This is not about the current political climate or the Obama Administration and its endeavors. I’m not arguing for or against the Obama Administration or its policies because that is not the point of interest. Let me repeat: the point is not who is promoting good or bad policies (Democrats or Republicans), the effects of those policies, or any thing of the sort.
On the contrary, the interest here is fundamentally a point of history. In George Orwell’s 1984, the “Ministry of Truth” rewrote history to match whatever “the Party” declared, no matter its objective truth. In a recent article, Peter Beinart notes that a number of conservatives refuse to be outdone by Orwell’s fictional group and this is manifest in the party’s historical revisionism of the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts tonight prompted an acquaintance of mine to remind me of my prediction that the GOP was a doomed party. “So much for that prediction”, I was told.
Not so fast. My analysis, which I was toying with a year ago before and after Obama’s victory, was that demographic factors were threatening the long-term survival of the GOP. In spite of tonight’s spectacular victory for the GOP, I’m not quite ready to toss my analysis out the window just yet. The main reason is that I am not convinced that what I call “the politics of hate” can sustain either party.
What are the politics of hate? By that I do not mean that the platform of either party is based in a hateful ideology, though I’m sure many would find aspects of either that they would describe that way. What I mean is that I see what was once a tendency in politics becoming the obsessive, dominating factor – visceral hatred for the incumbent, regardless of the party he or she belongs to, and regardless of the party affiliation of the voters.
Have you donated to the Republican National Committee lately?
The national committee dedicated to electing members of the GOP to federal and state offices across America has undoubtedly sent numerous letters and emails campaigning against “ObamaCare.” One common objection against “ObamaCare” is that it would open the doors to federally funded abortions. Despite this objection, according to Huffington Post and Politco, the Republican National Committee is currently practicing hypocrisy.
The Republican National Committee’s health insurance plan covers elective abortion – a procedure the party’s own platform calls “a fundamental assault on innocent human life.”
Federal Election Commission Records show the RNC purchases its insurance from Cigna. Two sales agents for the company said that the RNC’s policy covers elective abortion.
Informed of the coverage, RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told POLITICO…”The current policy has been in effect since 1991, and we are taking steps to address the issue.”
According to several Cigna employees, the insurer offers its customers the opportunity to opt out of abortion coverage – and the RNC did not choose to opt out.
There is no indication that any RNC employee has used the abortion coverage, but Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said it’s “no surprise” that the RNC is offering it.
I am terribly disappointed, but hardly surprised. I’m pleased (and thankful) that many Republicans that have been made aware of this scandal are stating that it should be changed. Though, one would have preferred that in the so-called “pro-life” party such a travesty would have never occured.
Last night all but one, who voted present, of the House Republicans voted in favor of the Stupak Amendment in spite of knowing that its passage made likely the final passage of ObamaCare. Here is a statement of the House Republican Leadership issued last night before either the Stupak amendment or ObamaCare was passed:
House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) issued the following statement in support of an amendment offered by Representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA) that would prohibit federal funding of abortions under the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) health care plan: “We believe in the sanctity of life, and the Stupak-Pitts Amendment addresses a moral issue of the utmost concern. It will limit abortion in the United States. Because of this, while we strongly and deeply oppose the underlying bill, we decided to stand with Life and support Stupak-Pitts.
I have been a Republican as long as I have been old enough to pay attention to politics. I have usually found the Republican party to be a much closer fit to my conservative political views than the Democrat party, and therefore my party allegiance was not a difficult choice for me. It also helped that most members of my family in the paternal line have been adherents of the GOP since the Civil War, although in the case of my late father it was more out of a strong dislike of the Democrat party which he used to call …, actually, since this is a family blog I will not repeat some of the epithets my father used in regard to the party of Jackson. Thus I am a Republican both by conviction and heredity.
However, party loyalty is a two way street. In order for a political party to deserve the loyalty of its supporters, the party must field candidates that broadly stand for what most party members believe in. In the special congressional election for 23rd district in the New York, the GOP powers that be in that district have singularly failed to do so. They have nominated a liberal Democrat in Republican clothes as the standard bearer of the Republican party. Michelle Malkin in this column here succinctly states why the GOP nominee Deede Scozzafava is running in the wrong party.
Yesterday The Nation‘s John Nichols wrote a rather scathing piece about President Obama: the piece is entitled “Whiner-in-Chief” and the first line reads, “The Obama administration really needs to get over itself.”
Of course, I tend to agree with perspectives like that. But near the end of the piece Nichols tries to argue that the country isn’t as divided as the White House thinks, and along the way, he makes a heckuva non sequitur:
Here is a blog I wrote for fladems4life.org- this is the website for Florida Democrats for Life organization- If you are a Democrat and pro-life you should seriously consider joining the National and State chapters for Democrats for Life. There is a lot of freedom for you to bring your ideals and ideas into these growing organizations. I believe it is mostly a waste of time trying to turn Democrats into Republicans or vice versa- there is a philosophy of governance that pulls deeper than individual issues- even big issues like abortion.
American Political Theory and Constitutional Law Series, Pt. I
The American people have a history of distrust and suspicion of centralized authority. The original framework for the primitive independent-America outlined in the Articles of Confederation was not weak by accident. Even despite the clear insufficiency of the-then government under the Articles, the framers of the Constitution still found their vision of government to be a hard sell. It is fair to say their success was in finding an effective mix between the Athenian assembly and Roman Senate combined with ‘checks and balance’ with two other branches of government—a republic instead of a direct democracy.
In many ways, this debate has lived on. It is remarkable, particularly in recent decades, how many constitutional amendments have been given real and serious consideration by the U.S. Congress, from balanced budgets, to flag desecration, to super-majorities for taxes, to line-item veto just begin the list in attempts to reshape the constitutional order.
For some time I have had mixed and often conflicting beliefs about this whole debate. The usual “left” versus “right” spin is, as usual, tiring. Though, I have re-engaged the matter due largely to a new found interest in the project development of Catholic legal theory. Such an undertaking on the part of Catholic law professors and legal professionals have been enormously helpful in the process of asking serious questions and finding an authentic Catholic answer to crucial questions about American government, constitutional law, and jurisprudence. This couldn’t be more true than with my quarrels with the “living Constitution theory” as well as “originalism.” Though it is probably still the case, to some degree, that I am troubled about answers to these questions. I have become more convinced by those who make the case (in regard to one matter) that America needs a much needed reminder: constitutional amendments should be rare and limited to issues of historic significance. The U.S. Constitution must be preserved from short-term and sudden passions. The starting point, I think, is to reiterate, as the Founding Fathers did, the merits of representation, deliberation, and conciliation.
American voters in great number say they favor change, but there is no consensus or clarity about neither the amount nor direction such change should take. Not so surprisingly, contemporary political debates do very little to educate the public about essential constitutional issues. Serious discussion is not only past due, but is vital. What is a greater threat to constitutional government than a lack of substantive public debate and public awareness? An uninformed, ignorant public is perilous to the common good and constitutional order.
First of all let me say that I intend for the title of this piece to be polemical. I hope it is not the case, in all circumstances, that pro-life organizations and major players in the movement, are unfairly excluding, or consciously undermining budding pro-life Democratic candidates and causes. But my own experience is worth sharing and considering- just in case.
I’m a big fan of the personal finance speaker & author Dave Ramsey… when our oldest was born nearly five years ago and my wife prepared to stay home to take care of her and her siblings-to-come, I didn’t know how we were going to manage on my income alone; Ramsey’s book and radio show provided us with a straightforward, systematic approach to managing our finances, and for that, I am grateful… his is the talk radio show that I still listen to most.
But when it comes to politics, Dave is far too typical of many mainstream conservatives: he confuses principles for their application, just like Limbaugh, Hannity, et al.
Daniel Larison on why conservatives have been critical of Michael Steele, but defended Sarah Palin:
Steele does not have the benefit of a verbose, mistake-prone counterpart to distract us [like Palin did with Biden], but even if he did the reaction to Steele would have been nothing like the response to Palin. In other words, Steele’s blunders on substance are treated as badly damaging and activists insist that they require immediate correction, while Palin’s blunders were spun as imaginatively and desperately as any politician’s answers have ever been spun. This is a bigger problem than pushing unprepared leaders into the spotlight–it is a clear preference for one kind of style, namely the combative pseudo-populist act, over whatever style Steele has at the expense of any consideration of the merits of what these leaders say. The takeaway is that Steele is being ripped apart for making statements that are not terribly different from Palin’s campaign statements on the very same issues, and somehow she is still considered a rising star by the very activists who are ripping Steele.
Almost no matter who you are, the above is almost certainly true. Yet it’s a fact that few people seem to readily grasp.
I was struck by this as I continued to read the exchange between Ross Douthat and Will Wilkinson over whether secular libertarian intellectuals should all pack up and join the Democrats. Will predicts:
…I think intellectual capital flight from the right really does threaten the GOPs future success. If Republicans keep bleeding young intellectual talent because increasingly socially liberal twenty-somethings simply can’t stand hanging around a bunch of superstitious fag-bashers, then the GOP powers-that-be might start to panic and realize that, once the last cohort of John Birchers die, they’ve got no choice but to move libertarian on social issues. Maybe. I like to imagine.
This reads like it comes from some alternate universe, to me,
President-Elect Obama used the word audacity a lot in his rise to the presidency but how much audacity does it take to be a liberal state senator, representing a liberal district, in a liberal state? True audacity is going against the odds and against the consensus on pundits. That is exactly what Joseph Cao did in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. Cao is a devout Catholic Republican Vietnamese immigrant in an overwhelmingly African American and Democrat congressional district. Although his opponent is undoubtably corrupt politician facing serious indictments, he was still not given a chance at winning. Unfortunately, voters, especially it seems African American voters, often overlook these flaws in the name of some sort of racial solidarity. Nevertheless, Cao won! Let’s pray that he can help rebuild the wonderful city of New Orleans and provide true opportunity for its amazing people. Cao, like Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin, is already getting attention from Republican leadership as the future of the party.
Although Cao probably hasn’t even had a chance to organize his staff, yesterday I heard Al Sharpton say that he would be working to “fix” this situation. Seems for Sharpton and his ilk working with a person who cares about the district and its people is trumped by partisan and racial politics.
Objection 1: It seems that the country is moving to the left. In the recent election, the Democratic party picked up seats in both houses of Congress and won the Presidency.
Objection 2: A disproportionate number of younger voters voted for the Democratic party in the recent election.
Objection 3: The polling on social issues such as same-sex marriage has moved dramatically leftward over the past thirty years.
Objection 4: The recent bailouts will result in expanded government intervention in the economy.
On the contrary,
Everyone seems to have their own idea of what it is that the GOP lacks these days. Kathleen Parker seems to think that the big problem is its lack of a columnist with the prose style, intellectual rigor and cultural sensibilities of a Maureen Dowd — and in her most recent Washington Post column she tries to fill that void. [HT: Cranky Conservative]
As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.
Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.
I’m bathing in holy water as I type.
To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.
Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.
One of the primary tasks of a historian, as I understand it, is to craft a coherent narrative out of the available facts. These narratives are important, as people are often suspicious to the point of irrationality when presented with information that contradicts their preconceptions. For this reason, I think it is worthwhile to push back on a few of the narratives that have been circulating over the past week about the reasons for the Republican defeat. A number of commentators have suggested that the Republican party’s anti-abortion position is hurting the party with social moderates, and that the party going forward needs to distance itself from pro-lifers.
One way to evaluate this advice is to identify the primary causes of the recent Republican loss. Why did 53% of voters choose Barack Obama, when 51% had voted for George Bush four years ago? It seems to me that the three primary reasons were Iraq, the economy, and the McCain campaign, in that order.
So the Republican Party is reeling, trying to find its voice and a clear path forward in the aftermath of a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad defeat. While initially we hear that the party will be led by fresh faces, such as Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal, and that forerunners for 2012 will also include Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, this brief noise has been covered over with the deafening sounds of ligaments snapping from too much finger-pointing. These days, if you want to know who is old-guard in the Republican party, you merely need to see who has his index finger splinted and bandaged.