Ideological Inbreeding

Via Steve M, a fascinating analysis by Noah Millman at The American Conservative.

I have only become more convinced that what has changed the dynamics of this election has been a fundamental reevaluation not merely – or even primarily – of the two candidates, but of the two parties. This election is becoming nationalized, and it is becoming nationalized in the context of an across-the-board swing in the direction of the Democrats.

The reason, I think, is a simple one. The Republicans Party – not just the Romney campaign, but the party as a whole – is running on nothing. They are running on the presumption that the country has already rejected the Democrats, and that therefore it is their turn. They are behaving as if choosing Democratic governance was some kind of “experiment” that didn’t work out, and now the American people will, of course, come back to their natural home.

By contrast, the Democrats actually made a case for their party. They explained what their party has done, and why they should be able to set the national agenda. They defended their foreign policy, their economic policy, and their social policy in strong, unapologetic terms.

Millman points out that the polls haven’t just been moving in favor of Obama; in the swing states they’ve been moving in favor of Democrats in down ticket races as well. There’s still time for that to change before the election, of course, but I think that’s exactly what’s happening in the election campaigns right now.

Jonathan Bernstein wrote,

… GOP obsession with “vetting” Barack Obama, and with a variety of ill-fated attack lines, comes from two things: the divergence of incentives between the Romney campaign and what my brother calls the “movement conservative marketplace”; and, the closed information loop that makes it difficult for insiders to have any sense of how outsiders would see these attack lines.

Bernstein suggests the mighty media infrastructure may have turned into a liability for righties, because it’s too easy to gin up some phony controversy that explodes on Fox News and Politico and Buzzfeed, and which gets the rightie bloggers all fired up, but which is simply meaningless to the general electorate. The recent outrage that there’s a several-year-old video of Barack Obama using the word “redistribution” is an example. That was supposed to counter Romney’s “47 percent” remark? On what planet?

A lot of the current generation of Republican politicians suffer from ideological inbreeding, IMO. They have absolutely no idea what anyone outside the echo chamber thinks. And the only political skill many of these clowns possess is being a loyal echo. A lot of them don’t seem to understand what government is for, and I doubt they could write sensible policy legislation if you let them copy it off a blackboard.

13 thoughts on “Ideological Inbreeding

  1. The most encouraging dynamic of the campaign is that conservative media pundits are finally following the lead of David Frum and questioning the direction and qualifications of GOP leadership who are in thrall to the anti-tax, anti-government anti-liberal philosophy that is FOR… exactly nothing.

    Meaningful policy can’t be defined in terms of what you are against. It has to be defined in terms of what you are for. The statement, “but the party as a whole – is running on nothing.” from a serious conservative source in nothing short of profound.

    The question remains. Has the GOP hit bottom, and can they rebound to become a meaningful, constructive political force? (One that I will disagree with, but could respect.) The jury hasn’t begun deliberations on that – conservative pundits who have disagreed with Obama for four years still do. But with a LOT of luck, the GOP might shake off the crazies and find a new identity. I hope so.

    We have a two-party system. It works best when both parties, though in opposition, are ideologically healthy. It forces both sides to bring their best game. This isn’t chivalry – democrats are capable of all sorts of villainy if there is no opposition to keep them honest.

  2. Holy Bat-comments! Read the article at The American Conservative – and then read the COMMENTS! Unbelievable!

  3. ” Has the GOP hit bottom, and can they rebound to become a meaningful, constructive political force?” They’ll have to dump the frank misogyny and go pro-choice. You can’t immediately throw half the population under the bus and expect to prosper in the long term. The anti-science BS has to go, too. Disbelieving in problems doesn’t make them go away.

  4. Great suggestion Doug. I am so used to reading vitriol that I hesitated visiting the comments, thinking it would be more of the same. But, I was pleasantly surprised.

    By the way, I hope the world is becoming a kinder place to live again. Of course such things take time.

  5. I’m not going to get excited until I see some meaningful change.

    I still think they’re good for about 2 more elections of crazy.
    If/when Romney loses, it won’t be Conservatism that will have failed. It will be Mitt’s fault – and hopefully, some of the blame poo will smear Ryan, too.

    They need to do a complete 180. We know what they’re against – but like Doug said, what are they for?
    If they DO stand for anything, they can’t tell you – because it would scare the crap out of you.

    In the meantime, I love watching them squirm when they’re questioned by anyone who’s not part of their echo chamber. They expect applause, or at least an acknowledging nod, and are confused when they don’t get that.
    And watch them when they do get follow-up questions.
    They blink their vacant eyes, and stammer, before they make sh*t up.

  6. I am always glad (and surprised) when I encounter sane Republicans. It is encouraging to read this, as I’m of the same mind as Doug.

  7. Me too, I would like to hear honest, potentially workable suggestions from the GOP on the economy. I might not agree with all their suggestions, but if those suggestions are based on reality and intelligent thought, I could learn something, I am certain.

    I would like the GOP to give up its 19th Century-based social conservatism, and join the rest of us in the present. I would like for them to stop playing on people’s baser instincts: racism, religious bigotry, sexism and homophobia. I would love for them to make A. Lincoln proud.

  8. That was supposed to counter Romney’s “47 percent” remark?

    What’s really crazy is that not only are they trotting out ancient history to fight Obama, they’re trotting out ancient history that already failed to help them in 2008.

  9. To set the record straight – this is Sully’s take on Reagan – NOT MINE!!!

    What I love about our Conservatives, is that as much as they hated the USSR and the PR of China, they do sure LOOOOOOOOVES them some ‘Cult of Personality.”

  10. Right wing ‘intelligence’ has an endemic weakness. People think they know the ending and then go back and find the evidence that fits their story and then you get group think as people reinforce each other. No where in this journey does reality have a chance of intervening.

    Mix in a few fanatics – a person who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject – and we have the sum-total of what may spell the end of modern day Republicanism. (Rove, who vowed to drive the Democratic Party into political oblivion must be having multiple bouts of paroxysms these days.)

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