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Author Topic: GOP Will Eat Itself  (Read 35491 times)

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Thad

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GOP Will Eat Itself
« on: October 29, 2008, 08:38:53 PM »

I'm debating what to call the thread where we continue the discussion of what the hell's going to happen to the Republican Party after this is over.  "What Went Wrong?" is a good title for talking about how the GOP's gotten into this mess, but I'd like something that invites speculation about what they're going to do next.
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Detonator

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GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2008, 08:48:31 PM »

We already have a Ron Paul thread.
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Brentai

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GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2008, 08:51:58 PM »

The problem with "what went wrong" is that it started anywhere between 8 and 60 years ago, and only now has reached the critical mass point.  Or what we can only hope is the critical mass point.

There are basically two real options at this point: the GOP proper curls itself tighter in its ball, contracts down to an irrelevant fringe demographic, and is ultimately taken over or replaced by either a new moderate party or a new far-liberal party to contrast the Dems; or it excises the elements that aren't working and becomes the voice of the current moderates, which will involve some painful reworking on what their party message claims to be indecisive or dangerous but will ultimately save the organization.

GOP Will Eat Itself might be the most appropriate title here.
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Thad

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2008, 10:22:16 PM »

Good enough for now.

The problem is that the Republican Party is made up of several disparate factions who aren't necessarily natural allies.  Which is not to say the Democrats don't have the same problem -- that's why they had such a nasty losing streak there.  In fact, the Republicans have been much better at unifying their factions.  Reagan was truly the master, and Nixon did a pretty damned good job until he got caught.  Bush did a great job of appealing to all the factions within the party; the problem is that he combined all their worst elements and managed to piss off the electorate and leave the factions fighting amongst themselves.

The primaries actually showed a stark breakdown along ideological lines -- you had one candidate for the war hawks (McCain), another for the fundamentalists (Huckabee), and two for the Libertarians (Romney for the moderates, Paul for the orthodoxy).  Where Nixon, Reagan, and Bush managed to appeal to all these different groups, this year's field split them sharply.

A question I have is, would McCain be doing as badly right now if he had picked Huckabee?  My feeling is that he'd still be losing, but it would be closer.  Huckabee would have appealed to the same demographic that Palin does, without alienating as many people as she has; I hate his politics but he's a smart, funny, charming person.

The only explanation I can think of for why McCain picked Palin over Huckabee is his absurd belief that she was going to peel away Clinton supporters.  This was possibly the most boneheaded idea out of the many, many boneheaded ideas that led to her selection.

So yeah, like we've all been saying, the party at this point basically has two choices: embrace the Huckabee/Palin contingent and continue to lose for the foreseeable future, or abandon it, deal with short-term defeats, and come back out swinging in 8 or 10 years.

I don't think things can go back to the way they were.  The evangelicals are sick of being taken for granted by a moderate party; they were pissed at Bush for spending '04 pandering to them and then '05-present ignoring them (Alito's appointment notwithstanding) and not at all happy about McCain's nomination.

The problem is this: the Republican Party needs the evangelical vote to win elections...but at this point, seeking that vote has most likely helped COST them this election.  And after picking Palin, I don't think there's any going back; I don't think the evangelicals are going to support any moderate Republican nominee from here on in.

I think this puts Romney in a pretty good position for '12 -- the Republicans are going to want somebody to blame for their defeat, and Romney can say "If you had picked ME, I could have won."

Of course, the truth is he couldn't have.  As reluctant as the fundamentalists were at first to get onboard with McCain, imagine trying to get them to support a Mormon former governor of the most liberal state in the nation who had previously supported gay marriage and abortion and only changed his mind when he decided to run for national office.

So I think Romney stands a good chance of getting the nom in '12, but not of beating Obama.

Then again, I'd lay even greater odds the Republican nominee will be someone we're not even thinking of right now.  Remember a couple years back when we figured it would be Frist?

Which brings me back to the main point here: popular Republicans fucking destroy their careers when they pander to the insane fringe of the party.
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Brentai

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2008, 11:39:47 PM »

In fact, the Republicans have been much better at unifying their factions.  Reagan was truly the master, and Nixon did a pretty damned good job until he got caught.

That's pretty much Obama's strength now.  Clinton had a unifying power, but it was more unifying the right and left edges of the two parties - he's the reason Dems still say "bipartisan" like it's a good thing.

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Bush did a great job of appealing to all the factions within the party

In speech.  Not always in action.

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The primaries actually showed a stark breakdown along ideological lines -- you had one candidate for the war hawks (McCain), another for the fundamentalists (Huckabee), and two for the Libertarians (Romney for the moderates, Paul for the orthodoxy).  Where Nixon, Reagan, and Bush managed to appeal to all these different groups, this year's field split them sharply.

To the point where you have the hilarious situation of the guy they picked trying to argue that he constantly disagrees with his people but is lockstep with the leader that they hate, as some sort of failed compromise.

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A question I have is, would McCain be doing as badly right now if he had picked Huckabee?

Hard to imagine; that woman's novelty has worn off earlier than they had hoped and she is now hanging from McCain's neck like some sort of noisy albatross, dragging him down with her.  The problem is she's too damned important; at this point we shouldn't even be considering the VPs' effects on the polls.  Had he picked Huckabee, we wouldn't even be mentioning him except as a sidenote.  Not to say it wouldn't have a real effect, but he wouldn't be part of the normal dialogue the same way Joe Biden isn't, despite being a pretty smart and entertaining guy himself.

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The only explanation I can think of for why McCain picked Palin over Huckabee is his absurd belief that she was going to peel away Clinton supporters.  This was possibly the most boneheaded idea out of the many, many boneheaded ideas that led to her selection.

Possible; the theory I tend to agree with is that he was trying to counteract Obama's whole "Change" theme (which, yeah, is playing the race card in one aspect) with a sort of "We Can Do That Too."  Backfired spectacularly, of course, since the exact female he brought in was only trying to bring the status quo to its extreme.

The question I want to ask is "Why choose an unqualified nobody when there are several other well known Republican women out there?"  The presumptive answer is "They just went down the list until they found one too stupid to say 'no'."

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I don't think things can go back to the way they were.  The evangelicals are sick of being taken for granted by a moderate party; they were pissed at Bush for spending '04 pandering to them and then '05-present ignoring them (Alito's appointment notwithstanding) and not at all happy about McCain's nomination.

The evangelicals are a shrinking demographic though.  Yeah, they're imposingly big and loud today because they've been given a booster shot, but they're slowly becoming more irrelevant as America inches slowly left like it has been for four centuries.

The "scared shitless" demographic, though, has been a relatively stable power, constantly fluxing but never quite going away or losing its grip on the country.  Bush's power derived almost solely from this source, and in a twisted sort of way, so does Obama's... pandering to those who are scared shitless of Bush.

The successful, "War Hawk" Republicans have always been the ones to control this sentiment.  Bush did it masterfully, despite being utterly incapable of everything else.  His father actually failed on his inability to control it, despite his best efforts (a man who, in retrospect, is best known from puking as a defensive measure, is not one to intimidate much of anything.)  Reagan was the cowboy, ready to shoot all the durn criminals that were out there.  Even Nixon got cut a lot of slack because he did actually put a stop to the country's current nightmare.

And now the party has, rightfully, chosen the take-charge war hero to represent them.  Had the situation not been what it is, it probably would have worked out beautifully.  As it is, the men who had come before McCain have probably laid the terror on a little bit thick; the country's just accepted the state of affairs with grim apathy, the way you'd expect people to react in a hell-bound handbasket such as the one the GOP says we're in (and has deliberately put us in).

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The problem is this: the Republican Party needs the evangelical vote to win elections...but at this point, seeking that vote has most likely helped COST them this election.  And after picking Palin, I don't think there's any going back; I don't think the evangelicals are going to support any moderate Republican nominee from here on in.

Say the other guy is a Muslim Terrorist enough times, and they'll grudgingly side with whatever alternative they have.  The evangelicals are easy to scare and easy to manipulate... I mean, hell, that's what turned them into evangelicals.

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I think this puts Romney in a pretty good position for '12 -- the Republicans are going to want somebody to blame for their defeat, and Romney can say "If you had picked ME, I could have won."

Sure, but who in the GOP can't make the same claim?  Besides Dick Cheney. 

And anybody who ever had any association with Dick Cheney.

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only changed his mind when he decided to run for national office.

This part doesn't seem to be much of a problem with them.

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Then again, I'd lay even greater odds the Republican nominee will be someone we're not even thinking of right now.  Remember a couple years back when we figured it would be Frist?

Had you mentioned McCain in '04, one could imagine him being the nominee.  Of course, you'd have been thinking of 2004 John McCain and not 2008 Bizarro McCain, but the point stands.

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Which brings me back to the main point here: popular Republicans fucking destroy their careers when they pander to the insane fringe of the party.

Unpopular Reublicans, however, enjoy great success.

Whether you're right or wrong, always stick to your principles.  Even Hitler would seem a little better had he really believed in the shit he was doing.
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Thad

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2008, 12:20:30 AM »

That's pretty much Obama's strength now.  Clinton had a unifying power, but it was more unifying the right and left edges of the two parties - he's the reason Dems still say "bipartisan" like it's a good thing.

I often wonder what Clinton could have accomplished if he'd cared as little about public opinion as Bush.

His appeal wasn't in his center-right politics, it was in his charisma.  I think he'd have been just as popular if he hadn't given us bullshit like DADT, DMCA, and a series of other acronyms I'm angry at.

Unfortunately Obama seems poised to make the same miscalculation.

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Bush did a great job of appealing to all the factions within the party

In speech.  Not always in action.

Yeah, but see above.

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A question I have is, would McCain be doing as badly right now if he had picked Huckabee?

Hard to imagine; that woman's novelty has worn off earlier than they had hoped and she is now hanging from McCain's neck like some sort of noisy albatross, dragging him down with her.  The problem is she's too damned important; at this point we shouldn't even be considering the VPs' effects on the polls.  Had he picked Huckabee, we wouldn't even be mentioning him except as a sidenote.  Not to say it wouldn't have a real effect, but he wouldn't be part of the normal dialogue the same way Joe Biden isn't, despite being a pretty smart and entertaining guy himself.

McCain's age was going to be an issue no matter what, and Huckabee's just as scary as Palin from an ideological perspective.  But he's less scary on the whole because he's not a complete moron.

Which brings us right back to charisma versus ideology.  I honestly like the guy.  I would never vote for him on those grounds, but there are people who would.

There are people voting for McCain/Palin because they like her, but they're outweighed by the people not voting for them because they hate/fear/pity her.

"Polarizing" may be the best word to describe her, and the only thing she has in common with Hillary Clinton.

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The only explanation I can think of for why McCain picked Palin over Huckabee is his absurd belief that she was going to peel away Clinton supporters.  This was possibly the most boneheaded idea out of the many, many boneheaded ideas that led to her selection.

Possible; the theory I tend to agree with is that he was trying to counteract Obama's whole "Change" theme (which, yeah, is playing the race card in one aspect) with a sort of "We Can Do That Too."  Backfired spectacularly, of course, since the exact female he brought in was only trying to bring the status quo to its extreme.

Well, and because you can't try to campaign on the same thing you are constantly saying is a liability.

The question I want to ask is "Why choose an unqualified nobody when there are several other well known Republican women out there?"  The presumptive answer is "They just went down the list until they found one too stupid to say 'no'."

Again, it's a real insult to Hutchison.  But you're right, maybe she DID say no.  Maybe Huckabee did too.  Or maybe she's just too moderate on abortion.

The evangelicals are a shrinking demographic though.  Yeah, they're imposingly big and loud today because they've been given a booster shot, but they're slowly becoming more irrelevant as America inches slowly left like it has been for four centuries.

The "scared shitless" demographic, though, has been a relatively stable power, constantly fluxing but never quite going away or losing its grip on the country.

But as you note below, the people who are constantly frightened ARE the evangelicals.  They're afraid of EVERYTHING.  Wars, terrorist attacks, government surveillance, economic crises -- these things come and go.  But we're talking about a demographic that, by its nature, fears progress.  The evangelicals are in a constant state of fear, and that's why their turnout is so wildly disproportionate.

Bush's power derived almost solely from this source, and in a twisted sort of way, so does Obama's... pandering to those who are scared shitless of Bush.

Nontrivial.  But there's also charisma.  Plenty of people were scared shitless of Bush four years ago.

The successful, "War Hawk" Republicans have always been the ones to control this sentiment.  Bush did it masterfully, despite being utterly incapable of everything else.  His father actually failed on his inability to control it, despite his best efforts (a man who, in retrospect, is best known from puking as a defensive measure, is not one to intimidate much of anything.)  Reagan was the cowboy, ready to shoot all the durn criminals that were out there.  Even Nixon got cut a lot of slack because he did actually put a stop to the country's current nightmare.

But on the other hand, LBJ beat Goldwater by suggesting that he was out of his fucking mind and would nuke the world.

It bears repeating at this point that McCain is Goldwater's successor.

And now the party has, rightfully, chosen the take-charge war hero to represent them.  Had the situation not been what it is, it probably would have worked out beautifully.  As it is, the men who had come before McCain have probably laid the terror on a little bit thick; the country's just accepted the state of affairs with grim apathy, the way you'd expect people to react in a hell-bound handbasket such as the one the GOP says we're in (and has deliberately put us in).

Exactly.  Like I said, most demographics can't stay scared forever.

Say the other guy is a Muslim Terrorist enough times, and they'll grudgingly side with whatever alternative they have.  The evangelicals are easy to scare and easy to manipulate... I mean, hell, that's what turned them into evangelicals.

But if the choice is between the Muslim terrorist and the guy who wants to give all our jobs away to Mexicans, there's a problem.

I can get pretty hung up on ideological purity -- it took me awhile to decide I'd vote to reelect Congressman Mitchell -- but I'm not a fundamentalist.

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I think this puts Romney in a pretty good position for '12 -- the Republicans are going to want somebody to blame for their defeat, and Romney can say "If you had picked ME, I could have won."

Sure, but who in the GOP can't make the same claim?  Besides Dick Cheney. 

And anybody who ever had any association with Dick Cheney.

Sure.  But Romney's the guy who came in second.

And don't think for a second Clinton wouldn't be prepping the same argument if the shoe were on the other foot.

Plus, the turning point of this election was the financial crisis.  Romney wouldn't have come through it unscathed, but he would have fared much better than McCain; econ is his greatest strength and McCain's greatest (policy) weakness.

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only changed his mind when he decided to run for national office.

This part doesn't seem to be much of a problem with them.

Debatable.  I think the base was lukewarm on McCain until he announced Palin as his running-mate.  It's possible they would have gotten on-board even if he'd chosen, say, Giuliani, but I really don't think so.

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Then again, I'd lay even greater odds the Republican nominee will be someone we're not even thinking of right now.  Remember a couple years back when we figured it would be Frist?

Had you mentioned McCain in '04, one could imagine him being the nominee.  Of course, you'd have been thinking of 2004 John McCain and not 2008 Bizarro McCain, but the point stands.

Fair.  And there was buzz about both Kerry and Obama well before either decided to run.  Gore/Bush was, of course, a foregone conclusion.

Whether you're right or wrong, always stick to your principles.  Even Hitler would seem a little better had he really believed in the shit he was doing.

...would have been nice if we could have gotten to five posts without a Godwin.
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sei

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2008, 12:53:07 AM »

"[Evangelicals are] afraid of EVERYTHING.  Wars, terrorist attacks, government surveillance, economic crises -- these things come and go."

Wouldn't they be a bit less afraid of government surveillance than others, given that they're more trusting of authority than other demographics tend to be?
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Thad

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2008, 01:36:56 AM »

Not if the President is a Democrat, but I meant that second sentence as a contrast to evangelicals.  There are people who are afraid of all those things, but evangelicals are probably the only people who are afraid all the time.
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Bal

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2008, 02:10:12 AM »

The same thing happened to the Democrats in the 60's when they were the party consistently voting down every civil rights bill to come up, thanks mostly to the so called "Dixiecrats".  The Democrats came face to face with the fact of their own growing irrelevancy, and were forced to reform themselves, rather painfully, over the subsequent decades. I would argue that they never really recovered completely, and it looks like it's the turn of the Republicans.
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Thad

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2008, 02:59:55 AM »

Sure, and then Nixon converted the Dixiecrats over to the Republican side with the Southern Strategy.  The question is, what will happen to the evangelicals this time?

I've suggested before that they might, in an act of profound irony, take over the Libertarian Party.
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Bal

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2008, 03:13:41 AM »

I don't know, really. I'm sure they'll find somewhere to go in the immediate future, but I think they don't really have a home in modern American going forward, and will be forced to change, or inhabit an irrelevant fringe.
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Cthulhu-chan

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2008, 03:21:22 AM »

Sure, and then Nixon converted the Dixiecrats over to the Republican side with the Southern Strategy.  The question is, what will happen to the evangelicals this time?

I've suggested before that they might, in an act of profound irony, take over the Libertarian Party.

It's not like it would hurt the Lib's relevancy much!   ::D:
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Romosome

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2008, 04:06:05 AM »

Sure, and then Nixon converted the Dixiecrats over to the Republican side with the Southern Strategy.  The question is, what will happen to the evangelicals this time?

Attempt secession?
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Kazz

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2008, 04:44:50 AM »

I really, really hope they secede.  I'd happily kick them the fuck out.

I have had enough of irrelevant, hatemongering bullshit topics becoming important political issues in America.  We have actual issues, stuff having to do with human lives and the nation's prosperity, and you're worried about where people might be putting their dicks?  Fuck you, get out of my country.
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Bal

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2008, 05:03:46 AM »

I wouldn't mind seeing the evangelical vote moving to the Libertarian party just to have three viable parties in the country. In fact, I'd like to see the Democrats split up a bit, them being the catch-all "not Republican" party that they are. Five or six thriving parties in America would be fantastic.
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Norondor

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2008, 05:47:25 AM »

I really, really hope they secede.  I'd happily kick them the fuck out.

I have had enough of irrelevant, hatemongering bullshit topics becoming important political issues in America.  We have actual issues, stuff having to do with human lives and the nation's prosperity, and you're worried about where people might be putting their dicks?  Fuck you, get out of my country.

kazz is right and the only solution is to put me in charge of the death camps.
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Kashan

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2008, 06:28:29 AM »

I wouldn't mind seeing the evangelical vote moving to the Libertarian party just to have three viable parties in the country. In fact, I'd like to see the Democrats split up a bit, them being the catch-all "not Republican" party that they are. Five or six thriving parties in America would be fantastic.

We'll never have more than two viable parties on a national level. It's just the way our constitution works. You get one or two, never three or more.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2008, 06:33:09 AM »

The Republicans have an excuse lined up for an Obama victory. Defeat isn't going to break them. Now, depending what happens in the next four years, something might come up that will, but as long as they can tell themselves that the news media handed the White House to Obama on a silver platter then their motley alliance isn't going to dissolve. Should the unlikely happen and McCain carry the day, the Democrats have their own excuse, too, in the form of blaming voter racism.

Frankly I think that we'd be better off if half the country decided that power-mad newshounds were the ones who fucked everything up, rather than Klan hicks. But that's possibly because I know more rednecks than reporters.

I kinda feel sorry for the evangelicals in all this. Their public figures and the policies they demand are shitty enough that courting them is a liability, but they're too big a demographic to ignore. Anybody bigger than state legislature can only give 'em token gestures. They've got to realize that they're just being used. The libertarians, too: how long has it been since either party pretended they were going to cut anything for any reason other than necessity? And while I'm at it, I also feel sorry for the greens, but it wouldn't be polite of me to explain why.

Well, and I think I've just about used up my quota of posts in Real World for the year.
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Arc

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2008, 09:36:14 AM »

I honestly like the guy.
I kinda feel sorry for the evangelicals in all this... The libertarians, too:

Something something something daaaark side. Something something something complete.
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Romosome

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Re: GOP Will Eat Itself
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2008, 11:40:21 AM »

I wouldn't mind seeing the evangelical vote moving to the Libertarian party just to have three viable parties in the country. In fact, I'd like to see the Democrats split up a bit, them being the catch-all "not Republican" party that they are. Five or six thriving parties in America would be fantastic.

I'd rather we just have viable parties that hateful, illogical crazed members of the fringe just aren't a part of so we can talk about things like health care in our elections, instead of who shook hands with an arab when they were growing up.

The Republicans have an excuse lined up for an Obama victory. Defeat isn't going to break them.

This is what worries me most, honestly.  Palin's rallies have her consistuents whipped up past what could be called a fever pitch and more towards what can honestly be described as a lynch mob.  It's 2008 and we have a presidential election where throngs of Americans are screaming "TERRORIST" and "TRAITOR" in front of god and everyone, calling for blood.  There's already been comments during the race by McCain's campaign that he'll "still be the president" of loyalist areas in the heartland that reject Obama.

It's disturbing as hell.  Let's all act like things as crazy as widespread rioting would never happen in this day and age, and racism is dead, and it's just paraoid to think otherwise, and act really surprised when something crazy happens.
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