The Daily Banter

Election Post Mortem and Some Tough Love

My Thursday column...

There's been an understandable amount of discussion since Tuesday night about how the Republicans failed and what they can do to improve. I love a good concern-trolling post as much as anyone, especially in the wake of such an exhilarating victory.

Let's face it, though. Do we sincerely want the Republicans to soften their regional white Christian epistemic self-marginalization?

Ultimately, Republican policies are misogynistic, bigoted, obsolete and ineffectual; their politics are toxic and exploitative; their media presence is a screechy echo-chamber of gibberish and conspiracy theories; and they're rightly suffering the consequences of this deadly cocktail. If they'd prefer to self-destruct, fine. As such, they should stay away from Nate Silver's wizardry and stick with Unskewed Polls and Rush Limbaugh's "gut." Republican contra-reality politics forced them to attack an empty chair fictional construct instead of the actual president, and it forced them to fabricate policies that simply didn't exist (Jeep to China, welfare reform gutting, and so on). Great! Keep doing that. It failed. And when Republicans fail, it helps the rest of us.

But even the most sincere recommendations will fall on deaf ears anyway. The things they need to change the most are also threads that unite them. They believe women should be subjugated via anti-choice legislation and they will never abandon their abortion plank. They believe in supply-side, trickle down economics and nearly every sitting Republican politician has signed Grover Norquist's tax pledge, so softening on tax hikes for the rich is definitely out. They can't abandon their anti-immigration position or risk losing their angry, white, ignorant base who want nothing more than a return to the monochromatic 1950s Leave it to Beaver utopia -- these same conservatives market in horror stories about savage brown people beheading decent law-abiding white people in the deserts of Arizona.

They're trapped inside their own Mobius Loop of crapola and, honestly, I don't know exactly how this trend will play out for them. [continued]

Continue reading here.

  • muselet

    Beyond gleeful concern-trolling, there is a good reason for liberals/progressives/The Left to care about what happens to the Republican Party: we need a sane conservative party to test our preferred solutions, to act as a counterweight.

    Having an honest discussion and debate over the proper ways to deal with real problems leads to better solutions. That’s hard to do when the other side has descended into madness and refuses to recognize reality. Global climate change is real, the deficit is going down, the country’s indebtedness is not going to turn the US into Greece (and can we please stop the gratuitous Greece-bashing?), the country’s indebtedness is not a short-term problem, the world is running out of fossil fuels to burn, the rest of the world doesn’t always agree with us, we spend more than most of the rest of the world on our military, and on and on and on, and we can’t deal with any of those things because the Rs refuse to acknowledge any of them (in turn, because doing so would upset a constituency).

    I joked—sorta—last year that the Republican Party would fairly soon split into the Batshit Crazy Talibangelical Party and the Bugfuck Crazy Glibertarian Party. Both of those would systematically purge from their ranks heretics and apostates (Brian: Excuse me, are you the Judean People’s Front? Reg: Fuck off! We’re the People’s Front of Judea!), beginning with reasonable people who could go on to form a new Conservative Party. I don’t know if anything like that will happen, but I live in hope.


    • bphoon

      …we need a sane conservative party to test our preferred solutions, to act as a counterweight.

      This is part of what I was trying to say above. We need that counterweight to sharpen the debate and “road test” our policy prescriptions. We’d make the same mistake the RW radicals are making if we convince ourselves that we and only we have all the answers for whatever ills the country has and enclose ourselves in a bubble where all we can hear is ourselves.

      Nothing would please me more in this regard than to see what’s left of moderate Republicanism regain its place in the party and cut the wackaloons loose to drift, in their burning boat, to sea.

      • muselet

        [NOTE TO SELF: Read the other comments carefully before clicking ‘Post’.]

        The big problem is, we’re the only ones proposing solutions. Heck, we’re the only ones who recognize the problems. It’s not a healthy situation for the country to be in and it’s not a healthy situation for the Left to be in (we already have our own People’s Front of Judea—splitters!—in the Firebaggers and the EmoProgs and the ProLeft).

        The sooner the Republican Party spins apart, the better for us all.


        • bphoon

          Agreed, however, I have a slightly different take. True, we’re the only ones proposing real solutions and it seems like we’re the only ones who even recognize the problems. I think, though, there must be a few reasonable Republicans, however diminished in number they may be, who do also. They’ve allowed themselves to be forced into the closet (how crowded must that be, what with all the gay Republicans in there, too?) by Grover Norquist, the Tea Party and other sundry hate groups.

          In the wake of this election, though, perhaps (I hope) they’ll be emboldened enough to risk their jobs and take a stand. The only way I can see for them to prevail is to take full and immediate advantage of their brief window of opportunity and hammer home the electoral irrelevance of the Tea Party and to finally stand up to Grover and call his bluff. If they lack the fortitude to do that, then they deserve what they get and they can get into the burning boat, too.

          And, yes, we’d do very well to take to heart that we have our own “Tea Party” issue to deal with as well. Maybe we ought to suggest that if they’re not satisfied with how the mainstream Democratic Party is shaping up they should join the Greens and go be happy in Third Party Nirvana.

  • Bob Rutledge

    … liberals/progressives would do well to cut the crap with the smug, self-righteous hectoring of religious people. Categorically labeling all people-of-faith as dumb-stupids or childish sky-god fetishists is seriously beginning to sound an awful lot like the sort of overzealous intolerance we’re supposed to be fighting.

    Agreed 100%.

    I am completely agnostic, despite being raised in a very religious family (my parents met in divinity school, my mom was the first woman to graduate from Duke Divinity School, in fact, she made them create a curriculum for her, as women weren’t ordainable in the 1940s). Despite my parents’ fervent belief in something of which I just see no evidence, they are (in the case of my Dad) and were (Mom) intelligent, caring, and *very* liberal people.

    Sometimes Dad (who is 92) will forward a RWNJ religious screed, but when the fallacies are pointed out, he not only admits he was wrong, but will contact all those to whom he forwarded the original to apologize and explain. BTW, he also signs and shares almost every Credo or MoveOn petition he comes across.

    Liberals do not need to alienate such people.

  • Ned F

    I don’t expect Republicans to except the need to move back to a more reasonable center, or realize their scorched earth policies are not what the majority of Americans want. What I do expect is greater research on sinister ways to swing the vote in their favor. This year was the amazingly brazen push for voter fraud laws, which if not challenged in the last month, may have succeeded in giving them the few points they needed. After the 2010 elections, there was a flurry, no a blizzard, of redistricting which will, I believe, ensure a Republican House majority for quite awhile. Citizens United was another attempt, maybe losing billions this time will blunt their enthusiasm, but I doubt it. This is how they’ve been operating since 2000, and I think, why Rove was so sure he had Ohio. He thought he had it rigged. They’re up to something new, I’m sure of it.

  • Zen Diesel

    Although my personally 24 hrs of gloating has passed, a friend of mine passed, I will gloat just a teeny bit more:

  • missliberties

    How about the Democrats get smart for a change and actually work hard at their own strong moral message.

    Democrats are always focusing on the GOP instead of promoting themselves, which I think is a mistake. Let’s give the people something to vote FOR for a change. That is what we should be talking about.

  • Draxiar

    This election cycle has been nothing short of frustrating for me. I want to be exposed to opinions that challenge mine…opinions based on FACTS. In my research (and maybe I didn’t research hard enough?) all I found was anger…talking points…racial-based comments…seething hatred with no apparent basis in fact. That doesn’t endear me to someone’s opinions because it’s based on horseshit…FOX news horseshit.

    The quieter more reasonable voices on the right have been drowned out by the zealots and that’s really a shame. I feel that everyone of reason can contribute to the discussion and that we can move forward with sensible legislation. We must all be using the same facts for this to happen. Opinions based on those facts will vary of course…but at least we have a common base to start from.

    Yesterday I was exposed to more reasonable right-wing opinions from the owner of my company and a man I’ve known for years…both of whom I have the utmost respect for. I didn’t agree with them lock stock but at least I understood their perspective. My boss and friend couldn’t understand how anyone could vote for Obama…I offered that I couldn’t understand how anyone could vote for Romney. Ironically, that formed a decent foundation for opening up our conversation (at a water cooler if you can believe that cliche). They had questions and grievances with the system in general and some legislation put forth by the Obama Administration. I was able to offer a perspective for them to understand (due in part to this very informative blog…bravo Bob!). Some things we didn’t see eye to eye on but some things we did. We listened to each other, we weren’t dismissive, we respected the other and his opinions. There was no dehumanization (something I have, admittedly, struggled with this election cycle) of anyone and we all genuinely wanted the others perspective. It was one of the best political conversations I’ve had in a long time- and with the described conversation being the exception- I *never* talk politics at work. After all was said, y’know what? They both still have my utmost respect…and I theirs.

    I hope that Congress *looks at the Republicans* can see their way clear to cooperating in the next four years. I hope they saw Obama and Christie working together to achive a common goal. Jon Stewart is correct- It’s amazing what can happen when people work together.

  • bphoon

    Do we sincerely want the Republicans to soften their regional white Christian epistemic self-marginalization?

    Part of me says, hell no. As long as they choose to self-destruct, I’m willing to let them. Whether they do or not is entirely up to them. However, as we know from painful experience, trying to debate with the wackaloons is pointless. They’re gonna believe what they believe no matter what. Chris Mooney calls this motivated reasoning in his book The Republican Brain.

    Perhaps a coalition of moderate and liberal Republicans will splinter off, leaving the tea party wackaloons to their masochistic descent into political extinction.

    Perhaps. I hope so for two reasons. First, it’s the debate that keeps us sharp and helps us develop policy prescriptions that can work for all Americans. Yes, they’re Republicans, but who knows? Maybe they have an idea or two that’s worth putting into the mix. The fact of the matter though, at least for me, is that I can’t fully develop sound arguments until I have the chance to try them out on someone who will at least play devil’s advocate. This would ultimately be helpful to us.

    Maybe more important, though, is the practical matter of being able to build a coalition that is strong enough to actually get things through Congress and on the President’s desk in a form that will start to bring true, positive change about. Face it: we are very unlikely in the foreseeable future to build a bloc strong enough to retain a permanent House majority and a filibuster-proof Senate majority if that’s even possible. We therefore are going to have to seek out, on a case by case basis, members of the opposition who are willing to deal. This requires compromise, yes, but that is the essence of governing. For better or worse, the GOP, based on Tuesday’s results, represents 49% of the voting public. If we can manage to cut 10-15% out of that herd who are willing to help get important things done for the country, we can build policies that will benefit the USA and the world for generations to come. It takes a loyal opposition to help with that; we should encourage them to come out of the closet for the benefit of all of us.

  • zirgar

    Like unchewed corn passing through a human gastrointestinal tract, facts and reason go through the Republican brain totally undigested.

    • muselet

      Disgusting metaphor, but essentially correct.


  • trgahan

    Bob, thank you for a least taking up the subject! I spent all yesterday in the car listening to NPR and ALL the conversation was on what the GOP needs to do to return to dominance (no discussion of how Democrats keep momentum or anything). A lot of the time was spent talking about the US demographic changes and how the GOP isn’t adapting. But someone raised a great point that 2010 elections showed the GOP it doesn’t have to change demographically to win elections; it just needs better candidates than Mitt Romney.
    So how do the Democrats prevent another midterm slaughter like 2010, as liberals stay home and conservatives vote to put those “changing demographics” back in their place?

    • D_C_Wilson

      But someone raised a great point that 2010 elections showed the GOP it doesn’t have to change demographically to win elections; it just needs better candidates than Mitt Romney.

      Looking at some of the people who got elected in 2010, like Allen West and Joe Walsh, I don’t think there were better candidates. Their base was fired up and went to the polls in 2010 while the democrats’ based stayed home and pouted because of Drones! and no public option. The lesson learned on the left was to get your base to the polls no matter how many obstacles are put in their place. The GOP and Fox (but I repeat myself) deluded themselves into thinking that this year’s turnout was going to mirror 2010 instead of 2008.

      I wouldn’t put any money on the GOP being done even if they do learn all the wrong lessons this time around. They will find a way to claw their way back into power, probably the next time the firebaggers start holding their breath until they turn blue if Obama doesn’t buy them a pony.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Let me first apologize for, and unequivocally acknowledge having been wrong, all those times I said or implied that we’d be swearing in President Romney (or Perry, or Gingrich, or Palin) on January 20. All may feel free to say ‘I told you so’ and rhetorically bitch-slap me for being such a pessimist, all day today until 5 pm. I deserve it.

    I think the most gratifying thing about this election is that the most cynical, ugly, mean-spirited, mendacious, destructive, borderline-treasonous four-year political strategy in modern history failed to achieve its sole objective. The public, in the aggregate, declined to reward, validate and normalize it. That’s a relief, so long as one acknowledges that close to half the population still lives in the paracosm, and is just as likely to double down on its fictions as it is to start de-programming itself. Nevertheless, I’m pleased that The American People™ have apparently chosen a reasonable reality over a plethora of absurd fictions.

    I feel neither schadenfreude nor sympathy for the inhabitants of the paracosm. When what it self-evidently true to some of us is delusional nonsense to the rest of us, and vice-versa, there’s really no point. Parallel/alternate realities belong on Star Trek. Each of us who is not a direct observer of or participant in world and national events has to decide and choose, from all the disparate accounts and interpretations we are offered, what to believe, who to trust, whether what we see and hear is -reasonable- and whether believing it is reasonable. And then live with the consequences of those choices.

    One can only hope that the GOP, its enablers and fans will take from this defeat that just making shit up, denying reality, and competing to see who can be the most cruel to the most people, is not a winning strategy. (Well, it was in 2010, but still….) The early returns, of course, are not good; as Jon Steward pointed out, they’re already blaming the loss on the moral failings of Obama voters. Instead of climbing down from Bullshit Mountain, they’re climbing higher.

    If I’ve never said this before, I’ll say it now: I freakin’ love Barack Obama. I love that guy, and I love the fact that he is my President. The man is a mensch, he is too cool for school, and he is just flat-out good at his job. It’s hard to remain objective about a guy you admire that much, and I try to remain conscious and conscientious about overlooking his failings, shortcomings and missteps. At the end of the day, he has met and/or exceeded any reasonable expectations for his first term. Now we get to see what he can do in a second term, with his final campaign behind him.

    Tuesday was a good day.

    • The_Dork_Knight

      We all had our moments of pause. A year a go, when looking at the number of democrats running for reelection compared to the number of republicans running, I would have bet money that we were going to lose the senate. But they pulled it out, and I have never been so happy to have been wrong.

    • IrishGrrrl

      Graf, don’t feel so bad about being wrong. I told myself that the Prez was going to lose too. Anytime I really, really, really want something, I tell myself it won’t happen so if it doesn’t happen, I’m not incredibly disappointed. And if I does happen, I’m elated.

      ….close to half the population still lives in the paracosm, and is just as likely to double down on its fictions as it is to start de-programming itself

      I think you’re wrong here, at least I sure hope so. I know people who voted for Romney that might have voted for the Prez if they had been better informed. That being said, they are stuck in a 24/7 news cycle that pushes the conservative perspective. We have to make a dent in that–have to, somehow. But just because of ignorance and/or being mislead, doesn’t mean they are inhabitants of the paracosm, does it? I mean the real, true believers can’t possibly constitute half the country. I don’t doubt there is a core group of them….probably the 20% that always comes up in opposition to the President in polls on even the most benign issues. Those we can’t reach. But the other 30%, surely not.

    • muselet

      No dope slap from this quarter. Pessimism isn’t the worst thing in the world, after all, as long as it doesn’t lead to despair and paralysis.

      And Tuesday was a very good day.


    • Justin Cohen

      I’m not going to bitch-slap you but I am going to sneak in a small, I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!! : ) : ) : )

    • MrDHalen

      Hey Graf,

      You stood on the ledge, but you never jumped!!! Heck, most of us were on the ledge with you at some point during the campaign, but we came back inside and so did you. Welcome back and here’s a big ole group hug from all your friends here in Cesca’s little corner of the Internet.

    • nicole

      No bitch-slap from me. I’m just relieved and thrilled that you had it wrong! No offense, of course. :)

      “If I’ve never said this before, I’ll say it now: I freakin’ love Barack Obama. I love that guy, and I love the fact that he is my President. The man is a mensch, he is too cool for school, and he is just flat-out good at his job.”

      Co-sign emphatically!

    • Victor_the_Crab

      No need for anybody here to rub it in your face. Your heart and soul were in the right place. Just hope you’re feeling much better now.

  • Username1016

    What is up with that stupid Grover Norquist pledge? Yeah, you pledged — so? IT ISN’T BINDING. If anyone who signed wises up later, and decides to forget about it and act like a grown-up, I think at least as many constituents would cheer as would howl. Grover himself might gibber a little, but he can’t dish out consequences. Why does everyone act like he’s in charge?

    • nicole

      “Grover himself might gibber a little, but he can’t dish out consequences. Why does everyone act like he’s in charge?”

      In the Republican Party, Norquist is just as powerful as Karl Rove, maybe more so. With power comes the ability to decide which candidates to support, and alternatively, which candidates not to support. Support, of course, means dollars, money.

      If Norquist decides he doesn’t want a Republican to be re-elected or elected, he has the power to make his choice a reality. And those are the consequences you spoke of.

      • Victor_the_Crab

        And it came back to bite Grover in a big way. He got Richard Luger dropped from the Republican senatorial ticket in Indiana for refusing to sign his pledge, and in his place: Richard Mourdock. That went well, didn’t it? :D