Conservatism

Why Deep Red States Are Rethinking the Death Penalty

There are few things that embody big government more than capital punishment—and a small but growing conservative movement wants it repealed. 

AP Photo/Nati Harnik
AP Photo/Nati Harnik Nebraska lawmakers, including Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, center, and Sen Beau McCoy of Omaha, center rear, follow the vote to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. M arc Hyden hasn’t always opposed capital punishment. The first time he remembers talking about the subject he was six years old, standing on the playground of his elementary school, telling a friend he supported the death penalty because his parents were Republicans. “It was more of a glacial change,” says Hyden of his own path to opposing capital punishment. “I had always been taught that this is what conservatives do, that we support the death penalty.” But as he grew older, the more and more he learned about it, the harder and harder it was for him to justify his support of the practice. “I was grasping.” Hyden has since stopped grasping. Now 31, he’s one of the nation’s leading conservative anti-death-penalty activists, a small but growing group that sees the death penalty as...

Andrew Jackson's Dark Legacy Belongs to All of Us -- Democrat and Republican Alike

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons) D uring the height of the 2008 presidential campaign, I paid a visit to what was then an annual gathering of the Conservative Caucus, a right-wing group founded by the late Howard Phillips, who also helped found the religious right. Unlike his compatriots among the religious right’s founding fathers, Phillips, a large man with the voice of a radio actor, relished the use of extreme language to characterize his perceived enemies: Gays were “sodomites” and “perverts”; Planned Parenthood was “Murder Incorporated.” He also cozied up in public to neo-militia groups such as Missionaries to the Pre-Born. In a small meeting room at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, the Conservative Caucus convened for its yearly Constitution Day awards event, a notably low-budget affair with nothing on the menu but hotel-supplied hard candies and pitchers of water—and vitriol, no small measure of it trained on the surging Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama. Receiving the...

What Some Black Church Leaders Have Wrong About Gay Marriage -- and Civil Rights

From Stonewall to Black Lives Matter, the African American LGBT community has always been on the forefront of fights for equality.

(Photo: AP/Jacqueline Martin)
(Photo: AP/Jacqueline Martin) On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples had a right to marry anywhere in the country. T he African American church and its leadership have often been at the forefront of movements for equality. But the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has shed light on the resistance to social change among some black church leaders —and has left them sounding more like white conservative leaders. On June 26, the Court ruled that two consenting adults have the right to get married—even if they are the same gender. As conservatives lamented the loss of morality and warned of the hellfire that would soon rain down upon us, President Barack Obama and the White House celebrated the decision. Just a few hours later, Obama delivered a eulogy for Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney was a South Carolina state senator and a pastor at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church before he was shot and killed, along with eight...

Republicans Need to Find a New Culture War to Fight

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais In this Friday, June 26, 2015 file photo, people gather in Lafayette Park to see the White House illuminated with rainbow colors in commemoration of the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington. W hile Antonin Scalia's dissents in last week's two blockbuster cases were full of his usual colorful bombast (I can't wait to respond to a line of baloney someone gives me with "That, sir, is pure applesauce !"), there was one line that stuck out for me. In Obergefell v. Hodges , the gay marriage case, Scalia aimed his withering contempt at Anthony Kennedy's assertion in the majority opinion that two people can find "other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality" in the bond of marriage. "Really?" Scalia wrote. "Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality (whatever that means) were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest...

Scalia's Presumption of Reasonable Republicans

Justice Scalia's dissent in King v. Burwell rests on a deeply misguided faith in GOP leaders at the state level. 

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, October 5, 2011, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. J ustice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from the Supreme Court’s recent decision on Obamacare reveals an almost touching belief that his Republican confreres are actually empirically sentient and can, if prodded, respond to reality. In that decision, which was handed down on June 24, the Court upheld the payment of federal subsidies to low-income recipients of Obamacare in states that haven’t set up their own exchanges. Were the Court to strike down the subsidies, as Scalia argues it should have, states without exchanges, he writes, would surely set them up: The Court predicts that making tax credits unavailable in States that do not set up their own Exchanges would cause disastrous economic consequences there. If that is so, however, wouldn’t one expect States to react by setting up their own Exchanges? And wouldn’t...

How the Presidential Primary Is a Proxy War Between the Kochs and the Republican Establishment

Is Reince Priebus democracy’s last best hope?

 

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster Adam Gabbatt of The Guardian holds images of Republican candidates as he interviews Howard "Cowboy" Woodward during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on February 26, 2015. T here’s a battle brewing in the Republican Party, one that could be acted out in a most unseemly way in the nomination contest for the GOP standard-bearer. The wrangling between the Republican establishment and the Koch wing of the party promises some great entertainment for liberals who follow the presidential primaries; unfortunately, it also promises to be bad for our democracy. At this early stage in the presidential campaign, Scott Walker, the Koch-made Wisconsin governor , leads the pack in Iowa, polling at 18 percent, according to a June survey by Morning Consult . The likely establishment choice, a candidate formerly known as Jeb Bush (now just “ Jeb! ”), is tied for second with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul, the...

Scott Walker's Shady Deals Win Him Campaign Cash From Billionaires

The dark money web behind Walker's ascendance. 

AP Photo/Morry Gash, File
AP Photo/Morry Gash, File Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker giving a thumbs up as he speaks at his campaign party, in West Allis, near Milwaukee, on November 4, 2014. I f the Koch brothers have their way, the next president will be a guy they all but created—and one whose propensity for alliances and questionable deals with robber barons and at least one dirty political player mark a quality only an oligarch could love. When Walker, after winning Wisconsin’s 2010 gubernatorial election, burst on the national scene in 2011 with his jihad against the state’s public-sector unions, he seemed to come out of nowhere. But he had been groomed for years by powerful anti-labor forces, rising from the state assembly under the tutelage of Michael Grebe, president of the Bradley Foundation, a major backer of right-wing, anti-labor politicians and policies. Grebe also served as Walker’s campaign chairman. In Sunday’s New York Times , reporters Patrick Healy and Monica Davey detail the role of the...

How the GOP Plans to Cut Affordable Housing (Again)

A 2008 program to help tens of thousands on housing waitlists is finally set to be funded, but House Republicans have other plans.

(Photo: AP/Bloomington Herald-Times/Jeremy Hogan)
(Photo: AP/Bloomington Herald-Times/Jeremy Hogan) Seekers of Section 8 housing line up in Bloomington, Indiana, in 2011. The National Housing Trust Fund, created in 2008, is set to finally be funded in 2016, but House Appropriations Committee Republicans just last month passed a housing and transportation bill that strips the fund to cover cuts in other housing programs, and prohibits any funding in the future. I n almost every part of the country, families struggling to pay rent and seek help find themselves at the end of a very long line. In California, I spoke to a woman who told me she was assigned a number higher than 57,000 on the waiting list when she applied for a subsidized apartment. In the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where the lottery opens every few years for Section 8, which gives recipients money to pay rent and is the biggest of the programs, only 30 or 40 of about 2,500 applicants will receive vouchers. And that’s just when local agencies are even accepting...

Scott Walker's Long Crusade

Walker's road to the White House has been years in the making. 

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks to the American Federation For Children in New Orleans, Monday, May 18, 2015. This article originally appeared at The Washington Spectator . W hen Scott Walker met 91-year-old Nancy Reagan in 2012, he told her he had a personal connection with her late husband: Walker’s recall election had fallen on the anniversary of President Reagan’s death. Back home in Wisconsin, Walker would try to impress intimate gatherings of Republicans by telling them Nancy Reagan had arranged for Walker to be the first to touch the Reagan inauguration Bible since Reagan’s death. Writing in The Progressive , I debunked the story : it turned out Nancy Reagan never made any special arrangement for Walker, and the Bible in fact has been touched by a number of people since Reagan’s death. While it is not uncommon for Republicans to have a cult-like infatuation with Reagan, Walker has been obsessed with him since starting the Jesus USA Club in...

Marco Rubio's Far-Right Foreign Policy Gambit

The GOP hopeful wants 2016 to be all about Iran and Cuba. 

AP Photo/David Goldman
AP Photo/David Goldman Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio speaks at the Georgia Republican Convention, Friday, May 15, 2015, in Athens, Georgia. I f the GOP field seemed obsessed with repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2012, there’s a good chance that 2016 will be all about undoing President Obama’s foreign policy. With the ACA now firmly entrenched in the American political psyche—not to mention American law—Republican frontrunners have taken aim on Obama’s record on Iran, Cuba, and Syria. Like the battle over who was more vigorously opposed to Obamacare, Republicans will first use foreign policy as a way to whittle down their own crowded playing field, writes Steve Inskeep at npr.org. Naturally, this strategy is a risky one. Competing to see who can go furthest right on foreign affairs may play well in the primaries, but it can make the GOP nomination that much less palatable come November 2016. If there’s a progressive silver lining in this story, it’s here:...

White Privilege and the Limits of Public Forgiveness

Mike Huckabee's vocal support for Josh Duggar is in sharp contrast to his indifference to black victims of police violence.

(Photo: AP/Nati Harnik)
(Photo: AP/Nati Harnik) Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks in Iowa in April. The GOP presidential candidate was quick to voice his support for Josh Duggar, who this past week admitted to having molested children while a teenager. I n America, public forgiveness is largely dependent on race. In the weeks after Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August, pundits and media outlets were quick to jump on a robbery Brown allegedly committed minutes before being fatally shot. Among them was 2016 hopeful Mike Huckabee, who told NewsMax TV, “It's a horrible thing that he was killed, but he could have avoided that if he'd have behaved like something other than a thug.” For Huckabee, (alleged) theft was grounds for death. That is, if you look a certain way. Contrast these statements with Huckabee’s recent defense of reality TV regular Josh Duggar, who admitted last week to having molested young girls as a teenager in 2002 and...

Little Magazine, Big Ideas: The American Prospect at 25

Reflecting on a quarter century of politics and change.

T he American Prospect began 25 years ago with a small circulation, a limited budget, and great ambitions. Our aim was to rethink ideas about public policy and politics and thereby to restore plausibility and persuasiveness to American liberalism. The first issue appeared in spring 1990, a moment when Democrats had lost three successive presidential elections, conservatives were pushing schemes for privatization, and liberals were in disarray. But in 1990, Congress was still in Democratic hands, the Cold War was coming to an end with the Soviet collapse, and the focus of politics was turning from foreign to domestic policy. Rising economic anxieties, it seemed, might spur political change just as a “peace dividend” could finance new initiatives. By historic good fortune, the Prospect had arrived at a time not only of global change but also of “liberal opportunity,” as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., called it in the first issue, which carried a cover image of an old world cracking open to...

Women as the Loyal Opposition

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Senator Elizabeth Warren, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Senator John Kerry's nomination to be secretary of state on January 24, 2014. A version of this article first appeared at The Huffington Post . L ong ago, when I began writing newspaper columns, a wise editor advised me that a column is about one thing. I am about to violate that rule. This piece is about three different things (which are connected if you look hard). One is a 25th anniversary; the second is some Mother's Day musings; the third is the latest in a string of losses for the left, namely the trouncing of the British Labour Party in Thursday's election. Let me explain. In 1990, Robert Reich, Paul Starr and I founded a new progressive magazine, The American Prospect , to try to breathe some intellectual spirit and political backbone into American liberalism. At the time, liberals were getting whacked both by...

Should We Relitigate the Iraq War in the 2016 Campaign? You Bet We Should

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images News)
View image | gettyimages.com I f all goes well, in the 2016 campaign we'll be rehashing the arguments we had about the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003. You may be thinking, "Jeez, do we really have to go through that again?" But we do—in fact, we must. If we're going to make sense of where the next president is going to take the United States on foreign policy, there are few more important discussions to have. On Sunday, Fox News posted an excerpt of an interview Megyn Kelly did with Jeb Bush in which she asked him whether he too would have invaded Iraq, and here's how that went : Kelly : Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? Bush : I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got. Kelly : You don't think it was a mistake? Bush : In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States, was faulty. And in...

Netanyahu's New Government: Weak, Extreme, and Unpredictable

To stay in power, Israel's prime minister created a government even further right than he is.

(Photo: AP/Sebastian Scheiner)
(Photo: AP/Sebastian Scheiner) A s the minutes and seconds left for Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government flashed on my screen Wednesday night, I passed the time by reading Daniel Kahneman on the futility of political predictions. "Reality emerges from many different agents and forces. ... Short-term trends can be forecast with fair accuracy from previous behaviors," writes the Israeli-American psychologist and Nobel laureate in economics. "You should not expect much from making long-term forecasts." Kahneman seems overly optimistic about even short-term predictions when it comes to the politics of his native land—though he could fairly answer that in Israel seven weeks is long-term. That's how long it's been since the Israeli election, when Netanyahu defeated both his left-wing challenger and all of the country's pollsters. Immediately after the vote, the impression among the public and most of the expert class was that his way was paved to a new coalition, stronger than the one...

Pages