Read the Gilens-Page Study. Right Now.

“Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens”
Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page
Perspectives on Politics
Fall 2014

Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page have made careers out of studying economic inequality and the power of political elites, and a brief review of their academic work suggests that these gentlemen are probably not card-carrying members of the Republican Party.

But the paper they have released today, available from Princeton demands consideration, because their conclusions mirror concerns shared by people of all political persuasions in America. Or it should.

After a statistical review of nearly 1,800 policy issues, the authors have concluded that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”

Before we go rushing into the streets, we have to take some time to dive into the guts of the report. While I am inclined to believe the conclusions, in order to understand the appropriate political response, we must understand what was studied, and the specifics of the results that the authors identified.

If the findings are correct, this is a report that does not call into question a stance on any given issue, or argue for any political party. It is a brutal notice American people that our long slumber has ended, and while we were sleeping, a small group of people have taken effective control of the government. Think about that: not of the Republican Party, not of the Democratic Party, but of the American system.

If the report is valid, it demands that any thinking Republican and Democrat understand that it is now time for us to begin participating in government as never before. America can be a capitalist democracy without the wealthiest citizens and largest corporations taking control of the government.

Read this report. Question it. Debate it. But when it is all over, ask whether it is time we start making deeper changes the way our system is working.

Rand Paul Calls Out Dick Cheney

Rand Paul: Cheney Pushed War For Halliburton”
Ron Dreher
The American Conservative
April 8, 2014

Dreher and I agree that Paul went a bit overboard on this one. But he makes an important point: the GOP has gone from being the biggest foe of the Iron Triangle between DoD, Congress, and defense contractors, to being its biggest cheerleader.

Embarrassing. Ike is doing triple salchows in his grave.

History will ascribe this shift to the neoconservatives, who, fortunately, have long passed their apogee.

In the meantime, it is encouraging to see that a growing number of folks on the right joining the Bull Moose in our belief that the Pentagon and its Military Industrial Complex are out of control, and must be stopped before they permanently undermine the national defense.

“It’s kind of sad when normal love of country makes you a super patriot.”

– John Wayne

Forgiveness

In the name of national unity, after a war that killed more Americans than any before or since, Abraham Lincoln called for a national reconciliation with millions of his fellow Americans who not only disagreed with him, but hated him with an unmitigated passion: “With malice toward none, and charity for all…”

If Lincoln could utter those words after a disagreement that wrought unspeakable bloodshed, why is it not possible for so many of those who fought passionately for the legalization of same-sex marriage to do the same for their foes?

This nation was founded upon the concept of “E pluribus unum,” out of many, a single united entity. That did not mean that we stopped being “many,” or different. That did not mean assimilation. It meant that we came together and remained so in spite of our differences.

E pluribus unum remains the watchword of the nation. It must be the watchword of us all, or we will cease being a nation.

Erick Erickson and the GOP

Why This Fight”
Erick Erickson

RedState
19 February 2014

In this highly readable editorial, Erick Erickson of RedState joins the chorus of voices calling for a Republican Party that stands for something, not just against Barry O and the Democrats. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he is correct in so many places.

He is right – we must stand for something again.

  • We must stop being the party of big business, and start being the party of opportunity for all.
  • We must stop being the party of the wealthy, and start being the party of the Middle Class.
  • We must stop being the party of donors, and start being the party of voters.
  • We must stop being the party that stops the federal government, and start being the party that empowers local government.
  • We must stop being the party that writes blank checks to the military industrial complex, and start being the party that gives America the best defense for the dollar.
  • We must stop being the party bought and paid for by caregivers, and start being the party for a healthy America.
  • We must stop being the party that legislates morality, and start being the party that defends the right of all Americans to live according to their beliefs.

Where Erickson and I have a disagreement is over this fetish about government size .We must stop being the party of small government, because a government will grow and shrink based on what you task it to do. Instead we need to start being the party of efficient, effective, and accountable government.

Welcome to the fight, Erick.

The End of Tolerance

What troubles me most about this country is that we seem to have moved from the American ideal – “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” to the Soviet ideal: “I disapprove of what you say, and I will fight to see to it that you are punished for saying it.”

 

One of the many serious flaws of neoconservatism is its excessive confidence in American power. This routinely leads its adherents into advocating aggressive policies without taking into account the possible and likely consequences of those policies, because they overlook or simply ignore how their policies might go wrong. That’s not unique to neoconservatives, but it is more perilous because they are constantly agitating for U.S. activism abroad.

via Why No One Should Still Be a Neocon
Daniel Larison
The American Conservative
April 8, 2014

Yes, yes, yes!

Once again, TAC shows that it is one of the few places where conservative thinking in America is finally beginning to emerge into the 21st century.