Wednesday, July 06, 2011

"An Odd Protest Movement"

David Brooks at the NYT wonders if the Republicans are normal. In discussing negotiations over raising the debt limit, he praises the political victories won by the GOP, but worries they will throw all that away at the altar of the Tax-Cut religion.

[We] can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.


I still think the GOP is behaving in this way to more strongly negotiate with Democrats who have proven time and again that they will give away the store in order to avoid Republican political marketing in the next election (that they will face anyway). The GOP has no reason to believe that the Democrats will draw a line in the sand and start making them pay the political price for their own policies because they haven't done so since the Kennedy administration. What evidence do the Republicans have that now will be different?

HT: Andrew Sullivan, and Patrick Appel.

But here's the problem: even if the GOP does take this nation to default, they will not pay a political price for it. They own the national narrative, and can (and will) lay it all at the feet of the Democrats. They control the redistricting process, and have built themselves safe seats under any circumstamances. Past political organization decisions on the part of the GOP (focus on suburbs, exurbs and rural areas) and Democrats (abandon suburbs, exurbs and rural areas) mean the Dems have no political infrastructure in a majority of Congressional districts. The Dems simply have no political answer to make to GOP mandated default. None.

And that gives this "odd protest movement" more leverage than they know what to do with.

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5 comments:

Dante said...

I don't think it's a protest movement. Repbulcians were just being more aggressive because in their position as a minority, they could afford to be.

"And that gives this "odd protest movement" more leverage than they know what to do with."

Indeed, but they're losing that leverage rapidly. Last I read, Boehner is advocating a smaller set of cuts just to avoid the tax increases. That's a politically foolish move because Obama gains the upper hand on spending cuts which is very popular with the general population right now. (Well, at least the idea of spending is popular. We'll see how popular they really are when they happen.)

What Boehner needs to do is pass a House version of the debt ceiling increase containing the Obama cuts but leaving out the tax increases. Then the narrative is simple: Obama and the Senate Democrats care so much about sticking it to the evil rich that they's willing to default the country over it. That's pure win.

Dante said...

Sorry, the end of paragraph 2 should've read:

(Well, at least the idea of spending cuts is popular. We'll see how popular they really are when they happen.)

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

That's pure win.

That would be gravy, they've been at "pure win" for a while now. The entire narrative they've set up for the past six months blames any failure to reach a deal on the Democrats.

While that strains the bounds of credibility, the Democrats' inability to articulate and engage in the "tax cuts" narrative the GOP has maintained for 20+ years has left the Dems with zero room to manouver.

Dante said...

"The entire narrative they've set up for the past six months blames any failure to reach a deal on the Democrats."

The entire narrative minus the past few days when Boehner backed down to advocating $2T in cuts instead of the $4T he was pushing for. I don't think you appreciate how grave a mistake that was. The Democrats now have an opening for their own narrative: The Democratic Party is out there trying to cut spending while Republicans are selling out their beliefs to protect the rich.

That narrative has the potential to completely change the game. Right now Republicans are a juggernaut but it was only 5 years ago that they were ousted from power over turning their backs on their beliefs. The only thing that got them back in the game was their fierce opposition to new spending. You get people to remember the state of the Republican Party in 2006 and show how it could happen again and you give Obama and the Democrats a win in what was rapidly looking like their Waterloo.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I don't think you appreciate how grave a mistake that was.

Maybe among the GOP's fiscally conservative base and talk radio audience, but among those Americans who get their news in smaller doses, it will likely look like a major point of compromise that would make a deal possible - if they see it at all.