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Michael Gerson: Barry Goldwater’s loss should be a warning to the GOP, not a rallying cry


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#1 D. R. Tucker

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 04:16 AM

The political events of half a century ago have current echoes. The spirit of Goldwaterism is abroad among tea party activists. Their ideological ideal is often libertarian and Jeffersonian. A few — Rand Paul (R-Ky.) briefly during his Senate campaign; Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) at a recent town hall — balk at accepting the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act. More generally, they believe that the GOP’s political recovery must begin with the defeat of compromised GOP elites. Never mind that those elites, by any historical standard, are conservative. So the movement targets Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has a 90 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union — revealing a revolution that can’t even locate the Bastille.

The problem comes in viewing Goldwater as an example rather than as a warning. Conservatives sometimes describe his defeat as a necessary, preliminary step — a clarifying and purifying struggle — in the Reagan revolution. In fact, it was an electoral catastrophe that awarded Lyndon Johnson a powerful legislative majority, increased the liberal ambitions of the Great Society and caused massive distrust of the GOP among poor and ethnic voters. The party has never quite recovered.

#2 andydp

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 06:02 AM

If they keep the rhetoric up, the GOP will wind up going down in flames.

Unless the Democratic party makes a mistake and assumes the GOP is so bad they won't have to do anything.

As someone who cast his first Presidential vote for Nixon, I truly feel the GOP needs a major bloodletting to wake up and get back to sound principles. NOT simply looking for power. All the GOP has to do is look at the results of the 1972 election and see what an "extremist" candidate will do to their party. How bad is a candidate that loses his own home state and loses to someone suspected of criminal activity ?
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#3 LFC

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 09:45 AM

An enormous amount of tribalism still exists on the right. Think of people with the attitude of "yeah, he's a complete crackpot but the Democrats are worse." Or the false equivalence refuge of the ignorant where "it doesn't matter who I vote for" which makes them feel justified in voting for the crackpot. The current fever gripping the Republican Party is simply something our nation is going to have to age out of. A lot of younger folks are appalled at their rhetoric on women, gays, YOYO (your on your own) economics, health insurance, job creation, etc. But there's still a lot of Baby Boomers left alive and they vote in higher percentages.
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#4 Tom

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 10:08 AM

View PostLFC, on 18 April 2014 - 09:45 AM, said:

An enormous amount of tribalism still exists on the right.

An enormous amount of tribalism still exists, period. And it is unlikely to go anywhere; it is ingrained, not just in our social structures but in our innate psychologies, because it's been beneficial evolutionarily for the vast majority of our history (and maybe still is). Young kids placed artificially in "teams" with colors develop in-group preferences, even when the colors are ignored by adults (the effect is stronger when the adults care).

Quote

This study was designed to examine the effects of adults' labeling and use of social groups on preschool children's intergroup attitudes. Children (N=87, aged 3-5) attending day care were given measures of classification skill and self-esteem and assigned to membership in a novel ("red" or "blue") social group. In experimental classrooms, teachers used the color groups to label children and organize the classroom. In control classrooms, teachers ignored the color groups. After 3 weeks, children completed multiple measures of intergroup attitudes. Results indicated that children in both types of classrooms developed ingroup-biased attitudes. As expected, children in experimental classrooms showed greater ingroup bias on some measures than children in control classrooms.

Of course, as one tribe becomes weaker relative to another there will be a lot of inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflict; eventually one tribe may be assimilated or dominated by the other, and conflict will be reduced.

#5 Traveler

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 10:26 AM

Quote

(and maybe still is)
Not sure about that anymore. Need to get into sharing modes if we are to avoid some nasty conflicts as resources dwindle. Ukraine is a good example of that. But you might have an explanation why it may be still valid.
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#6 golden_valley

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 10:28 AM

The talk of a "purifying struggle" looks like a religion to me. Purge the infidel!

#7 Tom

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 10:51 AM

View PostTraveler, on 18 April 2014 - 10:26 AM, said:

Not sure about that anymore. Need to get into sharing modes if we are to avoid some nasty conflicts as resources dwindle. Ukraine is a good example of that. But you might have an explanation why it may be still valid.

For long-term survival and continuing evolution of the species, nasty conflicts over dwindling resources may actually be beneficial. Creative destruction and all that jazz. Times of stress and conflict have a way of inspiring innovation, in addition to causing death and suffering.

#8 AnBr

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 12:56 PM

View Postandydp, on 18 April 2014 - 06:02 AM, said:

All the GOP has to do is look at the results of the 1972 election and see what an "extremist" candidate will do to their party. How bad is a candidate that loses his own home state and loses to someone suspected of criminal activity ?

For a little reminder of just how "extreme" McGovern was, here is his acceptance speech of '72. You can skip over the first half as it is just the obligatory acknowledgements and such. Just about the most radical thing in it was that he wanted to start the withdrawal from Vietnam as one of the first things accomplished in his administration.

https://www.youtube....h?v=orx63ix1y-o
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#9 golden_valley

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 01:03 PM

Quote

Just about the most radical thing in it was that he wanted to start the withdrawal from Vietnam as one of the first things accomplished in his administration.

I wonder what would have happened once he took office and the military and diplomatic types got done talking to him. The mantle of office is a lot heavier when it's actually on.

#10 AnBr

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 01:16 PM

That seems to have happened to Obama when he first took office. But that is a side issue that McGovern was painted as being far more radical than he actually was. But then, we are talking about the beginning of the "Southern Strategy" era.
“Trump’s a stupid man’s idea of a smart person, a poor man’s idea of a rich person & a weak man’s idea of a strong man.”

— Fran Lebowitz


“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

— Carl Sagan


Pray for Trump: Psalm 109:8

"Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers arc in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

— Carl Sagan
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
1995


“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

— H.L. Mencken
On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe


“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

— Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Second inaugural address January, 1937

#11 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 05:39 PM

"Massive distrust among poor and ethnic voters?" Well, yeah -- but by getting rid of them, it was possible to get a solid Party of Real Americans™ who then elected Ronald Reagan and led to the greatest era of strength and prosperity that the United States has ever had.
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#12 D. R. Tucker

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 06:42 PM

Ed Kilgore:

The continuities between the Goldwater and Reagan campaigns—and especially the 1976 Reagan campaign that viewed itself as a purge of RINO Gerald Ford—are impossible to ignore, up to and including the signature “Viva/Ole” call and response of the shock troops in both. From within, Reagan’s ascent looked like a consummation of the 1964 crusade, not a correction. But had that impression been more general in the electorate, Reagan would likely not have won, even with all the advantages he had in 1980.

http://www.washingto...erism049965.php

#13 J-CA

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 05:51 PM

View Postandydp, on 18 April 2014 - 06:02 AM, said:

Unless the Democratic party makes a mistake and assumes the GOP is so bad they won't have to do anything.
I suspect the that Democrat's undoing will rather be doing to much after presuming indestructibility. At which point, if you will indulge my ridiculous crystal-ball gazing, the blue dogs perform a takeover of the Republicans (I honestly can't think of any other way the Republicans get themselves sorted out other than being destroyed by a 3rd party.)

View PostTom, on 18 April 2014 - 10:51 AM, said:

For long-term survival and continuing evolution of the species, nasty conflicts over dwindling resources may actually be beneficial. Creative destruction and all that jazz. Times of stress and conflict have a way of inspiring innovation, in addition to causing death and suffering.
My belief is that the future is not about "dwindling" resources but about allocation, in which case advances in "pitchfork technology" will no doubt be rapid. (It really feels like we are on the verge of "solving" the green energy problem, once that bridge is crossed I think things will start to get really crazy.)

View PostD. R. Tucker, on 18 April 2014 - 06:42 PM, said:

Ed Kilgore:
.. From within, Reagan’s ascent looked like a consummation of the 1964 crusade, not a correction. But had that impression been more general in the electorate, Reagan would likely not have won, even with all the advantages he had in 1980.
http://www.washingto...erism049965.php
Amen. Reagan Democrats are an oxymoron if the point of the Reagan campaign was purification. I didn't really live through it but from my perspective on the history of the whole Reagan thing it represented the apex of using the media of the time to send the right message to everyone to assure them that you were on "their team."
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#14 Practical Girl

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 09:06 PM

Quote

Amen. Reagan Democrats are an oxymoron if the point of the Reagan campaign was purification. I didn't really live through it but from my perspective on the history of the whole Reagan thing it represented the apex of using the media of the time to send the right message to everyone to assure them that you were on "their team."

Ugh. Americans were desperate for The Message: "It's morning in America" and "If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we'll be a nation gone under" ad nauseum.

I do think, though, that the W years brought us an equivalent: Bush Democrats, for many of the same reasons, only in reverse.
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