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Post-election Republican agonizing on ‘Meet the Press’

“Meet the Press” was unusually interesting yesterday. Now that the election’s over, there’s a new whiff of almost-candor in the air. Most of the show was about the double-story of the fall of Gen. David Petraeus and the investigation of what happened in Benghazi.

In the round-table at the end of the show, veteran Republican operative Mike Murphy and Congressman Raul Labrador (Repub of Idaho) reflected some of the post-drubbing thinking coursing through the Republican Party. It starts with host David Gregory asking about Mitt Romney’s pitiful post-election excuse that Obama won because he bought off women, young voters and Latinos with “gifts.” I”ll put the transcript of the exchange below, which segues into Labrador’s argument that “big business loves big government.” Here’s the exchange:

DAVID GREGORY: We’re back. Mike Murphy, the fallout from Mitt Romney’s discussion that basically Obama gave gifts to minority groups, that’s how he got re-elected. This is the time when the party is trying to figure out where it’s going.

MIKE MURPHY: Well, unfortunate comment. I think we ought to have a rule that if you lose a presidential election, you know, you get a pass for a week because it’s like a bender you’re coming off.

GREGORY: Yeah. And don’t talk to donors.

MURPHY: I-- I-- well, you know, look there’s a huge donor revolt going on. I mean, we have now lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. This is an existential crisis for the Republican Party, and we have to have a brutal discussion about it. We alienate young voters because of gay marriage. We have a policy problem. We alienate Latinos--the fastest growing voter group in the country because of our fetish on so-called amnesty when we should be for a path to immigration. And we have lost our connection to middle-class economics.

 We also have an operative class and unfortunately a lot of which is incompetent. We don’t know how to win. So, this isn’t about new software in the basement of the RNC. It’s not about a few Spanish language radio ads. It’s a fundamental rethink that begins with policy because the country is changing and if we don’t modernize conservatism, we can go extinct. The numbers are the numbers.

GREGORY: And Congressman I have talked to other Republicans who say that the problem with Romney is that he doesn’t get it. I mean, it didn’t take long for them to turn on the former nominee and say unfortunately this point of view is something that he had in the course of the campaign.

REP. LABRADOR: Let-- let’s start out by saying that Romney was a good man. Anybody who knows Romney understands that he is a good man, that he would have been a good president. But he didn't know how to communicate the message of conservatism.

And I agree with Mike a little bit but we need to be careful that we don’t completely shift the party. We don’t need two liberal parties in Washington, DC. We need one conservative party and one liberal party. I think the problem that Romney had throughout the campaign is that he couldn't talk about conservatism like conservatives talk. I-- as I heard somebody say, he talked about conservatism as if it was a second language to him.

 We need to-- there are things about the conservative movement that actually-- we-- we believe in small government, but we also believe in the individual. There are too many Republicans here in Washington, DC, and they are actually defending big business. They are defending the rich. I didn't become a Republican to defend the rich. And what we need to understand is that big business loves big government, because they get all the goodies from big government. They get more-- they get less competition. The more that government grows, the more that big business actually benefits from the tax code and from the regulations.

The full hour show, by either video or transcript, is available here.

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Comments (9)

Bingo!!It's entirely obvious

Bingo!!

It's entirely obvious that big business benefits by such programs as military contracting and spending.

What is not so obvious that big business benefits mightily from programs that are considered "welfare" for the "little people". There are few, if any, recipients of "welfare-type" largesse that are accumulating wealth. Instead, it is the big-business suppliers of goods and services to the "welfare" that are accumulating wealth.

The real danger point for Republicans lies in the fact that 98% of the gains in income, post-recession, have gone to the top 1%, as compared with 55% pre-recession.

The survival of the Republican party actually lies in trying to make the "spreading the wealth around" happen again. Because, as at least the recent elections has shown, big money for campaigns does not necessarily buy an election. And, as time goes on, the concentration of wealth will become inescapably obvious.

What liberal party?

Never forget this is a warped political landscape. The Democrats are a status quo party that typically won't even consider putting real liberal agendas like a public option for health care on the table. The "small government" ideology warps the entire landscape because it's neither a conservative or a liberal agenda, it's simply incoherent. There's no rational way to have a discussion about the size of government. The only rational discussion about government is about what you do and don't want the government to do, and the answer can't always be: "less". Everyone want the government to do whatever it does as efficiently as possible, but the myth of private sector efficiency warps that conversation beyond rational consideration.

As long as the Republicans keep thinking that they can simply re-package the brand without changing the actual contents, they'll continue to slip into irrelevance. The problem isn't finding a way to sell intolerance, hysteria, perpetual crises, and magic economic plans based on nothing but less government and tax cuts.

Well said

I've always thought that we need a discussion on what government should do. The funding will take care of itself. The whole idea of "smaller government" is nothing but a conservative talking point. None of them can explain exactly what that means. It's aimed squarely at voters who cannot reason more than one level deep. It proves the kind of knee-jerk reactions that spawned the Tea Party.

On news sites like MinnPost, I'm sure we all vote every time. Most of us are able to string together a few sentences. Therefore, sometimes we don't notice how a lot of other people think. I recommend "liking" KARE-11's facebook page. It is incredibly eye-opening to read comments that people write about certain news stories. You begin to realize what progressives are up against. Most of the people on there appear to react quickly to news stories and don't stop to really think about the issues. I'm sure this is a better reflection of the population in general than a site like ours.

Well said. . . .

and I couldn't agree more. Political discourse today is all about trying to restore the country to a mythical past that never actually existed in the first place. What's really discouraging is trying to have some public discussion about dealing with climate change and the fact humans are causing it. Even if you can get beyond the total deniers, you have those on the macro level who resist any action unless and until China, India and other big polluting nations are on board. On the micro level you get resistance to things like denying the Keystone IX Pipeline permit to stop tar sands exportation and production because "they'll find some other way to transport it." But the main problem is that none of this even makes it into any kind of public debate. The Democrats, including our President, are as guilty as the Republicans on this score and seem to be complicit in limiting public consciousness or even concern about what is likely to be the major issue of the 21st century.

Republicans need to shift on just a few issues

to fix their standing.

1 - the need to get off the immigration amnesty issue and offer a path to citizenship. Something along the lines of 5 years of regular employment and no criminal charges would be just fine by me. Then, you can be very strict on those who either fail to register (in the path to citizenship) or who don't stay employed/out of trouble.

2 - they need to be in favor of simplifying the tax code. I heard a professor say that if you eliminated all but the couple of "the most treasured deductions" (mortgage interest being the one he specifically mentioned), you could reduce tax rates AND still gain more revenue. I honestly believe that to be true. If the government needs to offer an incentive to an industry, let it be by expiring grants rather than changes in the tax code. I'd be fine with mortgage deduction, charitable donations, and child care as being the only deductions allowed.

3 - Finally, the capital gains tax needs to be modified to add a minimum time to hold the asset before it can be considered a capital gain. I have no issue if a business owner that runs a business for 25+ years, employing people, paying taxes, etc., is rewarded with a lower capital gain tax rate when he sells the business. They have contributed in a tangible way to society. But the guys betting/trading stocks day to day don't deserve the lower rate - unless they have been holding the stock for a period of time (I'd say at least 5 years, and would prefer 10). Same with the relatively cheap and short term "options" offered to corporate executives. Those gains are not producing any tangible contribution - one could argue that they actual create economic uncertainly as stocks trade wildly in and out of favor. Those short term gains should be taxed as regular income - unless - as I said before - they are held for a longer period of time.

4 - They need to keep pushing on government accountability, not focusing on limiting overall spending. Spending should continue (and even grow) for programs that are working well. There is a benefit in society for that. But the ones that are not, should be eliminated. This is where the waste is - no one wants to eliminate an unnecessary or unsuccessful program. We need to get pass that.

Just these few changes would ignite and grow the Republican base. Yea, a few would leave, but they would be dwarfed by the numbers of people who would join.

Epiphany

There are a lot of good points in here. There are ideas and observations I could definitely get behind (especially the last one). However, the GOP has been carefully crafted over the last few decades to be what it is--a big ugly beast that lies in the way of reasonable progress. Do they think they can pretty it up? Do they think it would even be possible to get the behemoth awakened to put on its makeup?

Nailed it.

Neal and Paul are on-target today. Continued concentration of wealth in the 1% will produce a landed aristocracy so obvious that even suburban-dwellers will recognize it, and continued concentration on the irrelevancies that pass for policy among current Republicans and others who call themselves "conservative" will render the party itself irrelevant. I also agree about the Democrats becoming the party of the status quo. There's very little in mainstream Democratic policy that could be labeled "progressive," except by the hysterical right wing, who continue to see "socialism" hiding behind every tree and shrub.

Value Voters Fooled Once Too Often

Republicans learned that you can win elections by talking about emotional issues --abortion, religion, crime, taxes. Rile up the population. Make them afraid. Make them angry. The world will end if you don't vote Republican.

This time they were saying, "If Obama wins, the world is going to end. Just like the last time he was elected."

People weren't buying it.

A totally new story line is needed

Badly beaten in the last election means Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann, Mitch McConnell, Grover Norgquist, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and their likes need a new story line as their last story line has fallen on its own sword. It has never been this quiet on the Republican side. Now they are tring to figure out who they are, where are they going and who is their leader. They are leaderless, out wandering in the political wastelands, dazed with mis-belief that they lost. The tea party took the Republican's right to their knees. Nothing is going to change in the party until they bring the tea party in line or off load them. They will try to play musical chairs with their current dysfunctional, so called, leadership and stick with the same talking points, just with a different sentence structure. It will be interesting to see how many elections they are willing to lose before they make meaningful changes. They are at two lost elections so far. Four years ago when asked who their leader is the Republican's answer was they have many leaders in the Republican Party. As we can see, many leaders lead to nothing but chaos, all of which does nothing to help our country.