US Republican party forsaking the Republic for an aging Culture War?

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The US Primaries are almost upon us, and the great dizzying (for us foreigners at least) race for the Republican party nomination gets started in earnest. Last time out, Iowa was where the soon to be President Obama first appeared to walk on water (to his followers at least), now the bettings on an outsider, the semi detachted Ron Paul.

Watching some of the debate the major problem for the Republican party seems to be discerning which of their candidates actually give a damn about the fate of the Republic they propose to run. As well as the renowned culture war schtick, literally pumped by an exasperated roots movement of the Tea Party, the whole focus in the states appears be about the least worst choice to set before the wider citizenry.

David Frum makes the point better than I can…

The thing most wrong with present-day Republicanism is its passivity in the face of the economic crisis, its indifference to the economic troubles of the huge majority of the American population, and its blithe insistence that everything was fine for the typical American worker up until Inauguration Day 2009 or (at the outer bound of the thinkable) the financial crisis of the fall 2008. It is the lack of concern to the travails of middle-class America that “reform Republicans” should most centrally be concerned with.

Mitt Romney’s not popular, he trails the wildly unpredictable Newt Gingrich by some considerable length… But he is a lot of people’s second and third choices… And he’s not gaged and bound by the extreme fringes of the party… The trouble is to win a US Presidential election you need to spring the base and make a wider appeal.. It didn’t work with McCain (even with Palin riding shot gun)… and it’s notable that Frum does not offer an alternative to not voting the doctrinaire libertarian Ron Paul…

Which may be telling… (not least that I’ve hedged against the wrong team…)

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  • sherdy

    Our Republicans seem to be suffering from the same malaise.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Ron Paul may be the middle guy in the party but he’s probably not a middle ranking figure in the grassroots of the GOP support.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    The default position of 95% of Europeans including myself is that American Republicans are insane….we simply dont speak the same political language.
    But Obama has disappointed all Europeans and a considerable number of his own supporters so how is it that on his approval ratings, he is heading for an easy victory.
    The answer is ……his opponent.
    Whoever it is……will be beaten. Because he will be handpicked by Fux News..
    All the problems in the GOP can be laid at the door of O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, Coulter, Cavuto. It is that simple.

    Its not just me who says it. Or David Frum.
    Dick (?) Morris a Fux contributor said it…..on Fox News.
    “You dont need to win in Iowa….you need to win on Fox”, a rebuke from a Fox contributor to his own employer.
    Morris….like Frum is a political professional ….or as his co-pundits on Fox might say sneeringly……a political “insider”.
    Even Herman Cain was popular on Fox. He had no political experience. That actually was deemed a “plus”.
    Fox sneers at any form of “compromise” and “compromise” is what successful American politics is about. Fox viewers and Tea Party activists dont do “compromise”.
    Fox will endorse a true believer……a conservative on issues a real politician would consider off the wall…….stem cell research, abortion, church prayer, mosques within 100 miles of Ground Zero, gun control, same sex “marriages”.
    Not to mention real political issues like health care.
    Would a serious Republican politician actually want that hassle.
    John McCain was not a true believer.
    But people like Huckabee, Gingrich are or….pander enough to be one.
    A Republican candidate has no room to make policy with O’Reilly and the rest watching for deviation.
    Frum has said as much……the Party tried to harness the power of Fox News and it has backfired .
    As Frum would say “The Republican Party thought that Fox News worked for it…….actually its the Republican Party that is in the grasp of Fox News”.
    The irony of course is that no candidate endorsed by Fox News can win the Presidency.
    It is entirely counter-productive.
    On the other hand Fox can probably influence races for the Senate and the House. And thus gridlock is guaranteed.
    But without Fox News………the Republicans could actually defeat Obama.
    Romney remains a voice of reason. The only person who can beat Obama but……..will Fox actually endorse him?
    I doubt it…………..and I think the prime reason is that Romney is a Mormon. As “unAmerican” as Kennedys Catholicism haf a century ago.
    For the stereotype persists that Mormons are not quite like the rest of Americans. They believe in polygamy is the whispered charge…..but Romney is a blameless once married man.
    Unlike Huckabee.
    Unlike McCain.
    Unlike Cain.
    Unlike Gingrich.
    But Fox will continue along the lines of being Rich People endorsing other Rich People to encourage Middle Class People to blame eveything on Poor People.

  • aquifer

    So would Rupert Murdoch have us voting for C Montgomery Burns?

    Words from the great man: ‘This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That’s democracy for you.

    Smithers: You are noble and poetic in defeat, sir.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail madraj55

    The GOP is flailing around without a clue. They have finally realised that, like Unionists in NI, the tide is going out and their chances of havig another President are diminishing every year. GW is the swansong. The WASP era is over.
    The US will never again be South Africa as it was in the Old Days.

  • Mick Fealty

    Madra,

    Youre stretching a little too hard for a grand narrative there. George Wallace was A Dem. That’s where Strom Thurmond started too. Lincoln was a Republican. And I fail to see how your unionist ref transposes at all.

    The US has balancing mechanisms. Republicans are a hairs breadth from taking the Senate. That’s I suspect where their efforts are really focused.

    But the GOP wing of the American party are crying out for some kind of renewal. It seems to me it’s the Reagan era that’s run dry, when they were able to penetrate far into the Democrat base.

    Obamas nicked their clothes. Which is one reason the culture thing isn’t working anymore.

  • Brian

    I live in USA and I’m already getting sick of this campaign. They start way too early and go on way too long. I will be supporting Ron Paul, at least in the Primaries. He is the only who calls it like he sees it and doesn’t pander to anyone. I don’t agree with some of his libertarian views, but i do with others and I especially like his foreign policy.

    It’s interesting/pathetic to see hawks on both sides come out of the woodwork to attack him and label him an isolationist. Even a few neocon cheerleaders have seemingly risen from the dead to hurl insults at him. It’s indicative of their warped world view where anyone opposed to having troops in 100+ countries is called an “isolationist.”

    If Paul does win Iowa, the status quo are going to go into overdrive to make sure he doesn’t win.

  • Brian

    “The US will never again be South Africa as it was in the Old Days.”

    What old days were those? The 1920s? What an absurd comment.

  • Harry Flashman

    We are discussing Peter Hitchens on another thread; a man who lived in the grimness of the Soviet Union before the fall of Communism. He always points out that in the Soviet Union people were rarely jailed for political dissent, they were sent to mental asylums, because only someone who is insane could fail to see the benefits of Communism.

    Hitchens points out that the same phenomenon exists among the left in the west, where anyone whose political ideology is to the right of centre is immediately classed as mad. Thus one of the most tedious tropes of the media when referring to the US Republicans is that they are all mentally deranged, or if they get elected as president, morons (qf Reagan and Bush jnr, the latter with a degree from Yale, an MBA from Harvard and a trained jet fighter pilot; the usual attributes of idiots).

    So we have it again.

    Let me clue you in folks, there is nothing remotely insane, mad, lunatic or moronic about people who are conservatives, they simply have opinions you disagree with. If you only receive your information from the BBC, the Guardian, Irish Times, RTE, New York Times and the major US networks all parroting the same statist, squishy, welfarist, big government, tax and spend solution to every situation, a diversity of opinion might be something you have difficulty coping with, but in that scenario the mental deficiency is surely yours.

    Just for the record a majority of the US electorate regard themselves as “conservative” with “liberal” trailing very far behind. Even after decades of statist indoctrination in Europe I dare say the figures would be the same here.

    It is the Democrats who are the marginalized group in the US, reliant on Unions, Wall Street, yes Wall Street funds the Dems, Government workers, students and immigrants.

    Not a very firm coalition for progress I think you’d all agree.

  • New Yorker

    An election is a competition. Our 2012 presidential election will be between two men, one democratic and one republican. Considering the possible republican competitors, Obama should win the competition. Obama’s campaign has not really started and he is a superb campaigner with a highly talented staff plus a billion bucks in the bank. It is possible the democrats will retake the House as well.

    The mediocre at best field of republican competitors is indicative of a party that has been radicalized and in decline. A party of useless old ideas and no new ideas. It was not always that way, but it is now and the electorate will show their distaste for the damage they have done to our country.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Flashman is of course right….I am hardly qualified to comment on Sanity……and arguably a little better qualified to comment on Insanity.
    But I think that the default position of 95% Europeans including myself is that American Republicans are insane…….and as Ive pointed out this is because we speak different political languages……..where “socialist” “liberal” “conservative” “freedom” “right” “liberty” etc have very different meanings.

    In USA I am out of step with mainstream opinion.

    Perhaps Mr Flashman is out of step with mainstream opinion in Europe.

  • tuatha

    Romney is a human vacuum whose only discernible policyis to have his jawline elected as Prez.
    The rest of the line-up, despite Flashy’s subSteynesque pabulum, are so off this particular planet that at least half acquiesced to a ‘debate’ chaired by The Donald, as sure a sign of insanity as could be required.
    There may have been sane & decent Repugs in the past couple of decades – none spring to mind but I stand to be advised – but the usual suspects are, like the Dems wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporations.
    So, as always, it will be a choice between the Evil of Two Lessers.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ron Paul will simply not be allowed to win. There are too many powerful interests, on both the right and the left, whom he would damage – starting with the huge military industrial complex which the USA is increasingly unable to afford.

    Part of me thinks it would be interesting to see him take over and implement some of his ideas. Maybe the resulting chaos would encourage the idiotic libertarians to shut up.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Actually, Fox News’ big thing is mostly persuading very poor people to protect the interests of the very rich.

    New Yorker – I would really like to understand how an incumbent President can win re-election, much less how the Democrats can retake the house, in the midst of the kind of depression and historically high unemployment levels the USA is currently experiencing – especially given that Obama seems to be a huge disappointment to people who might otherwise be disposed to support him.

    I would have thought that Obama’s best hope is still that the GOP runs a stupid candidate.

  • Kevsterino

    Ron Paul actually has a fairly active support base. Unfortunately for him, hardly any of them are Republicans. With the Teabaggers hovering on their right, I just don’t see how the GOP will be able to produce anyone who will take a plurality next November. If they nominate anyone reasonable, I think the Teabaggers would put their own candidate on the ballot as a third option (they certainly have the funds). They simply won’t allow anyone to be nominated who won’t be an easy target as a right wing lunatic.

  • Harry Flashman

    I always love when the left discusses Ron Paul how they approve of “some” of his policies. But with Paul you don’t get “some” of his policies.

    If you want to end US military expansion overseas while maintaining a bloated federal government elect a left winger, don’t vote for Paul and assume that he’ll limit American foreign policy while maintaining a vastly overfunded and hopelessly ineffectual Department of Education.

    It don’t work that way, you get the whole enchilada with Ron Paul. Something which as a barking mad small-government guy I could happily live with.

  • Kevsterino

    As for the portrayal of the majority of American sympathies being Conservative, I would respectfully disagree. I would say most of the people I know have Conservative views on some things and Liberal views on others. I suspect this is pretty much the same worldwide, but the pundits hate that. At any rate, the contest in the United States has always been for the middle people. At the moment, I don’t see the GOP having a chance with those folks. Of course, much can change in the coming months.

  • Harry Flashman

    “As for the portrayal of the majority of American sympathies being Conservative, I would respectfully disagree.”

    Gallup, an organization that has somewhat more experience in these matters than you do I imagine, respectfully disagrees with you.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/141032/2010-conservatives-outnumber-moderates-liberals.aspx

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry,

    Isn’t a poll where people self-describe as conservative or liberal (or anything else) inherently flawed ?

    I have had some conversations with batshit crazy Americans who think that Obama is some sort of Soviet agent and that Newt Gingrich is a closet liberal.

    In general I find it hard to be persuaded that there are a lot of conservatives in the USA given that they’ve yet to get one of their own elected President. Given the borrow, spend and bloat mentality that has pervaded Republican presidencies since the 1980 I’m not sure that any of them can be called conservative, at least not with economics.

  • Harry Flashman

    Many US conservatives would thoroughly agree with your analysis of the current Republican party, CS, hence the Tea Party movement.

    I note once again you immediately dismiss people whose political aspirations you don’t share as “batshit crazy”.

    This kneejerk assumption of mental defectiveness in conservatives by those on the left has reached Pavolovian proportions by this stage.

    I doubt if the condition is even curable.

  • Kevsterino

    Harry, please define ‘majority’. Is it 42%?

  • RepublicanStones

    With the current crop of republican POTUS hopeful, one would be forgiven for thinking they are employing the My Lovely Horse tactic of hoping not to win, because if they do get a crack at the whip, it’ll still be covered in shite for the next term.

    And contra to what Harry claims, you don’t get ALL of the policies of the candidate you vote for. You get some token ideological base reinforcement atop of the policies of big business and corporate interest. It’s a democracy all right, but not in the way we think.

  • New Yorker

    Comrade Stalin

    You ask how Obama can win in the present economy. It comes down to which candidate can better handle the economy. While Obama has made mistakes, all signs are that our economy is improving. It would be foolhardy to trust any of his competitors who are untested, are against regulations and spout proven failed policies such as trickle down. As I said above, Obama only has to be better than his competitor, and he has the organization and money to outfight the competition. Meanwhile his potential competitors make fools of themselves.

    As to winning the House, republicans are perceived as the cause of gridlock in Washington and will pay the price. In addition, they have no good ideas but only recycle policies we know are harmful to the vast majority of Americans. The republican party has been radicalized by know-nothing tea party hotheads and therein lies there problem because it has alienated them from reasonable republicans, not to mention the wider electorate.

  • Kevsterino

    Interesting of you to mention the ‘know-nothings’, NY’er. I said the same thing to my sister a couple weeks ago. I know more than a few Republicans who loathe the Teabaggers and birthers who are dragging that party down.

  • Mick Fealty

    Harry,

    The Tea Party may be a lot of things, but Conservative is most certainly not one of them.

    New Yorker,

    Agreed on the economy. What he does not need is the Euroo to unravel and more importantly for China to crash.

  • Harry Flashman

    The Tea Party stand for small government, balanced budgets and strict adherence to the Constitution.

    In what way can they not be described as “conservative”?

  • tuatha

    I’llgo with “batshit crazy”. I’ve dealt with, and even been friends with. amerikans since the mid 60s, draft dodgers in Europe, almost ALL of whom gvae up their principles for cheap gas & cheese burgers, despite previous awareness that there WAS an alternative.
    That was a generation that aksahally received something that we euroids would call a decent education; what hope for those ‘skooled’ since then? A hyoerpower with a Third World social
    structure and nothing within a stone’s throw of democracy, as understood in the civilised word.
    Both majors merely different wings of the same corporate behemoth, wholly owned and controlled, BO being the apotheosis of failure, elected with a massive mandate, majority in both Houses (after Al Franken finally overcame the various, stunningly well funded, legal challenges) and still failed/refused to succour the people from the corporate servitude into which they’d gladly (as much as ignorant lumpen can do anything with cognitive awareness) plunged themselves and their kids and grandkids and….. yea, even unto perpetuity.
    Amerika is dead, as an ideal, as a functioning entity, as anything other than the occasional semi sentient area able to struggle through the detritus to, what passes in the Benighted States, for fresh air.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry,

    Many US conservatives would thoroughly agree with your analysis of the current Republican party, CS, hence the Tea Party movement.

    I query your definition of “many”. The Tea Party is a small, but very noisy, minority. That is not to underestimate them because clearly the Republicans feel that there are enough of them that some attention needs to be paid to them. But if they were a serious movement then they would be a political party in their own right and they would be challenging the GOP. Not trying to ferment revolution inside it.

    The strategy they are deploying to target and bring down certain candidates in order to scare the rest reminds me of the Christian Coalition crowd a while back. It’s a strategy about punching very much above your otherwise very light weight.

    US conservatives seem to be quite fractious and there does not seem to be any consensus over what exactly a conservative is. People say “smaller government and no deficits” which is fine but then contradict themselves by saying “bring back Reagan” who increased the government and increased the debt.

    Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are very different men, and yet both seem to tick many of the boxes one might associate with being conservative; yet their supporters (within GOP circles) seem to hate each other.

    The real attitude of the American population in general is being distorted by the two-party system, much like what happens in the UK, to the point where people in a large and diverse country are expected to define themselves along an either/or line.

    I note once again you immediately dismiss people whose political aspirations you don’t share as “batshit crazy”.

    Here is what is not batshit crazy :

    – reducing taxes

    – reducing the size of government

    – I’d even give you the role of religion or faith in government policy.

    – discussing whether or not the stimulus plans work

    I disagree with it but it is reasonable to argue it.

    Here is what is batshit crazy :

    – arguing that religion is established in the US constitution and/or that the founders of the US wished it to be so;

    – carrying placards saying “save Medicare – no to socialized medicine”

    – calling Obama a communist, a nazi or a Muslim

    – circulating this nonsense about birth certificates

    – attending political rallies carrying rifles and shotguns, in the context where some Republican politicians talk about using armed force to overthrow the democratically elected government

    – people on low incomes supporting tax cuts on the ultra-wealthy

    – justifying the war on Iraq in terms of preventative war and/or tackling terrorism

    – believing that all crime in border US states is caused by illegal immigrants

    – yelling “support the troops” yet sending them to their deaths to participate in needless or pointless conflict

    – believing that the USA, the richest country in the world, “cannot afford” public medicine despite overall spending on the present broken healthcare system being the highest in the world and significantly higher than many other Western countries

    – and finally, believing that any of the above is somehow compatible with Christianity.

    I can’t help it if you believe that the people in the tea party who espouse some or all of the beliefs above are normal, rational people who have carefully thought through what their views on things are, but I rather suspect your view is misplaced.

    This kneejerk assumption of mental defectiveness in conservatives by those on the left has reached Pavolovian proportions by this stage.

    How ironic that anyone who calls out “crazy” for what it is must be among “those on the left”. We are firmly back into McCarthyism here.

    The Tea Party stand for small government, balanced budgets and strict adherence to the Constitution.

    In other words, the Tea Party stand for a tradition that has not existed in the USA for a very long time.

    Isn’t it terribly strange how when the GOP President was busy turning a surplus into a deficit, growing the size of the government and violating the constitution that the Tea Party movement felt no need to speak up ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    New Yorker:

    You ask how Obama can win in the present economy. It comes down to which candidate can better handle the economy. While Obama has made mistakes, all signs are that our economy is improving.

    I would query that. Some of my middle aged (and substantially liberal) American friends are unemployed. They are qualified and experienced. They have never known a period in their lifetime where there hasn’t been another job around the corner, and they have never, ever had to claim welfare. There is a sense of “this time it’s different”. I really want to believe that the mend is coming but I feel that the true underlying causes have not been properly addressed.

    That is obviously an anecdote on my part but I do have to wonder how commonplace this is around the country.

    It would be foolhardy to trust any of his competitors who are untested

    The GOP tried to use that line against Obama in 2008. It didn’t work.

    are against regulations and spout proven failed policies such as trickle down. As I said above, Obama only has to be better than his competitor, and he has the organization and money to outfight the competition. Meanwhile his potential competitors make fools of themselves.

    I agree with the above but up against someone who is manifestly not batshit crazy, ie Romney, it will be a tough for Obama. If I was in the USA I could not vote for him. The most disappointing thing about him is that he has spent most of his time in office allowing the Republicans to frame the debate rather than striking out on his own; he seemed to spend most of his time responding to their attacks – publishing the birth certificate was a low point – and trying to show how he was not what they were claiming.

    As to winning the House, republicans are perceived as the cause of gridlock in Washington and will pay the price.

    That is an argument that could flip either way.

    In addition, they have no good ideas but only recycle policies we know are harmful to the vast majority of Americans. The republican party has been radicalized by know-nothing tea party hotheads and therein lies there problem because it has alienated them from reasonable republicans, not to mention the wider electorate.

    I think the paragraph above summarizes the only way Obama can win. He won’t win on the strength of his argument, but by the fact that this opposition is an unco-ordinated rabble wracked by infighting. For me personally that just doesn’t light my wick.

  • pauluk

    It’s obvious that some folks commenting here have little idea of the purpose and methods of the American primaries and are reading far too much into the competition of the GOP debates.

    Just think back to the viciousness and animosity – almost hatred – displayed by the Democrats to each other in 2008 primaries, and the current Republican ‘infighting’ pales in comparison.

  • pauluk

    If Obama loses, it will be because of his ineptitude and arrogance*.

    (* However, in further evidence that big media is trying to protect Obama from himself and cover up for him, this weekend CBS edited out Obama’s claim of being the fourth greatest president in American history. Transcript)

  • New Yorker

    Comrade Stalin,

    You state, “Some of my middle aged (and substantially liberal) American friends are unemployed. They are qualified and experienced.” The unemployment rate for college/university educated is about 4.5%, which is near realistic full employment for that category. There is an unemployment problem for less well educated people that needs to be analyzed and addressed. It may be that there are not enough jobs for the skills they have, and then there should be a massive retraining program. But, we just don’t know enough about that category yet to properly address the problem.

    In regard to untested competitors, you say, “The GOP tried to use that line against Obama in 2008. It didn’t work.” There was no incumbent in 2008, whereas in 2012 there is and the economy is slowly improving.

    The argument of better than the other guy may not light your wick, but in terms of handling the economy, foreign policy and domestic programs, it is sufficient, I hope, for most American voters.

  • Mick Fealty

    It will be interesting New Yorker. There seemed to be a palpable . Sense of relief in the US media last week that Europe had got itself straightened. And an incredulity that Cameron seemed prepared to screw it up.

    Mostly, I think, because they want to get back to worrying about the primaries and the increasingly esoteric arguments over their own federal economy. Bit like when your youngest jumps on you from a height just when you think you’ve finally got back to reading the paper.

  • Comrade Stalin

    pauluk:

    Just think back to the viciousness and animosity – almost hatred – displayed by the Democrats to each other in 2008 primaries, and the current Republican ‘infighting’ pales in comparison.

    It pales in comparison ? Who or what is the corollary to the Tea Party on the Democratic side ?

    New Yorker :

    The unemployment rate for college/university educated is about 4.5%, which is near realistic full employment for that category.

    I agree that 4.5% is close to full employment, but that is also what means that the statistic is rather questionable as the implication of this that the recession, the biggest in 70 years, has had a zero impact on people with degrees. Framed that way, your claim is very difficult to accept, it sounds rather like a government statistic rather than an independent one.

    But whether it is true or not, unemployment is variable across the country, and with there being a recession and tight access to credit, labour mobility is more restricted than it otherwise might be.

    In regard to untested competitors, you say, “The GOP tried to use that line against Obama in 2008. It didn’t work.” There was no incumbent in 2008

    What on earth has that got to do with it ?

    whereas in 2012 there is and the economy is slowly improving.

    Good luck persuading people of that.

    The argument of better than the other guy may not light your wick, but in terms of handling the economy, foreign policy and domestic programs, it is sufficient, I hope, for most American voters.

    If you’re right, then it’s a great shame that people expect so little from their politicians.

    Mick:

    Sense of relief in the US media last week that Europe had got itself straightened.

    I think it’s hilarious to have US politicians commenting on Europe’s failure to sort it out given the highly charged and partisan way debate on how to fix the US economy is conducted between Democrats and Republicans. A sizeable chunk of the Republicans at the moment would burn their own house down in order to damage Obama; the debt downgrade on the USA happened not out of fear that the country might be impaired in its ability to repay debts, but out of the fear that its political system was in a state of paralysis from making decisions about such matters over partisanship.

  • Mick Fealty

    It might be funny. But they have decent growth rates, we don’t. Some decisio makers are still autonomous enough to make at least some clear, erm, decisions.

  • Harry Flashman

    “It pales in comparison ? Who or what is the corollary to the Tea Party on the Democratic side ?”

    Occupy? The difference being that the Tea party is a wholly peaceful organization who when they leave their venues, hint they actually leave venues, the place is cleaner than when they arrived.

    Contrast the Occupy movement, darlings of the liberal media, who have to be dragged away kicking and screaming and then local sanitation workers have to shovel out hundreds of pounds of human faeces after they leave.

    But the Tea Party are the crazies, right.

  • Mick Fealty

    Yeah, right Harry.. Coming from you I would say that’s a tad lazy… The people I spoke to last weekend were a real mix, organised, disorganised but also hard working and clean. With a fair smattering of rough sleepers looking for safety/opportunity.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sluggerotoole/

    What surprises me though is how in a land that still loves capitalism from head to toe they’ve also managed to get poll ratings the TP can only dream of… People are ‘p!ssed’, and not just with government. But with the less accountable institutions of market capitalism.

  • New Yorker

    Mick Fealty

    You are correct that Americans are very concerned about the European financial situation. Many of us worry that the system was badly structured in that it lacked a political foundation. I would say that there may have been a very brief sense of relief but it was clear that the really important issues were not addressed and that there may have to be major surgery that entails removal of limbs such as the PIGS. It is the lack of will to take necessary actions that is so disconcerting, both for us and for you.

    Comrade Stalin

    The 4.5% is a government statistic which we all accept over here. I personally do not know anyone who wants a job who does not have one; some have started their own companies, some have entered new fields. As I said above, we do not know exactly why there is the difference in unemployment rates between those with college/university degrees and those without them. Some of us suspect that it has to do with automation of manufacturing, off-shoring of manufacturing, IT requirements, etc. But it is a fact. And, I would not be surprised if it is also the case in much of Europe.

    When I stated there was not incumbent in 2008, you replied, “What on earth has that got to do with it ?” It has everything to do with it and politely destroys your argument.

  • pauluk

    Modern history, encapsulated in a Dilbert cartoon.

  • Harry Flashman

    “People are ‘p!ssed’, and not just with government. But with the less accountable institutions of market capitalism.”

    To which the Tea Party people might say, “welcome to the club, what took you so long?”

    It was the Tea Party people who started the protest against massive government money being thrown at insolvent banks. If you believe in market capitalism the response to banks which lend foolishly is to wait until they go bust and pick up the bargains, not to throw gazillions of taxpayer dollars at them, especially when you know that these self same insolvent banks have been funding the political parties (note the use of the plural) in power.

    It was the Tea Party who demanded that the government turn off the spigot of government spending to keep zombie banks afloat long before the Occupy lot came on the scene.

    The Tea Party doesn’t like government welfare junkies whether they be crack addicts or wearing nice suits in Wall Street.

    We shall wait and see which movement, Occupy or the Tea Party, is more effective at mobilising actual votes come election time.

  • Mick Fealty

    Quite so re the bail out Harry. But you are comparing apples and pears and suggesting we judge the winner on how Appley they turn out to be.

    Occupy is a creative attempt to break a public narrative rather than become a mass lobby group. It draws support from Tea Partyers AND the people whose financal support the TP want to get rid of.

    Both subsets will count next November.

  • Harry Flashman

    I’m not sure Mick, at the time of the emergence of the TP the Democrats and mainstream media tried to dismiss them as “astro-turf” ie not a genuine grass-roots level organisation, I think we can accept now that was nonsense.

    The Tea party is a genuine political movement and it is to the credit of the US that such a movement can emerge, any such movement in Europe would be howled down immediately. I think we can now accept that the TP people are actual voters who want to change things and are prepared to get up and do something about it.

    I’m not convinced Occupy fits the same bill, they are the usual student lefties, professional agitators, they attract the attention of the media, as in Time Magazine using the attractive picture of the art-gallery worker as their cover-girl for person of the year.

    Come election time do students and agit prop street demo flash mobs count? Maybe, but I’ll put my money on solid middle class people who quietly go about their jobs or businesses, who have finally had enough but don’t have the luxury of smoking a bong for weeks in a tent in Central Park, actually going out and making a difference.

    I think the classic example of this is the late 60’s and early 70’s, if you took your opinions from Hollywood and the mainstream media you’d believe that it was a time of fervent left wing uprisings as students and agitators in the media and pop music emerged to change the United States and the world.

    Funny how Nixon ended up winning two landslide elections in such a scenario.

    Like I say I’ll bet on the TP’s for the long haul.

  • Mick Fealty

    Youve spoken to some of them?

    The Tea Party’s a creation of a radical, dynamic and diverse republic that has some serious hang ups over any form of direct action involving the various public purses. And one that continually resents the power of the federal government.

    Remember too that the TP arose under a Republican president who wound federal spending up through the roof whilst at the same time cut taxes for the rich.

    Yet the public infrastructure has been falling apart in places for years. Californians put up with deprivations other parts of the west would never stand for.

    Obama, if he gets a second term needs to show he can take taxes and make them do something more tangible than create a temporary spurt of growth.

    Dems get no credit for it when they do bring down public debt. But he should get with that as soon as he can regardless. His aim ought to be to secure another’s four years for his dem successor or a Republican who understands and can articulate the value of the whole republic.

    The problem both parties have is the degree to which they’ve been captured by fanatics whose discourse serially fails to engage most of the voting age population. Have a look at Pew surveys of confidence in Congress?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry,

    I don’t myself hold any truck with the Occupy crowd – student activists and to the manor born lefties don’t float my boat – but given that there is no evidence that they have been able to influence the internal politics of the Democratic Party I’m not sure how you can claim that they are a corollary of the Tea Party types, whom Republicans are at least very nervous about confronting.

    The last I heard, the organizers of one particular Tea Party event in Las Vegas (you know, that well known haven for christian spirituality and a temple of conservative morality) were being sued after they refused to pay the fees when they had to cancel a major conference hall booking at a big resort after too few people purchased tickets. Talk about sticking to your principles.

    New Yorker,

    I would say that there may have been a very brief sense of relief but it was clear that the really important issues were not addressed and that there may have to be major surgery that entails removal of limbs such as the PIGS.

    But isn’t this true in the USA as well ? Even when the Democrats had control of Congress and the White House they failed to make any real reforms. The political system in the USA was designed quite deliberately to make decision making in the absence of consensus very difficult. The major recent change appears, to me at least, to be that the two main parties have abandoned the previous desire they may have had to try to seek that consensus. I think this is an inevitable outworking of the two party system in a very large and diverse country and it is hard to see how it can continue for much longer.

    The 4.5% is a government statistic which we all accept over here.

    All Americans accept government statistics without questioning them ? You expect me to buy that ?

    Some of us suspect that it has to do with automation of manufacturing, off-shoring of manufacturing, IT requirements, etc.

    I’d expect those things to lead to less work for qualified people, not full employment as you are claiming.

    But it is a fact. And, I would not be surprised if it is also the case in much of Europe.

    Historically, unemployment in Europe tends to settle at a higher level than would be expected in the USA. I’m not justifying that, but the point that things are different in the USA this time.

  • pauluk

    The OWS bubble has already burst! In a month or two it will only be an unpleasant memory.

  • Los Leandros

    Ron Paul is a very interesting candidate, but his very strong pro-life/anti-abortion views ( he was a doctor ) are not going to go down well with the liberal/feminist elites who largely control the US media. Abortion is an article of faith with these powerful elites, woe betide anyone who dares to think differently.

  • Kevsterino

    In as much as we are still about a year from the polls, I would not hazard a guess at the eventual nominee of the Republicans. I would say, however, that for Ron Paul to become the nominee, he would have to become something other than what he is today in order to become acceptable to those who vote in Republican primaries. Or he would have to fundamentally change the party.

  • rsdasrick88

    As a Citizen of the United States,having always voted a straight “Democcratic Ticket”, this election I am registering as a “Redpublican” Why? RON PAUL,HE IS OUR ONLY CHOICE OF GETTING BACK TO THE “CONSTITUTION & GETTING OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS BACK! ALL THE OTHER CANADATES INCLUDING OBAMMA ARE GLOBALIST PUSHING FOR THAT “N.W.O. BULLSHIT WHICH WILL BE THE END OF OUR PLANET