Blueprint for Republican Reform: New Voters

Behind the Blue Wall, 2014 was a very difficult year for Republicans. In Illinois, the party needed to pick up one seat in the State Assembly to break the Democrats’ super-majority. We failed. The party’s candidate for the US Senate was routed. Our candidates for statewide office lost, except for one.

In the midst of a deep slump, Republicans were able to elect Bruce Rauner to the Illinois Governor’s office. Looking closely at both his successes and his failures in 2014, a pattern emerges that shows the way forward. The road to a Republican renaissance runs through America’s biggest cities.

A return to relevance starts with a candid understanding of the burdens a Republican faces in urban areas. Republicans, not Democrats, built the Blue Wall. Through a steadily intensifying focus on the fears of aging white voters, particularly in the South and rural West, the party’s brand has become toxic in America’s cities. In 2000, there were Republican mayors in half of the country’s ten largest cities. Today Republicans govern only five out of the country’s 30 largest cities.

For a party premised on commercial and professional interests, our absence from meaningful urban influence is a bizarre distortion screaming to be corrected. A 21st century economic boom is emerging from our big urban downtowns. Eight big cities accounted for more than 75% of all new venture capital investment in the US in 2014. They are all governed by Democrats.

Rauner’s campaign attacked this problem head on by distancing themselves from the national party’s rhetoric and campaigning aggressively in Chicago. That strategy relied on this critical understanding – the marriage between urban voters and the Democratic Party is loveless.

Cities are electing Democrats because their voters feel, with complete justification, that the Republican Party is vigorously hostile to their values and interests. In places like Chicago, Boston, and Seattle, a political program based on Olde Tyme Religion, slashing government investment, and stoking white racial fears is not merely unappealing, it is a nightmare. Big cities vote Democratic because they have no realistic alternative.

That preface is vital to understanding what did and did not work in the Rauner campaign and, by extension, to recognizing what Republicans can expect from urban outreach. Review a newspaper story about Rauner’s win and you’ll probably read that his campaign in Chicago’s black neighborhoods was the key to his success. That claim is true, yet dangerously misleading.

Rauner’s appeal to Chicago’s black community did indeed unlock new support, but not among black voters. Outreach to the black community accomplished three goals, 1) dampening Democratic turnout, 2) developing longer-term openings to black voters in future elections, and most importantly 3) helping Rauner dramatically outpoll other Republicans in Chicago’s more affluent wards. In other words, the most important impact of Rauner’s African-American outreach in the 2014 Election was felt in white neighborhoods.

For all the effort, Rauner failed to win black voters in any numbers. People do not switch parties easily. African-American voters maintain remarkable solidarity at the polls for very good reasons. Persuading them to break ranks will take more than one candidate in one election making a few hopeful moves.

Rev. James Meeks, an African-American former state senator and pastor of a South Side megachurch was the keystone of Rauner’s outreach. Meeks and several other black political figures campaigned enthusiastically with Rauner in Chicago. The Governor earned only 3% of the vote in Meek’s Chicago Ward, about as close to zero as statistics will allow. Results among black voters elsewhere in Chicago and the state were little better.

Meanwhile, Rauner racked up strong numbers among other voters in Chicago, as evidenced by results from affluent, predominantly white, Lincoln Park. The previous GOP nominee for Governor in 2010 earned barely over a third of the vote in Lincoln Park’s 43rd Ward. Rauner won half. The Republican US Senate at the top of the ballot with Rauner was a social conservative in line with the national party. He earned less than a third of the vote in the 43rd Ward.

Turnout was soft in Chicago. Again, Rauner’s outreach to the black community was key. Much of what drives Democratic support in major urban centers is the fear of living under ideologically rigid, socially conservative, and no so subtly racist Republican leadership. Consistently seeing Rauner on the evening news next to black supporters on the South Side may not have been enough to win droves of Democratic voters, but it was enough to ease their fears. Knowing that the state would continue to be dominated by a Democratic State Assembly and recognizing that Rauner was not the usual white Republican curbed Democratic enthusiasm just enough to weaken his rival.

With an eye on 2018, Rauner has continued his efforts in the city. He has named prominent black Chicago Democrats to powerful (and lucrative – this is Illinois) state offices. He has stuck to his campaign promises, focusing his efforts in Springfield on budget issues and government reform. There is a chance that his efforts could, in time, start to build new openings for Republicans among black voters, particularly the growing black middle class in Chicago’s south suburbs.

Amid all the success, Rauner’s failure to win votes in black neighborhoods in 2014 points out some of the weaknesses of his strategy and the burdens any Republican faces. Perhaps most importantly, Rauner’s campaign was undermined by the need to lean on black leadership figures who were already isolated from the core of their political base.

Rev. Meeks is just one example that illustrates this point. His willingness to cooperate was extremely helpful, but if the campaign had enjoyed a little more time they might have been able to recruit allies among black figures with a stronger reputation who would better fit the campaign’s platform.

Meeks had become alienated from the Democratic Party over a combination of his own frustrated ambitions and his virulent anti-gay, anti-abortion rhetoric. Meek’s strident social conservatism, while in line with the national party, would have been catastrophic for Rauner. As a consequence Meeks was relegated to a relatively minor, though consistently visible role in the campaign. It was an awkward alliance with limited capacity to bear fruit.

Voters in Lincoln Park who know little about politics in black communities might have been impressed by seeing Rauner appearing with Meeks. Voters on the South Side were seeing a more cynical picture, perhaps more cynical than Rauner’s campaign even realized.

A more sustained effort to build partnerships with black communities could yield considerably more value for Republicans. To work, those efforts must be premised on listening, not just giving speeches. Unfortunately, Republicans lack the simplest foundations of access to black neighborhoods. Across much of the country, GOP figures at all levels would struggle just to find phone numbers of relevant black political leaders. A great deal of work lies ahead to build the simplest connections from which the beginnings of political coordination might be constructed.

Making those efforts bear fruit will require Republicans to resist a terrible temptation. Thus far, every form of Republican outreach has been premised on a search for “the good Negro” willing to endorse the party ‘s wildest extremes without complaint or dissent. They are elevated to token roles in the hope of assuaging minority concerns. Despite our willingness to put them on stage, Republicans have demonstrated absolutely zero patience if they ever question the party line.

Our problems in minority communities are deeper than marketing or messaging. The core premise of our political program will have to be re-evaluated in light of what we learn in America’s cities. Instead of recruiting pliable tokens the party will have to start engaging in honest, sometimes painful dialogue with minority voters.

For a party that grows ever more burdened by racist rhetoric, there is no path back to relevance that does not include some uncomfortable conversations. As outlined in the first post on this subject, a reform effort will have to center on a clear statement of beliefs that breaks with current orthodoxy. Only when we are ready to reckon with disconcerting realities and make room in the party for black voters to participate on an equal footing will we start to see gains.

This reality is why an entire post premised on attracting new voters has not yet used the word “Hispanic” a single time. That is not because Hispanic and Asian voters have the same interests as the black community, or that any of these communities can be successfully addressed as a monolithic bloc. Their issue with the Republican Party doesn’t stem from their unique political interests. Their problem with the Republican Party is the way the Republican Party treats them. They way the Republican Party treats non white voters is the biggest single obstacle to winning in cities.

Solve the institutional problems that prevent a Republican, any Republican, from winning 25% of the vote in a black neighborhood, and you will have simultaneously removed the institutional liabilities that have doomed the party among other non-white voters. With that liability lifted, the party’s appeal among white urban voters will also bloom. Become competitive in black neighborhoods and the Blue Wall will crumble.

Our road back to national relevance starts by learning to partner with African-American voters. It begins with precinct leaders and activists making efforts to contact peers in the black community to and listen to them.

Rauner’s very visible willingness to run outreach in minority communities, paired with his similarly visible refusal to indulge in culture war rhetoric, convinced just enough urban voters to give him a chance. With more time and a concerted grassroots effort, Republicans could engage in a more courageous outreach deeper in black, Hispanic, and other communities from which we have been alienated. That effort could break the Blue Wall, but only if we are willing to let these new voters play a role in changing the Republican Party.

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
164 comments on “Blueprint for Republican Reform: New Voters
  1. […] Ironically, the party’s own concentration on an aging, rural, white electorate has created a large number of alienated voters who often vote Democratic while holding their noses. Someone needs to reach them. For now, no one […]

  2. […] 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. […]

  3. […] to assemble donors and think tanks that can support the policy and campaign sides of an effort to activate new voters. Once that is in place, we can expect to have success in recruiting candidates and passing […]

  4. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Fortunately, it seems that the GOP is listening to LIfer’s advice and changing their tactics…

    “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” says a leading candidate for the nomination of a party that consistently cries about how their religious freedom is under attack.

    I actually am not at all bothered by Trump’s non-answer to the idiot complaining about Muslim training camps. I doubt Trump generally pays much attention to the questions anyone asks him, and I do think it takes some experience and skill (Trump has neither) as politician to handle those idiots well (e.g., McCain). Trump fumbled with that to do and spit out the best word salad he could make.

    Carson’s was deliberate, and he and his campaign are doubling down on that in the aftermath.

    • flypusher says:

      Carson is within his rights, as an individual, to decide not to vote for someone for any reason. He certainly didn’t go into “Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to run” territory, which is clearly at odds with article 6 of the US Constitution. But as far as shedding this Islamophobic image, not helpful, not helpful at all.

      Trump complains that Obama wouldn’t speak up for him. Probably true, although in the absence of equally outrageous lies being spoken by ignorant people about Trump, not really relevant.

      • 1mime says:

        We don’t have to dig very deep in time to find commentary from conservatives to this effect:

        “I would not advocate that we put a “Black” in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” (Or, heaven forbid, a “woman”!)

        Does Dr. Carson not understand what the word “Muslim” means, or “who” some of the outstanding Muslims are? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Muslim_doctors) You would think that if anyone would be tolerant of the Muslim community, it would be an educated Black man who espouses his faith as his guiding principle. Where’s the love, Ben? Where’s the tolerance?

  5. parhiscan says:

    A while back you stated that Republicans should leave the GMO debate alone. Since then the World Health Organization has come out saying that the glyphophatase used in the herbicide/pesticide used on GMO crops is most probably a cause of cancer and now the EPA is worried about the super bugs caused by use of these products. Bugs that do not respond to anything. I guess maybe we all had better start listening to the same people that warned us about antibiotics and steroids in our food instead of risking our health and that of our children. Republicans are wanting rid of the EPA and let companies self monitor. For those that agree I suggest you rid a recent HuffPost on the poisoning that is ongoing problem in the Ohio river which is the water supply for millions of people. The latest test still should the water at hundreds of times over the current safe level.

    http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/welcome-to-beautiful-parkersburg/

  6. 1mime says:

    OT – on a subject that I have commented on before which continues to reverberate – re-authorization of the EX-IM Bank in the House. GOP Rep Jeb Hensarling from Dallas has personally made it his life’s work to not only kill this profitable bank in his committee, but to never allow the reauthorization be voted on by the full House – where it would pass easily. No up or down vote allowed! This bank serves only those business loans which have been refused by private banks. It operates at a profit, which profit is deposited into the US Treasury.

    Hensarling’s donor base is topped by commercial banks, security and investment interests.

    Why do the majority of House members support re-authorization of the EX-IM Bank and Hensarling opposes it? Could it be that this bank helps small businesses? Produces jobs? To get another perspective on this subject, please read:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/19/opinion/joe-nocera-republican-job-killers-and-the-export-import-bank.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

    • Doug says:

      If it really were profitable, it would serve no purpose because private banks would make the loans.

      “The Congressional Budget Office reported May 22 that if Ex-Im used proper accounting methods, it would be budgeted as a $2 billion cost to the taxpayers per decade.”

      http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/export-import-bank-costs-taxpayers-2-billion-a-decade/article/2548865

      • 1mime says:

        Doug, your source links back to the Heritage Foundation. Do you not find it extremely odd that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is “for” the EX-IM Bank and that Hensarling can’t let the Bank’s re-authorization come up for a vote because it would easily pass the Republican House?

        As always, there usually are two sides to every story, so I’ll do more research and offer more background to you – reputable background – not of the Heritage Foundation ilk.

      • 1mime says:

        This is what the EX-IM Bank does: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-07-05/ex-im-bank-s-bad-rap-for-crony-capitalism

        “Started by Franklin D. Roosevelt, it provides direct loans and loan guarantees at low interest rates to foreign entities to buy U.S. products. Many countries require this kind of support as a condition for importing U.S. goods, and in many cases these are transactions that private banks won’t undertake.”

        The EX-IM Bank backs just two percent of export transactions. The biggest argument in opposition to the bank which has been in existence for 81 years, is that there are major corporations that utilize its services. Modifications to the Bank’s operations have been suggested that would focus the loans to small businesses. This language has been part of Senate discussions and negotiations but was not debated in the House, which allowed the re-authorization to expire without debate.

        The bank is a target of TP Republicans which frankly makes me suspicious of their justification. Regardless, unless the parliamentarians can figure out a way to bundle this re-authorization in with other revenue bills, it is a goner.

      • Creigh says:

        If it really were profitable then they would make the loans. There might be other reasons why those loans should be made.

        Full disclosure: I know absolutely nothing about this issue.

      • Creigh says:

        Should have said “If it were really profitable (for the banks) then they would make the loans.

      • 1mime says:

        I have read that the reason commercial banks haven’t wanted to make the loans is because of risk from the foreign companies requesting a line of credit and because they would be unable to charge the rates competitive with EX-IM and make their normal profit.

  7. unarmedandunafraid says:

    For several weeks I have been tempted to comment that I thought Bernie Sanders might attract a portion of the tea party. Not a large part, but a certain slice that feel strongly about economic issues. And feel that these issues outweigh all the anti-Obama baloney.

    I would have seemed so prescient. Oh well.

    http://www.wcax.com/story/30064232/poll-bernie-sanders-popular-in-vt-even-among-republicans

    • Griffin says:

      Remember that a lot of people in Vermont still registered as Republicans are mildly progressive or “Hamiltonian” in their outlook. Really it’s a kind of snapshot of what the Republicans use to be, so it’s not shocking that he would attract some of them in this climate even if he’s a bit to their left. Any Tea Party crossover is mostly populism but he’s attracting a surprising number of older styled Republicans, my Dad (who has only voted Democratic once, in 2008) included.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        This is true. Interesting to see if similar results show up in polls in other states.

      • 1mime says:

        Due to the quality of the candidates, I have wondered if this Presidential election might be one of low turn out.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime, mark tis post: 2016 will be the highest turnout in a long time, possibly decades. I don’t know this for sure, of course, just my opinion. It’s based on my anecdotal evidence that people in my peer group are more politically active in the past 12 months then I’ve ever seen.

        I think the lack of quality options is exactly what will force the turnout. If the option is two unsexy yet non dangerous candidates, THAT’S when apathy comes in. But when you have so many candidates that are scaring the heck out of people, you’re going to have a higher turnout.

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, but if the two finalists are Jeb and Hillary, how much more “unsexy and boring” can you get? Now, I want a “boring” President. I think we need a boring but competent President, (which is why I will vote Hillary), but I wonder if your stated criteria will produce just the apathy you discuss?

      • Griffin says:

        Jeb is actually somewhat dangerous even if he can portray himself as sane. Everytime he brings up Florida he’s essentially bragging about governing over a housing bubble and then being lucky enough to leave right before it burst.

        People are angry this election and if they don’t get someone more populist, if they get more technocrats who come across as apathetic to their wants, don’t have many scruples with leaving the government in its current state (lobbying and all), and don’t have a desire to revamp economy enough to make sure they can pay their bills they are only going to get angrier. Eventually we’re going to end up with someone who can channel that anger in all the wrong areas and is also incompetant both administratively and in terms of policy. Basically another George W. Bush or, worse, a Donald Trump. I say support a more reasonable populist who at least understands policies and let some steam off.

      • 1mime says:

        Boring but competent?

      • duncancairncross says:

        Boring but competent??

        Boring yes – but it’s beginning to look like George was the smart brother

      • 1mime says:

        Not Jeb, Hillary!

      • Doug says:

        “I think we need a boring but competent President, (which is why I will vote Hillary)”

        Do you think she’s an honest, trustworthy person?

      • 1mime says:

        Yes. Has she made some mistakes? Yes. She still is the best qualified candidate of those running to become President in 2017.

      • Larry says:

        To me it’s not about whether Hillary is honest. I think we need a President who will advocate aggressively to reduce income equality and to reduce climate change. I think both Bernie and Hillary are being honest in their positions on these issues: he is strongly in favor of both and she speaks favorably but hasn’t really committed to any specific policies. So maybe she’d attempt incremental changes, and maybe she wouldn’t even do that.

        Someone posted a comment that they like Bernie’s positions but think someone else should implement them. What other candidate intends or even wants to implement Bernie’s positions? Not any of the Republicans.

  8. parhiscan says:

    Just saw this on HuffPo. Give it up GOPlifer its a losing proposition. They are going to sink the Republicam party

    WASHINGTON — Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is boycotting Pope Francis’ address to Congress next week because of reports that His Holiness plans to focus on the “fool’s errand of climate change.”

    In a Thursday op-ed on the conservative website Townhall.com, the Arizona Republican said he doesn’t want to listen to the pope talk about climate change, since the planet’s climate has been changing “since first created in Genesis” in the Bible.

    “If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend,” Gosar wrote. “When the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.”

    He also said the pope’s calls to action on climate change sound more like “socialist talking points” than the teachings of a faith leader. Gosar said he has a moral obligation to call out the pope for ignoring more pressing issues, like the persecution of Christians.

    “If the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time,” he said. “But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous.”

    Scientists have already established that human activity causes climate change. Global warming stems largely from greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

    Pope Francis has made strong statements about the effects of climate change, writing in his second papal encyclical that it is “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

    MORE: Paul Gosar, Climate Change, Pope, Pope Visit, Bo

    • Doug says:

      Gosar makes a lot of sense. The Catholic church doesn’t have a good track record on sciency things. The guy really should stick to religion.

      • 1mime says:

        Rather than ding the Pope for science activism, maybe it would be useful to hear “why” he is interested in this issue and what he has to say. Of course, if one stays away, I guess he will never know. Or, maybe, just to show a little respect for a fellow Jesuit who just happens to be the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. I’m sure this is a “principled” stand by Rep. Gosar.

        Gosar – member, House Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party, endorsed by S. Palin and Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio….Just so you know where he is coming from.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        The difference, Doug is when the church has been wrong on “sciency things” it’s when they’ve been on the side of religious dogma AGAINST scientists. In 2015, they seem to have learned their lesson and have decided to be on the side OF scientists and AGAINST dogma.

        anytime you’re on the side of empirical fact proven over and over again by thousands of different scientists across thousands of different disciplines against the side of dogma funded by the very moneyed interests that get hurt by said facts, you’re going to most likely be on the right side of history

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Oh, and just as an aside I wonder which Genesis creation story he’s referring too? The one in the first chapter? Or the completely different one in the second chapter?

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      What is so hard for these people to grasp the fact that since climate has always changed is completely irrelevant. The problem is that it’s changing too rapidly thanks to the exacerbating effect of human activity.

      That’s like murderer saying at trial “well look, I’m not guilty of a crime. People have ALWAYS died throughout history”

      and while this is true That the victim would have certainly died at some point in the future regardless nobody would give this person pass. this person certainly exacerbated that inevitable human condition by sticking a knife in their heart at the age of 35. The person is still responsible for their death and could have prevented it if they so chose.

      So yes climate always changes. That is completely irrelevant to the fact that it’s changing too fast thanks to human activity and can be prevented

      • 1mime says:

        Good analogy, Rob. BTW, are you one and the same with the Canadian RobA who used a different icon?

      • Doug says:

        “The problem is that it’s changing too rapidly thanks to the exacerbating effect of human activity.”

        According to which data? If you would, please comment on the disparity of these two trends.

        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp-dts/from:1995/mean:12/offset:-.4/plot/gistemp-dts/from:1995/trend/offset:-.4/plot/rss/from:1995/mean:12/plot/rss/from:1995/trend

      • duncancairncross says:

        So the lower troposphere is not warming at the same rate at the rest of the atmosphere?

        Why would you expect it to? – as the temperatures rise the “lower troposphere” effectively expands and the top (warmer) part becomes part of the upper troposphere

        That is simply an effect of how we define the measurement zones

        To look at global warming properly you need to look at the ocean, land, and all of the atmosphere

        What it is showing is that the earths heat balance is shot, we are currently getting more heat in than we are radiating away to space
        – that energy is;
        heating the atmosphere
        heating the oceans
        melting the ice

        What is worse is that we are still adding more and more CO2 – the last time the CO2 levels were this high there were no icecaps and the oceans were 100m higher

      • Doug says:

        ” as the temperatures rise the “lower troposphere” effectively expands and the top (warmer) part becomes part of the upper troposphere”

        That is hilarious.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hilarious – but true

      • Doug says:

        You really should look up the definition of lower troposphere, and what global warming theory says about it. While you’re at it, “lapse rate” might be a good term to learn.

    • Doug says:

      Just curious…what would you guys be saying if the head of the southern Baptists wanted to address congress on a few of his pet topics? All good? And dems would be wrong not to attend?

      • flypusher says:

        Anyone can apply to address Congress on the topic of their choice.

        If the speaker is approved, any member of Congress is within their rights to not attend, for any reason.

        As demonstrated here, such actions on the parts of the speaker, and / or members of Congress are fair game for criticism/ debate/ discussion/ high fives/ etc.

      • 1mime says:

        Frankly, if members of Congress are unable to comport themselves with dignity and respect for the person speaking, they should stay away. Republicans, in recent memory, have certainly demonstrated how crass they can be in disrespecting those at the lectern. Need I remind anyone here of the infamous “you lie” shout? Or, clapping on the Republican side of the aisle when Pres. Obamain a State of the Union Address commented that he would be gone in four years? Tell me if you can remember one outburst from Democrats for Netanyahu’s recent visit to Congress, who was invited by Republicans with full knowledge that he would denigrate a sitting President of the United States in his remarks? Not. One. Democrat. Hollered. Out, despite strong disagreement of the majority with Netanyahu’s position.

        So who are the bullies here? Maybe Republicans, who need more practice being polite, should be respectful and make their rebuttals following the Pope’s visit in front of the cameras for maximum political mileage. Or, stay home. This is the first time in history that a Pope has ever addressed the US Congress. Respect that even if you don’t like or agree with what he has to say. I am hoping those Republicans who are so offended by the Pope’s Encyclical on Global Warming will stay home. The optics of that scene are certain to resonate with millions of American Catholics. Go on, I double dare you.

      • 1mime says:

        Truth be told, Doug, the Baptist heads are already IN Congress and get up and talk whenever they want…or, maybe “rave” is a better descriptor.

      • Doug says:

        You have a point there, mime

      • 1mime says:

        A little “wiki” info that might be significant to any member of Congress whose climate sensibilities might cloud their political judgement regarding the Pope’s address:

        “There are 69.4 million members (of the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S.). It is the largest religious body in the United States, comprising 22% of the population. The United States has the fourth largest Catholic population in the world”.

        In comparison, Southern Baptists number 16 million members.

      • easyfortytwo says:

        Just for perspective: We have had two presidents who were Southern Baptists: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Both their positions on climate change are well known.

      • Doug says:

        Good point, mime.

      • Larry says:

        Also, the Pope is a head of state. A very small state, true, but one that has a great deal of influence. If Congress can invite Netanyahu, who is a head of state & falsely claimed to speak for Jews throughout the world, then what is wrong with inviting a head of state who genuinely is the leader of Catholics throughout the world?

        PS to Rep. Paul Gosar: climate change is already affecting the poor far more than the rich. THAT is why it is a moral issue of great importance to the Pope.

  9. parhiscan says:

    I grew up in a Republican family,two members being members of the state Legislature. Since I was a teenage rebel I became a Dem,but worked for a Republican governor,lobbied for very conservative issues and tended to vote Republican. BUT I have to say this Republican party scares the hell out of me and wiil never vote for another. Even if they changed their rhetoric how could we possibly believe a word out of their mouths.They vote and speak in favor of pollution of the air and water. For Gods sake they are condemning their own children to live in a toxic soup. Is that some weird family value that escaped my family. Right now the OH river has levels of a chemical called C-8 put there by Dupont at much higher levels than is deemed safe. Yet Republicans want to do away with the EPA. It started out in Parkersburg and by 2013 was down river at Cincinnati and no telling how far it is now. Dupont stopped using C-8 and is now using C-5-6-9-and 10 and it is showing up in peoples blood. The Republican Party cannot be saved by Carly Fiorina lying or Trump blustering. It needs to disband and start over. Let the Tea Party have their own political party.

    • 1mime says:

      I’m loving all the new participants! Great comments!

    • nickqt says:

      Agreed. I’m not particularly conservative although I can understand the reasoning behind a conservative party.

      The Republican party ain’t it. It’s reactionary. And it’s disgusting.

      I come here to see how a sane, reasonable conservative thinks. And when I read what Lifer writes, I can’t help but see that while he may be conservative, he isn’t a Republican. Which confuses me as to why he doesn’t think leaving is an option.

      As has been said many times by politicians who leave their party and go (I) or switch to the other party…Lifer has been left.

      Pretty much everything Lifer believes politically would make him a centrist Democrat.

      What I hope, is that Trump is the nominee in 2016. I believe he kills the GOP dead as a national party, and it eventually goes the way of the Whigs.

      Yes, the Tea Party should have their own party – and they do, it’s the Republican party that has been constructed to be what it is over the last 50 years.

      What we actually need is the Democratic party to become the new conservative (small c) party…as it actually is here in observable reality. And we need an actual progressive/leftist/social democracy party here in the US.

      • 1mime says:

        Are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren your standard bearers for a progressive/leftist/social democracy party? Who is your choice to head the Democratic (c)onservative wing of the party?

      • n1cholas says:

        @1mime

        [blockquote]Are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren your standard bearers for a progressive/leftist/social democracy party? Who is your choice to head the Democratic (c)onservative wing of the party?[/blockquote]

        To some extent, Sanders, Warren, Sherrod Brown, etc are what I would consider “leftier” Democrats, as compared to an Obama, Clinton, Biden, Chuck Shumer, Dick Durbin, or Jon Tester. Obama, Clinton and Biden aren’t particularly center-right, but they’re centrists. They are just barely to the left of 70s era Democrats from f-ing 40 years ago.

        There is definitely a centrist/center- right wing of the Democratic party, as the Democrats are the big-tent party today. Pro-life, pro-Lochner Democrats are in there right alongside Warren and Brown. And they deserve to run the Democratic party, as the Republican party has been turned hollowed out of actual conservatives, with the Tea Party reactionaries and the grifters who have lost control of their marks, remaining.

        Who should lead the conservative Democratic party (wing)? Not sure. Someone like Jon Tester, or Joe Manchin, perhaps? That’s not my call, as I’m not a conservative.

        I think conservatives are a valuable group of politicians because they can slow down progressive politicians and keep them honest. For example, I’ll self-identify as an anarcho-syndicalist who is at the same time reasonable, so I don’t expect to see anything resembling that form of government in my lifetime, and I’m fairly young. But, I definitely want US politics to get there as fast as possible. And that speed that I want isn’t at all reasonable in the sense that most Americans would shudder at their pre-fab beliefs about what anarcho-syndicalism looks like, not to mention the social, political, and economic infrastructure just isn’t there yet.

        Which is why it’s a shame and a tragedy that instead of having responsible conservatives like Lifer running a conservative party, we basically have a bunch of grifters and lunatics running the Republican party into the ground as a Reactionary party, screwing almost everything up as they go. And to some extent, screwing everything up as they go is almost part and parcel of an effective Reactionary party.

        (Two questions: is there a way I can reply directly to you, 1mime, instead of myself? And is there a preview button? I don’t see either…been reading the blog for awhile, newish commenter).

      • 1mime says:

        When you see a post you want to respond to, at the bottom it will say “hide original message”. Open that and it will give you two options: reply and comment. If you reply, your answer should populate with the name of the person you are responding to; if you select comment, your response will typically be found chronically at the top of all comments. Sometimes, however, comments you may wish to respond to are in a “thread” and have no option to select “reply”. In that case, you can go back to the main list that precedes the comment and scroll through those until you find the person you wish to answer. Once you open their comment up, it will again give you the sequencial options, “hide original message”, then reply/comment’. Your response may not always appear directly under the comment you’re responding to, but you can assist by identifying the party (as you did with “1 Mime”) or, cut and paste the phrase from the comment you wish to answer and begin your response.

        Whew! I hope this is the kind of info you were seeking, if not, pardon!

        Thanks for your response, btw. I don’t know what you mean by “anarcho-syndicalist”, so maybe this will prompt a “test” of my primer above (-:

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, there is a direct reply option altho your response doesn’t always appear immediately under the person’s comment you are addressing. Look below the comment you would like to respond to. If it offers the “reply” option, simply select this and a box will open entitlled “leave a reply to 1Mime, etc. If it is one of many postings in a thread, you will have to go back to the original email comment that appeared in your box. At the bottom in half tone, is the phrase, “show all comments”. Open this. It will then provide an option to reply (to the person specifically) or comment – which response will typically be listed at the beginning of the comments in chronological order.

        When you receive an emailed comment, you can scroll up where you will see “32, etc comments”. Scroll up through these to find the party and comment you like, open it and repeat above to record your reply. It is helpful if you use the person’s name/handle in referencing your remark, or, include a cut/pasted remark that will describe the issue you are responding to.

        Hope that helps, and hope that is what you were looking for!

        Thanks for your response. I’m not familiar with an anarcho-syndicalist. Maybe you could explain that further for me.

      • Griffin says:

        An anarcho syndicalist generally wants to create an anarchist society through the power of trade unions. The basic idea is that workers of various occupations will join unions (or perhaps One Big Union) and then peacefully (usually) obtain the means of production by going on a massive strike until capitalists overturn the means of production (as a compromise the capitalists may be alllowed to keep money they already had saved).

        Society will then be organized through direct democratic means and most production will usually be directed by local trade union leaders who are democratically elected (as opposed to something like anarcho communism which doesn’t have any direction in the economy). De Leonism is a more ideological version of anarcho-syndicalism but doesn’t always believe in immeditate abolition of government and believes the threat of force is neccesary to obtaining anarchism. The primary driver behind this idea is that the main cause of poverty/low wages is a low worker-to-capital ratio and them directly obtaining the means of production of will solve this issue.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks for the education, Griffin. The problem of low wages for workers is real, but I think capitalism is so entrenched that it is going to difficult if not impossible to revive unions into this power structure. Even as a union supporter, it sounds to extreme to me. I do believe in a fair relationship and compensation/benefits for workers but I think it is highly unlikely we’ll see this scenario repeat itself.

      • Griffin says:

        I agree I think it could have been plausable in an industrial society (though I wouldn’t have supported it then as well because I’m basically a capitalist as well) but it doesn’t sound plausable in an information society. Right now I think the best way for an anarchist to go about it is trying to invest in technology to achieve a post-scarcity economy, much like what Murray Bookchin envinsioned.

  10. texan5142 says:

    Chris, I might have overlooked it, but who do you consider the republican worthy of your vote? and , who would turn your stomach so bad that you would vote for Bernie ?

  11. IntelliWriter says:

    You say in your column that there is a 21st century renewal in the cities with 75% of venture capital going to eight cities–all run by Democrats. Explain why on earth we need the Republicans when it’s pretty clear the Democrats are doing a great job.

    Also, you address minorities, but not women. I’m a college-educated, white married woman and I would never vote for a Republican. They’ve made it pretty clear that we should all be out of work and holed up in our kitchens cooking for our family of 12. Even Fiorina advocates for policies that hurt women. So that blue wall will be much harder to come down if half the population thinks you’re hostile to their interests.

    • goplifer says:

      Cities are doing OK, but they could do much better. Imagine, for example, if the largest cities in the Northeast and the West Coast also featured school districts you wanted your kids to attend? That said, America’s big cities are still doing a lot better than the rural countryside.

      These are the four “inescapable realities” I would like to see Republicans build a new coalition around.

      http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2014/11/four-inescapable-realities/

      And this is a rough outline of what I would like to see the party embrace as a platform. Not as far removed from Republican logic from the 70’s as it is from the current GOP:

      https://goplifer.com/what-the-republican-party-could-be/

      If those two pieces were what most people thought the GOP was about, we would be a majority party in this country.

      • 1mime says:

        In reading your four inescapable realities again, I find it lacking in the area of womens’ issues. It touches upon abortion in a very abstract way (live and let live is what I get from it), but what about the other issues that concern women? What about equal pay for equal work, paid maternity leave, choice, and equal access to the jobs market with same skills? What about supporting egalitarian relationships where talented women have supportive husbands who share responsibilities for raising children so that both can have rewarding careers – if they want them? Why encourage women to get college degrees and then juggle career and family without support? What about putting women in positions of leadership where they can participate and help shape political agendas? (GOP deficit of women as chairmen, etc).

        Honestly, I think Intelliwriter has a valid point. Then there’s racism, which is but one part of a much bigger issue – equality – in all aspects of life for all people. And, what about the income divide? I know you propose a basic minimum wage, and that sounds like it would be a good start, but what about the constant harping about makers and takers, entitlement programs and welfare, or, a living wage, or affordable health care? I am assuming that you believe that if the GOP bought into your four inescapable realities, that that would make the Republican Party “whole” again. While I definitely agree this would help, it in no way absolves the Republican Party from a whole range of other shortcomings. I am not saying that I believe the Democratic Party is that much better, but it is more inclusive and tolerant and that, for me, is the heart of the problem for the Republican Party. And, that is what is going to be so very hard to change.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Yes.^

    • briandrush says:

      We need the Republicans because a one-party state is a very, very, VERY bad idea.

      • Creigh says:

        We need an alternative to keep the Democrats from degenerating into hackery and corruption. It doesn’t have to be Republicans.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        A one party state won’t ever happen. The death of the Republican Party (if it happens) would create a vacuum so strong that it would be filled the same day.

        Honestly I don’t think it’ll be destroyed. I think the Gop establishment is still in charge. They’re CHOOSING to pander to the lunatic fringe. They’re ALLOWING the hard right to drive the car. But they can still choose to stop. And they will after 2016.

        And when that happens, I could absolutely envision a three party system where the TP splits off and becomes the hard right and elects congressman and. Few senators and the GOP becomes. Centrist party along the lines of “social progressive/fiscal conservative”. This would draw a large chunk of the current democrat party leaving the democrat party to become a hard left party

      • vikinghou says:

        Rob,

        I can even envision a revolt and schism during the upcoming GOP convention. The party is so polarized, and each side is so uncompromising, that there isn’t a candidate who could be a unifier. We could witness quite a spectacle.

  12. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Lifer: Your comment here is important:

    “For all the effort, Rauner failed to win black voters in any numbers. People do not switch parties easily. African-American voters maintain remarkable solidarity at the polls for very good reasons.”

    I think you may have had a post long ago about this, but that issue has to be huge for the GOP and Hispanics.

    Hispanics are the fastest growing group of voters and potential voters, and we just had two big elections with Hispanics voting for a Democrat President, with lots of first and second time voters. If that happens again in 2016, you are going to see a couple of decades of “early voting career” Hispanics who have known nothing but Democrats winning the Presidency with overwhelming Hispanic support.

    Once folks lock into a party, and most folks like being on the side that wins elections, it is going to be hard to change them. If the GOP is waiting until 2024 to have a viable GOP candidate that reaches out to minorities (they won’t have one in 2016), that is going to be two generations of young Hispanic voters are that are going to be hard to move to the GOP.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Not just “locked in” to one party, but “turned off” by the other, with its angry rhetoric and inordinate focus on illegals and anchor babies, as if the world revolved around this issue. It’s a shame, because Hispanics share many core values with the Republican Party, like social and fiscal conservatism. But hate is also a core value.

      I appreciate thoughtful discussions about the pros and cons of illegal immigration and amnesty, the 14th amendment and the definition of citizenship, etc, but not hateful ranting, when it’s clear it’s not about “illegals,” it’s about Hispanics.

      • BigWilly says:

        I’m not with the party on that level, however I think the libs are framing the debate in such a way as to make any action to correct the “problem” of immigration as being racist. It doesn’t help much when the top pols in my reality ignore that and blather out nonsense about building a wall across the southern border.

        It’s a pretty clear case of the liberals ignoring the law and possible future negative aspects of unlimited illegal immigration for political power.

        Reverse racism is real, vatos.

      • 1mime says:

        Just to be clear as to “who” is ignoring the law….it’s big business who wants cheap labor. As for Liberals not wanting to make changes in the law, I think that’s hogwash. I well remember when G.W. Bush advocated his “Pathway to Freedom” plan for immigration, which Republicans ignored, but many Democrats were willing to support (count me in for certain).

      • Crogged says:

        I have addressed that-one thousand dollars and a form and you’re a US citizen. Make it easy. Of course we only want the educated, who needs those Thomas Edison types of people………

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        “Reverse racism is real”

        And there ya go. All lives matter too.

        it is always essential, practically mandatory, that when we talk about racism or issues affecting Blacks and Hispanics, we must carefully consider the very sensitive feelings of White folks.

        Sure, decades of slavery, a century of state-endorsed oppression, another few decades of bad schools and limited job opportunities probably were tough for you folks, but why won’t you consider my fee-fees when talking about race.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Crogged, or choose a name that implies success, and that will get you in the door. I work with South Americans whose first names are EDISON, WILSON, WASHINGTON. I wouldn’t be surprised to run into an EINSTEIN one day.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I prefer the term “DEFENSIVE RACISM,” because it was born in response to the oppression by the other race. In other words, the White people “started it.”

        But eventually you end up with CIRCULAR RACISM, and at some point everyone, or no one, is guilty.

      • BigWilly says:

        To mouse hats than, I say. You suffer from Guilty White Liberal Syndrome, from which there is apparently no cure other than a bit of self immolation. Fire burns!

        I know where you’re coming from, but after all the sh*t I’ve been through GWLS doesn’t affect me.

        Be the best Roman Candle you can be, just don’t expect any support from me.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I recently had a conversation with a White Waiter, who mentioned that the previous day he had been chewed out by a Black lady for no apparent reason, and he said that he just swallowed his anger and said nothing, because she had to endure this type of treatment every single day, and so he felt the least he could do was to let her take it out on him. That struck me as rather extreme.

      • Crogged says:

        I suppose a thousand bucks and a form is a sort of guilt and about as realistic as laser aimer walls stretching thousands of miles because of the prospect of ‘unlimited illegal immigration for political power’.

      • Crogged says:

        A white guilty liberal guy who killed himself said this.

        Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic
        bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls
        maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy,
        littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through
        slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.
        Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn’t yet been part of you
        graduates’ actual life routine, day after week after month after year.

        But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless
        routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty,
        frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna
        come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout
        lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about
        how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and
        miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is
        the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY
        hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going
        to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who
        are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them
        are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they
        seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people
        are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at
        how deeply and personally unfair this is.

      • BigWilly says:

        It’s like when your Father abandons your Mother for another woman when you’re five years old. Then your Mother takes up with an ex-Marine with a serious yen for random corporal punishment. Full Metal Jacket has a substantially different meaning for me. I saw it and it was like, yeah you know.

        Do you know what poverty’s like?

        How ’bout I just stop on by while you’re not home and beat your kids for you? Even better yet I’ll psycho screw them and make them think they deserve it. Not only are you a fuck-d up kid, you deserve a random beating from a stranger.

        Poverty is a whole lot more than being inconvenienced at Whole Foods. If that’s your version of struggle no wonder black lives matter resonates with you.

        I’ll try and keep that in mind the next time a black guy steals my car.

      • Crogged says:

        I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.

        Michael Palin: Ahh.. Very passable, this, very passable.

        Graham Chapman: Nothing like a good glass of Chateau de Chassilier wine, ay Gessiah?

        Terry Gilliam: You’re right there Obediah.

        Eric Idle: Who’d a thought thirty years ago we’d all be sittin’ here drinking Chateau de Chassilier wine?

        MP: Aye. In them days, we’d a’ been glad to have the price of a cup o’ tea.

        GC: A cup ‘ COLD tea.

        EI: Without milk or sugar.

        TG: OR tea!

        MP: In a filthy, cracked cup.

        EI: We never used to have a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.

        GC: The best WE could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.

        TG: But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.

        MP: Aye. BECAUSE we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness.”

        EI: ‘E was right. I was happier then and I had NOTHIN’. We used to live in this tiiiny old house, with greaaaaat big holes in the roof.

        GC: House? You were lucky to have a HOUSE! We used to live in one room, all hundred and twenty-six of us, no furniture. Half the floor was missing; we were all huddled together in one corner for fear of FALLING!

        TG: You were lucky to have a ROOM! *We* used to have to live in a corridor!

        MP: Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin’ in a corridor! Woulda’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House!? Hmph.

        EI: Well when I say “house” it was only a hole in the ground covered by a piece of tarpolin, but it was a house to US.

        GC: We were evicted from *our* hole in the ground; we had to go and live in a lake!

        TG: You were lucky to have a LAKE! There were a hundred and sixty of us living in a small shoebox in the middle of the road.

        MP: Cardboard box?

        TG: Aye.

        MP: You were lucky. We lived for three months in a brown paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six o’clock in the morning, clean the bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down mill for fourteen hours a day week in-week out. When we got home, out Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!

        GC: Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at three o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, go to work at the mill every day for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would beat us around the head and neck with a broken bottle, if we were LUCKY!

        TG: Well we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the shoebox at twelve o’clock at night, and LICK the road clean with our tongues. We had half a handful of freezing cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at the mill for fourpence every six years, and when we got home, our Dad would slice us in two with a bread knife.

        EI: Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, (pause for laughter), eat a lump of cold poison, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad would kill us, and dance about on our graves singing “Hallelujah.”

        MP: But you try and tell the young people today that… and they won’t believe ya’.

        ALL: Nope, nope..

      • 1mime says:

        Great, Crogged!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, there seems to be a problem with your personal blog clock. Your posts often appear out of chronological order. Your 1:42 post is between Willy’s 11:33 and Crogged’s 11:47 posts.

      • 1mime says:

        I’ve got one sneaky computer, dahlin!

      • 1mime says:

        I am not Hispanic but the Hispanics I know well enough to discuss things like this do believe in social and fiscal values but “reasonable” values. They also do not judge others and criticize them for their different views. If Hispanic people were treated with the respect and tolerance that they offer to others, they might be more interested in the Republican Party. The problem is, “what they say and what they do” are often different. That “trust” factor? Very tenuous. I have found the minorities I speak with on these issues to be far more generous than I would be in their shoes.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, Miss Mime, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

      • 1mime says:

        Well, since it’s Friday, and those who won’t be watching football may be looking for a fun diversion, and since it’s “sort of” on topic, here goes:

        http://www.buzzfeed.com/mirajacob/questions-from-my-mixed-race-son?nl=books&em_pos=large&emc=edit_bk_20150918#.imwkd5MyJ

      • Re Immigration
        The basis
        The Republicans (The leaders) want ILLEGAL Immigrants,
        They work cheap – can’t vote, can’t strike and reduce worker influence

        The Democrats want LEGAL Immigrants,
        They vote Democrat

        History
        Up until Bush 2 the pattern was very simple – each Republican president upon getting into power reduced the size of the border patrol
        Each Democratic president increased the size of the border patrol

        Bush 2 started by reducing the size of the border patrol but did increase it later,

        Obama kept to the pattern increasing resources to the patrol and exporting more immigrants than ever before

      • moslerfan says:

        Duncan, also look at budget deficits when the Rs are in the White House. Same pattern. I’ve never been able to decide if they really understand how deficits affect employment (which is very closely related to overall economic output) or not. In other words, when they talk about “deficits burdening our children” are they being cynical or ignorant?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Willy, if a Black guy steals your car, I think you should “let him have it.”

      • BigWilly says:

        They stole my ’77 Olds Cutlass for some nefarious type activity. They were caught in the act but managed to escape into the housing complex nearby. They’d shived the steering column to start the car, and tossed out all of my textbooks. It was still running when the cops took me to it.

        The next night they came back and stole it again. They totally trashed it. Yep, they got it.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        ON topic . . . I’m an admirer of Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I just bought his new book over the weekend, and before I could start reading it, the ATLANTIC goes and publishes his article about the mass incarceration of Black men, so now I don’t know where to begin.

        He brings a different perspective, a different way of describing the Black experience.

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, In case you missed this recent interview of Ta-Nehisi Coates by Charlie Rose….

        http://www.charlierose.com/watch/60595771

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks, Mime. What I like about Mr. Coates’s perspective is that he presents the case for reparations, not as something to be based on society’s generosity, benevolence, or pity — subjective feelings which can easily morph into stinginess, hatred, or contempt — but as something that should be based on simple JUSTICE, which is objective and unchanging, if we understand it correctly and don’t distort it.

      • 1mime says:

        Coates is very special. I hope people like him will be included in the Civil Rights group that Lifer is working with.

        Since you and I seem to read a great deal, have you read: “Just Mercy, A story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson? It’s won numerous awards. Stevenson formed the Equal Justice Initiative which is focused on defending the poor and wrongly condemned. Quite a book, and a fine young man.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks for the recommendation, Miss Mime!

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s the link to the Atlantic article by Coates on Incarceration. You are correct, it is sobering and very sad and we must change it.

        http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/the-black-family-in-the-age-of-mass-incarceration/403246/

  13. BigWilly says:

    Jesus H Christ. You can’t get a Republican elected in Chicago? You’ve got, arguably, the worst Mayor in American history there. What a golden opportunity. New Yorkers made the colossal error of electing a flaming puke stick named De Blasio. He can be replaced. L.A. had a Republican Mayor named Riordan not so long ago.

    The three largest cities in the US are all potential Republican flips. Make the election about the candidate, and not the party. There’s no need to run away from the party base. They’ve been the victims of a terrible smear campaign for the last how many years? The threat to the nation emanates from the left, not the right.

    Remember this; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

    Under your scheme we are not equal, and our rights are alienable. It’s also obvious that you have no intent of legitimately gaining my consent. It’s either co-opt or destroy. It’s good to be back in the South. For the rest of you I have a soon-to-be patented testicular removal and storage device (if you don’t care to become an eunuch). Simply unzip your scrotal pouch and mount.

    • Crogged says:

      An election is about one more vote, not ‘consent’.

      • BigWilly says:

        I’m not a Rovian practitioner. The elected are obliged to represent their respective districts including the minority, not in spite of it.

      • 1mime says:

        BW, the issue of how an elected official should vote, i.e., like his constituents want…is not a so simple. When I served, there were times when I voted against the “expressed” wishes of my “vocal” constituents. Their opinions were mostly driven by emotion, whereas I has a responsibility to research the issue and vote accordingly to what was best in the particular situation. It is never comfortable nor easy to act in contradiction of one’s constituents, but it is the right thing to do if this is what is best. At some point in the life of every elected official, there are issues which require deeper thought and more personal courage than to simply go with the popular position. Of course it is helpful if one hasn’t aspirations for a career in politics. That is freeing. Complicating the matter today are the huge number of gerrymandered districts. In these carefully drawn districts, elected officials have a very singular thinking constituency who expect a certain vote and will punish the official if their views are ignored, regardless what the facts indicate.

        I am a huge proponent of eliminating gerrymandering for all positions in favor of impartially drawn districts as determined by an independent, non-partisan group of representative individuals. I was relieved with the SCOTUS decision that affirmed the right of states to delegate this responsibility – responsibly. State legislatures should forgo the right to draw their electoral districts and restore the validity of the democratic process. I am not optimistic about this happening, however appropriate it is to Democracy.

      • Crogged says:

        In a perfect world, of course-but I just watched a ‘debate’ where despite clear evidence to the contrary in the nature of two presidential elections and several Supreme Court decisions, none of the candidates acted as if there were any disputes in the electorate to their view of history or how to move forward.

      • Crogged says:

        With the exception of those Trump caustically referred to as ‘one percenters’.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

      Well, it is a good thing we specified men here, because you know, the gals don’t really need to be votin’ and stuff. Sure…I know we said “all men”, but we really meant to be a bit more specific than that, but our copy editor was pushing us for brevity, so we dropped “land-owning, rich, White” from between “all” and “men” in the final version.

      i love this: “Make the election about the candidate, and not the party. There’s no need to run away from the party base.”

      No need to run away from the party base, just don’t mention anything about the party or the base.

      • BigWilly says:

        I guess they’re not so self-evident after all. Why would men and women have diverging interests? Isn’t “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” enough?

      • Crogged says:

        Why on earth is it ever not noted that these same men then drafted an “Articles of Confederation” tried that for a while, then changed “Governments” yet again? Did they they have the arrogance to presume they got it right once, now we’re done for eternity-nothing changes? As HST noted, these same men were struggling with ‘The Bible has slaves, so it’s all good with God.”

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        “Why would men and women have diverging interests? Isn’t “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” enough?”

        Were that true, we might should have thought about letting them vote and stuff, rather than waiting 150 years.

        Granted, my grandma is old, but she was 11 years old when women’s right to vote was ratified. People are alive today when women couldn’t vote.

        This “founding fathers” and “good old days” stuff might just sound a bit tone deaf to some folks who look like people who got shit on during the good old days.

      • 1mime says:

        The real issue, Homer, is the “who” had (and has) the inalienable right to pursue happiness……..

        One could argue that this view doesn’t appear to have changed very much. Take a look at the committee chairs in the House – all men. Look at the membership of the House TP “Freedom Caucus”, 38 men, 1 woman. Two examples, but very significant in terms of the power they wield.

      • Crogged says:

        And what was their ‘immigration’ policy?

      • BigWilly says:

        In law a married man and his wife are considered to be one person. They should have the same interests. If the man votes, he votes his wife as well.

        Men and women are not the same. They are not equal. A does not equal B. A equals A. In your zeal to make us all the same (equal) you’re actively destroying the existing, natural, social order. Your screwing up the human race.

        The GOP is freaking out because y’all are getting freaky. It’s merely a reaction to the policies that you’ve openly said you will carry out, if you can. NSDAP here we come!

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        BW:

        “In law a married man and his wife are considered to be one person. They should have the same interests. If the man votes, he votes his wife as well.”

        I got to assume you are in a trolling mood today, and if so, I’m going to just play right into your hands, but my tax-hating Republican wife and I are just going to go with a hearty “fuck that shit” in response to your comment.

      • 1mime says:

        Good one, Homer! Glad to know Mrs. Homer is countering your wonderful liberal ire (-:
        I just get the “rolled eyes” reaction….

      • BigWilly says:

        Your tax-hating Republican wife? Congratulations. Are you a reverse Bunkerian?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I’m no lawyer, so I’m interested in your comment:

        “In law a married man and his wife are considered to be one person.”

        What law considers a married man and woman one person? Any elaboration available on how married folks are considered to be one person?

      • 1mime says:

        Ask Kim Davis……..

      • BigWilly says:

        I’d go with Mark 10:8, but it’s scriptural and I’m not feeling too theologyilly today. The IRS considers the MFJ to be married filing jointly (as in joint and severally). You are both equally liable for the other. If you owe, your spouse owes and vice-versa.

        I think TX is a community property state so, again, you are both equally liable for the other financially.

      • Crogged says:

        What Comcast and 26 CFR 256 Part (12)(A)(iii)(b)(12q) have put together, no man may put asunder.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Wow…BW, kind of an interesting interpretation of “In law a married man and his wife are considered to be one person.”

        I guess those single women in 1919 just should have dolled up a bit more so that they could have gotten married in order to have someone speak for them.

      • flypusher says:

        “In law a married man and his wife are considered to be one person. They should have the same interests. If the man votes, he votes his wife as well.”

        I also wonder if that’s a troll, but I’m on a long bus ride, soooo, am I reading correctly if I’m reading no need for women to vote then?

        As for women not having any separate identity after marriage, be it in a legal or religious sense, I say not only “fuck that shit!”, but “nuke it from orbit!!”

      • BigWilly says:

        Always glad to know you’re on the case Fly. I’m not sure which case you’re on, but I’m glad to know it.

  14. vikinghou says:

    As I see it, the Republicans’ main problem is that they have a digital response to every issue. There is no intellectual rigor. Everything is black or white, good or bad, just or unjust.

    For them, Obama is all bad, bad in every way, without one single virtue. They cannot think of one thing he has done that had been good for this country. If Obama did it, it must be all bad.

    Abortions are all bad, all the time, whether the woman is raped by her father, at risk of death, or beleagured by crippling physical conditions.

    Iran is in essence all bad in everything it does.

    There is absolutely no global warming.

    If you build a fence, all will be great.

    America is great all the time in everything it does because America is exceptional. There cannot be racism, evil intentions, or misconceived plans because America is good.

    Pointing out nuances on these issues is seen as a dangerous liberal attack, anti-American, anti-Capitalist, anti-Christian.

    Such intellectual laziness is attractive to the GOP base which wants a simple answer to every question.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      yep. For the current GOP base, everything is black and white and nuance doesn’t exist. The good guys are Giants Among Men whose intentions are always just and virtuous and the bad guys are catoonishly villainous who are evil to the core.

      This sort of simple, unnuanced outlook on life appeals mightily to simple, unnuanced people.

      Just look at the response to recent SCOTUS decisions. The left certainly doesn’t like some recent SCOTUS decisions (Hobby Lobby, CU etc) but they certainly don’t screech and whine about “lawless judicial tyranny” or other hyperbolic statements. They don’t question the authority of the courts (which is pretty much spitting on that constitution they profess to love so much). The right has no interest in governing a country. They want power to dictate THEIR values on everyone else in a very un American fashion. And if they can’t have that, they’re more then happy to destory the place.

  15. 1mime says:

    Lifer, I noted that you focused only on Black voter recruitment. What about Mellinneals? Does this age group have potential for the GOP? Many of this age group choose to live in urban areas, eschewing personal autos for mass transportation. They seem that they could go either way – liberal given their social values, conservative given their strong belief in the individual. I don’t know the racial make up within this cohort but from a pure numbers basis, it would seem to be fertile ground for both parties to explore….

    • goplifer says:

      I focused on black voters because they are the most difficult challenge for the GOP, yet reaching them would not require a remarkable ideological shift.

      It will be difficult for Republicans to build real bridges to black communities because so many of the unconsidered assumptions behind GOP rhetoric grow out of racism. Developing a real capacity for engagement black communities will require Republicans to think about things we say and do in ways we have never done before.

      That process will lead to certain policy positions changing, but much more importantly it will change the rhetorical template we use. Once we accomplish that feat, we will no longer be trapped in a political bottle.

      If we can start to win support in black communities, then all of the other demographic obstacles we face will lose their power. White urban voters, young people, Hispanics, women, Asians, those distinctions will matter far less in determining party alignment.

      • 1mime says:

        If changing Republican policy towards the Black community is based upon a deep, honest shift in ideology, it has a chance to succeed. But, boy is this going to be hard to sell to rank and file White conservatives. If the motivation is perceived by the Black community as self-serving, i.e., broadening the GOP voter base, it has no chance of succeeding.

        I’m glad you are involved in the effort. What you are suggesting involves a paradigm shift in core beliefs and values and lots of trust. I wish you a very long, healthy life, Chris! What is a realistic timeline to attain this goal?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I believe “the black voote” (which is kind of a misnomer since it’s pretty hard to make sweeping generalizations among such a huge and wide spread vote, but here goes) probably naturally belongs to the conservatie side. Many african americans are very religious and otherwise conservative on many social issue (I wonder if lots of righties who despise Al Sharpton realize he’s a pretty staunch opponent of lots of things they also oppose, such as abortion and marriage equality). They just can’t vote for a party that clearly has no interest in representing them. Sure, they’ll rally to the side of the odd black person who is willing to sell out black interests, such as Ben Carson (and what better way to prove your “non racist” bona fides?). They have no issues whatsoevver with black people AS LONG AS they do’t advocate for social justice and are happy to keep the status quo (i.e. white cultural dominance).

        Until that changes, black people are going to hold their noses and vote democrat. Just like lots of other specefic demographics. I obviously don’t know one way or the other, but my gut tells me that the reason the GOP has no chance at the WH until at least 2020 is because for every white southern vote they get, they give away at least two votes of some other group who just can’t vote for a party that says the things they need to say in order to get that white southern vote.

        The GOP right now is it’s own worst enemy.

      • goplifer says:

        We are going to have to build a new base. Building a new base begins by building a new faction. Events are conspiring to make this effort a lot easier than it would have been five or ten years ago.

        Remember that until the mid-60’s, the Democrats were the singular outlet of political expression for America’s most strident racists. No one even remembers that anymore because it’s no longer the case. You’ll be amazed how fast political allegiances might realign once we change the conditions on the ground.

        It will take time, but maybe as little as a decade.

      • flypusher says:

        “Remember that until the mid-60’s, the Democrats were the singular outlet of political expression for America’s most strident racists. No one even remembers that anymore because it’s no longer the case. ”

        The right wing trolls remember that very well. They just choose to ignore what happened next.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer – A whisper of optimism for the Republicans and your belief that the GOP will change in order to survive (even if it is beginning in that den of liberality – California). Maybe this is exactly how it will begin when Republicans can’t gerrymander their way or suppress voting sufficently to attain parity (or dominance). At any rate, it’s positive and to see compromise actually happening between the parties is most welcome. Let’s hope it becomes epidemic (-:

        http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ln-california-republicans-soften-stance-on-immigrants-in-the-country-illegally-20150919-story.html

  16. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Rview a newspaper

    Review a newspaper…?

  17. 1mime says:

    As interesting as it is to hope that more viable (rational) Republican candidates will emerge, the topic of the blog deals with expanding the voter base for the Republican Party. Do the voters demand the rational candidates, or, do the rational candidates convert conservative voters? Black voters are probably the most cynical voter group out there, and for good reason. The job of expanding the conservative base is infinitely more challenging given the raucus, no holds barred wahoos in the House who are doing their best at keeping the process in constant turmoil. The Freedom Caucus in particular doesn’t care if they are re-elected, nor do they seem to care about “governing”. They only want to succeed in their hard right agenda. How do you appeal to people like this, especially when their districts are gerrymandered so effectively that all they’re hearing is affirmation from their constituents?

    • goplifer says:

      Candidates are the next piece. Remember, candidates go where the votes are. We think of our political officials as leaders, but that’s not how our system functions. Politicians in a western democracy are the world’s most accomplished followers.

      That’s why Rubio and Christie find themselves standing on stage spouting bizarre crap. Build a sane infrastructure and you’ll get sane candidates.

  18. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    Just a thought – Bruce Rauner could have run as a Democrat and I am willing to wager that he’d have done a lot better. And I’m not sure the democratic party would have taken many issues with that.

    The more I read, and the more conversations I have, the more I begin to realize that today’s Republican party is a far right party where the party itself is sort of a religion, and the democratic party is sort of an aimless big tent where everybody else is. And I will include democratic socialists (Mostly Green Party cross overs), European style social Democrats (Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders), and center left (Obama) and center (I dunno – Bill Clinton? I’d say Hillary but she’s an evolving blob).

    Who represents the socially liberal center right? Who represents the conservative for whom the word means “gradual, careful and calculated change” rather than “no change”?

    • Griffin says:

      “Who represents the socially liberal center right?”

      Well Clinton and Obama do. It’s an arkward fit (Third Way) but that’s their whole platform more-or-less. The social democrats are, practically by definiton, the center-left, it’s just that the Overton Window for the US is hilariously far to the right thanks to the modern Republican party. I don’t think they represent a pluarality of people but they have very good voter turnout and it drags the conversation far to the right of where it probably should be.

    • 1mime says:

      There’s something to be said about “aimless tents”, where freedom of thought and independent action is encouraged. However, I’d rather call it a “big tent”. The strict ideology of the Republican party offers a clear, disturbing contrast. I’ll stick with those who welcome all points of view. If the cost of latitude is lack of control, so be it. It’s a healthier environment for Democracy for all people.

    • goplifer says:

      No, Rauner could not run as a Democrat, otherwise he would have. I keep saying this, but I don’t think people elsewhere in the country quite understand. The Democratic Party in most of the old urban states is a patronage cartel. Anyone who wants to govern based on the general public good cannot survive there.

      Illinois’ biggest problem is the massive economic burden of its corrupt, patronage-driven political structure. Public employee unions are the cornerstone of that infrastructure. Rauner ran to break the power of those unions and open up the state to credible political reform. There was no way he could have run as a Democrat in Illinois.

      • Griffin says:

        That’s basically true from what I’ve seen. The Democratic Party in Illinois and to a degree here in California has no ideology beyond patronage. I think the Republicans have to make the case that they will fight corruption without actually hurting non-corrupt public workers.

      • 1mime says:

        On the “patronage” thing……….It occurs to me that patronage takes many forms. There’s the traditional view involving jobs and stuff, and then there’s the more subtle, but very powerful, political patronage thing in which you strictly adhere to party doctrine and you get rewarded with gerrymandered districts, campaign support, financial support, etc. Then there’s the PAK patronage, where money buys the candidate to do their bidding….Need more examples of Patronage? It’s not just a “liberal/Democratic” thing, it’s a process and it works the same with different bosses and different forms. It’s all patronage. Everyone who is practicing it in some fashion can point their fingers at someone else. It’s really all the same in the long run. Just the packaging is different.

      • Griffin says:

        1mime: The term you’re looking for is “wingnut welfare” where right-wing pundits and candidates have a kind of gravy train for purey ideological reasons. The Democratic Party’s form of patronage (in some states) is the more traditional one and they tend to try to be all things to all people as a result, basically the opposite of ideological. That means they won’t run a state into the ground nearly as quickly as the far-right but it’s still a less than optimal system.

  19. Matt Sweeney says:

    Chris, you must hear this all the time, but, as a Democrat who’s old enough to remember when the Republicans were the Distinguished Opposition, not the Bat-Shit-Crazy-Burn-It-All-Down-To-The-Ground Opposition–I wasn’t sure Republicans like you existed anymore. Or, to be more precise–I didn’t know Republicans like you were still calling themselves Republicans.

    We’re going to disagree on a lot of things, but I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good–and for the most part, thankless, I imagine–work.

    • Lib here, also new to the site (via the Blue Wall post on Chron). I second the sentiments in this comment. Thanks, Lifer.

      • 1mime says:

        Scott, you join many liberals here who wish Lifer would apply his talents and ideas to a reformation of the Democratic Party. His ideas and principles speak to the best elements of the Democratic process, but I think he’d have better reception with the Dems….not because we’re “aimless” but because Dems are more open-minded. How about it, Lifer!

  20. briandrush says:

    Very good post. Again, it points out how far down the path the GOP has gone, and what a nasty weight around our necks the Confederacy has always been. Someone like Hillary Clinton should be the Republican front-runner, not the Democratic front-runner (which she still is for now), assuming the GOP takes the role of conservative leadership.

    In 1932, the Roosevelt campaign had to convince black voters to consider supporting a Democrat. A black organization (I forget which one) put out a poster with the headline, “Abraham Lincoln is not a candidate this year.” The point being that whatever credit the Republican Party had earned with blacks in the past (and it was, of course, a lot) was exhausted. Democrats at this point are vulnerable to the same critique, but Republicans are poorly positioned to deliver it.

    Liberalism and conservatism mean different things depending on what issues are on the table. In a primarily urban society as the United States is today, those issues are all the ones being championed by Democrats, but some Democrats are liberal on them and others are conservative. Meanwhile, the GOP is increasingly “conservative” around issues that have no relevance at all to urban residents, advocating measures that seem downright crazy, and that craziness is what the word “conservative” has come to mean. It distorts and twists the entire discussion.

    In a healthy political dialogue, liberals would put out reform proposals, some of them quite radical, to deal with the problems we face, including soaring income inequality, lost upward mobility, the decline of the middle class, and the intense global challenges we face, economic, environmental, and in international relations. Conservatives would acknowledge the problems but advocate a slower, more cautious approach and force progressive ideas to prove themselves before being implemented wholesale. We do have people doing both of these, but almost all of them are Democrats. The GOP for the most part is absent from the discussion, pursuing “issues” that nobody cares about except religious fundamentalists and racists.

    It would be fantastic for America if the Republican Party could be a genuinely conservative voice instead of a crazy one. Then Hillary Clinton could return to the party of which she was a member in Goldwater’s time. She ought to belong there. It’s the GOP’s fault that she does not.

    • 1mime says:

      It has often been stated, “I didn’t leave the Republican Party, it left me.” If Boehner and McConnell can’t lasso the Freedom Caucus into sanity, Republicans will have another shut down albatross around their necks…..which hurts all of us but Republicans most of all.

      http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2015/09/are-we-on-the-verge-of-another-government-shutdown-000228

    • Griffin says:

      Goldwater wasn’t really that much more of a traditional “conservative” than today’s crazies he only looks moderate and sane in comparison to them. But yes the conservative vs liberal debate is currently taking place in the Democratic Party, with their primary being a microcosm of elections that take place in most Western nations.

      In another way the candidates in the Democratic primary represent an even more fundamental “liberal vs conservative” debate that helped me understand the real differences between the two. Ladd has basically laid out his reasons for why he will probably end up voting for Clinton despite not really liking her, which is that she will run a relatively clean administration and will do the least amount of damage to the government. Basically Clinton can be relied upon for status quo government which, while flawed and heavily relying on cronyism/patronage/etc. is still a tried and tested model under which we can make slight progressions and live out our lives in relative normalcy. In the current field it is a pretty strong argument to be honest and it’s how you can tell Ladd is an actual conservative.

      Sanders on the other hand is a more experimental candidate, more of a gamble really. If he succeded in most of his goals it would bring decent change and (IMO) more improvements in terms of policy than Clinton. If he failed (a real risk) he wouldn’t only NOT bring change but he’d probably have a much less efficient administration than Clinton due to being a political outsider, so we’d get less than nothing. As a candidate he represents “more risk, more reward” and as a liberal I’m willing to throw the dice with him because I just have a different mindset than Lifer. So the Democartic primary is interesting because it gets to the foundation of a liberal vs conservative argument, do you stay with a safe status quo or experiment with a bigger risk? I think both arguments can be persuasive.

    • Doug says:

      “what a nasty weight around our necks the Confederacy has always been”

      We tried to leave, but you wouldn’t let us.

  21. csarneson says:

    Why on earth would anybody want the Republicans to regain lost ground until they become more rational? Last night we saw 16 candidates spouting all kinds of anti-science, anti-climate, anti-middle class stupidity. Until republicans become sane again as a group I want no part of them having any power in national politics. I say this as somebody who is very fiscally conservative.

  22. Griffin says:

    Can Rauner types do it with the GOP weight around their neck? As far as I know the GOP is in Illinois is kind of isolated from the national party due to being ignored by them so you didn’t have so many Republican politicians running around causing massive damage. If the Tea Party types started to make noise there it could undermine all the efforts of progressive Republicans to build trust with minorities. Basically it would take years of intelligence and caution to build that trust and only a couple of particularly noisy wingnuts to knock it down. It’s a grueling process that could be reset repeatadly but I hope it works.

    BTW I found a quote from an article Jonah “LIBERAL FASCISM” Goldberg wrote today and left it on yesterday’s post. It’s that kind of rhetoric from “serious” (apparently) right-wing pundits that could undo the work of politicians like Rauner.

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