Shocker: Republicans Want to Win

Dominance on GOP Agenda (Peter Wallsten and Warren Vieth, LAT)

As the nation’s trial lawyers again funneled tens of millions of dollars to Democrats and their causes in the last election, Republicans were crafting a strategy to choke off that money for future campaigns. President Bush’s agenda for the next four years, much of which he will highlight in his State of the Union address tonight, includes many proposals that would not only change public policy but, the GOP hopes, achieve an ambitious political goal: Stripping money and voters from the Democratic Party and cementing Republican dominance for years after he leaves office.

One of the clearest examples is an effort to limit jury awards in lawsuits against doctors and businesses. The caps might not only discourage “frivolous” lawsuits, as Bush argues, but also deprive trial lawyers of income from damage awards that they could then give to Democrats. “If we could succeed in getting some form of tort reform passed — medical malpractice reform or any of part of that — it would go a long ways toward … taking away the muscle, the financial muscle that they have,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who ousted Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle last fall despite a heavy flood of trial lawyer money backing the Democrat.

On issue after issue, the White House is staking out positions that achieve a policy goal while expanding the GOP’s appeal to new voters or undermining the Democrats’ ability to compete. Interviews with Bush advisors, a recent memo drafted by a senior White House strategist and a speech last month by the Republican Party’s new chairman show that the political advantages are very much part of the calculation.

Kos is very shocked by this, as if suddenly finding that there’s gambling going on in Las Vegas.

So they go after the trial lawyers, they go after the unions, they try to create “investors” through social security privatization, they demonize gays.

All in the pursuit of unrivaled power.

While many definitions of political parties exist, they all boil down to a group of people seeking to win political office and govern according to their agenda.

The GOP has policy preferences, aside from tactical issues, that stand in opposition to obscene tort awards, government control of retirement accounts, and homosexual marriage. To the extent that those positions coincide with those of the electorate and differ from the opposition party, they can be exploited to win elections. To the extent that they also disadvantage the opposition party’s fundraising aims, so much the better.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.