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The GOP Is Now Controlled By Its Conservative Base

As part of a long article about why the GOP has found it hard to compromise on fiscal issues, both during the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations and during the FY 2011 negotiations earlier this year, Nate Silver provides this chart of likely Republican voters in races for the House Of Representatives:

Whereas self-identified moderates constituted roughly 40% of the Republican electorate up until roughly 2002, in the most recent House elections, they constituted only 30%. Moreover, in 2010 especially there was a noted enthusiasm gap between conservatives and moderates, which is one of the main reasons that the GOP won control of the House. As Silver noted, if voter turnout had been the same as it had been in 2008 or 2006, the GOP’s gain would have been roughly 27 seats, a gain but short of what they would’ve needed to gain a majority. The consequences, it would seem are rather obvious:

This is why Republican politicians find it difficult to compromise on something like the debt ceiling, even when it might seem they have substantial incentive to do so. Republicans are still fairly unpopular — only about 40 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the party, which is barely better than their standing in 2006 or 2008 (although Democrats have become significantly less popular since then). As long as conservative Republicans are much more likely to vote than anyone else, the party can fare well despite that unpopularity, as it obviously did in 2010. But it means that Republican members of Congress have a mandate to remain steadfast to the conservatives who are responsible for electing them.

Things don’t work the same way, of course, in Senate or Presidential elections, but has long as the House GOP stay attached to their conservative base they will continue to play the role they’ve been playing since January. Right now, compromise is a bad word among the conservative base and tax increases are seen as  evil incarnate. Hence, you see the House GOP acting like they control the Senate and the White House as well, and asserting, at least in public, that they aren’t really interested in compromising with the opposing. That may be smart politics, but it isn’t smart governing.

John Sides at The Monkey Cage tends to disagree with Silver and points to other factors that influence Republican representatives:

Here’s a more important caveat: Republican members of Congress are more conservative than Republican voters.  In fact, representatives from both parties are more ideologically extreme than voters in their parties.  That’s the conclusion of a recently published paper by Joseph Bafumi and Michael Herron (gated; ungated).   In their study of the 109th and 110th Congresses, they use a large national survey that asked voters their positions on key roll call votes taken in Congress.  Thus, Bafumi and Herron can measure the ideologies of voters and members on the same scale.  Once they do so, representatives emerge as far more extreme.

(…)

In general, I don’t think we get very far attributing the Republicans’ reluctance to compromise on the budget to what their constituents want.  It likely stems much more from the opinions of interest groups and activists, which have become ideologically polarized (pdf) and which play a crucialrole in selecting candidates.  Or it stems simply from the ideologies of members themselves.  People underestimate how much the behavior of politicians is sincere.

No doubt there are true believers among the House GOP caucus who are, arguably, more conservative than their constituents. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann come to mind most immediately, and they’ve both been in Congress since before 2010 (in Paul’s case nearly two decades). They likely manage to stay in office because most people vote for their Member of Congress based on what they do for the district as much as, if not more than, their general political ideology. Both Paul and Bachamann have reputations of being fairly aggressive on constituent services issues.

Nonetheless, I don’t think we can discount the impact that the ideological makeup of the GOP electorate can have on the behavior of the caucus, especially when a single deviation from the conservative path will  subject them to denunciation from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. It makes it hard to do the right thing when making a tough choice means you could end up getting primaried by a more conservative candidate. Whether that’s good for the party, or the country, is another question.

 

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    Better than being controlled by RINOS.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 19

  2. Sounds like they have acheived parity with Democrats then. Surely this must be Sarah Palin’s fault.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 20

  3. The problem with this poll is that it assumes “conservative” has no meaning beyond “people who call themselves conservative”. What portion of the 67% self-identifying as conservative actually are?

    My personal experience is that most of the Republican base is now right-wing populists, which I don’t consider particularly conservative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  4. Babyboomer1960 says:

    But it means that Republican members of Congress have a mandate to remain steadfast to the conservatives who are responsible for electing them.

    BINGO! Count me in as one of the 60% of Conservatives who don’t hold the Republican Party in a positive light. I howled from 2005 on about “spending like drunken sailors” to no avail. Then the Democrats swept into the majority and spent like drunken sailors on steroids… George W. Bush signed every spending measure presented to him, along with a few others that he AND CONGRESS stipulated to be “off the books,” i.e., “supplemental war spending.”

    But seriously, the Democrats went all-out over the past two years to the point where our spending habits are reaching critical mass. It isn’t about ideology at this point; it’s about cold hard facts. We’ve run out of money – ours and other people’s. Our biggest creditors are balking, the international economic community is mulling the idea of using a currency other than the US Dollar for the de facto World Currency, and the creditworthiness of the Federal Government is under serious scrutiny. Clearly, then, if the US Government – starting with Congress – is to avoid a most assuredly painful economic future, it must undertake a much more Conservative approach than the current trajectory in which it finds itself.

    I was particularly amused by the counterpoint offered by John Sides at The Monkey Cage:

    …People underestimate how much the behavior of politicians is sincere.

    If the implicit demonization of Conservatives in the Republican party serves any purpose other than discrediting the Republican party itself, I’m at a loss to explain why you chose to go down that road. It’s not ideology to recognize that the cliff is just ahead and the general “Inside The Beltway” crowd seems intent on stepping on the gas pedal instead of putting on the brakes. Believe me, Conservatives aren’t happy about having to “take back” the Republican Party from its milquetoast “go-along-to-get-along” elitist inside, Democrat-lite proclivities. The ugly truth is that we have no choice other than to start or endorse a third party. It’s too little, too late for that for several reasons which I won’t go into. The essential thing at this point is that somehow, we manage to hold the line on the current course of economic suicide. From there, we can establish the ground rules for future economic policy. Senator DeMint and others are proposing a 3-part plan to Cap spending, Cut future expenditures to fall in line with realistic revenues, and add a Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution.

    If Conservatives accomplish that much, I’m of the opinion that it would be good for both political parties, and the country. No question.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  5. Babyboomer1960 says:

    @Michael: Agreed, totally, absolutely, 1000%!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  6. It’s not ideology to recognize that the cliff is just ahead and the general “Inside The Beltway” crowd seems intent on stepping on the gas pedal instead of putting on the brakes.

    The problem is that a lot of the Republican base seems to think the solution is to swerve the car into a big tree first. Yeah, it’ll stop us from going over the cliff, but hitting a tree at 55mph isn’t much of an improvement in outcomes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  7. Babyboomer1960 says:

    @Michael: Why call it a 2-party system if there is Dem and Dem-lite?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  8. Babyboomer1960 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I like your extension of the metaphor, but I’m not getting what you mean by “swerve the car into a big tree…” Please elaborate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. @Babyboomer1960:

    Refusing to raise the debt ceiling is something I’d consider akin to swerving into the tree, in that it stops the deficit instantly while doing critical damage to the economy in the process.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  10. mattb says:

    My suspicion is that Republicans to maintain control of the House for quite some time, thanks to the current polarized environment and the nature of districts. Especially, given that the general rule of thumb is that Republicans are more reliably vote in “off” elections cycles, and smaller groups can have disproportionately large effects on districts.

    As far as Sides comment that:

    Republican members of Congress are more conservative than Republican voters. In fact, representatives from both parties are more ideologically extreme than voters in their parties. … In general, I don’t think we get very far attributing the Republicans’ reluctance to compromise on the budget to what their constituents want.

    Sides really downplays the fact that primaries happen before general elections. And primaries as of late have often favored the ideological extreme. And while the average party member might not be that extreme, I suspect that most folks either vote party line or vote by not showing up.

    Threat of primary has been used in a number of cases to try and sway votes — an especially powerful tool for the house where a candidate deals with this issue every two years.

    I do think he has a point, in that, especially in the house, I think many of the current Republican rank-and-file are true believers and are doing what they think is best (and what they think best represents their constituents).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. Babyboomer1960 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: It’s my understanding that our debt (deficit) can be serviced well beyond Aug. 2nd deadline w/out simply raising the debt ceiling. It’s paying for other, “less essential” programs and entitlements on an ad hoc basis that begin to become problematic as time goes by.

    I now understand what you were trying to convey with the “swerve” metaphor. However, the problem that I have with the current discussion by the politicians is that the narrative seems to insist that it’s an “either-or” proposition. Personally, I would like a 1 for 1 process to go forward. That is, for every dollar you want to debt ceiling to be lifted, show the American public (and our creditors) that you are actually going to cut expenses by an equal amount. And I mean REAL cuts – not accounting gimmicks. That way, we’re unlikely to have the debt ceiling discussion again any time soon, and we can see real, if incremental, progress on our deficit.

    I propose a new analogy to replace the cliff and tree versions. Let’s think of the balanced approach I’ve just outlined as a “racheting down the gears as we slide (somewhat) uncontrollably down the mountain…” Isn’t that what I remember doing when I crossed the Appalachians some years ago? It seemed like it helped to slow and control the inertia presented by steep inclines. It might work on a financial/fiscal challenge such as we see before us now…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. michael reynolds says:

    And yet, Doug, you vote with these people.

    They’re threatening to crash the economy over ideology, they hate Muslims, they hate gays, they harbor racists and yet you never vote for a Democrat.

    That’s getting to be weirder and weirder, dude.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  13. Michael,

    Unless you have spies you follow me into the polling place you have no idea how, or if, I vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. Wayne says:

    Those who identify themselves as conservatives have been on the rise. It only makes sense that would be reflected in a poll like the one above. Where is the Democrat counterpart to that poll?

    Back at Michael R.
    Your Party is running this country into an economic meltdown and is willing to crash it over ideology. They are racist, elitist bigots who hate Christians, they hate America, they hate anyone with opposing views and they hate themselves. If you want to see people getting weirder and weirder then look no further than at Democrats and their supporters.

    :):):)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

  15. ponce says:

    Imagine how America would have turned out if there were polls and focus groups around when the Founding Fathers were drawing up the Constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  16. Hey Norm says:

    Is Nate Silver on vacation? I mean…republicans are one dimensional and ideologically narrow-minded? How much research did that take?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  17. @Babyboomer1960:

    It’s my understanding that our debt (deficit) can be serviced well beyond Aug. 2nd deadline w/out simply raising the debt ceiling. It’s paying for other, “less essential” programs and entitlements on an ad hoc basis that begin to become problematic as time goes by.

    Estimated federal government revenue for FY 2011 is $2.2 trillion.
    Planned federal government spending for FY2011 is $3.8 trillion.

    If the debt ceiling is not raised, we need to instaneously cut that spending by 42%. That’s not just cutting less essential programs and entitlements, that’s gutting pretty much everything.

    And again, this goes back to my first comment about how most self-identified conservatives aren’t conservative at all. Pretty much the primary distinction between conservatives and radicals is that radicals believe something as complex as society can be remade overnight to suit our whims without any sort of transition problems or unintended consequences, whereas conservative think that changes to society must necessarily be made incrementally so that the effects of the changes can be observed and corrected before they get too far out of hand.

    Saying we should cut the government almost in half between now and the beginning of August is an incredibly radical plan. Anyone backing it has no business calling themselves a conservative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  18. mattb says:

    @MR – @michael reynolds: To be fair, Doug has mentioned on multiple occasions that he does vote against republicans by “not voting.” So in that respect at least he’s not simply holding his nose and voting a party-line.

    That said, his knee-jerk rejection of all things Democrat is still hard to reconcile with some of the positions he takes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Dan Rather says:

    Is Nate Silver on vacation? I mean…republicans are one dimensional and ideologically narrow-minded? How much research did that take?

    Nate’s not on vacation, he’s just a tedious liberal Journolist hack. All of his articles and analyses exhibit this same level of depth: Republicans bad, Democrats good (though to his credit he does usually put in the effort to throw in some cherry-picked statistics or present some partial truths to support his preconceived notions).

    Overall he’d fit in well with the hive here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

  20. Pug says:

    It’s my understanding that our debt (deficit) can be serviced well beyond Aug. 2nd deadline w/out simply raising the debt ceiling.

    That sounds wonderful, especially to those who think like Michele Bachmann. You should be aware, though, that creditors look at how you meet all your obligations, not just whether you paid the mortgage.

    If you don’t pay everybody you promised to pay, your FICO score will be about 450 before long and if you can get a loan at all it will be at the default rate. Those who don’t meet their obligations are called deadbeats, or maybe Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  21. Hey Norm says:

    @ Dan…
    Well yeah, but “republican bad” is pretty accurate. I mean who is threatening to bankrupt the country over tax deductions for corporate jets? Republicans raised the debt ceiling 7 frigging times when Bush 43 was President. Now they have to protect the Koch Brothers yacht. Now they’ve got fiscal religion. You can’t make up how ridiculous republicans are. And that’s not even questioning 9/11 happening on their watch, or attacking Iraq for WMD.
    Republicans are one dimensional, ideologically narrow-minded, and basically incapable of governing. Here’s something to chew on … I don’t think it’s supporting pre-conceived notions if it’s actually true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  22. anjin-san says:

    Your Party is running this country into an economic meltdown

    Ummm. Wayne? Our party inherited a country in an economic meltdown. Do you ever get tired of making a fool of yourself in public?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  23. Dan Rather says:

    Well yeah, but “republican bad” is pretty accurate. I mean who is threatening to bankrupt the country over tax deductions for corporate jets?

    The tax deductions for corporate jets that Obama came up with as part of his failed ARRA recovery plan? Yeah, clearly that’s the fault of Republicans.

    Republicans raised the debt ceiling 7 frigging times when Bush 43 was President. Now they have to protect the Koch Brothers yacht. Now they’ve got fiscal religion.

    And what did Obama say about raising the debt ceiling when that happened? Did he say something like, oh, I dunno:

    The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

    (hint: yes, he did.)

    You can’t make up how ridiculous republicans are. And that’s not even questioning 9/11 happening on their watch

    Oh, you’re a Truther who thinks Bush and Republicans plotted 9/11. I knew you were committed to the cause, but I didn’t realize you were in the 40% or so of full-blown nutter Democrats who blame the U.S. government for those terrorist attacks.

    or attacking Iraq for WMD.

    Yawn. And fire can’t melt steel!

    Republicans are one dimensional, ideologically narrow-minded, and basically incapable of governing. Here’s something to chew on … I don’t think it’s supporting pre-conceived notions if it’s actually true.

    Well, no one can say that you aren’t one of the hardest working drones in the hive, Norm. Just be careful not to drown in all the flavor-aid you’re drinking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 11

  24. Ben Wolf says:

    @charles austin:Can you name me two areas where Democrats have refused to negotiate and compromise?

    The Democrats have become the moderate, conservative party by default because the Republicans are now dominated by their most extreme faction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  25. ponce says:

    If the dominant crazy “conservative” wing of the Republican party turns out to be anti-war, how crazy can they really be?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  26. A voice from another precinct says:

    @ponce: What do you imagine that The Federalist Papers were about if not messages targeted at focus groups? Town meetings are essentially focus and/or issues studies groups. Newspaper articles–especially op/ed pieces–are based on reaching out to focus group constituencies. Even blogs are operated on focus group formats. Before we villified the process by saying “it’s contaminated by focus group think” there was a name for it: it was called deliberation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Hey Norm says:

    @ Dan
    “…Oh, you’re a Truther who thinks Bush and Republicans plotted 9/11…”
    If you got that from what I wrote it explains your idiocy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  28. An Interested Party says:

    To admit that 9/11 happened while the Republicans held the White House isn’t the same thing as being a Truther…also, yes, there was plenty of bipartisan support for the idea that Saddam probably had WMD, but it was Bush, and Bush alone, who launched the disastrous Iraq debacle…something else to yawn over, I suppose…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  29. Dan Rather says:

    also, yes, there was plenty of bipartisan support for the idea that Saddam probably had WMD, but it was Bush, and Bush alone, who launched the disastrous Iraq debacle

    In this marvelous age of the internet, you must actively work very hard at remaining so remarkably ignorant of easily-available facts which would puncture your worldview.

    Wikipedia:

    An authorization by Congress was sought by President George W. Bush soon after his September 12, 2002, statement before the U.N. General Assembly asking for quick action by the Security Council in enforcing the resolutions against Iraq.[4][5]

    Of the legislation introduced by Congress in response to President Bush’s requests,[6] S.J.Res. 45 sponsored by Sen. Daschle & Sen. Lott was based on the original White House proposal authorizing the use of force in Iraq, H.J.Res. 114 sponsored by Rep. Hastert & Rep. Gephardt and the substantially similar S.J.Res. 46 sponsored by Sen. Lieberman were modified proposals. H.J.Res. 110 sponsored by Rep. Hastings was a separate proposal never considered on the floor. Eventually, the Hastert-Gephardt proposal became the legislation Congress focused on.

    Introduced in Congress on October 2, 2002, in conjunction with the Administration’s proposals,[2][7] H.J.Res. 114 passed the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. EDT on October 10, 2002, by a vote of 296-133,[8] and passed the Senate after midnight early Friday morning, at 12:50 a.m. EDT on October 11, 2002, by a vote of 77-23.[9] It was signed into law as Pub.L. 107-243 by President Bush on October 16, 2002.

    Iraq wasn’t just a unilateral flight of fancy like Obama’s Excellent Libyan Adventure. Bush actually sought and received Congressional approval before going to war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  30. Hey Norm says:

    @ Dan…
    Also you clown…the tax deductions for jets was not part of the stimulus…it refers to a 1987 rule shortening of the depreciation period for corporate jets from seven years to five years.
    If your opinions are based on factual errors then your opinion is…well…worthless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  31. Ben Wolf says:

    @Babyboomer1960: The only spending then Democrats have initiated was the stimulus. Virtually every other dollar of debt is the result of the policies of the previous administration and Congress.

    Those who regularly read the comments at OTB know I’m a frequent critic of the Obama administration and the Democrats in general, but this idea they deserve to be defeated for failing to correct the disasterous fiscal situation handed them by the Republicans is silly, particularly when the exact same Republicans have done everything within their power to stop any form of effective action.

    Demonization? You state that the policies they pursued during the last decade were terrible, yet you propose giving them back control of Congress when Boehner and Mitchell have explicitly stated the result will be more of the same. That’s not demonization; that’s the world turned on its head.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  32. Dan Rather says:

    Also you clown…the tax deductions for jets was not part of the stimulus…it refers to a 1987 rule shortening of the depreciation period for corporate jets from seven years to five years.

    Wow, Norm. Are you and “An Interested Party” competing to see which of you can appear more ignorant?

    Welcome to the internet, Norm:

    Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus act, in February 2009. In September 2010, Obama signed H.R. 5927, the Small Business Lending Fund Act. Both pieces of legislation included tax breaks to help businesses buy their own planes.

    More inconvenient truth:

    “Nine months ago, this president extolled the virtues of shortening depreciation schedules to stimulate jobs,” National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen said in a statement. “Now he seems to want to reverse course and push ahead with punitive treatment for general aviation, an industry that creates jobs, helps companies succeed and serves communities all around America.”

    The AP piles on (from 2009!):

    Just a few months after lawmakers scolded auto executives for flying to Washington in private jets, Congress approved a tax break in the stimulus package to help businesses buy their own planes.

    The incentive — first used to help plane makers recover from the 2001 terror attacks — sharply reduces the up front tax bill for companies who buy assets like business planes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  33. Eric Florack says:

    @Michael: Agreed.

    @Babyboomer1960: I sympathize with your comments and agree for the most part. One quibble, though; Your statement about it being just about ideology, would seem to place a lower weight on ideology than is deserved, I think. We’ve always known there is extreme negative consequences for leftist ideology. Ideas have consequences in every day people’s lives… even when that ideology amounts to little more than Marxist style class warfare..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  34. Liberty60 says:

    The conservative movement has become the mirror imge of its archenemy, the soshallists- they view the world in blind ideological terms, framed more by faith than science.

    By this, I mean they have ideas that are simply postulates, accepted without evidence- tax cuts always generate higher revenue, the market is always self-correcting, only government power is corrupting while private power is ennobling and so on.

    These are a catechism, not a platform of ideas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  35. Mad Max says:

    Nothing new here. The America people are contolled by by their government, big business and the banks. Remedy, stand up and fight like woman.

    If you are an American, you have to Read “Common Sense 3.1”

    You can’t fight or fix what you don’t understand.

    “Spread the News”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  36. An Interested Party says:

    @Dan Rather:

    Bush actually sought and received Congressional approval before going to war.

    That doesn’t disprove what I wrote, although I should have added “waged” along with “launched”…yes, Bush did receive Congressional approval, but it was his administration alone that waged the debacle (including the botched occupation)…

    And, you are indeed correct that in this marvelous age of the internet, facts are easily available, such as the facts that you omitted from your Snopes.com link when you were too busy yawning…

    However, some of the quotes are truncated, and context is provided for none of them — several of these quotes were offered in the course of statements that clearly indicated the speaker was decidedly against unilateral military intervention in Iraq by the U.S. Moreover, several of the quotes offered antedate the four nights of airstrikes unleashed against Iraq by U.S. and British forces during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, after which Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Gen. Henry H. Shelton (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) announced the action had been successful in “degrad[ing] Saddam Hussein’s ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  37. ponce says:

    Bush did receive Congressional approval, but it was his administration alone that waged the debacle

    I think Bush went into Iraq to stop reporters asking him when he was going to catch bin Laden.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  38. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis: That’s not quite right. You’ve said that you have voted for GOP presidential candidates, and that you’ve never voted for a Democrat, and gone on to say that you never would.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. ponce says:

    What do you imagine that The Federalist Papers were about if not messages targeted at focus groups?

    The Federalist Papers are the kind of debate America lacks today.

    Instead we are “lead” by weasels focus testing options before they know what to think.

    The House voted today to deny funding to train and arm the Libyan rebels.

    I heard about the vote on the BBC..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. James Joyner says:

    I’m surprised no one else has picked up on the point raised by @Stormy Dragon near the outset: “Conservative” has a shifting meaning. I’ve voted for every Republican presidential candidate since I’ve been eligible (Reagan 1984) and was an enthusiastic Reaganite who thought George H.W. Bush gave away too much for too little. But I’m routinely called a liberal for opposing people crazier than the John Birchers who Reagan, Bill Buckley, and the like shunned. Jon Huntsman, twice elected as governor of Utah, the most conservative state in the union, is considered a RINO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  41. john personna says:

    “The GOP Is Now Controlled By Its Conservative Base”

    I think the tense is wrong. Sure, the GOP is now more populated by ideological purists, but I’m not sure it is as controlled by them as it was in 2008. They have more self-realization now of their own fringe-ness. Hence, Romney.

    This is very different than the process to remake McCain into one of them. You know, back when they were talking about being the “real Americans.”

    I stand by my call that “I am not a witch” was the shark-jump. It was downhill from there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  42. john personna says:

    I’m surprised no one else has picked up on the point raised by @Stormy Dragon near the outset: “Conservative” has a shifting meaning.

    I do drop periodic references to Kevin Phillip’s American Theocracy (2006).

    I regard that book as too true for broad acceptance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  43. mattb says:

    @James Joyner: That’s always a weakness with this sort of thing where individuals are asked to self identify. It would probably have been better to ask about voter’s positions on certain issues and use that as an indicator.

    BTW @Wayne, you asked for the equivalent chart for Dems, that was further down in the article. Over the last six years or so the number of “liberals” has been dropping and the number moderates has dropped and the number of liberals has risen, but they have not reached a point of inflection yet. The gap between the two is a 6% one versus the 37% for republicans/conservatives.

    http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/07/07/us/politics/fivethirtyeight-0707-repvoters4/fivethirtyeight-0707-repvoters4-blog480.jpg

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Rob in CT says:

    The vote up/down post thing is fine and all, except for the part where a heavily voted-down comment is hidden. Yeah, I can (and do) click on it to see what’s there.

    I disagree with the hidden comments in this thread, sure. But hiding them doesn’t add anything (especially since there are responses to them)… it’s just silly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  45. Rob in CT says:

    Stormy Dragon, in the third post, made the key point here (and then fleshed it out in subsequent posts). “Conservative” has come to mean something that I and many others do not recognize as conservative, but rather radical (or, if you prefer, reactionary). And they’ve got control of one of the two parties.

    The Dems, for all their faults (which are many), are (today) generally compromisers and they’ve got a bunch of moderates in their ranks (again, today). These things shift over time.

    In another era I might well be a Republican… not w/o reservations, but then who doesn’t have reservations about the politicians they vote for? Not today, though. No way, no how.

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  46. michael reynolds says:

    @James Joyner: The question is why you remain loyal to a party that has abandoned you.

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  47. Fog says:

    For a real conservative, reality trumps ideology. The old argument against welfare was “Liberals, good intentions don’t count, because what you’re doing actually makes matters worse.” And it was a winning argument. Conservatives got welfare reform.
    How many Republicans today believe that reality trumps ideology? I honestly don’t know, because a realist Republican has to keep his head down these days.
    Maybe the debt ceiling issue will help sort things out, but I won’t hold my breath.

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  48. giantslor says:

    @Stormy Dragon: You’d be amazed at the people who call themselves conservative, including obvious liberals.

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  49. @michael reynolds:

    I can’t speak for Dr. Joyner, but as for myself I haven’t remained loyal to the Republican party. I switched my registration to independent before the 2008 election. I have not, however become loyal to the Democrats, who are just as egregious, albeit in different ways.

    I really don’t have a political home right now, in elections I end up voting for a mix of candidates from the two parties, if there’s a particular candidate I find I can hold my nose enough to vote for. In a lot of cases I just leave elections blank because there’s nobody running I feel deserves to be voted for.

    And the weird thing is I don’t really even blame the two parties, I blame the voters. Both parties are the way they are because they’re the type of people most of the public wants as leaders.

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  50. giantslor says:

    @Babyboomer1960: The problem isn’t too much government spending, it’s too little government revenue. We can’t afford to dismantle our social safety net, but we sure can afford to raise millionaires’ taxes, especially since their taxes are low by historical standards.

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  51. Dan Rather says:

    I didn’t leave anything out, An Interested Party. I linked to the entire Snopes article, which very ably and effectively rebuts the twaddle Norm offered that Republicans were the ones claiming Iraq had WMDs.

    I could just as easily have linked to LMGTFY or any other search engine result set for “Democrat Iraq WMD Quotes” to provide a plethora of citations, because Norm’s claim (like all of his other claims) that this was some Republican plot was flat-out wrong.

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  52. jukeboxgrad says:

    James:

    I’m routinely called a liberal for opposing people crazier than the John Birchers who Reagan, Bill Buckley, and the like shunned

    According to his son, William F. Buckley said this:

    I’ve spent my entire lifetime separating the Right from the kooks

    Buckley is dead, and he lost that battle. The GOP has been assimilated by the kooks, and it’s the GOP itself that is a fringe phenomenon.

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  53. MBunge says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “My personal experience is that most of the Republican base is now right-wing populists, which I don’t consider particularly conservative.”

    Even right wing populists, though, can have their virtues. Right wing populists who genuflect before the altar of wealth really aren’t populists. They’re more like right wing serfs.

    Mike

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  54. Rob in CT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    One can blame the public for the low quality of our politicians, and yeah I tend to think the public gets the lion’s share of the blame, but I also think the process is problematic. It seems almost perfectly designed to pull in the worst sort of people.

    The way the primaries work, the way political donations and lobbyists work, etc., have impacts on our politics that the vast majority of us don’t really like (regardless of whether we lean R or D), but we’re unable to fix those things (usually because the “fix” might be worse than the disease and/or runs afoul of the 1st amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court). I can’t really blame the voting public for those problems. They’ve built up over a long time, and some of it may have been baked in right from the start.

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  55. @Rob in CT:

    The purpose of the process is to assure the government is responsive to the will of the people, which indeed it is. As you note, we could make the government better by making it less responsive, but history shows such a government is unlikely to endure. The question ought to be how to get voters to be more virtuous, which necessarily will lead to a more virtuous government. Not how to make the government more virtuous despite the voters.

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  56. “Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.” – P J O’Rourke

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  57. @MBunge:

    Even right wing populists, though, can have their virtues.

    That may be the case, but it still doesn’t make them conservatives. Yet most of them insist they are.

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  58. Eric Florack says:

    Refusing to raise the debt ceiling is something I’d consider akin to swerving into the tree, in that it stops the deficit instantly while doing critical damage to the economy in the process.

    Wrong track.
    It’s the spending that’s doing the critical damage. All raising the debt ceiling does is forestall some of the consequences We’ve tried everything else to get them to stop the spending. Itr’s time to cut up the credit card. Maybe next time the government will remember the consequnces here and not tax and spend so much.

    No more debt. No more compromise.

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  59. mantis says:

    No more debt. No more compromise.

    Economic disaster for everyone! Hooray, America!

    Dumbass.

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  60. Maybe next time the government will remember the consequnces here and not tax and spend so much.

    On the other hand, those of us who decided to forgo the consumption we could have enjoyed in order to save for the future, only to see those savings wiped out overnight in a fit of Republican pique will also remember what chumps we were for being responsible ants.

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  61. bains says:

    @Ben Wolf: The only spending then Democrats have initiated was the stimulus. Virtually every other dollar of debt is the result of the policies of the previous administration and Congress.

    That is disingenuous at best. I’ll agree with Medicare Pt D, but the roughly $800 billion cost of the two wars at the end of 2008, Obama has continued (now estimated after nearly three years under Obama at $1.3 Trillion). Tarp at roughly $800 billion was a bi-partisan bank bailout sgned into law just before Obama won the election (and Obama voted for it). The roughly $800 billion stimulas package that has not worked, is all Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. Likewise the $1.4 trillion Obamacare. That is five spending programs, only one of which has solely GOP fingerprints all over it.

    Those who regularly read the comments at OTB know I’m a frequent critic of the Obama administration and the Democrats in general, but this idea they deserve to be defeated for failing to correct the disasterous fiscal situation handed them by the Republicans is silly, particularly when the exact same Republicans have done everything within their power to stop any form of effective action.

    Sorry, but the explosion of onerous regulations, the increasing extra-constitutional authorities, and the commitment to even worse fiscal disciple exhibited by the current administration is ample cause to return to the lesser of evils. Furthermore, with the power of the TeaParty, and contrary to Doug’s assertion of being even more ideologically conservative, will force some fiscal sanity upon the GOP, for that is our primary concern, self-serving interlocutors notwithstanding..

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  62. sam says:

    @bains:

    The roughly $800 billion stimulas package that has not worked, is all Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. Likewise the $1.4 trillion Obamacare…

    Just some points. 1) One-third of the stimulus was tax cuts. That part of the stimulus must have been wildly successful according to Republican orthodoxy. 2) That $1.4 trillion Obamacare number must be seen as merely potential at this point, right? It’s dishonest of you to write as if that figure represents spent money.

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  63. Jay Tea says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Estimated federal government revenue for FY 2011 is $2.2 trillion.
    Planned federal government spending for FY2011 is $3.8 trillion.

    If that doesn’t stop you cold and make you want to flog the people who put together a spending plan (can’t call it a budget — the Democrats haven’t even tried to pass one in over two years) that has expenditures at about 175% of income, then you, sir, are the one who is seriously delusional and putting ideology ahead of reality.

    As far as the car metaphor… if I’m heading off a cliff, I’ll aim for a tree. The car is designed to protect the passengers from that, and has airbags to boot. Going off a cliff… not so much.

    J.

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  64. @Jay Tea:

    It does make me want to flog the people who put together the spending plan. No, check that. It makes me want to flog the people who voted for the people who put together the spending plan. But I also realize we can’t just stop instaneously. In the immortal words of Colonel Sandurz, “We can’t stop, it’s too dangerous. We’ve got to slow down first!”

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  65. Eric Florack says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m surprised no one else has picked up on the point raised by @Stormy Dragon near the outset: “Conservative” has a shifting meaning. I’ve voted for every Republican presidential candidate since I’ve been eligible (Reagan 1984) and was an enthusiastic Reaganite who thought George H.W. Bush gave away too much for too little. But I’m routinely called a liberal for opposing people crazier than the John Birchers who Reagan, Bill Buckley, and the like shunned. Jon Huntsman, twice elected as governor of Utah, the most conservative state in the union, is considered a RINO.

    Let me simply have you read a post of mine. from May 10,2009.

    Particularly, where I said….

    I submit that where we as Republicans fell down is that we stopped holding the feet of people like Specter and Huckbee and anyone else, for that matter, to the fire. We were not vocal enough in supporting the conservative point of view. We were not forceful enough in getting the GOP leadership to stay in line. The winds since have shifted, however.

    I submit that what we’re seeing out of the likes of Huckabee is the reaction to the political realities imposed by the grassroots .

    It is down to us, the grass roots, now, keeping a death grip on the tiller, and directing the good ship GOP, as we have been these last few months.

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  66. Eric Florack says:

    @mantis:

    Economic disaster for everyone! Hooray, America!

    Wrong. Continuing to spend like democrats is the disaster.

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  67. Eric Florack says:

    On the other hand, those of us who decided to forgo the consumption we could have enjoyed in order to save for the future, only to see those savings wiped out overnight in a fit of Republican pique

    Fear mongering.

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  68. @Eric Florack:

    Fear mongering.

    I see. So are you and the rest of the Tea Party personally agreeing to cover the losses when our life savings are wiped out by the government default? Or are you just one of those people with no actual skin in the game so you don’t really care since it’s not happening to you?

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  69. Jay Tea says:

    Stormy, I dunno about you, but I’ve already written off “my” Social Security. And there’s a talk show host up here in New England who has repeatedly offered the government a deal — they can keep all he’s paid in since age 16 (he’s in his 50′s) if he can just not pay any more for the rest of his life.

    And that sounds like a bit of economic blackmail — “we’ve run up this huge debt. Now it’s up to you to pay it, and to keep paying, or else.”

    There are options to defaulting, of course. I realize “spend less” is completely incomprehensible to the Democrats in Congress, but it certainly has a level of merit.

    J.

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  70. ratufa says:

    @Jay Tea:

    For what reasons have you “written off” Social Security? Do you think that the government will stop collecting payroll taxes or will use those taxes for other purposes than paying Social Security benefits?

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  71. Eric Florack says:

    I see. So are you and the rest of the Tea Party personally agreeing to cover the losses when our life savings are wiped out by the government default?

    two points.

    1: you fail to explain how one equals the other. They do not.
    2: Those savings are already being wiped out by the amount of government spending going on. Continuing the spending by raising the debt limit which is in effect what would be happening, would further the damage.

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  72. Eric Florack says:

    Stormy, I dunno about you, but I’ve already written off “my” Social Security

    In other words, it can’t trust the government. Particularly, where money is concerned. Money, and the maintenance of power.

    This strikes me as extremely sensible.

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  73. @Jay Tea:

    Stormy, I dunno about you, but I’ve already written off “my” Social Security.

    I’ve written off my social security too. I’m talking about my bank accounts, my mutual fund savings, my 401k. My 401k in particular. In five days I get my last chance to move my money around before August 2. I have no idea where I should put my money right now, because there’s nothing I can’t be sure isn’t going to be defaulted on two weeks later. Even if I did something crazy like putting all my money into commodities, if you look into the small print on a commodoties fund, you find out even there a significant slice of the fund is held in treasury securities. I will probably end up putting it in a stable value fund, where the treasury securities are at least insured by a third party. But even then I realize that if the government defaults on its debt, the insurers are probably going to go under in the flood of claims.

    And this isn’t considering what the default would do to the value of the dollar itself.

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  74. @Eric Florack:

    Those savings are already being wiped out by the amount of government spending going on. Continuing the spending by raising the debt limit which is in effect what would be happening, would further the damage.

    Yes, but given the choice between “wiped out slowly over many years” and “wiped out in two weeks”, I prefer the former as at least I can adjust for it.

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  75. Or perhaps an alternate analogy:

    I need to stop reading more than one thread at this site at the same time. ;>

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  76. Republican demands for the debt extension

    WILL NOT HELP THE ECONOMY!

    The mere cutting back of large parts of the federal gov’t will not help the economy. The reason is that the economic problems are not caused by the size of gov’t or by the size of the debt. Dr. John Rutledge advisor to Pres. Ronald Reagan estimates the US total assets over $200 trillion compared to a debt of $14 trillion. There is no indication that gov’t borrowing is crowding out the private sector. Money is plentiful. Interest rates are low.

    Low interest rates and large amounts of money in banks and large co’s do not necessarily add up to good economic times as we are finding out. This approach to stimulate the economy is like trying to push a wet noodle. A problem is these remedies are all supply side. The problem in a depression is the DEMAND SIDE. MAKING MONEY AVAILABLE AT LOW INTEREST RATES is helpful but not sufficient. The Republican program does nothing for the demand side. Lower tax rates for business will only have a small marginal effect on the economy. Note in the 1950’s. 60’s and into the 70’s the corporate Federal Income tax rate varied from 90% to 70%. These were some of the best years this country ever had. In fact a case can be made out that high corporate tax rates stimulate investment more than low tax rates. WHAT CAN WE DO TO STIMULATE DEMAND?

    To understand the Republican position we have to go back to the basic Republican position. The foundation of Republican economic policy is that RICH PEOPLE SHOULD NOT PAY TAXES. This dressed and camouflaged many different ways, But this is the basis of Republican thinking.

    This Republican position is not really an economic policy.
    It is not based on economics. THE REPUBLICAN POSITION IS REALLY A POLITICAL STATEMENT MASQUERADING AS AN ECONOMIC POLICY.

    This is not surprising as it is being presented by politicians who appear to have political knowledge but very little knowledge of economics.

    However there is a problem. Politics and economics while effecting each other are two different spheres of activity. The Republican position maybe very good politics but it very poor economics. More later.

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