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Resistance on the right

Resistance on the right

Ted Cruz once called Trump a “pathological liar,” a “narcissist,” and “utterly amoral.” but back then it was personal. Now that the primaries are over and few Republicans have anything personally to gain from challenging Trump, they have largely gone silent. Once in a while John McCain still says something bold, but for all his talk he reliably buckles under when it’s time to vote.

It’s beginning to look like the only way to stop Trump from wrecking our constitutional order is to throw all of our political weight behind the left. This should not be necessary. Representative government faced an extinction event in the 20th century. We were rescued by an international left/right alliance led by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Conservatives, perhaps more than anyone else, understand the threat to personal liberty and rule of law posed by the Trump administration. So where are they?

In the wake of the Women’s Marches over the weekend, you may hear conservatives claim that they are being elbowed out of the resistance movement. Pro-life groups made much of the fact that two small pro-life organizations were from blocked from the sponsor list for the marches. Their whining complaints were drowned out amid the triumph of millions of people in the streets.

Sincere Trump opponents on the right must grasp this essential fact: No one on the left is going to hand over platforms they constructed with their own organizational influence, sweat, and money to a few dozen opponents who want a chance to grandstand. Conservatives will have to build their own credible resistance to earn a place at the table. Until there is a meaningful movement on the right against Trump, no one on the left has any need to take them seriously. Building that resistance will not be easy.

Groups on the left benefit from an organizational advantage in this fight. Their entire existing institutional base is committed to support them. Conservatives face a very different landscape. For all the talk about Republican victories, the party has been ruined by the Trump wave. Where institutions are still functioning, their leadership has been subverted or replaced. Those replacements are not merely Trump-friendly, they are horrifyingly incompetent. Conservatives concerned about the damage from Trump cannot turn to the Republican Party infrastructure for support. In fact, they can expect an aggressive purge to commence very soon, probably before the StormTrumpers turn their energies toward the left. Trump prefers weak targets.

That means conservatives will have to build an opposition movement from scratch under opposing fire from both the Democratic left and from the frothing zombie corpse of the Republican Party. Despite the hostile conditions, there are courageous, principled people out there working. Some of people to watch (and follow on social media) include:

John Weaver: Former staffer for McCain, Hunstman and Kasich staffer.@JWGOP

Charlie Sykes: Conservative talk radio host in Wisconsin, recently retired but still writing and speaking. @SykesCharlie

Rick Wilson: Florida political consultant and writer. @TheRickWilson

Evan McMullin: Mentioned in a previous piece, conservative candidate for 2016 Prez who seems to have continued his campaign. @Evan_McMullin

A haunting realization looms over the remnant of the principled right. Perhaps the GOP was never a conservative party and the movement behind Reagan was never animated by conservative values. As the entire project is boiled down to its essence, we are left not with smaller government, or judicial restraint, or constitutional principles, but with a nasty broth of racist rhetoric wielded by an aspiring petty tyrant. Watching the Reagan wave quietly releases its last energy on the beach, conservatives have to consider this ugly possibility: Maybe this song was never about us.

By the beginning of next year, anyone serious about putting sweat and money into a Trump resistance will need to be up and running. If they haven’t lined up their organizational partners and donors by that time, it may be too late to matter. If there is no organizational resistance to Trump by the spring of ’18, then conservatives will face the possibility of being snuffed out as a political force. Between a steamroller of opposition from the left and the racists and sycophants on the new right, conservatism in the Reagan mold is facing its end.

**** PS – Just saw this today from Evan McMullin, the release of Stand Up Republic. Click the link to sign up and contribute.


    1. Turns out that two can play at the “visual rhetoric” game, as we witnessed with the Women’s March. Here’s a great back story about women who “knitted” to help women who marched….I am so proud of all the men and women who contributed to this event. A basement project, indeed!

      Note the final comment. It’s priceless.

  1. So in the last couple days, the leader of the free world, and president of the home of the brave, land of the free has:

    1. Restricted women’s access to healthcare even further.
    2. Muzzled all federal employees, including ones whose jobs require interaction with the public.
    3. Threatened a major city with federal invasion of armed peacemakers.
    4. Wiped out all references to the existential threat of global warming on the u.s science based web pages.
    5. Installed a guy whose job is to wipe out net neutrality, so sites like this one get choked off. I believe the word is censorship.
    6. Oh yeah, and just tweeted that he is going to go after all that non-existing illegal voting, which means more voter suppression, solidifying his regime’s grasp on power.

    At what point do people realize that the only way to fight this coup is with violence? The most common use of the word “resistance” is usually taken from paramilitary groups like the French and other European groups that KILLED nazi’s. Oh yeah, what did the american’s call the Afghani’s that resisted the russian occupation in the 80’s?

    Frankly, I have come to believe that form of resistance is the ONLY way to stop what is happening. Writing to Congress, marching in the streets, writing stirring comments on websites, all that has zero impact on a group like the one in charge today.

    1. Ask yourself this one question. Who stands out to you more, the man who beat John Lewis or John Lewis himself?

      The moment you resort to violence, the moment you cede ANY higher ground to Trump and his entourage. You are better than that and you have to stay that way, no matter how difficult it is.

    2. DP – Right. And I suppose you’ll feel great solidarity with the arsonist that burns your house down, or the mob that trashes your car or beats the crap out of you in protest, right? Oh wait! Only the “bad guys” get hurt during violent public protests! Sorry – I forgot.

      1. Fifty, I don’t agree with Dinsdale but I understand the fear and anger he is expressing. This is an amazing time and everything is upside down. Calmer heads must prevail but people are in a turmoil…feeling hopeless and desperate. Violence is not the solution but let’s work to channel this energy by affirming the justification for the anger while not encouraging actions that can hurt people.

      2. Mime – Oh, I understand it alright. But to suggest that we have arrived at the point where violent sedition is the proper response is simply childish and inappropriate, particularly in a public forum such as this.

      3. I certainly agree and tried to speak to that point in a way that would inform. It is impossible for many here to understand how threatened people feel right now. But, yes, to be absolutely clear – violence is never a way to go unless one’s life or that of loved ones is directly threatened. Then, I have to say, I would fight with all I have in me.

    3. For those that suggest violence is not the way, I would suggest watch carefully the regime’s actions at Standing Rock when the protests gear up again. Then get back to me about how to deal with the regime’s tactics.

      Chris’ previous column gave the analogy about a crazy person being given a lot of room until someone finally says “enough”. And yeah, when dealing with crazy, that usually ends in violence. Either the citizen that steps in, or the police when called, usually get physically involved. In this case now, the crazy people have the police at their back.

      And to Ryan, yes, John Lewis’ non-violent resistance was the optimum, but, his act of courage would be meaningless in today’s climate. I have stated before, in the 50’s and 60’s propaganda sites like fox and breitbart did not have the capability to spew their lies so easily. The closest thing that the u.s. has had was the Hearst media empire in the 20’s and 30’s, and while that had massive reach, it was poorly run at the end. That is not the case today with the power of the internet, and the people running these sites. So actions like Lewis’ would be spun into him being a thug in today’s fractured and highly partisan media climate.

      We are witnessing a huge reversal of civil and basic human rights in the u.s today. But the local, state, and federal governments are leading the charge, NOT listening to the masses and enacting laws to protect people.

      1. ***And yeah, when dealing with crazy, that usually ends in violence.***

        No, it doesn’t. Not exactly.

        I’m no pacifist, but I have no tolerance whatsover for a bunch of punk rambling through the streets randomly taking out their frustrations on invented targets.

        I’ve written about this before, but the context is changing fast.

        To my shock and horror, this is subject that probably needs to be revisited. In summary, legitimate acts of violence fall into into two categories, 1) self-defense, or 2) disciplined, organized, strategic, and *accountable*. Notice that warfare would fall into that second category, even warfare in the form of a rebellion or revolution.

        Those dumb kids running around breaking random shit do not remotely fit into those categories. They are making excuses to elevate and dignify a bunch of stuff they just like doing. They are a threat to a regime, they are a threat to a revolution. They are just a problem. Period. Do not feed the animals.

      2. Violence is the absolute last restort, not the first or even in the middle one. Choosing that path means that you no longer have any faith in the institutions of society to work for you. We aren’t there yet, not by a longshot, nor do I see it as inevitable.

    1. While it is undeniably true that Texas has it’s share of remarkably ignorant buffoons in its legislature, (like this Tinderholt moron), we are a huge target. You should take care not to paint the rest of us with such a broad brush. Who is ‘our’ president again?

      1. Yet, “we” Texans elected a Dan Patrick as Lt. Governor, have a sitting indicted AG Dan Paxton, people who re-write science and history textbooks while serving on the TBOE, a governor who revels in his far right base, a senator who does the same plus is an absolute jerk – who single-handedly shut down our nation’s government for two weeks – Ted Cruz…And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Add Steven Hotze as the kingmaker behind the GOP who stops at nothing to control and so many more.

        That TX is a big state with lots of fine business investment is shoddy when compared to the people its voters continue to put into office and the way they treat women, special ed children, foster children and more.

        Sorry – I see TX more like MassDem does.

      2. “His” murka sucks. Mine sucks when his actions impact values and institutions I hold dear: climate, truth, diversity, right to vote, women’s right to choose; protection of our elderly and poor….Yeah – when those things are affected, my murka sucks.

      3. I submit that you and I will be less impacted than many people, Fifty. All in proportion to race, class, opportunity.

        BTW, I assumed when you asked about “my president” you were being sarcastic, meaning he whose name shall not be spoken….did you mean Obama?

      4. Anytime you want to “stick a fork in it” (the list of TX too good to be trues)…just add a big fat period. Kinda’ hard to know when to say when around here……

        I will say that I like Republican House Speaker Joe Strauss a lot. Of course, maybe that ‘s because he governs like a Democrat (-;

    1. There are several very good grassroots organizations emerging. I hope at some point there will be a coalescence of effort and focus in order to be most effective. I have been following a couple of groups on FB (me – on FB – amazing in and of itself), Pantsuit Republic, and the Women’s March follow up. On line, the indivisible effort and individual blogs (Karen Hoffman with her weekly action list) are two more. From reading the comments posted to FB, there is a great deal of energy but not enough sophisticated leadership…still, people are speaking out with greater frequency. Where this will all go who knows, but we are seeing the onslaught to our nation’s institutions begin and we have an election in one year to prepare for.

      Maybe people are beginning to wake up. Those of you who are more experienced in political activism (you ARE knowledgeable even if you are NOT a pro you probably can offer some direction..) try to reach out as you can online. Ex. A local group of ladies who participated in the Houston Women’s March were following up with visits to senator’s offices….They went to Cornyn’s Dallas office – no one there (in session) and to Cruz’ office….They checked the websites for procedure and Cruz’ said walk-ins welcome….They called several times ahead to confirm and set time/date with no response by staff, so, they just showed up….then were approached by two law enforcement men who told them to leave or be arrested. One of the ladies phone-videoed the episode and posted it to FB which was great. (Obviously, anyone who shows up at Cruz’ office following a WM is not part of his “base” so he could care less about being accommodating which fact extends to his staff reaction, apparently.) I suggested that the next time they plan such a visit, they alert tv and print media in advance of their intentions, tell them what happened with this visit and enlist their presence. That way, more than Cruz’ staff and FB followers know…and these senators do care about their “public” image….

      Little things. So much effort but could have been more effective had they just known how to use the moment well. More bang for the buck, as it were.

      1. Awesome Ryan and MassDem. I’m waiting for my call. I’ll start a thread on the forum about it as document things as they happen.

        Funny thing. I’m rewatching DS9, and recently viewed an episode with this Ferengi rule of acquisition: “Opportunity + instinct = profit”. That came to me as I signed on, but with profit meaning gaining some good experience and networking opportunities. The profit in putting pressure on elected reps goes without saying.

  2. Chris-

    I hate to say this, but “conservatism” as you define it was never the reason why Reagan became popular. Reagan was a reaction to the social upheavals that came from the Civil Rights era, namely, a pushback against the progress that women and minorities made.

    The Republicans always had the country club, white collar set who might be considered your version of conservatives. But that group never in the history of our country constituted a majority. Barry Goldwater was perhaps the last “true” Republican conservative, and he got destroyed in his election.

    The “Reagan Democrats” who swung the popular vote to Reagan were blue collar, white, working class, union folks. They didn’t want free trade. They didn’t want to bust unions. Reagan never said “capitalism demands those jobs be sent to Japan, but don’t worry about your current unemployment; in the long term, you and your kids will be better for it”. Reagan told them the reason they lost their job was because, thanks to civil rights, the black guy in the inner city was now taking it. He didn’t say taxes are too high because Medicare and Social Security were long-term fiscally unsustainable. He said they were too high because a black welfare queen in Chicago was driving a Cadillac and having a dozen babies on your dime.

    Even his rallying cry “Government isn’t the answer to your problems. Government is the problem” had an asterisk that every Democrat and Reagan Democrat understood: he was addressing it to black folks. He wasn’t saying Medicare was the problem. He was saying black people were having too many babies and shooting each other up because welfare created a “culture of dependency”.

    FDR created an expanded government that helped all people (although perhaps white people more than blacks). And he and his party was rewarded with 50 years of dominance. LBJ wanted to expand those benefits to minorities. And that’s when govt. all of a sudden became a problem. Tellingly, Reagan was an FDR democrat (not to mention a union president). He only became Republican after the civil rights era. So much for principled conservativism.

    I was a wee child during the Reagan years, but I was avidly into politics, and I remember his speeches. There was nothing conservative about them as you define it. And he won *because* he hid his conservative ideals. Ironically, it was Democrats who kept trying to convince those Reagan Democrats that Reagan was conservative: he was going to outsource your jobs and cut your social security. But (in a similar parallel to Trump), Reagan Democrats didn’t care, because they were convinced of Reagan’s rhetoric that he would put down those uppity blacks and give them back their privileges.

    To crystallize this objection, let me ask you: was Archie Bunker a conservative as you define it? And would he have voted for Reagan?

    Reagan, (perhaps also like Trump), recognized the source of his popularity, and willingly ditched conservative ideals when needed. That’s why he raised payroll taxes to “save” SS, and imposed quotas on Japanese auto makers to force them to build factories here.

    This is what has been so frustrating for a liberal like me. Regardless of the overarching vision you proposed in your blog post, conservatism has always boiled down to racism when it gets down to implementing it (at least for the past 30 years). Conservative leaders recognized long ago that that’s the only way to get a popular mandate for what are otherwise very unpopular positions.

    Note, I understand that just because conservativism is unpopular doesn’t make it wrong. Which is why even as a Bernie supporter, I still think Bill Clinton will go down as one of our best Presidents, because he moved the Democratic party from liberal ideological sclerosis to considering liberalism’s own problems and move it to addressing the new world in a way that wasn’t just based on race- or class-based warfare. In many ways, Bill Clinton was the true conservative President you wanted. And a liberal like me could get behind many of those ideas.

    IMHO, this attempt to incorporate the best parts of conservativism within an overarching liberal vision is happening within the Democratic party, at least since Bill Clinton (and potentially since Jimmy Carter). It’s a hard road but absolutely necessary to lead this country into the future. Me, and plenty of other people, could see that Republicans have been on a different road since at least Reagan, despite their attempts to convince themselves otherwise.

    1. When Reagan got first elected I was in my early twenties. I voted for him because inflation was for several years previous in the high upper teens. I did not get a raise from the government I worked for because unemployment was high and they could get away with that. In effect my salary was cut in half over a few years. It was never ever very generous to start.

      I was inexperience, just starting to go to college at night part time ,not widely read in political and economic matters. President Carter was a very smart guy but lousy in communicating to his constituents. First the hyperinflation was caused by the Nixon adminstration federal reserve policy. They had been paying off the Vietnam War by inflating our currency. Carter inherited that mess. Carter’s appointment of Volcker to the Federal Reserve with his tight money policies finally put the inflation genie back into the bottle. But also precipitated a nasty recession. Unfortunately for Carter by the time it work Reagan was president and got the credit of stopping inflation and curing the recession. During that time I like millions of other American voters were ignorant and manipulated. I respect your opinion but having lived through this time it was a whole lot more complicated than just racism.

      1. It seems, however, that racism is the “constant” regardless what other societal/cultural/historical conditions exist. Always, racism. I have never agreed with President Reagan’s exalted status. I voted for him but have watched Reagan adoration exalted far beyond justification. He was a most likable man, a great communicator, and he knew enough about governing to function as POTUS. He was not, still is not, deity, and his shortcomings deserve more historical acknowledgement and scrutiny. IMO.

    2. WXWall, that is exactly how I remember Reagan also. The hero-worship of St. Ronnie I have found to be ridiculous, especially since his followers credit him with stands and actions he didn’t even take, and completely ignore the failures and scandals that occurred on his watch. Ugh.

    3. I thought Reagan was always about race. From ketchup as vegetable in the school lunch program — we know who uses that program — to the welfare queen saga, that’s what he did.

      Like Trump, he had a long television career before getting into politics. He came into people’s living rooms like a sweet uncle, telling us entertaining stories per the GE Theater.

      I was dismayed when my parents became Reagan democrats.

      For my dad, a WWII vet who really never held politicians in high esteem, Reagan made it clear the government and the presidency were not that special. If a down-to-earth guy like Reagan could be president, how complex could it be.

      Simultaneously he demeaned people of color and government workers. What a guy. I never voted for him.

  3. How about some resistance from the Left over this incredibly poor decision?

    “The Trump administration just announced plans to gut the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women programs.

    President Trump wants to immediately begin cutting funding for hundreds of local rape crisis centers, the National Domestic Violence Hotline–which has served almost 4 million people–and sexual assault response training for hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officials.

    Will you sign a petition to Congress to stop him?

      1. Mary,

        A woman who voted for Trump is like a chicken who votes for Colonel Sanders!

        Trump is paying back for all the real and imagined slights he has received all his life! The man is an emotional disaster and he got elected President! I still have not figured out what that says about our country! But i find i am spending more time with my dogs!!

  4. EJ

    “Watching the Reagan wave quietly releases its last energy on the beach, conservatives have to consider this ugly possibility: Maybe this song was never about us.”

    This must have taken real courage and honesty to write. Bravo, Chris.

  5. Chris, I would really love to know what you consider to be “conservative values”. Because to me that phrase refers to the combination of a trickle-down, “i got mine so screw you” attitude mixed in with a generous dollop of evangelical right-wing Christian moralizing. To me, the trajectory of conservatism and the GOP was set during the Reagan administration, when Ronald Reagan threw his lot in with Falwell and the Moral Majority. I was 20 when Reagan was voted in, and 32 by the time Bush I was voted out, so I remember those times well. Contrary to popular belief, it was no golden era–there were many of the same problems we’re experiencing now albeit on a much smaller scale.

    Maybe your brand of conservatism is a just a mirage, existing only in nostalgic air-brushed memory.

    PS if you don’t think Reagan and Bush took advantage of racism in their campaigns, you are naive. Demonization of the poor really began with Reagan (“welfare queens driving cadillacs”) and continued under Bush (Willie Horton ad).

      1. Well, I read what you had to say, and explored a little more here
        and I gotta say, I probably lean liberal.

        That is I don’t disagree with all of the tenets, but I am very, very wary of a morality so bound to tradition and custom. Your immorality might be my gay kid living her life, for example. And the natural order of society stuff absolutely leaves me cold. Reminds me of Confucianism, which worked okay for China for 2000 years or so, but doesn’t sound appealing if you weren’t part of the ruling class. Kind of an enlightened feudalism, if you will.

        Don’t get me wrong–we do need some norms. Especially for presidents!?

      2. My opinion of conservatism is control. Republicans are very good at this. It is both a strength (organizationally) and a great weakness (creativity), with its weaknesses far outweighing its strengths. I guess that’s why conservatives are so motivated by power and liberals by divestment of power to all.

      3. Rereading, #5 catches my eye: “Distrust of “sophisters, calculators, and economists” who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs”

        There are those on both the right and left who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs.

        I still don’t like most of Kirk’s formulation, starting with #1, Belief in a transcendent order. “I’m right and you’re wrong” is a transcendent order that too many believe in.

      4. People who think for themselves tend to object to someone else “ordering” their choices and lives. In its simplest form, that is my deepest objection to conservative philosophy – control. Order is necessary in civilized societies, but it should be democratically employed.

      5. Chris, how do you reconcile your view that the Republican Party should be the party of business with your very cogent criticisms of capitalism that you express in the “What Is Conservatism” essay?

        Also, I regard most of today’s Republican Party policies as radical, not conservative. And radicalism, not liberalism, is the opposite of conservatism.

  6. Here’s a paraphrase of an interesting comment I read “somewhere” today that speaks to the president’s ability to be effective now that he has to work within the system.

    Trump has re-written a lot of the political rules in the past two years because he ran as an outside and had the backing of outsiders. Now that he has to work within the system, it may not be as easy for him. This could taint his image as an “authentic” outsider and disenchant a base that has been led to expect certain behavior and outcomes.

    Time will tell…….

    1. EJ

      I’ve heard it theorised that the Congressional Republicans are already planning for this moment, 1mime. They can let him take the blame for their unpopular policies and then impeach him when the crowd has gotten tired of him, letting Mike Pence serve the remainder of the term.

      It doesn’t sound that plausible to me, but then again Donald Trump as President doesn’t sound that plausible to me, so my plausibility sense may simply be broken.

    1. Stephen, here’s an expansion of C.S. Lewis on authoritarianism. Seems wise to me:

      “I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure… The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.”

      1. In reference to a comment about “never showing my tax return”

        I much prefer the Norwegian system where every-bodies tax return is a public document
        So anybody can go on-line and look at it
        I suspect that has had a major effect on all manner of cheating

      2. I’d redact the sensitive info like my SSN. But my salary is already a matter of public record and out there for all to see (in the unlikely event that anyone cares to look).

        I agree with Duncan on Norway’s system.

      3. That is correct, Tutta, but decades of tradition have every president except this one doing so voluntarily. Being under audit has been claimed but not substantiated and the IRS doesn’t preclude him from doing so.

        Just like the “legal” opinion from “an” attorney in Justice that is allowing son in law to participate in the president’s administration despite legal precedents on nepotism.

        Watch and weep as your democratic protections are assaulted.

      4. “Legally speaking, I don’t think the President of the United States is required to show his tax return, either. I think it’s been done more as a matter of custom.”

        Yes, custom, because until this past year there was a heavy price to pay for flouting it. So it’s time to make it a law, and not just for the Prez and Veep. It should apply to Congress as well. You get elected you cough up the returns when you take the oath, if you haven’t done so already. Of course, this won’t happen with a GOP Congress.

        At a former job I would have to attend yearly meetings about COI and disclosure. If grad students are advised to disclose because a sales rep buys them lunch, it’s not unreasonable to demand elected officials avoid COI. Disclosure of taxes is necessary. Period.

  7. Chris writes – “A haunting realization looms over the remnant of the principled right. Perhaps the GOP was never a conservative party and the movement behind Reagan was never animated by conservative values” Bingo! Beautifully said.

    “Conservatives will have to build their own credible resistance to earn a place at the table” Yes, and in my mind, rethinking and redefining Conservatism once again.

    I argued that conservatism’s message was always being changed as it went lower in the supply chain. Like drugs being cut and diluted in the market. Saying we need a smaller government and entitlements need to be cut, was heard at the end of the telephone line as, we need to stop those people from using food stamps and free money. The listener didn’t hear that entitlements are the SS and medicare they depend on.

    As a liberal (I guess) let me be bold and suggest a new conservatism. From reading Chris, I’ll assume a strong affection for free markets. (although the left is not as far from him as he thinks on markets).

    GopLifer used Russell Kirk’s definition, but I think only two are worth attributing to a modern conservatism. One is exclusive and a couple are, well, universal.
    So I’ll insert two of Kirks planks.

    1) Respect for the complexity of human existence

    2) Change is necessary, but it must proceed carefully, cautiously, and with an eye toward preserving core social institutions

    3) Free markets must be looked on as a solution to problems, and only after considered thought or trial, fettered by government.

    So there we have it. The old conservatism was for crankypants.

    And the new Conservatism is Liberalism slowed down.

      1. Mary – I think the second part of the statement says that in other words. I didn’t want to go into the definitions of markets and their imperfections and caveats. Which would be fixed somehow, maybe with regulations as they are now? ;>)

        By the way, speaking of market imperfections, I read an article recently about drug resistant diseases. The article pointed out the backwardness of market forces on sales of antibiotics. It’s obvious that the higher the sales and use of antibiotics the more limited their lifetime. I never looked at it as a market failure. It is in the manufacturer’s interest to maximize sales. The failure comes years later when we don’t have a usable defense against disease. Long after the initial increase in sales caused higher stock prices and higher executive bonus’s.

        In this case the “free” market is causing great harm.

        The suggestion was government subsidies for development of new antibiotics and severe restriction of their use, to preserve their usefulness. I wonder what Chris would say to that solution?

      1. fly, I confess I’m not much of a Trekkie. (I’m more of a “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” gal.) However, my Amazon Prime records will show evidence that my kids and I binge watched every episode of the original series as recently as a year ago.

        I’ve also read “I Am Spock” and an autobiography by William Shatner.

      1. Tutt, once again, I adore you. Yes, I’m a proud New Mexican who hopes that Trump doesn’t deport me in his confused state of mind. 🙂

        My 23andMe results show that I am 0.2% Iberian. Does that count?

      2. Tutt, I value your friendship greatly. Perhaps since we started out with a relationship based on humor instead of politics, we got to know each other in a more personal and less contentious way. On the few issues where we differ, we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

        In some ways our backgrounds are similar because we were the first generation born in this country from immigrant parents. I do not consider you an OLD Mexican any more than I consider myself an OLD German. (We are both young at heart.) 🙂

    1. Oh, and for OBJV and others that don’t know,

      one of the largest pools of skilled, high paying labor in New Mexico is federal employment at Sandia and Los Alamos labs. You know, scientists, those people Trump is explicitly targeting first.

      Trump’s hiring freeze means, OBJV, that some of your most skilled fellow state citizens don’t get jobs.


      “Question: What have we learned from previous hiring freezes?

      Answer: In 1982, the Government Accountability Office said freezes under former president Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter were “ineffective in managing federal employment.” That report said the previous freezes “disrupted agency operations, and in some cases, increased costs to the Government.”

      Question: Would a freeze on federal employment mean agencies would hire more government contractors?

      Answer: Federal labor leaders fear that could be the case.

      American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. said “President Trump’s federal hiring freeze will result in more government waste as agencies are forced to hire high-priced contractors to do the work that federal employees can and should be doing.”

      1. “Freeze on government hiring will result in more independent contractors being employed…”

        Of course! It’s all about privatization!! Always has been. Government can’t do crap well. Send all work to the private sector so we can make some bucks off our nation’s business operation….What’s not to like if you’re a Republican?

        Do you think the light EVER goes on that people who serve in Congress and as POTUS are actually OUR employees?

  8. I am a leftie, and I would welcome dialogue and even alliance with responsible, principled, intelligent conservatives. I have known some; it is part of what draws me to visit this site. I and many other liberals are tired of being scared to death at election time, decade after decade. It would be healthier for both parties, and for the country as a whole, if we had a conservative party that offered reasonable candidates, arguments, and alternatives, and that did not demonize its rivals on the left. It would be a relief not to face the threat of apocalypse every four years. Many of us would enjoy discussing policies on their merits. Now, we have to overcome stereotypes promulgated by talk radio even to be heard by “conservatives” who are not conservative at all, but rather radicals or no-nothings, usually an impossible task in and of itself.

    1. Nita, the problem is that politics has devolved into party dominance. It has not always been this way, even though the political process as populated by human beings, is always imperfect. What used to unite opposing political agendas were areas of over-arching common agreement – values that under-girded democratic principles and institutions that both respected. Democratic principles are now defined by party rather than nationality.

      I don’t know what the outcome will be – how to “fix” this. I fear that the organizational strength and dominance of the current Republican majority will extend this period of dangerous imbalance far beyond what is healthy for our nation. All we can do as concerned citizens, is to be vigilant, be informed, and speak out. Too few people are voting from an informed perspective and too few are voting at all. The reasons for this are many – disenfranchisement depresses desire and makes voting harder than many can manage, and many people are so turned off by the entire process and lack the awareness that only with active participation will change occur. We have to find a way to reach these people. The rest – those whose personal politics is narrowly defined, I am frankly going to ignore except to be aware that they comprise an obscene number of our American citizenry.

      In sum, we have to keep working at this because to stop would invite a worse situation.

      1. I don’t know the answer, either. It has been this way my entire adult life, which began with the election of Ronald Reagan, and has grown worse and worse over time.

        I believe the assassinations of the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X, which I experienced in my childhood and teenage years, were deeply traumatizing to our national psyche, and have contributed more to general political apathy than we acknowledge or realize. The assassinations were destructive on many levels, of course, but one emotional effect that isn’t talked about much is a kind of “learned helplessness” that in my opinion still exists, that has been passed from generation to generation. When Obama was elected, many did not expect him to live out his first term.

        In this context, I believe Saturday’s marches were incredibly positive and important. Some who attended the marches are calling them “life changing.” This movement offers an opportunity for rediscovering overarching common agreement and principles and the power of the grassroots. The past few months have imposed a crash course in the uses, importance, and fragility of our democratic institutions. We need to keep focusing on our particular concerns and niches, but be ready to come together as needed in defense of the principles and institutions we share, as well as common decency and respect. But maybe easier said than done.

        I think it is also essential to find ways to counteract or diminish the incredibly pernicious influence of right-wing talk radio and Faux News. I don’t know how to accomplish that.

  9. Chris wrote: we are left not with smaller government, or judicial restraint, or constitutional principles, but with a nasty broth of racist rhetoric wielded by an aspiring petty tyrant.
    Perhaps political parties are not defined by political principles, but by the people in charge of the party.

    1. They aren’t supposed to be. And until recently they absolutely weren’t. In our system the political parties are supposed to be a pretty complex, heterodox organism filled with thousands of nodes, each with their own localized interests, working toward roughly aligned ideological interests. That’s how the system worked until about the 70’s.

      Since then the parties have been shrinking and weakening, and they have been more and more defined by the national leaders and a conservative/liberal split. As demonstrated last year, when a complete outsider won the GOP nomination, the power of the parties is largely broken, though the Democrats are still a bit more coherent.

      1. What about the different incarnations of the Democratic Party? It was once the party of the KKK, and now it’s the total opposite. That’s a complete reversal in philosophy. I’m still thinking it’s about the people who make up the party, if not the leaders themselves.

      2. Keep in mind that the Democratic Party was never the “party of KKK” so to speak. The Democratic Party was a conglomerate of thousands of interests and organizations that included the KKK. That essential fact is key to understanding how the organization eventually evolved in a direction that would exclude the KKK.

        When you lose that organic diversity you also lose flexibility. Individual voters do very little to influence politics. Power comes from institutions (collections of individuals inside an organized structure). Strip away those institutions, and voters end up just ratifying or vetoing actions by a small set of authoritarians. If the Democratic Party continues to devolve as fast as the GOP did, that’s where we end up.

      3. Chris: Couldn’t the diversity and flexibility within the Democratic Party allow it to eventually morph into something more acceptable to you and other conservatives, or least to the point that you could find your own little niche under the big umbrella?

      4. It sort of already has, but by stretching that far it has also lost much of its emotional pull for the true believers. That breadth may have actually contributed to the 2016 loss. A more distinctly progressive Democratic Party might ironically have lost me and won the election.

      5. Democrats are more “coherent” but sadly disorganized. The best ideas and principles in the world won’t succeed with inept organizational structure. I cannot believe that the DNC is flailing about so profoundly. It is embaressing and dangerous. Of course, the upside is – as Ryan noted – that grassroots activism may lead from below. That’s infinitely more difficult to control and in the face of the organizational structure of the GOP, will make it that much more difficult to achieve a successful outcome. Still, it’s the only shot those of us have in protest to the agenda we are facing from the Republican majority.

      6. Are you willing to be just a tiny part of something so ideologically diverse that practically anyone is welcome, as long as they are anti-Trump, to the point that any overall consistent ideology is lost?

      7. ***Are you willing to be just a tiny part of something …***

        Yes, but…

        This may sound strange, but I’m not sure I’d be helping. I voted for Clinton and the way things are going I’d probably vote for just about any Dem nominee in ’20. Though I might have some interesting ideas to contribute here and there, my perspective may not be as helpful to the Democrats as it would be to an organization more naturally tuned to markets, liberty, and small government. I might actually be an obstacle as an insider in the Dem. party.

      8. There is truth to what you state, Chris. After working with great success for years as a public education activist from without the “system”, I was elected to a 4-year term as a board member. Despite how hard I worked as a school board member, I have often felt that I was more effective engaging from the outside. The value of my experience is what it taught me about the political process and how one can be an effective agent of change.

      9. Chris, of course you’d have “interesting ideas to contribute here and there” among Democrats. You do it on a daily basis here on this blog. I think most of the participants here are progressive/liberal.

        However, I could see you getting swallowed up in the Democratic Party, a small fish in a big pond. Right now, among Republicans, you stand out, because you are their conscience, a reminder of what they were once and could be again.

        You’re ideologically motivated, a man of ideas, and the Democrats may soon be nothing more than the ANTI-TRUMP PARTY, a born-again party, born of urgency, but lacking in ideology. You might be bored.

      10. Chris writes, ***Are you willing to be just a tiny part of something …***

        “Yes, but…

        This may sound strange, but I’m not sure I’d be helping. I voted for Clinton and the way things are going I’d probably vote for just about any Dem nominee in ’20. Though I might have some interesting ideas to contribute here and there, my perspective may not be as helpful to the Democrats as it would be to an organization more naturally tuned to markets, liberty, and small government. I might actually be an obstacle as an insider in the Dem. party.”

        Chris, it seems clear to me at least that anti-Trump Republicans, Conservatives, and other people who have stood firmly against such long-held Dem objectives as the pro-choice position and the wearing of pink pussy hats out in public need to do exactly what we Dems are doing right now, which is to support the parts of the faltering Democratic party as we can, remake the parts we can’t support, and start building our structures of resistance. I recognize that many, maybe most of the anti-Trump conservatives are not going to be comfortable throwing in with the left. But they could walk alongside of is on this issue and I welcome them to do that.

      11. ” I might actually be an obstacle as an insider in the Dem. party.”

        Don’t sell yourself so short Chris! This liberal Bernie supporter who’s followed politics since way before I could actually vote has learned quite a bit from your blog, and changed my thinking as a result. For example, your analysis of public sector unions as an impediment to the accountability that BLM and others are demanding, and especially your understanding that whites aren’t necessarily voting against their economic interests when they vote for Republicans and/or Trump.

        Your argument that the gains of civil rights were borne on the backs of working class whites, while higher income whites insulated themselves from the effects, and that the Dems will never win working class whites back unless we offer them something better than expanded welfare and medicaid for their troubles, I think is a profound insight that would absolutely make us a stronger and better party. So jump in!

  10. It will require the combined effort of all persons who object to the changes being and to be imposed by this president and the republican majority to avert disaster.

    One interesting suggestion by a Weekly Sift commentator was that we should refer to DJT as “president” (small ‘p’) without including his name in the title. This respects the office without respecting the individual. Another benefit is that it impacts the internet search engine…(-;

    Little things + big commitment = a movement.

    I recognize the strength of the GOP organization. Democrats are woefully behind in this regard and it has damaged the organization’s ability to handle a crisis like this. The only salvation is that people are deeply offended and concerned and more grassroots involvement than I have witnessed in years is occurring. It will be critical for our democracy to survive not only this president, but the strong arm tactics of GOP leadership.

    We must register people to vote; we must educate people on issues; and we must GOTV! 2018 is a scant year off. Time is marching on. Get ready.

    To fire you up – if you haven’t seen Chuck Todd’s insistent (TU !) questioning of Conway, it is here. I am going to go on NBC’s website and thank Todd and the network for their reporting. Affirm hard-nosed reporting by publicly acknowledging it.

    1. mime, when you talk about the GOP organization, it’s important to recognize that it is currently being co-opted and overtaken by Trump and his entourage. It has been for a long time. Kasich’s own personally selected choice of Republican chair in Ohio was ousted by a Trump supporter, thanks in no small part to Dear Leader himself actually making calls to make that happen.

      You think Trump’s going to stop there? He’ll repeat that process anywhere and everywhere he can until every last flicker of resistance that he can snuff out is gone. The Republican establishment as we knew it is dead.

      1. I don’t know why you would infer that I don’t understand this fact, Ryan. This morning, Trump has signed E.O. that: rescind US participation in the TPPA; revived the Mexico Rule (no federal support for abortion efforts globally); and has frozen federal hiring.

      2. Yep, they’re dropping like flies…….Methinks he doth protest too much………

        “Rubio did just that on Monday morning ahead of the committee vote, citing deference to the president in selecting his Cabinet and Tillerson’s “extensive experience and success in international commerce.” The most risible part of his statement was its last sentence: “However, upcoming appointments to critical posts in the Department of State are not entitled to and will not receive from me the same level of deference I have given this nomination.” Sure, sure.

        Marco Rubio made a difficult political decision once in his Senate career—writing and supporting the comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013—and it didn’t work out so hot for him when he ran for president. So, enough with that.”

  11. I would love to see someone like McMullin emerge as a leader of anti-Trump conservatives, and I post on this blog because as a lefty anti-Trumper I take great comfort in Chris’s integrity, intelligent arguments, and true love for our country. I will support conscientious conservatives when i find them.

    But I am not waiting for them to arrive. We on the left will relentlessly oppose fascism and Trump with them or without them.

  12. Then I have to say that conservatives are in a helluva pinch right now. For a resistance movement though, Democrats are ironically fortunate to be as intellectually savaged as they are right now. It’s an opportunity for them to build a new platform with new proposals that can appeal to people and have others give them a second look.

    Conservatives on the other hand aren’t quite so lucky. Faced with a deeply concerned public in the era of Trump that still wants a bold response to economic challenges, I’m unconvinced how conservatives’ milquetoast approaches thus far will get across to inspire them. Now while that’s not to say that they still couldn’t form a decent movement regardless, for it take root as a truly sustaining political force, big ideas are needed.

    Imagine a conservative movement that made robust and vigorous calls for a new approach to drugs, universal health care tied with a UBI, a carbon tax to address climate change and a truly reformative approach to immigration that begins with tearing down the stupid f’ing wall that’s done nothing but waste our money for decades. That could really be something.

    1. Family values has now been shown to be what it always was: you hate the same people I hate. Neoliberalism (Clintons, Obama) – which was just Reaganism Lite – is dead because it failed too many people. Trumpism will also die if it fails too many people. I believe it will, but I fear underestimating Trump yet again. If Trump can exceed his very low expectations, we might be stuck with him for a while.

    1. Yascha Mounk, from his article on how to resist Trumpism:

      “To resist a would-be tyrant, you need to work with strange bedfellows. For the next four years, we must build the broadest possible coalition against Trump. This coalition will have plenty of internal disagreements: It will include Barack Obama and Mitt Romney but also Jill Stein and Glenn Beck. That’s OK. Our joint goal is to work toward a future in which these differences can come back to the fore.”

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