2008 April 19 Saturday
Republicans Need Democrats To Pull US Out Of Iraq

Daniel Larison says the Republicans find themselves stuck supporting a policy (the Iraq war) that dooms them to minority status.

Ironically and depressingly, the defeat of antiwar Republicans together with the rest of the party, even though the party’s unpopularity is a result of support for the war, provides perverse justification for the GOP tying itself to the war even more closely.  If opposition to the war from the beginning is not enough to shield you from the antiwar backlash, which the defeat of Leach, Hostettler and Chafee would indicate, there is litte incentive for most House members in switching positions later, suffering the inevitable credibility attacks and providing ammunition to Democratic challengers who will argue that antiwar voters might as well vote for them rather than back the Johnny Come Lately Republican.  Plus, one of the peverse consequences of gerrymandering is that it ensures that the broad majority of the caucus would actually risk losing re-election by adopting what is the nationally more popular position.

I see an obvious conclusion here: For the sake of Republican electoral prospects in future elections the Republicans need the Democrats to end US participation in the Iraqi civil war. Republican electoral prospects will brighten once the US pulls out of Iraq. The Democrats might have enough motive to pull out US troops. By contrast, the Republicans seem less likely to admit US national interests are ill served by continuing to fight in Iraq. Some Republicans are even foolish enough to believe even now that the war is a good idea. The Republican presidential candidate seems an especially hopeless case. John McCain lacks both Nixon's genius and his cunning ruthlessness to maneuver to get us out of Iraq. We'll probably need Democrats to get us out of Iraq.

Larison sees the Grand Old Party stuck with winning only the most solidly Republican parts of the country.

For a lot of them, the greater political risk is to take the overwhelmingly popular position, because antiwar sentiment is concentrated in all those parts of the country that they don’t represent. What this means, though, is that over the long term the GOP will be limited to their safe districts and to extremely “red” states.

Where Larison says "over the long term" I would say "until the Democrats manage to pull the US out of Iraq". In other words, the Republicans will stay a highly marginalized party until the Democrats manage to cut our losses in Iraq. The Democrats can therefore act as the saviors of the Republicans if only the Democrats can win big enough to have the votes to implement a withdrawal over Republican objections.

Having said all this, the Iraq war is not the biggest problem facing Republican electoral prospects in 2008. A recession during an election year just about assures defeat of the incumbent party. Of course the Democrats now control the House and Senate. Will voters therefore apportion some of the blame for the recession on the Democrats?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 April 19 09:11 PM  Mideast Iraq Exit Debate

HellKaiserRyo said at April 19, 2008 10:16 PM:

It doesn't really matter anyway. The Republicans succeeded in starving the beast. A Democrat cannot form a nanny state now due to debt from the war and the subsequent expenses one has to pay to the disabled vets. In addition, the president should focus on resolving the energy crisis, not expanding entitlements. And that is a rather difficult thing to say for this liberal.

The wealthy should be taxed: they're the ones who got Bush elected so it is only fair that they should pay for this debacle. Too bad wealthy liberals will also pay for this too. I feel so sorry for Peter Lewis.

Hurricane Katrina solidified black aversion to the GOP. I hope the silver lining to this recession will also reinforce abhorrence to the GOP's agenda among Americans. The Republican ideology failed... it was only interested in enriching the rich, and it only paided lip service against stopping demographic decay. Well, I am convinced that backlash against immigration will destroy the GOP. The wealth elite of the GOP favor it, so opposing immigration will not be congruent with the Republican Party's agenda. Help the Republican Party commit apoptosis Randall: oppose immigration!! I am more interested in destroying the elite of the Republican Party and its ersatz conservatism, not conservatism itself.

"Then there is the elephant in the room--immigration. No other issue separates the Republican base so starkly from the Republican elite, and with good reason. Simply put, large-scale immigration from Mexico has made the rich richer and the poor poorer. The college-educated have reaped the benefits of a steep decrease in the price of labor-intensive services, while working-class Americans, exposed to increasingly stiff competition, have seen their earnings stagnate and even dwindle."


(The article also confirms a prediction of The Bell Curve about assortative mating)

Ah, those conservatives actually understand the travails of the working class and express empathy. Immigration, like globalization isn't Pareto efficient. The working class lose out, and it enriches the wealthy. The GOP has used the dogma of the "free market" to defend its policies that exacerbate inequality. Immigration and globalization only ossify the antipathy of the working class to the "free market" (and it is acknowledged in that article.) The only way you can make anti-immigration sentiment politically correct is to point that out and how it harms American workers.

Randall Parker said at April 20, 2008 3:20 PM:


1) There are plenty of issues being fought over besides the number of dollars in transfer payments to welfare state recipients.

2) Starving the beast: The fight over levels of taxes never ends. How to close the budget deficit? Spending cuts? Tax rises?

3) The wealthy got Bush elected and therefore have responsibility? First off, Bush won in part because of Bill Clinton. Maybe we should make Bill pay? Bush also got elected by being a fundie Christian. Maybe we should tax them more heavily for their mistakes? I think you are working backward from your desire to tax the rich just grabbing at convenient justifications. I would suggest you work on other justifications for this desire.

4) Hurricane Katrina solidified black aversion to the GOP? No way. Blacks are already dead set against the GOP. What the events in New Orleans did was increase white aversion to blacks. The blacks in New Orleans behaved poorly. For a few days this made it on the news before the news media started rewriting that little chapter in American history.

5) Republican destruction: I think Steve Sailer's arguments about why the Republicans do better in some states than others (e.g. affordable family housing) suggests that the Republican Party is more threatened by demographic forces than by arguments made by pundits.

6) Why are you referring to the Weekly Standard as a conservative publication? It is full of "National Greatness" neocons who are more interested in making the Middle East safe for Israel than any real conservative causes.

7) Making anti-immigration sentiment politically correct: Why should I grovel to those who maintain the taboo system around political correctness? I think that approach is bad strategy. Granted, economic arguments about the lower classes should be made about immigration and I have done that many times. But political correctness needs to be attached straight on by attacking its assumptions about human nature.

8) The college educated benefiting from illegal immigration: I think this is a fallacy. Sure, some manage to get cheaper gardening and maid services. But some of those same users of cheap labor have to pay much larger sums to avoid public schools and neighborhoods run down by illegal immigrants. Plus, there are the taxes to pay for the welfare benefits of the Hispanics. The college educated have the higher incomes that must be taxed to pay for the costs of illegals (e.g. more police, prisons, racial preferences).

Bob Badour said at April 20, 2008 6:22 PM:

With respect to #8, the cheaper gardening and maid services is just a prisoner's dilemma. The greatest good comes from unity and sovereignty, but assuming some cave and give in to hiring illegals, the ones who do fare better than those who don't.

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