Balkinization  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Presidential primaries in 2012

Sandy Levinson

Dan Balz has an interesting story in the Washington Post on attempts by the Democratic and Republican Parties to create a saner process of choosing presidential candidates in 2012. Not surprisingly, issues include trying to limit the exaggerated importance of the early states (especially Iowa and New Hampshire), delegate allocation (an interesting idea some Republcians are floating is that early primaries have to be proportional, whereas later primaries can adopt the traditionally Republican winner-take-all rule). There is no discussion in Balz's article of open- versus closed-primaries, and, of course, I'm assuming that Texas will continue to operate under its unique mix of primary and caucus (that Clinton's operatives didn't figure out, to her detriment). It will, of course, be extremely interesting to see if either (or both) of the parties can actually effectuate any signifciant changes. Presumably, for better and worse, President Obama will exercise undue influence in any decisions of the Democratic Party--at this point, does anyone foresee a serious primary challenge to Obama (I don't)--whereas the Republican contest should make the 2008 season look like a tea party (so to speak). I assume that the Republicans, if they are to act, must act very, very soon, while they can be said to be behind a quasi-Rawlsian veil of ignorance regarding who the actual candidates are and who will be helped or hurt by any particular change.

In any event, it will be interesting to see if either party is actually capable of engaging in serious structural change. (Neither party seems interested in addressing the egregious electoral college, which generates some of the most pathological features of the final campaign and its concentration on the relatively few "battleground states.")

Comments:

The Texas Democrats did agree to continue the "Texas Two-Step" combination primary and caucus system at their recent statewide conference.
 

Honestly, as long as big money is permitted, I don't see that procedural changes will make much difference.

But big money is not a requirement: democracies choose to limit media buys (e.g. no TV), do public financing of campaigns, and so on. It's possible. We just aren't doing it. If we did, those procedural changes would have a chance. Otherwise, not so much.
 

No T.V.? How would that work?
 

What Nancy Jane Moore said, in no-trump, doubled and maybe re-doubled. Following the (State) Senator Royce West 'listening tour', the decision was to essentially do nothing--and that passed challenge at the Democratic state convention by over 4-to-1. This despite the fact that a primary voter (only) gets 2/3 the vote of a primary voter+caucus attendee. The people (like me) that have some conceptual problems about that (and doubts about the constitutionality of that) were a fairly lonely minority.

Conceded that the circumstances that led to chaos in 2008 are unlikely to repeat in the remainder of my lifetime (I will ALWAYS remember trying to bring order to 400 people, 3 precincts, 2 candidates and 1 grade school lunchroom--priceless!), but still. The really winning argument was from a 22 year old delegate who got her start at the caucus in 2008.
 

Years ago I suggested that NH change its license plate slogan to:

"VOTE FIRST OR DIE"
 

The Electoral College is "egregious"? Wilsonian much?
 

Sandy:

[D]oes anyone foresee a serious primary challenge to Obama (I don't)...

Perhaps, you might want to consider the following facts:

1) Clinton outpolled Obama among Dem voters. Obama won on the strength of Indis, especially those who attended caucus states. However, after moderate candidate Obama governed hard left as President Obama, the Indis have turned against him with a vengeance. Most polling has Indis disapproving of Obama at nearly a 2-1 ratio.

2) Ex-President Clinton is more popular than President Obama. There is no polling (yet) matching Hillary and Barack, but Bill is a fair proxy for Hillary.

3) Bill Clinton is backing candidates against the White House in the upcoming elections. There is no love loss or loyalty between the House of Clinton and Team Obama.

4) The congressional polling has shifted very hard against the Dems over the past couple months, substantially worse than before 1994. Think a loss of 60-80 seats in the House and 8-10 in the Senate. The Dem power structure will lay the blame for this debacle on Obama.

5) The only apparently functional part of the Administration is the State Department, which Hillary is running.

6) There is no sign at all of recovery level economic growth in the near to medium future before 2012. In the fall and winter of 2011 when contenders will be considering entering the primaries, we will probably have a mediocre 2-3% GDP growth and around 18 million under or unemployed, millions of them unemployed for years.

7) 2012 is a open race against the GOP. If a competitor waits until 2016 and the GOP knocks off Obama, the Dem competitor will be up against a GOP incumbent.

8) Hillary Clinton is the most ambitious politician in the country.

This set of facts appears tailor made for a Clinton v. Obama rematch.
 

No T.V.? How would that work?

England, France, and Norway: three different ways of doing it.
 

Do you have a link where I can read about those three countries' techniques? I know very little about Norway electoral practices.

I also don't know how a "no t.v." rule would work with the 1A or as a general matter. Various limits might work, if not under the current Court, but no t.v. is much broader than that.

For instance, if some local Green candidate wanted to buy a bit of time on t.v. to get the public aware of his/her positions, would that be a problem?
 

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President (for example, ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote) have come about without federal constitutional amendments, by state legislative action.

The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska -- 70%, DC -- 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota -- 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com
 

Our yodeler's "set of facts" are fiction.

Eric Alterman's "Kabuki Cemocracy: Why a Progressive Presidency Is Impossible, for Now" posted July 7th at the Nation (http://www.thenation.com) runs 17,000 words (26 print version pages) explaining the hurdles and the Republicans' lockstep "NO" policy to in effect close down government. I'm currently at the top of page 15 and will finish it later this morning. I don't think many will read the article in its entirety, which is too bad. It does reflect some of Sandy's concerns with his recent posts.
 

shag:

As a libertarian conservative, I can only wonder open mouthed on how the hard left has turned on Obama for not being socialist enough. If a GOP president had shrunken the reach of government to the same extent that Obama has expanded it over the past year and a half, I would be doing cartwheels.

Instead, the hard left condemns the President who nationalized two of the Big Three, shovels billions into the Bush nationalized Freddie and Fannie, has increased spending to 26% of GDP, borrowed $3 trillion of that for "stimulus," has enacted Obamacare which sets coverage for the entire health insurance industry and will redistribute another $2.3 trillion over its first decade of full operation, and will now sign legislation requiring government approval for every credit transaction in the country.

Why?

Because he did not also nationalize the banks and impose a economy wide carbon tax while doing the Macarena!

I need to ask this question in all sincerity: Are you people insane?

In any case, please do not stop eating your own on my account. By all means stay home in November to protest this your "corporatist" President.
 

I see poor dear Bart is at it again.

On a previous thread he expressed the view that federal taxes should not be used to shelter America’s homeless and feed America’s hungry children and when I posited the prospect of the American Revolution Part II, he responded that his community was well armed and would put down any riots.

Now in a preposterous “newspeak” distortion of the English (if not the American) language, he misdescribes himself as a “libertarian conservative”.

“Libertarian” my foot!

His is the mentality of the ancien regime of France. To those crying for bread for their children he responds ”let them eat cake”.

Conservative perhaps he is. But only if conservatism is to be defined as “Never moving forwards, moving backwards if at all possible, if impossible moving sideways – but never, ever moving forwards.

But even Bart’s stopped clock is right twice a day and today he is right in the company of that well-known socialist rag, our Guardian newspaper. Barack Obama in crisis as David Cameron arrives for first state visit.

After criticising the milquetoast nature of most of the reforms thus far enacted the writers conclude:-

”Yet at the same time, the relentless Republican attack machine has sought to portray Obama as so radical that he almost threatens the American way of life. Obama has reaped little benefit from his efforts to compromise in order to win Republican support. Instead, he has found himself repeatedly demonised as a socialist and intent on fundamentally altering the US political system.
...
In short, Obama has become caught between two stools. His relentless pursuit of a middle ground has dismayed the left of his own party, yet the Republicans have portrayed him as an extremist anyway. It is a dilemma that few expect him to solve before November's elections.”


It’s sad to see the likes of Beck, Limbaugh and poor Bart seeking to turn America into a society going backwards to the bad old days of the Great Depression.

Still, while there's life there's hope! I may not live to see poor Bart being helped into the 21st Century equivalent of the tumbril. Reform to turn America away from the risk of becoming two nations - the "Haves" and the "Have nots" - may yet be achieved.

If it is at the price of poor Bart's tax rates rising to, say, 38% on earned and 55% on unearned income, there might be some justice in that.
 

Our yodeler asks:

"I need to ask this question in all sincerity: Are you people insane?"

Is this the first time our yodeler is suggesting he is sincere? No, he is indeed insane.

Mourad says:

"It’s sad to see the likes of Beck, Limbaugh and poor Bart seeking to turn America into a society going backwards to the bad old days of the Great Depression. "

But it should be pointed out that our yodeler as the "third Stooge" lacks the financial wherewithal of the other two who have developed fortunes over the years with their neocon profit centers, while our yodeler inhales his clients fumes in the already thin air of Colorado. It's clear that our yodeler is prepared to continue to vote against his own pocketbook. This suggests that this self-described conservative libertarian is truly oximoronically insane.

By the way, I'll be out there in November pushing for Obama.
 

Mourad:

You are displaying your ignorance of American politics again.

Under our system, libertarians believe in limited government in economics and morals; conservatives believe in limited government in economics, but not morals; and liberals believe in limited government in morals, but not in economics.

As for foreign policy, libertarians are isolationists and they have shared this policy with both conservatives and liberals over the years, currently with post Vietnam liberals.

I refer to myself as a libertarian conservative because I share libertarian views on domestic policy and conservative views on a muscular foreign policy. This is also known as classical liberalism of the 19th century American variety.

Your Guardian paper mistakes Obama's ineptitude with moderation. Obama never once attempted to compromise with the GOP nor did he have to. The Dems controlled the government completely until the election of Scott Brown to the Senate. Even then, they played procedural tricks to enact Obamacare.

Obama did not get all of the socialism he preferred because members of his own party were properly fearful of the opposition of their constituents to those policies and Obama failed to do the necessary jawboning to convince them ala Reagan and LBJ, who each spend hundreds of hours on the phone with members of Congress.

That being said, what Obama did accomplish was still a breathtaking turn to the left by US standards, if not by those of Euro socialists. The hard left base of the Dem party appears to have a problem with less than perfect success.
 

Getting back to reality for a moment (until Bart's next comment), the systemic impediments to reform of any aspect of American politics, finance, or other area are led by the entrenchment of the leaders in those areas, who benefit greatly by the status quo and will not be easily dislodged.

Perhaps a catastrophic loss in the midterms will produce some impetus for change. Yet it seems that both parties have their apologists, ever ready to explain the inexplicable, and even discredited leaders continue to maintain their positions.
 

Bart said:-

”You are displaying your ignorance of American politics again….”

It’s for others to judge whether or not that proposition is true.

I would, however, suggest that the generality of poor dear Bart’s posts display what one might term “wilful ignorance” of generally accepted economic, ethical, historical, legal, moral, and religious principles.

I accept that Bart is entitled to his beliefs, however repulsive, but to call them either ”libertarian”, or “conservative” in the generally accepted usage of the English language is a case of misappropriation of title rather akin to Herr Hitler’s misappropriation of the expressions “national” and “socialist” or the communist misappropriation of the expression peoples’ democratic republic.

I accept, however, that while I speak English as my native language, poor Bart speaks the “Murkin” dialect of that tongue in which accepted usage may well differ somewhat. For example, for poor Bart to characterise President Obama’s policies thus far as ”socialist” is really laughable.

As compared to the rest of the world, such polices would considered to be on the very moderate centre right.
 

Our yodeler is like the snakes at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo that don't have a pit to hiss in as they, and he, slither about.

Charles Blow's OpEd in yesterday's (7/17/10) NYTimes "Dog Days of Obama" provides to its side "The Leader Board" for Republican possible presidential contenders in 2012 with their favorable ratings.

1. Sarah Palin 76% among Republicans, 44% among all Americans.
2. Mike Huckabee 65% among Republicans, 40% among all Americans.
3. Newt Gingrich 64% among Republicans, 36% among all Americans.
4. Mitt Romney 54% among Republicans, 36% among all Americans.
5. Bobby Jindal 45% among Republicans, 34% among All Americans.
(Per Gallup)

This is the cream of the crap?

Charles closes with this:

"A campaign will require these candidates to air out their hollowness in full view, explaining why they see a phantom in every corner, a plot behind every policy, doom along every horizon. They will have to take positions instead of just give grief. They will have to develop a plan instead of simply picking apart Obama's. And they will have to point out the pox on their opponents, which will be great to watch.

"When this sideshow begins, Obama will be able to pass the popcorn and enjoy the frostiness. The summer will be a distant memory."

Three former governors, a present governor and a former Speaker of the House who has more skeletons than even ex-wives in his closet. Who could ask for anything more?
 

As compared to the rest of the world, such polices would considered to be on the very moderate centre right.

Alas, Mourad, I think Mr. DePalma's accusation may have hit the mark, as you seem to be quite out of touch with American politics. To consider Mr. Obama's policies as "very moderate centre right" requires comparison to the rest of the world. As you may remember, however, America considers itself the yardstick by which the rest of the world is measured, not the other way around. ;)
 

Perhaps a catastrophic loss in the midterms will produce some impetus for change. Yet it seems that both parties have their apologists, ever ready to explain the inexplicable, and even discredited leaders continue to maintain their positions.

I can't see how a catastrophic loss in the midterms would produce any impetus for anything. I hope I'm not being an apologist by saying so, but a sweeping GOP victory in the mid-terms would prove that "Just Say No" always works. The gridlock that follows will be cited as further proof that Obama can't lead. And then we find ourselves back in 2000-2006 where the government pissed money down a drain and called it "smaller government."

A sweeping Democratic victory in the midterms (I don't imagine this will happen, but if it did) would only turn up the volume of the "No" chorus.

Until there is some incentive for a minority party to play ball, why would they do anything but obstruct the other party and paint them in as awful terms as possible?
 

PMS_CC,

I should have clarified that a catastrophic loss might generate an impetus for the losing party to think about change.

Since I agree with your assessment as to the likely outcomes, I remain sincerely pessimistic.
 

PMS_CC said...

I can't see how a catastrophic loss in the midterms would produce any impetus for anything. I hope I'm not being an apologist by saying so, but a sweeping GOP victory in the mid-terms would prove that "Just Say No" always works. The gridlock that follows will be cited as further proof that Obama can't lead. And then we find ourselves back in 2000-2006 where the government pissed money down a drain and called it "smaller government."

The polling is suggesting a tsuami wave election with results between 1994 and 1932. I have never seen underlying numbers like this in my lifetime.

The question suggested by your post is whether a new GOP Congress will correctly understand its mandate.

This tsunami is powered by a Indi and GOP conservative rebellion which makes the Perot revolt that removed George I in 1992 and then the Dem Congress in 1994 look like a dry run practice.

Like the Perot movement, the Tea Party is equally a repudiation of Bush's oxymoronic "big government conservatism" as it is of Obama's even more rapid expansion of government.

Does the GOP establishment understand this?

Does the GOP understand that the voters want it to be the party of limited government (or the party of no, if you prefer) all the time, not just during a Dem government?

After 1994, the GOP seemed to understand this for all of six years.

This time around, if the GOP goes back to big government business as usual, I very much believe that the Tea Party will turn into a real party seeking to send the GOP the way of the Whigs.
 

Our yodeler is predicting a tsunami of shallowness. And his prediction that the Republican Party will "Whig out" will surely result in a baldness of ideas.

As to the polling for this November, recall the recipe for Muskrat Stew: First, you've got to catch the Muskrat.
 

PMS_CC writes:-

”To consider Mr. Obama's policies as "very moderate centre right" requires comparison to the rest of the world. As you may remember, however, America considers itself the yardstick by which the rest of the world is measured, not the other way around.”

Alas and alack, I fear that CMS_CC may be partly right.

Undoubtedly, some people in America do consider their society as the yardstick by which the rest of the world should be measured. That was even true at one time.

I think there was a western world consensus to that effect up to the end of the Eisenhower administration and probably to the cruel end of the Kennedy Administration.

However, the western world has moved on since then and the USA’s reputation has slithered downhill ever since.

In the Economist’s 2008 “Democracy Index” the USA is 18th in the table of the 30 “fully democratic” states (admittedly with the UK even lower because of our appallingly low level of political participation).

And, of course, after Reagan, Nixon, Bush Senior and above all Bush Junior, the USA couldn’t really expect to find its world reputation untarnished, now could it?

However, those who rely on “Faux News” and talk radio for their knowledge of world affairs may well be blissfully unaware of how low the reputation of the USA had sunk by the close of the Bush 2 presidency. Those who travelled abroad were, I think, quite quickly disabused of their misconceptions – so much so that quite a number of US visitors to Europe took to wearing those Canadian Tee shirts which proclaim “we are the other Americans and which afforded wearers a measure of protection from abuse.

There was a remarkable surge in the world standing of the USA after President Obama's election and my guess is that this will last for some time.

But with the advent of multiple TV channels which carry proceedings in the Senate and (less often) the House as well as shows like the Washington Journal which goes out on Sundays on the BBC's Parliament Channel, thee is increasing awareness of just how awful the Republican opposition is.

It's high time the American people woke up to that reality but somehow I doubt that it is all that easy for you to see yourselves as others see you.

BTW it's hard for the nations of Europe to do so either. But at least the vastly greater US news content on TV and in the papers helps.

You will perhaps remember the words of an Edwardian silk to a Judge who had complained: "I have been listening to your submissions for an hour and I am am none the wiser"

Quick as a flash came the reply: "Wiser perhaps not M'Lud, but very much better informed I trust."

We may not be wiser than the citizenry of the USA, but it may be that we are better informed by our media.
 

What is this small government that our yodeler with his Tea Party and libertarian hats on is seeking? How about cuts in national defense? Or is that sacrosanct for him and his minions? Consider the feature that begins today (7/19/10) in the WaPo headlined TOP SECRET AMERICA with today's "A hidden world, growing beyond control" by Dana Priest and William Arkin. Costs are identified. These costs are in addition to the war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan. And how about the need for strict border security to make it effective? Taxes to cover these expenses are okay? Forget about the infrastructure problems throughout America? Forget about Social Security, Medicare and health care reforms? Forget about financial regulation and revert to the Gilded Age? And who cares about the polar bears any more than about those with bipolar disorders? Who needs the FDA? And why do we need a Pure Food Law? Let's have a completely free market. And of course tax cuts will cure our economic malaise.

Our yodeler and his minions lack a sanity clause. (No Groucho Marx responses, please.) We'll be wading in the tsunami our yodeler predicts.
 

Has the Tea Party's Mark Williams been replaced by our yodeler?
 

Perhaps many of us unhappy with the Mt. Etna duo's arms erupting Heller and McCarthy decisions on the Second Amendment may have to reconsider if the yodeler and his minions are successful with their smaller government for purposes of self defense (although it may be our yodeler's view that with libertarian small government there may be less need of Second Amendment rights).
 

Mourad:

It is amusing when Euros sneer at the United States for being less enlightened when the EU is facing serial sovereign insolvency attempting to support an unsupportable welfare state and whose population is dying off because it refuses to reproduce in a rather damning indictment of its view of the EU's future.

Yours is a textbook example of civilization collapse and a signal lesson to any in the United States who would follow the same road.

Indeed our current electoral wave is a rebellion against taking this road.
 

This tsunami is powered by a Indi and GOP conservative rebellion which makes the Perot revolt that removed George I in 1992 and then the Dem Congress in 1994 look like a dry run practice.

1. The rebellion needs funding. Democrats outspent the Republicans in June--that's not a good sign for a party that's trying to gain 50 seats back.

2. The rebellion needs leadership. The Tea Party needs credibility, and having Mark Williams out front hasn't helped it at all. Palin isn't exactly the panacea for stupid, either.

The GOP leadership is fighting its own terminal foot-in-mouth disease and internal scandals.

3. The rebellion needs substance. Most of the meat in the Contract from America (was the derivative name intentionally designed to summon Gingrich into the public sphere?) is found in a balanced budget constitutional amendment that couldn't be passed in the next 12 years, let alone 2 years. This sets aside that fact that states with similar budgetary guidelines--especially California--are paralyzed by such rules.

It's a lousy thing to build a platform around, since it's something that a national party can't achieve in the two year period before the next House elections. It's a nice goal perhaps (I'd argue it's not so nice in practice), but it's ultimately an empty promise.

The ones that seem easier to put into play (tax cuts, flat tax, repealing health care reform, and drill, baby, drill) may not be as well-received as they could be, and aren't likely to help the economy any more than they did in 2000-2008.

Also, and I think this is important to note: they're the same old ideas we've heard over and over from the GOP. If they didn't fly in 2006 or 2008, why should they suddenly be great in 2010?

If the "conservative rebellion" takes Congress this fall, it will be due to a powerful mix of 90% bluster and 10% reason.
 

PMS_CC said...

BD: This tsunami is powered by a Indi and GOP conservative rebellion which makes the Perot revolt that removed George I in 1992 and then the Dem Congress in 1994 look like a dry run practice.

1. The rebellion needs funding. Democrats outspent the Republicans in June--that's not a good sign for a party that's trying to gain 50 seats back.


Most of that money was spent in intramural bloodletting in PA and AK.

2. The rebellion needs leadership. The Tea Party needs credibility, and having Mark Williams out front hasn't helped it at all. Palin isn't exactly the panacea for stupid, either.

Welcome to Virtual Politics 3.0. In contrast to the first two American virtual political campaigns - Dean and Obama, the Tea Party is a bottom up movement more akin to the Iranian democracy movement. We use social networking to connect folks with similar grievances against the government, disseminate news that the Dem media decline to cover and organize mail, email, telephone, townhall and street protests - all without a central leadership.

The GOP leadership is fighting its own terminal foot-in-mouth disease and internal scandals.

That is why the Tea Party is removing the big government conservatives and nominating our own people to take over the GOP.

3. The rebellion needs substance.

Grass roots rebellions are not political parties with platforms, they have shared grievances. Here are the basic principles of the Tea Party:

1) No new taxes.

2) Cut spending until it matches tax revenues.

3) Reverse every expansion of government power by Bush and Obama starting with Obamacare.

4) Enforce the immigration laws by securing the borders.

The details can be filled in after we retake our government.

Also, and I think this is important to note: they're the same old ideas we've heard over and over from the GOP. If they didn't fly in 2006 or 2008, why should they suddenly be great in 2010?

Apart from the 2003 tax reform, the majority of the Tea Party folks did not support any expansion of government over the past decade.

We appear to be in the third such cycle of conservative rebellion, with the first two being 1980 and 1994. The cycle goes like this: A Dem government overreaches to the left, conservative voters rise up and elect a conservative GOP President or Congress, 6-8 years later the GOP gets corrupt and becomes just another big government ruling class, conservatives get discouraged and the middle turns to the Dems, repeat cycle.

This rebellion is far larger than the prior two. In the most recent Gallup polling on the subject, 30% of Americans now self identify as Tea Party supporters - a group larger than all the left special interest groups like unions, feminists and greens combined. These folks are bipartisan and far more geographically and racially diverse than is portrayed in the Dem news media.

These nearly 1/3 of Americans make up a larger share of registered voters and are the most enthusiastic about voting this fall. In short, Tea Party supporters will probably make up more than 40% of voters nationwide and probable majorities in several dozen Dem represented swing districts.

Welcome to the revolution.
 

That is why the Tea Party is removing the big government conservatives and nominating our own people to take over the GOP.

Baghdad, you should start with Scott Brown.
 

What Baghdad Bart is trying to say is that the teabaggers are REALLY upset that they got their asses kicked in the last 2 elections.
 

I note that Jonathan Chait in the New Republic does not exactly see it in the same way as poor dear Bart: Tactical Radicalism And The End of the GOP Establishment

”This is four Senate seats put at serious risk by running right-wing primary challenges, plus one enormous liberal domestic policy accomplishment. In all these instances, conservatives either celebrated the right-wing primary challenge or, at the very least, quietly accepted it. There was very little pushback at the time from the party establishment, other than a feeble effort in Kentucky. I have seen no recriminations whatsoever in hindsight. And yet it seems perfectly clear that the effect of these challenges has been a disaster from the conservative perspective.”
 

Mourad:

:::chuckle:::

Chait is playing concern troll whistling past the proverbial graveyard.

The American press is filled with stories that the Dems are afraid now of losing the Senate as well as the House to a tsunami wave election.

Toomey is leading in PA, Paul is leading in KY and Angle is leading Reid in all but one poll. The Dem Senate leader Reid cannot break above the mid 40% range even though he is spending hundreds of thousands on negative commercials.

The interesting race is FL where there is a three way contest with a liberal Republican running as an Indi and trying to win based primarily on Dem and Indi votes. Chait shares my doubts that Dems will really vote for the former GOP governor who dumped on his own party.

Looking pretty damn good that the Tea Party GOP candidates will get a sweep or a near sweep.

I appreciate your faux concern.
 

Our yodeler seeks to escape his acolyte devotion to Bush/Cheney from 1/20/01-1/20/09 by remaking himself into a charter, bottom up, Tea Party member going well back to his Bush/Cheney acolyte days. However, our yodeler's acolyte record is well established at this and other Blogs. He overuses the royal "we" when referring to the Tea Party as if he were a founder rather than just another of the neocons attempting to co-opt the Tea Party. All can see through his disguise as he now refutes Bush/Cheney for its big government. Our yodeler remains, however, a mere NOAGN*. And Mark Williams makes two.

*NIT ON A GNAT'S NUT
 

And speaking of Mark Williams (as I was), take a peek at Eugene Robinson's OpEd in today's (7/20/10) WaPo: "The Tea Party must purge racism from its rank." Can we expect some flushing in Colorado?
 

Poor dear Bart’s vision of the state of the EU is as potty as one might expect from him.

While the USA has at the moment better overall unemployment figures than the EU, the key to understanding them is to disaggregate unemployment by age group: Between 25 and 55 the unemployment rates are identical. US employment rates for the under 25 age groups and the pre and post retirement age groups are higher because:

(i) young workers in the USA get less education and those who go to university are more likely to work part-time than their European counterparts;

(ii) pension provision in the US is neither as broad nor as generous as in the EU so people - particularly the poor who cannot afford to save for retirement – have to carry on working.

In the USA because the average hours worked per employees are 20% higher than in the EU. US economists seek to explain this by what are alleged to be different American and European social preferences for work and leisure.

But the real reason is that since 1979, the bottom 40 per cent of income earners in the USA have not seen their wage rates improve while the bottom 20 per cent have actually become poorer.

US workers have needed to put in more years and longer hours simply to maintain their real income position.

In other words, the effect of the conservative policies for which Bart contends is to “soak the Poor”.

Never mind about creating a better educated young labour force: put the little horrors to work as soon as possible for as little pay as possible – bring back child labour in the mines perhaps?

Never mind about seniors being too poor to retire: they can work till they drop. Why not deny them health care too? They may die earlier that way and thus improve the actuarial position on social security.

Never mind about blacks and hispanics being worse off:
one has to be able to be sure of a steady supply of domestic servants at minimum wages. In fact why not reintroduce slavery or some form of serfdom in support of cheaper agriculture ? – the man from Del Monte he say “Yes” – cheap labour is good for us.

The Tea Party lot are being organised by some very dodgy extreme right nihilists and funded by the very wealthy though opaque PACs and the like. An increase in the gap between rich and poor is good for those dynasts who live on the unearned income of their commercial empires.

As Herr Doktor Goebbels well knew, with unlimited funding one can persuade the people to adopt the vilest policies.

That’s what the people behind the Tea Party are up to. However, they have improved on National Socialism . It isn’t just the minority Jews who are targeted - they are actually targeting the majority – and trying to con them into voting for their own continued and increased poverty with nice fuzzy, comfortable sounding, but very unprincipled propaganda.
 

Mourad:

1) The reason that Americans work longer and produce more than Euros is because they are free to do so. The EU caps work hours.

2) Work hour caps and other interventions in the labor market price out lower productivity labor in the EU, creating a structural high unemployment rate.

3) Your workers are poorer on average because they have to support the large unemployed class at a rate far higher than the US and also have to support a large and well paid bureaucracy which produces no wealth.

4) The US does have issues with poverty for two reasons: (1) We have a very large unskilled legal and illegal group of immigrants and (2) we have a much smaller underclass of government dependents. The former is not really a problem because the immigrants are improving their absolute income by coming to America. The latter is a problem that we need to deal with.

5) Our middle class is going in two directions. Industrial workers are losing ground because of automation while our knowledge workers have risen to upper middle class. This will work itself out over time as did the shift from agriculture to industry during the industrial revolution.

6) Our wealthy are doing well because they are free to create small and medium businesses. 80% of the income of the top 1% comes from self owned businesses. Making entrepreneurship difficult in the EU creates a flatter income structure by reducing wealth without helping the lower income groups. Indeed, the lack of small to medium entrepreneurship is part of the EU's structural unemployment problem. In short, envy is a losing proposition.

7) Unfortunately, the current American government is inflicting many of the same artificial business and labor costs which have hobbled the EU for decades. However, unlike in the EU where bureaucrats riot to maintain their parasitic existence, Americans are on the streets and will be in the voting both to stop their country from following the EU off the cliff.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

When poor dear Bart refers to “an underclass of government dependents”, he may well be referring to what today’s Washington Post describes as National Security Inc - the 874,000 spooks on the national security payroll employed to create mountains of reports which many of the recipients have no time to read. But the number of private industry contractors involved and their pay-scales suggest that this insane overkill is just another consequence of a Bush Administration “jobs for the boys” program which, like Topsy, has “just growed” - and growed and growed. Good for the shareholders, bad for the US taxpayers.

What have been the real costs of the ludicrous Bush ‘n’ Blair ”Enterprise of Iraq” part of the ”muscular foreign policy” poor Bart espouses? In 2008, the Washington Post was estimating as little as 3 trillion USD but some say it will be over 7 trillion USD before US forces are finally withdrawn. And, of course, the wonderful folks in the Cheney/Rumsfeld Axis who implemented the Bush Administration’s warm and fuzzy “Freedom™” agenda made sure a good proportion of the billions being splashed about went to their pals in the corporations. Good for the shareholders, bad for the US taxpayers.

If President Bush had not cut taxes while simultaneously prosecuting two foreign wars and deficit financing a whole host of other programs the Obama Administration would be facing half the current deficit it has inherited. And, of course, that deficit has to be financed – good for the foreign lenders, bad for the US taxpayer.

So if the Tea Party lot really want lower taxes and fiscal responsibility, then they should be encouraged to ensure that Republicans and their corporate lobbyists are kept out of the Congress. Voting for Democrats might be a start - they have a better record on fiscal responsibility.

But of course, poor dear Bart doesn’t really want fiscal responsibility from the Federal Government – he just wants the money to finance his corporate friends and his ”muscular foreign policy” objectives rather than achieving social justice and building a “one nation America”.
 

Baghdad, while you don't work for the government directly, you are 100% dependent on the government for your income. You are one of the "parasites".
 

Where were Tea Party members during the 1/20/01-1/20/09 Bush/Cheney years? Were they hiding among the neocons? We know where our yodeler was during those years, there in the trenches with Bush/Cheney. So is the Tea Party really a bottoms-down movement? (No dirty crack intended, of coarse [sick!].)

Can we expect our yodeler in his upcoming (upchucking?) work of friction on Pres. Obama to claim he is a founder of the Tea Party?
 

but to call them either "libertarian", or "conservative"

Oh, of course. Sam calls himself a pacifist but keeps beating people up; it seems inconsistent.

There's nothing libertarian about forcing taxpayers to pick up trillions of dollars of cost of wars that didn't need to be fought, homeland defense that's security theater and pork, and bloated federal spending signed into law for eight years with not one veto.

And there's nothing conservative about putting America's men and women in uniform into harm's way to invade and overthrow a country that was no danger to us.

And there's nothing libertarian or conservative about lying to the Nation to build a bogus case for it.
 

Where were Tea Party members during the Bush/Cheney years?

That is a thing of wonder, isn't it? All their objections to large government, ignoring the people, trampling on historic rights, so silent then. And they couldn't have found a better time or Administration to voice their objections about. Why didn't they?

It's enough to make you think that the teabaggers are not entirely objecting to the stuff they say they're objecting to. Or are fundamentally confused as to who or what they object to, and why. Or (not to put too fine a point on it) astroturf that has outlived their usefulness.
 

Shag from Brookline said...

Where were Tea Party members during the 1/20/01-1/20/09 Bush/Cheney years?

Many of the Tea Party stayed home in 2000. After leading in the polls, Bush had to squeak out an electoral college victory with a minority of the popular vote.

They voted Bush in 2004 because we were at war.

Many of them stayed home or voted for Dems running center to center right campaigns in 2006 and 2008. 17% of self described Tea Party supporters told a pollster last January that they voted for Obama.

It took Obama's hard turn left to get these folks out of their homes and onto the streets.
 

Welcome to Virtual Politics 3.0. ...[The Tea Party does all sorts of things]- all without a central leadership.

Yeah, I've heard that one before. It's a bit like schizophrenia, really, if you look at it closely.

The NTPF splash page has it all: reasons why you need leadership ("ONE MESSAGE, ONE FACE!"), discussion of the need to build "brand equity," immediately followed by a hollow disclaimer that the NTPF "will act in unison without a central leadership."

No central leadership? What does the Federation even do, then? Well, it "creates a unified message and media response amongst key leadership." Key leadership?

So, the thing that makes the Tea Party different from other political parties in terms of organization is that they have "key leadership" and not "central leadership"?

Pardon me, but I'm going to file this idea in the "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's a Tea Party" folder.
 

It took Obama's hard turn left to get these folks out of their homes and onto the streets.
# posted by Bart DePalma : 9:48 PM


So, they're not really opposed to big government, they just hate black people.
 

Baghdad, if you teabaggers didn't like Bush, why didn't you protest? I know you were too busy defending his every move, but why didn't other teabaggers protest?
 

PMS:

The NTPF is one of multiple efforts to unify the decentralized Tea Party movement. None have succeeded yet.

The general way the Tea Party puts together large event like the marches on Washington is to pitch the idea out on the social networks and then assemble groups of interested local Tea Party organizations.

The initiator of the idea usually handles the logistics at the demonstration site and the local groups around the nation handle the logistics of getting there.

Once there, the only organized activities are usually the speeches. Afterwards, the demonstrations often take a life of their own such as besieging the Congress during the Obamacare debate and vote.

The Tea Party is the antithesis of the astro turf SEIU and Organizing for America events. We do not have coordinators handing out signs and telling us what to say. It is a source of amusement for Tea Party folks to mix in with the Dem astroturf, record their instruction sessions and post it on Youtube.

The vast majority of Tea Party activities are local and run by the city or county organization. Tea Party groups in the same locality often have very different agendas. Our rural county of 50,000 souls has two Tea Party groups, one of which sees its purpose as to educate voters on the Constitution and the issues, while the other one is dedicated to taking over the local GOP. There is very little coordination between the two nevertheless a common leadership.

What it lacks in organization, the Tea Party makes up in enthusiasm. While demonstrations are old hat to you folks on the left, they are something quite novel to libertarians and conservatives. Because they get fed the left POV continuously by the media, libertarians and conservatives often feel isolated. However, when the Tea Party folks gather by the hundreds, the thousands and then hundreds of thousands - online and on the streets, they find out they are not alone, but are instead legion.

In the course of less than a year and a half, the Tea Party has gone from zero to having 30% of adults self identify as supporters. Obama has awakened a proverbial giant.
 

Notice that our yodeler in his recent comments refers to the Tea Party in the third person in comparison to his earlier first person (plural) references. Perhaps our yodeler finally realized that he is a phonie-come-lately to the movement and not a founding-mother. Perhaps someone with greater internet search abilities than I have (as the countdown to my achieving octogenarian status begins) can pinpoint exactly when our yodeler outed himself as a Lipton-lite. (Recall when conservatives used to describe liberals as wine sippers and cheese eaters? Now we have a Tea Party of whining tea drinkers who end up eating their own, to wit, Mark Williams. Et tu Colorado?)
 

Poor dear Bart writes:-

”Our rural county of 50,000 souls has two Tea Party groups, one of which sees its purpose as to educate voters on the Constitution and the issues, while the other one is dedicated to taking over the local GOP. There is very little coordination between the two nevertheless a common leadership”.

I did a Google search for “Teller County Tea Party” and got back these two entries:

Teller Tea Party with a site apparently still under construction.

The Tea Party of Teller County which has a notice on its home page:-

”Notice: There is another group calling themselves the “Teller County Tea Party”. The Teller Tea Party is the authentic Tea Party group for Teller County.”

That rather suggests a lack of “common leadership” between the two groups.
 

Today's (7/21/10) WaPo features Ann Telnaes' animated political cartoon "GOP looking back with fondness to the Bush years" and Tom Toles' "Originalist sin." Our yodeler is looking more and more like a Mugwamp, teetering between Bush/Cheney and the Tea Party. Might our yodeler end up like Humpty-Dumpty or merely with egg on his face?

By the Bybee (no, I haven't forgotten but I was reminded by the recent release of Judge Bybee's testimony before a Senate committee on Bush/Cheney torture policies), today's LATimes has an editorial calling for looking deeper into the interrogators of "unapproved" OLC torture methods. "Judge not, lest ye ...."
 

Poor dear Bart lives in a location in Teller County called Woodland Park which describes itself as “the City Above the Clouds”

So I thought I’d have a look at the web to see if there were any reports on Tea Party politics in Νεφελοκοκκυγία [Cloud-cuckoo-land].

I found a Report of a Teller County Tea Party event in Woodland Park from someone claiming to be a member of the American Constitution Society:

”All in all, I didn't get the impression that there was anything authentic to the notion of an independent Tea Party. For my money, this could just as well have been an officially sanctioned event of the local GOP, in support of the goals of the corporate-owned, corporate-controlled national GOP.

The people there struck me as disgruntled Republicans, unhappy about where their party has wandered lately, but unwilling to put principle ahead of party and unable to vote for anyone but the Republican candidate, regardless of whether she or he is a conservative….

It's not fair to say that Congressman Lamborn hasn't done anything to help American citizens. He has worked hard to protect a very select group of "citizens" against the ravages of over-regulation and cash shortfalls in these harrowing times. Those "citizens" are grateful. They include Bank of America, AIG, Wall Street brokers, Wall Street bankers, credit card companies and the Federal Reserve. Thankfully, the Supreme Court is protecting the rights of these "citizens" to contribute to Congressman Lamborn's reelection as a way to show their appreciation.”


I also found this post by a former candidate for Teller County Sheriff:-

”If you have read the article referring to me by the Teller County Tea Party, please take note, I am more than qualified and able to be Sheriff. Do not confuse this group with the real “Tea Party” which started long before this dubious one. The Teller County Tea Party is nothing more than supporters of Mark Manriquez, posing as neutral voters. They are using scare tactics and half-truths to promote a candidate with little integrity.”

As well as this on the KRDO TV web site:

KRDO: Sheriff Candidate Drops Out

”Teller County Sheriff candidate Basil “Ski” Perkowski is dropping out of the race….He said then, the campaign for sheriff was getting “dirty” and he was disappointed, but wasn’t surprised, "I've had long time residents here tell me this is par for the course for running for political office; which I find sad," said Perkowski.

Perkowski was running as an unaffiliated candidate. Two candidates, Mark Manriquez and Michael Ensminger, remain in the race for sheriff; both are running as Republicans.”


It all sounds to me a bit like politics as they were in the time of Aristophanes - and ever since - rather than anything particularly momentous.
 

I'm confused between Breitbart and "unbrightbart" with their common denominator.

No thanks to Mourad, I envision our yodeler in "Woodland Park which describes itself as 'the City Above the Clouds'" with a halo over his head thinking "high" thoughts sort of like John Winthrop's "City on a Hill." Something must be spiking that tea.
 

With his head "above the clouds" our yodeler's vision is distorted, cumulusly speaking, perhaps the equivalent of his on the ground head up his a**.
 

Mourad said...

I found a Report of a Teller County Tea Party event in Woodland Park from someone claiming to be a member of the American Constitution Society:

”All in all, I didn't get the impression that there was anything authentic to the notion of an independent Tea Party. For my money, this could just as well have been an officially sanctioned event of the local GOP, in support of the goals of the corporate-owned, corporate-controlled national GOP.


:::chuckle:::

This must be the guy in town with the Obama sticker on his Prius. I know this sounds like cliche, but this guy is real. Speaking of disgruntled.

I also found this post by a former candidate for Teller County Sheriff:-

”If you have read the article referring to me by the Teller County Tea Party, please take note, I am more than qualified and able to be Sheriff. Do not confuse this group with the real “Tea Party” which started long before this dubious one. The Teller County Tea Party is nothing more than supporters of Mark Manriquez, posing as neutral voters. They are using scare tactics and half-truths to promote a candidate with little integrity.”


Welcome to small town politics. This poster was handpicked by the outgoing Sheriff to be his replacement and was then disqualified under election rules.

KRDO: Sheriff Candidate Drops Out

”Teller County Sheriff candidate Basil “Ski” Perkowski is dropping out of the race….He said then, the campaign for sheriff was getting “dirty” and he was disappointed, but wasn’t surprised, "I've had long time residents here tell me this is par for the course for running for political office; which I find sad," said Perkowski.


Ski was actually my favorite candidate, but he declined to run in the crowded GOP primary of a GOP county and could not find support as an independent. Lesson: When in Rome, run as a Roman.

It all sounds to me a bit like politics as they were in the time of Aristophanes - and ever since - rather than anything particularly momentous.

This is pretty standard American politics, with a wild west twist.
 

the real costs of the ludicrous Bush ‘n’ Blair "Enterprise of Iraq"?

Yep, $3 trillion is now the low estimate. $7 trillion is more realistic. Makes the $862 billion stimulus program look modest by comparison. And Congress is now struggling to approve the relative pittance of $34 billion to help folks who are out of work through no fault of their own. Some in Congress demand that the $34 billion must be paid for with cuts in other areas. Oddly, those same Congressmen never demanded that the trillions in Iraq costs would have to be be paid for with cuts in other areas. No, it will be paid for by future generations.

If President Bush had not cut taxes while simultaneously prosecuting two foreign wars and deficit financing a whole host of other programs the Obama Administration would be facing half the current deficit it has inherited.

Shrub bought support for his war by violating every conservative live-within-your-means principle he claimed to stand for.

As a result there's very little Obama can do about a bunch of problems. They badly need solving, but the solutions cost money. Shrub spent that money already. On dumb shit. And sold the public by not making them pay for it. Any real conservative is horrified at this record.
 

Notice: there is another group calling themselves the “Teller County Tea Party”. The Teller Tea Party is the authentic Tea Party group for Teller County.

Reg: The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front.

PFJ: Yeah

Judith: Splitters.

Francis: And the Judean Popular Peoples Front.

PFJ: Oh yeah. Splitters.

Loretta: And the peoples Front of Judea.

PFJ: Splitters.

Reg: What?

Loretta: The Peoples front of Judea. Splitters.

Reg: We're the Peoples front of Judea.

Loretta: Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.

Reg: Peoples Front.

Francis: Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?

Reg: He's over there.
 

jpk:

LMAO!

That pretty much sums it up.
 

Baghdad, do you belong to the Tea Party's Peoples Front or Popular Front?
 

Shag wrote:-

No thanks to Mourad, I envision our yodeler in "Woodland Park which describes itself as 'the City Above the Clouds'" with a halo over his head thinking "high" thoughts sort of like John Winthrop's "City on a Hill."

I wonder. Although Woodland Park is a “city” by virtue of its incorporation, in reality it is nothing of the sort, but rather what we English describe as a “dormitory suburb” (which I think translates into American usage as a ”bedroom community”) of Colorado Springs which is but 17 miles away.

Woodland Park was incorporated in 1891 – about the same time as Colorado Springs and it can be described as a “planned community”. Very much so. It has 20 churches for a population of 7.5 thousand which works out at 1 church for every 375 inhabitants. Fewer than 40% of its households have children under 18.

Impoverished Republicans who can’t afford to live in Aspen might want to spend their sunset years there. Not only because it is home to the Dinosaur Resource Center, which is always on the look-out for fossils of various kinds, but also because it is 94.89% white.

Then there are all those Churches (which seem mostly to be of the “happy clappy” or Rapture-Ready variety) as well as a convenient day care and hospice (Medicare and Medicaid certified), a Post Office, a Library and a Seniors’ Nutrition Program providing nourishing meals at just US$2 (federally funded, of course).

Where better for poor Bart to opt out of the legal rat race, scratch a living on the fringes of small-time law, distribute his cast-off clothing and groceries past their sell by date to the “deserving poor”, attend to the maintenance of his arsenal of weaponry for use against the rising tide of ”have nots”, dabble in right-wing politics and still have time left to play the ”agent provocateur” on blogs like this one.
 

Mourad:

One of the many schizophrenias of the left is their ability to rail against the wealthy like a union organizer with one breath and then sneer down at those they consider their economic and cultural inferiors in their best Marie Antoinette with the next breath.

Shag:

You think Obama would give me a stimulus grant to study this?
 

then sneer down at those they consider their economic and cultural inferiors in their best Marie Antoinette with the next breath.

Baghdad, you wingnuts have given people a lot of reasons to sneer down at you.
 

Our yodeler asks:

"You think Obama would give me a stimulus grant to study this?"

With our yodeler's shooting blanks all these years, even granting a blue pill would be wasted on him.

Was it Marie who said: "Let them drink tea"?

By the Bybee, is our yodeler wealthy enough to rail against?
 

Insofar as it may matter what others think, the London Independent’s US Editor has a piece today on the Tea Party Tea Party unites to fight Obama in Congress.

As a Liberal Democrat, I am a supporter of the 3rd party in UK politics. The USA inherited our first past the post voting system and believe me, it is very hard for a 3rd party to survive in such a system. In 1992 we were elected in just 20 seats. By 1997 we had raised our total to 46 seats and by 2001 to 52 seats. By 2005 we had risen to just 62 seats. That has largely been achieved by concentrating on “winnable” seats and encouraging “tactical” voting – that is to say in a Conservative held seat one asks Labour voters to vote tactically “to keep the Tories out” and in Labour seats one asks Conservative voters – “to help us keep the socialists out”.

In 2010 we got only 57 seats despite increasing our share of the vote – but in a hung parliament we became part of a coalition with the Conservatives. In the short term that has alienated all those who voted Liberal Democrat to “keep the Tories out”.

So, in the short term, and in a first past the post system where electoral success is vastly more expensive than in the UK, the Tea Party, has no real hope of making it as a Third Party where so many others have failed.

Therefore it makes absolute sense for the “lunatic right” of the GOP (typified, perhaps, by the dreadful duo of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman) to seek to co-opt the Tea Party in order to shift the GOP away from the centre ground and increase the influence of their own faction within the party.

But one must not underestimate tribal loyalty. I remember canvassing a little old lady in one election. She went on and on about bringing back capital punishment and I was about to mark her down as a Conservative until I asked her who she was going to vote for: “Oh, I always vote Labour”, she said. “I tell the Conservatives, I will vote for them and ask them to send me a car to get me to the polling station. Then I go in and vote Labour. I reckon that if they send a car for me, that’s one Tory vote less from somebody else!”

In a first past the post system, shifting away from the centre ground is nearly always a national share of the vote loser – so I expect those responsible for GOP national strategy must be biting their fingernails down to the quick right now.
 

Eric Alterman's "Think Again" column at his The Nation website posted 7/22/10 titled "Economist, Heal Thyself" addresses differences between America and Europe as they relate to their respective economies and social policies that might throw some light on the above across the pond debate (that I do not intend to bait).
 

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