Blueprint for Republican Reform

How does a political party end up with seventeen candidates for the Presidential nomination, not one of whom has a credible path to the White House? This happens when the core of an organization has collapsed into a starburst of colorful antics and strange characters. Our lack of any coherent or minimally electable leadership signals the triumph of entropy.

This is the end, which is the perfect time to plan the beginning.

No matter what happens next year we have reached the end of a long era in Republican politics marked by the rise of Southern conservatives to dominance. Over the next eight years the Republican Party as we have come to know it will either be reorganized under new leadership and fresh rhetoric, or it will be dissolved and replaced. The Republican Party is too weak to continue to hold its constituent parts together under present alignments.

Running on a combination of policies, candidates, and donors that coalesced forty years ago around problems the country faced sixty years ago, we now find ourselves trapped in a cul de sac. It is now impossible for the party to win the White House absent some epic collapse by the opposing party.

Thanks to the influx of a generation of terrified white Southerners, obsessed with the very real loss of their former cultural, political and economic dominance, the Party of Lincoln has devolved into the primary political expression of white nationalism. Needless to say, white nationalism in this era is a narrow base on which to build a national political party in America.

With its viability compromised, organizational dynamics are going to force the party into an evolutionary break. Many if not most Republicans in positions of authority inside the party are content to utterly dominate politics in the Jim Crow Belt while writing off the rest of the country. That strategy is doomed because it opens up a massive political vacuum, an opportunity too big to ignore, (see Trump, Donald)

In time, that opportunity will be exploited by opponents of the current party infrastructure, either in a successful internal challenge or through a successful challenge from outside the party. A national political party cannot hold itself together on its regional strength in a shrinking geography.

Every credible route back to relevance involves a major reorganization of the party’s core institutions. That will not be easy and it might be impossible. No one can centrally engineer such a change. It will have to develop out of a collection of initiatives rising from many different quarters. In order to succeed, it will have to produce results in each of these seven areas:

Ideology – Democrats have demonstrated for decades that a political party can succeed without a unified ideological basis. Republicans have been more rigidly focused on ideology than is probably healthy. That said, there must be some general philosophical lodestar around which a coalition can coalesce. Republicans are operating under a policy template that was growing dated thirty years ago. An update will be critical. This is one of the areas that The Politics of Crazy was written to address.

Pundits – Imagine for a moment that the issue most discussed in Republican policy circles was the regulatory response to Uber and Airbnb rather than “anchor babies.” In that atmosphere, how would the odds of a Republican victory differ from what we currently see? A pundit class with the barest awareness of urban issues and some minimal openness to minority concerns could open up the Republican policy template.

Think Tanks – It is very difficult to build credible policy absent the influence of smart people who work out the details. Our infrastructure of policy institutes and researchers has been utterly perverted until it is impossible for Republicans to find sound, reality-based advice on policy matters. Candidates who want help building sound legislation are trapped between lobby groups and ideologically blindered “think tanks” with no concern for real-world outcomes.

Donors – It is very unlikely that a fresh wave of relevant Republican leadership is going to emerge from a wave of small donations. Just as the Koch brothers have dedicated half their lives and a chunk of their fortunes to foster the spread of disastrous public policy, new donors will have to step forward to bankroll efforts to build a more credible Republican infrastructure. Those donors are probably sitting in their Napa Valley vineyard right now reading the New York Time (on their iPad) in disgust. They are out there. Someone needs to get them connected.

Candidates – All across the country’s north and west there are young Republicans in mayor’s offices and state legislatures growing increasingly frustrated with the party’s direction. Stepping up in open dissent looks like a career-limiting move, but they are weary of pretending to care about same-sex marriage and abortion. Too many of them are just quitting rather than launching seemingly impossible internal fights.

New Voters – Needless to say, the most obvious way to solve the problems caused by a narrowing political base is to attract new voters. The country’s largest unclaimed voter pool is the vast mass of urban voters trapped under stale Democratic leadership that takes them for granted. Many of them are black and Hispanic and Asian. At best, Republicans treat them mascots, giving them highly visible spots and favors so long as they refrain from expressing any opinions of their own. At worst, we alienate them with efforts to legislate that Olde Tyme Religion. We have to open the party to their authentic, full participation.

Existing Voters – Republican voters do not actually support the extreme positions being taken by our candidates. More rational, considered positions on key issues would gain far more voter support than our current platform, if we would only offer the public that alternative.

There are moves afoot to address the party’s weaknesses in each of these areas. Unfortunately, those efforts are at a nascent stage and there is no institutional force knitting them together. It is very difficult to bring efforts in any of these categories to critical mass without the help of existing networks. The party itself could provide that institutional support, but the opposite is occurring.

That refusal to sponsor a reform effort is creating a dangerous dynamic for the party. If these reform efforts do reach critical mass without formal Republican sponsorship they may develop as a rival entity rather than a wing of the Republican Party. This has happened to the GOP before and it isn’t pretty.

The next wave of energy on the right may emerge from outside the Republican Party’s institutional framework. Reality-based Republican dissidents will have to start communicating with one another in a manner similar what we’ve seen from the Tea Party. We will have to speak out publicly and take more pointed stances at odds with party orthodoxy. Most of all we need to build new networks through which to coordinate.

This is the end, which is the perfect time to plan the beginning. The end of an era can be upsetting, but it presents opportunities. With a bit of planning and coordination, the best days of the Republican Party may still be ahead of us.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Blueprint for Republican Reform, Republican Party
142 comments on “Blueprint for Republican Reform
  1. […] donors and establish a larger, less localized infrastructure. As described in more depth by this series of posts (linked), that effort would include recruiting pundits, building think tanks, and starting to solicit […]

  2. […] Blueprint for Republican Reform […]

  3. […] campaign, but we aren’t going to get it until we’ve worked through several of the other steps described in prior posts. First, we need to build a simple statement of beliefs that can form the core of a […]

  4. […] of the process that will be critical for reconstructing a healthy, relevant Republican Party. Previous posts have outlined a series of institutions and ideas Republicans should restructure in order to restore […]

  5. […] previous post outlined six elements of the Republican coalition that must be realigned to restore the party’s national relevance. Communication and coordination among different silos […]

  6. […] A previous post made the claim that the GOP as presently constituted is becoming a victim of entropy. Over the next eight years it will either be reorganized or replaced. Most Republicans would still regard that prediction as ludicrous, but by the end of next year consensus is likely to shift. Regardless, this is an ideal moment for a party trapped inside an ideological template shaped by the Cold War to begin imagining policy positions more relevant to the nation’s future. […]

  7. briandrush says:

    Mime1 said:

    “How many presidents started off their first term with a catastrophic financial collapse and massive unemployment?”

    Three presidents in our history began their terms in a state of catastrophe or had the catastrophe materialize very shortly after they took office: two Republicans (Abraham Lincoln and Herbert Hoover) and one Democrat (Franklin Roosevelt).

    Of the two who did it successfully (Lincoln and FDR), neither had a complete mapped out picture of where to go, but both were open to bold action once it became clear that cautious approaches wouldn’t work.

    I don’t see any of that from Obama. The actions you list were the minimum that could prevent a completely collapse, but he has not addressed the systemic problems that set us up for crashes like 2008. This is a time for something as radical as the post-Civil War amendments or the second New Deal. No such thing has been proposed by any major political figure.

    To see this, you need to stop comparing the Democrats to today’s Republicans, and instead compare them to what we need the Democrats to be. The political nonviability of the GOP is exactly what lets the Democrats win the approval of people like you while being wholly inadequate to the nation’s needs. You can always tell yourself that the Republicans are worse, and they are.

    But the Democrats are still not good enough.

    • johngalt says:

      No such bold action has been proposed because it is politically unsalable. FDR could pass all kinds of bold things because he had a supermajority (which Obama had for two years) for a decade and his actions were still largely ineffectual in helping end the Great Depression (pop quiz: which world leader did more to end the Great Depression, FDR or Hitler?).

      What should be salable are measure that would have a great deal of impact on the economy but are not particularly controversial: comprehensive tax reform, a long-term budget framework including the debt ceiling increases to pay for it, immigration reform, and financial market regulation that doesn’t look like the mess of Dodd-Frank. These would provide the economic confidence for individuals and companies to plan for the future. The Republicans obstruct all this stuff, but it is to Obama’s discredit that he has not proposed sound legislation in these matters.

      • 1mime says:

        I wonder if those who are critical of Obama’s focus on comprehensive, affordable health care were unemployed during the 2007-2009 recession? Anyone who either experienced or witnessed the suffering and fear of millions of jobless Americans during this economic crisis could never be oblivious to the need and importance of health insurance. This problem affected not only unemployed adult workers, but their families. It was a very tough time. This is the conversation that Obama repeatedly heard from the American people on the campaign trail in 2007/8. He was determined to address this major problem while dealing with the extraordinary economic crisis. How much help did he have from conservatives? Yet, he is criticized for lacking vision and his failure to resolve important structural changes simultaneously. Fair enough – but, if President Obama had tried to address these additional problems, does anyone here think he would have been successful given the entrenched opposition he faced? As I recall, he offered to work with the Republicans on tax reform. Where did that go? Is he alone at fault here? He could never get his Jobs Plan approved, or his plan to address infrastructure. There could be NO more legislative successes for President Obama. Period. And, that’s where we are today.

        I haven’t even touched upon the social inequalities that float jsut below the surface of these other “major” problem areas. The changes that have emerged principally through the Democratic Party during the Obama administration in the area of gender and racial equality, focus on alternative energy and climate change, and military restraint are significant.

        When thinking about this response, I watched a pair of hummingbirds at a stalemate at our feeder. Neither would allow the other to land and feed. They both circled and flew for a very long time before flying off to find other nectar sources. They must have been exhausted – and very hungry. They left a full feeder because they couldn’t share. There is a lesson there for all of us.

      • 1mime says:

        “comprehensive tax reform, a long-term budget framework including the debt ceiling increases to pay for it, immigration reform, and financial market regulation that doesn’t look like the mess of Dodd-Frank”

        Not particularly controversial? Wow. I agree these areas need to be addressed, but I cannot agree that they would be non-controversial. Think of who you’re counting on here….the same people that can’t get a highway funding bill passed except for 3 months at a time? Immigration reform? Absolutely needed but possible with this gang? Regarding D-F, where it started looks a whole lot different than where it ended up…..a shell of the reform it was attempting to be. Personally, I would like a variation of Glass-Steagall, but that is DOA.

        On the one hand, Obama is faulted for what he didn’t do; on the other hand, there is the recognition that Republicans would “obstruct all this stuff”. Obama has proposed a jobs bill and an infrastructure bill, and they went no.where.

      • duncancairncross says:

        With all of these comments about what Obama did NOT do
        I am confused
        You have your separation of the powers

        Surely Obama is head of Administration

        These “Things he didn’t do” are Legislation

        By your system he was not responsible for doing those things –

        It’s not fair for the people who are expected and paid to put out the flames (with all of the pumps and fire engines) to blame the guy who ends up extinguishing the fire for a lack of efficiency when he has to piss on the flames

      • 1mime says:

        (-: There is nothing Obama has ever done that will ever deserve commendation from conservatives, Duncan. Zip.

    • goplifer says:

      ***No such bold action has been proposed because it is politically unsalable.***

      Let’s not rewrite history. Obama assumed office with an overwhelming legislative majority. Unlike FDR, he immediately pissed it away with a monolithic focus on the single most divisive political question of our time, effectively ignoring the crisis happening around him.

      Brian kinda nailed this one.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I wouldn’t say “pissed it away” because I think Obamacare (or, hopefully, the single payer system it eventually leads too) will go down as an incredibly important law and a bedrock piece of the new (imo ) upcoming social contract. The New Deal 2.0, if you will.

        But point taken. Certainly finance reform was the more pressing issue at the time and Obama seemed a little too focused in his pursuit of a healthcare law.

        Thw argument could be made though that if this is indeed a law he truly believed was necessary for America, that he may have felt it was now or never.

        It’s entirely possible (even likely) that Obama had no faith whatsoever that of HE didn’t pass this law, then it might NEVER be passed, and perhaps he felt it was more important.

        I think he knew he didn’t have the political capital to get both done.

      • 1mime says:

        Maybe so, Lifer, but if you were one of the millions who acquired health insurance for the first time, you might feel differently about the ACA – flawed as it is (and that’s not just the Democrat’s fault….Republicans could have been more cooperative in making this legislation work better, but they chose not to. And, let’s not forget – this was a conservative plan, and, that the W. Bush presidency enjoy six years where they held all three branches of government, yet they never proposed any major health coverage except for the RX plan, which has problems of its own. Health care for many people is very important. Try living without it.

      • 1mime says:

        And, how many presidents in the history of our nation have tried to achieve health care reform? And, of those, how many were successful? Does that mean health care reform isn’t needed in America? Was the effort to bring ACA to fruition all consuming? Have Republicans offered any help in designing or improving the health plan – their basic plan? Did Obama neglect financial reform? (I would have been happy if a few bankers had gone to jail) He got what he could in the way of a stimulus that was too small to incorporate other changes but has managed to halve the budget deficit and unemployment, and re-add ten million jobs. Guess that’s just not enough.

        Health care is only important when you don’t have it. Sort of like a job.

      • Titanium Dragon says:

        To be fair, it became a divisive issue because the Republicans chose to be contrarians about it. It was a Republican plan, originally, which is frankly why the Democrats adopted it – they felt it was the only way they could get it through.

        The reality is that I think the financial laws weren’t reformed for a simple reason: Obama had no clue what to do, and no clue who to listen to about it.

        Obama is kind of a weak president, and hasn’t done a very good job, but the sad reality is that I’m pretty sure the real reason that finance reform didn’t happen was because Obama had no clue how to do it.

    • 1mime says:

      President Obama did not offer sweeping structural changes early in his tenure as his focus was stabilization of the American economy and achieving health care for all Americans, separate problems but highly interconnected given the huge unemployment that followed the Great Recession. Once Obama lost majority control in Congress, his ability to achieve major structural changes in America was going to be very difficult if not impossible. The question remains – what structural changes should have been pursued that weren’t, and what could a more visionary, bold President Obama have accomplished despite Republican obstruction and the loss of the Democratic majority in Congress? I submit that the success or failure of Obama’s tenure is more complex than alleged and will be judged more accurately by future historians. That’s a worthy discussion, Brian, and I hope you will offer your thoughts on that.

      Lincoln and FDR are two of America’s greatest Presidents and Hoover’s achievements were notable and his vast experience incredibly useful in governing during the Great Depression. Also pertinent to the successful achievements of the Presidents you cited, and that of President Obama, is the party make up of Congress and the length of their terms in office. Lincoln and Hoover served partial and one term presidencies. FDR served 4 terms, Obama, elected 2 terms. Note that Lincoln and Hoover enjoyed at least a majority House during their tenures, and FDR had a Democratic majority in both houses for four terms. That makes a difference as to what can be accomplished. Obama enjoyed a filibuster proof majority of the Senate for approximately 4 months, and House majority for two years. The filibuster was aggressively utilized by Republicans during the Obama administration to thwart the legislative process. Still, the case can be made that Obama did not effectively utilize the early years well.

      A look at Congressional Party Make Up of the four profiled Presidents:

      Lincoln (R): (Senate) 38 D; 23 R (House) 84 D; 113 R (partial lst term)
      Hoover(R) : (Senate) 47 D; 48 R (House) 204 D; 224 R (one term/initial composition)
      FDR (D) : (Senate) 59 D; 36R (House) 311 D; 117 R (D majority 4 terms-H&S)
      Obama(D) : (Senate) 57+ 2i; 36R (House) 255 D; 179 R (’08-’10)
      51+2; 45R 193 D; 242 R (’10 – ’12)
      44+2′ 54R 188 D; 247R (’14)

      “People like me” (whatever you meant by that and it did not sound flattering) agree that Democrats should “raise the bar” beyond that of a dysfunctional Republican Party. I am not satisfied that more has not been accomplished, but I do give President Obama more credit for what he has been able to achieve given the opposition he has faced. I have not always voted Democrat for president (George H.W. Bush was my last last R presidential vote), but it will be a very long time before I would consider doing so again given the agenda of the GOP.

      • Titanium Dragon says:

        To be fair, the Senate can kill the filibuster any time they want. Frankly, I think it has become necessary now for them to do so to get anything done; once people figured out they could abuse it, it made it so you needed 60 votes to pass anything.

        That’s nonsense.

    • Crogged says:

      So you’re one of just the few million people with families who lost a job in 2008, and replaced it, eventually, with a lower paying job and now you’re pissed that we didn’t deal with the terrible problem of unsecured derivative hedging, carried interest allocations and corporate chinese walls. Yeah, those should have been first.

      I’m sorry but the ability to go to a damn doctor is far more important to most Americans than any ‘system’ problems with how we finance our corporate goals via Wall Street and banking. And if you think the party which offered its citizens the example of giving chickens to your doctor in exchange for blood pressure medication was going to be leading the way to enlightened financial regulation-you are pretty f___g clueless.

  8. SirMagpieDeCrow says:

    It just occurred to me that former social conservative heroes/martyrs Bill Cosby and Josh Duggar should maybe get together for a reality TV show where they star as roommates. TLC might even go for it.

    They could maybe call “19 Sex Crimes and Counting…”

  9. 1mime says:

    It’s easy to criticize government for what it fails to do, or does poorly, even when the job is difficult and the resources limited. I would like to share a VA bulletin that should make us all proud.

    “This week, we reduced the disability claims backlog to 98,535 claims – an 84% reduction from its peak and a historic low. This reduction means that Veterans’ disability claim decisions are being delivered more accurately and efficiently. The faster Veterans receive completed claim decisions, the quicker they can access the benefits they are entitled to.

    As we mark this important milestone in VA’s history, we commit to continuing our efforts to improve. We will never waiver in our dedication to providing the best possible service to Veterans, Service members, their families, and Survivors.”

    • Shiro17 says:

      The internet being what it is, there are conflicting reasons presented why that is. The administration is crediting the hiring of more employees in addition to mandatory overtime for the sudden decrease. So far, all the comment sections that I’ve seen are filled with people claiming to be veterans saying that the “real reason” is that “O’Bummer” is just denying all the claims. I don’t know how to know who’s right or not, but I’ll take a plausible gov’t explanation over random internet comments without any data or proof.

      • 1mime says:

        The point is, the VA has responded to problems that were identified, and they are making significant progress. That is what should be acknowledged in an environment where it is so easy to criticize then walk away. Our veterans deserve the best possible medical care for the defending our nation. That is the VA’s responsibility.

  10. SirMagpieDeCrow says:

    Hey! Let’s play a new episode of Social Conservative Brady Bunch with Josh Duggar…

    “Here’s the story… of an accused child molestor”

    • flypusher says:

      I’ll ‘fess up to schadenfreude, because I view the whole quiverful movement as a threat to freedom. Many of then are quite open about how they want to breed up a large “Christian army”, and impose a tyranny of the majority one way or another. Anything that makes them look bad is excellent news, IMO.

      • SirMagpieDeCrow says:

        Exactly Mr. Flypusher.

        My faint, distant hope is that the vast majority of the upper echelon of the GOP will come to the consensus that if they meet any of these Quiverful S.O.B.’s they run for the hills when they see them coming. But I’m afraid on this issue Mike Huckabee is a lost cause.

        Will someone please tell me what will be the difference from this future Quiverful-bred “Christian Army” and the children of the Lebensborn initiative of World War II?

        Haven’t we learned anything since the “glory days” of the John Birch Society, or even the ascendance of Michelle Bachmann-style Tea Party politics?

      • flypusher says:

        This lady has the right response:

        You GO Jessica Kirkland!! That’s exactly what patents should teach their daughters, that they are not obligated to just take that sort of treatment from scumbags like Duggar.

      • SirMagpieDeCrow says:

        Jessica Kirkland, yes I have read about her. Thank goodness there are people with that sentiment, who want their daughters to be confident, to excel and succeed in the same way as their sons. We need people like her especially in present to provide a counter narrative to the likes of… Erick Erickson.

        Well who is Erick Erickson?

        ERICKSON: No, I don’t think the culture war is over primarily because the people who appear to be the victors right now are the least likely to procreate, so we will eventually breed them out of existence demographically. So the culture war continues and will continue. And I don’t mean to be flippant by that statement. But if you look at the demographic trends in this country, in the next 50 years, the country will be filled with young Christian Hispanic families who listen to country music, and that’s just — demographically, they’re our people.

        He is that %*^#ing guy.

        I’m really sorry Erik “Please drop the donuts” Erickson, I don’t want my neighbors, female friends, relatives or any potential offspring I might have be browbeaten into becoming baby machines to provide an army of compliant foot soldiers to religious fundamentalists.

        That business already has a dominant start-up… they are called ISIS.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        And not just quiverful, but the entire “mainstream” Christian position of sex shaming, body shaming, lack of sex education and unrealistic sexual expectations.

        An overwhelming focus on “sexual purity” and unrealistic expectations of waiting to get married before sex creates a very unhealthy attitude which fetishizes the actual sex act via the “forbidden fruit” dynamic.

        Why is binge drinking among college students more overwhelmingly prevalent in America then say, France? Because in France kids drink responsibly with their parents from a young age (I. E. A glass of wine with dinnner). Alcohol holds no mysterious and irresistible pull for them that it does on American kids (with an absurd 21 drink age). Same princeple with sex. You can teach kids age appropriate sex education without “promoting it” (whatever that means) and kids will tend to have healthier, more mature attitudes about sex that will lead to much better over all outcomes (lower pregnancy rates, lower sexual dissatisfaction as married partners are fundamentally sexually incompatible, lower sexual pathologies etc).

        Sex is an incredibly natural thing for humans to do. As long as is between consenting adults, there should never be shame in it.

        I’m convinced that oppressive sexual cultures manifest that toxicity in other ways. An extreme example is jihadists. Certainly many suicide bombers are purely devout. But many of them (perhaps even a majority) are just horny kids without a healthy sexual outlet who fetishishize the forbidden sex so much that 72 virgins to do the bidding seems like a worthy tradeoff for dying a murderer. Think about that for a second. People without an outlet for sex will DIE in order to get it. Obviously there’s many motivations all working at once for these people, but the sex motive is at least as big as any of the others in many of these young men’s minds.

        We hear frequent stories of ISIS using sex slaves as a recruiting tool.

        The difference between these ppl and say Josh Duggar is more one of scale (granted a VERY big difference of scale) then of kind.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Sirmagpie – EE is falling for the clearly erroneous assumption that children will take after their parents. Unless they’re prepared to shield them from tv, school, movies, and basically all aspects of culture, they don’t have a prayer.

        Culture shapes attitudes far more then parents (as least into adukthood)

        I grew up in a devoutly religious pentecostal household. Myself and probably 90% of my childhood church friends are all very liberal today and flat out reject the dogma we all mostly believed up into our late teens.

  11. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Blueprint for Republican Reform: Four Steps (well, six steps)

    1. Mitt Romney/Jeb Bush/Marco Rubio says: “You know, it is 2015, and gay people should be able to get married if they want to get married.”

    2. Mitt Romney/Jeb Bush/Marco Rubio says: “Also, I wouldn’t want a politician telling me what I can do with my body, so we probably shouldn’t be up here talking about what women should do when they find themselves facing an unintended pregnancy. Women should be making those decisions themselves with consultation with their doctors, their family, and their god, not with consultations with a politician.”

    3. Mitt Romney/Jeb Bush/Marco Rubio says: “I think everyone, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, all agree that we need immigration reform. We just tend to disagree on how to get there. I’m committed to immigration reform and our laws must be respected, but we are not going to build a 2000 mile fence along the southern border, and anyone who says we are is lying to you because they know that is never going to happen.”

    4. Mitt Romney/Jeb Bush/Marco Rubio says: “Lastly, I think the Affordable Care Act was a bad bill. It still is a bad bill. However, making sure that the move vulnerable Americans have access to quality health care is a good thing, and helping people so that one illness doesn’t devastate a families finances is what a smart country does. I don’t like the ACA, but I don’t yet have an alternative to it, so I’m going to work with Republicans and Democrats to develop a plan that works.”

    5. They still likely lose the 2016 election or don’t even get out of the primaries due to those statements.

    6. In 2017, the next wave of GOP candidates pick up those same talking points with much less fear.

    Take the GOP’s current fiscal and foreign policy positions and attach them to a gay-friendly (at least gay ignoring), abortion ambivalent, not-going-to-build-a-wall candidate, and a surprising number of moderate voters vote GOP. Hell, they don’t even need to have detailed positions on a whole host of issues. They just need to stop coming across as mean.

    • johngalt says:

      So you want them to become Democrats?

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, the “nice” party.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Sadly JG, that would be the normal retort from arch-conservatives.

        Also, sadly, it is probably true.

        FiveThirtyEight did an analysis of the issues that tend to most heavily skew you to being Republican or Democrat, and evidently, being anti-gay and anti-choice generally are key differentiators for the foundation of GOP beliefs.

        I guess conversely you could say that being pro-gay marriage and pro-choice define democrats, and I guess I’m OK with being on that side of the fence (and on that right side of history) on those issues.

      • 1mime says:

        Being anti-choice and anti-gay….key determinations for conservative political affiliations…hardly earth-shattering news, 538. Even though my personal belief on these two issues is polar opposite, I am fine with conservatives who hold these beliefs. What is totally unacceptable is the conservative insistence of imposing their personal beliefs on all others. This is indicative of the narrowness of mind and rigidity in governing that diminishes the Republican Party. Tolerance and respect for different beliefs is a strength of the Democratic Party. For Republicans, it is not only a major weakness but it will doom the future of the party as the nation becomes increasingly more diverse.

  12. SirMagpieDeCrow says:

    Because I know everyone here loves it… more spectacular comments from Donald Trump!

    I may be the only one on this site to have never heard it, but here is a past comment that I found that was made by our glorious GOP front runner.

    “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day,” Trump said, according to an associate. Trump told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview that the comments were “probably true.”

    It is stuff like this that make me feel like my true calling might be as a matchmaker.

    Conservative Republican African-Americans, please meet your new best friend… disaffected and morose conservative Republican Latinos.

    • 1mime says:

      You just have to love the Indians –

      Native Americans Honor Donald Trump

      Donald Trump was invited to address a major gathering of the American Indian Nation
      two weeks ago in upstate New York

      He spoke for almost an hour about his plans for increasing every Native American’s
      present standard of living. He referred to how he had supported every Native American
      issue that came to the news media.

      Although Mr Trump was vague about the details of his plans, he seemed most enthusiastic
      and spoke eloquently about his ideas for helping his “red sisters and brothers.”

      At the conclusion of his speech, the Tribes presented him with a plaque inscribed with his
      new Indian name, “Walking Eagle.”

      The proud Mr Trump accepted the plaque and then departed in his motorcade to a fundraiser,
      waving to the crowds.

      A news reporter later asked the group of chiefs how they came to select the new name they had given to the Donald.

      They explained that “Walking Eagle” is the name given to a bird so full of shit it can no longer fly.

  13. Rob Ambrose says:

    Holy ****

    Journalist shot during live TV interview. Sounds like just another whacko random shooting.

    If the gun nuts and the NRA don’t make confessions on meaningful and sensible gun control, they’re only going to hurt their cause.

    As powerful as the NRA’s dirty money is, it’s not ALL powerful. Ppl don’t want to live in constant fear because any lunatic can get a gun.

    The NRA would be wise to remember that amendments can be repealed.

    I,for one, would be happy to vote for the bearing arms to be a privilege and not a right.

    • flypusher says:

      We’ve hashed this out before, but I’ll repeat my stance- I favor gun ownership for citizens who 1) complete training (CHL type or military credentials) 2) get a license, and 3) have liability insurance.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Seems eminently reasonable.

        What could possibly be a sensible argument against? Gun owners themselves should be proponents of this.

        They’re the one who always talk about “responsible gun ownership”. Wouldn’t thi be an excellent way to prove it?

        Nobidy decries the requirement for a licence to operate a vehicle “tyranny”.

        Why guns then?

      • 1mime says:

        Add to that more Background checks that are more thorough and more broadly required. Anything we can do to slow down those who se ability to resolve personal problems rationally, needs to be done. I do not buy the argument by the NRA and gun proponents that more guns is the solution.

      • johngalt says:

        Rob, the argument goes that driving a car is not a constitutional right, but owning a gun is and so there is a difference between licensing guns vs. driving. However, the amendment specially refers to this right in the context of a “well-regulated militia” and it is hard to see how stricter licensing and registration regulations are in conflict with this. Needless to say, the NRA disagrees with me.

      • flypusher says:

        There’s also the argument that if you’re going to license 2nd amendment rights, then the same goes for 1st amendment rights. Until and unless someone perfects the “Power Word, Kill” spell in this universe, that’s a crappy rebuttal.

    • Doug says:

      “I,for one, would be happy to vote for the bearing arms to be a privilege and not a right.”

      I’m up for that, but you need some skin in the game. How about we put repeal of the 2nd up, but if it fails we repeal the GCA of 1934 instead?

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Doug, I assume you are confident that the 2nd could not be reworded at this point in time. I suspect you are right. Again.

        Strange choice of words though. I would think the public has quite enough “skin in the game”. Not sure how you would make it equal for both sides if it was a wager on a football game or toss of the dice. Maybe put representatives of the gun lobby into a room full of angry relatives of gun violence victims. Unarmed.

        But seriously, You probably know the statistics, but here’s some in nice graphics.

      • The whole second amendment thing is weird
        “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

        “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”

        How the hell do you go from there to the idea that individuals should have guns to defend themselves against the state??

        One of my pet peeves when writing procedures was that you should always start with a
        “Purpose Statement”
        Basically start by saying what the procedure that followed was intended to do
        IMHO that was an essential step as it said what was intended – so the user could instantly see if it was appropriate
        For instance a procedure for testing a fuel pump at very high temperatures may not be appropriate for a special order from Norway

        Your Second Amendment starts with a “Purpose Statement”
        “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”

        Just like your constitution

        We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[note 1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

        In order to
        form a more perfect Union,
        establish Justice,
        insure domestic Tranquility,
        provide for the common defence,[note 1]
        promote the general Welfare,
        and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

        The most important and least obeyed

        promote the general Welfare,

      • 1mime says:

        Maybe if the framers of the Constitution had used a different word than “welfare”, it wouldn’t have been pilloried (-:

        Deeeep roots for this issue.

      • Doug says:

        Duncan, purpose statement aside, the ***people*** have the right. Just as the people have rights in several amendments. That means everyone.

        And that welfare thing, notice the adjective “general.”

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Duncan, that is the heart of the matter. In my opinion, the importance placed on the last part of the amendment and the ignoring of the first part in rooted in what goplifer writes about in this blog.

        We argue about the meaning of the 2nd, contradicting ourselves at times. Sometimes we use original intent, sometimes we propose a God given right to guns and sometimes we use a recent court decision that gives an entirely new meaning to the amendment. Whatever it takes, we are very afraid that we will have no way of protecting ourselves in the mean streets if those gun grabbers get their way. Because they say they want reasonable gun laws but we know that they want us completely helpless against the godless hordes that will stream out of the cities on judgement day. In the meantime 32000 gun deaths a year. ~20,000 suicides, 10,000 or so homicides, a hundred or so accidental child deaths, a few hundred mass shootings.

        The second amendment could mean “If King George comes back we want to keep stores of cannons and black powder and be able to call up able men with muskets to put down tax cheats since we don’t have a standing army”, or, on the other extreme it could mean “Jesus said I could own and carry any weapon I want, any place, any time”. The latter meaning gets mixed up in racial politics and fears of a changing world. I refer you to the Waco, Texas incident which I think is foremost in the thoughts of many of the pro-gun and religious.

        I am not saying anyone on this blog have these low intentions or are racist. The people on this blog are very intelligent and believe they are in the right. I wish I could understand how they balance the present day carnage against reasonable gun control.

      • Crogged says:

        The founders needed a way to have a ‘standing army’-but were experienced with a king who could direct an army in his pure discretion. So, each state could have a militia-and all reasonable men needed a gun for bears and Indians. Times have changed somewhat slightly-and we have a standing army. If the Persians break through the Maginot line in Florida-guess we need to go to Thor’s house.

      • Doug says:

        Suicide can’t be blamed on the gun. According to WHO, the US is #50 in suicide rate, and most (all?) of the other countries have stricter gun control. Japan, for instance, with no guns and a rate 50% higher, has a terrible problem of people jumping in front of trains. Interestingly, Syria and Saudi Arabia have the lowest rate.

        Of the ~10,000 homicides, about half are committed by and to a demographic that makes up only about 6% of the population. Clearly social issues are a more important factor than firearm availability.

  14. EJ says:

    Off-topic but I thought this would be a good place to ask because of the broad spectrum of posters who read a wide variety of news sources:

    “Cuck” seems to have come up from nowhere as this season’s choice of insult in the right-wing-o-sphere. I’m fascinated by this and am making something of a study of the term for my own curiosity. I’m very interested in knowing when people first heard it used in its modern political context.

    When was the first time you heard it? Where did you hear it? If it was on the internet, does the page still exist and if so could you link me?

    • flypusher says:

      This is a prime example. Warning, this is ugly, vile, Totally NSFW, and if your derp vaccinations are not current, possibly brain damaging:

      I could say that it’s good that people like these can spew on the Internet, so we can keep an eye on them, but just looking at that makes me want a few gallons of disinfectant. Blleeeaaaah!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Fly – the people in the comments are,I’m afraid, much closer to the current GOP base then we’d like to believe. Those aren’t necessarily fringe elements.

        THOSE are the people filling up Alabama stadiums to see Trump.

      • flypusher says:

        Racist, sexist, and homophobic- a bigot trifecta.

      • 1mime says:

        “Cuckservative” is a vile term and should not be used against anyone. Period.

    • RightonRush says:

      This is the first time I have heard that term. Did a little search and this popped up.

    • 1mime says:

      Cuckolding is an old term to describe an unfaithful wife. The first time I read it as a political pejorative was in an internet story (?) and was attributed to a conservative group. It was fairly recently – within the last couple of weeks.

      • EJ says:

        I can trace it going back to about April, among members of the predominantly-online “alternate right” movement, better known as neoreactionaries and neo-Nazis. Beyond that I have no idea, hence the question. It’d be fascinating if it entered the American right-wing discourse via internet Nazis, but I have no evidence to prove this.

        I believe that the term entered use via the genre of pornography by that name rather than by the traditional meaning of the term, given its racial undertones.

      • flypusher says:

        Here’s an entomology:

        4chan as the origin is so believable.

    • duncancairncross says:

      From the dictionary “Welfare”

      The health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group:
      Example – “they don’t give a damn about the welfare of their families”

      “Health, Happiness and Fortunes”

      Promote the General welfare –
      Promote (improve) the Health, Happiness and Fortunes of the general population

      It’s right their in black and white on the “Purpose Statement” for your constitution
      One of the six important things that the constitution and the government of the USA is supposed to concentrate on

      You guys should have had the first National Health system 100 years before everybody else NOT 100 years after

      Is a bit more questionable – maybe you should have had a national weed ration?

      Your Government is meant to be working on increasing the “fortune” of the “general population”
      NOT pouring more and more money into the mouths of less and less people

  15. SirMagpieDeCrow says:

    I have just found my new all time favorite political cartoonist. Check out the link to see the “Clash in Cleveland: The Republican Slugfest in 10 seconds”. The Jeb! Bush segment that is chock full of awkward trepidation is a riot.

  16. SirMagpieDeCrow says:

    Apparently there was an exchange (I just saw the video) where Donald Trump is tangling with journalist Jorge Ramos of Univision, with whom he ignored, ejected from the press conference with the aid of one of his hired terminator bodyguards… then re-invited for a further verbal exchange that no doubt will be replayed 10 to a billion times until the universes reaches maximum entropy.

    The following comments by Trump did interest me.

    “Do you know how many Latinos work for me? Do you know how many Hispanics are working for me? They love me,” Trump said.

    This reminded me of another exchange I once read by a man talking to someone from a local paper almost 150 years ago. He was a plantation owner in South Carolina.

    “Do you know how many Negros I got working in my fields? Do you know how many Negro girls I’ve raped? Still without fail… every day those Negros smile, sing, dance and work even harder then the day before. They love me,”

    Isn’t it funny how the past always seems to find a way to repeat itself in the present?

    • Doug says:

      Ramos is nothing more than a two-bit heckler. Trump handled him appropriately. Compare that to Sanders’s BLM moment and ask yourself who looks more presidential.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Does it matter? The only way these two are going to a Presidential inaugriation is by invite or buying a ticket. They sure as heck won’t be there to recite any oaths.

      • flypusher says:

        “The only way these two are going to a Presidential inaugriation is by invite or buying a ticket. ”

        The least Hillary could do would be to invite the Donald, since it is so probable that he will insure her election.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I’ve been thinking the same thing. Surely he’s working for the Ds.

      • Titanium Dragon says:


        Though to be fair, I think Bernie has a better shot than Trump. If Biden doesn’t jump in, there’s a legitimate chance that Bernie will beat Hillary as Hillary’s campaign has been imploding for months, and the polling data I’ve seen suggests he could very well beat whoever the Republican clown car ends up coughing up. He’s a fairly likable and charismatic fellow, in an eccentric uncle kind of way, and that could come across well, especially if he is up against some crazy person.

        The primary argument against nominating Bernie for the Democrats is electability, but if he doesn’t have worse numbers in the general than Hillary does, he might well end up there.

    • vikinghou says:

      I generally agree with Ramos’ point of view; however, I think his behavior was completely out of line. Not only did he interrupt another reporter, but he also proceeded to give Trump a lecture rather than ask a question. By doing so Ramos became the story, not immigration.

  17. johngalt says:

    The Donald is distancing himself from the rest of the GOP field in another respect: the degree to which Hispanics hate him. Most of the field has a “Net favorable” rating (positive impression minus negative impression) in the single digits one way or the other, from -7% (Perry) to +11 (Bush). Trump? -51%! It’s not surprising in the least, but still, that’s a heck of a number.

  18. 1mime says:

    On the issue of illegal immigration, a favorite topic in conservative debates, I listened to an NPR interview today (Houston), which asked TX Rep. Henry Cueller about Rick Perry’s claim to have halved the immigration problem at the border through his Ex Order sending national guard there. Cueller diplomatically explained that the biggest factor in the reduction of illegal border crossings was due to money provided by the federal government to Mexico to focus efforts at the southern most border at Guatemala for interdiction efforts there. He said they had been very successful in turning back these Guatemalan refugees at that point, eliminating the issue at the U.S. border. He didn’t directly deny Perry’s claim but let us just say, he gave credit where credit was due.

    Politics – ya gotta love it!

    • Doug says:

      Maybe Trump should build a wall on the southern border of Mexico. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        He’s already suggested that Mexico do just that at their northern border….from all the noise about how porous the border is, doesn’t look like the border fence is getting the job done. What’s working is interdiction at the point where people flee their country…which, these days, is predominantly those countries south of Mexico. Rep. Cueller went on to lament the fact that here is an example of an effective program for less cost which can’t get expanded.

        Maybe old Trump could send some of his millions down to help ’em out?

    • Crogged says:

      Why build a wall? President Elect Trump could just take down the Statute of Liberty for far less money and the symbolic message would be really clear.

  19. vikinghou says:

    On the foreign policy front, there is an interesting op-ed in today’s NYT about Republicans’ opposition to the Iran deal.

    To summarize, conservatives have been strongly opposed to negotiations with adversaries ever since the Yalta Conference when we made a deal with Stalin. Diplomacy was a sign of weakness and a naïve expression of trust in an untrustworthy enemy. Such sentiments persist to this day.

    I tend to think this is partially true with respect to Iran. But, more importantly, there is also a strong reflexive opposition to anything President Obama does. The GOP has to portray the Iran deal as a bilateral agreement between the US and Iran, ignoring the fact that other major world powers and the EU were also part of the deal.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Yep. Conservatives historically oppose “deals” with the enemy (not saying this is an inherently bad policy).

      Combine that with the natural opposition to ANYTHING Obama does and it was a fait acompli

      • 1mime says:

        What is it about the conservative hawks who are hell bent on military engagement but haven’t a clue how to end it? The other part to this is how few conservatives who oppose diplomacy have ever served a minute in military service to our country. Maybe if they knew the pain and cost of war on a personal level, they would be more favorably disposed towards diplomacy that is being brokered by 5 major world nations – not just Pres. Obama. As you stated, Rob, it’s all about opposing anything Obama is trying to accomplish. When I hear criticisms on this blog about how inept and incapable of vision he is, I wonder if this is more dissing for dissing sake. It’s difficult to get people to be specific which doesn’t lend credibility to the criticism, in my view.

      • EJ says:

        I believe it’s about control.

        There is a certain type of person who feels that having to seek the consent of others is emasculating, and that manliness comes from the ability to force others to accept your will. Naturally, unless you are extremely wealthy, this is a difficult way to live in the real world. Therefore one often sees people with this mindset identify closely with something or someone else: their sports team, their political leader, their country. As long as that figure is able to act in a domineering way, scorning consent and forcing others into taking a passive role, they can overlook their own perceived lack of agency in their own lives.

        When that figure is unable to provide them with that vicarious thrill, they panic. This, after all, was their way of coping.

        I believe that this is part of why leaders like Putin, Netanyahu or Trump are so admired, particularly by blue collar people; and why people are often so fond of their country’s military over the less muscular agencies of government, even if those less muscular agencies have achieved far more successful results.

        In this light, the Iran nuclear weapons issue was never about Iran’s nukes, Israel’s safety or the rise of the Islamic State. The end result that was desired was not that Iran was disarmed. It was all about people wanting to see a show of force. When that show of force did not come because the American negotiators dealt with the issue like mature grownups, they’re suddenly left feeling emasculated.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        They didn’t want a fair deal with Iran that helps both sides. They wanted capitulation and to humiliate Iran, to bend them to their will and make them kiss the ring.

        Obviously, nor several reasons, this is both unattainable AND undesirable

  20. 1mime says:

    We finally have a “hard” date for for the debt limit debate. McConnell has pledged to raise it – but we’ll if the hard-liners will go along with that….

  21. ANON says:

    The key question is why bother?

  22. johngalt says:

    This is just all fantasy. No party, no matter how traumatic a loss it might suffer, can move from pushing further cuts in welfare so that hedge fund managers can maintain the farce of the carried interest tax rate to handing money to unemployed welfare moms, no matter how meager the amount or how great the efficiency gain. That is akin to predicting the sun will rise in the west tomorrow.

    • 1mime says:

      Carried interest is patently unfair. Any legitimate plan for tax reform must change this.

      • Doug says:

        Fair isn’t a concept that applies to income taxes. Or welfare for that matter.

      • 1mime says:

        How familiar are you with carried interest taxation, Doug? As for the fairness of welfare, there are probably many who don’t deserve it and many who need it. “Fair” was probably a poor descriptor – carried interest should be eliminated. Welfare shouldn’t, but it does need to be carefully appropriated. Of course, you may disagree with welfare period. I don’t.

      • johngalt says:

        How do you propose to fund government activities, Doug? Even strict constitution fetishists recognize some legitimate government activities that need to be paid for. How?

      • texan5142 says:


      • 1mime says:

        I don’t understand the reference, TX.

      • johngalt says:

        A previous commenter who went by the name CaptSternn (and who huffed off in a snit a few months ago) could be accurately described as a “strict constitution fetishist” in that he did not think that the federal government should do one single thing that was not explicitly stated in that document, 225 years of legal tradition notwithstanding. He can still be observed in his native habitat on the message boards where he espouses his colorful views of history, compares abortion to slavery frequently, and apparently believes everything would have been better had the South successfully seceded.

      • 1mime says:

        I see. Thanks, JG. I respect the Constitution but IMHO, it is a living document.

      • Doug says:

        jg, I didn’t say that income taxes should go away, but only that “fairness” (however one defines it) doesn’t apply. I doubt you could get two people to even agree on what’s fair, unless it involves a third guy paying.

        mime, I’m familiar with carried interest and could make an argument either way. I could also argue that the homeowner deduction and child credit should go away.

      • 1mime says:

        Guess what. Live long enough to retire and you don’t any child credits but you do continue to pay school taxes….and, I’m ok with that. Paying it forward, as it were. These days about the only deduction retired seniors get is the homeowner deduction (if they own their home), and while glad to get it, if it needs to be eliminated in the interest of fairness in a major tax reform plan, that’s ok too.

        Oops – there’s that word “fairness” again…..

      • Doug says:

        ” Live long enough to retire and you don’t [get] any child credits but you do continue to pay school taxes”

        Or get divorced, pay $2250/mo. in child support AND school taxes, but the child credits and deductions go to the ex who gets the $2250, while you file single 1 and get no mortgage deduction because you’re frugal and have paid down your new mortgage.

        We could do this all day. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, life can suck, sometimes, Doug, and I’m sorry things didn’t work out for you. The law in situations like this can be terribly unfair – generally to the male spouses. All one can do is hope the kids benefit through your contribution. I married young and fifty years later still hanging in there. We are some of the lucky ones.

        And, you’re correct, the list goes on and on………….

  23. vikinghou says:

    I would add a seventh area the GOP must address—science.

    Today’s GOP has a reflexive antipathy toward science. This problem goes beyond climate change which we’ve already thoroughly discussed on this board. I’m also talking about rejection of evolutionary biology, opposition to vaccination, and imposition of “faith” on peoples’ private medical decisions. Cases in point….

    Jeb Bush intervention in the treatment of a brain-dead hospital patient, Terri Schaivo.

    Chris Christie incarcerating a nurse who had treated Ebola patients.

    Michelle Bachmann claiming that childhood vaccinations cause mental retardation.

    Todd Akin’s “magic uterus” statements with regard to rape and abortion.

    Glenn Beck’s accusation that the recent measles outbreak was a federal government hoax and conspiracy to control people.

    The list goes on.

    • johngalt says:

      Don’t forget the colorful statement from Paul Broun (R-Ga) that embryology, evolution and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pits of hell.” I’m not sure what his problem is with embryology, but this is aggressively willful ignorance from a medical doctor.

      • Standeck says:

        “. . . not sure what his problem is with embryology”

        Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. Can’t have fetuses demonstrating evolution now can we?

    • 1mime says:

      Viking – And, you haven’t even mentioned global warming………

  24. duncancairncross says:

    Hi Chris
    Just finished reading your book
    Couple of comments
    The “Winner takes it all” nature of modern capitalism – you seem to believe that it is an inherent feature
    IMHO it is a bug caused by a bad set of “rules” and we should be working on fixing those rules

    Basic income
    I think this is a great idea but there is a huge flaw in your specific model
    Because you lose the income as your wages rise you are effectively “taxing” an increase in income at a very high rate – this will discourage the very activities that you are trying to encourage
    Also this will require a bureaucracy to operate and will encourage people to “hide” income requiring policing
    A better model is Gareth Morgan’s “Big Kahuna”
    This is a universal income – everybody gets it even the rich
    This fixes issues about when you lose the income and eliminates the need for a bureaucracy to operate and police it
    I don’t like his “single flat tax rate” but it would work better here where the income divide is not as extreme

    The old state controlled bureaucracies were inefficient and not nimble enough
    I’m not sure how much that is true and how much it was a case of their lords and masters tripping them and then complaining that they had fallen over

    The loss of citizen activity in politics
    I still believe that a lot of that is due to separating the legislative and administration functions leading to truly horrendous legislation
    Unfortunately because the USA is so much of the “visible” world most people “know” that their own legislature also produces horrific incomprehensible legislation and that “there is no way to influence it”
    Even when they are completely wrong!
    This leads to a reduction in citizen participation even place where this can make quite a difference

    • Griffin says:

      While I like the idea of the universal basic income the negative income tax Chris advocates for has a few advantages over the UBI.

      A) Most proposals for the UBI usually gets less money in the hands of poor people than the NIC because it simply costs more to send everybody in America a check rather than just those who need it. Most UBI models wants to send about $10,000-$12,500 to everybody in America because having it be higher than that is simply too expensive, whereas the NIC allows you to get $15,000 to the poorest citizens with no income. That extra two or three thousand makes a big difference to them, whereas the extra $10,000 doesn’t make as much of a difference to wealthier people due to the Law of Diminishing Returns.

      B) From a practical point of view it’s cheaper, meaning fewer taxes need to be raised to pay for it or that the extra taxes raised that would go towards the UBI can now go towards something else (opportunity cost).

      C) It’s true that the negative income taxes biggest disadvantage over the UBI is that no matter how you do it there is a “loss” for citizens as their incomes rise whereas you can only build on your income with the UBI. However if you phase it out carefully this “loss” is lessened and they are still gaining more than they would otherwise. For instance if you receiving 50% of the difference between $30,000 and your income your income will always go up by working even if you’re inbetween having no income and the $30,000 so there isn’t an actual loss. To put it crudely (and somewhat inaccurately) imagine that for every two cents earned your NIC only went down by a cent. And of course the higher you set the bracket the lesser the “phasing out” impact is.

      • duncancairncross says:

        “it simply costs more to send everybody in America a check rather than just those who need it.”

        But does it?
        You raise taxes but give the money back – there is no extra cost
        There is a major saving in that you don’t need a bureaucracy to keep a track of who gets what and when they lose it

        IMHO the “extra cost” is actually negative in that a UBI is cheaper

        Even the rich don’t actually pay more
        Yes they pay more in tax
        But they get the UBI as well – it’s a wash

    • goplifer says:

      This is good stuff.

      My first draft for a replacement of the welfare state was based on a universal income plan, one devised by Charles Murray along very similar lines.

      I pulled back from it because the cost is stupendous, cycling a massive percentage of a country’s overall GDP through the public sector, and you still can’t get away from the clawback process you alluded to. Somebody still has to pay to support the plan, no matter how it’s structured.

      In the plan I put together, the claw-back ends at 34k a year (and kicks in at that level) I’m counting on a few other dynamics to create a situation in which almost anyone who chooses to work full time will be earning more than that.

      My conclusions about the rigidity of a mass bureaucracy are based on my experiences in living briefly in Europe and working with Europeans my entire career. American bureaucracy is too clumsy, poorly unfunded, and poorly organized to be used as an example.The faster an environment becomes, the more difficult it is for a mass organization to keep pace, whether it’s IBM or the IRS. And the defining feature of capitalism in our era is speed.

      As to the inherently unequal nature of our economic order, that’s less a feature of capitalism in general than of the style of capitalism that has emerged in the information age. It’s an argument lifted almost entirely from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Black Swan.

      You are right that it can be contained by changing the rules somewhat. I am arguing (perhaps not effectively) that we shouldn’t; that instead of trying to cripple this powerful engine we should turn it loose. I am convinced that the wealth-producing capacity of this stage of capitalism could finally allow us to realize Keynes’ dream of the 15-hour work week, but only if we thread our way between the rocks. Let capitalism generate the innovation and wealth it is capable of producing and create a basic minimum income level for everyone who either doesn’t want to participate or for some reason cannot.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Chris
        The idea of the capitalist system harnessing the ingenuity of “the people” is a good one
        Excessive rewards are actually counterproductive
        If you are training your dog you give him a treat when he does well
        You don’t give him a week’s supply!
        How effective would that be as a training regime?

        With people it’s the same thing

        I apologise if I have posted this here before – but to me it is the reason why so many bad decisions are made by our “Leaders”

        Sensible people work until they have enough plus a margin for a rainy day and to leave to the family.
        Once they have that they are “satisfied” – and don’t need to put major effort into that part of their lives
        Given that being a CEO is a difficult ball aching job that takes you away from your family
        Why do they continue to do it do it?
        The present CEO’s are “insatiable” they literally cannot be filled
        This is a well-known type of mental illness
        A “satiable” person would take the salary for a short time and leave
        What has happened is the “sane” and “satiable” people in those type of positions leave
        Leaving behind the “insatiable” and “insane” people
        The old saying is
        “Pay peanuts and get monkeys”
        We should add
        “Pay millions and get loonies”

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Chris
        What is the public reaction here (NZ) to plans like “The Big Kahuna”?

        I’m sorry to say that the public does not seem to have heard of it,

        Worse (And I blame Hollywood for this)
        “The public” does not seem to be aware of how our system works and the way it is set-up to allow input before legislation is finalised
        There is still a fair amount of input but I think it’s only from the 10% or so of more politically aware people

        The nature of Bureaucracies – and how they can be made nimble

        I spent a lot of my career in industry as a Quality Manager,
        If manufacturing is like that Greek guy pushing a boulder up a mountain then the Quality Systems role is to follow him putting wedges into place so it doesn’t roll back down
        This is what your “bureaucracy” should be doing
        The planning guys are trying to stop you from making the mistakes they have already fixed somewhere else
        The problem is the guy trying to do the actual work does not know
        That there is a “good” way of doing this
        What the “correct” way is
        Why it should be done that way

        This is a pain in the backside
        I devoted my career to making the paths as obvious and easy as possible with very limited success – nobody wants to read the procedures bit like no “real man” reads the instructions

        What you (as the worker) need is your own personal “native guide” helping you through the paths in the jungle

        The advent of programs like “Siri” give me hope that this problem has a technical “fix”

    • goplifer says:

      Duncan, one other thread: In ANZ, where does the resistance to a basic/universal income look like? What are the arguments people make? Are people as generally unaware of the concept there as they are here?

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      I thought this would be way off topic. was reading article by Robert Reich about sharing economy.

      “In addition, to restore some certainty to peoples’ lives, we’ll need to move away from unemployment insurance and toward income insurance.

      Say, for example, your monthly income dips more than 50 percent below the average monthly income you’ve received from all the jobs you’ve taken over the preceding five years. Under one form of income insurance, you’d automatically receive half the difference for up to a year.

      But that’s not all. Ultimately, we’ll need a guaranteed minimum basic income. But I’ll save this for another column.”

  25. lomamonster says:

    Chris, I think that if the Republican Party hierarchy ever gets wind of your Blueprint for Reform, it will be immediately become classified, heavily redacted, and deposited in a top secret vault in some obscure salt dome facility!

    • goplifer says:

      Honestly, I wish you were right. In reality, they would just stare at it in confusion. Why should they change anything when they are performing so well?

      • 1mime says:

        Are they? Performing really well?

      • Griffin says:

        On the state level yes. Most of those Republicans in the South are fine having cushy jobs with only minimal effort needed to get reelected, even if it means they never see the inside of the White House again.

  26. Tom says:

    In a lot of ways, somebody like Trump or Cruz winning the nomination would be the best thing for the GOP long term. A landslide electoral loss will convince them that changes must be made if they are to continue to exist as a major party.

    On the other hand, Jeb Bush losing by three points in the general will lead to minor tweaks in the party.

  27. Griffin says:

    “That said, there must be some general philosophical lodestar around which a coalition can coalesce.”

    I’m assuming that the “lodestar” would be government tempered capitalism and “free trade” (as in the traditional definition of low tariffs) but I’m curious as to what factions would exist in an ideal Chris Ladd Republican Party.

    How many factions would you accept with different ideologies? Obviously progressive conservatism would be the central tenant but would you be comfortable with some libertarians? How about left-leaning capitalists like Bob Lafollete or the progressives involved in Teddy Roosevelts 1912 campaign? Even some left-libertarians such as the so-called “Georgists”? I’d be curious to see what factions you would like to have in a new Republican party that ideologically differ a bit from progressive conservatism.

    • goplifer says:

      Or social conservatives. I mean, seriously. They are already here. Imagine a party in which serious social conservatives, like the ones who are deeply offended by Donald Trump and oppose both abortion and the death penalty, played a prominent, but not dominant role.

      It really is possible to have a pretty big tent once you abandon white supremacy as a central defining agenda.

      • Griffin says:

        Yeah I thought about that but decided not to add them because today “social conservative” usually translates to christian fundamentalist. Also a lot of those kinds of actual social consevatives aren’t big fans of capitalism, with many of them endorsing quasi-socialist/communitarian economics, which I have no problem with but it may not get along well with the party of commerce. They’d probably have an easier time getting along with a more populist party, like what the Democrats were under William Jennings Bryan.

      • 1mime says:

        How will the GOP get serious social conservatives to depart from their ideological rigidity when abortion is still a core belief? Isn’t the point to move the Republican Party to a place where they can hold and personally practice their conservative beliefs without it being a driving force behind everything they do? Tolerance, as it were….live and let live as it used to be among the parties.

      • Griffin says:

        “Serious” social conservatives have concerns other than abortion, such as opposition to the death penalty, poverty, income inequality, war, drugs, a harsh justice system, etc. Only in the modern fundamentalist movement is abortion considered the central issue and they are otherwise just hardcore reactionaries, including on economic issues, so they aren’t people you’re going to attract with a sane platform regardless.

        What we’re talking about are people who are actually consistantly concerned with family and morality (most Methodist and Episcopal churches in the US fall under this category) as opposed to just using those things as an excuse for an authoritarian far-right government. The problem for Republicans is that those people also don’t have much love for capitalism, espescially laissez-faire capitalism, hence why they tend to vote Democratic these days.

      • Griffin says:

        To be clear that’s not to say the Democrats aren’t capitalists, they clearly are. But for communitarian religious people they are the lesser of two evils since Democrats at least support some degree of welfarism for the poor and regulation of banks/corporations, which those people are generally in favor of.

      • antimule says:

        “the ones who are deeply offended by Donald Trump and oppose both abortion and the death penalty, played a prominent, but not dominant role.”

        Those people would also presumably be opposed to contraception (unless the Pope updates their dogma very soon). And they would likely be willing to obstruct any health reform that would increase (or would fail to decrease) access to contraception. This would make them pretty much as batshit as the current ones.

  28. 1mime says:

    “Obama-like lack of vision and novelty”. Brian, would you go into more detail on this statement?

  29. irapmup says:

    The Republican like the Democrat exists in name only. There are so many disparate parts they have become creatures more suitable to Mary Shelley’s novel than contemporary politics. I had been a registered Democrat until Bill Clinton’s second term when I just couldn’t stand him anymore than Reagan and registered as an Independent. I’d probably register as a less savory member of the political spectrum, but don’t like ducking stones or hiding for my life in our not so “Land of the Free” and “Home of the Brave”.

    I have come to think there really is no reason for politics being involved in how the Government is operated. It isn’t a philosophical consideration whether roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects are designed to last anymore than if a shoe fits well. One may argue how much food a person needs to feel comfortable, but not how much food it takes to survive. Thinks work or they don’t.

    Politics is an overwhelmingly thankless battle that is waged by those who are really much more interested in personal gain than the social welfare they purport to seek. Unfortunately it has become an acceptable sport where the participants, mostly men with no intention to actually dirty their hands, end up controlling society for the benefit of themselves and their friends.

    You write a thoughtful column, but one I feel appeals to a no longer existent let alone relevant constituency on either side of our limited political spectrum. Better you should urge people to reimagine government than tread the directionless path of contemporary politics.

    Driverless cars are an indication of how societies can, should, and eventually will proceed.

    • 1mime says:

      Ira, are you speaking in favor of decentralization of government, i.e., moving things down to the state and local level, or, making the business model our government model?

      • If any group of people want cohesion and a semblance of order they need what we presently call government. Obvious things like police, fire, public transportation, schools. licensing and inspection, health services, weights and measures, communication and a judiciary to sort out our differences.

        We don’t need elected officials to handle any of those and if we have an educated hierarchy to manage these services, who is left to elect? What makes life tenable should not be a question of political opinion.

        Who really needs an elected council person, senator or president as anything more than a dedicated representative? Governing shouldn’t be a question of popularity, but rather equitability. It is only those seeking advantage above others who need governing representatives to enact or change laws favoring their position above others.

        At some point I trust we will mentally evolve to a stage where acknowledgement of our common needs and varied desires will bring about understanding and respect that will eliminate today’s generally accepted social exploitation.

        Water seeks its own level and if left in peace societies will seek their own as well.

      • 1mime says:

        If we do not have elected officials to hold accountable as staff/bureaucracy drafts all the laws, regulations, etc, how do we hold these people accountable? When I was serving in office, I found it easier to work through the political process with my colleagues on both sides than through career bureaucrats. These people could wait you out….a four year term was nothing compared to a thirty year career. Your idea is interesting as we’re all tired of the charade we call “politics”; however, I cannot see that placing all that control in the hands of bureaucrats will improve accountability, in fact, I think it is more dangerous. I speak from experience.

  30. 1mime says:

    Some thoughts regarding your post, Lifer.

    ” Many if not most Republicans in positions of authority inside the party are content to utterly dominate politics in the Jim Crow Belt while writing off the rest of the country. ”

    The Jim Crow Belt is a major part of Ted Cruz’ “southern strategy” to win the GOP nomination by using this voting block to split Republican delegates. Given your assessment, Cruz is either deluded in his strategy or is playing percentages which he expects will work in his favor to become the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

    “Democrats have demonstrated for decades that a political party can succeed without a unified ideological basis.”

    This is both a strength and a weakness of the Democratic Party. I see it as a strength – a Party that welcomes many different ideologies. It also fragments donations and message. A major criticism of the Obama administration in the Politico article,, was their utter ineffectiveness in articulating their accomplishments – even when they achieved them! I concur completely.

    “The party’s traditional core strength on commercial and foreign policy issues…”

    How can the GOP hawkish position be anything but posturing in today’s interconnected world? I’m not clear what you mean about “commercial” core strength…Are you saying that most CEOs are Republican with a bedrock belief in capitalism?

    “The country’s largest unclaimed voter pool … a vast mass of urban voters trapped under stale Democratic leadership that takes them for granted. Many of them are black and Hispanic and Asian.”

    Duly noted, but, the GOP can hardly play a shell game with these groups inviting their involvement while denigrating their needs. Democrats need to wake up and step up their efforts to assist these groups through meaningful policy and involvement.

    “new donors will have to step forward to bankroll efforts to build a more credible Republican infrastructure. Those donors are probably sitting in their Napa Valley vineyard”‘

    The “tech” industry is being recruited by the GOP. Since most of these are mellinneals, they will not respond to the normal “pitch”. Of concern is the survey that revealed that poverty was simply a “rounding error” in their view….On second thought, maybe they’d fit right in with the GOP.

    “Candidates” – the GOP is doing a much better job than the Dems in developing their “seed corn”. Hopefully, this new group of young Republicans can do as much to change the GOP establishment as they expect to be done for them.

    Good post, Lifer. Nice to have an intellectual distraction on a day like today (market).

    • Shiro17 says:

      “A major criticism of the Obama administration in the Politico article,, was their utter ineffectiveness in articulating their accomplishments – even when they achieved them! I concur completely.”

      I also agree, and it wasn’t just the Obama Administration. The entire 2014 election was because Dems didn’t have any confidence in their message or any ability to explain themselves. The few that stuck to their accomplishments (Jeanne Shaheen, Hickenlooper, Malloy, Wolf) all pulled out victories in tight races. A related concern I have is that most of the Dems are just spending most of their time denigrating how crazy the Republicans have become instead of articulating why they would be any better. Probably the main reason Sanders is so popular right now is because he is at least taking about issues instead of just getting people to see the Dems as the lesser of two evils.

      • 1mime says:

        Fair assessment. It’s been too easy to be critical of Repubs given their obnoxious behavior, but I give them full credit for developing a winning plan and building on it. My problem with the Republican platform is their stand on social issues, and, their absolute refusal to deviate from a message that leaves so many people out of the loop. My problem with Dems is that their message is not clear enough or focused, even though their platform (social issues) is one I embrace.

  31. johngalt says:

    Ain’t gonna happen, Chris. Both parties will continue to muddle through with populist messages that are designed to reach ever less-overlapping segments of the populace. Let’s imagine you’re right and the Republicans are too nutty to get to the White House in the near future. This emboldens the Democrats to run candidates further and further to the left. Somewhere the Bizzaro Chris Ladd is bemoaning the popularity of Bernie Sanders as a sign of the impending demise of the Democrats. The Dems will swing left enough to nominate a candidate like him, and the Republicans will nominate someone who either is, or appears to be, centrist by comparison, and we will gnash our teeth about the unelectability of the donkeys. The cycle will continue.

    That sounds a lot more likely to me than FoxNews waking up one morning and deciding to fire their current crop of pundits and having a rational conversation about farm subsidies and technology regulation.

  32. Griffin says:

    The question is even if this was all accomplished where would the Southern conservatives go? It’s hard to imagine them becoming a minority in the party anytime soon considering the single-party nature of the South. I don’t think they’ll flock back to the Democratic Party without the Dems easing their image among them by running a radical right-winger like the GOP did by running Barry Goldwater. Without electoral reform that allows more than two parties to compete without one party taking complete control with 40% or less of the vote (like Britian right now) it’s hard to imagine the Southern conservatives letting go of the GOP anytime soon.

    • 1mime says:

      America has had more than two parties – the Green Party and to a much lesser degree, Libertarians (which may be growing given all the “individual liberties” focus). The real issue is having viable multiple parties. There has been a lot of “talk” among conservatives about changing the electoral delegate system to proportional allocation as a way of countering the urban Democratic vote. I’m not sure how that would affect the Blue Wall, but it would have to have some impact.

    • EJ says:

      This is, for my money, the smartest thing that’s been said thus far about the issue. Thank you, Griffin.

  33. briandrush says:

    Let’s take a look at what happened the last time a party (the Democrats) were in similar straits — maybe not quite as bad, but close. For a long time, nothing happened. The Democrats were shut out of the White House, winning only when the Republicans were seriously scandal-plagued and the Democratic candidate was a squeaky-clean anti-corruption guy (Grover Cleveland), or when the GOP’s biggest, most popular name threw a hissy fit and split the Republican vote (Woodrow Wilson).

    Then came the Great Depression and the Republicans, who should have been out front dealing with the problem, dropped the ball. Herbert Hoover was probably the best leadership the party had under the circumstances, but he was constrained by a conservative, laissez-faire commitment that prevented meaningful action. This was an opportunity and the Democrats grabbed it under FDR. Thus began the party’s return to national contention, which resulted in its abandonment of and by the white South, which opened the door for the GOP’s current troubles.

    Similarly, what will have to happen here is for the Democrats to drop the ball on the nation’s current difficulties and for a Republican to rise to the occasion. The first of those is eminently possible — in fact, arguably Obama has already done it, pushing not for the systemic overhaul our economic, political and foreign policy systems need, but sticking with stale, timid approaches and band-aid solutions. Things his administration has done have improved things marginally, but we need much more than that.

    If Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination next year, which is the way to bet although not a certainty, her administration will bring more Obama-like lack of vision and novelty. By 2020, the demographic change will have progressed further and the current GOP base will be a non-entity. (OTOH, if Sanders wins the nomination, by 2020 he’ll be awfully old for the job. He’s older now than Reagan was when he first took office, and Reagan was showing the first signs of his Alzheimer’s disease in his second term.)

    So I’m thinking 2020 will be the opportunity for the Republicans IF they can put together a realistic program that addresses the massive problems we face today: 1) shrinking demand for labor, and consequent unconscionable maldistribution of wealth and income; 2) climate change and other global resource issues; 3) creating international governing structures to regulate the global economy and keep the peace.

    I can’t see a clear path for the GOP to come up with that program, but stranger things have happened. If not, then we will most likely see an insurgency within the Democrats to do so, and the hiving off of conservative Democrats to join the Republicans (or a new party) along with the remaining non-insane Republicans, while the current crop of crazies fades into obscurity.

    • 1mime says:

      Good points, Brian. I think the key to the Republicans being viable in 2020 is the Mellinneal population. These youngish voters are an interesting mix of political philosophies. At once – socially progressive, but very much into individualism. The party that capitalizes on a message that reaches this group is going to be successful in 2020. With the ground game the Republicans are perfecting, they are better positioned to make inroads – if, they can lighten up on the social issue side of the political scene. THAT change s not going to be easy to achieve in just 4 years.

      • Manhattan says:

        I’d focus on the Centennial generation as well as I don’t think they’d be able to vote until after 2016.

        Why can’t someone revive the Republican Leadership Council as well? It could be helpful in the next 5-8 years to get back relevance

    • Creigh says:

      “2020 will be the opportunity for the Republicans if they can put together a realistic program that addresses the massive problems…” Exactly! And while I think Obama has done the best he could have under the circumstances, in general you’re right that Democrats have lacked vision on these issues. And the Democrats will never get a vision on these problems unless they are forced to. That’s why we need a Republican Party that addresses these things – so the Democrats can’t just skate and succeed by being a little bit better than the crazy Republicans.

      • 1mime says:

        Piling on….Let’s get right to it. Democrats “lack” vision – they will not address massive problems unless forced to….

        I don’t think that’s fair or accurate. Historically, Democratic Presidents have performed well while tackling massive problems, (FDR, Truman, Johnson) but since the focus is on Pres. Obama, let’s deal with him. It’s possible to have vision while dealing with massive problems, but is is hard. How many presidents started off their first term with a catastrophic financial collapse and massive unemployment? Combine these two major problems with defiant, complete opposition from a political party who from day one opposed the President at every turn rather than working with him to help our nation survive these devastating events. It was all about “them”.

        Vision? Courage? How about: passing a huge stimulus to stabilize the economy and slogging it out over many years to more than halve the federal budget deficit and bring unemployment down from over 10% to 5.3%. Adding over 10 Million jobs. Ending a war (Iraq) he didn’t start, drawing down troops in Afghanistan, avoiding going to war in several countries – despite great criticism. ALL of this was achieved with NO help from conservatives. How much courage and political fortitude does it take to get up each and every day and deal with problems of this magnitude while fighting with one hand behind your back? Then there is health insurance, an initiative that is incredibly important to tens of millions of Americans and has bled this President for seven years. The visionary, problem solving conservatives have done nothing to help those without insurance and everything to oppose the ACA….a plan that was their very own until Obama adopted it….

        Vision? How about the fight for equality – for women, gays serving in our military and citizens in our country. Fighting to increase Pell Grants for college students and remove banks from profiteering from student loans; for creating a Consumer Protection Bureau that has worked to help the little guy and gal in matters of finance; or Dodd-Frank to help bring more accountability to Wall Street?

        Then there is that never-ending climate issue….Fighting to reduce methane and CO2 emissions, raise gasoline mileage, encourage alternative energy research and development…Visionary? Courage in the face of an incredibly powerful fossil fuel industrial opposition?

        How about womens’ rights? Don’t see much from conservatives except more denigration and more restriction on their rights under Roe v Wade.

        This is an abreviated list, and I am certain that there will be those who challenge it. But, I think it is patently unfair and inaccurate to accuse President Obama of lacking vision and failing to solve massive problems. He is not perfect – he could have done many things better, but given the hand he was dealt, the absolute obstruction he faced and still faces, I’d say he has achieved a great deal.

        Imagine, if you will, what President Obama COULD have achieved for our country if he had had ANY support from Republicans? While the criticisms are being tossed around about his presidency, ask yourself about the value of persistence, tenacity, courage, and fortitude in the face of ugly, relentless opposition. Imagine yourself trying to run your own company under these circumstances. Would any of us have done as well?

        No one is perfect, and President Obama certainly is not, but he has conducted himself with class and resolve under extremely arduous circumstances, and he has dealt with massive problems and has shown vision – even if he had to go it alone. He deserves credit and acknowledgement for that.

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