[Given some of the information I've posted in the updates below, this should probably be more appropriately titled "Making It Possible". -- Ed]
With the Republican party having shored up its power and control of the Federal government, the radical conservatives who run the party will need less and less to cede any power or influence to the small number of moderate GOP officials among them, who are mostly concentrated in the Northeast. Because the right has a firmer majority to work with, it'll be less often that they need the votes of the moderates, and those folks are bound to become disheartened by being constantly slapped aside.
When that happens, there's the potential for some of them to make the switch that's natural, one that I've been astounded for years hasn't occured to more of them sooner, and change to the Democratic party. Doing so would certainly present a significant opportunity to break the back of the conservative stronghold on American politics that's now in effect. It's surely a long shot, but it's one we shouldn't overlook the potential of.
Kos is right when he writes that "[M]oderate GOPs -- those creatures who are pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-gay rights, and supportive of fiscal sanity -- have a more natural home in the modern Democratic Party," but the thing is, they're never going to be tempted to make the move if, in an effort to reform the party, it moves too far to the left for them to be comfortable inside of it. Then could happen if we concentrate too much on ideological reform instead of structural, procedural, operational and personnell reform.
Right now, the party is a liberal center-left coalition that's primairly dedicated to progressive policies, but (collectively) in a moderate way. It's also, as we saw again to our sorrow, a party that loses close elections. This is the problem to be solved. If, in an overreaction to losing the election, and anger at the perfidy of some of the "centrists" in the party (like some folks connected with the DLC), the party lurches to the left (which is where my own personal politics lie), it will become a party that loses elections by much larger amounts, because there just aren't enough people of the liberal persuasion out there who are not already in some way attached to the party, nevermind how loosely. (That self-identified conservatives outnumber self-ID'ed liberals is not an insignificant thing, it puts us some steps behind the starting line at the very beginning of the race.)
This is why I've been opposed to significant ideological tinkering as part of the reform effort. I opposed it when jettisoning the right to choose and gun control were proposed, eliminating long-held liberal values, and I opposed it when dropping support for the so-called "war on terror" was proposed, pushing the party closer to a completely pacifist stance. Neither of these ideas were worthwhile considering, because when it comes down to it, it's not our policies and programs that are at fault, it's our politicians, procedures and presentation.
I'm not suggesting that we "move to the center" or "lurch to the right" or become "lite Republicans" or give in to the DLC's corporatist agenda, I merely think we need to work on what's broken first, and win some elections, before we start tinkering with the ideology of the party. Any effort to narrow it down, either by dropping long-held liberal values or focusing too tightly on the views of a small segment of the coalition, are going to hurt us in the end, because the numbers just aren't there to support those moves. I think that Chris Bowers was right when he proposed opening up the coalition, and wrong when his proposals would constrict it.
Update:Publius on what kind of reform the party needs: the ability to inspire.
(See also my plea for a "return to Capra", which effectively means a return to populism -- the good kind -- and the "language of upward mobility and opportunity" that Publius refers to.)
Let's not kid ourselves about the base of the Republican party, the dittoheads, the alleged Christian Right. A vast number of them are primitive tribalists at best and racists at worst. There have always been many Americans who are racists and many of those have always been and remain very political. It is part of our national psyche. They are now fully sewn into the fabric of the Republican party's big tent (as they once were the Democrats') and they wield considerable clout.
Right, and since those people are now part of the core of the GOP, it's our job to steal people away from what has now become its powerless periphery, and in this way create a more powerful and coherent coalition of rationalists motivated by the very best in human values, not by the worst.
Whatever happened to the belief that any American could get to the top?
THE United States likes to think of itself as the very embodiment of meritocracy: a country where people are judged on their individual abilities rather than their family connections. The original colonies were settled by refugees from a Europe in which the restrictions on social mobility were woven into the fabric of the state, and the American revolution was partly a revolt against feudalism. From the outset, Americans believed that equality of opportunity gave them an edge over the Old World, freeing them from debilitating snobberies and at the same time enabling everyone to benefit from the abilities of the entire population. They still do.
To be sure, America has often betrayed its fine ideals. The Founding Fathers did not admit women or blacks to their meritocratic republic. The country's elites have repeatedly flirted with the aristocratic principle, whether among the brahmins of Boston or, more flagrantly, the rural ruling class in the South. Yet America has repeatedly succeeded in living up to its best self, and today most Americans believe that their country still does a reasonable job of providing opportunities for everybody, including blacks and women. In Europe, majorities of people in every country except Britain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia believe that forces beyond their personal control determine their success. In America only 32% take such a fatalistic view.
But are they right? A growing body of evidence suggests that the meritocratic ideal is in trouble in America. Income inequality is growing to levels not seen since the Gilded Age, around the 1880s. But social mobility is not increasing at anything like the same pace: would-be Horatio Algers are finding it no easier to climb from rags to riches, while the children of the privileged have a greater chance of staying at the top of the social heap. The United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.
The past couple of decades have seen a huge increase in inequality in America. The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think-tank, argues that between 1979 and 2000 the real income of households in the lowest fifth (the bottom 20% of earners) grew by 6.4%, while that of households in the top fifth grew by 70%. The family income of the top 1% grew by 184%—and that of the top 0.1% or 0.01% grew even faster. Back in 1979 the average income of the top 1% was 133 times that of the bottom 20%; by 2000 the income of the top 1% had risen to 189 times that of the bottom fifth.
Thirty years ago the average real annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives was $1.3m: 39 times the pay of the average worker. Today it is $37.5m: over 1,000 times the pay of the average worker. In 2001 the top 1% of households earned 20% of all income and held 33.4% of all net worth. Not since pre-Depression days has the top 1% taken such a big whack.
Most Americans see nothing wrong with inequality of income so long as it comes with plenty of social mobility: it is simply the price paid for a dynamic economy. But the new rise in inequality does not seem to have come with a commensurate rise in mobility. There may even have been a fall.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.