Women state lawmakers from Kansas explain why they quit the GOP and became Democrats

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/22/hardcore-fervent-religious-rig.html

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What I expect they don’t understand is that this is inevitable: conservative ideology is of a piece. At best “moderate” conservatism leads to political irrelevance, but if successful necessarily leads to feudalism.

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Because like Hillary Clinton, they’re former Goldwater Girls?

Now she’s the one running for president. The Goldwater Girl chapter is in the past, though it is something the veteran Democratic politician talks about as formative to her political identity. “My political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with,” she said in a 1996 interview.

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Conservative means more things than one. For many people, it means caution about change, which makes sense in many situations. For others it means protecting and expanding the privilege of the few, and yes, that way lies feudalism. I expect many midwestern conservatives fit the first definition, and then are shocked to find they’re headed for the second.

When that happens, we find out who has character.

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The slide of the Democrats to the right has taken many shapes, this is but one.

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To a large degree, yes that’s true. However there is still a sizable contingent of midwesterners that cling to the latter ideology as well because they mistakenly believe that they will benefit from it. This takes a few forms. Many don’t understand how certain policies they support will negatively impact them such as the “death tax” (which only impacts high-value estates over $5 mm, I believe) and the refusal of expanded federal Medicare funding under ACA. Another is the deeply-ingrained delusion that hard work will lift you out of poverty or the lower rungs of the middle class into exorbitant wealth that will be protected because America rewards those who achieve great wealth via diligence and grit, which is about as common as a purple snowflake. The third factor, and probably the most impactful in my experience growing up dead-center of the US, is a deep, seething resentment of the impoverished, minorities, single mothers, et al. To them, the poor just need to work harder, minorities are inherently lazy, violent, criminal or indolent and single women are just plain whores who must live with the consequences of their evil life choices. The wealthy are shrewd, resourceful and determined not to be set back by others’ poor planning. Which completely sums up how these self-anointed Christians could vote for an amoral, lecherous, lewd New York “elite” and continue to support him in the face of mountains of evidence of treasonous acts.

I don’t live in the Midwest anymore.

ETA: These delusions apply to all Americans, in my experience. Unfortunately, in the Midwest due to lack of diversity in culture and thought, this takes the form of all-powerful groupthink.

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the only problem with republicans becoming democrats is that it is usually “in name only” and they keep strongly moderate views instead of becoming honestly progressive and end up pulling the party to the right

unfortunately in this country it will always be red vs blue which then everyone agrees is stupid but never does anything about

there is a huge difference between moderate democrats and true progressives, almost as much between the trump-cult and bush-republicans

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So there are a couple of issues and solutions here. The first is that if they’re Democrats “in name only”, then the Democrats have failed to make their values and beliefs clear - and worse, that all members must support those principles.

The second is that they might pull the party to the right. That’s a failing of both party mechanics and party members. And the solution is to make clear the positions on issues, even if benefits take a long time to appear. That’s hard because it means articulating why the death penalty is bad (miscarriages of justice are a thing), why funding education is a long-term economic benefit (should the USA really aim to compete with India and China?), why abortion is a breach of the rights of a woman, and so forth.

I should state at this point that I’m not American. I’m British, and a Liberal Democrat. So I have no idea how well the Democrats do at making both their values and their policies clear. But I get the feeling that they keep it intentionally vague because they think it’s an advantage.

In the UK, the Liberal Democrats are a “broad church” and a centrist party. They’re also the third party in a two party system because of that. So I’m not exactly in a position to offer solutions - I’m very much just offering suggestions to start a discussion between Democrat members (of whom I’m sure there are a few here).

I would say that one thing that made me a Liberal Democrat is the pre-amble to the party’s constitution. It sums up my beliefs very well. The discussions within the party tend to be about how we achieve them, because our position is well articulated:

Now, that’s a fine set of words that can be interpreted in many ways. But I don’t believe it allows a small state (enslaved by poverty?) or defunding of education (develop their talents?), amongst other things. If I encountered any member of the party who was pushing such policies, I’d be asking them why they’re in this party and quoting that pre-amble to them.

(Full constitution here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/constitution)

I did try searching for the Democratic Party’s constitution, and the top hit was the Mississippi Democrat’s constitution. (Google search: “democratic party constitution usa”.) That right there suggests an issue. I saw Wikipedia articles, Britannica articles, and more - but if I google my own party’s constitution I get straight to the right thing.

So I suspect that the Democrats need to get off the damned fence, and understand that they can gain more by having principles than they can by being vague.

Hopefully these women knew what principles they were switching to, and will behave accordingly. It’s on the rest of the Democrats to make that clear.

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Except that’s not really how it works. I’m a Democrat because I agree with Democrats roughly 60-70% of the time. In my view, Democrats are ideologically more diverse (or fractured, if you prefer) than Republicans. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more centrist than progressive–partly, I’ll concede, as a result of my job–but the “ideological purity before achievable solutions” progressive wing of the party mostly leaves me cold. I’m happy for the Bernie Sanderses and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortezes of the world when they win, but there are a lot of policy questions on which we don’t see eye to eye.

I think it’s better to have a diverse party that doesn’t always have to leap immediately to a single, facile soundbite of a solution but can have a robust internal debate, in which multiple voices are heard. For me, the Democratic party stands for a belief in process and pluralism, the value of diversity, a belief that government can be a useful tool for protecting the vulnerable, and the view that complex problems often don’t have tweet-length solutions. As a result of those principles, the Democratic party has landed on policies–like favoring women’s unfettered access to reproductive healthcare; rejecting laws and policies that allow race-, sex- and sexual-orientation-based discrimination; promoting the availability of healthcare to all; providing social safety nets–that I think are correct. It’s also landed on policies that I think are misguided–like Tipper Gore’s 1990s music-bowdlerization campaign–or that result from the difficulty inherent in applying pluralist decisionmaking to problems that may require faster decisions, like President Obama’s interminable incrementalist approach to becoming involved in or removing ourselves from foreign conflicts.

The long and the short of it is that, for me, any time you have some more folks willing to caucus with Democrats, the party gets stronger. (And that goes double for the U.S. Senate, where caucusing with a party usually means supporting that party’s judicial nominees.) When we start applying ideological purity tests we end up sitting home, for instance, in the 2016 election or voting for Jill Stein because Hillary Clinton isn’t as progressive as Bernie Sanders. I’ve frankly had enough of the result of those politics.

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well in the USA the democrats like to point out (rightly so) that they are a broad umbrella with a wide range of views and beliefs unlike the republicans who are more notorious for marching in lockstep (conservatism/hate sadly is a pretty strong focalpoint for unity)

however there is a “party platform” published every four years at the convention and it’s a remarkably progressive set of views - if the democrats ever truly accomplished all this, the country would be incredible, the problem it’s a long joke about how the democrats will sooner or later screw themselves over with distraction, corruption or division every time they get some power

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I actually can sympathise with true conservatives. While I don’t agree with “taxation is theft” style libertarians, I can sympathize with the feeling that your government delivers little value and takes away important rights.

What I hate is people who wear the label “conservative” but want to regulate what adults do in their bedrooms. Whether it’s gay sex, a little weed, or just typing out a communication using non-backdoored encryption, it seems like the party of “limited government” and “commerce” tends to be anything but.

I have deep, deep criticisms of libertarian philosophy especially them stealing the term “libertarian” for those in the bottom right of the political compass while left-libertarians are left without a good descriptor that doesn’t make people who think they’re more well read than they are think I’m an asshole who loves gold.

But sometimes I wonder if a libertarian president might be what this country needs. Imagine a president who rolls back the NSA, doesn’t get involved in foreign wars, legalizes weed and rolls up their sleeves and tackles gerrymandering.

Sure, social services might suffer but both the Democrats and Republicans seem to want to roll those back. (Clinton killed welfare, Obama loves to drone etc). And a lot of social services are provided at state level so president Gold Standard can’t touch them,

It’s counter intuitive, but one of my crazy dream scenarios is a libertarian candidate winning in 2020. It’s not out of the realm of possibility if one gets enough support to get into the debates.

Sadly it probablty wouldn’t end that way, but it’s nice to picture a 3rd party candidate winning that isn’t Evan McMuffin.

(Sadly I think the only way we’ll get a democratic socialist in office is if we can get the Democratic primaries unrigged, and I don’t think that will happen)

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you are talking about fiscal conservatism vs social conservatism but don’t fall for it, there is no such thing as pure fiscal conservatism, for example as soon as we need to make sure that people with low-income can still get healthcare so they don’t suffer, suddenly “fiscal conservatism” is an excuse to not do so because why should society shoulder the cost

the reality is there is no such thing as a political party that is okay with financial waste and greed, just those that care about others vs only care about themselves

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I thought greed was one of the founding principles of the modern republican party? :confused:

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I guess what I mean is I can sympathize with the “taxation is theft” argument. While I disagree, I can see how someone who sees all the bad things government does wanting to rid themselves of it entirely.

Fiscal conservatism imho is often just dressed up for that belief. no amount of tax cuts will ever satisfy since they don’t buy into the social contract. so imho it’s dumb to try to “meet in the middle” on tax related stuff.

BUT I think it’s valid to maybe shift things around so that if it’s not defense or cross state infrastructure the states handle things. I think the federal government is too powerful

Ironically the model of government the conservatives seem to dream of (very powerful state governments, weak federal that sets high level policy) is best seen in action in… THE EUROPEAN UNION

dun dun dun!

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But what does that mean politically? If you’re anywhere between 50 and 130 years old, the status quo economically is The New Deal. Supporting the New Deal is then the “conservative” thing, and opposing it (whether Bob Dole or Jack Kemp) is the “radical” thing.

And if not that, what change is being resisted? Racial integration? Secular liberalism? And again, when it comes to it, the “changes” they seek to reverse happened or began long before most of us were born.

I know there are people who really believe that lower taxes and less regulation and less welfare are all good things, but nobody competent and honest can spend years in government and do their jobs without admitting that the world doesn’t work like that.

At the end of the day, what these women want is feudalism, that works, without all the feudalism. They’re upset about the feudalism, so they want to go back to the good old days of “conservatism”, where they could promote feudalism without having to deal with the consequences of having actually implemented it.

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There is a sizable portion of the country (I’m not about to estimate numbers, I’m not a political scientist) they are neither “honestly progressive” nor “hard right.” They are, for lack of a better word, “moderates.” So long as we have a first-past-the-post system that, when combined with incumbent-protection ballot access rules, makes third parties all but impossible, those moderates have to vote for someone who’s either a Republican or a Democrat.

The problem isn’t with these moderates who hold office and feel disaffected wanting a new home pulling Dems to the right. It’s with a system that says they have to be in either box A or box B. You can’t have a two-party system that consists of only “honest progressives” or “hard right.”

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Opinion polling suggests that those people form a very small part of the country. Majority opinion is somewhat to the left of both parties.

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You could say that in all caps 1000 times and it would still be an understatement.

Number one rule in US politics is for dog’s sake don’t say anything that will pin you down to a position, because at the next function you’ll be speaking to a group that will want you to say the opposite.

One reason our gov’t is so dysfunctional is that no one can say what they mean, so the electorate is constantly trying to parse what is true and what is just campaign rhetoric, always assigning the best intentions to the candidates one supports but certainly never giving the same benefit of the doubt to the other side. Then the elected politicians in turn are trying to parse what their constituents want, based on mis-interpretations of mis-interpretations. The fact that, a single day after the election, the buzz was “what does the election mean?”, means our democracy has totally failed- that’s the day when the public has the most possible information about what the electorate wants and it provided nothing because there was so much strategic voting and say-whatever-to-get-elected going on who knows what anyone actually wanted.

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This is why Im not happy about switching parties. I want to vote for someone that has similar convictions to mine, not just telling me what i want to hear.
“For better alignment with my constituents” is so noble, makes me feel like they are covering not so noble intentions.

It’s a problem inherent to big tent politics. A big tent party has to be all things to all people, and the US traditionally had two, The GOP seems to have solved this by becoming an almost exclusively fascist and reactionary party. The mainstream Democrats have responded by moving to the right but this alienates the left wing of the party, and they are now angry and mobilising.

The UK on the other hand doesn’t really do big tent politics, any party that starts that way will get pulled in one direction or the other.

Take me as an example. I am a Communalist. I know for a fact that the Labour Party will not let me be a member even with Corbyn as leader, I doubt that the Lib Dems would let me join and I am so opposed to the Tories that I don’t think they would even send me a form. The Green Party are the closest to my beliefs, and they might let me join, but I would still be on the libertarian left fringe of the party and I don’t think they would be that happy with the concept of counterpower.

The Democrats on the other hand would allow me to join, even though the members on the right of the party are more like British conservatives

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