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We should all want the GOP to reform and rebound

Rand_Paul.jpgI recently quoted a Ross Douthat column praising Sen. Rand Paul's inventive approach to reforming the Republican party:

Beginning in 2003, a party that had long promised — and mostly delivered — peace through strength became identified with an intelligence fiasco, a botched occupation and the squandering of American resources, credibility and lives.

...[Sen. Rand Paul is seeking] a reorientation of conservative foreign policy thinking away from hair-trigger hawkishness and absolute deference to executive power.

Many of the initial comments posted to our Facebook page were very negative. Cherri from Eureka, CA wrote, "If the Coffee Party is endorsing Rand Paul they are going nowhere." Other comments got caught in our "civility filter" because they contained profanity or insulting language directed at Sen. Paul.

I responded:

If the Republican party continues on its current track, Karl Rove and Sean Hannity are not the only two people who will suffer. Our country as a whole will suffer. 

A party that has lost its credibility on national security, economic policy, and equal justice cannot win without warping the democratic process, and, cannot influence national policy without obstructionism and brinksmanship verging on sabotage. 

Their defeat in the last two presidential elections was thoroughly earned, and some gloating may be warranted, but if we want America to succeed, we need at least two major parties vying for the trust of ALL the American people, and thus, working hard, and competing, to offer policies that serve the People. The first step is reform. For reform, the GOP will need some reformers. Rand Paul will be one of them. That's all this article is saying.

I'd like to expand on that by pointing out that Democrats, and America as a whole, will be better served by President Obama and the Democratic Party if they have to compete with a reformed Republican Party genuinely seeking to attract a diverse coalition that reflects the socio-economic realities of 21st century America. So often in recent decades, the GOP has taken a hardline position — i.e. preemptive war, anti-immigration, deficit hysteria — and the Democrats have said, wow, all we need to do is stand one notch to the left and we can stake our claim on moderates and independents. While this political strategy has worked out pretty well for the Democrats, it's a baby step toward the policy reforms this country needs to rebound from 30 years of economic mismanagement, and 8 years of costly foreign policy disasters.

Partisans in both major parties often claim, either implicitly or explicitly, that all America needs is for OUR party to completely destroy THEIR party. When President G. W. Bush was reelected in 2004, for instance, I remember a Republican woman interviewed on TV saying, "I hope this drives a stake in the Democrats' heart, and they just give up forever," or something to that effect.

GOP_workout.jpgI am a registered independent — one who cannot deny that the Democrats offer better policies right now. I have voted for I's, R's, and D's in my life. I am offended by GOP electioneering strategies and obstructionism in the past several years. But I do not want the Republican party to "just give up forever." I want to see them modernize. I want to see them break their addiction to SuperPAC money, oil industry money, and casino money (of both the Las Vegas and Wall Street variety). I want them to depend on the American people as a whole to deliver electoral victory, instead of voter suppression designed to preserve the power of shrinking constituencies still captured by the Southern Strategy. 

They'll need to do some real soul searching. Yes, for this they will need reformers. They'll need a Rand Paul vs. Jeb Bush vs. Rick Santorum 2016 presidential primary. Two years ago I predicted the next GOP president will be Meghan McCain, a young woman who (a) won't be old enough to BE president for many years, and (b) has a world view not all that dissimilar to that of Barack Obama. I made that prediction to demonstrate a point — that the reforms required for the Republican party to appeal to 21st century America are deep reforms that face powerful and passionate opposition and will take many years to achieve — but I wouldn't be unhappy to see it come true. America needs two viable national parties, not one party that lurches along with the aid of big money and another party that gets lazy because big money may not be enough to win any more...

This is basically the outlook of The Middle Ground, the radio show I co-host with moderate Republican Michael Charney Tuesdays at 8 pm ET.

Douthat concludes his New York Times column with this analysis of Sen. Paul's public relations windfall with his filibuster about U.S. drone policy:

There’s a lesson here for his fellow Republican politicians — though that lesson is not, I repeat not, that they should all remake themselves as Paul-style libertarians. One can appreciate the Kentucky senator’s evolution away from his father’s crankishness without completely trusting that it’s genuine, and on domestic policy a swing to libertarian purism is something the present Republican Party doesn’t need.

Rather, the lesson of Paul’s ascent is that being a policy entrepreneur carries rewards as well as risks — and that if you know how to speak the language of the party’s base, it’s possible to be a different kind of Republican without forfeiting your conservative bona fides.

This is something that the party’s other ambitious officeholders have been slow to recognize. Since the 2012 election, a number of prominent Republicans — Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, and so on — have given speeches that tiptoe toward new ideas, new policies, new visions of what their party might stand for and support. But ultimately they’ve all stopped short of actually breaking with the policy consensus that sent Romney down to defeat.

Paul, by contrast, has actually challenged that consensus in a substantive and constructive way. And far from being excommunicated for it, he’s been rewarded with greater prominence and increased conservative support.

For those with ears, let them hear.

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Showing 7 reactions

commented 2013-03-15 22:49:41 -0400 · Flag
I find it fascinating to see the reactions on here to someone who talks about freedom and liberty for all. What is so difficult about understand what that means, and entails?

@darrell Ross: Please reread the second paragraph of my first post. Then search on Switzerland budget amendment. You will see the solution to our budget problems in your search. That is what is good for America. Of course I could write a novel on many solutions that would actually work to fix the problems we face in America, but many here don’t want to hear the rather simple answers.

@duge Butler: I have previously been corrected in the terms of Democrat and democratic and which to use when referring to policies of. The correct term to use is “Democrat”, as in possessive in describing the policies of such party. You say that the programs of Democrats such as Social Security, Medicare, TANF, etc have been good for America. Really? The tax for both SS and Medicare are regressive. Both programs, especially Medicare and including Medicaid are bankrupting the federal and state governments. In order to keep them from going under, according to the CBO, we will have to raise tax rates on everyone, raise the eligibility age, and lower the yearly increases.

We had to “fix” such programs back in 1983 because SS and Medicare were going broke back then as well. There were huge regressive tax increases back then, only to be spent by drunken Democrat sailors, at least until Republicans took over in 1994. Democrats then forget this part and say it was tax increases by Clinton that provided the surplus, when those surpluses didn’t hit until both tax cuts and spending restraint, along with a tech boom showed a balanced budget for a short time.

Clinton dropped off a recession and then 9/11 on top of that. Yet Bush had a better recovery from those two events than Obama has. The recovery under Obama was even worse than what FDR had during the Great Depression. Part of what the economy is suffering from is from policies enacted and pushed during the early Clinton years.

“New Study by the respected National Bureau of Economic Research Finds Democrats Fully to Blame for Subprime Mortgage Crisis that Caused 2008 Financial Disaster” Source:

Lastly you claim that TEA party Republicans don’t want to compromise to get things done. Strange that Republicans have passed a budget ever since they got back into control in 2011. Yet the Democrat control US Senate hasn’t passed a corresponding budget since the middle of 2009, in order to start a negotiation as the budget control act passed by Democrats into law demands. Even Obama’s own proposed budget to the House did not receive one vote, from either side of the isle. Now the Senate’s budget has nothing but tax and spending increases that never balances.

I would suggest Duge, that you work to inform yourself with diligent research, as even I have found that even I have missed facts before which change what I thought to be true into what is reality. It is why I am even more a classic liberal, or better known as a libertarian than I used to be. Challenge yourself and what you think is true, and if you are honest in research and challenge, you’ll see what I have seen, a reality beyond politics.
commented 2013-03-14 20:57:25 -0400 · Flag
@mike Cessac: First off, it’s “Democratic”, not “Democrat” (so much for not being divisive). Second, as to your points, there have been a lot of policies that Democrats have pushed for and actually enacted that have been good for our country: Social Security, Medicare, TANF, etc. Here in America, we have a tradition of taking care of our elderly citizens, as well our poorest ones and each of those policies were promoted by Democrats and (largely, if not entirely) opposed by Republicans. Republicans don’t believe that we need to reform our health care/coverage system in this country to ensure that more people get covered and are continuing their efforts to repeal and/or nullify the Affordable Care Act every way they can. Call it “Socialist” or whatever but I’m glad that our country- which some on the right refer to as a supposedly Christian country- cares about its citizens for the most part. It’s a lot better than what Republicans seem to be offering. What Republicans seem to be offering on the other hand is basically leaving everybody to themselves (and keeping government from doing any meaningful oversight over corporations or entities that might exploit and/or harm the rest of us) and hoping that everything turns out o.k.- though we know lots of people will slip through the cracks while those whom were lucky enough to be born to the right parents will always be well taken care of. What policies have they promoted/passed in recent years that have actually helped people? I can’t think of any. Perhaps you can illuminate me. Plus, the economies that Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama have presided over have been generally quite good as well. Eight years of George W. Bush (six of which Republicans controlled everything) caused our economy to collapse at the end in a huge meltdown that we are still somewhat stuck in. For all the talk about President Obama being a “socialist” and that he is “Europeanizing” America (whatever that means), Wall Street is currently doing quite well, so he must be doing something right (or at least his “socialist” policies aren’t harming the economy. Take your pick). The only major problem with our economy at the moment is that that wealth is not filtering down to the rest of us at the rate that it should be but then again “trickle down” economic supply-side theory has never quite panned out and that seems to be what our economy is still mostly based on. Bush/Cheney- along with a compliant Republican Congress- also facilitated the deaths of 4000 Americans at a cost of $2T to invade a country that posed no immediate danger to us let alone the rest of the world. As far as the Tea Party trying to solve the “big government problem”, I honestly have no idea what the Tea Party wants. I know just about everything they DON’T want, including compromise/progress. We’re currently on year 4 of Republicans- led around by the nose by the so-called “Tea Party”- doing just about everything in their power to make the Federal Government and Congress in particular dysfunctional- with no end in sight, presumably so that they can hold the line on progressive accomplishments until a Republican is (s)elected to the WH. You suggest that the Tea Party wants to solve problems but it seems to me like they prefer things broken instead and have no desire to work with anybody else to solve……….anything.
commented 2013-03-14 17:21:46 -0400 · Flag
My hope for the GOP is that the fringe Tea Party pulls it down so far that moderate republicans and moderate Democrats create a new party.

This is, of course, a pipe dream but the GOP’s actions so far in doubling down on hate and fear mongering seemed to be pushing them towards ultimate irrelevance.

The spoiler effect in our voting system will always produce two parties. I was hoping the Democratic party would split into two parts:
– 1 socially progressive and fiscally progressive
– 1 socially progressive and fiscally conservative.

Then all the hateful people could return to the fringe where they belong.
commented 2013-03-14 17:18:28 -0400 · Flag
@mike Cessac
You did not present your criteria for what constitutes “good for America”.

Your claims lack anything beyond conjecture. Please provide some way for the rest of us to qualify your argument.
commented 2013-03-13 14:33:33 -0400 · Flag
I’m still trying to figure out what Democrat policies have been good for America. I have been researching many different decades to get a better understanding of the complex reactions of the American economy to policies of the US government and the states. I have also been researching European countries and their policies and how their economies have done.

I have nearly finished up, and so far of nearly a century of history and comparisons, it’s quite clear that the more economic freedom from government there is, the better off the economy, and the people are. This means a very limited government that enforces laws against theft and other criminal activity. Also those countries that had budget deficit problems solved them by limiting spending, not tax increases. A prime example is Switzerland, that limited it’s budget increases to the GDP performance.

I have also come up with some questions that Democrats need to ask themselves. For those that want single payer (government) healthcare system. If we know that a private business monopoly is bad and to be avoided, why would a government run monopoly be a good thing? If Democrat created programs are so good, why are they mandatory? Why am I forced to join a union and pay dues, just to work at certain businesses, if unions are such a great thing?

I used to be a middle of the road Republican. But as I have researched and challenged all of what I thought, I have moved to being more Libertarian, after finding that many of the problems that afflict us, were actually caused by government at some level. More problems were caused when those in government tried to fix those problems they originally caused. I found rather simple solutions from Libertarians that went to the source of the problems.

Many in the TEA party feel the same way, yet are called “radical” for wanting to actually solve the big government problem. John Hanson is an example of actually trying to learn, and expand their knowledge and views. The more people do this, and reject divisive comments like the kind Duge Butler make, the better off all of us will be.
commented 2013-03-11 18:16:55 -0400 · Flag
Being a minority liberal living in a farming community, I deal with moderate to conservative people. And I do not base my opinions on them by their political views, but rather their personal stories, fears and hopes. You know what? My neighbors and I have more in common than we do, differences. So my theory is to extend that to politics and include Rand Paul and his ideas on one side of the aisle, as well as Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich on the other. We will get a much better rate of return on national solutions with more diverse ideas being presented. But that’s just my thought.
commented 2013-03-10 11:51:44 -0400 · Flag
It would be nice to see the return of a saner, more thoughtful GOP but, frankly, a reformation of the GOP is not going to be possible IMHO unless they’re able and willing to throw out the radical Tea Party fringe that they still seem to be afraid of, particularly those facing possible primary challenges. Unless the GOP starts actually putting forwards concrete policies that help, rather than hurt, most average working folks, all of their talk is just that.

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