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Posts Tagged ‘Republican party’

USA | När Republican Party skall utse sin presidentkandidat brukar kandidaterna tävla om vem som kan låta mest höger. Allt för att tilltala partiets kärnväljare.

The New York Times Magazine - March 22 2015 - Ben Carson

Problemet för vinnande kandidat är att han eller hon sedan måste försöka vinna väljare som inte är lika konservativa som gräsrötterna.

Detta skapar lätt bilden av att republikanerna är både principlösa och opålitliga. De blir en utmärkt måltavla för den demokratiska motståndaren under presidentvalskampanjen.

Detta var vad som hände John McCain och Mitt Romney när de stod mot Barack Obama. För att undvika att detta upprepas har partiet antagit nya tuffare regler för att styra upp nomineringsprocessen.

Frågan är bar om det kommer att fungera. Om målet var att försöka avstyra att alltför nyliberala eller konservativa kandidater skulle tycka det var mödan värt att ställa upp har man redan misslyckats.

Jeb Bush – en av partietablissemangets favoriter – har därför redan meddelat att han inte tänker låta sig luras in i samma fälla som föregångarna.

Hans strategi går ut på att inte spela på den planhalva som bara kan öppna upp för attacker från Hillary Clinton och kompani om han skulle bli nominerad.

Bush är inriktad på att det blir en lång och tuff valkampanj innan partiet utsett sin presidentkandidat.

Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times Magazine, har skrivit om partiets dilemma inför presidentvalet.

The establishment candidate has usually been a current or former governor or senator, blandly Protestant, hailing from the moderate, big-business wing of the party (or at least friendly with it) and almost always a second-, third- or fourth-time national contender — someone who had waited “his turn.” These candidates would tack predictably to the right during the primaries to satisfy the evangelicals, deficit hawks, libertarian leaners and other inconvenient but vital constituents who made up the “base” of the party. In return, the base would, after a brief flirtation with some fantasy candidate like Steve Forbes or Pat Buchanan, “hold their noses” and deliver their votes come November. This bargain was always tenuous, of course, and when some of the furthest-right activists turned against George W. Bush, citing (among other apostasies) his expansion of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, it began to fall apart. After Barack Obama defeated McCain in 2008, the party’s once dependable base started to reconsider the wisdom of holding their noses at all.

[…]

At the 2012 convention in Tampa, a group of longtime party hands, including Romney’s lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, gathered to discuss how to prevent a repeat of what had become known inside and outside the party as the “clown show.” Their aim was not just to protect the party but also to protect a potential President Romney from a primary challenge in 2016. They forced through new rules that would give future presumptive nominees more control over delegates in the event of a convention fight.

They did away with the mandatory proportional delegate awards that encouraged long-shot candidacies. And, in a noticeably targeted effort, they raised the threshold that candidates needed to meet to enter their names into nomination, just as Ron Paul’s supporters were working to reach it. When John A. Boehner gaveled the rules in on a voice vote — a vote that many listeners heard as a tie, if not an outright loss — the hall erupted and a line of Ron Paul supporters walked off the floor in protest, along with many Tea Party members.

At a party meeting last winter, Reince Priebus, who as party chairman is charged with maintaining the support of all his constituencies, did restore some proportional primary and caucus voting, but only in states that held voting within a shortened two-week window. And he also condensed the nominating schedule to four and a half months from six months, and, for the first time required candidates to participate in a shortened debate schedule, determined by the party, not by the whims of the networks. (The panel that recommended those changes included names closely identified with the establishment — the former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, the Mississippi committeeman Haley Barbour and, notably, Jeb Bush’s closest adviser, Sally Bradshaw.)

[…]

“We don’t need a six-month slice-and-dice festival,” Priebus said when we spoke in mid-March. “While I can’t always control everyone’s mouth, I can control how long we can kill each other.”

All the rules changes were built to sidestep the problems of 2012. But the 2016 field is shaping up to be vastly different and far larger. A new Republican hints that he or she is considering a run seemingly every week. There are moderates like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Gov. George Pataki of New York; no-compromise conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; business-wingers like the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina; one-of-a-kinds like Donald Trump — some 20 in all, a dozen or so who seem fairly serious about it. That opens the possibility of multiple candidates vying for all the major Republican constituencies, some of them possibly goaded along by super-PAC-funding billionaires, all of them trading wins and collecting delegates well into spring.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 22 mars 2015.

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USA | Oavsett vem som hamnar i Vita Huset efter presidentvalet kommer Roger Ailes och Fox News vinna på det.

The New York Times Magazine - January 25 2015

Ailes, som en gång i tiden var en av Richard Nixons rådgivare, har fortfarande en hel del att lära politikerna i Republican Party.

Jim Rutenberg skriver så här om honom i The New York Times Magazine:

Ailes has long argued that Americans alienated by the sensibilities of the “New York-Hollywood elitists” are a valuable demographic, and the past two decades have proved him right. He started Fox News in 1996, led it to first place in the cable-news ratings in 2002 and has widened his lead ever since. At the point it surpassed CNN, Fox News had an average prime-time audience of 1.2 million, while CNN’s was 900,000 and MSNBC’s was around 400,000. By the end of 2012 — a presidential-election year, with higher-than-typical news viewership — its prime-time audience of more than two million was the third-biggest in all of basic cable and larger than those of MSNBC (905,000) and CNN (677,000) combined. By last year, its share of that news pie had climbed to 61 percent, and it had moved to second place in the prime-time rankings for all of basic cable, behind ESPN.

This has given Ailes consistent bragging rights, no small matter for a man whose braggadocio is television legend. (When Paula Zahn departed Fox News for CNN in 2001, he said he could beat her ratings with “a dead raccoon.”) But it has also given him something more impressive: ever-increasing profits. During a 10-year span, Fox News’s profits grew sixfold to $1.2 billion in 2014, on total operating revenue of $2 billion, according to the financial analysis firm SNL Kagan. By contrast, those of CNN and MSNBC have leveled off over the past few years, with the occasional small dip or spike.

[…]

And yet, for a network that wants to grow in both viewers and dollars, Ailes’s favored demographic has begun to pose something of a constraint. In an online survey, the Pew Research Center has found that 84 percent of those whom it identified as “consistently conservative” already watched Fox News. Moreover, though Fox News regularly wins in the demographic that matters most to advertisers — those viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 — it has the oldest audience in cable news, a fact that its detractors are quick to point out. How many more of Ailes’s “average Americans” are there who are not already tuned into Fox News on a regular basis?

The Pew Research Center data, though, also suggests an area where expansion is still possible: 37 percent of the Fox News audience holds views that Pew calls ideologically “mixed.” (This means their survey responses on specific political questions cut across ideological lines: For example, they support same-sex marriage but oppose new restrictions on gun ownership.) Similarly, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that about 38 percent of all Americans identify themselves as “independent,” and 34 percent of those independents identify themselves as conservative. A little more than half of that subgroup cite Fox as their “most trusted” news source. The rest are what Robert P. Jones, the chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, identified as “a growth margin” for the network; they could be what the poll identified as “Fox News Independents,” but they don’t know it yet. Unlike the more hard-core “Fox News Republicans,” these independents are less likely to call themselves members of the Tea Party, are more open to allowing the children of illegal immigrants to stay here legally and slightly more approving of the president’s job performance (15 percent for Fox News Independents, as opposed to 5 percent for Fox News Republicans).

How does Ailes maintain the aging conservative base that has allowed him to control the present while at the same time drawing in younger and independent viewers that will allow him to grow and control the future? Fox News, in this way, is confronted by the same problem the Republican Party faces, and Ailes appears to be solving his problem the way anyone hoping to build a winning national coalition must: by emphasizing personality.

When Ted Turner started CNN, he proclaimed that “the news is the star.” Ailes, on the other hand, has always been a vocal believer in the power of personality. He was the one who, as a young producer of “The Mike Douglas Show,” advised Richard Nixon to embrace the power of television, and who, as a professional political adviser, taught George H. W. Bush how to best Dan Rather in an interview. Ailes knows as well as any television professional alive that personality is the essence of the medium — he called his 1987 self-help book “You Are the Message,” a wink at Marshall McLuhan’s insight that the medium is the message, and subtitled it “Getting What You Want by Being Who You Are.” Ailes’s advice was just what you would expect: “If you can get the audience to pull for you, you’ll always win.”

[…]

Alone on the wall behind Roger Ailes’s desk in the Fox News headquarters is a rather grim oil painting, framed in gold, of a Revolutionary War-era warship tossed by an angry sea. Ailes bought it at an antique shop 30 years ago and has no idea who painted it. He saw it as “a ship headed into the wind alone, and I thought, That’s my life.” He seems to consider it part of his job to view things that way.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 25 januari 2015.

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USA | Allt fler talar numera om senator Rand Paul som republikanernas blivande presidentkandidat. Detta säger en del om partiets problem.

The New York Times Magazine August 10 2014

Det har skrivits mycket om senatorn från Kentucky på senare tid. The New York Times Magazine och Time har haft honom på omslaget. The New Yorker har publicerat en längre essay. Time kallade honom t.o.m. för ”The most interesting man in american politics”.

Robert Drapers artikel i The New York Times Magazine fokuserar på de förändringar som republikanska partiet står inför om man vill kunna attrahera fler väljare.

After eight years out of the White House, Republicans would seem well positioned to cast themselves as the fresh alternative, though perhaps only if the party first reappraises stances that young voters, in particular, regard as outdated. Emily Ekins, a pollster for the Reason Foundation, says: “Unlike with previous generations, we’re seeing a newer dimension emerge where they agree with Democrats on social issues, and on economic issues lean more to the right. It’s possible that Democrats will have to shift to the right on economic issues. But the Republicans will definitely have to move to the left on social issues. They just don’t have the numbers otherwise.” A G.O.P. more flexible on social issues might also appeal to another traditionally Democratic group with a libertarian tilt: the high-tech communities in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, whose mounting disdain for taxes, regulations and unions has become increasingly dissonant with their voting habits.

Hence the excitement about Rand Paul. It’s hardly surprising that Paul, in Ekins’s recent survey of millennial voters, came out ahead of all other potential Republican presidential candidates; on issues including same-sex marriage, surveillance and military intervention, his positions more closely mirror those of young voters than those of the G.O.P. establishment. Paul’s famous 13-hour filibuster last year, while ultimately failing to thwart the confirmation of the C.I.A. director John Brennan, lit afire the Twittersphere and compelled Republican leaders, who previously dismissed Paul as a fringe character, to add their own #StandWithRand endorsements. Paul has also gone to considerable lengths to court non-Republican audiences, like Berkeley students and the National Urban League. In a presidential field that could include Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Paul Ryan, Paul — who has called himself “libertarian-ish” — is by far the candidate most associated with the movement.

Pauls önskan om att bli mer relevant i amerikansk politik har inneburit att han har varit tvungen att kompromissa och modifiera sitt politiska budskap för att kunna tilltala fler inom och utanför sitt parti.

Time Oct 27-2014

Det är talande är att Michael Scherers artikel i Time har rubriken ”The Reinventions Of Rand”.

It is a measure of his caution that his positions now take several sentences to explain. He will not say whether he supports bombing Iran if Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, but also supports sanctions policies to try to prevent that from ever happening. He is against marijuana legalization even as he fights to end prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. He opposed limits on campaign donations but supports a plan to bar federal contractors from donating to politics. He opposes gay marriage but also opposes a constitutional amendment to define marriage, saying that states and Congress should pursue an extensive strategy of decoupling all government benefits from marriage so a ban might pass court scrutiny.

Paul uppfattas, både politiskt och ideologiskt, fortfarande stå i skuggan av sin fars politiska karriär. Kongressledamoten Ron Paul var under många år den tydligaste förespråkaren för de libertarianska idéerna inom det republikanska partiet.

Vid ett tillfälle bröt Ron Paul t.o.m. med partiet när han ansåg partiet hade blivit alltför konservativt. Inför valet 1988 nominerade Libertarian Party honom som sin presidentkandidat.

Ideologiskt har Rand Paul därför, precis som vicepresidentkandidat Paul Ryan under förra presidentvalet, försökt distansera sig från en lång rad nyliberala idéer.

Även om detta rent teoretiskt ökar sannolikheten för att han skall lyckas bli nominerad öppnar det samtidigt upp för attacker från politiska motståndare. Det är bara att fråga Mitt Romney.

När han nu försöker bättra på sin politiska image riskerar han slå knut på sig själv. Romneys motsägelsefulla försök att distansera sig från sin tid som guvernör i delstaten Massachusetts förföljde honom under hela presidentvalskampanjen.

Samma månad som Scherers artikel publicerades i Time publicerade The New Yorker Ryan Lizzas betydligt längre essay “The Revenge of Rand Paul”.

In some respects, Paul is to Republicans in 2014 what Barack Obama was to Democrats in 2006: the Party’s most prized fund-raiser and its most discussed senator, willing to express opinions unpopular within his party, and capable of energizing younger voters. The Republican National Committee, which in 2008 refused to allow his father, Ron Paul, to speak at its Convention, recently solicited donations by offering supporters a chance to have lunch with Rand Paul.

[…]

Yet, also like Obama at a similar stage in his career, Paul could be hobbled by past associations and statements, especially on race and foreign policy. He has questioned government attempts, including a core provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to address discrimination in the private sector. He has proposed dramatically slashing the Pentagon’s budget and cancelling all foreign aid. Ron Paul ran for President as the nominee of the Libertarian Party in 1988 and as an isolationist Republican in the Presidential primaries of 2008 and 2012. Rand has followed his lead in opposing most U.S. military interventions of the past few decades, aside from the war in Afghanistan.

Many members of the Republican establishment see him as a dorm-room ideologue whose politics are indistinguishable from his father’s. Earlier this year, Mark Salter, who helped run John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign, wrote that Rand’s “foreign policy views, steeped as they are in the crackpot theories that inform his father’s worldview, are so ill-conceived that were he to win the nomination, Republican voters seriously concerned with national security would have no responsible recourse other than to vote for Hillary Clinton.”

[…]

As with so many aspects of his personal history, Paul approaches the subject of his intellectual influences as though he were defusing a bomb. In his book, he wrote about several libertarian writers he had turned to since high school: Ayn Rand (“one of the most influential critics of government intervention and champions of individual free will”), Hayek (“ ‘The Road to Serfdom’ is a must-read for any serious conservative”), and the Mises disciple Murray Rothbard (“a great influence on my thinking”). In my conversation with him, he shrugged them off.

Ayn Rand was just “one of many authors I like,” he said. “And it’s, like, ‘Oh, because I believe in Ayn Rand I must be an atheist, I must believe in everybody needs to be selfish all the time, and I must believe that Howard Roark is great and Ellsworth Toohey is evil,’ but she’s one of many authors I’ve read. I like Barbara Kingsolver, too.”

Hayek? “I wouldn’t say I’m like some great Hayek scholar.”

Rothbard? “There are many people I’m sure who are more schooled.”

[…]

Rand Paul has spent the past few months often clumsily trying to convince voters that his foreign policy differs from his father’s. Rand is perhaps best known, thus far, for his nearly thirteen-hour filibuster last year to protest the Administration’s use of drones—a tactic that further convinced Republican hawks that he doesn’t share their assessment of the risks posed by terrorism. Over the summer, Paul was under constant attack from rivals, such as Governor Rick Perry, of Texas, who described him as “curiously blind” to the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. As with the criticisms of his past statements on civil rights, Paul felt that he was the victim of a smear campaign. “Unfair criticism from people who have partisan goals,” he told me.

Kritiken kommer knappast mildras framöver. Ju närmare valrörelsen vi kommer ju mer kommer hans idéer att granskas.

Och skulle han vinna partiets nominering väntar demokraternas attacker. Är det något man kan vara säker på så är det att demokraternas kampanjstrateger har en tjock dossier märkt ”Rand Paul – flip-flopper”.

Läs mer: Rand Paul: The Most Interesting Conspiracy Theorist in Washington” av David Corn i Mother Jones är ett bra exempel på vad demokraterna (och republikanska motståndare) kan komma att fokusera på.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine, 10 augusti 2014 och Time, 27 oktober 2014.

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USA | Vem är republikanernas svar på Barack Obama? Finns det någon som skulle kunna locka unga, kvinnor och latinos i ett presidentval?

Moterh Jones - June 2014

Ännu har partiet inte hittat någon som har samma ljuskraft som Obama när han dök upp på den politiska scenen. Ingen ser ens ut att kunna utmana Hillary Clinton om hon skulle bli demokraternas presidentkandidat.

Man har haft vissa förhoppningar knutna till guvernör Bobby Jindal (föräldrar från Indien), senatorerna Marco Rubio och Ted Cruz (båda med föräldrar från Kuba).

Men ingen har riktigt lyckats entusiasmera gräsrötterna på samma sätt som Ronald Reagan. Och det är en ny Reagan man måste hitta om man ser till partiets opinionssiffror.

Dessutom står både Rubio och Cruz Tea Party-rörelsen nära. Det är svårt att se att detta kan vara en fördel om man skall vinna över mittenväljare och demokrater.

Med tanke på att Hillary Clinton ser ut att bli demokraternas presidentkandidat skulle republikanerna dessutom behöva en kvinna vid rodret.

Det är här Susana Martinez kommer in i bilden.

Som guvernör i New Mexico, och med mexikanska föräldrar, har hon potential att locka den allt mer betydelsefulla väljargruppen latinos.

Om det nu inte var för at hon är kontroversiell även inom det republikanska partiet. Hon och hennes närmaste medarbetare har t.o.m. kallats hämndlystna och småaktiga.

Hennes främste rådgivare, den politiska konsulten Jay McCleskey, har beskrivit som mannen som styr bakom kulisserna.

”They’ve got this Sherman’s march to the sea mentality, burning everything in sight until they get to the finish.” Allt enligt en donator inom Republican Party.

Exakt samma kritik riktades en gång mot Sarah Palin, en person som Martinez har liknats vid.

Andy Kroll skriver bl.a. om hennes konfrontativa stil i Mother Jones.

Since her election in 2010, she and her team have meticulously cultivated the image of a well-liked, bipartisan, warm-hearted governor by avoiding tough interviews and putting her in photo ops greeting veterans, reading to kids, or cutting ribbons. ”This administration is very disciplined,” says New Mexico pollster Brian Sanderoff.

[…]

In the general election, Martinez ran as the clean-government advocate who would do away with everything New Mexicans disliked about her predecessor. Once hugely popular, Bill Richardson had been dogged by grand jury investigations, corruption allegations, rumors of sexual misconduct, and growing disenchantment over his perennial presidential aspirations. Martinez’s campaign slogan (”Bold Change”) was straight out of the Obama playbook, and it was all the more cutting given that her Democratic opponent, Diane Denish, had spent eight years as Richardson’s lieutenant governor.

On policy, Martinez drew on borrowed ideas (her education plan largely came from Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education) and flashy initiatives such as repealing a law allowing undocumented immigrants to get state driver’s licenses.

[…]

Martinez’s crew saw enemies everywhere. A former staffer recalls the campaign on multiple occasions sending the license plate numbers of cars believed to be used by opposition trackers to an investigator in Martinez’s DA office who had access to law enforcement databases.

[…]

The campaign emails and audio recordings also show how Martinez and her team strategized to maintain her straight-shooting image while avoiding actually being up-front with the public. Throughout the campaign, Martinez praised teachers and insisted she’d ”hold harmless” funding for public education. In private, Martinez implied teachers earned too much: ”During the campaign, we can’t say it, I guess, because it’s education, but…they already don’t work, you know, two and a half months out of the year.” She and McCleskey acknowledged that cuts to education could well be necessary, so her aides plotted about how to respond if they were ever called out for it once elected: ”Put up a YouTube video that no one will ever see where you talk about making everyone feel the pain,” McCleskey suggested. ”And when you win, we say, ‘See, we said this shit the whole time. What are you guys talking about?'”

[…]

Prominent Republicans around the state have blamed McCleskey for devising a political strategy that’s left the Martinez administration estranged from its natural allies. In a 2012 state Senate election, the governor endorsed a primary challenge to a Stetson-wearing rancher named Pat Woods, whom Martinez and McCleskey didn’t like; they bankrolled their candidate, Angie Spears, with money from SusanaPAC. In an unprecedented move, Martinez herself traveled to Woods’ district to campaign for his opponent. The plan backfired: Woods made the campaign about McCleskey, a ”slick…Albuquerque political consultant” meddling with local politics, and won easily.

The Woods-Spears race infuriated members of the New Mexico GOP. State Rep. Anna Crook, a Republican whose district overlaps with Woods’, wrote in the local newspaper that the ”nastiness, misinformation, innuendo, slanderous mailings, robocalls, and, in some cases, flat-out lies have created a toxic political environment the likes of which I have never seen before.”

[…]

Despite the growing discontent among New Mexico party leaders, Martinez enjoys approval ratings in the high 50s and low 60s—among the highest of any Republican governor. Her advisers seem keenly aware of how those numbers could help her achieve higher office, and appear determined to maintain them. Martinez’s aides have closely guarded her travel schedule and her media appearances, protecting her from tough and unflattering questions. Unlike such popular Republican governors as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich, Martinez has for more than three years largely avoided the Sunday talk shows; the lone national news figure to get substantial time with her is Fox’s Van Susteren. As she runs for reelection this fall with a full war chest and no strong contender among the Democrats challenging her, Martinez is well positioned to shape the debate and control her own image.

Yet Democrats and Republicans alike wonder if she has what it takes to succeed at the national level.

Tidskriftsomslag: Mother Jones, juni 2014.

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IMAGE | Republican Party är idag synonymt med världsfrånvändhet. Frågan är om man ens hinner återhämta sig till nästa presidentvalskampanj.  

The New York Times Magazine den 17 februari 2013

Det har blivit allt tydligare att Team Obama hade ett enormt teknologiskt försprång kring bl.a. sociala medier under valrörelsen. Och detta berodde inte bara på att Mitt Romney kom igång sent med sin valrörelse. 

Snarare handlade det om att partiet aldrig riktigt förstått betydelsen av att föjla med i den teknologiska utvecklingen.  

Barack Obama var dessutom inte sen att hjälpa till att sätta bilden av Mitt Romney som en person vars värderingar fastnat i 1950-talet.

Robert Draper, The New York Times Magazine, beskriver i en artikel två fokusgrupper som försökt utröna hur amerikanarna idag uppfattar republikanerna.

Den som genomförde fokusgrupperna var Kristen Soltis Anderson. Hon är vicepresident i Winston Group och är en av många yngre republikaner som har försökt få partiet att inse att man måste moderniseras om man vill kunna överleva.

One afternoon last month, I flew with Anderson to Columbus, Ohio, to watch her conduct two focus groups. The first consisted of 10 single, middle-class women in their 20s; the second, of 10 20-something men who were either jobless or employed but seeking better work. All of them voted for Obama but did not identify themselves as committed Democrats and were sufficiently ambivalent about the president’s performance that Anderson deemed them within reach of the Republicans. Each group sat around a large conference table with the pollster, while I viewed the proceedings from behind a panel of one-way glass.

The all-female focus group began with a sobering assessment of the Obama economy. All of the women spoke gloomily about the prospect of paying off student loans, about what they believed to be Social Security’s likely insolvency and about their children’s schooling. A few of them bitterly opined that the Democrats care little about the working class but lavish the poor with federal aid. “You get more off welfare than you would at a minimum-wage job,” observed one of them. Another added, “And if you have a kid, you’re set up for life!”

About an hour into the session, Anderson walked up to a whiteboard and took out a magic marker. “I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.”

“Young people,” one woman called out.

“Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.” “Change.” “Open-minded.” “Spending.” “Handouts.” “Green.” “More science-based.”

When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.”

Anderson concluded the group on a somewhat beseeching note. “Let’s talk about Republicans,” she said. “What if anything could they do to earn your vote?”

A self-identified anti-abortion, “very conservative” 27-year-old Obama voter named Gretchen replied: “Don’t be so right wing! You know, on abortion, they’re so out there. That all-or-nothing type of thing, that’s the way Romney came across. And you know, come up with ways to compromise.”

“What would be the sign to you that the Republican Party is moving in the right direction?” Anderson asked them.

“Maybe actually pass something?” suggested a 28-year-old schoolteacher named Courtney, who also identified herself as conservative.

The session with the young men was equally jarring. None of them expressed great enthusiasm for Obama. But their depiction of Republicans was even more lacerating than the women’s had been. “Racist,” “out of touch” and “hateful” made the list — “and put ‘1950s’ on there too!” one called out.

Showing a reverence for understatement, Anderson said: “A lot of those words you used to describe Republicans are negative. What could they say or do to make you feel more positive about the Republican Party?”

“Be more pro-science,” said a 22-year-old moderate named Jack. “Embrace technology and change.”

“Stick to your strong suit,” advised Nick, a 23-year-old African-American. “Clearly social issues aren’t your strong suit. Stop trying to fight the battle that’s already been fought and trying to bring back a movement. Get over it — you lost.”

Later that evening at a hotel bar, Anderson pored over her notes. She seemed morbidly entranced, like a homicide detective gazing into a pool of freshly spilled blood. In the previous few days, the pollster interviewed Latino voters in San Diego and young entrepreneurs in Orlando. The findings were virtually unanimous. No one could understand the G.O.P.’s hot-blooded opposition to gay marriage or its perceived affinity for invading foreign countries. Every group believed that the first place to cut spending was the defense budget. During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.”

“There is a brand,” the 28-year-old pollster concluded of her party with clinical finality. “And it’s that we’re not in the 21st century.”

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är The New York Times Magazine den 17 februari 2013.

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IDEOLOGI | Vad har Annie Lööf, Paul Ryan och Barack Obama gemensamt? Alla har läst filosofen Ayn Rand (men bara två har henne som idol).

Ayn Rand

Men det finns en annan likhet mellan Lööf och republikanernas vicepresidentkandidat i valet 2012.

Båda har nämligen backat från sina positiva uttalanden om Rands filosofi när hennes libertarianska idéer började granskas lite närmare.

I USA tog t.o.m. katolska kyrkan avstånd från Rands idéer just för deras socialdarwinistiska konsekvenser.

[Y]our budget [d.v.s. Ryans budgetförslag] appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.

Cuts to anti-hunger programs have devastating consequences. Last year, one in six Americans lived below the official poverty level and over 46 million Americans – almost half of them children – used food stamps for basic nutrition. We also know how cuts in Pell Grants will make it difficult for low-income students to pursue their educations at colleges across the nation, including Georgetown. At a time when charities are strained to the breaking point and local governments have a hard time paying for essential services, the federal government must not walk away from the most vulnerable.

While you often appeal to Catholic teaching on “subsidiarity” as a rationale for gutting government programs, you are profoundly misreading Church teaching. Subsidiarity is not a free pass to dismantle government programs and abandon the poor to their own devices. This often misused Catholic principle cuts both ways. It calls for solutions to be enacted as close to the level of local communities as possible. But it also demands that higher levels of government provide help — “subsidium”– when communities and local governments face problems beyond their means to address such as economic crises, high unemployment, endemic poverty and hunger.

Detta var naturligtvis lite pinsamt för katoliken Paul Ryan. Han skyndade sig att istället lyfta fram texter av både påven och kyrkans egen Thomas av Aquino som viktiga inspirationskällor för sin politik.

Något liknande hände när Lööf framhävde Margaret Thatcher. Det dröjde inte länge efter att hon blivit partiledare förrän hon också började framhäva, inte bara Karin Söder, utan även Gudrun Schyman (!). (Se t.ex. Sunt Förnuft nr 1: 2012)

På så sätt kunde hon med lite spinn få det att låta som om det nu mer handlade om en beundran för starka kvinnor i allmänhet.

I en kulturartikel 2010 skrev Jens Liljestrand, författare och doktor i litteraturvetenskap, om Rand.

Författaren och filosofen Ayn Rand (1905-1982) och hennes verk är idag för nyliberaler vad Valerie Solanas och SCUM-manifestet är för feminister: för några få fundamentalister ett rättesnöre som ska läsas bokstavligt, för långt fler en förgrundsgestalt, någon som man i tv-soffan tycker ”ska tas med en nypa salt” men hemma med lådvinet erkänner att man ”håller ju med, egentligen”.

Inga jämförelser i övrigt, ska jag snabbt tillägga, innan Randianerna i Sverige kastar sig över tangentborden och lovar att pissa på min grav eller liknande, vilket de har för vana (jag skojar inte).

[…]

Kedjerökande och amfetaminmissbrukande satt hon i sin New York-lägenhet omgiven av en sektliknande beundrarskara som med tiden blev en ironisk variant på just den jagsvaga kollektivism hon ville bekämpa. Hennes filosofi, som gavs namnet objektivism, sågs som ett färdigt system, en matematisk formel där ett felaktigt kommatecken raserar hela bygget. Med tiden integrerades också psykologiska teorier i modellen, och den som utmanade Rands geni uteslöts obönhörligt efter en psykoterapisession/skådeprocess i författarens eget vardagsrum.

Kulten kring henne rämnade mot slutet av 60-talet när det avslöjades att hon under många år haft en sexuell relation med en tjugofem år yngre lärjunge, som hon under dramatiska former slängde ut ur gruppen efter att han dumpat henne. Eftersom det privata var politiskt var avfärdandet av hennes kropp synonymt med ett svek mot idealen.

Långt ifrån fiktionens prydlighet var hennes egen värld med andra ord bisarr och märklig. Särskilt Rands make, den stilige och godhjärtade men på något sätt ihålige Frank O’Connor, förblir en gåta. Därmed ger böckerna [om Rand av Anne Heller och Jennifer Burns] indirekt en förklaring till varför de flesta ändå mognar bort från Rand: det finns paradoxer i det mänskliga psyket som vår rationalitet aldrig helt kan besvärja. Hennes utopi om en värld rensad från tvivel och självmotsägelser, av ett heroiskt liv av lyckomaximering genom prestationer, motbevisas av det sätt på vilket hennes eget strandade i ynklighet och självbedrägeri.

Det lustiga med denna artikel är att Liljestrand drar ungefär samma slutsatser som president Barack Obama senare skulle göra i en intervju strax innan valet 2012.

Obama, som också kallade Ryans republikanska budgetförslag för ”social Darwinism”, framhäver i Rolling Stone att Rands idéer kan kännas tilltalande när man är ”17 eller 18 år och känner sig missförstådd”.

Have you ever read Ayn Rand?

Sure.

What do you think Paul Ryan’s obsession with her work would mean if he were vice president?

Well, you’d have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision. It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a ”you’re on your own” society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

Att bli vuxen innebär med andra ord att man inser att det bästa för en själv, de närmaste och för samhället kanske inte är att alla bara springer runt och tänker på sig själva.

Så när riksdagsledamoten Kerstin Lundgren (C) varnade för de socialdarwinistiska tendenserna i partiets förslag till idéprogram träffade hon mitt i prick.

Nyliberalismen är i grunden en revolutionär rörelse som med fredliga medel vill förändra hela samhället.

Ideologin har inte mycket gemensamt med samhällsbevarande strömmningar inom vare sig liberalismen eller konservatismen (eller för den delen inom socialdemokratin).

När nyliberaler sammarbetar med andra liberala eller konservativa partier är det inte för att man har speciellt mycket gemensamt utan bara för att man har hittat en (tillfällig) gemensam fiende.

Frågan är naturligtvis vem som skulle vilja leva i ett nyliberalt samhälle. När inte ens de som förespråkar idealet vågar stå upp för sina idéer när de granskas är det kanske inte konstigt att folk blir skeptiska.

Läs mer: ”Vem är Ayn Rand?” av Aron Lund. ”Lööfs kovändningar” på bloggen Badlands Hyena har också länkar och citat.

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KAMPANJ | Barack Obama leder över Romney i de flesta opinionsundersökningar. En anledning: Republikanerna tappar inom många viktiga väljargrupper.

Philip Gourevitch, i The New Yorker, har blickat tillbaka tjugo år för att se hur republikanska partiet har utvecklats.

Twenty years ago this month, Republicans convened at the Astrodome, in Houston, to nominate George H. W. Bush for reëlection to the Presidency. His acceptance speech was interrupted by spirited chants of “Viva Bush!,” but few remember what he said. Bush, the last of his breed to head a Presidential ticket, was a patrician product of the pre-Reaganite Republican establishment: business-friendly, foreign-policy-minded, more secular than not, anti-Communist but otherwise minimally ideological. This was held against him by Party insurgents, such as the Louisiana state legislator and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and the pundit and former Nixon aide Patrick Buchanan, both of whom had challenged the incumbent in the primaries. Buchanan was granted a prime-time slot on the first night of the Houston Convention, and although he came with just eighteen delegates, he stole the show.

“Friends,” Buchanan said, “there is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself. For this war is for the soul of America.” The fight, he explained, was over such issues as abortion, equal rights for homosexuals, and the inclusion of women in combat units. Buchanan was against these things—“It’s not the kind of change we can abide in a nation we still call ‘God’s country.’ ” Of course, he said, he stood for unity and had come to rally the Buchanan Brigades to Bush’s cause, but nobody was fooled.

Today, solid majorities of Americans support gay rights, legal abortion, and women in combat. Yet the G.O.P. platform opposes them; the culture war that Buchanan trumpeted is no longer an insurgent cause but a permanent condition of the Republican Party, and, increasingly, it is being fought within the Party.

Även efter hans framgångsrika insats i den första presidentvalsdebatten kommer Romney att ha fortsatta problem att nå en lång rad viktiga målgrupper som t.ex. kvinnor, svarta, unga och latinos.

På grund av detta har partiet ägnat mycket tid till att försöka sätta upp juridiska hinder för just de väljargrupper man vet inte gärna röstar på republikanska kandidater.

In the past year and a half, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, states have passed twenty-three laws limiting access to the polls. In the swing state of Pennsylvania—which Obama won in 2008, and where there has been no evidence of voter fraud—a new law could disenfranchise nine per cent of voters; in Philadelphia, the number could be twice as high. And in Ohio, another swing state that went for Obama, a top adviser to John Kasich, the Republican governor, defended a decree that curtailed early voting, telling the Columbus Dispatch, “We shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban—read African-American—voter-turnout machine.”

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget, och utdraget ovan, är från The New Yorker, 3 september 2012. Omslaget ”Bromance” är av Barry Blitt.

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