The GOP Needs A Different Kind of Candidate, But Rand Paul Isn’t It.

Rand Paul today says that the GOP’s “war first” brand sucks. But this is pretty much only relevant to the Iraq War. Lefties get wet for this because they hate all war even if it’s necessary or justified. But if you think that have two viable parties is good for the country, Paul’s kind of rebrand for the GOP won’t help you.

I figured after the wipeout in 2008, the national Republican party would do some soul searching and decide that, due to the electoral college map, they would have to start recruiting more moderates for their primaries and stop alienating people like Jim Jeffords, Arlen Spector, and Linc Chaffee. They did the reverse, of course, because it seems they are content to rely on gerrymandered control of the House and the occasional fluke to gain control of the senate for a while.

One could even argue that the Republican party is doing more of what it wants now than it could if the situation were reversed and Mitt Romney were President, the Democrats controlled Congress and most of the states. But are they really willing to admit they are giving up on the White House for the foreseeable future?

Of course not. But given who is running in 2016, they must think that their best shot is to get a “purer” candidate in 2020 and bet on voter fatigue with Democrats. But that seems almost conspiratorial. None of the candidates they have now are anything other than cartoons or also rans. There are a couple that might be tolerable, like George Pataki, but I think he might be running for 2020 in reality. Maybe, he thinks, they will finally be ready for a blue state Republican that gives them a punchers chance.

The problem isn’t that the electorate sees the Republicans as hawks, as Paul suggests. In fact, being hawkish is generally quite popular unless and until their current war fails. (This doesn’t make it good, but it makes it helpful to winning.) The next war is usually popular.

The problem with the Republicans isn’t that they are largely for the Patriot Act and mass surveillance. In general, that too is popular at least while people feel threatened and see terrorism still going on everywhere.

Also, the problem with Republicans isn’t that they are pro business. Most high level Democrats are pro business. The problem with the Republicans is that they hate the poor.

The problem with the Republicans is also that they are too aligned with the politics of white male resentment. Being mad about affirmative action, feminism, gay marriage, and everything else gives them little room not to look just plain “mean” when they try to argue that, say, hating the cops is a path that leads no where. Even if they are making a good point, all we hear is “down with darky.”

The problem with Republicans is that they ask us to suspend our disbelief on one too many things while being credulous on so many others. They don’t believe in climate change, evolution, vaccination, but they seem to have no such skepticism for any number of other things, like Clinton conspiracies, Benghazi, or Obama being born in Africa. You can ask us to be credulous or you can ask us to skeptical, but it’s hard for most people to selectively adapt to that.

This is because the Republicans have largely surrendered to the bases of their coalition. They won’t argue with the evangelicals, with certain industrialists, or with old white men.

The Democrats, for all of their innumerable flaws, are much better at at least extracting patience from their base, at least at the national level. (This is not how it used to be, before you drop CW on me.) The ACA is a great example. For many in the Democratic base, anything shy of single payer was a defeat, but the ACA was never in danger of being blocked from the left, to the point where the House, when given a choice between no bill and the Senate’s bill, chose the Senate’s bill.

Life can be tough on a Democrat who is not a creation of labor, or of the environmental movement, or of minority group politics, but they aren’t impossible and both Clintons, Obama, and all but a few senators are none of these.

If the Republicans could come up with a candidate that was at least somewhat moderate, they would have a chance. By “moderate” I don’t mean liberal. I mean, someone who is credibly moderate, even while being pro-business, pro-military, pro-cop or whatever. As long as they are willing to accept compromise and deal with reality from time to time. (You know, someone like Reagan!)

Things Sy Hersh needs to address

I’m not saying his article is bullshit, because all of this is just stuff I’m hearing from one person or another. But when he has insider Pakistani sources reframing the story in a way that makes the Pakistani government look much, much better, is there something besides an anonymous source he can give us to back it up?

Also, cui bono? No one cared about the details. Americans cared that Bin Laden was dead. We don’t care about how/where or whether he was properly buried at sea. Why lie? I mean, seriously, why did the White House do it?

So, there’s every reason in the world for the Pakistanis to tout this version, no reason for Americans to lie the way they allegedly lied—what’s the explanation?

Hersh has been right about a lot of things, so I won’t just dismiss what he writes, but we need more.

England just saved the UK

Canada has had the same political current sweep across it in the last many years. The rise of the Bloc Quebecois wiped out the centrist Liberal party in Quebec, which, coupled with a few scandals, led to its virtual wipeout. The once dominant party isn’t even the opposition anymore, with the left-wing NDP taking on that role in Ottawa.

Similarly, the Labour party in the UK was rolled back due to the rise of Scottish nationalism *after* an independence referendum failed.

The result in both cases was strengthening of the Tory party.

There are even parallels between the UK election and the recent Israeli one, where disaffected right-wing voters “came home” to Likud rather than risk a principled but loss-inducing vote for Libermann or Bennett. UKIP did not achieve the results the polls predicted either in seats or in votes.

What’s the message for the United States? Potential existential threats or radical changes will force people to vote against the rest of their interests, as perceived by a certain economic view.

Democrats lament the white working class’s perceived vote against its own interests by supporting the Republican party, but sometimes this would make sense, if the threat posed by the Democrats weren’t illusory. The threat of a Labour-SNP coalition, though, meant at least radical changes in the UK itself which seems much more immediate than renegotiating the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Democrats need to, more than Republicans, make it perceived that they have a handle on global events like Iran and events at home like Baltimore. The kinds of change Democrats want, and the kinds of conflict it invites with big money elites, cannot be waged by the college faculty class alone.

The UK would be better served by tightening its trade relationship with Canada and the US rather than being sucked into the nihilistic bureaucratic nightmare that is the post-crisis EU, a union of the Germans for the Germans and by the German bankers.

Gaming out the UK elections

As of today, with less than a week to go, there is no likely coalition capable of achieving a majority in the commons. On the other hand, no one seems to note that Sinn Fein is an abstentionist party and its MPs do not take their seats. Normally this doesn’t matter, but when we’re dealing with razor-thin margins, the fact that (probably) 5 MPs won’t be voting matters.

323 forms a working majority in the House of Commons.

It is vanishingly unlikely that the SNP and Tories, the only two-party combination that can reach 323, will cooperate.

Procedure is also important. Just as in Israel, the Queen gives the mandate with some discretion. It is not necessarily the person with the most MPs.

If today’s polling holds, the best the Tories can do is to keep the LibDems and appeal to the DUP.  But that’s only 313 votes. It’s possible that this combination will reach 323 due to polling errors.

Labour is in a better position. Ed Miliband has stated that he would not have SNP in government, but Labour+SNP is 321 at present (and I think some of the minor parties would affirm without much, if any, prodding). All SNP has to do is abstain on the Queen’s speech and motions of no confidence, and Ed Miliband is probably prime minister. Lib/Lab + SNP abstention is a more sure thing.

Labour ought to deeply probe the Scottish electorate and see what happens if the parliament is truly hung. Does Labour win some of the Scottish seats back in the follow on election? It will be interesting to see on a Scale of Canada to Israel how adapted UK politics is to coalition agreements. LibDems could ask a high price indeed despite their lower numbers.

If SNP won’t support anyone who doesn’t give in to their demands, and another election is held, I think, but don’t know, that Labour has the upper hand and will indeed get some of those seats back as people tire of the SNP’s repeated failures to deliver. But again, no one except both the Conservatives and Labour together, can form a government without at least an SNP abstention.

The LibDems wanted a referendum on a different voting system last time, a referendum that failed. With a seemingly more permanently hung parliament, does proportional representation get another shot? UKIP voters will think so, with their polling in the 10s and their likely seats in the 0-2 range.

Based on this polling, I think the British are about to being Ed Miliband to power either before or after another election.

Personally, I think this is a huge mistake. I would never be a Tory, but under Cameron on the big issues, the UK has been well served. Further integration in Europe, losing the pound, Scottish independence, and losing Trident would set the UK, or what’s left of it, into permanent third-rate power status and the results of the Napoleonic Wars, WWI, and WWII would, in effect, be reversed. This might help with certain wage and inequality issues, but I don’t think even the social democrats among the English are actually ready to have their world be so subordinated to Germany and France.

European integration’s primary raison d’être is to prevent future European wars, wars that the British did not start or cause but were affected by. If that weren’t the case, it would be hard to justify for the mainland countries, much less the British, after the performance during the economic crisis.

So, here are the possible results, barring a polling failure:

(1) Labour government w/ or w/o Libs on SNP abstentions. If SNP sees new elections as a reverse and can get some advertisable concession, maybe on taxes or Trident, without being in government, this is more likely.

(2) New election – seems the most likely

(3) Unity government – perhaps a Shamir/Peres type agreement, or something where the party with the most seats gets the premiership but with a very compromised agenda, perhaps only on Scotland and a few other issues with everything else being vote-by-vote coalitions.

Either way, I very much doubt that the next British election is May 2020.