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Asking the wrong question about the Republicans

Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner asks: Can the Republicans win the House in 2010?.

Might I suggest this is actually not the right question or at least not a very interesting one to ask.

How about “Would it actually make much difference if the Republicans win the House in 2010?”

Until the Big State Tax and Regulate schmucks like McCain, Romney and their entire ilk are explicitly repudiated and figuratively (and in a perfect world, literally) thrown into Boston Harbour, I will tell you what difference re-electing the party that gave the world George Bush (either) will make… No meaningful difference at all.

Obama is the bastard child of the both parties, make no mistake about it. Nothing he is doing now would have been even within the realm of political possibility if the state had not already been vastly expanded with Republicans in the Whitehouse.

No child left behind indeed… they will be paying for this legacy for a very long time.

No one who gives a damn about liberty should even consider supporting the Republicans until they have had a profound and merciless internal blood-letting and made themselves worth voting for by throwing the Big Staters out. They are not even close to that point yet.

Now is very much the time to call for as much Republican disunity as possible because so much hangs on what happens now. If the mega-statists keep control of both parties as completely as they have over the last twenty years, there will be no way out of the deepening hole.

65 comments to Asking the wrong question about the Republicans

  • Michael Staab

    As an American who has woke up. albeit only lately, I’m more than casually persuaded that both the democrat and republican parties are in for some surprises.

    I’ve attended several of the TEA parties, locally and in the capital. They were attended by people of all political persuasions, though it was remarkable that no one in attendance was politically left that admitted such.

    What I perceived was that there was something that united these people that excited me also. Although there were more than one reason to be there for many, one overwhelming bond was formed on this subject: government is an out of control danger to all who love life and liberty. That theme was spoken by nearly all there.

    I’m certain that this theme also is a dagger at the heart of the plans Obama and his fascist progressive cadre have for all of us. How else would you explain the attempts to marginalize and belittle us by the progressives?

    These are dangerous times. The stakes have never been higher. I think Americans, the so called silent majority, are finally waking up. I do believe the fight is worth it, especially as the fight IS about our freedom and liberties.

    Republicans and democrats are Americans. This fight must transcend the dichotomies of both parties. Freedom and liberty are indeed what is at stake, and those are concepts that properly developed will counter the suffocating nannyisms of the progressives. The key is to find those of both parties willing to stand up for what is right. Third parties in the USA suffer from well entrenched structures which prevent them from being a viable alternative.

    Sorry to ramble on here. Obamas speech to the United Nations has so unsettled me that my discomfort over his ilk overwhelms me at times.

  • Millie Woods

    Sometimes one has to be realistic and vote for the lesser of the two evils on offer.

  • koanonymous

    Re: internal revolution, repudiation of the Republican party – I do think that is an increasingly popular idea. I don’t really see it happenning, though, sadly.

    Among those Americans who 1) actually think something is very wrong with their government and its politicians and 2) still deeply and sincerely believe that their votes will make a meaningful difference in the attitude and decisions of their government, the subset 3) that would actively seek to reform the Republican party, or (gasp!) break with both parties in favor of a clean start — well, relying on that group, though it is growing, doesn’t give me much reason for optimism:

    1) The Statist mindset and these blind-(or-corrupt)-leading-the-blind economics remain dominant within the leadership of both parties and within the citizenry at large. Total obeisance/blind faith/apathy towards the whims of government has not gone out of style in most parts of the country, either.

    However – 2) Those in America who are losing faith altogether in the political process (and those of us who have long since lost all faith in any government) do also seem to me an increasingly manifest minority. That is to say, when one wakes up to the state that the State is in, cynicism seems to often outweigh hope for any Real Change(tm) to the system. Maybe the ’60s just broke our spirit when it gave us the ’70s, but “hope” and “government” still aren’t two words you often see getting cozy with each other, despite Prez O’s campaign posters.

    3) With the two-party system being so entrenched in the average American’s perception of their government, and the concept of third parties so shackled to “fringe” politics, I have a difficult time envisioning any successful fracturing of either party. Both the Executive and Legislative branch — and now in large part, the Judicial — are subsumed by the Two Parties. The American citizen is left with reform from within a party as the only mechanism of enacting any change within the government – often amounting to one slow step forward and two steps backward.

    I guess that rolling-back government through a massive grassroots effort pumping new blood into the GOP is theoretically possible. But I still suspect that the Republican party’s reputation (i.e., the reputation of its leaders and greatest fanatics) is such that the magnitude of a swing towards a smaller state needed to reverse both the disillusionment of those who desire a smaller state (gathering in the vacuum of a shrinking political center, and not at the feet of the Republican Party) AND this fusion of the two parties is not an action on the to-do list of anyone in possession of real power.

    Which brings me to an humble suggestion:

    TABULA RASA.

    It’s not time for change – it’s time for blank paper and controlled demolition. Tell your friends. They’re more willing to listen than ever.

  • Sometimes one has to be realistic and vote for the lesser of the two evils on offer.

    This is where you are not just wrong, Millie, you are disastrously catastrophically and epically wrong. This is the view that does more to help the other side than any other I can think of. When good people support the bad, all is lost.

    The lesser evil gets you nothing but more evil, just incrementally less than the other guys is offering… it anaesthetises the progress of the disease because that is the easier “realistic” option than the painful options that might have some chance of actually reversing the progress of the disease.

    It also flags up your views and your votes are being irrelevant because to get your X on election day, all the Big State Republican bastard has to do is offer a bit less of what what you don’t want than the other guy and actually give you none of what you do want, because you will vote for him anyway.

    Obama could not have happened without George “The Lesser Evil” Bush paving the way for him and ceding the political and indeed the intellectual battleground to the other side. That is what the ‘lesser evil’ gets you… less painful progress towards the greater evil.

    Bad bad bad idea.

  • Laird

    Michael, you’re right that third parties are stuck with the “entrenched dichotomies” of our two-party system. Nonetheless, I believe that only the ascendancy of third parties will dislodge the comfortable status of the present duopoly. Even if third-party candidates don’t win elections, if they start to put up respectable numbers it will force the two major parties to more clearly differentiate themselves, and hopefully even embrace at least some of the third parties’ ideas.

    My sense from your post is that you’re closer to the Libertarian Party than to any of the others, and I would encourage you to start working with the local group. Even if you don’t agree with every one of their ideas (don’t worry; few of us do!), they are clearly closer to the “small government” ideal than either of the major parties, and you could help move the country closer in that direction.

    The LP is the natural political home of many Tea Party participants; unfortunately, not many of them know that yet.

  • RRS

    The posting, like so much of U.S. comment focuses on the Executive, not the legislative, as the source of most complaints (deficits, budgets, tax-cuts, etc.).

    Because he is fact-based, I read practically everything Barone writes in the current press & websites. He is very careful.

    Basically this writing is only about the H.R., not policy dominantion, not the Executive issues.

    What happened after the ’94 sweep was a wave of unsupportable hubris. Despite the availablity of much to criticize, one can’t hang the tag of BIGGER gov’t on Newt Gingrich and his like.

    In our politics, it seems that the EGOs require other egos for constraint. So, M.B. might have written “the non-Democrats” instead of Republicans.

  • RRS

    Laird -

    There is a dilemma in the concept of a Libertarian Party as a political faction; i.e., for political power.

    The main “force” (of civic value) of Libertarianism lies in the opposition of its adherents to political power over individuals.

    That would make it incongruent with an electorate that still looks (and probably will for the foreseeable future) to political factions to do things for them.

    Basically, it is very much like the drug problems in the U.S. it derives from the nature of the demands, which create problems in the mode of supply.

  • Kim du Toit

    Actually, the answer is quite simple. When confronted with the Republican and Democrat parties, one simply asks the question: which party is more likely to yield a candidate like Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater?

    The answer, incidentally, is not “Neither”, as Perry’s response would seem to indicate.

    The trick is to ensure that whichever Republican wants the conservative vote, he/she has to be of the Reagan/Goldwater ilk — or at least, a very close proximity thereto.

    As long as we can impress upon the Stupid Party that we will ONLY support a conservative candidate — and not one of the Olympia Snowe genus — they will be forced to support conservative candidates like, oh, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania over Arlen Specter. (For the benefit of my Brit friends, Toomey is a conservative Republican, Specter is — now — a Democrat, having crossed party lines in 2009 after a lifetime of claiming to be a Republican, but acting like a Democrat. Ten guesses which candidate the party of George Bush supported in the electoral primaries? Worked out really well for the Republicans, didn’t it?)

    Anyway, salvation is not to be found in “neither”. Salvation will be found in demanding conservative Republican candidates.

    If the Stupid Party obeys that directive, they’ll win. If they don’t, they’ll lose. Simple as that.

  • Paul Marks

    This was the whole point of Glenn Beck’s statement in his interview with CBS – about how a McCain victory would have been even worse than a Obama victory.

    The argument being that YES McCain was much more moderate than Obama – but that the government would still have got bigger.

    With a Marxist scumbag in charge one can get people on their feet – one can get them to reject the whole direction of policy.

    But with a warhero and life long ANTI socialist as President – most people would have done nothing at all.

    But the media miss the point and concentrate on whether Glenn Beck used a live frog or not in his “if we put a frog in slowing heating water it stays and dies – but if we throw a frog in boiling water it jumps out” visual aid.

    Of course Beck actually used a rubber frog – partly to illustrate the counter argument (sometimes you throw a frog in boiling water and it does NOT jump out – i.e. OBAMA COULD WIN).

    The point is NOT to vote for the lesser evil – not to think in terms of “the Republicans” at all.

    But to think in terms of the INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE.

    I have said this so many times (and so have others) but some people just do not get it.

    What matters is the PRIMARY election.

    Make sure that your Republican candiate really does want to roll back government – remember you get to pick the candidate.

    For the sake of the United States and the West in general do not just sit back and say “I will not vote for the Republicans”.

    “The Republicans” does not appear on any ballot paper.

    Make sure you have a candidate like Mike Pence or Jim DeMint – not like John McCain or Charlie Crist.

    It really is that simple.

    “But we can not win a Primary election”.

    Well then you have no chance whatever of winning a general election.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    At this point I’m promoting a simple ‘vote against the incumbent’ theme. Voting for the Republicans will only encourage the current Republican leadership to conclude we really love them and want the 2000-2006 Congress back. Voting against all incumbents hobbles the Democrats (essential!) but sends a message to Republicans and Democrats alike that they are all on shaky ground.

    As far as the Libertarian Party is concerned, they simply aren’t ready for prime time and probably never will be. There is a craft to running a successful political party that the LP seems incapable of mastering.

  • Verity

    There’s a chilling similarity to Britain’s two main parties, neither of whom offer what anyone other than the public sector (aggrandised to the point where they are almost, now, able to call the tune).

    In Conservative Leader David Cameron (in whom I cannot see a scintilla, a hint, a cat’s whisker of conservative mindset) we have a wishy washy reflection of Tony Blair (I suspect not based on any philosophy in particular, but on what worked to get Blair into office – although without the cunning and the theatricality).

    What on earth is happening in the West, that all of Europe is marching into a new EUSSR, with its thought Stazi and its favoured apparachiks, and Americans apparently equally eager to give up their freedoms (and their taxes) to support unnecessary non-governmental agencies and quangoes in luxury – unelected apparachiks whose remits inch forward day by day?

    What happened to the robust Anglosphere? Of course, what happened is the Gramscis, socialists, Trots, Marxists, Communists … but how did these foul belief systems manage to find fertile soil in which to prosper?

    The Americans are showing signs of waking up. We are showing signs of not even setting the snooze alarm.

  • jk

    Yes, the Republicans need more liberty-minded candidates than George W Bush or John McCain.

    But no, Perry, you’re mad to think it would not make a difference. The minority GOP has held firm on health care and strong against the stimulus and auto bailouts. A GOP controlled house would introduce some blessed gridlock to some ideas that really need to be impeded.

  • K

    Kim is right about focusing on party. In the US the game is over once both large parties nominate someone you can’t support.

    For local and some state elections there is a real chance an outside candidate can win. Whether his label is Libertarian or Independent or Conservative or Green.

    For the Congress and Presidency there is roughly zero chance an outside candidate will win.

    In the general election you may be faced with no candidates you want I would say vote for one party for Congress and the other for President. With good luck they will hate and neutralize each other.

  • Kim said:

    The answer, incidentally, is not “Neither”, as Perry’s response would seem to indicate.

    Actually that is not what I am saying at all… Why do you think I am even discussing the Republican party? What I am saying is that *right now* that is not what we are seeing as the Big State Bastards (BSB) are still very much in place throughout the GOP… and so it is essential to change that precisely to increase the chances of a Reagan/Goldwater coming forth.

    To vote for the GOP *NOW* simply because it ain’t the Democrats is to almost guarantee that nothing will ever change. Now is the time for the long delayed radicalism, not support of the old guard who let this all happen… hell, who made it all happen.

    jk said:

    But no, Perry, you’re mad to think it would not make a difference. The minority GOP has held firm on health care and strong against the stimulus and auto bailouts. A GOP controlled house would introduce some blessed gridlock to some ideas that really need to be impeded.

    No, no, no… you miss the point that this opposition ONLY comes due to the fact McCain lost. If McCain had won, the stimulus and bailouts (which McCain supported fulsomely) would have ZERO meaningful opposition from the very people who oppose it now (i.e. the sudden converts to limited government who did bugger all when George Bush was massively expanding the state).

    It is vital, really really vital, to realised that George W. Bush was dishing out titanic amounts stimulus and bailout money with NO effective Republican opposition… i.e. the first small signs of a Republican ideological recovery now spring *directly* from the failure of the (supposed) lesser evil (McCain) to get elected top dog.

    This is why it so so damn important to burn the mega-statist wing of the GOP to the ground right now and that means *not* voting for them until they are actually worth voting for.

  • The argument being that YES McCain was much more moderate than Obama – but that the government would still have got bigger.

    I am delighted that Beck is now making that point… the very point I have been making for quite some time. In the long run McCain would have a bigger disaster as it would have catastrophically pushed the Stupid Party Republicans even further from the Goldwater tradition, leaving no opposition at all to the ever greater growth of leviathan.

  • Kim du Toit

    “In the long run McCain would have a bigger disaster as it would have catastrophically pushed the Stupid Party Republicans even further from the Goldwater tradition, leaving no opposition at all to the ever greater growth of leviathan.”

    And there you have the truth of it, Perry. In the short term, McCain would have been incalculably better than Obama — there’d be absolutely NO discussion of a nationalised health system, for starters, and no un-approved czars either — but what we would have got was a Republican Party which leaned more towards Britain’s Conservatives, rather than towards American (small-c) conservatives, as they must.

  • chuck

    The first thing to do is stop the Democrats. Period. After that we can argue the fine points of policy.

  • Verity

    Gosh, Kim, I never had you down for an optimist! Of course there would have been discussion of a nationalised health plan under McCain!

    Unapproved czars, perhaps not, but McCain would have definitely moved towards a destructive and dangerous nationalised health plan. I mean, reaching across the aisle, and all.

    I want a Republican president who isn’t motivated to reach across the aisle, and who sticks to principles. That person is Sarah Palin and, if Bobby Jindal has been successful enough as Governor of Louisiana by that point, and gained enough national attention, Jindal as Veep. Those two could storm through.

    The Left has to be cut off at the knees with two strong individuals of the right. No compromises.

    For Britain, God knows. There is no Right. The people want a choice, but there is none.

  • The first thing to do is stop the Democrats. Period. After that we can argue the fine points of policy.

    Nope. In fact, this sentiment is exactly what got the USA where it is today.

    If all you do is “stop the Democrats” by electing Republicans who will NOT shrink the state in any meaningful way, but will just increase the size of it a bit less than the Democrats, all you are voting for is how big a bite you have to take of the same shit sandwich.

    It is actually quite simple: if you vote for an unreformed Republican Party (i.e. all you care about is “stopping the Democrats”), the menu is unchanged and any wish you have to see less state (not just more state a little slower) will be totally ignored, because you have demonstrated you will vote for Big State Politicians regardless as long as they do not call themselves Democrats.

    Reform the Republican Party *FIRST* and get the shit sandwich you keep being forced to take bite from taken off the menu entirely, or you are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

  • Alice

    Interesting thing about US Presidential elections since Watergate is the people who don’t vote every time — the Contingent Voters.

    They get ignored by the best & brightest in the media (no surprise), who can only think about soccer moms or Nascar dads or some other stereotype. But there is a large group of people who have shown they will turn out for a Reagan (or a Perot) — but will never, ever vote for a Democrat. If the Republicans choose a Reagan-type (or something that looks reasonably close) as a candidate, they win. Otherwise, the Contingent Voters don’t vote, and the Democrat wins.

    But that is all by the way. Congress has the power of the purse, and Congress could deal with any Executive. Except that Congress is now dominated by hacks in elected-for-life seats. Our fault. We vote them in, and then don’t vote them out.

    But that situation is self-correcting. Congress cannot keep spending money it does not have. There will be an end to this non-sustainable situation. Unfortunately, a bloody & tragic end. Our job is to make sure that the knowledge of what once worked survives, so that something good can emerge from the inevitable slaughter.

  • Michael Staab

    Laird, I was a card carrying Libertarian a while ago. My problems with the Libertarian party were based on the lack of coherent, philosophical defenses for the concepts of freedom and liberty in relation to the issues of the day. I fail to understand why the concepts of freedom and liberty are not defended as they ought be by the party which claims them as central to their ideals?
    That leaves me with the horrible choices of working within the two party system, OR simply go on strike against all of it. As a member of the worlds smallest minority, the individual, I have not many good choices left me, do I?
    I struggle daily with these thoughts, yet when I look at my children and grandchildren my resolve to not leave them the world Obama and his ilk envision grows. I also realize that Obama is only one cog in a mechanism that far exceeds only him. He is the face, but as someone else pointed out, he is not a legislator.
    That particularity belongs to the full congress and it is precisly there the real and important battles still occur. However when so much corruption as exists within the two party system is evident, a solution that transcends the norm must be sought.
    One of the present problems is that the legislative branch IS being co-opted by the executive office. I would be willing to place much of my wealth on the wager that almost none of what my government has doen recently is constitutional (within the sense of the TARP and bailout programs of all sort, the nationalizing of the auto industries, etc)
    I think that the only realistic option is to have liberty minded individuals become republicans and demand candidates with similar values. I loathe saying this, as as they are presently inimical to liberty and freedom. The problems with any third party is of a nature that to merely be able to show up on a states ballot, hoops of sizeable proportions are erected to jump through. This effort, while necessary, avoids the actual necessity of an internecine war within the republican party.
    It is a war, a war of ideologies. The republican party is intact and has an infrastructure that is important if opposition is to be effective.
    I’ve begun to demand accountability from all my representatives. They all know me now. This is how it begins, one like me added to others like minded, working to reverse these encroachments into our liberties and our basic freedoms.

  • I am very much with Perry.

    As a small aside, one little thing that is known to help, even if only marginally, is to merge a list like this one into Outlook and spam your (and every other representative) with your opinions. Sure, not every message will be read and all that, but senators’ and representatives’ aides do keep track of the sentiments of the feedback they get – those self-serving bastards. I have shelled for an eFax account to be able to do this.

  • I think that the only realistic option is to have liberty minded individuals become republicans and demand candidates with similar values. I loathe saying this, as as they are presently inimical to liberty and freedom.

    Yes indeed. Ghastly but true.

    It is a war, a war of ideologies. The republican party is intact and has an infrastructure that is important if opposition is to be effective.

    But no… what exactly is this “infrastructure”? It is the very party hacks and apparatchiks who need to be kicked the fuck out. To be honest the only thing of value the GOP has in “brand awareness”. Set fire to the rest and build something worth a damn on the ashes.

  • chuck

    Can’t agree Perry. If you left Russia out of WWII it would have been a more difficult fight. And the Americans and British decided early on that Germany was the first priority, Japan the second. A fight without priorities is a lost fight, and libertarians always lose. I’m not going to spend my time worring about the shine on my shoes when the tsunami is rolling in. It has nothing to do with party, I’m not a Republican, but I sure as hell don’t favor wannabe tinhat dictators either.

  • Nuke Gray

    Perry, the trouble is that the American government assumes that nonvoters are unconcerned by either party, and will accept whatever you dish out to them. Therefore, abstinance sends the wrong message!
    And, if millions of people don’t vote, the hard core of voters will determine all policies! This might ultimately wreck the process, but is this sort of systemic suicide the best option?

  • Mike Lorrey

    What I find unpersuasive about Perry’s line of argument is that you never see folks like him applying the same argument to the democrats.

    The dems are completely unredeemable in any way whatsoever, which puts them in a very different league from the republicans. You didn’t see him arguing against voting for the democrats in order to get Bush out of office on the same grounds.

    The main reason the republican party is so far down the path of corrupt depravity that some purists cannot tell the difference between the two parties if they dont look too hard is precisely because the purists pull this “I shall not associate myself with these backsliders for I my heart is as pure as snow and shall not be tainted by being in the same room as these chumps” attitude.

    As long as the people who have something worth saying and listening to continue this line of purist absolutism, then the GOP will remain the tool of the corrupt utilitarian proponents of expedient tyranny simply by the absence of anybody willing to take them on and challenge their leadership of the party.

  • MlR

    The non-small government portion of the Republican Party (which is to say 90% of it), can get lost insofar as I’m concerned. The foreign adventurists are no prize either.

    Problem being that also eliminates 99% of the Democratic Party.

    Eh, at this point I’ll say screw them both, but the Democrats a little harder.

  • MlR

    Maybe in a few decades they’ll be some realistic hope.

  • MarkE

    To look at this from a UK perspective, I have given this a lot of thought as we have a general election next year (Civil Contingencies Act permitting). Abstention or a vote for a party other than Cameron’s “Conservatives” runs a real risk of preventing the eviction of the Labour party that has done so much damage in the past 13 years. Given another 5 years they could add incalculable damage to an already impressive list.

    On the other hand, a vote for the “Conservatives” would vindicate Cameron’s position, kowtowing to the supposed BBC/Guardian left of centre (quite a long way left of centre actually) “consensus”. In the short term Cameron would do less harm than another Labour government, but his success would result in future “Conservative” governments following the same policies so we would be stuck with them for the long term.

    The question I asked myself was: do I think Labour can do more damage in 5 years than Cameron’s “Conservatives” can in 10, 15 or more? My answer was no, another five years of Labour is less threatening than an indefinate period of Cameron “Conservatism”. Once defeated Cameron would be dropped like the proverbial hot brick and then it will time to start working for a new leader with Conservative beliefs.

  • What I find unpersuasive about Perry’s line of argument is that you never see folks like him applying the same argument to the democrats.

    Quite so, and the reason is…

    The dems are completely unredeemable in any way whatsoever

    … this.

    which puts them in a very different league from the republicans. You didn’t see him arguing against voting for the democrats in order to get Bush out of office on the same grounds.

    Refusing to vote for the Republicans because they will *increase* the size of the state sends the message they must not increase the size of the state to get your vote.

    Voting for the Democrats or for Big State Republicans sends the message you want a bigger state. Voting for George Bush, a Big State Republican, got a bigger state unsurprisingly, and set up the whole political debate that all that the next few elections were going to be about was how much bigger the state was going to be.

    That worked out well, didn’t it!

  • Can’t agree Perry. If you left Russia out of WWII it would have been a more difficult fight. [...] I’m not a Republican, but I sure as hell don’t favor wannabe tinhat dictators either.

    Did you vote for George “No Child Left Behind Act and lets have a HUGE credit bubble so voters can buy houses they can’t afford” Bush? If so then you voted for the current recession and for keeping the entire political debate about “just how much should we *increase* the size of the state”… in other words you voted for living on ground of the other side’s choosing… ground where tsunamis happen… so stop complaining. The wannabe tinhat dictator would not be where he is now without you

  • It is vital, really really vital, to realised that George W. Bush was dishing out titanic amounts stimulus and bailout money with NO effective Republican opposition… i.e. the first small signs of a Republican ideological recovery now spring *directly* from the failure of the (supposed) lesser evil (McCain) to get elected top dog.

    Good point.

    Mike Lorrey: I think that you may be missing Perry’s point, which is far from being motivated by ideological purism, but rather by calculated pragmatism.

  • Good point. Mike Lorrey: I think that you may be missing Perry’s point, which is far from being motivated by ideological purism, but rather by calculated pragmatism.

    Quite. I am not a conservative so my desire to see the current non-classical liberal non-conservative Republican party become a conservative classical liberal Reagan/Goldwater party, is because that is what I judge as being the best pragmatic choice to at least get things pointed in the right direction. Anyone who wants less state is a fellow traveller with whom I am happy to travel for as long as we are both at least working to turn the ship of state around 180 degrees.

    I will worry about subverting a newly CONSERVATIVE Republican Party to the cause of *truly* limited teeny tiny government once they actually stop giving us mega huge ever expanding government!

  • RRS

    AREN’T WE REALLY MISSING THE POINT?

    THE STRUCTURE OF THE POLITICAL CLASS IN THE U.S. (which differs from that of the U.K).

    HOW DOES THE STRUCTURE COME TO BE AS IT IS?
    IS IT GENERATED BY THE “DEMANDS” (WANTS) OF THE ELECTORATE.

  • Mike Lorrey:

    Ever tried fixing an engine and drive shaft? Think you can do it contrary to basic mechanical principles?

    Same thing with ethics and its’ connection to politics – you can’t get it turning properly again contrary to basic ethical principles.

    More generally to the subject of the post:

    There are important aspects of the west’s decline other than the structure and scope of political power. There is simply no question of guessing whether the engine of political power can be dismantled by libertarians before the entire vehicle is FUBARed by economic reality, and so my preferred ROI is in getting the 18-21 year olds to think their way out of the universities. It does at least offer the potential satisfaction of seeing a real person get the hell outside into the sunlight of living a productive life creating real value for others and thereby themselves instead of slaving away at the destruction of their own minds on the direction of linguistics and humanities professors.

  • “No one who gives a damn about liberty should even consider supporting the Republicans until they have had a profound and merciless internal blood-letting and made themselves worth voting for by throwing the Big Staters out. They are not even close to that point yet.”

    Making the perfect the enemy of good enough. Conservatives can spend the next 50 years trying to find the perfect candidates with the perfect anti-statist platform, and will release their findings from the re-education camps the socialists have (quite legally) sent them to while they work this out.

    Preparing a plan and executing to to dismantle an overbearing state is functionally no different than creating it in the first place. While conservatives may dislike the state, they lack the skills required to disassemble it.

  • Billll:

    Making the perfect the enemy of good enough.

    Who said anything about ‘perfect’? Was Reagan or even Goldwater perfect? We know Reagan wasn’t, and as to Goldwater, we’ll never know. Was W or was McCain going to be good enough? Enough said.

  • Making the perfect the enemy of good enough.

    Wrong. I am *totally* willing to settle for good enough.

    And I am not unrealistic… shrinking the state *at all* would be good enough. How about 2% actual reduction annually?

    However growing the state, just a bit slower that the Democrats, is *not* good enough, and that is sadly what a McCain victory would have gained and what a large chunk of the current GOP establishment are actually quite happy with… and any Republican who can live with that is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • John Thacker

    It is vital, really really vital, to realised that George W. Bush was dishing out titanic amounts stimulus and bailout money with NO effective Republican opposition…

    Do you realize how government with multiple branches works? I don’t think any libertarian would have to question that Clinton with a Republican Congress was still better than Clinton with a Democratic Congress.

    If the Republicans take the House, they will still be the Opposition in everyone’s view in the USA. They will still be opposing President Obama; it is not at all the same situation. Yes, the Republican Party went along with things because of the sort of political groupthink and getting along with one’s party that happens. But how does that apply to divided government?

    In addition, I suppose this establishes definitively that libertarians really don’t care about agricultural subsidies, free trade, or excessive military spending on expensive programs, and don’t consider them part of socialism. There is absolutely no Senator in the USA better on any two of those three issues than Senator McCain. Yes, he’s absolutely awful on some issues, but it gets silly to pretend that he’s universally awful and just a vague “moderate squish.” The truth is more complex than that. You can look at Cato’s rankings on various issues.

  • John Thacker

    So in the meantime we are to merely lie down and accept a complete government takeover of health care?

    So long as “the mega-statists keep control of both parties as completely as they have over the last twenty years,” the solution is not “Republican disunity,” which would result in some Republicans voting with unified Democrats. The solution is a strong sense of Opposition unity, where all Members refuse to give bipartisan gloss to the Administration. I want disunity between the two parties, not internal to the Opposition.

  • Just for the record, I voted for McCain, but I am beginning to be convinced that long-term it is a good thing he did not win.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    As an aside about McCain, why is it generally assumed that military men are conservatives? The McCain family, career Navy as it is, has been getting its goals, income, housing, schooling and health care from the federal government for three generations. From that we can expect a sort of fusty statism, but not much in the way of small-government conservatism.

  • Mike Lorrey

    Mike,
    Actually, I’ve worked as a professional mechanic… anywho…

    MY pragmatic position is I intend to make buttloads of cash so I can then buy me some politicians and bend them to my libertarian will the old fashioned way: lots of booze and compromising photographs.

    There are NO ethics in politics, anybody who thinks there is is blithely deluded by idealistic innocence. Politics and government are force, force of money, force of arms, force of influence among the electorate by promising them too much of what they can’t have.

    Politicians in power are always about the expediency of the moment, expediency for their faction, expediency of maintaining positive polls. Ethics and principles are of no use to someone who actually has to accomplish anything in government (even if it is just to prevent others from accomplishing things).

    I, along with some others, got New Hampshire to pass a state constitutional amendment restricting eminent domain not by appealing to principle or reasoning with the legislators or the electorate. No, we proposed eminent domaining the homes of two US supreme court justices, one a dem, one a rep, so their respective parties would vote for our amendment for the sheer expediency of protecting their friends estates. That was not a principled or ethical libertarian tactic, but it was an effective one.

    If you want the republican party to change, you need to stop thinking mere voting is all you need to do to send a signal. Voting is for numpties. You need to join the party, get hip deep in party politics, become a player, donate to campaigns and make your opinions heard at party events. Politicians looking for campaign donations will connect your money to your opinion and start adjusting their stances accordingly.

  • If the Republicans take the House, they will still be the Opposition in everyone’s view in the USA.

    You miss the point completely and utterly. A Republican House will oppose a Democratic president. Indeed. And then what?

    And then after you get a Republican House, lets say you get some jackanapes Big State Republican like, say, the borderline deranged McCain in the Whitehouse…

    …suddenly the Republicans in the House who were holding back the tide are quite happy to support whatever expansion of the state that ‘their’ president wants, because a Big State means more patronage and face it, the important thing is keeping out the Democrats, yes? Not true? Three words: George Walker Bush. Where were those oh so principled House Republicans then?

    Can’t less messy and irrelevant principle get in the way. And as the Democrats love to think, “its only fascism when the other side does it”.

    This will only change by smashing the party apart and making it more ideological. Not more libertarian, I am well aware most people actually have no moral basis for their political views, so I am not so unrealistic to ask for that. No, make the Republicans more conservative. Make them into Goldwater/Reagan style classical liberals once again.

    Anything else is utterly failing to address *how* the USA ended up with the most statist leader since FDR. Well the way I see it, it was due to all the stage-setting by people like Bush and McCain and the entire Republican apparatus that supported the march into being the other party of massive regulatory statism.

  • And the only question that matters about McCain is… did he support the bailouts? If so, any claim the state’s insatiable hunger would have shrunk one iota overall with him in the Whitehouse is utter nonsense.

    And indeed he did. Fulsomely. He is on the other side, mate, and that’s a fact.

  • So in the meantime we are to merely lie down and accept a complete government takeover of health care?

    House Republicans cannot stop that. They are irrelevant.

    So long as “the mega-statists keep control of both parties as completely as they have over the last twenty years,” the solution is not “Republican disunity,” which would result in some Republicans voting with unified Democrats. The solution is a strong sense of Opposition unity, where all Members refuse to give bipartisan gloss to the Administration. I want disunity between the two parties, not internal to the Opposition.

    Sadly wrong. Why? Because you give a free pass for all the Big State Republicans who made the whole situation possible and you leave them like a festering pox inside the party ready for the next Big State Republican to end up with the nomination, because the party will STILL be full of people addicted to pork.

    The blame needs to be applied without mercy and right now, when the House Republicans are irrelevant and Republican unity achieves nothing.

    Now is the *perfect* time to actually have the courage to accept the long overdue surgery that has been needed since 1989. There will never be a better time.

  • John Thacker

    And then what?

    And then other elections will happen. Not to mention that it’s a dead lock cinch that the Democrats will keep the US Senate. So even if the Republicans take the House in 2010 and the Presidency in 2012, they still won’t take the Senate in 2012.

    Where were those oh so principled House Republicans then?

    Well, Dick Armey resigned because Bush was too Big Government for him. That didn’t work out well for libertarians at all either, though.

    And the only question that matters about McCain is… did he support the bailouts? If so, any claim the state’s insatiable hunger would have shrunk one iota overall with him in the Whitehouse is utter nonsense.

    And indeed he did. Fulsomely

    Actually, you’d have to say that he supported the first bailout, but not the subsequent ones. He voted against the GM and Chrysler bailouts when GWB was still President. He voted against the AIG bailout and the subsequent ones, though I agree that he gets less credit for doing that when Obama became President. And all the books released and interviews by his incompetent campaign staff talk about how he had to be convinced that the world would end if he didn’t support them, at which point his noted self-righteous and heroic streak kicked in. He supported the first bailout fulsomely, and then turned around and attacked the later ones as “generational theft.” Because fulsome is what he does.

    But in any case you would eliminate a lot of those who call themselves libertarians on every other issue if you make that a single issue. Perhaps some rightly (like Alan Greenspan, perhaps?), but there you go.

  • Steven Rockwell

    The way I see it, four things need to happen to get Washington back under control:

    1) Change the ballot laws concerning third parties. Right now, it’s nigh on impossible to get a third party in a position to even run for Congress in most states. They can run as independents, but with no party afilliation on the ballot, they can’t access party war chests or other party or state support.

    2) Recall voting must be made available to the people. As it is only something like 13 states have recall powers. So once someone gets sent to Congress, they are in until the next cycle. I can almost guarantee that 2010 has no legislation even remotely as divisive as the bailouts or healthcare. Everyone on Capitol Hill is hoping that they can lay low and the voters will forget all they’ve done this year. It’s even worse in the Senate, with their six year terms/

    3) Repeal the 17th Amendment. The states have no direct say in Congress and the Senate is little more than a super-House of Representatives. The Founding Fathers were wise to only give the people, easily swayed and emotional, only one part of the legislative process while letting the states act as a brake on their passions.

    4) Balanced Budget Amendment. Make Congress figure out how they are going to pay for something before they pay for it. Simply writing the check and letting my grandkids foot the bill would no longer be an option. Couple that with the recall vote and watch how many Representatives start suggesting there be increases in social spending.

  • John Thacker

    Obama is the bastard child of the both parties, make no mistake about it. Nothing he is doing now would have been even within the realm of political possibility if the state had not already been vastly expanded with Republicans in the Whitehouse.

    And nothing that LBJ achieved in the Great Society massive expansion of the Welfare State would have been even within the realm of political possibility if Goldwater hadn’t lost so drastically and pulled down the Republican Party numbers with him. See the House here:

    “Johnson’s landslide victory over Barry Goldwater allowed his Democratic Party to gain a net of 36 seats from the Republican Party, giving them a two-thirds majority in the House. This is the largest House majority held by either party since 1936.”

    And the Senate:

    His Democratic Party picked up a net two seats from the Republicans. As of 2008, this is the last time either party has had a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

    Goldwater losing so badly– and the disunity in the Republican party– discredited limited government and led to Republicans breaking ranks. This combined with the huge Democratic majorities meant that the 89th US Congress presided over the greatest expansion of the state in US history:

    Some of its landmark legislation include the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, …, Higher Education Act

    Even if Goldwater led to Reagan’s later election, was Reagan able to get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, or federal control of Higher Education? Or really, any of the Great Society programs?

  • John Thacker

    Oh yes, Republicans need the kind of disunity that led to the Great Society:

    In 1965 the first session of the Eighty-ninth Congress created the core of the Great Society. The Johnson Administration submitted eighty-seven bills to Congress, and Johnson signed eighty-four, or 96%, arguably the most successful legislative agenda in U.S. Congressional history.

    Did laying the groundwork for Reagan reverse the growth of the state at all? Not in the least. If there had been no Reagan but no LBJ supermajority, then the net effect would be a smaller state than we had at the end of Reagan’s term.

  • Millie Woods

    Perry, I was brainwashed as a child by A.A. Milne’s always keep a hold of nurse for fear of finding something worse.

  • John Thacker, the trouble with your view is fails to address that your approach is what got us all here. By voting lesser evil, you just accepted, and indeed ratified, a more incrementalist implementation of evil. Your steadfast refusal to blame the people who want more state (if they are Republicans) means they have no reason to fear you and even less to pander to your wishes for a less intrusive state.

    Your solution to the fact Reagan could not reverse the programmes of The Great Society is to vote for the very people who failed to reverse the programmes of The Great Society rather than to fight for a party where Dick Armey is the norm. Sure it did not “work out well for libertarians” because people like you vote for the bastards anyway even when they do the opposite of what you want. You “pragmatic” folks are the one still willing to take a bite of the shit sandwich when it is offered, not the libertarians. And I am not asking the conservatives to be libertarians, I am asking them to be classical liberal conservatives.

    If you cannot see that there will never be a better time to reform the party as a prelude to fighting an ideological offensive, rather than just trying to slow the other side down, then frankly you are exactly the sort of folks that the people who can see that need to marginalise at this juncture even if you are basically on the side of the angels.

  • John Thacker

    By voting lesser evil, you just accepted, and indeed ratified, a more incrementalist implementation of evil.

    By not voting lesser evil, you would accept, and indeed ratify, a faster implementation of evil.

    Your solution to the fact Reagan could not reverse the programmes of The Great Society is to vote for the very people who failed to reverse the programmes of The Great Society rather than to fight for a party where Dick Armey is the norm.

    First, Perry, you claimed that Republicans needed to return to the time of “Goldwater/Reagan.” But as I’ve just shown, that strategy led to a more rapid expansion of government. It’s the nature of government and politics, which you refuse to grasp. It is much easier to stop a government program before it starts than to repeal it once the hangers-on have become dependent on it. The ridiculous Marxist idea of “forcing the contradictions” in the hope that reform will make things better than the status quo ante is foolish and never observed. What happens in that excesses result in mild reform, but the end result is still more statism than if the program had been strangled in its crib.

    If your recommended policy of an enormous loss now in the hopes of being able to reverse it all later were plausible at all, I might support it. But it is impossible under the American political system. The divided power in the American political system means that a determined minority can block nearly anything. There have been only two recent exceptions– the first when Goldwater was unfortunately too radically libertarian for the people, and the Democrats got a two-thirds majority, and the second when libertarians, upset about betrayal of principles, stayed out or voted for the greater of two evils to “punish” the party that, in a better world, could be their natural home.

    If the USA had a Parliamentary system, then your advice would make more sense. But it does not. It makes no sense to let statism progress much faster in the short run in the hopes of reversing it later. Programs cannot be reversed. Containment is better than rollback in this situation.

    I refuse to follow advice that led to the two most rapid expansions of government since the Great Depression. Yes, the Republican Party needs to reform. But let them do it as a blocking minority or Opposition holding one House.

  • John Thacker

    By voting lesser evil, you just accepted, and indeed ratified, a more incrementalist implementation of evil.

    By not voting lesser evil, you would accept, and indeed ratify, a faster implementation of evil.

    It does no good to say that a party is not good enough to earn your vote, when moving in your direction would cause them to lose other votes. The problem of statism is not, sadly, just perverse politicians subverting the People’s Will. Voters are insufficiently libertarian. Even those who claim to be “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” to the pollsters make all sort of exceptions when it actually comes time to vote. They definitely don’t want to cut their favored programs, and they’re in favor of increasing government slightly on the issue-of-the-day.

    Argue and convince and educate, but don’t think that some magical libertarian countersurge will be able to undo statist programs once enacted.

  • Kim du Toit

    ” Repeal the 17th Amendment.”

    Actually, we could do a lot worse than repeal every single amendment, except the 22nd, after the 15th.

  • First, Perry, you claimed that Republicans needed to return to the time of “Goldwater/Reagan.” But as I’ve just shown, that strategy led to a more rapid expansion of government.

    Except you have shown nothing of the sort. What you have demonstrated is that by voting for non-conservative Republicans (you are one who keeps mentioning libertarians, not me), you have ended with a Republican party full of Big State tax and regulate Republicans. What a surprise, you got what you voted for.

    You are in a hole and yet you reject my advise to stop digging. This is why folks with your view that voting for the “lesser evil” actually works need to be ignored.

    But I suspect it may well have gone too far now and that the system is going to eat itself regardless of which approach prevails so this will all be moot in a few years anyway when the deck gets well and truly shuffled.

  • cjf

    A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.
    A radical is a conservative who gets mugged.
    A fatalist, I try to avoid it.

    The cross-pollenization continues. I find common ground
    with Joseph Conrad or Wm.Winwood Reade. Politically,
    H L Mencken and Ambrose Bierce.

    Neither contemporary;nor cheery. But, interesting.

  • Alasdair

    What appears to be being ignored is the current factor that, with not too much more Democrat control of White House, House, and Senate, the list of voters is getting filled with non-citizens (and/or dead people) … and, since those tend to vote Democrat, the longer it takes to stop the Democrats, the more momentum the Democrats will have …

    Bash Bush all you want, he and the GOP managed to keep the US (and, thus, the rest of the planet) out of a major recession after 9/11 … in the US, the Libertarian Party, as yet, is still thriving in its own way … if the less-than-perfect Bush and GOP have been so bad, just how is the Cuban Libertarian Party doing by comparison with the US Libertarian Party ? Or by comparison, how is the Iranian Libertarian Party doing ? After all, the North Korean Libertarian Party is poised to gain control of the North Korean Legislature, isn’t it ? Need I belabour that point any more ?

    If you are going to throw the term “fascist” around so casually, please try to remember that Fascism suppresses its opponents, prevents them from being seen or heard (often by physically/forcibly preventing them from being seen or heard), drowns out its opponents by only showing the preferred governmental side in the major media … and so on …

    If Bush was such a fascist, he was a remarkably incompetent one … he didn’t ban any major opposition parties … he didn’t close down any newspapers … as far as I remember, he didn’t implement any “Fairness Doctrine” variant to shut down liberal talk radio (OK, so he didn’t need to, Air America is SO boring that the market forces shut it down to the rump that now exists) …

    Anyway, posture all you want about how it’s better with Obama than McCain … I remember the Carter years from 1977-1980 … I remember the Clinton years from 1993-1994 … we are now living the Obama years with him having a Democrat Congress … all three periods sucked imperially, financially, and with respect to the freedom of the individual to pursue happiness …

    So I would welcome even a McCain presidency over the current Obama one – because, if our economy doesn’t survive, I remember that the last time we had a Great Depression, it took a World War to get us out of it … and I have no reason to believe that our presence on this planet would survive another World War …

  • Bash Bush all you want, he and the GOP managed to keep the US (and, thus, the rest of the planet) out of a major recession after 9/11

    No, he did not. We are in that recession right now or perhaps you had not noticed. The credit bubble happened on GWB’s watch and with GOP as well as Democrat support.

    Need I belabour that point any more ?

    Actually your point is incoherent, but let me try to summarise it: The GOP has supported a massive and long term increase in the size of the US state, but because the US state has not expanded as much as military dictatorships like North Korea, clearly there is no need to have a Republican party that favours actually reducing the size of the state as opposed to growing it bit slower that the Democrats.

    And you wonder why I find you guys hard to tell apart sometimes?

    If you are going to throw the term “fascist” around so casually, please try to remember that Fascism suppresses its opponents…

    Actually at least on this blog, when we use that term it usually refers to the whole fascist economic approach of state economic control that decouples ownership and liability from control (i.e. pervasive regulation) whilst leaving the means of production in nominal private hands (as opposed to the socialist approach of just nationalising things directly), rather than fascist totalitarian politics.

  • if the less-than-perfect Bush and GOP have been so bad, just how is the Cuban Libertarian Party doing by comparison with the US Libertarian Party ? Or by comparison, how is the Iranian Libertarian Party doing ? After all, the North Korean Libertarian Party is poised to gain control of the North Korean Legislature, isn’t it ? Need I belabour that point any more?

    No, that would do. If things keep going the way they do (with Bush having had been a major contributor to the way they are going right now), then soon enough you will be asking the same question about the US Libertarian Party. I do agree though that calling Bush ‘fascist’ is only fair to a very limited degree. When evaluating Bush, I’d err on the side of ‘stupid’ rather than ‘evil’.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    If Bush was such a fascist, he was a remarkably incompetent one …

    Thou hast said it. Although I don’t think GWB was anything like a fascist, I’m sure if he had been he’d have been a remarkably inept one. Obama looks likely to retire the trophy, though.

  • Paul Marks

    “Change the laws on third party candidates”.

    “Repeal such and such Constitutional Amendments”.

    If pro freedom can not even win Republican primary elections then the above is utter fantasy.

    I repeat “the Republicans” appears on no ballot paper – and Americans get to choose what Republican candidate does appear.

    In Virginia in just over a month a limited government Republican is trying to get elected Governor.

    Are people in this thread helping him?

    Or are they saying (dishonestly) that he is just another John McCain “Progressive Lite” in order to avoid bothering to help him.

    The Washington Post (and the rest of the left) are working every day to defeat him (even digging up student dissertations from 20 years ago where the then young man argued that children were best off if their mothers could say home to look after them), what is our side doing?

    Early next year Charlie Crist (a Republican who makes John McCain look like a free market fanatic) will be on the ballot for the Republican Primary for Senate in Florida.

    What are people here doing to defeat Charlie Crist and help his free market opponent win?

    If the reply is “nothing really” it is a bit off to complain about the Republican fielding leftist candidates.

    If we do not help free market Republicans – like the candidate for Governor of Virginia (whose election would make Barack Obama mess his pants), and we do not help stop collectivist Republicans like Charlie Crist. Well, then we have nothing worth saying.

  • Laird

    Paul, you’re wrong about the word “Republican” not appearing on ballots. At least in my state (South Carolina), and in several others I know from personal experience, one can vote the “straight party” ticket, whereby throwing a single lever automatically casts your vote for every one of that party’s candidates. Of course, you can still go back and change the vote for individual candidates, and it won’t cast a vote in any “non-partisan” races, but nonetheless one can indeed vote “Republican”.

    As to your other points, I agree that Charlie Crist would be awful, and that McDonnell (although far from ideal) would be a better choice than Deeds in Virginia. Another such race in New Jersey, where the challenger, Christie, although a fairly typical statist Republican, is infinitely surerior to the abysmal and corrupt incumbent Corzine. But the original point remains: none of these are likely to truly shrink government in any meaningful way. At best they would be “caretaker” governors, holding things together while the left gathers its strength for the next big incursion. Would they be better than the alternative? Certainly, at least in the short term. Would it matter in the long term? Doubtful, and that’s what this thread is about.

    A very good argument can be (and has been) made that in the US the two-party system is so entrenched that the only way libertarians can make reasonable inroads is to work from within the system, running under a major party’s banner. I respect that position, and would support any sufficiently libertarian candidate. (In my state, Mark Sanford, despite his political self-destruction this summer, meets that test, as for the most part does Sen. Jim DeMint.) But it’s not easy to separate the wheat from the chaff, because the Republican Party contains a large portion of traditional big-government statists as well as “religious right” loons who are thorough authoritarians. I just don’t see that the Republican Party is redeemable from within.

    That’s why I support the Libertarian Party. It may not be (indeed, probably is not) yet “ready for prime time”, but the word “libertarian” is gaining currency. Many people don’t really know what it means, and by some it’s said with a sneer, but at least it has entered mainstream discourse and its ideas (thanks to such things as the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine) are gaining traction. At the moment we’re only a protest vote. Hopefully that will change someday.

  • Paul Marks

    Laird – my apology for forgetting about the “straight Republican” option (everything from President to dog-catcher) I did know of that even though, as a non American, I have never seen such an option.

    As for third party candidates.

    If they can win vote for them.

    However, sometimes one should vote for them even if it is not certain they can win.

    For example, if Charlie Crist wins the Primary vote then people should vote Libertarian in November 2010.

    “But that is handing a Senate seat to the Democrats” – Crist would join the Democrats anyway, so that is no loss. And the Republicans must be sent a message.

    And there is even a Congressional District (New York 23 I believe) where the Republicans have actually nominated an ACORN and “Working Families Party” supporting candidate.

    This may must be defeated – in this case by the New York Conservative party candidate.

    But even if it was a Democrat as the main challenger I would still say “this Republican must be defeated”.

    It is not a question of demanding for a perfect candidate – it is a totally different question.

    “Will this man work to make government BIGGER or SMALLER”.

    Contrary to the media – Bob McDonnel has a fairly good record and has a good platform.

    But some other Republicans have a terrible record – and they must be defeated.

    That is what Primary elections are for.