Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Retceps

pudge (3605) writes | more than 5 years ago

United States 39

It seems like the respective political parties have their opinions about Arlen Specter totally backwards.

The Republicans are saying Specter left for his own self-interest in winning the primary in 2010. The Democrats are saying Specter left because the party has shifted too much to the right.

They're both right, of course, but they are both emphasizing the wrong thing: it helps the Republican Party to point out that Specter left because the party is shifting to the right.

It seems like the respective political parties have their opinions about Arlen Specter totally backwards.

The Republicans are saying Specter left for his own self-interest in winning the primary in 2010. The Democrats are saying Specter left because the party has shifted too much to the right.

They're both right, of course, but they are both emphasizing the wrong thing: it helps the Republican Party to point out that Specter left because the party is shifting to the right.

In 2004, Pew says that 30 percent Americans self-identified with the GOP, while 33 with the Democrats. In 2008, the Democrats were up to 36 percent, and the Republicans down to 25 percent. So far in 2009, it's 35 and 23: the Republicans have lost 7 percent, while the Democrats have gained two percent.

Of course, it's only a poll. But it is in line what I see every day: far more conservatives who refuse to identify as Republicans, than liberals who refuse to identify as Democrats. And these conservatives refuse to so identify themselves almost entirely because they see the GOP as too far to the left, mostly on issues of spending and federal power (hence, the Tea Parties).

The problem the Republicans have is not that the country is shifting to the left, but that the party itself is perceived to have shifted to the left. The way to regain that is to move back to the right on spending, on personal liberty, on personal responsiblity, on property rights, and so on.

The Democrats don't seem to understand this, because they case they are making for Specter is only helping the Republican Party. Most non-Republicans on the right hear Specter say the Republican Party is too far to the right for him, and it only makes the GOP more appealing.

In 2010, these non-Republicans are going to vote for the candidate who supports the aims of the Tea Parties -- which are essentially Republican platform planks, that the GOP has disregarded in recent years -- and many of these candidates will win, in no small part thanks to Specter and the Democrats who think it hurts the Republicans to push the party to the right in the collective mind of the public.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

cancel ×

39 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I concur... (1)

FroMan (111520) | more than 5 years ago | (#27800419)

RGSPCP

wrongo (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802363)

The Republicans are saying... The Democrats are saying Specter left because the party has shifted too much to the right. They're both right, of course,...

Specter was in the Senate during the time of Reagan, and also during the "Republican Revolution", not to mention the Ralph Reed years of the Christian Coalition when it had so much influence over the party. Basically the Republican Party has never been so far Left in all of his entire career. So for him (and his fellow Liberals) to try to claim that *now* it's gone too far Right, is obviously them lying.

What in fact has happened is that the GOP hasn't been shifting to Left *fast enough*, and lags the country/culture in general and the Democrat Party in particular, esp. given the acceleration Leftward that's kicked in in recent times.

The problem the Republicans have is not that the country is shifting to the left, but that the party itself is perceived to have shifted to the left.

It has *both* of those problems. And they're both huge, and I'd say insurmountable. A GOP sans Liberals like Specter (and I wouldn't mind for example Snowe leaving, either) *might* entice *some* Conservatives back from voting third-party to come back home. But you're presupposing that there's enough of this dying breed left in America to even matter.

Re:wrongo (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802497)

The way to regain that is to move back to the right on spending, on personal liberty, on personal responsiblity, on property rights, and so on.

Come out of your dream world, the reality is that except for a tiny rabblerouser percent of the populace, no one cares anymore about big spending (nor sees it as a problem). People don't understand liberty, personal responsibility, etc. anymore. And don't want to. People nowadays think even moderate Right-wing values are kooky, and even some extreme positions of Leftism are "normal" and as how things should be. Conservatism is effectively dead now, and will literally be so in a generation [nwanews.com] . It's over -- society has shifted so far Left, that even if the GOP went back to its principles and got its message out, the reaction from the vast majority of Americans would be a resounding "WTF?".

Re:wrongo (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802807)

the reality is that except for a tiny rabblerouser percent of the populace, no one cares anymore about big spending

You're wrong.

People nowadays think even moderate Right-wing values are kooky

You're wrong.

and even some extreme positions of Leftism are "normal" and as how things should be

You're wrong.

You're the one living in a dream world. Sure, if you watch MSNBC, this is the world you see. But it's not the real world.

Re:wrongo (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802797)

Specter was in the Senate during the time of Reagan, and also during the "Republican Revolution", not to mention the Ralph Reed years of the Christian Coalition when it had so much influence over the party.

What I meant is that the party is shifting back to the right, NOT that it has never been this far right with Specter as a Senate Republican. Yes, obviously, it has been at LEAST this far right before.

What in fact has happened is that the GOP hasn't been shifting to Left *fast enough*

No, it's definitely began shifting back to the right. Not much, but a little bit, as evidenced by their opposition to the stimulus package. Will they keep it up? Is it more political than principle? We'll have to wait and see.

The problem the Republicans have is not that the country is shifting to the left, but that the party itself is perceived to have shifted to the left.

It has *both* of those problems.

No, it doesn't. The country HAS NOT shifted to the left. On some minor social issues, yes. But on abortion, no. On fiscal conservatism, no. On individual liberty, on property rights, on foreign policy, no, no, and no.

Re:wrongo (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27803335)

What I meant is that the party is shifting back to the right

And that will be its death knell. The party could limp along indefinitely in impotence as a "Democrat lite" party, and that's what I predict it will do*, as the moderates of the party sound more sensible in today's society. Shift to the Right when it's exactly the wrong direction wrt everything else and it'll quickly die. Neither choice serves me, so I don't care which it is.

Not much, but a little bit, as evidenced by their opposition to the stimulus package.

Thanks for the good laugh.

Is it more political than principle?

Do bears shit in the woods? All the pork the GOP loaded up in the budget bill proves that the current band of GOP representatives at least definitely do not care about Conservative principles. Opposition to the stimulus was just to be contrary. (Dems would do the same over a bunch of payouts to Right-wing causes.)

*And effectively what it's been doing -- the Dems have been for massive govt. expansion and the GOP has been for slightly less massive govt. expansion. But I think govt. is too big, which means I think it actually needs to shrink, not just its growth slowed. But this is a completely out of the mainstream idea nowadays, and an extremist whack-job view relative to today's culture. The sad fact is, while some traditional social values barely hang on in pockets, traditional American economic and other kinds of values you mentioned (property rights, personal responsibility, and individual freedoms) are such a completely foreign language and way of thinking to the average American nowadays, it sounds nuts to them. You and your friends and a few of us on Slashdot may know what you're talking about when you wax libertarian, but Joe Sixpack has simply never heard anything like that, and has absolutely no intellectual or historical wherewithal to mentally chew on it, and has in fact been successfully conditioned, daily, over all his lifetime to be struck by such ideas as odd. You and I are fringe -- face facts. And it's not because we started that way.

Re:wrongo (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27804201)

What I meant is that the party is shifting back to the right

And that will be its death knell.

Not at all.

the moderates of the party sound more sensible in today's society

No, they don't.

Shift to the Right when it's exactly the wrong direction

No, it's not.

But this is a completely out of the mainstream idea nowadays, and an extremist whack-job view relative to today's culture.

No, it's not.

The sad fact is, while some traditional social values barely hang on in pockets, traditional American economic and other kinds of values you mentioned (property rights, personal responsibility, and individual freedoms) are such a completely foreign language and way of thinking to the average American nowadays, it sounds nuts to them.

You're completely wrong.

You and your friends and a few of us on Slashdot may know what you're talking about when you wax libertarian, but Joe Sixpack has simply never heard anything like that, and has absolutely no intellectual or historical wherewithal to mentally chew on it, and has in fact been successfully conditioned, daily, over all his lifetime to be struck by such ideas as odd.

No, you have it completely backwards. You obviously don't hang out witgh many Joe Sixpacks. On the contrary, when you say to them that government should let you make your own decisions with your own life, liberty, and property, and that the government takes away too much of all of that from us, they say, "Damn straight."

You and I are fringe

No, I'm not.

And it's not because we started that way.

Actually, yes, I've pretty much always had these views, with modifications of course, dating back to high school, which is when I first started thinking about politics at all. I did start out this way.

Re:wrongo (1)

multimed (189254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27806829)

No, you have it completely backwards. You obviously don't hang out witgh many Joe Sixpacks. On the contrary, when you say to them that government should let you make your own decisions with your own life, liberty, and property, and that the government takes away too much of all of that from us, they say, "Damn straight."

Hate to admit it, but I gotta go with Bill Dog on this one. I don't doubt that the above is an accurate reflection in that context. But take it a step out - actually put those ideals into practice and those same people cave almost immediately. I mean let's face it, it took some great and well-read minds to put those concepts into a workable social contract in the first place. I look around and I just don't believe I see the level of intellect, critical thinking or perhaps most often, such utter apathy to appreciate what liberty really entails.

People don't think any of it matters because there's nothing that they can really do since the majority of elections come down to choosing between the less of evils. (Something I find myself falling into too often lately). People can't or aren't willing to look beyond the rhetoric. Bread and circuses. Whether it's just greed or lack of critical thinking, I don't know, but our electorate begs to be lied to. Promise me things and I'll vote for you, even though it should be blatantly obvious that it's just not feasible or sustainable. Try and talk about economic issues, even at the individual/household level and half of voter's eyes will just glaze over.

Re:wrongo (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27807531)

put those ideals into practice and those same people cave almost immediately

No, they don't.

People don't think any of it matters because there's nothing that they can really do since the majority of elections come down to choosing between the less of evils.

Exactly my point. You and Bill and others are fooled into thinking the "common man" agrees with the left, when in reality, they agree with the right but don't bother speaking up because they've already given up hope of making a difference, and so have instead retreated into their own lives to maintain as much liberty as they can for as long as they can.

People can't or aren't willing to look beyond the rhetoric.

No, these people DO see beyond the rhetoric, which is how they recognize that the GOP has become the lesser of two evils, and have given up.

Re:wrongo (1)

multimed (189254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27808749)

Exactly my point. You and Bill and others are fooled into thinking the "common man" agrees with the left, when in reality, they agree with the right but don't bother speaking up because they've already given up hope of making a difference, and so have instead retreated into their own lives to maintain as much liberty as they can for as long as they can.

I don't think most people agree with the left - I think they are more easily convinced by the left. At it's most superficial level, the left has better sizzle, their rhetoric is more attractive if you don't really dig deeper or pass it through a truth filter.

I just heard Durbin bringing up the Ledbetter case again. Perfect example. Compare:

Left: That's not fair, judges need to be able to right this wrong.
Average voter: Yeah, you're right, that's not fair.

Right: It's not just a matter of fairness. We have a separation of powers where an elected Congress creates bills that when approved by an elected President, become laws. The frequently un-elected judges are only there to interpret the laws according to the existing laws and precedent, and most importantly the Constitution. When Congress makes a bad law, so long as it's not unconstitutional, it's up to Congress to fix it.
Average voter: Zzzzzzzzz. Huh? What was that?

I'm sure that's not the best argument, but how do you express something like that? The left's message compresses to 30 second sound bytes, to an elevator ride conversation well. The right's does not.

Pollution is bad. Big corporations making a lot of money shouldn't make so much. The rich were born with a silver spoon in their mouth & it's not fair so we should take some of their money. The government should pay for everyone's health care and retirement. All things that sound good to a lot of people who don't know/don't want to know that none of these issues is remotely that simple.

Specter is a Tool (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27814445)

But if he runs on a Democratic ticket (again) and wins, then the people of PA are idiots and Specter is, in fact, a Smart Tool.

From the front lines (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27814807)

From within PA (I'm just a smidge north of Toomey's former Congressional district), the battle lines are being laid out on social conservatism lines, not fiscal ones as much. That is, both in 2004 and already in the rumblings about 2010, Pat Toomey (the presumptive Republican nominee) is going after Specter primarily on his abortion rights record and his positions on gay rights, with fiscal issues being a distant second.

With a lot of moderate Republicans and Independents having shiny new Democrat registrations in PA after the "Oh God, anyone but Hillary" presidential primary last year, if the Specter thing isn't handled carefully the Republicans have a serious chance of losing a lot of ground here--from the point of view of a lot of folks in the central area, Specter's one of their old boys, a touchstone back to the Reagan era, etc. Somewhat ironically, given the circumstances, Specter's also well-respected for his ability to compromise with the Dems while standing firm on his own principles.

This could be played well or poorly by both parties, but already the local Republican types are taking the wrong tack--just this weekend, I got to watch a group of avowed Republicans pile onto a Tea Party type who called Specter a "traitor to his party and country".

Probably better for the Republicans to either portray him as someone who should retire, and act as though this is sort of a tacit retirement for him, and then quietly push whoever his primary opponent is. On the other hand, the Dems could potentially force the issue to a head by simply encouraging people to let Specter run unopposed.

Basically it's just as contentious and wrong-headed on the ground here in PA as it is nationally.

Re:From the front lines (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27815885)

From within PA (I'm just a smidge north of Toomey's former Congressional district), the battle lines are being laid out on social conservatism lines, not fiscal ones as much.

That's not how it appears from here. Specter was on Meet the Press yesterday, and what's the two things he mentioned? The stimulus bill, and Club for Growth (where Toomey has been President for the last four years).

The stimulus bill, indeed, is what even Specter concedes pushed his approval rating with Republicans off the cliff.

The 2010 election will be about the size, scope, and cost of government. If Toomey and other Republicans don't get that, it's to their peril.

Re:From the front lines (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816223)

I've noticed there is a significant discrepancy between the national ads, the in-state ads, and what the local canvassers/protesters/campaign offices say about the varying issues of the day. The biggest problem the conservatives are having in local politics (and this goes back to the Tea Party phenomenon) is that the local and to a certain extent the statewide Republicans are having a lot of trouble holding on to the message, when that used to be their biggest strong point.

It strikes the local thinkers (admittedly over beer at the cafe the Philosophy and Poli-Sci students hang out in) that the Republican party is trading their patented Party Unity away in order to more firmly cement themselves in with the religious social conservatives, and for a large number of independents and moderate Democrats, the fiscal message is getting lost because it's simply not as important to them as gay rights, pro-choice, drawing down overseas military commitments and domestic surveillance, etc. And it's the rhetoric that's winning the day for the most part right now--we'll see if there's any backlash to Obama's/the Democrats' strong words on some of those subjects compared to their weak or contradictory actions, but it's really too soon to tell in the mainstream right now.

Stimulus bill aside, Specter's going to rise or fall with me on whether he decides to go full-bore Democrat all of a sudden or stays in the political place he's been solidly in for the last two decades. One of the things that I always liked about him was his stance on abortion--not because of his position, but because he was willing and able to say "I'm a Republican, but I'm not straitjacketed to their platform on every single issue." In the political climate in this country that took a certain amount of personal integrity.

The battle lines the parties are drawing are shaping up to be in vastly differing locations for 2010, with a gulf between them--but I suppose this early on we can expect both major parties to be staking out defenses on safe-with-the-base territory and waiting for the other side to engage them.

Re:From the front lines (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816779)

It strikes the local thinkers ... that the Republican party is trading their patented Party Unity away in order to more firmly cement themselves in with the religious social conservatives

I don't see that at all. I see people SAYING they see that -- a lot -- but I don't actually see that. I cannot recall the last time I saw a Republican run primarily on social issues, or make social issues the biggest part of their campaign. I honestly think this is much more a problem of perception than of fact, and that this perception is based more on biases than what candidates or the parties actually do.

Like in Washington, I had many people tell me they wouldn't vote for Rossi for governor because he is a social conservative. But he NEVER talked about social conservative issues, except when asked, and even then only barely. The Democrat incumbent actually resorted to LYING about his social views, saying he was against stem cell research, just so they could try to create this "Rossi == social conservative" link in the minds of the voters, even though it wasn't actually there.

But poll people and you'll find he is still seen as too much of a social conservative. I'd ask people why they thought so, and they would never be able to tell me. They just "knew" it.

Re:From the front lines (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817131)

I don't really understand why it is, either, honestly. I mean, I heard it most recently from a few friends, Libertarians, who were utterly disgusted by how much Christian Nation rhetoric was going on at the local Tea Party.

There's a perception around that the Republicans are all monsters of social repression, and the scary thing is that on the other discussion forum I talk politics in online, the self-professed Republicans/conservatives openly revel in it--the poster boy thereof calling outright for a return to the 1950s Ward Cleaver-style lifestyle where everything is homogenized and safe.

It seems largely due to the ongoing perception in the last few years by the annoying wing of the Christian Evangelical movement that they are the ones with their hands on the wheel of conservatism, and they're doing a lot of subtle and blatant things to keep tying themselves to the Republicans.

Re:From the front lines (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27818117)

I don't really understand why it is, either, honestly. I mean, I heard it most recently from a few friends, Libertarians, who were utterly disgusted by how much Christian Nation rhetoric was going on at the local Tea Party.

Sigh. That's just stupid. How much (literal) communist rhetoric was going on at the antiwar rallies? (A lot.)

There's a perception around that the Republicans are all monsters of social repression

a. A small minority of Republicans (except on the issues of abortion and gay marriage, which are arguably not about social repression in any significant way, of course)

b. Far less so than the Democrats.

Under Bush, the Democrats just lied, and lied, and lied about the Republican Party, and it worked. How many people did you run into who said "McCain changed"? I ran into them all the time, and it wasn't true, in any significant way, at all. McCain simply decides to be less antagnostic toward the Christian right, without changing his views at all, and suddenly he is a tool of Jerry Falwell. It's insanity.

It seems largely due to the ongoing perception in the last few years by the annoying wing of the Christian Evangelical movement that they are the ones with their hands on the wheel of conservatism

... which is LESS true now than it was in 1994.

... and they're doing a lot of subtle and blatant things to keep tying themselves to the Republicans.

Well, of course, they ARE mostly Republicans. And they want to tie themselves into the GOP. But these VERY SAME PEOPLE who, like Specter, complain that the GOP is not a "big tent" also deride the presence of the Christian Right inside of that tent. These people are ideological monsters.

Re:From the front lines (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27829489)

(except on the issues of abortion and gay marriage, which are arguably not about social repression in any significant way, of course)

I'd grant you the point on abortion even though I'm pro-choice. I don't view those who hold pro-life views as trying to "repress" people and I don't think you need to be religious to be pro-life.

I'm curious to know how you justify the GOP position on gay marriage though? I think the Libertarians have the right idea here. Why is the Government involved in the 'marriage' business to begin with? If two people want to live together that's clearly no business of the state. If two people (whom are both of the age of majority/consent) want to have sexual relations that's clearly no business of the state. Why is it any business of the state if two people want to make medical decisions for each other, inherit each other's property by default, decide how the other one is to be buried, etc, etc, etc?

I would advocate getting the state out of the marriage business altogether while providing civil unions that would allow for all of the benefits we traditionally associate with "marriage". Any consenting adult who has reached the age of majority could enter into one with another consenting adult. Let the Churches, Temples and Mosques conduct "weddings" according to their own dogmas.

Of course that would never fly, but it seems to me that that we wouldn't be having this national debate if the state wasn't involved in the marriage business to begin with. What other agreement between two private parties requires that you pay a fee to obtain a license (i.e: permission) from the state?

Re:From the front lines (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27831043)

I'm curious to know how you justify the GOP position on gay marriage though?

First, let us stipulate (taking from your other comment) that gay marriage is absolutely NOT a "bedroom" issue. Civil marriage is an explicitly PUBLIC, not PRIVATE, act.

Second, the history of marriage in our culture is such that government started recognized an existing institution. It did not create marriage, it decided to legally recognize existing marriages. And so, in the law, it called them "marriage" because that's what they were called socially.

But now, government wants to call something "marriage" that most people believe is NOT the same thing as what society has always called "marriage." Literally, gay marriage is the government taking a word from society, and changing its meaning for society, usually against the wishes of society. This is wrong.

(Of course, some people may argue it is a GREATER wrong to treat gay unions unequally, and that's a fine point, but if those people cannot even concede that I have a point, we won't get very far here.)

As to the rest of what you say, you can read this [slashdot.org] , keeping in mind that it was written by me, an elected official in the local Republican Party.

Of course that would never fly

I disagree.

Re:From the front lines (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27841745)

But now, government wants to call something "marriage" that most people believe is NOT the same thing as what society has always called "marriage." Literally, gay marriage is the government taking a word from society, and changing its meaning for society, usually against the wishes of society. This is wrong.

I don't disagree. What's worse is that it's primarily being pushed on society by the branch of Government that's least accountable to society. If the Legislature was doing it one could argue that they are acting as the representatives of society. If nothing else society could vote the bastards out if it wasn't happy with what they were doing. Instead it's being pushed on us through the Judaical system. One would think that we learned why this is a bad idea with Roe v. Wade but I guess we didn't.

(Of course, some people may argue it is a GREATER wrong to treat gay unions unequally, and that's a fine point, but if those people cannot even concede that I have a point, we won't get very far here.)

You do have a point. I also think it's unfair to treat gay unions unequally in the eyes of the law. In the eyes of the Church/Temple/Mosque is another matter and not one for the Government to stick it's nose into.

As to the rest of what you say, you can read this [slashdot.org], keeping in mind that it was written by me, an elected official in the local Republican Party.

It seems we largely agree on the solution to the problem. I'm not convinced that it would ever fly if someone proposed it but I'll get behind any politician that's brave enough to try.

Re:From the front lines (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27830075)

Sigh. That's just stupid. How much (literal) communist rhetoric was going on at the antiwar rallies? (A lot.)

I'm under no illusions that the larger part of it is that these folks could safely ignore the anti-war rallies as being pointless, but don't like their position vis-a-vis taxes being "tainted" by the moral majority stuff.

a. A small minority of Republicans (except on the issues of abortion and gay marriage, which are arguably not about social repression in any significant way, of course)

For most of the Libertarians/fiscal conservatives I deal with in real life on a regular basis, gay marriage is THE huge social repression issue (the group is, for whatever reason, disproportionately gay on the order of 20%+) and while I'm not really convinced it's true now, I think in the next two decades with demographic shifts we're going to see gay rights become less of a third rail and more something that is embrace it or lose.

And there was a lot of "McCain changed" rhetoric around, but mostly from moderate Democrats and Independents trying to find a reason to vote for Obama, less so from the Libertarian/Republican folks I know.

Tying that back to the Specter thing, there's a feeling from the younger generation of Republicans (it was pointed out to me that Meghan McCain is also in this camp) that, big tent or not, the Christian Right wields disproportionate influence in the current structure. I'm not saying I think it's true, I'm saying that meme is winning the battle of ideas right now--and at least around here, it seems like Specter is trying to capitalize on it.

What it really points up, as usual, is how there's a lot of free-floating rhetoric that doesn't really have much bearing on the issues.

2010 is going to be an interesting election year.

Re:From the front lines (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27831229)

I'm under no illusions that the larger part of it is that these folks could safely ignore the anti-war rallies as being pointless, but don't like their position vis-a-vis taxes being "tainted" by the moral majority stuff.

Cry me a damned river. We live in a pluralistic society. Tell them to get off their high horse and realize that they won't agree with everyone on everything.

For most of the Libertarians/fiscal conservatives I deal with in real life on a regular basis, gay marriage is THE huge social repression issue

That is so fricking stupid. Just 20 years ago, legal gay marriage was unthinkable. Just ten years ago, it was a pipe dream, and even the major gay groups themselves said they were not trying to get gay marriage, they just wanted equal rights to live in peace. And people are pissy because a majority of this country hasn't completely changed their minds in such a short period of time?

Idiocy.

I can understand wanting equal rights and being frustrated, but change takes time. Minds do not change overnight, if ever. But I know, many gay marriage proponents are AT LEAST as unable to see the other side as the anti-gay marriage people are. You'd just think they might be better students of history.

And there was a lot of "McCain changed" rhetoric around, but mostly from moderate Democrats and Independents trying to find a reason to vote for Obama, less so from the Libertarian/Republican folks I know.

Well, sure, but it all ties in with the same basic story line.

Tying that back to the Specter thing, there's a feeling from the younger generation of Republicans (it was pointed out to me that Meghan McCain is also in this camp) that, big tent or not, the Christian Right wields disproportionate influence in the current structure.

That feeling has no basis in reality at all.

First, let's point out that over 1/4 of the country is evangelical, and many of the 1/4 Catholics are also on the Christian Right. Now, neither group is the same as Christian Right, but let's say 1/4 of the country is Christian Right, as a rough estimate (it's probably a lot higher). And over 90 percent of them are proably Republican voters.

So if the Christian Right *did* dominate the GOP, that would be justified by the numbers, since 90 percent of 1/4 of the country is more than half the GOP. Not disproportionate at all.

However, it's clear looking at the GOP that the Christian Right DOES NOT dominate the agenda. Other than gay marriage and abortion, what other major Christian Right issue has been a winning one among the GOP? Abortion is, of course, a separate sort of issue, since it is about equal right to life and even atheist libertarians can be pro-life on that basis; and gay marriage is something the Democratic establishment is against too, despite having no serious influence from the Christian Right.

I'm not saying I think it's true, I'm saying that meme is winning the battle of ideas right now--and at least around here, it seems like Specter is trying to capitalize on it.

Yes.

What it really points up, as usual, is how there's a lot of free-floating rhetoric that doesn't really have much bearing on the issues.

2010 is going to be an interesting election year.

Tea Parties and the like are going to make people look harder at the GOP, and if the GOP has any sense it will push those issues, and it will pick up seats in both houses.

Re:From the front lines (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834505)

Tea Parties and the like are going to make people look harder at the GOP, and if the GOP has any sense it will push those issues, and it will pick up seats in both houses.

From here, it looks like it's anyone's game, depending mostly on the perceived results of Obama's current policies and on which parties can pick up some of the protest issues and successfully run with them.

Current smart money is on Specter, if only because Toomey's a jerk. It'd be totally awesome if Tom Ridge comes back up here and runs, on the other hand.

Re:From the front lines (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835453)

Tea Parties and the like are going to make people look harder at the GOP, and if the GOP has any sense it will push those issues, and it will pick up seats in both houses.

From here, it looks like it's anyone's game, depending mostly on the perceived results of Obama's current policies and on which parties can pick up some of the protest issues and successfully run with them.

The Democrats will not pick up ANY of the protest issues. Period. While these are not pro-Republican issues (No Child Left Behind is anathema to the Tea Party protestors, for example), they are utterly anti-Democrat issues. For a Democrat to pick up these issues would mean he is not a Democrat.

And yes, that includes Specter, but Specter is a special case and he'll be excepted. If Specter were a new guy coming into the scene as a Democrat, saying he is against a public health plan, against card check, against tax increases, and so on ... he'd get clobbered by the Dems, who would say he is way too far right for them.

Re:From the front lines (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836049)

I know at least one poli-sci guy who's theorizing that the Democrats' schizophrenic big-tentness with regard to defectors like Specter is going to cause them to bud off a new middle-left party in the next 10-20 years if the Republicans can't regain ground or lose ground in 2010-2012-2016.

I largely agree with you..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27829197)

The way to regain that is to move back to the right on spending, on personal liberty, on personal responsiblity, on property rights, and so on.

Pudge,

I agree with you on all of the above. The question that I would pose to you is how do you reconcile all that (particularly the 'personal liberty' bit) with the fact that the national GOP is in bed with the religious right? How can the GOP be the party of personal liberty when it's dominated by a group that advocates for state involvement in everything from the bedroom to the science classroom? How can the GOP be the party of personal liberty when the party tries to use the power of the state to take away the right of a husband to make medical decisions for his brain dead wife?

I know a lot of people that would be Republicans if it wasn't for the influence of the religious right. They agree with the sentiments that you echo above but feel that religion is best kept out of politics and aren't comfortable being members of a party that is dominated by it. Personally I can't bring myself to see past this either. When I left the Democratic Party I decided I would either register as Libertarian or just register without a party enrollment. The thought of registering GOP never crossed my mind. I do understand the need to build coalitions to win elections in this country but I fear that unless the GOP mitigates the influence of the religious right they will be doomed to perpetual minority status in regions like the Northeast and West Coast.

A libertarian friend of mine has a saying: Democrats won't stay out of your wallet and Republicans won't stay out of your bedroom. Do you agree with or at least understand where he's coming from?

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27830915)

The question that I would pose to you is how do you reconcile all that (particularly the 'personal liberty' bit) with the fact that the national GOP is in bed with the religious right?

This is no more a fact now than it has been for 30 years.

How can the GOP be the party of personal liberty when it's dominated by a group that advocates for state involvement in everything from the bedroom to the science classroom?

It is not dominated by any such group. First, the Religious Right does not dominate the GOP. It simply doesn't. It is one of many groups that have influence in the GOP. That's what you call a Big Tent.

Second, both the Republican Party AND the Religious Right want MUCH LESS state involvement in the bedroom or science classroom than the Democrats do.

As to the bedroom, the GOP and Religious Right have no anti-sex laws that they endorse, except in regards to things like rape of course. On the other hand, the Democrats want all kids to be indoctrinated with their form of sex ed. The Democratic motto seems to be, "get the government out of my bedroom (even though no one proposes putting government in my bedroom anymore) and instead put the government in my kids' bedroom." It's sick and twisted and far more invasive than anything the GOP or Religious Right proposes. (Yes, a small element of the Religious Right wants anti-sodomy laws to remain, but they are a tiny minority, even within the Religious Right.)

As to the science classroom, the GOP wants local school boards to make decisions, while the Democrats want science curricula forced on the schools from above. The Democrats are far more statist on education issues across the board. Yes, the Religious Right often wants curricula to come from above too, but this makes them no worse than the Democrats, and this view DOES NOT dominate the GOP (in certain areas it might, but overall it does not, which is why you never saw an "Intelligent Design" bill with any chance of passing under the GOP Congress).

How can the GOP be the party of personal liberty when the party tries to use the power of the state to take away the right of a husband to make medical decisions for his brain dead wife?

That never happened. Read your history. What they did was try to make sure her rights were being respected by sending it back to another court. They did NOT try to take away his rights at all.

I know a lot of people that would be Republicans if it wasn't for the influence of the religious right.

Me too, and it is therefore sad to me that you are perpetuating so much incorrect information.

They agree with the sentiments that you echo above but feel that religion is best kept out of politics and aren't comfortable being members of a party that is dominated by it.

They are wrong on both counts. The GOP is not dominated by any religious groups, and no, religion SHOULD NOT be left out of politics. That's a really insipid notion that has been invented largely within the last few decades. If I am a religious person, this informs all of my political views, and of course I should not leave that out of my political views.

This country was founded on the self-evident, religious, truth that all men were created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. This religious notion was the basis for abolitionism and universal suffrage and the civil rights movement over the next 200 years. The most obvious one was abolitionism: every major leader of the movement used religion as a major reason why slavery was bad, and most ardent abolitionists were, like today's pro-lifers, members of the so-called "religious right."

By this standard, "religion is best kept out of politics," abolition itself would have been dismissed. Really.

A libertarian friend of mine has a saying: Democrats won't stay out of your wallet and Republicans won't stay out of your bedroom.

Yes, he's ignorant too. I defy him or you to tell me what law the Republicans have that wants to get in anyone's bedroom.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

multimed (189254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834499)

Having read through this thread, what I'm left with is the thought that the "big tent" Republican party needs to do a better job of courting these people who are generally conservative but perceive the party to be dominated by the religious right. You've done a lot of explaining why the perception is wrong - and trying to inform and change minds a few at a time is not nothing. But it needs to be done on a larger, party scale. I don't believe that the Republican party has been losing the battle of ideas, but it certainly has been losing the marketing & education battle - and worst of all, the battle to define itself rather than be defined by others.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835397)

I don't disagree with any of that.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27841677)

As to the bedroom, the GOP and Religious Right have no anti-sex laws that they endorse, except in regards to things like rape of course. On the other hand, the Democrats want all kids to be indoctrinated with their form of sex ed. The Democratic motto seems to be, "get the government out of my bedroom (even though no one proposes putting government in my bedroom anymore) and instead put the government in my kids' bedroom." It's sick and twisted and far more invasive than anything the GOP or Religious Right proposes.

As to the science classroom, the GOP wants local school boards to make decisions, while the Democrats want science curricula forced on the schools from above

I'm not looking to talk about how bad the Democrats are, because as I said I largely agree with you there. I don't see eye to eye with you on everything but I'm in complete agreement with the concept of local decision making. I just don't think the GOP has clean hands here. What's your response to the Federal funds that were provided to schools on the condition that they teach abstinence only sex ed? How is that allowing the local school boards to make decisions? Wouldn't a true Conservative seek to get the Federal Government out of the business of funding schools altogether, rather then seek to use Federal money to push a particular agenda?

They are wrong on both counts. The GOP is not dominated by any religious groups

I'm sorry, but that's not my perception. My perception is that the GOP is entirely too beholden to the religious right and you haven't convinced me otherwise.

and no, religion SHOULD NOT be left out of politics. That's a really insipid notion that has been invented largely within the last few decades. If I am a religious person, this informs all of my political views, and of course I should not leave that out of my political views.

I don't really care what informs the political views of my fellow citizens and I would never suggest that a religious officeholder should have to check his religion/morality at the door of Congress. My problem comes when a religious politician starts trying to impose his own personal morality on others.

The most obvious one was abolitionism: every major leader of the movement used religion as a major reason why slavery was bad, and most ardent abolitionists were, like today's pro-lifers, members of the so-called "religious right."

Of course the other side of the abolitionism coin is that it was the abolitionists and Radical Republicans that expanded the scope of the Federal Government and destroyed the sovereignty of the states. I realize that isn't what they set out to do but it happened that way nonetheless.

Yes, he's ignorant too. I defy him or you to tell me what law the Republicans have that wants to get in anyone's bedroom.

It's a perception, not a literal truth. Someone as versed in politics as you must realize that politics operates not on reality but on the perception of reality. The Republicans have a problem until they manage to change the perception that they are beholden to the religious right at the expense of those who do not share it's agenda.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27842669)

I'm not looking to talk about how bad the Democrats are, because as I said I largely agree with you there.

But we are talking about the perception that GOP is somehow worse on this score than the Dems.

What's your response to the Federal funds that were provided to schools on the condition that they teach abstinence only sex ed?

Federal funds for local schools is generally unconstitutional. The feds have no business being involved in sex ed at all.

My perception is that the GOP is entirely too beholden to the religious right and you haven't convinced me otherwise.

You've not given a serious basis for your perception.

My problem comes when a religious politician starts trying to impose his own personal morality on others.

Again: abolitionism.

Of course the other side of the abolitionism coin is that it was the abolitionists and Radical Republicans that expanded the scope of the Federal Government and destroyed the sovereignty of the states.

Not really, no. They DID lay the groundwork for that to happen, to some degree, but that didn't do it themselves.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27843601)

But we are talking about the perception that GOP is somehow worse on this score than the Dems.

Umm, I don't think I ever said worse. I don't think I ever even made a comparison between the two (in this discussion anyway). I started out by asking you how you reconcile the influence of the religious right with the idea that the GOP is the party of personal liberty. If you want a comparison my observation would be that the Democrats infringe on our civil liberties to a greater extent than the GOP does. The Democrats push infringements on free speech (McCain-Feingold comes to mind), infringements on the 2nd amendment (take your pick of legislation), infringements on the 5th amendment (Kelo v. City of New London, decided by the liberal wing of SCOTUS), etc, etc, etc. I'm not convinced that the Bush actions regarding prisoners captured on the battlefield represent a threat to my civil liberties. The labeling of American citizens as enemy combatants was completely unacceptable IMHO, but the Courts spanked them on that and said citizens eventually got the benefit of due process. Anyway, I'm getting off tangent here....

Federal funds for local schools is generally unconstitutional. The feds have no business being involved in sex ed at all.

Then why does the national GOP make abstinence only sex ed such a priority? You'll note that I keep referring to "national GOP" because I haven't noticed the same influence of the religious right on the state and local level, at least here in NY. The GOP candidates I've voted for locally all run on a platform of fiscal conservatism, smaller government, fighting crime, etc, etc. They don't run on the "culture of life" or "moral majority" platform.

Again: abolitionism.

Abolitionism != sex ed. One is the attempt to impose your own morality in the sexual education of another person's children. Another is the attempt to impose your own morality on a person who is denying liberty to a fellow human being.

Not really, no. They DID lay the groundwork for that to happen, to some degree, but that didn't do it themselves.

Forcing states back into the union at gunpoint even though the Constitution is silent on the issue of whether or not they can leave didn't destroy the sovereignty of the states?

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27845063)

I don't think I ever said worse.

I never said you did. But that is what the discussion is about. The Democrats have crafted this perception about the Republicans (not alone, but largely) in order to convince people to vote for Democrats. Specter became a Democrat because he finds them less objectionable in these matters than the Republicans. This is about comparisons.

So I am not saying you did that, but that is part of the context here.

Then why does the national GOP make abstinence only sex ed such a priority?

It doesn't. Bush did, but I recall no such push from the Congress.

Abolitionism != sex ed.

But you said "impose your own morality." That's what abolitionism was. That's what anti-abortion is. If you want to distinguish now that's fine, but I was just replying to what you had said.

Forcing states back into the union at gunpoint even though the Constitution is silent on the issue of whether or not they can leave didn't destroy the sovereignty of the states?

That's a bit of a misrepresentation. Lincoln and the North didn't start the Civil War, the South did. Granted, he did say secession was not legal -- and I think a strong case can be made that he was right -- but Lincoln initiated no fighting. The Confederates did. If they had not, then there quite possibly would never have been a Civil War.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27846671)

Specter became a Democrat because he finds them less objectionable in these matters than the Republicans

Specter became a Democrat because he realized that he couldn't win the Republican primary. I don't read anything beyond that into his motivations.

It doesn't. Bush did, but I recall no such push from the Congress.

Wasn't Bush the leader of the GOP?

And yes, I do realize that POTUS isn't technically the leader of his party but it seems to me that the highest elected official of a political party is generally the one with the bully pulpit and ability to set the agenda of said party. The fact that the Republican Congress largely went along with his agenda, even where it diverged from Conservative principles (No Child Left Behind) would seem to lend support to this view.

But you said "impose your own morality." That's what abolitionism was. That's what anti-abortion is. If you want to distinguish now that's fine, but I was just replying to what you had said.

Fair enough. It's interesting that you keep making the comparison to abortion, because that's another one that I just can't see eye to eye with the GOP on. I've seen the movie [wikipedia.org] and came away with bigger personal objections to abortion than I thought I would (I don't think I could make that "choice") but I'm still extremely skeptical about using the power of the state to control what a citizen can do with his or her body. If the state can force you to carry a baby to term because of it's interest in protecting human life then can it also force me to give you my kidney or bone marrow if I'm the only compatible donor and your life is at stake? I get yelled at by the pro-life/anti-abortion crowd for that analogy but that's the best I've come up with to describe how I feel about the matter.

That's a bit of a misrepresentation. Lincoln and the North didn't start the Civil War, the South did. Granted, he did say secession was not legal -- and I think a strong case can be made that he was right -- but Lincoln initiated no fighting. The Confederates did. If they had not, then there quite possibly would never have been a Civil War.

It occurs to me though that the institution of slavery would have died out on it's own in another generation or so and I'm still not convinced that the precedents that Lincoln set were in our long term interest. Most other nations managed to abolish slavery without a Civil War, ~600k dead and the gutting of the separation of powers and civil liberties.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27847369)

Specter became a Democrat because he realized that he couldn't win the Republican primary. I don't read anything beyond that into his motivations.

I meant, that was the perception he's trying to create.

Wasn't Bush the leader of the GOP?

In a sense, but ... I wouldn't call that "the national GOP."

The fact that the Republican Congress largely went along with his agenda, even where it diverged from Conservative principles (No Child Left Behind) would seem to lend support to this view.

But not on the item you mentioned, which was an adminsitrative act, not a congressional one, I believe.

Fair enough. It's interesting that you keep making the comparison to abortion, because that's another one that I just can't see eye to eye with the GOP on.

Shrug. Lots of people disagreed about slavery, too.

I'm still extremely skeptical about using the power of the state to control what a citizen can do with his or her body.

And a lot of people were extremely skeptical about using the power of the state to control what a citizen could do with his "property." (Yes, people are not property, but then, the baby's body is not the woman's body.)

If the state can force you to carry a baby to term because of it's interest in protecting human life then can it also force me to give you my kidney or bone marrow if I'm the only compatible donor and your life is at stake?

Of course not. Actively taking someone's life is obviously not the same as refusing to help save someone's life.

I get yelled at by the pro-life/anti-abortion crowd for that analogy but that's the best I've come up with to describe how I feel about the matter.

Then try harder. :-)

It occurs to me though that the institution of slavery would have died out on it's own in another generation or so and I'm still not convinced that the precedents that Lincoln set were in our long term interest.

Perhaps, but hindsight and all that.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27848541)

In a sense, but ... I wouldn't call that "the national GOP."

I use the term "national GOP" to make a distinction between figures on the national level (GWB) that try to advance a particular moral agenda and figures on the state and local level that primarily seem interested in fiscal conservatism and smaller government. I've voted GOP on the local and state level for a number of years, even before I became disillusioned with the Democrats, primarily because I've thought they had better ideas for my region and state. I still have a hard time voting for them on the national level though.

Of course not. Actively taking someone's life is obviously not the same as refusing to help save someone's life.

So it would be ok if a woman fasted until her body rejected the baby because of want of nourishment? She isn't actively "taking" a life in that scenario. Yeah it seems far-fetched, but desperate people do desperate things. I suppose that's the other thing I can't reconcile with the pro-life movement. It seems to me that it would be impossible to actually enforce a prohibition on abortion, given the number of different ways that exist to terminate a pregnancy.

I wish we had gotten to vote on the matter through our Legislators instead of having SCOTUS decide it for us. Or that the states would be allowed to decide the matter in accordance with their own political systems and with no interference from Uncle Sam. I could live with either of those outcomes. I'll also say that I can't really understand why anyone would choose abortion when every single state that I'm aware of has a safe haven law. You don't even have to go through the "hassle" of adoption. In NYS you can leave your newborn at a fire house, police station or hospital with no questions asked. Why would you choose abortion when such an option is available?

To shift gears a little bit, why aren't there more Republicans speaking out against the insanity of the War on Drugs? Why aren't there more Republicans calling for the decriminalization of prostitution? It seems to me that if an adult is engaging in a behavior that harms no one but himself that it really isn't a proper role for the state to criminalize such behavior or make it more expensive (vice taxes) with the purpose of deterring such behavior. Do you agree with that sentiment and if so how do you explain the position that most mainstream GOP politicians take on those issues?

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27849047)

So it would be ok if a woman fasted until her body rejected the baby because of want of nourishment?

I never thought about it, and don't have to think about it now. So what, though? If I say yes, it does not in any way harm my point.

It seems to me that it would be impossible to actually enforce a prohibition on abortion, given the number of different ways that exist to terminate a pregnancy.

I can't see the relevance of that argument. It is also impossible to actually enforce a prohibition on murder and rape and bank robbery and so on.

Or that the states would be allowed to decide the matter in accordance with their own political systems and with no interference from Uncle Sam.

Are you also against Uncle Sam forcing universal suffrage and abolition of slavery on the states?

how do you explain the position that most mainstream GOP politicians take on those issues?

Different people have different views.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27849421)

Are you also against Uncle Sam forcing universal suffrage and abolition of slavery on the states?

I am if it's done outside of the framework of the Constitution. My reading of the Constitution suggests that the Federal Government does not have the power to outlaw abortion without an amendment granting it that power. I do not think that such an amendment could pass 3/4 of the states. If it couldn't pass in South Dakota [ballotpedia.org] I'm skeptical that it could pass 38 other states, when a good number of them are far more liberal than South Dakota.

Different people have different views.

How do those views mesh with efforts to reclaim civil liberties and personal responsbility as platforms for the GOP? It would seem to me that an effort to reclaim those platforms would suggest a re-examination of the War on Drugs and efforts to regulate vice.

Re:I largely agree with you..... (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27850155)

Are you also against Uncle Sam forcing universal suffrage and abolition of slavery on the states?

I am if it's done outside of the framework of the Constitution.

Well, OK, I favor a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

I do not think that such an amendment could pass 3/4 of the states.

Irrelevant.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>