The Republican Party at Thanksgiving dinner

Great post by Michael Tomasky on the problems with today’s Republican Party.  Short version: it’ s the issue positions, it’s the irrational anger/hatred towards “others.”  Love this metaphor:

 But they’ve [moderate Republican columnists like Brooks and Douthat] been participants to varying degrees in these recent conversations I’m talking about, and frankly, they are wasting their own and their readers’ time. They’re like a family in deep denial at the Thanksgiving table. Guys, debating the best way to cook brussels sprouts is of marginal utility. Whether Cousin Ruthie wears her hair this way or that way is not worth dwelling on. The overwhelming fact at hand is that Uncle Ralph is drunk again, and he’s being a belligerent racist homophobic ass again, and he is preventing any civility and progress from taking place, and it’s been this way for four Thanksgivings in a row, and you are intentionally choosing to say nothing about it.

I do not understand how they can watch this and let it happen—to their party!—without saying anything. This past week, we have had four Republican senators—Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, and Rand Paul—in essence demand that a cabinet nominee, Chuck Hagel, disprove rumors against him. It’s one thing for Breitbart bloggers to do that. But senators? Using tactics that are straightforward McCarthyism? If one of the above named or some other prominent conservative pundit criticized that quartet, then good for them. But I sure didn’t see it, and I think I would have…

We all know the problem. It’s Rush Limbaugh and his imitators and Roger Ailes and his network. They drive this hatred daily, and they intentionally misinform and lie; you think it’s an accident that polls always find Fox viewers the least connected to empirical reality? Pushing this fury and constructing this alternate reality is great for business. But it’s horrible for America…

This is the poison in our politics. Nothing changes until it changes. Somebody has to initiate it, and the people I named are the only people who can. Of conservative thinkers—and I apologize to him in advance for naming him, because I’m sure praise from me in this context will make him wince—only David Frum has addressed this problem. His 2011 New York magazine essay “When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?” said it well. He understands that this problem is one of the central facts of our current historical moment.


Photo of the day

Well here’s a cool concept, photos of government bureaucrats at work around the world.  Couldn’t resist this one from Yemen:

The Face of Bureaucracy: Portraits of Civil Servants Around the World bureaucracy 8

Yemen, bureaucracy, 2006. Yemen-35/2006 [AIM., AAN (b. 1982)]. Alham Abdulwaze Nuzeli (b. 1982) works at the regional office of the Ministry of Tithing and Alms in the city of Al-Mahwit, Al-Mahwit governorate. Monthly salary: 12,000 rial (US$ 67, euro 46).Behind her a portrait of president Saleh of Yemen. (Jan Banning)

American people: cut nothing

I’ve made the point before, I’ll surely make it again, but with the sequester cuts looming, it’s always nice to see what specific items that American public is actually interested in cutting.  Via Wonkblog:

pew spending cuts

That’s right.  Foreign aid.  The whopping <1% of the budget.  Everything else majorities favor at least maintaining present spending levels.  And in the vast majority those favoring increases outnumber those favoring decreases.

On a related note, Greg Sargent recently highlighted the fact that it is really the Republican Party elites who are badly out of step with the American public, e.g.,

Taxes and the deficit: 76 percent say the we should reduce the deficit with a combination of tax increases and spending cuts (the Democratic position), while only 19 percent say tax increases should be off the table completely (the Republican position)…

Minimum wage: The public favors raising it to $9.00 per hour by 71-26. Even 50 percent of Republicans favor raising it…

Gun control: Americans favor passing major new gun legislation in the next few years by 67-29. Americans favor expanded background checks by 83-15, favor an assault weapons ban by 56-41, and favor banning high capacity magazine clips by 53-44.

Sargent’s summary is the real key:

On every one of these major issues with the exception of the isolated assault and magazine ban policies, the GOP position is favored by roughly a third or fewer Americans. Now, in fairness to Republicans, in some cases (the economy, the deficit) Obama’s approval is lagging. But on the issues themselves, public preferences are overwhelmingly clear.

What’s more, in another striking finding, large majorities favor federal legislative action on every one of these issues this year or in the next few years. In other words, there is broad consensus around both the idea that the federal government should act to solve our most pressing problems, and around how the government should go about doing this. Which is to say there’s wide consensus around the Democratic vision of governing, broadly defined, while the Republican vision, broadly defined, is adhered to by a small minority.

Good news for the long term.  For the short term, it just means we will have policies that only a small minority of Americans actually prefer, and more importantly, from a policy analysis perspective are way sub-optimal (in part, because Republicans aren’t too up on level-headed policy analysis).

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