Thursday, September 16, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: Is Tea Party Victory in Delaware a Good Thing for America?

On Tuesday, the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party won a huge victory in Delaware, where political novice Christine O'Donnell won the primary over Congressman Mike Castle, who was favored by the party establishment.

O'Donnell has some baggage (unpaid taxes, brought a $6.9 million lawsuit against an employer, some fuzziness on her education, no apparent career), but was able to beat a pretty good politician who had the support of the party apparatus.

While her election is probably bad for the GOP's chances of taking over the Senate, what I want to know is... do you think it is good for the country as a whole?

While I would not vote for her, I think her winning the primary does have a positive side for American politics. By running as a Republican purist, she and her fellow travelers will hopefully be forced to define exactly what "Republican purity" might be. As regular readers of the Razor know, I have long believed that neither party's politicians (or Reagan himself) actually WANT smaller government. If they did, they would restrain the growth of federal power when they are in office. Republicans have not done that when they controlled the federal government, and neither did the Democrats. So what IS the difference between the two? What would Republicans actually do about the health care crisis, for example? What is the "pure" Republican position on immigration?

I know the answer to my rhetorical questions-- there isn't a pure Republican position. Still, the election of fringe candidates in primaries would force both parties to define themselves more sharply, and that might be a good thing.

It's all - and always - about power... which party is IN power, and which party HAS power.

The only real difference, after all the blather, is how to get power and keep it...

Republicans favor fewer, but richer, folks' interests. Democrats favor more, but less-rich, folk's interests.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.
I am a grammar geek: That penultimate line should've read...

"Democrats favor more, but less-rich, folks' interests."
She's weird. And not just the whole masturbation thing. She's weird.

That said, lots of candidates, even some elected ones, are weird. Castle, though... Castle was always sort of an outsider to the party establishment. Though he may have had party backing in terms of money and token support, his stance on global warming, for example, is at odds with literally every other elected Republican.

Republicans are better at policing their ranks. If the Dems adopted a Republican-style response to breaking the party line, Joe Lieberman would never get another chance to caucus with the Democrats. They'd say, "Put an R after your name, Joey."

The United States has no true left. The Republicans like to accuse the Democrats of being leftists, but I can only think of two Democrats that might actually be soft-left, Kucinich and Feingold. Neither of them would be strikingly leftist even across our border into Canada, and might even be considered centrist in Western Europe. The difference, then, between the majority of Democrats and the majority of Republicans is actually quite small.

Most major-office holders are wealthy/wealthier than most. They are still a majority white and, though the gap is closing, male. They are mostly educated at well-known and prestigious institutions of higher learning, with Yale and Harvard claiming the most.

The "hard right" has traditionally not been a part of the Republican Party, confining themselves (like Tom Tancredo) to third-parties like the Libertarians and Constitution Party (the right's Bull Mooses, if you will). Now, given that the hard right has provided a convenient rallying point against the Democrats, they've been accepted in to the Republican fold. I don't see the majority of the party establishment, including its moderates, accepting them, just as I don't see the DNC accepting anyone that doesn't tow the centrist, liberal line of the party.

But that's OK; I actually think the moderating influence of political parties is a good thing, by insulating the populace to some degree from radicalism, both on the left and on the right. It'll be interesting to watch the Republican Party correct after the midterms. My prediction? Hard-righters can win in very right-wing states (Joe Miller will win Alaska, for example), but will fail in more moderate states (O'Donnell and Angle will lose).
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I see my comment errors deleted the important part of my post, which was that "Republican purity" if measured by hard-right standards would be just as foolish as "Democratic purity" measured by hard-left standards. Neither represents either the essence or the majority of the party members. Instead, I think we could talk about "majority views" and "minority views" in the platforms of party members, and in that case, O'Donnell starts to look much like many Republicans in this day and age. This may not make her a Republican purist, but she is willing to toe the party line, something Castle wasn't (and paid for, by losing his seat).
Just what we need - another bimbo republican, with no brains, credibility, or even the ability to speak properly.


Lane isn't actually a politician; he's a prosecutor in Texas. He also is not Republican. The rest of the stuff you might be right about, though he does seem to have some brains.
"Just what we need - another bimbo republican, with no brains, credibility, or even the ability to speak properly."

That is awesome.

I mean, is it just as stupid as any of the stuff O'Donnell has said, yes, but it is still awesome.

You would think the Republicans were running a gaggle of mouth-breathing Playboy Playmates with speech impediments.

Wait a second, I would totally vote for those women.
Disjointed diatribe to follow:

There is a lot of propaganda out there posing as news and the psychological tendency for "confirmation bias" appears to be drawing people to more and more lopsided information sources.

Most concerning to me is observing what appears to be a total lack of any correlation between higher education critical thinking. People prove to be emotional animals first. The interests pushing policy (follow the money) serve to both mobilize and de-motivate various parts of the electorate.

Does the POTUS really have much more control over the economy than the path and power of a hurricane? That (arguably fallacious) presupposition is foundational to all sides.

What disappoints me about our two-party system is their apparent captivity to special interests (be they labor unions, or insurance and hydrocarbon companies). That being said, I am unsure whether a multi-party coalition-style government would work any better in the U.S.

The apparent increase in "us vs. them" attitudes is concerning. But, I look forward to where the pendulum swings (and how the national resources are allocated) after we bring the troops home from the wars on "terror" and "drugs"--the costs of which outweigh the benefits, if any, and harm do a disservice to the nation's ostensible philosophy of valuing liberty and human dignity.
"Lane isn't actually a politician; he's a prosecutor in Texas. He also is not Republican. The rest of the stuff you might be right about, though he does seem to have some brains."

Now that is funny. I don't care who you are.
I'll vouch for Lane's brains and ability to speak properly (in fact, eloquently), but he did have a few "blonde" moments now and then.
Just imagining Lane and his blond moments....

I will find it interesting to see how the tea party candidates fare in the general election and if they win, how they are embraced by the Republican leadership. It could make for several years of interesting news cycles as they punch it out.

And just because they are ousting main stream Republicans in the primaries doesn't mean they will have any success if they make it to DC. Gridlock is the name of the game and will not change inthe future.
I also object that I am very credible, and that my hair is dark brown.

All blonde moments resulted in my getting memos assigned to me, or, in one memorable episode, quoting Eric Clapton during a Practice Court closing.
I like to believe, as has been discussed before, that in today's age, positions are condensed into slogans or one sentence retorts. I also happen to think that the tea party candidates have a lock on that right now.

Fundementally, everyday people can't go around spending money they don't have lest they go bankrupt. Thus it just doesn't make sense for the general population to think that our government can do the same. And so, you end up with a simple concept...stop spending and don't make me (the citizen) pay for shopping spree.

The T.E.A. party has this message down and it's simply resonating because of the obscene numbers people hear on TV.

My point is this, while many positions of the Tea party can be considered "fringe" I don't think this one is and why they are winning. It's also why I think they have a chance at winning consistently in November. It's something simple that fires people up. And, to answer Osler's question, I think that such a basic tenet will be as close to a "pure" republican position as you can get. Whether or not those elected put it into practice is another issue, but that doesn't mean they don't believe in the idea from a positional and theoretical standpoint.

I agree it would be difficult to define most "party" positions, but the tea party wins because they express the simple ideas easily to the masses.
I don't like Politics Thursday.
Tydwbleach smells funny.
I actually don't think she is all that fringe. She is anti-health care reform. She is anti-cap-and-trade. She is for lower taxes and less spending. I mean, that puts her right in the core of the conservative ideology.

Yes, she is also a christian conservative, with the hangups about stem cells, abortion, etc. And I don't like that. But, that hardly makes her a "fringe" candidate.

I agree with Lane, kinda. She ran against a Republican that was pro-cap-and-trade, received remarkably low scores from conservative groups for his consistent support of spending measures and tax hikes, and was not a vocal opponent of Obama's health care plan. So, basically she beat a Democrat.

Good for her.
The stars must be in odd alignment today, RRL.

I think Castle certainly qualifies as a Democrat, if they have to count Nelson and Lieberman. Probably should've let the poor guy caucus with them. Wouldn't have helped them one bit, but oh well.

That said, the media narrative is already that she's kooky and can't get elected. Facts don't matter at this point, because the spin is all there is. By the end of it, we'll hear how Castle was a party stalwart and O'Donnell, the dark horse candidate from the fringe, sandbagged the race because she's so far right of where the party is.

That's a complete fantasy, but check in with me in a few months. I'd bet a sixer of any commentor's favorite beer (other tasty treats may be substituted if something prevents you from drinking) that some version of that story gets passed around.

In happier (maybe) news for Republicans, Linda McMahon is now looking like she has a chance to win her race. What's that like?
Also, at one time, most Republicans supported cap-and-trade as a market-based solution to pollution problems. It was even proposed by a relatively conservative Democrat, and worked fairly well for reducing acid rain in the 90s.

I'm not quite sure how cap-and-trade became a leftist problem to deal with. Were it up to me, I'd just regulate emissions rather than letting people buy the privilege to pollute.
"I'm not quite sure how cap-and-trade became a leftist problem to deal with. Were it up to me, I'd just regulate emissions rather than letting people buy the privilege to pollute."

Not to be totally off topic but the stars have certainly aligned today. I'm in complete agreement with Lane. I tend to favor less government, but do recognize that government does have a role to play in preventing people from doing bad things and making people abide by that. Thus, I think it right to decide what is acceptable when it comes to pollution and force compliance. The fight, of course, is what people believe to be "acceptable." And it's where special interests excel.

ON TOPIC: I will point out that while I agree that the "ODonnell's kooky and can't get elected will be a story," I also think you'll see Republicans rally around her and that it will be, in the coming weeks, a story coming from the left. I doubt Drudge will be picking it up and republicans will support her.
While Delaware, by most expert accounts, may no longer be in play because of the story I believe you'll see plenty of support and money flowing into the race to make it more "in play." Though, I still think that because of Delaware being more left leaning, they'll succumb to the story from the left.

You'll see a couple weeks of down time and then an all out blitz against the democrat oppponent. Watch her poll numbers climb in the next couple of weeks as people will accept her as the rally cry becomes "anyone but the people in charge"
I didn't realize Lane was transgendered - sorry for any unkind remarks about him taken completely out of context.

According to one poll it's 53% Coons, 42% ODonnell right now.

Give it 3 weeks and I bet the numbers go up for ODonnell.
Lane, I live in CT. Linda McMahon is nuts, but I think she's going to win. Blumenthal is a dull guy about whom people feel next to no emotion. His Vietnam embellishment was incredibly stupid.

I'll vote for him, but it will be (as my dad used to say) "holding my nose."
I'd like to ask all the teabaggers just one question, and in doing so, I'll borrow one of Emile de Becque's lines from "South Pacific"...

I know what you're against, but what are you FOR???"

And don't just say, lower taxes and limited government. Get specific...
Anonymous Connecticutter: you should stand 100 feet away from a polling place holding a sign that says, "If you elect Linda McMahon, you deserve everything you get."
"I'd like to ask all the teabaggers just one question"

It's that kind of quote that shows you aren't open to discussion or are too ignorant to understand anything other than your own point of view. I'm not aligned with the Tea party but I'm also not out denigrating the opposition for their beliefs.

The fact is that the Tea part does believe in lower taxes. That is specific! When faced with the proposition to raise taxes or vote against, it is their belief that a politician should do the latter absent compelling evidence otherwise. "Limited government" is specific in that it simply encompasses an ideal that government intervention and bureaucracy should be limited as much as possible. Again, faced with a vote the vote in favor should be to reduce the government.

Speaking of, when was the last time you saw a bill to cut something from the government? It's kinda hard to vote yes for something when there are no bills calling for the elimination of some program or agency. If a republican changeover does happen, expect to see lots of voting "yes" when it comes to bills proposing cuts of things like the health care bill.

This is no different than condensing the liberal ideals to "help the poor" and "raise taxes." To say it isn't specific isn't true and to demand a list of 25 must-haves isn't productive. It's kinda hard to promote specific bills/ideas when no one ever hears about the bills/amendments that die in committee because the other party is in power.
Dallas ADA:

Actually, back in 1994 the Republicans did exactly that-- the "Contract with America" spelled out exactly what legislation they would propose in the first hundred days.

Some people maligned it, but I thought it was a great idea, and it worked. The Republicans won a ton of seats, and did actually propose that legislation, some of which passed.

There is a lot not to like about Newt Gingrich, but he was very right about that idea.
Apropos of nothing, last night on TDS President Clinton had a good line, talking about how similar things were to 1994, except that in 1994 the Republicans had a contract on... er... with America.

I mean, sure, Michelle Bachmann has proposed to do nothing but issue subpoenae, and everyone has talked about "repeal," but those are campaign talk. So is calling the Republicans "the party of no" and pointing out that they do not have something like the Contract this time around. It's all part of the information war that I think will have great weight in determining the outcome of this election.
Agreed on all points about the Contract with America. However, there are proposals for specific legisltation out there currently. However, for media purposes it's not like what amounts to part 2 of the contract gets any real press. "Undoing" what has been done is a laudible goal, though doesn't sound proactive. Besides, the Republicans are actually lacking a distinct leader currently in congress this time around. Again, agreeing with Lane, (crazy, I know) it's is all part of the campaign talk which seems to resonate with people like Anon 11:55. and which, I believe, the Tea party is doing a good job of, hence the success we see.
wow, that was an ADD post if ever.
I figure if you can't beat 'em, adopt their tactics and fight against them from the other side.

I'll be making properly-spelled signs saying things like, "I came without my fancy book-smarts and learning... this time!" and "Get your private sector out of my government services!" or maybe "I've read the Communist Manifesto, I know the truth and I'm ready for the revolution!"

Then I'm going to go to the joint Colbert/Stewart "Restoring Sanity" rally and sit in a lawnchair, drink my fancy-pants microbrewed beer, and chant things like, "What do I want? Sensible moderate economic policies that foster greater social equity between class striations! When do I want it? As soon as is practicable given considerations of the necessity of legislation and regulation!"
Lane, that will be a loooong rally.
Dallas_ADA @ 10:26...

Guess I should consider myself slammed, but I don't.

I'm intelligent enough to understand what the teabaggers are saying, I just think they're wrong. That is, I disagree with them.

Specific? I mean, what spending programs would get the axe, and by how much?

More importantly, if you're going to cut taxes, are you going to make sure the revenue loss is offset by a spending cut? We've had 30 years' worth of lies about how doing just that - cutting taxes but not spending - will create that rising tide that lifts all boats. Well, it didn't.

And don't tell me that the present deficit was NOT made worse by GWB, that it was the war, not his policies, that created it. I say, if that is true, then GWB should have RAISED taxes so that ALL of us had to be invested in his war. If his war was so important that 4,000 Americans have had to die, then we should all be participating in its prosecution.
Calling people names doesn't help get your point across and hence you sounding unitelligent or unwilling to listen.

The thing I like about the Razor is that the people here are definitely more educated than most and prove it with the posts. Though your posts seem to suggest you want to argue your point by suggesting things that are not true.

You won't ever hear people on Razor claiming GWB's policies (as enacted by both a Rep and Dem) congress didn't increase the deficit or turn away from what are known to be conservative principles. The fact is, he did increase spending and should have raised taxes to cover it. Which is why the TEA party does not align itself with Bush policies, and in fact has gone so far as to repudiate them on multiple occasions (see ODonnell v. Rove)

You state "We've had 30 years' worth of lies about how doing just that - cutting taxes but not spending - will create that rising tide that lifts all boats. Well, it didn't." but the fact is that there hasn't been a congress or president recently that has done both at the same time. You call it lies, but the simple truth is that no one has tried. (Reagan cut taxes but spent lots, Clinton cut programs but taxes went up).

AS for you saying you disagree with the positions of the tea party, how can that be when you supposedly don't know what they stand for. That is, what is it specifically you have a problem with.

As for programs to cut:
-Department of Education
-What's known as Obamacare
-Create a flat tax to cull the size of the IRS
-For the time being fix the AMT and make the Bush Tax cuts permanent
-Cancel all unspent stimulus funds
-Mandate a balanced budget

Those mind you are my personal favorites (though you'd have to ask the Tea Party guys as to what they want as I'm not a part of the "movement."
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