Unintended Consequences of Shelby?

by John Holbo on June 28, 2013

I’m not a big believer in ‘heighten the contradictions’. Too Lenin-meets-slatepitch. But I wonder to what extent the Shelby decision will prove disadvantageous for Republicans because the party will now pursue measures that are inconsistent with making any credible attempt to not be a regional, ethnocentric party. Because they have to at least try this new stuff, as a solution to the problem that demographics are shifting. But surely everyone is going to notice them doing that.

Maybe it will backfire, as voter discouragement measures seem to have backfired in 2012. Or maybe it will work, at least in the near term. Minorities will vote in smaller numbers. That will help Republicans. But it seems like doom for Republican moderates, hence death for tender green shoots of Republican moderation (were one to believe such a delicate blossom could ever compete with that hardiest of conservative perennials – the extremist spasm.) No Republican is allowed to call a fellow Republican a racist, obviously. That’s beyond the pale (no pun intended!) But that means no moderate Republican will be able to talk, critically, about what their fellow Republicans are going to be up to, thanks to Shelby. Because anything the least bit negative they say about anything Shelby has made possible will be construed as a charge of ‘racism!’ by other Republians. So the most ethnocentric elements of the party will loudly drag the rest quietly along for the rightward ride. But no one along for that ride is going to look moderate in the least. The overall optics are going to be terrible.

Read this column by Matt Lewis. It’s about immigration, not Shelby. But the dynamics are the same. Just apply Lewis’ discovery that dog-bites-man – yep, it happens – to the Shelby case. The Supreme Court has made it legal to do stuff you couldn’t do before. Hence there is a practical point to Republicans talking about doing that stuff. But the talk is going to get ugly. But no one on the right is allowed to notice it getting ugly. No one who aspires to office, anyway – even though this is precisely the same lot who most appreciate that you need to keep the ugly talk to a minimum. Lewis is a Rubio fan, and I can see him worrying: in 12 years, is it going to be possible to have a figure like Rubio in the party? Or will he have died the death of a thousand cuts from both sides. He will look to minority voters like a profile in putting up with increasing amounts of crap. (At best, it will be largely symbolic stuff, intended to signal to whites that Republicans think they’re still tops. At worst, it may be much worse than that. We’ll see.) Rubio-types will look to white Republicans like a liability waiting to happen. When is he finally going to call us racists, which will have the Times all over us in a New York minute, costing us more than all the good he ever did for us, in terms of minority outreach.

You might say this only affects Republicans in the regions affected by Shelby. But other Republicans will have to comment on it, and ‘it’s not my district’ isn’t going to sound very moderate to ticked off minority voters.

Going back to my first point: it’s too clever by half to argue that vote suppression measures will surely backfire, having the opposite of the intended effect. So let’s just ask: to what extent will Shelby discourage the Republican Party from mending its ways (by liberal lights, of course)?

{ 78 comments }

1

Metatone 06.28.13 at 10:46 am

I think the thrust of your hypothesis is probably correct.
In the short term, preventing “minority voters” from voting aids the Republican cause.

In the long term, it prevents the GOP from finding a strategy to engage with “minority voters.” Eventually this will leads to an inability to win power – and that will lead to a realignment in the GOP that will be bitter, hard-fought and bloody.

What I have no answer to is “how long is the long term” – because they can pull off the balancing act for quite a while. Enough “minority voters” are either culturally or economically conservative that they can ignore the ethnocentrism of the party on the right for a long time.

2

Mark Jamison 06.28.13 at 11:22 am

I think you are correct but there is even more in Shelby to reinvigorate the Democratic Party.
Shelby will force Democrats or othe Progessives to organize at grass roots levels to counteract voter suppression. It will offer an opportunity to bring new folks into the political system but also to tell and retell a story that connects with New Deal principles. Poor and lower middle class whites that connect with the Tea Party may hear a narrative that gives them cause to find a community of interest with others in a similar economic class.
More and more our segregation is along not only racial but class lines, the meme of the 47%, and the opportunity to organize to defeat suppression measures will have to take on that falsehood directly.

3

Uncle Kvetch 06.28.13 at 12:07 pm

Read this column by Matt Lewis.

I normally don’t venture out in search of mangoes, but in this case I made an exception. It’s worth the trip. Lewis discovers that 30 years of Republican race-baiting have resulted in a party where racists can let their racist flag fly without qualification or apology. And he’s just shocked, I tell you, shocked.

The cherry on the sundae: referring to Mickey Kaus as a Democrat. That’s just adorable.

4

mds 06.28.13 at 12:22 pm

But that means no moderate Republican will be able to talk, critically, about what their fellow Republicans are going to be up to, thanks to Shelby.

Well, they could probably discuss it purely amongst themselves … in a very small room.

5

Manta 06.28.13 at 12:38 pm

@3:
I don’t read Kaus (mostly because I could rarely understand what he was saying, except for some generic hostility to immigration)
However, Mickey Kaus *is* a Democrat: he run for the Dem primary, for instance.

See also
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mickey_Kaus#Political_views
“Kaus usually supports Democratic politicians … Kaus supported Obama in the 2012 US Presidential Election…”

6

bexley 06.28.13 at 12:57 pm

The cherry on the sundae: referring to Mickey Kaus as a Democrat. That’s just adorable.

Yeah that really got my goat.

7

Phil 06.28.13 at 1:06 pm

No Republican is allowed to call a fellow Republican a racist, obviously.

It’s an odd unintended consequence of the general triumph of the liberal idea of equality that racism, and to a lesser extent sexism, has become unspeakable. It’s an extension to the old ‘irregular verb’ gag – I know what I think, you have fixed ideas, he’s prejudiced… and absolutely nobody we know is a racist. Crossing racism off the list of things it’s OK to be seems fair enough; the trouble is what then happens if you call a statement “a bit racist”. It doesn’t come out sounding like “a bit reactionary” or even “a bit prejudiced” – more like “a bit Klan-like” or “a bit Nazi”. As a result, people whose statements might actually be a bit racist, and who might benefit from reflecting on how and why, can not only bat away the accusation but respond with quite genuine moral outrage – how dare you call me a racist? The next step is counter-attack – how low can your side sink, going around calling people racists? (The slippage between ‘racist’ adj. and ‘a racist’ a very bad person is symptomatic.)

It’s frustrating. But if it’s going to damage the Republicans, I guess it’s not all bad.

8

SamChevre 06.28.13 at 1:10 pm

The Supreme Court has made it legal to do stuff you couldn’t do before.

I don’t think that is true; everything that was illegal is still illegal. There’s no requirement to get court approval before changing things (which requirement only applied in a few jurisdictions anyway) but there’ no change to what is and isn’t legal.

9

rea 06.28.13 at 1:15 pm

SamChevre, exactly. The Court did not legalize anything, it simply made it easier to break the law.

10

Rob in CT 06.28.13 at 2:06 pm

The key response required here is that the Dems need to take voter registration drives extra seriously. The Democratic Party brings in lots of money. Rather than spending it on another ad buy, more should be directed to hiring up local folks to help get people registered (including, of cousre, helping them get the backup documentation required to get the documentation required to register).

11

Barry 06.28.13 at 2:34 pm

Metatone 06.28.13 at 10:46 am
“In the long term, it prevents the GOP from finding a strategy to engage with “minority voters.” Eventually this will leads to an inability to win power – and that will lead to a realignment in the GOP that will be bitter, hard-fought and bloody.”

In the medium term, the current batch of politicians will have retired, and much of the current Tea Party will have died.

If you think of it as a bunch of middle-aged people playing out the rest of their careers heedless of the damage left behind, it makes perfect sense.

12

Jeffrey Davis 06.28.13 at 3:00 pm

The filibuster allows a regional ethnocentric party to act as a veto on progressive legislation.

As for Mickey Kaus, who cares what his nominal party affiliation is?

13

mpowell 06.28.13 at 3:02 pm

It is important to understand the basic structure of American governance to estimate the impact this will have. Since there is no national vote, the potential impact is limited to states already controlled by Republicans. At the moment, that includes some states where a majority of the voting public would support Democratic candidates, especially for president. That gives the Republicans some time to leverge their current control of the state houses into a mechanism by which they can continue to maintain a majority in the House through gerrymandering. This prevents top down voting reform. And it might help them win the WH one of these days, which will probably lead to a restocking of the conservatives on the SC (also helping prevent voting reform). Holding the state houses and being able to block voting reform at the national level also allows them to deny the vote to minorities in state and use gerrymandering to maintain control of the state houses.

But this is all very high leverage. The very act of doing this stuff is a big turnoff for minorities (and many whites, frankly). And the obstruction at the national level may eventually backfire if the Senate finally gets rid of the fillibuster for appointments in 2014 or the Dems hold the WH in 2016. It’s hard to predict when the tide will turn precisely (though 2020 redistricting is a good bet), but you have to imagine that the Republicans + demographic shifts are setting up a scenario where the only two possible outcomes are a South African like voting system in an electoral college controlling number of states (if the Republicans have the appetite to go that far which I’m not sure that they do) or the complete collapse of the Republican party at the national level.

14

Kenny Easwaran 06.28.13 at 3:13 pm

I find it interesting that their illegal laws include things like allowing expired concealed-carry permits to count as voter ID while denying college ID’s and VA cards. I would have guessed that a concealed-carry permit is the sort of thing whose holders already tend to be middle-class or richer, so that something like 99% of them would already have a driver’s license, as opposed to 95% of the general public. Thus, allowing the concealed-carry permit to count is really not going to materially affect the number of people that can vote, and is therefore pretty much completely ineffectual as an attempt to shape the voting demographics. (I assume it’s also completely ineffectual at achieving the stated goal of these laws, which is to prevent fraud, given that various other equally good ID isn’t accepted.)

Thus, as far as I can tell, the only point of this sort of exception is to signal to various cultural groups “we’re on your side” or “we’re against you”. I would have thought that one would try to keep this purely symbolic stuff separate from the laws that are intended to maintain one’s governing coalition, but I guess not.

15

Anderson 06.28.13 at 3:15 pm

Well, the unleashed states are going to rack up quite a factual record to support the imposition of preclearance in the future.

16

BigHank53 06.28.13 at 3:19 pm

Matt Lewis’ commentators waste no time in stepping up and proving his point.

17

Steve LaBonne 06.28.13 at 4:12 pm

There is no doubt in my mind that the Republican Party is headed for oblivion in the long run. But in the long run, we are all dead. What will be left of the country by the time they have lost their power to obstruct?

18

chris 06.28.13 at 4:13 pm

It turns out that when Republicans came up with a new message to minorities, that message was “Now nobody can stop us from taking away your right to vote, neener neener neener.”

I’m sure that will do a lot to help them close their popularity gap in the nonwhite parts of the electorate. Even moderate whites may find the more open forms of voter suppression distasteful.

The Court did not legalize anything, it simply made it easier to break the law.

And not necessarily even that much easier — AFAIK there’s still nothing preventing the NAACP (or whoever) from filing for injunctions against anything that violates the substantive parts of the VRA or the 14th Amendment.

19

bob mcmanus 06.28.13 at 4:40 pm

There is no doubt in my mind that the Republican Party is headed for oblivion in the long run. But in the long run, we are all dead. What will be left of the country by the time they have lost their power to obstruct?

I honestly don’t think the whatever, culture/people/region, has changed much in 350 years nor will it ever change without violence. It has been , gradually but inexorably, withdrawing from the rest of the nation/world (in some ways) and is now more isolated as Republican Dixie than it was at the height of Jim Crow.

I think it is what they have wanted for thirty years, to build a fortress in solid states to sally forth with veto power and beg sanity to come challenging them. They are evil feudalists, and don’t care what you think of them.

I expect a 3rd Civil War to be necessary, but unlike the 1st and 2nd, I do not expect Yankees to come on down and save the 30%-50% of the South that is decent and vulnerable. I expect NY and Cal and IL to just say the hell with it.

And then they win.

20

bob mcmanus 06.28.13 at 4:45 pm

I mean, that’s the question for people on this board, for liberals as it was in the 1850s. Same question.

If Mississippi or Texas secedes and reinstitutes chattel slavery, are you willing to kill 10 million to stop them?

If you are hesitating, the scum will do it.

21

mpowell 06.28.13 at 4:54 pm


I think it is what they have wanted for thirty years, to build a fortress in solid states to sally forth with veto power and beg sanity to come challenging them. They are evil feudalists, and don’t care what you think of them.

This is just ridiculous. You can’t attribute clearly defined motives to a movement. And even if you could, you really think this has been their goal? I think it would be much more accurate to say that they have fooled themselves into thinking they could continue winning national elections on the back of a white electorate. And a lot of them still don’t understand why the ‘good’ minorities don’t vote for them. Set aside the base for a moment. The party leaders are still a whole bunch of people (especially if you take a 30 year period). They have a lot of different goals and a lot of different opinions about what is possible, politically.

22

Barry 06.28.13 at 4:59 pm

Steve LaBonne 06.28.13 at 4:12 pm

” There is no doubt in my mind that the Republican Party is headed for oblivion in the long run. But in the long run, we are all dead. What will be left of the country by the time they have lost their power to obstruct?”

Just look at the damage which 8 years of Bush did, plus a follow-up where they had only blocking power at the national level. We’re going to have trashed two generations economically (the old and the young) before this is over, in the best case.

23

mpower69 06.28.13 at 5:54 pm

I don’t necessarily disagree with this post’s specifics, but I do believe that the author here (like most older/boomer observers) is mischaracterizing the rise/influence of populist conservatism. These are not extremists.

An objective observer would have a difficult task if asked to draw distinctions between the liberal/Dem platform and the “establishment” GOP. Herein lies the catalyst for popular conservatism, which in itself is nothing to be afraid of in my opinion. Populist conservatism shares many, many positions with the Occupy movement which was similarly demonized on the Left. Both Left and Right populism are simply a demonstration that a large & growing percentage of the population ARE NOT REPRESENTED BY EITHER PARTY. It’s just that simple.

Conservatives are exercising their will for true representation by attempting to change/reform the established party of the Right. Thus the ongoing primary challenges against “establishment” incumbants. There is no longer an argument or denial that the GOP is now split into two distinct factions, each with enough power to disrupt the other. Neither party has seen this sort of dynamic since the late 60’s/early 70s when populist (anti-war) liberals bucked against establishment Dems (personified by LBJ).

Obama’s election has 1) exacerbated the the split among conservatives, and 2) hidden the growing split among liberals. But this president is suffering from a very real lack of credibility with three full years remaining in his second term (thus the premature launch of the Hillary campaign). There is a possibility that the populist Right and populist Left may discover their common ground and compound the problems/decline of both establishment political parties… note how the ‘establishment’ Right & Left have both alligned themselves a) against Snowden, b) in support of NSA/DHS, c) against the rule-of-law, d) in support of ‘establishment’ criminals (like J. Corzine), e) against small business (healthcare, lack of tax code reform), and f) in support of corporate largesse (healthcare, farm bill, auto & bank bail-outs). Thus, in matters of true governance/policy import (i.e. non-social issues) ‘establishment’ Democrats & Republicans are indistinguishable. And the popular majority of americans disagrees with the ‘establishment’ on every single one of the issues mentioned above.

One could say that both parties are shrinking for the same reason – neither can claim to represent a criticical mass of citizens/voters regarding important civic/functional/constitutional issues. The Establishment Right & Left are defending a failing status quo while the majority of americans have already evolved and are well beyond the corruption and prejudices of their “leaders”.

24

Bruce Wilder 06.28.13 at 6:12 pm

The Republican Party and both social and economic conservatism actually has quite a bit of appeal among Hispanic voters. Even on border control issues, a pretty big slice of Hispanic voters sympathize with some Republican positions. The problem is that Hispanics do not have much appeal among the core of Republican voters. In other words, the problem for Republicans is not Hispanic hostility to the Republican Party or ideology, so much as Republican hostility to Hispanics, as an ethnic group (really, groups, but this discussion usually doesn’t respect such details). It isn’t a matter of demographics, which grind slowly, but of expanding the operative definition of “white”. The operative definition of “white” expanded dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s to include the descendants of immigrant Jews, Irish, Italians and Slavs. I would expect the Republican Party apparatus and their Media propaganda net to do what it can to whitewash Hispanics, as soon as controversy over immigration reform can be quieted, if it can be quieted.

The Republican Party has always been organized around in-group identification with America. There was a time, when that meant WASP, with attachment of some German Protestants. The in-group definition was always about culture plus economic wealth and class; race and ethnicity was just a detail, derived from local patterns of economic domination and discrimination: blacks in the South, Irish in New England, American Indians in the Dakotas, Mexicans in Texas or California. Adapting it to a 21st plutocracy is tricky, not because of demographics, but because there can never be that many rich people, and so many more people will have to be relegated to the dominated classes, that racial or ethnic cues won’t be useful.

So far, the solution has been to buy politics wholesale. The contest between Republicans and Democrats becomes a scripted reality show, and the only problem is for the scriptwriters to come up with a set of villainous parts for the Republican spokesmodel politicians to play, which also serve to explain to Democratic-identified voters, why the Democrats always deliver conservative, pro-plutocratic policy.

If a faction of one Party or the other were to slip the noose of Big Money Politics, and seek to represent someone other than the plutocrats and big business, that would be news, and the dynamics of partisan competition would again matter to policy outcomes. Voter ID and vote suppression efforts are mostly an effort to see that that no one, in either Party, leaves the plutocratic reservation, by making such mass appeals to the economically disinvested less likely to succeed, by raising yet another resource barrier to their implementation. Big Money Politics requires that Big Money is the one absolute essential to successful partisan efforts, with votes never available to an alternative strategy.

I would not expect Democrats to mount effective or more than locally successful (where it has symbolic, not substantive importance) resistance to Republican efforts to enact Voter ID, vote suppression and other quasi-property-qualification electoral reforms. These kinds of laws are just not a mortal threat to a pro-plutocratic Democratic Party. In fact, they are reinforcement for the establishment forces in the Party, in their competition against the vestigial populist and the more sincere of the self-described “progressive” elements.

25

Bruce Wilder 06.28.13 at 6:28 pm

The alleged Republican demographic problem may solve itself, because that part of the Republican base, which is most hostile to including Hispanics, will die off quickly.

The need to keep Republicans crazy will continue as long as it works to keep Obama (and Hilary?) plausible to Democrats.

26

148poundsofjoy 06.28.13 at 6:45 pm

Continuing in the “if this was I post I had written” vein: criticism of Republican voting suppression rings fairly partisan without recognition and criticism of the other ways both parties actively limit voter choice: gerrymandering, signature and other ballot access requirements, complex campaign finance laws making criminals out of the unfavored and uninitiated, etc. Here in City, Cook County, Illinois I can count on one hand the competitive general elections in the last ten years at any level – city, county, state, or federal – with most having been school board (x elected out of y candidates) and the 2010 state governor (Quinn) and Senate (Kirk) elections. Many (all but school board in our April 2013 city and state election) of our general elections are simply unopposed. And this certainly occurs elsewhere throughout the state and country. Voter suppression certainly ain’t good, but it’s far from the only limit placed on the electorate.

27

Barry 06.28.13 at 7:26 pm

mpower69 :

” I don’t necessarily disagree with this post’s specifics, but I do believe that the author here (like most older/boomer observers) is mischaracterizing the rise/influence of populist conservatism. These are not extremists.”

This is a flat-out lie; the actions and motivations of the Tea Party are clear, and extremists is precisely what they are.

” An objective observer would have a difficult task if asked to draw distinctions between the liberal/Dem platform and the “establishment” GOP. “

Again, flat-out lie. They’re a lot closer than I’d like, but they are clearly different.

28

Barry 06.28.13 at 7:27 pm

Bruce Wilder 06.28.13 at 6:28 pm

” The alleged Republican demographic problem may solve itself, because that part of the Republican base, which is most hostile to including Hispanics, will die off quickly.”

Where ‘quickly’ means ‘in one to two decades’. The Tea Party skews old, but not that old.

29

Glen Tomkins 06.28.13 at 7:44 pm

I don’t see striking down VRA’s section 5 as presenting the Rs with any appreciable, useful, voter suppression opportunities. Therefore I don’t think there will be much in the way of exploitation of such opportunities in the old Confederacy. Oh, maybe some piling on, just to indulge the segregationists’ feelings on the subject, but they don’t really have to exploit the ruling’s direct effects to achieve any practical advantage, so they will probably mostly avoid such.

This is because the segregationists have long since built up their defenses against whatever effect section 5 was ever going to have as a tool for an anti-segregationist attack on Jim Crow voting. The effective stuff — lifelong denial of the franchise to felons, and making felons out of a huge chunk of the black population; caging black voters into a few majority minority CDs per state; having local elections off the federal cycle — isn’t touched by VRA scrutiny. Chiseling down a few further % points of the black vote might conceivably swing statewide races in AZ, VA or NC, but those aren’t the states where the legislature is deep red enough to get aggressive anyway. There’s no further blood to be squeezed from the electoral turnip in states like SC or LA where the lege is radical enough to go radical on voter suppression. These states aren’t going blue in statewide contests until sometime after the Millennium, and they have their minority majority CDs already carved out.

In general, the black vote is static in size, and entrenched in its pattern of voting and not voting. The real fighting is going to occur in areas of the battlefield that aren’t already covered five trench systems deep.

I think there is much greater potential for voter suppression mischief in the reasoning the five used in throwing out section 5. I haven’t seen any useful commentary on that, and I’m not a constitutional lawyer myself, so I haven’t even tried to read the decision to figure out that reasoning.

That rationale is important because the US system has this Achilles heel (Among many! I don’t understand why the US Constitution is at all admired.), that individual states divide the power to decide who votes, in even federal elections, with the federal govt. SCOTUS polices that division, so what the policemen will and won’t let the federal govt enforce on states is hugely important to the fundamental question of any representative form of govt — who gets to vote.

There are all sorts of really effective things that R state leges could do to actually suppress big chunks of the vote far outside the Old Confederacy, but that would be questionably allowed by SCOTUS. Not that I think they would do this per se and openly, because it would be unpopular, but something I mention just as a reminder of how wide state discretion could be in withholding the franchise if they get a friendly SCOTUS — nothing in the Constitution keeps states from denying the franchise on the basis of wealth or income. They would have to achieve the same effect more indirectly to get past the court of public opinion, but exactly what they have to do to get past the Supreme Court was probably made clearer by this VRA ruling. I think that’s where the true importance f this ruling will eventually prove to lie, what standard of SCOTUS scrutiny of voter suppression it sets forth, not that it threw out section 5.

30

Suzanne 06.28.13 at 7:52 pm

24: “The Republican Party and both social and economic conservatism actually has quite a bit of appeal among Hispanic voters. Even on border control issues, a pretty big slice of Hispanic voters sympathize with some Republican positions.”

Republicans have been trying to capitalize on this alleged affinity with little success, and not only because of the GOP’s position on illegal immigration. Immigrants tend to need government services to help get on their feet, and the Republican Party is actively hostile to the social safety net. (The Democratic Party is only passively hostile.)

31

Wonks Anonymous 06.28.13 at 8:06 pm

I’m with Suzanne. And Matthew Yglesias:
http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/11/06/hispanics_and_the_affordable_care_act_latinos_love_obamacare.html
Republican policies are generally not that popular, except among white Christians. The people who care the most about immigration are ineligible to vote, other hispanics prioritize other issues.

And European immigrants were always considered white. There was a thing called Jim Crow (as well as immigration acts to exclude Asians). It didn’t apply to them.

32

Bruce Wilder 06.28.13 at 8:14 pm

Most Hispanic voters are not immigrants, and many are not entirely sympathetic to immigrants, for a variety of reasons. (Not an endorsement of their views.)

Barry @ 28 — The Republican establishment and apparatchiks are working pretty hard on the issue. It’s as tough as it is, because it is a local issue, expressed differently in different states. In many southern States, particularly Appalachia, immigration is a fairly recent or small-scale phenomena on the ground. It’s felt as a mortal threat in Arizona. In Florida, not really an issue at all, since older Cubans were long identified with the Republican Party. California and Texas are where change will play out in this decade. California’s Republican Party — the Orange County / San Diego party of white suburbanites — is a dinosaur and way ahead of the national curve. It dominated the State in living memory and now cannot get even one-third of the legislature. You won’t have to wait decades for die-off to kickin in California. Texas could be whole enchilada for partisan competition, because Texas could flip between the Parties over the next two election cycles, and there will be enormous pressure of Republicans in that state to adapt their coalition strategically, to prevent that from happening.

33

Barry 06.28.13 at 8:15 pm

“And European immigrants were always considered white. There was a thing called Jim Crow (as well as immigration acts to exclude Asians). It didn’t apply to them.”

No; Jim Crow leaned on black people, specifically, but that didn’t mean European immigrants were white – they just weren’t black. I remember somebody posting a link on a blog (probably Lawyers, Guns and Money) to the case where Finns were declared to be Caucasian. Formerly, they were classified as Asians.

34

Bruce Wilder 06.28.13 at 8:18 pm

Wonks Anonymous: European immigrants were always considered white.

Not really. Many Catholic and Jewish immigrants in the great wave of immigration at the end of the 19th and first decades of the 20th century were regarded as alien to British and German heritage, and racial categories were often used to classify these groups. And, the hostility shaped the Republican Party identity and agenda at the time.

35

Glen Tomkins 06.28.13 at 8:47 pm

“…there will be enormous pressure of Republicans in that state to adapt their coalition strategically…”

No strategy change can unmake R segregationism. At the outset, maybe, it made sense to talk about a Southern Strategy, a play for the segregationist vote as a strategy that the party could dial up or dial back. That has long since ceased to be the case. Racism is a feature to the people who control the party, it’s not a bug. It’s the reason the party exists, and no longer a strategy they can leave behind.

36

Stephen 06.28.13 at 9:10 pm

JH: “the [Republican} party will now pursue measures that are inconsistent with making any credible attempt to not be a regional, ethnocentric party.”

Very possibly. But remind me: with all this Red State/Blue State business, are the Democrats not also a regional party? Or is the point that the Democrat region is, at the moment, larger than the Republican?

As for ethnocentricity: is the point that the Republicans are more monoethnocentric, the Democrats polyethnocentric?

Asking out of a genuine desire to understand American politics, which from foreign perspectives can seem very odd indeed.

37

Suzanne 06.28.13 at 9:57 pm

32:” Most Hispanic voters are not immigrants, and many are not entirely sympathetic to immigrants, for a variety of reasons. (Not an endorsement of their views.)”

More Hispanic voters are being born in the US rather than immigrating and the Hispanic community is no monolith, but it’s still true that many Hispanic voters appreciate the need for government services and for sound reasons.

http://www.pewhispanic.org/2012/04/04/v-politics-values-and-religion/?src=prc-number

There is indeed a notion some GOPers have that they can reach out to the “good” Hispanics who are “natural” Republicans who just need to hear the right cues to make a switch. For partisan reasons I hope they stay with this line of thought, but it’s a misleading one.

38

jre 06.28.13 at 10:15 pm

Great stuff.

For my part, I am now looking for a conversational opener to make use of some of the more trenchant observations Matt has found under a rock elicited from his commenters.

I’ll remark, stroking my chin thoughtfully, “well, in my view your proposed agenda is, at best, suicidal folly … [long pause] … at worst, it’s outright treason.”

It’ll get me on everybody’s A-list, I tells ya.

39

Phil 06.28.13 at 11:14 pm

Me @7:

“call[ing] a statement “a bit racist” … doesn’t come out sounding like “a bit reactionary” or even “a bit prejudiced” – more like “a bit Klan-like” or “a bit Nazi”. As a result, people whose statements might actually be a bit racist, and who might benefit from reflecting on how and why, can not only bat away the accusation but respond with quite genuine moral outrage – how dare you call me a racist?”

‘Greg’, commenting at Matt Lewis’s column:

“Ahhhh, it’s pretty pathetic that people who have no argument or any other card in their hand when they bring out the “RACE-CARD”. What’s next, the terms xenophobia and Nazi? There are plenty of us who are against amnesty, and it doesn’t have anything to do with race; it has to do with cultural differences and unacceptable “cultural norms” that Mexicans are bringing in with them, including lawlessness, ungratefulness, and the expectation that we’re supposed to raise their standard of living (while they destroy ours).”

40

Jeff R. 06.28.13 at 11:31 pm

Bruce @32: Texas’s GOP is at least as dinosaurian as California if not more so; it just happens to still have enough mass to swing around and win despite itself. Once it flips, and there’s almost no possible way to see that being prevented entirely, it’s not ever flipping back, and it becomes a matter of demonstrating just how strongly/quickly the overall political system abhors a permanent majority and turns the GOP into a third party.

This will probably be accelerated by most of the evangelical/social right giving up on politics entirely once the Supreme Court has 7 young(ish) liberals on it and the GOP is unable to even sell the hope of shiting it on their issues

41

bad Jim 06.29.13 at 2:21 am

Stephen @36: Democrats are spread all around the country, dominating the densely populated northeast, northern midwest, and the Pacific coast, with an increasing share of the southwest, while Republicans dominate the sparsely populated prairie and western states and the more densely populated south. In 2012 Democrats won the white vote in the northwest, split it on the west coast, and narrowly lost it in the midwest. Southern whites overwhelmingly voted Republican.

While historically and in theory Hispanics might choose either party, California Republicans decisively alienated Latinos with anti-immigrant measures, and now Arizona and Texas are going down the same road. They can’t help themselves. The party is dominated by racists, and that alone is enough to drive away the growing Asian population, and may lose them the generations who grow up in multi-ethnic communities.

42

Glen Tomkins 06.29.13 at 6:09 am

Stephen,

You don’t have to be looking in from a foreign perspective to find American politics — especially in respect to race and ethnicity — very odd indeed.

It’s not that the Rs are monolithic in respect to ethnic, cultural or linguistic heritage, they’re just the party that currently panders more to the nativist strain in US politics. That nativist chauvinism has this difference from nationalistic chauvinism of more nearly monolingual and monoethnic countries, that it has to construct an artificial unity and homogeneity out of the actually very diverse origins of the people of the US. So you can have Jews and Catholics (Irish, Italian, Polish origins) as some of the most outspoken advocates of the current manifestation of a nativist tradition that once branded them as incorrigibly other, deadly threats to the supposed true Americanism whose standard could only be born by white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants. The Rs would claim that they would be just as ready to assimilate the new outsiders, it’s not any racial animus, it’s just that the new outsiders actually are culturally inferior. Unlike all those earlier versions of US nativism that branded Irish as drunkards, and Poles as hopelessly stupid, or Italians as gangsters; they think their animus is objective and rational. All those stereotypes were untrue back then, of course, and they denounce them as racism, but the same stereotypes are true of the new outsiders, and they’re against Hispanics and blacks today because they think these stereotypes really are true of them.

43

Hidari 06.29.13 at 9:48 am

I notice that those who claim there are ‘big’ or ‘huge’ differences between the ironically named ‘Democrats’ and the ironically named ‘Republicans’ are not going into any great detail about what those differences actually are, political rhetoric notwithstanding.

44

Mao Cheng Ji 06.29.13 at 10:32 am

Suppose all this is, in the end, about the distribution of economic resources, and ethnocentrism (as well the opposite of it, as well as every other cultural gimmick) is just a red herring. In that case, when ethnocentrism becomes counterproductive, they will just switch to something else; I dunno, the dignity of tattoos vs. the disgrace of body piercing, or something. All you need is some phony burning issue.

45

Manta 06.29.13 at 10:56 am

Mao, it seems to me that, after foreign policy, economic topics is where the 2 parties differ less.

46

Ben Alpers 06.29.13 at 1:00 pm

I notice that those who claim there are ‘big’ or ‘huge’ differences between the ironically named ‘Democrats’ and the ironically named ‘Republicans’ are not going into any great detail about what those differences actually are, political rhetoric notwithstanding.

Well, you can start with all the five-four Supreme Court rulings.

Obamacare.

A large suite of issues focused on women (e.g. reproductive freedom, domestic violence, and equal pay).

Climate change.

In each of these areas, the Democrats leave a lot to be desired. The shared economic assumptions between the two parties are very real and terrible. And the entire system tends rightward; Democratic environmental and healthcare policies in the 2010s are often Heritage Foundation policies of the early 1990s. The overall system is very broken in ways that assure that, relatively speaking, that the very wealthy can’t lose, and the rest of us can’t win. And the system is probably incable of internal improvement.

But the differences between the Democrats and the GOP are still very real. And real, additional suffering takes place on the margins when Republicans win.

47

Barry 06.29.13 at 1:00 pm

Mao, the difference is that ethnocentrism changes very slowly. The big ethnic issue for the past few years is that we in the USA got to the point where Hispanics were now candidates to ‘become white’, from the viewpoint of the party which cares about that. The Base resoundingly said ‘no’. This is likely to change, but probably it will take a generation.

48

Barry 06.29.13 at 1:02 pm

Glen: “It’s not that the Rs are monolithic in respect to ethnic, cultural or linguistic heritage…”

Wrong.

49

Hidari 06.29.13 at 2:00 pm

@46
As I think is tolerably well-known, Obamacare (or Romneycare as it should really be called) is almost literally identical to Mitt Romney’s Mass. Heath Reform Bill. Romney felt duty bound to lie about this during the election run up (Obama of course proudly proclaimed that it was a Republican idea) but that’s just politicking, as is current Republican objections to Obamacare.

The Violence Against Women act is indeed laudable although we should be very careful to see how this ‘new’ funding will actually work in practice. This act has also been criticised on various grounds (which I pass on without comment, merely to note that it is not an uncontroversial bill cf here (http://nation.time.com/2013/02/27/whats-wrong-with-the-violence-against-women-act/).

Again with climate change. Obama’s new speech is admirable, but he has a habit of making big promises which he has no intention of keeping, then working secretly with his Republican ‘enemies’ to gut them, and then turning round and pretending that it was all the Republicans’ fault. We should very much wait and see about this one.

Of course an accurate balance sheet should also include all the very many ways in which Obama is objectively worse than Bush and indeed almost any Republican: cf his murder (‘drone’) campaign, his murder of avowedly innocent American citizens, his historically unprecedented attack on civil liberties and basic freedoms, and so on.

50

jake the snake 06.29.13 at 2:03 pm

@ Bexley #6

The cherry on the sundae: referring to Mickey Kaus as a Democrat. That’s just adorable.
Yeah that really got my goat.

I saw what you did there.

51

Ben Alpers 06.29.13 at 2:16 pm

Hidari @49:

As I think is tolerably well-known, Obamacare (or Romneycare as it should really be called) is almost literally identical to Mitt Romney’s Mass. Heath Reform Bill. Romney felt duty bound to lie about this during the election run up (Obama of course proudly proclaimed that it was a Republican idea) but that’s just politicking, as is current Republican objections to Obamacare.

Except the choice Americans face is not Republicans in Massachusetts a decade ago vs. national Democrats today. It’s national Democrats today vs. national Republicans today. There’s unquestionably a ratchet effect in our politics. One of the tragedies of our political system is that today’s Republican policies are probably tomorrow’s Democratic ones. But that doesn’t make them no different from today‘s Democratic policies. And the process isn’t stopped by empowering Republicans. Indeed, it only speeds up.

Of course an accurate balance sheet should also include all the very many ways in which Obama is objectively worse than Bush and indeed almost any Republican: cf his murder (‘drone’) campaign, his murder of avowedly innocent American citizens, his historically unprecedented attack on civil liberties and basic freedoms, and so on.

Except, again, Republicans today support all these policies (even Rand Paul only objects to using drones against US citizens on American soil, something even the President doesn’t support). There’s precisely zero evidence that electing Republicans will make any of these things better.

52

Ben Alpers 06.29.13 at 2:17 pm

Glen Tompkins @29:

Chiseling down a few further % points of the black vote might conceivably swing statewide races in AZ, VA or NC, but those aren’t the states where the legislature is deep red enough to get aggressive anyway.

You haven’t been paying much attention to the NC legislature recently, have you?

53

jake the snake 06.29.13 at 2:22 pm

@mpower69 #23
I take your point, however, I don’t know that the populist left and populist right could or should form a coalition. I am not a believer in “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Considering my myself a Social-Democrat, or sometimes a “Leftatarian”, I don’t see that much in common with the Tea Party other than a distaste for the centrist establishment.

54

Uncle Kvetch 06.29.13 at 2:36 pm

even Rand Paul only objects to using drones against US citizens on American soil, something even the President doesn’t support

Sadly, no:

“I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on. If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him…”

There’s nothing to be gained from looking for consistency or principle in Rand Paul. His “anti-drone” position was basically a dog whistle to the paranoid rightists who are absolutely convinced that Obama is coming to round them up and throw them in concentration camps.

There’s unquestionably a ratchet effect in our politics. One of the tragedies of our political system is that today’s Republican policies are probably tomorrow’s Democratic ones. But that doesn’t make them no different from today‘s Democratic policies. And the process isn’t stopped by empowering Republicans. Indeed, it only speeds up.

Very well put. Thank you. It’s an awful situation, but a stance of “they’re all the same” does nothing to improve it. In a lot of ways that count, they are. In others, they’re most definitely not.

his historically unprecedented attack on civil liberties and basic freedoms

I give Obama’s record on civil liberties a solid F-minus, but “historically unprecedented”? Please.

55

Bruce Wilder 06.29.13 at 3:35 pm

Ben Alpers: Except the choice Americans face . . .

The people, who make up the menu are in charge, not those of us, who are allowed to choose from the menu they present us.

What I don’t quite grasp is the enthusiasm for this state of affairs.

56

Mao Cheng Ji 06.29.13 at 4:20 pm

“Mao, it seems to me that, after foreign policy, economic topics is where the 2 parties differ less.”

Exactly. Two parties, splitting the electorate down the middle, engaged in a ferocious never-ending battle against each other. But no matter which one is in charge, the empire lives on, the rich get richer, and the poor poorer.

The current alignment has existed for about 50 years; but if this one doesn’t hold anymore, what’s more likely: some epochal triumph of one party, or merely a re-alignment along slightly different lines?

57

Ben Alpers 06.29.13 at 4:48 pm

Bruce Wilder @55:

The people, who make up the menu are in charge, not those of us, who are allowed to choose from the menu they present us.

What I don’t quite grasp is the enthusiasm for this state of affairs.

I’m basically in agreement with this. But I’d add that one does not have to be at all enthusiastic about the choice to recognize that it is a real choice, though a lousy one.

58

Ben Alpers 06.29.13 at 4:51 pm

(That second sentence in my last comment was also quoting Bruce Wilder)

59

Rakesh Bhandari 06.29.13 at 5:29 pm

Haven’t read commentary on this or even about the Shelby decision, but in response to the OP, these two points may be relevant.

1. Harvard Prof Steven Ansolabehere’s analyses of the electorate. After the first Obama victory, I think that he showed that what made the difference was not more youth turnout for Obama and more white, “guilt-ridden” liberal support for Obama but simply Obama’s success in winning back for the Democrats a substantial majority of the Latino vote (Bush had basically split it) and increasing black turnout. This is my vague recollection of a piece that he published in the Boston Review.

2. With Adelman’s biography of Albert Hirschman widely discussed, perhaps we can look for an exit/voice angle to this. In Exit, Voice and Loyalty Hirschman shows how an extremist minority within a party that thinks it has no viable exit option may use voice to capture that party to the detriment of the electoral chances of the party. If I remember correctly–and it’s been years since I read the book–Hirschman actually analyzes Barry Goldwater’s influence on Republicans in terms of his framework. Such an analysis may be relevant again.

60

Rakesh Bhandari 06.29.13 at 5:42 pm

Rajiv Sethi summarizes the possibly relevant part of Hirschman’s argument:

there is one arena, that of political competition, in which both mechanisms [exit and voice] are critical. In this setting, taking account of voice leads to sharply different predictions than theories based only on exit. Hirschman’s critique of the Hotelling-Downs analysis of political competition (and the median voter theorem it implies) is devastating:
As soon as the Hotelling model had been thus refurbished by Downs, its power to explain reality was again cast into doubt by the undisciplined vagaries of history. The selection by the Republican party of Goldwater in 1964… testified to the extreme reluctance of at least one party to conform to the Hotelling-Downs scenario…
[It was not] Hotelling’s original assumption of inelastic demand… that was wrong or unrealistic, but the inference that the “captive” consumer (or voter) who has “nowhere else to go” is the epitome of powerlessness. True, he cannot exit… but just because of that he… will be maximally motivated to bring all sorts of potential influence into play so as to keep… the party from doing things that are highly obnoxious to him… in a two-party system a party will not necessarily behave as the Hotelling-Downs vote-maximizer because “those who have nowhere else to go” are not powerless but influential.

With modern communication technologies able to transmit, coordinate and amplify voice to an unprecedented degree, these insights have more relevance than ever.

61

L 06.29.13 at 8:57 pm

I guess I need a few things filled in:

Why do Republicans need moderates? How many moderates do they have now?

Why would racist suppression of the vote not work this time when it worked so well for so many years? What is different about the present as opposed to the past?

It will get ugly and they will attract the voters that like ugly and there seems to be lots of them.

Do we need to assume there is natural arc of racial progress? Might it also happen that things will decline and get worse as whites start to become a minority and they get more entrenched?

62

Marc 06.29.13 at 9:10 pm

We have direct evidence about what this does in US politics; in 2012 it backfired dramatically. The obvious disenfranchisement efforts failed in states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania – none of which require pre-clearance. It wouldn’t surprise me, actually, to see this overturned by Congress – the big issue would be whether a region here or there should be added or subtracted.

The reason why Republicans care is that they still need to win national and state-wide elections, and antagonizing both minorities and non-racists whites is objectively a losing strategy now. If they lose their grip on the state governors they also lose control of redistricting – in which case the Republican party will be reduced to a regional one capable of contesting none of the three branches of government.

63

Glen Tomkins 06.29.13 at 9:13 pm

Ben @52,

Exactly. You can get away with being much more extremely anti-poor than anti-black. The other side is going to be much more aggressively anti-poor in the whatever voter suppression plans it has than anti-black.

The NC lege is much more likely to do something like impose a length-of-residence restriction on voting (to prevent voting fraud during registration to vote, of course), than anything anti-black. Make it restrictive enough, and you can go a far way towards an effective disenfranchisement of apartment dwellers. Of course you give people who live at these less stable addresses some workaround, you just make it cumbersome, so when they fail to jump through all hoops, you can once again blame the undeserving poor, who are that way because they’re lazy. You get a lot more done in the way of voter suppression if you take this broader approach, and it’s more acceptable than directly targeting blacks.

That’s my point. The VRA prevented stuff that mostly you can’t get away with any more anyway because the climate of opinion has changed. You can’t talk about lazy undeserving blacks anymore. It’s lazy undeserving poor people you talk about, it’s those urban voters who aren’t really American in their outlook and their values.

So sure, the NC lege is radical from my point of view and yours, as they end unemployment benefits. Doing that in the middle of a slump in demand means that they are so radically anti-poor that they are willing to tank the economy and make everyone suffer just to punish the unemployed. That’s the radical you can get away with now, but that’s radical the VRA doesn’t touch.

64

Bruce Wilder 06.29.13 at 11:37 pm

Ben Alpers: . . . one does not have to be at all enthusiastic about the choice to recognize that it is a real choice, though a lousy one.

I don’t want to be so impolite as to call out anyone in this thread, and I’ve already taken my quota of whacks at Scott Lemieux, so here’s a quotation from Mark Kleiman, of samefacts.com (commenting on Obama taking the absolute minimum of action on coal power plants):

This illustrates why I’m so relentlessly partisan, and so impatient with those who enjoy displaying their moral superiority by distancing themselves from the President when he screws up. There are a dozen key issues – not just environmental management but also taxation, income support, health care, labor/management, racial equality, reproductive freedom, gay rights, civil liberty, public management and respect for public service, science and education, defense, foreign policy, international human rights – where any Democrat who gets elected President will be incomparably better than any Republican who gets elected President, and where Democratic control of the Congress will lead to better results than Republican control. They’re still for torture.

There are lots of issues – including my own pet topics of drug abuse and crime control – where this Administration’s record has fallen far short of the ideal. That will be true of any actual Democratic Administration. I expect to be deeply disappointed by Hillary Clinton’s performance on a range of topics. And that won’t keep me from working my heart out to elect her, and re-elect her, and elect whatever Democrat aims to succeed her.</blockquote

This is what I have in mind, when I say, I cannot understand the enthusiasm. We can say, as Anderson did to me, earlier, that we should refrain from making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good. But, is Obama even Good?

Is it a "real" choice, as Ben says, or is it a "real choice" carefully calibrated into a false choice? Is the difference carefully calibrated — and timed, because remember with Obama the promise and the delivery follow a predictable glide path toward de minimus — to prevent Hirshman's exit and/0r rebellion of the radical base.

I've tried to point out before, that in the 2012 Presidential election, Obama's campaign managed the campaign precisely to get a certain, but small margin of victory. Romney, the worst Republican candidate, at least since Herbert Hoover went fishing, Benjamin Harrison shook a hand, or, maybe, ever, left them with plenty of ammunition upspent. There was no serious effort to challenge Republican control of the House. (Marc @ 62 ought to remember the 2010 campaign, Democrats demoralized, and Dictatorial Daddy Republican governors winning in several major states, and Republican legislatures in a majority of states just in time for re-districting. Nothing is back-firing, here, except Obama.)

No where in 2012 did I see the Scott Lemieux and Mark Kleimann's calling for primaries battles against Democratic members of Congress, or protest votes for third-party candidates, in safe Democratic states.

Rakesh Bhandari @ 60 says,

With modern communication technologies able to transmit, coordinate and amplify voice to an unprecedented degree, [Hirschman’s] insights have more relevance than ever.

Except, I wonder if that amplification hasn’t just led to more and better means of writing and presenting a menu, in way that manipulates far more effectively, using exit and voice to herd the cattle, us, in much the way that a cowboy uses loud noises, the scent of water from the distance, a strategically open gate, and a cattle prod. We can’t make use of Exit or Voice to make choices of our choice, unless we can see the manipulation for what it is, and who it serves.

65

Bruce Wilder 06.29.13 at 11:38 pm

Wow. screwed up the blockquote big time.

66

Andrew F. 06.30.13 at 12:36 am

Well, I think Shelby is a good illustration of the difference between the ideological values and struggles of the Supreme Court, and the ideological values and struggles of electoral politics.

Shelby is “political” for the Court, insofar as it was an opportunity for the conservatives to continue their rollback of the expansion of federal power that the Supreme Court undertook for much of the 20th century (justifiable expansion, I might add). This is a change that has been underway for two decades now, and the outcome here isn’t any surprise. Roberts’s opinion was creative in its elaboration of a particular thread of federalism as a rationale, but not new in its determination to subject areas of collision between state and federal powers to increased judicial scrutiny relative to a previous era.

But for Republicans in the political branches of government, Shelby shouldn’t be a welcome decision. Rather than simply removing preclearance altogether (possibly net positive for Republicans, though that’s unclear), or simply allowing the statute to stand altogether (possibly net negative for Republicans, but also unclear), the Court essentially revived the VRA as a possible political issue (certainly net negative for Republicans).

I would expect to see the GOP delay preclearance as much as possible by insisting on compiling an adequate legislative record and rationale for it to pass judicial scrutiny in light of Shelby, but otherwise I don’t expect the GOP to say much about it at all. They’ll make positive noises about continuing to preserve and expand the enormous strides our nation has made towards becoming a truly color-blind society, and when it comes time to vote, they’ll vote yes for the most part.

All strictly imho, of course.

67

Ben Alpers 06.30.13 at 3:37 am

Bruce Wilder @64:

Is it a “real” choice, as Ben says, or is it a “real choice” carefully calibrated into a false choice?

Not to sound like a broken record here, but one does not have to believe it is the choice that Democrats say it is to believe that it is a choice. Things get worse faster when the Republicans are in charge, even if the best that Democrats offer is things getting worse at a slightly slower rate. That is a choice. And because I don’t think that things getting worse faster hastens the day when we have better choices, I will continue to vote for things getting worse slower, while reminding myself (and others) that not all politics is electoral politics.

68

Rakesh Bhandari 06.30.13 at 9:08 am

Hi Bruce,
What you were quoting above is from Rajiv Sethi on Hirschman, not from what I wrote. The point you make is interesting as I understand it. For example social media may be used to prevent what would have been earlier the exercise of exit options that may still be in the best interest of certain groups to use.

69

Hidari 06.30.13 at 9:44 am

“I give Obama’s record on civil liberties a solid F-minus, but “historically unprecedented”? Please.”

The Obama administration has charged more people (six) under the Espionage Act for the alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidencies combined. /strong>(Prior to Obama, there were only three such cases in American history, one being Daniel Ellsberg, of Nixon-era Pentagon Papers fame.)” (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/obamas-whistleblowers-stuxnet-leaks-drones)

“There’s nothing to be gained from looking for consistency or principle in Rand Paul.”

Doubtless true, although it also goes times ten for Barack Obama, except that in Obama’s case it matters so much more, given that he’s the President. In any case, compared to whom? The oh-so-courageous Democrats who failed to support Paul’s fillibuster, purely and solely because he was a Republican, and because, therefore, short-term political gain could be achieved from ignoring an action in favour of civil liberties (whatever Paul’s motivations?)?

“One of the tragedies of our political system is that today’s Republican policies are probably tomorrow’s Democratic ones.”*

But that cuts both ways doesn’t it? Ipso facto, today’s Democratic policies are tomorrow’s Republican policies.* Now that the White House has established that viciously attacking whistleblowers is acceptable, can anyone doubt that Republicans will run with this if and when they next gain power? CF Also the NSA revelations. True, these were mainly Republican ideas, but they were implemented, funded, expanded and extended by Obama, and sure as eggs is eggs, when the public face of the White House changes, these policies will stay in place, with the excuse that ‘the other guys said it was ok’.

Incidentally, straw man alert. I never claimed, or stated, that the parties were literally identical. I said that in some respects the Republicans were the worse party (mainly on social issues and anything to do with Labor issues, welfare, and immigration). In other respects, (foreign policy, mainly (historically speaking), and issues to do with civil liberties) generally speaking the Democrats are worse.

*LIke Romneycare, implemented by Obama, you mean?

70

Hidari 06.30.13 at 9:50 am

The OP incidentally, asks implicitly what will happen to the moderate Republicans. But there is already a place for moderate Republicans. It is called the Democratic (sic) Party.

http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/Politics/obama-considered-moderate-republican-1980s/story?id=17973080#.Uc_-XTuPtcw

71

agm 06.30.13 at 1:17 pm

The Republican Party has tuned itself to welcome Cubans, thinking that this shows that they welcome Hispanics into the party and are well positioned to handle the ongoing shift in US demographics. The problem with this proposition is that it isn’t true. In essence, Cubans are white while Mexicans are brown, allowing the Republican Party to claim it has made its tent bigger without ever shifting its core identity the way it would have to in order attract browns or blacks.

Perhaps this sounds far-fetched, but really, it’s no surprise if you are a member of these groups, or of any group descended from Spanish colonizers. Rich and influential families often took efforts to maintaining “pure” family bloodlines, with varying levels of success. In Cuba, as on many other island colonies, the planter class was much more successful than in Mexico, so many of the emigres when Castro took over were very white compared to your typical Mexican immigrant.

This means that the efforts to push for openly racist policies in states on the Mexican border result in the Republican Party failing to attract large blocks of Hispanic voters, because they have failed to see fundamental identity differences, instead lumping anyone with a bit of Spanish ancestry because the Census Bureau invented the catch-all “Hispanic”.

72

Uncle Kvetch 06.30.13 at 2:07 pm

The Obama administration has charged more people (six) under the Espionage Act for the alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidencies combined.

Well, if the category is “civil liberties and basic freedoms,” I’ll see your six people charged under the Espionage Act and raise you 110,000 Japanese-Americans relocated to concentration camps during WWII.

In other respects, (foreign policy, mainly (historically speaking), and issues to do with civil liberties) generally speaking the Democrats are worse.

Foreign policy? Again, several hundred thousand dead Iraqis might pick a bone with your definition of “worse”?

Is a modicum of perspective too much to ask? Or are “Worse than Hitler” and “Dear Leader” really the only options?

73

ChrisB 07.01.13 at 1:38 am

Speaking as a foreigner, I would have said that the position statement for American presidents includes the line “War criminal”. Some of them seem to enjoy it more than others, but they all have to show willing.

74

Barry 07.01.13 at 1:16 pm

Marc: “The reason why Republicans care is that they still need to win national and state-wide elections, and antagonizing both minorities and non-racists whites is objectively a losing strategy now. If they lose their grip on the state governors they also lose control of redistricting – in which case the Republican party will be reduced to a regional one capable of contesting none of the three branches of government.”

‘Objectively’ is a not a word usually associated with GOP thinking, and especially the Base :)

I think that what will hit them (later, rather than sooner) will be a wave election which overpowers the effects of their gerrymandering, which would then result in state by state removal of gerrymandering. If the GOP has continued on in the ‘apre moi, le deluge’ strategy, there’ll be a number of states which switch suddenly to strong Democratic control.

The two questions are, of course are:first – when? I imagine that the people currently running the GOP don’t care about the far future; they’ll be dead/have stolen enough for a lucrative retirement. Given the 2014 election will probably break their way, and an excellent shot at the presidency in 2016, they’ll looking at the sh*twave hitting them in 2024. Lots of time. And, of course, that’s assuming that they don’t cheat more (is redistricting according to the 2020 Census legally required? If not, why do it?).

Second, what else will happen in the mean time? Bush vs. Gore + 9/11 got them a lot; the Tea Party wave (heavily astroturfed, and helped by a media content to paint Republicans as if they were not responsible for just crashing the country) got them a lot more. Even one or two lucky breaks can give them a half decade or more of power and looting.

75

Barry 07.02.13 at 12:07 pm

jake the snake 06.29.13 at 2:22 pm
@mpower69 #23
“I take your point, however, I don’t know that the populist left and populist right could or should form a coalition. I am not a believer in “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Considering my myself a Social-Democrat, or sometimes a “Leftatarian”, I don’t see that much in common with the Tea Party other than a distaste for the centrist establishment.”

I haven’t seen any sign pf actual right-wing populism, just the usual slavish service to billionaires and megacorps, while trash-talking college professors as ‘elites’.

76

Wonks Anonymous 07.02.13 at 4:40 pm

The Naturalization act of 1790 was restricted to free white persons. European immigrants always passed that bar.

77

Ian Munro 07.02.13 at 7:58 pm

Hidari @ 69:

“LIke Romneycare, implemented by Obama, you mean?”

I’m so tired of this misleading line of argument. Two points:

1) Despite its intellectual origins in a conservative think-tank, Romneycare is not Republican policy by any reasonable measure. It was only ever vaporware, a rhetorical counter to more liberal proposals. No Republican ever considered implementing anything like it until the governor of one of the most liberal states in the country decided that it might neutralize Democratic efforts to pass something else. The overwhelming liberal majority in the Massachussets legislature thought this was liberal enough for them, and so they agreed to it.

2) Obamacare is not the same thing as Romneycare. It has the same pseudo-market mechanism, but it also includes a *massive* expansion of Medicaid. That is how most people without insurance are now going to get it, and it’s being paid for by higher taxes on rich people. Unsurprisingly, this is the aspect of Obamacare that has faced the stiffest opposition, with enormous help from the Roberts court.

And I’m just going to leave aside all the other great aspects of the law, from the banning of predatory practices to the implementation of smarter payment mechanisms to the programs related to medical records to everything else. In my perfect world, we’d have something like Medicare for all, and there are many things to dislike about Obamacare. But anyone who calls actually existing Obamacare “Republican” is spouting nonsense.

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Barry 07.03.13 at 11:54 am

Thanks, Ian – that was good coverage.

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