What are Republicans Doing to Themselves?!
The Republican Party, after crushing defeats in the last two Presidential elections, and seeing newly elected members of Congress display racial intolerance, homophobia, and misogyny the likes of which have not been seen in recent history, has had to really sit down and do some soul searching. To their credit, Republican voters seem to have given some real thought to the condition of the not-so-Grand Old Party, and how it might be changed as they move forward to remain relevant, and serve the will of the majority in an evolving America.
In that spirit, they’ve decided that Republicans simply aren’t conservative enough.
Hey, I didn’t say they were politically astute, I just said they’d given it some thought.
A recent Pew Research Poll confirms that Republicans are as sadly out of step with the majority of Americans as we thought they were, and that they want to get out of the quagmire and save their party by either:
1) vigorously heading in the wrong direction, or
2) standing in the quagmire.
Neither prospect bodes well for the Republican Party, and depending on your level of generosity, this is either unfortunate, or cause to sit forward in your chair, unblinking, and stuffing popcorn into your face. Extra butter, please.
So, let’s look at this handy little graphic from the Pew Research Center. It looks pretty bad, but it’s actually worse. What this is really saying is that the number of Republicans who either think their current policies are just perfect as they are, or need to be MORE conservative, break down as follows.
Republicans who think the GOP is on track, or is just too dern liberal on the issues:
Gay Marriage: 60%
Government Spending: 87%
Gun policy: 79%
What’s gonna fix this mess? Heterosexual American babies with guns, that’s what. And we’re not gonna spend any money on ‘em, neither.
Another finding in the Pew poll that could nudge Republicans to the right, or at least keep them from moving to the left: The enthusiasm with which tea party voters participate in elections. While Tea Party-aligned supporters make up just 37 percent of all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, they make up about half of the primary electorate (those who say they always vote in primary elections). In 2012, tea party supporters made up an average of 61 percent of the electorate in Republican primary contests where network exit polls were conducted.
The people who want the country to become more conservative, want it really badly. Apathy by moderate Republicans is ensuring their own demise as candidates realize they must appeal not to the future constituent, but to the one who’s going to get off the couch, or put down the fishing pole, know who the candidates are and what they stand for, and go to the polls on Primary Day.
“You’ve got to really WANT it!” we hear coaches and parents telling their little soccer players. Same rules apply in the voting booth. Those who show up get to drive the bus. Participatory government is soooo annoying like that.
Although Alaskans can shrug off national polls, and pull out their famous “We don’t care how they do it Outside” line, the truth is that this phenomenon is very real in the 49th state. It’s responsible for the fact that Joe Miller, a Ron Paul/Tea Party conservative Christian, flattened moderate Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the Senate primary in 2010. A woman with nine letters and three different vowels in her name then came back to run a successful write-in campaign. Clearly, the majority didn’t actually want Joe Miller, but the majority of those who showed up in August did.
In a state where even in conservative districts the Tea Party’s positive rating hovers only around 23%, it’s not hard to play the “what if” game, and say that had Murkowski bowed out in 2010, we’d have ended up with Democrat Scott McAdams as our Jr. Senator. And this is the Republicans’ problem. If Alaska, which is a fairly red state, came a hair’s width away from having two Democrats in the Senate (McAdams and Begich), it just makes you ask, “What the heck are Republicans doing to themselves?”
Public Policy Polling recently showed that among Alaskan GOP primary voters, Sarah Palin would be their top pick for the upcoming Senate race. Alaskans don’t like her anymore. They really don’t. But the majority of registered Republicans who are likely to go to the polls on some Tuesday in August to fill in the little oval – DO. And yes, Democrat Mark Begich would trounce her in a general election.
In Alaska, the real problem on a local level comes when moderate Democrats and Independents don’t run for state legislative seats, allowing the Tea Party Republicans who either run unopposed, or defeat moderate opposition in the primary, to get elected in the general. The result is (as we can see with the current makeup) that the legislature ends up being farther right than their constituents are, resulting in laws that don’t accurately represent the will of the people.
This next legislative session, the Republican majority has said that bills will focus on social issues in Alaska. Now that they’ve plundered the state coffers to strew the altar of multinational oil corporations with offerings of cash, and the demise of education, public safety, parks and infrastructure projects, they have time to deal with all that other stuff.
Until Alaskans who are moderate Republicans, Independents, and Democrats start showing up like the Tea Party, we’re in for more of the same. Nationally, if this poll is any indication, we may not see a Republican President for a looong time.