Monday, March 21, 2016

The GOP has Lost its Mojo, and That's Bad

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan/AP
Brad DeLong has written two important posts on how today's Republican party has lost its mojo. Historically, he says, the Republican party has been the party held together by an ideology of wealth, innovation, hard work, and enterprise, and dominated by those who are making it. That party embraced individual industry, innovation, hard work, responsibility, and creative destruction. That party had the confidence to be technocratic and to compromise. That party was good for the economy and good for the country. However, this positive GOP has lost its way and that's bad. Bad for the GOP and bad for the country.

Here is DeLong from his first post, What are the Essential Principles of America's Political Parties
Gradually, between the political end of Nixon in 1974 and the ascent of Gingrich in 1990, the Republican Party transformed itself from the party of those confident ... they have a lot to gain into the party of those scared, who feel that they had something to lose. Whether they fear civil rights that would take their race privilege and assorted economic advantages, feminism that would take their gender privilege and assorted economic advantages, social democracy with its progressive taxes that would eat away at their wealth, new technologies, new people, or simply change itself [that] would in some way disrupt ... what they had, even if what they had was not much--they all fear, and they all ally together.
The GOP has gone from a party able to compromise because it had confidence in its abilities and the strength of the country, to a party that obstructs because it is fearful and looks over its shoulder.
The Eisenhower-Acheson-generation Republicans--and also the Hoover-Coolidge-generation Republicans--worshipped at twin altars: that of equality of theoretical opportunity, and that of accomplished wealth which was the due and proper reward of enterprise and hard work. The Gingrich-Trump Republicans fear even equality of theoretical opportunity. The big trouble with America, they feel, on the economic side is that some hungrier, cleverer immigrant or minority member might outcompete you; and on the cultural side [it's] "political correctness"--[the notion] that there might actually be some social-cultural blowback: that one might be judged a loser for saying racist or sexist things. 
The GOP has changed from "the party of those who like property and feel that they have everything to gain from enterprise, innovation, and change" to the party of "those who like property but fear that they have everything to lose from enterprise and change."
America can, I think, make good use of a party of enterprise and creative destruction—and of the property wealth that that generates. But what need does America have for and what use might it make of a party of fear and stasis—and of property wealth that is above all else scared that somebody might take it away.
And DeLong expands on this in a post today--The Rumpublican's Dilemma
[T]he Republican Party ... [has undergone] a very long term transformation from the party of those who wanted to carry on and grow the nation’s business to the party of those who wanted to protect really-existing property. And this second party is, I think, quite useless and detrimental to the world and the nation....
The transformation of the Republican Party from a party of winners engaged in enterprise to a party of, well, as Trump would say, “losers” trying to protect their property has also been accompanied by another transformation: from a party that regards its opposition as a legitimate opposition, a loyal opposition, to a party that does not—that regards the Democratic Party as an existential threat to America. 
The GOP has lost its inner confidence and it needs to get its mojo back.
Barack Obama promised his supporters that he would run a government not for Blue States or Red States but for the United States. And to that end Obama has attempted to adopt: (1) John McCain's global-warming policy, (2) Mitt Romney's healthcare policy, (3) George H.W. Bush's foreign policy, (4) Bill Clinton's tax policy, (5) Ben Bernanke's preferred fiscal policy--and (6) kept Ben Bernanke on at the Fed to run monetary policy--while (7) continuing the George W. Bush/Henry Paulson banking- and housing-crisis policy. Thoroughly centrist governance. Thoroughly technocratic governance.
The GOP needs to recover its ability to engage with such centrist technocratic governance in a way that is not fearful of losing entrenched interests, in a way that is good for the country. The GOP needs to get its mojo back so that it can again embrace creative destruction and compromise with the confidence that this is good for the country.

DeLong offers some advice for Paul Ryan, but as even Ross Douthat has noticed, Paul Ryan is paralyzed; he's not listening and he cannot act.
What [the GOP] should do, I think, is join the Democrats and try to make technocratic arguments to shift Democratic policy positions away from stupid leftist shibboleths, and perhaps to add some right-wing ideas that make actual technocratic win-win sense to the Democratic policy mix. But they are not going to do that. And I have no idea what they will do…
Brad's two posts include a historic overview with contributions from Dean Acheson's little red book and from current commentators.  I recommend you read both posts in full.

You can follow me on Twitter @RolandNikles 

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