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Signs Of GOP Hope

A reader left an angry comment yesterday on my post about Jindal’s bad speech [1], saying that he was going to let his TAC subscription expire because Daniel Larison and I only ever badmouth Republicans, and never have anything bad to say about the Democrats. I can’t speak for Daniel, but I find this a curious complaint.

Personally, I’m not all that interested in what the Democrats do; because my conservatism is primarily social and cultural, the Democrats of 2013 have no place for someone like me. On the kinds of issues that matter most to me, it’s a given that the Democrats will be on the wrong side. I used to be a registered Republican (I’m an independent now), and I would very much like to be able to vote Republican again with confidence, as I’ve done almost my entire life. I am therefore very much interested in seeing the Republican Party reform itself, and become a credible conservative voice, however flawed and imperfect from a traditionalist point of view.

Second, does the conservative press really lack for conservative critics of the Democratic Party, and of liberalism? I think not. I’m more concerned about picking the beams out of our own conservative eyes than I am in picking the motes out of their liberal ones. Most of us conservatives know perfectly well what’s wrong with the way liberals see the world. What we don’t get as well as we should is what’s wrong with our vision. Unless I’m mistaken, about 90 percent of Jindal’s analysis posed the GOP’s problems as a marketing issue. I disagree, and deeply believe that the Republican Party, and organized conservatism, is going to keep losing elections as long as its leaders and rank-and-file tell themselves that.

All of which is one long throat-clearing introduction to a couple of signs I’ve seen recently of a possible Republican revival. The New Republic reports [2] on some encouraging words spoken at a recent National Review confab. Among them:

Living without health insurance is a bummer, and saying you’re going to repeal Obamacare doesn’t do much for voters in that situation. It was Douthat who broke this news. “A lot of Americans don’t have health care. To those people, the Republican message on health care has nothing to say. For people without health insurance, Mitt Romney had nothing to say.”

And:

Governing might involve, you know, government regulation. It was Commentary’s John Podhoretz who broke the news that when a party spends several decades declaring all government regulation off limits, it makes it sort of hard for elected representatives to pass regulations and laws to their liking. It’s one thing to decry Dodd-Frank or the Affordable Care Act, but if you aren’t able to propose rules and regs to replace them, you’re not going to be taken seriously. “The problem with three decades of movement thinking is that it ends up creating dead ends,” he said.

True. And Pete Wehner [3], writing in Commentary, makes a similar point:

Every political movement, including conservatism, faces the danger of elevating certain policies into catechisms and failing to take into account new circumstances. When that occurs, we lose the capacity to correct ourselves. Conservatism, at least as I understand it, ought to be characterized by openness to evidence and a search for truth, not attachment to a rigid orthodoxy. “If there is any political viewpoint in this world which is free from slavish adherence to abstraction,” Ronald Reagan said in 1977, “it is American conservatism.”

What I’m talking about, then, is a conservative temperament, which affects everything from tone to intellectual inquiry to compromise. It champions principles in reasonably flexible ways that include a straightforward evaluation of facts.

To put things in a slightly different way: Conservatives need to reacquaint themselves with the true spirit of conservatism, which is reform-minded, empirical, anti-utopian, and somewhat modest in its expectations. It doesn’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. It doesn’t treat political opponents as enemies. And it isn’t in a state of constant agitation. Winsomeness goes a long way in politics.

There’s gobs more good sense and strong medicine in those last five sentences from Pete Wehner than in the entire speech by Gov. Jindal. If there were anybody in senior leadership in the GOP — I mean, at the gubernatorial or Congressional level — who gave a speech elucidating and elaborating in a thoughtful, policy-oriented way on these simple propositions by Wehner, I would die of shock on the spot, then arise and dance on me own grave singin’ hallelujah.  [4]

In his column today, David Brooks [5] says that we’ve heard more talk about GOP change than actual change. On the Jindal speech:

Jindal spanked his party for its stale clichés but then repeated the same Republican themes that have earned his party its 33 percent approval ratings: Government bad. Entrepreneurs good.

In this reinvention process, Republicans seem to have spent no time talking to people who didn’t already vote for them.

Hell, I voted for Dubya twice, but did not vote in either of the last two presidential elections, because I couldn’t go with Obama, for obvious reasons, but I refused to pull the lever for a Republican Party that cannot face squarely its failures in the Iraq War debacle and the economic crash, but rather relies on the same rhetoric that got us into those messes. They simply aren’t trustworthy. They are ideologues, not conservatives. This is the same party whose president, despite 9/11, delivered FEMA to the hands of that party hack Michael Brown. It’s what happens when you value loyalty to ideology over competence. Unfortunately, GOP leaders are in a difficult position, because the base will punish them as sellouts and RINOs if they dare to question the narrative. Here’s Brooks:

It’s probably futile to try to change current Republicans. It’s smarter to build a new wing of the Republican Party, one that can compete in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic states, in the upper Midwest and along the West Coast. It’s smarter to build a new division that is different the way the Westin is different than the Sheraton.

The second G.O.P. wouldn’t be based on the Encroachment Story. It would be based on the idea that America is being hit simultaneously by two crises, which you might call the Mancur Olson crisis and the Charles Murray crisis.

Olson argued that nations decline because their aging institutions get bloated and sclerotic and retard national dynamism. Murray argues that America is coming apart, dividing into two nations — one with high education levels, stable families and good opportunities and the other with low education levels, unstable families and bad opportunities.

The second G.O.P. would tackle both problems at once. It would be filled with people who recoiled at President Obama’s second Inaugural Address because of its excessive faith in centralized power, but who don’t share the absolute antigovernment story of the current G.O.P.

That would be me, generally. I’m sure that party would be more socially libertarian than I am, but at least it would operate like a political party, not a fundamentalist church. By that, I don’t mean what Andrew Sullivan means with all that “Christianist” nonsense, but rather that the alt-GOP would treat politics not as a struggle between Good and Evil, the Pure and the Impure, and be eager to demonize and heretic-hunt in its destructive quest to immanentize the conservative eschaton. It’s just politics; it’s not religion. That’s what I mean.

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80 Comments To "Signs Of GOP Hope"

#1 Comment By Rod Dreher On January 29, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

I think you make an interesting point here, Ivan. People complain that I don’t often say what I am for, but I think it’s less a matter of not saying what I’m for than not saying who I’m for — because there really aren’t any political figures I can get behind. I’m not looking for the perfect candidate, who doesn’t exist and never will, but for someone who stands for my kind of conservatism: socially and culturally right-of-center, a Burkean pragmatic by temperament, equally skeptical of big business as big government, favorably disposed towards localism, religious liberty, and environmental conservation, and opposed, in a Ron Paulish way, to aggressive US foreign policy.

#2 Comment By aegis On January 29, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

There is a common theme in posts of the like cited in Rod’s post above: a conflation of conservatism with the positions espoused by the Republican party at any given moment in time.

Notice how the posts threatening to cancel subscriptions, etc. never seem to grapple with the substance of the post that they are complaining about (no, complaining that TAC only attack’s Republicans is not grappling with the substance of the post that you are complaining about). The upshot of almost every such post is that the person expressing a criticism of the Republican party–even if that person is critiquing the party from the right is betraying “conservatism” because they are failing to toe the line.

Now correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that this is precisely the line of thinking that this publications was founded to combat?

#3 Comment By Jim Atherton On January 29, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

Aegis none of those sites spend even ten percent of their time attacking the left. Additionally they never attack the Democrats for being too liberal. Hence the no enemies to the left remark. Honestly it takes a lot of chutzpah to even pretend those sites are like TAC which retouinely attacked the GOP for being too conservative. Kind of proves my point that the left knows nothing like TAC.

#4 Comment By Linda On January 29, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

Jeff said to Rod: “I find the lack of positive recommendations increasingly frustrating.”

Not providing solutions has also been the Republican Party’s problem. No mention of the extremely serious issue of the ever growing income/wealth gap. [6]

Obama has proposed previous Republican positions – Republicans have hated every one of their former ideas/sponsored bills, including health care bills.

Obamacare came from the 1990 Republican Party/Heritage Foundation/Romneycare, including the individual mandate for coverage. There are Newt Gingrich videos from the 1990 supporting the mandate. Of course Republicans hate it, even though the CBO says it will reduce the deficit.

An individual mandate to purchase healthcare was initially proposed by the politically conservative Heritage Foundation in 1989 as an alternative to single-payer health care. From its inception, the idea of an individual mandate was championed by Republican politicians as a free-market approach to health-care reform

“In 2007, both Newt Gingrich and John McCain wanted a cap-and-trade program in order to reduce carbon emissions. Today, neither they nor any other leading Republicans support cap-and-trade. In 2008, the Bush Administration proposed, pushed, and signed the Economic Stimulus Act, a deficit-financed tax cut designed to boost the flagging economy. Today, few Republicans admit that a deficit-financed stimulus can work. Indeed, with the exception of raising taxes on the rich, virtually every major policy currently associated with the Obama Administration was, within the past decade, a Republican idea in good standing.”

[7]

Trash Obama and instill fear, fear, fear has been Republicans way.

People are becoming more knowledgeable about issues. The just proposed immigration policy that is contingent of the undefined “secure the borders” before anything else happens is not going to fool people. What does secure mean – a fence, more security guards (Obama increased), etc. Republicans will ignore the fact that Obama has already deported almost as many illegal immigrants as Bush during eight years. In addition, Obama has focused on deporting criminals.

Fox News rating have been going down, Rachel Maddow ratings have been going up.

#5 Comment By Travis On January 29, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

The GOP need not change to win elections. These things are cyclical.

In the 24 years that have passed since Dukakis drove his tank back to Massachusetts, the Republican presidential candidate has won the popular vote exactly once.

In that time, a significant number of Democratic priorities have become or are becoming reality: post-Cold War military retrenchment, free trade pacts, comprehensive health care reform, background checks for gun purchases, a quantum leap forward in LGBT rights, a semblance of a policy on climate change, a major economic stimulus package, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, SCHIP, etc.

What accomplishments can the GOP point to in that time? Lower income taxes, a huge post-9/11 military buildup, welfare reform, the Patriot Act and Medicare Part D. Am I missing anything? At least, anything they want to take credit for? (GOP still pretends GWB never existed and didn’t go to war in Iraq!)

The problem with the GOP agenda right now is that it basically amounts to a whole bunch of “No.” No gay marriage, no health care reform, no hurricane relief, no women in combat, no taxes, no climate action. There is absolutely nothing positive about the Republican Party or its platform – it assumes that everyone thinks government is evil and should be drowned in a bathtub, and that if only we didn’t have any government, everything would be great. You can read it in the rhetoric: “Just get out of the way of the ‘job creators’ already.” It is the party of governmental nihilism.

In the real world outside the Tea Party bubble, people realize that we have systems of government for a reason, that government has a role to play (neither dominant nor absent) as a force for good in our society, that there are things we want government to do.

#6 Comment By Linda On January 29, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

Does your religious liberty concern mean that we should reverse criminal laws against polygamy and other laws quoted by Scalia for upholding laws against polygamy? Or is it just the birth control mandate for non-church businesses? You write frequently against the poor and welfare, but the most harm will be babies born into poor families, including those living below the poverty level. Does the Republican Party/Religious Liberty supporters care about the babies after they are born?

Written by Republican Scalia in Employment Division v Smith 1990, in part (case references removed to significantly shorten):

“If the “compelling interest” test is to be applied at all, then, it must be applied across the board, to all actions thought to be religiously commanded. … Any society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy, but that danger increases in direct proportion to the society’s diversity of religious beliefs, and its determination to coerce or suppress none of them. Precisely because “we are a cosmopolitan nation made up of people of almost every conceivable religious preference,” Braunfeld v. Brown, and precisely because we value and protect that religious divergence, we cannot afford the luxury of deeming presumptively invalid, as applied to the religious objector, every regulation of conduct that does not protect an interest of the highest order. The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind — ranging from compulsory military service, payment of taxes, health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, traffic laws, minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races.

The First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty does not require this.”

“We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. “Laws,” we said,

” Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.”

[8]

The birth control mandate already exists in several states. Some signed into law by Republican Governors, such as Huckabee and Romney. Will not change if Obamacare is overturned.

#7 Comment By aegis On January 30, 2013 @ 12:34 am

“Aegis none of those sites spend even ten percent of their time attacking the left. Additionally they never attack the Democrats for being too liberal. Hence the no enemies to the left remark. Honestly it takes a lot of chutzpah to even pretend those sites are like TAC which retouinely attacked the GOP for being too conservative. Kind of proves my point that the left knows nothing like TAC.”

As an initial matter, the Martine Peretz-era TNR most definitely did criticize Dems for not being rightist-enough with regard to Israel.

But more to the point, Jim, I think you misunderstand the point I was trying to make. The publications I named typically attack Democrats from the left. Similarly, while TAC writers often attack Republicans, they typically do so from the right. That is not to say that TAC writers are necessarily getting on the right flank of whatever Republican is being criticized in any given piece, of course; only that the critiques being leveled are almost always being leveled from a distinctly right-of-center perspective.

Larison, for instance, routinely criticizes Republicans on foreign policy. But you will note that he doesn’t do so from a liberal peacenik or responsibility-to-protect angle (indeed, the latter come in for as much abuse on his blog as do Republican hawks). Instead, he critiques from the perspective of realism–an approach well-ensconced in the conservative tradition.

Posts like yours are exactly what I mean when I refer to conflating conservatism with the policy positions being espoused at any given time by the Republican party. Your position appears to be that anybody who criticizes Republicans–regardless of the perspective that the critique comes from–is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. That would seem to miss the whole point of this publication, as I understand it.

#8 Comment By Sean Scallon On January 30, 2013 @ 1:11 am

A reader left an angry comment yesterday on my post about Jindal’s bad speech, saying that he was going to let his TAC subscription expire because Daniel Larison and I only ever badmouth Republicans, and never have anything bad to say about the Democrats. I can’t speak for Daniel, but I find this a curious complaint.”

You just need to be more of a “team” player Rod. Larison too. That’s all some people are looking for.

“But many of their immediate problems flow from globalization, the turmoil of technological change and social decay, and they’re looking for a bit of help. Moreover, given all the antigovernment rhetoric, they will never trust these Republicans to reform cherished programs like Social Security and Medicare. You can’t be for entitlement reform and today’s G.O.P., because politically the two will never go together.”

And that in a nutshell is the GOP’s problem. Because you can’t be a libertarians here, a conservative there and liberal over in the next county when comes to things like the TVA or keeping Ft. Polk open or something like that. When your rhetoric doesn’t match your voting record, people tend to take notice at some point. Jindal would certainly be against a income tax increase in Louisiana but why does he have no problem raising the taxes of those who can least afford it (sales taxes)? Once again contradictions between rhetoric and governance.

Brooks may be right the GOP is “unreformable” but that’s not because of region. Wisconsinite Scott Walker could easily get elected in South Carolina. There is no “moderate” wing of the party to begin the reform process the way its done in Democratic Party. Republicans are split between Cromwellian Puritans and Charleton High-Church Anglicans, one wing operating only on zeal and the other pale imitation. One wing that wants only revolution (“so that the flame of pure intention is never quenched”) and the other which just wants to govern in some fashion. It’s an ever-shifting process and members often switch sides.

To reform the GOP has to require a reformation of conservatism itself because the two have become inseparable as the party’s governing ideology. Once upon a time there were liberal Republican. You think they would be welcomed in the party now? The problem is Republicans (conservatives) would rather work on branding and “Messaging” rather than thinking because branding is easier, quicker to do than thinking deep thoughts about what you really believe in and making it fit contemporary reality. There’s always another election to worry about. Republicans should have been doing this in 2007 and 2009. Here we are in 2013 and they’re in the same predicament. How long or what kind of defeat does one party need just to begin to ponder?

#9 Comment By aegis On January 30, 2013 @ 1:33 am

As an addendum to my post above, I don’t believe in a strict political spectrum; certain schools of thought are “of the right” and certain schools of thought are “of the left.” What I am objecting to is an approach that says that conservative non-interventionism, for instance, is necessarily “to the left” of conservative hawk-ism.

Different people can reach similar policy recommendations from different directions. That means that a conservative non-interventionist can criticize a conservative hawk while still preserving his or her bona fides.

#10 Comment By Public Defender On January 30, 2013 @ 4:38 am

Douthat is right that Romney and the Republicans went off the deep end on health insurance. They were complaining that people *had to* buy health insurance when so many are so desperate to get it. It was almost as tone deaf as “let them eat cake.”

A friend of my wife had never had health insurance. She got a job at a company that offered it. Then she worked long enough to become eligible. She cried when she got her health insurance card. Tell her that it’s “tyranny” to “require” her to get health insurance. See how that goes over. Oh. That’s right. We did get to see how that goes over.

I’m not saying that Obamacare is perfect, but calling it “tyranny” and not offering any alternatives was an insane political strategy.

#11 Comment By stef On January 30, 2013 @ 8:59 am

@Public Defender: I bet your wife’s friend cried when she got her health insurance card.

Let me tell you my story. I was DXed with ovarian cancer three years ago. On December 24 I was lying in a hospital bed a few days after having radical surgery. A friend called me to tell me that the ACA had passed the Senate. I cried like a baby into the phone.

Women with my kind of cancer, with no health insurance, would be dead.

By the time Sandra Fluke got called a “slut” on national radio for suggesting that maybe employers should have to pay the co-pays for medication that is often medically necessary (like Fluke’s mention of a friend who took the Pill for cystic ovaries – a regimen which can also prevent my kind of cancer), I wasn’t crying anymore. I knew exactly where my chances of survival came from, and had become firmly convinced that health care is a human right, and that the for-profit insurance model simply doesn’t work for people as a whole. But the GOP has fought it at every turn, starting with Medicare in the early 1960s.

Some in the GOP know that they have to recruit the <30 crowd. Younger voters know very clearly what can happen when you turn 26 and go off your parents' insurance, or the insured parent loses a job and the whole family winds up uninsured.

Ironically, you can be a conservative and still work for national health care – look at the Canadian conservatives.

Side note: As far as other pet GOP issues, being opposed to civil rights for gays (including marriage), and being seen as the "anti-choice party" are doing nothing for recruiting possible younger voters either.

#12 Comment By Floridan On January 30, 2013 @ 9:24 am

Sean S. : There is no “moderate” wing of the party to begin the reform process . . .

Enter into evidence Marco Rubio’s pilgramage to Rush Limbaugh to convince the radio host and his audience that he was not straying off the reservation on immigration reform.

#13 Comment By VikingLS On January 30, 2013 @ 9:44 am

Mathew 11
16“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

#14 Comment By Sean Scallon On January 30, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

Bramwell pointed out Conservative Inc.’s top-down ideology and we good demonstration of it Rubio/immigration. Six years ago they thundered against amnesty and McCain’s immigration reform. Now it comes down from the mountain top from the priests of the AM dial, the talk-radio hosts, that immigration reform is something worth “doing” and they’re certainly not trying to put a halt to Rubio’s career for advocating for it. Let’s all celebrate how they’ve evolved.

#15 Comment By Dennis Sanders On January 30, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

In the post you said the following:

Hell, I voted for Dubya twice, but did not vote in either of the last two presidential elections, because I couldn’t go with Obama, for obvious reasons, but I refused to pull the lever for a Republican Party that cannot face squarely its failures in the Iraq War debacle and the economic crash, but rather relies on the same rhetoric that got us into those messes. They simply aren’t trustworthy. They are ideologues, not conservatives. This is the same party whose president, despite 9/11, delivered FEMA to the hands of that party hack Michael Brown. It’s what happens when you value loyalty to ideology over competence. Unfortunately, GOP leaders are in a difficult position, because the base will punish them as sellouts and RINOs if they dare to question the narrative.

For the most part, I agree with you. But there’s always something about this all that bothers me: none of the folks who write and complain about the current state of the GOP bother to do anything about it.

I wrote about this last year. Please read the whole text ( [9]) but I want to lift up one section:

I’ve written about this before. I’m not saying things are great in the GOP. There are a lot of problems. But I am reminded of something I said a few years ago to a colleague as she complained about the lack of a children’s ministry at the church I am serving at. I basically told her in my usual subtle way, “What Are You Going to Do About It?”

“What Are You Going to Do About It?” Yes, I know you have aren’t crazy about the GOP. Good for you for sharing it. But, so what? Do you really think the Eric Ericksons of the conservative blogosphere give a rip what you think? Do you really think just bitching about how wrong the party and the conservative movement is will make things change?

The thing that bothers me is not that these folks are complaining: it’s that they aren’t really offering ideas on what should happen next, let alone how to refashion American conservatism.

I think those of us who want the party to change are waiting for some great savior to ride in on his steed and save the day. And once he gets rid of all the baddies, well, then we can join the party.

But that’ s not how politics works. It works because people spend hours answering phones, knocking on doors and the like. The Tea Party understands this, but alas conservative dissidents don’t.

A “second GOP” is possible, but it is only going to come about because of the hard work of organizing. If a small band of people start doing this, it will happen. Otherwise keep complaining and watch nothing happen.

#16 Comment By Jim Atherton On January 30, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

They thundered so loud that John McCain was nominated by the republicans to run for president two years later. Bob Casey Sr. wasn’t allowed to even speak at democratic conventions. That voice from the pro-abortion- legal, frequent, and profitable- mountain top seems to hold quite a bit of sway over your tribe. Your tribe sure loves its totems. Guess the bridge to the 21st century never got built into your tribal lands.

#17 Comment By Louis On January 30, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

As long as the Leviathan has two heads on it I think we will muddle along, but if one party or the other gets the advantage I think the country will split apart. The parties seem too entrenthched in their own silliness to compromise on anything anymore. They cannot even recall how different their respective positions were thirty years ago. For all the blather on the right about the Founding Fathers the GOP have Alzheimer’s when it comes to the history of their own party.

#18 Comment By Shaun Peterson On January 30, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

As a disillusioned liberal who just recently discovered your magazine, I have to say I find it unbelievably refreshing. Keep it up. The hacks will always be hacks. I’ll happily replace your disgruntled subscriber.

#19 Comment By Jack On January 30, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

I’m also a former Republican turned independent…turned off long ago by the “religious right.” As such, I could go on at length about the “social” side of conservatism, but there is something about the fiscal side that has been sticking in my craw for some time now.

The GOP has been laser-focused on the “job creators” these last few years. Small businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and intrepid capitalists have been exalted by the Republican Party. This is understandable on some level. We are after all a society built on capitalism.

Yet most Americans are not “job creators.” Most people have jobs. They do jobs. They work for businesses small and large, and it is their work which provides us the products and services which we enjoy.

Today’s GOP offers them almost nothing. If you own a small business, the Republican party wants to throw all sorts of incentives your way. But if you’re the employee of that small business? Not so much.

I’m not a “job creator” myself. I don’t own a much ballyhooed “small business.” I work for a very large and famous corporation. They’ve treated me very well, and I’m as successful as I could ever hope to be in my position.

Yet the Republican politicians I’ve met? They don’t want to talk to me. I’m merely an employee, not an employer. They want to talk to my boss. This, as I see it, is a problem for the GOP. Much has been said since the election about demographics and arithmetic. Well there are a lot more employees out there than employers.

#20 Comment By Sean Scallon On January 30, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

“For the most part, I agree with you. But there’s always something about this all that bothers me: none of the folks who write and complain about the current state of the GOP bother to do anything about it. “

Well, I personally tried to do something about it. I worked on Ron Paul’s campaigns in 2007-08 and 2011-12. I thought Paul would change the party if nominated and solve its problems. But the party didn’t want Ron Paul. Fine then. Their loss.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 31, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

Sean, I thought Barack Obama would change the Democratic Party. I voted for him again, but because he didn’t change the fundamentals of the party, I am open to voting Republican in 2016. But to find a sensible, insightful, devoted public servant in the Republican Party? There are a few, but what are their chances of getting the nomination?

#22 Comment By Matt On January 31, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

stef:
“health care is a human right, and that the for-profit insurance model simply doesn’t work for people as a whole. But the GOP has fought it at every turn, starting with Medicare in the early 1960s.”

Incorrect. Health care is a good, not a right. You do not have the right to someone else’s service. You do not have the right to enlist the government to steal money from someone in order to give it to you or anyone else. And yes, the for profit model does work if people are allowed to own their own insurance and the government stays out of it. This way they will spend there own money for medical services and prices will come down. Don’t believe me? Look at the price of LASIK. The government and the insurance companies stay out of LASIK and people spend their own money. The result has been decreased prices and increased service. Pretty much the opposite of what has happened in every other sector of health care. Putting the government in charge of birth control will just cause it to become more expensive and lead to the discrimination of women when it comes to getting hired. If you make it more expensive for a woman to get hired, companies will be less likely to hire her.

“Younger voters know very clearly what can happen when you turn 26 and go off your parents’ insurance, or the insured parent loses a job and the whole family winds up uninsured.”

So the government should make that age even older? How old? 30? 35? 46?

“As far as other pet GOP issues, being opposed to civil rights for gays (including marriage), and being seen as the anti-choice party.”

Interesting since the only choice Democrats care about is abortion. How about the choice to opt out of Social Security? Nope, not in favor of that choice. What about the choice to send your child to the school you want to send them to? Nope, not that one either. What about the choice to own a firearm and defend yourself. No, apparently they don’t favor that choice as well. Apparently as soon as you born your choices go out the window in favor of government dictated choice.

#23 Comment By Matt On January 31, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

“A lot of Americans don’t have health care. To those people, the Republican message on health care has nothing to say.”

That’s because the free market (which should be the Republican message, but very often isn’t) doesn’t involve a comprehensive plan. It involves less government, not more. This, of course, does not appeal to many Americans without health insurance plan because it doesn’t involve a comprehensive plan for the government to “do something!” The free market does not work well for soundbites. Proactive leftist government is taylor-made to appeal to people who feel that the government need to act to alleviate all the ills of society.

“when a party spends several decades declaring all government regulation off limits, it makes it sort of hard for elected representatives to pass regulations and laws to their liking”

Only George W. Bush spent more on regulation than any president in history at the time. Republicans may have declared these things “off limits,” but their actions suggest otherwise.

#24 Comment By Matt On January 31, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

Public Defender
“I’m not saying that Obamacare is perfect, but calling it “tyranny” and not offering any alternatives was an insane political strategy.”

Ok, but the alternative needed to be the free market. They needed to explain how letting people buy insurance across state lines, having tort reform and rewriting the tax code so that people could own there own health insurance would bring down costs immediately.

#25 Comment By Matt On January 31, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

Travis
“There is absolutely nothing positive about the Republican Party or its platform – it assumes that everyone thinks government is evil and should be drowned in a bathtub, and that if only we didn’t have any government, everything would be great.”

This is because there are no positive rights. Rights are what the government can’t do to you, not what it has to provide for you. Since the government has nothing of its own, it can only issue “positive rights” by taking from some (by force) and giving to others. These of course are not rights at all.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 31, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

That’s because the free market (which should be the Republican message, but very often isn’t) doesn’t involve a comprehensive plan. It involves less government, not more. This, of course, does not appeal to many Americans without health insurance plan because it doesn’t involve a comprehensive plan for the government to “do something!” The free market does not work well for soundbites. Proactive leftist government is taylor-made to appeal to people who feel that the government need to act to alleviate all the ills of society.

The key phrase is “insurance.” IF the “free market” left people FREE to choose a variety of options, including seeing a friendly local GP for most routine stuff, at reasonable rates set by the GP based on the local market, and his/her long-standing relations with patients, you might be right. If a large number of insurance providers competed to offer low-cost basic catastrophic care policies, pre-paid care plans for young couples expecting babies, etc., then you might be right.

Once the insurance industry and the hospital aggregation plutocracy finished defeating the Clinton health care plan, they quickly imposed upon us all, from the private sector, EXACTLY what Harry and Louise warned us would be the result of government run health care: big, remote, bureaucracies are making decisions about who will be covered, what will be covered, whether your particular situation qualifies, and its hard to get any medical care provider to deal with you without insurance, or, if they do, you are charged an exorbitant price while even with a huge deductible, those covered by insurance pay much lower negotiated prices.

So, once again, the plutocracy swamps the “free market,” and We The People need our government to restrain them. There are better ways to do it. But government regulation generally follows in the train of some product offered by the private sector becoming so essential to life that nobody can live without it. Ever try to open a bank account without a telephone? No law says you have to have a telephone. But ever try to open a bank account without one? I had the experience of several banks telling me I couldn’t open a savings account without producing a major credit card! (In addition to photo I.D.)

For God’s sake, a college student can’t go on a work trip to some underserved area of the country for a week, without producing written proof of insurance — and given the way insurance has a hammerlock on delivering health care, who can blame the organizers of such trips for covering their rear that way?

#27 Comment By stef On January 31, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

@Matt: If health care is not a right, then there is no reason for governments to concern themselves in any way with public health. After all, we’re all just random individuals bumping into each other. Funny, the germs don’t see it that way.

At least as far as epidemics go, we have historically (since the late 18th century at least) defined public health to be a province of government. And yes, the government does have the right to “steal” from you, who is benefiting from living in the particular civilization, to provide for public health measures.

But we have extended that view, justifiably in my opinion, to include individual health as well as public health – because the two are linked. This is why we pay for prenatal care – although in highly insufficient and inadequate ways, and neonatal intensive care.

I assume you are aware that many children in the NICU are paid for by insurance. Their care is paid for by Medicaid – again, “stolen” from taxpayers? Yes, because we don’t live in Victor Hugo’s Paris of “Les Miserables.” The poor are not left to die in the street – usually. I suppose in the libertarian paradise (which somehow I suspect would look a lot like Les Mis), the improvident, the unlucky, the uninsurable would just … die.

Insurance does not work as a model, because insurance cannot be used to insure a certainty. People who live long enough generally WILL get sick, and usually it will be with something nasty, chronic, and expensive. Even if the sick are uninsurable – even if the cost of caring for them is high – the sick still need care.

#28 Comment By Matt On February 1, 2013 @ 10:49 am

“@Matt: If health care is not a right, then there is no reason for governments to concern themselves in any way with public health. After all, we’re all just random individuals bumping into each other. Funny, the germs don’t see it that way.”

Neither does hunger. Yet poor people can afford their own food. In fact, you are more likely to be overweight in America if you are poor. The poor have many things that the government didn’t provide to them. Many have color TVs, cell phones (though there is a government cell phone program) and other things that the government didn’t provide to them.

“And yes, the government does have the right to “steal” from you, who is benefiting from living in the particular civilization, to provide for public health measures.”

Interesting that you define “public health” as “government provided health.” As if without the government we would all be sick constantly and living in mass poverty. This of course isn’t true, but the government likes it when people think it is.

” The poor are not left to die in the street – usually. I suppose in the libertarian paradise (which somehow I suspect would look a lot like Les Mis), the improvident, the unlucky, the uninsurable would just … die.”

This is once again the liberal myth that government is our savior and we would be lost without it. People were not stepping over dead bodies on their way to work in the morning in the days before Medicare and Medicaid. Again, this is the flawed liberal mindset that if the government isn’t providing something, then it doesn’t get provided.

“People who live long enough generally WILL get sick, and usually it will be with something nasty, chronic, and expensive. Even if the sick are uninsurable – even if the cost of caring for them is high – the sick still need care.”

This is why people need to own there own insurance and the government needs to stay out of it. Older people usually have more money than their younger counterparts and can better afford this care and pay for higher risk insurance. Yet the left insists that the young working class must pay for the medical care of those who have had their whole lives to save. Although, perhaps they would have saved more if the government didn’t spend their entire working lives taking it.

#29 Comment By Matt On February 1, 2013 @ 11:10 am

Curious that Rod Dreher sites the article by David Brooks as a “sign of GOP hope” considering that Tom Woods (another author featured on this site) took Brooks to task today citing how ridiculous his article was.

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Seriously, The American Conservative needs to get its act together. I’m not claiming that every contributor needs to think the exact same way about every issue. But come on man! Brooks is an establishment drone who spouts status quo talking points that the New York Times has determined to be “safe enough” to fit their pre-approved outlook. His article was a joke and Dreher’s citing of it as a sign of “hope” makes this article a joke as well.

[Note from Rod: Good heavens, people who write for the same magazine disagreeing about something. What is this world coming to?! — RD]

#30 Comment By Matt On February 1, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

[Note from Rod: Good heavens, people who write for the same magazine disagreeing about something. What is this world coming to?! — RD]

True. Maybe this isn’t that huge of a deal. But I could also cite a number of other anti-conservative/anti-libertarian articles that frequent this cite. Articles on how “unfair” the Bush tax cuts were as well as an article glorifying the minimum wage come to mind. Yes, people can disagree. But when you mix statist articles/authors with non statist ones on a website called “The American Conservative,” it becomes rather confusing as to what kind of publication it really wants to be.