Friday, July 22, 2016

Bye Bye GOP?

Digby says Bye Bye GOP. I'm not sure I agree on all of this, but it's a pleasant read.

The last two decades have been disastrous for the conservative movement and not just because it 'ran its course' or 'matured.' The three pillars of conservatism, traditional values, free market economics and a strong national defense all failed and failed in rather spectacular fashion.

Social conservatism has been reduced from what was once a dominant political and cultural force to a rear guard action fighting to roll back abortion rights in the states and tilting at windmills to ban birth control.  The gay rights movement has successfully left them reeling, so much so that even Donald Trump gave an awkward shout out to the LGBTQ community in his speech last night promising to protect them from Muslim terrorists. The culture warriors are still toiling away, particularly on their new 'religious liberty' legal line of attack but the fact that the large evangelical base is ardent in their support for a New York libertine with children from three different wives has exposed their heretofore unseen flexible virtue. They will no longer be able to credibly attack the Democrats for their allegedly loose morals.

The failure of the conservative national security philosophy was laid bare by the Bush administration's Iraq war debacle. The vast majority of the people in that hall in Cleveland undoubtedly cheered George Bush's disastrous policies at the time assuming that all wars would be glorious antiseptic (for America) successes like the first Gulf War. Their Vietnam propaganda had led them to misunderstand the practical restraints that exist around US military power and they believed that the war machine in the hands of a Republican could only bring victory. They learned otherwise and today they are supporting a man whose national security policy is completely incoherent but who promises to make the world 'respect' us again.

Finally the financial crisis exposed the risk inherent in free-market economics and the idea that all you have to do is keep interest rates low, cut taxes and let the brilliant masters of the universe do their magic. It turned out that without some restraints these financial geniuses could not help but turn into degenerate gamblers and the low tax dogma resulted in dangerous income inequality. The instability of the middle class and the stalling out of traditional social and economic mobility created the environment for a flim flam artist like Trump to exploit the resultant insecurity.

All that's left of the 'three-legged stool' of conservatism is the seat --- racism, nativism and xenophobia. That's what Trump is running on. And it's also failing. As you can see by the words of Ana Navarro or Ted Cruz, John Kasich or Jeb Bush or the whole staff of National Review, the party is splitting over that issue as well. The conservative movement as we've known it is disintegrating."

I think nationally conservatism is losing, but not at the state level, conservatism is alive and strong there. And regardless of what happens, Republicans will still "attack the Democrats for their allegedly loose morals". While many are no longer interested in fighting far off wars, I don't think they understand the financial crisis well enough to blame on the free market, instead they blame Barney Frank and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

WonkBlog says However divided you think our politics are, this chart shows that it’s actually way worse.

This new analysis has some important similarities and differences with other measures of polarization. The most well-known partisanship metric is based on lawmakers' votes, not on their speech. That measure also shows partisanship rising sharply in the modern era.

But the vote-based measure shows the increase starting in about the 1970s, rather than the mid-1990s. And it also shows a high degree of polarization back in the late 1800s. This has led many political scientists to argue that our current divided politics aren't necessarily an anomaly, but rather a return to a historic norm after a period of relative partisan unity.

But the economists' analysis of political language tells a very different story, one in which the current state of partisan warfare is unprecedented. You can see how the two measures differ in the following chart from the economists' paper.


It may boil down to a difference between action and speech. Politicians today may be voting along partisan lines similar to how lawmakers worked in the late 1800s. But today's political rhetoric — the ways lawmakers frame their arguments and try to portray the arguments of the opposing side — may be more radically divided than they've been at any point in the historic record.

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