March 19, 2009
Provocation of the Day

Many conservatives learned a lesson in the wake of 1994 and at various points in Bush 43's first team that Republican victories should not be construed as an assurance of conservative policies. Not all Republicans are conservatives, while the circumstances of governance and the unpredictable events surrounding it create real-world variables that can easily foil ideological purity.

Is now the point at which liberals and progressives are learning likewise...or at least should be?

In Olympia, cap & trade is on life support, the renewable energy mandates of I-937 are potentially being trimmed, Democratic leaders have revolted against the labor-backed "worker privacy" bill, and the left remains perturbed that large Democratic majorities have not been quick to talk tax increases rather than seriously consider major cuts to swollen state spending.

Call it what one will, that's not the "progressive" agenda in action.

Over in Washington, DC, the Obama Administration is under fire for its handling of AIG - and more importantly the overall handling of problems in the financial sector. Concurrently, Obama's highly ambitious plans for healthcare, energy, et. al. face high hurdles getting through a Congress already marked by moderate Democrats quailing at the tax & spend spree of Obama's budget proposal.

Yes, Barack Obama won a convincing victory last November. Yet, that was accomplished via a highly successful campaign apparatus, Bush fatigue, a unique financial sector meltdown, and a GOP candidate uniquely incapable of speaking to the most pressing issue of the election season (to say nothing of the overall flaws in his campaign organization). What that wasn't was a stamp of approval for a progressive agenda as many liberal activists believed.

Example: when only 22% of the electorate in a highly Democratic year self-identifies as liberal (compared to 34% conservative and 44% moderate), then it's not the endorsement for the left some hoped.

Even in Olympia, Democratic majorities have significant numbers of moderate Democrats from suburban, exurban, and even quasi-rural districts. Throw in an atrocious budget situation and a highly worrisome economic climate and you don't have circumstances aligning to support the implementation of a liberal wish list.

Will activists on the left recognize this reality, or will they pillory those Democrats in both capitols who bow to the reality hyper-partisans are slow to see?

Posted by Eric Earling at March 19, 2009 10:22 AM | Email This
1. The fallacy is using "self-identified" political leanings is that people who are rather quite liberal often self-identify as moderates. Many of these would consider Reichert as a partisan conservative as opposed to a moderate. Without some sort of objective standard, how does one really know what liberal or conservative means? I would like to sea a survey that actually asks people to place their views on various social, economic and political issues on a scale of 1 to 10 so we can really gauge which way the political wind blows.

Without data, we're just making stuff up.

Posted by: Eyago on March 19, 2009 10:12 AM
2. Eric, I agree with most of what you say. Obviously Americans continue to have diverse views that don't change vastly from year to year.

But as to your question of what activists will do: they will do what activists always do, which is fight for what they care about.

Posted by: Bruce on March 19, 2009 10:20 AM
3. This posting brings up the whole problem with modern politics.

50 years ago reps and senators walked into their respective chambers, put the subject of discussion on the table, debated, kicked, screamed, negotiated, regrouped and eventually a well-thought out, hard fought piece of legislation would emerge.

(Much like giving birth or making sausage it was ugly to watch but most agreed worth the effort.)

Things really started to change with the Vietnam war and got seriously out of synch during the whole Nixon and Carter era when we went from pretty hard right to pretty hard left politics inside of a decade.

In the last 20 years it's gotten worse, the political pendulem has swung wildly between complete republican control and complete dem control. Debate has been limited so that opposing views are silenced, respect and cooperation are non-existant on both sides of the isle.

Since so many electorial districts have been re-mapped to make "safe" districts for GOP or Dems, hard line views on both sides have taken over the debates and any spirit of working together has gone by the wayside. It's led to a lot of poorly thought out legislation that would have benefited from debate and compromise.

Call me old school, but I believe good ideas can survive a trial by fire and bad ideas are exposed through debate - and any idea can be made better when its flaws are exposed and people work together to address them proactively.

This used to work well whether the subject was taxation, law enforcement, pollution controls or education spending. People working together with differing points of view could work together and make it work.

Now it's all about who can jam the most ideaology down the other sides throat. It's led to excesses from the GOP and Dems that help small interest groups at the expense of the average taxpayer.

I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but maybe it really is time for a third party. I like the idea of a "tea party" made up of taxpayers ready to throw the bad apples from both sides of the political fence into the harbor.

Posted by: johnny on March 19, 2009 10:37 AM
4. I'm with Johnny. I don't think I can stomach another vote in either party.

This B.S. about getting the "Republican party" back to it's conservative roots might sound nice, but clearly the party has no principles to begin with. It is a forgone conclusion to argue things are any better in the other camp, ignoring the basic facts that the Democrats hardly have any merit to consider.

I also vote for a new party focused on states rights, personal rights (as outlined in the constitution), minimized federal fingerwagging, fiscal conservatism and defending the constitution. How can you argue against it?

Posted by: Boxxerace on March 19, 2009 11:02 AM
5. Boxerace: I beg to differ. You are probably right in that many Republican "politicians" have no principles to begin with. But the Republican party is not made up of just politicians. I am a conservative Republican, and vehemently agree with focusing "on states rights, personal rights (as outlined in the constitution), minimized federal finger-wagging, fiscal conservatism and defending the constitution", as very basic precepts. How does that make the Republican party one without principles?

Posted by: katomar on March 19, 2009 12:36 PM
6. Katomar-
Look back at 6 years of Bush 43 and find evidence than when the GOP controlled both congress and the presidency, any of the focuses you are prescribing were honored. (Possible exception: Defending the constitution.)

Look ahead to the rest of Obama's term, and see if you hae a glimmer of hope for any of it.

Posted by: johnny on March 19, 2009 12:40 PM
7. Katomar-
Look back at 6 years of Bush 43 and find evidence than when the GOP controlled both congress and the presidency, any of the focuses you are prescribing were honored. (Possible exception: Defending the constitution.)

Look ahead to the rest of Obama's term, and see if you hae a glimmer of hope for any of it.

Posted by: johnny on March 19, 2009 12:40 PM
8. Katomar-
Look back at 6 years of Bush 43 and find evidence than when the GOP controlled both congress and the presidency, any of the focuses you are prescribing were honored. (Possible exception: Defending the constitution.)

Look ahead to the rest of Obama's term, and see if you hae a glimmer of hope for any of it.

Posted by: johnny on March 19, 2009 12:41 PM
9. Johnny: Do something about that twitch. Anyone spending even a minimal amount of time on this site will know that most of us were adamantly opposed to the Bush spending, the expansion of government, compromising principles for the sake of expediency, etc. A result of this will be the conservative groundswell in the Republican party to support folks like Jindal, Pence, Gingrich, and yes, Palin and get them to the forefront representing true conservative principles.

Posted by: katomar on March 19, 2009 01:01 PM
10. Katomar-
I have read this board for years and do participate on the discussion when I have time and something to say, so I know that this board is full of people who have been critical of the prior GOP administrations. (And I don't just mean Demokid, All facts support my Delusions and the Nincom-Pope who participates when he's not out trying to lose another election.)

We complain loudly as republicans, but what good did did it do?

The only time the will of the people seemed to be heard during the last administration was during the whole immigration reform thing. It is arguable that what the GOP saw during that time was republicans ceasing to be republicans and turn into something else. Maybe that should continue.

The people you reference as the future of the GOP party have one major albatross around their necks right now. They are associated with one of the two parties that really mucked things up over the last 20 years.

Palin, Pence and Jindel have been at their best when they have campaigned against their party. Why not just leave the baggage behind and start over?

There are some elected democrats out there that are also falling out of love with their parties leadership and I'd invite them to join a new party and make a fresh start again.

IF 10 to 15% of the electorate could support this new "less taxes, less government" party, they would collectively become the swing vote in every election, and marginalize the hardcore base of both parties.

A radical idea, I know, but I look at the Washington state GOP and see no reason to ever believe they are going to get their act together, and my contempt for a national GOP that couldn't get a populist warhero elected against an empty shirt is perhaps even greater.

Starting over - with a totally new party that treats real tax payers respectfully instead of as a herd of sheep to be fleeced - could just be necessary to get this country back on track.

Posted by: johnny on March 19, 2009 02:52 PM
11. Johnny: The GOP couldn't get a populist war hero elected mainly because McCain is not a conservative. He's a nice guy and indeed a war hero who gave all for his country. However, had we run a true conservative and a smarter campaign, we would not be seeing a dilettante in office.

Posted by: katomar on March 19, 2009 03:17 PM
12. And Johnny, 10% to 15% would indeed marginalize both parties, but it would NOT win an election.

Posted by: katomar` on March 19, 2009 03:21 PM
13. You missed my point on the 10 to 15%.

Take a look at multi-party systems in Europe. When it takes a coalition to make a government work, the small party willing to throw its support behind whomever will given them what they want is usually the big winner.

No disagreement that McCain isn't a conservative, but Obama is a very moderately successful chicago politician. (And that's the BEST thing that can be said about his track record.)

The dems won with a socialist that cares more about terrorists, criminals and welfare recipients than taxpayers and the GOP lost with someone who I hope we would agree isn't a fullblown socialist like his adversary and did have some good things to say about reforming government.

That's a pretty good indicator that the national GOP is in a shambles and I haven't been blown away with early indicators that Mike Steeles will be able to put things back together, have you?

Posted by: katomar on March 19, 2009 04:22 PM
14. Johnny @ 13, please sign your own moniker on your posts. As far as multi-party systems go, we do not have a Parliamentary form of government. And if you study Italy, which is the most multi-party system in the world, you will notice that their government is gridlocked or stymied most of the time by its own multi-partyism.

Posted by: katomar on March 19, 2009 06:06 PM
15. A new party for conservatives would simply cement democrat control for the next 20 years. We need to put effort into getting the GOP back to it's roots. Party building from scratch would be similar to going to a hydrogen economy for transportation. The existing investments in refineries, gas stations and cars is ignored in a utopian quest for something new and pure. The effort to climb this hill is far greater than what is required to reset the existing structure, where there are already many people in place who agree with libertarian principals. If you are fighting a war, would it be smart for your side to split off a third of its force and start from scratch building a second army? The other side will take advantage and win. Divide and conquer. The great thing for the opposition is that we may do it to ourselves with no input from them. I have a better idea, how about a new party on the extreme left? Lets encourage that instead.

Posted by: Peter on March 19, 2009 10:14 PM
16. Forget, please, "conservatism." It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

"[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

John Lofton, Editor,
Recovering Republican

PS – And “Mr. Worldly Wiseman” Rush Limbaugh never made a bigger ass of himself that at CPAC where he told that blasphemous “joke” about himself and God.

Posted by: John Lofton, Recovering Republican on March 20, 2009 09:22 AM
17. John Lofton, you need to grow a sense of humor. Nobody enjoys a humorless "saint"...

Posted by: Bill H on March 20, 2009 11:12 AM
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