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Whither the post-Obama Democrats

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:36 am - November 21, 2012.
Filed under: National Politics,Random Thoughts

There has been much talk these past two weeks about the GOP needing to alter course in order to remain viable in the future.  Given that President “Obama got reelected because he enjoys a degree of personal popularity disconnected from his record“, Abe Greenwald, just days after the debacle, contended that Democrats too have to engage in some soul-searching:

The president’s reelection is not evidence of a new liberal America, but rather of the illogical and confused experience that is infatuation. For multiple reasons, Americans continue to have a crush on Barack Obama even after his universally panned first term. No longer quite head over heels, they’re at the “I know he’s no good for me, but I can change him” phase. Whatever this means, it surely doesn’t suggest conservatives would be wise to move closer to policies that aren’t even popular among Obama supporters.

Read (and consider) the whole thing.  Obama may have won the election, but most of the intellectual energy is on the opposite side of the political aisle, with the Republican Party having many more leaders committed to reform that the Democrats.  Noting those many Republican “up-and-comers“, Jennifer Rubin asks

Do the Democrats pine for a President Biden or a President Clinton ? (The latter’s future, I suppose, depends in part on how long a trail of foreign policy bungles she leaves behind.) Biden will be 74 four years from now and Clinton, 69. Not unfit for service, but hardly fresh faces or innovative figures.

More to the point, without Obama, and more important, without Romney, what do and will Democrats believe in? Big government and debt? We really don’t know since Obama has run two races about nothing, and aside from climate control (anti-coal and gas production) and tax hikes on the rich, we don’t know much about his economic agenda or whether there is something approaching an economic revival agenda.

The challenge for the Democratic Party, as opposed to that of the president, is to figure out if it can win presidential elections without bogeymen and attract the broader coalition that Obama cobbled together in 2008 when he had the luxury of running as a blank slate.

Will future Democrats be able to, like Obama, to trash their opponents while running a race on nothing?  Or will voters ask them to specify their agenda?

More on this anon, I hope.



  1. But, first, one point of order: The 85% to 15% formula for moderates is not useful. No one knows how a Collins or Chaffee or Specter of Lugar or Brown will break. Furthermore, if 50% of the 15% votes with the “other side” are on the big stuff, what are we really talking about?

    I can tell you one thing with certainty: They only break to the other side when their own party is in the minority. I have seen data that shows it. When Republicans are in the majority, the opposite happens, Dems cross over and vote with the Republicans. Getting the majority stops the crossing over of all of them. If you try kicking them out while in a minority, we see that what happens is the seats are given to Democrats and we start playing whack-a-mole as more begin to cross over.

    Comment by crosspatch — November 23, 2012 @ 2:04 pm - November 23, 2012

  2. Crosspatch,

    You lost me. I was unaware that there are mathematical laws and formulae on all of this. I kind of thought that rogue, maverick and unpredictable meant a bit more bargaining and arm twisting and pressure tactics than some sort of set pattern.

    For instance, I rather doubt that 85%/15% is anything more than a conjecture that changes with the make-up of the body and the theme of the legislation at hand.

    I realize that scientists prefer to measure everything and deal with the numbers, but for the most part our politicians operate on large doses of measuring what is in it for each of them. As a consequence, they can cast some votes without much concern and hold others out for a fair amount of reciprocity. Therefore, the Senate is relatively prone to being held hostage by a gang of five or seven who will screw their own party to get what they want.

    Comment by heliotrope — November 23, 2012 @ 2:32 pm - November 23, 2012

  3. I arrived at those SPECIFIC numbers by rectal extraction, the point being to show that Republicans will vote with the party a lot more often than they vote against it while a Democrat votes against it all the time when in the majority. It is actually smaller than 15% of the time but those times DO tend to be on big issues that get a lot of attention. The reason is pretty simple. If a Senator in the minority has a pet issue, say water projects for a Senator from the West, if they want to get traction on THEIR issue, they have to get support and to get support they sometimes need to hold their nose and support something on the other side when they are the minority party.

    The overall point, though, is that gaining the majority STOPS that behavior cold. I am trying to find the data that show it. It was on a graphic posted in the past 12 months, I think, on Ace of Spades blog. It was a graph that showed crossing over of Senators over time. When Republicans are in the majority, the crossing over is from D to R on votes. When Democrats are in the majority the crossing over is in the other direction. Gaining the majority is the first step required in ending the behavior of Republicans voting with Democrats. Once you have a majority of a few seats, then you can select a “weak” Senator for replacement IF you have a strong candidate to replace them with.

    Comment by crosspatch — November 23, 2012 @ 2:46 pm - November 23, 2012

  4. Here is a suggestion for making a real difference and showing the country how Republican policies can make a better life for a lot of people and address one of the Democrats’ selling points at the same time:

    Republicans now control the governor and legislature of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in addition to the ones they have held for a while in Texas and Oklahoma. My suggestion is to create an “alliance” among these states to reduce the cost of health care using Republican principles.

    1. Using Texas’ tort reform as a model, these states align with Texas on caps for “pain and suffering” awards and treatment of lawsuits deemed to be “without merit”. This is the foundation step and must be done before any of the others are taken.

    2. Standardize health care mandates among these states.

    3. These states agree to allow health care providers to operate within the region as if it is one state. No more of this nonsense of each health care provider requiring a separate operating company in each state where they do business. Having each state as a separate business unit creates duplication of effort and prevents any economy of scale. Allow the operators to work within this alliance of states as one business unit.

    4. Create what amounts to private “exchanges” but more like “benefit unions” along the lines of credit unions where small businesses and individuals can band together and get health insurance at lower group rates by allowing them to form larger groups. This basically privatizes the “exchange” idea by creating what are, in effect, private exchanges.

    This does several things. Since Texas underwent their tort reform, they have seen doctors migrating to the state. Particularly interesting was the frivolous lawsuit issue. That is where someone sues you for $10,000 knowing it will cost you $15,000 to defend yourself so you settle to avoid court. In Texas, if the judge rules that the suit is without merit before it goes to trial, the plaintiff must pay the defendant’s defense costs. If it goes to trial, that is a different story, but this gets rid of the notion that it is cheaper to settle for frivolous suits. The result has been a dramatic reduction in this behavior. Limits on pain and suffering awards reduces malpractice insurance costs. All of this works together to reduce health care costs for everyone.

    I wish I had a channel of communications to these governors to present such an idea because I think it could provide a concrete example of what Republican policies can do and benefit a lot of people.

    Comment by crosspatch — November 23, 2012 @ 3:00 pm - November 23, 2012

  5. I don’t give a rat’s butt if RINO’s are voting with the party 80% of the time. That just means they are voting with the party on stupid sh-t like “Pineapple Awareness Month” and naming a Rest Stop on the NJ Turnpike after Jim McGreevey.

    Where they split are the votes that matter; like on The Stimulus or Amnesty.

    Comment by V the K — November 23, 2012 @ 9:14 pm - November 23, 2012

  6. They ONLY vote with the other party when we are in the minority. Getting rid of them to replace them with a Democrat only helps the Democrats but I think you know that already.

    I firmly believe there are many crypto-Democrats who troll right-leaning websites pretending to be “staunch” conservatives in order to provide validation for other real conservatives to commit political suicide and vote for candidates in primaries who go on to lose in the general.

    Not saying you are one of those but you could be influenced by them in making your position seem more popular among fellow Republicans than it actually is.

    Electing Democrats to office is NOT better than removing a “RINO” Republican. The Democrat is always worse. We can work on “purifying” after we get a majority. In the meantime we need to concentrate on the greater threat, that is, Democrats.

    Comment by crosspatch — November 24, 2012 @ 7:00 pm - November 24, 2012

  7. crosspatch,

    As a staunch fiscal conservative and a pretty much social conservative, I do not think I can be fooled by “crypto-conservatives” urging me to commit political suicide. Perhaps that is more narcissistic than realistic, but I am fairly quick to smell a rat.

    This whole theme of yours about “moderation” is very confusing to me. Where do you place the “moderates” in a tug of war? The general rules are that you pull the knot to one or the other line on either side of the middle in order to win. So, do you support some sort of system where the middle never changes? Everything is in stasis? Sort of like Singapore or some other benevolent dictatorship?

    What are your “moderate” solutions to taxing the rich? government spending? unfunded entitlements? underfunded entitlements? massive unemployment? fossil fuels? man-made global warming? illegal immigration? absorbing illegal immigrants into the welfare system? controlling borders? regulating business out of producing within the US? regulating business to the point of business going off shore? printing money to service the debt? letting gays marry but holding the line on polygamy? etc?

    I have never met a moderate who was also a success. Just a moderate success. That is to say, the Gauleiter of Yonkers, but never a Reichsleiter. My choice in using stark Nazi terms is because that is how case hardened party machinery operates. The “Progressive” leftists have their Rahm and Axelrod and Alinsky and Ayres and Soros and Podesta and Creamer and Sunstein and Piven and Trumpka and Stern and Wallis and Jarrett and many, many more and you want to send the Saturday Afternoon Croquet Team up against them?

    Barry Goldwater scared the Republicans for generations. His loss was epic. So, Republicans blame the message. Romney was the ideal moderate candidate. He used his “Boston” machine of old reliables who advised him in 1994, 2002, 2008 and they created the message and campaign of 2012.

    Now we are saying Romney blew the election. Not the message, Romney.

    Well, Goldwater was a lousy messenger and Romney had access to a great message which he massaged in order to be a kinder, gentler messenger.

    From the get go, defined him as “100% Wonderbread Boy” who didn’t “care” about the poor, women, Hispanics, blacks, Asians, the middle class, everyday jobs, and on and on.

    Did Romney take the fight to Obama in any substantive way? By that I mean did he respond as a conservative with passion and substance. That is because, he is not a conservative.

    Reagan was a nice guy who did not finish last because his principles were second nature to him and he was good natured about his principles. (Goldwater was an ill natured ideologue.)

    Romney was a nice guy who finished last because he kindly let the steamroller flatten him.

    Comment by heliotrope — November 25, 2012 @ 12:06 pm - November 25, 2012

  8. Every GOP presidential candidate since Reagan has been from the party’s moderate, establishment wing. That strategy does not seem to be working very well.

    Yeah, some tea party conservatives lost in 2012. But what crosspatch won’t admit is that EVEN MORE establishment GOP senate candidates lost in 2012.

    Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin – Establishment Candidate and Loser
    Pete Hoekstra in Michigan – Establishment Candidate and Loser
    Scott Brown in Massachusetts – Socially Moderate Loser
    Connie Mack in Florida – Establishment Candidate and Loser
    George Allen in Virginia – Establishment Candidate and Loser
    Denny Rehberg in Montana – Establishment Candidate and Loser

    He also won’t mention that Ted Cruz and Deb Fischer – Tea party conservatives fought tooth and nail by the establishment, won.

    Comment by V the K — November 25, 2012 @ 1:00 pm - November 25, 2012

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