The sad fall of the Republican Party.

I’m right there with Paul Krugman on the state of the Republican Party:

Today’s G.O.P. is, after all, very much a minority party. It retains some limited ability to obstruct the Democrats, but has no ability to make or even significantly shape policy.

Beyond that, Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn’t feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.

As a kid, I watched one of the leaders in my Boy Scout troop go down this path. He got involved and educated in voting rights, then started down this path of privacy rights, stopping paying social security taxes, eliminating his social security number, and then stopping paying taxes altogether. I didn’t see him for a few years until I spotted him on CNN in 2003. His common-law wife had been pulled over with a makeshift license plate. She presented the police with a homemade driver’s license, arguing that she was the property of her husband, and thus the police had no dominion over her. He demanded his “property” back, said that he should be ticketed because he’s in charge of her, and insisted that they weren’t citizens of the state in which she was pulled over, anyway, and thus had sovereign immunity. Every step that he took was logical, if one accepted the premise of the prior step. It all made sense. And yet where he ended up was so very clearly illogical.

That’s where Republicans are at. (Exhibits: Joe the Plumber, tea parties, anti-socialist, “secret Muslim,” Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.) It truly doesn’t feel fair to make fun of national Republicans at this point.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

10 replies on “The sad fall of the Republican Party.”

  1. I particularly liked Krugman’s point that right-wingers are throwing around the term “socialist” not because it’s appropriate or correct in any way but because “liberal” doesn’t pack the wallop it used to — which is precisely because what are considered “liberal” positions are much more mainstream these days.

    Regarding people like your former Boy Scout leader: if they had any integrity (I know, I know…), wouldn’t they go live completely off the grid? If you’re going to stop paying taxes, shouldn’t you also stop taking advantage of highways, municipal infrastructure, military protection, etc.?

  2. It’s not surprising to see Krugman use insulting, belittling rhetoric, Waldo — beyond economics, that’s the best he has to offer — but I had heretofore thought you above it.

    ‘Guess I was wrong.

    It’s especially acute when you thrown in Sarah Palin and “tea parties” in with stunts (Joe the Plumber), scurrilous charges never endorsed by mainstream Republicans (“secret Muslim”), and entertainers (Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

    And its rather odd that you would condemn “Joe the Plumber” when you are a denizen of the political neighborhood which endorses stunts like the political theatre of the AFL-CIO rat and holds up isolated crimes (Matthew Sheperd; the gentleman in Texas murdered by being dragged behind a truck) as justification for societal change, and condemn Limbaugh and Beck while being a member of the cult of Maddow and Olbermann.

    I guess that’s easier than addressing arguments or debating ideas.

    As for the others, don’t like the label “socialist”? Don’t advocate socialist policies. Now, I surely understand that socialists don’t like to be called “socialists.” After all, even liars don’t like to be called “liars.”

  3. James, I understand that you see a difference between Sarah Palin and “entertainers” like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, but it might be helpful for you to understand that most people don’t. The relationship with Limbaugh that guys like Steele and Cantor have makes pretty clear that he’s more than just an entertainer, or at least makes it appear that he’s more than just an entertainer. Sarah Palin is a national laughingstock, and has been since about October.

    The line that you’re drawing is a bit like Democrats in 2004 complaining that Michael Moore is an entertainer, not a spokesman for the Democratic Party. Those complaints were accurate, but they missed the point: The public perceived him as an agenda-setter and a leader among Democrats, and thus he spoke for them.

    while being a member of the cult of Maddow and Olbermann.

    ? I’ve mentioned Olbermann’s name on this blog twice, ever, each time five years ago, both times to simply give him credit for originating a given story. I’ve never mentioned Maddow. I don’t particularly care for either. Maddow, in particular, strikes me as no better than many of her equivalents on the right. I can’t see why you’d mention them.

    As for the others, don’t like the label “socialist”? Don’t advocate socialist policies.

    Obama advocates raising income taxes on the wealthiest Americans to the point at which they are, IIRC, 10% lower than they were during Reagan’s administration. It’s tough to understand how that’s socialist. Understand, too, that what Sarah Palin described as “socialism” (and you’ll recall that the current tossing-around of the word began with her) is precisely the practice that has made her time as government financially successful in Alaska—nationalizing and heavily taxing shared resources (oil, in their case) in order to lower the taxes for the poor and the middle class. So it’s pretty tough to buy these charges given the reality of the situation. It’s a bit like saying “Don’t like the label ‘asshole?’ Don’t act like one.”

  4. Massive government bailouts (admittedly, started by the last President, and wrong then, too); government control of the auto industry — sounds a lot like socialism to me.

    As for tax policy, we could have a long conversation about that. Suffice it to say that what you would euphemistically call “progressive taxation” is socialist at its core, and — as you doubtless well know, or should — was cited by Marx as one of the ten hallmarks of a socialist form of government. I would also posit that it is unhealthy for a republican (small “r”) form of government for a small percentage of the citizens (say 10%) to bear a disproportionate share (over 60%) of the cost of government.

    And Palin’s a joke? Well, I’m sure she is … in your circles.

  5. I never really understood the whole progressive taxation = evil thing. Can I ask a few (mostly) sincere questions? Is it also socialist to use the tax code to subsidize and promote certain activities? I’m thinking of certain provisions, like the original issue discount sections, that make certain business transactions and structures so hard or ridiculous to comply with that no one does them. Any of the deduction stuff is rooted in policy and incentivizing certain transactions or structures. To take it a step further, Treas. Reg. 1.701-2 must be super “socialist” because it allows the Treasury to recast any partnership transaction that violates the intent of Subchapter K- so Subchapter K is thus used to implement the policy that the ’54 drafters had in mind, which was in part that the state of partnership taxation was unacceptable, overly abused and overly complicated, which in turn led to revenue drains.

    Take it a step further, codifying the economic substance doctrine is pure socialism, (as advocated by Obama. I should note at this point that I’m writing a paper for my boss on how codifying economic substance is a ridiculously stupid idea, as is any kind of rule-based anti-abuse provision- standards are where it’s at), because it’s being touted as a major revenue raiser, but would really only impact large corporations, wealthy partnerships, and LLCs doing multi-million dollar deals. See, e.g, Countryside Limited Partnership.

    I just want to be sure I understand socialism. How do you propose we use the tax system? Should it not implement policy at all? No deductions and just a flat tax rate? No brackets? Switch to income averaging or transaction based accounting? That has its own problems. What about revenue raising for the gov’t? Where should we draw the line?

    Also, side note, Palin is a joke. Of course, the question is, is Palin herself the joke, or is Palin + media spin and frankly offensive behavior towards her the joke? Michael Steele is just as much a joke, but no one is photoshopping him into a bikini (on second thought, thank god for that.).

  6. The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

    — Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

    (Emphasis mine)

    What a pinko.

  7. “I never really understood the whole progressive taxation = evil thing”

    I never really understood people poor at math who cannot figure out that if two people are taxed at the same rate then the one who makes more money by definition pays more.

    Why don’t you explain why walloping the achievers and job creators with a higher tax *rate* is somehow non-evil? How do you justify different rules based on class envy or some sense that high earners must be gotten even with?

    If you want more of some behavior, do you reward it or punish it?

  8. I find it interesting that the “conservatives” who also claim to be “Christian” ignore the very teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth when it suits them (e.g. taking care of the poor and indigent, the wealthy should give money to the poor in proportion to their total income) and proof-text Biblical passages when it suits them (Sodom and Gommorrah, for example).

    If you claim the Bible is inerrant, then why don’t you follow it? If, as you say, you are Christian, why aren’t you loving your neighbor as well as Jesus? You cannot love God and hate (or ignore) your neighbor.

    If I were you, I would be scared to death to do what you’re doing, if only out of fear of going to the very Hell you are so fond of sending others to.

    As for your friend, Waldo, the Constitution gives us two choices when it comes to a Government that does not respond to the wishes of the People–either become elected and try to change things,

    Or form a militia and take back the Government(the Founders’ capitalization, not mine).

    Jesus said to respect civil authority.

    If you wish to make up your own religion, you are free to do so, but do not involve my King in it.

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