PoMoCon One: The GOP as Budding Oligarchy

 

Hello, folks, just in case you’re not fed up with hearing my political opinions, there’s a new venue for that! I’m bringing back the old PoMoCon brand, a term the late Peter Lawler so skillfully and humorously used to describe the properly Tocquevillian American conservative of the 21st century.

My friend Pete Spiliakos, another old PoMoCon hand, also a columnist over at First Things online and writer at NRO, is my first interlocutor. We talk about elite corruption in the GOP. Some thoughts you’ll encounter in our discussion:

  1. Constitutionalism is a good look when you’re hiding away from the big political questions of the day.
  2. Media-savvy Senators apparently do not care to learn about their real–not virtual–constituencies.
  3. Governors who have easy majority state-wide cannot confront how the politics flip at the federal level & put them squarely on the side of the minority.

  4. The GOP is not ready to even consider healthcare as a series of compromises that articulate & unfold principles that can command a majority coalition.

  5. Small business worship is blinding conservatives to the common good.

  6. Conservatives fearful of legitimating the federal gov’t can neither stop welfare-healthcare-entitlement expansions nor claim any public trust to govern.

  7. The elite Republican attempt to force unpopular policies on the nation is bound to fail.

There are 17 comments.

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  1. Snirtler Member
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Looking forward to hearing all your provocative and incendiary ideas, Titus.

    • #1
  2. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Good and interesting points!

    I’d be interested in a mirror of this – why the people who successfully push populist ideas are actually (probably wisely) afraid of the consequences of implementing them.

    • #2
  3. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Zafar (View Comment):
    Good and interesting points!

    I’d be interested in a mirror of this – why the people who successfully push populist ideas are actually (probably wisely) afraid of the consequences of implementing them.

    Presumably, because when it comes to self-gov’t, very few people would really be ok with paying the costs. I would add this, too, that the higher polemical feeling runs, the less people give it much thought, what they truly believe–what victory would bring them peace…

    This is a broad statement; the difference is, of course, that people who ruin themselves by way of legitimacy have legitimacy to hide behind, or at least all those institutions associated with it.

    • #3
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Snirtler (View Comment):
    Looking forward to hearing all your provocative and incendiary ideas, Titus.

    I’m not sure I’ve got anything to live up to incendiary for the opening salvo–I’m working on it for an upcoming episode, however–but I certainly can do provocative!

    • #4
  5. Jim Beck Member
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Afternoon Titus and Pete,

    A couple of nits to pick concerning the fall of the Dems after 1976 and their Watergate bubble, it was the economy going from 4% inflation under “WIN” Ford to double digit in four years, and add the crushing interest rates on home purchasing, and that people saw that they better buy the big ticket items now because their money will have less value in 6 months, that caused the collapse of their popularity.  For the average Joe, your cost of living adjustment was way bigger than any raise you got during the year.  Reagan was not elected because he had the right words or the right policies, he was elected because he wasn’t Carter.  His popularity was a function of his economic success, the first two years were rough on his popularity, in the next two years after inflation had been tamped down and the economy jumped, he became the legend.  Similarly, Trump was elected because he was not Clinton after being nominated because he was not an establishment Republican, and not for what he was.  It is true that he spoke about the economy in a way that folks thought made more sense than anyone else.

    What is curious to me about Republican leadership is that they are so disdainful of the Wacko birds (Tea Party Groups).  The Tea Party groups ran counter to the “Bowling Alone” narrative,  they showed that they were a volunteer, self-forming interest group, like the NRA, or right-to-lifers, or small business, and that they were energetic, and yet none of the leadership tried to use them for building another piece of a popular coalition.  The Dems have many interest groups, and sometimes there is friction, ie. labor and environs, but the Dems try to parcel out favors and attention to keep all their groups feeling that even in conflicts they are better off with the Dems than the Repubs.  How is it the Dems are better at simple coalition building?  I can understand some egos like McCain using his disdain to gain media attention, but for no one in leadership to want more folks on his side stumps me.

    Thanks Titus and Pete, it is a pleasure to hear you.

    • #5
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Thanks for the kind words, Jim. The collapse of the Dem coalition, I think, we agree on. We agree with you that Dems oversaw an economic–& political!–collapse. But those things wouldn’t have happened had the Dems been at all a party. Or it would have happened after their legislation & executive did the wrong things.

    I remind you of one example that quickly comes to mind–back in the 70s, the Dem Congress shut down the gov’t on the Dem president at least once, & used to try to bring executive agencies to heel. This kind of enmity is not reproduced now, but it gives you a shocking sense of what division–indeed, coming collapse–in a party looks like.

    Dems, of course, didn’t create the economic problems of the 70s; nor the executive agencies! But they came into office without consensus on which direction to go & the consequences were dire.

    It might happen again. To us, this makes sense, but we’re not predicting the future. Each man can see for himself whether the parallel holds up & then keep an eye on events…

    • #6
  7. Jim Beck Member
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Afternoon Titus,

    Your willingness to respond to all of our comments is an example of the most attractive part of Ricochet.  You and @DocJay are great models, and you have that sophisticated foreign accent.  Now back to the late 70’s, the main aspects of the disillusionment were the inflation, gas rationing, Carter saying we had to dress warmly to save heating expenses, and that we were too concerned about the USSR, and being helpless in the face of the hostage taking.  As Will Rodgers noted a few decades earlier, he “didn’t belong to an organized political party, he was a Democrat”. So I don’t think the party at cross purposes caused the fall.  The party and the leadership were paralyzed by inflation, because they would not face the pain that a Voelker like solution would take, and the party had been McGovernized about foreign policy so foriegn policy was leftist mush and probably a more right tilting mush with Carter than would have been followed if Kennedy had been elected.

    • #7
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    You’re too kind, Jim!

    I agree about the disillusionment. My point is, the Dems never implemented any solution at all–of course, they wouldn’t have gone with something like what Reagan went with. Instead, they divided against themselves & they turned a control of the branches of federal gov’t similar to the previous decade into political suicide-

    They didn’t go down swinging, except at each other.

    • #8
  9. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    They didn’t go down swinging, except at each other.

    I don’t remember this during the Carter admin, but maybe I missed it due to being a grad student and starting on a new career. Too busy, though I did read a newspaper in those days.  I do remember the Dems in self-destruct  mode in 1968.

    • #9
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    They didn’t go down swinging, except at each other.

    I don’t remember this during the Carter admin, but maybe I missed it due to being a grad student and starting on a new career. Too busy, though I did read a newspaper in those days. I do remember the Dems in self-destruct mode in 1968.

    As I said, the last time a president & Congress of the same party resorted to the fabled American ‘gov’t shutdown’.

    Also, if you contemplate the kind of power Dems could wield after Watergate had they had their act together, you begin to appreciate the political suicide-

    • #10
  11. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    They didn’t go down swinging, except at each other.

    I don’t remember this during the Carter admin, but maybe I missed it due to being a grad student and starting on a new career. Too busy, though I did read a newspaper in those days. I do remember the Dems in self-destruct mode in 1968.

    As I said, the last time a president & Congress of the same party resorted to the fabled American ‘gov’t shutdown’.

    Also, if you contemplate the kind of power Dems could wield after Watergate had they had their act together, you begin to appreciate the political suicide-

    I’ve seen it happen multiple times.  The moment they get in control they say, “Finally, we can implement our socialist utopia”, and then scare the crap out of people with the things they start proposing.  With Carter it was, “get used to it, things are never going to be good again”, Clinton went after HillaryCare, with Obama they did stimulus, and omnibus, and quantitative easing; he came in and they were going through $1T per week.

    Although after 30 years of school indoctrination, next time it will probably work.

    • #11
  12. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Mr. Carter wanted some kind of socialized medicine, too!

    But notice that Mr. Obama got an agenda passed. Messers Carter & Clinton didn’t.

    Not the same thing-

    • #12
  13. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Mr. Carter wanted some kind of socialized medicine, too!

    But notice that Mr. Obama got an agenda passed. Messers Carter & Clinton didn’t.

    Not the same thing-

    Because the process of indoctrination and results of the immigration policies are almost complete.  But even now, passing that agenda cost them 1000+ seats nationwide.  Talk about opportunities for a party that can get their act together.  Not holding my breath…

    (BTW, haven’t listened yet.)

    • #13
  14. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Mr. Carter wanted some kind of socialized medicine, too!

    But notice that Mr. Obama got an agenda passed. Messers Carter & Clinton didn’t.

    Not the same thing-

    Because the process of indoctrination and results of the immigration policies are almost complete. But even now, passing that agenda cost them 1000+ seats nationwide. Talk about opportunities for a party that can get their act together. Not holding my breath…

    Not connected. It’s the two different attitudes. Obama looked back to why FDR & LBJ succeeded, why Truman, as well as Messers Carter & Clinton failed, & made a choice. Better to ruin the party for victories that seem unloseable than to be wasted in partisan bickering.

    (BTW, haven’t listened yet.)

    I think you’re gonna like the podcast, maybe learn some stuff from Pete.

    • #14
  15. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Listening now… Titus, you forgot to introduce yourself.  You’re not quite big enough yet to assume people know who you are. ;-)

    • #15
  16. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I’m not even big enough to assume people who don’t know me would listen!

    But thanks for the compliment!

    • #16
  17. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    I really liked the point made by Pete about Paul Ryan saying people don’t care about their own tax cut and don’t care about the other guy’s cut.  Yeah, we’ll just ignore two of the strongest motivators known to man; self-interest and envy.

    • #17

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