In the Arena

A Second GOP, A Third Party or…

David Brooks has a very important column today in which he proposes a new, moderate wing of the Republican Party, standing in opposition to the Rush-Fox-Tea Party extremists. For this new political vision to become coherent, it needs three components: military domestic values, foreign policy realism, and 'live and let live' responsibility.

  • Share
  • Read Later

David Brooks has a very important column today in which he proposes a new, moderate wing of the Republican Party, standing in opposition to the Rush-Fox-Tea Party extremists. He posits two key tenets for this coalition: 

It would be based on the idea that America is being hit simultaneously by two crises, which you might call the Mancur Olson crisis and the Charles Murray crisis.

Olson argued that nations decline because their aging institutions get bloated and sclerotic and retard national dynamism. Murray argues that America is coming apart, dividing into two nations — one with high education levels, stable families and good opportunities and the other with low education levels, unstable families and bad opportunities.

This is an interesting combination. It argues more for a new party than for a new wing of the Republican Party. Many Democrats would feel uncomfortable with the government reform solutions required to solve the Mancur Olsen crisis–it would require breaking the work-rule and seniority power of public employees unions on the local, state and federal levels. Republicans, obviously, would have a lot of trouble with the government support programs required by the Murray crisis.

But there are three other components that would be necessary for a coherent new political vision:

The Military Domestic Values System: I’ve done extensive interviewing with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re almost universally disgusted with politics as it now operates in this country. Most of them would support a candidate or organization that adhered to two of their core values:  You leave no wounded behind (the military equivalent of the inequality crisis) and No One is Entitled to Anything–there is a reciprocal responsibility: you earn whatever benefits you get.  These seem, at first glance, contradictory. But they represent a new synthesis of opportunity and responsibility. And they are undergirded by a third core military value: you get the job done, whatever it takes, no bitching and moaning.

Foreign Policy Realism: This also comes out of my interviews with returning veterans. You only send American troops off to war if there is an immediate, direct threat to the national interests of the United States. You do not send troops to war because of abstract principles or geostrategic gaming, and very, very rarely for humanitarian relief–and only then if you have comprehensively planned out what the military calls Phase IV operations–stabilizing the situation on the ground and having an exit plan.

Live and Let Live–Responsibly: There seems now to be a consensus on equality for all–according to race, gender and sexual orientation. There is an emerging consensus in favor of a more rational drug policy, especially the legalization of marijuana. But accompanying these rights there must be responsibilities. The Murray Crisis only gets solved when everyone graduates high school and no one has children out of wedlock (whether it be religious or common law–every father must take moral and financial responsibility for his children).

I would find a political party that supported these principles very attractive…I’m guessing David Brooks would, too. But it’s frustrating: I doubt this vision would be embraced by either of the two existing parties–and, historically, the chances of success for a third party are next to nil.

147 comments
SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

It would be nice if the military actually did operate this way but it doesn't, not really, They have their failures,  bureaucracy hinders advancement, and job does not always get done. In combat, the results are probably better because of the focus on safety, but the military is no social panacea. Let's not forget, the military is also our most socialistic institution, taking care of a soldiers medical needs, dentistry, eye care, education, transportation, etc., etc..

hunter711
hunter711

A new party wouldn't be bad, but there would be some inherent gaps that make the idea infeasible. They wouldn't have any sway, and the problem of gaining seats/having candidates to fill them also arises. For now, a competitive third party is just a dream that the American people love to hang onto but will never gain ground. 

mydads1st
mydads1st

I have often said that Birthers(B), Evangelicals(E), Libertarians(L) and TEA-types(T) have used the scarlet (R) to bastardize the once proud Republican party and it looks as if that happened. We once had "Southern Democrats" who were conservative, who became part of the Republican party. That portion of the Republican-BELT ain't holding up any more. maybe they should pull up their pants and go home!

drudown
drudown

The only thing that is as disingenuous as David Brooks' speculative gibberish dispensed to justify deregulation (e.g., "nations decline because their aging institutions get bloated and sclerotic and retard national dynamism) is the notion that the GOP's ruling elite is going to cede control of the party to faux-democrats hiding in GOP garments. Give me a break. The modern GOP is entirely predicated on lock-step allegiance to "principles": deregulation, "no new taxes" and military exercises abroad. Simply because the modern GOP can "endorse" or "support" a "revisionist" GOP ticket in in 2016 (Rubio/Huntsman?) hardly means the "culture" of the modern GOP is going to change one iota. As a consumer trial lawyer once noted, "the GOP get into power and they rape and pillage. They get voted out of office, obstruct the new Administration and then say 'what have they done while in office?" Sounds about right.


sixtymile
sixtymile

Like-like-like. New party please. GNP anyone?

LindaKoss
LindaKoss

Please. There is no Mancur or Olsen "crisis."  When you see people throwing around the word "crisis," it means they are trying to stampede the public into things they don't want to do.  Just say no to fake conservative crisis.

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

Brooks is the voice in the wilderness. The current GOP can never move forward, and it cannot attract voters as it is. A mere makeover won't convince people it has changed. And there must be a sea change within that sector of the party that has the will to move forward.

wrathbrow
wrathbrow

"No One is Entitled to Anything–there is a reciprocal responsibility: you earn whatever benefits you get"

These are great words, but in practice everyone has different ideas of what reciprocal responsibility is. Does the vet who comes back get unlimited heath and mental care for the rest of their lives (50 more or less years) for a couple years of service? Regardless if they never work again and eat bad and drink and smoke and high medical bills? How about free housing for ever? They earned it.
 Does the drug addict get free HIV meds for the rest of their lives because they were born an American?


See it is easy to use inspiring phrases, but that only gets and idea out there. The real deal comes when people come up with some specifics. And real action only takes place when someone on the other side says: I don't agree with you on everything, but I can get close with you on one of your points.

How many times have we heard our elected official say: I agree with the other side on this one point.  No often. Not often enough.

roknsteve
roknsteve

Let's see, Fox Party, Rush Party, Tea Party, No Party, Kill Govt Party, Stupid Party, White Party, Hate Party.  They have lots of choices, did I leave any out? 

vstillwell
vstillwell

After re-reading this awful column, I feel like half of American gripes about having to go to work because it's eating into their baby making time with strangers. 

vstillwell
vstillwell

Klein's columns are getting dumber by the day. We only get what we earn? Am I the only one working over 50 hours per week for less? I doubt it. The best part about this is the we get the job done no matter what. How many of us are gripping about having jobs? Not very many. The only gripping I hear about is that aren't enough jobs and the jobs that are available don't pay enough. Those are facts!

ciendolor
ciendolor

Where do I sign up for this?  I've been thinking these very same thoughts since Cheney declared the insurgency in its last throes.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

You don't "level the playing field" by LOWERING the standard of living for everybody, you level it by bringing those at the bottom up. Most of us want to help those in need but there are limits to generosity, that limit is reached when the cost of helping others is to hurt yourself.

SamuelClemens
SamuelClemens

The scary part is that the education divide increasingly is not the driving force of social polarization but a reflection of it. The disparity for all intents and purposes is hereditary. In this country most among Western nations chances are greatest you stay in the socio-economic band of where you started. Cut the the cake as you like, economically, racially, or regionally, we are driving hard towards a self-perpetuating class driven society equal to that of Britain before it famously fell from world power status

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

It seems pretty obvious that America has political issues.  Blaming the Republican party for almost all of them is both true and moot.  My blog explains why it's true, but recriminations aren't going to fix the country.  Trying to re-brand the GOP's "angry white man" image won't do it either.  Their (original) policies were to put money in the pockets of the wealthy.  That was it.  All other "policies" were the smoke-screen used to keep their support base engaged and voting for them while hiding what they were doing to their money.

But the GOP is no longer a viable party.  It's split between the extremists (who grew up on the smoke screen and now see them as actual goals instead of a means to an ends) and the mainstream (whose avowed policy is to continue to feed the coffers of the wealthy with taxpayer subsidies or tax breaks, reductions and exemptions).

But the leftists have their own issues as well.  We can't spend our way out of the problems facing the nation with taxpayer dollars.  The rank and file taxpayers don't have the dollars to spare.  We DO need new taxes, though on the very base the GOP supports - the wealthy.  At the same time, we need to cut out the pork, the expensive projects, the BS (entitlements should be temporary, not permanent, with work-study or community service mandatory) and tend to education, work-training and opening up jobs at liveable wages.  These are NOT being tended to by the leftists and certainly not by the rightists.

The right-wing has not had a single new idea since 1980.  We don't live in the 80's anymore.  The leftists are too focused on helping some people at the expense of all of us.  A balance CAN be achieved if everyone threw out their current policies and listened to the majority of Americans who want sanity from government.  With that, maybe reason, logic and some real critical thinking will result.  Our problems are not insurmountable, but a nation divided can not do what a nation united can do.  We need leaders with SPINES who will toss out the old rules and tend to the business of governance based on the needs of the American people as a whole (as much as is possible) instead of the special interests, the overly vocal minority and the few who pay to get them elected (when that actually works).

The time has never been better for the rise of a third party simply because of the extremely high level of disaffection with the established order.  All it will take is for the people as individuals to realize that their representatives ARE THE PROBLEM, even if they don't think so.  No rational person should TRUST a politician - ANY politician.  They should be voted out regularly and replaced with new faces and fresh, viable ideas.  A society that doesn't change with the times becomes obsolete and non-viable.  We are on the verge of obsolescence already.  It's time we changed that.

But the GOP won't be the party leading that charge.  Nothing I've heard from them - or the leftists, for that matter - can solve the problems of our future.  If a new party is to arise, it must be one from we, the people.  We can't all agree on specific policies all of the time.  But we can come to a majority agreement on enough of them to chart a course to a better tomorrow.

And that's how it works in a democracy.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> ...it would require breaking the work-rule and seniority power of public employees unions on the local, state and federal levels.

Maybe Joe should read more of the magazine he works for.  

> But there are three other components that would be necessary...

(1) Is where we've pretty much been for at least a couple of decades, (2) is what we've been doing for the past four years, and we are happily moving towards the first part of (3) while the proposed solutions to make the second part happen are so contentious that we could never reach an agreement to implement them. Take "no one has children out of wedlock" for example. How does that get solved without tripping over religious dogma or reproductive freedom?

If anything, Brooks' column is actually better than Klein's expansion upon it. Not much better, mind you. Brooks at least correctly identifies the current GOPer overtures as being primarily lip service, but fails in calling for a new wing of the Republican Party, as a fragile coalition of right-of center Midwest and Northeastern Republicans and far right South-and-Westerners is what exists now

The only other observation that I have to make is that Brooks remains unable to admit that, for all of his supposed 'liberal, centralized government' rhetoric, there's already the centrist in the Oval Office that he's been dreaming of.


notsacredh
notsacredh

"Foreign Policy Realism: This also comes out of my interviews with returning veterans. You only send American troops off to war if there is an immediate, direct threat to the national interests of the United States."

.

Did Chuck Hagel write that?

BobJan
BobJan

If you are subsidizing people because of low wage jobs that's understandable. If you're giving government taxpayer paid benefits to people who have no job at all then they should be required to report to a jobs bank that they will have to do community service for the city/county/state they live in. They might start complaining at first but then they'd get used to work and would probably find a job. Both parties are to blame for everything going on. One party wants to give stuff away and another wants to take it all away. It's not that simple. A solution to wean people off of assistance takes time and then others that think they will end up like their relatives and neighbors will see some forward progress instead of just keeping their hand out. Lower taxes should only be given in the form of job growth to a company that pays a living wage so the government doesn't have to subsidize their lower wages anymore. It's a giant vicious circle. Pay a living wage and then they have no need for rent, food and utility help. Wow, that was hard. Our Congress is so inept and dismembered.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

But, but, the straw man Democrats!  Holding so rigidly to centrism, for centrism's sake sure is a thing.  


I agree with kbang.  Paging Dr. Zechman, stat!

hunter711
hunter711

Edit: This will be one of the very few times that I as a Catholic conservative Republican will agree with Joe Klein. Well done, Joe, well done.

aztecian
aztecian

@LindaKoss just say no to the racist faux news and their obstructionist fear mongering.

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

@vstillwell 

It is true that a large portion of the population does not understand where the government gets its funds - or that portion does not care.

KevinGroenhagen
KevinGroenhagen

@DeweySayenoff"The right-wing has not had a single new idea since 1980.  We don't live in the 80's anymore."

Its seems like all the "new" ideas from the left have only served to give us a $16 trillion debt. I think we ought to return to the "old" idea in which Congress could only spend money on the items that are specifically enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Founders never authorized Congress to spend taxpayers' dollars on welfare programs and infrastructure (internal improvements) in the states.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@DeweySayenoff "...the expensive projects, the BS (entitlements should be temporary, not permanent, with work-study or community service mandatory)."

Man, by the time you busted yourself with that groaner, I was only counting the words until we got to the third party bu!!sh!t. The "expensive projects...entitlements," are heathcare for the 90-95% of our old people who couldn't afford it without Medicare (and 100% of those on Medicaid). Their "entitlement" (that they've paid into their entire working lives) will indeed be "temporary." The only questions are how will we: 1) make it less costly, and 2) pay for it in the meantime. I haven't heard any third party, centrist (or Republican Party) answers to those questions, only progressive Democratic Party ones.

jmac
jmac

@DeweySayenoff "The leftist are too focused on helping some people at the expense of all of us."  Do you mean helping those at the bottom?  History has shown that our strength has been helping those at the bottom.  If we can educate them, get them jobs and get them paying taxes - we all benefit.  There's a party right now that's compromising on all issues and it happens to be the centrist Democratic party.  We have moved as far right as we can move and not be called Republicans.  We have no "lefty" group that controls the Democratic party - in economics, on military issues, in the school system, etc - the list is long.  If you want to say the "social issues" - then you're a conservative stuck in the 80's.  

YesterdaysWine
YesterdaysWine

@grape_crush One of the problems would be the geography of such a party, just as you describe. They have no sizable constituency in the Northeast. They possibly could do well in Virginia and NC. Maybe FL. The Pacific states wouldn't work. Pats of the Midwest perhaps. But they would have to siphon off a lot of votes from both their flanks. And Obama is indeed a centrist, socially liberal, with some rightist tendencies. 

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

@sacredh 

He could have. He's being pummeled now by his own party for speaking the truth. I don't know if he ever went so far to say the wars were about the economy, but that is now universally accepted. Those who made out best were contractors and the elected officials connected to them. Oh, yes - and David Petraeus. He got a platform to market himself and manipulate media to help him do so. And he got a girlfriend and planes to fly her around in.

stuart_zechman
stuart_zechman

@AlistairCookie I think Joe's doing a great job of explaining himself why ideological centrism ("<i>You leave no wounded behind (the military equivalent of the inequality crisis) and No One is Entitled to Anything–there is a reciprocal responsibility: you earn whatever benefits you get.</i>") is so dangerous (for ordinary people) as a basis for governing this nation.

Of course, Joe will never mention that the national Democratic Party's policy-fashioning apparatus is gangrenous with this Third Way rot, he'll leave it to overt partisans like Greg Sargent to state the obvious:

"<i><b>One of the two parties</b> already occupies the approximate <b>ideological space</b> that these commentators themselves are describing as the <b>dream middle ground</b> that allegedly can only be staked out by a third party.

<b>That party is known as the “Democratic Party,</b>” and it already holds many of the positions these commentators want a third party to espouse.</i>"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/the-third-party-dodge/2011/03/03/gIQAX66BzK_blog.html

For centrist ideologues like Joe, though, the Democratic Party just can never be Third Way enough, just like the Republican Party can never be right-wing enough for its rightists.

OK, that wasn't 5 pages, but...decent enough?

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

Jeeze Kevin, weren't you spouting the same sort of thing before the most recent election...how did that work-out for you?  The bigger question is, what is it going to take before you put-down the Kool Aid and listen to something that falls outside your dogmatic swim-lane?  I respect that you are conservative, and good for you.  However, even though you don't like the current administration, it's hard to deny that something is seriously broken within the GOP.  I, personally, really look-forward to the time when bipartisanism returns to the norm, rather than being the rare-exception...you get better ideas (and better government) when there is a healthy opposition (a far shot from the current scenario).

aztecian
aztecian

@KevinGroenhagen @lordofthefly GrowingHagen...you spend too much time watching faux news.  Just like you were going to win back the wHite hosE.  now you're really smoking that obstructionist/racist/bible-thumping grass.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@KevinGroenhagen @lordofthefly If you are 60 years or older you only have about 150,000 or less years left on this planet.  I have a great life, many hobbies, and enjoy myself and am not afraid to die.  How about you, Kevin? 

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

Interesting, but the SCOTUS has set many precedents where the rights of the gov't exceed what is written in the Constitution, primarily with respect to acting in the common good of the public.  As far as the debt goes, it is merely a reflection of the spending that was authorized by the congress...Democreat and Republicans alike.  If you choose to partake in a war or two...if you allow our financial sector to run amok and are forced to rescue it, if you choose to build fighter aircraft that are less functional than the ones that they are replacing (at an obscene cost), then the bills are gonna be steep. 

BTW, if the gov't did not build infrastructure, what would you drive-on, on your way to work?  What would carry power to your home?  Who would have developed the backbone which supports the internet?

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@stuart_zechman

Thank you very much for chiming in.  (Your little girl is a doll, BTW.)  My boys are 4 and not quite 2, and some days they barely leave any time to breathe, much less write a thought.  ;)

Mr. Sargent sums up perfectly what I was thinking/perceiving.  There is no super-left.  There is no progressive party.  There is the super-duper-right, and the Democrats.  The super-left Democrat is a strawman.  If one truly adheres to middle of the road type ideology, as an actual independent and concrete set of values/principles, then (anymore) that makes you a Democrat.  If one adheres to Centrism, as a nebulous value that is ALWAYS the middle ground--no matter what it is in the middle of--then you get these pieces from Mr. Klein and Mr. Brooks.  It puzzles me, considering I'm quite sure they are both intelligent and well educated, that they espouse these sorts of views.  Or at least, it doesn't seem logical.  Or particularly useful for achieving any sort of end that doesn't change with the tides. 

Bubble Guppies ends in one minute, so my time is up for now.  Thanks again!

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

Really, Kev?  Please share with me the unilaterally-Democrat programs that are causing the debt to explode?  Seems to me that the biggest issue is the cost incurred by our adventures in nation building.  Let's be generous and say that it was a bipartisan decision to go to war.  After that comes the entitlements, and the democrats weren't the ones who stacked the prescription drug plan and Medicare Plus on top of the already-massively-expensive entitlement program (that was also dubya). 

When Bubba left office, there was a budget surplus, and we were well-positioned to pay-off the national debt within 10 years.  After a couple years of dubya, the budget was in the toilet, and the debt was on a roll.  So, don't go spouting your crap about how the Dem's are spending us into bankruptcy.  The GOP long-ago surrendured the mantle of fiscal responsibility.

KevinGroenhagen
KevinGroenhagen

@HudsonValleyTim You're raiding straw men. I have never said that there is nothing wrong with the GOP. There certainly is. However, there is much, much more that is wrong with the Democrat Party and the liberals/socialists who are members of that party. They are simply addicted to spending money that we don't have. Obama and the Democrats are now borrowing 40 cents of every dollar. That is a situation that is not sustainable. If you deny that the Democrats have this problem, then it is you, and not I, that is drinking the Kool-Aid.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

Wow...you're right and several supreme court decisions are wrong?  So, yelling "fire" in a movie theater is acceptable under the first ammendment?  Airport security screening should be abolished as unreasonable search?  There are so many examples...you really have to be kidding.

And what would life have been like if the Panama Canal, or Hoover Dam, or the interstate highway system had not been constructed?  How many innovations came from the space program?  All of these were 100% publicly funded and would never have happened otherwise.  Ditto for bridges and tunnels, etc. etc. etc. 

It's amazing how the scope of your thought expands and contracts to suit your argument.

KevinGroenhagen
KevinGroenhagen

@HudsonValleyTimAnd SCOTUS has been wrong in all those cases. As president, James Madison, considered the father of the Constitution, vetoed a bill that Congress passed that authorized spending on roads and bridges in the states. He said that such spending was not authorized by Article I, Section 8. You can disagree with the wars, but national defense is a legitimate role for the federal government.

"BTW, if the gov't did not build infrastructure, what would you drive-on, on your way to work?  What would carry power to your home?  Who would have developed the backbone which supports the internet?

That's typical of liberal thinking, i.e., if the federal government doesn't do it, it won't get done. There's no reason why states cannot build their own roads.