The Wages of Sin

Bush Administration, Democratic Party, Republican Party

I’m trying to wrap my head about the Iraq Study Group report this morning and hope to post something wonderfully insightful and intelligent — or, at least, something not real stupid — later today. In the meantime —

Harold Meyerson writes in today’s Washington Post about the GOP’s Southern Problem.

You’ve seen the numbers and understand that America is growing steadily less white. You try to push your party, the Grand Old Party, ahead of this curve by taking a tolerant stance on immigration and making common cause with some black churches. Then you go and blow it all in a desperate attempt to turn out your base by demonizing immigrants and running racist ads against Harold Ford. On Election Day, black support for Democrats remains high; Hispanic support for Democrats surges. So what do you do next?

What else? Elect Trent Lott your deputy leader in the Senate. Sure locks in the support of any stray voters who went for Strom in ’48.

Since the midterms, rhetoric coming out of the GOP suggests most of ’em are still determined to follow the Karl Rove strategy of pandering to the lowest, dumbest, and craziest elements of the Right to win in ’08. And I say to those Republican politicians: Please, don’t ever change. You’re most useful to us just as you are.

Anyway, after citing some of the more startling results of the midterm showing that the Rest of Us are getting bluer while the South gets redder, Meyerson writes (emphasis added),

The challenge for Republicans — and for such presidential aspirants as John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney in particular — is how to bridge the widening gap between their Southern base and the rest of the nation. The persistence of Southern exceptionalism is clear in the networks’ exit polls, in which fully half of Southern voters identified themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, while just one-third of the entire nation’s voters did so. It’s clear from the fact that in a period of broad economic stagnation, the populism of working-class Southern whites, like a record stuck in a groove, remains targeted more against cultural than economic elites.

Indeed, scratch the surface of some of our current hot-button issues and you find age-old regional conflicts. Wal-Mart’s practice, for instance, of offering low wages and no benefits to its employees begins in the rural South, where it’s no deviation from the norm. Only when Wal-Mart expands this practice to the metropolises of the North and West, threatening the living standards of unionized retail workers, does it encounter roadblocks, usually statutory, to its entry into new markets.

Let’s recap recent events. Sidney Blumenthal predicted before the midterms that “[Karl] Rove’s legacy may be to leave Republicans with a regional Southern party whose constrictive conservatism fosters a solid Democratic North.”

The midterms did reveal that the South and Everyone Else seem to be on different wavelengths. Thomas F. Schaller writes,

Though trailing in generic House race exit polls in the South by 8 points, the Democrats won the West by 11 points, the Midwest by five and the Northeast by an incredible 28. Democrats picked up 11 House seats in the Northeast, turning that region into a power base as solidly blue as the South is red. Democrats added 21 seats in state legislatures in Dixie, but that was a disproportionately small percentage of the more than 270 they gained nationwide. They captured new legislative majorities in nine chambers, none of them Southern.

This trend will come as no surprise to anyone who paid close attention to the 2004 election, when the Democrats actually won the non-Southern congressional elections in both chambers despite losing the presidential contest. That’s right: They won. The GOP’s pickups were all in the South, as they grabbed five House seats in Texas thanks to Tom DeLay’s redistricting and five Southern Senate seats thanks to Democratic retirements. Outside the South, the Democrats picked up two House seats. In the Senate, they won two and lost one, adding two new stars, Ken Salazar in Colorado and Barack Obama in Illinois, and losing Tom Daschle of South Dakota. While the Democrats were losing 30 state legislative seats in the South, they were gaining 90 in the rest of the country.

If indeed the blue wave began to build before the 2004 elections, is it remarkable that this trend went completely unnoticed by the political punditocracy? No, it isn’t remarkable at all; we know most of those people are stuck somewhere in 1986. Until weeks before the midterms Washington Insider conventional wisdom said Republicans were just about invincible. Washington Insider conventional wisdom can be stupid.

But if the midterm results did not reveal a brand new phenomenon, but instead show us the continuation of a trend that’s been going on for at least a couple of years, IMO this is evidence that the midterm results are part of a long-term trend and not a short-term blip. This also strengthens the “regional party” prediction. So let us crash rashly ahead.

Here’s something I didn’t know: “The Democratic advantage over Republicans in state legislatures went from 15 seats (3,650 versus 3,635) to 662 seats (3,985 versus 3,323), with gains in every region.”

The only part of the country that remained Republican Red was the deep South. Pretty ironic, considering that 50 years ago, the “solid South” referred to a solid block of Democratic Party voters. Sidney Blumenthal wrote,

The modern Republican rise was first apparent in the midterm elections of 1966, in the wake of early frustrations over Vietnam and racial turmoil after passage of civil rights legislation. The closely fought presidential contest of 1968, whose outcome was hardly inevitable, in which Richard Nixon was elected, was ratified four years later in his 49-state landslide. Nixon’s strategy was to revitalize the Republicans as a party by assimilating Southern Democrats and ethnic suburban white-flight Catholics in reaction to a post-New Deal Democratic party tainted by antiwar dissent, minority protest and countercultural experimentation – “amnesty, acid and abortion,” as Vice President Spiro Agnew captiously put it.

Nixon’s Republican majority was the template for Reagan’s consolidation. Reagan’s grin replaced Nixon’s scowl, but the strategy was basically unaltered. Watergate had only temporarily derailed the project. Reagan’s chief innovation was to acknowledge and encourage the nascent religious right as an evolved form of Southern Democrats metamorphosing into Southern Republicans.

That’s true as far as it goes, but Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” was most basically an appeal to racism, as explained in this, this, and especially this post. In a nutshell: After some prominent Democrats aligned themselves with racial equality and civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, Richard Nixon and some other Republicans made a blatant appeal to racism to pull white voters away from the Democrats. This trend continued into the 1980s, as Ronald Reagan winked and nodded at the “Reagan Democrats” — white blue-collar men — with his stories of Cadillac-driving “welfare queens.”

Fast forward to 2006: Thomas F. Schaller writes,

First and — sadly — foremost, as it may have been in Tennessee, is race. Analyses of the National Election Study data from 2004 show that the attitudes of white Southerners on national defense and even abortion fail to explain their preference for Republican presidential candidates, but attitudes on race do. Anyone who needs proof of the power of racial polarization in the South need only look at the blackest state in the union. Mississippi is 38 percent black, yet has a Republican governor, two Republican senators, and delivered its electoral votes to George Bush without a fuss twice. Southern whites vote as a racial bloc for the GOP. Statistics seem to show that loyalty to the Republican Party is at its highest among voters in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah –- until you start crunching the numbers for white voters only, and realize just how solid and white the GOP’s solid South is.

Race isn’t the only reason:

Second, the South is the most religious and evangelized region of the country, making it the most fertile ground for a socially conservative message. It is also (third reason) the nation’s most rural region, which only reinforces its social conservatism.

Fourth, the gender gap in voting that prevails nationally is smallest in the South. Even the women in the South are Republican. In 2004, there were only five states in the entire country where there was either no gender gap or an inverse gap — Bush doing worse among men than women — and three of those states were in the South.

This is interesting:

All of which brings us to the fifth and last reason: The South is the least unionized region. The one group of white, working-class Americans among whom Democratic loyalty still remains strong is union members and union households, and they are scarce in the South. In the 2006 midterms, non-union household members split their congressional votes evenly between the parties, whereas union members, retirees and family members broke Democratic by a 30-point margin. Forty years ago, Richard Nixon began the process of turning the South Republican by appropriating George Wallace’s appeal to disaffected working-class whites. Race, often encased in such coded phrases as “law and order,” was the basis of much of the GOP’s appeal. Over four decades, by fits and starts, the Republicans captured the South. With the ballast and votes that capture provided, the GOP emerged as the national majority party from the top of the ballot to the bottom by 2000.

Those “disaffected working-class whites” didn’t do the one thing that might have made them less disaffected, which is unionize. As Meyerson wrote, “It’s clear from the fact that in a period of broad economic stagnation, the populism of working-class Southern whites, like a record stuck in a groove, remains targeted more against cultural than economic elites.” Meyerson continues,

So: A Southern low-wage labor system is cruising along until it seeks to expand outside its region and meets fierce opposition from higher-paid workers in the North. Does that suggest any earlier episode in American history? The past, as William Faulkner once wrote of the South, isn’t even past. And now the persistence of Southern identity has become a bigger problem for Republicans than it is for Democrats.

Meyerson was alluding to slavery, and I think he’s on to something. But it’s important to understand that slavery didn’t oppress only African Americans in the antebellum South.

Before 1860 the majority of white southerners were not slaveowners, and the slave-based economy kept those whites dependent on subsistence farming to survive. There were few jobs in a region in which the monied classes used slaves to provide goods and services. Because the monied classes resisted change, the industrial revolution avoided the South. The South even lagged far behind the North in providing public education, so poor southerners were more likely to be illiterate than poor northerners.

Yet to a large extent the “yeoman farmers,” as the social historians call them, supported slavery and and the plantation system. The “yeomen’s” own racism was a factor, of course. Even though they were dirt poor and ignorant, in their minds being white made them privileged. And for some reason the “yeomen” deferred to the plantation class, even as the plantation system kept them impoverished. I’m painting a broadly generalized picture here, of course, and there were plenty of exceptions. I’m just saying there may be old and deep cultural phenomena going on here that none of us completely understands.

After the Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow was a nationwide phenomenon. People think the South was more racist than the North, but for the most part it I don’t think it was; it was just more blatant about racism. But through most of those years the Deep South had a larger percentage of African American citizens than the North. This means that racism had a harder economic impact on the South than on the rest of the country. By denying so many of its citizens full participation into the economy, large parts of the South kept itself poor. Whites were considerably better off than blacks, of course, because whites kept what jobs and wealth there were to themselves. But southern whites on the whole remained poorer than they would have been otherwise. They couldn’t see that their discrimination against blacks was biting them in the ass, as well.

Resisting unionization didn’t help them. But the South resisted unionization largely with the complicity of poor whites who would have benefited. In earlier days of the labor movement, southern whites associated unions with immigrants; later, they associated unions with immigrants and Communists. Since unions in the North shut out African Americans until the 1960s, racism wouldn’t seem to explain why poor southern whites simply accepted the status quo and went along with the economic elites who exploited them. I think racism was a factor, however, because until the 1970s — later, really — jobs other than domestic help and basic laborer were reserved for whites. Poor southern whites didn’t see themselves as oppressed as long as there was another big class of people whom they could oppress. The blatant racism of the South — with legally segregated schools, parks, drinking fountains, restaurants, etc. — IMO had the effect of blinding southern whites to their own disadvantages.

(Segregation in the North, on the other hand, was de facto — white northerners pretended not to notice it even while they practiced it, and for them blacks were mostly out of sight and out of mind. Thus the socio-psychological consequences were, IMO, somewhat different.)

Meyerson brings us up to current events:

In case you haven’t noticed, a fundamental axiom of modern American politics has been altered in recent weeks. For four decades, it’s been the Democrats who’ve had a Southern problem. Couldn’t get any votes for their presidential candidates there; couldn’t elect any senators, then any House members, then any dogcatchers. They still can’t, but the Southern problem, it turns out, is really the Republicans’. They’ve become too Southern — too suffused with the knee-jerk militaristic, anti-scientific, dogmatically religious, and culturally, sexually and racially phobic attitudes of Dixie — to win friends and influence elections outside the South. Worse yet, they became more Southern still on Election Day last month, when the Democrats decimated the GOP in the North and West. Twenty-seven of the Democrats’ 30 House pickups came outside the South.

The Democrats won control of five state legislatures, all outside the South, and took more than 300 state legislative seats away from Republicans, 93 percent of them outside the South. As for the new Senate Republican caucus that chose Mississippi’s Lott over Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander to be deputy to Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, 17 of its 49 members come from the Confederacy proper, with another three from the old border states of Kentucky and Missouri, and two more from Oklahoma, which is Southern but with more dust. In all, 45 percent of Republican senators come from the Greater South.

More problematic, so does most of the Republican message. Following the gospel according to Rove (fear not swing voters but pander to and mobilize thy base), George W. Bush and the Republican Congress, together or separately, had already blocked stem cell research, disparaged nonmilitary statecraft, exalted executive wartime power over constitutional niceties, campaigned repeatedly against gay rights, thrown public money at conservative churches and investigated the tax status of liberal ones. In the process, they alienated not just moderates but Western-state libertarians.

“Boy genius” Karl Rove gained his reputation by picking off Democratic incumbents in deep southern states, using the ugliest, dirtiest, appeal-to-the-lowest-common-denominator campaigning the country has ever seen. But he doesn’t seem to have realized that the Republican Party he was shaping was way far to the right of most of the nation. Rove’s instincts are fine-tuned to southern sensibilities, clearly, but he’s turning out to be tone deaf to the rest of the nation.

After the midterm, I hope the Democrats have finally gotten over the idea that they have to be the “me too” party — Republican Lite — to win voters. The bigger issue for Dems is — do they need the South at all? Schaller has argued that they don’t. I’m not sure that his strategy requires abandoning the South; he seems to be saying that the Dems should stop moving right to win Southern voters. Instead, the Dems should stand firm on progressive ideas that the majority of the rest of America supports. In the short term it may mean losing some southern electoral votes in 2008. But this might be the best “southern strategy” in the long run.

Back in the 1850s, Abraham Lincoln believed the best long-term strategy against slavery was to keep it confined to the southern states. He didn’t believe the Constitution gave the federal government the authority to end slavery in the slave states. Ending slavery nationwide would require a constitutional amendment, which in the 1850s had no chance of passing. But if confined to the South, he thought the “peculiar institution” would die a slow death.

Lincoln didn’t get a chance to see that experiment through. But maybe it’ll work on the gumbo of extremist religiosity and nationalism that poisons American politics today.

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  1. PoliticalCritic  •  Dec 7, 2006 @10:40 am

    By continuing to run so far to the right, the Republicans have ensured that they will be a party of the South for quite some time.

    This only reinforces my original theory….that we should’ve let the South secede when we had the chance!

  2. maha  •  Dec 7, 2006 @10:47 am

    we should’ve let the South secede when we had the chance!

    There would have been worse consequences, such as (almost certainly) a long and bloody war over possession of the western territories.

    A lot of the fault of what went wrong since the Civil War rests with the North, since northerners lost the will to follow through on the original purposes of Reconstruction.

  3. fshk  •  Dec 7, 2006 @1:56 pm

    I wonder if this means the Republican party will become increasingly isolated and then feed on its own delusions, buying into the perception that the opinions of Southern constituents are more widespread. It seems like bad political strategy to continue to pander to the “base” when the rest of America just handed you a card saying, “We think you’re wrong.”

    Speaking of social issue trumping things that actually matter, Mary Cheney and her partner are expecting a baby, which should give the crazies something to chew on for a while. There’s already been an awful lot of ink wasted on the dangers of bringing children into the world without a father, including by some of the members of the anti-feminist organizations Lynn Cheney is associated with. It’s kind of entertaining, like the whole structure is caving in on itself.

  4. Pug  •  Dec 7, 2006 @3:50 pm

    What is truly amazing is the Republicans seemed to learn nothing from the example of California. You might call it the Pete Wilson effect.

    After Wilson demagogued his way to reelection as governor by campaigning against illegals, Republicans have been virtually wiped out in statewide races and their House delegation has steadily shrunk as Hispanic voters overwhelmingly favor Democrats. Ask B-1 Bob Dornan.

    Hispanics, the fastest growing demographic in the electorate, will tip the Southwest, once solidly Republican, to the Democrats. This will happen very soon. It has already happened in California. It will happen in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and, eventually, even Texas.

  5. sycamore  •  Dec 7, 2006 @3:54 pm

    Not all Southerners are red.
    It is a shame that the Republicans have hijacked the southern states.
    I am an American first and foremost. I support what I believe to be best for our country. At present the neo’s stand for what is worst in our country.

  6. Donna  •  Dec 7, 2006 @4:25 pm

    Sounds like the deep South is turning into a quaint historical theme park.

  7. Linkmeister  •  Dec 7, 2006 @4:33 pm

    It’s also of note that most of the Japanese auto plants in this country have been deliberately located in the non-union South. Governors of those states have (I think) been willing to give huge tax incentives to those companies in return for their locating the plants in those states; that plus the right-to-work laws and hostility to unions have made them much more attractive than Northern states.

  8. paradoctor  •  Dec 7, 2006 @5:06 pm

    I have long wondered what the Republican Party’s most passionate partisans think of the first Republican president; Lincoln.

  9. maha  •  Dec 7, 2006 @5:36 pm

    Not all Southerners are red.

    Yes, that is true.

  10. superdestroyer  •  Dec 7, 2006 @6:03 pm

    The real question should be is what will the US be like with one one functional, relevent party. The two party system functions as a buffer on extremist. What will the Democratic Party be like when it is the one and only party. If Mass. or DC are any example, it will not be the utopia that many people are predicting.

  11. maha  •  Dec 7, 2006 @6:34 pm

    The real question should be is what will the US be like with one one functional, relevent party.

    I don’t think that will happen, or if it does it won’t last long. The Republicans probably will reform themselves and make a comeback. If they don’t, they’ll dissolve (like the Whigs) and another “second” party will take its place to promote conservative interests

    If Mass. or DC are any example, it will not be the utopia that many people are predicting.

    Hello? What “many people”? I’ve seen no such predictions.

  12. superdestroyer  •  Dec 7, 2006 @6:42 pm

    There is nothing that the Republicans can do that will help them, in the long run, to regain the majority. In the future, the Republicans are going to buried under demographic tidal wave. Since there is no real way for Republicans to gain with black or Hispanic voters, they stand no chance, in the long run, of remaining viable.

    The Republicans could adopt the platform of the Democratic party and still could not win in the long run.

    Also,since a replacement for the Republicans starts with the same issues of having no suport among blacks, hispanics, Asian, or Jewish voters, there is not way for a new party to win their support. Since most blacks live in a one party area now and most immigrants come from one party countries (like mexico) they will feel comfortable with a one party state.

  13. r4d20  •  Dec 7, 2006 @7:01 pm

    we should’ve let the South secede when we had the chance!

    I disagree. We gave them exactly what they deserved – W.T. Sherman! Although, truthfully, his reputation for “burning down the south” is overblown. He actually went rather easy on them – he destroyed much property but killed very few (REMARKABLY few by the standards of equivilent campaigns deep in enemy territory). His reputation for “savagry” were deliberate lies spread by southerners who were embarassed by his success and shamed by their own weakness (they talked about “insurgency” and how Sherman would be advancing to his own destruction, but he brushed them aside like so many tough-talking gnats). In fact,VDH does a good job is The Soul of Battle at exposing the true nature of southern complaints about Sherman (“Those horrible Yankees forbid me from ordering my slaves to work. I was even forced to cook my own food and wash my own clothes. Heavens to Betsy! Has there ever been a worse barbarism?!?!?!”).

    Fuck the South, and especially Fuck Texas.

    Alamo Shalamo – its still part of Mexico to me.

  14. maha  •  Dec 7, 2006 @8:51 pm

    W.T. Sherman!

    My great-great grandpa, Fielding King, was one of Sherman’s quartermasters. He was with Sherman on that little stroll through Georgia.

  15. maha  •  Dec 7, 2006 @8:56 pm

    superdestroyer — Eighty years ago, most African Americans voted straight Republican. Study history, and learn that nothing ever stays any one way forever. One of the few constants in American history is that two major parties dominate party politics, and although one party or another sometimes dominates for a time, stuff will happen eventually to shake up the status quo, and it will change. And the stuff that happens usually is stuff that nobody anticipated.

  16. superdestroyer  •  Dec 7, 2006 @9:19 pm


    My reading of history is that before the growth of electronic communication, political parties could take very different positions in different parts of the country of even in different parts of the same states. This served to limit any huge collapses That will not occur in the future and especially cannot occur for the Republicans since now all elections are national elections.

    What is more likely, that the Republican Party will collapse or that large number of blacks and Hispanics will start voting for them? Your argument is that blacks will someday start voting for the Republicans again. I would love for you to explain that scenerio to me.

    If you look at DC, the city’s residents have been voting Democratic for over 50 years now through scandal, riots, and incompetence. Yet, DC is still the bluest area on a map of the US and does not even have a functional political party other than the Democrats.

    Look at all of the states north of DC. Every state is now solidly blue and no new Republican candidates stand a chance of winning state wide election.

    If the Democrats update McCain-Feingold to limit issue ads at all times and to implement some sort of public finance, and pass some version of the Fairness Doctrine, it will be game over for all political parties except the Democrats.

    I see a tipping piont where the Democrats, through demographics and cultural trends, reach a point that no other party will bother contesting most electons. At that point, the US will effectively be a one party state.

    The first sign of the tipping point will be when states start trying to repeal initiative and referendum laws (California being a good example of a state of where the dominance of the Democrats is moderated by state wide initiatives).

    The real question for the future is whether all people will start voting in the Democratic Primary and thus act as a buffer on the one party state or whether candidates will be choose in political deals and presented to the public for a rubber stamp vote.

  17. maha  •  Dec 8, 2006 @6:56 am

    My reading of history is that before the growth of electronic communication, political parties could take very different positions in different parts of the country of even in different parts of the same states.

    Be advised that you are talking to a five-alarm history nerd. And your reading is off. Don’t forget that before the rise of mass media, Americans had more newspapers per square inch than any other nation on the planet, and since the mid-19th centuries those newspapers ran much of the same news, acquired by the wire services — literally, through telegraph wires. National syndication of wire stories began during the Mexican War (1846–1848).

    What you say about regional differences in the parties is somewhat true, but it’s still somewhat true — Republicans in the northeast are way differerent critters from Republicans in Mississippi. Since the formation of parties each one tended to have basic shared national principles and party platforms. In presidential politics, different regions of the country may have perceived the issues differently, but people voted on the same issues across the nation.

    This served to limit any huge collapses

    We haven’t had any huge collapses since the Whigs broke apart, true, but that’s not for the reason you site.

    That will not occur in the future and especially cannot occur for the Republicans since now all elections are national elections.

    There were national elections in the past as well. The Whig Party broke up in the 1850s over the national issue of slavery, for example.

    I doubt the GOP will break up, but I think it’s likely it will change. And the parties have changed considerably over time. If you go back one hundred years, the Republicans were the party of civil rights and progressive government, and the Dems were the party of nativism, limited government, low taxes, and white supremacy.

    Your argument is that blacks will someday start voting for the Republicans again. I would love for you to explain that scenerio to me.

    If we’d be having this conversation in 1925, and I told you that someday large numbers of blacks would someday vote as a block for Democrats and not Republicans, you would guffaw and say “I would love for you to explain that scenario to me.” The point is that the factors that caused the shift were not apparant to anyone in 1925. Twenty years from now, there will be hot button issues on everyone’s mind that we today could not have anticipated. That’s how history works; it’s full of surprises.

    For example, if you had told me ten years ago that today we’d be bogged down in a Vietnam-like war, I would have thought you were nuts.

    Your reading assumes that the factors prevailing today are the only factors that will ever prevail, and that’s just dumb.

    The one dynamic that’s fairly constant in U.S. history is that there are two major dominant national parties. These have not been the same parties; When the Whigs broke apart in the 1850s the Dems had the field to themselves for less than a decade before the GOP broke through and dominated the 1860 election by taking the White House; I believe they had a majority in Congress as well. And the party was less than ten years old. If that could happen in the 1850s, it can happen now, even faster.

    I’m saying that if the GOP really does collapse as a national party, another national party will develop and take its place and will be winning national elections pretty quickly — possibly even more quickly than in the 1850s. Believe me, there is plenty of money in conservative pockets that will ensure this. I have no idea what party that would be and what it would look like except that it would be conservative.

    It’s more likely, however, that the old GOP will reform to become nationally competitive again. In any event there will not be a dominant one-party state in this country for very long; probably no longer than one election cycle. That’s a healthy thing, overall.

  18. whig  •  Dec 9, 2006 @11:47 pm

    Once the Democratic party has assured control of the government, it will divide into parts, and the new party is more likely to be the more progressive of the two. In this way, the formerly liberal Democratic party will become the newly conservative Democratic party, and the liberal Progressive party might be where we will be.

  19. superdestroyer  •  Dec 10, 2006 @6:37 am

    I think you overread historicall lessons. Blacks were a very minor voting block before WWII. Now that are the largest single blocks voting for the Democratic Party and blacks are growing as a percentage of the populations.

    Also, in past times, the same politician/elected leader could go into the white middle class portion of a city or state and say one thing and then go into the black portion of a city ans say the exact opposite. Those days are long gone.

    Also, Congress used to believe that it was elected based upon local issues. Yet, in election of the 2006 cycles, local issues (or issues in general ) just were not discussed. The Virginia Senate election was totally deviod of local issues. In the future, that will be all elections.

    The best line I have heard about politics is that it is not sports. The Republicans do go get an easier schedule or higher draft picks because it lost.

    In modern politics, there are many more negative feedback loops than positive. The Republicans will begin to receive lower contributions since they are out of power. And when they receive lower contributions it means that they will be competative in fewer races. Being out of power also means that fewer new people will want to be involved wtih the Republicans. Thus fewer new candidates to groom.

    There is also no move that the Republicans can make because the Republicans just do not have those blocks of voters that will give them 90% of their support. If the Republicans try to become Democrat-lite, the social conservatives will not support them. This is different than the Democrats moving to the middle while knowing that the black, Jewish, and Hispanic voters will still vote for them in overwhelmingly numbers.

    You can make all of the historic references but in the past there was never such a large block that voted for one party with so much resisitence to change.

    The real discussion should not be about Republican failures but should be about the effects on the US of having one overwhelming political party. Image what will happen to industries such as Pharmaceuticals with the Democratic Party being in such a dominate position.

  20. maha  •  Dec 10, 2006 @8:13 am

    superdestroyer — you have no idea what you are talking about.
    I’ll respond to you once more and then ban you from the site, because I don’t have a lot of patience with stupid people.

    The Republicans will begin to receive lower contributions since they are out of power.

    In fact, Republicans were “out of power” for most of the 1930s and 1940s, yet they raised money. That’s because they represent big money interests more than the Democrats do. The big corporate / special interests have always donated more money overall to Republicans than to Democrats.

    And, as I said, if the old GOP collapses, the big corporations and megawealth that supports them now will see to it that a new conservative party is up and running in no time. The reason they’ve been so dominant for the past several years is that, back in the 1970s, a truckload of multibillionaires invested huge amounts of money to set up conservative think tanks and a media infrastructure that enables them to direct information flow and dominate news media (and if you believe the propaganda about the “liberal media” I KNOW you’re an idiot). That infrastructure isn’t going to go away if the GOP loses some elections.

    You can make all of the historic references but in the past there was never such a large block that voted for one party with so much resisitence to change.

    Nonsense. Actually there was more “solid block” voting in the past than there is now. There’ve never before been so many Independent voters than there are now. Party loyalty has been eroding among voters for several years.

    The real discussion should not be about Republican failures but should be about the effects on the US of having one overwhelming political party. Image what will happen to industries such as Pharmaceuticals with the Democratic Party being in such a dominate position.

    The real discussion for the past twenty years should have been about the effects on the US of having one overwhelming political party — the Republican Party, and it’s attempt to create a permanent Republican majority through gerrymandering and the K Street Project. If Karl Rove couldn’t create the permanent one-party majority that the Republicans wanted, it probably can’t be done.

    A one-party government isn’t good for the country, and it doesn’t matter what that one party is. The difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals understand that. Conservatives only catch on when the OTHER party is in power; if it’s their party, they think one-party government is just dandy. Judging by your concern for Democratic one-party dominance (as opposed to Republican, plus general idiocy), I assume you are a rightie. Get lost.

  21. maha  •  Dec 10, 2006 @8:22 am

    Once the Democratic party has assured control of the government, it will divide into parts, and the new party is more likely to be the more progressive of the two. In this way, the formerly liberal Democratic party will become the newly conservative Democratic party, and the liberal Progressive party might be where we will be.

    Unlikely. The system can’t support more than two dominant parties. That’s because of the way we run elections in this country (winner take all, without runoffs), the electoral college system, and a lot of other factors.

    Essentially what we’ve had through most of American history, until recently, is one centrist party that tilts a bit left and another centrist party that tilts a bit right. However, both parties have (until recently) supported a relatively wide range of political views — from liberal “Rockefeller” Republicans to neoconfederate Democratic “Dixiecrats.”

    It’s been only in the past couple of decades, in which the Republicans became dominated by right-wing extremists and demanded ideological purity within its ranks, that ideological purity became such a big deal.

    If you’re saying that the old guard Dems in Washington (Hillary Clinton? Joe Biden? Ted Kennedy?) are going to become the new conservative party — son, are you nuts? Even though a lot of these politicians are a lot more conservative than the Right will acknowledge, righties would vote for Hitler first.