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The Party of No

March 23rd, 2010

One of the most striking features of the health care reform was that it was passed over the unanimous opposition of the Republican Party. This has all sorts of implications, not yet fully understood by anyone (certainly not me). To start with, it’s now clear that talk of bipartisanship, distinctions between moderate and hardline Republicans and so on, has ceased to have any meaning. If their failure to stop the health bill works against them, we may see occasional Republican votes for popular legislation that is going to get through in any case. Obama’s Employment Bill got only 6 Rep votes in the House, but passed the Senate 68-29 (or maybe 70-28) in what the NYT correctly called a rare bipartisan vote. At least the reporter on this piece, Carl Hulse, has caught up with reality, unlike the general run of Beltway pundits who still think that Obama should be pursuing bipartisanship.

In many countries, a party-line vote like this (at least on one side) would be nothing surprising. In Australia, for example, crossing the floor even once earns automatic expulsion from the Labor party and guarantees political death on the other side. But the US has never had a really tight party system, largely because, until recently,the Democrats (and before them, the Whigs) were always split on racial issues.

One problem arising from this is that the US system is more vulnerable than most to the kinds of crises that arise when one party is determined to prevent the other from governing. Passing a budget requires a majority in both Houses of Congress, and the signature of the President. If the Republicans win a majority in either House in November, it’s hard to see this happening. A repetition of the 1995 shutdown seems highly likely, and, with the financial system still very fragile, the consequences could be disastrous. The 1995 shutdown didn’t turn out too well for Newt Gingrich, but it doesn’t seem to have pushed him in the direction of moderation, and the current crop of Republicans make Newt look like a RINO.

A couple more thoughts.

The Republicans have become the Party of No in another sense. Having been the party of initiative since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, they are back to their more accustomed role as the party of reaction. The change can probably be dated back to the 2004 election, when Bush failed to privatize Social Security or maybe even in 2003 when electoral pressure pushed him into introducing the Prescription Drug Subsidy (a pork laden monster as you’d expect from Bush, but still an expansion of the welfare state).

The shift is certainly evident when you compare Obama’s first year in office with Clinton’s. Clinton was introducing policies demanded by the Republicans and their response (the Contract with America) was that he wasn’t doing nearly enough. Now, the Republicans have nothing of their own to offer, except more tax cuts (and, I guess, more torture). They are truly the Party of No.

Finally, a partial defense of Ezra Klein, who copped some flak from Glenn Greenwald for his suggestion that the uniformly negative Republican vote spelt an end to special interest votebuying. As Greenwald points out, this is false, and the big lobbies got to write large sections of Obama’s bill.

But, I think, Klein is right in observing that a particular kind of votebuying, what you might call ‘retail’, is on the way out. In a system with disciplined political parties, there’s not much point in buying individual members of Congress. Instead, interest groups have to work at the wholesale level, convincing party and factional leaders that their interests should be looked after. Unlike retail votebuying his is something of a zero-sum game, since whatever helps one party harms the other. Since politics is inevitably about competing interests to a large extent, interest groups are never going to go away. But there’s a case to made that it’s better tohave them work at the wholesale/party level, where the voters can hold the entire party to account.

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  1. gerard
    March 27th, 2010 at 16:42 | #1

    Jack I am sorry if I make you feel you need to expend so much effort in your lengthy replies.

    I don’t feel as if it’s a worthwhile discussion. e.g. “In the space of a few comments I forced you to make a complete back-flip on the source of Obama’s political base, flipping from the white majority to increased colored minority turnout”. What’s the flip? Increased minority turnout doesn’t change the fact that Obama’s polticial base is predominantly white, not “African and Mexican”. There’s no contradiction, you’re arguing about nothing. But please, don’t take this as an invitation to run another lap.

    The fact that healthcare reform has a disparate impact between the races is a matter of the relationship between race and class in America, not that it is a favor being paid to the non-white population. “And of course this totally undermines your earlier point that Obama’s racial base was the white majority, a large fraction of which demographic are not thrilled by his health care reform.” Again, what’s the contradiction? The fact that Obama’s base is majority white doesn’t contradict the fact that the Teabagger movement is almost exclusively white. Unless you think that White America shares a single mind (what should we call it, a “Race Mind”, how about that?)

    Even if I had the time to discuss the Pioneer Fund, it wouldn’t be on this particular blog. Somebody from the American Enterprise Institute called Crossburner Charlie a decent human being? Gosh, what a surprise. Who are you going to quote next, his mum?

  2. March 28th, 2010 at 12:43 | #2

    gerard@#1 said:

    Jack I am sorry if I make you feel you need to expend so much effort in your lengthy replies. I don’t feel as if it’s a worthwhile discussion.

    Dont feel sorry for me, I have had a “worthwhile discussion”. In the process of grinding your arguments into dust I have substantiated my own position more thoroughly, improving my knowledge of the US polity in four aspects:

    discovering a massive difference in minority turn-out and carve-up between 2006 Pelosi-DEMs and 2008 Obama-DEMs
    spelling out the rationale for Obama’s  health care reform priority (pay off minority base)
    fleshing out the time horizon of Obama political strategy (“fierce urgency of now” before the 2010 Congressional back-lash)
    perspective and predicting the cyclical fluctuations in the Tea-Party goers fortunes

    Do feel sorry for your self. I have exposed your social scientific pretensions as more or less illiterate (failure to comprehend repeated points) as well as innumerate (no facility with stats). You also seem to be have no shame when it comes to misrepresenting your disputants position. I am embarrassed on your behalf.

    gerard said:

    What’s the flip? Increased minority turnout doesn’t change the fact that Obama’s polticial base is predominantly white, not “African and Mexican”. The fact that Obama’s base is majority white doesn’t contradict the fact that the Teabagger movement is almost exclusively white.

    Your “flip” was to first (incorrectly) maintain that Obama’s base is white and then concede that Obama’s core election winning surge of support came from colored minorities/youth.

    Your error stems from a confusion over the meaning of “base” versus “mainstream” voter. You fail to grasp the crucial distinction between rusted-on base and swinging mainstream voters.

    A party’s base is comprised of the sizeable social groups most likely to vote for it. It is not necessarily the largest social group within the party. A member or the partisan base has a strong sense of party identification and a high marginal propensity to vote for a given party. The party’s base is thus usually “rusted-on”.

    A major party’s typical (mainstream representative) voter is more representative of the general community. (Although where a party is “broad-based” there is obviously a great deal of over-lap.) A member of the party’s mainstream has a weaker sense of partisan identification and a lower marginal propensity to vote for that party. The party’s mainstream is thus more likely to be “swinging”.

    A good democratic politician is one who skillfully manages the balancing act between the partisan base and less-partisan mainstream voters. During the campaign both parties work to get out their respective bases (DEMs minorities/younger; REPs majority/older) because they are money in their bank. During the course of the term both parties work to reassure the mainstream voters that they are not going to screw them on behalf of their base.

    The main complicating factor in US electoral competition is the issue of voter turn-out. The partisan base will by definition be party-identified but it will not necessarily be actively engaged. It may be “slumbering” whilst mainstream swinging voters could well be engaged and likely to vote.

    In the US the conflict between partisan bases and less-partisan mainstream is the source of much fun and games, esp the so-called wedge. This is the psephological gap between a party’s rusted-on base and its mainstream swinging component. Since the time of Nixon the REPs have cleverly positioned themselves as cultural populists whose party most accurately reflects the cultural interests of mainstream America. The DEMs have tried (less successfully) to position themselves as economic populists whose party most accurately reflects the economic interests of mainstream America. This is the theater of the Culture War and the Class War cross-over.

    The evidence indicates that the REPs are in for a sustained period of decline, although it is not clear whether it is part of the electoral cycle or a secular trend. It could be just a reaction to the stupendous failure of Bush. Or it could represent a more general shift in demographic identities and ideological preferences.

    For more than a generation the REPs have had the upper hand in the Class War, Cold War and Culture War. Now the abuses of the unions, Soviets and Gangs have mostly disappeared from the scene, in part due to good policy by the REPs. Recently the REPs have lost their policy edge since the GFC discredited their economic policy, their monumental folly in Iraq has discredited their foreign policy and the fall in the crime rate has taken the edge off cultural policy.

    Whether the REPs fall from policy grace will translate into a political realignment is difficult to tell. Much depends on Obama’s strategic political navigation, to allow him to tack to the Left in his second term. Like Rudd he is by nature a cautious fellow. But the REP’s self-destructive tendencies in both policy and politics are only going to make it easier for him. And his moderate triumph in health care policy shows he can deliver. But he needs to watch his cultural flanks. If he gives too much away to the ACORN Left-liberal wing then he may just succeed in re-igniting the Culture War. Not a good idea to rouse the slumbering beast of the REP base, as the Tea Party-goers show.

    gerard said:

    The fact that healthcare reform has a disparate impact between the races is a matter of the relationship between race and class in America, not that it is a favor being paid to the non-white population.

    You have made another concession to me on the racially “disparate impact” of health care. Thanks.

    Of course in the US the relationship between race and class is blurred by overlap because colored race tends to lower class. The greater the anthropological diversity the greater the tendency overlap ethnics with economics and the greater the sociological regressivity. This is the internal ideological contradiction of Left-liberalism.

    I dont care whether health care is regarded as a “favour”, “right” or “burden”. These are preachy terms, not part of science.

    gerard said:

    The fact that Obama’s base is majority white doesn’t contradict the fact that the Teabagger movement is almost exclusively white.

    Yes, it does. The DEM’s base is colored minority/younger. The REP’s base is white majority/older. Obama v Tea-Party is simply a polarisation of the existing partisan alignment. So the political-psephological divide exactly coincides with the policy-ideological divide, with Ground Zero of this conflict between Obama’s Move-On ACORN movement versus Beck’s TeaParty movement.

    gerard said:

    Even if I had the time to discuss the Pioneer Fund, it wouldn’t be on this particular blog. Somebody from the American Enterprise Institute called Crossburner Charlie a decent human being? Gosh, what a surprise. Who are you going to quote next, his mum?

    That “somebody from the American Enterprise Institute” was James Flynn, the world’s foremost Left-wing (not liberal!) proponent of the environmental acquisition of IQ hypothesis. Wikipedia reports his political affiliation:

    Flynn campaigns passionately for left-wing causes, and became an initiating member of both the NewLabour Party and of the Alliance. He also advised Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk on foreign policy.

    He was invited to AEI to debate Murray because he was an informed but friendly critic of Murray. Do you know something about Murray that he doesn’t?

    Arguing with you is like shooting fish in a barrel.

  3. gerard
    March 28th, 2010 at 13:13 | #3

    I admit Jack that I had never heard of James Flynn, yes that was ignorance on my part. Clearly you know a lot more than me about the proponents and critics of the “genetically stupid blacks” hypothesis of which you are so fond. Lacking your deep knowledge, when I saw that your link directed to the American Enterprise Institute, I made the assumption that it was just another Rightwing think tank hack praising a fellow hack. Mea culpa. It wasn’t, and the fact that Murray managed to get somebody who was neither a racist nor a partisan hack to call him a decent human being is obviously, in your opinion, a noteworthy career highlight on his part. I also admit that I don’t follow the career of Charles Murray as closely as you, it is enough for me that his reputation precedes him, as does that of his sponsors in the eugenecist Pioneer Fund.

    Now we have clarified the rest. Obama’s “base” are the people who never voted for a democrat before, but voted for Obama in this election, and more specifically, only those of which who belong to the racial groups more likely to have voted for him. We can therefore subtract white people from Obama’s base, despite the fact that most of OFA’s membership and leadership were white. Likewise, the fact that Republican base is exclusively white means that the Democrats base must be “colored”, since we cannot admit the “contradiction” that the most Democratic voters, organizers and activists are actually white, without also admitting the seemingly impossible notion that America’s “races”, and most especially the white demographic, do not in fact share a single political orientation.

  4. gerard
    March 28th, 2010 at 13:30 | #4

    PS Jack, my understanding of “base” is that it comprises the people most willing to volunteer their time and money to support their party/candidate, beyond simply casting a ballot on election day. Your understanding of “base” is that it is the ethnic group the majority of which votes for a particular candidate. I don’t know of any scientific taxonomy that we can appeal to so in this case you can therefore retain this (IMHO) peculiar definition of “base” for your purposes, but in future you might want to specify it at the outset during presentations of your Grand Unified Theories, to avoid misunderstandings among the few that don’t ignore them.

  5. Alice
    March 28th, 2010 at 17:07 | #5

    @Jack Strocchi
    Jack states
    “For more than a generation the REPs have had the upper hand in the Class War, Cold War and Culture War. Now the abuses of the unions, Soviets and Gangs have mostly disappeared from the scene, in part due to good policy by the REPs. Recently the REPs have lost their policy edge since the GFC discredited their economic policy, their monumental folly in Iraq has discredited their foreign policy and the fall in the crime rate has taken the edge off cultural policy.”

    Jack – like Gerard – I almost didnt read your post because it was so damn long but I have to say this comment is a load of bunk.

    You forgot one very important thing as to why the reps have been discredited. They imploded the worlds financial markets, brought unemployment to record highs and allowed bankers to rob wall street (and people’s savings) dry across the globe.

    The reps are out Jack or havent you noticed? No use wailing now about what they did right. What they did wrong far outweighs that.

  6. Monkey’s Uncle
    March 28th, 2010 at 17:29 | #6

    It is a bit silly to say that Obama’s racial base is primarily white, when this is only because the majority of the population is white. The only meaningful distinction to make is whether or not a candidate receives a higher or lower percentage of the vote among a particular group. The fact that Obama received fewer votes than McCain among whites but overwhelmingly won the minority vote is the only meaningful distinction.

    To apply the same logic: suppose a conservative candidate running for office receives a higher percentage of the vote among men than women, but because there are more women than men in the population ends up with a marginally higher number of female votes than male votes. By Gerard’s reasoning, you can’t make an argument for his support base being male.

    Gerard then tries to shift the goalposts of what constitutes a party or candidate’s “base” to get himself out of trouble. The idea @4 that a party’s base is generally understood to mean the people who are most likely to donate time and resources to help them get elected, rather than simply the voting demographics that tend to most reliably vote one way is frankly bizarre. Anyone who follows political debates would surely know that is not the general understanding. By that reasoning, the Labor Party’s “base” constitutes construction companies, pokie barons, and other corporations. After all, they are more likely to donate money to Labor (especially when Labor is in office and they need government approval to get ahead) than ordinary Labor voters who live in safe Labor seats.

    Finally, while it is true that a significant number of white voters in the US still support Democrats they tend to be less reliablely loyal and more likely to swing back and forth between different election cycles. Whereas blacks and certain other minority demographics tend to be more reliably Democratic, and vote Democrat come rain, hail or shine. So in that sense minorities constitute the racial base while white working-class voters are a swing constituency that sometimes contributes to electoral majorities.

  7. Monkey’s Uncle
    March 28th, 2010 at 18:02 | #7

    Gerard, I meant to pick up on your claim that people who have the bad luck to get sick should not be treated unfairly.

    In that case I guess we should do away with public health campaigns over smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, illicit drugs, or the benefits of healthy eating or exercise. After all, whether you fall ill or not is purely a matter of luck. Your own lifestyle choices play no part in it. There is no such thing as moral hazard. It is merely a fallacy conjured up by a few misanthropic free-marketeers hell-bent on creating more human misery.

    And before you misrepresent me, I am not suggesting that all illness is self-inflicted. I realise some conditions are genetic or environmental. But even then, we all pay for our bad luck to one degree or another and cannot always socialise it all. That is life. If one is born ugly or lacking intelligence, there is no specific government program to compensate you for your bad luck.

    Not all illness is merely bad luck. But even when it is bad luck, we all pay for our bad luck to some degree and cannot socialise all misfortune without bankrupting society.

  8. March 28th, 2010 at 18:14 | #8

    gerard@#3 said:

    I admit Jack that I had never heard of James Flynn, yes that was ignorance on my part. Clearly you know a lot more than me about the proponents and critics of the “genetically stupid blacks” hypothesis of which you are so fond. Lacking your deep knowledge, when I saw that your link directed to the American Enterprise Institute, I made the assumption that it was just another Rightwing think tank hack praising a fellow hack. Mea culpa. It wasn’t, and the fact that Murray managed to get somebody who was neither a racist nor a partisan hack to call him a decent human being is obviously, in your opinion, a noteworthy career highlight on his part. I also admit that I don’t follow the career of Charles Murray as closely as you, it is enough for me that his reputation precedes him, as does that of his sponsors in the eugenecist Pioneer Fund.

    I count your Flynn ignorance as the third concession I have extracted from you in this debate, after the Obama minority vote victory and health care disparate impact back-flips. You have not yet managed to score. But I give you points for admitting error.

    Its amazing that to me that you can make confident statements about Pioneer Fund scholars and psychometry and yet admit to never heard of James Flynn. Its like talking about macro-economics and saying one has never heard of Friedman. You do realise that this more or less sinks your credibility on this issue, not improved by caricatures like “genetically stupid blacks”. (Murray is agnostic about the genetic Nature v sociotypic Nurture dispute.)

    Murray did not manage to get Flynn to call him a decent human being. Flynn volunteered this because he knows and has dealt with Murray over a long period of time. Flynn is a scholar not an ignorant clod hurling abuse.

  9. March 28th, 2010 at 18:22 | #9

    gerard@#3 said:

    Obama’s “base” are the people who never voted for a democrat before, but voted for Obama in this election, and more specifically, only those of which who belong to the racial groups more likely to have voted for him. We can therefore subtract white people from Obama’s base, despite the fact that most of OFA’s membership and leadership were white.

    More fabrication. I did not say that “Obama’s “base” are people who never voted democrat before”. (Quotes please.) I said that he managed to increase the minority/youth turnout – the most dynamic part of his base – for the 2008 election. That demographic may have voted episodically for the DEMs at earlier elections. I have not got evidence on this to hand.

    Scientists are interested in changes at the margin. The big change in 2008 was that the Obama-DEM specific “base” (minorities/youth) turned out and voted DEM in much greater numbers, motivated by Move On and other web-based activists. This change explains much of Obama’s victory margin.

    Not all of it though. A fair bit is explained by a movement in the white majority away from the REPs and towards the DEMs. But we don’t yet know whether this change is a cyclical swing or a secular shift. Kick the bums out or partisan re-alignment, thats the 64 dollar question.

    Due to the rabid nature of the TeaParty goers I am leaning to secular shift but I am open to persuasion. If the REP establishment somehow manages to regain control of the party they could rope moderate whites back into the fold. But the traditional REP establishment – Bush the Elder, Kissinger, James Baker, Scowcroft, Schultz – have all retired or have fallen out of favour. Cheney was meant to provide adult supervision to Junior but instead drank his Kool Aid.

    Of course a partisan re-alignment could occur independent of movements in the white majority vote. Say if the demographics of the US continue to head in a minority direction or the Move On crowd continue to energise Obama’s base. Again, my crystal ball is cloudy on this one. Whether the Obama base motivators turn out to be a flash in the pan – as I think their mirror image the Tea Party goers on the Right will be – is an open question. My guess is that the youth vote is very fashion conscious and young Obama-luvvies are so 2008.

    gerard said:

    Likewise, the fact that Republican base is exclusively white means that the Democrats base must be “colored”, since we cannot admit the “contradiction” that the most Democratic voters, organizers and activists are actually white, without also admitting the seemingly impossible notion that America’s “races”, and most especially the white demographic, do not in fact share a single political orientation.

    Part of your intellectual problem is that you convert everything I say into a Platonic absolute (either/or) which then makes it easier to depict my view in straw-man fashion. I prefer to deal in Bayesian probabilities (more or less). In demographics there are no “contradictions”, merely continuums.

    For sure “America’s races do not” (exclusively and exhaustively) “share a single political orientation”. But we are talking about the racial composition of partisan alignment, both of which are arrayed on continuums. And the parties do show heavy racial skews, something like 90% of McCain-REP voters were white versus 60% of Obama-DEM. Put another way, the McCain-REPs share of the white majority vote was 55 (v 43). The Obama-DEMs share of the colored minority vote about 90 (v 10).

    “Most Democratic voters, organizers and activists are actually white” because most Americans, particularly those occupying a leadership role, are white. That has always been the case and no doubt will remain so for a while. The typical mainstream generic voter is not so critical in standard electoral contests providing their voting patterns remain stable over the course of several cycles. They become “background noise”. One more or less “divides through” for the vast mass of average white dudes who turn up every couple of years to tick their ballot for one party or another, partisan swings tending to cancel out through the course of electoral cycles.

    Meanwhile the demographic constituents and alignments of the partisan bases are rapidly polarising. Thats the move we have to explain. Hence the big news stories have been the base-on-base conflicts: Obama-DEM “Move On” movement versus the Palin-REP “Teaparty” movement.

  10. March 28th, 2010 at 18:51 | #10

    Monkey’s Uncle@#6

    it is true that a significant number of white voters in the US still support Democrats they tend to be less reliablely loyal and more likely to swing back and forth between different election cycles. Whereas blacks and certain other minority demographics tend to be more reliably Democratic, and vote Democrat come rain, hail or shine. So in that sense minorities constitute the racial base while white working-class voters are a swing constituency that sometimes contributes to electoral majorities.

    Agreed and explained more elegantly, although less comprehensively, than by me.

    Shorter Strocchi: A party’s base is comprised of those social groups whose enduring marginal propensity to vote for that party is significantly-to-massively higher than for the opposing party. Partisan-identified and rusted-on, but not necessarily alway turned-out – sometimes needs to be “energised”. Party base is not the same as the major party’s generic supporter, who is invariably mainstream in demographic characteristics and less partisan-identified and more likely to be a swinging voter.

    But honestly Monkey’s Uncle, trying to explain these higher-order concepts to gerard is like trying to teach a dog how to play chess.

  11. March 28th, 2010 at 19:07 | #11

    gerard said@#4

    PS Jack, my understanding of “base” is that it comprises the people most willing to volunteer their time and money to support their party/candidate, beyond simply casting a ballot on election day. Your understanding of “base” is that it is the ethnic group the majority of which votes for a particular candidate.

    You manage to get it almost back-to-front again. I quite agree that a party’s base is comprised of “people who are willing to volunteer their time and money to support their party/candidate”, including those who are “simply casting a ballot on election day”. Providing the latter prefer the same party every time they turn up to vote, rusted on term in and term out.

    If you agree on that then we are both agreed. Of course this means that your original statement that the white majority were part of Obama’s base is wrong because the majority of white voters will not, as a rule, vote for him. Therefore whites are not part of Obama-DEMs base.

    My understanding of “base” includes ethnic coloreds, of course. But is not exclusive of other overlapping categories, including economic classes and cohorts. Its probable that the white working class is swinging back to the DEMs, particularly in the “purple” swing states. And obviously youth has its enthusiasms.

    Of course in the US case the ethnic colored factor is glaringly obvious for reasons well enough understood, if not spoken about. Hence it dominates discussion – even by its unspoken elephant in the room presence – rather as sex preoccupied the Victorians.

    I

  12. March 28th, 2010 at 19:14 | #12

    Alice@#5

    You forgot one very important thing as to why the reps have been discredited…The reps are out Jack or havent you noticed? No use wailing now about what they did right. What they did wrong far outweighs that.

    I hardly think I forgot why the REPs economic policy has been discredited. I said it clearly enough:

    Recently the REPs have lost their policy edge since the GFC discredited their economic policy,

    What amazes me is that you quoted my comment in your comment but failed to realise that it answered your point.

    Is English language comprehension going out of fashion around here?

  13. Alice
    March 28th, 2010 at 19:34 | #13

    @Jack Strocchi
    No Jack its not out of fashion to notice your too kindly slant on the reps. Id call that english language comprehension. Wouldnt you?

  14. Alice
    March 28th, 2010 at 19:38 | #14

    I could also state the bleeding obvious here…it was well known that under the Bush leadership, whole segments of US society didnt even bother to vote Jack. They felt so hopeless and so marginalised that they gave up voting. I dont blame them – its getting that way in Australia. I can see the point of”whats the point?”.
    Obama gave them hope Jack, that the world wasnt just being run by greedy for the self interested. They came out to vote. They came out in unprecendented numbers.

  15. March 28th, 2010 at 19:50 | #15

    Pr Q said:

    The Republicans have become the Party of No in another sense. Having been the party of initiative since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, they are back to their more accustomed role as the party of reaction. The change can probably be dated back to the 2004 election, when Bush failed to privatize Social Security or maybe even in 2003 when electoral pressure pushed him into introducing the Prescription Drug Subsidy (a pork laden monster as you’d expect from Bush, but still an expansion of the welfare state).

    I dont know if the “accustomed role of the Republicans is…the party of reaction”. Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt led the REPs. Ike pushed through Civil Rights regulation. Nixon launched the EPA and the War on Cancer. Hairy Left-wing partisanship dies hard!

    Pr Q said:

    The shift is certainly evident when you compare Obama’s first year in office with Clinton’s. Clinton was introducing policies demanded by the Republicans and their response (the Contract with America) was that he wasn’t doing nearly enough. Now, the Republicans have nothing of their own to offer, except more tax cuts (and, I guess, more torture). They are truly the Party of No.

    This is not exactly how I remember Clinton’s first year in office. In both cases Clinton (Hillary-care) and Obama (Obama-care) tried to push through health care reform. Clinton failed totally and Obama succeeded at least partially. This leads me to conclude, not very insightfully, that the REPs are much weaker now than they were then.

    I think the REPs biggest problem is that they are victims of their own successes under Reagan-Bush I. In the early 80s it was clear that the Left-DEMs had run out of ideas and had no real grasp of how to manage the Class War, Cold War or Culture War. The unions and bureaus were out of control (“overload”) sending prices skyrocketing, the Soviets were threatening Europe with IRBMs and stirring up trouble all over the place and the gangtas were sending crime rates through the roof.

    Reagan-Bush dealt with all of that reasonably well, bringing unions and domestic government spending under control, forcefully pressuring the Soviets to disarm and filling the prisons with gang bangers. They also cut taxes about as far as they should have, perhaps a little too far. Clinton more or less consolidated the Reagan-Bush program and put it on a sounder fiscal footing.

    So there were really no more worthy Right-wing things to do by the time Bush II came into office, apart from closing the borders properly. Which is why he framed himself as a latter day latter day-Clinton ie “compassionate conservative”.

    But once Bush II got into office he started getting delusions of grandeur leading to “over reach”. Worse still, from the pov of REP traditionalists, he abandoned the key tenets of conservative governance: never a lender or borrower be, dont stir up trouble and mind ones own business. Instead Bush II went off on a colossal tangent: Indebt the World-Invade the World-Invite the World. Now the US gets its capital from the China, its security alliances are with Islamic despotisms and its labour is drawn from Mexico. Brilliant! No wonder people like Ron Paul tear their hair out.

  16. Peter T
    March 28th, 2010 at 19:51 | #16

    Monkeys Uncle

    Unfortunately for your argument against “socialising misfortune”, most diseases have a large social component. For instance, stress-related diseases are closely related to social position through well-studied links to cortisol levels. Likewise, infectious diseases rely on a sufficiently large population of non-immune people to survive, and vary in lethality with the size of the non-immune population. In short, whether you get heart disease or swine flu depends much more on your social arrangements and what the people around you do than it does on your own lifestyle (although this is a factor).

    Nature has already socialised the misfortune – we get the choice to go with reality or ignore it. If you want references, see Wilkinson’s Mind the Gap and McNeill’s Plagues and Peoples.

  17. Alice
    March 28th, 2010 at 20:11 | #17

    @Jack Strocchi
    Jack – I hate to disillusion you but there never was a class war or a culture war except to the extent the republicans created an imaginary war. They didnt win it. They set themselves up as saviours in wars that they created – figments of their own imaginations with which they hoped to instil themselves as svaiours in the eyes of the voting electorate. People went alomg with it for a while and watched while they slowly ran the US economy into a brick wall Jack. What happened to the great global empire in the US Jack. What happened to all the jobs. I dare say a lot of US people feel cheated working for Wallmart because their local production closed down on the lashings of neoliberal global gobbledegook they got from the newspapers.

    But hey – the golden ending didnt happen for America did it?

    Now we get to fight the real war of the crazy shadow boxing Reps shortcomings – inequality and an economic mess. Economics is the real war here Jack and the republicans are losing the big fight (the real fight I might add).

  18. March 28th, 2010 at 20:27 | #18

    As I said I think the REPs are victims of their own policy successes under Reagan-Bush. Those two saw through something of an ideological policy revolution.

    The trouble is that they created a movement with an expectation that the revolution would never end, permanent revolution. Complete with Ronnie Reagan Che-style T-Shirts.

    However it is a contradiction in terms for a party of the conservative Establishment to become an agency of revolution. Moreover with Clinton more or less consolidating Reaganism in the nineties the Reagan revolution had no where else to go but to the Far Right in the noughties.

    So it was really Clinton who drove the Right-REPs feral. This turned them into a fully-fledged party of reaction, at least in domestic policy. Lewis Latham coined the term “reactionary chic” to describe the REPs in the nineties. to draw attention to the parallels with the “radical chic” of the DEMs in the sixties.

    In political terms the populist reactionaries have also run amok. For years they have rallied to the cultural populist cry against elites. Since they have lost the Presidency their feral tendencies have gone unchecked.

    Well now the populists have got their way and are in the saddle. Palin, Limbaugh, Beck et al. Its not a pretty sight.

    Somehow the REPs need to restore the Establishment to get the party back on the rails. But the WASP Establishment went into more or less voluntary liquidation after the Vietnam War. The current REP party elite are a rabble only fit for rousing.

    The US needs a new ruling class. The current one is broke.

  19. SJ
    March 28th, 2010 at 20:46 | #19

    Mark Thoma says something similar to what Jack says above, but of course Mark Thoma lives in the real world and not the Strotchiverse:

    There’s an inconsistency between free market ideology and the need for reform in areas like health care and financial services. One of the first steps in reforming the system is to acknowledge that the market won’t take care of the problems itself. Once that is acknowledged, i.e. that regulation is needed to fix these market failures, the only question is whether that regulation will be of the “market-based” variety or by edict (e.g. this is the difference between system of tradable carbon permits that allow least cost carbon reduction strategies to emerge and a government set emission limit for each industry which generally does not achieve ca4rbon reductions at least cost).

    With Democrats mostly opposed to old fashioned edict style regulation — with their willingness to embrace market-based solutions to regulatory issues — and with Republicans unwilling to embrace anything that Democrats propose, there is little ground left for those Republicans who are willing to admit that markets sometimes fail to stand upon. Democrats have taken the middle ground — market based regulation — from Republicans. This leaves Republicans with a choice of going along and compromising (and thereby embracing proposals they have made in the past, e.g. the health care bill looks an awful lot like the health care program Romney put in place in Massachusetts), or standing in opposition simply because it is a Democratic proposal. The choice they’ve made, standing in opposition to everything, is a losing strategy that allows policy to be shaped entirely be the other side. It will be interesting to see if a fissure develops within the Republican Party over this.

    Will Republicans be able to share the market-based regulatory ground Democrats have taken away? There are already signs that Republicans will work with Democrats on financial reform, but there were early signs of a bi-partisan effort on health care as well, so we’ll see how this plays out. I think people are fed up with banks and want something to be done, and Republican attempts to block legislation won’t play well with the public at all. So I expect the coalition of no to be broken — some legislators will see that they cannot continue just saying no and expect public support — but not without big fights within the Republican Party between the extremists and the centrists. If Republicans do move in this direction, and it’s more likely they’ll do so on financial reform than on climate change legislation, you’ll see an attempt to reclaim these policies as Republican (here’s a great example: Health Care Reform–A Republican Idea?). And given the administration’s centrist tendencies, in many cases they’ll have a pretty good argument.

    It’s not really an amazing insight or anything like that. All of the so-called “left” parties in the English speaking world did the same thing, by moving to the right and capturing the moddle. The “right” parties moved further to the right and are now being reviled as crazy parties.

    Meanwhile, there’s nothing that a leftie could love about Obama, New Labour, NSW Labor, etc.

  20. Alice
    March 28th, 2010 at 20:48 | #20

    Jack

    “So it was really Clinton who drove the Right-REPs feral.”

    Thats a very odd comment Jack. The reps in my opinion were overly intoxicated with their own brand, in other words feral, before Clinton.

  21. Alice
    March 28th, 2010 at 20:58 | #21

    @SJ
    The thing Id really like to know SJ is what exactly do ordinary people do when market failure meets government failure in a head on crash?

    Its not pretty and Jack does have a point when he says there is nothing a leftie could love about NSW Labor (there is not much for righties to like either but I doubt whether NSW liberal is going to fix the mess either). Are there any real lefties left? I dont meet many people these days trying to give me a copy of the Socialist Worker or Pravda. However the mad right are very busy on the propaganda press arent they? Some children have imaginary friends. The rightwing press has a string of imaginary enemies. Interesting.

  22. March 28th, 2010 at 21:35 | #22

    SJ@#19 said:

    Mark Thoma says something similar to what Jack says above, but of course Mark Thoma lives in the real world and not the Strotchiverse:

    I wonder if Mark Thoma managed to pull of the feat of accurately predicting the past three US federal elections as a certain member of the Strocchiverse did.

    Funny old place the Strocchiverse.

  23. SJ
    March 28th, 2010 at 21:39 | #23

    …pull of the feat of accurately predicting the past three US federal elections as a certain member of the Strocchiverse did.

    Evidence, please.

  24. SJ
    March 28th, 2010 at 21:48 | #24

    No, on second thought, don’t bother. I Googled “Strocchi election prediction” and it turns out that you predict both sides of every election.

    Wow, Jack, what an amazing record.

  25. March 28th, 2010 at 22:22 | #25

    SJ@#23 said:

    Evidence, please.

    I correctly predicted the past three US federal elections:

    - US 2000, made NOV 2000 (private correspondence)
    US 2004, made 24 SEP 2004.
    US 2008, made 15 MAY 2008.

    Just to rub it in, I also correctly predicted the past three AUS federal elections:

    - AUS 2001 (private correspondence)
    - AUS 2004, made 09 JUN 2003
    - AUS 2007, made 30 OCT 2007

    The odds of this occurring through a random streak of luck are 2 [power]6 = 1/64. So I guess it must just be my good luck.

    Now, SJ, pray tell what is your psephological prediction record?

  26. Fran Barlow
    March 28th, 2010 at 22:24 | #26

    More on the madness of the Party of No:

    Fox News, Health Care, and the Right-Wing Nervous Breakdown

    I post this because once agian, it underlines what those of us focused on good environmental policy are up against from the right-wing noice machine. Although it may even be true that they have cranked things up a notch on health care, the tactics and the rhetoric have certainly been very similar.

    As Eric Boehlert notes:

    Instead, this bout of spastic lashing out has been unique even by the previous standard adopted by Beck, who, on the eve of the health care vote, likened Democrats to Al Qaeda terrorists who were trying to bring America to its knees from the inside.

    Last week, apparently, Limbaugh mocked a child who earned the wrath of Limbaugh for standing up for healthcare. He had just lost his mother, who had lost her job and her health cover. Limbaugh’s response was that his mother would have died anyway as Obamacare didn’t start until 2014. So what he’s saying is that if he has, his way, even in 2014 people will still die because they are uninsured. Compelling, and a clever strategy, attacking a child who has lost his mother.

    On the climate change issue, I’ve labelled the advocates for pollution-as-usual as filth merchants. Yet here we see that the title alludes not merely to the nature of their business interests, but to their cultural position as a whole. When these people speak, honest people should really be wearing their best hazmat protection, and ready to hose themselves down.

  27. March 28th, 2010 at 22:24 | #27

    SJ@#24 said:

    I Googled “Strocchi election prediction” and it turns out that you predict both sides of every election.

    Evidence, please?

  28. Fran Barlow
    March 28th, 2010 at 22:58 | #28

    @Jack Strocchi

    You’re padding Jack. Let’s put aside the private correspondence claims as they aren’t attested. 2001 in Australia was too easy though. Beazley was never going to win. Too ineffectual and after Tampa and 9/11 … drover’s dog rules.

    The chances of getting all four right by chance would be 1/16, but of course, that presumes no data at all to guide you exists. US 2004 was pretty straightforward. The Repugs had already cheated their way to power in 2000 and had control of the levers for 2004. Kerry was seen as a liberal and Bush was a war president. When the Swiftboat smear started in May 2004, it was pobable that Kerry would struggle in any marginal state south of the Mason-Dixon line. Kerry let it run, fearing the atmospherics and that got the rightwingers excited. National security dominated the agenda and Kerry predictably struggled. So not random.

    In 2008 virtually anyone the Dems put up would have won. They could have run Reverend Wright and gone close. After September 15 I’d have been on him myself. So again, too easy.

    2004 in Australia was again, rather obvious. The ALP switched leaders, and Latham was, like Abbott, something of a loose cannon. The bulk of the marginals were very sensitive to interest rate populism and Howard was always going to cash in. Simple.

    And really, by October 2007 anyone who thought Howard was getting back in for a fifth term just wasn’t paying attention. Workchoices, his claims on interest rates, the rumblings about replacing him and the Costello challenge, interst rates, even Rudd’s performance at APEC. Everything that had worked for Howard before now became a negative. Rudd ran the consummate small target campaign and allowed himself to be voted in. Again, too easy.

    I do note though that in your link to LP in October 2007 you do predict Howard retaining his seat, something which is unusual, since sitting PMs tend to retain them. So you opted for a “safe” bet where more careful analysis of the shift west of the seat to include places like Ermington would have made it look less safe. As we recall, your psephology failed you here.

  29. gerard
    March 28th, 2010 at 22:58 | #29

    To apply the same logic: suppose a conservative candidate running for office receives a higher percentage of the vote among men than women, but because there are more women than men in the population ends up with a marginally higher number of female votes than male votes. By Gerard’s reasoning, you can’t make an argument for his support base being male.

    No, and I don’t see how you could make that argument using any sort of reasoning, unless you were speaking purely in relative terms. I would have thought that was obvious. But apparently it is illogical if we don’t treat groups as being single individuals.

    By all means, the democratic base can be described as more “diverse” than the Republican base, since that is clearly true. But that’s different from saying that the democratic base is “non-white”, which implies that it is racial groups in their entirety that constitute the “base” of either one or the other party, even if it accounts for the majorities within both by virtue of its numerical predominance.

    However, each to his own definition of “base”. Whatever floats your boat.

    The idea @4 that a party’s base is generally understood to mean the people who are most likely to donate time and resources to help them get elected, rather than simply the voting demographics that tend to most reliably vote one way is frankly bizarre.

    If you say so, but I don’t see what’s so bizarre about it, especially in America where there isn’t compulsory voting or publicly funded elections, which makes individual contributions and get-out-the-vote efforts so critical to the success of a campaign. All those white OFA volunteers who put in the hard yards to get Obama elected would probably be quite surprised to find out that they don’t belong to Obama’s base and never did. I invite anybody who wishes to tell them the bad news to go and do so over at Daily Kos, although you’ll need to wait 24 hours after registering before making your first post.

  30. gerard
    March 28th, 2010 at 23:25 | #30

    As for the Pioneer Fund – you don’t need to be some sort of expert in “psychometry”, to know as much as you need to know about it (and its fans). a quick google search is good enough.

  31. March 29th, 2010 at 07:58 | #31

    Fran@#28 said:

    You’re padding Jack. Let’s put aside the private correspondence claims as they aren’t attested.
    The chances of getting all four right by chance would be 1/16, but of course, that presumes no data at all to guide you exists.

    No padding, just setting the record straight. You seem to forget many of my predictions were made quite a distance out, sometimes more than one year. So the “data to guide me” did not “exist” in such a solid form.

    But I will grant that these elections were not that hard to call, being mainly pro-cyclical with the electoral cycle, apart from Bush 2000 which I changed at the last minute. The noughties were good for incumbents, the combination of economic prosperity and national security issues is hard to beat.

    Still, my point is not so much to show how smart I am, I only drag out that boast when someone makes a rude comment, just to put them in their place nyah, nyah, nyah.

    Its to show that models improve by publication, verification and iterative feedback. I particularly endeavour to highlight key assumptions and see if they hold up over time.

    I am happy enough to admit when I am wrong when a prediction goes belly up. I am not very good at picking leadership tussles, which are not strictly speaking psephological (being intra-party). I got Howard v Costello in 2006 right. But I got Costello v L/NP wrong and Turnbull v Abbott wrong. Happy to be wrong over Abbott as his landslide loss in 2010 will vindicate my earlier prediction.

    Howard’s loss in Bennelong was an embarrassing one which I overlooked. A national tragedy if you ask me.

    In conclusion Fran, if it was all so easy you wont mind showing us your glowing psephological predictive record then, will you?

  32. March 29th, 2010 at 08:22 | #32

    gerard@#30

    As for the Pioneer Fund – you don’t need to be some sort of expert in “psychometry”, to know as much as you need to know about it (and its fans). a quick google search is good enough.

    Well gerard, “a quick google search” wasnt much help to you when you tried to analyse the US psephological situation. You started to flounder the moment the moment you got out of your depth, which was approximately one step into the shallows.

    The Pioneer Fund is a research group interested in validating the hereditarian hypothesis. I grant you there are some unsavoury associations. But let the Fundies be as racist as you like (Murray married an Asian, but who cares about personal evidence anyway?).

    The hereditarian hypothesis has legs as the recent explosion in evolutionary biology and psychology shows. And the development of genomic science is only going to strengthen the hereditarian case.

    The hereditarians have some intellectual heavyweights on their side. The London School of Differential Psychology is the home base for hereditarian psychometricians. Its intellectual god-father was Galton. In its earlier days it counted Spearman, Pearson and Fisher amongst its adherents. Not only did these guys found psychometry and population genetics, they also founded mathematical statistics to test their theories.

    Now maybe they are all racist dunderheads, I don’t know and my comment privileges do not permit me to make a public judgement anyway. But I doubt that “a quick google search” would settle the matter.

  33. Alice
    March 29th, 2010 at 08:24 | #33

    @Jack Strocchi
    So to paraphrase Jack… “Clinton caused the reps in the US to go feral…. and Howards loss in Bennelong was a national tragedy”.
    No and no.

  34. March 29th, 2010 at 08:51 | #34

    gerard@#29 said:

    However, each to his own definition of “base”. Whatever floats your boat.

    No, thats post-modernist conceptual relativism. A good way to sink the scientific boat.

    Your own notion of base seems to be a crude one – the largest social group amongst the party’s supporters. Its easy to refute it by reductio ad absurdum. You initially argued that Obama-DEMs base was white voters. But McCain-REPs largest social group of supporters was also white voters. Which implies that the DEMs and REPs had the same partisan base, which is absurd.

    At heart I am a behavioural positivist. One needs operational definitions to make testable predictions. I have an operationally testable definition of a base up thread:

    A party’s base is comprised of those social groups whose enduring marginal propensity to vote for that party is…massively higher than for the opposing party…and rusted-on.

    Party base is not the same as the major party’s generic supporter, who is invariably mainstream in demographic characteristics and less partisan-identified and more likely to be a swinging voter.

    I do hope commenters and the blog administrator will forgive me for belabouring the point with gerard. His views are a textbook diagnostic of how to go wrong with social science. I think it is worthwhile execrcise to make an example of him.

  35. gerard
    March 29th, 2010 at 09:09 | #35

    a quick google search revealed that the PF is a Nazi-eugenicist inspired organization for the promotion of scientific racism.

    You initially argued that Obama-DEMs base was white voters. But McCain-REPs largest social group of supporters was also white voters. Which implies that the DEMs and REPs had the same partisan base, which is absurd.

    Yes, it implies that if you think all white voters have to belong to the same party. Jesus Christ. Okay I’m done here. Go to Daily Kos and tell all the white people there that they aren’t part of Obama’s base, and let us know how they respond.

  36. gerard
    March 29th, 2010 at 09:25 | #36

    okay Jack, one more thought:

    You initially argued that Obama-DEMs base was white voters. But McCain-REPs largest social group of supporters was also white voters. Which implies that the DEMs and REPs had the same partisan base, which is absurd.

    Any five year old who wasn’t the unfortunate victim of an extremely low IQ (presumably hereditary) would be able to see that the first does not imply the other. How about this: the DEMS base includes white liberals, the REPs base include white conservatives. So they aren’t the same, it’s not absurd, and you need to understand that there are more ways of grouping individuals than by race.

  37. March 29th, 2010 at 09:34 | #37

    gerard@#35 said:

    Yes, it implies that if you think all white voters have to belong to the same party. Jesus Christ. Okay I’m done here. Go to Daily Kos and tell all the white people there that they aren’t part of Obama’s base, and let us know how they respond.

    White people also obviously run the vast majority of the McCain-REP party which, according to your theory, implies that white people are the base of both party apparats as well. Therefore the same demographic base must have won the election for only one party, which is absurd. More absurdity.

    Refuting you is like playing whack-a-mole. First off you confused partisan rusted-on voting base with the generic swinging mainstream voter. Now you are confusing the partisan voting base with the party vote-turning-out apparat. When it comes to toting up political columns and positing demographic correlations its only the former we psephologists are really interested in.

    We count votes – not “community organizers”, agit-prop activists, mob lawyers, connected lobbyists or machine operators – when deciding elections, thank God.

    In any case, white people comprise the elite in most departments of US society. So its not helpful to designate them tout court as either party’s base.

    Back in the real world most people know that the party’s demographic base is those social groups which the apparat tries to energise, to get out to vote. Because they will give the greatest voting bang for organizing buck.

    In the case of the DEMs it is predominantly younger, colored minorities and organized labour. In the case of the REPs it is predominantly older, white majorities and Christian churches.

    Pretty much everyone in the world knows this. But gerard, due to his priceless social scientific education, has managed to unknow this. I would ask HECS for a refund if I were you.

  38. March 29th, 2010 at 09:48 | #38

    gerard@#36 said:

    How about this: the DEMS base includes white liberals, the REPs base include white conservatives. So they aren’t the same, it’s not absurd, and you need to understand that there are more ways of grouping individuals than by race.

    The terms “liberal” and “conservative” are ideological rather than socio-biological. They are not much use for psephological analysis since they tend to be consequential, rather than causal, as regards partisan alignments. The meanings of these terms obviously shift, as do commitments (where are the communists and nazis now?).

    Political demographers from Aristotle to regard socio-biological stratification rather than ideological identification as a better long term predictor of partisan alignment. That means looking at socio-biological groups: young v old, white v colored, men v women, rich v poor, tertiary educated v trade educated, gay v straight etc

    Designating a gigantic groups like “white people” as both parties base is worse than useless. Its just a time-waster from someone who clearly doesnt have a clue what they are talking about and, worse still, is apparently unable to realise this.

  39. gerard
    March 29th, 2010 at 12:18 | #39

    Please let me know how the white kossacks react when you tell them that they can’t belong to Obama’s base for “biological” reasons. They seem to be pitifully ignorant of the laws of the Strocchiverse.

  40. gerard
    March 29th, 2010 at 12:29 | #40
  41. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 29th, 2010 at 14:01 | #41

    I thought George Bush was the anti-Christ. It sure is hard to keep track of these things. Any half polite anti-Christ would grow horns so that we don’t get so confused.

  42. TerjeP
    March 29th, 2010 at 20:04 | #42

    How cool is this, there is even a book on the topic.

    “Is George Bush the Antichrist”.

    http://www.amazon.com/George-Bush-Antichrist-Stephen-Hanchett/dp/1411609832

  43. March 29th, 2010 at 21:04 | #43

    I prefer to use standard theory to make predictions and then check them against polling data. So I have not until now checked the polls.

    The polls indicate, as I expected, that the DEMs will likely lose a swag of seats in the House and Senate in the mid-term Congressionals. But the likelihood is that they will retain control of both houses. This is normal and what I predicted up thread.

    So it is pretty clear that Obama’s “fierce urgency of now” was to get his priority policy – health care reform – get turned into legislation so that he could deliver to his base at his first electoral test. And not suffer the humiliation of being turned into a lame-duck President in the first year of his first term.

    Moreover now that he has a legislative scalp under his belt it will give him the confidence to push for another raft of legislation in the second half of this term. And perhaps an even more ambitious program in his second term.

    So my prediction that Obama would tend to be a “janitor”, rather than an architect, in his first term could be in danger. As I said “I will be happy to admit I am wrong” if that is the case.

  44. Alice
    March 29th, 2010 at 21:50 | #44

    Obama is no Janitor Jack. Your old mate Bush was a bit of a dressed up window dummy though. He was the architect of stupid wars and even more stupid policy and arent we all glad he has gone?. Jack dont you even find it odd that the most known rep the party is throwing up right now is Sara Pallin…???

    Its a bit like taking Kristina Keneally seriously without asking who is pulling the strings.
    To admit to being conservative right now is somewhat embarrassing to the extent they really wont make a return until they learn to be the party that can say sorry and learn what the electorate really want and learn how to deliver it and earn their votes instead of just assuming their party of egos knows best what the children need (workchoices – case in point).

    I dont call the liberals the party of no even though that is how they continue to act in parliament. The worm turns down when Tony Abbott goes into attack dog mode – Im not surprised. People are over it. The libs may have got away with it with Beazley and because they had a senate majority and thought they were smart and acted like it – as arrogant as all get out – but the tide has turned on them, here and elsewhere in the world.

    I think the party of no regrets is a better description. That is their main problem.

  45. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 29th, 2010 at 22:43 | #45

    I don’t think George Bush or Kristina Keneally had anything to do with workchoices.

    Alice – I’m still waiting for an apology on Monday message board where you made false accusations against me.

  46. gerard
    March 30th, 2010 at 09:57 | #46

    The polls indicate, as I expected, that the DEMs will likely lose a swag of seats in the House and Senate in the mid-term Congressionals. But the likelihood is that they will retain control of both houses. This is normal and what I predicted up thread.

    As almost every commentator is predicting exactly the same thing, I hope you will spare us excesses of bragging when it happens.

  47. Monkey’s Uncle
    March 30th, 2010 at 11:23 | #47

    Any five year old who wasn’t the unfortunate victim of an extremely low IQ (presumably hereditary) would be able to see that the first does not imply the other. How about this: the DEMS base includes white liberals, the REPs base include white conservatives. So they aren’t the same, it’s not absurd, and you need to understand that there are more ways of grouping individuals than by race.

    Yes, and there are some black Republicans who…. gee….. I dunno….. vote Republican. So, it must prove …… well, I dunno, something.

    All you have done is added another variable (i.e. liberal or conservative) that is almost by definition substantially correlated with political behaviour in some attempt to sideline the issue and get yourself out of a hole.

    FWIW, in America even black self-identified conservatives lean Democratic over Republican in voting behaviour and party identification, while white self-identified conservatives have become more solidly Republican over the past few decades. So race is a more powerful determinant of party identification and voting intention than even ideological orientation! Yet according to Gerard anyone who points out such things is obviously some evil eugenicist KKK sympathiser. I guess that is what happens when you substitute moral grandstanding for empirical rigour.

    Then you introduce the silly straw man that race is not the only way of grouping individuals. No-one is seriously suggesting that race is the only significant contributing factor to political behaviour. But race is clearly a significant contributing factor.

    Seriously, your arguments are too feeble that I cannot understand why Jack devotes so much time to meticulously discrediting them.

  48. Monkey’s Uncle
    March 30th, 2010 at 11:24 | #48

    Correction: the first paragraph above is a quote from Gerard. For some reason the block quote didn’t work.

  49. Fran Barlow
    March 30th, 2010 at 12:55 | #49

    This just in from the Texas Board of Education who thoughtfully decided that the satirical magazine, The Onion, was the best place to promote their new syllabus policies

  50. Gerard
    March 30th, 2010 at 16:13 | #50

    I would say mu, that the number of black republicans is so tiny, that comparing it to the proportion of whites who identify as democrats is quite feeble itself. Having said that, I’ve told you what the problem is; there are countless white liberal activists who self-identify as belonging to Obama’s base. Argue the point with them.

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