Why the future looks so bleak for the GOP

As I mentioned yesterday, as of mid-December some 53 percent of Americans perceived the Republican Party as too extremist, a record-high number that had jumped 17 percentage points in the two years since the GOP took control of the House in the 2010 mid-terms.

Given what has happened in the three weeks since that CNN poll was released — the GOP House rejected John Boehner’s fiscal-cliff plan as too moderate, and it refused to even vote on an emergency aid package for New York and New Jersey — that number has only risen.

In fact, the party is caught in a long-term downward spiral that will prove difficult if not impossible to escape.

Look at the top issues likely to dominate the 113th Congress: immigration reform, gun control, and the debt ceiling. On each of those high-profile issues, the Republican Party finds itself trapped defending a strongly held but distinctly minority point of view.

In November exit polls, for example, 65 percent of American voters said that illegal immigrants ought to be offered an avenue to legal status. To put it mildly, that is not a position that Republicans can easily reconcile with their base. And in a recent Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans said they backed stronger gun-control laws; just 6 percent wanted less stringent gun laws, which is the default position of many in the GOP.

The debt-ceiling optics are even worse. The GOP plan is to confront President Obama with two brutal choices: Make serious cuts in Medicare and other entitlements, or Republicans will force the country to default on its debt. Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re trying to shuck a reputation as extremist, that’s not exactly the course I would recommend. As I’ve noted before, even Republican voters oppose Medicare cuts by an overwhelming margin. Yet somehow Republican politicians have convinced themselves that this is a battle that they must fight and can win.

And of course, the group that will continue to define the Republican brand in all these fights will be the House GOP caucus, a group that is considerably more conservative and yes, extremist, than the country at large. It’s not hard to understand why.

Take Georgia’s Republican House members as an example. All eight of them voted against the fiscal-cliff solution that President Obama signed into law yesterday. And all eight are likely to toe the hard-right line on immigration, gun control and the debt ceiling. And the truth is that based on their own narrow self-interest, they’d be fools to do otherwise.

Thanks to gerrymandering, a political evil in which both parties indulge, three of the eight are in such strong GOP districts that no Democrat even bothered to run against them last November. The five who did draw Democratic opposition won re-election by an average margin of 40 percentage points. So none of the eight has anything to gain personally by becoming more moderate.

That brings us to the ultimate question: How can the Republican Party shed its reputation as extremist on the national stage when most of those who create that reputation — the members of the House GOP caucus — have every incentive as individuals to continue on their present course?

I confess I’m stumped by that one.

– Jay Bookman

823 comments Add your comment

Regnad Kcin

January 3rd, 2013
4:42 pm

” But the CRITICISM came straight from Heritage, and based on your new standard, Heritage is clearly intolerably biased when it comes to talking about conservatism and conservative topics. Why, if we can’t accept the work of gay scientists when it comes to topics about homosexuality, then we CERTAINLY can’t accept the work of the Heritage Foundation when it comes to talking about conservatism!”

And this shall be called…

THE DOOM STANDARD!

Towncrier

January 3rd, 2013
4:54 pm

“You asked, I provided. Deal with it. FWIW, given our history, I’d appreciate it if you started showing more of your *own* proof before asking me for more of mine.

If you are unable to provide more and better proof, then fine. No problem. I remain unconvinced. What do you care?

Peter

January 3rd, 2013
4:55 pm

Peter – do you really think that the Federal government is going to admit they made an error (and set themselves up for innumerable lawsuits)?

Not when Republican’s are in charge…… all the money was being spent on Wars at that time, and driving the deficit up.

Towncrier

January 3rd, 2013
4:56 pm

Okay…I’m out again. Paul, I will look for your response. I honestly don’t know how you logically make the case you do. See if you can help in that regard.

Uh Huh.......There's a RIFT in the GOP. Boenher vs The Tea Party Crazies

January 3rd, 2013
4:59 pm

Fiscal cliff negotiations between House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reportedly got heated last Friday.

Boehner told Reid….”go %#@& yourself”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The GOP…. the Party of ‘CHRISTIAN VALUES’?

Uh Huh

Nunna Yobinnes

January 3rd, 2013
5:15 pm

Peter – the government doesn’t admit anything regardless of who is in power. It’s always pilot error, never ATC, the FAA, or the Airport don’t ya know? Same thing applies in all kinds of cases.

willSmith

January 3rd, 2013
5:15 pm

Georgia is an open primary state right? In those safe Republican districts Democrats need to vote in the R’s primary to get a better class of republican.

Nunna Yobinnes

January 3rd, 2013
5:17 pm

Will you are correct. If you are content with your candidate, then you can vote in the other partie’s primary, to either select an unelectable opponent or the best available candidate, based on your judgment.

Cherokee

January 3rd, 2013
5:21 pm

TownCrier – when you come back – a couple days ago I pointed out to you the Scriptural basis for our country’s efforts to protect the poor, sick, and less fortunate among us.

You were quick to tell me that my interpretation was wrong, even though I used the exact language of the Bible.

Today you post a portion of Scripture – and the English translation is pretty specific. But if you look at the original Greek used by Paul, it becomes much less clear.

Here’s one of many discussions that you can find if you are really seeking truth.

http://www.gaychristian101.com/Malakoi.html

You can’t have it both ways, my friend. If you demand the right to interpret Matthew in a way that lessens our corporate responsibility to the poor, then don’t criticize those who seek to truly understand what Paul was talking about when he addressed the Corinthians.

Nunna Yobinnes

January 3rd, 2013
5:44 pm

Cherokee – so you are saying Paul was talking about effiminate men, not gays. God doesn’t like sissy boys?

What does this author say about Romans 1?

Towncrier

January 3rd, 2013
5:49 pm

Hey, Cherokee.

“TownCrier – when you come back – a couple days ago I pointed out to you the Scriptural basis for our country’s efforts to protect the poor, sick, and less fortunate among us. You were quick to tell me that my interpretation was wrong, even though I used the exact language of the Bible.”

Yes, because I don’t believe the passage in question is referring to governments but individuals within cultures (ethnos). I am not sure who all makes the argument you do, but I would guess most do not. Beyond evidence and reason for beliefs, there is only choice. You are free to interpret it as you will.

“Today you post a portion of Scripture – and the English translation is pretty specific. But if you look at the original Greek used by Paul, it becomes much less clear. Here’s one of many discussions that you can find if you are really seeking truth… You can’t have it both ways, my friend. If you demand the right to interpret Matthew in a way that lessens our corporate responsibility to the poor, then don’t criticize those who seek to truly understand what Paul was talking about when he addressed the Corinthians.”

I have no wish to interpret the Bible as I see fit, but only as God meant. I looked at the website you pointed me to and I don’t find their exegesis compelling. One of the big problems I think someone like yourself has in maintaining your position is that there is no explicit mention of gay marriage – only heterosexual marriage. And I don’t think it is possible to argue away all of the passages in the Bible which seem to explicitly forbid homosexuality. But again, you are free to interpret it as you will.

How about this – even though I don’t think the Bible commands governments to look after the poor and helpless, I will stipulate its “right” to force me to do that if you will stipulate its right to forbid gay marriage? I already give to help the needy so I am not going to cry if the government wants to make me do that. Is that a deal?

Joe Hussein Mama

January 3rd, 2013
8:12 pm

williebkind — “Nope there should not be.”

I love how blind you are to your own bias. (laughing) :D

Joe Hussein Mama

January 3rd, 2013
8:16 pm

Towncrier — “Where in my statement was that implied?”

Since I didn’t *direct* that to you, you may now apologize.

“I asked for MORE and BETTER proof”

Elaborate on what you consider “better” proof, please.

“since I suspect there could be a conflict of interest.”

I suspect that straight scientists could likewise harbor a conflict of interest. Discuss.

“Do you have a problem with my request?”

Yes. You’re not in a position to advance a credible critique of peer-reviewed research, whether you think there might be a conflict of interest or not.

“Please provide it, as I asked.”

No. Please provide a credible critique of the data, as opposed to bigoted suspicion.

“Else I will remain unconvinced (about which you may not care one way or another, but if so why not let it go?).”

Without a credible critique of the peer-reviewed research, I can only conclude that you harbor a conflict of interest. Convince me otherwise, please.

Joe Hussein Mama

January 3rd, 2013
8:18 pm

Towncrier — “If you are unable to provide more and better proof, then fine. No problem. I remain unconvinced. What do you care?”

If you are unable to provide a credible critique of the peer-reviewed research, then I can only conclude that you harbor a conflict of interest. What do YOU care?

And I repeat — given our history, I’d appreciate it if you started showing more of your *own* proof before asking me for more of mine.

Towncrier

January 3rd, 2013
8:51 pm

“Since I didn’t *direct* that to you, you may now apologize.”

The original point, which Doom paraphrased and you quoted in your response, was mine. I see where no apology is required.

“Elaborate on what you consider “better” proof, please.”

Sure. What I was asking for in my immediate response to your link is to see where these studies had been validated (their findings, that is) by other studies, including by non-gay researchers.

“I suspect that straight scientists could likewise harbor a conflict of interest. Discuss.”

Perhaps. But there are plenty of straight scientists who are sympathetic to gay rights and issues. So I am not sure you have much of a point here. If a number of studies by scientists of all stripes concluded the same thing, then I would say they claim would be much stronger.

“Yes. You’re not in a position to advance a credible critique of peer-reviewed research, whether you think there might be a conflict of interest or not.”

My word. Tell me you are not serious. “Peer-reviewed” publications are NOT one and the same as VALIDATED scientific experiments or studies – you know, where observations or results are replicated time and again.

“Without a credible critique of the peer-reviewed research, I can only conclude that you harbor a conflict of interest. Convince me otherwise, please.”

See above.

“And I repeat — given our history, I’d appreciate it if you started showing more of your *own* proof before asking me for more of mine.”

When you have demonstrated in this new year that you are not going to engage in stupid shouting matches or Ptyhon-esque “arguments,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

I will resume discourse with you. Until then, I have no interest in speaking with you directly. It seems pretty pointless. Thanks.

Drudge

January 3rd, 2013
8:58 pm

Widen your scope Jay, the future of this country looks extremely bleak. Please point to any indicator that says otherwise. Any government controlled solely unopposed by Democrats is an f-ing nightmare. Detroit, Chicago, Oakland, LA, NYC – Illinois, California, New York. Totally reliant on support from the fed gov to maintain basic functionality. Forward!

Towncrier

January 3rd, 2013
9:18 pm

For anyone here perhaps duped by confident-sounding and exorbitant claims about “peer-reviewed” “research”, please consult the following article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_review

Methinks yet another glaring instance of scientism. Hard science is great. Soft science is, well, soft.

Peter

January 4th, 2013
8:24 am

Nunna Yobinnes Your opinion……..

Peter – the government doesn’t admit anything regardless of who is in power. It’s always pilot error, never ATC, the FAA, or the Airport don’t ya know? Same thing applies in all kinds of cases.

Sure when Republican’s are in charge, thus a corporation is protected, and American citizens are not……

Republican Family Values at work.

dbm

January 4th, 2013
8:57 am

Towncrier

January 3rd, 2013
5:49 pm

“How about this – even though I don’t think the Bible commands governments to look after the poor and helpless, I will stipulate its “right” to force me to do that if you will stipulate its right to forbid gay marriage?”

I don’t think the government has a right to do either. But then again, I’m an atheist.

dbm

January 4th, 2013
9:12 am

Redneck Convert (R–and proud of it)

January 3rd, 2013
10:38 am

Goldwater was reacting to a logically invalid, highly loaded notion of “extremism” which his enemies were pushing. The pushers of that notion of “extremism” were trying to smuggle ideas into people’s minds. (For a fuller explanation of this, read Ayn Rand’s article “‘Extremism”, Or the Art of Smearing”, reprinted as a chapter of her book Captialism, the Unknown Ideal.)

After 1964, that highly loaded notion of “extremism” faded away, and “extremism” became a more neutrslly vague word. It was and is still too vague to be an aid to clear thinking or clear communication, but not as misleading and corrosive as the 1964 version.

Joe Hussein Mama

January 4th, 2013
9:28 am

Towncrier — “Sure. What I was asking for in my immediate response to your link is to see where these studies had been validated (their findings, that is) by other studies, including by non-gay researchers.”

So you’re going to employ the Doom Standard as well. Somehow, I’m not surprised.

“Perhaps. But there are plenty of straight scientists who are sympathetic to gay rights and issues. So I am not sure you have much of a point here. If a number of studies by scientists of all stripes concluded the same thing, then I would say they claim would be much stronger.”

The peer-review process doesn’t take into account the sexuality, gender, race or political leanings of the researcher; it seeks to review the work on *its own merits,* which is something I thought conservatives supported. Clearly I was mistaken.

“My word. Tell me you are not serious. “Peer-reviewed” publications are NOT one and the same as VALIDATED scientific experiments or studies – you know, where observations or results are replicated time and again.”

You are not in a position to offer such a critique, unless zoology, biology or animal behavior studies are in your curriculum vitae. Are they?

See above.

So you’ve elected to punt. Fine.

When you have demonstrated in this new year that you are not going to engage in stupid shouting matches or Ptyhon-esque “arguments,

In other words, you’ll demand proof, yet you’re unable or unwilling to provide your own.

Bit by bit, your character or lack thereof becomes clearer and clearer to me.

“I will resume discourse with you. Until then, I have no interest in speaking with you directly. It seems pretty pointless.”

Of course it does. After all, when people stop playing your childish game of PROVE IT TO ME while you stamp your feet and demand to be taken seriously when critiquing research based on nothing other than ‘that guy’s gay and can’t be trusted,’ there’s not much more point in you hanging around and continuing to post.

I won’t post any more ‘evidence’ for you until you start coming across with your own. Quite frankly, I gave your childish demand FAR more effort than it deserved on our first meeting, and I won’t make that mistake again.

“For anyone here perhaps duped by confident-sounding and exorbitant claims about “peer-reviewed” “research”, please consult the following article:”

I love when the things you post serve to underscore how ill-informed you can be on certain topics.

“Methinks yet another glaring instance of scientism.”

If you *had* a scientific basis to reject the earlier-discussed research, you’d have offered it. But since all you have is your anti-gay bigotry, it’s not surprising that you’re trying to ridicule the scientific approach when its application results in findings that you don’t personally like.

“Hard science is great. Soft science is, well, soft.”

And bigotry is unbecoming of you. Once again, if you have a valid SCIENTIFIC criticism, then offer it. Man up and do here what you demanded I do when you started whining about Lembcke all those months ago, Towncrier.

TiredOfIt

January 4th, 2013
9:32 am

Here is a local right-wing christian http://www.jodyhice.com/

Enjoy

dbm

January 4th, 2013
10:07 am

Oops! In my 9:12, “neutrslly” is a typo for “neutrally”. Sorry.