Maybe We’re Getting Exactly The Political Culture We Deserve

We have met the enemy, and it's most likely us.

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball takes a look at the question of why the Presidential campaign has become so nasty of late, something that both James Joyner and myself have touched upon in recent weeks, and comes away with the conclusion that, quite possibly, politicians are just reflecting the society around them:

[I]f the campaigns are cynical, disrespectful and angry, it seems to me they are only reflecting the vibe they’re getting from the electorate. Why should politicians respect one another when nobody respects politicians? Think how off-key the campaigns would sound if they really were all high road, all the time. They’d be dramatically out of sync with a population that largely thinks — or knows — that things are bad all over. According to Gallup’s tracking, 75 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going, a number that, measured monthly, hasn’t been below 60 since 2007 and hasn’t been a minority view since 2003. With a multifariously terrible economy and a gridlocked Congress, they’re not wrong to be pessimistic.

A poll released this week of the 40 percent of adult citizens who probably won’t vote in November found that most were burned out on the political process: “59 percent said the reason they don’t pay attention is that nothing ever gets done – that it’s a bunch of empty promises,” according to Suffolk University, which conducted the poll for USA Today. A campaign that didn’t reflect that wide-ranging cynicism, or kept the debate confined to the level of high-minded policy-paper sessions and feel-good positivity, would get nowhere with the people most disinclined to believe political promises, or their voting counterparts. When you feel like you’re in a handbasket on the highway to hell, the last thing you want to hear is an airy, abstract policy discussion. You want someone who feels the heat as acutely as you do, and hopefully gives you someone to blame.

If the campaigns have taken the low road this election season, they’re only meeting voters where they live. The electorate is, more than usual, hungry for blood. It’s easy, from the comfort of D.C., to forget how hurt and angry people are out there, or to be discomfited by the torches-and-pitchforks mood of the unwashed masses. But if politics has become a brutal cage fight, the likeliest explanation is that it’s only responding to demand.

Ball has a point here. Looking back on history, one finds that times of economic and social turmoil are often accompanied by a political culture that is full of vitriol and acrimony. We saw it during the early years of the Republic when the new nation was first dividing into political factions, when the men running for the Presidency in 1800 and their surrogates were attacking each other using language that, even in today’s highly charged environment, most everyone would  find completely unacceptable. In the years leading up to the Civil War, the rhetoric between North and South became more and more heated as the years went on to the point where, not only was compromise becoming impossible, but an anti-slavery Senator was beaten nearly to death on the floor of the Senate by a Congressman from North Carolina. The worst we’ve seen in that regard in our era is Dick Cheney dropping the F-bomb. There were similar outbursts in during the final years of the 19th Century when the nation was transitioning from an agrarian to an industrial nation, and again during the Great Depression and the 1960s. Contentious social times, it seems, bring about contentious and vitriolic politics, it seems.

We’re living in similarly contentions times today. Economically, vast numbers of Americans look around them and see little hope that their children’s lives will be better than theirs, or that the nation will return to the days of economic success that seem like they were just yesterday. Many of them are still dealing with the loss of a job or a home during the Great Recession, and either working part-time or not working at all in many cases. On top of all this, they see a political system, from the capitols of the 50 states to Washington, D.C., that seems incapable of performing even the simplest task. In 2008, a majority of them voted for a guy who promised to change things, only to see him disappoint them by playing the same Washington games, albeit incompetently in many cases, as everyone else. Is it any wonder that people are annoyed, upset, and angry? And, is it any wonder that our politics is going to reflect the mood of the public?

As Ball says, we can blame the politicians for the state of politics all we want, but the truth of the matter is that they wouldn’t be doing this stuff if it didn’t work. Political blowhards like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton, and Lawrence O’Donnell wouldn’t have an audience if they weren’t giving people what they wanted. And, the politicians who resist this kind of politics wouldn’t be losing elections unless they were missing what the the voters wanted. If politicians are unwilling to compromise and quick to demonize the opposition, it’s because that’s what they’re constituents are telling them they want.  If you want to look for the cause of our problems, you might want to look in the mirror.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Politics 101, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    The sad part is that the vitriol and rhetoric has diffused into work and neighborhoods. It has become an unspoken rule among coworkers and friends not to really go too deep on opinions because it threatens to devolve into something nastier. As a society we are lessened.

  2. jan says:

    If you want to look for the cause of our problems, you might want to look in the mirror.

    Doug, it’s just another way of saying people get the government they deserve, as they vote in the representatives who create the policies of governance which govern them.

    The extreme voiceboxes you cited are the red meat of both parties, and they get people going, much like cheerleaders do at football games. Unfortunately such extreme ideologies, at either end of the political spectrum, don’t work too well together under the DC rooftop, hence you get the gridlock.

    I personally listen to none of those you listed above except for Hannity, who I can only take in dots and dashes, as he becomes a mini-Limbaugh after a while.

  3. In 2008, a majority of them voted for a guy who promised to change things, only to see him disappoint them by playing the same Washington games, albeit incompetently in many cases, as everyone else.

    You just played the game. How on earth can you make any claim to even see the center or a pragmatic path when you can’t even tell history, straight up?

    Come to grips with the Republican plan for obstruction, the permanent campaign, and the stated strategy that “they could not let Obama succeed” even if that meant they could not let the nation succeed.

  4. @john personna:

    Why did it take Obama 18 months into his Presidency before he even invited a member of the Republican Senate leadership to the White House to talk?

  5. Mike says:

    Good golly, miss Molly, so it’s my fault as a voter? I call B.S. on that. I expect my representative an senators to get things done, not obstruct the opposition.

    ” In 2008, a majority of them voted for a guy who promised to change things, only to see him disappoint them by playing the same Washington games thwarted by not having 60 votes in the senate to overcome republicans filibuster of just about every single proposal to fix the economy. FTFY.

    You’re welcome.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Of course we get the government we want and deserve. The American people are no piece of cake.

    In 2010 the American voters gave the control of the House of Representative to the most obstructionist and radical Republican congressional delegation since World War II, and now those same voters are giving our Congress a 10% approval rating.

    America is a profoundly dumbed down country.

  7. @Doug Mataconis:

    Why did it take Obama 18 months into his Presidency before he even invited a member of the Republican Senate leadership to the White House to talk?

    First of all, the Republicans’ plan of obstructionism dates to before Obama’s inauguration. I wish I had a handy link, but one of the recent books quoted Senate Republicans saying they’d block everything, before he was even sworn in.

    Second, why do you go to a standard partisan cherry pick? Do you know who goes to “invite to the White House?” The Right, when they are deflecting, that’s who. As if, all it would take was one invite and the GOP would roll over for their tummy to be scratched.

  8. Doug, the spectacle of a “feed the polarization” hack decrying polarization is amazing.

  9. @john personna:

    The truth of the matter, John, is that Obama was in over his head. Because he had no executive experience and he came from a state where the legislature was essentially a one-party body, he had no need, or inclination, to learn how to work across the aisle. Bill Clinton learned how to do that in Arkansas, and that’s why he was able to succeed in showdows with the GOP Congress in the 90s (well, also because Clinton is quite simply a far better politician than Obama will ever be).

    This is why Governor’s make better Presidents, IMO

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    This is why Governor’s make better Presidents, IMO

    A decidedly mixed record, to be sure.
    On the one hand: FDR and Reagan
    On the other hand: Jimmy Carter and George W Bush

    Also, Bill Clinton sure got a great deal from the GOP – he cooperated with them, and he was investigated for 6 years, and ultimately impeached.

  11. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Ah, Doug, you’re rewriting history again to fit your narrative:

    Mr. Obama tried inviting Republicans to social events early in his presidency to forge working relationships, but he largely gave up after Republicans dug in to oppose his major initiatives. In his State of the Union address this year, he renewed his effort, promising to meet with Congressional leaders of both parties once a month, but those meetings eventually trickled off later in the year.

    LINK

    Do you remember McConnell saying flatly early in 2009:

    The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president

    The Republicans decided to dig in and oppose Obama tooth and nail from the very beginning of Obama’s Presidency . If anything, I blame Obama for reaching out to to the Republicans long after it was it was clear that they had no intention of compromising with Obama.

    But hey, “Both sides do it, etc.”

  12. @Doug Mataconis:

    See, you just can’t admit the obstruction as a plan, can you.

    That makes you dishonest, and part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  13. Mr. Prosser says:

    @john personna: You said it all before I had the chance, keep it up.

  14. John,

    Again, the voters are getting what they want. However, if Obama was a better politician and had spent the first two years of his term on something other than a pie-in-the-sky health care plan (say, on something like financial reform or fixing the economy) perhaps he might have had better luck.

  15. @stonetools:

    You are picking on one sentence and ignoring the point of the post. But, hey, whatever advances your partisan agenda, right?

  16. @stonetools:

    You do realize that the McConnell statement was from after the 2010 elections, not “early 2009” as you claim, right?

    A minor point, perhaps, but facts are stubborn things.

  17. Mike says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Come on, Doug. Learn how to work across the aisle? Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell on “working across the aisle:” “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Does that sound like a party that wants to meet the opposition party half way? They came right out and said they were going to obstruct. What are you supposed to do with that?

  18. @Doug Mataconis:

    More dishonest hackery. Picking up a Republican idea, going with Romneycare is “pie-in-the-sky health care plan”

    Part of the reality here is that whenever Obama picks up a Republican idea, Republicans immediately flip, hate it, and call it socialism.

    Look at you, you are doing it now.

  19. Your gig here Doug, the way you play it, is to inflame the partisan divide, each and every day.

    Wear it.

  20. John,

    A plan that Republicans once may have supported but no longer did, because the voters didn’t want them to. Why are you trying to make this a partisan thing when the point is that this is all about the voters getting what they want?

  21. David M says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Again, the voters are getting what they want. However, if Obama was a better politician and had spent the first two years of his term on something other than a pie-in-the-sky health care plan (say, on something like financial reform or fixing the economy) perhaps he might have had better luck.

    I’m calling BS as well on this idea, as the stimulus bill was passed before health care reform and financial reform (Dodd-Frank) was passed in the first two years of his presidency as well. I haven’t seen anything from the GOP that indicated they were ever interested in cooperating with the Democrats. That’s pretty much justification for the Tea Party to primary them, regardless of their voting records. The opposition to Obama and the Democrats started the instant they took office, so your scenario doesn’t make sense either.

  22. @john personna:

    That’s utter nonsense, John. But there’s really no point in me arguing the point with you.

  23. @David M:

    So you’re saying that the people from the other party opposed the President? Wow, that’s never happened before.

  24. Figs says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    OMG, this is so dumb. Do you remember why Health Care Reform took months longer to pass than it ought to have? Because Obama and his compatriots in the Congress were DETERMINED to do everything they could to cater to Republicans and get some, even if minimal, buy-in. They did cater to the Republicans, and shape the plan more to their liking, and they got NOTHING for it.

    Why in the world should Obama be chided for not inviting these people, who are determined to obstruct him no matter what the issue, over for a chat?

  25. @Doug Mataconis:

    Here’s my challenge. Write a post “I’m a pragmatist because …”

    I don’t think you can make a case, but if you think I’m off-base, go for it.

  26. ratufa says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Again, the voters are getting what they want. However, if Obama was a better politician and had spent the first two years of his term on something other than a pie-in-the-sky health care plan (say, on something like financial reform or fixing the economy) perhaps he might have had better luck.

    You mean like the stimulus bill, proposed soon after Obama took office? Or Dodd-Frank, proposed in June, 2009 by Obama?

  27. al-Ameda says:

    @Mike:

    @Doug Mataconis: Come on, Doug. Learn how to work across the aisle? Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell on “working across the aisle:” “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Does that sound like a party that wants to meet the opposition party half way? They came right out and said they were going to obstruct. What are you supposed to do with that?

    Working across the aisle with Congressional Republicans these days means, “capitulate completely and everything will be okay.”

    How much time did Obama waste on working with Republicans? Almost all of it. ACA is a perfect example – the Administration gave “moderate” Republican Senator Olympia Snowe everything she wanted in an effort to garner some Republican cooperation. And how did that turn out? Well, Snowe voted against ACA anyway.

    Obama campaigned as a moderate, has governed as a moderate, and Republicans have obstructed him at every step along the way.

  28. wr says:

    But remember, Doug is not a Republican!

  29. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The truth of the matter, John, is that Obama was in over his head. Because he had no executive experience and he came from a state where the legislature was essentially a one-party body, he had no need, or inclination, to learn how to work across the aisle. Bill Clinton learned how to do that in Arkansas, and that’s why he was able to succeed in showdowns with the GOP Congress in the 90s (well, also because Clinton is quite simply a far better politician than Obama will ever be).

    This is rewriting history on so many levels. For example, early in 2009, Obama reached out to the Republicans on his stimulus program , at a time where almost every economist agreed that a big fiscal stimulus was needed to forestall a second Great Depression. The Republicans rejected any attempt at a deal almost to a person. He attracted three votes, at the cost of severely compromising the size and shape of the stimulus. The result? The economy stalled out in 2010, with unemployment at 10 per cent. The stalled economy was the biggest reason for the 2010 Republican landslide.
    I could go on, but there were many examples of Obama Administration reaching out to the Republicans , only to be rebuffed.

  30. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    This is why Governor’s [sic] make better Presidents, IMO

    Sure, just compare Obama to George W. Bu….uh, never mind.

  31. Mike says:

    @al-Ameda: Bingo. And, “capitulate completely and everything will be okay” is not a compromise, which is exactly your point. Also, too, mine.

  32. David M says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    So you’re saying that the people from the other party opposed the President? Wow, that’s never happened before.

    Not in the unprecedented manner of 2009 through 2012. I’m pretty sure that’s the point Ornstein & Mann were making, as well as Steven Taylor.

  33. Barfour says:

    I agree that American politics is the way it is today because Americans (voters) have not demanded for something better but I do not agree that Obama is incompetent. He inherited a bad mess that really did not have easy solutions and the Republicans did not just oppose some of the ideas he put forward, they were opposed to him being President of the United States and the possibility of him leaving office with a good legacy.

  34. stonetools says:

    In Doug’s view, Obama was and is a doctrinaire liberal who made no attempt to compromise with Republicans. This seems so far different from perceived reality that I despair of there being even being grounds for discussion. I’m going to have to rethink my idea of Doug as a reasonable conservative, since he seems to have his own facts and own history.

  35. Rob in CT says:

    Wow, Doug. Just wow.

    Obama tried the hopey changey thing with the GOP. They responded with lockstep opposition, no matter what the issue was, even if it meant doing 180s on positions in the blink of an eye. It’s amazing to me that you either did not notice this or have erased it from your memory.

    But both sides do it. And do it equally, of course. Any other conclusion might force you into very uncomfortable territory.

  36. al-Ameda says:

    Multiple choice question:

    How easy is it to ‘work across the aisle’ with a political party – in this case the Republican Party – that was willing to hold hostage and purposely bring down the credit rating of the United States in order to advance its agenda?

    (a) No problem
    (b) Problem
    (c) Both side do it

    Answer: (c)

  37. Mike says:

    I think SOME of their constituents are demanding no compromise, but what percentage? A majority? However, I also think voters are asking for a few other things, like fixing the economy and implementing policies to aid in job creation. Why don’t the politicians cater to some of the other demands their constituents are demanding?

  38. LaMont says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    A plan that Republicans once may have supported but no longer did, because the voters didn’t want them to.

    I call Bull ISH Doug! Since when did republicans give a rats ass about what the voters wanted? Their would otherwise be no push for extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, a push to impose on womans rights via abortion and birth control laws, and ultimately no clear and agressive effort to suppress voter turnout in domocratic leaning areas.

    I have yet to read anything resembling an intelligent arguement against President Obama from you.

  39. Tsar Nicholas says:

    It’s all part and parcel of the big slide. For decades we’ve been building up to this.

    It goes back to the 1960’s. You can trace the source in large part to LBJ’s “War on Poverty.” Chicago ’68 and the kids who went on to support Gene McCarthy/George McGovern also were major inflection points. Those kids stayed on campuses, or went into the media, and now they’ve got tenure and authority. The underclass that was created in the 1960’s only has spent the past 40-plus years festering.

    The upshot is the general public has been dumbed down to a state of near EEG flatlines. Of course they’re angry and confused. How could they be anything else?

    It’s poised to get a lot worse as time marches on. Just wait until inflation takes root. Just wait until the entitlement programs collapse upon themselves. Shit will get ugly. Unless we radically change course.

  40. swbarnes2 says:

    @stonetools:

    This seems so far different from perceived reality that I despair of there being even being grounds for discussion. I’m going to have to rethink my idea of Doug as a reasonable conservative, since he seems to have his own facts and own history.

    I think the evidence that such a beast as a reasonable conservative exists is at this point so sparse, you’d be better off disbelieving in the whole species.

    But yeah, if Doug votes for candidates in the party of birtherism, the party that wrote the Texas Republican platform, maybe he’s getting the politics he deserves, but those of us who consistantly vote against that kind of nonsense do not deserve it.

  41. DRS says:

    I’d like to see any research done about how the expansion of the primary system has impacted the political sector overall. I mean expanded in terms of more states and the longer time periods required for contesting them. Presidential campaigns start two years before the vote actually takes place, and the situation rewards partisans with particular policy goals and good attention spans. It couldn’t be better designed for single-issue causes, and by the time the various candidates go through the meat grinder and appeal to the general public, it’s a miracle we’ve got anyone halfway decent to vote for.

    Longer campaign periods mean larger professional political staffs who do nothing but float from campaign to campaign with their feet rarely touching the ground. They bring the same contacts to different politicians and the same passionate causes take over every time: abortion, death penalty, dirty stuff in books/movies/on the internet, guns, “war on religion”, etc. Not to move towards compromises and solutions but to keep blood pressure high.

    I have one proposal: take the state governments out of running primaries. Let the major parties pay for their own huge primary infrastructures to nominate their own candidates. When this starts to compete with candidates’ raising money from the same donors as the parties are trying to tap, then there will be some incentive to bring the system under control.

  42. Rob in CT says:

    The funny thing is, when polls are done of Democratic voters and Republican voters, and they’re asked about compromise, you get this:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/144359/democrats-republicans-differ-views-compromise.aspx

    Both sides do it and both sides are equally to blame! Lalalalalala!

  43. gVOR08 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Hacker and Pierson in Winner Take All Politics make a much more convincing case that the slide started in the mid ’70s when corporations started putting serious money into lobbying and campaigns.

    Conservatives constantly complain about how moral turpitude and liberals have caused the country to go downhill. They never seem to have noticed that Republicans and Republican ideology have largely dominated politics and policy in this country for the last 30 years plus.

    I will, however, concede some moral decline, but it’s not hippies and gays and abortion, it’s the acceptance of “Greed is good.”

  44. gVOR08 says:

    Doug–I think you’re making the same error the MSM make. They focus on the tone and the score in the ballgame, they ignore truth. The problem is not the tone, it’s that they’re lying. I don’t care how snarky Romney and Ryan are when they say Obama cut Medicare by 700 billion, I care that they’re lying. I don’t care how much invective they pile on when they say the stimulus failed, I care that they’re lying. I don’t care that “socialist” is a mean thing to call Obama, I care that it’s a lie. I don’t regret the tone of the Soptic ad, but I do regret the lie.

  45. Just Me says:

    Politcs has been polarized pretty much my whole lifetime.

    I think what has made it feel so much worse is the 24 hour news cycle and constant access to information through the internet. When the polarization and attacks are spouted 24/7 the how often you hear it is multiplied.

    I completely agree with Doug that Obama isn’t a very good, roll your sleeves up and get something done type politician. He says some flowery speeches but I don’t think he is that great a leader.

    Clinton (who I voted for the first time but not the second) was a good campaigner and I think one of the better roll your sleeves up and get stuff done politicians. He did this in spite of being under constant attack. There is much about how Clinton dealt with his personal life I didn’t and don’t admire, but I do think he grasped more than almost any other modern politician how to work with the opposition (Reagan also wasn’t too bad, and in many ways was also under constant attack but he wasn’t governing during the 24 hour newscycle or the internet).

  46. David M says:

    @Just Me:

    I completely agree with Doug that Obama isn’t a very good, roll your sleeves up and get something done type politician

    The fact that Congress passed the stimulus, Dodd-Frank and Obamacare during his first two years would seem to contradict that.

  47. Just Me says:

    The fact that Congress passed the stimulus, Dodd-Frank and Obamacare during his first two years would seem to contradict that.

    Passed when he had a majority control in both houses and didn’t manage to garner much support from the opposition. I don’t view those as great compromises or moves on his part.

    Clinton had to work with one or both houses being in control by the opposition during his presidency and managed to get a lot passed and managed to put his finger print on legislation he may not have been behind 100% but was going to get passed anyway so he worked to get the best outcome he could.

    What has OBama managed to get through congress the last couple of years?

  48. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Next time, could you add in the part about how you used to wear an onion on your belt? Because that’s really the high point.

  49. David M says:

    @Just Me:

    Unless there’s something I’m unaware of, Republicans are responsible for their own votes, not Obama. Obama and the Democrats have been plenty willing to compromise, while the GOP has not. That’s kind of the whole issue, the GOP being willing to obstruct anything and everything for political gain.

  50. stonetools says:

    @Just Me:

    You can’t compromise with people determined not to compromise. That’s just fact.

    Again, the idea that Obama wasn’t trying hard to compromise for the first three years of his administration just seems to come from the Trek Mirror Universe. I would be interested in conservatives giving example of Obama’s adamant refusal to compromise. This should be informative.

  51. @Just Me:

    I completely agree with Doug that Obama isn’t a very good, roll your sleeves up and get something done type politician. He says some flowery speeches but I don’t think he is that great a leader.

    OK, but to tell that story honestly you have to include the opposition’s stated plan of obstruction, and the options Obama actually had to deal with it. In my opinion, “invite them to lunch and they’ll roll over” is not a serious answer. I think the straight up telling is that Obama tried to compromise, to move center-right, and every time he did, the Republicans moved further right in response. Now and then people suggest that Obama should have stayed further left “as a starting point” but that’s as silly as suggesting Ryan is contributing to ultimate bipartisan agreement.

    (I got some serious righteous indignation going on this thread (above), it came from an article purportedly about “the political culture we deserve” that would not acknowledge the political culture we have.)

  52. Scott F. says:

    @stonetools:

    I’m going to have to rethink my idea of Doug as a reasonable conservative, since he seems to have his own facts and own history.

    You’ve given him more credit than he deserves up to this point, if you ask me. Misters Joyner and Taylor can be counted on to be reasonable, but DM’s working from a different set of rules. The only reason to read his posts is to follow how the commenters call him on his unreasonableness.

  53. Lit3Bolt says:

    @john personna:

    The reason Doug isn’t arguing with you is because you didn’t denounce Al Sharpton first.

    Only then will he listen to you.

  54. lonetown says:

    Predictions were made that Obama had nothing to run on and would go severely negative. He went severely negative. Mitt Romney has had to respond in kind.

    Blowhards like Rush Limbaugh were telling yu thins from the beginning but blowhards like yourselves weren’t listening.

    Reap what you sow but its hard to blame those who saw it coming and told you so.

  55. @Lit3Bolt:

    When I see Sharpton on tv he just looks old and frail to me. Surprising that he’s only 57. Maybe he lies about his age.

    Anyway, I find it hard to be angry with anyone who appears ill.

  56. :LaMont says:

    @lonetown:

    You listened to Rush Limbaugh – Your opinion lost all credibility!

  57. stonetools says:

    I’ll admit that Doug is right that our political culture is more polarized. He is simply wrong that both sides are equally to blame. The Democrats and their representatives have been willing to compromise: the Republicans and their representatives have not, with HCR being Exhibit A. To the chagrin of liberals, the Democrats passed into law the conservative version of HCR, without attracting a single Republican vote.
    A better question is WHY Republicans don’t want to compromise. (Doug doesn’t want to ask that question because he doesn’t admit that the Republicans are the problem ). My answer: it’s because the conservatives have built a media infrastructure that propagates and reinforces the message that :
    a. liberals are evil and unpatriotic ,
    b. that the welfare state is illegitimate and should be dismantled, not extended, and
    c. that any compromise with liberals puts us on the slippery slope to serfdom.

    If you hear and believe such a message, it’s not surprising that:

    1. You don’t want to compromise with liberals.
    2. You elect reps who won’t compromise with liberals.

    Since 2010, these are the reps that fill the Republican Congressional ranks. The only way to return to a political system where rational compromise is possible is to vote out the idealogical non-compromisers.

  58. lonetown says:

    LaMont, you facists can go stuff it. I pointed out a fact and you, in perfect form, attack the messenger.

    as if you have any credibility.

  59. DRS says:

    Lonetown, if you’re going to throw your diaper on the floor like that, you have to pick it up and put it in the laundry bin where it belongs. Bad Lonetown. No cookie for you.

  60. @stonetools:

    I’ll admit that Doug is right that our political culture is more polarized. He is simply wrong that both sides are equally to blame. The Democrats and their representatives have been willing to compromise: the Republicans and their representatives have not, with HCR being Exhibit A. To the chagrin of liberals, the Democrats passed into law the conservative version of HCR, without attracting a single Republican vote.

    Here’s an illustration, on budget and spending:

    Whether Mr Obama or Mr Romney wins, the “non-security” discretionary budget – for education, job skills, infrastructure, science and technology, space, environmental protection, alternative energy and climate change adaptation – is on the chopping block. Mr Obama’s budget would shrink non-security discretionary programs from an already insufficient 3.1 per cent of GDP in 2011 to 1.8 per cent in 2020. That is the “liberal” alternative.

    I think I have to keep grinding James on his “starting point.” Ryan’s plan is way out on the right horizon, Obama’s plan slashes spending, but he seems to be buying that it is “teh socialism.”

  61. Septimius says:

    @stonetools:

    The Democrats and their representatives have been willing to compromise: the Republicans and their representatives have not, with HCR being Exhibit A.

    I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Obamacare is not a popular law. You’re blaming Republicans for not supporting legislation that the American people don’t want.

    Do you have any concept of how ridiculous you are?

  62. :LaMont says:

    @lonetown:

    I pointed out a fact

    Wrong! For one, you pointed out an opinion, Then backed it by saying Rush limbaugh said it – Rush, who is perhaps one of the most discredited and opinionated sources of information for conservatists today. I don’t think Doug would even disagree with that!

    Now the opinion is false becuase wanting Romney to produce more tax returns, blaming him for wanting to effectively end medicare, and saying Romney wants to return to the Bush years (which are pretty much all of Obama’s arguments against Romney) is not negative (let alone severe) campaigning.

    And your use of the word “fascists” shows that you may not know exactly what the word mean;

    Dictionary;

    “Fascist: A person who is dictatorial or have extreme right-wing views

    Looks like thats a better description for you!

  63. An Interested Party says:

    I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Obamacare is not a popular law. You’re blaming Republicans for not supporting legislation that the American people don’t want.

    I don’t hate to be the one to break it to you, but many parts of PPACA are very popular, and when we start seeing commercials talking about how Republicans want to ditch all those popular parts, we’ll see how well that won’t help Romney…

  64. :LaMont says:

    @Septimius:

    Obamacare was not a popular policy becuase republicans did a great job demonizing the healthcare bill (by name only). Americans cleary supported the majority of the bill when the various sections of the bill were broken up and polled.

  65. Septimius says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I’m sure you’re right. Obamacare was just a minor piece of legislation that no one really paid any attention to. It certainly wasn’t in the news much when it was debated and passed. The Republicans definitely did not make it a campaign issue during the 2010 mid-terms. No one cared much when it’s constitutionality was challenged and went all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Once those tv commercials start running, the American people will finally understand how great it is!

  66. jukeboxgrad says:

    Obamacare was not a popular policy becuase republicans did a great job demonizing the healthcare bill

    Yes, but there’s another important part of the picture that’s getting ignored. A lot of the people who are polled opposing the law are opposing it because it doesn’t go far enough. The number of people who want this law or something stronger is larger than the number of people who want what the GOP intends to do: repeal and replace with nothing. Link, link.

  67. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    You do realize that the McConnell statement was from after the 2010 elections, not “early 2009″ as you claim, right?

    A minor point, perhaps, but facts are stubborn things.

    You do realize that the McConnell statement was from before the 2010 elections (link), not “after the 2010 elections” as you claim, right?

    A minor point, perhaps, but facts are stubborn things. Also, if you’re going to mock someone about not getting their facts straight it would be a good idea to get your facts straight.

  68. An Interested Party says:

    @Septimius: Of course no one is saying any of those ridiculous things, but if you really think that most Americans are going to be happy to lose many of the individual parts of PPACA, you’re even more delusional than you think anyone else is…

  69. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Doug, it’s now admitted by the GOP that their Inauguration Day dinner was a meeting in which they decided on a 100% obstructionist strategy.

  70. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “The truth of the matter, John, is that Obama was in over his head. ”

    Of course, but not in the sense that you mean. As you don’t seem to recall, Doug, the USA was in a serious predicament in 2008, mostly due to the GOP. It was a far, far, far cry from the 1990’s.

  71. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “However, if Obama was a better politician and had spent the first two years of his term on something other than a pie-in-the-sky health care plan (say, on something like financial reform or fixing the economy) perhaps he might have had better luck. ”

    First, the GOP worked 100% against fixing the economy, so that’s full of sh*t.
    Second, the GOP (and far too many Dems) were 100% against financial reform.

  72. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “A plan that Republicans once may have supported but no longer did, because the voters didn’t want them to. Why are you trying to make this a partisan thing when the point is that this is all about the voters getting what they want? ”

    After the GOP spent massive amounts on ads opposing their former proposal.

  73. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “So you’re saying that the people from the other party opposed the President? Wow, that’s never happened before. ”

    Stop bullsh*tting, Doug. The degree of opposition was unprecedented in modern times.