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On Policy Vacuums

A party that doesn’t create policy leaves itself to be filled with grifters.

The Republican party as a whole has no policies to address many major issues:

  • Gun safety
  • Climate change
  • Non-climate environmental issues
  • Healthcare
  • Drug prices
  • Democracy reform
  • Immigration reform
  • Labor rights
  • Women’s rights
  • Racial disparities
  • Poverty
  • Police reform
  • Tax reform

I forgot some. Sorry. But the point is that there are all these major modern issues that the party is silent on (or denies exist in a meaningful way). For some Republican officials, for certain issues, they might support a policy, but the party as a whole does not. What does that do to a party?

In the case of Republicans, it does two things:

  1. It makes them seem less competitive with Democrats, who don’t always have the best policies, but they do have policies that attempt to address the problems.
  2. It makes the control of the party about things other than policy.

Most parties shift over time between more moderate and more extreme factions. This happens in terms of policy, but also in terms of tone choices. If your base is mad, policy aside, they want the fiercer voices up front. If they’re happier, they want more moderation, don’t want to upset the way things are.

But policy comes into play in those shifts. A madder base will still want the party to match their policy choices. If you remove policy from the discussion, all they have is tone, and on tone alone, the angry voices will whip them into anger, the angry voices will win.

When there are policy disagreements within a party, that can overcome tone disputes. But without policy, tone keeps building. The loudest voices win.


The party that lacks real policy (other than doing nothing and ignoring the problems) is a party whose days are numbered. There are too many important issues that will be addressed. This isn’t the bad old days when so many issues could be ignored due to lack of information, communication lag, and so on. The modern world limits how long a party can go without policy.

One major example is climate change. We’ve seen drought and bad storms increase. Temperatures have gotten worse. Bad weather will continue to happen with more frequency, particularly when you consider the time lag at play. Like COVID-19, where hospitalizations lag two weeks behind infections, and deaths another week or two depending on the strain, climate lags. We live today in the climate caused by ten, twenty years of the thickening carbon blanket in the atmosphere.

Ever go to bed cold, with the covers piled on, only to wake up sweating? That’s what the thickening blanket does. It takes time to trap the extra heat. It takes time for the seas to rise, the storms to worsen, the rain patterns to cause worse droughts.

But we live in the first wave of climate-changed weather. It will take but a few short years before enough of the country has been hit by at least one or two effects. That includes Republican strongholds, and enough people will not like to see the disasters and their costs. There are limits to denial.

Like it or not, the Republican party will either develop a set of climate policies (which will be debated within the party) or it will be completely irrelevant as people will want policy.


The rise of idiots like Donald John Trump can only happen when policy has been pushed aside. The Republican voters wanted the Democrats’ policies blocked, but they keep coming. At some point the other reason to have policy gets recognized by the voters: negotiation.

There are very few issues in politics that should be absolutist. Basic rights, including the right to vote, rank up there. But the rest are subject to negotiation. If the Republican party wanted to, it could shove Senator Manchin aside and negotiate a much better Build Back Better bill. They are stuck in the Nancy Reagan drug war response mode, but it’s their voters’ (and donors’) policy choices that suffer.

At some point, as with seeing climate disasters, the policy effects will push Republican voters to demand negotiators. They will learn they are missing all kinds of opportunities by saying no to everything. As it already stands, every Republican voter surely wants at least one of the policy areas I listed to be dealt with. Most probably wants several. They stick to the party because of some other anchor, plus fear of what the Democrats will do on the issue.

The Republican party lies about the Democrats’ true intentions being nefarious and far beyond whatever their opponents propose. They can always point to the far left, but even if they don’t, they can make up whatever slippery slope they want to scare their voters with.

Until they can’t. If any set of Republican electors find one of the policies above outweighs their anchor, they will switch to at least independent voting. And as issues get worse from neglect and inability of Democrats to pass solutions on their own, Republicans will move on from a party that fails to govern.

The alternative, as always, is the Republicans doing the right thing. They can only hide from the truth so long. I hear the truth calling out, “Ready or not, here I come!”

Six January Plus a Year

A year later, what can be said, except that not enough has been done.

Our government exists to protect our lands and our lives, and to see that we have a say in how that happens, in how our collective efforts bring us to a better future of prosperity. We make our voices heard, and that result is felt in the next stent of government at which point we adjust. And we repeat this every few years, in order that our nation may find its way forward in a complex world.

A year ago some Donald John Trump supporters decided America was theirs for the taking, that they didn’t give a rat’s ass what we thought. Led by Donald John Trump, they embarked on a campaign of lies and noise that culminated on 6 January, 2021, when they sought to steal our government and our law, to pervert it for their own preferences.

But behind them was a larger movement all focused on the same outcome through different methods. Their lying began well before the 2020 election, and they kept lying in all kinds of venues including courts and on all modern forms of media. And some are lying even today! They had no evidence, no real claim, but the design didn’t require either of those things. They at the top of the orgy of authoritarianism seek power through whatever means available, with the caveat that they don’t want to face consequences when they fail (which precludes only a few methods).

The party that shelters this element has repeatedly refused to take a stand or kick them out. Wyoming’s Republican party kicked out Representative Liz Cheney for her efforts to uphold American values. Several state party election officials have held meetings with liars where they say the state’s election was straight, even as the liar says otherwise. Other states have held bogus audits that still failed to deliver evidence as they invalidated the voting machines.

Those seeking Republican nominations, including for offices that administer elections, have voiced their zeal for the lies, portraying themselves as pliant servants of the devilry it represents. They say they will not certify valid elections that oppose the liars. They pass laws, and call for more to be done, to thwart legitimate electors from voting, and from allowing the result to stand, in order to suppress their political opponents.

The impeachment that followed the Capitol attack fell flat, with no new evidence, no testimony, and with a rush to move on, particularly by the Republican caucus of the Senate that had already stalled it while they retained the majority. The federal government is prosecuting the attackers, but as yet no charges for those who egged them on, who brought the mob. And the responsible parties continue to delay, if not defeat, any real accountability.


One year on, we haven’t seen real consequences for the liars, and we don’t see much reason to hope that they will come. For the briefest of moments, a year ago, after the attack, some prominent Republicans spoke as if they would finally return to reality even as others voted to remain in Delusionville. Only a few stayed in reality, most have returned to the land of filth and crud that is inaccessible to those of us with clear minds.

If Democrats and sane Republicans, along with businesses that want a real government more than tin-pot tax cuts (where’s the polling on that?), cannot act to put down this rebellion of the deluded, something besides the Republican party is certainly broken, and likely irrevocably so.

We do still have hope. Our hope is our ability to sift truth out of lies. That we will support those who seek to strengthen democracy, seek to build a better world for all, and we will reject them that won’t. In this division, we are fallible but determined. And over time we will get it right enough that good will prevail. The clock is ticking.

The Republican Party is Too Big and Failed

Businesses and governments are relying on a failed institution: the Republican Party.

It’s been reported that the corporations (including big law) that had sworn off donations to politicians who fed the attack on the government have gone back to donating. Why? Do they hate America? Wait, that should be one question: Why do they hate America? Corporations that give money to scoundrels, why do you hate America?

The truth is, the Republican party is too big and failed. Remember “Too Big to Fail?” During the last financial crisis? The idea was that certain banks and financial institutions couldn’t be allowed to go bust. If they did, it would blow up everything on the planet and everyone would be ska-rewed.

Same song, different verse: the wealth centers pay politicians to draft and to block laws they believe will help or hinder their wealth. The ambitions of a minority of Republican politicians to turn the country into a dictatorship can’t change the basic math of corporate accountants: buying politicians (via campaign contributions) is cheaper than paying more in taxes or regulation. Buying new lines of business by legislative capture is cheaper than competing for it in the market. (Here cheaper refers to the limited-scope costs of particular firms, not to the costs and benefits of society. It’s a blinders-on measure used by businesses to avoid the obvious: being assholes is almost always the wrong move.)

Their calculations do not include the cost of American democracy folding. Most of them do plenty of business in dictatorships around the world, and they’re comfortable working within those circles, despite the fact that they’ve only been able operate in those countries because they could rely on the United States to keep the international order stable enough.

The attack on the government in January had the makings of a wake-up call for corporations, for mainstream Republicans, and for the media. But the Siren’s song of business-as-usual overpowered the alarm noise. They’ve quickly reverted to fighting good governance in favor of their own bottom lines.


The media, of course, made similar analyses for different reasons. They typically want to focus on the party in power, they benefit from pitting politicians against one another, and they have advertisers with business interests of exactly the kind that require donations to Republicans. The media tends to serve advertisers first, if only because they need the revenue.

I recently wrote about the media being the real opponent for Democrats in 2022 (diehealthy.org: 20 November 2021: “The Democrats Face the Media in the 2022 Midterms”), and that’s in-line with the mainstream media being something more of a printing press for the powerful than anything resembling a fourth estate. Same as it ever was, but it still feels like between the pandemic and the Capitol attack, more soul-searching would have happened.


And I’ve also written in the past months about the idea of a BNP—Brand New Party (diehealthy.org: 6 February 2021: “How Moderate Conservatives Can Ditch the GOP”), including the need for it and how it could work. There was also a piece about how it will require a sympathetic media to help it get the word out (diehealthy.org: 2 October 2021: “The Need for Good Right-Wing Media”). The too-bigness is part of the reason. That once you’ve built up a certain market for policy-wielders, you can’t retire the old one without having a new one to replace it. And all the logistics that entails.

Think about it: it’s not just the politicians, but the campaign businesses, the pollsters, the media, the lobbyists, the law firms, the carbon fuel industry, all tied together because they have interests to pursue. There are also state Republicans and local Republicans who have depended on the brand, and in at least some cases are closer to what Republicans used to be. They aren’t as many as we’d like, they don’t like the baggage their party has to carry, but they can’t all go independent and be without a mascot.

Even outside of the politics, there is business development, there’s networking, caterers, event spaces, all sorts of businesses that need some kind of second party to function. To use the Republican trope, the party has provided them welfare, and they are now dependent on it for survival or at least to thrive.

For platform reasons, the Democrats cannot take up the mantle of pro-pollution, of anti-taxation, and so on. Their own voters would revolt. While blocs of Democrats do champion tax cuts for the wealthy, rent-protection for Pharma, and so on, the overall caucus believes in good governance. They aren’t about to turn into a bunch of hucksters to appease the Koch brats.

And neither should a BNP, but it would provide enough of a counterpoint, a difference, an alternative to the Democrats. On many issues, they should represent a compromise position that the current Republican party cannot. On a select number, they should represent the same as the Democrats: the same as the American people minus the ridiculous Republicans. Those issues, the BNP abandon an untenable position and only seeks to improve on the Democrats’ policy. But they would also offer stability, agreeing with Democrats on the basic structure of government, agreeing to free and fair elections, campaign reforms.

And more importantly, it could provide a safe sink for at least some of these big businesses to show their investors they aren’t ceding the precious profits to Democrats, aren’t leaving the gates of their wealth unguarded. Where the Republicans simply seek to obstruct, the BNP could actually negotiate better bills that would still fulfill some of what the donors want while delivering a better government.


The Republican party is a failed party, but they will remain and will not reform until there is real pressure to do so. The businesses that rely on them won’t do the right thing here. It’s not who they are as businesses. The need for a BNP remains clearer than ever.