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October 29, 2009

Limbaugh on Third Parties

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

The last "third party" to win the presidency was the Republican party in 1860 with nominee Abraham Lincoln; that was just about 150 years ago. Since then, parties such as the Bull Moose (1912) and Dixicrats (1948) have won states in presidential elections, but not nearly enough to claim the office.

There are always enough people dissatisfied by or frustrated with the two major political parties to form new parties or support existing small parties. Some such parties are odd, single-issue groups while others operate on the belief that they actually can some day supplant one or the other of the major ones.

As this is written, there is a Congressional election in far upstate New York where the Republicans nominated an extremely liberal candidate which resulted in a conservative Republican entering the fray under the banner of New York's Conservative Party. This has inspired a number of people to wonder if now is finally the time for the Republican Party to be replaced by something different for whatever reasons.

Like him or not, Rush Limbaugh is a shrewd, well-connected political observer and I thought readers might be interested in learning his current take on the matter of third parties.

The full transcript of the subject segment of his 27 October 2009 broadcast is here. It includes more background information on the New York 23rd Congressional District race.

Here are excerpts that strike me as being most relevant:

Let me see if I can explain this. NY-23 is a special election. There was no primary. Doug Hoffman would have challenged Scozzafava in the Republican primary had there been one. He would have had the backing of New York's Conservative Party as is often the case there. You have to understand that the Conservative Party does not look at themselves as a third party. Only do they get in gear when the Republicans nominate some liberal. Ronald Reagan opposed third party-races because he believed that conservatives needed to take back the Republican Party and not surrender it to liberals. He told the liberals, "Go your own way." He didn't go his own way and form a [replacement for the] Republican Party. It took a while. He narrowly lost to Gerald Ford in '76. He was the most popular Republican emerging from that convention, but Ford, the establishment Republican, the fix was in. Reagan didn't slink away and start a third party. He began to take over the Republican Party.

Third parties lose. Speaking personally, I am not interested in creating another Reform Party like Perot did, like Buchanan did. It's a losing proposition. I want to defeat what's going on.

... I know the temptation for a third party is tempting, but right now conservatism is on the ascendancy, it's actually good to be a conservative, and this is the time to reassert control over the Republican Party. It's not going to be easy but the Democrats, the far left didn't go out and form a third party. They took over the Democrat Party.

I too get frustrated with existing parties. As long-time readers know, I transitioned from voting Democrat during the 1970s. I wasn't happy with everything the Republicans did during the Bush 41 or 43 eras and supported McCain with reluctance. Nevertheless, as things stand now politically, I side with Limbaugh on the issue of third parties.

And you? (Agreement with me is not expected, by the way.)



posted by Donald at October 29, 2009


The Republicans were NOT a third party in 1860. They were a third party in the preceding election in 1856, but because their candidate, John C. Fremont, came in second place, they had established themselves as the primary opposition party before Lincoln came on the scene.

Posted by: Ferdinand Bardamu on October 29, 2009 12:37 AM

"the far left didn't go out and form a third party. They took over the Democrat Party."

That statement is demonstrably untrue. In fact, it's patently ridiculous when the Democratic Party is still to the right of most Americans on health care, Afghanistan and Wall Street. Obviously Limbaugh is not particularly shrewd. Movement conservatism of the Limbaugh type is still in steep decline, populism of the Glen Beck variety is what is on the ascension.

Posted by: vanya on October 29, 2009 7:02 AM

There is nothing in the Constitution establishing a two party system of government. Various alternative parties exist today, just as various alternative parties have existed in the past. The two major parties share many traits, most importantly their support for and by the elite. Every major-industry lobbying group can funnel two thirds of the funds they have to invest in influencing government toward either (a) whichever candidate in a particular race is the incumbent, or (b) the major party historically more sympathetic to their interests, while the remaining third goes to the other major party to hedge their bet. Both parties benefit from this system in which the interests of the elite are served first and foremost with little regard for the citizenry as a whole.

To me the Dems are the Good Cop Party, the Pubs the Bad Cops. Dems tend to favor the style of offering the citizenry a smile and emphasize the community service aspects of policing, while the Pubs tend to favor tough crackdowns on malcontents. Still, both are ultimately working for the same elite interests.

For evidence of this phenomena one need look no further than the government response to the current financial crisis. Having given the Good Cops majorities in both houses of Congress and installed Obama in the White House, a guy labeled as a socialist or commie or secret Muslim jihadi by detractors, what has happened? Business as usual for the elite, that's what.

I favor Instant Runoff Voting, a systemic change in how we vote that should greatly enhance the ability of citizens to let their government know how they truly feel and a system under which alternative parties would be more likely to win elections. Let a libertarian rank the Libertarian candidate #1 and the Republican candidate their second choice. Let a gal for whom the environment is her most important concern vote the Green candidate #1 with the Dem (or Socialist or Libertarian or...) #2.

Even if IRV elections continued to result in most elections ultimately being won by one or the other of the Duopoly parties, it would clarify the actual will of the populace.

And as an aside, I am increasingly disappointed with the way, post-Michael, 2BH seems to be slipping toward becoming another standard echo chamber for the right instead of the quirkier and more unique blend of truly individual voices it once was. Rush Limbaugh as a thread starter? Give me a break.

Posted by: Chris White on October 29, 2009 8:39 AM

Ferdinand -- You are correct regarding 1860. My not-so-fully-expressed thought was that the Republican Party was a third party that succeeded -- though, as you pointed out, some ramping-up was required.

Vanya -- Please elaborate your assertion that the Democrats are to the right of the nation as a whole. It makes no sense unless your concepts of "left" and "right" differ from the commonly-accepted 2009 definitions of the political spectrum.

Is the electorate a pack of misty-eyed peacenik socialists who lust for being overtaxed and wish that government would please come help them brush their teeth? If so, you might have a point.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on October 29, 2009 9:30 AM

"conservatism is on the ascendancy"

Yes. To the peak of Mount Irrelevance.

Posted by: martin on October 29, 2009 11:57 AM

"... the Democratic Party is still to the right of most Americans on health care... "

Please explain this one to me. Every opinion poll shows that a majority of Americans oppose Obamacare. What you are saying, I think, is that Obama is to the right of you in terms of opinion on healthcare.

Rush Limbaugh is a provocative and funny entertainer. I listen to him very occasionally, because he's on when I work. When I do listen to him, I find him amusing and quite reasonable. He is, for sure, a Reagan Republican. He is not an extremist as the Obama administration has attempted to paint him.

Chris Whiter-Than-Thou, the problem that you have is this dumb "systematic" approach you love. Since you are so in favor of placing tags on others, I will repeat that you are the usual Woodstock/Northeastern hippie. That means that you call yourself one thing, when in fact your ideology is a stoned out stew of retread Marxism.

The great thing about the American political system is that it is not systematic. This is almost impossible for you to comprehend, but these systematic overhauls you are so fond of presenting... well, that's exactly the problem we now face with the Obama administration. Bunch of airhead intellectuals full of systematic solutions.

They are so full of that airhead intellectualism that they don't comprehend that they are as subject to corruption as any other person... just like you. As a result, the Obama administration is resoundingly, hilariously corrupt.

If you, and the Obamanauts, have their way, we will take another step toward great "systematic" reform. The result will be the same sort of disaster that intellectuals have created again and again with their systematic thinking.

Muddling through on a piece by piece basis is always the answer. Doing as little as possible is always the best thing for the government to do.

It is true that the Republican party is failing us as badly as the Democrats. The Republicans refuse to address open border immmigration and the quota system. I don't think that a third party will successfully bring these most important issues to the table, but maybe I'm wrong.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 29, 2009 12:42 PM

"the far left didn't go out and form a third party. They took over the Democrat Party."

Ha! The Dems are left-leaning, sort of. There are a few actual liberals in the mix, but most aren't any more to the left than your average U.S. citizens who identifies as a Democrat. From Limbaugh's perch way over in movement conservative land, that may seem far left, but it's not.

And by the way; Limbaugh? Really?

Posted by: JV on October 29, 2009 12:44 PM

ST, very recent polls show fairly broad support not just for the health care reform that the Dems are proposing, but also for the dreaded public option:

Posted by: JV on October 29, 2009 2:45 PM

You'd never guess from Limbaugh's remarks that he was and is a Bush supporter.

This is not mere snark: it is not an accident that the GOP is less "conservative" than many on the right would like, and part of that reason is that people like Rush Limbaugh supported Bush no matter what though overspending and nation building and so on.

For as long as Bush won elections, there was not a word of complaint from any "conservative" about him.

And now here's Rush, talking as if his camndidate DIDN'T win in 2000 and 2004.

Posted by: phosphorious on October 29, 2009 3:15 PM

No, the Democrats are not beholden to the extreme, Marxist left:

Anita Dunn
Rev. Jeremiah Wright
Van Jones
Bill Ayers

Just the tip of the iceberg.

The problem is is that the new breed of Marxists always comes up with a new name for their retread Marxism and then convinces itself that they've discovered something new.

The new (recycled from years ago) name for Marxist is "progressive."

The progressives are so stupid that they don't know they're Marxists. This happens every generation. Dumb kids think they've found something entirely new. They just fell into the same idiot pit as their predecessors.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 29, 2009 3:19 PM

Slightly off-topic:
Back in 2002, a third party candidate ran against Ted Kennedy for Senate in Massachusetts. She got trounced. However, she also put forth a Ballot Initiative that would repeal the State Income Tax. This would have reduced the state budget from about 23 billion to about 10 billion, which was how large the budget was just 10 years earlier...and that was her basic argument.

Well, the pundits guess that the wing-nut would be able to get about 30% support in Tax-achusetts. With no major party or media support, it got 45%. The governor, Mitt Romney (a moderate Republican), said that while they would not be cutting taxes, in light of the vote, they would not be adding any. And this was at a time when the papers were assuming that taxes would increase to support the "ailing" state programs.

I always thought that was interesting.

Posted by: Usually Lurking on October 29, 2009 3:45 PM

You'll know capitalism is wrong when the USA and Australia cease to be prime destinations for refuge and immigration, legit or otherwise. When the leaky boats push of from Florida to attempt the crossing to Cuba, you'll know that Michael Moore and Sean Penn are right.

In the meantime, whoever can define and preserve those things which make the traffic go TOWARD what is still the Free World has a great chance of being elected. I would define "those things" as capitalism (re-invested profits), opportunity (dominant middle class), sovereignty (private property). Whoever puts those things first - and the history of the city-states of Italy shows how effective but perishable they can be - gets my vote.

A grand old cricketer/commentator called Richie Benaud has often said that he could never understand why captains did what the opposition wanted them to do. I simply don't understand why conservatives try to win with candidates like John McCain or Malcolm Turnbull.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on October 29, 2009 3:54 PM

How a system can fail to be systematic is a rhetorical conundrum.

While I think we indeed have various systemic flaws that would be desirable to change, my comment did not advocating the radical dissolution of any major existing system in favor of some theoretically better ideal ... for that, check out Zdeno's thread on higher education. I merely suggested a minor procedural change in how we vote that might have the beneficial effect of opening the process to independent parties. Maybe I'm right, perhaps I'm wrong. If you want to explain why you think Instant Runoff Voting is a mistake, go for it. If you don't want more viable political parties to choose from and are happy with the Duopoly, God bless ya.

Posted by: Chris White on October 29, 2009 7:23 PM

@ Chris White:

Of course YOU don't support radical reforms to the system. The Western world has been trending leftward for quite some time now under said system.

My question is, why are so many alleged Conservatives in favour of the system as well? Can they not extrapolate a trend line? Do they have some reason to believe that we're coming up on an inflection point, any day now?

Limbaugh's idea of working through the Republican party will give us four, maybe eight years of relatively sane stagnation, before we're right back to creeping socialism.



Posted by: Zdeno on October 29, 2009 9:31 PM


You cited one of the most unreliable news organizations in American, The New York Times, as your source for polling data. The Times is practically a propaganda arm of the Obama administration.

Nice try.

Both the Gallup and Rasmussen polls, which are far more independent, show majority opposition or (what is more interesting) a belief that the President simply has misplaced priorities in regard to healthcare.

In short, the majority of Americans don't think there is a healthcare crisis.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 29, 2009 10:20 PM

In short, the majority of Americans don't think there is a healthcare crisis.

I want whatever mind-altering substance ST's on. Let's take a quick look at some recent Gallup and Rasmussen poll results.

In an Oct. 21 Gallup survey, for instance, 50 percent of respondents thought a healthcare bill should include a public, government-run insurance plan. Forty-six percent thought it should not. - Christian Science Monitor

While voters are skeptical of the plan working its way through Congress, 54% say that major changes are needed in the health care system. Sixty-one percent (61%) say it’s important for Congress to pass some reform. - Rasmussen Reports

When you don't like the facts, call them propaganda.

And while we're on this tangent, if the NYT is an arm of the Democratic left, RR is certainly far from neutral or centrist. A look through its contributors shows a preponderance of staunch conservative pundits ... Kudlow, Conason, Blankley, and Barone.

BTW - Whatever happened to the topic of alternate parties?

Posted by: Chris White on October 30, 2009 7:37 AM

So Reagan took over the Republicans? Hah! It's more like they took HIM over. The moneybags who fund the party are adamantly opposed to any kind of populist/conservative movement whatsoever (unless it can be used to support the party regardless of its policies).

Posted by: Dutchboy on October 30, 2009 12:40 PM

There is not enough structure to the question! What is the goal being pursued? Who supports it? Who opposes? How are these people situated in the relevant institutions? What norms of conduct prevail?

Suppose you are like Lenin and you have goals supported by pretty much nobody outside a small cabal. Then your best bet is entryism --- get the members of your small cabal into positions of authority in an unsuspecting, unsophisticated organization and then use that authority ruthlessly to convert the organization to your purposes.

Or, maybe, you are like Tom Tancredo or Nick Griffin and you are a champion of a very popular issue despised by your local elite. What to do, then? Well, it depends on how completely rigged you think your party's governance is, doesn't it? If having 80% support for your issue is enough to get your party on board, then stay in. If not, and if you can draw away enough support from your party by exiting to make them sit up and take note, then exit. But, the outcome aimed at should almost never be to replace an existing institution --- you exit in order to inflict pain on the existing institution to change its behavior. Killing the institution might happen, but it ain't the goal.

My own view is that the Republican party is in a bad way, governance-wise. Much as I hated and hate listening to Dems accusing the party of being run by and for lobbyists, moneyed interests, and lunatics what reason is there to doubt their analysis?

We did just nominate the candidate most out of step with the rank and file at the last election, didn't we? We elected George "no nation building, humble foreign policy" Bush and got Woodrow Wilson with crappy diction. And the current debate in the party is between "Reformers" who want to combine Wilsonism abroad with socially liberal tax and spend at home and "Traditionalists" who want Wilsonism plus tax cuts. Not to mention the bailout.

With the exception of single issue pro-lifers, exit seems like a pretty good strategy to me. If what you care about is the size of government, regulation, freedom, social conservatism other than pro-life, Jacksonian or realist foreign policy, immigration restriction, affirmative action, education, etc, why not leave the party?

I'll be staying, because I think the Church says I have to be single-issue pro-life in the current circumstances, but what are the rest of you suckers doing?

Posted by: Bill on October 30, 2009 1:05 PM

being a libertarian who will probably never vote for a republican or democrat again (unless hell freezes over and ron paul runs again and gets the nomination) one of the few nice things about never having voted for a presidential candidate who has won is not having blood on my hands. like people who vote for clinton, bush, obama etc. every president has blood on their hands if you're being truly objective and i don't see any reason not to say the people that helped elect them don't have it on theirs either (though admitedly that line of logic won't make for a pleasant political debate). that's why people get so into being partison, being on their "team" and never want to admit to any fault in their guy. that's why most anti-war liberals are looking the other way on obama's foreign policy cause they don't want to face the fact that he's more of the same.

obviously i don't agree with donald. in fact, if a 3rd party candidate got really close but i did'nt agree with them i might still support them cause i do fine the 2 party system very unfair...well maybe not nader.

Posted by: t. j. on October 30, 2009 4:40 PM


I am perplexed by your argument on Obama and the administration.

You state: "They are so full of that airhead intellectualism that they don't comprehend that they are as subject to corruption as any other person... just like you. As a result, the Obama administration is resoundingly, hilariously corrupt."

Aren't you really saying that by following "systematic solutions" that they are being hopelessly naive and that they misunderstand human nature? That there solutions wouldn't work because they are too theoretical? I don't see how corruption is part of that. Would love if you could clarify.

Posted by: mark on October 30, 2009 6:13 PM

I agree with Rush (words I never thought I would say) in that the unusual aspect of NY 23 is that there was not a party primary given the rules of this special election. Had there been a primary then Hoffman or Scozzafava would have won (this seems moderate republican territory so not clear to me a teabagger would run well here, but that is another issue) and I think the odds that the loser of the Republican primary running as a 3rd party candidate would be low. I think the teabag part of the party felt disenfranchised by the candidate being selected by committee. We may see teabag type Republicans challenging Rockefeller type Republicans in the primaries,and that is a fair lesson from NY 23..particularly for strongly leaning Republican districts where the real battle is who is the Republican nominee. But to extrapolate NY 23 to third party challenges across the board seems a bit much on election.

Posted by: scott on October 31, 2009 9:41 AM

i also disagree with the notion that limbaugh is that smart too. i think he's often misquoted and misrepresented by the liberal media and he's not as dumb as they make him out to be but he's not that smart either. i'm not just saying that cause i don't agree him. i find michael savage a much more interesting, intelligent, engaging rightwing radio personality then rush and i disagree with 85 percent of what comes out of his mouth.

Posted by: t. j. on October 31, 2009 3:45 PM

What a disappointing set of comments. For a group who mostly claim to disdain partisan politics and see government, especially the Federal government, with (at best) skepticism, this quickly devolved into a Republican caucus debating how much power to give to Rush Limbaugh in determining the direction of the GOP and seemingly a willingness to consider the Republican and Democratic parties as sacrosanct.

My comment about Instant Runoff Voting bizarrely got ST all riled up about Woodstock hippies and Obamanauts and similar oddities. Pointing out that IRV is a modest procedural change in how we vote, hardly a call to revolution, resulted in Zdeno chiming in with the notion that I'm supposedly not radical enough to want change.

Liberals and conservatives can battle within the two major parties until the cows come home and nothing will really change. Does anyone here really think that things would be dramatically different had McCain won? Does anyone think that Ron Paul getting the next GOP nomination will bring about the New American Utopia? Would a Dennis Kuchinich primary win mean Kruschev would be laughing at us from the grave? I think not.

Despite ST's frequent reminders that none of us should think we have all the answers or speak with the authority of the Omnipotent One, the dominant tone iseems to presume the moral and intellectual perfection of conservatism (libertarian wing) and that SOMEDAY the right Right politician will be nominated by the GOP; it will be like the return of the Messiah (Ronald Reagan) who will wash away all the commies, socialists, hippies, feminists, jihadis, immigrants, and malcontents and America will rule the world ... benignly, of course.

If we want freedom, we need to consider better means both of maintaining that freedom and of governing ourselves. Many of my views are indeed well to the left of most here, some of those views I still maintain are closer to the American ideal and intent of the Founders than many stances championed by today's conservatives. I know many with views to my left ... and many to my right ... and some who have single issues that dominate their entire political calculus. There are so many different political views, each with their own supporters, detractors, and degree of specific focus.

I presume that the messy business of electing representatives, whom we then expect to find a pathway through these competing views, would be better served if more of those viewpoints were represented. This means, practically, finding a way to crack the Duopoly's lock on the process. IRV might be one tool to help in that quest. Anything to get alternative parties out of the sidelines and onto the stage, even if they remain bit players.

Posted by: Chris White on November 1, 2009 1:28 PM

I'm for grim duopoly. I'll get my fun away from politics.

The ridiculous side of Proportional Representation can be seen in the Legislative Council of NSW, which originated as a house of appointees then later became an elected house with lots of minor parties. Nudist greenies and gay-bashing bible-thumpers might club together to frustrate legislation on all sorts of unlikely issues. In the end, party registration had to be tightened, so the proliferation of parties has stopped, along with some of the absurdity.

It's still a great place for people who don't want a real job and can bang on at great length about "issues". No whining constituents, no babies to kiss. Essentially, it's for those who love process and have learned you can beat opponents by going looooong and out-boring them.

Know anyone like that?

Posted by: Robert Townshend on November 1, 2009 8:39 PM

In case you care, I'm a long time reader of this blog. I have in the past read many of the conservative articles it has pointed to though I am not a conservative. I just think it's good to read all points of view when they are reasonable and founded on a sense of concern for our nation and the world. I've actually learned things that strengthen and/or modify my progressive beliefs by reading such material.
That said, the very idea that an unthinking bigot like Limbaugh has entered the discourse on this blog is cause enough for me to say goodbye.
It's laughable enough that the right is so desperate for a hero that it promotes Reagan as some kind of a statesman, but to seriously ask us to consider Limbaugh and his spew? Who is next, Beck? Bachman? Malkin?

Posted by: Terry Butler on November 1, 2009 9:26 PM

According to Limbaugh:

"Doug Hoffman may in fact win this with nowhere near the amount of money the two Democrats have."

The republican is dropping out because Hoffman is outspending her.

"Ronald Reagan opposed third-party races because he believed that conservatives needed to take back the Republican Party and not surrender it to liberals. He told the liberals, "Go your own way."

In 1976 Reagan announced the he would select one of the party's most liberal senators as his running mate if he got the nomination. I wouldn't call that saying to liberals "Go your own way".

With blatant errors like these I don't consider him a shrewd political observer.

I think third parties have a poor chance of winning but that they have influenced the two main parties many times from the Prohibition Party to Ross Perot hammering away about the deficit.

Posted by: Mercer on November 2, 2009 12:07 AM

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Instant Runoff Voting is not Proportional Representation. Nor is a parliamentary democracy/constitutional monarchy identical to a constitutional republic. But, hey, why shouldn't the opinions of a conservative from Down Under carry more weight in a discussion about whether Rush Limbaugh is right about the viability of alternative parties than a New England hippie?

Posted by: Chris White on November 2, 2009 7:41 AM

From the Rush transcript:

"Doug Hoffman may in fact win this with nowhere near the amount of money the two Democrats have."

The republican dropped out because Hoffman was outspending her.

"Ronald Reagan opposed third-party races because he believed that conservatives needed to take back the Republican Party and not surrender it to liberals. He told the liberals, "Go your own way."

Reagan announced before the convention in 1976 that he had picked one of the party's most liberal senators to be his running mate if he won the nomination. I don't consider this telling liberals to "Go your own way".

When Rush makes two errors like this in one hour I don't consider him a shrewd political observer.

While a third party candidate has little chance of winning they have had big impacts upon the two main parties in the past from the Prohibition party to Perot highlighting the deficit.

Posted by: Mercer on November 2, 2009 9:40 AM

That said, the very idea that an unthinking bigot like Limbaugh has entered the discourse on this blog is cause enough for me to say goodbye.

Good riddance, Terry! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Bigot hunters are now the lowest form of humanity. That's you, Terry!

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on November 2, 2009 12:16 PM

Terry -- I don't understand the "unthinking bigot" thing. Clearly you have never listened to Limbaugh for any length of time. His program is about ideas under the showbiz / entertainment veneer. It's just that you probably don't like his ideas -- but nevertheless they are indeed ideas.

As for bigotry, where is your proof? His long-time associate James Golden and frequent substitute host Walter Williams were both Black the last time I checked. Or does being a conservative mean one cannot possibly be Black?

Anyway, sorry to lose you; we risk that any time a controversial subject comes up.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on November 2, 2009 2:56 PM

I was discussing IRV?

Posted by: Robert Townshend on November 2, 2009 4:08 PM

Oh how I long for a sentence or paragraph about Rush Limbaugh that didn't begin "Like him or not," or with some other disclaimer.

Most of the commenters here have clearly not listened to Limbaugh's program, yet that doesn't stop them from voicing their opinions about its content. If they tuned in they'd quickly learn that there's nothing bigoted about him, he is certainly not dumb, and he did NOT support Bush "no matter what" -- not on spending, not on failing to use his veto powers, not on immigration policy, not on a number of issues. The facts don't matter, though. Limbaugh's very name is a lightning rod for hysterical assertions.

Every independent survey ever done has shown that Rush Limbaugh's listeners have more years of education, better earnings and are substantially more likely to be in professional career positions than the public at large. Knowing that must wound his detractors and his audience's detractors, but swallow hard and face the truth.

Posted by: Barbara Duran on November 2, 2009 4:54 PM

As I noted above, Barbara, I have listened on occasion to Limbaugh. He's funny and entertaining, and he's just an old fashioned Reagan Republican.

The "bigot" baloney just brings to mind the old joke:

Q: What's the definition of a racist?

A: Somebody's who's winning an argument with a liberal.

That's all there is to it.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on November 3, 2009 12:11 PM

For the record, I believe Reagan publicly regretted agreeing to include Schweiker on his ticket at the 1976 GOP convention.

Given this, Limbaugh did not make an error in explaining what, generally, Reagan's thought was regarding third parties.

Also, I can understand why some of this site's non-conservative readers may be nonplussed by the more recent political posts. But I have to say, it seems their levels of tolerance are pretty low.

I mean, in order for me to function in the world I constantly have to presume that those with whom I disagree politically are dealing with me in good faith. There's no reason for me to presume racism, or some evil agenda to explain why we disagree.

The knee-jerk way in which some people seem to be resorting to this sort of pose-- and it really is just a pose-- is a little disappointing.

We are, after all, the same people we were before. Nothing has changed, really, except for acknowledging it. I admit, the previous Blowhard convention of being coy about it was kind of fun, and may have been part of the charm of the site. But this righteous preening I'm seeing is new.

But let's just hug it out. 'Kay? Be men (and women) about it.

Posted by: karlub on November 4, 2009 7:26 PM

Two points.

1) No one will get anywhere significant in politics without a party organization. Once in a while, a maverick like Jesse Ventura may win an office, but such flukes have no lasting effect. Politics is a process of coalitions to push common interests and compromising to build coalitions. No one individual can do anything (unless he becomes Fuhrer, which heaven forfend). Nor can a random assortment of officeholders all acting independently. What's required is a team of legislators and executive officials, and the proper form of such a team is a Party. And for the Party to succeed, its members must compromise on their individual agendas.

2) Displacing an existing party is difficult. This is especially true in a first-past-the-post system such as ours; there's no intermediate state. It happens, as a rule, when the old party falls apart, either split by internal divisions or repudiated by the electorate.

The Republican Party is not in either position now. Compared to the 1930s, it is robust and coherent.

The problem with the Republican Party is that its apparatus is too much controlled by career politicians and insiders. This makes it prone to corruption and unresponsive to its... supporters.

One can't say "rank and file" any more because there is very little organized political activity for those who are not full-time. The vast majority of "Democrats" or "Republicans" do nothing except vote - and with "open primaries" that's minimal involvement. On both sides, the public is left "outside", and the full-timers are "inside".

There's a gap, and the people are increasingly alienated and frustrated. Bridging that gap is increasingly difficult, because the insiders don't want to be disturbed by what they see as populist yahooism (sometimes correctly).

The case of NY23 is a case in point. The insiders (Scozzafava and the GOP county chairs) had lost touch with the locals. However, Hoffman and the NY Conservatives had failed to establish a viable alternative before this election - say by electing one of their own to the NY Legislature or a major county office. But that would have required a lot of time and energy which outsiders don't have, and which the insiders would resist.

It's a muddy situation; everything is bogged down. IMHO the only real answer for frustrated conservative Republicans is to organize: form a network of Reagan Clubs or some such, with regular dues and meetings, recruit candidates for office (all offices, not just the sexy ones), and fight for control of the Republican apparatus.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on November 5, 2009 7:48 PM

Lat e in the thread I know, but here is a link to a blog (Front Porch Republic) tackling the same topic. The featured posting sets forth an outline for a third party platform that actually could see many disaffected independents from the "left" and the "right" joining together in support of those impulses and ideals they hold common.

Posted by: Chris White on November 7, 2009 7:34 PM

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