It’s official. I have joined the republican party and will be voting under that banner in November.
No, I am not voting for McCain, I am just sick and tired of the self-righteous anger the democrats have lathered themselves into this year and being an independent seemed so wishy-washy. I cannot get behind any effort designed to paint millions of Americans with the crimes of a few simply because they call themselves conservatives.
Would you give an abused woman one last ass kicking as she stumbled in the door of the shelter for not being wise enough or strong enough to leave earlier?
I am proud to bring announce the return of the Bull Moose faction of the GOP and the thinking that truly inspired FDR to craft his New Deal legislation some 20 years later.
Since I musing on the end of labels last month, I realized that little traction exists for giving them up altogether. Perhaps they are too comforting to people? At least two thirds of Americans identify as republican or democrat, so there is something in our make-up that looks to our fellow citizens for further refining of our political identities. So, if labels are clearly not out, I figure why not offer a new one that is a little more precise.
I will leave you with a link to the inspiration behind the title of this post.
I love Rage – both literal and figurative – but we aren’t focused on the right targets. Rage against the machine, not you fellow Americans. Rage against injustice and intolerance and backward thinking not against moving forward together as a nation of reconciliation. Rejoice in the idea that millions of republicans are already articulating a new way of thinking inside our party – don’t waste your anger on impotent and illogical bursts of self destruction.
Revolution (or in this case evolution) takes a little bit of time to get it right.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of reforming the Republican party. Since one-party hegemony can’t last, that’s the only way to make improvements permanent. When the other party steals one of your ideas, and makes it a bedrock assumption of their own program — then you’ve really won.
But I’m puzzled by your timing and strategy. Doesn’t this sort of initiative need to be collective? How exactly can a single voter “create a bull moose faction of the Republican party”?
If you really want to reform the Reps., the way to do it is probably to keep voting Democratic until a significant faction of Republicans realizes that the only way to regain power is to make some of the changes you like. Then jump ship.
Since you’re not actually voting for McCain, maybe that’s what you mean, in practice?
But then also, what’s all this about self-righteous lathering, and “painting millions of Americans with the crimes of a few”?
You haven’t been paying attention to comments on TPM, have you? Identifying the Democratic party with the ravings of a few Monday-morning quarterbacks in the blogosphere would be really crazy. Talk about painting millions of Americans with the crimes of a few!!
As the democrats are on the way up right now, the chances of them recognizing their own prejudice and anger as being destructive to the long-term success of their stated goals is most likely a losing effort. This really isn’t about the democratic party, though many are certainly more than ready to burn half this country at the stake for being “conservatives” and for enabling the Bush cabal.
Most democrats (most Americans really) conveniently forget their culpability in our vast and sundry problems.
It also isn’t about just me. It is about the millions of republicans who have decided to vote democrat this year. They seem to be having an identity crisis, but aren’t simply going to become democrats for a variety of reasons. This seems to be a perfect opportunity to reintroduce them to their roots. No re-branding effort ever started from the outside.
I am choosing to concentrate my efforts on the party that seems most in need of new blood, not the one most interested in shedding new blood.
Wow. You’re a contrarian’s contrarian. As soon as one team starts winning, you figure they no longer need you. I have to respect that — in a weird way.
It’s a particularly gutsy move given what Democrats are apparently planning to do! I’ll tell the guards to give you a bit of extra food, if you end up in one of our Republican Re-education Camps.
P.S.: If you do make it to the other side, let them know how terrified we are that McCain might choose Fred Thompson as his VP.
You can say, “I used to lurk on some Democrat blogs” — careful here, never say “Democratic” — “and they’re really nervous that Thompson’s conservative credentials might shore up McCain’s right flank.”
Oh, and you may need to change your avatar.
You’re saying I can’t support Obama unless I become a democrat? “My team” was never the democrats nor the republicans. I have been an independent for years.
I think you might be missing my main point – there are millions of republicans voting for Obama this year. That is a heck of a lot more than a blip on the radar. Reagan turned that into a 30-year corporate orgy by taking a healthy chunk of the democratic vote.
I guess I figure trying to get the “winners” to change is an uphill battle at this point. The republican party seems much more likely to embrace change on a massive scale than the democrats right now, though if the GOP can find a way to re-brand, I think the dems would lay down their swords as well.
This is not a zero sum game.
Agreed. I only meant that your avatar might catch some flak on right-of-center blogs. Perhaps I’m wrong.
But sure, you can vote for Obama. And it’s a non-zero-sum game. Absolutely.
Have fun getting those Republicans to lay down their swords. Personally, I think the leadership of the Democratic party is already committed to governing in a centrist way that respects the values and aspirations of the whole nation. I don’t think that commitment is limited to Obama at all — the habit of thinking respectfully about people on the other side goes all the way down to the rank and file. They may grouse about FISA, and curse wingnuts, but they also spend a lot of time thinking about how to reach out to rural voters, and evangelicals, and include them in a governing coalition.
On the other hand, I think it’s going to be another eight-to-twelve years before the Republican party is even ready to consider doing the same thing. For thirty years, they’ve won elections by playing on racial, religious, and cultural resentments to divide the country. That recipe has worked for them, and it’s going to be a long time before they’re willing to believe that it no longer works. It’ll be a *very* long time before they spend as much time reaching out to blacks and urban professionals as we spend reaching out to white evangelicals.
But I guess I could be wrong. In any case, good luck!
Thanks. It is more of social experiment than anything else. Can a forced transition to sanity happen quicker if done at the right time?
PS: I understand it is kind of weird, but the underlying point I am trying to make is that labels are killing us as a nation. If we are going to insist on labeling ourselves, I will go back to on of the original progressive populist leaders and claim his cause as my own.
That the Bull Moose platform came from a former republican president who thought the GOP was getting too chummy with businesses and was also the inspiration of the greatest of democratic presidents is an irony too delicious to pass up.
God damn, you’re a fool! Recall what happened to orginal Bull Moosers?
Not really the point. The point is the absurdity of labels to begin with.
I am a very progressive guy, registered as a Democrat because there really isn’t a viable third party and I keep hoping that the Dems will meet my expectations. They don’t, but they come closer than the other option.
And I love conservatives. I love it when they protect the environment, because that is conservation.
I would appreciate it if they actually were fiscally responsible, but not if the price is human misery and a lack of accountability that we are one nation, not of rich and poor, but of all races, religions and opportunities. Of course, fiscal responsibility is a hard one to show when the only budget surplus we’ve had in 40 years came from a Democratic administration. And tough when we’re now looking at selling our country’s future to China and anyone else who will lend us the money to carry out the neocon(servative) imperialistic wet dreams.
See, for me, what I don’t like about so-called conservatives is that they seem to have disdain for those who don’t make a lot of money. They seem to value money as some kind of ultimate metric for human worth. They don’t want the government to help anyone, though they seem more than willing to help corporations, because, after all, aren’t corporations people too? They’re just uber people, I guess.
And they seem to ally themselves with all kinds of bigots – racial, gender, sexual, plutocratic, religious bigots, for instance. I’m not for bigotry and prejudice, and unfortunately conservatives seem to pander those people to get elected. Some of them are bigots. Some of them just play them on TV.
Conservatives, too, seem often to follow false prophets, like Norquist and Reed, who are operatives, not true believers. They are manipulators who stir up trouble and create division. Really, who has done more to divide this nation than the party of the conservatives? Where was that guy who told us he would be a “uniter not a divider”? Bullshit. It was always the plan to divide us.
Jason, I get your reasons for doing what you’re doing, sort of. Anyway, even if I don’t fully get it, I respect that you are trying to get people to look at things differently, and I’m all for that.
But I don’t hate conservatives, and I don’t accept that accusation. I just don’t respect many of those who may be so-called conservatives, but are really people with very few real principles, who seem to have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into hating “libruls.”
Well, to me the libruls are the ones who are trying to make a better world for everyone, and it’s the ones under the conservative banner who are trying to consolidate all the money and power and to hell with everyone else. But once upon a time, we had more dialog and mutual respect and less name-calling and divisive labeling. There was more civility and give and take. Maybe that’s what you’re looking for, and maybe that could return under a fair administration that didn’t lie, cheat, steal and hide behind illegal priviledge and secrecy to screw us all. Maybe then, we could return to a dialog in which we listened to other points of view without stupid labels.
Anyway, I don’t hate conservatives. I just don’t trust them right now.
But I do love it when they try to protect the natural environment, even if it’s only to have a place to shoot their guns.
I hear you, Raider. I registered democrat because DC has a closed primary, but I always planned on going back to independent since the dems have never really been progressive. Not since FDR have the dems really been willing to reinvent the wheel.
I guess my main point in all this is that both parties are guilty and innocent in equal measure. Nixon passed signed the Clean Water Act and formed OSHA and the EPA. Clinton put 400,000 new cops on the street as a way to fight poverty and did his best to clear the welfare roles without really replacing it with upward mobility programs. They are all equally responsible for the downfall of this country as far as I am concerned.
That budget surplus you speak of was done under a republican Congress.
I guess I am trying to separate the republican leadership from the rank and file. Both my sister and my brother-in-law are registered republicans and they are bigots or racist or anything else typically ascribed to the GOP. As we found out this primary season, the democrats aren’t exactly immune to that either.
Democrats follow false prophets. Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin are just two of many DLC types who co-opted the Party of the People and turned it toward deregulation and corporate interests.
I hate the politics we have today that have polarized us to the point that we fight each other instead of the system.
I hoping to an end to labels. I hoping for a change of heart on a massive scale. Darkest before the dawn and all that. At the end of the day, the parties will reflect the country and not the other way around. With Barack taking a huge chunk of GOP vote, that tells me the winds of change are blowing throughout the country and not just on the left side of the aisle.
Our political expectations are shifting as quickly as the tectonic plates grind away slowly at the west coast. Inexorable. Unstoppable. I am just doing my best to hurry that along on the “right” as progressives are already doing on the left.
They are NOT bigots or anything else. This blogging software blows chunks.
Thanks Jason. I agree and would like to live to see our country united and working toward the betterment of all people – not just here, but in the world. It starts here, of course, and I don’t believe it requires wars to inspire freedom and democratic principles around the world. Most people want freedom. Governments, by and large, want control, and there are good reasons for that. It’s how they achieve the necessary measures of control that often matters.
However, our collective goal could be to achieve equal opportunity and some measure of security and fulfillment among all people. But there are certainly large obstacles in the way, not the least of which are labels and isms.
One can hope for a new day with a new generation, one that doesn’t carry the baggage of the old. One can hope for idealism (if we must have an ism) to triumph over cynicism.
My somewhat depressing analysis is that people are inherently both good and bad. There is always a leader principle, meaning that if you have two people together, you often have a pretty respectful connection, but any time you have three or more in a group, someone always seems to take the leadership role. This can be benign or even desirable, but it can often lead to abuse.
On the larger scale, our need to be and to have leaders seems to morph into a tendency among some to seek power over others, often with very selfish motives. Selflessness isn’t the prevalent human trait, and quite possibly we could not have survived as a race if it had been. And yet, in times of need and tragedy, it’s amazing to see how people who might have harbored terrible thoughts about their neighbors can rise above all that and truly give their support and even heroic assistance. Maybe in modern times our survival depends more on the latter instinct than the former.
One of the problems in this country is that we are dealing domestically with a very large and diverse system, economically and socially, and nobody really knows how to make it work. Economic theories are just that. Theories.
Simplistically speaking, it seems that some people believe that by stimulating and supporting the top of the ladder, you will ultimately create prosperity down the rungs. And by that reasoning, anybody who truly wants to work will share in the prosperity. The rest apparently – those without jobs or who do not share in the prosperity – are lazy and should not be respected or supported by any kind of welfare or “g-damned socialism”.
Others believe that the free market will solve all problems. In some ways they believe in pure capitalism, but they seem to have missed the fact that we have never had pure capitalism, and that today our system is some amalgam of laws and policies that skew any possible true capitalistic result. So if you’re an Adam Smith fan, you’re really not living in the real world as it exists today. China is supposed to be communistic, but going there you see that it is rampantly capitalistic.
And of course, capitalism is another ism. In theory, they all seem to work – on paper you can make a case for communism, socialism, capitalism… But in practice, we always seem to have hybrids. I have not studied every country’s economic systems, but it seems that some so-called socialist states, like Sweden and New Zealand, do pretty well. Most, if not all, communist states have been totalitarian regimes, and therefore it’s difficult to separate the political from the economic and say whether a truly politically free communist state could work.
The Democrats seem to believe in a modified version of the Republican corporate welfare state, one which views the federal government as taking responsibility for the basic needs of people, attempting to provide support for people through what their enemies call socialist agendas, like health care, aid to the poor, higher taxation on corporations and lower taxes on the middle and lower classes, etc. They seem to be saying that we all, government and business, have a responsibility to our citizens and should aid them and protect them from harm, not just from political enemies, but from poverty, disease, and misfortune.
The difference between many people in this country comes down to the role of the Fed and the proper application of economic theories. And there’s no way to answer whether one will work better than another, though my opinion of the trickle down theories is that they are scams put over on the middle class and poor by the wealthy, and there are humanitarian issues that I think I don’t hear expressed very positively in the general Republican rhetoric.
Then there are the neocons, who are simply imperialists who believe that the U.S. is supposed to be the dominant power in the world, who see that holding that power is going to be increasingly difficult, and who are willing to go to war to try to hold onto that power. It’s odd that they will mortgage the country to other countries in pursuit of that goal, and lie, cheat, steal and abuse. Whatever they believe, it doesn’t seem to have much regard for truth, justice or the American way, though I suspect they like to see themselves as supermen.
Anyway, in this country people argue over how to do things and each regime tries its way, with mixed results.
It’s interesting when you talk about FDR because it has always struck me as ironic that what Hitler did in Germany, when it took a cart full of money to purchase a bag full of groceries, was to put the country to work – on his war machine. Meanwhile, FDR put the country to work on public projects. Both of them achieved certain economic ends, but of course, Hitler’s goal was domination and insane ethnic cleansing. So they were certainly fundamental opposites in many ways, but their economic solutions to the Depression have always seemed to me to be remarkably similar on the surface.
I think JFK tried to inspire us with his “ask not what your country can do for you” speech, and I think I’ve heard similar rhetoric from Obama. But can Obama really mobilize people to get off their asses, stop running on the debt hamster wheel, consider the public good over their own leisure pursuits, get un-distracted from the inanity of the TV, put down their video games for a while and find ways to work together? And can they do that without creating more isms and identities that create more us vs. them thinking? I’d love to see it.
Can we, in the 21st Century invent new paradigms? Can we ultimately recognize that we are all brothers and sisters in humanity, all creatures of the Earth, and all capable of universal love and respect? It’s a tall order. But we have to start somewhere, because us Boomer hippies are getting old and won’t last that much longer. A lot of us would like to see our old dreams of a free and loving world come true.
Sorry for the excessively long post. I just got going and this is what came out.
No apologies needed at all. I actually hope mine is the generation that finally starts making good on the stuff you guys started 40 years ago.
I think it is going to one step forward two steps back for a while. As new leaders emerge to fill the vacuum of the Boomers retiring, perhaps new ways of doing things become more expected.
Ultimately, I think it will be the American public’s expectations to have leaders talking again about solutions. We are at the beginning of an era of accountability for the past four decades of neglect and waste and fraud and abuse.
I can be patient because the one thing that is constant is change. What came before must pass. Are we strong enough to make what replaces it better?
I think we are – in large measure because of the lessons learned at the knees of our Boomer parents.
Don’t worry. You guys raised good kids. We got this shit. :O)
I feel you, Jason. I really do. In fact, I was just hours ago debating the significance of political parties with someone. Personally, I hate political labels and parties. George Washington has a reason to hate them, for reasons he probably didn’t fully understand at the time, but that we now have a better grasp on.
I don’t identify myself with the Democrats because I despise the Republicans. I hope that I’m not the only Democrat to feel such a way.
You are certainly wise beyond your years, young padawan. :O)
I am beginning to think this lack of label identification is a post Boomer generational rejection of the divisions that have held us hostage these past 40 years.
Until we can see beyond our own prejudice and overcome our recalcitrant natures, we will never truly build the kind of future that will be sustainable and progressive for my kids and yours.
This is very, very clever. Kind of calls everything into question.
You’re feeling me. It’s not about being a democrat or republican. It’s about being an American and about building a sustainable future. Call me a Whig or a Torrie or a Federalist for all I care. I get called asshole quite often. That is perhaps the most reasonable label of them all. :O)
What a joy to read a thread with some of the most intelligent commenters in TPM.
I fail to hold much hope for a resurgence of true populism/progressivism or even the New Deal dynamic within the ranks of the Republican Party OR the Democratic Party for that matter: the don’t-rock-the-boat/if-its-not-broke-don’t-fix-it syndrome and the better-the-devil-we-know-than-the-devil-we-don’t syndrome are just too strong, plus the mass media have a very heavy thumb on the scales.
I am coming to believe that capitalism succeeded all too well here and people, as a mass, are happy with the way things are. They only want minor adjustments in the politico-economic course.
How else to explain the long Republican dominance in presidential politics: seven GOP terms to three DEM terms since 1968.
It will take something like another great depression to rouse them out of their self-content and fear of the devil-they-don’t-know.
I don’t have any data in front of me, but I would guess that at the bottom of the economic ladder, Democrats have the edge. At the top of the same ladder, the Republicans hold sway. The middle is where the action is and that is where people are most content (at least to the extent of fearing drastic change). So no change except this mild oscillation we see between two essentially corporatist parties.
Hey, Lux, thanks for lumping me in with such esteemed company.
I guess for me what I see is that shift toward progressivism is already underway. Of course, most progressives have been drifting toward democrats for years, but that doesn’t mean we were ignorant of their many failings.
You’ll recall that the only reason Teddy formed the Bull Moose was because both the republican and the democrat were far too chummy with Wall Street and the corporate elite. Hell, Wilson himself came to regret the sell-out that he ultimately became with regards to the Federal Reserve system and World War I. He tripled the national debt and drafted an entire generation to fight a war on behalf of the newly burgeoning Military Industrial Complex.
I think what we are seeing is an end to the type of capitalism Naomi Kline discusses in her book. We are seeing the limits of marketing to cloud our minds and erase our judgment. We are seeing the shift of conciousness required to actually save ourselves from our own successes as a species.
I see our self-preservation instinct kicking in this year and couldn’t be happier or more optimistic.
The audacity of political transformationalism!
You may be right..now may be the time to mount the effort.
But be ready for the obstacles. Even if you start local and manage to take over the local party organizations: converting them to Bull Moose Republicans (what a happy thought!) you still have to deal with the state and national organizations which are less responsive to popular pressures while simultaneously being more beholden to funding sources.
They will vigorously oppose you once they see what you are about. They have had experience with many insurgencies and know how to deal with them. Thats not to say they can beat an idea whose time has come…but they will make it very difficult.
You have to secure funding to make this effort succeed. And you are facing a ruling coalition.
Perhaps you can pry one of the elements loose. Maybe the populist Huckabee wing can be your base.
Should be an easy one to talk some sense into the DC republican party. Can’t be too many people to track down at this point. I bet a populist, entrepreneurial and progressive republican could snag a council seat in DC with the right campaign strategy. Hmmm. :O)
But more power to you Jason in attempting to subvert the dominant paradigm on the Right. If Naomi Klein is correct, an electoral “shock” such as a catastrophic GOP loss in the upcoming elections might give such a project a short-lived boost in efficacy.
Jason, if you remember a few weeks ago I was on a rant and concluded that changing my party affilliation to Democrat was the major thing I could do (aside from voting for Obama) to let them know how upset I was at them. You suggested then that I stay w/ the Republicans and try to work for change from the inside, and that you would join me by switching from Independent to Republican. I took your advice, and I’m glad that you have made it official.
I agree w/ Lux that this is a very brainy group of people, so I probably should just shut up and listen, but I wanted you to know that I stayed put. I don’t know if change is possible in the short term, but ultimately if intelligent, compassionate people force the issue, change has to occur, or the GOP is going down the tubes…BIG TIME!
One of the things that feeds my pessimism, Still, is the observation that political reform movements often crystallize around leaders. Jason’s example of the Bullmoosers is a good example. Nader, Bryant, LaFollette, H Wallace, Debs, Thomas, all have come to symbolize reform movements of their times.
All well and good. But here the MSM makes its in this case malign appearance on the stage.
Movements that get tied to leaders suffer when the leaders get de-legitimized. Witness the periodic spasmodic efforts to shake the Democratic Party out of its thralldom to “centrist” politics. The various leaders of these efforts have all come under attack by the MSM. Kucinich is only the most recent example, this destructive demolition of progressive Democrats goes all the way back to Fred Harris (for whom I worked long ago) and before him to Henry Wallace.
When the leader gets taken out or reduced to fringedom by ridicule than the movement flounders until it finds a new leader then the whole dismal process repeats itself.
It has been doing that for at least 60 years now.
A couple of alternative models: MoveOn isn’t especially leader-centered. How effective it is, I don’t know.
Al Gore’s “We” organization is strongly identified with Gore. But Gore has been pretty savvy about conserving his credibility, keeping his head down, and staying focused on a single issue. He takes a lot of flak, but I think he has remained effective.
The example of Kucinich is telling. If you want to move the party leftward, I think it’s a huge mistake to run for President. Jerry Brown, Nader, Dean, Kucinich — it’s not a pretty history. Ted Kennedy is the only person I can think of to come out of that sort of campaign with credibility (somewhat) intact.
Presidential campaigns just aren’t the place to do that sort of work. The Presidential playing field is always going to privilege the center, and an attempt to push the boundaries is going to come off looking quixotic in that context.
But there are many other ways of pushing the boundaries. Gore was actually able to do more for the issues he cared about once he stopped trying to run for President.
So change the expectations of what we want in republican leaders and then vote for those that exhibit those traits. There is no reason why progressive republicans can’t become the norm.
In a kinder political environment, a democrat like Tim Kaine could be republican and not be thought less progressive or less capable. Pseudo democrats/republicans like Lieberman shouldn’t even make it through the primaries. Hell, they shouldn’t even be able to run unless they are self financed due to lack of support.
I am about changing expectations, for both republicans and democrats.
Both parties need to know that my republican vote (and donations) will go to whomever is most qualified, regardless of party. I will do my best to get “Bull Moose” republicans through the primary, but in the general I vote for competence and progressive platform.
It is republican faithful like yourself (and my sister and brother-in-law and best friend from the Navy) that brought me to this place.
You are quite brainy and I am glad you aren’t taking your own advice to shut up. You also hit the nail on the head with regards to transformational change – it starts from the inside out, not the outside in.
We are seeing a fairly big shift within the republican party. A substantial number of GOP faithful are waking up to the fact that they have been duped these long years by social fears and economic chimeras.
If enough of us wake-up, then changing the GOP is inevitable. I, for one, am not willing to leave the field to the democrats given who they still have in leadership positions. This country is too central in the grand scheme of things to leave it one-party rule, on the left or right.
Keep up the fight!
Jason, you know I love you and respect you. And I have joined the Bull Moose Party. you go, Dude, go. I expect very few will get it. I do. Fight the good fight, brother.
I am nothing if not stubborn. :O) Bull Moose is a perfect moniker. You still coming back east? Don’t forget to send me an email: email@example.com.
One last thought that hit me as I was readying to leave the thread.
Taking over a party (the GOP) from within
Taking over a media outlet (Fox News) from within
What are the different dynamics, obstacles and paths to success?
Best is to reverse-engineer the solution. Imagine the goal as a fait accompli.
Then work backwards.
With Fox that method shows the project cannot be accomplished short of change of ownership. That is: the owners can simply fire the termites within or simply not allow them to clean up the operation.
With the GOP is there a similar dynamic or not?
Obama seems to have taken over the DLC-laden democratic party in record time. :O)