Let’s not gloat

george w bush Colin Powell famously endorsed Barack Obama yesterday. He joins a pretty impressive list conservative leaders who have abandoned McCain over the last few months, notably (to me, anyway) including George Will and Christopher Hitchens.

So, it looks like Obama’s a lock, and some reasonable folks are even talking about a 350 electoral vote sweep. But let’s breathe deeply — it doesn’t matter by how much Obama wins. It doesn’t even matter how great of a president he is. Eventually (read: 2016), Republicans will come back into power. The thing to do now, with the Republican party in the shambles it’s in, is to be reasonable. Don’t make Karl Rove’s mistake and start thinking about a “Permanent Democratic Majority.” Not only is it a fantasy, but it’s the stuff that moronic policy comes from (sorry, Turd Blossom).

The real question we should be asking ourselves (and this goes for Democrats as well as right-minded Republicans) is, “how can we help the Republican party become less dysfunctional.” How can we help them from nominating fools like George W. Bush in the future? There are lots of questions with easy answers floating around these days, but I haven’t heard this one asked yet, much less answered.

8 thoughts on “Let’s not gloat

  1. Define “functional.”

    The republicans have been amazingly adept at manipulating this country via moralism and fear pandering during the past 10 years, and the truth is that in the pursuit of power, that IS functional. GWB was a moron but he got himself elected and toed the party line for the most part.

    Both parties use broad stroke divisive issues (abortion, gun control, gay marriage) to draw attention away from issues that matter (fiscal regulation, erosion of civil liberties, a long list of others). In the end, neither does a terrific job of fixing the country’s problems, just applying enough band-aids to get re-elected. Short of a radical new approach to political discourse in this country, I don’t know what the hell we can do.

    I don’t have many answers either, just hope that in the event that (god willing) Obama gets elected, the inevitable swing back right isn’t someone ten times more backward than GWB.

  2. Why?

    If they wanted to avail themselves of a solution, it was staring at them right in the face after the primaries: don’t make McCain move to the right, force the “base” to meet him in the center.

    Sadly, the Republican party struck a devil’s bargain with the extreme right after Dole. They decided to abandon pragmatism in favor of extreme ideology and the culture war. It worked for them in 1996, 2000 and 2004, it worked so well that they made the fundamental mistake of not having a clear succession plan.

    Sometimes you have to let the dysfunctional crash and figure out a way out by themselves. The Democrats did it after Carter, then stumbled because they got a case of the morals after Clinton, then spend two election cycles trying to find their identity.

  3. John~

    What do I mean by ‘dysfunctional’? Good question. You’re correct that they’re sure as heck not dysfunctional at getting elected. I see the Republican party as roughly being composed of two factions: a large ignorant majority who care about gays, abortion, and teaching evolution in schools, and a small intellectual minority who pander to them as a way of promoting their free-market policies. That is a dysfunctional arrangement, and if anything nearly so stark exists in the democratic party I must be blind to it (and would love to be enlightened).

    If the social authoritarians could be thoroughly discredited, a fiscal-conservative, minimal-government, Libertarian-oriented Republican party would be nice to have around to ballance the Democrats.

    Alex puts it pretty well, although I wonder who the “them” are that “made” McCain move to the right. I suspect they made their case, and it was his decision ultimately. Just another way that the guy has tarnished a decent record for a shot at the presidency.


    I’ve got your solution. Standby.

  4. “Them” are the members of the conservative Republican establishment and sympathizers/influencers who: coopted McCain’s campaign when it was floundering (after Terry Nelson, John Weaver and Marc Salter left), promised support in the form of 527 campaigns, withdrew influence unless McCain came to their side (you know, the Limbaughs, etc) and contributed fundraising (the top republican bundlers were on Romney’s camp because he was the “true conservative”).

    Yes, it was McCain’s decision to reverse himself in so many issues that had put him at odds with the conservatives in the past. In the process he surrendered his authenticity and took down the moderates and fiscal conservatives with him.

  5. What Alex said.

    Mac sold out completely to the extreme right. They dangled the base and he did the math. And in the end “Country First” took on a different meaning.

    Look, in his defense, if there is one, in politics you surrender to the goal and hope you don’t have to compromise too much along the way, or that you can make good once you get there. It is totally human to think you can control the monster once you’re in office. It’s roughly akin to the conversation you have with yourself as you borrow money from a loan shark.

  6. Yeah, I agree with Alex too.

    What strikes me is how much stock we put in what candidates say while campaigning, when almost always the administration bears no resemblance to the picture the candidate painted. W’s “compassionate conservatism” and “uniter not divider” stuff is only the most recent example, but Bill Clinton a very similar situation.

    Not saying this is necessarily deliberate deception. Just that we should take campaign “promises” more as statements of general principle, if anything at all. We’ve determined that Obama is a reasonable, intelligent, well-meaning, and powerful person. Now all we can really hope is that hs’s able to bring that to bear on whatever ends up happening. To think that the next 4 years will be oriented around the position statements on his website is absurd. Likewise, I think McCain would make a pretty decent president, nothing reflective of the destructive campaign he’s run.

  7. Campaigns are run on static realities, as much as possible, whether manufactured or otherwise true. Which is why you rarely get candidates which are willing get into the weeds of the issues. Keep the solutions on a macro level and only come out with specifics when cornered, or in response to the other candidate’s gambit.

    You are right, they are not deliberate deceptions. They are things said in the throes of, er, passion. Like I said, without getting into the psychology of candidates, there is a commitment to a result, it could be cloaked in righteousness or altruism (the same for all practical purposes). But that commitment/goal takes precedent over the means, and some folks just draw their lines differently.

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