The Union Label

Kevin Drum thinks the GOP will fight any liberalization of union-organizing regs:

You can certainly make the case that a serious obsession with Roe is a minority position even within the conservative movement. … Union busting, conversely, strikes me as being so deeply embedded in conservative DNA that it’s virtually impossible to imagine an American conservative movement that didn’t have anti-unionism as one of its core planks. In the last 30 years conservatives have made virtually no progress on their pro-life agenda, but they’ve made steady progress on the anti-union front ever since the end of World War II — via legislation, executive orders, new agency rules, NLRB appointments, and judicial nominations at both the state and federal level. This is no coincidence. The prospect of unionization rouses panic among Main Street conservatives more than any other single issue — more than taxes, more than deregulation — and whether James Dobson likes it or not, the GOP is a business party first and a social conservative party second.

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The Downside of Populism

One of Andrew Sullivan’s readers puts his finger on the GOP’s dilemma:

It’s why as a 27-year-old voter, the Republican party has been off the table for me since I could vote in the 2000 election. No matter how much I like or identify with any of “conservative” ideas, I refuse to stand in any tent, now matter how big, with people like Sarah Palin, Jim Broun, and Sean Hannity.

And for all of those “non-kook” conservatives out there scratching their heads about why the country polls “center-right” but voted so strongly for Obama, there is your answer, especially in my generation.

Hot rhetoric and doctrinaire ideology has never commanded majority support in American politics, or anything close to it.

Losing the Well-To-Do

Charlie Cook believes the GOP’s hold on middle-class voters is slipping:

Republicans have lost an enormous amount of support among upscale voters, basically just breaking even among those with household incomes above $50,000 a year, a traditional GOP stronghold. Similarly, McCain’s losing to Obama among college graduates and voters who have attended some college underscores how much the GOP franchise is in trouble. My hunch is that the Republican Party’s focus on social, cultural, and religious issues — most notably, fights over embryonic-stem-cell research and Terri Schiavo — cost its candidates dearly among upscale voters.

While everything he says here is undoubtedly true, I suspect it’s also true that voters in the middle don’t base their decisions about who to vote for on the hot-button social issues as a first-order priority. They vote on bigger things like that economy. Dems in general had the advantage on that in this cycle and Obama in particular was offering a more mainstream, less doctrinaire and less radical set of policy prescriptions than McCain or the GOP.

The New Majority

Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg joins those who believe GOP populism appeals to an increasingly narrow base:

In this poll, for example, when asked if homosexuality should be accepted or discouraged by society, moderates and liberals agree that it is a way of life that should be accepted by society by 65- and 33-point margins respectively, compared to conservatives who believe it should be discouraged by 32 points. When asked if our security depends on building strong ties with other nations or on our own military strength, both liberals and moderates agree with multilateralism by double-digit margins, while conservatives disagree. On values and on issues, moderates — with one large exception — swing toward liberals.

The exception is that moderates remain far more skeptical about government — and government spending — than liberals do. 

Snub or Choice?

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly believes it likely that Sarah Palin’s failure to emerge from last week’s Republican Governors Association’s meeting with a leadership post represented a snub by her colleagues. I’m not so sure. Who’s to say she wanted one? Her track to higher office rests on her populist appeal, not on her ability to play the insider.

At Least It’s An Ethos

Dan Riehl:

Some of the alarmists out there might want to take a moment to consider all the ramifications here. It may sound harsh, but the Great Depression produced many things — one of them was called the Greatest Generation.

Which on the heels of the Brooks column calls to mind the best quote from The Big Lebowski: “Nihilists? Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenants of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”

Brooks: “Nihilists”

An extraordinary columns today from the NYT’s David Brooks, pronouncing that the GOp has moved well beyond intellectual bankruptcy:

This generation of political leaders is confronting a similar situation [to the 1933 economic crisis], and, so far, they have failed utterly and catastrophically to project any sense of authority, to give the world any reason to believe that this country is being governed. … And let us recognize above all the 228 who voted no — the authors of this revolt of the nihilists. They showed the world how much they detest their own leaders and the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed. They did the momentarily popular thing, and if the country slides into a deep recession, they will have the time and leisure to watch public opinion shift against them.

Read the whole thing.