Why Republicans are going the way of the Whigs

It’s not that they’re losing the war of politics.  It’s that they’re losing a war with reality they should not be waging.

A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) illustrates the profound levels of ignorance that currently interfere with the debate over health care.

One question asked: “Do you think the government should stay out of Medicare?” Keep in mind that this is a logical impossibility, as Medicare is a government program, which was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson, to provide guaranteed health care to the elderly.

As it turns out, 39% of voters think government should stay out of Medicare, compared to 46% who disagree.

Millard Fillmore was the last Whig president; the party nominated a candidate in 1856, but was dead completely by 1860.  Bust of Vice President Millard Fillmore, by Robert Cushing, U.S. Senate Chamber -

Millard Fillmore was the last Whig president; the party nominated a candidate in 1856, but was dead completely by 1860. Bust of Vice President Millard Fillmore, by Robert Cushing, U.S. Senate Chamber -

Among Republicans, 62% say the government should stay out of Medicare, compared to only 24% of Democrats and 31% of independents who agree.

Government should get out of Medicare?  Yeah, and the Supreme Court should take the Constitution and get out of law.  Farmers should get out of agriculture.  And God should get out of religion.

If you believe that, I have an island in the Hudson River to sell you, complete with bridges.  No wonder Republicans are so prone to voodoo history.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

18 Responses to Why Republicans are going the way of the Whigs

  1. James Hanley says:

    Re: Van Jones. Glenn Beck reported that Jones may have been twice arrested for political protests. Only conservatives with a poor understanding of America’s founding would find that disturbing. You know, the type of conservative who thinks he worships the founding fathers, but doesn’t quite get that what they did was clearly illegal political action. The type of conservative who worships the Revolution from a distance of 200+ years, but would have been a staunch royalist complaining about rabble rousers back then.

    Obama’s appointee to Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, reportedly may have a probation for judgment for a theft of $300 in 1997. A probation before judgment is not normally considered a criminal conviction, but even if it were, a minor act over a decade ago is hardly something to get all up in arms about. It certainly doesn’t suggest the administration is filled with crooks.

    Frank Davis was a journalist who had the nerve to exercise his constitutional rights of political conscience and write socialist stuff in the newspapers he managed. While I’m anti-socialist, too, unlike conservatives I don’t want to lock people up for exercising their constitutional rights.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Explain this: O’s mentor, Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987), writer for the Honolulu Record.

    Explain this: What do you mean by “mentor?” Who was Frank Davis? Is there some importance to his being a writer? What is or was the Honolulu Record, and why should anyone care?


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Howard, I don’t believe any of Obama’s advisors have criminal backgrounds. What evidence have you?

    Generally, fewer people in Democratic administrations get convicted of crimes committed during the administration than in Republican administrations. Is it your claim that we should give the Democrats a gold star or 50 for being so clean? What is your point?


  4. Yes, I believe the Left is disappointed with O. But they don’t have long to wait. O will show his intent in time.

    Explain this: O’s mentor, Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987), writer for the Honolulu Record.


  5. No, I mean, for one, Van Jones. How many others like him are there?


  6. Nick Kelsier says:

    Howard, you may want to bother with the fact that the President’s ratings have been sinking not because he’s been too liberal..but because he hasn’t been liberal enough. Most polls show that a majority of Americans want health care reform. Most polls also show that a majority of Americans don’t believe there is health care reform without a public option.

    And as for your assertion about criminals…you mean like how Bush and Cheney turned their entire administration into being criminals over the torture? After all they are war criminals now.


  7. Very funny. O’s approval ratings are sinking faster than the Titanic.

    Answer me this: How many ‘special advisors’ (O insists they are not Tsars) to O have criminal backgrounds?


  8. James Hanley says:

    The link between the social conservatives and the moderates and the anti-government conservatives is what exactly?

    Hatred of lefties? ;)

    I really don’t think the party will split, but if the Dems can use wedge issues to play up those fault lines you mention (as the Republicans have traditionally done so well to them), they could keep the GOP hobbled for a decade or more.


  9. Nick Kelsier says:

    I’m not saying that a conservative party will grow…I’m saying the Republicans will split. Not saying it’s a foregone conclusion but it’s got a good shot of happening if things keep going on how they are.

    The link between the social conservatives and the moderates and the anti-government conservatives is what exactly?


  10. James Hanley says:


    Thanks for the clarification. I don’t, in fact, agree that there is any probability of that happening. Given that there has long been a process of dealignment in the U.S.–of citizens opting out of party identification, rather than opting for a different party–I would expect that the number of people identifying themselves as Republicans will shrink, but no other existing conservative party will grow much, and no new conservative party of any significance will arise.

    Time will tell, of course.


  11. Nick Kelsier says:

    What I mean by dead is that the Republican party will split into two or three separate party’s.

    The first party will be akin to the Republicans of the Goldwater era. They’ll be small because most of these type of Republicans are like my dad, in his 70’s and around there.

    The second party will be the social conservatives. The Pat Robertson types. Michele Bachmann is a perfect example of this type. Though she also fits into the third type. They’ll be small because Robertson and his ilk contain a small portion of the Christians in this country and certainly have no love for non-Christians and only slightly less love for the largest religious group in this country..the Catholics.

    The third type will be the anti-government wingnuts. The ones that scream “socialism” anytime the government so much as sneezes. The type that cling full on to the mantra of their founding father, though his name escapes me, of “I want to shrink the government so that I can fit it into a bathtub and kill it.” types. This will be the type that right wing militias like the KKK will gravitate to. It’s also the party of the birthers and the deathers. It was this type, in an unholy alliance with the second type, that forced Sarah Palin down John McCain’s throat and cost the Republicans the presidential election.


  12. Nick Kelsier says:

    The thing is, using the Whig comparison, is that the Whigs got to the point where they kept on nominating people that had no chance of winning. They had gone so far to the one side politically that the person they nominated could no longer, because he had to be such an ideological purist, connect to the large group of undecideds/moderates that decide elections. If the Republicans don’t stop their rightward march and their expulsion of those that dont’ meet their ideological litmus test they’re going to get in the same boat with even their Presidential candidates.

    If they nominate Sarah Palin or someone like her in 2012 they won’t win that election. Unless they nominate someone like John McCain who can at least appear to be moderate and can reach across the aisle they won’t win the Presidency.

    They might have a chance to either pick up seats in Congress or, outside chance, win back Congress next year but if that happens it won’t be because they win because they’re Republicans but that the Democrats lose because, to be blunt, they folded. Obama’s numbers aren’t falling because the majority of the people think he’s going too far…but that he isn’t going far enough. Especially with health care reform.

    A majority of the country wants health care reform. And a majority of that majority believes there is no health care reform without a public option.

    The Republicans on that subject are going directly against the will of the country. And if the Democrats find their balls that is the campaign they will run next year. But that requires Obama and the Democrats to return to their ass-kicking form of last year.

    And people like Hattip who bandy about terms like “treason” and “criminal” and “socialist” are only represenative of the extreme fringe. They by no means represent actual America. They can engage in all the histrionics, bullshit and hyperbole all they want but you notice..none of them even attempts to present any evidence or facts to back that histrionics, bullshit and hyperbole up. All they have is the histrionics, bullshit and hyperbole and they think that will build a winning combination because in the end they hate the country as it is, hate the people as they are and think the people are a bunch of stupid idiots that they can manipulate with fear and lies.

    They claim to be the party of patriots, they claim to be the party of family values and real America…and yet when it comes down to the clinch they jettison those family values, they turn into a party of avowed seccessionists and they insult Americans at every turn.

    And they go so far as to continue to defend an administration that wholesale violated the Constitution and international law by engaging in torture that didn’t work and didn’t defend this country. They claim the United States is the greatest country on the planet, that it has the highest morals…and for 8 years all they did was bring this country to it’s economic and moral knees.


  13. James Hanley says:


    If by “dead” you mean “no chance of winning back control of Congress” I’m in full agreement. But I would say the presidency is trickier, since it’s just one position and so much depends on unpredictable vagaries such as the economy and personality.

    But I’m certainly not disagreeing with your argument as to why they lost control of government, and agree that they’re still headed in the wrong direction.


  14. Nick Kelsier says:

    Oh it’s not a guarantee that the Republican party will die and in fact I think it would be a bad thing. The Democrats do need something to balance them out.

    But unless the Republicans stop going so far to the right that they’re nowhere close to being a center-right party they’re dead.

    The more right they go the less support they will get from the people. Most of those people being moderates.


  15. James Hanley says:

    I think the odds that the Republicans will go the way of the Whigs are vanishingly remote. Their political structures are far too institutionalized now, in a way no party’s was in the 1850s. They may indeed, however, have a period of time in the wilderness, as long as they’re dominated by folks like hattip.

    Then again, don’t underestimate the ability of the Democrats to so bungle things that they hurry the revival of the Republicans before the party is “purified” by its wilderness sojourn.

    Hattip, would you care to wager on your claim about 2010?


  16. Nick Kelsier says:

    Hattip you’re a moron. Sorry, despite your delusion to the contrary we’re not traitors and we’re not criminals.

    But let me give you a history lesson.

    The demise of the Whigs: They were the party that Lincoln was part of before he left it to form the Republicans. You want to know why he left? Because a group of neo-conservative pro-slavery people joined the Whigs, took control of it and proceeded to kick out any member of the Whigs who was moderate or who wasn’t conservative enough or pro-slavery enough. Eventually the Whigs didn’t have enough members to even field viable presidential candidates. Does that sound familiar? It should. Because that’s exactly what the Republicans are doing now.

    They lost an election big time because of a bunch of neo-conservatives and their viewpoints. They stopped being a party that a majority of the country shares beliefs with. And now they are busy kicking out any members who isn’t conservative enough or who doesn’t match some magical litmus test to being a Republican.

    Eventually if that is not stopped, Hattip, eventually if the neo-cons in your party aren’t relegated to being the minority they are they will destroy your party. That is a guarantee.

    And if you think the 2010 election is going to be blazingly different then the 2008 election then you’re as stupid as the guy that claimed back in 2003 that George W Bush would win in a landslide.

    You can delude yourself all you want, child, but that is the only one you’re deluding.


  17. Scott Hanley says:

    Back in the mid-90’s, my Dad was solemnly telling me that he didn’t think the Democratic Party would even exist in a few more years. He died in 1997 and there’s a part of me that’s half-snarky, half-serious, that has always wondered what he would make of the GOP’s current situation.

    The number of crazy leftists in this country has never been enough to control a political party, so it was inevitable that the Democrats would find their way back to relevancy. In fact, a two-party system is logically stable, with each one only having to move on a few issues to reclaim some of the center and restore balance. But the GOP has too many honest-to-Daffy-Duck, out-and-out loony-toons to be able to abandon them. They may be stuck for awhile.

    It’s not, as Hattip and my Dad believed, that the country will see the light and join my side. That never happens. It’s just that the GOP is at risk of becoming so crazy that even a lot of Democrat-haters will look for an alternative.


  18. Hattip says:

    Ha. That is a good one, a democrat denouncing the GOP over their grasp of reality.

    It is more likely that Obama will destroy the Democrat Party than the GOP will go the way of the Whigs.

    Obama is doing what the GOP never could: Outing the Democrats as the criminal and treasonous organization it truly is.

    2010 will make 1994 look like a bake sale.

    But keep whistling by the graveyard. Please.


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