The Curious Logic on Civil Unions


Here in Minnesota, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage was introduced earlier this year.  This comes on the heels of the defeat of an amendment to ban same sex marriage in November.  The bill has cleared both committees and will head to the House and Senate floors.

This week a Republican House member introduced a bill allowing civil unions instead of marriage.  The main sponsor is state Representative Tim Kelly, who happened to be one of four Republicans that opposed allowing the marriage amendment from going to the voters when it came to the House in the spring of 2011.

Kelly’s proposal was denounced by several of the states gay groups as well as the sponsors of the same-sex marriage bill.  The common complaint is that civil unions are nothing more than “separate but equal,” creating a second-class system for gay couples.

The reference of separate but equal is on purpose, to liken civil unions to the way African Americans were treated during the Jim Crow era in the south.

I’ve become more wary of trying to tie the movement for same sex marriage on equal terms with the Civil Rights movement.  It’s not that the drive for same-sex marriage isn’t a civil rights issue, it is, but it isn’t on the same footing of how African Americans were treated.

In listening to the stories my Dad and other relatives on his side of the family, I’ve learned how bad segregation was.  Most of my relatives come from central Louisiana and life in the early to mid 2oth century was not good for African Americans.  Separate but equal meant not having a place to eat or lay your head after a long drive.  It meant poor schools and crappy hospitals.  Segregation wasn’t just an inconvenience, it was something that altered lives.

Civil Unions might be a poor alternative to marriage, but it is not the same as living under Jim Crow.  Not by a longshot.

The other thing that bothers me about the “separate by equal” charge is how inconsistent it is.  A few weeks ago, we heard about civil unions become law in Colorado.  There was a lot of positive talk about how far the state had come from the days of the early 90s when the state passed a law that allowed for discrimination of gays and lesbians.  No one was condemning the state for opting for an alternative to marriage; instead we had pictures of same sex couples kissing each other.

This is all good, but if separate but equal is bad in Minnesota, why is it good in Colorado?  Segregation wasn’t bad in Mississippi, but okay in Georgia.  It was bad all over.  If you are going to use the rhetoric of a system that not only separated African Americans from whites, but also kept them down economically, then use it consistently.  If it’s wrong it’s wrong; it isn’t wrong in this situation but right or feasible in this one.

We can argue if full-out marriage or civil unions are the right tactic.  Maybe now is the time for equal marriage, maybe not.  But these are discussions about tactics and politics, not morality.  If it was about morality, there would be no talk of civil unions as an option anywhere at anytime.

Let’s talk about Kelly’s bill.  Let’s talk about whether this is right bill for the times.  But please don’t employ rhetoric to hide your political concerns.  It insults the horrors that African Americans endured and it doesn’t help the cause of gay marriage either.

Why Do We Have to Choose?

There’s a meme running around among some center-right wonks that I can only half agree with.

The meme goes like this: GOP domestic policy is hopelessly stuck in hyper-libertarian thinking, something that doesn’t resonate with middle class Americans.  These same Ayn Rand-loving Republicans go around supporting a more liberalized immigration policy and same-sex marriage.  What the GOP needs to do is stop supporting these silly policies and get back to a more conservative domestic policy that can help a struggling middle class.

Ross Douthat, a center-right wonk that I usually love, adheres to this view.  The most recent conservative pundit that supports this view is Robert Patterson, who worked for the first George Bush.

The GOP’s embrace of free-market absolutism also explains why party elites support the fiction of same-sex marriage and turning America into an open-borders, low-wage country via immigration amnesty, further weakening the social and economic foundations of middle America.

In the libertarian universe, “economic freedom” trumps everything: civilization, nation, statecraft, patriotism, industry, culture and family.

I get where Patterson is going with all of this, but personally, I tend to think adopting an anti-gay marriage, anti-immigration message with some more liberal economic policy isn’t going to help the GOP any more than what they are doing now.

What Patterson, Douthat and others want to do is pin the blame on libertarians and the elites for the current sad state of the GOP.  But the GOP hasn’t been losing just because of their economic policies; they’ve been losing because of their economic and social policies.  Telling Latinos that they need to self-deport themselves tends to make Latinos less likely to vote for the GOP, even if they have policies that might attract them.

The reality is that a hard-edged social conservatism and a hyper libertarianism has made the  GOP a less attractive alternative to the Democrats.  Both social and economic policies have to be overhauled in order for the Republicans to become a winning party.  The party doesn’t have to be pro-same sex marriage, but they do need to not look like hateful neanderthals.

I’m more than willing to accept that the libertarian economic policies of the GOP need to be changed.  What I won’t accept is throwing myself as a gay man under the bus just so that social conservatives don’t have to look at their own policies.  Clean up your own damn house before you go blaming others.

A Few Random Thoughts on “Growth and Opportunity”


The Republican National Committee released its long term assessment report yesterday. Called “Growth and Opportunity,” the document is intended to spell out the current state of the GOP (not good) and ideas on how it can improve. I haven’t read the whole report, but from what I’ve seen in the news I wanted to share these thoughts:

  • This report along with a some speeches by GOP leaders is in some aspects a breath of fresh air. There is an honesty in the report that I haven’t seen in a while among Republicans; a willingness to admit that the current incarnation of the party is scaring whole sectors of American society away. The first step is to admit you have a problem and this report does that.
  • I’m happy for the focus on minority outreach. It would have been nice to have done this prior to getting their butts whooped in November, but it’s at least happening. However, what remains to be seen is how this moves from talk to work. I also haven’t heard of seen any policy ideas other than immigration that will attract minorities. It’s good to extend a hand of friendship, but people vote on what a political party will do for them, not on how nice people are. As Ben Domenech notes, the party needs to set aside things like the debt and tax reform and highlight conservative solutions to problems that Americans face and in this case what persons of color face. Instead of talking about repealing Obamacare, there should be a focus on either reforming it to make it better or offer an alternative program like Health Care Savings Accounts. Will people like these ideas? I don’t know. But you have to offer ideas to fit what problems persons of color face, not what the GOP thinks is important.
  • I’m glad for the focus on social media. The problem here is they will have to link using new media with a credible message.
  • There wasn’t much about same-sex marriage or outreach to gays, but I never expected anything. That said, Republican candidates and local parties, especially those in blue states, should try to reach out to the gay community and even show up at a gay pride festival. Here in Minneapolis the city party has participated in Pride for years.
  • While the report was incredibly positive on reaching minorities, there will be a lot of pushback from the base and the conservative media. The National Review scoffed the attempt to meet with groups like the NAACP and La Raza, saying these minority advocacy groups oppose much of the GOP agenda. Their answer? Destroy them:

RNC chairman Reince Priebus has promised to establish dialogues with groups such as LULAC, La Raza, and the NAACP, which strikes us as unhelpful and willfully blind to the fact that such groups are ideologically opposed to Republican principles. A truly conservative minority-outreach strategy would severely weaken these groups by challenging their claims to represent their respective ethnicities.

And they wonder why people call the GOP racist.

I’m not fan of the NAACP, but if the Republican party wants to be seen as legit in the eyes of persons of color, then the GOP needs to engage these groups. If you go around them, if you work to weaken groups like the NAACP, then don’t expect to get votes from persons of color. For better or worse, groups like La Raza are seen as the legitmate representatives for various ethnic groups. You gotta play with what you have, unless of course, you don’t give a rip about minorities.

  • Finally, despite what National Review says, you have to support immigration reform. Opposing reform offends all Hispanics, even those who are native born Americans and it offends their friends. It doesn’t matter if we don’t get a ton of Latino votes. It doesn’t matter if you think they will just vote for liberals anyway. Opposing immigration reform will send the message that the GOP is against Latinos and that will prevent many folks from throwing the lever to the GOP.

There’s probably more that I could write, but this is what I got for now. After a good start, I’m interested to see how this report could change the GOP.

The Party of Homer Simpson?

Walter Russell Mead on the future of Republican foreign policy:

It would be a serious mistake to underestimate the severity of the GOP’s foreign policy problem. If the struggle over the future of the GOP is seen by independents to be a battle between neocons and isolationists, the party will lose national support no matter which faction wins. Those are hard truths, but they are real: the country doesn’t want more of either George W. Bush or Ron Paul on foreign policy and until Republicans can develop a new and different vision of the way forward, they are unlikely to regain the high ground they once enjoyed on this issue.

The Downgrade of Detroit

Walter Russell Mead has a great essay on why Detroit is in such bad shape and it has very little to do with the auto industry. As many know Michigan Governor Rick Snyder finally called for an emergency financial manager to come in to stabilize the city’s finances. While many are seeing this state takeover as a power grab by a white, Republican governor who will steal democracy from a majority African American city, Mead places the blame where I think it duly belongs:

It’s true that the emergency manager law is taking power away from Detroiters and other Michigan urbanites, and we certainly hope that the state can return control to the people as soon as possible. But despite the fears of a hostile outside takeover, most of Detroit’s problems come from the corrupt political machine that has been looting the city for decades — and from the indifferent state and national prosecutors and politicians who failed to address the lawless state of city government and left the city’s poor to the mercies of heartless thugs.

Following in the footsteps of cheap foreign demagogues like Robert Mugabe, Kwame Kilpatrick and others of his ilk have played relentlessly on identity politics to earn support from poor, minority communities while using the power of their office to funnel money out of these same communities and into their own pockets. And while Kilpatrick—who was just convicted of 24 charges of corruption—may be the worst of the lot, he was far from alone.

What they have left behind is a city where taxes are among the highest in the nation, yet which can’t afford to pay its pensions, provide adequate police service, or keep the lights on.


There are a lot of factors that fed into the rapid decline of Detroit.  Yes, the auto industry had an effect, as did white flight.  But even more than these factors, it was the decades of corrupt leadership that did the city in.  What’s a shame is that most of the leaders that are to blame are African American.  We should have received better from these leaders and now the city and the state of Michigan are left having to clean up the wreckage.

Random Musings on a Random Act

The horrific shootings in Newtown, Connecticut has left a lot of people stunned.  It wasn’t simply the number of people who died, 27, that has left people speechless, nor was the fact that it took place in a school.  What has stunned folks is the fact that this took place in an elementary school and 20 of the victims were between the tender ages of 5 and 9.  No wonder President Obama could barely contain his composure when speaking to the nation yesterday.

The event has brought about a number of thoughts, so I decided to talk about all of them here in this post.

Facts vs. Facts.  Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein has gotten a big buzz from a post he wrote yesterday about the massacre.  He puts forth several statements complete with charts that he states as the facts concerning gun control.  One could look at these statements and take them as myth-busting truths.  Then you read someone on the other side of the debate, like Nick Gillespie who can produce facts and charts as well.  Is one of them lying?  Not necessarily.  It could be that both Klein and Gillespie are finding facts that fit their own bias.  What this shows is that we can’t really talk about this as if only one side has the facts while the other side is made up a liars.

Let’s Have a Conversation!  I’ve become a bit skittish when I hear people saying that we need to have a national conversation or debate on whatever issue.  My aspie brain tends to take this literally and I imagine people calmly sitting in some cafe in Buenos Aires discussing the pros and cons of gun control.  The reality is that having a conversation really means “My side is right and I want to tell everybody and I want the other side to shut up.”  Frankly, I wish people would stop saying they want a conversation when what they really want is to win or stop an argument.

Aspies: the Potential Psychopath Next Door.  Rod Dreher reacts to some news reports that the gunman in Newtown, 20 year-old Adam Lanza, might have had Aspergers.  Dreher, who has a son with Aspergers has this to say:

An aside to this: As most readers know, I have a son with Asperger’s, so it’s painful to read that Adam Lanza had Asperger’s — painful, not because we think that our son is more capable of this kind of thing than anybody else (and besides, it sounds like his Asperger’s is far less pronounced than Lanza’s), but because we know that we’re probably about to go through a phase in popular culture in which Aspie kids, who have a hard enough row to hoe, are going to be looked at as potential mass murderers. God help the Aspie boys and girls on the playground for the next few weeks.

I have a better idea now what American Muslims must have felt like after 9/11.

I totally agree with him.  Young boys with Aspergers are now going to be looked at as potential murderers- which is going to make their life more of a living hell than it already is.  It might not be any better for those of us who are adults with Aspergers.  So after going through life with people scared of big, tall black men like me, they can now be totally scared you-know-what by a big, tall and autistic black man.  Great.

More guns, more gun control.  Jeffery Goldberg, a writer for the Atlantic, wrote a fascinating piece in the current issue about guns in America.  You might expect that he would write about restricting guns, but he proposes the exact opposite, albeit with some controls.  Where so many give a black and white response, he is able to give a more nuanced answer that should be the course on how we deal with guns and gun violence.  Here’s a taste:

There are an estimated 280 million to 300 million guns in private hands in America—many legally owned, many not. Each year, more than 4 million new guns enter the market. This level of gun saturation has occurred not because the anti-gun lobby has been consistently outflanked by its adversaries in the National Rifle Association, though it has been. The NRA is quite obviously a powerful organization, but like many effective pressure groups, it is powerful in good part because so many Americans are predisposed to agree with its basic message.

America’s level of gun ownership means that even if the Supreme Court—which ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment gives citizens the individual right to own firearms, as gun advocates have long insisted—suddenly reversed itself and ruled that the individual ownership of handguns was illegal, there would be no practical way for a democratic country to locate and seize those guns.

So, how does one of these gun-thingies work? As I was reading a post at the National Review website, a thought occurred to me: I really don’t understand guns.  I couldn’t tell you the difference between various styles of guns.  I never grew up around guns and when I did hear about them, it was mostly in negative terms.

I think that’s a problem.  A lot of the people who might support stricter gun laws know very little of guns.  All we might know is that guns shoot and tend to hurt people.  We don’t understand why people would want to go down to the shooting range and squeeze out a round of ammo.  How in the world can we ask to restrict something we might not really understand?

I’m thankful for folks like blogger Mike Dwyer, who is a hunter and has helped me see another side to guns than the side I grew up hearing about.  Dwyer is a “gun nut” as some might think, but a guy that likes to hunt and sees the good and bad of guns.  I think that’s important to remember: guns can be used for good as well as evil.

It’s Gonna Be a Blue Christmas. Being a pastor, there is a theological dimension to all of this.  The slaughter of ones so young brings to mind the story that’s told in Matthew 2.  King Herod, a puppet ruler installed by Rome, finds out there is a young child that is being called the King of the Jews.  Herod doesn’t like someone else sharing the spotlight with him, so he orders soldiers to go to the town of Bethlehem where Jesus was living with his parents.  The soldiers come in and kill every male child under the age of two.  In verse 18, we find this passage:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much grieving.
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she did not want to be comforted,
because they were no more.

This passage is actually found in the book of Jeremiah, but the author of Matthew uses it here to highlight the horror of the event.  There is great sadness in Bethlehem among the mothers who cry in agony for their young ones who have been taken away from them.  We can only imagine there are many mothers in Newtown tonight who cry the same tears as those mothers in Bethlehem did oh so long ago.  Ross Douthat wrote in his Sunday column about how this tragedy and that tragedy so long ago, shed light on the meaning of the holiday season and the role of God in our lives:

It’s telling that Dostoyevsky, himself a Christian, offered no direct theological rebuttal to his character’s speech. The counterpoint to Ivan in “The Brothers Karamazov” is supplied by other characters’ examples of Christian love transcending suffering, not by a rhetorical justification of God’s goodness.

In this, the Russian novelist was being true to the spirit of the New Testament, which likewise seeks to establish God’s goodness through a narrative rather than an argument, a revelation of his solidarity with human struggle rather than a philosophical proof of his benevolence.

In the same way, the only thing that my religious tradition has to offer to the bereaved of Newtown today — besides an appropriately respectful witness to their awful sorrow — is a version of that story, and the realism about suffering that it contains.

That realism may be hard to see at Christmastime, when the sentimental side of faith owns the cultural stage. But the Christmas story isn’t just the manger and the shepherds and the baby Jesus, meek and mild.

The rage of Herod is there as well, and the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, and the myrrh that prepares bodies for the grave. The cross looms behind the stable — the shadow of violence, agony and death.

In the leafless hills of western Connecticut, this is the only Christmas spirit that could possibly matter now.

In a few days, I will lead what is called a “Blue Christmas” service.  These services have caught on in the last few years, to give space to those who might be greiving this time of year.  It’s easy to see Blue Christmas worship as kind of an outlier to a festive season, but I think Blue Christmas sums the entire season.  It is a time when we wait for deliverance and we find God with us as we suffer.  The coming of the Christ-child is a sign of God making room to stand with us in our suffering and through the cross to even suffer with us.

I don’t have easy answers right now.  And maybe nobody does.  All we can do is come together and hold each other, trusting that God is with us no matter what.

The Battle of Lansing And Everything After

It’s been interesting to see what’s going on in my home state of Michigan.  As a kid, you learned how important the unions were in the state.  Most kids learned of the 1936-7 Sitdown Strike in Flint, Michgan which happens to be my hometown.  It was that event where the United Autoworkers made a name for themselves and where the Detroit automakers had to get used to labor as a partner.  For the next 70 years, the American auto industry and the UAW were partners in building the modern Michigan.

My parents came to Michigan and became autoworkers.  My mother worked at AC and Dad worked at Buick.  Of course they were union members as was every hourly worker in every plant in the United States.  As a kid, I never did understand why every hourly worker were union members whether they liked it or not.  My Mom would say in effect that they benefit from all the hard work the union did, so of course they had to be members and they had to have money taken out of their paychecks for union dues.

The passage of right-to-work legislation in Michigan this week is not going to make a big difference in my home state.  Unions aren’t going away.  Michigan will still have to deal with job losses and all the problems that come with that loss.  Maybe new businesses will choose to plant themselves in the Wolverine State, but they might come for reasons other than right to work.

What did happen this week was more symbolic than anything else.  But symbols are important and they do carry weight.  To have right to work in what is considered the cradle of the American labor movement is big.  Conservatives feel like David taking down Goliath.  Liberals are crying foul over how the idea became law.  But as Walter Russel Mead noted yesterday, this is one more sign of the passing of the “blue social model.”

But the hopes and fear of right to work really don’t make a difference to the economic climate in Michigan.  Why?  Because most of those auto jobs as well others that were covered by unions are going away.  These jobs were low-skilled jobs which because of union prodding, paid pretty well.  But even jobs in manufacturing are become more skilled.  The days when a guy could graduate high school and then end up working at Chevrolet plant are fast dissappearing.

Michigan is not going to rebound unless they have a trained workforce, which means providing more opportunities for people to get college -level education or training in vocation schools.

Cities like Detroit, Flint and Pontiac are not going to saved because of right to work.  They are not going to be destroyed because of right to work, either (these towns were destroyed long before this week).

The Battle of Lansing is a sign that the old order doesn’t work anymore.  But we don’t know what needs to come next.  What we do know is that right to work doesn’t change much.

Conservatives Need Better PR

The Republican Party and the conservative movement in America doesn’t really have a diversity problem as some would have us believe.  The GOP can boast that it has several persons of color holding electoral office in the statehouse , the Senate and the House.  Former Secretary of State Condi Rice received cheers during the recent Republican National Convention in Tampa.

The party doesn’t have a diversity problem per se.  It most certainly does have an image problem.

The two most recent conflicts in the news: the flap over UN Ambassador Susan Rice and the defeat of a UN treaty on disabilities are not placing conservatives in a good light.  There might be good reasons to oppose Ms. Rice and the UN treaty, but those reasons, however sensible they may be, are getting trampled by the images of white men going after a black woman and someone in a wheelchair.

Let’s look at Ms. Rice first.  While I think Ms. Rice would make a poor choice for the State Department, I think the current campaign against her is foolish.  Why?  Because this is not a hill to die on.  Yes, she did make a big flub when it came to Libya, but take a step back and look at how people are seeing this.  When the average Joe is looking at this, there are probably a few folk who will see Senators McCain and Graham, two white men, and think that this has to be about race or because she is a woman.  Nevermind that two GOP women Senators have questions.  Nevermind that Republicans did endorse the nomination of Condi Rice to State.  Fair or unfair, what people will see is two aging white men going after a black woman and they will make judgements based on what they see.

People in the wider culture already view conservatives with suspicion.  Why on earth do you want  to add  fuel to the fire?

Now the treaty.  I understand that some of the concerns posed by UN treaties.  I also think they are a waste of time.  But there again, no one is going to think in those terms.  What they will see is a bunch of crazy, whackjobs who hate persons with disabilities.

A few weeks ago, Jim Geraghty  wrote about why conservative ideas are popular, but conservative people aren’t:

So why are Republicans so much less popular than their ideas? A ubiquitous accusation from their Democratic rivals, echoed by an allied media, is that Republicans lack empathy to the point of displaying sheer meanness. With Obama running up huge margins among various demographics — African-Americans, Hispanics, women, young people — the argument is that the GOP increasingly represents an aging, white, bitter, and angry rump of the electorate, lashing out nastily at a world changing too fast for them.

Conservatives need to be more aware of how things look to others.  Right now, the GOP is considered the party of bitter, white men.

There are times you need to fight a battle and times when you need to fall back and make plans.  It’s way past time for the GOP to spend less time on things like UN Treaties and to focus on burnishing their image with gays, African Americans, women and a host of other groups.  The image of being misanthropes is not a winning strategy.  When we have improved our diversity image, then maybe we can go after people like Susan Rice with more integrity.


Republicans Key to Same Sex Marriage Victories

The state I live in, Minnesota, was one of four states that voted on same sex marriage.  In Maine, Maryland and Washington, the vote was to allow same sex marriage.  In Minnesota it was to prevent a ban on same-sex marriage from being on the Minnesota constitution.  Walter Olson notes that in all four states, Republicans were key in voting for same sex marriage.  Here’s what he said about the Minnesota results:

In Minnesota, where voters were asked to ban same-sex marriage through a state constitutional amendment, precinct returns show that suburban Republicans broke from their party in droves to defeat the ban. According to the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, 47 towns around the Twin Cities area voted for Romney while opposing the measure, known as Amendment One. Exurban Scott County, the state’s fastest growing, narrowly turned down Amendment One, even as it gave Romney a comfortable 56.5 percent of its vote.

To be sure, rural parts of Minnesota saw ticket-splitting the other way, with some Democratic-leaning areas backing the marriage ban. But within commuting distance of the Twin Cities, the defections from the Republican line were deep and unmistakable. Romney won easily in such lakeside Hennepin County towns as Orono, Deephaven and Shorewood. Conventional wisdom would have them voting for the marriage ban as well — but they rejected Amendment One by 60 percent or more, an outcome that suggests a significant change in demographics and attitudes from even a decade ago.


It’s Obama’s World; We Just Happen to Live in It

Even though I blog about politics on occasion, I am not a strategist of some political mind.  I’m just a simple pastor in the heartland who is on the center right and shares what he happens to be thinking at the moment.

And what I see at the moment for the Republican Party reminds me of all those times I played chess with my friend Marty Visser 30 years ago.  We would get to a point where you were in checkmate.  There was no way that I could get out of the mess that I was in.  The only thing I could do is simply surrender, game over.

The GOP is bascially facing its own checkmate when it comes to the fiscal cliff.  Yes, the President’s “plan” is laughable and not even serious about balancing the budget.  However pleasing it might be to raise taxes on upper income Americans, the amount raised won’t pay for all the spending that is coming down the pike for Medicare, Social Security and Affordable Care Act.  Yes, Obama and the Dems tend to see compromise as nothing more than terms of surrender. And yes, I think the President and the Democrats took the low road in trashing Mitt Romney.

But the fact of the matter is, President Obama won and as conservatives like to say, elections have consequences.  The Democrats picked up more seats in both houses and the GOP has been weakened severely.  The reason the President came out with his non-plan is because he doesn’t have to give anything up.  He has all the cards and the GOP has none.  It’s not fair and I think this is part and parcel of the president not living up to his high sounding rhetoric, but again, he won and life isn’t fair and politics even less so.  Bill Kristol basically sums up the sorry state of Republicans in this post:

It’s also gradually sunk in that the GOP has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and that the GOP has been thumped in three of the last four national contests (2006, 2008, and 2012). Since the end of the Cold War, the Republican party has had only two really good election days, in 1994 and in 2010. Those were both off-year victories in reaction to the mistakes of first-term Democratic presidents, and in neither case proved harbingers of presidential victory two years later.

Well, if the electoral scene isn’t pretty, maybe the legislative one is better? It’s true Republicans still control the House. But this turns out to be at best a mixed blessing. Because they’re in control, House Republicans are supposed to negotiate with the president on the budget and taxes. They’re united in scorning President Obama’s opening proposal. But what’s the GOP proposal for averting the fiscal cliff? There doesn’t seem to be one.

Might it be prudent for Republicans to acquiesce, for now, to a modified version of Obama’s proposal to keep current income tax rates the same for 98 percent of Americans, while also insisting on maintaining the reduced payroll tax rate of the last two years (see “The GOP’s Payroll Tax Opportunity” above) and reversing the dangerous defense sequester? That deal would be doable, wouldn’t wreck the country, and would buy Republicans time to have much needed internal discussion and debates about where to go next.

I tend to think this is the only option for the GOP.  Yes, Bob Corker has a fairly good plan, but frankly, it’s a day late and a dollar short.  The Democrats are not in a mood to be magnanimous.  They won, they know it and they thumb their noses at the losers.  I disagree with Kirstol that Obama’s plan won’t wreck the country, but again, elections have consequences.  In a democracy when the people speak, we need to adhere to their word.

Politics is very much like chess or even war.  There are times to charge forward, times to make alliances and times to retreat.  This is a time to retreat, not to charge ahead.  What needs to be done now is for the party to decide what it needs to do next.  Many on the center right have come up with various ideas, but there is no coherent idea much less a person.  This is a time for a strategic retreat to make battle plans for the future.

None of this means I think the Dems have better ideas.  In many ways what the President and the Democrats are selling is warmed over New Deal/Great Society stuff which is not taking place in the same economic milleu that allowed for such ideas to take root.  At some point, something in the future will expose their weak points.  But in the meantime, the Republicans needs to tend to their own weak points.  The GOP has to come up with ideas that really speak to the middle class, as well as to an America that is become more and more diverse.

If the GOP is smart, it will cave on this and let Obama have his win.  And then let the party decide how to come up with a better answer than the Dems.