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From left, representatives of the new radical right Republican Party U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa; U.S.Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee; U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana. (AP/Getty).

Republican derangement: A party I respected has gone off the cliff

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By Thursday, Nov 22, 2018 Viewpoints 28

Editor’s Note: Jim Sleeper’s article below appeared last week in Salon.com. It is provided to The Edge by the author for republication.

I grew up under the spell of virtuous, civic-republican (small “r”) Republicans in Massachusetts: Elliot Richardson, the state’s attorney general and lieutenant governor, who later resigned as U.S. Attorney General rather than follow Richard Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special counsel Archibald Cox in 1973; Kingman Brewster Jr. (born in my western Massachusetts hometown and president of Yale when I was a student there and Brewster defended the civil-rights and anti-war activism of Martin Luther King Jr. and Yale Chaplain William Sloane Coffin Jr., against recalcitrant alumni, even though Brewster himself was no political activist); Gov. Frank Sargent, and many others.

In the fateful summer of 1968, between my junior and senior college years, I interned for another civic-republican Republican, Berkshire Congressman Silvio Conte, about whom I reminisced recently with Bill Moyers, Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary at the time, who praises Conte’s bipartisanship. Although Conte had discomfited liberal Democrats and even some Brahmin Republicans in 1958 by winning his congressional seat against James MacGregor Burns, Williams College’s distinguished American historian, he never lost an election and served until his death in 1991. He opposed the Vietnam War and his party’s rightward turn, and although he was conservative on some social issues, he never forgot – and I once heard him recount – that members of his Italian immigrant family had had to pick pieces of coal off of Pittsfield’s railroad sidings to heat their home.

The younger James Sleeper in 1968, third from right in the back row. To his right is U.S. Sen. John Glenn, Republican of Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Silvio Conte of Massachusetts.

I wasn’t surprised when, as late as 2006, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — then still a moderate, moral Republican — worked with Democrats to deliver his effective, early model for Obamacare.

That was 10 years before the national party (and, with it, Romney) became the antithesis of what I grew up with — although, to be fair, Massachusetts has just re-elected moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

All this came back to me as I watched Tuesday’s election returns, probably because I teach an undergraduate seminar on “Journalism, Liberalism, and Democracy” that examines not “current events” like the election but “undercurrent events” — powerful, sometimes dark upheavals in capital, technology, demography and nationalist reactions that are disrupting Americans’ dubious ways of balancing “free markets” and spiritual salvation, leaving a vacuum into which nihilism has swept, destroying even our houses of worship and Washington’s house of cards.

Watching the returns, I lamented that today’s Republicanism is goose-stepping millions of Americans over a cliff behind a shameless draft-dodger, tax cheat and pussy-grabber. But then still-darker news arrived from Nevada that some Republicans have descended from nihilism to necrophilia:

Dennis Hof, a brothel owner who died last month, overwhelmingly won an election to Nevada’s State Assembly on Tuesday.

Hof, a reality-television star touted as the state’s most well-known pimp, ran as an outspoken Republican for Nevada’s Assembly District 36 before he died in October at the age of 72. Due to state law, however, he remained on the ballot and the state’s leading GOP officials had urged voters to still cast their ballots for him in order to deprive Democrats of the chance to flip the seat.

Granted, Hof’s was only a state legislative election (and – dare I say this? – it was only Nevada, not the holy Puritan Commonwealth of Massachusetts.) But it cast an eerie light on the same night’s victories by Greg Gianforte, the journalist-assaulting Montana congressman, and Steve King, his racist colleague from Iowa, who were both re-elected on Tuesday.

It’s not enough to observe, however rightly, that Republicans have been deranged by the much-ballyhooed sins of what a concerted conservative campaign derides as “Social Justice Warriors,” what Rush Limbaugh calls “feminazis,” what Trump and his minions call invading Mexican rapists and terrorists, and other such bogeymen. Only a few of those are carriers or casualties of what’s generating Trumpism itself: the disease of turbo-marketing that’s reducing American education, entertainment, social media, politics and the dignity of work itself to levels determined by a mania to maximize profits and shareholder dividends, no matter the social costs.

The few conservatives who still hope to advance the ordered, principled republican liberty that my Massachusetts exemplars upheld can no longer convincingly reconcile that hope with their movement’s and the Republican Party’s obeisance to every whim and riptide of corporate, global capitalism that’s destroying the liberty they claim to cherish and that’s generating a lot of what’s wrong in the bogeymen they vow to defeat.

Market madness and its deceits go back to the Puritan origins of Massachusetts, but since the early 1980s that madness has been not just resurgent but decisive in ways it hadn’t been since 1929. Ronald Reagan and the two Bush presidents may look good next to Trump, because at least they played the grace notes of ordered liberty. But they contradicted themselves, and not just naively.

In 1981, James Lucier, a top assistant to right-wing North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, explained their worldview to the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Drew, saying that the liberal “leadership groups that run the country — not just the media but also the politicians, corporate executives … have been trained in an intellectual tradition that is … highly rationalistic.”

That training — the liberal education that George W. Bush, his 2004 opponent John Kerry and I encountered as we overlapped at Yale in the 1960s — “excludes most of the things that are important to the people who are selling cars and digging ditches,” Lucier explained. “The principles that we’re espousing have been around for thousands of years: The family …, faith that … there is a higher meaning than materialism. Property as a fundamental human right … and that a government should not be based on deficit financing and economic redistribution …. It’s not the ‘new right’ — people are groping for a new term. It’s pre-political.”

Some things should be pre-political. A liberalism that dismisses religious and even patriotic sentiments as dangers to liberalism itself will always be surprised when they come back to bite it. It shouldn’t underestimate or look down on their necessity and their power.

Yet Aristotle was right to warn that humans who lose the art and discipline of “the political” become lower than beasts. When conservatism talks about the sanctity of property and, at the same time, about the dangers of materialism and of public-deficit financing, both of which it pursues to strengthen plutocrats and to bankrupt Social Security, public education and health care, it opens the vacuum to Trumpian malevolence and corruption. Its “pre-political” anti-politics subverts its own professed ideals of republican self-governance, which should reinforce mutual trust, not dog-eat-dog competition and empty salvific, decadent and scapegoating escapes.

House Democrats’ comeback won’t defeat this perverse ideology and its consequences, which they too have indulged and accommodated. Impeaching Trump wouldn’t cure the disease. Even #MeToo, which has good reason to rejoice over Tuesday’s victories, has equally good reason to worry that shattering a structure’s glass ceilings without reconfiguring its walls and foundations enables victories by Trumpian women such as Tennessee’s next senator, Marsha Blackburn, who calls herself a “hardcore, card-carrying conservative,” not to mention legions of conservative noise-machine drones such as Ann Coulter.

The most that the incoming House Democratic majority is likely to accomplish is what the long-lost civic-

U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, a moderate Republican and the first African-American senator since the Reconstruction era.

republican Republicans of my youth gave us – some breathing room and leverage against Lucier’s “pre-political” and Trump’s post-political onslaught. As we try to restructure our society’s walls and foundations (including its philanthropic foundations and its self-celebrating, self-exculpating plutocracy), we can’t count on sexual and ethno-racial “firsts” to reverse sexual and ethno-racial scapegoating.

Swaddled though the old civic-republicans were in their time’s racist and sexist conventions, they did resist scapegoating and opened some doors to the scapegoated: In 1967, Massachusetts elected Edward Brooke, another of its Republicans, the first black U.S. senator since Reconstruction. But what they didn’t do – what we need to do most now – is to stop the disease of turbo-marketing from dissolving the republic that has given its insurgents enough breathing room and footholds to transcend even themselves.


Jim Sleeper is a lecturer in political science at Yale and the author of “Liberal Racism” (1997) and “The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York” (1990). He lives in Alford.

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28 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Richard Allen says:

    The republicans are the party that’s deranged and has gone off the cliff? I beg to differ.

    Sleeper simply uses his personal political position to attack those who don’t agree with him. That’s the unfortunate disease that has warped most political commentary today.

    1. Jim Hall says:

      If you read the article, Jim Sleeper is lamenting the takeover of the GOP by hard line partisans who have no interest or ability to work with Democrats to govern. He mentions numerous Republicans he respected over the years. If you don’t think the GOP has lost its way, watch one of Trump’s rallies. Listen to right wing talk radio. Check out Alex Jones at InfoWars.Browse Breitbart.com. The GOP has been infected with Trumpism: a nasty, virulent cult of personality that celebrates vulgarity, ignorance, conspiracies, and shows a careless and dangerous disregard for the rule of law and institutions that have served the country well. Blatant dishonesty is accepted as normal. Trump didn’t start it. He is more a symptom of a problem that probably started in the 90’s when Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House and discouraged his members from fraternizing across the aisle. Politics became a zero sum sport. Compromise became a bad thing. The problem is that representative government only works well when opposite sides are willing to find common ground in the interest of the Country. The GOP would do well to return to policy matters like promoting smaller, more efficient government and stop playing up culture wars that polarize and divide us. Jim Sleeper is right. My father’s GOP was more honest and at least had some integrity. William F Buckley was a formidable intellect. There were moderates in the GOP. It will be interesting to watch Mitt Romney who said that Trump was a phony and a fraud before he won the nomination in 2016. Hopefully Romney will bring some backbone to the Senate to stand up to the worst excesses of Trumpism. It will take some real courage. That’s what we could use right now.

      1. MARC ROSENTHAL says:

        Good one,Jim.I appreciate the reminder of the responsibility Newt Gingrich bears and of the history of our extreme polarization. Its sources have been pretty one-sided.

      2. Richard Allen says:

        I don’t take one outrageous democrat (of the many out there) and accuse all democrats of similar characteristics. You, Mr. Sleeper and so many others in our area cannot understand that most of us on the right don’t particularly like President Trump or his conduct but do like many (most?) of his positions and the changes in policies and regulations taking place during his presidency. We are not deplorable.

      3. Jim Hall says:

        Richard Allen, where did I call you deplorable? I asked if you read the article. because it seemed to me you did not. You overreacted to Jim Sleeper’s article and to my comment. Trump is a con man and a habitual liar. That should be obvious by now. That seems to be an acceptable problem for many Republicans as long as you get your Federalist Society judges, tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and wholesale deregulation. It seems that too many are too willing to tolerate Trump’s casual disregard for, and ignorance of the rule of law, his self-dealing, his fondness for Putin, Duterte, and White Nationalists. Too many on the right have made a Faustian bargain with Trump and his base. The GOP will have to live with his political legacy because you all own him now. Good luck with that.

      4. Jim Balfanz says:

        Richard Allen “nails it” as to most of us who are on the “right” side of the political spectrum when it comes to President Trump. We have come to understand some of why he tweets and reacts the way he does many times. Why? Because we and obviously he watched how Bush never reacted for 8 years and how that lack of any response to the derangement of the left caused the GOP to lose the 2008 election.

        And, Jim Hall, we are ready to “live with this president’s political legacy, since it will simply be that of a man who made promises (however crudely at times) as a candidate and is busting his butt off to keep those promises.

        It is refreshing to have a Non-politician get elected based upon promises and then see him actually work to keep them.

        We would rather have those direct promises than the major one his predecessor made – “I am going to fundamentally change America.” We all were allowed to dream about exactly what that meant, and then upon election we found out so quickly that he didn’t really like America and what it stood for and was going to fundamentally change it to become more like the third-world countries that he felt we as a nation should be.

        I, and most working, taxpaying, legal citizens will live with what we have versus what we had. At least we have a chance for a better America – not for all – but for all legal citizens.

    2. David Leeper says:

      Amen, Richard. Right on.

      Sleeper was a high school classmate of mine and would surely have won my vote for the smartest, wisest, and most mature in our class. That judgment was vindicated when I read Sleeper’s “Liberal Racism” many years later. It was brilliantly and beautifully written (especially the first few chapters) and brave. He took on the Left for “getting race wrong”, and he was many years ahead of this time.

      Sadly, it appears the Left excoriated him for it, and he occasionally mentions the “political scars” he bears because of his treatment at their hands. His anger and bitterness infects all his modern-day writing. Knowing him in his younger years makes it painful to read his articles written in his (our) old age, and I confess I only scan them now to see if his attitude has gotten worse.

      In my opinion, had Sleeper stuck to reason and logic, he would have become a center-right pundit like Thomas Sowell or Victor Davis Hanson — and every bit as famous and prolific. His political philosophy of “civic republicanism” has great merit, and it might well have become mainstream.

      But alas, they’re all just pundits. Their only product is ideas. They spend their lives telling us how the doers of deeds could have done them better, but they have no deeds of their own. I’d rather read political commentary written by an engineer (like me) than drive across a bridge designed by a political pundit, whether Left or Right.

      1. jim sleeper says:

        Hmm, well, if David Leeper’s comment is an example of political commentary by an engineer, I prefer the one by Jim Hall, above, who is an engineer, too, as well as a lifelong Berkshire resident who remembers the sane Republicans I’m writing about and the one — Rep. Silvio Conte — that I worked for.

      2. Robert H. Jones,Jr. says:

        I don’t equate conservatism with Trumpism. And, the GOP is no longer the party of conservatism. They are Trumpists. They march, lockstep, in providing massive tax cuts to the wealthy, attempting to undo the ACA, aiding and abetting our nation’s enemies to line the pockets of the few, tearing apart reasonable protections for our environment and natural resources… A few items on a very long list, too long to list here. That being said, these are some specifics that cause me concern. Please note: I have not denigrated or demeaned other letter writers because they don’t share my point of view. I would be very interested in hearing a true conservative defend the actions of the GOP for the last decade (we’ll limit it to that). Highly unlikely this will happen. I do, however, expect some nasty responses for having written this.

  2. Jim Balfanz says:

    America’s Cold Civil War
    Charles R. Kesler
    Editor, Claremont review of Books

    The following is adapted from a lecture delivered at Hillsdale College on September 27, 2018, during a two-week teaching residency as a Eugene C. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Journalism.
    Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

    Six years ago I wrote a book about Barack Obama in which I predicted that modern American liberalism, under pressures both fiscal and philosophical, would either go out of business or be forced to radicalize. If it chose the latter, I predicted, it could radicalize along two lines: towards socialism or towards an increasingly post-modern form of leadership. Today it is doing both. As we saw in Bernie Sander’ campaign, the youngest of liberals is embracing socialism openly – something that would have been unheard of during the Cold War. At the same time, identity politics is on the ascendant, with its quasi-Nietzschean faith in race, sex, and power as the keys to being and meaning. In the #MeToo movement, for example – as we saw recently in Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle – the credo is, “Believe the Woman.” In other words, truth will emerge not from an adversarial process weighing evidence and testimony before the bar of reason, but from yielding to the will of the more politically correct. “Her truth” is stronger than any objective or disinterested truth.
    In the Claremont Review of Books, we have described our current political scene as a cold civil war. A cold civil war is better than a hot civil war, but it is not a good situation for a country to be in. Underlying our cold civil war is the fact that America is torn increasingly between two rival constitutions, two cultures, two ways of life.
    Political scientists sometimes distinguish between normal politics and regime politics. Normal politics and regime politics. Normal politics takes place within a political and constitutional order and concerns means, not ends. In other words, the ends or principles are agreed upon; debate is simply over means. By contrast, regime politics is about who rules and for what ends or principles. It questions the nature of the political system itself. Who has rights? Who gets to vote? What do we honor or revere together as a people? I fear America may be leaving the world of normal politics and entering the dangerous world of regime politics – a politics in which our political loyalties diverge more and more, as they did in the 1850’s, between two contrary visions of the country.
    One vision is based on the original Constitution as amended. This is the Constitution grounded in the natural rights of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution written in 1787 and ratified in 1788. It has been transmitted to us with significant Amendments – some improvements and some not – but it is recognizable still as the original Constitution. To simplify matters we may call this “the conservative Constitution” – with the caveat that conservatives have never agreed perfectly on its meaning and that many non-conservatives remain loyal to it.
    The other vision is based on what Progressives and liberals, for 100 years now, have called “the living Constitution.” This term implies that the original Constitution is dead – or at least on life support – and that in order to remain relevant to our national life, the original Constitution must be infused with new meaning and new ends and therefore with new duties, rights, and powers. To cite an important example, new administrative agencies must be created to circumvent the structural limitations that the original Constitution imposed on government.
    As a doctrine, the living Constitution originated in America’s new departments of political and social science in the late nineteenth century – but it was soon at the very forefront of Progressive politics. One of the doctrine’s prime formulators, Woodrow Wilson, had contemplated as a young scholar a series of constitutional amendments to reform America’s national government into a kind of parliamentary system – a system able to facilitate faster political change. But he quickly realized that his plan to amend the Constitution was going nowhere. Plan B was the living Constitution. While keeping the outwards forms of the old Constitution, the idea of a living Constitution would change utterly the spirit in which the Constitution was understood.
    The resulting Constitution – let us call it “the liberal Constitution” – is not a constitution of natural rights or individual human rights, but of historical or evolutionary right. Wilson called the spirit of the old Constitution Newtonian, after Isaac Newton, and that of the new Constitution Darwinian, after Charles Darwin. By Darwinian, Wilson meant that instead of being difficult to amend, the liberal Constitution would be easily amenable to experimentation and adjustment. To paraphrase the late Walter Berns, the point of the old Constitution was to keep the times in tune with the Constitution; the purpose of the new is to keep the Constitution in tune with the times.
    Until the 1960’s, most liberals believed it was inevitable that their living Constitution would replace the conservative Constitution through a kind of slow-motion evolution. But during the sixties, the so-called New Left abandoned evolution for revolution, and partly in reaction to that, defenders of the old Constitution began not merely to fight back, but to call for a return to America’s first principles. By seeking to revolve back to the starting point, conservatives proved to be Newtonians after all – and also, in a way, revolutionaries, since the original meaning of revolution is to return to where you began, as a celestial body revolves in the heavens.
    The conservative campaign against the inevitable victory of the living Constitution gained steam as a campaign against the gradual or sudden disappearance of limited government and republican virtue in our political life. And when it became clear, by the late 1970’s and 1980’s, that the conservatives weren’t going away, the cold civil war was on.


    1. Jim Balfanz says:

      Confronted by sharper, deeper, and more compelling accounts of the conservative Constitution, the liberals had to sharpen – that is, radicalize – their own alternative, following the paths paved by the New Left. As a result, the gap between the liberal and conservative Constitutions became a gulf, to the extent that today we are two countries – or we are fast on the road to becoming two countries – each constituted differently.
      Consider a few of the contrasts. The prevailing liberal doctrine of rights traces individual rights to membership is various groups – racial, ethnic, gender, class-based, etc. – which are undergoing a continual process of consciousness-raising and empowerment. This was already a prominent feature of Progressivism well over a century ago, though the groups have changed since then. Before Woodrow Wilson became a politician, he wrote a political science textbook and the book opened by asking which races should be studied. Wilson answered: we’ll study the Aryan race, because the Aryan race is the one that has mastered the world. The countries of Europe and the Anglophone countries are the conquerors and colonizers of the other continents. They are countries with the most advanced armaments, arts, and sciences.
      Wilson was perhaps not a racist in the full sense of the term, because he expected the less advanced races over time to catch up with the Aryan race. But his emphasis was on group identity – an emphasis that liberals today retain, the only difference being that the winning and losing sides have been scrambled. Today the white race and European civilization are the enemy – “dead white males” is a favored pejorative on American campuses – and the races and groups that were oppressed in the past are the ones that today need compensation, privileges, and power.
      Conservatives, by contrast, regard the individual as the quintessential endangered minority. They trace individual rights to human nature, which lacks a race. Human nature also lacks ethnicity, gender, and class. Conservatives trace the ideal of rights to the essence of an individual as a human being. We have rights because we’re human beings with souls, with reason, distinct from other animals and from God. We’re not beasts, but we’re not God – we’re the in-between being. Conservatives seek to vindicate human equality and liberty – the basis for majority rule in politics – against the liberal Constitution’s alternative, in which everything is increasingly based on group identity.
      There is also today a vast divergence between the liberal and conservative understandings of the First Amendment. Liberals are interested in transforming free speech into what they call equal speech, ensuring that no one gets more than his fair share. They favor a redistribution of speech rights via limits on campaign contributions, repealing the Supreme Counts Citizens United decision, and narrowing the First Amendment for the sake of redistribution of speech rights from the rich to the poor. Not surprisingly, the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform called for amending the First Amendment!
      There is, of course, also a big difference between the liberal Constitution’s freedom from religion and the conservative Constitution’s freedom of religion. And needless to say, the liberal Constitution has no Second Amendment.
      In terms of government structure, the liberal Constitution is designed to overcome the separation of powers and most other checks and balances. Liberals consistently support the increased ability to coordinate, concentrate, and enhance government power – as opposed to dividing, restricting, or checking it. This is to the detriment of popular control of government. In recent decades, government power has flowed mainly through the hands of unelected administrators and judges – to the point that elected members of Congress find themselves increasingly dispirited and unable to legislate. As the Financial Times put it recently, “Congress is a sausage factory that has forgotten how to make sausages.”

      1. Jim Balfanz says:


        If one thinks about how America’s cold civil war could be resolved, there seem to be only five possibilities. One would be to change the political subject. Ronald Reagan used to say that when the little green men arrive from outer space, all of our political differences will be transcended and humanity will unite for the first time in human history. Similarly, if some jarring event intervenes – a major war or a huge natural calamity – it might reset
        our politics.
        A second possibility, if we can’t change the subject, is that we could change our minds. Persuasion, or some combination of persuasion and moderation, might allow us to end or endure our great political division. Perhaps one party or side will persuade a significant majority of the electorate to embrace its Constitution, and thus win at the polling booth and in the legislature. For generations, Republicans have longed for a realigning election that would turn the GOP into America’s majority party. This remains possible, but seems unlikely. Only two presidents in the twentieth century were able to effect enduring changes in American public opinion and voting patterns – Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. FDR inspired a political realignment that lasted for a generation or so and lifted the Democratic Party to majority status. Ronal Reagan inspired a realignment of public policy, but wasn’t able to make the GOP the majority party.
        So, if we won’t change our minds, and if we can’t change the subject, we are left with only three other ways out of the cold civil war. The happiest of the three would be a vastly reinvigorated federalism. One of the original reasons for constitutional federalism was that the states had a variety of interest and views that clashed with one another and could not be pursued in common. If we had a re-flowering of federalism, some of the differences between blue states and red states could be handled discreetly by the states themselves. The most disruptive issues could be denationalized. The problem is, having abandoned so much of traditional federalism, it is hard to see how federalism could be revived at this late juncture.
        That leaves two possibilities. One, alas, is secession, which is a danger to any federal system – something about which James Madison wrote at great length in the Federalist Paper. With any federal system, there is the possibility that some states will try to leave it. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have gone their separate ways peacefully, just within the last generation. But America is much better at expansion than contraction. And George Washington’s admonitions to preserve the Union, I think, still miraculously somehow linger in our ears. So secession would be extremely difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is that it could lead, as we Americans know from experience, to the fifth and worst possibility: hot civil war.
        Under present circumstances, the American constitutional future seems to be approaching some kind of crisis – a crisis of the two Constitutions. Let us pray that we and our countrymen will find a way to reason together and to compromise, allowing us to avoid the worst of these dire scenarios – that we will find, that is the better angles of our nature.

  3. Jim Balfanz says:

    I took the time to copy – word for word what Charles Kesler wrote for Imprimis, because after reading Sleeper’s opinion, I was stunned by his omission of some very simple facts. It cannot be denied that not a single Democrat voted for (it means SUPPORTED for you liberals) many major pieces of legislation. From the minute it was known that Donald Trump was elected, the Democrats and Anti-Trumpers were going to do everything to oppose ANYTHING that the candidate ran on and has worked to accomplish.

    The divide in our country is currently as wide as just before our first civil war. Using a “position” of “moral superiority” doesn’t pass the smell test from Sleeper nor any of the Liberals and others who use his “pussy grabbing” as their excuse to do what they did to attempt to destroy a SCOTUS nominee; or play the “race card” every time someone they disagree with speaks out. Sleeper and those who agree with him on the “morality” issue(s) simply ignore so much of what the very politicians, and so many others in places of “power” have perpetrated.

    In my opinion, after spending time in three different Communist countries during the mid-70’s, we are truly at the brink of another civil war in America.

    When one reviews the Democrat party PLATFORMS of the past several election cycles, one cannot miss the simple fact that the Democrats really do want to Control our country by eliminating important parts of our Constitution in order to achieve total domination of every citizen.

    And, that is why we are closer to a “hot civil war” than remaining in a cold one.

    That could begin to change if, and only if the newly majority in Congress will work with the Senate in actually continuing to make efforts that will benefit the overall population of legal citizens, workers and taxpayers, instead of “importing” a new class of illegals.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all who truly accept the real meaning of Thanksgiving.

    1. jim sleeper says:

      It’s hard to respond to a claim (as our academic troll does above, in one of the many chapters of the manifesto he seems to have decided to write on this site) that “the deranged left’s” long obstruction of George W. Bush was responsible for Barack Obama’s election in 2008. I’d like to know how the deranged left was responsible for the Iraq War fiasco, the failed response to Hurricane Katrina, and the 2008 financial and mortgage crisis. I can think of several ways in which Republicans’ governing philosophy and Bush’s college-boy implementation of it brought those disasters. I can also name (and have named) many Democrats, including the Clintons, who abetted these blunders. But I can’t see how “the deranged left” had anything to do with any of the things that discredited the Republican White House and Congress in the public mind in 2008.

  4. Jim Balfanz says:

    Bye the way, John Glenn was a Democrat from Ohio.

    1. jim sleeper says:

      By the way, Jim Balfanz, maybe that oughtta tell you something.

      I’m not a great champion of Democrats — see the following column: https://www.salon.com/2018/10/07/did-democrats-do-enough-to-stop-kavanaugh-not-even-close-and-dont-expect-more-from-a-blue-wave/ — But most of what you say about Democrats here applies, with mirror-image clarity, to everything congressional Republicans did throughout the eight years of the Obama presidency. As Obama once put it: “If I say the sky is blue, they say ‘No.’ If I say there are fish in the sea, they say ‘No'”
      The tactic of unremitting obstruction which you see coming from Democrats is really just a retelling (without your acknowledging it even once) of what Mitch MicConnell and House Democrats did for eight years. Your reason for not mentioning this elephant in this capacious space that you’ve set up here by squatting below someone else’s column is pretty obvious. As a general matter, a comment section under someone’s column isn’t the place to post two or three columns of one’s own. But, since you’ve done so, you may want to know that Charles Kessler was once my host at a Claremont-McKenna Colleges event, where I was the main speaker. His recent claim that Trump should be congratulated for breaking stale norms has become so unsustainable that he’s beginning to look like another of those over-the-cliff conservative Republicans who prompted me to write this column about Republicans who once represented the Berkshires and governed Massachusetts.

      1. jim sleeper says:

        Oops: I meant “….what Mitch McConnell and House Republicans,” not Democrats, in that sentence. Too much turkey!

      2. Jim Hall says:

        Man, you got ’em coming out of the woodwork with word fusillades.

      3. Jim Balfanz says:

        …and yet you have forgotten what the Democrats did from 2000 to 2008…. Actually, not only Democrats, but the entire media.

        You need to look in the mirror to get a better look at “another of those over-the-cliff conservative Republicans.” What you’ll see if you do, is simply another anti-Trumper who is part of the effort to destroy “American First Principles.”

      4. Jim Balfanz says:

        After reading the article you linked above, Jim, it is very obvious you’ve “made a very good living,” pretending to be a Republican who NOW supports Democrats. Actually, you may have “worked” for a “moderate Republican(s)” but you are simply a partisan Liberal. It really is laughable…..

        As one who grew up a Democrat and after reading the actual platforms of both parties and checking to see which party did their best to accomplish it, I made the change to being a registered Republican.

        Trump was not my first, second or third choice during the primary run. However one thing that helped him win the primary as well as the general election was the fact that he actually ran on an agenda. He stated the goals for his tenure if he won and frankly, is doing his best to accomplish those goals.

        Political party obstruction goes back almost to the beginning of our country. But, it got really serious after the 2000 election and hasn’t slowed down since. Voters did not like much of what happened from 2008 to 2016. They heard one candidate clearly state what he wanted to do, and they voted for that agenda.

        The next two years are going to be interesting.

  5. Susan Bachelder says:

    Thank you for a very interesting article. certainly thought provoking from the comments it received. I did start to think again about Elliot Richardson. A truly wonderful American and a Republican in the ways I think we have lost touch with. I have even used him as a write in for President even though dead so I am afraid I am rather like Nevada. I hold him as a standard and always have. Here’s why. Not only did he serve in four Cabinet posts—Attorney General, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and Secretary of Commerce — during the Administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. He was also Ambassador to Britain.Mr. Richardson, when finding out the Carter administration refused to fund painting portraits of retiring cabinet heads went on to paint his own. How amazingly open and generous and trusting in who he was and what he wanted to leave as his legacy. A purple heart, a life of public service and, to save the government money, his own self portrait rather than see this amazing part of the American legacy, the paintings of our leaders, fall by the wayside.
    He made the following statement.

    I am a moderate – a radical moderate. I believe profoundly in the ultimate value of human dignity and equality. I therefore believe as well in such essential contributions to these ends as fairness, tolerance, and mutual respect. In seeking to be fair, tolerant, and respectful I need to call upon all the empathy, understanding, rationality, skepticism, balance, and objectivity I can muster.

    Maybe we should start to do some paint and sips down in DC and see what happens.

    1. jim sleeper says:

      Thank you! I think that the best American “radicalism” has always come from civic-republican wellsprings that aren’t partisan in the narrow sense that we see on display so much these days, especially among partisan Republicans.
      Those older, better wellsprings were never pure, but here’s one try at explaining what they offered: something that even some Republicans can still respect:

      1. Lucinda Shmulsky says:

        Outsourcing our critical thinking skills to news organizations comes with a heavy price. Critical thinking is a skill that allows an individual to make logical, analytical and well informed decisions

        The first step in critical thinking is to identify a situation or problem and the factors that may influence it: people, groups, circumstances, data, etc. This allows one to investigate the issue more fully. When one is questioning the entire scenario, one will become more competent at finding unbiased solutions.

        Independent research is a key component to critical thinking, arguments are often meant to be persuasive; facts and figures presented might be taken out of context or have questionable sources. The best way to combat this is through independent verification. One can often find the source of the information and evaluate it independently. Learning to differentiate quality sources of information: popular vs. scholarly is important.

        Strong critical thinkers do their best to evaluate information objectively. They imagine themselves as a judge and they evaluate the claims of both sides of an argument and they try to keep in mind the biases each side possesses. Learning how to set aside their own personal bias that may cloud their judgment takes practice as well.

        The ability to infer and draw conclusions is another important skill in mastering critical thinking. Information doesn’t come with a summary that explains what it means. One needs to assess the information given and draw an unbiased conclusion based upon raw data. The ability to infer allows one to extrapolate and identify potential outcomes when assessing a specific scenario.

        One of the difficult aspects of critical thinking when contemplating a challenging scenario is figuring out what information is most important for consideration. Learning to distinguish what information is most important in any given scenario is the key to not getting sidetracked or taken off the path that may become most relevant or lead to the truth.

        We are all naturally curious, but sometimes due to time constraints, we succumb to accepting the quick readymade explanation of other “trusted sources of information” and adopt it as our own opinion. We fail to take the time to engage in our own critical thought process. While, it may be more convenient to passively accept the typical one stop shopping for our news; however, we should be aware this process can have adverse consequences.

        When individuals collectively become complacent and outsource their unique ability and ambition to engage in critical thinking and do their own research, the society as a whole; runs the risk of relinquishing its capacity to govern itself effectively.

  6. Malcolm Scott says:

    This has nothing to do with Trump, and the previous “Republicans” you admire were Neoconservatives, drawing from the same Collectivist, Progressive, Wilsonian well as their neoliberals across the aisle…..and as we know share a common philosophical history prior to their jumping the aisle to the GOP to advance the interests they had in common, as well as the nation-building Globalists who managed an American decline and explosive Debt in order to “stabilize” Europe and Asia.

    1. jim sleeper says:

      No, the civic-republican Republicans that I mentioned in the column were not neo-conservatives. Here are the neoconservatives. (Enjoy especially the three-minute video showing one of them, Robert Kagan, being flattened by French Foreign Minister Dominic DeVillepin in Amsterdam some years ago. The video is at the last link within in this column. These guys had nothing to do with Elliot Richardson, Kingman Brewster, Jr. Frank Sargent, or Silvio Conte.

  7. Pablo says:

    Wow sleep at the wheel sleeper has too much time on his hands. Go out and shovel some snow or better yet get a real job. The best part of trump is watching you liberals lose your minds! Pure pleasure.

    1. Shawn says:

      Being a professor and an author is not a real job?
      Please provide your authoritative list of real jobs and fake jobs.

      1. James Sleeper says:

        Oh, don’t worry. We can be sure that Pablo is toting a barge and lifting bales, from dawn to dusk

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