Interesting Reads on the Republican Civil War

The Republican Civil War still rages on. National Review’s Jonah Goldberg inspired his very own hashtag, #NROrevolt, after this article:

No Movement That Embraces Trump Can Call Itself Conservative

Goldberg doesn’t go after Trump, he goes after his own readers who are on the Trump Bandwagon; hence the hashtag and ongoing twitter war.

Goldberg made some points, but the blog The Conservative Treehouse made some pretty deft responses:

An Open Letter to Jonah Goldberg-RE: The GOP And Donald Trump

I don’t know who blogger Sundance is, but he or she made some good points.  I would urge Jonah to read it, if he has internet access in whatever undisclosed location he’s at.

As a columnist, I rather like Jonah Goldberg, he’s a witty writer and is the author of probably one of the top 20 must reads of modern conservatism, Liberal Fascism.  However he is strictly a Blue Pill Conservative.  He doesn’t get it.

However there is a chance that someday Goldberg will choose the red pill.  I can’t say the same for Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens. Stephens took on the Trumpocalypse right out of the gate in this piece:

The Donald and the Demagogues

This is how Stephens opens up on the very first line, “If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.”

And then he proceeds to get nasty. Stephen’s article even got the Rush Limbaugh treatment.  Limbaugh read aloud excerpts from Stephen’s article; apparently in disbelief that one conservative was rounding up dissenters and burning them at the stake. Although far more vicious, Stephen’s article inspired far less reaction than Goldberg’s ( sorry Bret, no hashtag for you) since if you’re a Donald Trump fan, you’ve probably regarded the Wall Street Journal editorial positions as in the enemy camp for a long time.

Old establishment hands still seem to think that Trump will flame out long before the candidates start racking up delegates, and by the time we get to the convention, all will be forgiven and everyone will fall back in line with the generic Republican candidate to defeat the generic Democratic candidate.

Only I’m not so sure.  What’s going on within the Republican Party is unprecedented in my lifetime, and yes, I’m including the Tea Party revolt and Perot’s Reform Party.  We may be seeing a replay of the fall of the Whig Party.

 

Blue Pill Conservatives versus Red Pill Conservatives

This has certainly been a summer of a crack up and civil war within the conservative movement.  It started out as the summer of the Cuckservative, in which conservatives attacked each other over who was giving in and trying to please leftists and their media.  It’s ending as the Summer of Trump; the domination of Donald Trump over all other Republican Primary candidates.

Something is radically changing in conservative politics and the fault lines seem to be radically changing every few months, but there seems to be a current divide that explains a lot of the conservative on conservative conflict: Red Pill vs. Blue Pill Conservatives. If you’re not familiar with the term, a simple trip to Mister Google will solve that since Blue Pill/Red Pill is a fairly common internet meme, based of course on The Matrix movies. Blue Pill is living your life under a delusion, and the Red Pill is when you finally wake up to the sometimes bitter reality.

I first started to have the fog lift out of my blue pill haze after the 2012 elections.  Although I expected Obama to win, I was fascinated by the post election armchair quarterbacking that was trying to pin every other imaginary reason on Romney’s loss other than the fact that, as NBC Political Analyst Chuck Todd put it, “The demographic time bomb went off.”  It was a turning point election because it demonstrated that policy positions, the state of the economy, the unemployment rate, or winning the independents; none of the old rules applied. As I wrote after the 2012 election:

Even if Romney had won, it would have been the last gasp of an archaic idea in US politics; political parties that are more or less based on policy decisions and ideas and to a lesser degree, ideology and the left/right continuum   Eventually, I suspect that we will be voting according to our ethnic, gender, and sexual preferences.  In other words, our politics will become more tribal.

What that means in 2015 is that the Republican Party, which is dependent on white votes, is seeing a steady decline in their voter base. As the Washington Post reported:

The total number of white voters decreased by roughly 2 million in 2012 as compared to 2008, the first time since 1996 that a “race group” (as they describe it) has seen a diminution in net votes cast. And, in the last five presidential elections, the white share of the electorate has dipped by nine points…

That coincides with the factoid that Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections.

So if you put the increased tribalism of American politics with the decline of the white “tribe” you end up with a more or less inevitable decline in chances for the Republican Party to win the White House.  Each Presidential election will have whites, the mainstay of the Republican Party, as a declining percentage of the electorate. The result of this is that for 2016, the Democrats start out with an advantage of 217 electoral votes more or less locked up.  When you need 270 electoral votes to win, most of the race is already over before the first primary or caucus vote is cast. The Democratic electoral vote advantage is only likely to widen for each Presidential election.  Every four years the Republican base contracts and the Democratic base expands to fill in the gaps.

So how does the Republican Party Inc plan to address this?  Their 2012 Autopsy Report boiled down to go big on amnesty and then Hispanics will love Republicans since they are “natural conservatives.”  This is so counterintuitive to common sense that I honestly can’t believe that the autopsy report writers believe it.  It sounds that it’s a justification of a policy that the establishment of the party is already committed to based on donor desires.  Certainly passing Amnesty didn’t help either Reagan or Bush Senior.

Pro amnesty John McCain got only 4 percentage points more of the Hispanic vote than self deporter Mitt Romney got.  Considering that Romney would have needed 73% of the Hispanic vote to win, there is no path to Republican victory counting on Hispanic votes. In fact, if you consider the Electoral College math, the increased tribalism of American politics, and the declining percentage of the Republican base it’s easy to conclude that all things being equal, conservatism, as it’s currently formed, is doomed.

As a conservative, when you finally come to that conclusion, you’ve taken the red pill.

This really shouldn’t be that much of a shocker.  The Republican Party was a secondary party for much of the 20th Century.  After being caught holding the bag after the Great Depression, the Democrats were the American political party for decades. Republicans only got a shot at the Presidency again by nominating a national hero and celebrity, Dwight Eisenhower, for President.  Eisenhower’s status made it OK to try voting for a Republican again.  That coincided with the rising post war middle class that found themselves more comfortable with Republican Party values.

Much of the Republican Party is still under the blue pill, and thinks that each election, the slate is wiped clean and they have a 50-50 chance to make their case to the American people (who must be devoid of party preferences and are willing to listen to Republican arguments on an equal footing with Democratic ones) with a promise of tax cuts and smaller government, just like they’ve promised every election for decades.

Red Pill Conservatives think this is a path to continued failure and realizes that something big has to change.  There has to be a massive shaking up of the old order, since it’s on a glide path to obsolescence.  What will that look like?  I’m not sure, but the Republican Party needs to be ripped apart and put back together with a 21st Century sensibility.  Maybe we’ll get a glimpse this election season.

 

The Closing of the #Cuckservative Mind

Sometimes, when you hear a new word, it clicks with you because it provides a word that you feel has been missing from the lexicon and has been desperately needed.  Sometimes, you understand the word from the first time you see it, just based on its roots and construction.  And sometimes, a new word sounds so funny that you laugh on first hearing it.

And sometimes it’s all three, which is how I felt when I first saw the word, cuckservative in my twitter feed a few weeks ago.  The fairly obvious roots of it are the words cuckold and conservative.  Cuckold meaning a guy who’s wife cheats on him, and he may end up clueless, raising someone else’s kids or a fetish in which guys get off on watching their wives have sex with other guys, and conservative meaning, “hey you kids, get off my lawn!”

Although the word’s origin go back to over a year ago (on the internet that’s decades) to the 4chan bulletin board.  It seems to have bubbled up lately on twitter and has lead to some hilarious and biting internet memes. As far as a definition goes, there are dozens of them and since none of them are any more official than anyone else’s, I’ll add what I think it means: A conservative who seeks approval from the left and accepts their framing and worldview.

The use of this word has caused a full scale civil war on the internet right.  Well, maybe I shouldn’t say cause, since there has been a civil war on the right for years.  Sometimes it’s a cold war, and sometimes it’s a hot one, like the one the Tea Party has been engaging with the establishment Republicans.  Spoiler alert, but it looks like the establishment won, with the exception of a few dead-enders.  I predict a long period of reconstruction as Tea Partiers are processed through re-education camps.

Insults usually require an element of truth to be effective.  Being called a stinky head scores zero points unless you in fact, have a stinky head.  But that’s why this word has been so effective.  The targets get it, and fight back in ways they just wouldn’t normally do if the word wasn’t hitting the bull’s eye.

Radio talk show host and Fox commentator, Erick Erickson, was one of the early victims and played right into the hands of his enemies.

When you are on the right and are calling other people on the right racists, that plays right into the hands of…the left.  To be fair, a lot of the attacks are coming from racists and white nationalists, but that doesn’t mean that the word is their property.  To try to spin it that way fits in to exactly into my definition of cuckservative.

Daily Caller writer Matt Lewis was another conservative writer (or cuckservative writer if you prefer) who took the word to task for racism, sexism, anti Semitism, and homophobia; the Four Horseman of the Left.  Of course, he did it in the interweb pages of The Daily Beast, not exactly fertile ground for the right, but the perfect place to attack the right in full view of the left, in the hopes of winning their approval.

However the accusations of racism are not without merit, as a scroll through the internet memes for cuckservative make clear. However if you are a conservative target of the cuckservative meme, or a left wing observer; racism is the only point of this slur.  Ahh…to host my own show on MSNBC now!  Not quite an impossible dream considering how they’ve fired and cleared off the air waves of their considerable dead wood lately.  It would be so easy…”Hatepublicans in a Civil War!  The racist base of the party attacking the few moderates with a racist slur!  Is this the Southern Strategy all over again?  When will these hateful old white men die already?”

In real life though, this exposes a real rift on the right that breaks down along a few areas:

Immigration:  The Republican Party Inc. and all of its candidates for President, support some sort of amnesty for illegal aliens.  Oh it’s couched in tough talking avoidance code words like “secure the border” but ultimately the entire party establishment accepts the inevitability of some sort of amnesty for illegal’s already here.  However that is not where the typical Republican primary voter is at.  They don’t want any amnesty, and until it’s taken off the table, it’s a magnet for new illegals. So anxious is the Republican establishment for amnesty that upon Romney’s defeat virtually every Republican who could get near a TV camera blamed the loss solely on Romney’s self deportation remark.  It so defied common sense that the base of the party ended up shaking its head at the stupidity of its leadership.

This goes a long way to explain the “mystery” of Donald Trump, which isn’t really much of a mystery unless you happen to be a cuckservative.

Culture Wars: Conservatives have a pretty clear record of failure from abortion to gay marriage.  Of course, conservatives didn’t start the culture wars.  They’ve been on the defensive since the beginning, but if the culture changes you can’t fix it with politics, but Republican candidates are still running on abortion, over 40 years after Roe v Wade.  No, there will be no rollback on abortion, gay marriage, or anything else so stop acting like if you’re put in office, you’ll change it.

Concentration on Trivia:  The country has big problems, mostly caused by the left, and the Republican establishment acts like the solution is just another tax cut away.  The last time the Republicans had control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency, they got wars and the first new entitlement program (Medicare Part D) since the Great Society.  Nothing that Republicans actually wanted.  And those tax cuts?  Gone with the wind.  In other words, after Republican rule, the government was bigger, with more regulations, and government programs, than it was before.  The utter uselessness of expending time and effort passing budget resolutions that will promise to balance the budget in ten years when not a single step will ever be made to actually balance the budget no longer looks like a victory for conservatives and instead looks like a dodge.

Meanwhile, the Democrats had real goals.  When Obama came into office, with a Democratic Congress, he began a sweeping series of measures to grow government that lead to what has been a Democratic Party goal for decades, national healthcare.  With Obamacare, he took a major step towards that.  Yet if you asked Republicans what goal has the Republican Party had for decades that that they would like to accomplish, it’s likely that if you asked 10 different Republicans you would get 10 different answers, and all of them would be defensive measures; to roll back some aspect that Democrats have already put in place that they actually have no intention of ever repealing.

Oh and tax cuts.

So if I refer to conservatives who fit the definition of cuckservative and get called a racist for my troubles, who cares?  As someone who has been called a racist more or less continuously since the beginning of the Obama administration because of my principled opposition to stupid Democratic polices, the word has been stretched into meaningless, and constant repetition of it has drained it of meaning.  However if you are the type of conservative who would rather shut up or change your position in a debate because you’re afraid of being called a racist, you might be a cuckservative.