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A conservative Republican looks at socialism and likes what he sees

Elliot C. Rothenberg
Elliot C. Rothenberg

In June, an unknown candidate with a hard-to-remember name defeated a long-entrenched incumbent congressman in a Democratic primary in a part of Queens, N.Y. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has never served a day in public office, but the blogs, talk radio, and the rest of the right-wing propaganda machine have anointed her the new “face” of the Democratic Party. Thanks to all the generous free publicity from her detractors, Ocasio-Cortez has achieved national prominence before being elected to anything. She comes across at first blush as smart, articulate, telegenic, and charismatic, qualities never at a surplus among politicians. So what is not to like?

Ah, say her denigrators, but she is a – cough, gasp, choke – “socialist,” the worst current opprobrium for the ultra right. It used to be the more pungent “communist,” but now that its erstwhile enemies admire the homeland of communism and its leader, a former KGB master spy, that particular vilification has been quietly retired.

So what if someone is a “socialist”? I ask this question as someone who was a Republican (and deemed a conservative one at that) Minnesota state representative 40 years ago and the Republican state attorney general nominee in 1982.

A very different party

The iconic modern Republican president in those days was Dwight Eisenhower, not Ronald Reagan and certainly not Donald Trump. The Republican Party and its philosophy were so different from today that it seems more in the realm of myth rather than history.

Under Eisenhower, America built the interstate highway system, the last national infrastructure project. Republicans were leading advocates of legislation to protect and strengthen human rights, civil rights, voting rights, rights of persons with disabilities, the environment and public health, and national parks and monuments. Many of these measures were adopted when Republicans were presidents.

Moreover, the highest income tax rate for the very rich under Eisenhower was an astounding 91 percent. The supposed victims were not hurt by the high taxes. The rich still prospered and so did the middle class in what was then a middle-class-dominated country. The middle class could live well even in the most expensive cities in the U.S.

Not only that, Republican presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford all appointed highly qualified Supreme Court justices with no litmus tests or ideological gate keepers like the Federalist Society today. These appointments included prominent justices who turned out to be liberal, like Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, and Stevens.

A humane face on capitalism, a mixed economy

Those on the right today might say that all this constituted Republican complicity with the dreaded “socialism,” but it is more accurate to say that all of it individually and in combination put a humane face on American capitalism. The U.S. in the middle years of the 20th century had a mixed economy, combining the best features of capitalism and, yes if you want to call it that, socialism.

Then, the Republican Party was capable of governing and governing well.

Since the advent of Reagan and most especially with Trump, though, Republicans have precipitously and unceremoniously gutted the laws and regulations that had tempered the excesses of capitalism. In addition, they have slashed taxes three times for the very rich and are threatening to do more of the same. They have been Robin Hoods in reverse – massively transferring wealth from what used to be a thriving middle class to the upper 1 percent or upper 1/10 of 1 percent.

The differences between Republicans then and now do not end there either.

GOP on free trade, national security

Republicans used to staunchly promote free trade. Now they oppose it.

Republicans used to be the party of strong national security against Russia, America’s No. 1 enemy then and now. To that end, they formed and nurtured alliances with our friends around the world against the common enemy, “the evil empire,” as Reagan called it. At one time, Republicans knew who our friends and enemies were. Now they don’t. Friends are now enemies and enemies are now friends. The repudiation of the Republican catechism on national security is the starkest betrayal of the principles of the party.

What, then, is to be done with the Republican Party today? Reform from within would be the ideal, but hardly viable, option. Despite his manifest unfitness to hold the office of president, Trump retains overwhelming popularity in his party. His support among Republicans crosses into worship. Any Republican in office who dares utter even the mildest criticism of the leader runs the very substantial risk of losing a primary challenge to a truer believer. Of the Republican senators staying on after November only one, Ben Sasse, has been a consistent critic of Trump.

How to save the party

No, the only way to save the Republican Party is to throw out as many Trump enablers as possible in November to send a message to encourage the remaining rational Republicans like Sasse to take back control of their party.

In the meantime, we may have a greater degree of “socialism,” or the type of governance we had under Eisenhower. Compared to what we have now, that would not be a bad thing at all.

Elliot C. Rothenberg of Minneapolis has been a legislator, attorney, author, and – most recently – Fulbright Ambassador of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission. 

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Comments (59)

  1. Submitted by James Ausland on 08/13/2018 - 09:32 am.

    Are you actually a Republican?

    Maybe in the past you might have been Red, but to become so deranged by Trump that you are willing to support a Socialist who has more in common with Communist China then America says you have lost your way. You sir are neither a conservative nor a Republican. So trying to put that suit on as a way to make your argument against Trump only shows how shallow of an argument you have to begin with. If you want to support these Socialists then go do so, but as a Leftist. You no longer belong to my party which whether you like it or not is the party of Trump. #MAGA and soon #KAG is the way of things on the right. You either have the right to climb on board and help this economy continue to boom and continue to put great Judges on our Supreme Court, OR you can officially retire your conservatism and become a Socialist that you so admire right now.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 08/13/2018 - 11:05 am.

      It didn’t take long, did it?

      “His support among Republicans crosses into worship”. This is the typical response to anyone suggesting the Emperor has no clothes.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 08/13/2018 - 07:25 pm.

      Please…

      There isn’t a thing that is conservative about Trump. He just knows which dog whistles to blow.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/13/2018 - 09:29 pm.

      Well…

      The message we got from Helsinki is that getting along with socialists is a good thing. MAGA means distancing ourselves from traditional capitalistic economies like England, France and Germany and finding new common ground with former socialist adversaries like Russia and North Korea.

      Until the GOP can separate itself from foreign socialists like Putin, we’ll be better off associating with good old American socialists like Sanders and Ocasio Cortez: “AMERICA FIRST!”

    • Submitted by Sarah Nagle on 08/17/2018 - 06:03 pm.

      not sure . . .

      who is the deranged one in this scenario.

  2. Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/13/2018 - 10:08 am.

    My my

    As is so eloquent illustrated ( by accident, I suppose) by the initial comment, the old warning of “It can happen here” should from this point on be amended to reflect the reality on the ground. IT HAS HAPPENED HERE.

  3. Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 08/13/2018 - 10:32 am.

    Not sure what your argument is based on.

    The growing income gap is worldwide.

    The Russia hack occurred while a Democrat was in the White House and was directed against Hillary, not for Trump.

    Americans have been taught to hate Americans they disagree with. Trump is an artifact, not a cause.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/13/2018 - 10:54 am.

      The growing income gap is worldwide, but it is most severe in countries that have unleashed capitalism from any legal or ethical restraints and given it over to the Neo Robber Barons.

      Our income gap (and that of Britain, where the Tory government seems to be taking Cruelty Lessons from the Republicans) is steadily moving toward something resembling the profile of a Third World country more than that of a mature Western economy.

      • Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 08/13/2018 - 04:37 pm.

        Cherry picking …

        That is quite terse language directed at the Republicans…

        Read Pinker’s Better Angels book, The Rational Optimist, or, better yet, take and read about the quiz at the beginning of Factfulness and see how distorted our views of poverty and lifestyle have become.

        According to the vast majority of measures, if the safety/lifestyle/happiness of the wealthy increases 10% over a decade, the same measure increases 20% for the poor. By cherry-picking stats like the author of this article did, we are duped into believing the gap is widening, but in terms of the numerous ways to measure our enjoyment of life, the gap between rich and poor continues to narrow.

        Dare I say that the US is and has been a worldwide driver of such trends?

        • Submitted by Sarah Nagle on 08/17/2018 - 06:01 pm.

          Let’s talk money

          Whatever measures you are using, you’re certainly not using financial ones. The money gap has been widening for 30 years. People are falling out of the middle class daily; pensions are basically non-existent, higher education costs have soared, and the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy is health-care related. Rationalism and “better angels” cannot make this reality any better.

  4. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 08/13/2018 - 12:34 pm.

    A Minnesota…

    conservative Republican does not exist. Those calling themselves that are just lighter versions of their DFL counterparts. I call them RFL’s.

  5. Submitted by Arthur Swenson on 08/13/2018 - 12:40 pm.

    “Republicanism”

    During my lifetime, Minnesota has had 9 Republican Governors, 8 Democrats and 1 Independent.

    Of those, only Tim Pawlenty would be comfortable (or welcome) in the modern Republican Party.

    Harold Stassen, Ed Thye, Luther Youngdahl, C. Elmer Andersen, Harold LeVander, Al Quie and Arne Carlson (although the Party wasn’t very comfortable with Carlson) did much to advance education, infrastructure and Human Rights here in Minnesota and, indeed, nationally.

    Only T’Paw stood (stands) with the desires of the “one percent” against the needs and well-being of the rest of us.

    • Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 08/13/2018 - 03:57 pm.

      another one….

      So you think Tim p. should have raised taxes during the Obama recession/depression?

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/13/2018 - 09:52 pm.

        Hmmm…

        TPAW 2002-2010

        GWB 2000-2008

        The 2008-2010 national economy is the GWB legacy: Remember the GOP “suspend the campaign to stop the economy from collapsing in 2008?”

        And it’s all Obama’s fault!!!

      • Submitted by Arthur Swenson on 08/14/2018 - 12:57 am.

        T’Paw

        I don”t think Pawlenty should have decimated public schools (K-16), or left us with a 6 BILLION dollar deficit for his successors to deal with.

        T’Paw likes to brag about being a “self-made” man, but he went to the U of M for his Bachelor’s and Law degrees at a`time when the TAXPAYERS picked up about 2/3 of the cost of his education. During his term as Governor, ,that percentage dropped every year, and ended up somewhere around 1/3 when he left.

        State employees, nursing home workers, teachers, rural areas and even small businesses all were worse off as a result of the Pawlenty years.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/13/2018 - 07:35 pm.

      I grew up mostly in Minnesota (and a couple of years in Wisconsin), and I remember when the state was passed back and forth between the Republicans and the DFL on a regular basis. The state was well run either way, and relations between the parties seemed cordial. People seemed to vote for one governor or the other on the basis of personal appeal rather than any ideology.

      That was true up till the time I left Minnesota for Oregon in 1984.

      When I returned in 2003, the atmosphere was entirely different. I found what I had seen happen over those nineteen years in Oregon: the Republicans evolving from a party that I didn’t always agree with but could see as a respectable choice into a gang of vindictive ideologues with three basic principals: Taxes are the worst thing that can happen to a human being, governments never do anything right (except wars and prisons, which they need to double down on), and the law should pander to the behavioral standards of the strictest forms of evangelical Christianity.

      I felt like Rip Van Winkel coming back to Minnesota after nineteen years.

      A few weeks after my arrival, I attended a DFL picnic and spoke to a statewide official who had been in the state government in various roles for many years. He was shaking his head over what had happened to the Republicans. “We used to be able to work with them,” he said, “but now they’re out for blood.”

      There are no longer any Republican politicians I can respect, especially if they are avid supporters of the current occupant of the White House.

      The leaders come across as people who were bullies in high school.

      The rank-and-file come across as cult members, eagerly choosing to believe whatever is promoted on Fox News, AM talk radio, or various right-wing websites. When challenged, they all come up with the same responses: Venezuela! What Nancy Pelosi and Obama said about the ACA! Benghazi! You’re a Marxist! The Nazis were leftists! They’re perfectly nice people when the subject is not politics, but when the subject is politics, it’s as if there’s a tape loop at work in their brains, telling them what to say in every situation, and facts cannot override their programming.

      Come to think of it, they remind me of a friend in Japan who got sucked into one of their many cults. No, not Aum Shinrikyo, but a more benign one that still seemed to have stolen her brain.

      What has happened to the Republicans is tragic, and no one inside the party seems to be interested in bringing them back to their senses.

  6. Submitted by joe smith on 08/13/2018 - 01:34 pm.

    In this Socialst heaven I hear of

    who works and for whom do they work? Are all businesses State run? Does the State start up new businesses as the market demands? Are we all paid the same whether you are CFO, cashier, floor sweeper or shelf stuffer? Are farmers part of the Socialist train also? Does the State own all the land? Who produces the money that we give out to all Americans? Are Doctors going to paid like nurses, X-ray techs and pharmacists?
    So many questions but so few answers with this new found fascination of the Left. I guess the “free for all” covers all those small sticky points like who makes the money the Government gives away.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/13/2018 - 07:09 pm.

      The answer to all your questions except the first one and the second-to-the-last one is “no.”

      Nobody is talking about a Soviet or Maoist style system, which is what you are describing, except a tiny minority of die-hards who were never in the Democratic Party anyway and wouldn’t join it even if asked.

      The system the left wing of the Democratic Party is promoting prevails in most Western industrialized countries except the U.S. (and Britain, where the Tories seem to be ripping their once-strong social safety net apart, thread by thread, and with sneering glee) and is more properly called “social democracy.”

      Look at the northern European countries, Australia, New Zealand, even Canada. In those countries, too, the pattern of answers is the same. “No” except in the case of the first and second-to-the-last questions, which are not yes-no questions.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 08/14/2018 - 09:00 am.

        Just to be clear,

        you are talking a hybrid blend of socialism and capitalism. The Government will take over the medical industry, K-college and supply a living wage for all Americans. This alone will cost 10’s of Trillions over a persons lifetime. Along with the “freebies “ comes those economic stimulating policies like Cash for Clunkers, Solyndra, War on mining and drilling that had our economy rolling at 1.8% GDP growth. For every .1% increase in our GDP, 200+Billion new money is being created by Americans. That money stimulates the economy and raises consumer confidence. That is why for the first time in 30 years you have policies in place to help Main Street not Wall Street and it is working.
        Once you vote in this hybrid of socialism and capitalism (you claim works worldwide), how long before the Government decides it should run our farms, car industry, mining industry and any number of businesses?
        Total pipe dream being sold to our young folks by individuals that truly don’t understand how a country like America runs. There is a reason we are the most successful country in the world and folks are trying to come here to escape their own run down semi socialist country. We have the freedom to take chances in the free market and rise or fall on our own initiative. This semi socialism you are talking about takes away the individuals drive to find success. The utopia being sold to our youngsters sounds so good but is complicated to the point of crippling the strongest economy in the world.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/14/2018 - 09:37 am.

          And…

          Just for those scoring at home, the “evil hybrid” you speak of is practiced in the majority of countries worldwide who lead in per-capita GDP:

          1 Luxembourg
          2 Switzerland
          3 Iceland
          4 Macao SAR
          5 Norway
          6 Ireland
          7 Qatar
          8 Denmark
          9 United States
          10 Singapore
          11 Australia
          12 Sweden
          13 Netherlands
          14 Austria
          15 Finland
          16 San Marino
          17 Germany
          18 Belgium
          19 Hong Kong SAR
          20 Canada

          • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/14/2018 - 10:59 am.

            And And…

            * Socialized Medical Care
            ** Tuition Free Post Secondary Education

            1 Luxembourg*
            2 Switzerland*
            3 Iceland*,**
            4 Macao SAR*
            5 Norway*
            6 Ireland*
            7 Qatar*
            8 Denmark*,**
            9 United States
            10 Singapore*
            11 Australia*
            12 Sweden*,**
            13 Netherlands*
            14 Austria*
            15 Finland*,**
            16 San Marino*
            17 Germany*
            18 Belgium*
            19 Hong Kong SAR*
            20 Canada*

          • Submitted by joe smith on 08/14/2018 - 04:40 pm.

            Yep, and once we get out of the

            dismal GDP growth of 1.8%, to a healthy 3%+ we will again show the world what a thriving economy looks like. 3%+ GDP number (projected for 2018) includes the 100 million or so folks on some form of welfare, so we cut that welfare number by 10-20% and then our economy is rolling. Folks want the dignity of a job, not a Government handout.

            • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/15/2018 - 12:53 pm.

              Well…

              “Folks want the dignity of a job, not a Government handout.”

              Tell that to Trump tariff subsidized farmers.

              And if you want to acknowledge the slight uptick in slope in multiple economic measures from Trump to Obama, I’m sure you will want to acknowledge the huge, dramatic, game changing improvements from GWB to Obama on these same measures where slope changed from negative to positive and has stayed that way.

              Trump Derangement Syndrome is really the extent to which Trumpians will go to find a silver lining, any silver lining in this unprecedented executive branch mess he has created.

              • Submitted by joe smith on 08/16/2018 - 01:48 pm.

                I’m not a fan of Bush,

                he was Obama lite. He did nothing when his econ guys told him the housing bubble, caused by subprime loans (forced loans to folks who didn’t qualify, thanks Dems), was ready to burst. Bush did nothing to stop illegal entries across our borders and had the same policies as Obama, Wall Street over Main Street. Plus like Obama he grew national debt like a drunken sailor. As I like to ask my DFL friends, what policies did Obama implement to stop the bleeding he inherited? Cash for Clunkers was a bust, stimulus package ending up as a punchline, Obama quipped: I guess shovel ready wasn’t as ready as we thought, Obamacare (enough said), didn’t cut taxes or try to fix outdated trade agreements plus added regulations at a record level. Trump on the other hand, cut the corporate tax from a world leading 35% to 21% (should have gone lower), cut individual taxes, cut regulations, promoted businesses and pushed for manufacturing and mining jobs (65,000 manufacturing jobs created last 2 years of Obama, 350,000+ created under Trump). As I stated, when the GDP rate pushes over 3% to 4%, the economy is rolling and we will rise in world rankings.

                • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/16/2018 - 09:33 pm.

                  Well..

                  “Plus like Obama he grew national debt like a drunken sailor.”

                  Surely you must be able to see the debt increases being lined up by Trump. The tax cuts you praise are being paid for by debt. If you look at the Obama debt facts you will see that the inherited Bush economy led to big debt increases early on that tailed off in later Obama years. Trump inherited an economy trending in the right direction from Obama. He sustained it and slightly increased it in his early days. Good for him. The tax cut was simply unnecessary at the time of it’s implementation. We would have been better off to focus instead on managing debt and preparing for upcoming SS and Medicare needs. Of course that would have been responsible, adult behavior. Things totally foreign to our dear leader and most other Republicans. Remember when people thought Paul Ryan was fiscally responsible!!!

                  Oh, for nostalgia….

        • Submitted by ian wade on 08/14/2018 - 02:28 pm.

          Actually, the “pipe dream” is thinking

          that you folks have a stranglehold on “how America runs.” You can’t stop running water.

  7. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/13/2018 - 06:27 pm.

    Social Democrats

    Mr. Rothenberg has his answer to “So what if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Socialist?” At least from a few of those who hold the keys to the sacred truths of Republicanism and so-called conservatism. Mr. Smith at least acknowledges that there are so many questions and so few answers but still concludes that anything that has “social” in it must be bad.

    Consider what went down in 2008: the Government gave away billions to a relatively few rich people, the very ones who had engineered the financial meltdown that the bailout was in response to. Loud cries and anguish and anger from these same masters of the universe when President Obama suggested mildly that the bonuses paid out in the next couple of years might have been a bit excessive. But if that’s not Socialism, what is it? Or what was it when the Government took equity stock ownership in a majority of companies like GM and AIG? Now that the economy is booming again, all is forgotten and forgiven. Ignoring the fact that the Government now stands if not in law then in fact as the ultimate guarantor of the gross inequality of the distribution of wealth in this country.

    Notice how this happens without the government “owning” anything but with the government really being “owned” by the wealthiest in this country (or the world) not by shares or certificates of title but by de facto control of the three branches of government.

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and others (who are really not “Socialists” but Social Democrats) are taking a page out of Bernie Sanders’s playbook and counting on a growing number of voters understanding the true balance of power- which grows out of economic power in this country- and returning this power to the people in both political and economic terms. Social democracy works well in many other advances post-industrial democracies. it is really the only way a nation as advanced economically as the United States can be anything like a true democracy.

    Mr. Rothenberg is right when he asks: what’s not to like?

  8. Submitted by Tim Smith on 08/13/2018 - 09:06 pm.

    Usual

    Pipe dreams n falsehoods,, Almot no one during Ike ‘s administration paid the top bracket, so misleading.

    The Ocasio-Cortez shooting star crashed n burned because of her own embarrassing inabilty to articulate a message beyond her.pie in the sky ideas. Did you see her try to explain single payer would add 32 trillion to deficit 10 years?.all talk no details, facts.

    Keep venezuela in venezuala,,, no thanks!!

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/14/2018 - 11:03 am.

      While it’s true that no one paid 91% of their income—that top rate was a MARGINAL rate, applicable only to that portion of a person’s income over a certain amount (I think it was $400,000, or about $3 million in today’s money, according to the online inflation calculators), the high taxes motivated the wealthy to do take actions that are tax deductible: contributing more to charity, for instance. It also served as a brake on excessive compensation for corporate executives. Why bother making 10 million dollars in the 1950s, if you’d have to give up 91% of the last $9.6 million?

      The corporate tax rate in that same period was about 50%, and corporations were motivated to spend money in ways that were (and still mostly are) deducted from revenue before taxes are computed: hiring people and giving them better wages and benefits, R&D, building manufacturing plants and offices, training employees to upgrade their skills, buying supplies and equipment, business travel, contributions to the local community, leasing buildings, shipping raw materials in and finished goods out, and so on. Note that many of these tax-deductible actions create jobs, either directly or indirectly.

      This was the era in which the U.S. had the world’s largest comfortable middle class, built the interstate highway system, provided affordable state universities (annual tuition for commuters at the University of Minnesota in 1968 was $375 or $2,727 in today’s money, compared to the current $14,000), and laid the foundation for many of the technologies that are now used worldwide.

      President Kennedy did institute a tax cut, cutting the top rate all the way to 70%, but those of us who were alive in the 1950s and 1960s remember it as an optimistic time when living standards were rising rapidly for everyone. People were entering the middle class, not falling out of it because of their jobs being off-shored or because their wages and benefits were deemed “too expensive.”

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 08/14/2018 - 04:22 pm.

        that was the 50’s

        and we are in 2018, I think some things may have changed and you should move forward to the reality of a global economy today and leave the past where it is.Not relevant at all.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/14/2018 - 11:20 am.

      crashed n burned?

      You do know that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is on track to be elected to the House of Representatives, right? And that she is on only her first attempt at elective office?

      She may have “crashed n burned” on the conservative cable gabfests or websites that everyone here denies watching or following, but those shows or websites aren’t really important in the scheme of things, are they?

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 08/14/2018 - 04:20 pm.

        oh sure

        she will get elected in a very heavy democrat district, but she has lost much credibility outside of her district. Fact checkers are working over time to debunk pretty much everything she says. That is not a Republican message or comes form Republican media (what little there is), its fact that thinking people should accept and embrace..

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/14/2018 - 05:16 pm.

          Why?

          Why the urgency to “debunk Pretty much everything she says” if she has lost her credibility outside of her district? I know that’s what Fox News says (you lifted that pretty much word-for-word from them, didn’t you?), but since she has been a national figure for all of six weeks, I can’t understand why the not-the-Republican media would bother. Are they perhaps afraid her message will resonate with voters?

          Incidentally, she is running in a very heavily “Democratic” district. I’m sure that’s what you meant instead of the petty pejorative “democrat district.”

          • Submitted by Tim Smith on 08/15/2018 - 08:39 am.

            you need

            to get head out of fox news sand, many media outlets are questioning her ability to communicate a factual message, including WaPo, a real conservative outlet you know.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/14/2018 - 05:30 pm.

      I love it…

      “The Ocasio-Cortez shooting star crashed n burned”

      Hmm, can you name any other politician that at times misspeaks, or does not accurately represent his/her intent or even truthfulness?

      Buhler..
      Buhler..
      Buhler..

      These qualities are seemingly the price of admission in today’s politics from the perspective of today’s right:

      “Give me agreeable lies rather than disagreeable truth anytime…”

      And that is why 16 untruths per day is A OK with Trump supporters.

  9. Submitted by Barry Rosenthal on 08/14/2018 - 05:30 am.

    Those were the days

    A timely and concise statement of how the GOP moved first to ideological purity and most recently to a cult of personality. A half a century ago, many of us used to wish for ideologically consistent parties. (“Let’s get rid of those southern Democrats who are holding back progress!”) Well, we got what we wanted: two parties that have strong forces that pull each to extremes and make the center a lonely place to be.

    • Submitted by Roy Everson on 08/14/2018 - 08:14 pm.

      It’s been around for quite a while

      Southern Democrats left the party voluntarily because they couldn’t stomach embracing the Civil RIghts movement. Their heirs are political conservative Republicans who maintain the low standards and racial resentments of many Southern states relative to other states, showing how an oligarchic form of government maintains itself for generations and results in poor electoral choices.

      Today’s Democrats are far from extreme, rather there is finally a return to their New Deal and Great Society roots, eras which coincided with the party’s greatest popularity. In both eras there were plenty of conservatives in the party (like today’s more moderate wing) which managed to temper the extremes.

      Social democracy is the natural fruit of democracy when the population is well educated, votes in high numbers, and is reasonably informed and equipped with democratic institutions such as schools, libraries, labor unions, a free press and so on. Not one-party states but nations with thriving multi-party systems. That’s what makes socialism “democratic”– when it’s tempered by sincere, democracy-respecting opposing parties. Social democrats aren’t doing so well these days, but when you consider that for the past century they’ve helped the working class become middle class all over the world one might infer they’ve become victims of their own success, creating middle class voters who may now find suitable politics elsewhere. Much of the party platform is the status quo, so they need new formulas. But the USA has much it can learn about government taking care of what it can do better than private enterprise, and leaving to the latter what it does better than government.

      Comparisons with Venezuela are downright silly when there is so much history of democratic socialism that tells a different story.

  10. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 08/14/2018 - 06:59 am.

    An yes…another Arne Carlson conservative.

    Ocasio-Cortez is mocked because she is an Econ grad that has 0 clues about how economies work. She is a monument to the growing failure of American institutions of higher learning to educate students.

    Socialism is training wheels for Communists; Marx said it plainly. Socialism/Communism/Collectivism had never failed to eventually bring suffering and misery to countries that have tried it.

    Ocasio-Cortez has her youth to excuse her ignorance, a man of Rothenberg’s age and experience spouting such nonsense is inexcusable.

  11. Submitted by ian wade on 08/14/2018 - 02:29 pm.

    Cortez is mocked because

    that’s all conservatives have left in their quiver.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/14/2018 - 05:18 pm.

      Exactly!

      It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she is a young Latina who has grabbed a lot of attention from the media. No, no, no, that cannot be a factor here.

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 08/15/2018 - 03:13 pm.

        Immutable traits like race have zero impact on a conservatives vote. It’s the left that makes race an issue.

        This woman is a fan of a dangerous ideology that is responsible for suffering all over the world. She’s mocked because she is so hopelessly clueless of facts any well educated grade school student knows.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/16/2018 - 10:09 am.

          Joe Miller as a Political Pundit.

          I’m not going to waste my time on the “[i]mmutable traits like race have zero impact on a conservatives vote” joke.

          “This woman is a fan of a dangerous ideology that is responsible for suffering all over the world.” That’s another one that doesn’t bear refutation, because of it’s jaw-droppingly simplistic inaccuracy.

          “She’s mocked because she is so hopelessly clueless of facts any well educated grade school student knows.” Kind of like the Goniff-in-Chief, right? His profound ignorance and wanton disregard of the truth is okay, though, right? It’s all some master plan to distract us while he pulls off another dazzling policy triumph.

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 08/16/2018 - 07:47 am.

        Intelligent people reject collectivism because it has been proven to eventually bring failure, destruction and misery anytime and anywhere its been tried. The gender, ethnicity and skin color of collectivists only finds relevance with the ignorant.

    • Submitted by Tim Smith on 08/14/2018 - 08:19 pm.

      No

      She is mocked because she is ill prepared, rambles and has no coherent facts, reason and message to back her big bold statements.she is obviously way in over her head.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/15/2018 - 09:09 am.

        Quick Substitute

        Change the “she” to “he” and we are describing a certain President beloved by conservatives.

      • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 08/15/2018 - 12:37 pm.

        Yeah!

        If only she had the policy chops of Paul “trillion-dollar magic asterisk” Ryan! Then we could respect her!

      • Submitted by ian wade on 08/15/2018 - 12:41 pm.

        Hmmm…

        coming from a Trump supporter,those accusations just put my irony meter into the red.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 08/15/2018 - 01:50 pm.

        Ya know

        That comment is a perfect fit for our current inhabitant of the white house! So you are really saying she is presidential material?

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/15/2018 - 02:04 pm.

        Well…

        ill prepared
        rambles
        has no coherent facts
        or reason
        or message to back her big bold statements
        obviously way in over her head

        Sounds exceedingly Presidential of her…

      • Submitted by ian wade on 08/15/2018 - 07:07 pm.

        Are you sure that we’re talking about Cortez

        and not Trump?

      • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 08/16/2018 - 07:10 am.

        You are talking about Trump’s

        Idiotic preparation, right. A “president” who worships a communist Putin! LOL

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/15/2018 - 09:47 am.

    I can only note that…

    A old Republican writes a thoughtful and informed opinion piece, and contemporary Republicans launch facile attacks in their typical debate game fashion. The disconnect with reality that has captured the modern Republican/Conservative/Libertarian mind is simply not sustainable, and while they will deny it to the end… it’s MAGA that is is “crashing and burning”.

    I’ll never cease to be amazed by the breathtaking ignorance that Republican/Libertarian tax policy is based on. Never before have so many been so ignorant regarding the nature of taxation and it’s function within the economy. We can only hope that this has been the “high water mark” of economic ignorance, and the flood of stupidity is finally receding.

    As for socialism, Sander’s proved that voters don’t care for the most part, and neither Sander’s or Octavia Cortez are actually talking about socialism anyways, they’re clearly New Deal Democrats. Whatever, it’s their agenda’s, narrative, and policies that are attracting voters, not their labels.

  13. Submitted by paul srothenbe on 08/16/2018 - 07:31 am.

    A man of Rothenberg’s age and experience……………

    ………….has seen the light. And yes, Arne Carlson was the last decent Republican governor, as even Republicans in this week’s primary seem to have recognized.

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