Sunday, June 07, 2015

Only One Party Has Moved Out Of The Mainstream And Into Fringe Politics


Last week Chris Ingraham, writing in the Washington Post, said that the GOP has swung drastically right while the Democrats have not been moving left. This flies in the face of Beltway reporting but, unlike Beltway reporting, is backed up by the facts. "Republicans," Thomas Mann of Brookings explains, "have become a radical insurgency-- ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of their political opposition." Thomas Paine was talking about their progenitors when he wrote in The American Crisis, "To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture."
Right around 1975, the Republican party sharply turned away from the center line and hasn't looked back. The Democrats have been drifting away from the center too, but nowhere near as quickly.

Every once in awhile an op-ed writer will come along and make a qualitative argument along the lines of "no, really, it's the Democrats who are polarizing!" Peter Wehner, a former official in three previous Republican presidential administrations, did just that in the pages of the New York Times last week. His argument amounts to the notion that since President Obama has pursued some policies that are more liberal than Bill Clinton's, "the Democratic Party has moved substantially further to the left than the Republican Party has shifted to the right."
The numbers tell a different story. Less than 10% of Democrats could be described as having moved left. Around 90% of Republicans have moved right, in some cases far enough right to embrace what amounts to proto-fascism. And Ingraham says, "House Republicans are become more extreme because Republican voters are electing more extreme candidates."

Worse, there are about as many right-wing-leaning Democrats-- basically Blue Dogs and New Dems-- as there are Democrats who lean left. Using the 2015 ProgressivePunch crucial vote scores, we find just 18 House Dems with scores of 100-- and 87 Republicans who managed to score big fat zeroes! This is an imperfect way of judging left and right. Some of the Democrats with the most left wing sentiments-- Alan Grayson, Barbara Lee, Judy Chu, Donna Edwards, Raul Grijalva, Ted Lieu, Jim McDermont-- didn't wind up with 100% scores even if they are more progressive than some of the Members who did. And, as for the Republicans, one deranged GOP congressman from a backward Southern district told a progressive friend of mine who was whipping votes against Fast Track that he's opposing the TPP because it will bring Sharia law to America. My friend was happy to accept the NO vote-- and even tried telling him about Brunei-- but this GOP freak will be cast out from among the pure zeroes.

There are even 9 putative Democrats in the House who have voted more frequently with the Republicans against progressive positions than with the Democrats for progressive positions, That doesn't stop-- not for one second-- the NRCC from labeling them liberals and leftists. 2015's worst Democrats (from bad to worst):
Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)- 47.73
Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)- 45.45
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)- 42.86
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)- 40.91
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- 39.53
Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)- 36.36
Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)- 29.55
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- 29.55
Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)- 27.27
Republicans with "more progressive" voting records than Gwen Graham, Henry Cuellar and Brad Ashford include hard-core conservatives Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Justin Amash (R-MI), as well as mainstream conservatives Walter Jones (R-NC) and Chris Gibson (R-NY). Compare Jones' score of 60.47 with Graham's 27.27. She's one of 16 Democrats with more right-wing voting records than Walter Jones.

And even though yesteryear's hack politicians-- whether Steve Israel or Chuck Schumer-- think Democrats can only win by aping Republicans, a new analysis of data published by the Wall Street Journal today hows that liberals are growing as a percentage of the voting population, while conservatives are shrinking.
A new analysis of Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll data finds a marked  increase in the share of registered voters identifying themselves as liberals, and an even bigger drop in the share saying they are conservatives.

In three national polls conducted so far in 2015, the analysis found that 26% of registered voters identified themselves as liberals-- up from 23% in 2014. At the same time, the share of voters identifying as conservatives dropped to 33% from 37% in 2014.

The analysis by GOP pollster Bill McInturff, who looked at survey data from 2010 to 2015, found that the biggest ideological shifts came among women, young people, Latinos and well-educated voters, as well as people in the West and in cities.

...Mr. McInturff’s analysis of WSJ/NBC data found that the demographic group that now has the most liberals-- and that has seen the most dramatic swing to the left since 2010-- is women aged 18-49. Among those voters in 2015 polls, 37% said they were liberal, 23% said they were conservative-- a 20 point swing since 2010 when 27% said they were liberal and 33% said they were conservative.

Younger voters also saw a notable swing to the left, with 35% of 18-34-year-olds saying they are liberal and 26% saying the are conservative. In 2010, that age group split 28% liberal-32% conservative.
Paul Ryan, Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee


At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that everyone thinks that we "baby boomers" have drifted to the right. I am well out of the 34-49 year old group, and I get more liberal every year. I feel that my fellow baby boomers have sold out and it makes me sad. Our age group really changed this country, for the better, by protesting and fighting for women's rights, and against the war. What happened? I wish I knew. Is it just easier to be conservative?

At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Our age group really changed this country, for the better, by protesting and fighting for women's rights, and against the war. What happened?"

What happened was Vietnam ended the draft, and all the rich kids who could afford the hippie lifestyle instead became disco kings and queens, and resumed their pusuit and worship of excess now that their asses weren't on the line anymore.

"Right around 1975, the Republican party sharply turned away from the center line and hasn't looked back."

I attribute this to Watergate. The Democrats hung together long enough to force Nixon out of power, then fell apart and left a huge power vacuum. Never ones to miss a great opportunity, the more militant GOP membership grabbed that power with both hands.

If they had more time to organize, Ford probably would have been elected in 1976 over Carter, but since Carter won, and listened to bad advice, the GOP played possum (much like they now are). Carter's mistakes were left to fester without cure, paving the way for Reagan and the reactionary religious to wreck what remained of this nation.

As far as more of the population identifying as liberal, this just means that the GOP will increase their efforts to ensure that only registered GOP voters retain the franchise. They are too close to their goal of complete control over the governance of the US to let the Democrats take it away from them now. They might let Hillary be president for a term (if that's OK with Rupert), but they will retain control over the Congress by hook or by crook.


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