2008 and the realignment of the GOP

Whoever wins the White House on Tuesday, we will see a realignment of conservative politics in this country. The pendulum of the country is swinging leftward as George W. Bush’s policy has effectively ended the momentum of the Reagan era. 

Ronald Reagan’s presidency represented at rightward shift in American politics to a pro-business, anti-tax, pro-military, pro-imperial American presidency and American conservatism. This realignment largely pleased the electorate and Reagan remained, despite scandals like Iran-Contra, an incredibly popular president. In short, his policies realigned the political landscape of the nation rightward. Even Bill Clinton’s presidency was centrist, far from the leftward idealogue he was painted as during the campaign.  Alan Greenspan called him “the best republican president” he’s ever worked with. 

Look to today’s political landscape and you are seeing the reverse trend. It’s what happens when the party in power is in office too long. For evidence, we need look no further than the GOP presidential nominating process and how we arrived on John McCain. 

Remember when they had their first debate and those who believed in evolution were asked to raise their hands? That was fun. But let’s remember who we were talking about…

Rudy Giuliani-incredibly conservative when it came to national defense and homeland security. Tax cutting history. But when it came to cultural issues he was pro-choice and pro-gun control. Between those issues and his strangely run campaign Rudy wasn’t going to make it. 

Sam Brownback-Well, Sam was conservative enough…never knew why this guy didn’t catch fire. Oh that’s right he had no support. 

Jim Gilmore-Who?

Duncan Hunter-Hated mexicans, can’t remember much else.

Mike Huckabee-Despite his revolutionary tax code (remember the Fair Tax? I liked it) he was seen as a liberal spender in Arkansas, a “feel your pain” conservative Huckabee was a tax raiser. Culturally he won the social conservatives’ hearts and forced McCain into a war of attrition. 

Ron Paul-Caught fire with a small portion of the electorate, his voice of libertarianism and what many see as true conservativism was a welcome breath of fresh air in debates constantly trying to resurrect Reagan. But actually reducing the size of the military, actually getting government out of the way of industry instead of in bed with it? These ideas weren’t going to fly in the real GOP. 

Mitt Romney-Romney is the guy lots of “real” conservatives, i.e. Rush and Hannity wanted to see win this thing. He sought to take up the mantle of Reagan. Mostly by, you know, completely changing his stand on major policies, like universal healthcare. Voters smelled a rat, and got rid of him. His being a mormon didn’t help with the Christian right either. 

Tom Tancredo-No to evolution, no to Mexicans. Period. 

Fred Thompson-I was surprised he didn’t go further. If you could ever keep him awake long enough he might have had a good campaign. 

Tommy Thompson-You remember him, right?

And so the GOP selected John McCain. At the time villified by Rush and Hannity who have since pivoted to support him, because of his willingness to work in the middle on issues like global warming (which he like Al Gore believes in). McCain is seen largely as a moderate and while this has created a lot of strife among “the base” it’s the direction the party is headed. Look at the men above, none of them could be what the GOP electorate wanted because they stood or tried to stand to the right of John McCain. McCain won (to the consternation of the talking heads) by being leftward of his opponents. 

This lead to what was the great mistake of the McCain campaign. Instead of dancing with the girl that brought them, and being the real moderate, McCain instead decided to run toward Bush’s base without embracing Bush himself. He was the guy cheerfully admitting he had voted with Bush 90% of the time instead of talking up the other 10%. McCain sought to please the Fox News watching part of the country instead of being authentic. That’s what drove the Palin-pick. That’s what drove the celebrity ads, that’s what’s driven all this Bill Ayers nonsense. 

But the problem for the GOP runs deeper than that. McCain could still win the White House (though his electoral path is dwindling). However, congress will surely get even more blue this election. We just don’t know by how much. Why? Because in district after district the country watched as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fought their campaign, and while trying to beat each other, they propped up liberal policies that sounded good to most Americans. While the markets are in turmoil and the economy is contracting Americans are looking to the policies of those damned liberals and seeing them as not so bad. Does that make all Americans that don’t agree with Rush, Hannity, and Jarvis silly, or duped by liberal campaigns? I don’t think so. 

I think the essential problem is this. Since 1980, the year Reagan was elected government has only gotten bigger. Yet for all the expansion in spending Americans wages haven’t risen (remember trickle down economics), they haven’t been made safer (remember 9/11), they haven’t won a war (Iraq I, Iraq II, Afghanistan), they can’t afford healthcare, they can’t afford to send their kids to college, and now they can’t afford their houses. In short, just as undaunted liberalism had faltered at the end of the 1970’s, unfettered conservatism is faltering now. The nation knows it and its time for the pendulum to swing. The question is, how far will it swing back?


Context, Context, Context!

Two cents on the issue of socialism as it pertains to this campaign and the potential future economy of this country. This notion of “spreading the wealth around” as the platform of Obama’s economic strategy is malarkey. The notion that Obama is a socialist is malarkey. The reason being that this fit-for-scrutiny soundbite extracted by Obama’s critics is of course taken completely out of context from the rest of the “Joe The Plumber” conversation.

Obama has no intention of taking money back to “give it” to anyone. He has no intention of “leveling the playing field” in any sense that a doctor and a plumber would/should earn the same income. The full extent of his economic plan – whether you agree with it or not – is to provide tax breaks to the middle class (95% of the population) and repeal Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest members of our nation. People who can afford it. People who’s livelihoods do not depend on it, nor do their business investments.

Why would I make such a statement? Because these are the same folks who already are shipping jobs overseas and doing everything they can to scrape an extra buck now WHILE they have huge tax cuts. Why should we believe they’ll act any differently if these tax cuts that have hampered the middle class for 8 years are maintained? The wealthiest 1% had 8 years of tax breaks to stimulate the economy and have done nothing. The Obama tax plan doesn’t give these wealthy people’s money back to citizens -everyone still has to earn their way up. It invests money back into federal programs that are vital to the survival of our nation. We can’t have a strong military with no funding. We can’t protect our borders with no funding. We can’t increase the quality of our education under NCLB with no funding. And we can’t expect the middle and lower classes to carry this burden when these people can’t even afford to keep their homes.

If you think this is going to level anyone – especially when you consider that the wealthiest of our citizens make more than the lower half of our populations earnings COMBINED – it’s ludicrous. I don’t like taxes, no one does. I would certainly consider myself a fiscal conservative. But we can’t have it both ways. And we can’t keep comparing our business tax rates to other nations, like Ireland – who Senator McCain loves to  mention. I’m sorry, but when was the last time the Irish were an economic superpower? We’re supposed to be the richest nation on Earth. We have one of the most complex national infrastructures and economies (both of which are in the crapper right now). Of course our tax rates are higher. And seeing how the dollar is performing, it’s even less of a surprise.

So, love Obama’s tax plan or hate it, but it’s not socialism. It’s not horribly unfair. And I should only wish I was in a position of wealth great enough to bitch about it.

Which leads me to my PS…

PS: Why are so many people who will benefit most from Obama’s tax cuts so bent out of shape? No one’s stopping them from achieving the American dream. If anything, they’re getting a boost up to/from the middle and then they can make the push up to the top with the same American elbow grease that got our parents’ and grandparents’ generations up there.

I’m so spent by this election…and I haven’t even been taxed yet.

McCain and Palin: Socialists?

An exchange from the 2000 campaign on MSNBC’s Hardball (quoted nimbly in the New Yorker): 

During the 2000 campaign, on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” a young woman asked him why her father, a doctor, should be “penalized” by being “in a huge tax bracket.” McCain replied that “wealthy people can afford more” and that “the very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes, really don’t pay nearly as much as you think they do.” The exchange continued:

YOUNG WOMAN: Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?. . . 
MCCAIN: Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more. 

Then of course there’s Sarah Palin:

A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.

Obama versus McCain…here on thinkPOP

ThinkPOP like any blog lives on it’s search engine recognition. Well for some reason (reasons I certainly do not understand) a post of ours on John McCain has remained high on Google searches and may be unfairly slanting readers to think that we’ve only issued challenges to John McCain. The post dates back to August and pre-dates the Sarah Palin selection. It was as series of policy questions set to ask whether or not the candidates policies were going to really put our “country first.”

Readers have commented via email and on the boards and there is a sense that we have never challenged Obama in a similar way. This is just not true. In fact we linked to a challenge to Obama in the very same post. So folks, while we may lean left of center. We’ve done our best at every turn to be critical of the senator from Illinois. Go ahead and keep those comments coming. You know we love them here at thinkPOP.

Batman as Barack – McCain as Penguin

This is beyond funny – consider the parallels between this old clip from the Batman television series and our current election. Burgess Meredith is the bomb.

Quick Hit: Managing Expectations

For those of you wondering how bad (or good) Senator McCain’s chances are and are confused by the endless horserace style coverage let me try to break it down simply.

Basically Obama is running hard in states Bush won in 2004. While the electoral map is largely the same, in terms of battleground states. Obama is putting McCain on defense in states he should be leading in and McCain is not returning the favor. Does that mean McCain can’t win. No. But he’s defending places like Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and New Mexico. All of which were considered Red. If he loses one especially Virginia, the math gets extremely difficult for him. At the moment, previously blue states are not in jeopardy. So Obama can concentrate on winning the battlegrounds states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Notice I’ve dropped Michigan from that list, that’s because the McCain campaign has pulled out of Michigan for lack of resources.

So in short Mccain has a narrower path to the White House. Narrow but not impossible. Is this thing over? Absolutely not. Does McCain need something to change, you bet.

For those who say McCain doesn’t have a platform…

John McCain believes in you, the middle class worker. He’s scared by this new socialist redistribution of wealth. Why should the government take hypothetical money out of your hands, should you ever win the lottery or miraculously earn a degree, which enables you to earn over 250,000 dollars a year? Don’t vote for Barack Obama, cause god forbid you ever strike it rich, he’ll raise your taxes by 3%. That’s why John McCain wants to keep the tax structure exactly the same. He likes his money out of the hands of big government and in the hands of big business. After all they create tons of jobs (just like they have been doing over the past eight years). Even though McCain provides all these tax breaks to bigwigs, I assure you he’s going to go after them and protect you the middle class worker. So when they cut your health benefits because it hurts their bottom line, he’ll do something. What will he do? Well he won’t pal around with terrorists, or refuse to wear a flag pin. He won’t be in bed with the liberal “gotcha” media, and he’ll cut every pork barrel project, like that bridge to nowhere. So next time you think about voting for Obama, remember this carefully laid out, enumerated plan from John McCain. Keeping money where it is, and not hanging out with terrorist pigs. That’s the straight talk express, coming to the most patriotic cities in America near you.