Civil War

Parties of all colours love to engage in civil war, after an election loss.

Sometimes, incipient civil war is why the party lost the election in the first place. Sometimes, the civil war was unavoidable.

Here’s Red State’s “Operation Leper Petition

I pledge to publicly expose and actively oppose all of John McCain’s staffers smearing Sarah Palin and will oppose any candidate who hires these people for a 2012 race. These smear artists must become political lepers for the good of the country and the Republican Party.

And here’s former Bush speechwriter, David Frum, on the stark choice facing the GOP:

A generation ago, Republicans dominated among college graduates. In 1984 and 1988, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush won states like California, Pennsylvania and Connecticut – states that have been “blue” for a generation. (America’s least educated state, West Virginia, went for Michael Dukakis in 1988.)

Those days are long gone. Since 1988, Democrats have become more conservative on economics – and Republicans have become more conservative on social issues.

College-educated Americans have come to believe that their money is safe with Democrats – but that their values are under threat from Republicans. And there are more and more of these college-educated Americans all the time.

So the question for the GOP is: Will it pursue them? To do so will involve painful change, on issues ranging from the environment to abortion. And it will involve potentially even more painful changes of style and tone: toward a future that is less overtly religious, less negligent with policy, and less polarizing on social issues. That’s a future that leaves little room for Sarah Palin – but the only hope for a Republican recovery.

UPDATE: DaveW in the comments below says:

DavidT is quite right to quote Prop8 as evidence that the culture wars are very much alive and kicking – but there are interesting aspects to the makeup of this particular bigotry.

Take a look at CNN seem to have done something to their polls since election night, because the exit poll that CNN had up on their website on election night had Prop8 losing; but lets leave that to one side.

The level of bigotry displayed by black women (and to a somewhat lesser extent black men) in this poll is truely stomach-churning.

As an adoptive Californian, one of the things I love most about this state (besides the climate) is the prevalence of a live-and-let-live attitude to life – it goes a long way to making up for the high taxes and the gerrymandered mis-government of the Sacramento hacks.

I’m not surprised that many of my apparently reasonable neighbors would vote yes on 8 – and up to a point I’m willing to agree to disagree. But I’m not so sanguine about those of my neighbors who put hate signs in their front yards, and I will not be civil to them any time soon. Belief is one thing (esp allowing for the lies that were being preached from the pulpit across the sate last Sunday); openly campaigning to deny others civil rights is quite another. But it is clear that many of the hate-mongers voted for Obama, and indeed many of them identify as Democrats.

The culture wars continue unabated (abortion is another issue that is much less red and blue than is commonly portrayed), but it is time to challenge the zeitgeist. These issues were good for a few (percentage) points in critical states in critical elections, and the MSM has represented them as defining issues, but the bigger story of 2008 is the libertarian (broadly defined) defection from the GOP.

This is perfectly illustrated by CO – which went deciseively for Obama, and yet the affirmative action ban is so closely balanced that no result has been declared. For many years (and still in many quarters), to oppose affirmative action is to invite accusations of racism, but CO is not MS – those Coloradans voted against the racism inherent in affirmative action on libertarian principles, but would not vote for McCain.

By some measures, broadly defined libertarians are the largest swing vote in American elections – variously estimated in the 10-20% range. The Bush years of big government conservatism have finally lost the GOP the liberatrian support it enjoyed since Reagan. This didn’t happen through a civil war – it happened quitely over the 20 years since Reagan, and now finally the GOP is seeing the results. This wasn’t anything that Obama did (he breaks his few pro-liberty proimises as often as on everything else).

Ronald Reagan used to say that he didn’t leave the Dems – the Dems left him. An awful lot of voters with libertarian leanings made it clear last week that they now feel the same way about the GOP.

This election was lost the day the Dow slumped therough 10,000. Obama’s lack of libertarian sympathy gives the GOP the chance to pull the fat back out of the fire; if it happenes there probably won’t be any visible civil war or Goldwater/Reagan revival (things haven’t sunk that low yet).