Election 2014

Election 2014: Democrats Take the Lead on Social Issues, Obama Drags His Party Down

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Whitehouse.gov

With less than 50 days until the 2014 midterm election, the race for the biggest prize—control of the Senate—is running awfully close. Republicans, who are almost certain to pick up several seats in November, ran ahead in most of the forecasts throughout the summer.

But in recent weeks, Democrats have narrowed the gap. The Washington Post's election model now gives Democrats a 51 percent chance to hold the Senate. The current RealClearPolitics no-toss-up map projects that Republicans will end up with 50 seats in the Senate. Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight model gives Republicans a 53 percent chance of picking up the Senate.

Essentially, it's a dead heat, and despite early predictions of a GOP wave, it looks rather like voters aren't particularly enthusiastic about either party this year. Obama's approval ratings are low, but Republicans don't have much to run on except disapproval of the president. In a variety of ways, it's rough terrain for both parties. 

Democrats increasingly have an edge on social issues. Opinions have shifted over the decades, and voting coalitions have changed, and there are multiple signs that, after decades in which social and cultural issues favored Republicans, Democrats are finally gaining an edge. For one thing, the party is highlighting its stances on contraception, abortion, and gay marriage. In Colorado, for example, Sen. Mark Udall's campaign is built almost entirely on social issues. It might even be working: Udall currently has a 3.7 point lead on his opponent, Republican Cory Gardener, according to the RealClearPolitics (RCP) poll average. But even if Udall loses, it's clear that social issues—and contraception in particular—are where Democrats feel very comfortable fighting. That Democrats want this fight now, in a midterm election with an older and more conservative electorate, suggests that the politics are only going to shift further in their direction in 2016.

The other sign that the ground is shifting is that Republicans aren't engaging on these fights—at least not like they used to. In Florida, a swing state that frequently offers a glimpse of the national mood, Republican Gov. Rick Scott declined to respond to a question about same-sex marriage. Republicans are openly discussing a push to make contraception available over-the-counter. Social issues used to be the wedge concerns that Republicans used to split Democratic voters.

President Obama is a drag on his own party. There are two related parts to this. The first is that—and this will be news to almost no one—Republicans really don't like the president, and they plan to vote accordingly. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll from earlier this month, 62 percent of Republicans say that when they cast their votes for Congress later this year, one reason "will be to express opposition to Obama."

That brings us to the second part, which is that Democrats aren't particularly enthusiastic about their own side.  Less than half of Democrats—just 42 percent—say that their congressional vote will be intended to support President Obama, according to the same Post-ABC poll. Overall, as RCP's polling average shows, President Obama's approval rating has been growing steadily worse for more than a year (with a spike last fall during the Obamacare exchange fiasco). RCP's average now puts disapproval at 53.9 percent, two points shy of the high it hit in November of 2013. The big concern this election amongst Democrats is that their voters simply won't show up, hence Bill Clinton's message in Iowa this week: Democrats should not sit this one out. 

The economy isn't great for Democrats—but Republicans can't seem to capitalize on it. By most accounts, the still-sluggish economy is the top issue for voters this year. And yet in the states and races where it matters most, neither party has the advantage. 

Politico polled likely voters in close races about which party was trusted more to handle the economy and found respondents were split: 36 percent picked Republicans, 36 percent picked Democrats, and another 28 percent said they weren't sure. Voters in battleground states, which tend to be more conservative, may not have a clear preference for which party they trust on the economy, but a majority seem to be frustrated by President Obama's handling of economic issues: In the same Politico poll, 57 percent disapproved of his "economic leadership."

It's difficult to discern what the Republican party is actually for at this point. When conservative flagship publication National Review runs an unsigned editorial pushing Republicans to propose an actual governing agenda—to just have one, at all—you know there's a problem. It's possible, of course, to find individual Republican legislators—folks like Mike Lee and Rand Paul in the Senate, or Paul Ryan in the House—who have strong, identifiable policy commitments. But as a party, it's hard to identify an agenda other than opposing President Obama, and whatever it is he wants to do (except, possibly, escalate American involvement in conflict in the Middle East).

Look at the continuing resolution deal that's moving through Congress right now: As Nicole Kaeding of the Cato Institute notes, it takes a stand on almost nothing, extending the authorization of the Ex-Im bank, declining to make the Internet tax moratorium, and keeping discretionary spending levels constant. Avoiding a serious shutdown fight was necessary after last year's fall showdown, but it's hard to find an election-year agenda anywhere.

To some extent, that just reflects the fractured and uncertain interests of the party's voters, who don't quite seem to know what they want either. But GOP voters haven't exactly been given a lot to latch onto in the Obama era. The long-promised Obamacare replacement plan, for example, never arrived, and now Republicans politicians don't really know how to respond to questions about what to do with the law's coverage expansion in place. 

What we have, then, is a sort of "meh" election. Democrats are attempting to turn out their base by pushing them to vote against Republicans on social issues, and Republicans are attempting to motivate their voters by focusing entirely on opposition to President Obama. But there's almost no enthusiasm for either party. 

NEXT: John Stossel: Make Immigration Easier

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  1. Not to say I told you so, but when a Republican avalanche was being predicted I did say to never underestimate the ability of the Stupid Party to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    1. If they would have stood up to the dumbo eared one, and said no fucking war without a vote from congress, that probably would have helped them. Unfortunately, they overall loves them some war, so they couldn’t do it.

    2. According to Suderman, “Republicans don’t have much to run on except disapproval of the President.”

      Yeah, well that plus a sprinkling of BS about Hope and Change was enough to elect the current President.

      1. But the democrats also have the media on their side.

      2. Yeah, I can’t see much that Democrats have to run on besides made up “war on women” crap and protecting unions. Republicans probably could run on anti-ACA and anti war, but they warboner is too strong and they’ll almost certainly fuck up on the health insurance thing, either by saying stupid crap or failing to undo the damage if they get a chance to.

  2. It’s difficult to discern what the Republican party is actually for at this point

    Actually, it’s really not that difficult. They are for the same thing that the other party is for, namely keeping the sheeple scared and controllable, and keeping themselves in power and fat on cronyism.

    It’s that simple.

    Maybe it’s time for other parties, a sort of crazy euro type system where there are many parties and even though all those parties are corrupt as hell too, at least there’s more entertainment value. Maybe then CA will try to secede and form the great progressive utopia. That will give us plenty of laughs.

    1. I used to be against Euro-style proportional representation because it allows the really wacko wings to have a modicum of influence. But that now seems like a reasonable price to pay for giving smaller coalitions a chance to establish themselves.

      1. Yeah, at least one of those ‘wacko extremist’ wings might have a positive influence.

        1. Like, a Constitution Party, for example.

          1. Or, i dunno, libertarians.

            1. Exactly.

            2. That’s what I had in mind. If you want to stir things up, you got to get the real extremists in the ring.

            3. No, that’s too extreme.

              1. or is it not extreme enough?

          2. As long as it’s not The Constitution Party.

        2. And even the ones that don’t have a positive influence at least get out in the open for all to see. You might get a legitimately racist part picking up a seat. You’d almost certainly get some full on communists. At least you’d know who they are.

      2. I’ve always thought that having the wacko wings represented was the best feature of proportional representation.

    2. Our new Dear Leader Jerry Brown would still be savvier than Obama, low bar and all that.

      1. A chimp would be more savvy than Obama.

        1. Nostalgic for the Bush years? Zing! I could write for HuffPo.

          1. As long as you can prattle on forever about nothing, you can write for HuffPo, or Salon, or New Republic.

  3. The ___fill in the blank___ isn’t great for Democrats?but Republicans can’t seem to capitalize on it.

    FIFY

  4. For one thing, the party is highlighting its stances on contraception, abortion, and gay marriage.

    That’s a pretty narrow range of social issues there. Yeah, they’re arguably big ones, but do we just ignore everything else the Democrats do?

    Wait, don’t answer that, I think I already know.

    1. The funny thing is that there is no Republican-wide push to prevent women from getting contraception, AFAIK the country is still pretty evenly split on abortion, and the battle over gay marriage is effectively over.

      1. It’s always been amusing to me that the main split politically in this country, with economic, geopolitical, etc implications, is abortion. 40 years of this shit. It’s almost as if those in power want to keep everybody preoccupied with a single issue while they do whatever the fuck they want.

        1. 40 years of this shit. It’s almost as if those in power want to keep everybody preoccupied with a single issue while they do whatever the fuck they want

          I think you are onto something there.

          1. 40 years of this shit. It’s almost as if those in power want to keep everybody preoccupied with a single issue while they do whatever the fuck they want

            I think you are onto something there.

            I don’t. There’s no way they’re smart enough to engineer that sort of thing. It’s just good luck for them that the electorate isn’t as charged up about other issues.

            1. Not engineered, certainly, but recognized and taken full advantage of, the same way evolving species don’t “engineer” their own bodies – they develop in opportunist reaction to their environments.

              1. Sure. But the original comment implied that there was some sort of design behind the Great Abortion Debate. If that wasn’t intended, my mistake.

        2. I’ll admit that it was a swing issue for me in some past elections. It speaks to how strongly people feel about it.

        3. Yep. Abortion is pretty much the reason why a lot of people won’t consider voting Republican. I’m sure it works the same in the other direction too. There are plenty of anti-abortion people who otherwise could probably go along with a lot of what Democrats are into.

          1. Hence why you get squishy Republicans who say they are against abortion but for ever expanding government.

            1. I know this is a convenient position for a pro-abortion person to take but the studies have been done to death: pro-life views correspond with economic conservatism from elected officials far more than pro-abortion views.

              1. How does that refute anything he said? Regardless, there are many pro-life Republicans who suck on economic issues (most of them, actually). A pro-choice person can’t get elected on a Republican ticket in most places, and an economic conservative can’t get elected on a Democratic ticket in most places

                1. What he’s saying is that people may be using it as a proxy, a gnomon, or code language for a range of stuff.

                2. Are you serious? On a two sided issue if you try to argue that one side creates ideological squishiness it completely destroys your point when someone points out that actually the squishness comes far more from those on the other side of the issue. Claiming that there are pro-life squishy republicans when the pro-abortion republicans are far more squishy means that opposing abortion isn’t a cause of squishiness. Basically your problem is you don’t understand logic but really really support abortion.

              2. Sam Haysom|9.17.14 @ 3:23PM|#
                pro-life views correspond with economic conservatism from elected officials far more than pro-abortion views.

                Total nonsense, except perhaps for States-Rights Fascists like Ron and Rand Paul.

                For over 30 years, the World’s Smallest Political Quiz has shown a majority in the libertarian quadrant — fiscally conservative and socially tolerant.

                In formal polling, Zogby found a 59% majority who SELF-identify as fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

                In “unlinked” polling, fiscal conservatives out number liberals, and social liberals outnumber social conservatives nearly 2-to-1.

                “hard-core” social conservatives are only 13% of the voters, those who vote based almost solely on social conservative issues.

                Abortion is hard to call, because both extremes deny unalienable rights, in violation of the 9th Amendment.

                One extreme denies the fetal child’s unalienable Right to Life. The other denies a woman’s unalienable right to Liberty. (Pro-life extremists screech that the right to Life trumps the right to Liberty — because they don’t know what “unalienable” means. And so it goes.)

          2. It’s all identity politics. They are single issue voters who have now wrapped their entire identity into the team they support.

      2. The Democrats are relying on the public buying the bullshit notion that not forcing someone else to pay for a woman’s contraception drugs constitutes “preventing” her from getting it.

      3. Except there is. A number of Republicans are running on banning insurance coverage of contraception. What insurance covers should be between the insurance provider and its customers; the government requiring them to not cover something is just as bad as the government requiring them to cover something.

        1. A number of Republicans are running on banning insurance coverage of contraception.

          Linky?

          Because I wonder if they are trying to prohibit insurance coverage of contraception, or remove it from the list of mandatory benefits.

          Those are two very different things. Now, I know to lefty/progs, there is no difference, but that’s because they are idiots.

          1. Now, I know to lefty/progs, there is no difference, but that’s because they are idiots.

            And liars. Idiots and liars.

            1. I suspect there are a good number of idiots who are not liars and liars who are not idiots. Both are really necessary to keep the whole thing going.

          2. HB 351:

            Sec. 1751.68. (A) A health insuring corporation shall not provide coverage for abortion services under any policy, contract, or agreement that is issued, delivered, or renewed in this state.

            (C) As used in this section, “abortion services” includes drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum. [emphasis added] “Abortion services” does not include treatment or services related to an ectopic pregnancy, commonly referred to as a “tubal pregnancy.”

            1. That’s not contraception. It’s the “morning after pill” which many (not me) consider an abortifacient. It acts after fertilization, as the Ohio Bill states.

              Until recently, contraception has been used to prevent fertilization at all.

        2. Who’s running on that? All I’ve heard about is people who want to get rid of any mandate that it be covered.

        3. A number of Republicans are running on banning insurance coverage of contraception.

          Citation? As far as I’ve seen, they are only saying companies should not be required to provide plans that provide it for ‘free’.

          1. I’m a hazard a guess that it’s bullshit conflation of “no mandate” and “banning coverage”, but never underestimate fucktards like Todd “You can stop yourself from getting pregnant by rape” Akin.

  5. So it’s all down to turnout and VOTER SUPPRESSION!

  6. Republicans are openly discussing a push to make contraception available over-the-counter.

    I’ve been told that with agencies run by unelected bureaucrats such as the FDA, that these types of decisions could never be politicized.

    1. Not forcing others to pay for your birth control is WAR ON WOMEN!!!

      Shocking that some people are stupid enough to actually believe this.

      1. Thinking is hard, man. Feeling, that’s the ticket.

  7. The economy isn’t great for Democrats?but Republicans can’t seem to capitalize on it.

    *giggles*

    2011: “Obama will never win re-election. The economy sucks, unemployment is high, and we’ve got record high gas prices! That’s DOOM for an incumbent!”

  8. . But as a party, it’s hard to identify an agenda other than opposing President Obama, and whatever it is he wants to do (except, possibly, escalate American involvement in conflict in the Middle East).

    Serious question, what’s the Democratic agenda, right now? No snark in that question. Really.

    1. Combat climate change, tax the rich, combat inversion, raise the minimum wage, fix what’s broken in Obamacare, find a way to legalize current illegal immigrants, continue to make progress on legalizing gay marriage, try to counteract Citizen’s United. That’s just off the top of my head.

      1. The Ream The Peons Platform.

        Vote early and more than once!!!

      2. Well, that’s what they’re doing.

        So, if Democrats claim that they can’t make headway on a number of those issues because of Republican obstructionism, then can we not infer what the Republican agenda is?

        1. That would be using logic. Politics is all about the feelz.

        2. The question is, what would Republicans do on those issues? The answer in some cases might be nothing, but they still have to articulate why they would do nothing, i.e. why those problems aren’t actually problems, or why government action isn’t an appropriate response. Here are few things Republicans could push in response to each of those issues:

          Climate change – reduce the regulatory burden on nuclear and nat gas.

          Tax the rich and inversion – Completely overhaul the tax code to do away with almost all exemptions and deductions. Massive simplification would ensure everyone pays the nominal rate and would pave the way for discussions about what those rates should be.

          Obamacare – Tricky because of the political popularity of certain parts of the law and former GOP positions. But start small by providing real alternatives to the really broken parts.

          Immigration – Also tough, but massively streamlining avenues for legal immigration and expanding visa programs is a start. But the GOP may have painted itself into a corner on current illegals. I’m not sure how they get around that.

          Gay marriage – They lost. Their only hope now is to keep it in the States. But probably best to admit defeat on this one.

          Citizen’s United – Explain why this wasn’t actually the end of democracy while simultaneously instituting seriously hard ass penalties for outright corruption.

          1. On CU I think they should hammer the main points like the fact that the Solicitor General said it would be okay to burn books about candidates. Or you know, how the New York Times is a corporation and they make all kinds of political commentary leading up an election.

    2. There’s a kind of lingering sense of an agenda, which in simplified form is basically just all the stuff that Obama didn’t get to do (immigration, climate change, minimum wage), perhaps with a heavier emphasis on inequality than in the early part of the Obama era.

      But I think Democrats are running out of steam too, and could soon be in the same place that Republicans are in now.

      1. Yeah, again, I know what the Democrats are doing but I don’t get any grand unified plan.

        Democrats have been ineffectually fiddling with Climate Change since the mid 90s– and if you count in Global Cooling, it goes back to the 70s.

        Minimum wage is definitely one they’ve had some momentum on– but I don’t know what the plan is, except that they want it to be higher, and $15 and hour seems to be the magic number.

        1. and $15 and hour seems to be the magic number.

          I hope they get it. How hilarious. That’s close to the median family income in many parts of the country. It would not only be crippling, it would be devastating, and they’d have nobody to blame but themselves.

          1. But look on the bright side, we get a nice cheeseburger out of a machine that can actually get an order right and don’t have to worry about the machine spitting on it. And an extra bonus, we don’t even have to look at the cow face retards anymore.

            1. I just can’t wait for that to become commonplace.

          2. They’d still find a way to blame Republicans and KKKorporashuns.

  9. Seems like the public is generally liberal on social issues, conservative on economic issues, and confused as all fuck on foreign policy issues.

    That sounds familiar…

    1. Again, if you narrow social issues to… “abortion” yeah, generally speaking.

      If you widen social issues to, well, pretty much anything the Democrats have banned, are banning or want to ban, then they’re looking pretty darned conservative from where I sit.

      1. The conservative/liberal thing really has no meaning. Conservatives and progs will join forces anytime there is something to ban.

        The real situation is that there are libertarians and there are statists. And right now, the statists outnumber us about 85-15%. Given, all of the statists aren’t necessarily statists, but they will vote with the statists to get free shit, so in effect, they may as well be. A lot of those call themselves liberal, while having no real idea what that even means. I’m for free birth control and abortions! But I want to ban all drugs, transfats, sugary drinks, prostitution, gambling, etc, etc. I’m a liberal! Yeah, go fuck yourselves.

        1. ^^this. Most people choose their positions based on their preferred party, not vice versa. They then fill in the blanks with their feelz.

          The idea that there’s some vast group of small-government advocates holding their noses and voting Democrat because they hate pro-lifers is asinine.

  10. What’s the matter with Kansas? Why do Republicans try to distract the voters from economic issues with divisive social issues…wait, I just got my new talking points…*ahem,* this election is all about social issues and the economy can wait!

    So here is what social liberalism means to these Dems. Try to find the libertarian angle:

    “contraception, abortion, and gay marriage”

    contraception – force companies to pay for their employees’ contraception, and to heck with religious freedom!

    abortion – legalize it and subsidize it!

    gay marriage – we want cake, and we will impose a financial penalty on your business if you won’t bake us a wedding cake.

    1. That’s pretty much it. They love these social wedge issues. They keep people divided and powerless, fighting over petty things, while they continue to loot the country of every dime they can get.

      And let’s face it, these clowns have no ability to solve real issues anyway. They’ve far past proven that every time they make an attempt they just make things worse.

    2. Try to find the libertarian angle:

      “contraception, abortion, and gay marriage”

      Um, is that kinda like their version of ass sex, pot, and Mexicans? Cause I kinda see the ass sex and free drugs but I am having trouble finding the Mexican Connection, as it were.

      1. but I am having trouble finding the Mexican Connection, as it were.

        They’re everywhere. If you can’t find one, you can always substitute with a Guatemalan.

      2. Um…abortions in a Tijuana clinic?

        Yeah, I can’t stretch one out of that either 🙂

      3. Someone needs to gooogle “Club Papi” (OK no, don’t).

  11. There was obviously a typo in the column headline.

    The word preceding issues should be “Socialist”.

  12. “But there’s almost no enthusiasm for either party.”

    Has there ever been? Not in my lifetime.

    1. I dunno, when I see the crowds of brain dead bleach blondes jumping up and down and cheering at Hillary or Warren campaigns, I have to say that there is some enthusiasm for at least one of the parties.

      1. There’s enthusiasm for individual members.

        1. The batshit craziest ones.

  13. The problem with team red is that for my entire life they’ve been nothing but the slightly less statist party. As Walter Williams said they don’t have a moral leg to stand on. They want to take my money and give it to someone else the same as team blue, they just give it to different people. They are then surprised when they’re base doesn’t turn out for statist who give lip service to limited government.

  14. Putting out your message is easier when the entire 4th estate is in your corner. The democrats have always been more savvy with political slogans and stances and thus far they’ve one the social media influence and own the twitter hashtags. a part of me thinks the republican party is to splintered, but then if you look at the dems they are splintered to I just think they are better at projecting a solid monolith with the media’s assistance of course.

    1. The media ensures that the debate is always on the Democrats terms. That means it concerns only issues Democrats want to talk about and that are framed in a way that makes Republicans look bad.

      We are currently in the worst employment environment since the 1930s. That is not a good topic for Democrats. So the media ensures that it is never talked about. Better to talk about Ray Rice or abortion or campus rape. Of course if a Republican were President, every single news cast and the front page of every paper would lead with a story on the employment crisis and how the President isn’t doing enough.

      It is frankly remarkable the Republicans ever win an election at all. It really is due to blind party loyalty and dislike of the Democrats as much as anything. I don’t know, you tell me how to succeed in that environment?

      1. Well first, the Republicans would have to grow some balls. The worst thing you can do in any debate is concede a false premise, but that’s what they’ve been doing as long as I can remember. Whenever any democrat or reporter makes a statement or ask a question with a false premise, or fallacy the republicans should interrupt and correct it. It would also help if they would actually be the party of limited government and stand on principle.

        For example, the dems want a $15/hr minimum wage. Republicans say the MW should stay where it is. In doing so the republicans are conceding that the MW is necessary, constitutional, and not very destructive to low skilled workers or the economy.

        1. The candidate in Iowa did grow a pair of balls. And look what it got her? If being unapologetically small government got you anything but scorn, the Libertarian candidate would get more than 3%.

          Its not that easy. And you can’t win a debate that never occurs. That is what the Dem control of the culture does. It keeps debates from ever happening by making certain positions unacceptable in the public sphere.

          1. It certainly won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy, but it can happen. They could start real debates every time they’re being interviewed on any news show, kinda hard to ignore it then. The real problem isn’t just the media bias. It’s that no one in either of the mainstream parties has really talked about limiting government for 50 years. When people hear an idea for the first time, its radical. The tenth time its possible, and by the hundredth its normal. But it takes a concerted long term effort to do it, not just one candidate here and there.

            1. That is true they haven’t talked about it for really 30 years. Reagan talked about it. The reason no one has talked about it is because politicians made the rationally self interested decision to go along and get along rather than sacrificing their political careers to advance the cause. Good luck getting politicians of any strip to volunteer to lose in hopes that someone else will win years from now.

              1. I didn’t say it had to start everywhere at the same time. Start in districts that are firmly republican. Once you have a decent number of legitimate small government reps it will slowly become more mainstream. This is pretty much the exact idea that got progressive dems in power today. They started by radicalizing districts that were firmly blue and spread out from there. The media won’t be helping us like it does the progs, but media is becoming more and more decentralized.

  15. In the Washington Post Article about the new Nate Silver oracle pronouncements they talked about the Republican candidate for Senate in Iowa. According to the article, she has taken a big hit in the polls because the Dems ran a bunch of ads attacking her for wanting to get rid of the federal minimum wage and privatize social security. Now there are two issues that are exactly the kind of sensible small government positions that Libertarians are constantly ragging on Repbulicans for not taking. And here we have a Republican who did the right thing and her reward was seeing her poll numbers tank.

    The problem is that the Left owns the entire mass culture. And since they are totalitarian fanatics, the left has turned that entire culture into a giant tool to shout down any opposition. Most people don’t think about politics very much and generally follow the general flow of the mass culture for their views. This makes advocating actual small government and change virtually impossible. As soon as someone does it the run head on into the mass culture that is constantly telling people small government ideas are crazy and unworthy of even considering.

    As a result Republicans either totally retreat into the alternative culture of the evangelicals and live in that bubble talking about social issues or they keep their heads down advocating for nothing or some dem light hoping to capitalize on team loyalty and Democratic incompetence.

    1. I am all for having a no shit unapologetic small government politician. But I would like to hear how such a politician ever wins an election in this cultural environment outside of a very few places.

      It is not that such a politician could never win. I don’t think the vast majority of the country are full on prog, fascist retards. I think they would vote for such a candidate, if they ever actually heard his message. the problem is that the Progs, being fanatics, have weaponized the entire mass culture to ensure that never happens.

      Short of lining up 90% of the members of the media in this country and shooting them and telling their replacements they are next unless they start telling the truth and covering issues fairly, I don’t see how you solve that.

      1. It is the media of course, but it’s also just much easier to sell big government policies on an emotional level. Free healthcare, give the poor a raise, stop pollution, etc.

        I wonder if instead of “freedom” we need to focus more on its opposite — coercion. I think the U2/iTunes fiasco is a good example of this. It’s not that people necessarily hate U2, but that they hate the presumption of putting something unasked for into their personal music library. That shows me that people are averse to these tactics even when it didn’t cost them anything and was putatively for their own good. There’s hope there, if the message can be crafted correctly and the right messenger can be found.

        1. Yes there is a lot of hay to be made fighting against the petty tyrannies of government. If the Progs have an Achilles heal it lies in their totalitarian nature. Since they are totalitarians, they can never back down and admit any encroachment by the state no matter how small or how idiotic is wrong. So they will out of reflex defend even the most indefensible because they know that if they give an inch then the whole ideology falls apart. If the government can’t tell kids to eat healthy lunches for example, then why can they tell people what cars to drive and so forth?

          Ultimately, the only way to stop them is for them to finally go so far they alienate everyone and the entire thing falls. Slowly but surely they manage to make anyone who actually has to deal with them hate them. Look at gamer gate. I bet you five years ago most video gamers had a pretty benign opinion of social justice loving progs. Well, not anymore. Video gamers finally found out what horrible, awful people progs are. Eventually everyone finds out. Lets just hope that is before they do too much damage to be repaired.

          1. I think focusing on coercion is a great strategy, make emotions work against the progs for a change. Show the actual people affected by zero tolerance, raw milk raids, and SWAT raids by every agency in the alphabet soup. Of course to be effective and not come off as hypocritical the republicans would have to abandon the WOD and possibly some other sacred cows.

            1. And we need a media culture that is telling the story. It is not enough to create our own little feed back loop and tell each other. It has to go out to people in the middle.

              1. Stop trying to beat the media at its own game. (not saying that specifically to you, but in general) you’re never getting cnn or msnbc or Fox to cover this stuff. There needs to be a grassroots, Internet based surge of these stories. The progs have a monopoly on social media activation. That needs to change. Where were all the hash tags for that baby who was put into a coma by a flashbang? Where we’re the info graphics on police brutality? The Internet memes about police abuse? What about blog articles on the best way to protect your children from the prying eyes of your busybody neighbors? Interviews with cops and CPS workers on the best way to interact with the authorities when somebody calls the cops because your kid was outside alone?

                There are some who do this, but there is nearly no outreach into the affected communities. We tend to respect others’ boundaries so much that we don’t want to impose our views in a non-political setting. Meanwhile the gmo lunatics are ranting about Monsanto, the vaccine lunatics are ranting about autism, and the cultural acceptance shifts

                1. Social media only works when it reinforces the boarder, non-ceasing messages put out by leftist media complex. Tweeting grass roots messages about government coercion to your sixty followers accomplishes nothing. Plus the kind of people willing to do that kind of activism have personalities like James O’Keefe. I love that kid, but the status obsessed cosmopolitans that make up Reason contributors don’t. He’s too gauche. Most activist are. The left casts their activist with pretty actors or at worst Meryl Streep and makes movies glorifying them. Establishment conservatives and libertarians attack their activist to score points with the left.

                  1. What Sam said.

    2. Most people don’t think about politics very much and generally follow the general flow of the mass culture for their views.

      Over the past few years, I have come to see this as pretty much the only significant driving force in the politics of the vast majority of people. It is all social signaling and feel-good symbolism. Very few people bother to consider the consequences and higher order effects of the policies they supposedly support. Add to that a few divisive issues like abortion that turn people into single issue voters and and any kind of sensible political culture looks pretty impossible.

      1. Yes. You can’t have any kind of debate in this country. The media makes certain positions simply off limits to anyone who wants to be in the public sphere.

        You cannot have a properly functioning Republic where the mass culture and media is fanatically dedicated to the advancement of one side. I am open to suggestions on how to fix it.

        1. Religious revival. Which is why savvy Republicans refuse or ditch the religious right. Religious conservatism is the only subculture in America that even tries to insulate its children from the influence of pop culture. But most Reason supporters had far more sympathy for the obnoxious kid tea bagging Jesus than they did the church so any kind of anti-leftist movement isn’t going to involve libertarians.

          1. This can go both ways. If the Catholic Church leads the way, we get more statism.

            Religion has been just as corrupted by the prog-fascists as any other area (remember that the original progressives were revivalist Christians).

            1. No they weren’t. Some of the early pre-civil war reform movements were, but 20th progressivism was driven by Jews and mainstream Protestant Christians. Only on prohibition did the religious “revivalist” form an alliance with the progressives. Only to have the progressives sell them out as soon as convenient. They learned their lesson.

              1. Mainline not mainstream.

          2. Heathenry?paganism of the Odinist/Asatru type?I find pretty congenial to our politics. At least they oppose the “left”, though in different ways. It may even be possible for them to swing Wiccans & Celtic pagans away from the “left” and toward their side.

            1. I hope this is a joke. Although Christine O’Donnell was one of the most libertarian candidates to run for senate in years and she was a witch for awhile. Weirdly Reason didn’t give her much support almost like Reasons more interested in status than ideology.

              There are maybe like 100000 Wiccans and Pagans in the USA. I think Reason’s current strategy of aligning with left wing permissiveness/ secularism to win on social issues, while ignoring/ conceding the economic issues, is a lot more palatable to the crew at Reason than teaming with Wiccans who are if anything lower status than the Christian Right. Not sure why the corporate donors will keep funding as economic conservatism becomes more and more marginalized but I guess that’s why the open borders drum gets hit so hard here.

              1. Although Christine O’Donnell was one of the most libertarian candidates to run for senate

                She is a wackjob social conservative, like Ron and Rand Paul.

    3. According to the article, she has taken a big hit in the polls because the Dems ran a bunch of ads attacking her for wanting to get rid of the federal minimum wage and privatize social security. Now there are two issues that are exactly the kind of sensible small government positions that Libertarians are constantly ragging on Republicans for not taking.

      Even Ayn Rand said that was crazy. This is not a dictatorship, but too many libertarians act like it is. That’s why we have NOTHING to show for 40 years of effort.

      Talk to libertarians who have been elected and actually advanced liberty, if even an inch, and ignore the dumbasses who think the culture has nothing to do with elections.

      Babbling about privatizing Social Security is roughly akin to masturbation … with no plan and no alternative. And there is none.

  16. “But even if Udall loses, it’s clear that social issues?and contraception in particular?are where Democrats feel very comfortable fighting.”

    He also feels comfortable fighting for the repeal of the “no law” provision of the free speech/free press clause of 1st Amendment. It says that the social issues are not favorable to increased liberty.

  17. …it’s hard to find an election-year agenda anywhere.

    Especially here.

    To some extent, that just reflects the fractured and uncertain interests of the party’s voters, who don’t quite seem to know what they want either.

    What are WE offering them to compare with?

    The long-promised Obamacare replacement plan, for example, never arrived,

    Where’s ours?

    and now Republicans politicians don’t really know how to respond to questions about what to do with the law’s coverage expansion in place.

    What would WE do?

    What we have, then, is a sort of “meh” election.

    (laughing)

    But there’s almost no enthusiasm for either party.

    Even less for us.

    We’re blowing it, BIG TIME! “The Movement” is still locked deeply in their Ivory Tower, masturbating furiously while chanting in unison, ” git the gummint out of it.”

    So …

    1) the libertarian label is rejected by 85% of libertarians

    2) We ignore the majority we’ve had for over 30 years, to instead chase independents, 30% of which are collectivists!

    3) We were repeatedly told that last year was a libertarian moment. One week into THIS year, the SAME Reason editor said LAST year was terrible for libertarians, but THIS will be the year.(OMG!)

    What will he say next January and will even the libertarian sheeple believe him?

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