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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

November 16, 2008


The Three GOP's

One could argue that the old Democratic Party really two parties separated by the Mason-Dixon line. The Northern (mainly Northeast) Democrats were mostly Liberal-to-Moderate while the Southern Democrats were all Conservative. Well today those same Southern Democrats' successors are all Republicans, centering their party around the courtship of "morals voters". Certainly had the likes of Alabama's former Governor George Wallace been a politician today, he would be a member of the GOP.

The Northern Republicans (again, for the most part) are a breed near extinction. They are facing a worse fate then even Southern Democrats - a part of the party considered to be urban-based only - because of the damage of their brand. There are a few very Conservative (NeoCon?) Republicans still in office in the Northeast (such as Northern New Jersey's Rep. Scott Garrett), but they are few and very, very far in between.

Not only has the GOP lost the Reagan Democrats, but they have lost the Rockefeller Republicans as well.

The Republican Party is now a party without definition and without a leader. Although in the process of selecting a new Chairman of the Republican National Committee, there really aren't a whole bunch of "Save-the-GOP" front-runners who stick out as their pseudo-savior.

A few years ago, after the tenures of Ken Mehlman and Ed Gillespie had ended, George W. Bush helped do to the GOP what he did to the rest of the United States of America. As usual, he made a bad choice. For chairmanship of the party he now led, Bush chose Mel Martinez, now the Junior Senator from Florida. It was a choice based, in part, to show the Hispanic community that the Republicans were thinking of them, whether they were or not.

(And by the way, they're weren't.)

Martinez had little experience heading a party and even less experience as an organizer. But his name looked good at the top of the RNC's letterhead, so he was chosen. From 2006 through 2007, Martinez headed the GOP into losses in the Senate and House which gave both houses of Congress to a new Democratic majority.

Of course, the blame isn't Martinez' alone. he had help in the empty suit of George W. Bush; the criminality of Tom DeLay; the secrecy of Dick Cheney; and all of the other bad-policy Republicans who made it their business to give our nation's business to their "base of haves and have mores".

Today, the leading contender for the Chairmanship of the Republican Party is Maryland's former Lieutenant Governor and failed Senate Candidate (2006) Michael Steele. Steele has experience as his state party's former chairman and would give the RNC a real different look. Steele is African-American and thus, would become the highest-ranking African-American in his party. Certainly the four percent African-American vote total offered up to John McCain nearly two weeks ago, and the GOP's poor relationship with African-American community is helping Steele's case. But one wonders if Steele can be the right man to merge his three sub-parties.

Make no mistake about it - the three GOP's we have today are the result of their party's failed leadership.

The first GOP is the mainstream GOP - a.k.a. The Fear-based Republicans. They are those same mostly Southern and Rural Republicans who play on the fears of their party's "fake base". They call themselves part of a "moral majority" that speaks the words the faithful want to hear but rarely, if ever, follow through with results. They support bills which have no chance of passing through Congress or most state legislatures just so they could use that legislation as a weapon against any opponents who may come and challenge their right to office.

Max Cleland was the most obvious example of that philosophy in his loss to Saxby Chambliss during the 2002 Georgia Senatorial campaign. Some of you might remember the ad which compared the Vietnam Veteran triple-amputee (Cleland) to Osama bin-Laden, a campaign which John McCain called "reprehensible".

Still, it worked.

The second GOP member is the borderline Libertarian True Conservative. They are the ones who talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk when it comes to small government politics. The fiscally-responsible Republicans, as they like to be called, are led by a handful of House GOP members who believe that less is more. Although their every-man-for-himself idealism flies in the face of national problems, they are consistent and, usually, thoughtful. They are pure ideological and uncompromising in their beliefs. Sure, sometimes the Fear-based Republicans will join them, but only when it fits their unstated political purposes.

These Libertarian Republicans have no real leader (with apologies to Ron Paul), although we hear the name of Indiana Congressman Mike Pence a lot in that capacity. If they would to ever caucus, they could meet every Tuesday night at a large table in the nearest Denny's.

And, finally, there's the only group that's dwindling faster than the even US middle class has done under George W. Bush: The Northern Republicans. Out of necessity, the Northern Republicans are mostly moderate in nature, but due to the visibility of their Southern-Rural counterparts, they are suffering through a sort of de-election in their ranks. They can't seem to shake the problems their party colleagues have created for them and, as a result, even the most moderate of these party members have lost their seats when they've come up for re-election.

For example, one of the most Conservative-in-thought of the Northern states, Rhode Island, had a US Senator by the name of Lincoln Chafee. Chafee (whose father, Senator John Chaffee's death, had Lincoln appointed to the Senate in 1999) was as moderate and a cross-the-aisle reaching GOP-member as there was in the US Senate. He lost his seat in the GOP-purge of 2006 to Sheldon Whitehouse, even with his middle-of-the-road reputation.

In order for the Republicans to get back on their feet and, more importantly, to become a party worthy of being called the party of Lincoln (that's Abraham Lincoln, in this case), they need to embrace the Northern Republicans and get rid of, or convince their Southern-Rural party members to be more focused on the people of the United States and less focused on their own well-being. Until then, they deserve to be ousted and set far away from being relevant on the national stage.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to George W. Bush's G20 summit this past weekend, Denise writes:

A Global Economic Summit, I predict, is going to produce very little in helping to solve the problems that we already know exist. A good example is Bush's profound (ha, ha) speech at the Summit in which he says that it is not the "Free Market" system that is the problem, and the "Free Market" does not need additional regulations. The outcome will be the countries that think the unregulated, greedy free market system is what caused the downfall and the other countries defending it with little, if any solutions offered for those of us that are the only ones that can make the economy better - the ones who actually do the "grunt" work, produce and spend. All big shot bosses love summits and staff retreats and most are a huge waste of time and money. I think this will be also. Call me a pessimist but I call it reality. Action, not words, is the answer. And if the summit must take place it should have taken place under the new Administration, not the current one.

In response to Note From a Madman's picture which superimposes President-Elect Barack Obama's picture behind FDR's Oval Office desk, Robert Chapman writes:


In response to, "That was the task of the Democratic Party beginning in 1980 and today, it's the task in front of the new Republican Party," Pat Thompson writes:

It seemed to me that the loss to Nixon in 1968 began the downfall of the Democratic Party. 1972 was a total loss, with McGovern losing 49 states. Jimmy Carter had a four year chance after Watergate, aided by his being a southerner. So the good news is: It took the Democratic Party 40 years to regain the majority -- to win by more than 50% (Clinton only won thanks to Ross Perot's 3rd party candidacy). Let's hope it takes the Republican Party that long to regain their majority. At least the type of right wing neo-con majority they have had.

More kudos for Note From a Madman sent by Pat Thompson:

Noah, you have made a big difference for me, from those dark days just after the 2004 election, when a number of us got together at your house to commiserate and plan, through the improving times after the 2006 election, until now when we have this amazing, wonderful victory. I have always heard the news, and immediately thought, "what does Noah think about this?" I forward many of your best analyses to everyone I know, and hopefully they forward them on, so you voice is more widespread than your mailing list. Keep it up, as we as a party of progressives have a chance to make a difference, but start from this deep hole the Bush administration leaves us in.

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-Noah Greenberg