Sunday, January 22, 2012

With no GOP, what happens now?

Am I assuming too much here? I don't think so. I had planned on writing a post about the amazing power and rare use of direct democracy seen in the protests against the Stop Internet Piracy Act, made possible by the Internet and the wide availability of Person Digital Devices (cell phones, computers, etc.). But this is more immediate, and is another example of democracy. How so? GOP leaders and strategists were over-ruled by the voters in the South Carolina primary; the same voters that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh have been feeding propaganda for years. Now these voters really believe

1. Barack Obama is a socialist who is raising taxes, expanding government, destroying capitalism, and leading our country down a path to ruin. Given this as a starting point, it is obvious that he must be stopped.

They also believe

2. he is so weak and ineffective (although at the same time he is a dangerous socialist threat) that someone as flawed and unelectable as Newt Gingrich can out-debate him and beat him in a general election.

GOP "elites" know this isn't true, and would give anything to stop Gingrich, but they also were happy to use the propaganda duing the 2010 midterm elections, and now they are seeing the downside of creating your own reality.

It is this force of deliberately misinformed democracy, maybe involving as much as 30% of Republican voters, that makes it impossible for the Republican Party to turn back the clock and return to its role as the reasonable voice for government restraint.

The question is, with the Democratic Party now winning all the Presidential elections for the foreseeable future, and most likely the decrease of GOP congressional power, where will that restraining voice come from? Unchecked progressivism is as much of a problem as unchecked conservatism.

Now it is true that the Democratic party has absorbed much Republican wisdom over the years. In fact what Bill Clinton began with Welfare Reform was continued by Barack Obama in his very Republican Affordable Care Act (it would have been even more Republican if he could have gotten some GOP cooperation). President Obama also offered a budget reduction deal with big cuts to entitlements, a deal that David Brooks angrily denounced Republicans for turning down. Many old style Republicans may find a place in the Democratic party for this reason.

But there is a difference, and the Democratic Party weakness of being driven by special interests and finding a government program to solve every problem needs a counterbalance. Who will provide it? Even if pundits like David Brooks and David Frum find a new party to get behind, or a revived version of the Republican party, this won't be a big enough group to counteract the Democrats. The group that supports Gingrich may end up in the Tea Party but they aren't big enough either, and the true Ron Paul grass roots Tea Party supports things that the first group doesn't agree with, like bringing home troops and non-intervention abroad.

So what will happen to our country as we sort this out in the next several decades? Maybe the young generation just coming up will change things; many of these are Ron Paul supporters. There is clearly an opening for an anti-war, more civil liberties party, but these are also natural positions of the Democratic party, and they will return to them if they are given political cover. It's hard to imagine the U.S. as a one party state, but I can't see anything else, at least with the issues I know of today.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What they talk about in those "Quiet Rooms"

It looks like we're going to have our debate about the role of government, even if Romney is the GOP candidate rather than Paul. And that debate has already started in the Republcan Primaries, thanks to the populist attack adds by Gingrich and Perry, which point out that Romney made his money at Bain Capital by taking over companies, laying off workers, and selling at a profit. These are normal activities in a free market (notice that Ron Paul defends Romney), as are more popular things like business startups. You can certainly make a case that good can come from the sort of thing Romney did, and you can even support the idea that this function is a necessary part of the market. But what about those workers who lost their jobs? That's the problem, and the fact that Gingrich and Perry think they can get an advantage by pointing this out means that even Republican voters agree.

Solutions could be proposed for this problem: Maybe you could regulate hostile takeovers, or maybe increase the safety net benefits perhaps focusing on retraining for the unemployed workers while providing them with living expenses. These are the sort of things they talk about in Romney's "Quiet Rooms". But why do they talk about it at all? Isn't this something you would expect to be the province of Democrats, not Republicans? Republicans know as well as anybody that you can't govern without the consent of the governed, and you can't allow outcomes like large numbers of displaced workers. The market solution for this may be that those workers are unemployed or under-employed for the rest of their working lives, and this is not socially or politically acceptable.

Of course, approaches like the ones above are anti-free market and create unintended consequences that we may not like. But we don't like seeing a bunch of people lose their jobs either, even if we're just looking at the opinions of Republican voters. That's why we need to have this debate.

The plans that come out of the quiet rooms are likely to be more acceptable to the business/corporate lobby than those that come from a popular political campaign.