"The Republican establishment wants order at the border"

I am just going to call bullsh** on this assertion since is seems to hide the truth behind the word "order". As soon as the Democrats control Congress and the Presidency again, essentially every single illegal immigrant will be legalized and put on a fast track to citizenship- if it weren't for Joe Manchin, this would have already been done. The Democrats aren't hiding this plan at all, and the Republican establishment will do nothing to stop it, either.

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Sep 11, 2023·edited Sep 11, 2023

Immigration has been a signature failure of the Republican establishment since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and its much touted update in 1990. Both parties promised enforcement in the oathes of office taken by elected officials. Both parties selectively enforced the provisions of those laws. Then after millions of illegal aliens had entered the country, the Republican establishment had the chutzpah to turn to its voters arguing for a need to reform the very laws that they chose to undermine. Such bad faith invites Nemesis and he came this time in the form of Donald John Trump who rode that horse to the nomination and the presidency.

And let us not forget “Repeal and Replace!” How soon everyone forgets that the Republican establishment used this rallying cry to raise money and votes. And when - quite unexpectedly - they won it all in 2016, the whole of it was shown to be a lie. The Republican establishment had no replacement and had no plan. It was a bare-faced and cynical lie: Boob-bait for the bubbas in the words of a famous man.

Underrated? Only if incompetence, venality and mendacity are under discussion.

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Pre-2012, both Democrats and Republicans wanted lower immigration and tighter border enforcement, and politicians in both parties promised to do that and betrayed those promises.

Politicians clearly betrayed voters on the issue. Is that a failure? That would suggest the naive view that politicians main goal is to honor their pledges to voters. If so, sure they failed that goal.

In the more cynical view that politicians goal is money + power and they don't mind betraying voters to reach that goal, well most of the well known politicians succeeded and the ones that failed got pushed out of the system.

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I don't know if I qualify as "establishment" or not. I never would have, before Trump. But now it seems that everyone that dislikes Trump is considered "establishment."

I think immigration is great. The more, the better. But it does need to be legal. We can't have open borders without rules and process.

I disagree that the establishment did not want order at the border. But it was a fairly low priority for them, and harder to achieve then you might think. The Courts and all the left-leaning states all did everything they could to stop having order at the border. So they failed, sure, but it doesn't mean that what they said was bullsh**.

Then there was the "autopsy" following Mitt Romeny's loss, when the establishment really did seem to conclude that controlling the border was bad news politically. So perhaps we need to separate the "establishment" from before 2012 from the establishment after 2012.

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I think the biggest argument against the establishment Republicans is that they were directly involved in getting us here. For a long time they have been largely on board with the left's governing principles, as Russ Roberts put it "Both parties want to take my money and give it to their friends, they just have different friends." Now, possibly there is a valuable distinction to be made among establishment R's between the "country club" R's and the regular folks, but I think that can be made for the D's as well. The problem is that the crazies on the D side have been very successful, and the country club R's haven't been sufficiently keen to push back on authoritarianism they think they can benefit from. At least so far as I can tell. There have been equal years of single party control since 2000, and while the D's have expanded government the R's have done nothing to roll it back.

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The revealing part of Arnold's essay is none of the political groups and views mentioned give priority to upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. Is it a "dark view" to conclude this indicates the American Republic has ended? And what form of government do we have in its place? It is a pseudo-democratic nation with an all-powerful executive branch that claims ever increasing authority over the law and economy. This is the government Alexander Hamilton envisioned and that Jefferson feared.

Hamilton and Madison (initially) held the view that if the best people formed a government they could temper the excesses of Democracy and produce a government that could wisely serve the people. Jefferson wisely observed that any government that held excess power would turn to tyranny to preserve and expand its power.

It is fair to criticize Jefferson and point out he was too confident that any mass of people could build a functioning, healthy government. On this Hamilton was right. The majority do not know what they want. It takes a focused elite minority to make government work. But then what? What tempers the ambitions of the elite minority from becoming tyrants? Jefferson said it was rebellion, every so often. And in the 1828 that is what the Americans did and they elected Andrew Jackson. The anti Jackson movement splintered the existing politics and lead to the Whig party.

And so it was in 2016 there was another democratic rebellion. The Brits voted for Brexit and the Americans elected Trump. The global elite then proceeded to mount a war to suppress those rebellions. There is a reason the past 7 years have been so abnormal....

The American political parties have not formally splintered but in spirit they have. Most telling is we see the establishment politicians refusing to leave! Why won't the aging dinosaurs in Federal Government retire? The "conspiracy theory" is they want to stay in power in order to control information and keep hidden the extent and nature of their corruption. I have no reason to doubt this, but I don't know if it is the main reason. I think they enjoy being in power and loathe the idea of the new generation of politicians destroying the policies and frameworks they have built up.

America is not supposed to have kingdoms and principalities but that is what has been created. The improvement? If not term limits, then mandatory retirement of federal politicians should be the law.

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This seems like a case where Arnold is definitely living up to his tagline of taking the most charitable view.

At this point, I think Michael Malice has the more accurate take “Conservatives are just Progressives driving the speed limit.”

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Arnold is taking a very charitable view of the Republican Establishment, a mildly charitable view of the left, and a completely uncharitable view of right wing populists.

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"The Republican establishment wants order at the border but views legal immigration as a good thing. That makes sense to me."

There are only two ways to end illegal immigration.

1) Enforcement, harsh enforcement

2) Make it all legal (basically open borders)

The bottom line is that every single low IQ third worlder is better off in America then in their own third world countries, and so barring immigration restrictions they will flood into the country until they make up a demographic majority and we become a third world country.

Since the Democrats don't want to make an open case for unrestricted immigration (because it would be evil and unpopular) we get de facto open borders, where its not legal but we don't really enforce it. This is the only politically acceptable way they can implement "eventually get enough brown people in here that we have total power".

If I had to choose between status quo and open borders I would choose at least some formal restrictions with leaks, but my preferred solution is to just cut it all off. The third world has nothing to offer us.

Immigration is the real "existential risk". Any other policy change or cultural trend could always be reversed in the future. Germany and Japan literally got their entire societies destroyed and they bounced back. If Medicare gets bad we can just default and move on. However, genetics are forever.

Note that immigration is VERY unpopular whenever you can get past the vagaries. Eric Adams is crying uncle over migrant busses. DeSantis and Greg Abbot are popular for their anti-immigrant stances. The GOP vote share amongst Hispanics actually increases when they demonize immigration.

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The tell is that while the "who will care for old people?" stories are a constant, even down to the favored scatological angle - no one has ever posited, in print, a single thing that would be made better, or easier to accomplish, or less of a problem - if the GOP hadn't decided to throw in with the left on immigration.

The story you never, ever read - is obviously the one that is most important, and dangerous.

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The Republican Establishment suffers from what I'd call The Charlie Brown Problem: they've spent a long time yanking the ball away at the last second just when their voters thought they were about to get off a successful kick. George W. Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism" which amounted to bribing seniors into voting him a second term via unfunded entitlement expansion springs to mind. To put a more sophisticated spin on it, the divergence between the median voter (which is what matters to incumbents) and the median Republican primary voter I think has become too large to hold the hold the traditional Republican coalition together.

The NatCons, meanwhile, suffer from what I'd call the Denethor Problem: the sort of nihilistic hopelessness Martin Gurri observes among populist dissident movements that makes them effective at tearing down existing institutions and impotent at building anything new. "The West has failed. Go back and burn!” says Denethor in The Return of the King. Doesn't Moldbug more or less says the same thing, at much greater length and with a few obscure literary references thrown in? Or the bizarro Catholic Integralist Revival types? Retreating to pre-enlightenment ideas because you don't like where the enlightenment seems to have taken mainstream culture is about as realistic as expecting people to volunteer for a return to feudalism.

Also, as should be obvious, I prefer my literary references to be mainstream, thank you, like to Charles Schulz and JRR Tolkien characters.

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Loved the Denethor comparison.

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Sep 11, 2023·edited Sep 11, 2023

I think the simplest response to this post is to note that on its own terms the Republican establisment is an abject failure. It has been a political failure and a cultural failure. And what little success the party has had in last couple decades is not attributable to the establishment such as it is.

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I agree. The GOPe works for Big Business and large donors. To increase its appeal the GOPe chooses the opposite side of issues from the DNC but it has no conviction about it. Both major parties are demonstrably disingenuous but the GOPe is so fickle they turn off voters who may otherwise want to side with them.

Observe that at the state level Republican governors do win elections in blue and purple states. This happens because voters value and will reward competence as it concerns their own state. But when the "Romney" Republicans go to Washington they are no longer executives but become advocates and what they advocate has little appeal to common Americans.

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Beating Hillary Clinton was a lot easier than beating Barack Obama. Trump isn't more electable than the establishment guys who came before him, he just got lucky.

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He won, they didn’t. The Republican establishment couldn’t even beat Trump. Why would anyone think that they could beat the Clintons and the Democrats? Over quite some time, they created the conditions that gave rise to Trump. Trump’s luck was their creation. He capitalized on it. That he succeeded in the face of establishment disapproval - on both sides - is a testament to their incompetence and blindness. The very fact that he won condemns them on their own terms.

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> But all these things can lead to a greater pie and more prosperity for everyone. And the nationalists don’t believe that

I guess I'd be lumped in with "nationalists" since I definitely have no faith in the GOP establishment, and I reject this completely. I absolutely believe free trade and economic growth CAN lead to more prosperity for everyone.

Immigration and economic growth CAN promote general prosperity but it's also possible they DO NOT. They are necessary but not sufficient requirements, and our incompetent and malfeasant political system has failed us. The best case for the GOPe is that they've been incompetent, but frequently they seem willing collaborators with those determined to break down the legal and cultural structures required to have a growing free market society.

The nationalist position IS the moderate position on immigration. Allow legal immigration, do not tolerate illegal immigration. That's not a fringe position, that's what even most democrats would support. Because most people can see the obvious problems that arise from the current system.

Are the moderates really being moderate and compromising here? Of course not. The GOP is not offering anything that would appeal to the vast majority of Americans. Anyone who wants restrictions is demonized as being "anti-immigration" and ignorant of economic growth.

As with balancing the budget and reducing economic concentration, wokeness, and the like, the role of the GOPe seems to be to act as a spoiler for the forces of illiberalism. Claim to be against illiberal forces, but only in the mildest, most ineffectual ways, and attack hard anyone who proposes effective, forthright attempts to oppose illiberal policies.

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Generally agree. I would push back a bit that the "nationalist" position is the moderate position. I am not sure there is a single nationalist position there, and have seen self identified NatCons argue for everything up to sending people who moved here after 2000 back to where they came from. That's always the case when a movement is made up of lots of random people and hasn't coalesced a core of thought leadership, but it is worth noting that it is all over the place at least. At this point, I don't think we can even identify what the policy priorities of a NatCon party would be.

That isn't to say that the priorities of the R's are much better! It isn't at all clear what their priorities have been the past 203 years, either, certainly not what their philosophical arguments have been suggesting.

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This is a real concern whenever we haven't see what people do when actually in power. I tend to think that what we see when people are in power represents their true beliefs.

With NatCons, I look at Trump and, while he might be a bad example, he was clearly not putting people in concentration camps the way the dire predictions warned. If anything, he got very little done compared to what he claimed to want to, but I didn't see any enthusiasm for sending long-term residents back. Given that the "NatCon Movement" is defacto Trumpism... I take my cue that the extreme stuff isn't all that credible.

With the GOP... well, they've been in power too, and their record of abetting and encouraging an immigration policy that's reintroduced widespread child labor, second class citizen status, and refusal to enforce law against politically favored donor classes (e.g companies that blatantly employ illegals) are there to put the lie to their stated willingness to take on illegal immigration.

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Frankly I like Trump more than I like most NatCons I have seen :) I know part of it is a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" business, but goddamn, there is a lot of authoritarianism in the NatCon scene that is rarely argued against. I think Trump is, to them, better than the alternatives, but not what they would actually prefer.

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"There have been many moments in our history when it would have been far more reasonable to give up all hope for the constitutional project than it is today" Have there? Really?

I am not a Nat Con; not part of any New Right tribe; not even an American actually.

But it seems to me that, if you are ANY kind of conservative, then there is an elephant in electoral pluralism's room.

Does ANY right-of-centre administration really get its way anymore, given that everyone, when pressed, acknowledges that, Yes, there HAS indeed been a 'long march' of the Left through civil administration, each and every public institution; and (the feeder to all of these) academia?

Maybe in America it can happen (unlike my own country) - because there is still a large anti-establishment voting public (witness 2020). But whether it's establishment Republican, New Right or whatever, if the elephant is not brought into full view (and kept there) " all hope for the constitutional project" is a chimera. https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/

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Disagree that the GOP establishment even objects to wide open borders. They just don't talk about it. Their constituencies (business, agriculture) like it, for economic reasons. Democrat constituencies like massive undocumented immigration for economic reasons (government employees) and ideological reasons (legacy American whites are incorrigibly conservative and need to be swamped by other kinds of people, who will all be granted citizenship). Trumpian populists are the ones who want order on the border. Once it is secure, and only then, we can have an intelligent conversation about who should be permitted to immigrate to the USA. My preference would be to have minimal levels of English competency and professional or technical competency as minimal requirements, then have an annual auction for each permitted place. We should import wealthy and educated people, and let them and their families pay to come here. It would be revenue positive, and the competitive pressure would be on people who are already successful and most able to bear it. We should end so called birthright citizenship, which creates perverse incentives. We already have plenty of our own poor people. If American taxpayers are going to take care of poor people, which we should, we should take care of our own fellow citizens. Without regard to my preferences, what we have now at our border is a disaster that needs to stop.

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On the voting side what goes unspoken, but I think is the real crux, is the GOP since at least the New Deal, is simply the "opposition party". Your choice is the DNC or DNC in all but name. I genuinely believe most Dem voters are voting for the DNC and it's policies whereas most GOP voters are simply voting anti-DNC.

It's why the GOP policy positions are generally meaningless and in practice, go nowhere.

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The 1994 Gingrich Republicans had a political platform and they followed it to great legislative success. But then Bush II was elected and the GOP Congress no longer benefitted politically by arguing for limited spending. The "smaller government" GOP platform returned during the Obama years but then was discarded when Trump was elected.

And now there is no smaller government GOP. Any in Congress who believed that retired or gave up.

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The growing parts of the country are in the Sunbelt. DeSantis runs one of our fastest growing states. Trump country is in many ways doing just fine.



To me the above sums up the economy. Suburbs in the Sun Belt are king. Suburbs in the Sun Belt don't want what the left is pushing. Economically, culturally, etc. If the Ron DeSantis's of the world weren't what these people wanted, they wouldn't be voting for him in overwhelming numbers.

As far as entitlement reform goes it's a dead end. If the GOPe couldn't get it across the line before the boomers retired, they aren't going to get it across the line after. It's just a bottomless pit of political capital that gives your enemies more power to spend what money is left on themselves.

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My concern about the R establishment when it comes to deficit and debt issues is that any gains on this front from spending cuts would be essentially erased by equally large tax cuts. That's what would have happened under any of the proposed Paul Ryan budgets from back in the day.

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Your description of Republican establishment ideas have a much better chance of being listened to and influencing policy in the Democratic party. They are closer to Biden than they are to Trump.

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The elephant in the room is Trump. Many, if not all, "Natcons" are really just Trumpists. But Trump is sui generis. There is, and never will be, another politician like him. I know more than one person who was ready to give up on Trump after the midterms, but following the indictments (and just as I predicted) every single one is now a diehard Trumpist again. Maybe they are "Natcons," but I don't think so. They just agree with whatever Trump says about anything. So they are virtually impossible to pin down on actual policy positions.

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I don’t know what fraction, but some very large proportion of Trump supporters who I can reflect upon are mostly guided by the paradox of “my enemy’s enemy”. In everything he does, Trump focuses on beating up the enemy of his mark as if it’s the only payment necessary. The angry, belittled, socially imasculated, love that. It’s like a cool ointment for a very bad burn victim. Everything else is noise and friction.

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The irony here is, he IS the elephant. Trumo IS the establishment.

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Kling is writing caricatures of the Establishment Right, the NatCons (the populist Right?), and the Democrats.

Just about every single argument is wrong.

Regarding revenge, is that just the NatCons or the populists? The prosecution of January 6 offenders sure looks like revenge. Democrats raiding Trump's home, arresting him, and throwing lots of well funded lawsuits against him for minor law violations; that looks like revenge. When Douglass Mackey played the famous pro-Trump Internet personality Ricky Vaughn, Democrats are now successfully convicting him and ruining his life. That is revenge.

Kling says the Republican Establishment is skeptical of trade restrictions. Really? The US has trade sanctions on a majority of countries on the globe, that has been led by the US foreign policy blob that spans both the Republican establishment and the Democratic Party.

In 1990, free market economist types bragged about the McDonalds opening in Moscow. Today, the foreign policy blob forces McDonalds to close all 800 stores in Russia, lay off 62k employees, and cease business in the entire region. And Kling will still brand them as the free trade advocates.

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