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pudge's Journal: Retceps 39

Journal by pudge

It seems like the respective political parties have their opinions about Arlen Specter totally backwards.

The Republicans are saying Specter left for his own self-interest in winning the primary in 2010. The Democrats are saying Specter left because the party has shifted too much to the right.

They're both right, of course, but they are both emphasizing the wrong thing: it helps the Republican Party to point out that Specter left because the party is shifting to the right.

In 2004, Pew says that 30 percent Americans self-identified with the GOP, while 33 with the Democrats. In 2008, the Democrats were up to 36 percent, and the Republicans down to 25 percent. So far in 2009, it's 35 and 23: the Republicans have lost 7 percent, while the Democrats have gained two percent.

Of course, it's only a poll. But it is in line what I see every day: far more conservatives who refuse to identify as Republicans, than liberals who refuse to identify as Democrats. And these conservatives refuse to so identify themselves almost entirely because they see the GOP as too far to the left, mostly on issues of spending and federal power (hence, the Tea Parties).

The problem the Republicans have is not that the country is shifting to the left, but that the party itself is perceived to have shifted to the left. The way to regain that is to move back to the right on spending, on personal liberty, on personal responsiblity, on property rights, and so on.

The Democrats don't seem to understand this, because they case they are making for Specter is only helping the Republican Party. Most non-Republicans on the right hear Specter say the Republican Party is too far to the right for him, and it only makes the GOP more appealing.

In 2010, these non-Republicans are going to vote for the candidate who supports the aims of the Tea Parties -- which are essentially Republican platform planks, that the GOP has disregarded in recent years -- and many of these candidates will win, in no small part thanks to Specter and the Democrats who think it hurts the Republicans to push the party to the right in the collective mind of the public.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

This discussion was created by pudge (3605) for no Foes, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Retceps

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  • The Republicans are saying... The Democrats are saying Specter left because the party has shifted too much to the right. They're both right, of course,...

    Specter was in the Senate during the time of Reagan, and also during the "Republican Revolution", not to mention the Ralph Reed years of the Christian Coalition when it had so much influence over the party. Basically the Republican Party has never been so far Left in all of his entire career. So for him (and his fellow Liberals) to try to claim that *now*

    • by Bill Dog (726542)

      The way to regain that is to move back to the right on spending, on personal liberty, on personal responsiblity, on property rights, and so on.

      Come out of your dream world, the reality is that except for a tiny rabblerouser percent of the populace, no one cares anymore about big spending (nor sees it as a problem). People don't understand liberty, personal responsibility, etc. anymore. And don't want to. People nowadays think even moderate Right-wing values are kooky, and even some extreme positions of Left

      • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

        the reality is that except for a tiny rabblerouser percent of the populace, no one cares anymore about big spending

        You're wrong.

        People nowadays think even moderate Right-wing values are kooky

        You're wrong.

        and even some extreme positions of Leftism are "normal" and as how things should be

        You're wrong.

        You're the one living in a dream world. Sure, if you watch MSNBC, this is the world you see. But it's not the real world.

    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      Specter was in the Senate during the time of Reagan, and also during the "Republican Revolution", not to mention the Ralph Reed years of the Christian Coalition when it had so much influence over the party.

      What I meant is that the party is shifting back to the right, NOT that it has never been this far right with Specter as a Senate Republican. Yes, obviously, it has been at LEAST this far right before.

      What in fact has happened is that the GOP hasn't been shifting to Left *fast enough*

      No, it's definitely began shifting back to the right. Not much, but a little bit, as evidenced by their opposition to the stimulus package. Will they keep it up? Is it more political than principle? We'll have to wait and see.

      The problem the Republicans have is not that the country is shifting to the left, but that the party itself is perceived to have shifted to the left.

      It has *both* of those problems.

      No, it doesn't. The country HAS NOT shifted to the left. On some minor social i

      • by Bill Dog (726542)

        What I meant is that the party is shifting back to the right

        And that will be its death knell. The party could limp along indefinitely in impotence as a "Democrat lite" party, and that's what I predict it will do*, as the moderates of the party sound more sensible in today's society. Shift to the Right when it's exactly the wrong direction wrt everything else and it'll quickly die. Neither choice serves me, so I don't care which it is.

        Not much, but a little bit, as evidenced by their opposition to the stimul

        • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

          What I meant is that the party is shifting back to the right

          And that will be its death knell.

          Not at all.

          the moderates of the party sound more sensible in today's society

          No, they don't.

          Shift to the Right when it's exactly the wrong direction

          No, it's not.

          But this is a completely out of the mainstream idea nowadays, and an extremist whack-job view relative to today's culture.

          No, it's not.

          The sad fact is, while some traditional social values barely hang on in pockets, traditional American economic and other kinds of values you mentioned (property rights, personal responsibility, and individual freedoms) are such a completely foreign language and way of thinking to the average American nowadays, it sounds nuts to them.

          You're completely wrong.

          You and your friends and a few of us on Slashdot may know what you're talking about when you wax libertarian, but Joe Sixpack has simply never heard anything like that, and has absolutely no intellectual or historical wherewithal to mentally chew on it, and has in fact been successfully conditioned, daily, over all his lifetime to be struck by such ideas as odd.

          No, you have it completely backwards. You obviously don't hang out witgh many Joe Sixpacks. On the contrary, when you say to them that government should let you make your own decisions with your own life, liberty, and property, and that the government takes away too much of all of that from us, they say, "Damn straight."

          You and I are fringe

          No, I'm not.

          And it's not because we started that way.

          Actually, yes, I've pretty much always had these views, with modifications of course, dating back to

          • by multimed (189254)

            No, you have it completely backwards. You obviously don't hang out witgh many Joe Sixpacks. On the contrary, when you say to them that government should let you make your own decisions with your own life, liberty, and property, and that the government takes away too much of all of that from us, they say, "Damn straight."

            Hate to admit it, but I gotta go with Bill Dog on this one. I don't doubt that the above is an accurate reflection in that context. But take it a step out - actually put those ideals into practice and those same people cave almost immediately. I mean let's face it, it took some great and well-read minds to put those concepts into a workable social contract in the first place. I look around and I just don't believe I see the level of intellect, critical thinking or perhaps most often, such utter apathy to a

            • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

              put those ideals into practice and those same people cave almost immediately

              No, they don't.

              People don't think any of it matters because there's nothing that they can really do since the majority of elections come down to choosing between the less of evils.

              Exactly my point. You and Bill and others are fooled into thinking the "common man" agrees with the left, when in reality, they agree with the right but don't bother speaking up because they've already given up hope of making a difference, and so have instead retreated into their own lives to maintain as much liberty as they can for as long as they can.

              People can't or aren't willing to look beyond the rhetoric.

              No, these people DO see beyond the rhetoric, which is how they recognize that the GOP has become the lesser of two evils, and have given up.

              • by multimed (189254)

                Exactly my point. You and Bill and others are fooled into thinking the "common man" agrees with the left, when in reality, they agree with the right but don't bother speaking up because they've already given up hope of making a difference, and so have instead retreated into their own lives to maintain as much liberty as they can for as long as they can.

                I don't think most people agree with the left - I think they are more easily convinced by the left. At it's most superficial level, the left has better sizzle, their rhetoric is more attractive if you don't really dig deeper or pass it through a truth filter.

                I just heard Durbin bringing up the Ledbetter case again. Perfect example. Compare:

                Left: That's not fair, judges need to be able to right this wrong.
                Average voter: Yeah, you're right, that's not fair.

                Right: It's not just a matter of fairness. We ha

  • But if he runs on a Democratic ticket (again) and wins, then the people of PA are idiots and Specter is, in fact, a Smart Tool.
  • From within PA (I'm just a smidge north of Toomey's former Congressional district), the battle lines are being laid out on social conservatism lines, not fiscal ones as much. That is, both in 2004 and already in the rumblings about 2010, Pat Toomey (the presumptive Republican nominee) is going after Specter primarily on his abortion rights record and his positions on gay rights, with fiscal issues being a distant second.

    With a lot of moderate Republicans and Independents having shiny new Democrat registra

    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      From within PA (I'm just a smidge north of Toomey's former Congressional district), the battle lines are being laid out on social conservatism lines, not fiscal ones as much.

      That's not how it appears from here. Specter was on Meet the Press yesterday, and what's the two things he mentioned? The stimulus bill, and Club for Growth (where Toomey has been President for the last four years).

      The stimulus bill, indeed, is what even Specter concedes pushed his approval rating with Republicans off the cliff.

      The 2010 election will be about the size, scope, and cost of government. If Toomey and other Republicans don't get that, it's to their peril.

      • by Zeriel (670422)

        I've noticed there is a significant discrepancy between the national ads, the in-state ads, and what the local canvassers/protesters/campaign offices say about the varying issues of the day. The biggest problem the conservatives are having in local politics (and this goes back to the Tea Party phenomenon) is that the local and to a certain extent the statewide Republicans are having a lot of trouble holding on to the message, when that used to be their biggest strong point.

        It strikes the local thinkers (ad

        • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

          It strikes the local thinkers ... that the Republican party is trading their patented Party Unity away in order to more firmly cement themselves in with the religious social conservatives

          I don't see that at all. I see people SAYING they see that -- a lot -- but I don't actually see that. I cannot recall the last time I saw a Republican run primarily on social issues, or make social issues the biggest part of their campaign. I honestly think this is much more a problem of perception than of fact, and that this perception is based more on biases than what candidates or the parties actually do.

          Like in Washington, I had many people tell me they wouldn't vote for Rossi for governor because h

          • by Zeriel (670422)

            I don't really understand why it is, either, honestly. I mean, I heard it most recently from a few friends, Libertarians, who were utterly disgusted by how much Christian Nation rhetoric was going on at the local Tea Party.

            There's a perception around that the Republicans are all monsters of social repression, and the scary thing is that on the other discussion forum I talk politics in online, the self-professed Republicans/conservatives openly revel in it--the poster boy thereof calling outright for a retu

            • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

              I don't really understand why it is, either, honestly. I mean, I heard it most recently from a few friends, Libertarians, who were utterly disgusted by how much Christian Nation rhetoric was going on at the local Tea Party.

              Sigh. That's just stupid. How much (literal) communist rhetoric was going on at the antiwar rallies? (A lot.)

              There's a perception around that the Republicans are all monsters of social repression

              a. A small minority of Republicans (except on the issues of abortion and gay marriage, which are arguably not about social repression in any significant way, of course)

              b. Far less so than the Democrats.

              Under Bush, the Democrats just lied, and lied, and lied about the Republican Party, and it worked. How many people did you run into who said "McCain changed"? I ran into them all the time, and it

              • by Shakrai (717556)

                (except on the issues of abortion and gay marriage, which are arguably not about social repression in any significant way, of course)

                I'd grant you the point on abortion even though I'm pro-choice. I don't view those who hold pro-life views as trying to "repress" people and I don't think you need to be religious to be pro-life.

                I'm curious to know how you justify the GOP position on gay marriage though? I think the Libertarians have the right idea here. Why is the Government involved in the 'marriage' business to begin with? If two people want to live together that's clearly no business of the state. If two people (whom are both of t

                • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                  I'm curious to know how you justify the GOP position on gay marriage though?

                  First, let us stipulate (taking from your other comment) that gay marriage is absolutely NOT a "bedroom" issue. Civil marriage is an explicitly PUBLIC, not PRIVATE, act.

                  Second, the history of marriage in our culture is such that government started recognized an existing institution. It did not create marriage, it decided to legally recognize existing marriages. And so, in the law, it called them "marriage" because that's what they were called socially.

                  But now, government wants to call something "marriage

                  • by Shakrai (717556)

                    But now, government wants to call something "marriage" that most people believe is NOT the same thing as what society has always called "marriage." Literally, gay marriage is the government taking a word from society, and changing its meaning for society, usually against the wishes of society. This is wrong.

                    I don't disagree. What's worse is that it's primarily being pushed on society by the branch of Government that's least accountable to society. If the Legislature was doing it one could argue that they are acting as the representatives of society. If nothing else society could vote the bastards out if it wasn't happy with what they were doing. Instead it's being pushed on us through the Judaical system. One would think that we learned why this is a bad idea with Roe v. Wade but I guess we didn't.

                    (Of course, some people may argue it is a GREATER wrong to treat gay unions unequally, and that's a fine point, but if those people cannot even concede that I have a point, we won't get very far here.)

                    You do

              • by Zeriel (670422)

                Sigh. That's just stupid. How much (literal) communist rhetoric was going on at the antiwar rallies? (A lot.)

                I'm under no illusions that the larger part of it is that these folks could safely ignore the anti-war rallies as being pointless, but don't like their position vis-a-vis taxes being "tainted" by the moral majority stuff.

                a. A small minority of Republicans (except on the issues of abortion and gay marriage, which are arguably not about social repression in any significant way, of course)

                For most of the Libertarians/fiscal conservatives I deal with in real life on a regular basis, gay marriage is THE huge social repression issue (the group is, for whatever reason, disproportionately gay on the order of 20%+) and while I'm not really convinced it's true now, I think in the n

                • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                  I'm under no illusions that the larger part of it is that these folks could safely ignore the anti-war rallies as being pointless, but don't like their position vis-a-vis taxes being "tainted" by the moral majority stuff.

                  Cry me a damned river. We live in a pluralistic society. Tell them to get off their high horse and realize that they won't agree with everyone on everything.

                  For most of the Libertarians/fiscal conservatives I deal with in real life on a regular basis, gay marriage is THE huge social repression issue

                  That is so fricking stupid. Just 20 years ago, legal gay marriage was unthinkable. Just ten years ago, it was a pipe dream, and even the major gay groups themselves said they were not trying to get gay marriage, they just wanted equal rights to live in peace. And people are pissy because a majority of this country hasn't completely changed their mi

                  • by Zeriel (670422)

                    Tea Parties and the like are going to make people look harder at the GOP, and if the GOP has any sense it will push those issues, and it will pick up seats in both houses.

                    From here, it looks like it's anyone's game, depending mostly on the perceived results of Obama's current policies and on which parties can pick up some of the protest issues and successfully run with them.

                    Current smart money is on Specter, if only because Toomey's a jerk. It'd be totally awesome if Tom Ridge comes back up here and runs, on the other hand.

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      Tea Parties and the like are going to make people look harder at the GOP, and if the GOP has any sense it will push those issues, and it will pick up seats in both houses.

                      From here, it looks like it's anyone's game, depending mostly on the perceived results of Obama's current policies and on which parties can pick up some of the protest issues and successfully run with them.

                      The Democrats will not pick up ANY of the protest issues. Period. While these are not pro-Republican issues (No Child Left Behind is anathema to the Tea Party protestors, for example), they are utterly anti-Democrat issues. For a Democrat to pick up these issues would mean he is not a Democrat.

                      And yes, that includes Specter, but Specter is a special case and he'll be excepted. If Specter were a new guy coming into the scene as a Democrat, saying he is against a public health plan, against card check, ag

                    • by Zeriel (670422)

                      I know at least one poli-sci guy who's theorizing that the Democrats' schizophrenic big-tentness with regard to defectors like Specter is going to cause them to bud off a new middle-left party in the next 10-20 years if the Republicans can't regain ground or lose ground in 2010-2012-2016.

  • The way to regain that is to move back to the right on spending, on personal liberty, on personal responsiblity, on property rights, and so on.

    Pudge,

    I agree with you on all of the above. The question that I would pose to you is how do you reconcile all that (particularly the 'personal liberty' bit) with the fact that the national GOP is in bed with the religious right? How can the GOP be the party of personal liberty when it's dominated by a group that advocates for state involvement in everything from the bedroom to the science classroom? How can the GOP be the party of personal liberty when the party tries to use the power of the state to ta

    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      The question that I would pose to you is how do you reconcile all that (particularly the 'personal liberty' bit) with the fact that the national GOP is in bed with the religious right?

      This is no more a fact now than it has been for 30 years.

      How can the GOP be the party of personal liberty when it's dominated by a group that advocates for state involvement in everything from the bedroom to the science classroom?

      It is not dominated by any such group. First, the Religious Right does not dominate the GOP. It simply doesn't. It is one of many groups that have influence in the GOP. That's what you call a Big Tent.

      Second, both the Republican Party AND the Religious Right want MUCH LESS state involvement in the bedroom or science classroom than the Democrats do.

      As to the bedroom, the GOP and Religious Right have no anti-sex laws that they endorse, except in reg

      • by multimed (189254)

        Having read through this thread, what I'm left with is the thought that the "big tent" Republican party needs to do a better job of courting these people who are generally conservative but perceive the party to be dominated by the religious right. You've done a lot of explaining why the perception is wrong - and trying to inform and change minds a few at a time is not nothing. But it needs to be done on a larger, party scale. I don't believe that the Republican party has been losing the battle of ideas, but

      • by Shakrai (717556)

        As to the bedroom, the GOP and Religious Right have no anti-sex laws that they endorse, except in regards to things like rape of course. On the other hand, the Democrats want all kids to be indoctrinated with their form of sex ed. The Democratic motto seems to be, "get the government out of my bedroom (even though no one proposes putting government in my bedroom anymore) and instead put the government in my kids' bedroom." It's sick and twisted and far more invasive than anything the GOP or Religious Right proposes.

        As to the science classroom, the GOP wants local school boards to make decisions, while the Democrats want science curricula forced on the schools from above

        I'm not looking to talk about how bad the Democrats are, because as I said I largely agree with you there. I don't see eye to eye with you on everything but I'm in complete agreement with the concept of local decision making. I just don't think the GOP has clean hands here. What's your response to the Federal funds that were provided to schools on the condition that they teach abstinence only sex ed? How is that allowing the local school boards to make decisions? Wouldn't a true Conservative seek to ge

        • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

          I'm not looking to talk about how bad the Democrats are, because as I said I largely agree with you there.

          But we are talking about the perception that GOP is somehow worse on this score than the Dems.

          What's your response to the Federal funds that were provided to schools on the condition that they teach abstinence only sex ed?

          Federal funds for local schools is generally unconstitutional. The feds have no business being involved in sex ed at all.

          My perception is that the GOP is entirely too beholden to the religious right and you haven't convinced me otherwise.

          You've not given a serious basis for your perception.

          My problem comes when a religious politician starts trying to impose his own personal morality on others.

          Again: abolitionism.

          Of course the other side of the abolitionism coin is that it was the abolitionists and Radical Republicans that expanded the scope of the Federal Government and destroyed the sovereignty of the states.

          Not really, no. They DID lay the groundwork for that to happen, to some degree, but that didn't do it themselves.

          • by Shakrai (717556)

            But we are talking about the perception that GOP is somehow worse on this score than the Dems.

            Umm, I don't think I ever said worse. I don't think I ever even made a comparison between the two (in this discussion anyway). I started out by asking you how you reconcile the influence of the religious right with the idea that the GOP is the party of personal liberty. If you want a comparison my observation would be that the Democrats infringe on our civil liberties to a greater extent than the GOP does. The Democrats push infringements on free speech (McCain-Feingold comes to mind), infringements on

            • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

              I don't think I ever said worse.

              I never said you did. But that is what the discussion is about. The Democrats have crafted this perception about the Republicans (not alone, but largely) in order to convince people to vote for Democrats. Specter became a Democrat because he finds them less objectionable in these matters than the Republicans. This is about comparisons.

              So I am not saying you did that, but that is part of the context here.

              Then why does the national GOP make abstinence only sex ed such a priority?

              It doesn't. Bush did, but I recall no such push from the Congress.

              Abolitionism != sex ed.

              But you said "impose your own mora

              • by Shakrai (717556)

                Specter became a Democrat because he finds them less objectionable in these matters than the Republicans

                Specter became a Democrat because he realized that he couldn't win the Republican primary. I don't read anything beyond that into his motivations.

                It doesn't. Bush did, but I recall no such push from the Congress.

                Wasn't Bush the leader of the GOP?

                And yes, I do realize that POTUS isn't technically the leader of his party but it seems to me that the highest elected official of a political party is generally the one with the bully pulpit and ability to set the agenda of said party. The fact that the Republican Congress largely went along with his agenda, even where it div

                • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                  Specter became a Democrat because he realized that he couldn't win the Republican primary. I don't read anything beyond that into his motivations.

                  I meant, that was the perception he's trying to create.

                  Wasn't Bush the leader of the GOP?

                  In a sense, but ... I wouldn't call that "the national GOP."

                  The fact that the Republican Congress largely went along with his agenda, even where it diverged from Conservative principles (No Child Left Behind) would seem to lend support to this view.

                  But not on the item you mentioned, which was an adminsitrative act, not a congressional one, I believe.

                  Fair enough. It's interesting that you keep making the comparison to abortion, because that's another one that I just can't see eye to eye with the GOP on.

                  Shrug. Lots of people disagreed about slavery, too.

                  I'm still extremely skeptical about using the power of the state to control what a citizen can do with his or her body.

                  And a lot of people were extremely skeptical about using the power of the state to control what a citizen could do with his "property." (Yes, people are not property, but then, the baby's body is not the woman's body.)

                  If the state can force you to carry a baby to term because of it's interest in protecting human life then can it also force me to give you my kidney or bone marrow if I'm the only compatible donor and your life is at stake?

                  Of course not. Activel

                  • by Shakrai (717556)

                    In a sense, but ... I wouldn't call that "the national GOP."

                    I use the term "national GOP" to make a distinction between figures on the national level (GWB) that try to advance a particular moral agenda and figures on the state and local level that primarily seem interested in fiscal conservatism and smaller government. I've voted GOP on the local and state level for a number of years, even before I became disillusioned with the Democrats, primarily because I've thought they had better ideas for my region and state. I still have a hard time voting for them on the n

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      So it would be ok if a woman fasted until her body rejected the baby because of want of nourishment?

                      I never thought about it, and don't have to think about it now. So what, though? If I say yes, it does not in any way harm my point.

                      It seems to me that it would be impossible to actually enforce a prohibition on abortion, given the number of different ways that exist to terminate a pregnancy.

                      I can't see the relevance of that argument. It is also impossible to actually enforce a prohibition on murder and rape and bank robbery and so on.

                      Or that the states would be allowed to decide the matter in accordance with their own political systems and with no interference from Uncle Sam.

                      Are you also against Uncle Sam forcing universal suffrage and abolition of slavery on the states?

                      how do you explain the position that most mainstream GOP politicians take on those issues?

                      Different people have different views.

                    • by Shakrai (717556)

                      Are you also against Uncle Sam forcing universal suffrage and abolition of slavery on the states?

                      I am if it's done outside of the framework of the Constitution. My reading of the Constitution suggests that the Federal Government does not have the power to outlaw abortion without an amendment granting it that power. I do not think that such an amendment could pass 3/4 of the states. If it couldn't pass in South Dakota [ballotpedia.org] I'm skeptical that it could pass 38 other states, when a good number of them are far more liberal than South Dakota.

                      Different people have different views.

                      How do those views mesh with efforts to reclaim civil liberties and

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      Are you also against Uncle Sam forcing universal suffrage and abolition of slavery on the states?

                      I am if it's done outside of the framework of the Constitution.

                      Well, OK, I favor a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

                      I do not think that such an amendment could pass 3/4 of the states.

                      Irrelevant.

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