Ed Hudgins

The Civil War Within the GOP

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The Civil War Within the GOP
By Edward Hudgins

In New Hampshire—the primo primary state!—the Republican Liberty Caucus’s annual conference is a battlefield in the civil war within the GOP. With over 700 activists attending, does this indicate that the liberty faction is winning in the battle for the soul of the party?

GOP’s demographic decline

First, the context. The GOP is in long-term demographic decline. In 2004, some 44% of Hispanic-American citizens voted for George W. Bush, while in 2012 only 27% went for Romney. Hispanic citizens, who accounted for 17% of the population when Romney ran, will represent at least 30% by 2050. Bush received 43% of 18-29 year-olds, compared to Romney’s 37%. But these voters tend to be socially liberal--for example, strongly supporting same-sex unions--and will become more allergic to the GOP.

While 59% of white evangelicals supported Romney, this is little comfort to the GOP. Some 29% of citizens 50-64 years old fall into this category, while only 11% of young people do. Indeed, fully 35% of them have no religious affiliation. Tomorrow’s voters will be much more secular.

Two factions or three?

Against this reality, most commentators make out the conflicts within the GOP to be between establishment Republicans who are “pragmatic” and want to win future elections, and purer right wingers, who are unrealistic, often intolerant ideologues, scaring away voters.

But in fact there are three factions, showing the battle to be much more complex.

Establishment Republicans

Establishment Republicans, while critical of the welfare state, generally want to reform it rather than repeal it. They advocate rolling back many economically burdensome regulations and simplifying if not radically reforming the tax code. But they do not question the fundamental premise that government is responsible for helping people with either direct aid or targeted policies. This is why they speak of “saving” Social Security, Medicare, and the like. Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and John Boehner best represent this faction. They tout their creds at getting things done rather than making utopian speeches.

Nearly all establishment Republicans pay lip service to socially conservative policies—banning abortions and perhaps same-sex marriage, and certainly defunding Planned Parenthood. But these are not their priorities. This puts them in conflict with the second GOP faction.

Extreme social conservatives

Extreme social conservatives give priority to their values agenda that usually involves limiting freedom. For example, they would deny same-sex couples the liberty to marry, even though this freedom does not limit the liberty of social conservatives. They usually push a religious agenda demanding, for example, that symbols of their faith—a manger scene, the Ten Commandments—be displayed on government property. Their latest pinup girl is Kim Davis, the Kentucky government clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it violated her religious convictions, never mind her oath to the Constitution. (Would these conservatives celebrate a pacifist Quaker who refused to issue gun licenses?)

Establishment Republicans usually consider conservatives who give priority to social issues embarrassments who lose elections: Remember Todd Aiken and Richard Mourdock, who lost Senate races in Missouri and Indiana, respectively, because of their misinformed statements about abortion?

Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum best represent this faction and, in these two cases, they actually favor government management of the economy in the name of “family values.”

The liberty caucus

This brings us to the faction found in the Republican Liberty Caucus. Libertarians and Constitutionalists—many also social conservatives—understand that America itself is in a civil war between makers who live by producing goods and services to trade with their fellows, and takers who use government to steal from productive individuals. In our corrupt, crony system, political power--not free markets or merit--determines who gets what. In the end, the system that punishes achievers will run out of victims and collapse. To prevent this, radical change is needed.

Is there hope?

So is there any way for the GOP civil war to end with a unified party? Possibly.

Some establishment Republicans actually are social engineers on the right and wouldn’t do away with the welfare state even if they could. Others believe deep down that radical change would be best, but think that it is politically impossible. Yet it is impossible in part because they refuse to take a stand against the system.

They see many libertarians as impractical utopians. And it is true that the system can’t be changed overnight. But it can be changed in the long run if these establishment Republicans put their political skills into educating the public, getting elected, and pulling together coalitions to make radical changes.

Extreme social conservatives are morally wrong in their attempts to limit liberty, a practice they denounce when liberals try it on them. And, in any case, they must understand that if they give priority to the wrong battles—battles they’ll likely lose—government will continue to expand, overspend, strangle economic opportunity, and limit their autonomy to live by their values. We will all become even more dependent on the state for mortgages, medical care, retirement income, you name it. If you think the Common Core is bad, that it's making our children stupid, wait until the government goes after home schooling.

To win future elections and to save the country, the GOP must unite behind a consistent freedom agenda. It must reach out especially to the young tech entrepreneurs who value achievement and prosperity, love their work, are socially liberal, and will sooner or later run afoul of government regulators. The GOP must become a modernist party, offering a positive vision of a future as it can be and should be, if only individuals can be free!
----

Hudgins is a senior scholar at The Atlas Society.

Explore:

Edward Hudgins, editor, The Republican Party’s Civil War: Will Freedom Win? 2014.

Edward Hudgins, “The GOP 2015 Second Debate Rundown.” September 17, 2015.

William Thomas, “Donald Trump: A Know-Nothing for the 21st Century.” August 31, 2015.

Edward Hudgins, “Bernie Sanders, Socialism, and the GOP.” July 18, 2015.

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This is going to be WWIII that's clear... but no one will ever see it until after everyone has been drawn into it. It's just like no one will ever see until it's over, that this recession is actually a Great Depression with a big liberal government happyface plastered over it.

Greg

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All political parties have "civil wars" which are not wars and not civil.

However, there are no bodies or disabled either.

A...

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I was thrown off a forum called “Galts Gulch Online” for the following submission:


In “The Civil War Within the GOP” Edward Hudgins writes:


“The GOP is in long-term demographic decline. In 2004, some 44% of Hispanic-American citizens voted for George W. Bush, while in 2012 only 27% went for Romney. Hispanic citizens, who accounted for 17% of the population when Romney ran, will represent at least 30% by 2050.”


He could have noted too that in 2012 Asian-American citizens, as a percent of them voting, voted even more for Obama than Hispanics did. And African-Americans even more than Asians.


And he could have noted that as a percent of the U.S. population these two groups, like Hispanics, are increasing.


Will Hudgins, like me, be called a racist for pointing out these demographic facts and their logical consequence?


By the way, Peter Brimelow and Edward Rubenstein wrote an essay back in 1997 entitled “Electing a New People” along similar lines. It begins “Demography is destiny in American politics.”


Getting back to Hudgins, the same man in the same article concludes that the best strategy for the GOP is to “unite behind a consistent freedom agenda.” Yes, and at the same time the GOP must do what Trump is doing and address the problem with which Hudgins started his article.


Mark


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I could have noted a lot of things if this weren't a short piece. I have a whole book in which I note a whole lot more and many speeches that do the same. And I've written a lot of pieces on immigration and related issues. See the links on the Atlas Society website or look up my pieces here in the Ed Hudgins corner.

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the GOP must unite behind a consistent freedom agenda

Ain't gonna happen. 35-year trend of more firms failing than firms starting up, fewer people changing jobs, all 50 states -- a steady downward slope of "business dynamism." Atlas is shrugging. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2014/05/declining%20business%20dynamism%20litan/declining_business_dynamism_hathaway_litan.pdf

Of course that doesn't apply to you, Ed. You're not in business, don't have to meet a payroll :cool:

BTW, have you ever had a job that wasn't government or non-profit?

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The leftists have abandoned persuading Americans to be leftists. The new tactic is to import leftists, pushing aside a dwindling percentage of recalcitrant Americans.


Fixing immigration (for example per Peter Brimelow of Vdare.com) is a rearguard action. With it we buy time, without it we drop through a trap door.

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Ed writes:

Extreme social conservatives are morally wrong in their attempts to limit liberty...

The three Holy Sacraments of your secular religion: dope, perversion, and abortion... aren't liberty. They're libertine... and libertine is not liberty. It is liberty's antithesis.

The American form of government was designed to work only for decent people. It will not work for the indecent. So the only reason it is no longer working is that there are no longer enough decent people in America.

Now, an UNconstitutional government is fit to govern indecent people. That is exactly what they deserve so that is exactly what they're getting right now.

Greg

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"the GOP must unite behind a consistent freedom agenda"

Wolf writes:

Ain't gonna happen. 35-year trend of more firms failing than firms starting up, fewer people changing jobs, all 50 states -- a steady downward slope of "business dynamism." Atlas is shrugging. http://www.brookings...haway_litan.pdf

In my opinion, your assessment is dead steady on target. Atlas has indeed been shrugging for some time now.

Greg

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Ed writes:

Extreme social conservatives are morally wrong in their attempts to limit liberty...

The three Holy Sacraments of your secular religion: dope, perversion, and abortion... aren't liberty. They're libertine... and libertine is not liberty. It is liberty's antithesis.

The American form of government was designed to work only for decent people. It will not work for the indecent. So the only reason it is no longer working is that there are no longer enough decent people in America.

Now, an UNconstitutional government is fit to govern indecent people. That is exactly what they deserve so that is exactly what they're getting right now.

Greg

Does this mean I should let my membership in the Marquis de Sade fan club expire next month?

--Brant

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10 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Move out of cities, counties, states controlled by the Democratic party.

In that order.

--Brant

now, the country . . . ?

Yes. It's marginally better to have Mr. Thompson instead of Der Pantsuit Fuhrer, but the problems are intractable. There is no happy ending in the Arabian-Persian feud. At home, we pay people to do nothing but watch TV and vote, by some measures 1/3 of our population. Another 1/3 are too young or too old to participate in production. That's why we have such a sweeping campaign to advance Artificial Intelligence to augment a declining labor force. We are turning Japanese in every sense of the term, including fantasy VR immersive play.

Now then, what should be done about it? On principle I have always argued for sabotage and dereliction of duty, to withdraw all of the scientific and business brains, but they very difficult to convince that a Strike is vital to national security, and I can't blame them. They're smarter than I am. Perhaps they see things more clearly than I do.

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