Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Conservatism

Cruz vs Rubio: The Unfinished Business from the Republican Primary

After Mitt Romney lost in 2012, the Republican Party establishment decided it needed to expand its base and wrote a report to this effect. The plan was for the party to triangulate to some degree on immigration and social issues to win more votes from Hispanics and women, moderating its positions and principles to make itself more attractive to these demographic groups. As Jeb Bush flamed out, Marco Rubio became the poster boy of this new style of conservative politics. But the Republican anti-establishment never bought into this strategy. Led by Ted Cruz, they firmly believed that Romney lost because he failed to excite the Republican base and that the answer was for the party to nominate a “true conservative”. The 2016 Republican primary was all set to be a showdown between “reform conservatism” and the Cruz counterrevolution, but then Donald Trump showed up and made the whole thing about him and about the public’s growing economic frustration. It now looks increasingly likely (but far from certain) that Trump will lose by a significant margin. What effect will that have on this debate and the party’s prospects in 2020?

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Is Theresa May Britain’s Mitt Romney?

With the abrupt departure of Andrea Leadsom from the Conservative Party leadership contest, Theresa May has cruised into number 10 as Britain’s new PM. To many, it appears that the Tory establishment has reasserted control over the Conservative Party. But I’m not convinced this is true–when Mitt Romney won the 2012 Republican primary, many people assumed that this meant the Republican establishment was in firm control, but within just four years Donald Trump had run Romney and the rest of the establishment Republicans off the Tarpeian Rock. Indeed, a close look at the data reveals that just as the 2012 result concealed deep weaknesses within the Republican establishment, the Tory establishment remains extremely vulnerable. May owes her victory to the incompetence and disorganization of her rivals, and she will need to be extraordinarily careful to preserve it.

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Clinton Supporters are Scaremongering about Donald Trump to Silence the Concerns of the Young and the Poor

I started seeing it a few weeks ago, when Daily Kos told its contributors that after March 15th, they were no longer allowed to robustly criticize Hillary Clinton from the left. As Donald Trump continues to win, win, and win some more, it has only intensified. First they asked Bernie Sanders supporters to unite behind Clinton. Now they’re accusing Sanders supporters of being privileged if they resist. And from there, it’s just a small step to calling Sanders’ people enablers of racism, sexism, or even fascism. If you haven’t seen these arguments yet, you will soon. The arguments being peddled are very poorly constructed. They rely on a mix of fear and bias toward the near.

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Why Bernie Sanders is More Electable Than People Think

A few days ago, I wrote a popular post about the ideological differences between Bernie Sanders, the egalitarian committed to shrinking the financial sector and boosting consumption by raising wages, and Hillary Clinton, the neoliberal committed to protecting the interests of finance capital. I explained the history of the Democratic Party and how it came to be captured by neoliberalism–the same economic ideology espoused by Ronald Reagan and many of his successors in the Republican Party. Many people found that this clarified the differences between Bernie and Hillary for them. However some people expressed concern that even though they think Bernie’s ideology is more desirable, he may still nonetheless be unable to beat a republican in a general election. A republican victory would be awful for the left–even a neoliberal democrat is still noticeably to the left of a neoliberal republican, especially on issues like climate change or LGBT rights. However, I think there are good reasons to think that Bernie is at least as electable as Hillary, and possibly significantly more so.

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Why the Republican Establishment Cannot Recover This Time

For the republicans, this has been a weird election. For most of the race, the leaders have all been rebel candidates deeply unacceptable to the party establishment–Trump, Cruz, Carson–and with just a couple weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, there’s no sign of this changing. If you’d asked me in the summer, I would have told you that sure, a few extremely kooky republican candidates might spend a little time making ephemeral runs in first place, but sooner or later an establishment candidate has to win out, just like Mitt Romney did in 2012 and John McCain did in 2008. Herman Cain had his month in the sun, but no one ever took him seriously, right? Sooner or later everyone converges around a Jeb Bush. It looks like my summer prediction isn’t going to come true, and like any good politics PhD student, that has me wondering what I got wrong. Over the past month I’ve been pondering this, and I think I’ve figured it out.

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