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Belmont Club

The Third Party

October 16th, 2013 - 11:40 pm

William Galston, writing in the Wall Street Journal warns that the institutional Republican Party — the political equivalent of the Washington Generals — may have lost its  audience after the longest losing streak in history.   A large part of the GOP base is walking out — led by an “aroused, angry and above all fearful [Jacksonian America] in full revolt against a new elite”. They’re no longer entertained, no longer spellbound by suspense after finally being convinced that the Washington General’s secret job is to lose every exhibition match against the Democratic Party Hokum Globetrotters.

Galston has impeccable liberal credentials. “A former policy advisor to President Clinton … his current research focuses on … the implications of political polarization”, he should be celebrating the crackup of the Republican Party. But instead he is worried because the Mighty Wurlitzer is broken. Galston writes, “it’s hard to see how the U.S. can govern itself unless corporate America pushes the Republican establishment to fight back against the tea party—or switches sides.”

Translation: who’s going to keep the gravy train running if people stop making gravy? His immediate concern is that “defeating” John Boehner in the showdown over Obamacare may have put consensus out of reach. ‘Persuading’ the GOP establishment to turn on its base destroyed the mechanism the establishment used to bring skeptical parts of the electorate into the fold. Those skeptics are now out the door, having finally figured out the game is fixed.

This is more than a columnist’s speculation. Stan Greenberg, a Democratic survey researcher whose focus groups with Macomb County Reagan Democrats in Michigan transformed political discourse in the 1980s, has recently released a similar study of the tea party. Supporters of the tea party, he finds, see President Obama as anti-Christian, and the president’s expansive use of executive authority evokes charges of “tyranny.” Mr. Obama, they believe, is pursuing a conscious strategy of building political support by increasing Americans’ dependence on government. A vast expansion of food stamps and disability programs and the push for immigration reform are key steps down that road.

But ObamaCare is the tipping point, the tea party believes. Unless the law is defunded, the land of limited government, individual liberty and personal responsibility will be gone forever, and the new America, dominated by dependent minorities who assert their “rights” without accepting their responsibilities, will have no place for people like them.

For the tea party, ObamaCare is much more than a policy dispute; it is an existential struggle.

Galston is running ahead to warn his bretheren about the new threat, the better to defeat them. He can see the torches and pitchforks in the distance coming closer and closer. Nor is he alone in noticing the trend. Gallup reports that “60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. That is the highest Gallup has measured in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.”

The results are consistent with Gallup’s finding of more negative opinions of both parties since the shutdown began, including a new low favorable rating for the Republican Party, and Americans’ widespread dissatisfaction with the way the nation is being governed.

The prior highs in perceived need for a third party came in August 2010, shortly before that year’s midterm elections, when Americans were dissatisfied with government and the Tea Party movement was emerging as a political force; and in 2007, when the newly elected Democratic congressional majority was clashing with then-President George W. Bush.

Taken together they suggest that the old consensus model may be collapsing. Why then should only the conservatives be in revolt? For at the heart of the crisis is money. The system of hitting up The Man in order to buy votes from a captive electorate dependent on the federal government,  so successful during the postwar boom, has finally stopped working.

The very issues over which the shutdown was bitterly fought underscore this. The establishment “won” not because it was rich and powerful but because it was so poor it resorted to hair-pulling, eye-gouging and and ear-biting. The elite can only continue to sustain itself by borrowing.  That was what the crisis was about, borrowing. Obama’s basic demand was simple: let me borrow and borrow without limit. His ‘victory’, if so it can be called, is the victory of a bankrupt who has compelled his relatives to mortgage the farm so he can return to his losing streak at the casino.

But the assumption that Third Party must only come from conservative ranks bears closer examination. For the Democrats need money too.  In fact they need it more than anyone else, a fact underscored by their obsession to lift every limit on their credit cards.  The truth is they are only one step ahead of disaster; for if once the EBT system stops working, even momentarily,  there is a drastic disturbance in the force.

Nor is this surprising. It has been argued and proved by natural disasters that the entire fabric of civilization is but nine meals from anarchy. After 3 days without food most people are willing to do anything to anybody to get a meal. The hard reality is that the current deficit system will inexorably create a situation when the grub literally runs out.

Alexis de Tocqueville’s argued that slavery should be abolished because it was a money loser. “The colonies in which there were no slaves became more populous and richer than those in which slavery flourished”. That fading system was not only bad, but bad for business. Similarly it can be said wide sections of the Democratic Party have an interest in rising against The Plantation in order to survive.

In the same way that Tocqueville maintained that slavery could be condemned “in the name of the master”, so it can be said that the members of Democratic Party should also rise in the ‘name of their pensions, jobs and other expected benefits’. Without reform those ‘gains’ are toast. Lincoln Steffens once said of Soviet Russia, “I have seen the future and it works.” People with pensions should visit Detroit. That is the future and it doesn’t work.

Galston’s argues that the conservative insurgency is rooted in some kind of atavism; that it arises from a nostalgic hankering after an America long past in the face of new demography. Nothing could be further from the truth. The hell with demography. People would be just fine with changes in demography if only times were good. When times are bad homogeneity is irrelevant. Rats of the exact same breed will fight to the death over the last piece of cheese.

It’s the cheese that matters. The conservative insurgency is rooted in a lack of money. And so will the coming liberal one. The unrest is not driven by a desire to return to the past. On the contrary it is propelled almost entirely by the growing belief that there is no future.

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Top Rated Comments   
The GOP power structure is RINO-front-loaded, and it has been as long as I've been alive. It's not like an NBA team with players taking dives, it's when 3 of the 5 players on your team actively play with the other team, and trip, shove, elbow, and put the remaining two players in the hospital. Then they do this not for just one season, but for 75 years. Plus, during drafts and player development, the hire hit men to break the legs of the guys who might reinforce the bench for the good guys. Then you find out that the entire thing was orchestrated by the team owners.

At some point, the idea of firing the coach and some players is ridiculous, as well as pointless. Mere survival means leaving that team, starting your own, and kicking their a$$ on the court with give of your own guys, with your own bench, and with your own fans in the stand behind you.

The GOP can't win elections consistently because they don't stand for anything that matters to the American people. One or two or ten seats won won't matter, because all of the committee chairmenships belong to RINO's, or other opportunists.

What you are recommending, i.e. just stick it out and stay with the party, is the same thing the GOP has said since post WWII. It hasn't worked to date, i.e. even the "Reagan revolution" was stillborn, and there is no reason whatsoever, to believe it'll work now. LOOK AT THE DEBT AND MONEY BEING PRINTED!!! The Republic is evaporating on Obama's watch before our very eyes.

I really could care less about the GOPs fortunes, nor Cruz or Palin or anyone else. I care about a return to Constitutional principles, and Constitutional government. Anything less, any half-way compromise, will not change the current trajectory of this country into bankruptcy and oblivion.

You're plan is the "go along to get along 20 year plan". Nope. Won't work. Not soon enough. The GOP's very last chance just passed by, and Boehner and McConnell just bent over and took a big crap over the party's grave.

Nothing will save the GOP now. There's no reason for the GOP as a party to exist, and no reason for any Republican to support the party, if they can't at the very minimum exercise the office which they were elected to, and demand and ensure that a Constitutional budget is passed before ONE DIME is spent by the Federal government.

Yes, the "blue model" will fail, and the GOP will go down the hole with it. The American people will not respect the party who had opportunity after opportunity to draw the line, and to STOP the abuse of power by Democrats, yet failed to do so. We are in this mess NOT JUST BECAUSE OF DEMOCRAT abuse of authority, but because the GOP allowed them to do so. It's not as though the GOP has been out of office for the past 30-40 years. They've had the tools, but they compromised and went along with the leftist every single time. That's the record, and American's are starving and unemployment skyrockets past 25% and 35%, no one will care about the blue or red models, just the bastards that robbed them.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's simple.

They lost the consent of the governed. They squandered the Mandate of Heaven. Wretchard told you in the first paragraph; everything now is theater to placate the masses. And he also got right to the heart of their weakness: they want "buy-in" from the masses in order to give them cover. This is referred to in Atlas Shrugged as "sanction of the victim". I'm not sure if it's some metaphysical hang-up, but this is important to them, and it must be removed.

I certainly will no longer lend any legitimacy to this fraud. I'm not going to do anything crazy, but I am going to "sit down in the snow".

Resist in any quiet, rational, and non-violent way you can for now. Force them to reveal their true faces. They let the mask slip a bit over these last two weeks of Kabuki theater. You will be put into increasingly uncomfortable situations, but these situations are coming whether we cower or we resist, so why not fight on our feet?

We need to try to make public perception more closely match reality, instead of the insanely well-scripted, controlled, and disciplined message that the government-media complex transmits. Any ideas about how to culturejam the mass media would be very helpful right about now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why should Conservatives and TEA Partiers work and raise money for a party that hates them, betrays them at every turn, and insults them. The word is out that a priority in the 2014 election cycle for the RNC is to remove all those nasty TEA Party people, because they actually forced some resistance to the Democrats. I suspect that as usual, they are behind the power curve and are going to find out that there won't be all that many left to remove by then. This does not mean that the Democrats are better. It is just that the old threat that "if you don't support any Statist b*****d with an 'R' behind his name, the Democrats will get everything that they want." no longer holds terror, because when you elect people *with* an 'R' behind their name, the Democrats still get everything that they want.

The Republicans were not only willing to yield on every point to Obama, they threw in reversing the normal order on the Debt Ceiling. Now it takes a 2/3 vote by both Houses to prevent a requested increase in the Debt Ceiling from taking effect. But at least Senator Mitch McConnell got $2 Billion of borrowed money for his state. Which to an Institutional is a working substitute for 30 pieces of silver.

If you are a Conservative who believes that there is still a political means of saving the country, you have to be looking at forming a 3rd Party. There is only one reason for staying in the Republican Party, and that is to vote for primary challengers to the Vichy Republicans. Depending on what the Republican primary ballot looks like here in Colorado in any putative 2014 elections, I may re-register as a Republican just for the primaries, and change back to unaffiliated the day after voting.

The odds are, however, that there is no longer any political way of saving the country and Constitution. Which leads to another set of decisions to be made as to how to deal with the future. None of that set of decisions includes any affection for those who have betrayed us.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (151)
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Over the years, I’ve read a number of articles that bemoan the fact that reliable constituencies, such as Black voters for the Democratic Party, are consistently given short shrift by their party. If only, these commentaries lament, the reliable constituency wasn’t so reliable, the major parties would have to work harder to represent their interest. I believe that a similar logic holds true for conservatives in the GOP.

Conservatives don’t need a new party, they simply need to commandeer the Republican Party. It would be a far easier job than building a new party from scratch. How do we take back the Party? By voting for Democrats and against the RINOs who were the undoing of the recent budget/ObamaCare battle.

I know that many conservatives are hoping that Matt Bevin unseats Mitch McConnell in his primary challenge to the incumbent Senator. That will be a difficult task, given that deep-pocketed RINO PACs, like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, will undoubtedly be spending heavily in Kentucky. It will take half the Republican Party’s voters, roughly 500,000 true conservatives, to defeat McConnell in the primary. That’s a tall order. In the general election, however, it will only take 5 percent of registered Kentucky Republicans, or 50,000 conservative votes, to swing the election to McConnell’s Democrat opponent, if the 2008 election results are an accurate indicator.

The same approach could be adopted in South Carolina, as well, where it would take about 10 percent of GOP voters or roughly 100,000 votes to show Senator Graham the door. If the goal of the conservative base of the Republican Party is to regain control of our party, the process begins by ridding ourselves of the likes of McConnell, Graham and their ilk. How hard would it be for Sarah Palin to swing through Kentucky and South Carolina (Lindsey Graham) next October and convince enough Tea Party faithful that for the sake of God and country, they need to cast their ballots for the Democrat? Not very hard, I’d guess. Such a move, in selected races like the Kentucky and South Carolina senate races, would send the message that conservatives are not to be ignored by RINOs in reliably Republican locales or anywhere else, for that matter.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Responding to Subotai Bahadur's comment from 19 hours earlier, to the effect that he is expecting "Government-provoked violence" from Some Quarter pretty soon.

For a long time, it has seemed to be only the supremely arrogant NATIONALLY-based commentators and news-readers that were blatantly betraying the people. Increasingly, the local news organizations are becoming fully committed to the continuing whoredom of serving only the Incumbent Powers, twerking like a regiment of Mileys, in order to be favored at some later date with government funding which will keep them employed, or exempt from the burdens of the Affordable Care Act, like so many of Obama's leprous pals.

The Mainstream So-Called News Media have let slip on a number of occasions in the last few years that crowds (dare I say "mobs"?) of black youth have in various cities and venues, done group attacks against white victims WITHOUT ANY NOTICEABLE POLICE RESPONSE, either immediately or as follow-up.

Usually, these events are hidden in the back pages of the diminishing printed newspapers or journals, only to be noticed and circulated by internet "non-credentialed" journalists, who may soon be outlawed by our wonderful government.

These may be merely spontaneous actions of disaffected youth, poorly served and shat upon by the Liberals who claim to be their benefactors. (Unemployment among black youth is higher than for any other group in the nation, with the possible exception of Native Americans living on their respective reservations...Thanks, Mr. President!)

Or it's conceivable that these incidents are sponsored by agents of the administration, just as the Department of Justice HAS BEEN PROVEN TO HAVE FUNDED the agitprop demonstrations by crowds of local ethnic types to PROTEST the local authorities' judgment in freeing Mr. Zimmerman after interviewing him, without charging him with murder, as the MOB calculated in their wisdom he SHOULD have been charged... I don't know how much the DOJ spent on this effort, but it seems to have at the VERY LEAST covered all costs of transportation to and from the demonstrations, possibly for several different days.

Again, the MSM has utterly failed to follow up on this and determine the details, or if they know, they are maintaining their "discrete silence." Both of these constitute a betrayal of the public they are SUPPOSED to be serving.

At least the staffers of Pravda and Isvestia were completely aware that offending the Politburo by acknowledging problems in the system would get them sent to either the GULAGS or a well-drained stone room in some prison like Lubyanka to be liquidated.

Here, the members of the propaganda-spouting media have no excuse - they are simply betraying the public thinking it will make the government look upon them favorably when handing out largesse.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Eggplant wrote: "Compelling arguments can be made that Ross Perot enabled Bill Clinton to be elected President"

Except the numbers don't support those arguments. Since it is relevant to this thread, it is worth reminding ourselves about the numbers of votes cast.

1984: Ronald Regan won the Presidency with 54.5 Million votes. Population was a lot smaller then, too.

1988: Reagan-endorsed George HW Bush got only 48.9 Million votes. Still enough to win the Presidency, but what happened to the missing 5.6 Million voters? Can't blame Ross Perot.

1992: GHW Bush's votes dropped further to 39.1 Million -- and he lost the election. Ross Perot got 19.7 Million votes. Clearly, if all of those Perot voters had chosen Bush, he would have won. But we can't avoid recognizing that 9.8 Million people who had chosen to vote for Bush in 1988 had lost confidence in him 4 years later when he was no longer seen as the successor to Reagan. Add in the lost Republican votes in 1988, and a total of 15.4 Million people who had liked what they saw in Reagan were not seeing the same thing in GHW Bush.

1996: This is the clincher. Loser Dole got 39.2 Million votes -- almost the same as GHW Bush pulled in four years previously. Ross Perot ran a half-hearted campaign and dropped to 8.1 Million votes. That is to say, Perot dropped 11.6 Million votes from 1992 -- but essentally none of Perot's lost voters went to Dole. Instead, those voters stayed home.

Bottom line is clear. For a quarter century, there has been a very large group (~20 Million) of Contingent Voters who will never vote for a Democrat but may turn out to vote for an upbeat, pro-American, anti-Washington Establishment candidate -- whether Republican or Third Party. The reason that the Republican Party does not have a lock on elections is that the Institutional Republicans hate that kind of candidate, and won't run them.

For Institutional Republicans, the fault -- Dear Brutus -- is indeed in themselves and not in their stars. Those Institutionals would rather serve in Hell than reign in Heaven.
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1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What is a political party?

A political party is not a constitution, or a religious establishment defined by a fixed ideology. In America it is not a private club. It has not power to select or discipline its members or guard the use of its name. The Democrats could not keep David Duke or Lyndon Larouche out. The Republicans cannot eject Olympia Snow for reaching across the aisle any more than they could control Arlen Spector. In some states primaries are completely open, with voters choosing which to vote in on election day. In other states the voter must choose the party in advance. In no state can the party reject the voter. This is the fatal flaw in the argument for a third party. Nothing would stop legions sent from the Democratic Underground and Kos, as well as the usual crackpots who show up at any campaign, moving in and making a pig's breakfast of it for the media.

In Europe it can be different. There parties do have discipline. The Whip in the UK can expel a Member from the bench. Parties in most places tend to be organized around issues or personalities. They form fragment and fade or reform. In America after two false starts, the Federalists and the Whigs, we have had a fairly stable two party system for over a hundred and fifty years. Both parties have endured significant changes in their supporters and ideology. The Democrats have tended to change more dramatically than the Republicans. The biggest change in the GOP has been the shift from Lincoln's protectionism to a consensus in favor of free markets.

Since the 20th century efforts to form a third party, Bull Moose (Theodore Roosevelt), Independent (John Anderson), Reform (Ross Perot), have been wasted effort at best or served as spoilers to advance the organized statists. Genuine ideological Third Parties, Liberal Conservative or Socialist, have generally served as factional homes to influence one of the major parties. The Socialists mostly moved from external allies of the Democrats to an internal faction, the Democratic Socialists of America that is a Second International affiliate, that now effectively controls the party. Efforts to separate conservatives from the GOP would move in the opposite direction with less expectation of success.

An American party is just a box or a tool that people can enter or pick up and use. The label on the box means little. In some jurisdictions it may make sense for organized constitutionalists to take over the local Democratic Party. Rather than form a new box we should work to control the one we have.

We agree on so much here. Do not take my disagreement personally. David Axelrod would love to offer us an office in a basement to set up the True Believers Party. Don't give him the satisfaction.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Turns out, the President is one inch deep. No piercing insight into anything in particular. He has no intellect, only rote memorization of the Marx brothers theories, and, of course, emotional reaction to anything that demands earning what one consumes.

His power is sustained by providing the free cheese to his supporters. That's the Achilles Heel of democracy - evil people gaining power by promising to shovel greater largesse from the nation's treasury. Or, in our case, explosion of the national debt.

What will it take to stop this? Fear or rationality. Either the cheese eaters have to be caused to realize that the cheese will be cut-off, that the sky will fall, and government will not be able to keep its promises. That or an actual cataclysm the disrupts the production of cheese.

There may be another bite at the apple when the public perceives the full extent of the oppressive cost of the experiment in socialize medicine. When people discover during open enrollment, that the cost will double while the deductable goes skyward, they will be asking "why didn't the Republicans stop this". We'll see.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A lot of pundits, especially at the NRO, argued that fighting Obamacare and the debt increase through a shutdown was unwinnable because the RINOs wouldn't go along, that is, the votes weren't there.

Yeah but they have no credibility because the institutional Republican party has been no more effective than this in anything since Obambus took the throne.

The fact of the matter is the Democrats owned both the narrative and the media. There was never any significant threat that the US would not or could not pay interest on bonds, and one can argue it would have been BETTER for our credit rating to run under the de facto "balanced budget amendment" which is all that the debt ceiling really amounted to.

So when a weak and confused guy says he couldn't win, you gotta believe him, but it doesn't say much about whether he can ever win anything.

And it still reeks of that traditional Republican entitlement mentality (yes Republican) that it will soon be THEIR TURN and things will come to them as they always do, and all they have to do is sit and wait quietly. Very Siddartha, isn't it. I fear those days are gon (if they ever existed) and they just don't know it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To Buddy Larsen:
Wretchard wrote: ""The hell with demography."
I flashed on that line too. Mr. Fernandez is sometimes prophet, seer, thinker, mystic, preacher, hard headed realist, coiner of outstanding phrase, fine writer rolled into one...
hope all is well with you, Dex Quire (had to log in via facebook for some reason...)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
thanks, Dex --and backatcha on the well-wish. Yup, one could say that W the Cat has a weigh with words that amounts to ''away with words'' when it direct hits. Like fellow author Walt's windjammer lines. Hey, the Cat's & Jammer books!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When a woman with pretensions
And a man with bad intentions
Have an offspring like Barack you know it’s wrong
You don’t know what he is made of
‘Til you get what you’re afraid of
And too late you see the black of night grows long
It’s too late that we’re dejected
How could he be re-elected
Is the cry we hear from people stone bereft
For the Democrats of Truman
Are all dead ‘mid roses bloomin’
And the party has been captured by the Left
Yes the crazies are in charge now
Like a runaway coal barge now
That goes raging down the river smashing things
The Repubs no longer fight them
They hold candles just to light them
On the path that leads to what the chaos brings
Yes we need a new Third Party
Need it now let’s not be tardy
For the times are marching on and freedom’s still
The best thing the Founders gave us
And we need them now to save us
And return the shining city on the hill

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Anybody remember that Bill Murray movie about the summer camp? I mean the one where they were going up against the rich kids on the other side of the lake and he led his kids in a battle cry, "It Doesn't Matter Anyway!"

For as long as I can recall, the Repubs, especially in the Senate, have been arguing for inaction on the basis of, "It doesn't matter anyway because we can't win."

Well, Cruz and Lee came up with a battle cry that says, "If it Doesn't Matter Anyway, Then Why the Hell Not Do It Anyway?"

Battle cries are much better than excuses when it comes to motivating people. Once, we even had one that said "Come on Marines! Do you want to live forever?" Does not sound like a big motivator, but it's a hell of a lot better than the, "I'm Gonna Serve My Customer!" that the USAF was using in the 90's.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
--oddly enough, that's the best argument against suicide, as in, if life ain't worth living, it can't be something to die over. Might as well hang around and see what happens --at that point, after all, it's not like things are going to get much worse.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

"It just doesn't matter".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We really should not be surprised at our current state of affairs, we are such a young nation after all. We should expect that we should have very serious challenges to the continuation of our Constitutional Republic as a form of governance. We are at one of many crossroads after only 237 years as a nation. Where do we go from here? THAT is the perfect question to raise as a new, third party. Do we stick to the model of Democratic Republic or try Socialism? And if we intend to stay a DR, the Constitutional Party is the only logical choice. Then they MUST be able to counter every democratic talking point with a counterpoint. And that would be surprisingly simple as long as you stuck to the ORIGINAL INTENT of the Constitution. The GOP has ceased to provide a clear and discernible choice, that is why they have failed.

At a time when both houses of the Congress are at their lowest approval ratings, being the UN-party is a winner. Sarah, where are you.....?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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