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Nov 06 2013

A crazy Republican party may not be a good thing

The steady movement of the Republican party towards total dominance by the crazies is undoubtedly going to hurt them in elections. Some argue that this is a good thing because it will make them marginalized. While this will undoubtedly make it easier for Democrats to win elections, especially at the Congressional and presidential level, it could well be a bad thing for progressive causes in general because of the general law that politics abhors a vacuum and that candidates will seek to fill as much space on the spectrum of viewpoints as they are allowed to get away with.

The more that the crazy base squeezes Republicans into a narrow space on the extreme right, the more likely it will be that the Democrats will change their message to make it appealing to those voters in the space that is being vacated. On the other hand, a sane and vibrant Republican party that advocates for traditional conservative programs will force the Democrats leftwards in order to be a viable alternative.

Republican candidates who are beyond the fringe enable any old Democrat, however awful, to look good by comparison. A case in point is the just concluded election for governor in Virginia. The winner was Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a sleazy, corrupt politician who should never have even won the nomination. But his opponent Ken Cuccinelli was a Tea Party extremist with terrible anti-women and anti-gay views and so what choice was there for any liberal or progressive? We saw how business interests aligned with centrist Republicans and the party establishment did not support Cuccinelli. They will now be courted by Democrats who will tailor their message to appeal to them.

On some social issues the Democratic party is still worth supporting. With McAuliffe at least there are some issues that I want to see advanced, like Medicaid expansion, that he will support. But we really should be able to do better than people like him. But if the Republicans go completely nuts, that is the kind of Democrat that we may increasingly see, who will be quite happy to shift their views on these issues rightward too since they will have little to lose by doing so.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    trucreep

    I say there needs to be an ultra-liberal faction to balance things out. Take everything that the Tea Party and those on the far far right say about liberals and make it true! A group that actually advances socialism, that wants to abolish all mentions of god; a group that actually does wage a war on Christmas!

  2. 2
    raven

    A crazy Republican party may not be a good thing

    Oh gee. You think?

    1. We are under attack and in survival mode right now in the USA. Nothing much is going to get done under these conditions.

    2. The Tea Party has already caused huge damage to the USA. Our allies and trading partners look at us as politically stable with 40% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

    It’s estimated that the total lack of any interest or knowledge of real economics on their part has cut our growth rate from 3% to 2%. We really need a growing economy to reduce our deficits and unemployment..

    The only question is how long this goes on and how much damage they will do. It could be this way for a decade or two. Until most of the angry old white guys die off.

  3. 3
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Here’s a somewhat more positive perspective:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/11/6/with_wins_for_de_blasio_minimum

  4. 4
    raven

    look at us as politically stable

    Should be politically unstable. It seems like Friday and it’s only Wednesday. I’m going to blame the change from daylight savings time.

  5. 5
    colnago80

    The fact is that the election of McAuliffe was a near run thing, much closer then the polls predicted. IMHO, koo koo Ken has a legitimate gripe that he lost because the Rethuglican establishment threw him under the bus. On the other hand, we should not overlook the fact that koo koo Ken ran some 13 points behind McDonnell’s performance in 2009. This is a result that can be over-interpreted and probably will be as the political editorialists have to earn their bread somehow .

  6. 6
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Until most of the angry old white guys die off.

    By which time, today’s angry young white guys will the new batch of angry old white guys.

    Around and around and around
    It goes,
    And where it stops
    No-one knows

  7. 7
    Suido

    Yeah, this. The Dems should be using safe seats to create a very progressive faction within their party. Throw the gerrrymandering back in Republican faces – in every seat in the deep south that’s been gerrymandered to have 90% blue votes, elect a mixed race, bisexual, pacifist, trans* person.

    Having so many safe seats is terrible for democracy in general, but only the conservatives are exploiting it by electing extremists.

    Accept that moderates and blue dogs are needed to win the marginal/conservative districts that will allow the dems to win majorities in the legislature, but don’t let them dominate policy.

  8. 8
    pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile

    I’ve asked the question before: “how is it with over 300 million people in the US, these are the ones they find to run for office?”

    I understand that politics like to have some checks and balances, but I can’t see of any reason for the existence of the teabagger faction of the GOP. they have only stunted progress in the US, and exposed themselves as the ugly demographic, a once “alternative third party” that devolved into a gang of racist, misogynist, rape-apologizing, blame-the-poor-and unemployed, frothing a-holes.

  9. 9
    Mano Singham

    In US politics, if you have a lot of money you can obtain for your point of view much greater clout than it perhaps merits in terms of popular support. And it is going to get worse.

  10. 10
    Leo Buzalsky

    Except by then white people will make up less than 50% of the population. So, actually, it’s probably more about waiting for the minority populations to increase in size than white people dying off.

  11. 11
    Crimson Clupeidae

    Of course, this whole argument breaks down if we had a more modern electoral system.

  12. 12
    lpetrich

    What we are seeing is a big problem with First Past The Post. It makes it hard for alternatives to emerge, alternatives to the two biggest parties. That’s Duverger’s Law.

    The US has had party breakdowns before. The first was in the 1820′s, when the Federalist Party faded out of existence, and the second was in the 1850′s, when the Whig Party broke up. The Republican Party took its place and has existed ever since.

    An example of the difficulties with FPTP is in the recent governor’s race in Virginia. I’ve calculated that if the Libertarian Party’s voters voted 70% Republican, 30% Democratic, they would have helped the Republican win. Since many Libertarians are Republicans who don’t like to be called Republicans, that seems likely.

    More generally, that’s the spoiler effect, where similar candidates split the vote between them.

  13. 13
    rpjohnston

    The winner was Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a sleazy, corrupt politician who should never have even won the nomination. But his opponent Ken Cuccinelli was a Tea Party extremist with terrible anti-women and anti-gay views and so what choice was there for any liberal or progressive?

    As a Virginia voter, this, so much. I don’t know what McAuliffe stood for, nor do I really want to know – knowing what I was voting AGAINST was nauseating enough. I even entertained the notion of Sarvis, but decided the libertarian was just another flavor of republican and the priority was making sure Cooch didn’t win.

  14. 14
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @1 trucreep : The FTB Party?

    I think there’s already an “Underton window’ here opposite the “Overton window” in the broader world especially US politics and society.

    Or maybe just look out the window and see what most people atround y’all think and want and try for the moderation of that?

    Keeping in mind Socrates recomendation of “all things in moderation including moderation!” and being aware that there are some on both sides who take things too far and end up becoming more one-sided than a Moebius strip in their arguments and perspectives on life the cosmos and everything or at least some issues.

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