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July 26, 2006

Why Can't the Dems Win?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Given what a loopily-incompetent bunch the current Republican administration has shown itself to be, why haven't the Democrats done better? Come to think of it, given what an unpromising candidate GWBush was in both recent presidential elections, why couldn't the Democrats defeat him? My preferred explanation: Most everyday Americans simply don't think of the Dems as being on their side. Further, most everyday American just don't like the Dems. Why not?

The usual Democratic explanation is that everyday Americans are stupid, or else they're racist, or probably both. After all, the Dems are right about so many things -- why are so many Americans so incapable of seeing this? It can only come down to racism and stupidity. My own preferred explanation: The Dems don't actually want to be liked by a majority of everyday Americans. (They also seem incapable of understanding that there's a big difference between winning an argument and winning an election.) Proof: If the Dems did want to be liked by most everyday Americans, they'd quit accusing them of stupidity and racism. How exactly is blasting the people whose affection you need going to win you their votes?

And the Dems call everyone else stupid ...

In the new American Conservative, Steve Sailer goes considerably deeper into the "Why haven't the Dems done better?" question than I do. Nice passage:

Imagine two cousins, one with a graduate degree making $50,000 per year in a creative industry, living alone in a small apartment in a "vibrant" (i.e., dangerous and expensive) metropolis. The other with a bachelor's degree earns the same income in an unglamorous business and lives with a spouse and children in a home on a quarter acre lot in a "boring" (i.e., safe and moderately-priced) suburb. Which one is more likely to vote Democratic?

James Pinkerton adds some thoughts. Bill Kauffman contributes historical perspective.



posted by Michael at July 26, 2006


Quoting from the Kaufman link:

"Get over the Hump. Inherit not the wind but the wisdom of William Jennings Bryan..."

Considering Bryan was a three-time loser when he ran for President--never topping 46% of the vote--there's not much wisdom there for the Dems of today. Unless Kaufman's one of those AmCon pundits who figures since the international bankers have already fixed the game, might as well promote hapless romantics.

Maybe the Dems should nominate Pat Buchanan.

Posted by: Jake on July 26, 2006 5:06 PM

1, think you are asking a fair question and if you look across the nation I wonder if the facts are actually even on your side? i.e. when you look at all elected officials across the nation. It's true in the White House and for the past ten (?) years or less in Congress. But is your claim really accurate? I notice there is no link in your post to any facts.

2. "... quit accusing them of stupidity and racism."
Can you offer many or even any examples of Democratic candidates who accuse their voters of being "stupid and racist?" If you are correct (you can tell I am dubious) then they are so inept that they deserve to lose. I wonder if you imagination is working overtime because of the heat in NYC. :)

Posted by: David Sucher on July 26, 2006 5:48 PM

They cut up issues (and not just issues--but any factor related to votes, such as poses, slogans, expenditures, etc) in such a way that the split is almost always 50/50. The same thing happens when children pick each other one-by-one to make sports teams.

"I'll take pro-life"
"I'll take pro-choice"
"I'll take oil money"
"I'll take trial lawyer money".

And so it goes. It's clear that, in this cynical system, to choose issues optimally, you cannot reference your actual beliefs too much. Someone who doesn't want oil OR trial lawyer money is an ideologist, and therefore a loser.

Well, democrats are (slightly) more likely to be ideologists.

Posted by: onetwothree on July 26, 2006 5:53 PM

I never would have expected this of you. Removed from my blogroll.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on July 26, 2006 5:57 PM

"I never would have expected this of you. Removed from my blogroll."

Let me guess... you now think MB is stupid and racist.

Posted by: Jake on July 26, 2006 6:35 PM

Well, democrats are (slightly) more likely to be ideologists.

You're saying that because Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Riley, Michael Savage, Bill Buckley, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and Tom DeLay are so non-ideological? Or because the Religious Right and the Pro-Life movement were a crucial element in the Bush43 victories? (Not to mention that the state campaign chairmen for Bush were in charge of counting the disputed votes in Florida and Ohio -- but that was just pragmatic.)

Posted by: john on July 26, 2006 6:38 PM

"You're saying that because Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Riley, Michael Savage, Bill Buckley, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and Tom DeLay are so non-ideological?"

Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage are not Republicans. However, living in New York City one will find lots of people who think anyone whose political thought runs counter to their own MUST be a Republican.

Posted by: Jake on July 26, 2006 7:10 PM

I don't see any facts to prove the premise. I observe politics pretty closely and am a registered Democrat. I can't recall when a Democratic politician made explicit statements to the effect that Americans were racist and stupid or implied such.

Why can't the Democrats win? Well, Gore won the popular vote in 2000 and even Kerry, running poorly, lost by only 3 percentage points.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on July 26, 2006 7:39 PM

Jake -- Right on, though I suspect that Kaufman's point was that Bryan knew how to connect in a populist way and that the current Dems have lost that knack ...

David -- So you're fine with how the Dems are doing and how they've done recently? Glad to hear it. All those convention protestors wearing t-shirts showing Bush as Hitler, those thousands of lefty blogs carrying on about how much smarter states that voted Dem are than states that voted Repub, the articles in the New Republic and the Prospect about how the Dems need to reorient themselves ... I guess I hallucinated all that.

Onetwothree -- "Actual belief"? What's an "actual belief"? We're talking politics here.

Bob -- Are you being ironic?

Jake -- "living in New York City one will find lots of people who think anyone whose political thought runs counter to their own MUST be a Republican." That's a great line, and so true. I used to run into that reaction all the time even when I was in my eco-anarchist phase. Anyone who wasn't pure Upper West Side Democrat was, ipso facto, a Republican, if not a Nazi.

Peter -- So, like David, you're OK with how the Dems have done recently? Again, glad to hear it.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 26, 2006 8:21 PM

Various special interest groups wield way too much power in the Democratic Party - minorities, gays and lesbians, public-employee unions, trial lawyers, tree-huggers, limousine liberals, and so on. Yes, it could be argued that Bible-thumpers wield too much power in the Republican Party, but that's probably less of a detriment than is the Democratic Party's multiplicity of influential special interest groups.

Posted by: Peter on July 26, 2006 9:01 PM

"I never would have expected this of you."

Oh... not me, I totally expected this of you. Recommended your blog to my entire red-neck posse. Perhaps we'll discuss it after splitting some Genesee Ale after a 'coon hunt.


I remember when Clinton was on the Arsinio Hall show with his saxaphone where Arsinio quipped, "How nice it is to see a Democrate blowing something other than ... the election."

The truth is, in the post WWII era, the Republicans have been amazingly good at getting and keeping the white house. There's certainly better tactics to learn there Dems.

And as far as the attitude, no dear readers, yon honorable Blowhard is not making that up. I remember a conversation with a friend I've known since Middle School, who is now a college professor -- I mentioned something about the Wall Street Journal and he looked at me with actual disgust on his face, "You read THAT?"

Um... isn't it the best selling newspaper in America?

Liberals have forgotten how to be tolerant. It's not that they disagree with conservatives, it's that they believe that it is morally wrong to be a conservative. That's the attitude that leads me to watch Ann Coulter videos on You Tube.

Posted by: The Holzbachian on July 26, 2006 9:44 PM

"I never would have expected this of you."

Oh... not me, I totally expected this of you. Recommended your blog to my entire red-neck posse. Perhaps we'll discuss it after splitting some Genesee Ale after a 'coon hunt.


I remember when Clinton was on the Arsinio Hall show with his saxaphone where Arsinio quipped, "How nice it is to see a Democrate blowing something other than ... the election."

The truth is, in the post WWII era, the Republicans have been amazingly good at getting and keeping the white house. There's certainly better tactics to learn there Dems.

And as far as the attitude, no dear readers, yon honorable Blowhard is not making that up. I remember a conversation with a friend I've known since Middle School, who is now a college professor -- I mentioned something about the Wall Street Journal and he looked at me with actual disgust on his face, "You read THAT?"

Um... isn't it the best selling newspaper in America?

Liberals have forgotten how to be tolerant. Check out the reaction this intelligent and interesting woman received when she came out of the closet as a conservative:

Posted by: the Holzbachian on July 26, 2006 9:55 PM

"So you're fine with how the Dems are doing and how they've done recently? "

So, a few too many to drink, eh? Otherwise such a distortion would have no excuse. You know very well I didn't see anything of the kind.

Michael, as one who enormously respects your acumen, even wisdom -- truly, no joke or exageration-- in certain areas such as media and cities and movies, may I gently suggest that you stay out of politics? I really don't think it's you.

Posted by: David Sucher on July 26, 2006 10:40 PM

Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage are not Republicans. However, living in New York City one will find lots of people who think anyone whose political thought runs counter to their own MUST be a Republican.

I guess that's an example of a non-ideological slur -- I live at 85th and Park, where we have plenty of Republicans. Some of my best friends are Republicans. My mother even married one.

I even voted for them in the last two mayoral elections. (Yes, we hate them so much that we elect them mayor.)

Bill O'Reilly attacks liberal Democrats, endorses conservative Republicans, calls himself conservative and works for a Republican television network. Michael Savage attacks liberal Democrats, endorses conservative Republicans, calls himself conservative and broadcasts on stations that broadcast conservative Republicans. How on earth would anyone, including you, know they're not Republican?

PS to Michael: I agree that the Republicans are doing many dumb things, and that they would do well to stake out their own positions on issues that Republicans have made their own in attacks on liberals. James Carville, an obnoxious cajun who's nevertheless very smart politically, agrees.

Posted by: john on July 26, 2006 10:53 PM

Democrats don't fight. They're wimps. Fight. Doesn't even matter what you fight about. Doesn't matter if you lose. The last few weeks the Republicans have fixated on the critically important issues of flag burning and gay marriage. They know these issues are silly losers and they'll lose. They don't care. They fight. Get in there and fling the turds. Fight dirty. Do *anything* you have to do. Think, What Would Karl Do?

I'm a libertarian but we've got to have divided government again. One party rule is a disaster. So I hope the dumbocrats can figure out somehow, someway, to win something.

(Like someone said above, I'm not sure it's all that vast a stretch. Gore won. Kerry, the second worst candidate in my lifetime other than Dukakis, almost won).

Posted by: Brian on July 26, 2006 10:56 PM

You probably hallucinated this as well, Michael.

And another one: just after the presidential election, this sane lefty complained about blue-state snobbery. He's from a red state himself, and he said it tends to irk. Go read the comments, and gasp and marvel as his readers argue that it's not snobbery to look down on the red states if they nothing more than savages, which indeed they are. The brutes.

A lot of this dynamic comes from the newly sharpened role of ideology as status symbol. Left-wingery is now an upper middle class brand, and looking down one's nose is part (most?) of the fun. The right is supposed to be a bunch of Archie Bunkers.

Which leads me to a theory I recently cooked up: liberals desire to be superior, conservatives desire to be left alone.

Even the churchy blue-noses on the right, the ones whose attitude seems closet to domineering, generally oppose only things that will intrude on their mindscape, as it were; ban the strip club because it frightens pedestrians - that kind of thing. They're more about defense of tranquility than uplift of the masses, or so it seems to me. The Left is more about raising everyone up to lofty/lefty ideals. This mission puts them in an agreeably superior position to their charges, the role of mentor and guide. The Left in this country descended from the Puritans after all; they've got antinomianism in their blood.

I'm the original Brian, by the way.

Posted by: Brian on July 27, 2006 1:39 AM

Michael, it is quite simple:

"The Dems don't actually want to be liked by a majority of everyday Americans."

My grandfather who worked on an assembly line for 35 years; or my cousins who are midwest high school football coaches, Catholic with an average of 5 children...are lifelong Dems who do not dislike average everyday people, and do not call average everyday people stupid and racist. There are tens of millions of registered Democrats, 200+ Democratic Congresspersons, God only knows how many Governors and State Assemblymen and Mayors and City Councilpersons...

"Further, most everyday American just don't like the Dems." ...MB

That is not merely offensive, it is psychotically wrong. I will not be back.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on July 27, 2006 4:17 AM

Here's an addenda to my other links: a rich NYC woman enrolls her kid in an upstate New York kindergarten. (They moved there from Paris.) There she learns about the dark heart of the American dream or some such thing. Don't worry though, she sicked the ACLU on 'em!

Original Salon Premium article here, outraged blogosphere takedown here.

Posted by: Brian on July 27, 2006 5:19 AM

From where I'm sitting the whole political frenzy is a shadowplay with international corporations manipulating the Javanese puppets to keep us entertained. Most of the time there's almost no difference between the two parties -- they inflate minutia, create false issues, rename worn out issues. We need a third party but there seems no way to effectively create one.

Maybe the way to go is the one our Governor Schweitzer has chosen: cherry pick both sides of the aisle for individuals with brains and connections. (The governor is a Dem, the lt. gov. is a Repub.) It's a tricky business and there may be signs of rot that no one sees. (I had a sightline behind the scenes in Portland, OR, during Neil Goldschmidt's mayoralty and was as shocked as anyone else when it came to light he'd been banging his babysitter all the time he was doing brilliant liberal stuff on the political front.) We are somewhat reassured that Governor Schweitzer's chief of staff is a member of the Montana Logging and Ballet Company, created by the sons of two dedicated state-capital Methodist ministers, doing good in part by creating satire.

I'm impressed that the Great Falls Tribune runs a pie chart of the response to a daily question -- sometimes trivial and sometimes quite basic (Are you for capital punishment?). More often than not the opinions are split right down the middle. They don't necessarily split in a liberal/conservative or Dem/Repub way. There just seems to always be a double consensus. The responses are voluntary, phoned in, so maybe it's just that the only people who care are the ends of the spectrum. That's what the talk shows seem to confirm and the percentage of citizens who vote seems similar. That means the problem is not the nature of the political parties so much as the nature of the inert and evidently uninformed and unconcerned middle. I confess that I identify with them much of the time.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on July 27, 2006 6:30 AM

"I can't recall when a Democratic politician made explicit statements to the effect that Americans were racist and stupid or implied such."

As far as it goes, this is probably true. No Democratic politician with even the faintest sense of self-preservation would openly do so. However, go to Google, type in the word "Sheeple" and try to determine which party the people who use this term are more likely to vote for.

Posted by: Greg Hlatky on July 27, 2006 6:43 AM

The defining moment in this lunacy came, for me, when a fag hag at my office confronted me in the hallway to demand to know why I consented to play basketball with the CEO of my former employer.

"He's a Republican, isn't he?" she fumed.

"What in the hell difference does that make. I really don't give a damn."

"He's a Republican," she snorted again.

Then she walked away in disgust.

Unfortunately, I had to work with the crazy bitch. As time passed, I discovered that she considered all Republicans "bigots" because they oppose gay marriage.

I'm an almost completely apolitical person. Just don't care. Politics is a waste of my time and energy. But, like most Americans, when I do think about such things as "gay marriage," I wonder: How in the hell did the left become stupid as a brick? The very term "gay marriage" is an atrocity... complete tomfoolery.
When I look at the left in New York City today, I see many Cartmans... you know, the fat ass spoiled brat kid on South Park who has discovered to his delight that he can get anything he wants by accusing his parents, or other adults, of bigotry. The left in NYC is now the party of the scam artists... spoiled brat white kids who take pleasure in screaming "racist" at others. It's become an absurdity.

Long live Cartman! Long live the party of Cartman, the Democrats!

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 27, 2006 6:55 AM

The usual Democratic explanation is that everyday Americans are stupid, or else they're racist, or probably both.

What I find amusing is that the people who are most vitriolic about the Republicans (i.e. GW Bush = Hitler, Republicans = racist and stupid) tend to be under 30, with many under 20. i.e. Those who have not lived enough to get the extremes filed off of them and who are more or less powerless.

My observation about people who are vitriolic about the Democrats (Democrat = morally evil, Democrat = traitor, Clinton=murderer) tend to be over 40, generally more experienced and a good deal more powerful.

I'd also say that the ratio of those who do see their opponents as bad people are about the same on either side, although the vitriol at the Democrats in the media is *vastly* more common because of talk radio, religious programs, etc.

I suspect its much easier to see hatred when you feel it is directed against you. As a Canadian, I'm not involved, so I see in the US an extraordinary amount of it directed against both sides.

Of course, the generic Canadian/rest of world view would be extraordinarily anti-Republican, but since there's no Republican party here, it's usually kept pretty muted.

Two other points:

One: I find it somewhat amusing that Democrats complain that the Republicans are racist while Steve Sailer complains that the Republics *aren't* racist enough. I don't know how many times he's told his readers that Republicans should pursue a "only the white vote" strategy (backed up by plausible numbers). Of course, this may be because he sees an advantage (to his desired policies) in having one party with a strong incentive to keep America as white as possible.

Two: There is a cultural divide in the US, and frankly the numbers tilt towards the Republicans, especially when "National Security" is at stake. I can't see the Democrats winning solidly until either the economy *really* tanks (which may happen in 5-10 years) or the Democrats sell out their principles and become a Republican-lite clone.

The Democrats also have a shot if the American economy sinks for the long term and general attitude of American exceptionalism fades. They've always been a party of national modesty, which doesn't sit well when the population generally feels that the rest of the world has nothing worthwhile to offer America (except maybe a large line of credit :-))

Posted by: Tom West on July 27, 2006 7:48 AM

Too many Democrats are what I call Saints Elsewhere. A Saint Elsewhere is someone who wants to perform, or at least endorse, saintly deeds just as long as the unfortunate and often unexpected consequences of those deeds – sometimes quite bad – fall elsewhere, as in somebody else’s family, school, neighborhood, job, etc.

You see this over and over in so many issues from busing years ago to illegal immigration now. It's bad enough that they insist that the average middle/working class person shoulder the cost - economical, social, and otherwise - of their "good works", which they can often avoid via money and connections; but they also imply or even state that to even object to being forced to pay the "bill" is racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc. And if you don't believe this, just read the MSM on the illegal immigration issue, then ask yourself how many day laborer sites or houses with 20 people living in them are in Ted Kennedy's neighborhood.

The Democrats have completely lost touch with the average working person, who doesn't believe that the Democrats are on his side because they're not.

AND the Democrats believe that their "self-esteem" is more important than the economic, educational, and social costs that get passed on elsewhere - to lesser mortals, usually with less education and money.

AND they see nothing wrong with this.

I'm probably to the left of 90% of the Democrats in Congress but I stopped calling myself a Democrat years ago in disgust with their attitude toward the working class.

Posted by: D Flinchum on July 27, 2006 8:22 AM

As a lifelong Republican, I am heartened by the response of the Democrats on this thread. The longer they stay in denial about their party's problems, the longer we will win elections, even with weak candidates like Mr. Bush.

The description of the attitudes many so-called liberals have toward Republicans, like you are immoral to play basketball with them, is consistent with my observations. It is a minority, but a vocal one. My father in law, a retired philosophy professor, told me in no uncertain terms that his department would never hire someone they knew was a Republican, because no matter what he had on his resume, that fact would show that the person lacked moral character and intellectual capacity. He is retired, no longer gives a damn, and says what he really thinks. That is how he and his colleagues see the world. There are lots of places wher this attitude holds. I have not seen the same thing on the conservative side, either. Though maybe that will change.

Posted by: Lexington Green on July 27, 2006 9:04 AM

Great post, Michael.
Just one mistake: Democrats can't win not because they can't figure out their tactic.
Their platform, so to speak, is their biggest flop.
They are bunch of socialistically-inclined demagogues, in the broad spectre of red, from dried-bloody brown to pale sunrise pink.
(Which always confuses me, btw, when I hear of "red states" meant as the stronghold of the Republicans)

Sweepingly generalizing: Democrats can't win elections because they are wrong, in their agenda and the prescriptions they offer to solve this agenda.

I think they should go back to their government bureaucrat/social worker/academic/educator offices and start sulking in advance for the results in 2008.

Posted by: Tat on July 27, 2006 9:58 AM

Tat is right about one thing: the Dems cannot get a coherent platform together. I have a theory about why this is, and it extends to why people are either conservative or liberal, in general. Dems/liberals are, generally, concerned with process. The process must have meaning, or the result is not worth the effort. Repubs/conservatives are concerned with results. The process along the way is merely a means to an end, therefore if it happens to be an empty process, it doesn't matter.

This paradigm explains why Rebulicans are better at organizing, better at doing groundwork, and currently, better at winning elections. It doesn't bother them that the political process is an ugly one (and getting uglier by the year, it seems).

For the record, I'm a liberal Democrat. It pains me to no end to see my party present a muddled message, when they actually have the spine to present something at all, which is rarely. I believe in a muscular liberalism, but I have no faith in the Democratic Party. And hey! Isn't that the very epitome of what is wrong with the Dems? I should just suck it up and support my party. I suppose I do in that I usually vote for Dems.

My strategy would be to reclaim the "liberal" label, be proud of it, remind people what it used to stand for, that the very working people whom Michael says the Dems have alienated, are benefitting from movements founded by liberals. Pension plans, 40-hour work week, minimum wage, etc.

Posted by: the patriarch on July 27, 2006 10:44 AM

Tat - The Wikipedia article, "Red State vs. Blue State Divide," gives some of the history of the thing. It comes from how the network news programs displayed maps of the United States in their election night coverage showing which party carried which state. The color schemes were not consistent and varied among the networks and from election to election until the 2000 election, finally standardizing at Red = Republican, Blue = Democrat. Yes, I think it's backwards, too. As the article says, "The choice of colors in this divide is counterintuitive to many international observers, as throughout the world, especially in Europe and Canada, red is commonly the designated colour for parties representing labor and/or leftist interests, which in the United States would be more closely correlated with the Democratic Party." But it's probably too late to change it now...

Posted by: Dwight Decker on July 27, 2006 11:00 AM

Peter -- The Dems seem to find playing together as a team a real challenge, don't they?

Holzbachian -- You read the WSJ? Good God, man! But I'm looking forward to some Genessee Cream Ale with you soon.

David -- Thanks for the compliments, and same back at you. But can you really be as unaware as you seem to be of how well you're exemplifying/illustrating my points?

John -- Carville is smart, isn't he? Something the Dems in this thread seem to be avoiding is an obvious fact: Clinton whupped opponents who were much more impressive than GW. How did he manage this? As far as I can tell, he (and Carville, and team) did so partly by pointedly not sneering at middle Americans, and partly by scaring the usual Dem factions into pretending to get along with each other. Would the Clinton team have tolerated the Bush=Hitler protestors? I doubt it. But since Clinton moved on, the Dems have regressed into their usual infantile squabbling and protesting. You'd think the party would have learned a lesson -- but maybe they don't want to. I've often thought that a lot of the Dems I've known have been much happier playing the role of adolescent protestor than the role of responsible adult ...

Brian -- Now I'm all confused about Brians, but I suppose it'll sort itself out somehow ... Anyway, I join you in rooting for divided government. How I wish there were a "I don't care, but I want divided government" lever I could pull on election day. Thanks for the links, and I'm buying your "branding" theory too ...

Bob -- I'm sorry if you're going to stop visiting -- I've certainly enjoyed comparing notes with you. You're aware, though, that 1) the Dems lost the last couple of Presidential elections to a very weak candidate, and 2) one of the main reasons is that the Dems have lost the affections of many people like the family members you describe. This is widely-acknowledged as a basic fact of recent political life. What's "psychotic" about making reference to it?

P. Mary -- Satire often seems like the only sane response to it all, doesn't it? Hey: maybe an election-booth lever labeled "Satirize this" ... Nah, they'll never allow that. So it's back to standup comedy and YouTube, I guess.

Greg -- Wow, that Google/"sheeple" thing is great, tks. is pretty clever. And there's a Wikipedia entry on Sheeple!

S.T. -- But don't you understand? Claiming to be "apolitical" automatically makes you a ... Well, I don't know what. Fascist, probably. Sigh. These people who just don't get it ...

Tom -- I run into a lot of Bush=Hitler stuff from all ages, but I'm speaking about a very provincial NYC/media-centric life ... Anyway, I think the Dems could win if 1) the Repubs self-destruct (looks like they're well on the way), or 2) the Dems wake up to the fact that not-mocking middle-America is the way to go. I'm amazed they don't feel more mortified than they do about not being able to beat a candidate as weak as GW. Can I point out that you're calling Republicans and Steve Sailer racist? Is it wise to be so quick to pull such a loaded trigger? Sailer is only urging the Repubs to target the white middle-class more directly. What's racist about that?

D Flinchum -- "Saint Elsewhere" is really good! Write an outline and a first chapter and I bet you'd have yourself a selling book proposal.

Lex -- That's been more or less my experience too. Exceptions allowed for, Repubs I've known have been much more tolerant of Dems than vice-versa. Many of the Dems I've encountered have given the impression of gunning for a showdown 24/7. They're just dying for a chance to grandstand, er, show off their principles, er, carry on, er, I don't really know what. Make a stand, dammit. Enjoy the political theater of it. Something like that, anyway. Meanwhile, the Repubs kinda shrug and get on with life.

Tat -- You have even more faith than I do in the discernment of the voting population! It's nice to see!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 27, 2006 11:10 AM

As Michael knows, "New York media" does not equal "New York." If I thought we'd been talking about the media all this time, I'd have had a few different thoughts -- although the "conservative media" is very ideological.

Anyway, even if the Dems don't get it together, they are going to win some elections in the near future. Just look at Dubya's ratings, but no Republican's offering an alternative.

Posted by: john on July 27, 2006 11:54 AM

We seem to be entering a new political era dominated by a Republican brain trust that dresses often extremely radical policies and positions in a cloak of homespun, small town conservatism and piety. Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, et al have been working toward a single party government by walking away from the notion of presenting a cohesive and reasonably accurate set of positions for voters to react to and instead have become brilliant at niche marketing a variety of poll driven, hot button, yet often extremely minor issues on virtually a district by district level. Different groups are encouraged to ignore any intramural disagreements. Mud flinging, of course, has become a high art. The idea is that all they need to do is get over the 50.1% mark and, once elected, act as if it was a landslide.

The Democrats (poor dolts) still seem to want their fractious niche groups to come to some kind of overarching consensus and show hesitancy at being the first to fling mud. This sets up the ultimate conundrum; should the Democrats adopt tactics that many find deplorable because they are obviously working for the radical Republican right or not? And if they do, what might be the gains and losses?

As we enter the mid-term election cycle we can see this process playing itself out again. There are serious questions that need to be asked about, for example, the wisdom and effectiveness of our policies in the Middle East, our domestic spending priorities, and the logic of tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate interests while the national debt mounts. Too many Democrats are going to get sucked into the trap. They're going to attempt to talk about those issues. Meanwhile, topics like gay marriage, flag burning and whether stem cell research is the moral equivalent of murder are going to occupy far more time and attention than they deserve. Now, assuming someone like John Murtha starts to make headway in his reelection campaign actually talking about his serious qualms about the prosecution of the war in Iraq we can expect the likes of Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly to be brought in to cast enough vitriolic mud that he'll have no choice but to respond. Game over.

As for mud, the notion that Democrats are accusing " everyday Americans ... of stupidity and racism" is a great example. Some hapless Democrat starts talking about, say, the complexity of immigration reform. While it might be prudent to have discussions about the status of American born children of parents who illegally entered the country years ago and other implications of new policies, you can be assured it will be met with a bumper sticker response, 'Send 'em all back to Ol' Me-He-Ko!" Further efforts to discuss the issue get met with "Are you accusing me of being a stupid racist?"

This is absolutely classic, stuck off topic defending against an improvable negative.
"Say, when did you stop beating your wife?" "I never did." "Never stopped?" "No, I never beat my wife." "Well, that's not what I heard." "From whom?" "I don't dare tell you because I'm afraid of what you'll do if you find out."

I'm a lifelong Independent. I've voted for Republicans, Democrats, Greens, and unaffiliated Independents. That said, my politics are generally oriented toward the liberal side. I'd love to see a movement similar to the one Prairie Mary describes in her state get off the ground nationally. Anyone else remember the Concord Coalition a few years back? Well, I can dream can't I?

Posted by: Chris White on July 27, 2006 12:23 PM

In my formative years I was a moderate to conservative Democrat until Jimmy Carter drove me to become a moderate to conservative Republican. Reagan drove me back. When the right wing religious fanatics crawled out from under their rocks in the 80s and the GOP ultimately gave them veto power over every governing decision, I fled back to the Democrats and will currently not vote for a Republican under any conceivable circumstance. Of all the things Republicans currently believe about themselves that aren't true, the most outrageous is that they are conservatives. No matter what person or interest group you want to hang around my neck, be it Jesse Jackson, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, blacks,intellectuals, unions, trial lawyers, whatever. Go right ahead. But I'll take any of these over the religious fanatics who want to turn this country into a theocracy. And every time you vote for a Republican you're giving aid and comfort to these people. And if "average Americans" don't understand this then, yes, they are dumb as a box of rocks. But I'd hope I had enough sense not to say that if I were running for office.

Posted by: mjp on July 27, 2006 12:41 PM

"Bill O'Reilly attacks liberal Democrats, endorses conservative Republicans, calls himself conservative and works for a Republican television network. Michael Savage attacks liberal Democrats, endorses conservative Republicans, calls himself conservative and broadcasts on stations that broadcast conservative Republicans. How on earth would anyone, including you, know they're not Republican?"

Just putting the stations issue aside, it isn't Savage and O'Reilly who engage in bloc programming on radio. The NYC station they are on has liberal hosts throughout the day. It's rather Air America that foists one viewpoint 24/7 on its affiliates.

I've heard both Savage and O'Reilly critical of people in both parties, even conservatives. They've got issues that don't receive the treatment they want from either party, so they take a populist tack.

I've also heard them speak about their backgrounds, and it's fairly classic mid-20th century northeast urban ethnic Democrat. The FDR-Kennedy bedrock Democrats who saw their leaders betray them in the 60s on a whole host of social issues. Nevertheless they didn't jump ship, and even in the 80s Reagan Democrats were Democrats. Republican allegiance didn't necessarily take among them and their offspring. They don't feel comfortable in that crowd, but hold their noses anyway and vote for GOP candidates.

Which reminds me of an example someone wanted earlier of a race charge Dems have made. Bill Clinton did so in 1993 when Giuliani defeated the sitting mayor, David Dinkins. President Clinton said that white Democrats who voted Republican in that election were motivated by racism.

Comments like that are enough to make one stop being a Democrat, but not quite enough to make one a Republican.

Posted by: Jake on July 27, 2006 1:00 PM

Why are the Dems losing? Just ask the state that has voted the most consistently Democrat over the years: West Virginia. I happen to have half my family in the Ohio Valley, which is mostly coal miner & steelworker country, and my mother keeps me abreast of the goings-on back there. The simple story is that these people feel the Dems sold them out to big corporations & don't look out for the little guy anymore: Clinton & co.

Most manufacturing has gone overseas where sweatshops are run with impunity. Back home all of the union movement's hard-won efforts have been pretty much eroded. On top of that is the cultural stuff, like Dems being so fiercely anti-gun, as if anyone who knows how to shoot a .22 rifle must be a mouth-breathing dolt.

So, here's how the Dems (or a third party) wins:

1) Kick out all illegal immigrants; do something to make sure they don't get back. That's a huge drain on working-class wages, not to mention other externalities like the aforementioned 20-person house next door, greatly likelihood of having your car broken into, etc.

2) Implement some sort of 40-hour week (45, who cares).

3) Universal health care.

4) Paid 4-6 week vacations.

5) Publicize what life's like in countries where conditions are better, so it doesn't seem so pie-in-the-sky. Any G8 country would do. E.g., Germans get 6 weeks of vacation.

6) Welfare stuff... is tricky here because of racial make-up of the country, unlike Sweden.

7) Leave all the damn silly stuff out, lest you alienate your core constituency. Like Bowling for Columbine -- gun-control is a non-starter for curbing the high US gun homicide rate. It's due mostly again to the racial make-up here as opposed to Canada or Germany or Japan.

8) Jettison all race warriors. This will outrage many present Dems, but the hell with these ones. A good way to prevent too much criticism: focus on importing the best & brightest of African & "developing" countries -- it's hard to shout "racist" against a slogan like "welcoming the best & brightest minds from less fortunate countries." Fuckers!

... you get the drift.

Posted by: agnostic on July 27, 2006 1:27 PM

I think (we) the Democrats have a few things working against us:

- We allow the Republicans to frame our talking points for us. Rather than buying into their terms for the debates, we should back up and say we even disagree with the terms. We let the last two elections be framed as "who do you like better as a beer drinking buddy" as opposed to keeping to the issues. When issues were raised, it was only gay marriage, groupies giving blowjobs, and abortion.

- We don't point to our record, and again let the Republicans own that one. They claim that all good economic times have come from the windfall of Republican leadership, e.g. that Clinton inherited economic good times from the Republicans before him, which is utter bullshit. Many of the spin doctors on the right convince folks of this when the facts don't bear it out. Clinton ran a great economy and foreign policy, but you say that around wingnuts and the howling that ensues could push the Santa Maria back to Britain.

- We allow wedge issues, such as gay marriage, to dominate the debates. Here we have primarily ourselves to blame, because we (as stated above) allow the Republicans to permit this framing of the issues, and we don't push back on the extremists in our own party that have framed gay marriage as a rights issue. I'd say half of Dems don't agree with that framing of the gay marriage issues - I don't, for one. I think that gays should be able to pursue the American dream and have a right to the pursuit of happiness, be free from persecution, and to have the family they want, etc. But I still don't think marriage is a rights issue. Are we trampling on the rights of those who want polygamy, or who want to marry their first cousin, etc.? But, since it's too easy to pull out the "you’re a bigot" card, those who feel like I do remain silent. It's a lose-lose.

- We are losing the propaganda war because the right wingers have convinced many that centrist news organizations are really liberal, and that the wingnut Fox "news" is somehow centrist. This basically follows the money. Right wingers with deep pockets essentially fund this media situation - talk radio, Fox news, Rush "the junkie" Limbaugh - and those propaganda machines are very good at what they do. We have Al Franken. He's good at what he does, but he's one against many.

What we have in our favor is the utter buffoons running everything now. All the incompetence of Carter, and all the corruption of Nixon. Worst president ever! (Whomever you mean by that, Bush or Cheney.) Plus the horrid economy, a losing war (launched on false pretenses), and $3 a gallon gas (not to mention the gouging across the spectrum of energy products - electricity, natural gas, etc.). Once enough of the rest of the middle class realizes that Republicans are giving us the shaft, the pendulum will swing back.

And for those who care, here's an issue the Democrats could own: Layoffs. Corporate America (which I have no larger beef with, I'm a capitalist) has gotten into the bad habit of balancing the books on the backs of the employees. If the financials aren't following predictions, layoff a few hundred people! Unions have overstepped their bounds on enough things where they can't own this issue. Nope, we've got to regulate and put laws around when layoffs can occur - link it to actual profits and upper management salaries and perks (not to mention fix all the legal tax evasion that companies can do).

And of course there's the issue of health care coverage. America's model is an embarrassment and a damn shame.

Let the howling begin. =)

Posted by: Yahmdallah on July 27, 2006 1:43 PM

The Democrats of the 1960s included JFK, who cut income tax rates, Hubert Humphrey, who is famously quoted as defending gun ownership as a bulwark against tyrannical government, and George Meany, who was a vigorous defender of the USA against the communist bloc. (Which modern Democrat, besides the ostracized Lieberman, takes a similarly strong position WRT defending the West against the Islamic fascists?)

The Democratic Party started moving leftward in the 1970s and still hasn't recovered -- either ideologically or electorally. The commenter above who is angry at what he takes to be slurs against his Democratic ancestors is confusing the old Democratic Party with the current one.

Today's Democratic leadership is rhetorically divisive, ideologically socialistic and unserious about national defense. They are excellently positioned to raise money and fire up primary voters, but they are uncompetitive in national elections except against weak Republican candidates. That's a shame, because by being uncompetitive they make it easier for Republicans to get away with bad behavior. The country is better off with two strong political parties.

BTW, you NYC liberals who consider Bloomberg or even Giuliani to be representative Republicans really should get out more, intellectually speaking. I don't think you realize how parochial you sound. Believe it or not, not everyone considers your home town to be a political model for the rest of the country. A little less condescension toward your fellow Americans who disagree with you politically would go a long way toward getting us to listen to you.

Posted by: Jonathan on July 27, 2006 2:09 PM

You only have to read the comments to get hit upside the head again by the arrogance and stupidity of the "progressives," libertarians, Democrats, et al.

Chris, we're not being manipulated by Karl Rove. Ordinary, sensible people think that gay marriage is a laugh out loud idea. In fact, it's the sort of BS only a Meathead can swallow.

Coulter and O'Reilly are free agents. They aren't representatives of the Republican Party or of the Bush administration. Their popularity is a reflection of the agreement of large numbers of readers and viewers with their ideas. They regard your ideas as so much fly shit, and so do I.

And, mjp, "But I'll take any of these over the religious fanatics who want to turn this country into a theocracy"... what in the hell are you talking about? People who think that promiscuous anal sex between men isn't a good ideal for the society want to "turn this country into a theocracy?"

Jesus Christ, it's a nuthouse out there, isn't it? You folks really ought to watch South Park. The show takes apart this madness brilliantly. Congrats to yet another litter of Cartmans! Spoiled brats of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your gay marriage and anal sex! Man the barricades!

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 27, 2006 2:18 PM

MB -- Once again you get the Left to rise to your posting like trout to a fly. If the left wasn’t so predictably knee-jerk in hating anything remotely right of their position, this would be funny. As it happens, it’s just sad, the intolerance of the Left as demonstrated here.

Posted by: Matt on July 27, 2006 2:44 PM

Gone largely unnoticed is the fact that I genuinely wish the Dems would do better than they've been doing. I'm no fan of the current administration, I'm sympathetic to a lot of traditional Dem concerns, and I'm appalled that the Dems can't pull their act together better than they have. The more they can focus, the more of a challenge they'll be. Let's raise the level of the game up generally! That way, whoever we finally get stuck with will likely be a little less bad than otherwise.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 27, 2006 2:54 PM

Democrats need to frame the debate. They need to put Republicans on the defensive, rather than defend their position on intolerant Republican smoke-and-mirror issues like gay marriage, stem cell research, etc., issues that aren't vital to the well being of the country. Gays have married, the world hasn't come to an end.

The way you do this is two fold, stop responding to Republicans attacks through the media and go on the attack by hammering a consise message. Use the opportunity to defend your position on a GOP issue to make your attack.

This is what the Republicans did last election cycle. Ask Ken Melman what his favorite ice cream flavor is or who the first president of the US was and he will use the opportunity to bash the Democrats and articulate a GOP position on some issue.

With that said, the Democrats need a message. What's the message? Who the hell knows?

Americans don't want to hear about being responsible, vigilant, and sacrifice. Personal debt is at an all time high. People are feeling overstretched, tired and even depressed. They feel their identity is being stripped. They feel exploited and trust no one anymore.

I think the Democrats should take Reagan's popular message and throw it right back into the GOP's faces: "the era of self-doubt is over."

Democrats need to play to people's emotional core, not their intellectual core. There is nothing dishonest or deceptive about this.

Posted by: Steven on July 27, 2006 3:41 PM

Shouting Thomas

I find it particularly telling that the thread wonders about Dems who supposedly label "average Americans" as racist dolts with little evidence of the practice, yet meanwhile, in only three short paragraphs and based on some interesting presumptions, I'm an arrogant, stupid Meathead whose ideas are so much fly shit. Shall I take it you've decided I am not, by definition, an average American?

I fail to see where it is "arrogant or stupid" to think, for example, that the Republican strategy in the Middle East has been reckless and has so far decreased rather than increased stability in the region and thus decreased raather than increased our own security. Nor do I think it Meathead idea to suggest that issues like gay marriage are quite purposefully given undue prominence by the Right because it is an excellent way of energizing a key part of the base without ever really meaning much within the larger issues of good governance. While I would not necessarily characterize anyone as being manipulated by Karl Rove, his supporters seem eager enough to recount his thirty plus years of brilliant strategic work building a Republican Right now in control of all three branches of the Federal government.


Sign me up, even if I have quibbles and qualms about some of the implications lurking in 1 & 6.


Excellent points. Democrats let Republicans and the right frame the debate and can't seem to get a reasonable shake when it comes to looking at the actual record.

Posted by: Chris White on July 27, 2006 4:48 PM

Can I point out that you're calling Republicans and Steve Sailer racist?

No, I'm calling Steve Sailer racist - not the Republicans. And by the top two definitions of racist he pretty clearly is:

"a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others"

"the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities, that a certain race is inherently superior or inferior to others, and/or that individuals should be treated differently according to their racial designation."

Sailer is only urging the Repubs to target the white middle-class more directly. What's racist about that?

Actually, he advocates the Republicans abandoning those initiatives that might bring non-whites into the party. I find his advice more about trying to make the party *less* attractive to non-whites than about attracting more whites (although he may see these as the same thing). More to the point, it's pretty clear that he desires to see a party that considers keeping America as white as possible to be in its own best interest.

The entire framing of his argument is interesting. Notice he doesn't say middle-class, but white middle class, etc. While race and class are, of course, heavily related, Steve is one of the few I find consistently emphasizing the "white" rather than the "middle-class".

Posted by: Tom West on July 27, 2006 10:02 PM

Shouting Thomas wrote, "People who think that promiscuous anal sex between men isn't a good ideal for the society want to "turn this country into a theocracy?"

Well, there you go again. Your illogic is spectacular. The availability of marriage for gays promotes monogamy, not promiscuity. Proponents of gay marriage are therefore discouraging gay promiscuity.

I suppose promiscuous sex acts of any kind between heterosexuals, whether married or single, is A OK with you, right?

Michael: No, I'm not happy with the Democrats' performance in national elections and currently. I can't see how you inferred that from my comment.

While I am often outraged at the antics of politicians of both parties and am at the moment deeply unhappy with our domestic and foreign policiy, I remind myself that from the death of FDR through the end of Clinton's presidency, we have had five Democratic and five Republican presidents and throughout that timeline, our domestic and foreign policy has generally remained consistent no matter which party had control.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on July 28, 2006 6:02 AM

Well, Peter, I'd like to be kind, but you are simply lying.

Gay men, coupled or not, engage for the most part in a promiscuous lifestyle that is a danger to the public health and to themselves.

You can try to pull the wool over my eyes, but I've lived in the midst of the largest gay communities in the U.S. (San Francisco and NYC) for 35 years). Tell your fairy tales (no pun intended) to somebody else.

I'm not talking logic, anyway. I'm talking experience and tradition. This issue has nothing to do with logic. Tradition alone, which dictates that a society should encourage the formation of hetero families is enough to negate the foolish oxymoron of "gay marriage." Experience has shown me that lessening the tradition proscriptions on the actions of gay men is a disaster (re, the AIDS epidemic) for society and for gay men.

Gay men were better off in the closet. We were all better off when gay men were in the closet.

Con somebody else. I believe what I've seen with my own eyes. The brazen, preposterous lying that you've just engaged in has become so common and so accepted that, I think, people actually begin to believe these insane lies.

My best friend for the last 25 years is a gay man who is HIV positive and lucky to be alive. Every other member of his circle of friends from the past is dead. Every one engaged in public sex in bathhouses and elsewhere.

The ancient societies proscribed homosexuality because they knew the consequences of unconstrained homosexual behavior. One of the craziest and most dangerous modern political movements is the attempt to silence those of us who still have the common sense to know that gay male behavior must be proscribed.

You just don't have any common sense, or else you've been brainwashed by the PC garbage, or else you are just a bare faced liar. Take your pick.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 28, 2006 10:16 AM

My normal thing to do at moments like this is to try to calm the waters -- no namecalling, let's remember our conversations aren't about to be heard by anyone important, etc. But why be consistent? If anyone's in the mood to brawl, go for it! Me, I'll encourage betting on the outcome and play bookie ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 28, 2006 11:14 AM

Meet me out behind the barn.

Your momma wears dirty undershorts.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 28, 2006 12:05 PM

Looking back over the comments, I love the evident irritation from libs when they make mention of Fox News channel (owned by that supporter of Hillary Clinton, R. Murdoch).

God forbid the US should suffer another Islamoterror attack, but if they hit the Fox building one can picture libs reacting like Palestinians when they get news of another Jew-killing: dancing in the streets of Park Slope and Provincetown; tenured professors passing out candy to students on Ivy league lawns, etc.

Posted by: Jake on July 28, 2006 12:53 PM

As is amply shown by the comments section in this thread, Republicans have serious ideological blinders on. Republicans would rather settle some obscure ideological score with some professor who pissed them off in 1972 then look at the actual damage their own President is inflicting on the nation and the world. Note that the Dems in this thread critique real, actual Republican government policies that just about everyone knows are destructive and stupid. The Republicans go on about stuff like arguments over playing basketball, how disgusted they are by a "friend" of theirs who takes it up the ass. Not to mention how Democratic politicians must secretly believe other Americans are racists and how greviously this offends their delicate, fragile Republican sensibility. There are also impassioned arguments that Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Savage are somehow not conservative ideologues, arguments that seriously make me wonder about the sanity of the people who make them.

The thing that scares me most about reading internet political threads is the sense that I am sharing the country with a large number of people who have abandoned reality to live in their fever dream of their own ideological fantasies and wounded feelings. It's like Republican politics is group therapy for disempowered, bitter, frustrated white males who are too busy discharging old resentments to actually give a damn about what is happening to their country and the world under Republican leadership. The truth is that there are loonies in both parties, but the Democrats have never, not ever, let their loonies take over the central reins of government like we have seen with the neocons and the tax-cut ideologues under Bush. If you are a patriot you need to think about how to get that crew out of power, and the only way to do it is by voting Democratic. It's that simple.

Now, I happen to like Steve Sailer, and I am actually repeating here something he said about Republican politics being identity politics for white males. And the loony wing of hte Democratic party deserves some blame for injecting identity politics into the culture back in the 70s. It is natural that this form of selfish navel-gazing would be taken over by the majority, who wanted to feel good about themselves too, and so we have on the right the equivalent of what happened on the left when urban blacks were more concerned with wearing dashikis than the fact that their neighborhoods and cities were going down the drain. Problem is, black identity politics could destroy inner city Detroit, but white male identity politics can do a whole lot more harm than that.

Posted by: MQ on July 28, 2006 3:24 PM

Oh, and P.S. to Shouting Thomas: you seem to care a lot about the public health consequences of private, voluntary (homo)sexual behavior, but I'd lay odds that you also view regulating smoking as a sign of approaching facism. How about we just permit our adult citizens to be free to choose their own lives, and suffer any consequences that result?

Posted by: MQ on July 28, 2006 3:27 PM

Well, just to remind folks of the ostensible topic of the conversation: it ain't about whether Repubs or Dems are good or bad -- I'm happy to dump on 'em both, myself. It's about why the Dems have done so badly vote-wise against a very weak and vulnerable administration. Why do so many Americans just not like the Dems? Repubs may be evil, Dems may be saints, who cares? (For the moment, anyway.) Why can't the saints do a better job of selling themselves to the electorate?

OK, now forget I ever said this. Back to the fray.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 28, 2006 4:27 PM

To Shouting Thomas:

I don't believe you have even one acquaintance who is gay. How could you? Their very existence repels you, that's why you want them back in the closet, so you don't have to see or think about them or be bothered by their existence. Let's turn back the clock, not to the '50s, but back to the 19th century, when homosexual acts were subject to criminal prosecution.

You embody everything wrong with the kind of demagogic tactics practiced by Ann Coulter and her ilk.

You start of by saying you'd like to be kind, but I'm a liar. Of course, as that opening line and the rest of your comment demonstrate, you have no interest in trying to be kind or civil.

You substitute name calling for facts and logic.

You're a flamethrower. You're a loutish fool.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on July 28, 2006 6:21 PM

Hey, Michael B: point taken, and I wonder about that too. I think the short answer is something along the lines of what Sailer has said: Republicanism is identity politics for white males, and politics is much more about expressing your identity than making substantive judgements. After all, self expression is fun, public policy is boring. Elites have always understood that the public can be manipulated in this way, but until recently have retained some sort of reponsibility about separating governance from ideology.

As for why the white middle class sees its identity bound up with the Republican party: it's all about the 60s. We are still refighting those 40-year-old cultural battles. This is despite the fact that the Federal government under Bill Clinton was obviously a much more conservative regime in a policy sense than it has been under Bush.

Posted by: MQ on July 28, 2006 7:12 PM

Could it be that Republicans have done a better job of building effective political coalitions than Democrats have? Or that Republicans have been more convincing than Democrats re national security? Or that Republicans' ideas have been closer to what most voters believe?

Nah, that can't be it. It must be that Republicans have duped voters. And that white males vote Republican because Republicans make them feel warm and fuzzy in a world full of scary black and brown people. And that the Democrats have failed to market their obviously-and-beyond-question-superior ideas (which ideas are those, BTW?) effectively. Yeah, that's it.

Posted by: Jonathan on July 28, 2006 9:43 PM

I don't think people get it at all about politics. Most of the issues you all mention the average voter couldn't care less about.

Look, first and foremost, people vote on the economy and whether or not they can find/have a good job. They also vote on how optimistic they are about the near future economically. Also, taxes.

Next, people vote on security. Think 911, law and order, put the criminals in jail.

Outside of that, most people just want to be left alone by the the government. They pay attention the few months before an election, then go on living life. The hardcore ones are the people you are debating about, but they are only a tiny fraction of the voting population.

I hate democrats and liberals, but they have a lot of things going for them in the next election. The US appears to be moving into a recession. Iraq seems to be heading toward a civil war. The west will not allow Iran to get the Bomb, and we will go to war to stop it. Illegal immigration is gettiing the people very roused and angry.

On the negative side for the democrats, they want to increase taxes when they get into office. Repeal the Bush tax cuts, remember? Universal health care? A non-starter, especially with open borders. Cut back on the war? After 911, you don't want to look weak. And all the socialist gay/minority/feminist/blah, blah, blah? A big fat loser. The question is, can they remake themselves to appear moderate. With Kerry, Hilary, and Gore, no way. Kerry and Gore look like losers to the average voter, especially after they lost in 2000 and 2004. Hilary is Lady MacBeth, and everybody knows it. Who will lead them? I don't see anybody. That's their problem. They are a party with no strong leadership, because only wimps buy into their party platform. Its a spineless party. If it isn't, name one thing they advocate which appears tough, from law enforcement, to military, to making people more independent and less reliant on government. When you are tired of staring at the donut hole in front of you, you'll understand the situation.

Even if the dems won the White House and Congress, they would probably be thrown out soon thereafter, unless they could provide real solutions to our long-term problems. But they can't. And their "let's negotiate" stance will be another loser with the radical Islamists. Higher taxes, more handouts, more ridiculous spending, same phenomena of jobs being shipped out and more foreigners being piled in to keep wages low. They really have nothing. That's why they are losers in a weak economy and with an unpopular war. They might win if they really fought illegal immigration, but that will never happen--that's their future voter base.

The party that was once the protector of the middle class has become everything but that, and its on a generational slide that I don't see an end to. If they can capitalize on the poor job of GW, and win some seats back in 2006, there is some hope for the party. But if not, it's going to be a long time before they win back anything, and you can take that to the bank.

Posted by: s on July 28, 2006 10:26 PM

Yes, Jonathan that is it. Republican performance in office is just indefensible -- borrowing a ton of money to give to give big tax breaks to rich people makes no sense in the richest and most unequal country on earth. The invasion and occupation of Iraq made no sense. Republican national security policy makes no sense (convert the middle east to "democracy" using American military power???). So you have to ask why people don't see that. The answer is that people generally don't understand or care about policy, they just identify personally with one party or the other.

My short explanation for American politics: in the Depression people decided they didn't like their bosses, decades of Democratic dominance ensued. In the late 60s, people decided they didn't like hippies and their left-wing intellectual enablers, decades of Republican dominance followed. Unfortunately, the Repubs are wrecking the country, so the question is how long it will take until people don't like the Repubs any more.

Posted by: MQ on July 29, 2006 12:48 AM

Also, s: you mentioned law enforcement. This is one good example of people's ignorance. During the 90s, Clinton substantially increased Federal funding for hiring local police and funding crime-fighting programs. The number of cops went up, arrests went up, crime went down. Since Bush came into office, overall funding for police hiring has dropped, the number of cops has dropped, crime reductions have stopped and crime is beginning to go up again in major cities. The funding that might have gone to extra cops has disappeared into tax cuts and defense increases.

But of course we all know that Repubs are tough on crime and Dems aren't....right? How do we know that? Because Dems are still blamed for the loss of social control during late 60s-early 70s period. Nobody updates their picture of reality until some traumatic event (1968, the Depression) causes a political realignment.

Admittedly, the Dems have not done a great job making people see what the party is about, and hte spinelessness on Iraq has been apalling.

Posted by: MQ on July 29, 2006 12:54 AM

Can we please drop the demeaning "white males" and use "white men" instead?

Posted by: SJ on July 29, 2006 6:22 AM

See, I was quite right when I said that politics is a waste of my time and energy. All that one accomplishes by entering into political discussion, in the South Park era of Manhattan, is to set off the spoiled brat fury of the Cartmans.

The only question left to ask is: "When will the Democrats propose that anal sex be the highest sacrament in the liturgy?"

I watched South Park last night and Cartman was busy, once again, trying to stuff as much up his ass as possible. If you’ll recall, in one episode he stuffed an entire city block of skyscrapers up his ass. Total narcissist that he is, Cartman actually views this as a virtue.

In modern Manhattan, the epitome of sophistication is expressing one's tolerance of this ass stuffing behavior by the Cartmans. We compete to prove that we are more blasé than our neighbors when we discover that the crazy fags have stuffed an ocean liner up their ass. In one episode of South Park the science teacher has just hooked up with a boyfriend who stuffs live rats up his ass. What a coup! The children have the audacity to be affronted, and their parents send them off to tolerance camp.

I’m going to spend my day writing music… odes to love between men and woman. In fact, I'm going to be writing my tribute to Myrna. The problem with getting into political discussion, as this thread shows, is that you get sucked into pretending that the Cartmans are fascinating and controversial. They are not. They are dreary spoiled children who've learned how to manipulate the adults.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 29, 2006 8:19 AM

Would it be unfair to suggest that Shouting Thomas seems dangerously close to presenting as a classic latent homosexual, completely obsessed about what whomever is or is not allowing to enter their ass?

Posted by: Chris White on July 29, 2006 7:40 PM

Way to go Chris! The leftist analysis of everything... the other guy's a queer!

So far, in my lifetime, leftists have claimed that you're a closet queer if you...

1. Express indifference to homosexuality
2. Express anger at any particular homosexual
3. Express any type of religious feelings

In fact, the favorite motif of the left for 50 years is that all expressions of disagreement with their nutjob ideas is proof of closet queerdom.

Yeah, Chris. You are Cartman.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 29, 2006 8:15 PM

Mr. Thomas, the topic of homosexuality was fairly perpheral to this discussion until you brought it front and centre with the 'strength' of your particular view.

There is also a discordance between most of those who hold your particular view and almost palpable delight with which you describe... Well, let's just say that most people with your views aren't realy comfortable with discussions of that particular aspect of South Park.

If you read Chris White's comment, he said seems dangerously close to presenting as a classic latent homosexual. He did not claim you were a homosexual (latent or otherwise). Only that your written arguments here conform to the particular classic stereotype.

And that, I am afraid, they do.

I would suggest if you want to avoid triggering that particular stereotype in reader's minds that you might consider changing your argument style with less emphasis on the graphic (and for purposes of policy discussion, totally irrelevant) depiction of what you find abhorrent.

Again, let me emphasize that this doesn't mean changing your views (although I find them... odd), but simply the means by which you transmit them on the written page.

Posted by: Tom West on July 30, 2006 7:04 AM

Another Cartman!

The left's answer to everything, Tom West, for the past 50 years, is that anybody who dares to disagree with them is a closet queer.

Your comments, and that other Cartman's (Chris) comments, are so programmatic, so banal, so predicatable and so stupid that it is mind boggling. The only thing is that is more mind boggling is your notion that you are actually saying anything substantive or original.

Sexual facism has become the norm on the left. You are just another Cartman practitioner of that sexual facism.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 30, 2006 10:31 AM

Yes, Shouting Thomas, if you aggressively defend your views, and if you laugh at liberals, you too can be considered a homosexual. Please tone down your remarks so that we can properly identify the real homosexuals who post. Thanks.

Posted by: s on July 30, 2006 12:07 PM

Now, in my earlier post I note that divisive niche issues (e.g. gay marriage) have been skillfully used by the right to divert political discussions from important and often complicated issues. Which is answered by some witty South Park repartee, the point seemingly being that Democrats are the Cartman party, a bunch of whiny gay brats. A couple of posts along this line and the sheer absurdity of it all tempted me into pointing out the obvious. I knew when I did it that I was falling into the trap. I'm sorry; sometimes the straight (pun here?) lines are just too good.

Now, can someone give me a cogent argument for why allowing the Middle East to descend into chaos ... no, wait, actively working to be sure that it does ... makes things better for American citizens, white or black, gay or straight? Is it foolish or arrogant or traitorous to suggest that other policies might be more productive?

Before we invaded Iraq I remember talking to a good friend who has spent time living in places like Kazakhstan. We were both in agreement that Saddam was one bad dude, a mean S.O.B. and long overdue for being retired. We were also in agreement that the logic being put forth to justify the war was virtually all a huge pack of lies and misinformation. 9/11? Get a grip! WMD? Well, the one time he DID have them, we gave them to him, so, again, I don't think so. In the kit bag for countering critics were personal attacks like outing CIA employee Valerie Plame as punishment for having a husband rash enough to publicly disagree with the official line. Then, there's the brushing aside of questions concerning the details, like what happens after we arrive in Baghdad? We worried about the aftermath with the inevitable conflicts between the three main ethnic/religious groups.

So, here we are. Pottery Barn rules say we broke it, we need to fix it, but there seems to be only a war plan, not a peace plan. (Anyone else remember how dismissive Bush was about "nation building" before he decided we needed a regime change in Iraq?)

Democrats seeking to address these topics are relentlessly attacked as "cut & run cowards" if not outright traitors for not simply waving the flag and rallying around the Commander in Chief because our young men and women are still in the field. Now, don't start to talk about the long list of retired military leaders who can parse, chapter and verse, the long list of errors and lousy tactics Rumsfeld and his cadre have (and continue to) foist on them. I guess all those generals and admirals are closet Cartmen. They couldn't possibly have a VALID opinion if it isn't identical to the neo-con chickenhawks, right?

So, no doubt the response to this will be about who is or isn't gay or flag burning or some other red (ooooh, commie!) herring.

Posted by: Chris White on July 30, 2006 5:50 PM

Go go go! Whap, biff, bam!

Sigh: I love political postings. The "comments" numbers always go soaring.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 30, 2006 9:55 PM

It was the Left that made gay marriage a public issue -- that insisted on making it a public issue, knowing that a lot of voters who don't want to have their noses rubbed in other people's sexuality would object. And since a lot of people on the Right did object, as everyone knew they would, the whole controversy is now their fault? Interesting how that works.

If the gay-marriage advocates had sincerely wanted to advance their cause they could have sought realistic political compromises involving incremental reforms of inheritance, child custody, insurance and other laws and regulations. If those reforms worked out, in a few years they could have sought additional incremental changes. But no, they went for all-or-nothing, they call the people they need to convince bigots, and they have the chutzpa to profess surprise that American voters won't do what they want. Looks to me like they were more interested in epater le bourgeoisie, and fundraising, than they were in actually accomplishing anything. But hey, I'm just another bigot, what do I know.

I await Chris White's explanation of what we should do to protect ourselves from the Islamofascists. (Hint: carping about the supposed failings of Bush's policies isn't the same as doing something.)

Posted by: Jonathan on July 31, 2006 12:47 AM

We shouldn't do anything to protect ourselves from "Islamofacists", as no such movement or political party exists.

As for protecting ourselves from people (currently the most dangerous of these are indeed Muslims) who might want to bomb U.S. soil or harm U.S. citizens, we should treat this as the international policing problem it is.

We should also refrain from making the problem even worse by avoiding actions that do nothing at all to improve our security but inflame various Muslim extremists even further. Invading and occupying Muslim countries is one such foolish action, another is giving a lot of active support to Israel in its endless tribal war with the Palestinians when this brings no benefit to U.S. interests.

Call me naive, but I think U.S. foreign policy should aim to make U.S. citizens safer and more secure, not feed the fevered fantasy lives of those who see "Islamofacists" under the bed.

Posted by: MQ on July 31, 2006 4:57 PM

Here are some modest suggestions for things we can DO to better protect ourselves from Islamofacists. [However they may be defined and whether they exist per se or not.]

American high school students should be offered a far more robust, nuanced and differently focused set of courses that gives a better and more complete understanding of Western Civilization in terms of its interactions with and the internal histories of those other Civilizations (all the while acknowledging the dominant Center, from Mesopotamia through Greece and Rome and on through The American Era). This also presupposes a reasonably thorough historical, comparative study of the major religions.

At my most wildly Utopian I dream of a big hit television game show where what you know about the rest of the world is key to the really big bucks. Or a reality show like "International Survivor" where individuals from a handful of different countries, ethnicities and backgrounds are voted off week by week based in part on their knowledge and understanding about the other contestants' cultures.

Enemy or ally, the more we ... that's WE, not the suits and wonks and pols ... know about the other players in the Middle East (and their five thousand years of history) the better off we'll all be.

For a more current and concrete suggestions, we should urge an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon. We then need to take the lead in offering immediate humanitarian aid and other assistance to assure a peaceful resolution. We should condemn Hezbollah's missile attacks and continued maintenance of an armed militia while also condemning Israel's too often indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilian centers.

We should reduce tax cuts and spend their money on cargo container inspection procedures and technology systems.

We should require a total two years of National Service from all Americans between the ages of 18 30 (prorated phase in). Military service should be an option but only one of a number including public school teacher aids, etc., etc.

Posted by: Chris White on July 31, 2006 9:47 PM

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