Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Future of the Republican Party

Some days I despair. I look at what is going on with the party I have identified with my entire adult life, and I see no hope.

I have a saying going back a ways : "The Democrats mean well, they just don't always understand the consequences of their actions. The Republicans know the consequences of their actions very well, they just don't always mean well."

I can tolerate (at least within bounds) Democrats doing things I see as dumb. I can tolerate (at least within bounds) the Republicans cynically working the system for their own gain.

What I cannot abide are cynical Democrats and dumb Republicans.

Obama to me is just about the purest Democrat I have ever seen. He is out there pushing to fix all the woes of the world, pushing too far in many cases, and some of what he is doing is good today, but will cost us for generations. I do not support him in all things, but I respect him to an extent I respect very few politicians.

Where is his counterbalance? Where is there a Republican who is providing the long term view, with the courage to stand up and say what needs to be said, and damn the cost? Is mindless obstructionism all we have?

And can I just say, if I never hear the word 'teleprompter' again in my life, it will be too soon. I don't care what any realtive of a politician has done. I don't care who a politician got a blowjob from. Quit trying to distract me; I am not impressed, and more and more, neither is anyone else.

In the past, I have been confident that in a year or two, someone will rise from the ranks of the GOP, ignore the call of populism and get down to the business of fixing this country. But I am growing ever less confident. I find now that I can envision a future where the GOP just... fades away. If this happens, the Democrats will run rampant, and do a lot of damage. The system demands balance. Then they will inevitably split up, and we will go back to two parties, just not the same two.

I want the Republican party to survive this, but to do it, they, we, are going to have to realize that it cannot be politics first, message second. The bar has been raised. We need to stop worrying about winning elections and start worrying about integrity, intellectual honesty, and responsibility.

Do that, and winning elections will take care of itself.


TRUTH 101 March 31, 2009 at 6:59 PM  

It takes money to run for office. Not that you don't already know this. But with money comes an implied contract to govern in the interests of those that paid to get you elected. There aren't alot of big money PACS out there ready to fund populists. Are there even any populists pacs. Of course not and this is why I have no use for populism. Rant all they want but when it comes time to donate their time and money good luck. Empty rhetoric OMR.

OpenMindedRepublican March 31, 2009 at 7:10 PM  

I needed to have a rant. I feel batter now. Of course, that may be because I finally followed that 'anti-peta' link at your blog and am now laughing like a five year old watching looney tunes.

Time March 31, 2009 at 7:36 PM  

"The Republicans know the consequences of their actions very well, they just don't always mean well."

Really? So Republicans intentionally ran this country financially into the ground?

Your summary that Democrats don't have a clue and Republicans always know what their doing they are just cold about it, seems partisan. It certainly does not reflect the facts.

It's inescapable that Republicans have much of the responsibility to account for since they have had most of the power and authority in government for the last 30 years.

TAO March 31, 2009 at 7:53 PM  

Actually, I understand perfectly well what OMR is trying to say. Of course he puts a positive spin on Republicans! :)

I think that Obama represents a Politician that we have not seen since Reagan. Sadly right now we have an economic mess and a country that has not made an investment in the future in quite sometime.

So, not only do we have to prop up our economic system with lots of money but we also have to face some very serious issues that we have avoided for a long time.

Our infrastructure is a disaster, our energy dependency, our healthcare, our school system, and of course social security and medicare.

We have spent the last twenty years tearing down things; we have basically disemboweled our country.

Right now all the Republicans can offer is truthfully nothing. We got a few lunatics out there going on and on about lower taxes, let our financial system fail, cut spending, and something about their freedoms (like you would have any if we went belly up).

While Obama is trying to keep the focus on the big picture you have all these Congress Critters trying to goose legislation for their buddies and to hell with the country.

It really is a pathetic mess.

OpenMindedRepublican March 31, 2009 at 8:05 PM  

I've asked this question before elsewhere, but I will toss it out again here. It may illustrate why I see things that way.

It is common to hear Democrats talking about loophole this and loophole that when their laws don't work as intended.

Is it just a blind spot I have? Can you guys think of examples of the same behaviour from the Republicans?

Time March 31, 2009 at 8:46 PM  

It's best to have that answer come from a Republican (you?).

The Republicans have never achieved their stated political ideology: lower taxes, smaller government, less regulation. etc., etc....Why not?

President Bush as a Republican and the leader of the above stated party ideology, never vetoed a spending bill in his 8 years in office. Why not?

Why take the stand as a party of "No New Taxes" when we are in such debt? Does that show responsible leadership?

How is it that such all knowing leaders would run up an 11 trillion dollar national debt in 30 years professing the above party platform philosophy?

Sure there was (and still is) the Iraq war, but the Bush administration took that expense off the budget, yet our budget still went into deficit.

I haven't heard any good answers from Republicans on these failures of their policies. In fact dodging questions seems to be their way out.

Sure, Democrats are no better at excuses for their failures, but again it's the Republicans that have brought us to this point.

OpenMindedRepublican March 31, 2009 at 10:00 PM  

Why government never shrinks, and never will, is a post all by itself. I'll put it up tomorrow, been meaning to get to it.

As I've mentioned before, Bush did not spend any more than any other president for the last 40 years.

He did tax less.

In the last 40 years, there have only been about 3 1/2 years we did not run a deficit. That ain't all Republicans.

Although now I am going to have to compile a list of years by who controlled what. Great. More research.

The less taxes thing is not working for me. The cut spending... next year maybe. The let it fall argument had some attraction, but that ship has sailed.

The Republican theory has always been to grow the economy. The whole 'rising tide' notion. If you are going to attack them for all the negatives in the last 30 years, do they also get credit for the GDP being six times larger? Standard of living has increased massively.

As far as Bush goes, well, I said I have no tolerance for dumb Republicans. I never said they do not exist. He invested all of his political capital in the 'war on terror'. It is worth pointing out that he made multiple attempts at heading off the mortgage crisis.

Looking back at the numbers in a few years, I think the numbers will show that this 'crisis' was not nearly as bad as reported.

It is also worth pointing out that although Republicans have dominated the presidency, congress is another matter.

And if this response looks all rambling, you should have seen the process that created it :)

Time April 1, 2009 at 12:28 AM  

As you posed the question; I'm not holding you responsible for the answers.

I would have liked to hear Republican leaders respond over the last 30 years something more than just things are fine. Great, but what about your party platform and political ideology?

We can make a decision to end the constantly growing social programs. That would be a moral decision as well as a political decision. Those programs are much of the governments growth and expense.

"He did tax less."

So did other republican Presidents.
I fail to understand how people expect to not pay to have the greatest country in the World.

Clinton came up with a surplus because he taxed more, he did not spend less. That surplus was instantly wiped out when Bush came in office, thus there was no reflection of that surplus in the yearly national debt.

When Carter left office the national debt was about $987 billion. When Bush 43 left office the national debt was about $10.8 trillion.

In that same 29 year period the White House was held by Republicans for 21 years. The Republicans won a majority in Congress in the early 1990"s, and did not lose that Congressional majority until 2006.

The Republican theory you talk about is "trickle down economics." Which Bush 41 called voodoo economics. It has proven to be a failed philosophy. If it had worked, we would not be 11 trillion dollars in debt.

Sure the GDP was good under Republicans because they cut taxes on corporations. Again, this is part of why we have an $11 trillion debt.

I would only say that Bush 43 was the only MBA President this country has ever had.

As far as how bad this crisis will be considered all depends on how fast we come out of it. The faster we come out of it, the less damage it will do and the faster the people will forget about it.

If I haven't told you before; I was a Republican. "The party left me, I didn't leave the Party." To quote a famous President.

I lost faith in the Republican party when after decades they failed to produce the results of the political philosophy as I described above.

I knew that government was inherently wasteful and to big, but I came to believe that if the Republicans could not, or would not fix it, then I would rather the excesses of government go to the people, not corporations.

So, yes, now I favor programs for the American people, not corporations. That's why I was against all this bailout money.

The countries needs will be filled by others who step in, risk their money, and service the areas left void by corporate bankruptcy and failure. If these new companies make the same greedy mistakes, then they will fail also.

As far as President Obama and what he's doing and has to do, I agree with what TAO said. It's way past time we paid our bills from the last 30 years.

TAO April 1, 2009 at 5:30 AM  

Sorry OMR, I think we can sit here today and say that the rising GDP was an illusion: What good did it do to increase it so much when poof in one year its gone?

That is kind of like playing three quarters of basketball and running up a 40 point lead and then in the last quarter losing it all...

The Republicans have had an immense amount of power over the last 20 years even when they are not the majority. I can think back to the budget battles between Clinton and Gringrich....the trouble is that the Republicans do not seek compromise but rather brinkmanship.

Look at the issue of Fillibusters now...

The reality is the Repbulicans lost the last two elections and there is a real good chance right now that they lose in 2010 but they will not adapt a policy of engagement or debate but rather will continue with their extremism.

Republicans have become a party that is imprisoned between the concept of lower taxes, smaller government, and the military.

That always translates into lower taxes on the wealthy, less regulations, and deficit spending increases because of the military.

Which benefits only a small percentage of our population and appeals to even a smaller percentage.

Until the Republican party can break out of the stranglehold it finds its self in there is not much hope for them.

As far as the issues with loopholes...well the Republicans overturn regulations not write them so of course they do not need the excuse of loopholes...

But they are also the first ones to claim that no one could have seen a train wreck comming...one thing neither party can brage about is a willing to take responsibility for the unintended consequences of their actions.

Sometimes I wonder if the democrats never comprehend that actions have unintnended consequences and if the Repubicans comprehend that inaction has consequences too.

OpenMindedRepublican April 1, 2009 at 4:28 PM  

TAO - The notion that the rise in GDP was illusionary or that is has disappeared does not seem to borne out by the numbers. We lost about 8 months of growth as of 3rd quarter 2008 (last numbers I have). That sucks, but frankly on a GDP graph it is barely visible. We are comparing a 665% growth to a 1.5% loss.

Note that - Democrats have controlled congress 10 1/2 of the last 20 years (give or take slightly), have held the presidency 8 of the last 20. Not exactly republican domination.
Note also, Bush only had a majority in congress for 4 1/2 years of his presidency.

And I am not impressed with the bipartisanship of either party. The EFCA is a perfect example of why. They are willing to let it die rather than remove the one part the Republicans object to. This is compromise? Some pro-labor sites I visited have said that the whole 'card check' thing is the least important part of the bill anyways.

OpenMindedRepublican April 1, 2009 at 4:33 PM  

Time - You might look at the numbers for Clinton. He actually taxed more and spent less, by my reading of the numbers. And did it with a Republican congress, not that it matters much.

Truth be known, Clinton is still probably mt favorite president.

Time April 1, 2009 at 5:42 PM  

The future of the Republican party, was on display today. The Republicans came out with their alternative to President Obama's budget.

It included another 4-1/2 Trillion dollars in tax cuts for corporations and cuts in entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, and food stamps).

More trickle down economics, a proven failure.

Cutting entitlement programs just as we need them most is not only the wrong choice, but against what the majority of the American people want.

If Republicans stick to this proven failure of fiscal ideology, there is no future for the Republican party.surks

OpenMindedRepublican April 1, 2009 at 5:45 PM  

Time - What are your reasons for saying that 'trickle down economics' are a proven failure?

TAO April 1, 2009 at 6:27 PM  

GDP in 1988 was 5253.27 and in 2008 it was 14200.3 now, how do you come up with a 655% growth?

Then when you factor in increased population and inflation AND consider how much of the GDP was created and or achieved due to increased credit availability then you have to wonder if we achieved anything.

One of the biggest issues we have right now is the fact that foreign investors have fled the United States. That is wealth transfer from the U.S. to other countries.

Then by your own numbers Congress was controlled 10 1/2 years by Dems and 9 1/2 years by Republicans during this period and the Republicans controlled the white house for 12 of the last twenty years and the Democrats 8 of the last 20.

Now, to keep our GDP up we have the bailouts and the stimulus and we have a budget that is partly investments and partly stimulus.

While I see that we own and consume more I do not believe that this country has grown the country's wealth nor have we distributed it equitably.

OpenMindedRepublican April 1, 2009 at 6:47 PM  

TAO, we have been switching between referring to 30 and 20 years. 665% is from '78 (2150). Sorry for confusion. (That I am about half awake ain't helping, long day)

If I am figuring in the deflator thingy correctly, the number from 1987 to 2007 is 174% inflation adjusted. That actually 'feels' about right.

"While I see that we own and consume more I do not believe that this country has grown the country's wealth nor have we distributed it equitably."

How else would you define wealth on a societal scale, then?

TRUTH 101 April 1, 2009 at 6:53 PM  

America has lived well on borrowed money especially since Bush took office. Available credit is not wealth although you can live like the wealthy on credit until the bills are do and the repo man is at the door.

OpenMindedRepublican April 1, 2009 at 6:54 PM  

meh, for clarification, 2007 is 174% of 1987, as in less than twice.
no more math 'till I sleep

Time April 1, 2009 at 8:41 PM  

"The Republican theory has always been to grow the economy. The whole 'rising tide' notion."

Give businesses tax cuts, they will grow their businesses, hire more people and thus the less well off will become better off.

Times like these days no matter how much businesses get in tax cuts, they are not going to hire more people to serve a business that is seeing a decline in sales.

Since Ronald Reagan we have given businesses plenty of tax breaks. That does help GDP, but businesses took a higher % of profit out of that growth. In that same time period wages and benefits have been stagnant and even declining. Why?

If the Republican fiscal philosophy "rising tide" (trickle down economics) was supposed to help the middle and lower class, because of cutting taxes for businesses, then why have the rich gotten richer and the poor gotten poorer over the same period of time? Why has the national debt grown 100% in that same time period?

Simple, the Republican fiscal philosophy does not work, it is a failure.

Businesses have not shared (passed along) that increase of profit to their employees. They kept it for themselves and posted record high profits, and generated more income through the sale of their stocks, thus making more money.

At the same time instead of paying our national bills, we just built the debt.

Where is the positive results for workers, of this rising tide - trickle down effect? The benefits that we were told would benefit everyone, has not.

Please give me the positive examples that this fiscal philosophy has succeeded by increasing the financial well being of the lower and middle classes. Where is the proof of the rising tide positive effect?

This is not a one time short term trial of this fiscal philosophy. it has been a 30 year, failed experience.

OpenMindedRepublican April 1, 2009 at 9:21 PM  

I cannot, in fact am not even the least bit inclined to, argue that the continuous deficit spending was a good idea. We've talked enough times for you to know that about me by now :)

Having said that, I return to an earlier position. The notion that wages have not increased is crap. The way we compute 'real' wages is crap.

To pretend, for example, that cost of housing has stayed the same ignores that housing itself has not stayed the same. And this is not a trivial example; Cost of housing is by itself just under half of how we compute 'real' wages.

What we have, what we can buy, the conveniences of life... these are the things we chose to spend our prosperity on. You may say that these were not wise choices, but to pretend that prosperity does not exist because of it is denying reality.

The vast majority of people in the world would kill to live like the 'poor' in America. But we ignore that and say "But look, a few countries have passed us in one or two measures".

If you ignore how things have gotten better, you will only see how things have gotten worse.

This is, always has been, and always will be true. But it doesn't mean anything.

The simple truth is that life grades on a curve. There will always be people who fail to make the grade. There will always be poor people, because poverty is relative.

My father was diagnosed with cancer this fall. Stage 4 throat cancer. Just one of those things, no risk factors, shit happens.

He's back at work now, we'll have to see if they got it all, you don't know right away.

Total result? He's afraid he may have put too many 'miles on the odometer' so to speak, and he might have to retire sooner than planned. He might even have to pass on buying another new motorcycle this year, while they concentrate on paying off the last of the mortgage. That's about it.

They just finished putting my brother through college last year. My sister and other brother have a couple years to go.

Mom's going to Europe this summer, last I checked.

All paid for by solid middle class, no degrees, no trust funds. You tell me, could this story have taken place in 1978?

Time April 1, 2009 at 10:52 PM  

People are paying a higher % of their income now than decades ago for everything; housing, food, transportation, health care, clothing, etc.

It's more expensive to live in this country now, than decades ago. Give me the income I had 20 years ago, with the costs of life's essentials of 20 years ago, I could afford more 20 years ago than today. That is a position most Americans are in today.

When Nixon was President only one worker per household was necessary to pay the living expenses of the family. Today 2 workers per household are necessary to pay the living expenses, and they are hardly getting rich. I'd much rather have $30,00. in the worth of 1978 than $40,000. in the worth of 2009.

I don't accept that the difference is excused by a more frivolous lifestyle by Americans. Some are that way, but to say that is the only excuse, or a majority, is misrepresenting reality.

Please read my newest posting.

It's not a small percentage of Americans who are having trouble getting by these days. Some are not spending because of insecurity and fear. Most are not spending because they cannot afford to. Too many were living on credit, which has now been cut off.

Bush had one good point, "Go Shopping." Of course, that should have gone along with better government financial policies, but it did not.

Sounds like your family is doing better than most, only a small minority of people are planning a trip to Europe, nor could they afford it.

TAO April 2, 2009 at 3:06 AM  

In 1978 it cost my father nothing to send to kids to college. Between scholarships and student loans he was totally off the hook outside of a little gift check of $25 or so every month.

With that $25 I could buy enough food to last over 2 weeks.

Now my neice goes to the same college which now cost over 4 times what it did in 1978. She has scholarships and student loans and it is still costing my sister and her husband more than it would have cost my father if he had paid for everything.

OMR, here is one for you...your GDP represents a 174% increase over thirty years and yet median household income has grown from $36,847 in 1967 to $48,201 in 2006.

Then factor in that the average family has a debt factor of 140% of disposable income....

The rise in GDP has NOT been distributed equitibly and our GDP is overstated by at least 40% due to the availability of easy credit.

As I manufacture and sell consumer goods I always study median household income not GDP.

If the concept of trickle down economics applied then one should expect that the median household income would have increased at something closer to the increase in GDP.

It did not.

If GDP has gone up so dramatically and median household income did not then you have to acknowledge that someone captured the lions share of the gains in GDP which means that your median household income is skewered in their favor and thus median household income is overstated.

Personally, I believe that most of the gains reflected in our GDP has been sent off shore.

OpenMindedRepublican April 2, 2009 at 12:02 PM  

This is just devolving into an argument. None of us is going to convince the other.
Perspectives are too different.
Plus, it has distracted me from posting :)

One thing though - If any of you have a source for the position that food costs have risen, I would like to explore that.

TAO April 2, 2009 at 3:57 PM  

Have we been degraded to only eating? Is that advancement?

OpenMindedRepublican April 2, 2009 at 4:01 PM  

You have presented the notion that things are more expensive now.

I perceive things differently.

I am looking for ways to test the validity of that perception. Cost of food is one aspect.

Time April 2, 2009 at 4:24 PM  


This is the address for the CPI numbers from 1913-2009.

This sit has individual #'s for food, shelter. clothing, transportation, ect.

The CPI # includes all those life purchases together.

Specifically from 1978-2009 the index went from the mid 60's to over 210.

Obviously the rise in wages (there is a wage graph at this site) does not even come close to the rise in prices over the same period of time.

OpenMindedRepublican April 2, 2009 at 4:41 PM  


I do not know how the whole CDI thing works, but I am certain it is not straightforward enough to apply that directly.

OpenMindedRepublican April 2, 2009 at 5:33 PM  

A deeper question.

By what means would we measure prosperity objectively?

Time April 2, 2009 at 7:42 PM  

How about what people earn? These are the real wages since 1964.


Tom the Redhunter April 2, 2009 at 7:45 PM  

Tell me, OpenMindedRepublican, are you involved locally? I am. I learned some time ago that sitting on the sidelines and complaining accomplished nothing.

OpenMindedRepublican April 2, 2009 at 7:59 PM  

Time - I posted what I think about real wages a week or so ago. Nothing I have seen so far changes it.

I have done a fair amount of statistical analysis when I was a quality inspector; when a graph is that flat, you are measuring something against itself.

Tom - I am not active, but I think a 'yet' goes on the end of that sentence. I firmly believe that ignorance should be accompanied by silence, and I just don't know enough yet.

Really, that is what this Blog is all about. Expanding my knowledge by exposure to alternate views. Sort of intellectual darwinism.

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