This blog is many things (or few things, depending on whom you ask), but a food blog is not one of them. I hate food blogs, for the most part. Mostly because they’re all nearly identical: A picture of a quality I am simply not capable of producing, 600 words of nonsense and/or verbal autofellatio, and then a recipe. No thanks. But, as someone who occasionally eats food with a handful of readers/followers who probably eat food sometimes as well, every once in a while I’ll dabble in the topic.
Other than a laboriously created entree plate or maybe a nice salad, sandwiches are about the only food worth eating on a regular basis. Hot sandwiches, that is. A cold, mushy, lifeless sandwich is no one’s first choice. No one looks forward to the pitiful union of meat and bread shrouded in a brown paper bag that’s spent the last 4 hours getting even colder and mealy in the office fridge. Yuck. Given the choice, everyone wants a hot sandwich. The satisfying crunch of the bread, the gooey cheese and meaty juiciness dripping down your arm like the blood of a slain rival, and the warmth permeating your body like a glowing orgasm. A good, hot sandwich speaks to us in ways a Poet Laureate can only dream of.
The problem with making the perfect grilled sandwich is that the key players (bread, the stuff that goes between the bread) are at odds with regard to treatment. Getting the kind of crust that threatens to perform reconstructive surgery on your alveolar ridge requires high heat, like the sun with scarlet fever. On the other hand, melting and heating the filling calls for lower heat, the kind usually found in a loveless marriage or a flashlight that’s been on too long. Grill a sandwich too hot, and you wind up with two pieces of toast with cold stuff between them, which is technically a sandwich the same way RuPaul is technically a man. Grill it low and slow, and while the inside stuff will get warm and melty, the bread will brown without really crusting, because all the shit you stuffed in there makes it steam more than anything. Life is hard.
The solution, I’ve found, is simple and just as fast as grilling a sandwich the old fashioned (crappy) way: Just cook the ingredients separately! No, seriously. Below is the procedure for making the best goddamned grilled sandwich, period.
– A griddle, or two (nonstick) pans
– Bread (two slices, something hearty and nothing frou-frous)
– Meat (as much or as little as you like, but don’t go crazy)
– Cheese (something that melts, nothing hard and nothing expensive)
– Your preferred sandwich spread (optional)
– Vegetation (also optional, and again don’t go crazy)
– Liquid fat (preferably melted margarine, but oil if you must. Not butter)
Pre-heat your griddle/pans. Go for medium, close to medium high heat. Don’t be a pussy about it. Modern non-stick pans are fine up to medium high. If you’re smart and own an electric griddle, peg it at about 375 degrees.
If using, apply a small amount of sandwich spread to both pieces of bread. I have a home made version of Shake Shack’s “shack sauce” that I like, or if I’m using salty redeye ham (the world’s greatest sandwich meat) some honey mustard is nice. If you’re boring, use mayo. Squirt or spoon a little on each half, and then make them love each other. Pretend you’re making your Barbie and Ken dolls makeout like you used to in 7th grade, and rub the two halves together so you get a thin, even coating of spread on each side. Leave your mayonnaise sandwich intact, for now.
Arrange your meat pile. I don’t care how you do it, as long as it comes out to be roughly the same size as the bread. If using deli meat, I like to fold them in half and create a beautiful cascading meat waterfall. If you’re some kind of sicko, you can just stack them together to form a dense, disgusting meat puck. As long as you can move the entire assembly in one piece with a spatula, go wild.
Grease your bread. Take your mayonnaise sandwich and brush (yes, use a brush) a thin layer of melted margarine on each side. Avoid melted butter or olive oil because they tend to burn a little too fast, and we are not making Cajun style sandwiches. We’re also not making health food, so two teaspoons or so of margarine won’t kill you.
Put your meat pile in one hot pan, and then immediately separate your greasy mayonnaise sandwich and put it in the other. Wait about 30 seconds.
Flip your meat pile and cheese it. While the cheese melts, now is the time to add any vegetation, if using. This is a grilled sandwich, not some towering monument to sandwich superfluity. Be minimal. Maybe some pickles, tomato, or onion (OR, not AND) on what will be the bottom half of the bread, and some green leafy stuff on the top. The spread should keep everything stuck while providing just enough of a barrier to keep the green stuff from wilting.
Assemble. Transfer your meat pile to the bottom piece of bread. Put the top piece on top. Use your spatula to take a peek at the bottom. Whichever piece of bread is not yet perfectly browned, flip the assembled sandwich to that side and finish it off.
That’s it. Cooking the bread with nothing more than a thin layer of sauce allows steam to escape, creating a perfect crust. Cooking the middle parts on their own not only cooks out the nasty meat water that comes with packaged cold cuts, but also gets them piping hot without burdening the bread with heat transfer duties. The result is an ideal sandwich. Even though it’s seven steps long, the entire process doesn’t take more than 2-3 minutes.
Or, if you’re a DC restaurant, you bitch and moan about food trucks until the government steps in to fight your capitalist battles for you. After years of legislative uncertainty, new regulations for food trucks would effectively shut all but a handful out of DC’s busiest downtown areas. Trucks would be forced to compete for a handful of “lottery” parking spots. No other trucks would be allowed within a 500-foot radius of the allotted spots. The result is that most trucks would be forced to lower-traffic areas, and would probably go out of business. Why would DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs even consider legislation that would hurt small business owners and cost the city thousands in tax revenue? Is it a food safety issue? A public health concern? Nope. The city’s restaurants are just PMSing. Via Greater Greater Washington:
Many restaurateurs would prefer a downtown free from competitors, but it makes as much sense to give restaurants input on where food trucks can operate as it does to give food trucks control over prices restaurants can charge.
In heeding the concerns of restaurants, DCRA has strayed from the traditionally-accepted role of crafting regulations to preserve public health by attempting to control competition between businesses.
I get it. If you’re a restaurant, you aren’t thrilled about competition being able to park in front of your door. But what I want to know is which restaurants feel that they’re in competition with food trucks. If you are a regular, full service restaurant, complete with a full front of house and kitchen staff, you do not compete with food trucks. No one says “I was going to take my client to this nice restaurant, but let’s do a food truck instead.” So, not them. It’s also not the Subways, Chipotles, or McDonalds of the area. If you’ve ever been in downtown DC around lunch time, you know the chains aren’t hurting for business. Then who is it? who’s left that does most of their business during lunch, but offers neither a full-service environment nor the consistency of a chain? Ah, that’s right. Weigh ‘n pays.
If you’re not familiar with a weigh ‘n pay, it’s a combination of a buffet and sandwich counter that usually executes neither concept very well. The colloquial name comes from the fact that when purchasing food from the buffet, the price is determined by the weight. You weigh, then you pay. And oh, what a buffet it usually is. Imagine a spread of American and Chinese favorites, all either glopped in sauce or fried beyond the point of recognition. A weigh ‘n pay is no one’s first choice, reserved for when you’re super hungover or in search of a meal that matches the depths of your own personal failures. It should come as a surprise that tiny, mobile trucks are able to out-perform a brick and mortar establishment with a full kitchen and pantry, but for anyone who’s eaten at a weigh ‘n pay, it doesn’t.
The chief complaint among “restaurant owners” is that they pay property taxes to the community, while food trucks do not. Besides being an incorrect argument (food trucks pour plenty of money into the community through other things like parking tickets and sales taxes), it’s a pointless one. Brick and mortar establishments pay property taxes because they, in fact, have property. They offer space where their customers can dine, safe from the elements. They have full kitchens that (in theory) allow them to prepare a greater variety of food. They have refrigerators and freezers that should allow them to save money by buying in greater quantities. All of these things (storing, preparing, and serving food in the same place) should create economies of scale that allow them to offer food at market prices but for a higher margin. Apparently none of that is happening, because they’re getting beat out by a bunch of guys cooking food in the back of a truck.
Food truck operators have to store and prep food in one place, and then finish and serve in another, from a truck. Space does not allow for a support staff. Rules don’t allow them much time to settle in early in order to finish prepping. If an appliance in a restaurant breaks down, it’s an inconvenience to overcome. If anything breaks down on a food truck, they don’t make money that day. Still, food trucks consistently churn out better food than the average weigh ‘n pay, because the proprietors care. Weigh ‘n pays could probably obliterate food trucks by using cheaper, fresher ingredients and preparing them thoughtfully, but that would require planning, and work. Instead, rather than let the market decide who succeeds and who fails, DC restaurants would rather have the government create artificial barriers to entry.
If you want people to choose your food over a competitor’s, start making better food than them. If all else fails, the food trucks can always come to Arlington.
Bartending, despite being a fine profession, is often a thankless one. I’m not a bartender, but I’ve worked in restaurants and customer service before. Everyone who has knows that while most customers are decent and benign, some are nightmares. It comes with the territory. “The customer is always right” is more of a guideline than a rule, and having to explain to a customer that they are wrong without sending them into a fit of rage can be a real headache. Still, if you’re in a position that requires you to deal with other human beings, if you want to keep your job it’s necessary to learn to navigate those waters. That is, unless you’re a bartender, apparently.
Buzzfeed just published this article called “11 Things Your Bartender Won’t Tell You”, and as far as I can tell it’s the rantings and ravings of a group of people who believe that they aren’t required to practice good customer service by virtue of being gatekeepers to the liquor I’d like to pay them for. Here are some highlights (emphasis not mine):
“Do not try to get our attention. At all. We know you’re there, and we know the order in which people got to the bar. We know you want something. That’s why you’re at the bar. Do not wave. Do not yell.”
Hey, your bar’s on fire, but I’m going to respect your desire for privacy in a public setting.
“Honestly, the best method is to be obviously ready to order without asking a ton of annoying questions. Don’t worry, if they make eye contact, they’ll get to you. If you wanted to not wait for a drink, go to 7-11.”
And I guess if you wanted to make below minimum wage without interacting with people, go to the unemployment office
“Unless it is entirely the wrong drink, do not send it back. if your martini needs a ‘smidgen more olive juice,’ then shut up. Make it yourself next time.“
“Have your friend drink it.”
“Hey Ralph, thank you for this report that I paid you a ridiculous markup to produce, but it’s not quite right. Can you revise it?”
“No. Make it yourself next time.” Or,
“No. Give it to Gene in the procurement department. He likes his reports that way.”
“Paying with a credit card is annoying if you are buying one drink. If you’re buying a round or keeping a tab open, it’s completely reasonable. Customers often don’t realize how much money bars lose on credit card fees.”
Yes, exchanging money for goods and services in a way that doesn’t require you to test the limits of your education by doing simple arithmetic is a real ball-buster. No, I don’t know how much money the bar loses on credit card exchange fees, but I’m confident it’s less than the profit they make off my $10 cocktail.
“I worked in a Boston pub, so anything that required more than three ingredients was annoying. It was the type of place where you ordered a beer or a gin and tonic. Simple stuff. Not a cosmopolitan-type place.”
Oh, I didn’t realize that your full bar stocked with lots of high-margin spirits and cordials for which I’m willing to pay you money was just for show. My mistake, scratch the cosmo and make it a bud light. From a bottle, please. I wouldn’t want you to have to wash a glass.
“The best way to tell if your glasses are clean is to look at the lacing as you drink your glass of beer — basically, does the head kind of stick to the side as you drink it, making little rings around the glass as you drink it? If it does, you’ve got a really clean glass.”
Oh, you don’t wash glasses. Nevermind, then. Draught is fine.
“I personally hate making Long Islands, because I know that people are drinking them just to get fucked up.”
I personally hate manufacturing cars, because I know people are buying them just to drive places. The nerve. Sometimes I wish that there was a source of authority that would make someone stop driving their car if they abused the privilege or used it in an unsafe way.
There’s more, so click over to buzzfeed for more top-secret insider info like “don’t ask them for free drinks.” Since I’ve seen dozens of lists like this, I decided to make my own, only in reverse. The following are 11 things your bar customer won’t tell you:
1) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
2) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
3) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
4) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
5) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
6) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
7) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
8) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
9) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
10) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
11) Shut up and make my drink, it is how you and this establishment make money.
That should cover it. A bartender deserves, like any other human being who hasn’t wronged you in any way, to be treated with a certain amount of dignity, patience, and respect, especially considering that they’re working when we see them. The same applies to a bartender’s customers, even if they happen to not be their platonic ideal of a patron. At my job, I can’t simply step back and be an asshat because I don’t like the people and/or practices I’m paid to deal with. The same should apply to bartenders.
People have been losing their shit over Katherine Webb ever since the BCS Championship game, and I see why. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a convincing post-op, let alone one what was able to beg her way into the SI Swimsuit Edition. Scratch that, yes I have. I’ve seen pre-ops that were hotter than this.
Her body (minus her legs that could benefit from a few squats/lunges/cardio) is fine. Bonerific even, as it were. Rather, it’s her face that makes her look like a meth dealer from the dregs of dixieland trying to decide whether he wants to spend his tip money at Applebees or Fudruckers. “Hrmm, ribs or burgers? I reckon I could do either.”
Guys are always like “who cares about her face, look at her body, broseph. What are you, gay?” Am I? I don’t know. How about I strap a nice set of cans on a man. Who’s gay now, broseph?
If I were a betting man, I would wager that Taylor Swift, the nation’s favorite 22 year old bubblegum-country crooner, has more attention cast on her love life than literally any other celebrity. This is for a couple of reasons, one of which being her choice of men, but the other is more simple – she asks for it. Demands it, even.
Taylor has a much-publicized habit of writing songs about her relationships; more specifically, her breakups. Not only is she not shy about it, but it’s almost a point of pride for her, as though having a pop song that vaguely references how shitty of a boyfriend you were is a penance worse than death. I’ve read interviews where she speaks to the effect of “if we go out and you’re a jerk to me, it’s not my fault if you wind up in a song”. Oh no Taylor, anything but a saccharine pseudo-country jam about how mean I am! Let’s look at a sample of some of these blacklisting lyrics. These are taken from her song “Dear John”, presumably written about her stint with the much older and so-notoriously-douchey-you-should-have-known-better John Mayer:
Dear John, I see it all now it was wrong
Don’t you think nineteen’s too young
To be played by your dark, twisted games
When I loved you so, I should’ve known.
That’s pretty much the whole song, her trying to paint him as an asshole for apparently taking advantage of a then-19 year old Taylor’s naiveté. And sure, I guess you could read into it that way and think “man, that John Mayer guy sure is an asshole”. The problem is that literally anyone who follows the news or music has known that for the better part of a decade. He’s many things, including a talented musician, but a “settle down type of guy” isn’t one of them. What Swift doesn’t understand, as she walks around feeling smug and vindicated through the magic of song, is that all I see in those lyrics is an anecdote about how John Mayer, being the sweet bro that he is, successfully nailed and bailed on a gullible 19 year old super star. If I were him, every time I heard that song I would think “goddamn right I did”. He’s not pathetic for doing what he did; she’s pathetic for whining to the world about it in the standard pop verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format.
Other than the John Mayer fiasco and some time spent playing a beard for the obviously gay Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor tends to date men closer to her own age, most recently high school junior Connor Kennedy and now 18 year old One Direction member Harry Styles. You might wonder why as teenage boys are usually at the bottom of every woman over the age of 16’s dating list. Sure, the Kennedy name is an alluring one (if you’re here via a time warp from the 1980’s), and I’m sure Styles is charming enough, but Swift is pretty, blond, and built like a model – she could ostensibly have a go with any man she wanted. If you’re a more astute reader you’re thinking “Wait, those guys aren’t her age at all. She’s 22.” You’d be correct, kind of.
The reason she dates the guys she dates, and really the reason for everything she does, is that Taylor Swift is neither capable of nor allowed to be anything other than a perpetually 16 year old girl. Her first album, released in 2006, was a runaway hit, and because she writes her own songs her financial gains were massive. It figures then that that was the precise moment when her real-life experiences and personal development were allowed to stop, and why wouldn’t it? As gifted a songwriter as she is, she’s incapable of writing about anything other than high school puppy love, because that’s all she knows. That works out well for her from a business perspective, because that’s all her audience wants to hear. Ask any girl in her mid-20’s about her favorite T-Swift songs, and while preferences vary, one constant is that no grown woman points to any tracks from her latest album. That’s because the songs they do like, the songs that still resonate with them, were released years ago, when they teenagers themselves and related to the material. Throw in 9-5 jobs, mature relationships, and adult woes, and suddenly lyrics about sneaking out your bedroom window or going against your father’s wishes don’t really hit home. If Swift wants to continue her success, she must remain a 16 year old girl, because those are the only people buying her music.
If she wants to find love, she’ll have to grow into it, and that will be hard for her. Partly because no one wants her to, but also because that would require work, risk, and uncertainty on her part. If my options were continued financial success or forcing myself to grow as a person, I’d probably stick to boinking teenage boys too. Never stop being you, Taylor.
If you’ve read my last two politically-minded posts, you’ve more or less read this one. I’m sorry. Thankfully for all of us, the election being over means I actually have to think of things to write about. Read the full article (and give it a “like”, it’s trucking along so far) here on AskMen
Growing up, the world was a different place. Reagan was still giving Americans patriotic rage-boners even years after he left office. Being a republican wasn’t necessarily “cool”, but more a status symbol. It told the world that you were doing well enough that you didn’t have to worry about the poor, even if you weren’t doing quite so well that you were obligated to. The democratic party, on the other hand, was a dumping ground for the effete, the wishy-washy, the uninitiated, and hippies. Bill Clinton came along, and though technically a democrat he was the southern, Rooseveltian kind who hid his moderate liberalism under a cloak of abusing his power to pork a bunch of 4’s and low-5’s, something for which all rich white men can agree to reach across the isle. When I was young, voting democrat wasn’t about being poor or even a minority; it was essentially admitting to the world that you were incapable of helping yourself. If you were in a position to vote republican, it meant you were in a position to bully the other side with your evidenced success, and in some cases for certain people, racism, misogyny, and homophobia.
Fast-forward to 2008. Historically, the nation was willing to turn a blind eye to social woes if the alternative promised economic prosperity, but eight years of a bloody war nobody wanted and a spiraling financial collapse had finally made the republican party as attractive as prison rape. From then on, republicans could no longer defend their reluctance for social progress with prosperity, because there was none. It became awfully hard to defend your party on the basis of policy when factions of it were having more difficulty with the meaning of the word “rape” than Clinton did with the word “is”. Metaphorically speaking, republicans had their one remaining leg swept violently from underneath them by a big, mean, linebacker of a democrat. After kicking your ass, that same physical specimen, fresh off an organic vegan meal and crossfit workout, would probably call you a “fag”. Then he and his friends would laugh at their own irony, because your assailant just came back from his own gay honeymoon.
Democrats are the new bullies, though to be fair it’s been a long time coming. But as lazy and baseless as it used to be to dismiss any democrat as an “effeminate queer looking for a handout”, so too is it lazy and baseless to dismiss any republican as a “misogynistic homophobe trying to bring us back to the 1950’s”. But that’s what happens. While there was once a time when the best a democrat could do when faced with a chest-thumping, money and flag waving republican was to concede that they have divergent viewpoints, the left can now take the offensive. Now, anyone with conflicting views on things like women’s issues or immigration is accused of “hate speech”. Anyone who didn’t vote for Obama this go-round must, obviously, be a racist. No, seriously:
So if you’re a Republican who actually thought this was going to turn out differently, here are a few pointers for your party going forward:
1. Minorities and women can vote. I know you just assumed their masters would keep them at home, but somehow they escaped and voted against you, so maybe not shit all over them next election. They’re very crafty.
2. Math wins every time. Even if you call people who use it a faggot, Dean Chambers, you fucking moron, it still exists in this place called reality where facts live. You should visit sometime.
3. Stop saying things like “failed social experiment,” or at least have the balls to say what you really mean which is, “This is what happens when you let a nigger be president.” Also, for the record, what happens is he wins the popular vote again because Americans like his policies and white men are the minority now.
Let’s put aside for a moment that besides Dean Chambers’ comments on Nate Silver being bigoted and archaic, they were a sad, antiquated attempt to disguise the fact that anyone who’d taken a high school stats class could more or less agree with what Nate Silver was doing at his blog. The quote is from a site that I normally love for its funny celebrity coverage, but they had to throw their political two cents in, and why wouldn’t they? If anyone argues, they can just use the same rhetoric with no adverse consequences. Nevermind that women have had universal suffrage for nearly 100 years and kinda sorta had to have something to do with past republican victories. Nevermind that math didn’t “win” the election so much as predict it, or that predicting victory for a popular sitting president isn’t the toughest call to make. Nevermind that saying “white men are in the minority now” in this context suggests that that minority doesn’t deserve its own political views, which is exactly what republicans are accused of. Calling someone a racist is as pedestrian and acceptable a slur now as calling someone the n-word was 100 years ago. It’s impossible in 2012 to assume that a republican is anything but everything that’s wrong with the world, the same way it was with democrats in the Reagan era.
Speaking of celebrities, while I’ve touched on their uselessness before, the internet really gave them a forum in which to express their unsolicited political views. Some celebrities, if you want to call them that, delighted in clogging everyone’s twitter feed with political mudslinging:
That’s Rob Delaney, a usually funny stand-up comic and Twitter junkie. Other “celebrities” were a little rosier about the whole thing. Take for instance Brenda Song, famous for being on the Disney Channel, co-starring in the Facebook movie, and being a total smokeshow:
I assume she meant “that” we love, but whatever, she kind of just proves my point. Celebrity endorsements for politicians used to be at best a chore and typically inconsequential. It was never a big deal, because while republicans have never been cool, at least it used to be that no politician was cool. No celebrity wanted to hang out with Jimmy Carter or John Kerry, let alone be seen doing it. But Obama is different. Obama is cool. Barack Obama hangs out with Beyonce and Jay Z, the epitome of a cool, talented celebrity couple. Mitt Romney hangs out with Clint Eastwood and an empty chair. I don’t know the extent of the influence celebrity endorsements have on voter opinion, but it’s hard to foresee a time when the average American is going to flat-out ignore the leanings of their celebrity role models in favor of doing their own research.
When Obama ran in 2008, while his record was more substantial than many people on the right claim (he voted “present” less than 3% of the time as a state senator, and never as a US senator), it wasn’t what anyone would call objectively substantial. But it didn’t matter. In 2008, when the economy was circling the drain and everyone’s vote for president was “anyone but Bush”, Obama was the perfect candidate for a restless nation searching to make the intangibles tangible, enthralling us with wordy, vague-yet-hopeful metaphors. This time around, there really wasn’t a scenario where he could lose. If the economy happened to be doing well, the landslide nature of his victory would have been historic. If the economy wasn’t doing so well, as was the case, it was up to the challenger to prove to the public how he’ll turn the ship around. Because that’s not so easy a thing to do and Romney was either unable or unwilling to try, he was dead in the water. And barring some catastrophic mishandling of the economy, that’s the way things are going to go. The democrats will always offer the progressive social views modern Americans want, they’ll downplay the economy when necessary, and if they’re smart, they’ll deliver that packaged as the coolest guy they can possibly find. One key (or at least the most publicized) aspect of Obama’s economic “plan” was “Um….. Charge more money?” If that doesn’t speak to how easy he knew he’d have it, I don’t know what does.
Unless things change, the republicans are never going to win another election, at least not in my lifetime.
That change, of course, will come in the form of a republican candidate who shares America’s social values while maintaining the more defensible aspects of the conservative core. I think we’d have known by now if gays were going to destroy the fabric of the American family, but immigration? That’s a place we can have actual, substantive ideological discussions. It’s fine (probably essential) to be religious, but pretending that a baby born of rape is a “miracle” isn’t going to be a hit with anyone. The candidate would have to be young enough to be considered attractive (or at least passable) in our youth-driven, pop-culture addicted society, and he’d have to be someone whose record and history don’t result in his immediate dismissal by the lower class and minorities. Not even a white, southern, middle-class male really wants to vote for someone he sees as a Wall Street fat cat. In both of the past two elections, after the republican loss pundits and party members alike claimed that the republicans need to “re-evaluate their party”. It’s not even about the party, it’s about their electorate. Namely, who they are, what they want, and what they believe in today, not 40 years ago.
That electorate is also part of the problem. A democratic primary candidate is free to tiptoe as far towards the center as he wants and only be as liberal as he needs. Republicans, on the other hand, have to battle it out in a race to the bottom to see who can ignite the kind of core voter who participates in a republican primary election. They’re forced to avoid the center, and the near-misses by Rick Santorum and Rick Perry are proof that it’s almost impossible to go too far to the right. Once the election comes around, contrary to popular belief, the two-party system actually results in less fanatical polarization. For the republican candidate to have a shot, he has to creep back towards the center, which the opposition will hammer him on, relentlessly. Abortion, gay marriage, and other questions that shouldn’t even be a presidential candidate’s domain create a trail of ideological flip-flops that are hard to dig out of, and all to appease a portion of the electorate that will vote for the candidate wearing the red tie no matter what. A candidate with a sincere, consistently moderate social stance would fare much better, but the core right won’t let them see daylight. Just look at how many presidential nominations Ron Paul’s won, for instance.
The solution? I’m far from a political scientist, but it seems like the democrats have the right ideas: Mobilize young, socially liberal, fiscally unaffected voters. Reach out to minorities. The democratic success doesn’t lie so much in convincing people to vote for them so much as it does in convincing them to vote period. Relying on the same conservative core to carry an election is like trying to get blood from a stone. Instead, when it comes to the primaries, the primary republican objective should be to not only present candidates with views and records more in line with the modern voting public, but to actually make a sincere effort to start a dialogue with that voting public. That’s not to say they can ignore their core completely, because even if we disagree with some of their values, that doesn’t make them invalid as people or voters. I’m just saying that the democrats haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to California, and that seems to be working out ok for them. But campaigning in a swing state to the same crowds with the same stump speeches isn’t working. If the voters the democrats are able to mobilize truly care about the electoral process, they should have just as much interest in the republican primaries as they do in their own, provided we give them candidates that make them think rather than turn them off.
Until that happens, I’ll continue to vote republican unless compelled otherwise. I just don’t think it’ll matter much.