The Elephant Carcass in the Room

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Over at the cash-strapped American Prospect, Thomas Schaller reviews former Reason intern Ryan Sager's excellent new The Elephant in the Room:

Sager's description of the Republicans' mounting problems is marred only by his lack of prescriptive solutions. Other than calling for a "renewal of (conservative) vows" and suggesting a few policy tweaks, Sager provides no path out. It is fashionable to dismiss Democrats for having lost the center. But when 53 percent of Bush's 286 electoral votes from the culturally conservative South and just 15 percent come from the eight states of the interior West, the GOP faces ideological problems in its own center-right marriage—problems no new vows can solve.

Neither Pence's complaints nor Sager's warnings can substitute for a massive campaign to liberalize southern attitudes on social issues and wean southern electorates off the federal dependency that brings them more dollars from Washington than they pay in taxes. The decline of fusionism may be the Republicans' "elephant in the room," but the real problem is that the elephant's southern girth leaves little space for others to squeeze inside the door.

Whole thing here.

Schaller himself has an interesting-sounding politics book out: Whistling Past Dixe: How the Democrats Can Win Withouth the South.

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  1. I’m curious if a comment on a double blog post begets comments on both entries. It seems unlikely, but I feel the need for an experiment.

  2. Harry Hutton has the best analysis of elephants in the room :

    FUCK OFF, AND TAKE YOUR ELEPHANT WITH YOU
    Bystander is annoyed by the number of people who claim that there is an elephant in the room, when there isn’t.

    That one never made much sense to me, either. So the elephant is standing in your living room. No elephant would do that, but anyway, there it is, and there’s a sort of unspoken agreement not to mention it, and everyone carries on as if the premises were elephant-free. I know it’s only a metaphorical elephant, but, even so, this scenario doesn’t seem to bear much relation to real life as I have experienced it. Or am I being thick?

    chasemeladies.blogspot.com/2006/09/fuck-off-and-take-your-elephant-with.ht

  3. He is being thick. The whole point of the metaphor is that nobody would ever just sit there and ignore the fact that an elephant is in the middle of the room. It’s saying that you are currently ignoring something that should be impossible to ignore.

    Since when do metaphors have to “bear much relation to real life?” Does it really “rain cats and dogs?” Do any real people have a “heart of stone?”

  4. Neither Pence’s complaints nor Sager’s warnings can substitute for a massive campaign to liberalize southern attitudes on social issues and wean southern electorates off the federal dependency that brings them more dollars from Washington than they pay in taxes.

    And of course we all remember what happened the last time anybody tried to seriously challenge the Bible Belt’s disproportionate hold on national policy…

  5. Neither Pence’s complaints nor Sager’s warnings can substitute for a massive campaign to liberalize southern attitudes on social issues and wean southern electorates off the federal dependency that brings them more dollars from Washington than they pay in taxes.

    I agree with Schaller’s point that southern attitudes on social issues need liberalizing, and the southern states need to be weaned from federal funding. However, from the GOP win-the-election viewpoint it would seem a better plan to use that massive campaign to convince the much smaller “interior west” population to “renew their conservative vows” and to promise them a bigger portion of the federal pie.

    <cynic alert>

  6. The scary thing is the elephant could have easily moved in for good if it hadn’t stepped on that Iraqi landmine. The 3000+ dead American soldiers didn’t die in vain: they will have helped restore the two party system when the dems comeback in November.

    Too bad the donkey that’s coming to replace the elephant stinks just as bad.

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