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Hullabaloo


Monday, February 25, 2013

 
Why change when you're already winning?

by digby

Greg Sargent reports that Ted Cruz is doubling down on his McCarthyist smears about Harvard being riddled with revolutionary Communists (with the implication, of course, that Barack Obama was one of them when he attended):

The Cruz spokesperson didn’t elaborate on how precisely these Reds are advocating the overthrow of the government. As Steve Benen notes, you can be a subscriber to “critical legal studies” without wanting to violently bring down the American system and replace it with a communist utopia.
It’s unclear to me that this sort of red-baiting attack on the coastal academic elite will have the resonance it did back in, oh, the last century. But here we are, and if more stuff like this flows from Cruz, it’ll be interesting to see how his fellow Republicans react to it. After all, if Republicans are really going to change their party, they’ll need to create an atmosphere in which moderates are no longer forever in fear of the base.

I'm going to guess we're not there yet. Here's Club for Growth president Chris Cocola giving Breitbart News an interview. (That fact alone should be enough to show just how unlikely it is.)

Breitbart News: What are Club for Growth's key objectives for 2013?

Chris Chocola: We want to continue to grow the pro-growth caucus by supporting strong, fiscally conservative candidates through our PAC. We are hoping that the candidates the PAC has helped elect are helping to drive the agenda within the Republican Party. We'll be watching closely to see if Republicans stand strong on sequestration and the continuing resolution. We'll be urging them to cut spending and put us on a path to a balanced budget within 10 years. The whole purpose of the Club for Growth is to encourage policies that lead to a high-growth economy, and we're very concerned that our growing debt burden and uncertainty about our economic future is holding us back. All we've ever wanted from Congress is responsible behavior, and we think that message is beginning to percolate throughout capitol hill. For the first time in a long time, members of Congress are talking about spending less money, not simply slowing the rate of growth of spending. That's a sea-change, and we're looking to build on that momentum.

Breitbart News: When you look at specific policy proposals—such as those dealing with the debt ceiling, the deficit, the fiscal cliff, and federal spending in general—do you think the Club is winning the war of war of ideas among the Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Chris Chocola: We take pride in our ability to advocate for free markets and limited government, but it's really the new members we've helped elect through our PAC that are driving policy. It's because of members of Congress like Jeff Flake and Pat Toomey that earmarks are banned. It's because of members like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Mike Lee that the culture of the Senate is beginning to change. We supported those members and others because of what they believe, and they will stand and fight for their principles. Our goal is to get a majority of the majority. We're not there yet, but the changes that have happened within the Republican Party on policy over the past decade because of the Club for Growth and its members is undeniably positive.

The changes that have happened within the Republican Party on policy over the past decade because of the Club for Growth and its members is undeniably positive.

They are in this for the long haul. And I'm not sure Democrats are playing the same game. I get the feeling they believe that because they have a demographic advantage it's going to be smooth sailing. And I suppose if you believe that winning the presidency is the big prize, they are probably looking at a pretty good run. However, on policy, the Club for Growth has every reason to be optimistic. They are doing just fine in that regard, with the national obsession with deficits and low taxes pretty much guaranteeing that they will continue to do quite well regardless of who's in power.

This goes both ways, of course. Progressives have been very successful at advancing their social and civil rights agenda over the past 30 years despite the dominance of conservative politics. These things work on a number of tracks. But I'm going to guess that the major battles of the coming years are going to be around the fundamental role of government, with labor and social insurance at the top of the list. And on that, I see no signs that the GOP is prepared to moderate. In fact, the Democratic Party isn't much better on those issues and shows little sign of truly pulling in the opposite direction.

It's possible that the Republicans will change their style a bit and try to become kinder in tone. (They do that on a regular basis, by the way. Remember Compassionate Conservatism.) But on the fundamental battle over the role of government, they have been winning and they know they've been winning. After all, Obamacare, their most hated new government initiative was a GOP plan not even two decades ago.

They aren't all stupid, especially those who are working to restore our society to a pre-New Deal state. It would be really helpful if Democrats stopped being so cocky and started recognizing how much they have been losing on policy even as they've been winning elections. The country is losing either way.


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