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Saturday, November 06, 2004


Mel Richnik

Here’s another view:

Bush won the solid South by a huge margin. He lost in all the rest of the country by 3.5 million votes. The South gives the Republicans an insurmountable margin, and the Democrats have no answer to it. That Kerry even made it close was a remarkable achievement for him.

Here is why it works this way:

After Brown vs. the Board (1954), which Kennedy was forced to uphold with Federal troops (1961), and his assassination in 1963, the Democrat’s under Johnson took up finishing the Civil War, which of course had been started by the Republicans (1860) to rid us of slavery. Johnson’s Voting Rights Act of 1964 finally, from a political standpoint, completed that great work.

This is critical to understand: It was a loose coalition, whose energy at its core was delivered by white liberals, Jews, and blacks, that got rid of Apartheid here, and it was done out of conscious. Pure conscious. It was a “Great Work”. I was part of it. I can speak to this from passion and experience.

Then, we had Vietnam, which began to go badly at almost the exactly the same time. Liberal though I was, by all the standards of that time, I had no qualms supporting the war. As did many of the coalition. But it wouldn’t stop going badly. And finally, all of the righteous energy created to do the “Great Work” started transforming into anti-Vietnam energy, and by doing that eventually turned very self-righteous—that is it became this weird hyper-liberal thing that gave us what we have now—Michael Moore, gay marriage, pro-abortion, Volvo driving, organic food, Hollywood feel good, etc. In short, the liberal movement was transformed from anti-slavery to what it is today, fundamentally an opposition to all traditional values, but with no underlying “Great Work” to keep it grounded. This liberal crap works in the big cities, but not in rural areas, even in the north. It gives the Democrats a thin margin in the north, but can’t overcome the solid South.

The South of course, responded to Johnson and the Voting Rights Act by going Republican. That is the driving force even today, helped along a bit by the normal rural reaction to hyper-liberalism. The South is still voting from a distant memory of loosing the Civil War. That sounds strange, but it is true. Racism is allowed to live comfortably in every Southerner’s heart in a way that “liberals” must deny, or have their liberal cards revoked. Southerner’s think they’re playing that old racist card—thumbing their noses at the Yankee and revenging their loosing the Civil War—by voting “conservative”. Even though it has nothing directly to do with racism anymore, it just makes them feel good to do it. They only move away from that fundamental attitude in exceptional cases. Evangelicals have also become a force, which adds to this, but not as much as I once thought. Now, Bush 2 is not remotely racist (and certainly his daddy wasn’t), nor likely even as religiously strange as he might appear. But, with Karl Rove by his side, he sure can connect better with those elements than any Democrat could in a million years. His gross incompetence didn’t trump any of this deep basic stuff.

Republicans had all of this handed to them by Johnson and the Democrats back in 1964. Nixon was the first to figure it out analytically.

Clinton was brilliant and weird enough to briefly overcome this. He was able, through his brilliance, to co-opt some of this to himself. Turns out, he was the “3rd way”. Carter was merely an anomaly brought on by Watergate. Ford, with any competence, should have beat him.

Democrats in general cannot win against this. Except when they put up a particularly exceptional candidate. Or when the economy goes bad enough. (Bush 1, even against an exceptional Clinton, would have won but for this.)

There is no flip coming, because the Democrats do not have a position on the left with any “Great Work” underlying it to cause a flip. That “Great Work” was their role in the destiny of this country. To end slavery. They sacrificed themselves to fulfill it. Given the South, they’re simply not mainstream any more. It can change, but it will take a generational change.

I had no problem with this under Bush 1 or even Reagan. I worry under Bush 2, because he seems so dumb. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong on that point.

Not to be critical of your inherent genius, but scientifically, with your wave theory stuff, you are sometimes forced to put too much emphasize on form over function. Cycles come from things, they don’t cause things. The earth goes around the sun in a cycle. But it’s gravity, and the way the space-time continuum works, that causes the cycle, not the other way around. As you know, Elliot wave theory arises because humans like patterns. We are basically pattern recognition machines. When a pattern conveys no meaning, we just make it up.

Mr. Yelnick of course knows this all so well.


The Southern Strategy was the mid-term (36 yr) realignment. In the first mid-term alignment in 1824, Andrew Jackson grabbed the West from the Federalist/Whig (Hamilton) party, which annoyed them because they had been financing Western expansion; after that the Demos were generally in control until the Civil War. In the second mid-term realignment in 1896, McKinley grabbed the mantle of Industry and Growth and the Repubs were in control except for the three-way 1912 election until 1932.

The risk of the Southern Strategy is that its inwardness would turn off the fiscal conservatives, who are the party of Industry and Globalism. the Demos are very tainted by that group due to both economic liberalism, which is very much on the wane, and the cultural wars, which you note above. If the Demos could overcome both, they could swing the fiscal conservatives their way. Seems hard to imagine, but then so was the Repubs gaining the South in 1968 after beating them in the Civil War. Clinton began the process of pulling the fiscal conservatives away from the Repubs.

To carry this off the Demos needed some crystalizing event like the Civil Rights Act. Bush busting the budget was close to such an event. The fiscal conservatives generally support the war in Iraq, however. And while they are generally neutral on the cultural wars, they do not like 'rights' language, as it seems to have lawsuits and regulations lurking in the background.

SO: Edwards was a poor choice of VP, using populist rhetoric was dumber (Benedict Arnold CEOs), and in general being cozy with the remnants of the antiwar crowd (Dean) even dumber. Kerry needed to assume his base and run to the center, but he was pinned to his record.

This cycle thing may be a big coincidence (ie. post hoc pattern matching) but I think there are several fundamental drivers of some cycles. The Yelnick view is that it is all pattern matching UNLESS there is an underlying causal factor. Prechter has tried to find his causation for Elliott Waves but not convincingly. There are several causal factors for cycles:

- the four year presidential cycle since 1949 - modern management of the economy

- the generational cycle which has roughly been 72 years

The generational cycle is fascinating, as we have three times had a GI Generation (Revolutionary, Civil War, WWII), and three times had the Boomers. The kids of all three GI Gens were all similarly-minded in their youth - idealistic, missionary, progressive - and in their aging - they all became conservative. The Progressives (Teddy Roosevelt) were the kids of the Civil War generation, and they fought similar battles to today's Boomers: alcohol (tobacco), suffrage (feminism), etc.

Mel Richnik

I’d argue to forget about mid-term talk. And to forget about 19th century history. And certainly forget about cycles. In my cynical view, these things have nothing to do with it.

Let’s really look at what it means to be “conservative”. Versus what people say it means.

“Fiscal conservatives” is a term with very little underlying reality. In fact, for the most part, there are only conservatives, and they aren’t really conservatives at all—that’s the just respectable name they have been encouraged to adopt to feel good about voting against the “Yankee” who likes blacks, gays, drives Volvos, eats sushi, drinks white wine, controls the media, and (with the Jews help) runs the country.

The intellectual conservative movement, Buckley first, the neoconservatives later, learned how to get its way (win elections) by insinuating themselves into these anti-Yankee feelings of a baser nature found most purely in the South. It was a brilliant coup. The “base” could care less about theories of individual freedom, economic responsibility, etc. They have deep human fears, racial, sexual, but also just a general existential fear, and that fear can be tapped into in a variety of ways. One can’t do it any longer directly, by racial and sexual bashing of years ago. So, wink and nod, and attach a respectable label to it. “Yes, I’m afraid of blacks and gays, but hey, that’s not why I’m voting Republican. I’m voting Republican because I’m a ‘conservative’, and that’s a good thing to be, because Bill Buckley says so.” Like the doll with the string you pull to make it talk, if you scratch any of these ‘conservatives,’ they will spout all the right slogans, and there is no ‘political incorrect’ racial bashing to be found. The true roots of their conservatism is so deeply buried, these folks really think they really are ‘conservatives’. They are something, that’s for sure, but not conservatives, in any Buckley or Kristol sense.

People aggregate all measures of nice little things to “conservative” to make it respectable to their sensibilities. But the driving motive in being “conservative” for the vast majority of those who vote “conservative” is values—namely they’re afraid of blacks, gays, science (evolution in particular), etc. And oh my, abortion. Killing a three day old clump of cells is a mortal sin to these people, while killing of almost any other kind is perfectly ok.

Taking any of this conservative rhetoric as representing true feelings of deep ethical or moral conviction is all so silly. The true inner feelings motivating all of this is of course nicely hidden now. Republican strategists, going to the gut of how humans really behave, have intuitively understood this since Johnson. Democrats, for all their intellect, are disconnected from true human reality, are unable to tap into this. Which is the essence of my arguments sent to you previously.

True conservatives, that is people who really are motivated by a deep sense of fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, self reliance, etc., without any tinges of racial, cultural, or sexual values based upon inner fears attached to those deeper human things—I’d say there are about ten of them in the entire country. The joke is that these ten think their movement is really cool from an intellectual point of view. And they think its intellectual coolness is why it has dominated the country. That it truly represents a better, deeper, more profoundly human spirit, than liberal thinking. Karl Rove, I can assure you, is under no such illusion.


My point is that there is a large sector of people who believe in fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, free trade, rule of law, etc. who are not socially aligned with the picture you paint of a Redneck America conservative. They support stem cell research, in vitro fertilization (which presents a similarly light ethical dilemma as embryonic stem cells), women in the workforce, global trade and so forth. The Demo challenge is to split them off from the Repubs. Just as the Demos have been pinned to the antiwar, drug-crazed hippie, gay marriage left by Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, the Repubs could be pinned to the narrow-minded, xenophobic, religious right by redefining 'conservative' that way and using Third Way messages to split off the fiscal conservatives to a new forward-looking party. To do this the Demos will have to let go of their populist message and with it lots of their traditional constituents, and sound, well, Republican - balanced budgets, tax reform, free trade, pro conservation, etc., combined with an aggressive international outlook that champions multinational organizations designed to bring as many nations as possible into our world view. I call this Kennedy Republicansim because it sounds an awful lot like Arnold today or JFK 40 years ago.

mel richnik

Yes, as I said, there are ten or so of you. With Robert G., Arnold S., etc. representing you as party leaders. But none of those guys could get the nomination for President. No more than Joe Leiberman or Joe Biden could get it for the Democrats. The power is not with 'rational conservatism'. The power sits with those who are not secular, not part of the enlightenment, not part of the modern world. It is this group that is pandered to by the cynical right wing power structure backed up by Rush Limbaugh et al. If you listen to these demagogs, it really is frightening. There is nothing funny about it. "Normal" Republicans remind me of the early phase of some very dark past times, when 'normal' people didn't understand the primitive power being unleased in the German people out of their very human fear of survival in the hard times forced on them after WWI. We're no where near that here yet, but this anti-science, anti-modern, overly religious posture developing here, taken very seriously by the serious politicians on the right, is very dangerous. It is very hard to deal with in any rational way. And to have very intelligent people within conservatism not see the danger is very upsetting to me. Unfortunately, Kerry is not the antidote. There were many problems with him. I understand that, and in fact, I'm not sure how to blunt this irrational conservatism. It is much more dangerous than its left wing counterpart.

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