January 4, 2005


Sustaining a national GOP majority (Jim Hartman, January 3, 2005, SF Chronicle)

Noted political scientist Walter Dean Burnham, the nation's leading theorist on realignment, says the 2004 election "consolidates" what began in 1994 when Republicans shattered the 40-year Democratic grip on Congress and statehouses. Since then, the GOP has held its gains, adding to them in 2002 and 2004.

Republicans now hold 55 Senate seats, a gain of 4. The last time Republicans held more than 55 seats in the Senate was 1931. The GOP won 232 House seats, the most Republicans have held since 1949. Republican governorships have jumped from 18 in 1992 to 28, and control of state legislatures has risen from 8 to 20.

Republicans are also riding the crest of a "big tent" movement that threatens to leave an increasingly ossified Democratic Party behind. The four most popular political figures in America are all moderate Republicans -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Colin Powell. The Democrats have no similar high-profile political leaders who can appeal to voters in the middle.

So what could upset this Republican hegemony? For Republicans to continue to succeed, the party needs to listen to the unheeded warnings Georgia Democrat Zell Miller gave to his party. Sen. Miller's frustration resulted in his writing "A National Party No More," which details Democrats' intolerance of anything but left-wing orthodoxy.

A national party intent on a generation of authority should avoid the mistake Democrats made when they drove every pro-life official from their leadership ranks.

Moderates, being unprincipled, always follow the voting returns--they'll follow the electorate Right.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 4, 2005 11:49 AM

As a moderate myself (well a conservative moderate anyway), I object to the characterization of all of us as "unprincipled". Moderates have principles, they just don't always lend themselves to fitting snugly within existing political coalitions.

Posted by: Brandon at January 4, 2005 12:59 PM

Ah, principles that are constantly changing for the sake of political convenience...

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2005 1:09 PM

Unlike conservative or liberal principles? Tell me once again, which one side is in favor of fiscal restraint? Oh yeah, it's the side that doesn't have control of the spending.

A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

from the Devil's Dictionary.

Posted by: Brandon at January 4, 2005 1:37 PM

budgeting isn't principle, it's expedience.

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2005 1:45 PM

That's not how conservatives described it prior to 1994. Then it was a "fiscal prudence", or whatever blah, blah could be used to indict the liberals who were then calling it "expedience."

Posted by: Brandon at January 4, 2005 1:52 PM

yes, it's a political weapon, not a principle.

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2005 1:56 PM

Well, since 90% of politics is budgeting, it would appear that most of politics is expedience. if that's true, how exactly are moderates any less principled than conservatives or liberals?

Posted by: Brandon at January 4, 2005 3:01 PM

The belief that budgets matter.

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2005 3:05 PM

Please explain. I don't understand your response.

Posted by: Brandon at January 4, 2005 3:10 PM

"how exactly are moderates any less principled than conservatives or liberals?"

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2005 3:21 PM

I only brought up budgets as an example of a larger subject. It's not the only thing that could have been used to illustrate that moderates are as principled as anyone else.

I could also point out that moderates do not follow voting returns as much as drive them. Moderates make up 20-33% of the country depending upon who's counting. Electoral victory is dependent upon adapting to moderate concerns - not having them follow like sheep after the conservatives or liberals triump on their own.

Posted by: Brandon at January 4, 2005 3:34 PM

The sheep are given a choice of shepherds, only rarely another sheep.

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2005 3:45 PM

Not to intrude too much, but it wasn't until the GOP/conservatives got beyond things like the budget, where they presented themselves as nothing more than better managers of a bloating government than the Dems, and instead presented alternatives to Dem policies, that they began their ascendency. The "Dem lite" position was really no choice, so of course moderates went with the real thing.

Now moderates are in the position of actually having to choose what issues are important to them, and act accordingly. A lot of people don't like that, because they don' t like making decisions, or prefer having someone else make those decisions for them. And, horror of horrors, because they have to make choices, moderates are in danger of being lumped in with the Liberals or Conservatives. But in the end, they'll pick the winners because who wants to be around a bunch of losers? (Neither the Ford-era "get along go along" types nor the present shrill Dem whiners are very likeable, and do you ever hear of an unlikeable moderate?)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 4, 2005 4:32 PM

That doesn't make the sheep unprincipled.

Joe Lieberman

Posted by: Brandon at January 4, 2005 5:02 PM


Sure it does. There's no reason though why there shouldn't be a large cohort that is unprincipled. It's no worse than having the principles of the Left anyway.

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2005 5:38 PM

Oh, I get it now - principled = right wing. You'll forgive me if I think that's dumb.

Posted by: Brandon at January 4, 2005 6:01 PM

Brandon: What are the principles of moderation?

Posted by: David Cohen at January 4, 2005 6:21 PM

David: What are the principles of conservatism?

Posted by: Brandon at January 4, 2005 6:26 PM


Russell Kirk said as follows:

[T]here are six canons of conservative thought--

(1) Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience, forging an eternal chain of right and duty which links
great and obscure, living and dead. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. [...]

(2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity,
egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems. [...]

(3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes. The only true equality is moral equality; all other attempts
at levelling lead to despair, if enforced by positive legislation. [...]

(4) Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic levelling is not economic progress.
Separate property from private possession and liberty is erased.

(5) Faith in prescription and distrust of 'sophisters and calculators.' Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite,
for conservatives know man to be governed more by emotion than by reason. Tradition and sound prejudice provide
checks upon man's anarchic impulse.

(6) Recognition that change and reform are not identical, and that innovation is a devouring conflagration more often than it
is a torch of progress. Society must alter, for slow change is the means of its conservation, like the human body's perpetual
renewal; but Providence is the proper instrument for change, and the test of a statesman is his cognizance of the real tendency
of Providential social forces.


Posted by: oj at January 4, 2005 6:51 PM


No. The Left is principled--it's principles are just wrong. Moreover, belief that principles are necessary is partisan to begin with.

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2005 6:52 PM

Joe Lieberman? The man who changed his principles to fit Algore's in order to get on the ticket?. The guy who, like Moynihan, votes party line when it matters? Yep, that's a moderate all right.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 4, 2005 6:57 PM

Kirk is the gold standard, but these are my tenets of conservatism:

*Human nature has not changed from Adam to Eminem and is not trustworthy.

*Power corrupts.

*Each individual should be allowed as much sovereignty over his person and property as possible, and free choice should only be curtailed when necessary to protect others from substantial, tangible and immediate harm.

*Man's ability to reason is severely flawed because he cannot see all of the ramifications of his actions.

*Traditional societal arrangements, while not perfect, reflect a historical genius for stability that must be respected and should be changed only when absolutely necessary.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 4, 2005 7:12 PM
« REV IT UP (via Dave W): | Main | MONTY PYTHON SEQUEL?: »