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Want To Understand The GOP Hardliners? Talk To Their Constituents

Capitol Building Daytime 1

The New York Times has run articles over the past two days that provide an interesting glimpse into the forces motivating Republicans in the House of Representatives to take the hard line stances that they’ve been taking over the past several years, most notably right now with respect to the shutdown of the Federal Government and the upcoming fight over the debt ceiling. We’ve discussed many of those factors several times here at OTB and they range all the way from redistricting that results in Congressional Districts that are so dominated by one political party or the other than Members of Congress worry more about primary challenges that challenges in the General Election to the emergence of a new form of conservatism that seems far less interested in compromise and governing than its predecessors. Above everything else, though, I’ve always thought that one of the most important factors influencing individual Members of Congress is the feedback they get from their constituents, and these two articles are a perfect illustration of that.

First up, there’s Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District, currently represented by Congressman Steve King, one of the House’s most conservative members:

Since no one in Washington seems to be listening to anyone on the other side of the standoff, I spent much of the week on the phone with voters and business people in Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District, a sprawling, mostly agricultural region that runs from Sioux City, on the Nebraska border, to Mason City, close to Minnesota in the northwest quadrant of the state. I picked the district because its representative in Congress, the Republican Steve King, has been one of the most outspoken advocates for blocking Obamacare, even if that means shutting down the government or defaulting on the national debt.

In this bedrock conservative district, I found that people were fed up with the gridlock in Washington. But while they are beginning to question Mr. King’s tactics, they continue to support his core commitment to cutting the size of government.

Mr. King has certainly staked out some controversial positions, even by conservative standards, and is a frequent target on both the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert shows. He claimed that “radical Islamicists” would be “dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11″ if Obama was elected. He warned that Iowa was in danger of becoming a “gay marriage mecca” and led a successful effort to recall three State Supreme Court judges who ruled in favor of gay marriage. He was one of only 11 members of Congress to oppose aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina, has defended racial profiling and has brushed off concerns about global warming as being “more religion than science.” He has drawn the ire of animal rights activists with his support for dog and cock fighting while opposing food safety measures. House Speaker John Boehner described some of his comments on illegal immigrants as “hateful” and “ignorant.”

As Steffen Schmidt, a professor of political science at Iowa State University in Ames, which lies in Mr. King’s district, put it, “Steve King was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party.”

But Representative King has really come to the fore in the current debate over paying for Obamacare and the government shutdown, emerging as a leader of a hard-core group of about two dozen Republican representatives in pursuit of the holy grail of “the end of Obamacare,” as Mr. King puts it. He has seemingly been everywhere in the media in recent days, which has fueled talk among some conservatives of a possible presidential run. Mr. King has made visits to New Hampshire and South Carolina, both early primary states.

Voters in his district told me in telephone interviews that they didn’t take all he says that seriously. “He’s kind of radical in the way he talks about things,” said Stan Feekes, assistant general manager of the Farmer’s Coop Society in Sioux Center. “We wish he’d be a little more gentle. People don’t agree with him on everything, but by and large I’d say he’s been in step with people here.” (Representative King carried Sioux County with 83 percent of the vote.)

Professor Schmidt said Mr. King shouldn’t be underestimated because of his rhetorical bloopers. “He’s incredibly charming and engaging. He’s a great storyteller,” he said. “He runs over every Democrat they throw at him like a bulldozer.”

Mr. King carried the Fourth District in 2012 with 53 percent of the vote, a much narrower margin than in his previous races. The district remains the most conservative in Iowa, but a redrawing of the boundaries added the relatively liberal university enclave in Ames as well as some more moderate counties northeast of Des Moines. Professor Schmidt said that, for better or worse, the redistricting hadn’t changed Mr. King’s conservative views in the slightest. Mr. King “is a hard-core, ideologically committed, very conservative Republican. He doesn’t see himself as an extremist. He sees a country that’s out of control on spending, on social issues like gay marriage, and he’s trying to stop it.”

When I reached Brent Geels, co-owner of Geels Glass Inc. in Sioux Center, he’d just finished sending an e-mail to Representative King urging him to, as Mr. Geels put it, “stand firm and not back down.” Like many people there I spoke to, Mr. Geels says he thinks the economic harm attributed to a government shutdown, and even that associated with a federal debt default, is overblown by the media, a tactic to get Republicans to cave in. “Look at the sequester,” he said, referring to the automatic spending cuts that took effect in March. “That was a lot of hype. They went into effect and two months later everyone forgot about them.” Moreover, he feels (as did several other people I interviewed) that there may be a silver lining to the shutdown. “If we can get along without all these nonessential services, then maybe we don’t need them,” he said. So far, he said, the shutdown has had no impact on his glass business, which he started in May.

I was surprised to hear in nearly all my conversations that the issue for people in this part of Iowa is less Obamacare than it is government spending in general. “We have to sacrifice now so our children will not be drowning in our debt,” Mr. Geels said. “Balancing the budget should be a top priority. But Congress can’t even pass a budget. The reason we have these stopgap funding measures is that they’re not planning ahead. No business could run that way.”

As for a debt default, Mr. Geels said he wasn’t an expert, and “I’d rather not see it happen.” But, he went on, “If it means just continuing to raise the debt ceiling and do nothing to cut spending, then I’d just as soon not raise it. I’m 28, and I have three young sons. We need to start making some sacrifices now if we want them to have the standard of living we have.”

Second, we have Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, which is represented by Tom Graves, also quite conservative:

FORT OGLETHORPE, Ga. — Just down the road from where Union troops suffered their worst defeat of the Civil War, Jeff Epperson sang the praises of his congressman, Representative Tom Graves, whose Defund Obamacare Act set the table for the partial government shutdown.

Even though business has been slow at Mr. Epperson’s sword and knife shop since tourists stopped visiting the historic Chickamauga battlefield, which closed on Tuesday because of the furlough of federal workers in the shutdown, he said the only thing that would weaken his support for Mr. Graves would be if the congressman caved in now. In that case, he might vote for a more conservative choice in the next Republican primary.

“If he backs off, then I would say absolutely I’d be inclined to look for someone else,” said Mr. Epperson, whose store flew a Don’t Tread on Me flag.

The Republican insistence in the House on tying financing of the federal government to dismantling the Affordable Care Act is being driven by a deeply conservative caucus from places like Mr. Graves’s 14th Congressional District, newly created by Georgia’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

Even as Republican elders warn that the party is risking a voter backlash that could cost it in future elections, interviews here indicate that hard-liners like Mr. Graves have more to fear, if they waver, from a potential challenger to their right.

Mr. Graves, 43, won 73 percent of the vote in November in a district that is 85 percent white and has a 16.6 percent college graduation rate. A journey through the district, which stretches from the exurbs of Atlanta to the northwest mountains on the Tennessee border, found many voters who, even if they were unfamiliar with Mr. Graves’s biography, strongly supported him.

“He represents the people,” said Tim Ferguson, a forklift operator who was waiting for a haircut at Paul’s Barber Shop in Calhoun. “He’s not going to commit political suicide by backing down.”

Voters here viewed the Washington stalemate just as Mr. Graves and many of his party members in Congress portray it: a tale of Republicans who have repeatedly shown a willingness to compromise, while Democrats petulantly refuse to meet halfway.

“Obama should not be so dogmatic,” said Julia Welch, 82, who runs an antiques store in Dallas, the seat of Paulding County. “He wants his way and no other.”

Jon Tripcony, a surveyor in Dallas, recalled a photograph of Republican leaders in shirt sleeves facing empty seats across a table. The photo, which Mr. Graves posted on Twitter, was staged to dramatize Republicans’ call for Democrats to discuss a budget passed by the House. It may have been dismissed as a publicity stunt by much of the news media, which noted that House Republicans repeatedly refused to join a conference on a budget the Senate passed earlier. But in northwest Georgia it was taken at face value.

“There was not one single Democrat,” Mr. Tripcony said. “They’re just spoiled little kids. I don’t get it.”

Mr. Ferguson, 48, said House conservatives should not shrink from the next fiscal deadline, raising the debt ceiling, even if it means defaulting on government bonds, a prospect that economists overwhelmingly say would bring down catastrophe.

“If it has to happen for the American people to get what’s best, defunding Obamacare, so be it,” Mr. Ferguson said. “Our credit rating’s going to go down, but it went down before. Did the apocalypse come?”

There’s much more at each link that’s worth checking out, but it’s clear what the overall picture here actually is. Obviously, not everybody in either the Iowa 4th or Georgia 14th agrees with the positions that their respective Representatives take. After all, nearly 44% of the people who cast ballots in the Iowa 4th voted against Steve King, while 27% of the people who voted in the Georgia 14th voted against Congressman Graves. However, it doesn’t appear that the people that the reporters involved in these two stories talked to are in any way unrepresentative of the electorate in either District, a fact that arguably is confirmed by who those voters sent to office. Moreover, given that 2012 was a Presidential year, of course, it’s likely that the opposition vote was somewhat inflated and that 2014 will see both men re-elected by even more comfortable margins.

These are only two Congressional Districts, of course, but I’d suggest if you paid a visit to other Congressional Districts represented by similarly hard line Republicans (and Democrats for the matter), you’d find something very similar. In many respects, these Representatives are reflecting the views of the people who sent them to office, the people most likely to communicate with their Washington, D.C. and local offices when contentious matters are being debated in the House, and the people most likely to show up for those Congressional Town Halls that became so famous back in 2009. Is it really so surprising that the part of Congress that has long been dubbed “the People’s House” has members that reflect the views of the people who elect them? If it surprises you, then you’re really not paying attention.

All of this leads, of course, to questions about redistricting and the whole issue of partisan control of the drawing of electoral lines, but it’s far easier to say that this is a “problem” than it is to come up with a solution. The Constitution leaves the question of how District lines are drawn up to the states, and there are many factors that influence how that process unfolds. Partisanship is obviously one concern, and it has been ever since the first Congressional maps were drawn up more than 200 years ago, but there are a number of other factors at play. The impact of the Voting Rights Act and the desire to create so-called “majority minority” Districts, meaning Districts where African-Americans and/or Latinos end up constituting a majority of the electorate, tend to increase Republican strength in suburban and rural districts, for example. Additionally, quite often the entire redistricting process becomes little more than a rather obvious scheme to protect incumbents regardless of party. This is what happened in Virginia after the 2010 census thanks to the fact that we have a Republican controlled House of Delegates and a State Senate that is, generally, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. After much back and forth, and some litigation, the map that emerged for the 2012 election was one that essentially means that every one of Virginia’s incumbent Congressman, regardless of party, is in a “safe” or “nearly safe” District for the foreseeable future. Even states that have tried to move to a non-partisan form of redistricting, though, the results tend to be either heavily partisan, or very biased toward Republicans. In the end, there may not be a perfect solution to the gerrymandering problem which isn’t surprising considering that “gerrymandering” is a term that stretches back to a Congressional District Map signed into law by Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry in 1812.

So, rather than calling these Congressman crazy, perhaps it makes more sense to look at who they’re representing because, once you do, it seems as though they’re actually being politically smart.

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. mattbernius says:

    Additionally, quite often the entire redistricting process becomes little more than a rather obvious scheme to protect incumbents regardless of party.

    This.

    This is what happened in Virginia after the 2010 census thanks to the fact that we have a Republican controlled House of Delegates and a State Senate that is, generally, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. …

    Pretty much the same thing happened in New York after 2010.

    It’s also important to note that while Gerrrymandering is a problem, as Steven and others have pointed out, even with non-partisan districting, social sorting/migration patterns would still create defacto safe-districts under our current system.

    So, rather than calling these Congressman crazy, perhaps it makes more sense to look at who they’re representing because, once you do, it seems as though they’re actually being politically smart.

    This is both true and points out the problem with the idea of “rational action.” Rationality is always contextual.

    One can appreciate the rationality of their actions on the individual district level. Or perhaps even in terms of a “Control of the House” level.

    But when one looks to the broader issue of the future of the US, the Republican party, or efforts by the Republicans to win the Senate — then their actions (for the moment) appear far less rational.

    The core question (as you point out) is which context is more important to the actors involved at this particular moment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    Cut off these District´s from all Federal funds then, not 1 single Federal penny.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 7

  3. al-Ameda says:

    “Obama should not be so dogmatic,” said Julia Welch, 82, who runs an antiques store in Dallas, the seat of Paulding County. “He wants his way and no other.”

    Well, there you go ….
    This country is so dumbed down. People like her are what gives Ted Cruz and House Republicans confidence that what they’re doing is not only right, but if something does go wrong – like causing a default – they are not going to face electoral consequences.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 8

  4. Matt says:

    It amazes me how much people compare Government to a business. It really shows how few people actually have experience in a big business. Their assumptions are amazing sometimes.

    One negative thing I expected from the “shutdown” was that people were going to assume that the government is really shut down right now. Thoughts like “well if the government is shut down right now and I don’t feel it then why do we have government???”will certainly occur in many people’s mind. Little do they know we’re not even really experiencing the true joy of a shut down yet.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 1

  5. Matt says:

    Epistemic closure combined with the power of the internet to isolate you from facts that don’t support your ideology explains a lot of these people.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

  6. mattbernius says:

    @Matt:

    Epistemic closure combined with the power of the internet to isolate you from facts that don’t support your ideology explains a lot of these people.

    It’s not *just* the power of the internet to isolate. It’s the proliferation a range of national, participatory media options that have facilitated said closure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  7. becca says:

    Pro cock fighting and anti food safety? The gene pool in districts like this could be measured in pipettes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  8. john personna says:

    @mattbernius:

    While randomized districting will produce some safe districts, there is no evidence that such a thing would produce a systematic bias for on party or the other across the country.

    I didn’t invent the phrase “noise cancels, bias accumulates.”

    But really it is the nature of these solid red states which is causing Constitutional angst. They have convinced themselves that teh socialism is so well established that burning down the house is an acceptable remedy.

    It is solid districts plus radicalism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  9. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @Matt:

    You can get plenty stupid with just Rush Limbaugh and FOX news, no Internet needed.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 5

  10. David M says:

    I fail to see why any Rep would care what their constituents think of the debt ceiling. Few to none of them understand it, so it’s the perfect example of something where public opinion shouldn’t matter. And if it does matter, the Rep shouldn’t go along with the clueless claims that not raising it won’t cause any problems.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  11. Matt says:

    @Rusty Shackleford: Yes obviously as I’m not some new person to this “game”. Unlike with Rush and crew you can choose what you see and when you see it on the internet. In the past you might accidentally run into information that counters your preconceived notions while watching the TV for your dose of partisanship. With the internet you don’t really have that issue as you control the content displayed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  12. john personna says:

    It has also been noted that this kind of radical is kind of restricted in the entitlements he can hate. The probably receives Social Security and Medicare. Which leaves Food Stamps and Obamacare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  13. john personna says:

    @David M:

    The have convinced their constituents that the US faces imminent ruin from current debt levels. How can they then raise the limit?

    Cartoon economics and scare tactics coming home to roost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  14. David M says:

    @john personna:

    they have convinced their constituents…

    That’s the problem, they can’t claim to simply be representing the views of their constituents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  15. Todd says:

    It used to be fairly easy to believe that politicians from districts that leaned heavily in one ideological direction were (mostly) just pandering to their most extreme (and often most misinformed constituents) … i.e. being “politically smart” as Doug put it.

    Lately though, it seems like more and more, these are the people who are actually getting elected to the office itself.

    The “good” thing about a pander is eventually they have their price, and can be dealt with. A “true believer” on the other hand … especially when some of their beliefs are bat shit crazy … well, we’re seeing first hand what kind of trouble they can stir up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  16. James Pearce says:

    So, rather than calling these Congressman crazy, perhaps it makes more sense to look at who they’re representing because, once you do, it seems as though they’re actually being politically smart.

    Just because it keeps getting them elected does not mean it’s “politically smart” to indulge the crazy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  17. Ron Beasley says:

    I think Colbert King almost gets it right:
    The rise of the New Confederacy I say almost because it’s nothing new. There has continued to to be a subset, primarily but not exclusively in the deep South, who have never stopped fighting the civil war. The election of Obama simply energized them. This isn’t about national debt or the ACA it’s about a black man in the White House. Ted Cruz, the Koch brothers and the Heritage Foundation are simply taking advantage of this.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5

  18. Argon says:

    I’ve always favored open primaries. This stuff where only party members choose the candidates seems a bit antidemocratic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  19. Woody says:

    Excellent and well-considered, Mr. Mataconis.

    So, rather than calling these Congressman crazy, perhaps it makes more sense to look at who they’re representing because, once you do, it seems as though they’re actually being politically smart.

    Actually, this isn’t a terribly difficult puzzle. A majority of their voting constituents believe crazy things, ergo, in goes one of their own (albeit louder and more obnoxious).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    Jon Tripcony, a surveyor in Dallas, recalled a photograph of Republican leaders in shirt sleeves facing empty seats across a table. The photo, which Mr. Graves posted on Twitter, was staged to dramatize Republicans’ call for Democrats to discuss a budget passed by the House. It may have been dismissed as a publicity stunt by much of the news media, which noted that House Republicans repeatedly refused to join a conference on a budget the Senate passed earlier. But in northwest Georgia it was taken at face value.
    “There was not one single Democrat,” Mr. Tripcony said. “They’re just spoiled little kids. I don’t get it.”

    The idiot Tripcony also provides us with this gem of critical thinking later in the article:

    Mr. Tripcony, the surveyor, said he underwent heart surgery not long ago without health insurance, “a bad blow.” He has been making payments against the cost. He had heard of the online marketplace for insurance that opened on Oct. 1 under the Affordable Care Act.

    “I just don’t trust it,” said Mr. Tripcony, who has an equal distrust of President Obama. “I don’t like him, and I don’t feel comfortable with anything he’s got to do with.”

    Mr. Tripcony said he had a better idea for a system to provide health care at a fair price. “I think it should be the same for everybody,” he said. “One big company, whether owned by the government or private.”

    Informed that he had described the single-payer system that Mr. Obama abandoned when Republican critics called it socialized medicine, he said, “Yeah, I know, it’s crazy.”

    He said he might eventually seek health insurance under the new system. “In a couple of months, when they get the Web sites working, I may do it.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  21. steve s says:

    I fail to see why any Rep would care what their constituents think of the debt ceiling.

    When the Tea Party rival complains “GOP REP So and So voted to raise the Debt limit five times”, Citizen Derp hears “GOP REP So and So voted to raise the Debt limit five times

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  22. @Todd:

    Whether it’s “pandering” or representing the views of the people who elected them, what’s the difference?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  23. David M says:

    This reminds me of the run up to the Iraq war, where plenty of people supported it because they were told there was a link to 9/11. Seems like that’s another time where listening to the public that supported invading Iraq was a mistake, as their reason for supporting it wasn’t reality based.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  24. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Statesmanship?

    An old concept I know. But those were the days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  25. Ernieyeball says:

    @Argon:…always favored open primaries.

    Several States have open primaries. You can either move to one or if you live in a closed primary State you can lobby your State Legislature to change the election laws.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_election

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  26. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    There’s a very big difference between pandering and representing. These are supposed to be leaders. They’re not working the drive-thru window at Wendy’s.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  27. becca says:

    The idea that this long-planned strategy by the Koch-sponsored teahadists borders on treason is catching on. The grunts of the movement on the ground will be surprised when they find non-believers pushing back. It’s bound to happen, someplace, somewhere.

    But the Kochs are convinced that they and the ghost of their dead, racist, traitorous father know what’s best for every single American, anywhere in this country. And they got the bucks to buy off every last one.

    And all you state-righters are in for the surprise of your life when, in Kochland,Inc, the bros divvy up states to the highest bidder. I mean, do we really need a North and a South Carolina?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  28. Ernieyeball says:

    @john personna:Statesmanship?

    Yeah…The Good Old Days…See:

    …Coffin Handbills used by supporters of John Quincy Adams against Andrew Jackson in the 1828 presidential campaign. Jackson’s mother was called a prostitute, and his wife an adulteress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  29. Ernieyeball says:

    @becca: And they got the bucks to buy off every last one.

    Unlike Jackson’s mother I am a whore…Why haven’t they tried to buy me off yet?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Doug, I am one of their constituents. I don’t have a clue. I talk to their other constituents on a weekly basis. They seem nice. They seem sane. Until Obama comes up in conversation.

    No, you don’t need to talk to their constituents. All you have to do is listen to their Reps. And Rush. And Sean. And Sarah. And Glenn. And (god I have alzeimers) the skinny ugly blond chick.

    It isn’t hard. Garbage in? Garbage out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

  31. michael reynolds says:

    Let’s cut to the chase: these are the losers of the modern era. The hardcore districts are white, old, poor, rustic and less educated. Look at the map: old south, the mountain west and a few bits of the rust belt. The people we’re talking about are scared white folks who think their money (and it never is their money, by the way) will be taken and given to black people. That is the emotional truth here. This is the driver. And it has NOTHING to do with Obamacare. Obamacare is an excuse not a cause. Fear is the cause.

    These scared old white people feel the country shifting away from them. They see gay marriage, abortion, immigration reform, and it all comes down to a fear of tribal extinction. What if that tribe of others moves into our mastodon hunting territory? What if those others overwhelm us? What if they rape our women and enslave our children?

    All of which made some sense for about 99.99 percent of human history. So it’s understandable. Stupid but understandable. Better-educated people, people more exposed to the complexities of our culture, are not in the suicide caucus.

    And of course the fun thing is: they’re right. They are done. The bible-thumping, gun-worshipping, Fox-watching, evolution-denying, gay-hating, racist ignoramuses are slowly being fazed out. Their grandchildren are already less crazy. This is the last gasp. But we shouldn’t be too surprised if we see violence from this quarter as well. I’ll be surprised if we don’t see an uptick in militia and white supremacist activity. You have a bunch of heavily-armed paranoids out there.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 5

  32. al-Ameda says:

    Today’s Sunday New York Times features an article that reports how one of the Koch brothers and Ed Meese (yes, THAT Ed Meese, there’s only one …) were part of the core team that planned the GOP strategy to use intense Republican opposition to ACA to leverage Democrats into a hoped for appeasement of Republicans. These people would rather napalm Capitol Hill and the White House than govern responsibly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  33. Todd says:

    @Doug Mataconis: To me it’s the difference between the representative having to take phone calls and emails from constituents who are angry about stuff that just isn’t true, and the representative who believes that false information themselves.

    If they both vote the same way on one of the anger inducing issues, one is “pandering” , and one is representing.

    In today’s environment, with things like debt ceiling, the “panderer” is significantly less dangerous. (IMO)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  34. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: I am a southerner and not a Republican. I have been a loyal member of the Southern wing of the Democratic Party since the days of Johnson, Russell, Fulbright, Long, Mills, Rayburn, Nunn, and Carter. Most of the people in our area are still Democrats. Democrats still dominate in local and county elections. A person once told me that he went to register Republican years ago. He was told to forget it, that there was not even a Republican registration book, hadn’t been since the 1860′s. Not every southerner is a Republican. I would say that most are still registered Democrats. They may not vote that way, I don’t know. The idea that a lot of Democrats have switched to Republican in the southern states has not been supported by statistics. A few elected leaders did, but that was just a handful that the media played up.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 17

  35. becca says:

    @Ernieyeball: 1. I wrote they had the bucks to do it and they do. I didn’t write they did it. 2. I was referencing teahadists and implying they are gullible and/or craven. Which they are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:

    You are incorrect. Here’s a chart showing voter strength by state. Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina are GOP at every level of government. And bear in mind that since black people register overwhelmingly Democratic, that means the whites are pretty universally Republican.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

  37. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    The idea that a lot of Democrats have switched to Republican in the southern states has not been supported by statistics. A few elected leaders did, but that was just a handful that the media played up.

    Wow, it’s magic how all these Republicans legislators in many southern states were elected by Democratic Party voters. Just incredible how the myth persists that Democrats are to blame for the election of so many know-nothing Republican legislators, isn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  38. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    The idea that a lot of Democrats have switched to Republican in the southern states has not been supported by statistics

    Hmm. Could you share those statistics with us? I would love to see them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tyrell:

    I am a southerner and not a Republican. I have been a loyal member of the Southern wing of the Democratic Party since the days of Johnson, Russell, Fulbright, Long, Mills, Rayburn, Nunn, and Carter.

    Ah, see, that’s where you gave the game away. The thing is, you have this pose of a genial idiot, a basic moron who doesn’t seem to know anything about anything but always somehow manages to parrot Republican talking points (while claiming not to be one).

    And yet, people who present as stupid as you do don’t generally know the names of Russell, Fulbright, Long, Mills, Rayburn and Nunn, not these days, anyway. The fact that these names trip off your keypad so easily reveals that you are actually quite a knowledgeable and well-informed political junkie. No one who knows who those men were doesn’t also know the political composition of the present-day South.

    So, nice try with this “I’m jes’ a plain-talkin’ Southerner routine”, but, ooops, not good enough. Maybe it’s time to switch to a different sock-puppet? This one was getting pretty dirty, anyway, and could really use a wash.

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  40. anjin-san says:

    My wife just spent a week with relatives in Texas. She said “Those people” came up every time there was a political discussion. Mostly it was “those people” wanting the hard working people of Texas to support them. (worth noting that the folks she was staying with are retired government employees with government pensions and health care. They are rabidly against Obamacare, because it is “government health care”)

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  41. john personna says:

    @Ernieyeball:

    I must acknowledge the low end of the Congressional pool, but I think this brinkmanship is a low in at least the pretense of statesmanship. No, more than that. To play with national default is craven.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  42. David M says:

    @steve s:

    When the Tea Party rival complains “GOP REP So and So voted to raise the Debt limit five times”, Citizen Derp hears “GOP REP So and So voted to raise the Debt limit five times

    I won’t disagree with that, but there is no constituency for deliberately causing another great recession by not raising the debt ceiling. So for GOP Reps, they want to be able to vote against the debt ceiling, but still let it pass (assuming they aren’t insane). This situation is exactly why I support repealing the debt ceiling.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  43. Todd says:

    @anjin-san:

    worth noting that the folks she was staying with are retired government employees with government pensions and health care. They are rabidly against Obamacare

    Oh man do I know A LOT of people like that.

    Collecting a government pension (and possibly a disability payment), health care paid for by the government, and often currently working either directly for the government, or for a government contractor.

    Yet …

    Staunchly Libertarian, anti-socialism, and adamant that the government should be much much smaller.

    They hate Obamacare. But don’t even think about raising their Tricare rates.

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  44. Ron Beasley says:

    @anjin-san: @Todd: The very same type of people who were screaming “keep the Government out of my Medicare.” Ignorance may be bliss but it’s also very dangerous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  45. al-Ameda says:

    @anjin-san:

    Mostly it was “those people” wanting the hard working people of Texas to support them. (worth noting that the folks she was staying with are retired government employees with government pensions and health care.

    “Those people” are the hard working people of California, a state which subsidizes the people of Red States like Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. California gets back about 80 cents for every tax dollar paid to the Feds, whereas those aforementioned states get back over a $1.50 for each dollar paid to the feds. Texans ought to be complaining about the leeches in their brethren Red States rather than complaining about hardworking people in Blue states like CA, NJ, NY, MA, CT, WA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  46. anjin-san says:

    @ al-Ameda

    I keep thinking about Rick Perry saying that California measure success by how many of our people are on relief.

    No Skippy, we measure it, in part, by how few of our fellow citizens live in abject misery. By how few children go to bed hungry in the richest state in the richest country in the history of the world.

    Meanwhile, Perry gets a government paycheck AND a government pension.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  47. al-Ameda says:

    @anjin-san:

    Meanwhile, Perry gets a government paycheck AND a government pension.

    I have a close relative who works as a public works maintenance supervisor for a city, and he is all in on the anti-government rhetoric. His rationale is that he does a good job and he’s not like all those other government employees – you know, he’s different, he’s special. It’s amazing and pathetic at the same time. I wouldn’t want to be one of the guys who work under his direction, he has very little respect for the people who work for him.

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  48. Pharoah Narim says:

    Gosh, just got back from some vacation on the rural SE GA coast and I swear….. Fox News on tv EVERYWHERE in nearly EVERY establishment. Plutocracy propaganda has penetrated beyond saturation point. I’m not sure at this point if there is any remedy. It’s a shame because rural southerners are nice people but gullible to a flaw. I hate seeing these hardworking folks co-opted as bootlickers. They could do much better if their tribalism would give way to intellectual curiosity. Most of this crap they’ve been fed doesn’t even withstand a cursory empirical examination.

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  49. Tony W says:

    @michael reynolds: Yes, I came here to say this. Particularly after reading:

    In many respects, these Representatives are reflecting the views of the people who sent them to office

    Henry Ford is famous for saying something along the lines of “if I gave people what they wanted, I would be building a faster horse”. It is incumbent on our incumbents to lead.

    Until and unless they shut down the crazies and elevate the voices of reason and logic, legitimate conservative viewpoints will absolutely be mashed together with the worst of the worst birthers, BENGHAZI and “Barry” enthusiasts.

    My longing for a loyal opposition continues unabated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  50. gVOR08 says:

    Some of this is the evolution of media. I remember reading years ago an article about HW Bush. Talked about him going back to TX every six years and telling the rubes in Texas whatever he needed to get re-elected. Then he’d return to Washington and do whatever he needed to govern. For HW campaigning and governing were largley unrelated activities. With 24/7 FOX news, C Span, and the internet, he couldn’t have maintained that split. Dolly Parton said Kenny Rogers gave her a great piece of advice – always assume there’s a camera on you, never break character. That’s how our Tea Party reps live.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  51. Ernieyeball says:

    @becca: 1. I wrote they had the bucks to do it and they do.

    I may be a whore but I’m not a cheap whore…Maybe the K. Bros don’t want to pay my price.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  52. Ernieyeball says:

    Civic Sleaze Communiqué…
    I have been approached by the Koch Brothers to hustle for them! Before they will reward me with unimaginable riches I must perform one task to seal my allegiance to their vile Cabal!
    My test is to ask Matt Bernius one question…
    Matt wrote Wed. 10-2-2013 17:03 concerning computers ability to redistrict legislative districts.

    While such a system will be arguably more fair, it’s important to note that Math and/or Algorithms are only as apolitical and fair as the people who write them. Bias can (un)intentionally be encoded into anything. The dangerous thing it that such bias is often missed because of the assumption the because the algorithm is math, it’s some how neutral.

    Matt. Can the same be said for the computer algoriththms that have been used to run the Climate Change models that have been interpreted to predict Global Warming?

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  53. David M says:

    “I see one side of our government, or two-thirds of it, running 100 miles an hour toward socialism,” Yoho said, meaning Obama and the Democratic-led Senate. He knows people agree with him on that, he said, because he asks people about it at town-hall meetings: “ ‘How many people feel we’re heading into socialism?’ Hands go up.”

    He is directly responsible for the ignorant views of those constituents. In no way is he simply representing the views of the people in his district.

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