and we, at least temporarily, dodged a major socialized medicine bullet.

    That was one instance when a protest DID make a difference – and I am kind of proud to have been a part of it in a small way.

    I am hoping that history repeats itself.

  • TW


    “This is true but it raises the questions what are those demons and why do the Republicans have them? I think because the Republicans are the more nationalist party they are the party that will tend to see America as a “people” and thus, deep down, view America as a white European people. ”

    I think there is some truth to this. Of course this has always been true of the paleo-conservatives. They often don’t even try to hide it.

    Yet I’m not convinced that it’s the mainstream view among conservatives or the main reason for the pre-election furor over immigration. I really think more was going on. Perhaps certain persons, radio personalities for example, weren’t getting enough attention. They know that there is a strong anti-immigrant component to populism, and it’s easy to whip up.

    Or maybe, as I was alluding to before, there’s just a need to self-destruct when things are going too well.

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