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December 03, 2008

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Gareth Wilson

Has there ever been an actual regional party in the US? Even in the Civil War the Democrats weren't limited to the South.

Doug (not Muir)

Here's a provocative marker: when Europeans use "neoliberal" in a political discussion, they have stopped thinking and started frothing.

Luke

And now, to be nit-picky and then contrarian.

The issues with New England, are, in fact, demographic, just not in the way that you think. New England has a higher number of people with college degrees and graduate degrees than the Republican bastions in the Mountain West or the Deep South. Of course, that's not a straight up demographic issue, given that those people are white; but more education means they're also richer per capita than the average Republican voter. Oh, and New England has more same-sex couples than in the Deep South combined. Pagans.

It's also a larger geographic no-go zone for Republicans than Democrats in the Mountain West. Utah-Wyoming-Idaho isn't much. Democrats have North Dakota, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and probably would've grabbed Arizona this year if John McCain weren't on the ticket.

And now, to defend the argument of "Regional Party." It isn't, yet, but to circle back to things we've discussed before, as well as broader problems 1) Starting with Reagan, the GOP has over-selected for ideological purity and zeal, less for flexibility and brains. The new House Caucus, as led by Eric Cantor, is much more hard right than its Senate counterpart. The problem is two fold; first, there's now a large-ish number of GOP Senators that'd you've called RINO's above (minus Spector and and the ladies from Maine.) who are now stuck being in in Democratic or Democratic trending states (Voinovich, Judd Gregg, etc) who are more likely than not to be votes that can be picked off in order to survive their next election, and whose ideological affinity is closer to the now marginally more right-wing Democratic Party than the now far right wing GOP. So, I look forward to interparty fighting over, say, health care, foreign policy, and tax issues, with the older-line GOP (George HW Bush GOP) pulling away from the W. GOP, which is knee jerk. And the Democrats have enough power to leave the House GOP on the sidelines if they really want to.

Second problem is more problem in pipeline. First, GOP Senators are going to retire, and their replacements will be drawn from their House Congressional Counterparts (usually) and those people are playing to Archie Bunker when he's outnumbered by the cast of "Rachel Getting Married." So, that's a bad bench. An important lesson from running John McCain is that you need the Christianist right to supply the tactical and logistical tail to GOP rhetoric; if you don't have them calling, door knocking, and staffing, you can't with a Presidential Election, and will have a hard time winning a federal election. So, the GOP needs to find lots and lots of people willing to give up thousands of hours for them; as that shift is still in the offing, they'll still need to give team Jackboot Jesus the slut-shaming, gay-bashing McCarthite Xenophobia they love, while trying to hang onto Wall Street's cash and suburban soccer moms who increasingly have out gay kids, siblings, nephews, or yoga instructors.

As with the 2006 Immigration debacle, this is going to make things worse, not better. While I doubt that Democrats have a solid 20 year lock on Hispanics, it's something that's going to be hard to fix, given that they need the Lou Dobbs faction to play nice, they can't really mollify the Hispanics anyway (and Mel is retiring).

Beyond that, the base that Sarah Palin rallies is increasingly being replaced at the ballot box by people my age, whose generation is more rainbow hued, better educated, and socially liberal than the voters they're replacing.

Like the "Socialist" dog whistle, the socially reactionary stuff will founder on the rocks of people just not caring, with the GOP having built no alternative version, vision, or faction cultivated within the party. One great example anti-Iraq Occupation/Occupation critical Republicans were purged with people who are more ideologically disciplined, often with poor strategic thinking--and ignoring the Paulistas.

With a major--and as yet unforeseen--redirection of the party, the lumbering machinery is leaving them locked into a march to total disaster before they get renewed. Though one could sort of write this about Democrats in 2004, it would not have been as punchy given the underlying demographics, and other problems. Likewise, there isn't an exciting new face of the GOP that makes sense, yet.

As useful tea leaves, there's the Republican Governor's Association, and the RNC Chairman fight to watch, and the obvious 2012 field.

The RGA has Sanford-Babour-Crist on the top of the list, which is not much for regional diversity or presidential viability (even with his sham marriage, local weatherman Charlie Crist is not going to get his bedazzled banana hamock in the White House).

Further down, you have Linda Lingle and Jim Douglas, who are both pro-Choice. Tim Pawlenty's on there too, and he's probably Romney's VP pick in 2012.

The Chairman fight has the Dobsonites accusing Michael Steel of being soft on gays and slut shaming (quick, name an RNC chair, GOP Pres. Primary Contender, or major governor/senator that's pro-choice) with people like Sanford arguing that the GOP needs to be more rigidly reactionary, not less. It's rather the poisoned chalice, and I doubt any of the less reactionary candidates will win. I really should get around to gambling on that.

Now, 2012. The field is Huckabee or Romney, with Pawlenty as the obvious VP Choice, and Palin sort of ambling around in the background. Romney will win, and pick Pawlenty to play his Jack Kemp.

Shouldn't Jindal be on this list? He's the wrong sort of religious for most of the GOP (the New Oxford Review Article is....discomfiting) and he's the wrong color. Given the joy the GOP got this year out of otherizing Obama, I can't imagine that a Mel Gibson Catholic who's also al-Qaeda colored could win the GOP nomination; on top of that, the downturn will rather muddle his plans and give him rather fewer successes. And he can smell defeat; I'd imagine that we won't see President Jindal, if we do, until he's in his 50's and has served as a Senator.

It should be Romney given the post-Nixon GOP's tendency to select based on a sense of "turn." McCain was the 2000 runner up, W. was the son's turn after the father(Oh, and Sandra, enjoy his Anglican moderation in retirement), '96 was finally Dole's turn, HW was the incumbent, Reagan's turn after 1976, Ford was an accident, and Nixon performed a Black Mass. Romney was this year's runner up, so, Romney-Pawlenty in 2012 or Romney-Thune. I like former over the latter because I can't stand two Ken Dolls running. (this makes an interesting contrast to the Democrats, where the post 1972 Primaries usually assured an insurgent victory if the candidate went on to take 1600--Carter, Clinton, Obama--whereas the establishment candidates lost)

If it is Romney, baring a Jimmy Carter debacle and getting some moderate accomplishments (DADT reversal, leaving Iraq, mumble adjective Afghanistan, Medicare Part D Reform, economic recovery by 2011) Obama will be fine, and the GOP will march further down the road to regional party-ish. If Obama gets a signature initiative passed (Healthcare, Universal Pre-K, Universal SCHIP, funded NCLB) it'll be much more meatgrinder for the GOP. I expect the Democrats to clear 60 in 2010...

That was a lot of data thrown up there, and to make a long story short, they're not a regional party yet, but they're trying really hard to get there, with no off ramp in sight. That said, the GOP did really really well between 1968-2008, which frankly isn't a bad run, given the prior Democratic period of 1932-1968. Though Reagan is no FDR.

There's a much more interesting string of thoughts to write about the endgame of the Southern Strategy, as the Democratic Majority that Obama has is in a sense "better" than Jimmy Carter's, excluding Heath Shuler....

Luke

Gareth; the Federalists after John Adams' Presidency.

Free Soil/Anti-Masonic/Know-Nothings from 1840-1860.

Of course, there's DFL in the 20th Century, but whatever, HHH, same with PCWF in New York State.

Mind, regional parties don't really work in the US like they do in, frex, Canada. The two party system promotes those being swallowed into a broader coalition; in a Westminster system, Mike Huckabee/Sarah Palin would be one party while The Governator would be another, etc. The first-past the post stuff makes for a powerful encouragement to join a successful national coalition, which encourages very few total transformations--the emergence of the GOP in the 19th century reset the whole board, while FDR is a close second and the Nixonian Southron Strategy is a distant third, being a slow burn.

Noel Maurer

I was just going to recommend, for what little it's worth, that you might really want to toss out the "sloppy thinking" markers. It may not a secret advantage; rather, it may be a way to wind up dismissing people who engage in useful shorthand but whom you might actually want to pay attention to.

I have learned this the hard way. But your list might be better than mine was.

Noel Maurer

Two points, Luke, in an analysis I pretty much find convincing.

First, Canada comparisons can be more confusing than revealing if you don't get the details right. There haven't been any stable regional parties in the U.S., but that's for a whole slew of reasons beyond FPTP, which Canada has.

Second, Jindal. I don't underestimate Governor Jindal, and I don't no underestimate Governor Jindal's ability to grab the GOP mantle whenever he wants it. (I had this argument with Carlos.) So I disagree with you about his future in his own party ... but that doesn't matter, really, because I agree with you that (absent some crazy contingency) he won't run in 2012 because he won't want to lose.

Luke

Yeah, the Canada thing is a pain in the ass, and I skimmed since I already had once crazy-ass long post to this already.

I don't underestimate Jindal either, but his particular set of policies and policy tendencies put him in a bad way during a recession--though I do want to see if he can change direction on that, and see how his state healthcare reform works out. More to the point, I think that the most recent GOP primary is instructive in terms of an open field, and not in a good way for non-mainline Protestants and heterodox interpretations of conservativness--look at what happened to Romney and Giuliani. Though they're bad humans, they also had to fake policy views that weren't theirs, or were bs based on their records. And Ron Paul got ostracized. Whether that would change by 2016, I'm not encouraged by current indicators, such as they are.

The other problem is that Jindal would have to run as an insurgent; he's not going to be allied to the RNC chair, as Huckabee or Romney might be, and I don't really see what Jindal can do on fundraising or campaign building in Iowa, given the GOP demographics, yet.

Assuming that Romney-Thune gets pasted in 2012, I'm not sure what the GOP of 2016 will look like. But their presidential nominating system is brittle and their ground game depends on reactionary protestants. Given the data point we have (Romney), even nominally conservative non-mainline protestants with theocratic tendencies meet fail pretty hard.

Given that the GOP base is dying off and being replaced by people who trend democratic, the GOP needs to pick off Hispanics or blacks if they want to stay a socially conservative party, or shed the theocrats and go for the suburban moderates. My impression of the GOP--so far--is that it is committed to learning the wrong lessons from 2008, and not especially inclined to learn the right ones from 2012.

Andrew R.

Well, Luke, the California GOP *still* hasn't learned its lesson. How long now has it been going through the cycle of lose election-->shed moderates-->lose election-->etc? So it wouldn't surprise me at all if we see the same effect at the national level.

I'd actually be kind of interested in seeing a more UK-like US, with a de facto one-party centrist technocracy (but possibly without all of the closed circuit TV's).

Carlos

If there's an identity effect corresponding to the Bradley or Wilder elections left in the United States, I'd expect it to show up among the Republicans. For a large portion of Republican voters, perceived religious affiliation is tremendously important. It was only fifty years ago when many mainline Protestants would not vote for the Catholic presidential candidate in large parts of the country.

Mainline Protestants have moved on; but the Republican Party base is now composed of evangelical Protestants, who do employ religious tests for office. Nothing else can explain the Huckabee insurgency, and it's a likely factor in why Romney failed to win the Republican nomination.

(The case of Sam Brownback is instructive; on paper, he's an almost ideal candidate, a strong social conservative from the southern Great Plains, but friendly enough to business interests -- he's a "maverick" on immigration, for instance... for scriptural reasons. But he's an evangelical who recently converted to Catholicism.)

Will the Republican Party base have changed enough by 2012/2016 to make this a non-issue? I'd like to think that aspirational Republicans will be successful in promoting non-white and non-Protestant candidates for national office. How the Republican electorate actually feels about that, well, we'll see.

Will Baird

AS probably the token Repugnant here, let me add my two cents and watch them go through massive inflation into nothingness.

There's going to be a blood bath over the next two years within the party. Leper List, etc. Most likely, alas, scenario is that the Fundie Bunch expunges the rest of the potential candidates: "We abandoned our principles in 2008!" Romney will be the 'moderate.' He may or may not get the nod, but Huckles, Palin, Thune, perhaps even Brownback will be the standard runners for 12. Barring a lack of recovery for the economy, they'll be crushed.

I'd like to think that social conservative aspect will get whittled away, but I doubt it. It will take a loss or two more before the Repugnants get it. If they do. It wouldn't be the first time that a party faded from one of the national duo.

OTOH, there's always Jindal in 16. :S

Luke

Andrew,

The Virginia GOP is a much better model for that sort of thing. The patients have clearly taken over the mental institution, though it'll be interesting how that all works out with the housing slump in NOVA.

California is big enough that the GOP can still have some pretensions to grandeur; though even if Arnie were native born, he'd never get on the national ticket, with his green politics and lesbian chief of staff.

As for your wish of a one party technocracy, Illinois, Connecticut, Texas, and South Carolina are instructive. One party hegemony in the US leads to corruption and incompetence, not cool stuff. Of course, I could argue the same about Tony Blair, who is a more obnoxious New Democrat than Bill Clinton.

For the purposes of my own greedy interests, I'd like a GOP I can vote for, if only so I can punish my own party when it's being stupid.

Carlos,

It does; if you map election results by county, it's very unsubtle in appalachia in the counties we lost; if you map it to the former Cotton Belt, it's also unpleasant.

And yeah, team Linoleum Jesus does impose a religious test, which is why McCain didn't pick Lieberman, Ridge, or Lingle (all on his short list) and had to pick Pinochet in the pantsuit. Of course, after Huckleberry got smacked down and McCain lost without the Jesus Jackboot shock troops, some interesting questions are raised; either the Christianists demand that the GOP stop making out with them under the bleachers friday night and then not look at them on Monday Morning, their Huck insurgency wins (if certain people win the RNC Chair, Huck gets it in 2012), they start a third party, or drift back out of politics.

The interesting thing about the GOP and minorities (less the gays; that's a lifestyle choice, should be reprogrammed) is that they appear to think that conservative politics are *better* for minorities. Nominally, they should be able to sell to evangelical blacks, upper middle class Asians and Latinos; but Katrina, general racism, and the immigration fight put those folks out of reach til some time after 2016.

Mel Martinez was always a joke, but having really backed themselves into a corner with their national bench (leading minority being Eric Cantor), and they can't get to their new base without blowing up the old one. Given tendencies, I'm betting on going down with the sinking ship; there's too much dead weight pushing that way.

I just don't think that Boehner-Cantor-McConnell (who has his own minority issues) can find minorities to run for them, either in school district races or senate ones.

But Jindal will take out Marie Landreaux in 2016, and reemerge whenever to be president. It's just a matter of time before enough Walmart Christians die off that the GOP has to seek new votes elsewhere.

Will,

I think given the strong "turn" structure and some stuff Romney is doing, that Romney will grab the top of the ticket and sloppy seconds will, once again, go to some Walmart Christian. I'd love for Palin to be on top of the ticket (she paid for gay repogramming. I want to wear her emotional entrails like a belt). And Brownbeck is too Catholic.

I don't think that team Linoleum Jesus will actually take over the party; it needs Wall Street cash to run (for whatever reason, Huck never got Obama's small donor system running), and there just aren't enough of them to sweep the party--though the fact that the RGA is run by southerners isn't a good sign for national health, and Eric Cantor isn't going to get past being minority leader. If Crist were a Democrat, he could be president (he'd also be gay married--to his cabana boy).

It's a truly terrible time to be a Republican. People who came of age in and around the Bush years understand that the GOP brand is about bashing minorities, corruption, and lying to get people killed. That's going to take a long time to fix.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks. Totally getting the popcorn.

Luke

Will,

On a separate issue, it's fascinating that Romney failed to get the Mormons and the Southern Baptists into a popular front against the gay feminist lesbian Muslim Mexicans. Even with increased bashing street cred from prop 8 (which will get overturned), even the gay tasering, dark skin = sin Mormons have a hard time joining the team, it's REALLY Bad for the future--that, and the shift from rhetorical anti-intellectualism to believed anti-intellectualism.

Additionally, there's a large crop of GOP political operatives, campaign managers, etc. who were cultivated in the Bush Era, when "fear the Gay Al Qaeda who will take your pickup truck and make your daughter a feminist wiccan lesbian who doesn't read the bible" worked. That, and the idea that Steve Schmidt articulated--about gaining ground in a crisis by revealing your true character are going to run headlong into 5,000 Obama alumni, who probably include the first Latino President, the first Jewish Pres, and the first woman.

Beyond serious recruiting problems for seats, the GOP's bench of strategericness has entrenched logic problems. I totally look forward to Romney accusing us of having lost Iraq in 2012.

Dennis Brennan

Luke--

I take it you've seen this:
http://strangemaps.wordpress.com/2008/11/15/330-from-pickin-cotton-to-pickin-presidents/

Peter

Geography is just one of many factors that are strong predictors of party affiliation in America. Some of these can be quite surprising, rather than more obvious like race. For example, single women are reliably Democratic, while married men are reliably Republican. Or there's the fact that white voters who list their ethnic background as "American" (as opposed to Irish, German, and so on) tilt heavily toward the Republicans.

Luke

Dennis,

Yes! Though the first time I saw it somewhere else, that is something I was referring to.

Carlos

Peter, those people who list their ethnic background as "American" aren't typically of Irish or German or whatever descent. They're mainly "Scots-Irish", the descendants of emigrant hyper-Protestant Anglophone Celts, the same people who elsewhere in the world might wear orange on St. Patrick's Day. Virginia Senator and co-ethnic Jim Webb wrote a book on them, Born Fighting.

They're the swing group of the swing region of the last thirty years of American politics, sort of like the Yugosphere in the Eurovision Song Contest. They're perhaps the most screwed-over white group in the U.S., oddly enough.

Will Baird

Luke:

I betcha ($10? A name tattoo on The Wind at Dawn?) that Romney won't get it in 12. Yes, the turn goofiness is pretty strong with the GOPsies, but I think the Fundie Bunch will veto him in the end. Huckles has a better chance. :(

As for the lack of welding the Mormons to the Jumping Church (tm) crowd, that's no surprise. Really. The Mormons have been and will continue to be pariahs in the SoCon circles. How DARE they call themselves Christian!!!

I weep for the party. It's so full of dumbfucks. If not for stupid excrement I'd done in the past, I'd take a swing at stuff. A well. I'll stick to techno tinkering. And voting.

Carlos:

We were (originally) Scottish, straight up and from the map, the relatives that didn't move out from Ten-Kent border are calling themselves ethnic American. The reason the rest of us don't call ourselves that is, eh, we've got that immigrant-gamy thing going on: our 'who we are' bits keep getting reset. (which is awesome btw)

Luke

Will,

I'd take the tenner to the hideous tattoo. That said, the fact that his wife appears to have a fairly dreadful form of breast cancer diminishes his odds of resurfacing in 2012.

Here's interesting wildcard about Romney being a member of team tax fraud in funny underpants: the success of Prop. 8. His attempt at JFK's Houston Speech was like eating a slice of schadenfraude pie, and the man has a political tin ear--so did St. John the Maverique of Arizonae--but Dobson and the Walmart Christians, as well as Jonah Goldberg (of the cheeto-stained "Liberal Fascism" fame) are working pretty hard to bring the people who steal the souls of holocaust victims into the greater Reactionary Popular Front (the pious are again being prosecuted by the sinful secular humanists--Christian Concentration camps are neeeeeeeeeeeeeeext!!!).

Hasn't worked yet, but on a scrim, something like that plus the argument that what the GOP needs to offer the American people is a man who is competent with the economy. This unites the various wings of the party, as much as anything can. And sloppy seconds, again, to some reactionary Protestant.

That said, I'd love to run against Huckleberry hound. I say that knowing he'd like to put me behind the concertina wire as a 'public health threat' because the look on Arlen Spector's face when Huck explains how old the earth is and the pivotal fate of Jesus Horses during the deluge will be priceless. I would chase him across the country in this t-shirt: http://shop.cafepress.com/design/13979038

Most importantly, Axe would eat Ed Rollins lunch with a smile. Pounding Huck into the pavement would be a glamorous counterpoint to McGovern.

In another four years, you have four more years of Nixonite die-offs, and four more years of voters who grew up with legalized gay marriage and a black president--and a memory of eight years of W. It'll be interesting to see which of the defeat memes take hold, but I'm increasingly fond of the one that believes that the GOP was insufficiently committed to Reactionary social behavior. To that I say "Go Lemmings, go!" because four more years means fewer older Reactionary Whites and more kids who grew up with the W. GOP and met their first gay before they were 20.

I have no doubt that Michael Steel will not win the RNC Chairmanship, nor Saltmann or Ken Blackwell. Given that Palin 'won' the Georgia Senate race, her endorsement is gold--I'm betting on South Carolina's Dawson to win it, if only by process of elimination....

Anyway, Palin'll steal Huck's Jackboot mojo, and tarred for being the tart that lost McCain the election, go down, clearing the way for Romney.

One of the nice effects of the country becoming more multiethnic and educated at time that the machinery of the GOP is, and continues to be, more solidly in the hands of the heirs of McCarthy and Nixon hampers the ability for someone really interesting to win the nomination.

And this was probably the best year for Huck, too; close to the end of his term as governor of Arkansas when the economy was doing decently, at a time when Evangelical Churches had real political power in the US. Though I have no doubt that they'll nurse their grievances by calling my boss the Al-Qaeda anti-Christ for the next four years, it makes them seem more crazy, and less viable, to the suburban soccer moms and wall street cons.

What would ruin Jindal for 2016, I think, is Mark Sanford. By then, Jindal is term limited and needs to grab a Senate seat to be relevant.

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