Election 2016

In the Age of Trump, Republicans Are In for a Reckoning—Or a Realignment

Breaking and remaking the party system


Sitting in the ashes of Super Tuesday, what do Republicans see? Donald Trump, the reality-show Le Pen, carried seven states. Marco Rubio, darling of the party establishment, won just one. Several conservatives have started threatening to bolt to a third party if Trump gets the nomination; Trump keeps reminding everybody that he might run as an independent himself if the GOP denies him the crown. With the apocalyptic tone that now comes naturally to political reporters, some pundits are predicting not just a three-way race in November but the collapse of the Republican Party. (At last: an outcome I can root for!)

If you're trying to make sense of this chaos, here are two key facts to keep in mind:

1. Over the last half century, America's major parties have undergone a great sorting. There used to be a substantial number of liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats; now the GOP is fundamentally conservative and the Democracy is fundamentally liberal.

2. The meaning of "fundamentally conservative" and "fundamentally liberal" is extremely unstable.

The result of those two truths is a big mirage. What looks at first glance like a country polarized on opposite sides of a one-dimensional ideological spectrum turns out to be far weirder and more interesting than that. Our political system channels disagreements into two-way contests, but there are in fact far more than two tribes out there. Every now and then one of those hidden clans will erupt into view, disrupting business as usual and, if the explosion is big enough, reshaping the landscape. That's what seems to be happening now.

Before we get to the latest explosion, let's look at the sorting. Every year The National Journal rates the most liberal and most conservative members of Congress, based on how they voted on a selection of that session's bills. You can quibble with some of the Journal's choices, but at the very least they reflect Washington's conventional wisdom about how the left and the right behave. This chart, based on those ratings, shows the changing ideological makeup of the House of Representatives from 1982 to 2013:

Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen Bingel & Thomas

As you can see, the number of conservative-voting Democrats and liberal-voting Republicans has steadily shrunk. The same thing has happened in the Senate:

Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen Bingel & Thomas

Go back before the 1980s and you'll find even more diversity within the parties. In the '60s, one of the country's most prominent Republicans was New York Mayor John Lindsay, a man well to the left of most modern Democrats. One of the most prominent Democrats was George Wallace, the snarling face of opposition to the civil rights revolution.

Given all the chatter about a Republican split, I should note that both Lindsay and Wallace temporarily found refuge in third parties. When the GOP failed to renominate Lindsay in 1969, he nonetheless managed to get reelected mayor on the Liberal Party's line, winning in a three-way contest. Wallace, for his part, ran for president in 1968 as the candidate of the American Independent Party, carrying five states.

By 1972, Lindsay would be a Democrat and many Wallaceites would be Republicans, but Wallace himself would reenter the Democratic Party. Both Lindsay and Wallace ran in the Dems' presidential primaries that year; Lindsay performed poorly, but Wallace racked up 23.48 percent of the popular vote—barely less than the 25.34 percent earned by the eventual nominee, George McGovern. Aficionados of the "Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have a lot in common" genre of campaign coverage may enjoy the spate of articles that appeared that year about "the two Georges," Wallace and McGovern, each appealing to the disaffected in different ways. In May of '72, for example, James Kilpatrick wrote this in a dispatch from Michigan, shortly before Wallace won the primary there:

What continues to amaze the correspondents, covering the Odd Couple, is the apparent inability or unwillingness of the voters to distinguish between the two. Every correspondent tells the same story: One falls into conversation with a barber, a cab driver, a waiter, a factory worker:

"Who are you going to vote for?"

"Wallace, I think."


"Or maybe McGovern. I dunno. One or the other."

Two Georges

The most alien thing about this, looking back from 2016, is that both Georges were running in the same party. Contrast that with Trump and Sanders, who naturally gravitated to the Republicans and the Democrats, respectively, even though both men are essentially independents. That's the great sorting in action. (After McGovern clinched the nomination, he asked Wallace for his endorsement. Wallace replied, "Senator, if I endorsed you I'd lose about half of my following and you'd lose half of yours.")

So the liberals gathered in the Democratic Party and the conservatives joined the Republicans. But what does that mean in practice? Most people don't fit those two categories as well as their elected representatives do, and the very definition of "liberal" and "conservative" tends to shift over time.

Consider the most clearly sorted partisan issue: abortion. While pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans are sometimes viable on the state or local level, it is now effectively impossible to get the Democratic presidential or vice-presidential nomination without endorsing abortion rights or to get on the Republicans' national ticket without doing the opposite. Yet as the historian Daniel Williams' new book Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement Before Roe v. Wade reminds us, there was a time when leading members of the anti-abortion movement did not merely consider themselves liberals but saw their movement as a liberal one—in Williams' summary of their views, "an effort to extend state protection to the rights of a defenseless minority." The last pro-lifer to get on a national Democratic ticket wasn't some Blue Dog conservative; it was McGovern's running mate, Sargent Shriver.

How insurgencies begin.
Marvel Comics

Pro-life liberals and pro-choice conservatives aren't the only tribes excluded from the red/blue map. Libertarians have a tough time functioning in either party too. That's one reason Rand Paul ran such an unsatisfying, neither-fish-nor-fowl campaign this year, keeping one foot in The Intercept and the other in The Sean Hannity Show. Nor is there a welcoming home for someone like the George Wallace of the late '60s and early '70s, with his mix of racial resentment and economic populism. Wallace was able to remain a Democrat in good standing by becoming more liberal on civil rights. But not all his former followers did the same.

Hence the current chaos in the Republican ranks. Trump takes neither the racism nor the populism as far as Wallace did, but his campaign contains obvious echoes of what Wallace was doing four decades ago. And now voters who are disaffected with the Republican leadership, for reasons both healthy (opposition to foreign wars, resentment of the donor class) and not (racial paranoia, border-control fantasies), have a candidate with a serious shot at the GOP nomination. Pundits have a hard time describing Trump's politics, vacillating uncomfortably between calling him a moderate (Why, he's almost a liberal on entitlements!) and a dangerous extremist (Check out his crazy ideas about Mexicans and Muslims!). But that's what happens when you encounter someone whose views don't fit so neatly into your carefully sorted piles marked "left" and "right."

True independents.

This also helps explain the paradox of the not-so-independent independents. The conventional wisdom in political science right now is that there are few "true" independents in the United States. Point out that 42 percent of Americans tell pollsters that they belong to neither major party, and the typical political scientist will respond that most of those self-identified independents still vote reliably for one specific party rather than switching back and forth. I suppose that may be a good retort to anyone convinced that 42 percent of Americans are swing voters, but does anybody actually think that? To me those poll results suggest a pent-up demand for political visions that aren't well represented by the parties' duopoly. If people who regularly vote for a particular party still prefer to identify themselves as independents, perhaps that's a sign they aren't satisfied with their choices. (One recent paper, produced by the Emory political scientists Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster, suggests that such voters may be driven less by loyalty to the party they keep backing than by fear of the rival party.)

The last time we saw significant simultaneous populist insurgencies in the Democratic and Republican primaries—the Jerry Brown and Pat Buchanan campaigns of 1992—both candidates left their respective parties not long afterward, Brown becoming an independent and Buchanan joining the Reform Party. But like Lindsay and Wallace before them, both soon came in from the cold, the two-party system's relentless gravity drawing them back despite their dissatisfaction.

Maybe the GOP will see a bigger exodus this year; maybe it won't. Either way, there's going to be a reckoning over just what it means to be a Republican, and perhaps even a realignment—a new sorting. Just how such a sort would play out is anyone's guess. Beneath that two-colored map, a multihued mess of tribes is up for grabs.

NEXT: Donald Trump As Alfred E. Neuman's Slightly Smarter Brother

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  1. One of the most prominent Democrats was George Wallace, the snarling face of opposition to the civil rights revolution.

    Whose pro-segregation stance is being pushed by the Black Lives Matter and Leftist universirty students with great abandon.

    1. Why this observation doesn’t get more attention makes my eyebrow elevate.

      1. It is only wrong when there are white people involved.

  2. “fundamentally conservative”


    1. It depends on what your definition of “fundiment” is.

    2. There needs to be a fundamentalist conservative party; if Jesus is your campaign advisor, go over there with that group and leave us economic conservatives over here.

      1. Nonsense! I’ve been assured that Jesus is a socialist.

        1. I find it absurd, given his stance on the importance of personal charity and the state being something which should be put up with (traditional tolerence, not modern ‘tolerence’) rather than anything of great import.

          1. I find pretty much everything the progs believe to be absurd.

          2. Jesus’ attack on the moneychangers was the first anti-cronyist economic protest. It would be so easy for modern libertarians to assert that Jesus is a libertarian – except that modern libertarians don’t mind cronyism, don’t recognize it, and hate religion.

            1. Which “libertarians” don’t mind cronyism?

              In my mind, the attack on moneychangers was a defense of “his Father’s house”. They were trespassing. In other words, property rights.

            2. Plus Jesus didn’t make any firm condemnation of taxation. Hell [sic] he even had tax collectors as friends! Clearly he was a Sandersite Socialist!

  3. Has Trump broken 50% in any state? If the establishment really hated Trump, all they would need to do is yank their boy Rubio out of the race and endorse Cruz. One on one versus Trump, Cruz probably wins. One on four, Trump wins.

    I think they hate Cruz more than Trump and they are proving it right now,

    1. Meh, at this point brokered convention is the only thing that will save the party from Trump. Which means they need all three challengers to stay in and keep dividing up the delegates so no one gets a majority.

      1. If Cruz were to beat Trump in a clean fair fight, the Republicans would have a chance in November. Dirty tricks in a brokered convention are the path to disaster.

        1. I always love the people who yell “dirty tricks!” Define your terms, and defend it. Catchphrases are weak.

          1. Brokered Convention = Dirty Tricks

            1. Not for me, I don’t care anymore.

              Personally I hope Trump, Sanders, Clinton, Cruz, and Rubio are pulling a reality show ruse on us.

              Seriously. I find this years NFL draft having better candidates for a solid #1 pick than this… race

            2. A brokered convention isn’t a dirty trick, but using a rule change to unbind the delegates from the results of the primary elections (as some have suggested) would definitely be a dirty trick.

        2. If Cruz were to beat Trump in a clean fair fight, the Republicans would have a chance in November. Dirty tricks in a brokered convention are the path to disaster.

          If Trump has the most delegates and doesn’t get the nomination, he goes third Party and takes every Republican which hates the establishment with him.

          Rubio, Romney, and National Review turn out the lights at the Republican convention and go fishing.

          The Republican Party would be over.

          1. If Trump doesn’t have 1237 delegates, he’s not the nominee. Them’s the rules he agreed to.
            If he decides to go third party anyway, he’s broken his word.
            I’m a Republican, and I hate the Establishment, but I will not be going with him, ever.
            Cruz is the destructor I have chosen to make the GOP pay for it’s sins.

    2. Did you forget the nickname of the party?

    3. Bullshit, Trump will crush Cruz like a bug.

    4. He got 49% in MA. http://www.nytimes.com/elections/results

      So he’s getting closer to that 50% mark.

      They think if Rubio wins Florida then maybe he’ll have enough momentum to carry places like New York, and California. Then maybe take the nomination at the Convention.

  4. I must say, as a lifelong Republican, this primary election season really has me prioritizing which tenets of conservatism I really value the most. I am finding that my priorities really are more towards the liberty-affirming parts of conservatism. I am not yet full-on Libertarian but I find myself inching closer to that viewpoint. I do know that there is absolutely no way that I could vote for Trump, he has demonstrated too many authoritarian tendencies, I am not interested in voting for a would-be strongman.

    1. I am in the same boat.

      That wonderful desperate feeling that absolutely none of your political beliefs will be seen in your government in the entire coming generation.

      Well we’ll get legal pot, bit that’s it, after that the ratchet against Liberty kicks into high gear.

      1. “That wonderful desperate feeling that absolutely none of your political beliefs will be seen in your government in the entire coming generation.”

        Welcome to libertarianism! Now that you’re aboard, may I show you to your cabin?

      2. I always feel like that. I don’t think I’ve voted for anyone or anything that won since the 1990s.

      3. “Well we’ll get legal pot,”

        Uh. No. We will get a government enforced pot cartel.

        1. ^Thisssssss.

          Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Government always finds ways to fuck it up. Always.

      4. You really think that’s all? I think we’re due for a lot more in the USA & abroad. Most of it, neither I nor others can foresee. Some of it I can.

        There’s going to be a blurring of the division lines of licensure in health care. Licensure won’t go away, but practitioners of more things will be allowed to do more of the things other practitioners are licensed to do. Insurers (including gov’t in countries where gov’t is the insurer) will insist on it. Result: more freedom of choice, cheaper service.

        The pendulum will swing back to freer use of narcotics for pain.

        The trend toward charter schools will continue in the USA.

    2. Trump is typical of many CEOs I’ve dealt with, except cruder. He will bluster, shout, and stomp his feet and delegate all the details to others. I see him as the MOST pliable candidate of all.

      1. Yep – been in meetings with his type. Just present the information as succinctly as possible with a concise recommendation. Then wait out his temper tantrum against reality. When he leaves the room, everyone can get back to work.

    3. It took you until now? 🙂

    4. I must say, as a lifelong Republican

      How old are you? Maybe there is still hope for you.

      Also, please explain to me what is ‘conservatism’? It sort of reminds me of liberalism. IOW, it has no fucking meaning.

      1. Agreed. My father is a lifelong conservative. I challenged him on his beliefs, and he was so inconsistent, it was sad.

      2. In the strictest sense, conservatism is a desire to keep things the same. The most common thing it then morphs to is a desire to make things the way they were 10-50 yrs. ago. From there it diverges enormously.

        1. There are two types of Conservatism.

          Fiscal Conservatism and Social Conservatism.

          A Libertarian is Fiscally conservative while Socially Liberal. (Classical Liberal, not Democrat Liberal)

          Religion/Socialism/Communism/Fascism are Socially conservative Left wing ideologies, which is strict Dogma with a centralized Governing Power. Keynesian economics, an increasing Government control of the economy and Collectivism.This is a top down approach.

          Free market Capitalism, Small Government and Individual Liberty are Right wing ideologies. The emphasis here is a bottom up approach, personal responsibility.

          1. A Libertarian is fiscally conservative while socially liberal?
            And they lump “Religion” in with Socialism/Communism/Fascism?
            With not even a nod in the direction of the underlying philosophies of the Founding Fathers?
            And here I thought the GOP was the only Stupid Party.

    5. Welcome to the club. I’ll never be considered a real libertarian because I’m not in favor of open borders (more legal immigration, yes, open borders, no), I’m not completely anti-interventionist (a rare-interventionist, maybe?) and I’m not pro-abortion, but I sure as hell have no place in the GOP anymore. Maybe I’m 80% libertarian? haha

      It’s depressing knowing that you will never have a serious candidate for national office who holds even half of the positions you believe in.

      1. A true Libertarian knows that two of the most important roles of a Libertarian government is to defend the country from foreign invasion and defend property rights. This can only be achieved by having strong borders.

        1. I copy that, on sound logic, past history and present reality. I’ve observed that hostile infiltrator-saboteurs home in on the non-aggression principle and try to distort that to inject preemptive surrender, kiddie prostitution, banning abortion, communism and all manner of idiocy into the platform. None of them realize the thing was drafted by Ayn Rand when Christian National Socialists were still actively stretching ropes in Nuremberg and the Red Fascists were struggling to control a chain reaction. True idiots will always try to tell libertarians what to think, when the really receptive audiences are glued to looter talk shows.

    6. . I do know that there is absolutely no way that I could vote for Trump, he has demonstrated too many authoritarian tendencies,

      True, if by “authoritarian tendencies” you mean is routinely called Hitler by the media and the Republican establishment.

      But you feel all warm and fuzzy about your virtue signaling! You’re against Trump! Trump is worse than Hitler! Therefore, you are pure and saintly!

  5. …the collapse of the Republican Party.

    Wishful thinking. Twelve years isn’t that long a time (four for Trump, then eight for a decomposing Hillary) for the establishment to get its ducks back in a row. They’ve been nurturing state-level Republicans where the Dems have been neglecting theirs. I doubt there will even be much of a rearranging of the deck chairs from this. And it’s really only four years anyway, as Trump in no way wins the White House.

    1. Seriously. The Republican Party presently controls: the House, the Senate (likely to flip in November, but only barely) , 34 governorships, 24 state legislatures with a majority in both chambers, and 24 trifectas where they control either the legislature or one chamber and the governorship.

      Obama has been a complete and utter disaster for Team Blue.

      1. Which senators do you see being ousted come november?

        1. Well, IL, WI, PA and FL are the most flippable.

        2. Top of my head: Johnson in WI and Kirk in IL are toast. NH and Florida are toss-ups to leaning Dem.

          1. Kirk is echoing Trump on immigration:


      2. Nor to defend Dem looters, but the Bush dynasty DID nuke the economy with Herbert Hoover asset-forfeiture prohibitionism well before the next Potus was nominated, much less sworn in.

    2. The nominee for any 1 office, even POTUS, makes hardly any long-term difference to a political party. Consider for instance the Ill. Democrats after they nominated a LaRouche follower for statewide office.

  6. If the Republican Party does split, the Democratic Party establishment should be terrified because it will most likely lead to their own party’s dissolution. If Republicans split apart, then the only thing holding the Democrats together will be gone: the urgency of voting for a Democrat to keep a Republican from winning. The one-third of Democratic voters who are real socialists, not soft socialists like Obama and Clinton, will take the chance and bolt. Essentially you would be facing a four-party re-sorting with one a traditional socially conservative party and one a traditionally socially progressive party joined by two populist parties, one of a xenophobic bent and one of a socialist bent. And all four would have awful economic policies.

    That’s not to say that US elections would remain in a four-party orientation for long. But if it did happen, American politics would become a lot more interesting for a decade or so.

    1. I agree. A realignment in a two-party system doesn’t mean that one party wins forever. It means that all of the coalitions get shifted, but the result is inevitably something close to a 50-50 split.

      The ideal outcome would be if a libertarian coalition (and by this I mean a sort of Nolan Chart, economic conservative, social liberal, definition of libertarianism as opposed to a more purist definition) were to become the alternative to Trump’s authoritarian party. In practice, it’s probably hard to get libertarians and progressives in the same party, even if they have a shared loathing for what Trump stands for.

      It may take Trump actually winning and starting mass deportations, worse-than-waterboarding torture, and 45% tariffs on imports to get the other side united, in the way that it took the Communist threat to get libertarians, social conservatives, and Cold War hawks in the same party.

      1. Or worse. The APORKALYPSE happens if some outsider gets elected and fires all the buddy-buddy spoils system patronage jobholders. That fear is marked by the apocalyptic tone Jesse’s ear picked up.

  7. The reality is as long as the big-money pipelines are flowing into their respective troughs, the Democrats and Republicans aren’t going to change their tune. Between them they could have 20% of eligible voters be faithful members, but they’ll always claim most of those 80% independent voters will eventually support their side, and still cry “SPLIT THE VOTEZ!!!!” when some third party poses a serious threat (never mind that this third party could theoretically trounce the other two). And as long as they have the $$$, they’ll be able to command the media’s attention and fund a massive ground game.

    1. You can thank Nixon’s anti-libertarian law for that. It passed within 24 hours of the LP coming into existence, and robs every American to funnel subsidies to the (looter party) candidates with the most votes so they can buy more bootlicking from the presstitutes.

  8. The democrats may be fundamentally liberal and the republicans fundamentally conservative, but the leading candidates are both fundamentally authoritarian.

    Liberty is so fucked. The rise of the independents means the loss of Liberty not the gaining of more.

    Hell even gay marriage, rightfully fought for by libertarians has become a club for the left to enforce right think. Fiscal conservatism is dead dead dead, its debt from now to the end. The fourth amendment is mostly gone and the dens are on record with their desore to obliterate the first and second. The leading republican candidate has no use for the fourteenth, and may be lying about his support for the second, I and he’s openly attacking the free press part of the first, ironically the only part of the first amendment the libs like (for limited instances of the “press”).

    There is nothing good in this outcome. Nothing. Liberty has been routed. We are screwed.

    1. Liberty never had a chance. It’s not in our DNA. Sure there are a few mutants that prefer freedom, but the majority want to belong to a tribe.

      1. Tribes are safety. Tribes are the natural shield against predators. Tribes are a sense of belonging.

        Of course it’s hardwired to close ranks with the in-group, this behaviour meant survival in the wild.

        1. Maybe in 10000 years we can have nice things.

    2. Here’s something I wonder – when did the libertarian position on gay marriage shift from “get government out of the business of certifying people’s relationships”?

      1. I don’t think it has.

        I think many libertarians (including myself) happen to prefer that as long as marriage is a matter of government and tied to special rights and privileges, it should be extended to as many people as possible, but that position doesn’t follow from libertarianism, it’s just pragmatism.

      2. When Reason went Progressitarian.

      3. That would be the ideal solution, but most libertarians would like to get the government to get out of education, but wouldn’t support banning blacks from attending public schools.

        It would be better for government to get out entirely, but as long as they’re still in, many libertarians find the idea of government-sanctioned discrimination as bad. Of course, many libertarians also object to the idea of the government enforcing anti-discrimination laws on the private sector, which means an immediate split with the progressives who see this as the next step in their agenda.

    3. The democrats may be fundamentally liberal

      The Democrats are fundamentally progressive, not liberal. And “progressive” and “liberal” in political usage have pretty much the opposite of their plain meaning.

    4. No we’re not screwed. That Gallup trends chart shows we’ve been winning (changing the laws) consistently for 45 years now. The whole case for voting libertarian is not to replace the hands inside the sockpuppets, but rather, to get rid of laws that rob, murder and enslave us all. It took the commies 66 years to move the income tax from the Manifesto of 1848 to the Constitution flanked by Prohibition. The looters are screwed. The Dems are still running on borrowed communist ideology that has collapsed. The GOP is gleefully trying to revive Christian National Socialism out of Hitler’s bunker, now that the commies are gone. Both are the cadaverous zombies of dead ideologies and only actuaries clearly realize it.

  9. Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump

    1. There aren’t that many trump cards in a deck.

      1. Trump’s a few cards short of a deck.

        1. Are you saying that he is short-handed?

      2. Lots of jokers, though.

    2. Sounds like an old steam train (hopefully going off a cliff).

    3. That really does sum up his true beliefs.

  10. 8 AM eastern time, and we’ve already got two Trump thumbsuckers in the can. The over/under today could easily be as high as a dozen.

    1. For the record: This article is 1500 words long. Six of its sentences mention Trump.

      1. When one of those is the headline, it make an impression (since often that is all of the article that gets read)

      2. This article is 1500 words long. Six of its sentences mention Trump.

        Don’t worry, Jesse. John will soon be along to write nearly twice the word count of why you’re so wrong, you moron, about Trump..

        1. Hey, now. After spending the last 7 years demanding that libertarians shut up and vote GOP like good little boys and girls, of course you are going to be outraged that they show any interest in the GOP frontrunner.

          What’s worst than getting what you want?

          1. We’re just the Black Lectroids of the hitandrunverse.

            DR. LIZARDO:
            History… is-a made at night! Character… is what you are in
            the dark! We must WORK, while the clock, she’s-a ticking!

            RED LECTROID:
            John Whorfin, destroy them!

            DR. LIZARDO:
            We hide, they seek!

            RED LECTROID:
            Death to the Black Lectroids!

            DR. LIZARDO:
            WHERE ARE WE GOING?

            The RED LECTROIDS are a little more animated now.

            RED LECTROIDS:
            Planet Ten!

            DR. LIZARDO:

            RED LECTROIDS:
            Real Soon!

            1. John Big Booty approves

              1. “Big Boo-tay! Big Boo-tay!”

                1. Hey, y’all know what John wants for his birthday.

                  1. an Oscillation Overthruster?

  11. “fundamentally conservative” and “fundamentally liberal” both mean the same thing: fundamentally statist.

    1. … and altruist, and looter, and, let’s face it, not the brightest bulbs on the Sunset Strip. Still, we probably get at least 3% of the real but unverifiable vote, and the trend is upticking despite having a series of weak, clueless and counterfeit candidates. Once folks understand that, like Adam Smith said, every financial collapse is caused directly and exclusively by the political state, we may harvest some votes. But talking abt the competition’s hairstyles ain’t gonna cut it. We need a young, pro-choice candidate and fewer mystical infiltrators on the platform committee.

  12. “What looks at first glance like a country polarized on opposite sides of a one-dimensional ideological spectrum turns out to be far weirder and more interesting than that.”

    Shorter Jesse: simplistic descriptions wrong, as usual.

  13. The GOP survived Bush, The TEA Party reform turned cancer and the Pauls… I don’t think Trump is going to break apart. It would be better in the long run if Trump and Bernie could burn down both parties, but this is just primary high-spirits. Every good little moron will fall in line after the conventions.

    1. The GOP survived Bush – that remains to be seen.

      I’m convinced that the discord in the GOP is a direct result of the Bush Presidencies. The naked betrayal on the “read my lips” promise started the rift with conservatives. The orgy of spending and borrowing, government growth, and complete failure to reform or dissemble any part of the welfare state – that really tore the party apart.

      1. I think that the TEA Party was that rift, but when it got co-oped by the SoCons it ceased to be a transformative force. TP and the eGOP are still squabbling, of course, but it’s more like siblings fighting than the nasty divorce it needs to be.

        1. The whole fight has been subsumed into TRUMP! But less than a year ago there were still vicious fight at places like NRO on this stuff. I’m not surprised that the Republican Party came apart, just at how.

        2. This is true. I remember my dad, who isn’t what I would call a libertarian, getting pissed when the local Tea Party rallies he attended started to become hijacked by abortion warriors. And my dad is even pro-life himself! As he said at the time, “That’s not what this is supposed to be about!”

      2. It is also the fruits of the Clinton presidency. Republicans were so desperate to win, and so desperate to keep Al Gore out of the office, that they were willing to vote for Mr. Compassionate Conservatism, knowing damned well that he was no believer in limited government. Then, since their guy was in office, they felt compelled to defend him to their dying breath. I should know because ten years ago I was one of those types, and it’s embarrassing to admit today. It was the very essence of valuing team over principles.

        1. If I recall the 2000 primaries correctly, the only candidate who could have been called “conservative” was Steve Forbes. It came down to a choice between establishment liberal Republicans.

    2. It’s unfortunate that Sanders hasn’t been more effective in burning down the Democratic party.

      Between Trump and Hillary, I may well end up voting for the lying bitch, because I think she is so corrupt and so much in bed with Wall Street and (selected) big corporations that she won’t risk wrecking the economy. The price for that may be a few more major foreign policy screw-ups.

  14. now the GOP is fundamentally conservative and the Democracy is fundamentally liberal.

    Yeah, you might want to edit that.

    1. Might not. It’s true.

      1. Democracy isn’t fundamentally liberal. It’s fundamentally tyranny (of the majority).

        1. Two wolves fighting over who doesn’t have to eat out Hillary for their constituents.

          1. *projectile vomits*


            1. “Now that I’ll lap up for free”

        2. “Democracy” simply changed meaning. True democracy was based on sortition; what we call “democracy” was considered “oligarchy” or “mob rule” by the Greeks. They were basically right.

    2. you might want to edit that.

      Democracy with a capital D is an old nickname for the party.

        1. He’s right. He hit the wayback machine to 1843 so he could check the “technically correct” box off.

      1. Yeah, before 1844.

        But I notice you didn’t refer to the GOP as the “Whigs and Free Soilers”.

        1. I notice you didn’t refer to the GOP as the “Whigs and Free Soilers”.

          I suppose if I wanted to embrace the “the party is collapsing” narrative…

          1. You know, you could just edit the typo and move on. Or you could double down on using a label that’s not been around for 170+ years and was mostly considered a slur.

            Or even better, somebody, ANYBODY, could write a fucking story about the final email dump by the candidate from the other major party (The Democracy, if you please) that was ordered by a judge, contains more classified information and continues to be the cause of a FBI investigation.

            1. It’s not a typo. It’s an honest-to-God choice I made when I got sick of typing “the Democrats” and “the Democratic Party” over and over.

              1. And for the record, I’ve seen it used by several 20th century writers. Admittedly as a bit of an affectation, but I like the phrase’s old-timey feel.

                1. If you’re sick of typing the self-identifying party names, maybe you ought to not be a political writer.

                  As for the old-timey feel, you ain’t old-timey. You probably isn’t even white.
                  -Homer Stokes

                  1. If you’re sick of typing the self-identifying party names, maybe you ought to not be a political writer.

                    Maybe we should not let political parties self-identify in ways that make them sound nicer than they are.

                    “Republicans” might better be referred to as “Theocrats and MIlitarists”, and “Democrats” might better be referred to as “Socialists and Proto-Fascists”.

                    Now, which party do you favor again?

              2. I understood it perfectly and found it delightfully refreshing. There is something of the patina of old ivory in just the right word for the occasion, even if we are referring to the party of klansmen and Tammanny hucksters.

            2. We should nitpick more. That will definitely help making Libertarians more palatable.

              Agree on the second point.

        2. He learned it from us. We have only ourselves to blame.

      2. You realize the “nickname” was at first an epithet, don’t you? It was used because the party, wanting to call themselves Republicans by the way, were called “the Democracy” by their opponents because they allegedly aspired to mob rule or the tyranny of a simple majority.

        1. he party, wanting to call themselves Republicans by the way, were called “the Democracy” by their opponents because they allegedly aspired to mob rule or the tyranny of a simple majority.

          So, what’s changed?

    3. Picky picky picky… after all, we’re talking about garden-variety looters.

  15. I’m thinking worst case scenario is Trump was right when he said if he lost this would all be for nought. Hillary wins and the GOP doesn’t change a gotdamn thing. They just breathe a big sigh of relief they dodged a bullet with the Trump thing, we see four more years of Hopenchange and then here comes Rubio II.

    1. Rubio II: Central Asia Boogaloo

      1. Where we invade Kazakhstan to protect it from Russian Agression?

        1. We must stabilize Russian-Sino relations by bringing democracy to all of the Stans. Because who else will?

          1. Let us start with Canukistan! Free them from the Tyranny of Trudeau!

            1. We shall not rest until every puckchaser has a purple thumb!

            2. I will invade the first Tim Horton’s I see!

            3. Trumpistan. (Oddly, autocorrect tried to make that Trump is tan. He saw his birth certificate?)

    2. Um, McAfee has been in the LP exactly 2 months, hasn’t been nominated, and already says if he loses, the LP should pack it in after 45 years of consistently repealing bad laws. We too may have a Drumpf problem.

  16. Now this right here, this is funny. If Trump has no other value at all, there is always this:

    Escape from Trumpmurika

    I can just see some of these idiots trying to survive in some 3rd world country. ‘Hey, I’m oppressed, do you hear me!? I’m… wha… special! Hey, looooookkkk at meeeeee!!!! Pay attention to me!! Hey!!!!!’.

    1. Al Sharpton (l.) […] will be looking to live elsewhere if Trump is elected President.

      Every cloud has a silver lining.

  17. Trump is killing the neocon and single issue SOCON wings of the party. He is also moving the party away from paying lip service to doctrine libertarian economics. The third is not good but it is at least honest. And libertarians should welcome the first two.

    1. The more I learn about Cruz, the less I like him. And of course Rubio is nothing more than Jeb’s substitute bitch. There are no Republicans to vote for. I’m voting for whoever he L candidate is, again. But if Trump crushes Hillary, at least there is something to look forward to. She’ll be too old to run again so we will have finally seen the last of that nasty old hag. I really have no idea why people don’t think Trump would beat Hillary, but at this point I seriously doubt that.

      1. if Trump crushes Hillary, at least there is something to look forward to. She’ll be too old to run again so we will have finally seen the last of that nasty old hag.

        Then we’ll get to make for the new nasty hag: Warren 2020! Yay!


  18. Make Donald Dumpf again!

    1. Drumpf. Dammit.

      1. Schicklgruber.

  19. Pro-life liberals and pro-choice conservatives aren’t the only tribes excluded from the red/blue map. Libertarians have a tough time functioning in either party too.

    The way the US political system works is that each party picks a grab bag of positions so that they end up each getting about 50% of the vote. That naturally leaves a lot of people dissatisfied. Would it be better if we had more parties? No. In fact, it would probably be worse. In the end, decisions always leave many people dissatisfied, and in a parliamentary system with more parties, with coalitions, and with inter-party deal making, the will of the people may be more represented in parliament, but it is less well represented in decisions.

    And over time, in parliamentary systems, the parties simply converge. In Germany, the Christian party supports gay rights, the socialist party supports capitalism and Christianity, and the liberal party supports massive government subsidies to churches, all in contradiction to their original political programs.

    The US system is contentious and unpleasant, but it’s still better than the alternatives. And we are due for a realignment. Hopefully, one party will be more classically liberal (free markets, individualism, self-reliance), and the other party will be more statist (welfare, public morality, nannyism); both Christian conservatives and progressives can join hands in the statist party.

    1. “Hopefully, one party will be more classically liberal (free markets, individualism, self-reliance)”

      It’s cute that you think that there’s actually enough support in the American electorate for liberal values for this party to survive. This party will be the Republican Party of today but without the shallow support from social and cultural conservatives; i.e., not viable. The only reason that the Republican Party has been able to push quasi-liberal policies forward over the past few decades (in some areas) is because the social/cultural conservatives supported those policies in exchange for policies they actually cared about.

      1. I think you underestimate how much the Democrats have changed and how much the world has changed. The world has changed in that most of the grievances that true liberals used to have, namely unequal treatment under the law, have been addressed, and what passes for “feminism” and “gay rights activism” these days is something entirely different. It also seems to be dawning on many minorities that endless government mandates aren’t working for them and that the Democrats keep selling them down the river. On the other hand, Democrats have gone off the rails on economics, and have utterly failed to deliver on their economic promises. I think there are many people moving over from the Democrats to a party that embraces small government and individual responsibility both on social issues and on economic issues.

        1. Dare to dream, my friend. Dare to dream.

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  21. Here’s what we do. Elect Hillary.
    We are declining in every area,freedom, economics,culture,militarily and in foreign relations. There is nothing to stop the decline.,The sooner we hit bottom the sooner we can rise up and be better in all areas.,Hillary will get us to the bottom faster than any one else .

    1. That’s nuts. Hitting bottom doesn’t make you bounce back up like a ball.

      1. Agreed. Don’t underestimate the electorate’s ability to double down on failure. Even if it means getting out the shovel and digging a hole.

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  26. The article was less confusing than the 1989 American Scientist article purporting to prove that the Nolan diagram with four cells (2 dimensions) contained “too many” dimensions, while implying (never stating) that a straight line marked with foggy adjectives and personality examples was the Goldilocks number of dimensions for “both” ideologies. Mainland Americans will always elicit puzzlement so long as they use “liberal” to mean both libertarian and socialist– often in the same breath. It is too reminiscent of the way German nationalsocialist orators simultaneously used “jewish” to mean both laissez-faire plutocrat and soviet communist. What is clear is that those in the two groups that believe freedom is divisible will take offense at anything clear or unequivocal, which makes it impossible to discuss them objectively–at least in public.

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