Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 10, 2010

MAKING THE RANK-AND-FILE LOOK REASONABLE BY COMPARISON.... Jay Bookman notes a couple of interesting poll results this week, measuring Republican voters' attitudes on some key issues.

Gallup, for example, found that almost half of the country's GOP voters support repealing the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Soon after, the Pew Forum released a new report noting that a 58% majority of rank-and-file Republican voters believe the budget shortfall should be addressed through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts.

With this in mind, Jay noted that we're looking at an interesting political landscape -- GOP lawmakers are more conservative and ideologically rigid than their own supporters.

[Y]ou can't get a Republican on the Hill to even utter the word "tax hike," lest they be condemned as a RINO. The sole focus is on cutting programs (of course, in a general rhetorical sense that rarely gets down to specifics.)

On other issues, the gap between Washington Republicans and GOP voters back home is less dramatic, but still significant. According to Gallup, 40 percent of Republicans opposed extending tax cuts for the wealthy or wanted the cuts ended across the board, for everybody. Yet Washington Republicans were unanimous in demanding the cuts for the wealthy be extended. Forty-three percent of Republicans, and 38 percent of conservative Republicans, supported extending unemployment benefits, but again that division of opinion was not reflected at all in Washington.

In other words, it's not merely that Washington Republicans won't compromise with Democrats. They won't compromise even with their own voters. The national party is in the grip of radicals who accept no deviation from the approved party line, and who demonstrate no tolerance for the broader, more reasonable range of opinions that exists within the Republican electorate they claim to represent.

Yep, that sums things up nicely.

Steve Benen 11:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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Comments

Could be - after all, I seriously doubt even the top earners, whom would benefit more than anyone by extending the Bush tax cuts (in the short term at least), are as enthusiastic as the Republicans regarding that issue.

On the other side of the isle, conversely, I am so heartened, so very very heartened, to see the Democratic leadership so demonstrable in opposition to that very issue. Right now, for instance, Bernie Sanders is on Cspan2 lecturing the American people about it and I couldn't agree with everything he is saying more. Word up.

Posted by: Bless on December 10, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

That same Republican electorate probably did not contribute much money, do not vote in primaries, and did finally vote GOP so there is a mixed message being sent to the House and Senate members.

Posted by: CarlP on December 10, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

yes, it does sum it up nicely. Another way to put it is that whatever the general population sees as the right thing to do, or a good thing - the Republican elected officials are against it. I guess it's lucky for the GOPer Congress that the Media consistently overlooks that inconvenient fact. DADT is a perfect example. Most people favor the repeal, the GOP votes it down, but in my newspaper the headline reads "Senate votes against DADT repeal". Of course the first line in the story says "Republicans killed the deal". But lots of folks just hit the headlines and move to the next.

Posted by: T2 on December 10, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

I too have Bernie running in the background, talking truth to power.

I still have that shiny, new quarter, and I will give it to the first cable news talking head that mentions him. . .

Posted by: DAY on December 10, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

You are describing Arizona...the Phoenix Repubs were astounded that the public passed the tax hike last summer, as well as protected the environment, passed med marijuana, and kept kids health insurance.

They keep threatening to bring the repeal of Medicaid (which would kill several people I know with HIV) to a vote, but the consensus is that would fail.

SO, they will try another way.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on December 10, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Tough, media-savvy politicians should have no problem exploiting deep divisions between a party's leadership and its voters. All it takes is the intelligent use of messaging, advertising, and the political process.

So all Obama and the Congressional Democrats have to do is ...

Sigh. Never mind.

Posted by: Basilisc on December 10, 2010 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen quoted Jay Bookman: " ... it's not merely that Washington Republicans won't compromise with Democrats. They won't compromise even with their own voters"

It's too bad that Obama is more interested in compromising with the Washington Republicans than in compromising with his own voters.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 10, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

The text under Bernie Sanders on CSPAN2 says: "Sen. Sanders began what he calls a tax cut filibuster at 10:25am ET"

This should be interesting...if he's doing this by himself, I assume he has to keep talking till he wears out. He's an hour and 25 minutes into it - let's see how long he holds out.

Posted by: delNorte on December 10, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

This points out the revolutionary aspect of modern conservatism. It leads public opinion in the direction it wants to go. In contrast, modern liberalism simply retreats in the face of public opinion because it's custodial rather than transformative. BTW, if the noise machine really wanted to, it could easily construct majorities on the various issues cited above. That it doesn't really says everything you need to know about the confidence they have in the machine itself.

Posted by: walt on December 10, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

We have the same dynamic on the Democratic side. Our leaders won't stand up for Public Option, DADT, and a score of other issues that progressives care about.

Posted by: Boffo on December 10, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

(via Jon Chait)

$10

I guess you really don't want my donation? too bad.

Posted by: some guy on December 10, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I wish Bernie would spend some time negotiating a better deal rather than grandstanding on CSPAN. I have sympathy for his position (personally I'd like to soak the rich) but this package is going to pass anyway. He might as well do what he can to make it better.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 10, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

It's not the average Republican voter that controls the party - it's the small, extreme, rabid ultra-right fringe that does, courtesy of Limbaugh et al.

Posted by: JEA on December 10, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

4Legs,

He's going on record with his positions, and setting the stage for a real debate (which may or may not happen).

In a functioning democracy, journalists would challenge the GOP to respond to these positions and voters would call their GOP representative and voice their opposition.

Obama had already cut the backroom deal. The only change is going to happen when public opinion turns against these assholes.

Posted by: bdop4 on December 10, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Voters aren't right-wing extremists, but wake me when they actually punish members of Congress for being right-wing extremists. It never happens. So what reason to Republicans have to change?

Posted by: Steve M. on December 10, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The national party is in the grip of ruthless robber barons who accept no deviation from the approved party line...

Fixed it.

Posted by: dalloway on December 10, 2010 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

"It's too bad that Obama is more interested in compromising with the Washington Republicans..." SecularAnimist @ 11:45 AM.

Something to do with votes in Congress, I understand....

Posted by: Doug on December 10, 2010 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK
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