After eight Republican congressmen voted in favor of the climate change bill (it passed by seven votes), the GOP’s ideological militia — its own rhetorical Basiji, you might say — took after them with a vengeance. The eight defectors were denounced as “quisling Republicans,” as the “Cap and Tr-8-tors,” as “backstabbing, turncoat Rinos.” They’re even peddling bumper stickers denouncing the turncoats by name.
At Politico, Bruce Bartlett, the former Reagan official and longtime conservative think tanker, explores what that kind of reaction by his conservative friends might mean to the future of their party.
“If any of my friends had bothered to try and understand why these Republicans voted contrary to gods of talk radio who now control the Republican Party they would see that they were simply reacting to the demands of their constituents. Since when did it become unacceptable to do what one’s constituents want a member of Congress to do?
The fact is that Obama carried the districts of all but one of these Republicans—in most cases substantially. (Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey is the exception.) For example, Rep. Mark Kirk’s Illinois district went for Obama by a 61% to 38% margin.”
If the party faithful target those eight, as the Basiji demand, the Republicans could lose those marginal districts or even drive the current occupants to switch parties. And that, Bartlett concludes, “is why the Democrats control Congress and why Republicans won’t for a long time to come.”