GOP Congressmen To Leadership: I’m Alright, Jack!

Josh Barro makes an important point: For Republicans, losing the political fight isn’t a downside of the strategy. It is the strategy.

Republicans are eventually going to have to agree to a compromise deal that is acceptable to a broad swath of Democrats and that substantially raises taxes. Their base is going to hate that. But if they drag their feet and get smacked around enough on the way to the deal, they will be able to sell the idea that they had no choice but to cave.

It’s very similar to the 2011 fight over the debt ceiling increase, which Republicans for a time insisted would have to be linked to congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment.

A good fight — or at least the show of one — placates the conservative base and helps Republicans avoid primary challenges. It also makes the Republican Party look incompetent and reckless, damaging the national brand. Indeed, Republicans actually lost the popular vote for House seats in November, though they held on to a House majority due to a favorable electoral map.

Barro points to California, where a small pool of very rich campaign donors funds a permanent cozy minority of obstructivist Republicans. They don’t get anything done, but their seats are safe.

Kicking and screaming and being unreasonable can help secure a cozy minority of legislative seats with a true-believing party base behind you. It’s a strategy that works. It’s just not a strategy that works for building electoral majorities.

Even NRO thinks “I’m alright, Jack” is too selfish a strategy for Republican politicians, “rational for an individual but highly destructive for a political party” unless it truly wishes to be a party of permanent and shrinking minority. The problem, however, is that there’s no stick with which the G.O.P.s leadership can beat these recalcitrant, obstructivist seat-sitters into taking a more competitive line except to abandon them and try to make co-operative deals with Dem Blue Dogs instead. That course will be the death of the current Republican Party.

This post was read 97 times.

About author View all posts

Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • A slightly OT thought, but habits die hard.

    This is the same thing that conservatives (aka Repubs) want of women being raped: it’s not a “legitimate rape” unless the women are damaged by fighting the rapist off.

    As I think this out on the fly, they may think that this puts them in the victim role and will draw sympathy while painting the Dems as rapists.

    But I think/hope the country has moved on from this framing.

Leave a Reply