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A Succinct Explanation of the GOP’s Struggle

Ace of Spades argues that it boils down to a conflict between the “Working Class,” and the “Comfortable Class.” Go read the whole thing, and then come back. I’ll wait. Keep in mind this is a thought experiment, and that sometimes it helps to make sweeping generalizations when engaged in thought experiments, but I think he’s spot on with his analysis within the context he’s chosen.

I am probably not that unusual, in that I was raised by people who would classify in Ace’s characterization as “Working Class.” My father worked a professional job, but he was never really comfortable in that environment. Today he’ll often say he wishes he had become a plumber. His father was a wood pattern maker for Atlantic Petroleum. My mother, like both my grandmothers, had only a high school education, and were stay-at-home moms. My maternal Grandfather was a machinist for Boeing. My aunts and uncles are steamfitters, nurses, technicians, all the way to the “Comfortable Class” of corporate executives. But one generation prior to my parents’, we were all people who punched time cards for a living, and some in my family still do.

The idea that I’d work in anything other than a professional field was not even a thought growing up. I went into engineering, which is admittedly the kind of a professional field that’s acceptable to working class people. If I had studied, say, Medieval English Poetry, or even Music (which I briefly flirted with), the people who I was raised around would probably have mocked the idea, and wondered why I was wasting all that money.

I have moved into the lower ranks of the Comfortable Class, and share a lot of the Comfortable Class’s values. What I don’t share, and what Ace is correct in observing, is the dripping condescension many in the Comfortable Class have for the Working Class. How could I? They are much of my family, and the people I grew up with.

It was “White Working Class” people I spent a lot of time around during summer jobs I held down while of high school age. Ace is absolutely correct about the pathologies of this demographic. Racism and xenophobia are a characteristic of some, and there’s no use in denying that truth. One of my part-time jobs in high school, I worked in a union shop which contracted with the Teamsters. Most workers were drivers. I was not a driver, and was therefore a non-union worker.  The shop did not have any black drivers. By that I don’t mean they failed to meet their diversity quotient, or other such PC babble: I mean they engaged in very real and blatant racial discrimination. Applications by black drivers went into the trash. That was around 1990 or so, so I hope attitudes in working class environments have become more enlightened, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they haven’t. This experience with very real racism, and the union’s practice of defending deadbeats, is a big reason I’m not fond of unions today.

You can see why some people, once they make it into the Comfortable Class, don’t really want anything to do with the “White Working Class.” But of course, it’s not universally true that everyone in that class is a crude, loudmouth, racist xenophobe. It’s not even a majority. Certainly a minority of people I was exposed to growing up, and not my own family.

But that’s not to let the Comfortable Class off the hook. I agree completely with Ace’s understanding of their pathologies: the dripping condescension and the readiness to make common cause with the left to screw people who work for a living if it benefits their desire for power and status over those they view as beneath them.

The primary struggle within the GOP today is whether or not to expand their base by trying to appeal to blacks and hispanics (the establishment’s plan), or to forget all that and double down on the white vote (the Ann Coulter plan). I don’t believe Coulter’s plan is smart or desirable, but I lack faith in the establishment’s ability to successfully implement their plan. If I were a GOP strategist I would bet my future on this:

  • Stop making strife within the party. I agree with Ace that this bickering between the coalition partners isn’t accomplishing anything. The Establishment should never have made war on the Tea Party; they should have engaged them. Yes, the Tea Party has its share of kooks and losers, but that wasn’t universally true. Find the people you an work with and develop them. That didn’t happen. Instead, the establishment immediately identified the movement as a threat to its power and tried to destroy it. This was a huge mistake.
  • Concentrating solely on the white vote is a losing proposition long term. That’s demographic reality. I also believe voting and aligning our politics along racial lines is toxic, and very bad for the country. Rick Perry seems to get this.
  • Learn as much as you can about middle class blacks and middle class hispanics, which will grow in ranks as the economy gets back on track. Targeting this demographic is no real short term advantage, but you have to start learning how to speak to them, and learn potential wedge issues you can use. Democrats are masters of identifying and exploiting wedge issues within and between demographics, and Republicans are horrible at this. New entrants into the Middle Class are people who are on their way to the Comfortable Class, and you can either let the left own them, or try understand their values, their anxieties, and more importantly their fault lines. Learn how to cater to some of their concerns without abandoning your values. You won’t reach all of them, but you don’t have to. Get some of them and let upward mobility take care of the rest. Police abuses and over criminalization are areas where I think the GOP can start to build bridges.
  • The term “States Rights” needs to be banished from the Republican vocabulary. Republicans need to be crystal clear that their understanding of federalism includes strong and aggressive protections for the civil rights of all Americans at the federal level. Play up the party’s history of supporting this. There are still plenty of people alive today who remember living under Jim Crow, and when they hear turning more authority over to the states, you create anxiety in a lot of black voters. The GOP does not need to give up on federalism, but Republicans need to be better on civil rights than Democrats, and I think now they can be if they just make a little effort.
  • Understand a universal value: once people get into the middle class, and I don’t care what color or creed you are, once you arrive there you have something to lose, and you are going to be less likely to support redistributionist schemes because you will be the one paying for them. People vote their pocketbooks first. The rhetoric needs to be how GOP policies support upward mobility. The GOP needs to understand that for many blacks, government jobs are a ticket to the middle class. That doesn’t mean they need to become the Big Government Lite, but it’s something to watch in rhetoric. Once people move up and out of the middle class, they’ll start feeling rich guilt, and will have enough money to buy the left’s indulgences.
  • Immigration is a sticky issue, but it will have to be confronted. The amnesty well has been poisoned by the establishment. The key thing to remember here is Working Class Whites have to compete with immigrants for jobs, and that’s what breeds resentment and xenophobia. But Working Class Blacks also have to compete with immigrants for jobs, and this is a potential wedge issue. I think everyone is worried about how these new immigrant groups are going to vote, and what the impact of their vote is going to have on the future of America. This is probably the biggest issue that stands to tear the GOP apart.

Again, I’m speaking here in terms of strategy, not what my personal policy preferences are. My personal policy preferences are far more libertarian than what would win elections. But the key is getting things moving in the right direction. If there we are to win, there must be peace between our peoples. If we are to have peace, all parts of the coalition need to be compromise.

Bernie Sanders Upsetting the Mouth Foamers

Bernie Sanders, the socialist candidate for the Democratic Nomination who’s been eating Hillary’s lunch, is a moderate on guns. He’s not as pro-gun as we would like him to be, but by the standards of the modern Democratic Party, he’s much better on our issue than anyone else in the Democratic field, save maybe Jim Webb (who doesn’t have a chance). Bernie says, “I think I can bring us to the middle.” One group that’s having none of that are the mouth foamers over at CSGV, having a conniption over the idea that they shouldn’t be allowed to file frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers. Sanders’ says:

Now, the issues that you’re talking about is, if somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer, and that murderer kills somebody with the gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not anymore than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beat somebody over the head with a hammer. That is not what a lawsuit should be about.

CSGV is upset because Sanders just exposed to everyone, on the left I might add, how utterly ridiculous and radical groups like CSGV, Brady, and Everytown have become. Even the socialist can’t buy into their “common sense,” and certainly isn’t helping them perpetuate their deception. To make matters even worse for CSGV, you have outfits like MSNBC saying, “Overall, I’m generally skeptical that gun policy represents a real threat to Sanders’ support from the left.” Could that be because, as we’ve been arguing all along, that no one on the left really cares all that much about gun control?

I’d never vote for Bernie Sanders, but I admire his being up front and honest about his values. At least I know what I’m dealing with. He’s not an empty suit floated on behalf of bomb throwing radicals, trying to sell himself as some sort of moderate by reading a mean speech off a teleprompter. I hope he gives Hillary a run for her money.

Happy Independence Day

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Independence Day. Yesterday I went to the Amish market to pick up some spare ribs. I just St. Louis cut them and put them on the smoker. The tips I cook on the lower rack of the smoker. I’ll pick all the inedibles out of the tips, and then find some creative way way to use them.

But let’s not forget what the holiday is really about, especially as polls show that Americans are losing pride in their country. I have to admit that these days, I’m not really feeling it either. It’s worthwhile to take a look at the injuries and usurpations and see how many our current federal leviathan and it’s current White House occupant is guilty of:

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. [Obama doesn’t have much of a veto record, actually]
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. [Check] [Check]
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. [Not really relevant in our current federal system]
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. [Fatiguing us into compliance? Never!]
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. [Our system doesn’t allow this.]
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. [Again, our system doesn’t allow this.]
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. [Not really relevant in the modern context]
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. [The constitution does this in our system.]
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. [Nope. Our current Supreme Court has self-immolated.]
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. [Check, check, oh hell yes check]
    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. [Check, but every President since FDR has done this.]
    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. [Not yet, thank God.]
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: [Do these assholes count?]
    • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: [Check. Just ask the people at Waco, or the Terry family.]
    • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: [Nope]
    • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: [Obamacare, It’s a tax!]
    • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: [Check]
    • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences [Check]
    • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: [Pretty specific to the time.]
    • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: [Fundamentally transformed]
    • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. [Fortunately, no]
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. [No]
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. [No, at least not literally]
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. [Nope]
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. [Impressment isn’t happening today]
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. [Not literally, but I could rewrite this to apply to today’s context:
    He has excited domestic strife among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our flyover states, the merciless Chicago political savages, whose known rule of politics, is an undistinguished destruction of all all competing ideas and conditions.]

So really, we’re not in as bad a shape as we’d like to think most days of the week, if you go by the standards of our founders. The only one Obama is really clearly guilty of is “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.” But I’d argue Bush was just as guilty of that as well. The federal government is pretty clearly guilty of unaccountability for bureaucrats who make mistakes, but it’s been that way for a while. The other thing is, if we really decide we don’t like it, we can change it without a revolution. But an unfortunate fact is that too many Americans like big government.

The courts have taken us this far, and no farther

It’s become obvious in the past few years that the federal appellate judiciary is generally hostile to expanding firearms rights, and that SCOTUS is unwilling to push the matter. It’s been a question in my mind as to why that might be, and I am examining some of my preconceptions about which Justices voted to grant cert. and why.

I’ve assumed, as did most people, that the majorities in both cases included the justices who granted cert. But, what if that’s not the case? In particular, what if Justice Roberts did not vote to grant cert, and what if instead one or more of the dissenters voted to grant cert. in Heller to take the opportunity to stop, once and for all, the individual rights interpretation, and then in McDonald to prevent the application of Heller to the states?

I infer from the most recent two decisions (King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges), as well as previous statements and decisions, that Justice Roberts really does not want to change the status quo when he thinks that the legislature should act instead. So, he votes against cert. so the courts don’t have to get involved in what he sees as a political decision, but when the question comes up anyway, he votes pro-rights in a fit of constitutional conscience. Meanwhile, the anti-gun justices went 0 for 2 in convincing their fellows of the rightness of their position, so they’re no longer interested in taking the third pitch, leaving Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Alito alone to vote to grant cert.

This isn’t my only theory of Justice Roberts and the missing cert. vote, it could be that he saw Heller as necessary and McDonald as sufficient to put the question back to the states (or that as of late the states are making strides on their own and SCOTUS should not intervene).

At any rate, we need to stop relying on the courts and continue to move in the legislatures. At the state level, this is already happening. We’ve suffered some reverses (WA and OR), mostly due to Bloomberg, but there’s a limit to how effective money can be. The important thing is, not to go too far, too fast. The NRA is throwing its political weight behind national reciprocity, which has come tantalizingly close to passing in previous congresses that were less obviously pro-rights. Will it be enough to override a veto? Maybe not, but it sets a marker. If a lawmaker votes Yea on this and this president vetos it, that lawmaker has to explain why he changed his mind in a subsequent vote. Once national reciprocity happens, then we can start working on the real prize; forcing shall-issue and “self-defense is good cause.”. FOPA proves that the federal government can force shall-issue, after all, they forced it for retired LEOs. They ought to be similarly able to force states to match NCIS’s timelines for completing background checks and force the states to consider self-defense as a “good cause” or “in the interests of public safety.” All of that theoretically leaves the management of purchase and carry at the state level, while requiring them to treat the RKBA as an actual right. Congress has the enforcement clause of the 14th amendment to justify this, too, no need to muck around with Commerce Clause.

This won’t happen soon, and it won’t happen with a hostile administration in the White House. So, just remember, elections have consequences (as our Chief Justice just reminded us).

Actual Common-sense

Albeit with a side order of a”I’m a gun owner but…” and of course the condescension that the NRA wouldn’t support punishing people who actually misuse firearms, or that the laws he wants generally already exist, or would represent a loosening of the existing laws.

The post proposes (after a lot of political bumph) in a fairly sane way, that the NRA’s safety rules be enacted as federal law and that be it. And, shockingly enough, that safety education be left to a free market, not forced.

Punishing the people who actually misuse a tool, and leaving the innocent users in peace. It’s a radical idea whose time has come, I say.

I can quibble with some of his details (the safe storage requirement he wants is a little too much pre-crimey for me), but it’s a hell of a lot better than anything I’ve seen come out of anti’s recently. And a lot of it should be done by enacting uniform state laws, not action at the federal level. And a lot of his anecdotes would not be changed by changes in law, but by changes in culture – that people be prosecuted for negligent discharges, not allowed to call it an accident and go on. But that’s a problem with drunk driving (his comparison) as well. I have no issues with treating NDs as DUIs, assuming we don’t go to MADD-level idiocy. And he doesn’t mention that the reduction in DUI was achieved not only be increased penalties and enforcement, but by PSAs and other societal education.

Best Gift Ever to the GOP

The Supreme Court has made gay marriage legal everywhere in the United States, thus giving the Republican Party a huge gift. The truth is that opinion on this issue has been breaking in favor of gay marriage for the past decade, and it’s only accelerating. The political fight over this issue risked losing an entire generation to the Democratic Party, since a lot of millennials are single issue voters when it comes to this issue. The Supreme Court certainly has not put this issue to rest, because we’re still going to argue over cakes, but for the most part it’s now off the table politically. I feel this will soon become a settled issue.

Pennsylvania was not a state that had legislatively enacted gay marriage, and it was not going to as long as the GOP controls the legislature. The GOP now controls the legislature at historic levels. I don’t think Kathleen Kane is endearing herself to many people these days. Things look good for the GOP in Pennsylvania for the time being, despite the loss of the governorship. I thought the gay marriage issue was likely the biggest threat to the GOP majority in the long term, and now that’s off the table. While I’m sure Rep. Daryl Metcalfe won’t be thanking Justice Kennedy any time soon, he probably should. The GOP was in a Catch 22. It couldn’t mellow much on gay marriage without risking the loss of evangelicals, but it also couldn’t keep being obstinate on the issue and expect young people not to close their minds to whatever else the GOP might have to say.

I have long been in favor of legalizing gay marriage (I supported it before Obama and Hillary), but preferred that it be accomplished legislatively rather than through the courts. But I’d much rather be pissed at the GOP because they are stupid, venal, and ineffective rather than because they are taking the ship down over this long-term losing issue.

Act 192 Overturned by Commonwealth Court

While the news today is going to be all King v. Burwell, I’m sorry to report some more bad news on the gun front. Act 192 has had a short but glorious run, having briefly given teeth to the preemption law passed in 1974. But now Commonwealth Court has ruled that the law violates Pennsylvania’s “single subject” requirement for bills. No word yet on appeal. A few things should be noted.

  • Preemption is still the law in Pennsylvania, just as it has been for 41 years. If you’re busted under a local gun control ordinance, those ordinances are still unlawful. You can challenge them and win. The difference now is it will probably take being charged to have standing to win.
  • The law did a lot of legwork in convincing many local communities to repeal their illegal ordinances. This erased a lot of effort the other side put into passing them. I doubt very many of those communities will re-pass their repealed ordinances. We have to keep an eye out though.
  • Stu Greenleaf bears a significant part of the responsibility for having to attach Act 192 to a metal theft bill at the last minute. He controls the Senate Judiciary Committee these types of bills have to clear through before hitting the floor. The GOP has a 30-20 majority in the Senate. To be honest, I’m thinking about donating money to Greenleafs Dem opponent, even if his opponent is a nut, just to get Greenleaf out of the Senate and to put the Judiciary Committee into more reliable hands.

The real loss here is that the cities that fought may now get their lawsuits dismissed. As long as Tom Wolf is Governor, the only possibility we have for getting this passed again is a veto override, and last time we didn’t have quite enough to accomplish that. [UPDATE: A reader corrects me, and it did pass with a veto-proof margin last time.] Also note that Greenleaf still controls Judiciary, so there’s that issue too. It will continue to be difficult to get pro-gun legislation advanced so long as he is controlling that key committee.

I Guess Pat Toomey Didn’t Learn His Lesson

I had hopes that perhaps Pat Toomey was largely bamboozled by Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer, and after experiencing the backlash first hand, would leave the gun control issue alone for the rest of his term, and perhaps even kiss up to us by giving us a few critical votes before he’s up for re-election. Alas that is not to be:

Though the effort is far from being fully formed, Toomey also said he’s looking for opportunities to reintroduce something related to combating gun violence.

“What I’m trying to figure out is, is there something that could get the support of the 60 votes that we would need in the Senate,” Toomey said. “Joe Manchin was and is a great partner and someone I will continue to work with, and I’m open to exploring what is possible.”

We all know that “combating gun violence” is a dog whistle for gun control. If it’s not, then Toomey needs to be more specific about what he’s going to specifically propose rather than blowing dog whistles for the other side. He’s already lost any support I might be willing to give time or money wise. He’s quickly trying to ensure I don’t vote in the Pennsylvania Senatorial election in 2016. Toomey has been a real disappointment.

Pennsylvania has a strong tradition of political moderation. The last hard-core conservative we had in statewide office was Santorum, and he only lasted two terms. I fear the lesson the PAGOP took from that is moderation in all things, rather than the fact that Santorum’s positions on social issues and advocacy for government involvement in America’s bedroom turned off a lot of socially liberal Republican and independent voters in the Philadelphia suburbs (which contains about 2.4 million of the state’s 13 million population).

So why is Toomey cozying up to gun control advocates? In my opinion, he’s buying Bloomberg’s silence. I believe the PAGOP is scared to death of Bloomberg’s money, and are very concerned he’ll flood the airwaves at election time with attack ads painting Republican candidates as radical on the issue. But really, Pat Toomey should be more afraid of us than Bloomberg, and I have a feeling he may find that out in 2016.

Words of political wisdom

“[I]n politics, sincerity isn’t as important as results.” (Source)

I don’t care (much) about a politician’s personal preferences, or his historical votes, I care about how he votes on the next vote. The voting record has some predictive value, certainly, and statements from the politician should be taken into account; but the secret of the universe is, things change, people change. Politicians change because people change. If they don’t, they get voted out of office, or don’t get elected to higher office.

Another Day, Another Search Warrant

In most states, such headlines aren’t often about search warrants issued against your own Attorney General. In Pennsylvania, it’s the new normal after Mike Bloomberg bought us a new Attorney General who has seemingly decided that laws on leaking confidential materials to the press don’t apply to her.

Of course, I also have to thank the good voters who backed her because their loyalty to Penn State without taking into account her position on gun rights or even whether she would be competent.

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