Prof. Bainbridge is off the reservation

A cultural conservative worries about the closing of the conservative mind.

Extremism generally hurts the political party that embraces it. The only bright side I can see to the Republican victories this year is that they will tend to lead to even more extreme behavior by the Teahadist wing, and even more deference to that wing by politicians who know better but fear primaries.

The efflux of sane, smart, thoughtful people from the Republican Party has been going on for most of a decade now. (Although, as Adlai Stevenson said, that’s not enough for the Democrats; after all, we need a majority.) That’s part of the reason why the right wing does so well in primaries; the grown-ups have left in droves.

For some, it was the gay-bashing with which Bush won re-election. For others, it was torture. For others yet, it was the Terri Schiavo affair, as a symbol of the contempt of the right wing for individual liberty, federalism, and the rule of law when they conflict with “right-to-life” ideology. And then there were those who found in the nomination of Sarah Palin a sign that the Republicans had degenerated from a potential party of government into a mere pop-culture happening, scrabbling for votes “by any means necessary.”

All that was pre-Tea. Now the exiles tend to be worried about intra-party nastiness. (Few seem to mind the sheer falsity of the personal attacks on Barack Obama, though a conservative, properly speaking, is one who believes in respect for properly constituted authority.)

The latest to declare his disgust – though not, or not yet, to cross the aisle – is Professor Bainbridge. He agrees with Bruce Bartlett that the “closing of the conservative mind” is something to worry about.

RBC values its right-leaning readers, so let me address them directly: your time to be revolted by the GOP has not come yet. But it may come.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

26 thoughts on “Prof. Bainbridge is off the reservation”

  1. Actually, my time to be revolted by the GOP came somewhere in the Bush administration. The problem is that my time to be revolted by the Democrats came substantially earlier…

  2. Professor Bainbridge's problem is that the modern GOP has a platform which consists of lies and hatemongering, and a program of denying the laws of arithmetic. Only mental and moral midgets are welcome in such an environment.

  3. . . . or people sufficiently motivated to relitigate the 1960s to overlook all that. I'm confident that Prof. B. will find his way back onto the reservation before long.

  4. Really, the overarching issue here is that our entire Political Economy is dysfunctional. We must change the whole thing, not just change a D or R around every two years. I don't agree with Brett much, but his implication that neither major party can fix this mess is dead-on.

  5. How about "Tea party members"? "Tea partiers"? I mean, for a bunch who get out of joint if somebody refers to your party as the "Democrat party", you sure are free with the epithets where anybody else is involved…

  6. When the teahadists quit falsely calling liberals "socialists," "communists," "terrorists lovers," "America haters," etc., quit with the express and implicit threats of violence against a free society in which they simply happen to be in the minority for no reason other than their inability to convince a majority to embrace their self-centered hate-mongering philosophy, quit with the implied and acted upon threats of violence against individuals who do not hold their views, and quit lying about the issues and their opponents, then they can be called something civil.

  7. Everyone thinks that anyone with a brain must agree with them–liberals, conservatives, libertarian–you name it.

    They are all equally convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is a worthless excuse for a human being.

    Any participation on my part won't change the political system in any way or how others choose to participate.

    Why should I care about politics at all?

  8. @David in Texas–Fine, but then let's drop the hypocrisy that this blog observes a civility code that makes us superior to them.

    @Dennis–It's Ms. Loris. And I'd prefer to call them what they call themselves, Tea Partiers. (Any individual Tea Partiers who actually advocate or commit terrorist acts can be called Teahadists, but that's hardly all of 'em.)

  9. Brett Bellmore is right. The use of gratuitous epithets is not only counter-productive, it's altogether unnecessary when clearly valid ones can do a better job.

    Compare, for example, "Teahadist" with "theocratic, authoritarian, militaristic and exclusionary". Both are epithets, but where the former is gratuitously offensive, the latter is nothing but an accurate description.

  10. I believe the civility code is designed for interactions among commentors, Swift Loris. I believe why the blog considers itself superior, to the extent that is actually the case, revolves around being "reality-based." Plenty of non-reality-based right-wing blogs also have so-called civility codes, although they do not appear to be very much enforced other than against those who disagree with the posters.

    Nevertheless, to an extent, point taken. On the other hand, the generalization is deserved in the sense that the vast majority of publicly-identified Tea Partiers are very much attacking the system in an uncivil and dishonest way, and the Tea Partier who is not is the exception, not the rule. The reverse is true of the liberal community, the vast majority of whom have not in fact acted in the way portrayed or adopted the principles claimed for them. Indeed, the Tea Party members have dishonest even in their specific examples, e.g., "death panels" in the health care reform legislation which simply doesn't exist or to the extent it does merely mirrors what is already happening with insurance company "death panels" but without the motivation to condemn people to death for profit.

  11. I'm sorry, Ms. Loris, for goofing the honorific.

    I've referred to some Tea Party members as "Tea Partiers" and was told that was also offensive. I don't think my preferred descriptive label (Right-wing Authoritarian Followers) would be acceptable either.

    As far as I'm concerned, carrying a semiautomatic weapon openly to political demonstrations qualifies as a terrorist act, and those who carry them have qualified for the teahadi label. Your mileage may vary.

  12. "As far as I’m concerned, carrying a semiautomatic weapon openly to political demonstrations qualifies as a terrorist act, and those who carry them have qualified for the teahadi label. Your mileage may vary."

    But you're comfortable with machine guns, bolt actions, and single shot firearms? Weird… Why didn't you just say "guns"? Because you think semi-automatic firearms are especially awful?

    Just try to understand that, while almost everybody finds bombs going off in day-cares terrible, most people on the right are not terrified by firearms, and so would not view carrying a gun, even a "semiautomatic" one, the least bit terroristic, unless some additional factor, such as waving it around while shouting, were involved.

  13. @David–No, it came up a few days ago in connection with how we talk here about our political opponents generally. As to "Teahadi," I don't think it's civil to imply that people are terrorists simply because they're dishonest or criticize the system.

    @Dennis–No problem about getting my gender wrong. How could you know? But I think it was "Tea Baggers" that they objected to, once they realized what the sexual connotation was. I don't believe they have any problem with "Tea Partiers."

  14. Mr. Billmore-

    I am not as polite as Mark Kleiman.

    When those you support spend years tearing down the most basic standards of truth and decency you should shut your pie hole about manners.

  15. Brett,

    The only reason for someone not in uniform to carry a weapon openly is as a threat. I personally find revolvers and manually actuated arms (bolt, pump and lever-actions) less threatening than automatic and semi-automatic arms. But for some reason, Sharon Angle's Second Amendment Remedy crew don't seem to haul around manually actuated rifles and pistols. When they're seen carrying weapons, it seems they carry .45 or 9 mm pistols or AR-15 or AK-clones of one sort or another.

    None of these are particularly good hunting arms, unless your quarry is people. Going around making threats (even nonverbal threats) isn't good-neighbor behavior.

    So, yeah, if you're going to a political demonstration and you are carrying a firearm openly I think the terrorist label fits.

  16. "The only reason for someone not in uniform to carry a weapon openly is as a threat."

    I went into Safeway once here in my extraordinarily picturesque mountain West town and there was a 20 something skinhead, with child partner, said partner the mother of (one hopes) the accompanying child, with holster and extremely large gun. He had "white power" tattoed on the back of his neck, and tattooed stuff across his knuckles. I made sure I knew where the 5lb frozen logs of ground beef were precisely located (their only possible use is preemptive self defense, as far as I'm concerned), and curtailed the shopping; it wasn't pleasant any more.

    I can think this situation would be vastly more entertaining and restful for Bellmore were he and the situation transplanted to one of the Brooklyn or Bronx trains. I've been on them a number of times, but I'm betting Bellmore would need something to bolster his courage.

    Oh wait, I just got a deep satisfaction thinking about that. Imagine the self-styled self-reliant Mountain Man Bellmore in a large American city. I'd pay to watch that.

    BTW Brett, I'm an expert dove and quail hunter, with a 50 year old double barreled 20 gauge handed down from my grandfather. I don't feel a need to take it with me grocery shopping. I've got more courage than that "White Power" skinhead, and you, apparently.

    So sad.

    (Hmm, appears he's successfully derailed a conversation about rationality coupled to self-interest emerging in non-idiotic Republicans, can't have that.)

  17. "The only reason for someone not in uniform to carry a weapon openly is as a threat."

    Dennis, there are more reasons in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, and I'll leave it at that.

  18. I mean, for a bunch who get out of joint if somebody refers to your party as the “Democrat party”, you sure are free with the epithets where anybody else is involved…

    It's the grammatical sloppiness that offends us. I can't recall anyone on my side who's referred to the GOP as the Republic party.

  19. It's not grammatical sloppiness, it's an insult. They're implying, deliberately, that there's nothing particularly 'democratic' about your party. Granted, it's a bit more subtle than "Rethuglican", but Democrats who use THAT label would not, properly, be accused of sloppy spelling.

  20. They’re implying, deliberately, that there’s nothing particularly ‘democratic’ about your party.

    Somehow I don't think calling someone a member of the "Democrat" party makes them less than democratic; certainly no more than calling someone a member of the "Republic" party makes them say, a monarchist.

    In the case of the former president, who used it frequently, I doubt if he had the brainpower to use it as an insult. In his case, I see no reason to believe it was grammatical sloppiness. Surely you remember "Is our children learning?"

    As for the use of the term Rethuglican I cannot think of any Democratic party official or leader who used that term. I doubt if you can either.

  21. Well, sure, I understand: As it's a fairly subtle insult, you're going to insist on thinking it's a mistake, due to your conviction that Republicans are too stupid to appreciate subtle insults.

  22. Given that we have never met nor have we ever had a conversation, you do not know me well enough to make presumptions about my convictions.

    I will say this, however: given that the Republican leadership have called the president's plans – including a healthcare plan that is roughly similar to the one the current name being bandied about for the GOP's presidential aspirations signed into law when he was governor of Massachusetts – "Marxist," "socialist" and "a far-left agenda" (making one wonder what they would call the agenda of an actual Marxist), I would submit to you that subtlety is not one of the arrows in the current GOP's quiver.

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