Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Question for Conservatives

What, if anything, did you learn from the shutdown showdown?


  1. That the tea party has more clout in the House Republican caucus than I thought it did, and that most Southern Republicans seem to toe the tea party line on many issues. I checked out the voting breakdown on the House vote to lift the debt ceiling, which broke down among House Republicans as 144 nays and 87 yeas. Among Republicans from the Northeast, there were 20 yeas and 8 nays; from the Midwest, 24 yeas and 35 nays; from the West, there were 19 yeas and 20 nays; but from the South, using the Congressional Quarterly definition of the 11 Confederate states plus Kentucky and Oklahoma, there were 24 yeas and 81 nays. So 77% of Southern Republicans voted against raising the debt ceiling versus exactly 50% (63 yeas, 63 nays) among non-Southern Republicans. Since I am a hedge fund guy for whose market a failure to raise the debt ceiling could have been catastrophic, I am truly surprised how little clout the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the National Federation of Independent Businessmen have with Southern Republican Congressmen. It is a bit frightening that so many members of my party took such an irresponsible position on the debt ceiling. Center-right parties in first world democracies are generally supportive of the business community, and for most of my adult lifetime (I am 62), that has been the case for the Republican Party, but for some reason that has changed this year.

    1. Please communicate all of this to your friends. The business community has been pretty disengaged from the reality of the modern Republican party.

    2. That's an excellent comment, worthy of a 60-comment Plain Blog debate. It cuts so many ways, one of which is the echo of the cultural part of the Civil War (i.e. confederacy = agrarian, union = industrial).

      The one thing I'd add to your great comment is that all of us to the right of "raving Communist" share an interest in a well-functioning commerce community. In addition to the Republicans not responding to business needs to come to their senses, its also interesting that commerce didn't serve as an impetus for congresspeople to reach across the aisle.

      Its as if the American political system has degenerated into "new ideas for government to improve society (albeit in a moderne, commercy way)" on the left, and "throwback, culture war xenophobes" on the right. Pretty dreadful what gets left out of that formulation.

    3. all of us to the right of "raving Communist" share an interest in a well-functioning commerce community.

      ...and all of us to the left of survivalist goldbug cult leaders.

    4. I'm a little late here, but I think something's missing from this conversation. Yes, the arch-conservative part of the GOP gets most of it's congressional representation from the south. But the party is becoming more "tea party" all over the country, and it has very little to do with the culture war, much less neo-confederate ideology. It is destabilizing to the party precisely because it goes against the GW Bush, Chamber of Commerce GOP "mainstream." This is exactly the wing of the party that was ok with massive fiscal and monetary stimulus in exchange for higher next quarter profits and higher next election vote totals. And it worked great (Thanks Greenspan!) until it didn't, catastrophically. The same goes for the American Greatness foreign policy.

      A lot of the change we're seeing looks like it comes from conservatives who just see an opportunity to make the party more conservative, or to just be anti-Obama for it's own sake. But that's not the whole story. In my own state (Massachusetts), for example, a majority of Romney's own delegates were young Ron Paul supporters. That says more about a deep dissatisfaction with the Bush years than it does about the inherent awesomeness of Ron Paul.


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