Confused Authoritarians

This is an interesting video by Anklebitingpundits in which McCain goes to a house party in New Hampshire.  I found his garden variety joking insults of the press fascinating, as the crowd tittered as McCain called the media 'Trotskyites' and 'media jerks'.  That was the joke, that journalists are trotskyites and jerks.  Weird.

The Stop Giuliani movement is starting, though it seems rather pathetic.  Rudy's Really Liberal is launched, along with a conservative declaration of independence in which signees pledge not to support Rudy.  There are fewer than 100 signatures, and only four inbound links.

Eyeon08 says that lobbyists love Romney, and his fundraising will come in fairly high (rivals are saying Romney could bring in $40M).  And here's the deal with Fred Thompson:

The point here is that different people are behind these two movements. The insiders hate McCain, and many in the conservative grassroots won't stomach Rudy (and, perhaps Romney).

I think that in both of these cases, though, these people are prime targets for the Fred Thompson campaign. I'm still thinking about Thompson but will have something up soon about it.

My read on all of this is that the Republican coalition is splintering among various authoritarian groups.  The nonsense that the right-wing base cares about social issues is coming to full fruition as Giuliani cleans up in the polls despite his embrace of gay rights, abortion, and cross-dressing.  Romney partially represents the business and lobbying elites who want to keep the profits flowing, and McCain has his base among journalists and old establishment grasstops that owe him favors.  The hunger for Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich is a proxy for Ronald Reagan's legacy.  

What Reagan did in 1981, as far as I can tell, is unite various authoritarian groups into a political coalition based on a hatred of liberalism and a fear of disempowered racial groups.  These authoritarians all wanted different versions of authoritarian rule (gold bugs versus Christian dominionists), but standing in the way of all of them were the old GOP risk-averse moderates and liberal Democrats.  Reagan welded a coalition of the risk-averse moderates and right-wing revolutionaries together into an uneasy balance.  Gradually, the risk-averse moderates with links to mainstream America lost influence in the party, until George W. Bush stomped them into nothingness.  And then Bush failed to institutionalize authoritarianism sufficiently in his time and screwed up Iraq, and so the groups are now all at war with each other to be put in charge of the party and finish what they think Reagan started.

These groups might want to bring back Reagan, but it's the Reaganite coalition that itself is now perceived of as a threat by the public.  Reagan never lost a war, because he was checked by a Democratic Congress and moderate GOP elders.  Bush, by following the interest groups that propelled Reagan to the White House but without any checks on his impulses, lost two.

And so the GOP frontrunner is a pro-choice and pro-gay rights cross-dressing New Yorker who says that he favored most of Clinton's policies.  And the 'conservative' base thinks he's a rock star.

Tags: 2008, John McCain, Media, Mitt Romney, netroots, Republicans, Rudy Giuliani (all tags)

Comments

33 Comments

Re: Confused Authoritarians

Excellent analysis, as usual. Reagan's coalition, like all political coalitions, was the product of a certain moment in time. Now with that moment having passed, it's unsurprising that the coalition is slowly but surely starting to fight itself, as the various parts seek to assert dominance over the others.

The key may be the disillusioned fundies. My hope is they bolt for a third party.

by eugene 2007-03-18 01:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

The far right, no matter what part of the world they hail from, are authoritarian by nature.  And in some cases, they mix a racial identity within that authoritarian culture.

Nowhere except for the far right wing is illegal immigration the number one issue.  It's the number one issue for these people by far...WAY over the war.  Whereas the Right who loved Nixon were still authoritarian, the current movement has embraced racism.

I am not one to non-chalantly throw around the word, Nazi, but that kind of thing is the natural culmination of an unchecked far-right.

by jgarcia 2007-03-18 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians
Nixon had no problem with using George Wallace and his ilk. He was, after all, the man who came up with the southern strategy.
by Englishlefty 2007-03-19 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rule of Law

I have a slightly different take on things.  In my view, the most fundamental aspect of today's Repulicons is their deep hostility toward the rule of law.  

They hate lawyers, and judges, and social rules that tell them bigotry isn't acceptable in polite company.  They hate the idea that America should be held to any standards at all, such as might be found in the Geneva Conventions.

They want powerful individuals and powerful corporations to be given free rein to do whatever they like.  They believe that might makes right.

They don't want working class, or middle class people to have access to the courts for the redress of injuries.  They want the courts to be used instead to impose punishments on working class and middle class people who don't do what they're told.

They don't want a meritocracy, based on fair competition.  They prefer cronyism, where it's WHO you know, not WHAT you know, that counts.

In innumerable ways, the Repulicons show their hatred for law, lawyers and anything that has to do with it.  In a country that used to pride itself above all else for a government of laws, not men, their stance amounts to nothing less than a counter-revolution.  If they succeed, the American Revolution will be reversed.  Though the forms may remain, America, in the political sense, will die.

by Perry Oikos 2007-03-19 08:07AM | 0 recs
Matt, I think you are wrong about this

Spend some time with social conservatives in a place like Iowa. I guarantee you they will not back Rudy. If he is leading in Iowa polls it's because there are still a fair number of pro-choice suburban Republicans. That does NOT mean that the religious right doesn't really care about abortion and gays. Far from it.

I know plenty of single-issue voters on the other side of the abortion issue. If you think they don't really care about anything but authoritarianism, you are wrong.

Sometime this year the religious wackos will coalesce around a candidate who is not "Rudy McRomney." The media coverage and attack ads based on Rudy's family life and past support for taxpayer-funded abortions will sink his candidacy (at least in places like Iowa and South Carolina). I do not think there are enough pro-choice Republican caucus-goers for him to win here.

by desmoinesdem 2007-03-18 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are wrong about this

I agree with you. Basing conclusions about the importance of various issues in the base of the GOP based on polling right now would be like saying that Joe Lieberman's good showing in polls this time last primary cycle meant that Democrats didn't care about Iraq. It's way too early and not enough people are engaged to say anything definitive.

by BriVT 2007-03-18 01:42PM | 0 recs
Matt, you are wrong about this. II

Hillary still leads decisively in Dem polls.  Does that mean that Democrats dont have a real position on Iraq and are just changing opinions for reasons of political expediancy?  

Stoller's conclusion that the right wing crowds don't care about gay issues, abortion, gun rights, and wont fight about them, is just as flawed as the conservatives concluding that Dems dont care about the war is Iraq, because the leading Democrat has been far to the right of the vast majority of Democrats.  

Neither Guiliani or HRC will win their parties' nomination.  Primary polls a year out from the primary are name recognition polls only, and unlike the readership of blogs on either side, the polls are taken among low-information voters.  When the issues are discussed closer to the elections, I have no doubt that their will be extreme reversals of public opinion, if necessary, a la the Kerry-Dean reversal in Dec-Feb 03-04.  

I have to say I was quite disappointed when I first read this Stoller theorem, a few weeks ago.  Its obvious source was the NH Advocate article (Nov '06.)

"Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader," Lohse says. "If your world is very mixed up, there's something very comforting about someone telling you, `This is how it's going to be.'"

We can follow Stoller's pseudo-logical thusly: if psychotics love authoritarian leaders, and Republicans love authoritarian leaders, then Republicans must be psychotic.

While this frame is satisfying on a visceral level, in the long term it is incorrect and extremely limiting.  I honestly expected Matt to abandon it when its novelty wore off, but I guess not.  

My own opinion is that it is unwise to underestimate an adversary.  The GOP core is neither as simplistic or ammoral as Stoller would have us believe.  If MyDD accepts this premise as axiomatic, it will be unable to understand and work from the fall-out in the GOP ranks, inevitable if a "liberal" New York City mayor looks like he will be the conservative candidate.  

by Winston Smith 2007-03-18 08:03PM | 0 recs
Concur

I don't see a great enthusiasm among the authoritarians for Guiliani. The decisive lean toward Rudy is due to a) McCain having actually screwed the authoritarians on the national stage (while Rudy's just talked locally), b) Giuliani appearing more pugnacious than McCain (the authoritarians like their candidates to throw punches), and c) most importantly, the fact that Giuliani offers a potential to break out electorally.  My guess is that if Giuliani had the same biography but was from a safe red state he wouldn't break 15% (with Romney the beneficiary).

Re Thompson - as a traditionalist conservative and former McCain supporter he likely holds to the belief that 'it's McCain's turn' and is going to give McCain his chance. However, if McCain continues to founder into the summer Thompson may well sieze the opportunity. From a Democratic perspective the best thing that could happen right now is for McCain to regain his footing, come out strong to take down and pull ahead of Giuliani.  Thompson will not step in to challenge a front running McCain (and would become a top tier VP prospect).

by Steve in Sacto 2007-03-18 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are wrong about this

If he is leading in Iowa polls it's because there are still a fair number of pro-choice suburban Republicans.

Well, what happens if pro-choice suburban Republicans take over the party?

by mcc 2007-03-18 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Matt, I think you are wrong about this

Martial law most likely.

by robliberal 2007-03-18 02:20PM | 0 recs
no, the moderates aren't on the committees

The wackos are the ones who volunteer to serve on platform committees at the county and state level. They will make sure not only to turn out to vote for president, but to vote on the platform resolutions at their precinct caucuses.

The pro-choice Republicans don't have the numbers to turn this around, and everyone knows it. A few weeks ago the Des Moines Register ran a piece quoting Joy Corning, a pro-choice Republican and former lieutenant governor of Iowa, saying that none of the presidential candidates have contacted her about endorsements or helping the campaigns.

Joy Corning serves prominently on various boards and committees, but she recently chaired a fundraising drive for Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, so I guess that makes her radioactive to presidential candidates.

by desmoinesdem 2007-03-18 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

It may be that Rudy as President would be little different from Bill Clinton except that there might be four or more years of a Democratic Congress his Presidency.....not that I think Rudy will be President.  Any Republican that embraces Bush will have a hard time winning among Independent voters and any Republican that repudiates Bush will have a tough time getting the nomination.

by msstaley 2007-03-18 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

um, i think there's would be a difference between Clinton and Giuliani on one very important thing:  Supreme Court picks.

by jgarcia 2007-03-18 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

That may be true but he would have to face a Democratic Senate, hopefully one that will have at least 60 Democratic Senators after the next election.  Given the potential similarities between Clinton and Rudy, one might wonder why he is their front runner since Republicans hate Bill Clinton but seem to love Rudy.  I have long believed that the situation for the Republicans is well set up for Gingrinch to come in and save the day for the conservatives but now that Fred Thompson is exploring the race Gingrinch may be in danger of losing his window of opportunity.  Maybe the first Republican debate will serve to highlight Rudy's shortcomings and bring him down to the level of a mere mortal.

by msstaley 2007-03-19 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

I'm not sure what the fact that Giuliani has worn  dresses on Halloween or whatever has to do with anything, but I do think he's one of the least objectionable of the Republican field right now. Maybe the netroots should focus our efforts against the most objectionable first, like the guy from the Double-Speak Express and the previously-pro-gay, previously-pro-choice, and previously-Mass-Gov Romney.

by BeekerDynasty 2007-03-18 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

I think you're wrong.  Too many Republicans despise McCain, and too many right-wingers are prejudiced against Mormons.  Giuliani, I think, would be the hardest to beat in the general, because states like NJ and PA and CT he may win.  As well, a lot of the soft middle may go his way.  Because of that, Giuliani must be target #1 right now.

by jallen 2007-03-18 02:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

My point had more to do with what is best for our Country in general than what is best for the Democratic party. I would be much happier having the best the Democrats have to offer and the best the Republicans have to offer on election day.

I guess I'm feeling generous because I think the Democrats have far better candidates in general this cycle (with the possible exception of Edwards but I see we disagree on that :) ), so I'm sure we would win.

by BeekerDynasty 2007-03-18 04:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

The best thing for the country would be to have a decent president, and Rudy would not suffice.

by jallen 2007-03-18 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

You are most definitely correct, Giuliani would not suffice, and I wouldn't vote for him, even if my other choices are HRC or Edwards ... not that I could stomach voting for them either.

That said, I still think it's better for the country that both parties put their best face(s) forward.

It is sad that Rudy is the Repugs best face, but after eight years of most of them drinking the mind-destroying Bush cool-aid, its actually pretty good, imho.

by BeekerDynasty 2007-03-18 08:40PM | 0 recs
Yes, I kind of hope it's Rudy

I've gone back and forth on it a lot, but whenever WE run some DINO against a real Republican, we get our asses handed to us in a can. If they're going to run a RINO against us, maybe we'll clean up.

On the other hand, I think McCain would utterly fail to excite ANY element of the Repoublican base, so it's hard not to root for that.

Of the three, I'm most nervous of Romney. If the religious right got behind him, the Republican anti-Mormon narrative would dissipate, whereas McCain's age and annoyingness and Rudy's sleazy divorces won't be going anywhere.

by tjekanefir 2007-03-18 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, I kind of hope it's Rudy

Couldn't agree more, RINOs DINO's and other fence sitters are generally losers on Election Day Maybe the fence they sit on is barbed wire.

Lamont lost not because Lieberman somehow appealed to the middle, but because the Republicans couldn't find a candidate of any substance to Lieberman's right. Instead they encouraged their supporters to vote for Lieberman.

That scenario is NOT going to happen in a Presidential election.

by BeekerDynasty 2007-03-18 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, I kind of hope it's Rudy

I think its pretty clear why RINO's and DINO's have a hard time winning.  

When a RINO or DINO is put up against a Real Democrat (in the case of a RINO), or a Real Republican (in the case of a DINO), people are going to naturally vote for the real McCoy.  Not the guy who is trying to sound like the real McCoy.  

So when Harold Ford tries REALLY hard to sound like a Republican, at the end of the day, why not just vote for the actual Republican, instead of the pretend Republican?

Its the pandering, stupid.  :-)

by JJCPA 2007-03-19 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

you must not be from anywhere near NYC

by Perry Oikos 2007-03-19 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

Your analysis I'd say is accurate for the high information insiders, but probably 95% of conservative voters have no idea about the various plusses and minuses of the field beyond generalities.   It's too early and too volatile.   Personally I think an entry by Newt or Thompson would find very, very many sympathetic ears.    Thompson to me looks stronger simply on account of his personality.

It's the same on the D side, still far too early, despite the lateness and the accelerated media cycle, except that on our side I think personality and charisma are bigger factors than ever.    Has there ever been a primary like this one for D's, where more than one popular heavyweight is running, one who would be a runaway favorite in any other year?  '68? '60?

by Andmoreagain 2007-03-18 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

I don't have the link handy, but the last poll I saw showed that two thirds of Americans are paying very close attention to the Presidential contest.  That's unprecedented.

The rallies for various candidates suggest as much.

by Matt Stoller 2007-03-18 02:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

sure, but define "very close attention".....I agree this may be "July" rather than March, but I don't think it's very near Nov or December.  

I talked to a relatively high info dem, who likes Edwards and Obama, not Hillary....guy's got a graduate degree, professional, etc.....he couldn't tell me the differences between the candidates.

It's early shopping.  

by Andmoreagain 2007-03-18 04:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

I'm a relatively high info dem, and I can't tell the difference between Edwards and Obama, either.

by BingoL 2007-03-18 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

"Reagan never lost a war. Bush lost two."

Two? Hmm. You mean Afghanistan? I think that may be being lost at the moment but it hasn't quite gone past the point of no return yet. That's if you consider everything from US bombing/invasion forward as all part of the same war.

And I have to agree with Yglesias, the whole point of what is wrong in Iraq is that we won the war:

It's the fact of American victory that makes further involvement so untenable -- this is what winning looks like and, frankly, it looks like shit; there's no earthly reason to keep doing this; becoming "more successful" at backing the Maliki government wouldn't accomplish anything.

by tatere 2007-03-18 01:44PM | 0 recs
This is totally off subject

But is there a Blogtalk radio show tonight?  I see it's on the schedule at their website but you guys haven't mentioned it here so I wasn't sure.

by Jambon 2007-03-18 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

That video is kinda sad actually. It is hard to see McCain winning the primaries much less the general election.

by robliberal 2007-03-18 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians
The problem is that you cannot catch magic twice and you cannot duplicate the same thing of one person with someone else.  The gop still doesn't realize that Reagan is dead.  literally.  That anyone else is not going to be Reagan because we are all unique.
We want to find someone who has the same leadership and idealism of a FDR or JFK or even our DNC leader, Dean.  But, we also know we are looking for character like them and not them.  The gop doesn't.
Instead of moving on to someone new and finding new leadership, they left their potential leaders to rot while they kept looking for Ronnie.  Now the leaders are not to their liking, or have become shadows of their former selves, ect., and they are stuck with no one.
I am so happy we have some really good candidates running and some on the bench warming up for the future like Webb.  
And while the gop falls apart we are coming back strong.  Really strong.
by vwcat 2007-03-18 03:52PM | 0 recs
Giuliani may hold the fundies

but the gun crowd will walk, not so much to the Ds, as to the Ls. Unless the Dems nominate Clinton.

by benmasel 2007-03-18 11:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Confused Authoritarians

Trotskyites?

What is this ... 1953?

by Oregonian 2007-03-19 06:52AM | 0 recs

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