Arnold Kling  

One-Party State Watch

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The Bradley Symposium transcript is now available. Mitch Daniels (p.13):


You can be a silver-spoon, blue-blood, wind-surfing, coastal elitist, but if you wear the Democratic label you are presumed to be connected and empathetic and to understand the problems of everyday people - and vice versa.

Rich Lowry (p. 18):

despite all of his incredible political skills, [Ronald Reagan] wouldn't have won election if it weren't for inflation, if it weren't for gas lines, if it weren't for the reigning hostage crisis, if it weren't for Afghanistan, if it weren't for the entire litany of Carter administration failures. And when you are as far as Republicans were in the late 1970s, and as far down as they are today, you need the other side to fumble, and for its vision to be discredited. And at the moment, Barack Obama has the ball, and he is going to have the ball until he commits some sort of turnover.

Lowry (p. 21):


I became a conservative when I was a teenager. I found myself saying, well, there was this discredited incumbent who was in offi ce at a time of economic turmoil and economic crisis, and events abroad seemed to be out of control, and then this amazingly articulate and hopeful fi gure promising change came onto the stage. And at some point throughout this litany, I thought, oh, damn! (Laughter.) Because we have the exact opposite happening now.

Daniels (p. 22)

The Republican Party is a lot sicker patient, for the moment, than the views that have been associated with it. But we've got to repair the jalopy because that's the vehicle these views can travel in.

A question from the audience (p. 24):

SANJEEV JOSHIPURA, U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee: Voting results over the recent past few elections show that well-educated people are turning away from the Republican Party. Why is that, and how do we reverse it?

Yuval Levin (p. 24):

there is no question that you want to be the smart party; you want to be the party that appeals to people who think of themselves as sophisticated political consumers. And for a while, now, Republicans have had a problem with that.

Daniels (p. 25):

there was an enthusiasm for President Obama last year that stemmed from a lot of miscellaneous sources. For a lot of upper-income people that I saw vote for him, it was a luxury purchase in the sense that he didn't seem a threat economically; there was the history of it - the natural desire for change after a period of poor results; but quite honestly, it was a fashion statement to vote for him, for some people.

Daniels (p. 25):

Folks on either side, by the way, have thought about discarding one of the traditional parties, trying somehow to construct something new. It's not very practical. The system tends to find an equilibrium, and it will again. If there is anything that today's American of all ages insists on, it's choice, lots of choices. And I think that they wouldn't sit still for the extinction of one of the two that they have in this context.


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COMMENTS (12 to date)
Les writes:

The comments so far refer to political parties, perceived trends and personal opinions.

What seem conspicuous by their absence are principles and values. Political parties, perceived trends and personal opinions may vary with the fashion of the day. They are nothing to depend upon.

Principles and values provide a compass to show true north in troubled times.

Jeremy, Alabama writes:

Mr. Kling's point, and it's a good one, is that Democrats are using the levers of power to buy elections while also ratcheting up the power:

- witness the spectacle of unions, with just a few million dollars of donations, getting a multi-billion-dollar payback

- insisting on the status quo on immigration, while declaring voter ID illegal, which in effect swells Democrat voters

- witness the terror among health-care CEO's, who all came along lamely to Obama's "health-care workshop" to discuss single-payer health care. It is obvious to them that unless they kowtow, they lose their business. This applies also to the energy sector.

- witness Obama cancelling the leins of primary debtholders, while declaring them "vultures". It is obvious that anybody working with billion-dollar numbers needs to purchase political protection, as old-fashioned property rights are now worthless.

Big business is now paralyzed unless it has political cover. To purchase the cover requires money for Democrats (and none for Republicans) and "public-private initiatives", which essentially means Obama running the show, getting an unassailable campaign funding lead, and the enormous stature of lording it over whole industries.

Grant Gould writes:

# of mentions of John McCain in this transcript: 2
# of mentions of Barack Obama in this transcript: 15

There's your problem right there, guys.

If you can't see McCain as one of the major reasons for Obama's appeal, you have already lost.

spencer writes:

Of course none of the problems Carter faced stemmed from Nixon's economic policies.

John Thacker writes:
If you can't see McCain as one of the major reasons for Obama's appeal, you have already lost.

Huh? Every other potential candidate polled even worse against Obama.

Naturally McCain had his flaws and problems, and some of them (unfortunately) were being "too libertarian" on some issues (ag subsidies, ethanol, tax treatment of health insurance), and others were not. But no other candidate would have done better according to any polling.

Grant Gould writes:

Huh? Every other potential candidate polled even worse against Obama.

Well then maybe you need better candidates.

John McCain was the candidate the Republicans could produce. If he doesn't even merit mention in a forum on reviving conservativism, that's argument enough that the Republicans can't produce useful candidates.

As I see it, the Republican party's foremost problem is an inability to produce candidates acceptable both to its core nominating constituencies and to voters. Since the nominating constituencies get the first voice, the effect is candidates that the voters don't much care for. That's annoying at the local level, bad at the state level, damaging at the federal level, and by the time that trickles up to the presidential level, there's nobody left whom a voter would touch with a ten-foot pole.

Greg Ransom writes:

Right.

The super rich -- often with a racist family past -- use "equalitarian" moral posturing and leftist / Democrat positioning to "Get Off The Hook" as Shelby Steele well explains it.

And I've met DOZENS of professors and graduate students who do the same thing, allowing them to be let "off the hook" and be certified non-racist and moral good guys, merely via a political posturing -- no contributions to charity or hard actual charity work required, and unlimited consumer spending now allowed.

You wrote.

"You can be a silver-spoon, blue-blood, wind-surfing, coastal elitist, but if you wear the Democratic label you are presumed to be connected and empathetic and to understand the problems of everyday people - and vice versa."

Dr. T writes:

"...Barack Obama has the ball, and he is going to have the ball until he commits some sort of turnover."

The problem today is that the media loves Obama so much that if he dropped the ball, inadvertently kicked it to the opposing team's best runner, and tripped over his feet while trying to stop the runner, the media would gush about Obama's resiliency because he was back on his feet within five seconds of hitting the turf.

Obama already made numerous turnovers. All have been reported as successes. The bar for Obama is so low that it is deep underground.

SydB writes:

"The problem today is that the media loves Reagan so much that if he dropped the ball, inadvertently kicked it to the opposing team's best runner, and tripped over his feet while trying to stop the runner, the media would gush about Reagan's resiliency because he was back on his feet within five seconds of hitting the turf."

Written by a blogger circa 1984.

SydB writes:

In all serious though, the problem with conservatives in general and Republican party in particular--statements like this: "You can be a silver-spoon, blue-blood, wind-surfing, coastal elitist, but if you wear the Democratic label you are presumed to be connected and empathetic and to understand the problems of everyday people - and vice versa."

Boiler plate. The above verbage is red meat for the hard core. Everyone else is bored of it. Consider it last decade's left over product lying in the sun on a second hand table, discounted, but unpopular with most of the marketplace (except those who watch Fox News). And the kids over at National Review Online will guffaw and thrill at it.

Methinks writes:

There's already a media campaign underway (lead by Leonhardt) to convince the public that Obama didn't actually add more than a tiny sliver to the deficit and his spending is actually savings. All bad things are inherited, remember. All good things are the creation of the one, the only, Obama.

SydB, I don't ever remember the media loving Reagan. Ever.

Snark writes:

The participants were certainly inspirational in their remarks, but actions speak louder than words.

I believe the threat of a one-party state is more real than imagined. Isn’t this already our experience? I’m finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate between the way democrats and republicans rule. It doesn’t seem to matter which party is in power. Each leaves in its wake more debt and fewer freedoms. Thomas Jefferson held that rebellion “is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government” and that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots…” We want liberty, but apparently not enough to sacrifice what is required to preserve it. Americans today prefer security. It is our new creed, and government our refuge and strength.

Malo periculosem libertatum quam quietam servitutem.

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