Thursday, March 12, 2009

EXTREME IRONY ALERT: Rendell Says Steele Is Toast Because Republican Leaders Do Not Want A "Big Tent"

Earlier today I argued that Michael Steele's apologies to social conservatives reveal deep divisions in the Republican Party. Republicans are so divided that they are beating each other up and engaging in the same kind of suicidal behavior (like a rumored no-confidence vote for Steele) that plagued Democrats in the past.

Now, Ed Rendell, the Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania, has tossed some "bait" towards the Republicans. Rendell says that Steele's "days are numbered" because Republican Party leaders do not "want a big tent." If Republicans take the bait and get even more agitated over Steele and the Democrats, then they will confirm that they are like the fractured DNC of the 1980s.

EXTREME IRONY ALERT: During the Democratic primaries, Rendell -- a former Chair of the DNC -- stated that Barack Obama would have a tough time winning the Pennsylvania primary because "there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American." Pennsylvania has a closed primary (i.e., only Democrats can vote).

Related Readings on Dissenting Justice:

A Liberal Democrat's Take on Steele's Apologies: Imploding GOP Looks Like Democrats of the Past

More on the Man of Steele: Can the Unexpected Hip-Hopster Bring People of Color to the GOP?

Man of Steele: RNC Chair Serves Major "Swagger" During Recent Interview

From the "Post-Racial" Vault: Slate Magazine Asks Whether Michael Steele Is Barack Obama's "Evil Twin"

A Black Progressive Law Professor Responds to News That Michael Steele Will Lead the GOP


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Y'know, the Democrats and the major news outlets have been saying this for years whenever there is any argument between Republicans. Deeply divided and all that.

Somebody needs to ask themselves - one of these years, maybe - whether it's wishful thinking rather than analysis.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Well, I have never really witnessed a "deeply divided" Republican Party in my adult life. I do know that after Nixon it was divided (Ford v Reagan). But it was pretty united from Reagan to Bush II.

Right now, I would say that the party is in a rebuilding stage, and divisions tend to get more pronounced during those times, as different factions compete for power and the ability to determine the direction of the party.

I imagine that many of the people condemning Steele did not want him as the chair in the first place -- and they are just making a lot of noise because of this. The media could point this out more, but this will not change the fact that the party has deep divisions right now.

By the way - the media used to talk about the Democratic Party's divisions a lot. And most recently, we spent a whole year listening to them talk about the race, class, gender, age, Clinton, Obama divisions....So, that's not unique to Republicans.

tim maguire said...

I'm sure the Democratic governor is only saying that because he wants the very best for the Republicans. Just like all the liberals and Democrats who are trying to tell the conservatives and Republicans what they should do--I'm sure they're only trying to help.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Tim - I'm a liberal, and I think the Republicans would be crazy to oust Steele. You guys would have about 2 or 3 weeks of news on how "dysfunctional" you are. But hey - I'm a liberal. Maybe I just want you to fail.

PS: I think Rendell is just baiting or taunting the Republicans.

Anonymous said...

It's certainly not a surprise to see this kind of commentary as it's been used by both sides before. I certainly wish they would focus all this malicious nature to attack the problem that's actually occurring (i.e. bad bank investments, etc...) instead of creating a political sideshow. Haven't we had enough of that? Where's the progression in that? Glad to see your stance on the issue Prof.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous: thanks for posting. I agree that if the media and politicians spent as much time bashing and constantly looking for salacious stories, we would get more accomplished. Beyond the good "stories," we barely get the in-depth analysis that we used to get in the past, especially from the NYTimes. Now, the "analysis" comes from highly biased op-ed writers. And the "news" items often just repeat stories published elsewhere.

Arek Grantham said...

Well, I think it depends, really, on how one defines "crazy". For instance, if the DNC chair decided to give an interview in which he, say, declared that vouchers really should be given a chance, or that abortions should be eliminated, one wonders how long he might be the DNC chair.

I am not sure that it is wise, as the ostensible spokesman of your party, to espouse views diametrically opposed to those of the party which you are claiming to represent.

If the idea here is to avoid a fracas, well, they should keep Steele. It might look better in the short run. In the long run, in terms of defining what, exactly, the party stands for, it may not be such a good idea.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Arek -
Steele did not say that abortions should be on demand. He actually stated what most Republicans - except for the extreme right - have said: Roe v Wade was wrong and that the issue should go to the states. The only thing that made his words controversial was the word "choice." Ironically, he was saying that his mom CHOSE to put him up for adoption. Nevertheless, people have conflated that with pro-choice. Oddly, I am defending a Republican!

I think that Republicans should move to the center. Who else is there to do that?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Arek - I was going to re-write my post, but I'll just supplement it. If a party chair agrees with the majority of the population on a subject (which Steele has not done), I do not think he or she is an unwise choice.

For example, the Democratic leadership (let's say is Obama now) does not approve of same-sex marriag. But very recent polling data showed that 36 percent of Democrats do. That's a pretty solid plurality. On the other hand, about 75 percent of the nation opposes same-sex marriage.

The question is about balance and compromise. Do you force party leaders to accept minority views within a party? Why? On what terms?

Infidel753 said...

Republicans are so divided that they are beating each other up and engaging in the same kind of suicidal behavior (like a rumored no-confidence vote for Steele) that plagued Democrats in the past.

Anybody got any popcorn?

Seriously, it is perfectly possible for thoughtful liberals to be concerned about the death spiral the Republican party seems to be in, with hard-liners trashing those conservatives who dare to point out how foolish it is for what was once the ideology of Goldwater and Buckley to define itself around people like Limbaugh.

We're a two-party system. The country needs a credible opposition party. Right now it barely has one. In the long run a de facto one-party state wouldn't be good for anyone.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Infidel - you know me well. I think the better argument is for us to have more viable parties not fewer! With 3 or 4 parties, people could engage in coalition building and perhaps push for different types of change.

A recent study which examined political ideology using 4 categories showed the country is evenly split among liberals, progressives, conservatives and libertarians. I am not sure how the study defined all of those categories, but it sounds more appealing than the standard liberal/conservative dichotomy.

One party is dangerous - period. We have to remember that politicians put themselves first. If one party had all the power, imagine the type of abuse that could occur. Oh - that's what we had for the last 8 years.

Anonymous said...


I'm always amused when I see the "last 8 years" manta. Who controlled the House and Senate for the last 2?

Infidel753 said...

I think the better argument is for us to have more viable parties not fewer! With 3 or 4 parties, people could engage in coalition building and perhaps push for different types of change.

There's certainly a case to be made for this (personally I disagree, based on the chronic instability of countries where multiparty coalitions are necessary to govern), but more to the point, I don't think it can happen.

Starting a new major party, or building up a minor party into a major one, would be enormously difficult. Democrats and Republicans have party infrastructure in every state, city, and county in the US. They've worked their way into every aspect of government. Duplicating that would take staggering effort and manpower.

By contrast, for any movement which commands a nontrivial number of votes, winning a seat at the table in one of the two big parties is relatively easy. The Christian Right, for example, won more power with less effort by acquiring so much influence in the Republican party than it could have done by diverting its resources into trying to build a third major party.

This is why the two-party system has remained stable for over a century, even as major social and political movements have risen and fallen.

Probably the only way we could end up with three major parties would be if one of the big two split in half for some reason.

If we lost one of the big two (by decline into irrelevance), I think a de facto one-party state for a long period of time is a genuine risk.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Sorry, anonymous. You are correct in pointing out that I departed from my own prior argument that no one really "controlled" Congress given the close division. But ultimately we did have a single party in "control" of the Congress, Executive and the Court for almost 8 years. Democrats could have blocked some things if they were unified, but they did not.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Infidel - my point was not that a multiparty system was optimal, but if presented with this choice, I'd go with number 2:

1. Do you want one party?
2. Do you want 3 or more parties?

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