Friday, November 15, 2019

The GOP does not represent traditional conservatives

There is a very interesting post over at Peter's discussing political polarization.  A comment left by McChuck jumped out at me:
The "Never Trumpers" are part of the Left, not the Right. They are infiltrators and Wormtongues. They are the approved opposition, the Washington Generals. They have finally being so obvious about their true loyalties that anyone with eyes to see and ears to listen can tell.

"You may think these thoughts, but not those. You may go this far, but no further. Now, the conservative case for eating the flesh of the innocent."
To take a leaf from Polifact, I would rate this "mostly true" - everything after the first sentence is spot on.  And the first sentence is also sort of right, but our "left" vs. "right" thinking is two dimensional, and so has hidden the really nefarious games that the GOP has been playing for decades.  If we expand our thinking just a little, a lot falls squarely into place.

Picture our classic "left" and "right" as a horizontal line but instead of the old labels let's use "Perfectability of Mankind" and "Traditionalist" as the labels.  Much of this captures the social issues that are so divisive in the political conversation today.  The GOP can correctly claim that it exists on the Traditionalist side of that spectrum.

But now let's add a vertical axis, representing the desired size of government (smaller or bigger).  We get something that looks like this:

Conservatives in the way we're used to think about them are in the lower left - traditionalists who believe in smaller government.  Communists (and actually fascists as well) believe in the perfectability of mankind and are quite eager to use a vastly expanded government to bring this about; they inhabit the upper right.  The political establishments are (mostly) about not rocking the boat too much but have a galaxy of hangers-on, all feeding at the public trough; they are in the upper left.  It's important to emphasize that these types really don't want to upset the apple cart by radical changes.  Lastly, there is almost nobody in the lower right: people who want to perfect humankind but don't really want any part of government.  About the only example I can think of is the Branch Davidians who got burned to death by the ATF in Waco.

Now let's populate the current political Who's Who into this quadrant:

Yeah, nobody I can think of is in the lower right.  The upper right is who you'd expect - Big Chief Sitting Bulls**t, Bernie, and AOC.  Obama may or may not be here (more on this later).  But the interesting bit - and the bit that gets to McChuck's comment ("The Never Trumpers are part of the left") is in the upper left quadrant.  Let me explain.

That quadrant is perhaps best labeled as "Grifters".  All of those mentioned are in it for the filthy lucre.  Not one of the republicans listed (all of whom I should point out have impeccable Establishment credentials) lifted a finger to reduce the size of government, and indeed were enthusiastic in their use of big government to oppress their opponents - all of whom were in the lower left quadrant.  Where were all the GOP complaints about the IRS targeting the Tea Party?  Who in the GOP Establishment stood up against the smearing of Sarah Palin?  Who was complaining about ballooning Federal Regulations*?  Where were National Review and The Weekly Standard in all this?  [crickets]

The Establishment is about using ever increasing government to feed their swelling army of clients.  The difference between the Republicans and Democrats is actually pretty small - look at the massive expansion of spending under George W. Bush.  The Deep State lives right there, in the upper left, and all the people listed are 100% Deep Staters.

Now what else is interesting is that the core bases of each party are much more motivated by social issues which the parties play up to distract everyone from, well, the graft.  As long as the rubes keep chasing the laser dot then the Powers That Be can relax and go back to the money machine.  Both parties play this game, with Obama perhaps the most successful Democrat to do so (which is why even though I show him in the upper right he is probably in the upper left/Establishment quadrant).  With him it was a lot of pretty murmurings of transformation to the base while in many ways governing as the 3rd and 4th George W Bush administrations.

In short, the Democratic Party lies to their base and the GOP lies to their base.  They have been for decades.

But Donald Trump breaks this cozy arrangement.  I would tentatively put him in the lower left quadrant.  Yes, the Federal Budget is still out of control, but Congress is firmly in the "Establishment/Grifter" camp and Congress passes the budget.  This isn't something that he can do much about (yet - we'll see if it gets on his radar or not).  But he has been enormously successful in slashing regulations in a very short time, and people vastly underestimate just how important this is.  If he doesn't do anything other than this for the rest of his two terms, this will be a major sea change for America.

And so to McChuck's comment - the Never Trumpers are violently opposed to Trump, but they're all in the upper left.  That's more evidence that Trump is seen as being in the lower left, or he wouldn't get that sort of visceral reaction from them.  Livelihoods are at stake, if Trump can dry up the gravy train - and the best way to understand government regulation is as a gravy train for the connected class.  All of the complaining about Trump's tweets and how he is mean is transparent drivel.  When they say it's all about the principle, it's really all about the money.

* I would like to point out that it was Richard Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency, and George H. W. Bush who established the wetlands protection regulations.


Old NFO said...

Interesting way to lay it out. Thanks!

SiGraybeard said...

Where would you put the alt-right on this grid? I would guess lower left, too.

Slightly to the left of traditional Democrats in X but quite a bit lower in Y.

The Lab Manager said...

And Trump is no fiscal conservative or a civil libertarian. He is a warmed over Democrat with some interest in the working class succeeding which is something both Democrats and GOPe are totally against all the time.

Weetabix said...

"As long as the rubes keep chasing the laser dot then the Powers That Be can relax and go back to the money machine."

I've viewed it that way for quite some time. The laser dot varies, and sometimes it's not the money machine.

Bill Clinton used bombing someplace to distract from more revelations about Monica.

I think Trump uses tweets to distract the media from his deregulation.

The impeachment sideshow is to distract from the fact that all the Dem candidates are basically world-ending communists.

McChuck said...

I approve this chart. It's more nuanced.

Suggested edits: "to oppress their opponents - all of whom were in the lower right quadrant." Should read "lower LEFT quadrant".

So, would the quadrants be:
Grifters Socialists
Americans Dreamers

Borepatch said...

OldNFO, thank McChuck (and Peter) for triggering this. ;-)

Graybeard, I'm not sure where the Alt-Right fits here. There may be a third axis (Nationalism vs. Globalism) that would be more clarifying but then it makes the graphics a lot harder to visualize. If they are lower in Y that may just be a reaction against a Deep State that they perceive as being "on the other side".

Lab Manager, I think that this is more along the "nationalism vs. globalism" idea. There's no question that Trump is a nationalist with an "America First" foreign and trade policy. But 3D displays are way too complicated, and this is complicated enough already.

Wheetabix, there is a lot of Kabuki Theater on the Potomac. It's ALL designed to distract the country from the important stuff.

McChuck, thanks. Updated.

Glen Filthie said...

You old farts are still thinking in two dimensions and that is why your graph doesn’t work. It needs a Z axis... and, ironically enough, you can find it at the The Z Man blog. The Alt Right fell when the Left used morons like Milo, Vox Day and Spencer to discredit it. They managed to hang the hater/racist/sexist/homophobic labels on them and they are a done deal.

The new conservatives are called the Dissident Right; and so far they are a very interesting group of people. The commentary at Z’s is spectacular but you have to gear down over there... there’s a lot of big brained stuff going on and it won’t sit well with the older guys. Today Z is ripping on Libertarians and for the most part, he’s right. I may become a disciple of his brand.

LindaG said...

I pretty much agree with the whole post.

McChuck said...

Glen - I gave up on the Z-Man a long time ago. He's still "You may go this far, and no further. Now the conservative case for gmarriage and replacement immigration."

But he is well spoken and erudite.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, thanks, BP, and hat tips to Peter and McChuck.

One thing that never seems to get discussed is "what happens (specifically, to the group(s) in the upper left quadrant) if Trump fails in his mission?" He was hired by 63+ million voters to go to Washington to drain the swamp. He will - he must - conduct that operation in full public view, based on the principles and standards of the written Constitution and within the confines of statutory acts passed by Congress which have the Constitution as the basis for their authority; additionally, nearly everything Trump does will be challenged by someone, either Conressionally, via media or through the courts.

I suspect, but do not know, that the 63+ million figure is now larger; by how much, no clue, but even a 5% increase would be substantial in a voting context. If Trump is caused to fail those voters may take it upon themselves to perform the swamp draining they hired Trump to do; there's a not insignificant chance it may be conducted "by any means necessary." I'm not talking armed revolution, but a certain amount of "rough handling" of the bureaucracy; Sonny Purdue has initiated a plan to move much, maybe most, of the Department of Agriculture out of D.C. to Missouri, North Carolina and Kansas, which will certainly result in Ag being smaller with much fewer employees. Those not wanting to move have time to seek other employment, transfers within the federal government, retirement, whatever; if Trump fails to deliver (or is prevented from achieving) it's possible the citizens may decide "we don't need a federal Department of Agriculture, the 50 states already have those functions, so we'll get the states to fund a dozen people to coordinate the states' efforts, close the federal Dept of Ag, drop it from the budget and bulldoze the buildings."

That's about 100K people who find themselves suddenly unemployed some Tuesday morning. Too bad, so sad. Repeat that with Depts of Education, Energy, Labor, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, EEOC, and a few others and D.C. no longer has a real estate market, NoVa and the MD suburbs become barren wastelands, and no one in Des Moines, Cheyenne or Baton Rouge will give a damn about it, and the Powers That Be will have no one over whom to exercise power. Congress won't have a plethora of executive departments to handle activities, so Congress itself will have to consider and pass the laws they've previously abrogated to the now-missing agencies, meaning "work for a living" instead of massaging donors for re-election monies. Consider what D.C., NoVa and MD would look like with a 40% population reduction because the fed jobs went away almost overnight.

"Pick the form of your destructor" is not a fantasy theme.

Unknown said...

Lower right quadrant - Ron Paul?