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What the Election Means for the Republican Brand

Tuesday’s Republican tide wasn’t surprising, but there’s more to be said about it than just the obvious. The obvious is that this class of Senate seats was last up in 2008, a presidential year that was the high-water mark for Democratic turnout going back a generation. There weren’t going to be nearly as many Democrats heading to the polls this year, but what should have alarmed Democrats all the more is that 2008 rather than 2012 remains their high-water mark: Obama is the first president since World War II to be re-elected by a margin smaller than that of his original victory. That can hardly be interpreted as a vote of confidence in the Democratic brand, even if two years ago voters found the Republicans’ “dog food” even more distasteful.

Have the Republicans overcome their 2012 problem? They picked up Senate seats in red states (Arkansas, North Carolina) and historically red purple states (Colorado, Iowa). They held onto the governorships of the two most important large swing states—Florida and Ohio—but lost an incumbent governor in Pennsylvania, which the GOP has dreamed  of retaking in presidential contests for more than a decade. Republican governor Scott Walker handily won his third election in Wisconsin.

These are impressive results that probably do not change the 2016 map. Obama, after all, won Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin in 2012 with the same Republican governors in office, and in two years’ time voters in those states may be as tired of their governors as those nationwide are of the president today. Unfortunately for Democrats, voters are likely to be even more fatigued by their party’s presence in the White House after another two years of Obama, but in any case fatigue can work both ways.

The Republicans’ gains in purple America this year are what could be expected given the contrast of this electorate with 2008 and 2012 presidential turnouts: these states are purple because they are battlegrounds, and if Democrats are not out in force as heavily in midterms as in a presidential year, they stand to lose. (They came close to losing Mark Warner’s Senate seat in Virginia, too, after sweeping the Old Dominion’s statewide elections last year: Virginia is a state on the tipping point, and while it seems to be tipping the Democrats’ way, even a small shudder from voters could tip it back for a time. In this light, Governor McAuliffe won’t necessarily be an asset for Hillary Clinton in 2016.)

Republicans won important victories in several deep blue states’ gubernatorial races: Illinois, Massachusetts, and the surprise of the night, Maryland. These states have all had a penchant for electing Republicans to statewide office while remaining firmly blue in presidential elections, however, and none of these wins heralds the return of moderate “Northeastern” Republicanism to the national stage. Nor, of course, does Scott Brown’s defeat in New Hampshire’s Senate contest.

So is all this just business as usual, an uptick for the opposition party in the dying days of a two-term presidency, with a reversion of many states to their historic—and sometimes quite idiosyncratic—patterns? If that’s the case, then Republicans did very well on Tuesday without changing in the slightest, and facing a less favorable electorate in the future, or with worse luck in selecting candidates, they will be right back to the where they were in 2012: as the less popular of two troubled parties.

There’s a deep problem here. While movement conservatives have always chafed at the assumption that George W. Bush embodied their ideology, he most certainly did: as The Economist‘s John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge noted in The Right Nation, Bush was the first Republican president who had come of age with the conservative movement—Nixon, Reagan, and the elder Bush were products of an earlier environment. Conservatism was an open-ended question in their time, but for the second Bush it was one that had been answered all his life by self-identified conservative institutions: think tanks, magazines, books, and blocs of politicians. Whatever Bush’s personal and opportunistic deviations, his administration’s defining policies—tax cuts, wars, and expansion of executive power in the name of national security—hewed to the movement’s playbook. Movement conservatism’s organs of opinion and policy were happy with Bush overall and eager to silence his critics [1].

But with Bush’s downfall came a need to redefine the Republican Party’s ideology and brand. After the country as a whole repudiated Bush by turning to Democrats in 2006 and 2008, the GOP also repudiated him by turning in 2010 to the Tea Party and a new brand of liberty-minded Republicans exemplified by Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Justin Amash. These “liberty movement” Republicans were few in number but represented a qualitative change in tone and policy emphasis for the GOP, particularly on national security and foreign policy. One could easily imagine Republicans of this sort as the wave of the future, if the GOP were to have any future at all: these were the kind of Republicans who might represent a viable conservatism in an increasingly diverse country where marijuana is legal and same-sex marriage commands majority support. Their anti-authoritarianism and commitment to cultural federalism suggested a way forward for the party. Win or lose in years to come, they were certainly not the same Bush brand that voters had rejected in 2006, 2008, and indeed 2010.

Yet now Bush is ancient history, and the un-Bush of 2008, Barack Obama, has begun to exhibit distinctly shrublike characteristics—as Bruce Bartlett has shown [2], Obama is something between a moderate Republican of the old Rockefeller variety and a direct continuation of George W. Bush. The powerful but ill-defined anti-Bush “brand” that shaped both parties between 2006 and 2012 has given way to a Democratic Party that now defends the Bush-like policies it once defined itself against and a Republican Party that in opposing Obama does so for reasons unrelated to his resemblance to his predecessor. Republicans today can once again employ their familiar decades-old ideological armament against a militarily inept, big-spending, socially liberal Democrat. These weapons have done the trick for decades—until the Bush disaster deprived them of their effectiveness—so who needs new ideas?

The party does have new faces. Joni Ernst is 44, Cory Gardner is 40, Tom Cotton is 37, and many of the GOP’s other new officeholders are also in their 30s and 40s. They are old enough to have been ideologically shaped by movement conservatism as it existed in the ’80s and ’90s—when neoconservatism and the religious right were ascendant—but not young enough to have had Bush’s debacles as a formative childhood experience. They are the Alex P. Keaton [3] generation.

Can these fortyish idols of a party philosophically defined by Fox News—whose median viewer age is 68 [4]—win over millennial voters and the electorate of the future? They will if there’s no one organized enough to compete against them. The well-oiled machinery of movement conservatism remains fully in the hands of people who think the only trouble with George W. Bush was that he did not go far enough. Heritage and AEI have lately tried to present softer images on a number of domestic issues—prison reform, policies to help the working class—but they are as single-mindedly hawkish as ever when it comes to foreign policy and just as dedicated as the Bush administration to expanding executive power. Young Republicans like Tom Cotton [5] represent the worst aspects of the movement’s ideology, and none of the new faces appears to represent the best.

On these great issues of war and peace, legislative government or executive prerogative, Republican realists and libertarians have a much weaker infrastructure to begin with, and for most libertarian institutions and their benefactors gutting regulation remains a higher priority than stopping any war. Democrats, meanwhile, are once more terrified of seeming too dovish, as Obama’s botched policies—interventionist but reluctantly so—teach his party anew that McGovernite and Carter-esque weakness is fatal. (This is true: peace in strength is what America’s voters want.) So it’s back to the Democrats’ answer to Bush: Clinton, and the female of the species may soon prove deadlier than the male.

Still, the public does have some say in all this, and it has shown to have no appetite for the decades-long wars that Tom Cotton’s Republican Party appears to portend. The market for realism and non-authoritian politics remains. But can anyone organize the institutions and policy-making cadres to serve this demand? If not, there is little chance of a lone politician or small group of liberty-movement Republicans redirecting their party, much less their country, away from futile wars and executive consolidation: we will be back to the Bush and Clinton era, with Rand Paul as lonely a dissenter as ever his father was. At least, that is, until the Cottons and Clintons lose another, bigger war and plunge the country into something even worse than the Great Recession. Then we’ll get change without the hope.

30 Comments (Open | Close)

30 Comments To "What the Election Means for the Republican Brand"

#1 Comment By Jack Ross On November 5, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

Very sharp analysis as ever, but I dare say overly pessimistic. I think you greatly overestimate the extent to which foreign policy is at the heart of the Democrats’ travails. Without even commenting on the blithe assumption that Hillary is inevitable, what this election has revealed is that the Democrats have no less of an identity crisis: they’ve been badly burned, and deservedly so, for learning all the wrong lessons from two years ago and thinking that the “war on women” was what the country wanted to hear about – much less from such naked opportunists as Charlie Crist and Greg Orman. I may be wrong, but I’m not quite convinced that the Democrats will really commit Hari-Kari before the altar of identity politics rather than get serious about winning in two years.

#2 Comment By Myron Hudson On November 5, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

“The powerful but ill-defined anti-Bush “brand” that shaped both parties between 2006 and 2012 has given way to a Democratic Party that now defends the Bush-like policies it once defined itself against and a Republican Party that in opposing Obama does so for reasons unrelated to his resemblance to his predecessor.”

Great stuff. The first part is a major part of the Dem’s defeat, I believe. They have been busy supporting things they previously repudiated. And the second part is why the GOP will not build on this victory; they’ve been too busy repudiating things that they previously supported.

And by “they” in both cases I mean the pols, not the people, who are represented by neither party at this point and sick of both.

#3 Comment By indyconservative On November 5, 2014 @ 9:31 pm

It seems that one of the big questions today that your article perhaps unintentionally highlights is – what is a conservative, really? Which of the menu (strong defense versus avoiding foreign entanglements, libertarian social policies versus more secular approaches, the list goes on). This struggle is mirrored in the Republican party, but that is because in our current political tribal system conservatives identify with the Republican party and liberals with the Democratic party (it wasn’t always this way, as has been pointed out many times by TAC writers). At some point I will guess that movement conservatives(and liberals) may need to make a choice: do I stick with the tribe or does the other party offer the choice most in line with what those things which are most important to me?

At the same time, it is my impression that many things move on, with or without politicians. Politicians may experience gridlock, society does not. And in fact gridlock is an ideal atmosphere for well organized pressure groups, because they can move society without a great deal of interference. Think about gay marriage and marijuana, which are moving rather decisively due to the efforts of activists in these areas. Not to mention the successful defense of many special interest privileges and the continued military bandwagon and use as a jobs program. Politicians oppose such developments at their peril, especially if they aren’t accomplishing much anyway. And so the beat will go on, since tribal politics even with a set of new leaders will still lead to the same result, where society and its pressure groups act and politicians react.

#4 Comment By Niels Hoogeveen On November 6, 2014 @ 11:27 am

It seems to me that many people find many of the planks of movement conservatives appealing, as long as they don’t have to face the consequences.

Many people want a strong military, but not the cost of maintaining it. Many people want the American military to project power, but not to engage in conflicts. Many people like law enforcement to be tough on crime, but not necessarily want to pay for an overpopulated prison system. Many people like low taxes, but don’t want to see the infrastructure crumble. Many people like fewer economic restrictions, but get angry when the economy collapses due to financial shenanigans. People want intelligence agencies to track potential terrorists ever step of the way, but don’t want to be wiretapped themselves.

On the other hand many people also want accessible health care, but not being forced to purchase health insurance. Many people want affordable education for their children, but don’t like the public school system. Many people want immediate large scale disaster relief when a hurricane hits one of the coasts, but don’t want that to be of influence on the Federal budget.

There is very little wiggling room for either party to deviate far from both conservative and liberal ideals , and both parties when in power will lose popularity over the consequences.

The party that is best at claiming plausible deniability will win elections.

In 2008, Democrats were better at claiming they had nothing to do with the consequences of the policies of President Bush.

In 2014, Republicans were better at claiming they had nothing to do with the consequences of the policies of President Obama.

With successful presidents, the consequences of their policies are more obfuscated. President Reagan’s charisma made people less aware of the rising deficit and in the Iran-contra scandal, people gladly allowed him plausible deniability. The Monica Lewinski scandal overshadowed all else during the last term of President Clinton for many to even notice the burst of the dotcom bubble.

It requires a bit of luck or an exceptionally charismatic personality to be a successful president, otherwise popularity will sour because of the disconnect between what the public wants and the consequences of those desires.

#5 Comment By RadicalCenter On November 6, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

Niels: outstanding analysis. You’re right that there is a huge disconnect between what the public wants, and the public’s unwillingness to bear the costs and suffer the natural probable consequences of what it wants.

#6 Comment By Clint On November 6, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

Rand Paul visited over thirty states during this election period and supported key GOP Senate candidates,including the new fellow Kentuckian Senate Majority Leader, which establishes return favors, as Paul sets the table for a 2016 Presidential campaign, as Paul has also worked hard for a newer diverse GOP Big Tent.

Paul watched how certain agendists were able to smear up and marginalize his dad and learned how to maneuver past them.

#7 Comment By John V. Walshj On November 6, 2014 @ 4:20 pm

Dan writes: “Democrats, meanwhile, are once more terrified of seeming too dovish….”
This is not only untrue but bad politics as Killary prepares to run for president.
The Killary crowd will try to bring along the peace base by claiming she has to “look tough because she is a woman.” Or she is only talking tough “because she needs to do that to get elected.”
This of course is garbage and we should not get drawn into it. Killary has never seen a war to which she did not make love.
And she should be held to her hawkishness which finds its most intense outlet in her fixation on Russia and China. And that way lies a world war.

#8 Comment By cka2nd On November 6, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

Jack Ross says: “I may be wrong, but I’m not quite convinced that the Democrats will really commit Hari-Kari before the altar of identity politics rather than get serious about winning in two years.”

But what else do the Democrats have besides a gentler version of identity politics? Democratic executives have gone after their public employees with just as much enthusiasm as their Republican counterparts and, aside from the minimum wage, even their liberal and progressive critics have little or nothing to say about wages, benefits, trade or any hint of a balance of power on the job.

A Democrat running on a platform or an actual record of producing jobs and a higher standard of living could easily get by with support for SSM and criticism for the GOP’s war on women. But even Andrew Cuomo – the poster boy for the modern Centrist Democrat – couldn’t rack up much of a majority with a track record of kissing corporate butt, slapping around state workers, gun control, charter schools and same-sex marriage.

#9 Comment By Andy On November 6, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

Niels I think that was a good post. I view it as an inherent weakness in our system that there is nothing to prevent the electorate from voting to have our cake and eat it too. Vote the bums out if they fail to cut taxes, and also vote them out if they fail to increase services. So, as you mentioned, the incentives for politicians are to do nothing and blame the other side.

Also, I think the uncomfortable reality may be that neither conservative nor progressive ideas actually work to increase prosperity. It might be that the midcentury prosperity in the U.S. was largely an organic development due to technology, abundance of natural resources, and the costs of two world wars falling almost entirely on all the nations that feasibly could’ve competed with the U.S. It may have had next to nothing to do with our economic system, our work ethic, or our national character.

I believe Carter correctly recognized that that era was ending: technological development in the physical sciences slowed down, we began to sense the edges of a finite global resource pool, and other nations rebuilt and were able to be viable competitors for the U.S.

Reagan sold the dream that the U.S. really was forged out of economic magic, and people preferred that fantasy to the ugly truth that we are a very ordinary country of very ordinary people with no permanent advantage over anyone.

I think the GOP has been, and will continue to be, the more potent political force in the U.S. precisely because GOP voters are still willing to believe in the fantasy. I believe most Democrats don’t really think we can do very much to improve our situation, and that the best we can do is play defense against the GOP trying to base policy on their delusions. That isn’t very inspiring.

Still, I’ll vote for a disappointing Obama over a deluded and disastrous Bush every single chance I get.

#10 Comment By Fran Macadam On November 6, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

Seldom has history recorded nations who became addicted to militarism and war ever changing course except through massive defeats. The nature of waging war is that it gives government and executives enormous power while weakening the democratic accountability necessary to reverse course when it no longer even marginally benefits the population. One alternative hope might be victory, but it must be considered that a war for one nation to rule all others is never going to succeed – if it did, it would resemble in character the draconian means that had to be used to achieve it.

#11 Comment By Niels Hoogeveen On November 6, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

Andy, thank you for your kind response.

I share with you the idea that much of the economic prosperity we saw mid-20th century has much to do with the factors you mention and less with political ideology.

At the same time that era (Truman – Carter) was marked by relatively much consensus over the economic system. It was the era of big government, big business and big unions.

Irrespective of who was president during that period, the New Deal policies remained in place.

The US was not the only country that implemented such policies, Western Europe did too and showed an increasing prosperity well into the 1970s.

After that era ended, a new consensus was found that relied on trade liberalization, tax reduction, deregulation, privatization and a limited welfare state.

Economic growth continued, but prosperity in the US and other Western countries didn’t increase proportionally anymore.

Although this growing increase in inequality is more pronounced in the US than in other countries, the phenomenon itself can be seen all around the Western world.

The question that remains is how long this consensus will last.

Inequality can only grow as long as the population remains relatively prosperous. Once that condition can no longer be met, I believe the current consensus will be abandoned.

I agree with you on your assessment of Carter and Reagan, although when I recently watched Carter’s “malaise speech” again, after so many years, I understood why it was received badly.

It may be hard to swallow for many Americans to accept the country will not indefinitely remain the largest economy in the world, and may not even be able to remain the largest military power in the much longer term.

At the same time, there is not necessarily need for desperation. Great Britain was once the largest empire in the world, but even though it lost much of its power, it is to this day a prosperous nation. The average Brit these days is better off than the average Brit at the heydays of the empire.

In the end, it may not be all that bad to become a nation like many others, one with its own idiosyncrasies, but with an otherwise non-exceptional status.

#12 Comment By John Gruskos On November 6, 2014 @ 9:53 pm

McCarthy presents Republicans with a choice between neocon George W. Bush and libertarian Justin Amash, but there is a very real third possible future for the party: National conservative Jeff Sessions.

Although you’d never know it from reading McCarthy’s magazine, 71 Republican representatives and 12 Republican senators (including Sessions) defied party leadership and voted against aid for the Free Syria Army, essentially a repudiation of the foolishly interventionist Clinton-Bush-Obama foreign policy. Most of these representatives and senators were not open-border libertarians. In fact, 51 of these representatives and 10 of these senators had better Numbers USA ratings than former congressman Eric Cantor. This group of socially conservative, red state congressmen represent a more significant force than those anti-war Republicans (2 senators and 20 representatives) who, like Amash, have a Numbers USA rating as bad as or worse than Cantor.

All of the non-interventionist, immigration patriot congressmen who were running for re-election were successful, including those in tight races such as Kansas senator Pat Roberts (53.3%) – who did much better than Kansas governor Sam Brownback (50.0%), the Christie and Norquist approved champion of regressive taxation – and New York representative Chris Gibson, who can be proud of having voted against Paul Ryan’s plans to make federal taxation more regressive.

Given the enthusiastic endorsements which he received from Rand Paul and Jeff Sessions, I think it is safe to assume that Virginia representative Dave Bratt will be an addition to this group.

If anyone can lead the Republican party back to sanity on foreign policy it these men, not the darlings of Reason Magazine. Their social conservatism will reassure the party’s base, and their stance on immigration is the one chance the Republicans have to win back the voters who gave Nixon and Reagan their landslides.

The only thing more decisively rejected at the polls than the Christie approved Republican candidates in Oregon was the ballot initiative to give drivers licenses to illegal aliens. Fearing a devastating drubbing at the polls, Alabama Democrats refrained from challenging the re-election of Jeff Sessions – in stark contrast to the tight Senatorial races in nearby states. While Kansas governor Sam Brownback, the living symbol of regressive taxation, barely squeaked by to victory in the reddest of red states, Kansas secretary of state Chris Kobach, the living symbol of immigration restriction, won with a dominating 59.4% of the vote, despite being the #1 target of leftist and plutocratic hostility in America.

As McCarthy correctly notes, if the Republican Party is to take a new direction the new leaders will need the support of sympathetic intellectuals. Am I a fool for hoping that TAC will fill this role?

#13 Comment By ck On November 7, 2014 @ 9:13 am

“As McCarthy correctly notes, if the Republican Party is to take a new direction the new leaders will need the support of sympathetic intellectuals. Am I a fool for hoping that TAC will fill this role?”

Douthat would be key here as well.

#14 Comment By One Of The Patricks On November 7, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

@ John Gruskos:

Sessions voted for the Iraq War. Is there any reason to think his opposition now is more than opportunism?

#15 Comment By Sample Size On November 7, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

“until the Cottons and Clintons lose another, bigger war and plunge the country into something even worse than the Great Recession”

Let’s not give them that chance.

Threat-peddling politicians of both parties are more dangerous to America than the “threats” they peddle. They spread fear and stampede voters – and enrich their “national security” contractor friends, of course. In the process that put America and Americans at risk.

What do we get out of it? More enemies, more real as opposed to imaginary or inflated threats, more tax money down foreign ratholes, loss of basic constitutional rights and liberties.

#16 Comment By Richard H On November 7, 2014 @ 5:08 pm

With all due respect, one of the last things I am concerned about is the GOP’s brand.

I know it has ramifications in the political game, but it’s unfortunate that we can’t just get to addressing root causes to serious problems.

#17 Comment By Victor Tiffany On November 8, 2014 @ 7:53 am

This piece suggests that we still have a democratic order, but we do not. We have a plutocratic oligarchy where the top 0.01% select who they will support in the green ($) “elections” and they, the left and right wings of the corporate party, compete.

We have a corporate state with pols selected by the uber rich, a result of the corporate coup d’etat put into motion with Citizens United v FEC. In that environment, the Republicans will always have an advantage, at least until their policies cause another train wreck in the economy as they certainly will sooner or later.

#18 Comment By Analyst On November 8, 2014 @ 9:38 am

I am curious why even in thoughtful conservative circles–of which TAC is easily the best (only?) example right now–there is little to no discussion of the impact on world affairs of climate change. There is very good evidence that the Syrian civil was is the result of a prolonged drought that looks a lot like the result of climate change and quite similar to droughts now impacting several other parts of the world. It is quite some years ago now that a study done for Andrew Marshall, the Director of Net Assessment at the Pentagon, warned of the national security implications of climate change. All too often it seems that even the sensible political class assumes that the only actions that matter in the world are decisions taken by politicians while in fact there are quite impersonal factors at work that create the circumstances in which quite complex decisions need to be made. So this is a genuine question–when even the Pentagon is concerned about this issue it goes completely unaddressed in most conservative circles. I have no reason to believe that TAC is under the thumb of the fossil fuel interests, nor under the delusion that policy can be guided by promises from the deity made after Noah’s flood (James Inhoff) so what is the reason? Or am I missing something?

#19 Comment By Analyst On November 8, 2014 @ 9:39 am

Syrian civil war, that is

#20 Comment By Mario On November 8, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

Interesting analysis
The only thing I take from these elections, is that Government is too important to be left for the people.
The American people just handed over the rein of the country to an opportunistic like Ted Cruz who will stop at nothing to achieve hos goal.
Watch for him pushing for more confrontation and government shutdowns

#21 Comment By Land of LinkedIn On November 8, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

I also couldn’t care less about the GOP “brand” any more. It stinks, and it certainly won’t be made to stop stinking by the “Alex P. Keaton” generation. The GOP will continue to teeter along; indeed, each party will reap the consequences of voter fury against the other in roughly alternating election cycles.

The Donkey brand stinks too, of course.

(A little ray of sunshine for thoughtful, principled Democrats: [6]
… and please God add Pelosi to that list.)

#22 Comment By One Of The Patricks On November 8, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

@ Analyst:

I can’t answer for the writers of this site, but I’d guess it’s because we haven’t read the evidence ourselves and unlike most of the political left – who also hasn’t read the evidence themselves nor would have the PhD-level competence to understand it – won’t take “believe-the-men-in-white-lab-coats-or-you’re-a-stupid-troglydite” as an argument.

That said, again I can’t speak for this site’s writers, but I certainly support environmental conservation efforts independently of whether the climate is changing, the only difference with the Left is general how the efforts are pursued (if you’re familiar with Wendell Berry, this is more or less my style of conservation).

#23 Comment By John Gruskos On November 10, 2014 @ 9:13 am

@ Patrick,

If Sessions were an opportunist, he’d support open borders. Opportunists are motivated by greed and/or cowardice. If Sessions were a greedy man, he’d support open borders in his mad dash to grab the crumbs contemptuously strewn on the ground by oligarchs like Adelson, Singer, Bloomberg, Gelbaum, Soros, Shaban, Zuckerberg etc. If he were a coward, he’d support open borders in a vain attempt to appease the venomous malice of leftists like Wise, Ignatiev, Sirota, Millbank etc.

Like many other sincere patriots, he was stampeded into supporting the war in 2003 without understanding the real nature of neocons jingoists like Perle, Wolfowitz, Abrams etc.

It is my hope that the conservative Republicans who voted against aid to the Free Syria Army are taking the road pioneered by Walter “freedom-fries” Jones, a congressman who voted for the Iraq war in 2003, yet subsequently abandoned jingoism for a more informed patriotism. We should embrace these errant brothers with open arms as they return to their senses. Our attitude should reflect that of John Duncan, the one Republican congressman who voted against the Iraq war who is still in office. Duncan’s attitude is “there but for the grace of God go I”. Even he was almost cajoled into supporting the war.

The writers at TAC are making a fundamental mistake if they think foreign policy realism can make headway as a stand alone issue, without being imbedded in a larger movement which effectively promotes the well being of the American people. A dovish foreign policy embedded in a Chomskyite leftist movement that degrades the well being of the American people will be rejected by the heartland, and rightly so.

National conservatism has a proven track record of effectively promoting the well being of the peoples under its sway. Europe’s most historically interesting city, Orange, is also its best run city under the administration of national conservative Maurice Bompal. Switzerland is western Europe’s best run country under the leadership of the national conservative Swiss People’s Party, and Hungary is eastern Europe’s best run country under the leadership of the national conservative Fidesz party.

Instead sneering arrogantly or shaking an angry fist at the old stock Americans who form the base of the Republican party, why not offer them a real alternative to cultural Marxist malice on the one hand and neocon manipulation on the other? Explain how a sensible foreign policy is an integral and organic part of a larger plan to preserve this unique and irreplaceable people.

And stick with it, no matter how long it takes, instead of surrendering to despair after a mere three presidential elections as too many paleocons did.

#24 Comment By RP_McMurphy On November 10, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

@ Jack Ross:

“Without even commenting on the blithe assumption that Hillary is inevitable, what this election has revealed is that the Democrats have no less of an identity crisis: they’ve been badly burned, and deservedly so, for learning all the wrong lessons from two years ago and thinking that the “war on women” was what the country wanted to hear about … I may be wrong, but I’m not quite convinced that the Democrats will really commit Hari-Kari before the altar of identity politics rather than get serious about winning in two years.”

Having witnessed one lopsided election after another over the past six years, I’m not so sure the “war on women” won’t reclaim its potency among an electorate inevitably comprising substantially more young, female voters. Which points to a depressing conclusion about the state of American politics: the country has grown so rigidly polarized that candidates, campaigns, and rhetoric matter far less than the demographic makeup of the electorate in a given year. And the GOP is hardly immune to the pull of identity politics: while its supporters seemingly require less public prodding to turn out, older, rural whites are very much the target of an inordinate amount of the Party’s messaging. Whatever normative distinction separates spooking the former with lost Medicare benefits, and stoking black voters with the threat of voter ID, it’s lost on me.

#25 Comment By RP_McMurphy On November 10, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

Apropos polarization, the elections in Minnesota, my homestate, produced a fairly unique outcome. In contrast to states such as Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina, the Democratic coalition in Minnesota includes a substantially higher proportion of the state’s aged and white voters. Consequently, in the midst of a national Republican wave, the DFL (Democratic Party of MN) won every disputed race, save the contest for the legislature’s lower chamber. When 2016 rolls around, it’ll have been a decade since the state GOP last prevailed in a statewide election (1-18).

Now, I acknowledge that in its partisan proclivities, Minnesota is hardly center mass. Likewise, the DFL is among the most effective party organizations in the country, whereas its Republican counterpart falls well short of that standard. And yet, the fact remains that Minnesota is a +7 Democratic state, which puts it in the same neighborhood as Wisconsin — not California. Moreover, Minnesotans are known for a pretty robust independent streak, and as recently as a decade ago, the state GOP had achieved near-parity. But that’s clearly no longer the case: according to Tuesday’s exit polls, the Democratic Party’s favorability rating is 50/47, whereas the GOP sits at a dismal 38/59. So my point in this tedious digression into local politics is that Minnesota’s electorate appears to have become uncharacteristically partisan, and our election results seem to reflect what would’ve transpired (relative to each state’s partisan lean) had the Democratic Party not taken the midterms off. In other words, the stalemate remains inexorable, and the only thing that awaits us in 2016 is another reversal that resolves nothing.

Once more unto the breach.

#26 Comment By tbraton On November 10, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

” The Monica Lewinski scandal overshadowed all else during the last term of President Clinton for many to even notice the burst of the dotcom bubble.”

Clinton was impeached by the House in December 1998 and acquitted by the Senate in February 1999. That may explain why the Lewinsky scandal did not affect the perception of the bursting of the dot.com bubble, which started in March 2000. Anyone who failed to notice the bursting of the stock market bubble starting in 2000 must not have owned any stocks, since the bursting of the bubble affected stocks all across the board, not just dot.com stocks.

#27 Comment By One Of The Patricks On November 11, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

@ John Gruskos:

Thanks. I think if Sessions can articulate why he was mistaken, as Walter Jones did, it would be enough.

#28 Comment By XSA On November 19, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

We would be a lot safer if the Government would take its money out of science and put it into astrology and the reading of palms. Only in superstition is there hope. If you want to become a friend of civilization, then become an enemy of the truth and a fanatic for harmless balderdash.
— Kurt Vonnegut
The Democrat party all depends on what your sign is. Maybe they can come up with some sort of star based system.

#29 Comment By Johan On November 29, 2014 @ 9:56 am

What could change the 2016 map … how about the events of the last week, which reminded us that the Democratic Party (if not official policy, then the de-facto attitude of much of its base and intelligentsia) is the party of qualified approval of, and apologetics for, urban rioting and looting?

#30 Comment By tzx4 On April 10, 2015 @ 7:21 pm

“It was the era of big government, big business and big unions.”
That quote gelled the following thought in my mind.

It seems if the Conservative Movement ultimately gets its way, we will be left with only big business, and that would embody elements of fascism, plutocracy,and oligarchy.
The USA is well on its way over recent decades.