Insider: Tea Party Can’t Win GOP Civil War

December 17th, 2010 at 2:49 pm | 44 Comments |

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The 2010 United States Senate race in my state featured a divisive primary between an “insurgent” Tea Party challenger and an “establishment” candidate.  The Tea Party challenger, with the help of a reckless and irresponsible intervention in the race by Sarah Palin and various national conservative entertainment figures, won the primary but went on to lose the general election. The path to eventual defeat for the Tea Party candidate was marked by bizarre statements and feuds with the local media.  It also featured vicious personal attacks by the candidate’s supporters directed at anyone who dared to criticize the Tea Party favorite, and massive amounts of spamming on various social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Needless to say, this boorish behavior drove many people to support the opposing candidate. Indeed, in many ways, the primary interest of the local Tea Party throughout the campaign appeared to be in driving every last moderate out of the Republican party in a great ideological purge, and not in actually winning the race.

Based on my experiences, I think criticism that is merely directed at individual politicians like Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, or Carl Paladino, misses the mark. Instead, the real need is to confront the movement from which these figures draw their support- the Tea Party.  For my own part, although I agree with some positions held by the Tea Party movement, and share many of its concerns regarding the direction of the country, I am convinced that its emergence represents a real danger to our common future.

Why? Because it is marked by anti-intellectualism, hostility to established institutions, resentment, and, most significantly, anger and fear. This fear is inchoate, but ever-present. At its base, I think it is a fear of the future- of the economic, demographic, and cultural changes sweeping both our nation and the globe. Fear is brittle. Fear is intolerant of dissent and the open discussion and debate of ideas.

Many Tea Party defenders will argue that their anger is the natural outgrowth of legitimate frustrations.  I disagree.  Anger is a very dangerous thing- it corrodes, it pollutes, it distorts and it twists. It is ultimately more destructive to its bearer then to its object.

Severe economic problems lead to political radicalization. The radicalization is intensified by two big social changes: the evolution of the United States into a “majority minority” nation and the rapid growth in the size of our elderly population.

Obviously political radicalization is not the unique province of the Right.  The Left evidenced a similar rush to demonize and vilify opponents, the same withholding of trust and respect, the same incivility, and the same propensity to put partisanship over serving the common good, during the Bush years. Indeed, it is remarkable how quickly we went from comparisons of Bush to Hitler, and dire warnings about our descent into right-wing fascism, to comparisons of Obama to Hitler, and dire warnings about our descent into left-wing socialism. Hatred and fear, apparently, can turn on a dime. As one author has aptly noted, “[i]f you only object to the president of your party being compared to Hitler, then you’re part of the problem.”

But as a long-time Republican, I cannot help feeling most worried about what has happened to my party. A Republican discourse dominated by an “us versus them,” litmus-test oriented, Tea Party ideology is not conducive to building coalitions, and to working together. It inflames divisions, and expands the crevices forming in society separating us from each other.  It may win elections, at times, but it cannot actually govern.  It is a journey either into a political cul-de-sac, or perhaps, over the cliff.


Camillus is a former Republican Party officer in his home state who was involved in campaigns at both the local, state, and federal levels during the 2010 elections.

Recent Posts by Camillus



44 Comments so far ↓

  • Houndentenor

    Neither party is capable of maintaining a majority without moderates. That means working to elect candidates who are not going to vote the party line 100% of the time. They are not always RINOs and DINOs. Sometimes they are people who either for personal reasons or to represent the state or district that elected them differ from their party on some issues. Honestly we got things done far more efficiently before the ideological “purity” that plagues both parties today. For a long time there were liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats and pretty much every bill that got passed did so with a coalition that included some members of both parties. Now a great many votes come very close to falling exactly along party lines. The minority party in the Senate can stonewall and keep anything from coming up to a vote. How did compromise become a dirty word? That’s how things get done. Negotiation has become impossible. I suppose some are thrilled that doing nothing is better than doing what needs to be done. I am not one of those.

  • jimbob54

    The democrats will win the republican civil war

  • larry

    this is a thought-provoking comment. whoever first said existence precedes essence was correct. the structure of the economy has been fundamentally reordered, old certainties shattered, careers obliterated, the future blinkered, prospects narrowed. marx is again worth reading. the way people earn their living shapes their consciousness, their belief-systems, their politics. the consequences of the world revolution now well underway, of globalization, for the American people are, for many, ominous and threatening. the anger and rage become somewhat understandable but still dangerous. the ancient Greeks, in an uncertain world, wisely reserved a special place for Fate in their philosophy; it seems that anything can happen. hold on to your hat!

  • JeninCT

    Camillus wrote:
    ” Fear is brittle. Fear is intolerant of dissent and the open discussion and debate of ideas…Anger is a very dangerous thing- it corrodes, it pollutes, it distorts and it twists. It is ultimately more destructive to its bearer then to its object.”

    Please apply these thoughts to your fear and anger about the tea party and your rather ridiculous assersion that the Tea Party is dangerous. If the Republican party was different enough from the Democratic party, the tea party NEVER would have sprung up in the first place. The Republican party needs to get its act together. The tea party is not the problem. The entrenched politicians are.

    Republicans like you who keep insisting the tea party is the problem really do need to look in the mirror.

  • WoodbridgeVa

    First, descriptions of intraparty differences among Republicans as a civil war grossly overstates the situation. With the exception of a very few extremists and professional moderates like Frum and Bartlett, the split is not all that wide. Most of the “establishment” republicans share basic ideologies with tea partyiers, welcome their energy and are willing to give them a seat at the table. Many of the tea partyiers have their roots in the Republican party and are more pragmatic than pundits realize.

    Second, while many professional moderates may be superficially loyal to their party, most of them need the notoriety of being a maverick in order to earn a living. They occasionally stimulate some creative thought by their dissent but more often just attract attention to themselves.

    Third, although Ronald Reagan was correct to remind us that people who support us 80% of the time do not become our enemies based on the other 20%, it is also true that individuals who oppose us 80% of the time do not become our friends based on the other 20%. Entirely too many RINOs (and DINOs) seem to think they can p*** down the backs of fellow party members 80% of the time and get away with it based on 20% support and an R or D next to their name. Not to sound like a tea partyier but “that dog don’t hunt.”

  • PracticalGirl

    JeninCT:

    Can you explain to me the seeming disconnect of the Tea Party position of fiscal responsibility and the silent acceptance of the tax bill that continues government borrowing without spending cuts? Borrowed money isn’t exactly the “fruits of an individual’s efforts”, is it?

    Silence on this issue seems to point to the movement as part of the problem not the solution.

  • Stewardship

    JeninCT, you must have the pleasure of knowing some tea party folks who are not anarchist nut jobs. In my neck of the woods, the tea party sprang from the Michigan Militia movement. The “leaders” who show up at our county GOP meetings advocate for an end to government. While I consider myself strongly conservative, it was all I could do to stay involved when the party hierarchy welcomed these people with open arms.

    I believe the reason why most local and state parties brought out more chairs this year, to accommodate the tea partiers, was fear. Fear that they were about to get run over by a movement fueled by anger, rather than thought.

    And I think that’s why pols like Fred Upton and others sound like the second coming of the John Birch Society–they were fearful that they’d lose their seat in Congress or their chairmanship if they dared stand on their principles.

    I still believe it was not high taxes or national debt that gave rise to the tea party–it was the economy and joblessness. I wish Vegas made book on what happens to the ‘movement’ once employment and the economy start humming again. On this point, almost everyone is misinformed or mislead. They keep looking to the government to create jobs. The government doesn’t create jobs…its role is to be referee for national commerce and guarding the gate.

    If we were at full employment, too, I think the immigration issue dries up.

  • JeninCT

    PracticalGirl wrote:

    “Can you explain to me the seeming disconnect of the Tea Party position of fiscal responsibility and the silent acceptance of the tax bill that continues government borrowing without spending cuts?”

    What silent acceptance of the tax bill? Tea partiers all over are against it. Just because there is no rally every weekend doesn’t mean the tea partiers aren’t working behind the scenes to get things done.

  • sublime33

    “With the exception of a very few extremists and professional moderates like Frum and Bartlett, the split is not all that wide. Most of the “establishment” republicans share basic ideologies with tea partyiers, welcome their energy and are willing to give them a seat at the table.”

    The split isn’t that large if you measure after the purges, but you are ignoring a large swath of voters who left after easily voting for Reagan and George H.W. Bush in years past. A major problem is that competence and experience used to be a prerequisite to run for a higher office in the Republican party. That is what cemented the business community to the Republican party, and the Republican politicians weren’t ashamed about talking about policy and economics at a high school level or better. But some of these recent candidates with such riviting policies as “put on your man pants” are more concerned with the celebrity status than actually figuring out how to govern.

  • JeninCT

    Stewardship wrote:

    “I believe the reason why most local and state parties brought out more chairs this year, to accommodate the tea partiers, was fear. Fear that they were about to get run over by a movement fueled by anger, rather than thought….I still believe it was not high taxes or national debt that gave rise to the tea party–it was the economy and joblessness.

    Of course you can believe what you like, but I live in CT so tea partiers here are not anarchist nut jobs. The main reason for the formation of the tea party WAS the debt and the growing government bailouts and stimulus. It of was NOT the high taxes, it was the realization that taxes would have to go up to maintain the debt. The joblessness was not much of a factor when the tea party gained steam.

  • PracticalGirl

    JeninCT:

    “Tea partiers all over are against it. Just because there is no rally every weekend doesn’t mean the tea partiers aren’t working behind the scenes to get things done.”

    What is the work being done? And why wouldn’t they take to the streets about this issue that on its face violates the main principles Tea Partiers have said they value the most ? There was plenty of time to make themselves heard (like they did on HC) to make certain the politicians knew exactly how they feel about this.

    Why, after a season of screaming to the rafters about (and I quote you)-

    “…the debt and the growing government bailouts and stimulus. It of was NOT the high taxes, it was the realization that taxes would have to go up to maintain the debt.”

    -would this movement choose to be quiet about this tax bill, which is nothing but continued stimulus that increases our debt which will, at some point, necessitate higher taxes to pay for it all?

  • PracticalGirl

    Stewardship:

    In my neck of the woods the Tea Party strongholds are angry again, this time over cuts that local, regional and state governments have announced as a plan to deal with the much-smaller piece of Federal pie they are expecting. The TPers DEMANDED that the Feds stop doling out money, but when they figured out what they would have to sacrifice when it happens (cuts in Federal timber payments are a great example), their anger folded in on itself.

  • Mark Rosenthal

    Here, here! Great article.

  • Arms Merchant

    Camillus is trying to paint the national Tea Party with a broad brush but is obviously writing about Delaware, which was a pretty unique case. O’Donnell had run twice before, had tremendous baggage within the state, and had both a hostile press and the Republican establishment working against her.

    In Nevada, Angle was painted as “extreme” and probably more than a few Republican moderates stayed home but lost mainly because Reid got out his base. The younger Reid, with no such organization, got stomped.

    In Alaska, Miller also got out-organized by the Murky machine and made several of his own mistakes. Still, he probably would have won if Princess Lisa hadn’t been such a sore loser and actually supported the Republican candidate.

    Other Tea Partiers won their races. Nikki Haley, Ron Johnson (who defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold), Rand Paul, and Mike Lee all won. Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey both won in their purple states, Florida and Pennsylvania, respectively.

    So this article is really a sour-grapes Delawaren moaning about how the Tea Party can’t win because they didn’t win in Delaware. Feh.

  • Diomedes

    The Tea Party can’t win this ‘civil war’ because they have no unified message. It’s just a bunch of angry yokuls being vocal but with no clue as to the fundamental changes needed to actually fix our deficit. It’s loud whining, nothing more.

  • JeninCT

    Practicalgirl wrote:

    “Why, after a season of screaming ….

    -would this movement choose to be quiet about this tax bill, which is nothing but continued stimulus that increases our debt which will, at some point, necessitate higher taxes to pay for it all?”

    Because in all honesty, screaming from the rafters takes loads of energy and time and mid-December, lame duck was chosen to deal with this issue for just that reason. But as I said, it doesn’t mean we haven’t been upset about it and doing whatever is possible from the computer keyboard. Also, I think a large part of the tea party ‘energy’ has been directed (rightly so) at elections.

  • TerryF98

    “But as I said, it doesn’t mean we haven’t been upset about it and doing whatever is possible from the computer keyboard. Also, I think a large part of the tea party ‘energy’ has been directed (rightly so) at elections.”

    So what you are saying is that the Tea party types are not really interested in the deficit, only interested in getting Republicans elected so they can add 700 billion to the deficit before they even get started, And the statement that the tea party had retreated to the keyboard as a protest is hillarious. In fact the funniest thing I have heard in months.

  • shinnok

    The TeaParty is silent on this bill because the ‘Outrage’ is no longer being manufactured. Can you hear the silence on the Republican earmarks issue on this Bill? The TeaParty silence on the fact that the King of Pork is taking over Appropriations? If it seems familiar – its because it’s the same silence you heard when Bush43 was spending a trillion dollars on the wrong war and bailing out Wall Street. Face it, “Rino’s” – The TeaParty woke up when the “‘Un-American” became president – it’s the only thing that matters to them..and this is just one of the dichotomies that will eventually break the GOP.

  • chris87654

    Rove started “us and them” when he created the dedicated base of voters. Palin took “us and them” within the GOP when she separated Palinians from “establishment, elite, blue-blood, mainstream, RINO, and ???” Republicans. The GOP is lost because they can’t come up with a viable plan to fix anything – their first accomplishment was expanding the country’s debt by not recouping TARP, stimulus, bailout, and corporate windfall profits/bonuses by taxing the benefactors with previous tax rates.

    Anger has a place – it can get people moving, but after that it’s a corrosive emotion. Tea Partiers turned their energized movement into a bunch of limp-wristed whiners. If there are any brains among them, they should come up with alternative plans or modifications/tweeks of existing policy to help the country, instead of following their leader (Palin) with criticism, finger-pointing, and name-calling; the GOP is the same minus the name-calling. Mitch Daniels is a nuts/bolts executive – the GOP needs to get some brains together and come up with viable plans instead of worrying about Sarah.

  • chris87654

    Instead of creating this mess, all Bush cuts should have been allowed to expire. If tax cuts to upper earners “trickle down” to benefit the economy, it would have happened a long time ago. It’s known that upper cuts are saved, not circulated.

    In two years, the effects of this will be very apparent.

  • chris87654

    Houndentenor: “How did compromise become a dirty word? That’s how things get done. Negotiation has become impossible.”

    It’s even worse when one party suggests something and the other refuses to acknowledge or work with it because it’s the other guys idea – “oppositional defiance” grinds solutions to a halt.

  • Freesmith

    Camillus

    An interesting post, but one that boils down to the same “bitter clinger” argument of the man we laughingly call the President of the United States. I do congratulate you on implying that a grass-roots, leaderless mass movement of middle class Americans is bigoted, xenophobic, racist and intolerant – without ever using those words. Liberals would not be so subtle.

    Big-Tent, No Labels Republicans were always telling the folks they proposed to lead that if they would just drop their “extremism” and their “values issues” and join with the Big Tent in a movement for fiscal conservatism, nothing could stop them.

    But starting in 2009, when that very thing happened with the Tea Party, something strange occurred – the Big Tent-ers lost and then abandoned the tent! Specter, Murkowski, Castle, Crist, Scozzafava – all of them either joined the other side, stayed neutral or ran rump campaigns against the Republican candidate.

    But the Tea Party conservatives are the intolerant ones to Camillus. The Tea Party is the danger to the GOP, not snarling egomaniacs like Specter, or self-justifying clowns like Crist. That’s pathetic.

    Yes, Paladino, Angle and O’Donnell lost, but such are the growing pains of a nascent, grass-roots-fueled movement. Losing a few winnable elections isn’t a mortal threat to the Republican Party. It has survived that before (Dewey beats Truman).

    But standing for nothing but the main chance is indeed a mortal threat, especially today when the fruits of a demented and spiralling progressivism become plainer, and the American people look for forcefully articulated alternative visions and programs.

  • Joe In NH

    The fact that the term “RINO” even exists speaks volumes about the state of the GOP.

  • valkayec

    Mr Frum & writers:
    Off topic: why is no one paying attention to the fact that the GOP, according to Sen. Corker, will block the START Treaty if DADT repeal is passed?

    Is the GOP anti-security suddenly? The Bush treaty took 5 days to approve and was far less verifiably stringent. Yet, the GOP threatens to veto the treaty even though Russia has said that passing it was a priority for them: pass it by the end of the year or we’ll change our minds altogether.

    Is this country losing its bloody mind? START, on its face, has nothing to do with DADT and should not be held hostage to socially conservative or religious ideology. To hold this treaty hostage to a vote on another matter is completely irresponsible…and childish!

    When will the GOP grow up and begin acting like adults again? I can’t believe Eisenhower or the late, great conservative Senators of the early 20th Century would approve of how the GOP is behaving today. They might be upset at some of the current liberal policies, but as a leading Senior GOP Senator’s records and writings clearly show, they refused to conflate one issue with another and showed their patriotism by putting America’s defense and safety above all other matters.

    I am thoroughly ashamed of today’s GOP! Moreover, their behavior clearly exhibits the national security hypocrisy within the GOP today. Democrats appear to hold the pro-national security staff as a result of Sen. Kyle’s, Sen. Corker’s and other GOPer’s decisions. Shame on them!!!!

  • Freesmith

    This lame-duck session of the worst Congress in American history should not be allowed to pass anything other than the Bush tax rate compromise and a continuing resolution to fund the government at current rates for 30 days.

    It is illegimate, having lost its mandate in the election six weeks ago.

    If this treaty, or DADT, or the Dream Act were so important, the Democratic majority had ample time over the last two years to enact them.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Elect no Democrat anywhere, ever.

  • anniemargret

    Deep within the psyches of the majority of the Tea Party are those that want ‘THEIR country back.’

    No question. They despise the cultural changes taking place in America in the year 2010. They are fearful of rising minorities to positions of power – ergo, their almost rabid hatred of Obama because he represents just that. The are bigoted against people who are different from them – be it from big city ‘intellectuals’ or different color skin or religion.

    Why else would Beck feel he had to do a religious awakening instead of the typical bigoted barbs that we saw earlier in the T.P?

    No doubt there are sincere people within the T.P. who are for the most part, understandably concerned about our economic problems. But so is every American – that doesn’t make them special. What sets them apart is this inherent cultural resentment and this hysteria over a changing face of America.

    I have some extended family members who are Tea Partiers and who speak quite candidly about their disgust for minorities – their racism is not subtle. They feel quite comfortable within the Tea Party.

    So why is that? Why do bigots and racists feel comfortable within the Tea Party? That is why they will never be taken seriously, nor should they. They need to grow up and join the country in progressing, not taking us back to 1958.

  • valkayec

    @Freesmith- Shame on you! Your writings and attitude illustrate a totally undemocratic attitude. The attitude of royalists in the 17th Century. You seek to keep the workings of the government from proceeding to accommodate your particular political partisan views, regardless of how many people and the nation’s security will be negatively affected.

    Illegitimate, my great aunt Fanny! That’s pure politically partisan bull crap that has no basis in history prior to the Obama Administration.

    If things were turned around, with the GOP in a minority position going into the next session of Congress, I bet you’d be screaming to keep the Lame Duck session going as long as possible. If I remember correctly, the GOP had no problems with the Lame Duck sessions in ’06 or ’08. They actually pushed to keep the sessions going as long as possible…and decried any shortening of the sessions that the Dems requested.

    Bluntly put, I find your attitude anti-American, undemocratic, and shamefully disrespectable to all those who gave “the last full measure of their lives” to provide and maintain this great democratic republic.

    Again, shame on you!!

  • sublime33

    “This lame-duck session of the worst Congress in American history should not be allowed to pass anything other than the Bush tax rate compromise and a continuing resolution to fund the government at current rates for 30 days.

    It is illegimate, having lost its mandate in the election six weeks ago”

    What in the world makes it illegitimate, other than the fact it moves Democrats out of power sooner than their constitutionally defined terms? I suspect you did NOT feel this way in December of 2006. And I suspect you had a “Charleton Heston Is My President” bumper sticker in the late 90′s.

    Some people really want a one party dictatorship in this country. So at least be up front about it.

  • jerseychix

    I think that a great deal of the problem is the boorish behavior. We’ve lost any sense of perspective. Yes, our country is in trouble and we have serious problems to confront. But, how is putting on a tri-corner hat and screaming at people changing that?

    So the TP elected some new people. Where’s the outrage that they will be participating in their federal health benefits? Where’s the outrage of still including earmarks in new spending bills?

    Crickets. There isn’t any. Because the fact is, that once people get to Congress, the electorate simply doesn’t matter. We do not raise enough money for people to get re-elected. Corporations do. And until that changes, the TP’s will scream, the left will scream, and nothing will change. What they don’t realize is that they are on the same side of the fight. The fight to get Congress to represent US, not the corporations. This Congress is going to pass all the same sort of give aways to big business, mouth words to small business, and do everything about the same as the last 15 Congresses have done. There are going to be little tweaks about the edges. Hollers about abortion funding, probably some hearings, and nothing is going to change.

  • JeninCT

    Annie wrote: “What sets them apart is this inherent cultural resentment and this hysteria over a changing face of America”

    Annie, I know you love the fantasy of the racist, bigot tea partier but you are wrong. What sets tea partiers apart is their willingness to get active and work toward change rather than just complain.

    And Glenn Beck is not the tea party so his 8/28 rally was NOT a tea party rally, it was a rally to restore honor. If you don’t understand that then perhaps you don’t understand as much as you think you do.

  • JeninCT

    Jerseychix wrote: “So the TP elected some new people. Where’s the outrage that they will be participating in their federal health benefits? Where’s the outrage of still including earmarks in new spending bills?”

    Why are people who have not even gotten to congress the focus of such anger from your when in fact almost the whole congress is corrupt? You are unwilling to even give the new hires the time to get in there and attempt to effect change. What a hypocrite.

  • JeninCT

    TerryF98 wrote:

    ” And the statement that the tea party had retreated to the keyboard as a protest is hillarious. In fact the funniest thing I have heard in months.”

    “As a protest? Huh? Terry I never wrote that and you know it. You are so dishonest.

  • baw1064

    I’m pretty sure that the Constitution doesn’t explicitly mention any restrictions on what legislation an “illegimate” government can enact. :-P

  • Nanotek

    “If this treaty, or DADT, or the Dream Act were so important, the Democratic majority had ample time over the last two years to enact them.”

    they reportedly tried … the GOP leaders asked that those bills not be brought up last summer, then asked that they not be brought up so near an election and now the GOP says the bills should have been brought up early if they were so important … Dem leaders’ mistake to have taken them at their word

  • Arms Merchant

    @Freesmith

    Yes, Paladino, Angle and O’Donnell lost, but such are the growing pains of a nascent, grass-roots-fueled movement. Losing a few winnable elections isn’t a mortal threat to the Republican Party. It has survived that before (Dewey beats Truman).

    But standing for nothing but the main chance is indeed a mortal threat, especially today when the fruits of a demented and spiralling progressivism become plainer, and the American people look for forcefully articulated alternative visions and programs.”

    Well said.

    “Compromise” only gets you the ratchet effect (http://www.american.com/archive/2010/september/bernarticle.2010-09-23.7081778337).

    Conservatism can win when it is well articulated (Christie, Rubio, Toomey, Lee, Haley, Johnson, West, et al). The alternative to compromise is conservative solutions to democratic hobby-horses. Giving the Dems what they think they want only results in Statist abominations like Obamacare.

    Having said that, Republicans need to get serious about corruption (i.e., favoring donors with subsidies, tax breaks, and other forms of winner-loser picking) and force the Dems to face their own corruption problem (public employee unions, “activist” groups like ACORN, trial lawyers, etc.)

  • Freesmith

    Valkayec –

    Ah, the calm, thoughtful name-calling of the centrist moderate, complete with the ultimate epithet – “anti-American.” (“Unpatriotic” is simply implied.)

    Combine that with the pretense that some stranger knows what I was thinking four years ago and you enter a perfect storm of rhetorical overkill.

    No royalist I. On the contrary, I firmly believe that there should be two political parties fighting it out in America: the Republicans and the Libertarians. (Tip of the cap to the Vodkapundit, Steve Green.) What about you?

    But what is really shameful is the umbrage you take at me, a stalwart, take-no-prisoners conservative, while progressives move from devastating our inner cities and reducing our black population there to political catatonia, to taking their utopian sledgehammers to one traditional institution after another. Talk about fighting the wrong enemy!

    Social Democracy – The Methadone of the masses.

  • Freesmith

    Arms Merchant

    Thank you for the compliment.

    But I disagree with your prescription. Forget corruption so long as the MSM continues to exert disparate influence – that’s a losing game. Mark Foley and Larry Craig had far more impact thanks to the liberal amen chorus than William Jefferson or Charley Rangel. We may not, but Democrats expect their politicians to be crooks and charlatans. It’s a long tradition. Remember, the first Democrat Vice President murdered one of the Founders and got away scot-free.

    What we have got to hang on Democrats is much easier: their inevitable and myriad political failures. Make them eat Camden, NJ, Detroit, MI, Newark, NJ, Bridgeport, CT, East Saint Louis, IL, Memphis, TN and all of the other “Ten Most Impoverished Cities in the US,” which just so happen to have one thing in common:

    They have been exclusively governed by Democrats for at least the past 40 years.

    Are progressives ever to be held accountable for their failures? How many years are we supposed to give the Democrat Party to turn things around?

    Hint: Democrats thought 8 years of Bush was enough, right?

    California and Illinois are nearing bankruptcy and both are Democrat strongholds. Point it out and then take my prescription.

    Tough love.

  • Freesmith

    Arms Merchant

    I read the article you linked to, but was disappointed that neither the author nor Peggy Noonan credited economist Robert Higgs, who coined the term “ratchet effect” in “Crisis and Leviathan.”

    Here’s an exerpt from a review of Higgs in The American Conservative:

    “What made ‘Crisis and Leviathan’ a milestone was the rigor with which it elaborated upon the logic of James Madison’s 1794 warning against “the old trick of turning every contingency into a resource for accumulating force in government.” Other political economists had studied the growth of state power during times of war, depression, and general upheaval before, but none had done so as thoughtfully and thoroughly as Higgs. He took special care in describing the “ratchet effect” — once a crisis has passed state power usually recedes again, but it rarely returns to its original levels; thus each emergency leaves the scope of government at least a little wider than before.”

    Shades of Alinsky and Rahm Emanuel in Madison’s warning, eh? That’s why “progressivism” is so misnamed. It is actually as old as oligarchy.

    I’m not surprised by Noonan’s oversight – like so many Beltway Obama voters and Palin-haters, she likes to think she’s the smartest person in the room.

  • Arms Merchant

    @Freesmith

    I have a much broader definition of “corruption” than most others. I used to use the term “crony capitalism” until a commenter in the WSJ wrote, “Let’s call it for what it is.” IMHO, it as potentially destructive as its State Capitalism brother in, say, China.

    The ruinous coddling of Fannie and Freddy brought us to the brink and offered a whole new series of excuses for the Statists to grab more power.

    There should be Republicans and Libertarians fighting it out, but in the meantime, we have one party: the Republicrats, wedded to ever increasing federal power and funding. In a small section of one wing of the Ruling Party we have a valiant group fighting to change this. Until the Republican party cleans its own house it will be compromised and ignored by many who would otherwise be its allies.

    The Statist wing of the RP almost pushed through a $800 billion boondoggle, but somehow, common sense prevailed. But the reactionary forces are still there, make no mistake.

  • sublime33

    “The ruinous coddling of Fannie and Freddy brought us to the brink ”

    Obviously you get your news from overly biased propaganda outlets and don’t let facts get in the way of a great storyline. Fannie and Freddie were at most 10% of the problem. But the legendary storyline “government pressure to force housing lending to minorities” had absolutely zero impact on the failure of AIG, Lehman Brothers, the near collapse of Citibank, the price of oil tripling, Moody’s fraudulently giving AAA ratings to bundles of such mortgages, etc. etc. It is at best, lazy scapegoating of minorities. Ground Zero of the foreclosure mess isn’t Detroit, Cleveland or the West Side of Chicago. It is in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Central and South Florida.

  • Freesmith

    No one is scapegoating minorities for the Credit Crash of 2008, other than those who prejudices make them see racism under every explanation.

    What Arms Merchant is referring to is the workings of the slippery slope – the decline in loan standards which began when political pressure began to be exerted on what had formerly been almost strictly economic decisions. Once you are encouraged to make allowances for X, it is much easier to make the same allowances for Y and Z, especially when Y and X are just like you, and when there are commissions to be made for each transaction. That’s how the ball got rolling – first Cleveland and Newark, but then picking up speed downhill in LV and Phoenix.

    Wall Street packaged those shoddy mortgages into securities, Moodys rated them AAA and AIG insured them, but all those things happened because the packaged mortgages had one crucial element – an implicit government guarantee courtesy of – you guessed it – Fannie and Freddie.

    Which, you’ll notice, became a fact, except for poor Lehman.

    There were other factors; there always are. But the transformation of the home loan into a form of lottery happened because people no longer thought the way they once had about what a mortgage was. And government, through its programs and agencies, fomented that transformation.

    Medicine is undergoing the same change today, propelled by bad tort, government guarantees and the redefinition of insurance to mean not discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, an oxymoronic redefinition that some powerful entity is promoting. Now who could that be?

    Same thing with marriage. And now the armed forces.

    Hope that isn’t too overly biased for you.

  • Arms Merchant

    @sublime33

    Don’t let the facts get in the way of thinking you can read my mind. I wrote and implied nothing about lending to minorities. Rather, it was the implicit guarantee by the federal government to the GSE’s that allowed bundlers to package crap (the vast majority resold to or through F&F) and spread it far and wide.

    My comment about F&F was in the context of Crony Capitalism. Without the favored treatment by the feds of the GSEs, investors and raters would have had to look a lot harder at the risk, and perhaps the crap would not have been written in the first place, and relied upon by the big investment banks and insurers, because it would have been a lot harder to sell.

  • Freesmith

    Arms Merchant

    Please don’t fall for the “Republicrat” or “Tweedledee and Tweedledumber” line of thinking. Despair and fatalism only serve the forces of deconstruction – the Left.

    The Republicans are not going to get their house in order. Conservatives and traditionalists like you and me are going to put the Republicans’ house in order. We made a damn good start this year. But the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die – a little Teddy Kennedy there to appeal to sentimental Democrats – because the forces of reaction are always there, ready to pounce.

    Just don’t take your eyes off the target: those redshirts coming toward you. Keep your aim on them and don’t be too distracted by the guy near you on the right. He’s on your side of the skirmish line.

    Don’t worry about the GOP ; spend more time encouraging your Democrat friends to split their tickets when they vote, while you vote straight Republican. Highlight liberal failures, not conservative foibles. Remember that the NY Times put Abu Ghraib on its front page 37 times, but never identified the larcenous Bell, California government officials as Democrats, which they all were.

    And above all, don’t take liberal arguments seriously. After all, they don’t take YOUR arguments seriously, so why should you give them a respect that they don’t reciprocate?

    Elect no Democrat anywhere, ever.

  • Arms Merchant

    @Freesmith

    Most encouraging words I’ve read all month. Consider me thoroughly bucked up.