Launching an Urban Republican Rebellion


Mike McQuaide, New York Times

There are heavily populated precincts in places like Boston, Camden, Baltimore and other Northern cities where fewer than ten people vote in Republican primaries. A decades-long influx of Southern Democrats alienated by their party’s support for desegregation has utterly transformed the Republican Party nationally. As a result of this shift in values, Republicans have virtually disappeared from the electoral map in coastal states of the Northeast and West where they once wielded enormous influence.

Where the GOP has died, citizens have lost the political leverage that comes from partisan competition. Governments in Democratic controlled northern cities are increasingly dysfunctional, too weak to hold public servants accountable while hemorrhaging cash.

Reliant on an ever older, whiter, more Southern base, Republicans are losing the language necessary to speak to and hear minority and urban voters. Cut off from dissent, the party has descended into a bizarre spiral of extremism and delusion. The Republican Party is a one-legged stool.

Ironically, this extreme regional polarization has opened an opportunity. Business-friendly urban voters pushed to the margins of both parties have an opportunity to create a new identity for themselves.

By building a splinter party inside the hollowed out remains of the GOP in northern cities, these voters could do more than break their cities’ single-party politics. They could launch a movement toward multi-party democracy in the US.

How could they do this? By running the Dixiecrat playbook in reverse, but with one twist. Instead of trying to ‘take over’ the Republican Party at higher levels, Urban Republicans could create a local brand distinct from the Republican Party and in explicit opposition to many of its positions. In Northern and West Coast cities, center-right voters could launch a challenge to the GOP’s extremist wing from inside the party’s largely empty infrastructure. By taking over what today are hollow local Republican organizations in big cities, we can build a base from which to reform the party.

Urban Republicans (or whatever name makes sense) would work to recruit and elect precinct chairmen inside the Republican Party locally and influence city and county Republican politics. From their urban base they would send delegates (bearing their brand) to state and national Republican conventions. With enough success they would place candidates in city councils, state legislatures, and in Congress. But, those representatives would owe primary loyalty to their sub-party. They would retain a degree of distinctiveness from the GOP at large.

Why must this effort be pointedly hostile to national Republican rhetoric? No one is going to simply persuade the entities who currently lead the Republican Party to adopt a more open attitude toward urban and minority voters. With everything to gain and a fine plan on which to execute, Republicans after the 2012 Election specifically and forcefully rejected minority outreach.

Only by taking an openly hostile position to the Party of Donald Trump and the most extreme wing of the GOP could Urban Republicans establish any credibility with urban voters. And only by setting themselves apart from the hopelessly corrupt, sclerotic Democratic institutions that dominate urban politics in the North could this emerging generation bring modern, effective government to big cities.

How would we run this playbook?

Identify a small team, perhaps no more than 20 or 30 people, who will collaborate on a platform. That platform need not be particularly liberal or conservative, per se. Urban politics, when it works, is pragmatic. The platform must do three things: confront the Republican Party’s disastrous embrace of denialism, confront the Democratic Party’s willingness to place patronage demands above public interest, and be a product of input from minority communities.

Whatever Urban Republicans decide to do about taxes, or abortion, or school funding or any other topic, to win votes in cities those policies must be grounded in reality. A platform that confronts nothing but these four inescapable realities might be enough to set Urban Republicans apart from the national party and earn significant urban support.

It would also be wise to take at least one ‘big bet’ position popular with voters in cities that is distinctly separate from both party’s platforms. Vocal embrace of marijuana de-criminalization stands out as a promising possibility. It’s popular in cities. It’s enough of a head-turner to buy significant media attention. And it has potential to forge an alliance between socially liberal urban white voters and minority communities.

With a platform identified, we would need to decide on target geographies. All politics is local. It’s great to have support everywhere, but that’s unlikely to happen. This effort cannot succeed unless we can take control of weak, existing Republican infrastructure up to at least the county level. The weakness of the state party would be an important determinant of success. In places like Houston, Phoenix, Miami, and Atlanta there might be enough local support to make a hyphenated identity attractive, but extremists dominating the state party are powerful enough there to destroy such an effort before it reaches critical mass.

Baltimore, Hartford, Boston, Trenton, DC, and Newark share these important characteristics: Empty Republican infrastructure, failed Democratic leadership, and under-represented or poorly represented minority populations that are already well organized and politically active. Their state Republican leadership is too weak to stop an influx of new precinct leaders, even if that local leadership is hostile to the party’s status quo.

An initial core of Urban Republicans would recruit participants in the target geographies willing to fill vacant precinct leadership slots. In most of these geographies that process could be accomplished without any resistance. By doing little more than raising their hands they could take on local leadership roles in near-empty infrastructure.

A parallel effort would have to be launched to identify donors and establish a larger, less localized infrastructure. As described in more depth by this series of posts (linked), that effort would include recruiting pundits, building think tanks, and starting to solicit support from alienated Republicans nationally.

Out of a pool of local leadership calling themselves Urban Republicans we would begin to opportunistically pursue local elections. The initial focus should be on city, county and school board races. If an attractive opportunity rose to take a state legislative seat it should be pursued. However, recruits should be strongly discouraged from trying to take a Congressional seat before a critical mass of local races had been won.

A concentrated grassroots recruitment effort should precede high-profile moves like nominating Congressional candidates. Until the critical work is done at the grassroots candidates can’t change anything. The finest surfer in the world has never crafted a single wave. Elected officials don’t shape our political climate. They ride it. Effort has to be concentrated on building infrastructure or that effort will be wasted in high-profile elections.

More importantly, runs for high-profile office will attract resistance that could be fatal in the early stages. A solid base of local support will be critical to survival once resistance builds at higher levels of the party. Run a high profile, semi-successful Congressional campaign without building enough support for a wider effort, and established forces will cut us off at the knees before we can get on our feet. In the early stages this movement can only matter if it can force candidates to come to us.

Once the sub-party has assumed dominant influence in several urban areas and established some local electoral success, it will be ready to start influencing national politics. Within four to six years, Urban Republicans could be sending delegates to the Republican National Convention, still under their own rebel flag, and fielding successful candidates for Congress. With strong local organizations in specific geographies, the national party won’t be able to squash the effort. By then there might be half a dozen other similar efforts underway in both parties, creating enough internal dissent that a new bloc can effect cross-party coalitions to moderate Congressional politics.

Pragmatic, sensible Republicans, sometimes described as “moderates,” have always carried a crucial flaw. In a heated contest, you can count on them to remain above the fray, to assume an air of entitled superiority. They fail to show any passion, any commitment, any fight. And they lose. They have lost so often and so consistently that they only exist at the weakest margins of Republican politics. Nothing will change in the Republican Party until sane people get angry enough to fight.

Elections are the ass-end of our political system. They merely put the results of our investment on display. By the time we step into the voting booth, 99% of the electoral process has already been completed. You don’t change a political system by getting better people elected. You get better people elected by changing a political system.

Until enough good, smart, competent people are willing to invest their political capital on a new direction, until they are willing to take chances and fight, elections will change nothing. We need to raise a flag around which they can rally. If you’re tired of what’s coming out of our elections, then invest more thought, courage, and energy in shaping them.

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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122 comments on “Launching an Urban Republican Rebellion
  1. 1mime says:

    The U of VA Center for Politics has two interesting articles out this morning. The first on Democratic unity; the second on Libertarian chances in 2016. It’s interesting to note the absence of any mention of Clinton’s email problems in the Democratic unity piece. We haven’t seen the end of that saga and it is hurting her. I don’t see how any pundit can examine the future without considering the impact of this problem.

  2. johngalt says:

    I am late to this party but let me see if I get the gist of this argument. People in non-Republican areas (coasts and cities) should develop a political structure that promotes some sort of agenda while being openly hostile to the existing GOP. That sounds like being a Democrat, except for the new-ness aspect. Perhaps we could call you the Whig party. Your policy ideas look nothing like the Whigs, of course, but then they look nothing like the modern Republican party either. What is old is new again.

    • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

      JG – I’m with you on this.

      It sounds like “Democrats Who Don’t Like Unions” rather than “Urban Republicans”

      • duncancairncross says:

        “Democrats Who Don’t Like Unions” would those be “Democrats in Name Only” – DINO’s?

        Sounds like sheep who don’t like grass or Lions who don’t like meat

      • 1mime says:

        Homer – where have you been!

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Canada for work, and then Aruba for fun. Hard to respond to you all with a fruity frozen drink in my hand.

      • 1mime says:

        Wow! Now, that’s “climate change” of the best sort !

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        i don’t know Dunc…I really don’t like bad unions (or maybe bad leadership of some unions)…and today, there seem to be a few more of those than there should be.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Here and in the UK Unions are very democratic organisations with the rank and file having a great deal of control

        The impression I get is that US unions are like some sort of oligarchies

        That “impression” is 100% from people who don’t need and don’t like unions,

        I know the press here and the UK is very very anti union and incredibly biased it it’s reporting – I suspect the US is the same

        I only “know” our unions are very democratic because I was involved in one
        (Corresponding member for MSF)

        Are US unions bad? – or do they simply get one hell of a lot of bad press?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Duncan – To put it bluntly, they suck. They promote seniority over achievement. They have absolutely nothing to do with excellence, and are all about mediocrity. That is their nature. That is their mission. Everywhere.

        The thing is that if someone is to be recognized, and compensated for excellence, someone else isn’t going to be. Well, that’s just unfair, isn’t it? Unions are fundamentally, and at their very core about the least common denominator.

      • duncancairncross says:

        I think you are confusing unions and management

        Unions are about their members and in any hierarchy they will be more concerned about the lower ranks
        Both because there will be more of them and because they inherently need more assistance

        Management is in charge of things like promotion – NOT unions

        Management should be pushing for excellence – that is NOT the unions task!
        any more than my plumber should cook me a nice meal

        I should NOT downgrade my plumber because he didn’t cook me a nice meal and I should not look down on a union for not promoting excellence!!

        There is a tendency for management to blame their crap performance on “the union” –
        This is usually a case of a bad workman blaming his tools

        On the occasions that the unions do make it difficult for management to do their jobs a little digging will normally uncover some very good reasons why that union does NOT trust its management

      • fiftyohm says:

        Duncan – Ah! But what if the plumber is the cook? What if the plumber’s union won’t let me fire his sorry ass for being a complete hack? Is the plumber promoted and compensated in a manner suggested by me, the restaurant owner, or by a union scale that determines his compensation by his seniority rather than his performance?

        How in the hell can management ‘push for excellence’, when they can’t fire slackers, or set standards for performance? Transferring blame crap performance, and by this I mean performance at a specific trade with specific skills, to ‘management’ is about the most remarkable dodge defending union mediocrity I’ve heard recently. No my friend, unions suck. On rare occasions, they defend workers unfairly treated. Mostly, they cover for poor job performance, and promote longevity. That’s their charge, and I defy you to come up with any scenario – no matter how absurd – to suggest how the politics and the psychology of unionism could possibly do any differently.

      • duncancairncross says:

        If you employ a plumber you have negotiated his contract – if you can’t fire him for incompetence it’s YOUR fault for negotiating a bad contract

        In every company I have ever heard of management CAN fire slackers – it is in black and white in the contract

        The normal problem is that you can’t simply say – You are fired – you need to;
        (1) have some actual reason
        (2) allow the victim to defend himself
        (3) allow the victim to try and get better
        (4) If he/she fails to improve – then you can fire him/her
        In the USA this has to be enforced by a union – in the rest of the world it is the law of the land

        The problem with this is that the line manager is not normally allowed to do all this -he must get HR to do it!
        This is where it fails – HR is usually absolutely CRAP at doing their job – and the line manager can’t make them do it

        I am now retired but in 40+ years of experience I have found very few “slackers who need to be fired” (except amongst management!)
        In my 40+ years of experience almost every time I have found a bad worker there has been a bad manager causing the problem

        Good management absolutely loves having a union – the union becomes another channel for them to use to communicate with the workers

        As an example look at Germany – strong unions and profitable well run companies

    • fiftyohm says:

      Duncan – You’ve obviously not done much plumbing. Or cooking. The notion that performance in these complex fields can be reduced to a “contract” is complete and utter bollocks.

      And don’t even get me started on HR departments. They are all about management paranoia about being sued by union-friendly governments. They suck (perhas more) than unions.

      Now kindly tell me again, exactly how a skill or complex trade can be reduced to specific performance with a ‘contract’. Without that, your argument is completely without merit. It’s exactly like airline pilots. “Well, he hasn’t crashed yet.” Really? Yet about every damn one of them is at least as much concerned with his/her “number”. “In the United States and many other countries, all of a pilot’s quality-of-life variables are determined via seniority bidding, based on date of hire. Our destiny has almost nothing to do with merit and everything to do with timing. Experience and skill, for all of their intangible value, are effectively meaningless. Seniority is the currency of value. Nothing is more important than, as we call it, our “number.”” (from their website).

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Fifty
        I managed engineers and technicians including plumbers – but not cooks!

        A contract for a plumber or other technician is easy to write –
        “He/she must be able to perform tasks in his/her speciality in a safe and timely manner”

        That is all you need – and you should be able to defend that in an employment court

        The nonsense about seniority is because when negotiating the highly paid professional management representative has been out negotiated by the untrained lower paid union representative

        Bit like your expensive well armed bodyguard being beaten up by a skinny 14 year old street punk

      • fiftyohm says:

        I spent my career managing engineers and technicians too, so we have that much in common. (Like most technical managers, I started and finished as an actual engineer.)

        Such contract language as you suggest is so general as to render it virtually useless in a US court. (Perhaps that’s the crux of our disagreement, as I’d be the last to defend the litigious American system.)

        You can say that union contracts worded or formed on the basis of the one I mentioned is stupid based on the lousy performance of the management lawyers – but that is a pretty remarkable oversimplification. Were the company to say, “OK then, you’re out of here you lot!”, which side would you be on? (I’m reading here that your position is that managment is stupid, and labor is wise. If They’re so wise, why don’t they own the company? Though I suppose GM is an ‘interesting’ example not so much consistent with your premise.)

        And dang, bud! It’s late where you are! Do you sleep?

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Fifty

        Its 3pm just now – I’m not quite old enough to need an afternoon nap!
        It’s Friday here – I think it’s still Thursday in the USA

        It’s not that labor is wise – but it’s managements JOB to be the wise one and it’s not doing it!

        It is very very difficult to get back to a situation where people trust each other – but that is the sweet spot in industrial relationships

        And again it is management that is paid the big bucks and has all of the training and resources

        Management is in charge – so it is responsible for fixing things

      • fiftyohm says:

        Yeah. I forgot you’re in Kiwi! Sorry, Duncan.

        The position that unions aren’t bad, and it’s always management’s fault is silly. Nothing you’ve said refutes my comments and examples that unions promote mediocrity. One cannot describe sufficiently a job like plumber or cook, and be able to discern good from merely adequate or even moderately lousy performance, in a contract. “I demand my meals are prepared in a safe and timely manner.”. Yuck.

        Unions, by their very nature, intention, design, philosophy, goals, and psychology suck. And it’s not a “management problem”. It has nothing to do with “trust”. Unions are a construct that, while once necessary, now needs a bullet between the eyes to put it out of society’s collective misery.

      • 1mime says:

        Just curious, Fifty. Does your “blanket” indictment of unions include “all” unions? Private and public sector?

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Fifty
        In some ways you are correct,
        In a properly run company the unions become the organization that arranges the annual “Blackpool run” – but even then it is a backstop to protect the workers if something goes wrong
        As a safety backstop I would say that the union in that situation is still useful
        Like the fire extinguisher on the wall that never gets used

        However just now there are a LOT more badly run companies than properly run ones and the main problem is NOT that we have outgrown our need for unions but rather that we have thrown away our life jacket BEFORE we have learned to swim

      • 1mime says:

        Not to mention all the sharks circling for bonuses, uh, blood…..

      • fiftyohm says:

        Absolutely, mime. They are entities that encourage – no demand – mediocrity, and there’s nothing “management” can do about it. They suck. (Did I say that already?)

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t have your experience with unions and thus do not condemn them. My friends who are in federal unions (professionals – attorneys – IRS) said the unions they belonged to were constructive.

        Frankly, I find very few things in life to condemn “en masse”. I do know that there are unions working with the Greater Houston Partnership to train labor in jobs relevant to the marketplace. I think that is very constructive. I will also say that those working under your management probably were treated fairly. I do not believe that is the case across the board.

      • 1mime says:

        Fifty, I don’t agree with your blanket dismissal of unions. Part of the turmoil we are witnessing today with the fear, frustration and anger from working class people is that they are not benefiting proportionally. This article by Houston Chronicle Business Editor, Chris Tomlinson, makes a pretty clear case for the injustice that many workers see regarding pay disparity. And, of course, benefit cuts typically suffer as well as shareholders who are seeing dividends and share prices reduced to allow exorbitant executive compensation. I say exorbitant because America stands out in this regard when compared internationally, as pointed out in the article. (BTW, Tomlinson referred to an article in the WSJ that prefaced this piece. I will email him and attempt to get a link to the source.)

        The problem is that there is no vehicle or avenue to redress worker concerns without an employee organization of some sort. Possibly the name “union” is too negative for you, but how are employees to seek wage and benefit protections? Management is feathering its own nest; Congress is turning a deaf ear; the federal government is blocked from implementing substantive changes in the private sector. What is your solution for this problem?

  3. unarmedandunafraid says:

    We really need a few politicians that would take a pragmatic to governing. Oh, how seductive it sounds.

    But, vote for a Republican to run my city? I’m afraid you may be too late, Lifer. Especially after being reminded of what the Republicans did in the 90’s, really before Tea Parties and the reality disadvantaged of today. This was the mention of Vince Foster’s death.

    So maybe, a new party, centrist, moderate, mainly concerned with paying the bills and using the latest theories of Economics. How about this, name the party and use a subtitle as when naming books.

    How about “The Realist Party”, subtitled “The party formally known as Republican” or “The Republican Party before it lost its frickin mind.”

  4. fiftyohm says:

    It’s interesting that rural areas exhibit substantially higher levels of religiosity and lower levels of education than urban ones.

    It is obvious I think, that the ideas most repellent to educated voters are those associated with sexism, homophobia, equal rights, and abortion availability, are founded ‘fundamentally’, of religious doctrines. This itself forms a urban/rural schism. Educated urban voters, while holding otherwise conservative views on other matters, are not likely to vote for candidates from a party espousing these ideas – regardless of the merits of the rest of the platform.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        “Republicans to Cities: Drop Dead” seems more than a little to prophetic. Check out the exploits of Governor LePage of Maine (a Trump supporter apparently).

        Here are choice excerpts from a recent article:

        “It was the sort of story that made Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) look so awful, he managed to even surprise his critics. In mid-April, the far-right governor vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have allowed pharmacists to dispense an effective anti-overdose drug without a prescription. But it was LePage’s explanation that added insult to injury.”

        “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” LePage said in a written statement. As we discussed at the time, the governor, in a rather literal sense, made the case that those struggling with opioid addiction don’t have lives worth saving.”

        “Maine’s legislature soon after overrode LePage’s veto”

        “Naloxone – sometimes known by its brand name, Narcan – is a safe and effective life-saving treatment that counteracts overdoses. The point is not to cure someone of an addiction, but rather, to prevent them from dying.”

        “The treatment is inexpensive; it’s easy to administer; and it’s harmless to others. Common sense suggests it should be readily available, especially in areas where the addiction crisis is especially acute.”

        “LePage, however, said he’s principally concerned with not “perpetuating the cycle of addiction.” If that means more of his constituents will overdose and die, so be it.”

      • 1mime says:

        “Meanwhile” all the important issues facing our nation …. slide….Zika, forgetaboutit.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Well, Abbott is from Wichita Falls, Longview, and Duncanville, and Paxton is also from a largely rural district, and a founding member of a church. And who cares about the toilet issue anyway? It’s a nonissue that is being used, (as I think JG said), as a proxy.

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, and LT Gov. Patrick is from Baltimore……..The point is it’s hard to explain away this “stuff”. I soooo agree on the bathroom thing. It’s just so ridiculous that issues like this can’t be resolved simply….but, as noted, it’s all about riling up the base….”base” interesting word – more applicable than one might think at first glance.

      • flypusher says:

        I’ll give LePage credit, he’ll equally indifferent to the lives of White addicts as he is to those of Blavk addicts. People who complain about the shift in attitudes towards opiate abuse once more White people got caught up in it have a fair point.

        Good on the veto overturn. Yes, you can’t save people from themselves, but a dead person has zero chance of realizing that they have a problem and deciding to seek help. If you really are pro-life, then you support people getting these chances.

        (Granted, I don’t know Guv whackjob’s official position, but the GOP is supposed to officially be pro-life.)

      • 1mime says:

        “The GOP is officially ‘pro-life'”………Depends upon “which” lives, Fly. Not all lives matter the same.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Jesus H. Christ.

        How in the hell does Maine twice elwct a governor that would have ppl in Texas saying “wow, this guy truly is a nutcase”

        How does that happen?

      • 1mime says:

        Oldest trick in politics….3-way race….” Republican gubernatorial nominees in Maine have failed to win a majority of the vote in 12 consecutive cycles over the last 50+ years – the longest such GOP streak in the nation. ” (wiki) Still, getting “elected” is one thing; getting “re-elected”, now that’s bad and that’s on the good people of Maine.

        While we’re chatting about 3rd party candidates, it’s worth noting that the Libertarian candidate you mentioned earlier, Johnson, and the female Green Party Candidate, could also be spoilers in the upcoming presidential elections. It’s felt they could very well attract those voters who want neither Drumpf or Clinton….

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime, I really think Johnson is going to surprise a lot of pppl, and possibly usher in the beginning of a third party era.

        I wouldn’t vote for him because I agree more with Clintons policies then his. Some I agree with and some I don’t, but he comes off as a level headed reasonable person who I think will have a very broad appeal in this election.

        Regardless of whether ppl agree with his policies or not, after listening to him speak, he will have very low unfavourables, which I think will count for a lot in a race between Trump and HRC

      • 1mime says:

        Agree, Rob. I’m not sure who he will impact the most – T or H…Probably Drumpf as the Libertarian position is more closely aligned with the GOP than Dems except on some social issues. In fact, it might be smart for some well heeled Dems to support Johnson’s campaign to offset what I really believe will be defects from H’s campaign. This is surely going to be an interesting election. Today’s I.G. report drove another nail into the Clinton campaign. Can’t wait to see what Rep Chaffetz and Gowdy do in response to this report. The fact that the report didn’t find “intent to deceive or harm” will hardly matter to the ever present witch hunt in the House of Reps. She didn’t help herself by being casual or careless with her communications, even though her actions mirrored those of several other SOS who preceded her.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Well mime – whod’ya figure I’ll be voting for? (As if it matters, considering my state of residence.)

      • 1mime says:

        I’ll guess: Johnson.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Yup. ‘A’ for the day, m’dear!

      • 1mime says:

        It’s the company I keep on GOPlifer that is making me so smart (-;

  5. 1mime says:

    The Clinton email report by the Inspector General for the State Dept investigation is in. Clearly, Clinton was not careful enough nor did she follow proper protocol in her email practices. It was sloppy but pretty consistent with prior SOS practices.

  6. rulezero says:

    Not sure how I feel about this or what a good solution would be. On the one hand, do you really want Independents and Democrats voting in open primaries to try and albatross your preferred candidate? Or, do you lock out an even larger swath of the electorate, 43% of which is Independent, in favor of country club good ol’ boy bullshit? “Hey guys, we didn’t let you in the country club, but now we want you to support our main candidate.”

    • Creigh says:

      On the one hand, parties should be able to choose their own candidate, or what’s the point of a party. But on the other hand, Republicans vote for the Republican candidate, Democrats vote for the Democratic candidate, and independents determine the outcome. As parties continue to lose power, how do they deal with that reality?

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Keep in mind that the Founding Fathers detested the idea of political parties to begin with. They felt that such things would lead to mob rule leading to outcomes that undermined the very ideals that they were striving for.

        Personally, I think that the emergence of one Donald J. Trump would have our Founders feeling vindicated in that regard.

        Lifer’s right in that the limits of our two-party system have become exasperatingly apparent. Seeking a more parliamentary-esque system is probably our best hope of restoring sanity to the process, though you do bring up an interesting question. Should we open up processes so that Democrats, Republicans and whoever else can cross lines to vote for whoever they want?

        For that matter, let’s take that idea a step further and suggest that we should eliminate party representation from voting ballots altogether. In its place, perhaps we should adopt a new system of informed decision making when presenting candidates to the people; both so that they can make informed choices and that candidates and elected officials can be held to more accountability.

        Let’s say that, respective to whatever state or district a candidate is running in, we have a series of five to ten questions on two fronts both on the most pressing national concerns of the country and those of the constituents that said candidate is hoping to represent. Furthermore, candidates would have the option of creating a short video response, probably no more than ten to fifteen seconds, explaining their position and what caveats might come with it. Both the questions and responses, in addition to the videos, would be available several weeks in advance for voters’ to mull over just as an ordinary voting ballot would be.

        Obviously, such a thing is still pretty rough around the edges, but I think we need to start taking seriously the idea of reforming not just who votes and how easily, but the very process of voting itself.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I don’t know about you, but I’m rather taken aback by the violent tendencies on display recently, be they from Trump’s camp or Sanders’s, and yes, I blame social media. It has people fired up, foaming at the mouth, harassing people online, to the point of actual violence.

      I hope that in the not-so-distant future people will look back on this time of social media frenzy with a shudder and with disbelief.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        That’s the shift/realignment that concerns me — not so much the shift in politics — but the shift in behavior.

      • 1mime says:

        It is very disturbing, Tutta, but let’s assign primary blame where it is first due: the candidates and their surrogates themselves. The media is complicit in that they exploit every word, but if the “words” were not uttered, they wouldn’t have anything to report. Forget candidate respectability; forget media professionalism and responsible reporting – the times we are living in encourage and reward such behavior. It is absolutely appalling that someone of Drumpf’s character would ever get to this level of political opportunity, yet, here he is. It’s very sad and I can only hope for better times ahead. Surely there are more people like you and me who want civility, issue-focused campaigns, and responsible media reporting. Surely….

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I was referring to SOCIAL MEDIA, not the media in general. There’s something about social media that fuels mob mentality and the ability to harass and post ugly words without serious, sober thought about the consequences. Or people do think about the consequences, but they self-righteously think it’s okay to publicly shame or harass people to no end, just because they disagree with them.

        I do blame Trump for setting the tone for his supporters, egging them on, and not reigning them in, but I’m also very disappointed in Sanders for not coming down strongly enough on his own supporters for their appalling behavior toward Roberta Lange, complete with death threats and insults focused on the fact that she’s a woman.

      • 1mime says:

        I see. I misunderstood your “media” reference. I totally agree. It’s better to avoid blogs and sites that permit this level of vitriol. I rarely read the comments section of blogs (other than GOPlifer and the Weekly Sift) as they aren’t “policed” and the level of ugliness appalls me. We probably don’t appreciate the attention Lifer invests in making sure the discussion is civil on this blog nor the high standards which he has established for dialogue.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Even if Sanders’s supporters feel or know they’ve been slighted in the delegate process, death threats and personal harassment are not the solution. I have lost all respect for them.

      • 1mime says:

        That’s just the thing, Tutta. They haven’t been slighted. The rules have been applied as they existed prior to Sander’s decision to run under the Dem banner. He/they may not agree with the rules “now”, but the rules haven’t changed. Some sour grapes going on there…

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I am ok with marches and peaceful protests, even those that get a bit loud. What I don’t like is harassment or bullying, either in person or online. I don’t think it’s taken seriously enough in this day and age. It’s become the norm.

      • formdib says:

        “I hope that in the not-so-distant future people will look back on this time of social media frenzy with a shudder and with disbelief.”

        Oh yeah, I wrote this thing about five years ago about how ‘online activism’ and ‘online bullying’ are the same behavior. They both involve singling out targets for public displays of confrontation. The only major difference is who society thinks is the victim.

        Now today:

        Look at Trump’s Twitter. Look at Martin Shkreli’s Twitter. Look at Kanye West’s Twitter. See any similarities, in terms of concepts discussed, word usage, syntactical structures, general themes, persecution complexes?

        They read the exact same because Twitter is the favored platform of narcissists. And they have even better and further and more dedicated reach than television or radio ever gave, because television and radio have producers. Like or hate the producers as you’d like, they have things like filters, business plans, and accountants concerned about audience-to-advertising ratios.

        All social media is is a megaphone in every hand. That makes it as double-sided as any technological sword.

        Anyway my point is this. The frenzied froth of voters is not surprising to me, even though I’m so young, because I’ve always grown up with these assholes and already know how they talk, so once they got online it doesn’t surprise me that they find each other and, through echo chambers and a sincere pretense that anybody gives a shit what they think, are consistently shocked at every political turn when things just don’t go the way they wanted. Being incapable of adjusting their position to consider whether their assumptions are wrong, well, it must be the mean ol’ ‘establishment’ that’s screwing them over, not their own lack of critical thinking.

        And I’m not even talking about Trump supporters here. I’m pretty much describing mostly everybody. The other people are either active online in versions of selling themselves as personal brands for their careers and maintain a clear distance from political discussions, or don’t bother with social media at all. Ironically to the conservative mythos of the term, there really is ‘a silent majority’ right now, and nobody polls them because the polls are on landlines (which only old people have) or targeted websites (which only groupthinkers attend). So who knows what anybody actually thinks?

      • 1mime says:

        Formdib, more and more polls are being conducted with cell phones….either in combination or solo.

      • formdib says:

        Sure, but not enough yet.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        What I think is sad is how teenage girls are attempting suicide because of what they read and/or view on social media.

        What’s worse is that these young ladies, even knowing that staying off social media could provide some relief from the pain, don’t see staying off social media as an option, because their entire lives revolve around it.

        Truly a sad state of affairs. This is no longer just about people not talking face-to-face, or being rude at the table by being glued to their phones. People’s very lives are at stake.

        I would describe this as an epidemic.

  7. Rob Ambrose says:

    Thank God Chief Justice Roberts assures us race is no longer an issue in America, because if it were, I would say this is an outrageous example of the school to jail pipeline for black kids in action.

    The kid gets arrested for taking milk HE WAS ENTITLED TOO because he apparently “tried to conceal” it. Milk. A carton of goddamn milk.

    The kid is now charged with larceny, which will basically make him unemployable the rest of his life. And yet the guys gotta eat. What choices will he have besides criminal activity?

    Wtf are cops doing in schools anyway? Talk about bringing a machine gun to a thumb war. If I didn’t know better, Id say the main purpose of black kids in southern schools was to gather intelligence and prioritize targets for future action. Lord knows it isn’t to educate them.

  8. Rob Ambrose says:

    You know you’ve tarnished your brand when Kim Jong Un refuses to meet you with because he doesn’t like the optics.

  9. duncancairncross says:

    I found this quote – don’t know who said it first – I may have posted it already on this forum but I believe it’s worth posting in reply to Chris’s comments about
    “Business Friendly”

    “Business friendly” is code for “Rich businessman friendly”, despite the two being almost entirely at odds. Business growth is higher under left-wing governments because they encourage reinvestment of profits in wages, R&D and modernisation, rather than allowing a small number of execs and owners to extract all the money as market rent.

    (In the same way that spending is actually often lower under left-wing governments, after an initial burst, because preventative maintenance is much cheaper than crisis management. The right wing does everything by crisis management, because their ideology insists on “saving money” by cutting long-term preventative programs.)

    • 1mime says:

      You know that; I know that; but I doubt you’d even get Lifer to admit that. Republicans are convinced that only “they” know how to manage budgets. Republicans “used to” have good ideas and they “used to” work across the aisle. No more. It’s all about priorities – “their” priorities. Anything else is bogus.

  10. 1mime says:

    I hope all of you have had an opportunity to watch the documentary on LBJ: All the Way, HBO. It’s running again so is readily available. Regardless your party affiliation, LBJ was a memorable, consequential President. Bears watching.

    • vikinghou says:

      I watched All the Way during the weekend. Bryan Cranston’s performance will certainly earn him another Emmy.

      Incidentally, the Alley Theatre recently presented the play “All the Way” from which the HBO film was based. It was incredible.

      • 1mime says:

        I miss being able to see live productions, but happy HBO produced it so well.

      • 1mime says:

        I thought Melissa Leo was terrific as Ladybird. The LBJ characterization was forceful while a little “over the top”, based upon my reading of biographies of Johnson….He was a man of many conflicting qualities, always leaving one to wonder what was sincere and what was expedient in his politics.

  11. 1mime says:

    If you’ve been following the debate within the House on funding for the ZIKA virus, you know that the hard right is insisting upon cuts in exchange for providing funds to preempt the onslaught of the visus. The Freedom Caucus is nothing if not consistent.

    Here’s another way to look at how “principled” the GOP is when it comes to offsetting costs. I think the writer has a point.

  12. antimule says:

    Here’s an interesting article on “unecessariat”, trying to profile Trump voters:

  13. 1mime says:

    The Sanders – Clinton saga bore fruit. Sanders is seating 5 people on the Dem. Platform Committee while Clinton is seating 6. Chair Wasserman/Schultz picks 4….Pretty big concession and I think smart. Of course, if Sanders wins CA big, and has wins in the remaining primaries, he could flip the math on the committee.

    Another newsflash: Clinton has refused the Fox Debate with Sanders. Smart? An old maxim in politics is you don’t debate if you’re ahead…..even if it is barely so….

  14. Tom D says:

    A pro-business centrist who wants to get elected to a big city council can do that more easily by running as an independent, or by running in the Democratic primary, than by labeling him/herself a Republican. The Republican brand would just drag the candidate’s chances down by associating him/her with Donald Trump, George W Bush, and a bunch of other racist white folks.

    I mean, sure, you can say “no, I’m an Urban Republican, not like all those other Republicans!” until you’re blue in the face, but many voters will respond by asking, “If you don’t want to be associated with other Republicans, why are you calling yourself one?”

    An individual who is already well-known and liked in the community can probably overcome the disadvantage of the Republican brand and get elected to local government, but that’s not enough to build a new faction of the GOP.

    Let me ask you this, Lifer: What would be the major policy differences between an Urban Republican and a centrist Democrat? And would those policies be popular enough, in an urban electorate, to overcome the general unpopularity of the GOP?

    I’m guessing that union-busting would be high on the list of policy differences, but you’d know better than I…

    • goplifer says:

      ***A pro-business centrist who wants to get elected to a big city council can do that more easily by running as an independent, or by running in the Democratic primary, than by labeling him/herself a Republican.***

      Er….No. A couple of decades ago it might have been more practical. No F’g way now. Take a close look at what happened to Adrian Fenty in DC for reference. That door is closed – hard, and nailed shut.

      • 1mime says:

        I am interested in your thoughts on Tom D’s question: “What would be the major policy differences between an Urban Republican and a centrist Democrat?”

      • 1mime says:

        What happened to him, Lifer?

      • Tom D says:

        Fenty was elected to the DC City Council in 2000, and was elected mayor of DC in 2006. He was a Democrat.

        I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make with Fenty. As far as I’m aware, he is a centrist. The fact that he was elected to the council and then became mayor seems to support my contention that it is feasible for centrists to get elected as Democrats in big cities.

        Do you think Fenty would have been able to get elected as mayor if he had run as an Urban Republican instead of as a Democrat? That seems highly unlikely to me. (Pretty sure DC has never elected a Republican mayor.)

        Perhaps you’re referring to the fact that Fenty lost his bid for reelection. As far as I’m aware, the main reason for that was public dissatisfaction with his handling of the schools. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that he got elected in the first place as a Democrat, whereas if he had run for mayor as a Republican, he wouldn’t have been elected and thus would not have had the chance to fail to be reelected.

      • 1mime says:

        I read on WIKI that Fenty “won the Republican mayoral primary as a write-in candidate, he declined the Republican nomination and said he would likely not seek elected office again. Gray went on to win the general election for Mayor in the largely Democratic District.”

        That sounds like an interesting political situation, Lifer. Tell us more …

      • Tom D says:

        Right, 1mime – Fenty declined the Republican nomination in 2010 because he knew he couldn’t win the election as a Republican, even though he was already the incumbent mayor. This illustrates my point that running as a Republican is not likely to be a great strategy for winning local elections in big cities.

      • 1mime says:

        And, Fenty couldn’t win as the Dem incumbent… about being between a rock and a hard place (-;

      • goplifer says:

        Fenty was chased out of DC for trying to reform the city’s institutions. He left politics entirely, along with many of the people who were working with him.

        In cities that have been dominated by a monolithic Democratic machine for decades, you can get away with absolutely anything, including smoking crack with hookers, as long as you leave the system intact. Fenty tried to reform it, and the city’s Democratic institutions destroyed him.

      • 1mime says:

        He ended up being the winner….hear he’s dating Steve Jobs widow…..

      • 1mime says:

        It’s really fortunate for Dems that Republicans don’t stoop to smoke crack with hookers….(-;

      • Tom D says:

        ***Fenty was chased out of DC for trying to reform the city’s institutions.***

        This is a pretty vague description, but regardless of that, I don’t see how it helps your “Urban Republicans” proposal, Lifer. If Fenty had run as a Republican, he almost certainly wouldn’t have been elected mayor in the first place, so he wouldn’t have had the chance to attempt whatever specific reforms you are referring to. And if he had somehow gotten elected mayor as a Republican and then done the same things in office that he did as a Democrat, his actions still would not have been popular with the voters and he still would have been denied a second term. In short, there is no rational reason for a politician like Fenty to run as a Republican in a place like DC.

        And by the way, the fact that Fenty was defeated in the primary when he sought reelection illustrates that even in one-party cities, politicians can still be held accountable by the voters. In DC, incumbent mayors have been defeated in Democratic primaries in 1998, 2006, 2010, and 2014.

      • Ken says:

        While the article I’m linking was in the “opinion” section I thought I would share it. I live in NYC but travel a lot to NC. That state is changing FAST…and filled with unrepresented moderates…

      • WX Wall says:

        Umm… in your own backyard, Rahm Emmanuel was elected and re-elected in Chicago, the bluest of the blue old-school city machines, each time fending off fairly vigorous primary challenges from traditional Dem candidates.

        I say this with all due respect, Goplifer, but as much as you’re dead on with your analysis of the Republican party, sometimes your analysis of the Democratic party is behind by about 30-40 years (and unrecognizable since the triumph of Clinton’s third-way DLC ideology) . Even your top bogeyman of union fealty is long gone. Their #1 top priority in 2008 was passing card check (an easier method of electing union representation). Obama, with 60% of the House and 60% of the Senate, declined to even make a ceremonial attempt at getting it (or even a watered down version of it) passed. Compare this to Republicans’ willingness to go so far as to shut down the government to appeal to their special interest groups, even when they are in the minority and have no chance of actually accomplishing their goals. And Obama’s crowning achievement, Obamacare, is a centrist Republican plan endorsed by the Heritage Foundation.

        Even your conception of cities seems to be stuck in the 70s/80s, when they were indeed drowning under crime, urban decay, race tensions, and bankruptcy. Your average resident of Boston, Camden, and Baltimore lives under much less oppression and anti-business hostility now than back then. Your premise of dysfunctional cities suffocating under the poor governance of corrupt machines holds less water now than back in the day when 50% of cities actually had a Republican mayor.

        Centrist, urban Republicans didn’t stick around and fight for a new party: they took over the Democratic party. I really don’t see much difference between the policy proposals you recommend and what mainstream Democrats are pushing for. And contrary to what you say, they are getting elected handily (Rahm Emmanuel, Andrew Cuomo, even Jerry Brown today is not the same as Governor Moonbeam of yesteryear).

        Even today, there are centrist, urban Republicans (like Bloomberg and Christie), so I don’t mean to say you can’t find success with that strategy. I’m just saying there’s no *need* to do that over joining the Democratic party (especially when the Dem party controls the entire infrastructure and really isn’t hostile to the type of positions you’re talking about).

        The only advantage I see to your recommendation is that a viable second party *may* reduce the amount of entrenched corruption. But I’m not so sure… Take Illinois: the Republicans and Democratics have both won the governorship fairly evenly over the past 20 years. And yet both George Ryan (Republican) and Rod Blagoyevich (Democrat) were put in prison for corruption. The switching back and forth only means a different set of cronies gets in every 4 years, but the level of corruption and dysfunction remains the same.

        Indeed, these days, one-party rule only seems to be bad if the party is Republican (hello Kansas, Alabama, Texas, etc :-). California stopped being a basket case when they finally drove out the Republicans, controlling every major city, gaining veto-proof majorities in the state legislature, and electing Democrats to every state office. Once the loonybin Republicans lost control and the state was firmly a one-party state (notwithstanding the large Republican Federal delegation), lo and behold, they run budget surpluses, are home to the most dynamic parts of our economy, and are leading the country in job growth. Oh yeah, and the unions still haven’t taken over the state…

      • Tom D says:

        I agree with WX Wall’s analysis.

        My only quibbles are that Bloomberg isn’t a Republican and Christie isn’t all that urban and isn’t all that moderate either (due to presidential ambitions).

      • WX Wall says:

        Alao, regarding the hookers and blow jab, I agree Marion Berry was a disgrace. But that was years ago. How do you explain cook County states attorney Anita Alvarez being defeated in the Dem primary over her poor handling of a police violence case?

        Yes, it happens to go along with #BLM and other liberal causes, but you certainly can’t accuse Chicago democratic voters of overlooking poor governance in this case.

      • Ken says:

        I found this article interesting because I had the opportunity to sit in a lecture of Dr. Gelman at Columbia U…the math went WAY over my head but his multi level regression of voter data in 2012 demonstrated higher white support for Obama than originally thought. I may be misreading the tea leaves…but it seems a possible replacement population for the white southern (confederate) for a moderate (sane) Republican candidate to exploit. Personally, I can’t wait for 2016 to be over but I want a healthy Center right party. Maybe then the adults can get back to driving the car.

  15. Rob Ambrose says:

    For an example of how small parties can wield outsized influence , look no further the the Bloc Quebecois in Canada.

    Routinely winning 5-10% of the popular vote but holding multiple times that number in seats, the Bloc (despite being an explicitly seperatist party) manages to get significant benefits for Quebec far disproportionate to its tax receipts/population.

    When the governing party in a minority gov can’t pass something, it merely needs to throw some bones Quebecs way in order to get the Blocs votes which often put it over the top.

    Not saying this is a good system. But at the end of the day, a parties job is to get the most benefit to its constituency. Small regional parties can often outpeeform huge national ones in that regard, mostly because it has a niche constituency that is easier for the governing party to appease.

    • 1mime says:

      It seems to me that within reasonable limits, you are correct, Rob. My problem is that I do not believe gerrymandering is constitutional. I believe it subverts the very intention of the Constitution for fairness in the election process. Certainly parties have an obligation to their constituents, but they have a greater obligation to their country.

      • n1cholas says:

        Here is a great video on youtube that explains gerrymandering wonderfully. In other videos by the same person, there are gerrymandering alternatives that can be used to avoid gerrymandering, and the ability of politicians to elect their constituents.

        The same youtube person has videos on better voting mechanisms than our first-past-the-post.

      • 1mime says:

        That was neat, N1cholas!

  16. Rob Ambrose says:

    So I guess Trump believes in climate change when it affects his personal profits.

    When it’s merely the fate of human civilization at risk, though, that’s accetpable to lie about it in order to gain political power .

    What a f’n scumbag.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      (yes, he is a scumbag)

      Can citizens sue the federal government to force it to address climate change? Four writers address the issue. Excerpts:

      Law professor:
      Thomas M. Coffin, the judge in Oregon, found that since the government has a constitutional obligation to protect the public trust, and children are injured by climate change, then they have standing to sue in federal court and their lawsuit against the government should go forward.

      Law professor:
      Citizens cannot sue the government unless the government causes a “concrete and particularized” harm to them — as opposed to a government action that affects everyone the same.

      Director of the Climate Law Institute:
      Four teenagers from Boston and Wellesley, Mass. asked the courts to rule that the state had not lived up to its own 2008 law requiring aggressive restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. Though lower courts ruled against them, this week, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of the students.

      Law professor:
      Government-allowed pollution kills hundreds of thousands in the United States annually and millions worldwide. Terrorism-related deaths are minute by comparison, yet we allocate billions of dollars to fight terrorism while hundreds of Americans die daily from “acceptable” pollution levels that protect corporate profits.

  17. Rob Ambrose says:

    “Where the GOP has died, citizens have lost the political leverage that comes from partisan competition. Governments in Democratic controlled northern cities are increasingly dysfunctional, too weak to hold public servants accountable while hemorrhaging cash.”

    Exhibit A for why none of us should be cheering the disaster that is the currrnt GOP. We need two sane, reasonable, functioning parties for this experiment to work properly. Dysfunction on one will inevitably create dysfunction in the other.

    Like astronauts muscles that waste away without the constant resistance of gravity, so too do political parties need sensible resistance to function at full health.

    What the GOP has done the past 8 years has been the exact opposite of sensible resistance.

  18. Tom says:

    The same could be written, in reverse, about numerous red states and local governments in Republican-dominated rural/suburban counties.

    One-party rule, whether it’s Democratic or Republican, removes almost all accountability from government. When the dominant party has no possibility of losing the general election, its only job becomes to keep happy the interested parties who can dominate a low-turnout primary election. But it simply happens that Democratic corruption, because it happens in more heavily-populated places, is more visible (though high-level Republican corruption, i.e. Ken Paxton, happens as well.) But there are very many “red” places that are denied effective government at the local level as well.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      The difference between the two though is that the GOP lost the cities bexauae the GOP actively works against their interests and values.

      The Dems are hurting at the state level largely because of gerrymandering.

      As an example, I read an article today (illpost it if I can find it again) where SCOTUS just upheld a lower judgement that forces a redrawing of the maps in VA. Despite VA voting Dem the past two elections, the GOP holds 8 of 13 congressional seats.

      • Tom says:

        It’s not entirely gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is easy to blame because, well, it does happen.

        But the fact that Montgomery County, TX, is around 80% Republican is not because it’s gerrymandered to be that way.

      • 1mime says:

        You are correct, Tom, but in those cases in which districts in multi-racial/multi-cultural areas are drawn in such a manner as to guarantee a party a seat versus offering a mixed district where a minority might be competitive, THAT is the problem.

        People choose to live where they wish. That is their right, but that is not where the problem is.

      • Stephen says:

        Florida was heavily gerrymandered and while has more Democrats was controlled by Republicans. Through a citizen initiative consitional admemdment and a long legal fight to enforce it that is changing. Many representives are simply quiting now rather than face a fair election.

      • 1mime says:

        Rob, that is happening in other areas as well. Florida just had their electoral maps thrown out and had to redraw them….Dems picked up I believe only 1 secure seat, but have at least a 50/50 shot with a couple of others that were re-drawn as specified by the courts. This is a major problem and it stinks to high heavens. If the GOP or Democrats can’t win elections on their platforms, they shouldn’t be allowed to draw districts to guarantee seats. Both parties have done it but the Republican Party has taken it to a whole new level. It involves states rights but if we had a balanced SC, something this important should be appealed nationwide and heard. It’s wrong.

  19. antimule says:

    For all that to work you’ll need to eliminate Hastert rule. Otherwise, a vote for any republican is a vote fro the worst republican.

    • goplifer says:

      There will be no new legislation of any consequence passed until the Hastert Rule is abandoned. In fact, it’s possible that in the next session a Speaker will be elected with cross-over voters, as happens in Texas and other states.

      • 1mime says:

        And I am fine with that. I repeat: if a party can’t win on its platform, it shouldn’t be constitutional to shut out both voters (gerrymandering) and elected members of the opposing party (Hastert).

  20. Martin says:

    There is this recurring myth that Democrats are “hemorrhaging cash”. I don’t see this to be factual. It’s a myth. I see exorbitant deficits in times of GOP control and declining debt under Democratic rule at the national level over the last several decades. Is this literally just an ‘echo chamber’ effect? Yes, priorities are different: While the GOP invests insane amounts in defense and law enforcement, Democrats try to invest similarly insane amounts into us the people, our education, our kids, and our infrastructure. I vote for the latter.

    • moslerfan says:

      Don’t forget that there’s a crucial difference between national and state/local government fiscal policies. The Federal Government is a money issuer and can run a deficit. State and local governments can’t issue money, they have to tax or borrow in order to spend. If they don’t cover their expenditures with taxes or borrowing, they go bankrupt (like Detroit or Puerto Rico).

      I think a big problem for local politics is short term thinking. Decisions are made about long-term expenditures like pensions, where those who made those decisions will be gone when the bill comes due. (Of course, that’s sometimes harder than it sounds. I’m sure decision makers in Detroit, for example, never imagined that the city would be hollowed out as quickly and as completely as it was.)

    • goplifer says:

      Try to balance Chicago’s municipal budget. Or better yet, attempt the same thing in Philadelphia. FUBAR.

      • Stephen says:

        I had to use Google to find out what FUBAR meant. It is not only Democrat governments who make messes of municipal budgets. My city of Orlando coming off a Republican Mayor had serious problems with it’s budget. The incoming Democrat Mayor pretty much got things on course. Good people operate in both of our major parties. Your Urban Republican party could draw from more than disenchanted Republicans. Independents in my area are the fastest growing party registration. They are not happy with either party. I would be one if Florida was not a close primary state. My area is very diverse and I think your Urban GOP could do well in such a population if it was pragmatic and concern with the issues of the whole population. Not just right wing rich old white men. The demographic changes can be friendly to such a pragmatic party.

      • 1mime says:

        Surely there are major cities with Democratic mayors who have been fiscally responsible….not to say that there haven’t been financial problems – after all, pension obligations are a major challenge. Consider Houston, TX: the State Legislature has set pension requirements for municipal employees in some divisions that cannot be changed by the very metropolitan area responsible for funding them! Since the City of Houston is run by a Democrat, and the State of TX is run by a clear majority Republican Legislature, the city is powerless to address a critical obligation because the legislature will not allow it.

        I’m sure there are other large cities other than Chicago or Philly who are managing their financial affairs better. Let us hope that they have more autonomy from their state legislatures. There is some effort being made to change this, and to their credit, they are Republicans.

      • goplifer says:

        Democratic or Republican mayors will perform fairly well, regardless of their party, as long as there is competition. Let a city go eighty years under one-party rule and you’ll get fiscal problems potentially too large to fix, regardless which party was in power.

      • Creigh says:

        That’s why we need to run government like a business. Because a businessman would never let pensions…er, never mind.

  21. 1mime says:

    Hate to “dint” the positive message of Lifer’s post, but want to share this sad update: Zimmerman “reports” he has sold the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin for $250K. What a pitiful excuse for a human being.

  22. 1mime says:

    Brava, Lifer! Glad to see you have decided to fight back. I didn’t think you were going to go “gently into the cold, dark night”. Good, solid plan….one which I hope the Democratic Party is also watching…I hope this concept of building strong, responsible parties from the ground up forces both parties to reinvent themselves. After all, a party unchecked and unchallenged slides into the carelessness and tone-deafness that we are witnessing today – more prominently from the Republicans, but shared by the Democrats. The party hierarchies (both camps) need to be challenged and it isn’t coming from within as they have too much turf to protect, thus political inertia.

    I encourage all to get involved on the local level where one’s ideas, hard work, and courage can bring results. It doesn’t require that you run for office, but you get behind a candidate who embodies all of your highest aspirations – of whichever party. It is tremendously satisfying to invest your time and energy into something that is bigger than yourself…..even if you don’t always win. Dancing around the edges of politics is interesting but jumping in that pan is “hot”! Start little – a school board candidate you admire, or a county seat. It’s fun and it’s rewarding. And, you are correct, Lifer. It will be slow; it will be attacked as soon as it is perceived as a threat to the party apparatus, and it will either die right there or gather momentum. As much as I disdain the platform of the Tea Party, I applaud their sustained, vigorous efforts. This group has shown us how a small, focused effort can bring results. Improve on this model.

  23. RobLL says:

    I will never vote for a Republican legislator again until they are willing to occasionally vote against party decisions. You seem not to note that Democrat legislators regularly do so. Perhaps we need a PAC that supports more independent Republicans.

    • Agreed! I do not vote for any Republicans because they are forced by their own ambition to tow the party line on every issue! So electing even a “good”, moderate Republican means another vote for the most extreme in the party! A prime example is how many Republicans helped to create Obamacare! I think the answer is None. Even on issues that the Republicans originally pushed for!

      I have no love for the Democrats. But their biggest selling point for me is they are not the extreme right wing Republicans.

      It is a sad situation for people like me!

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Never, ever vote for a Republican.

      • Mime,
        A grew up in New jersey, just across from NYC. The Dems ran the town and gave away everything the unions wanted. The pensions are extraordinary. Just one example.
        possibly my biggest concern, tho, is abortion. That’s a personal issue and one i will not get into. Way too complicated!
        That said, i vote Dem across the board. Been a registered republican all my life but have not voted for them in decades. I vote Straight Dem and contribute to them! I do not believe in smaller government, tax cuts for the wealthy, global warming is a hoax, etc.

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