PurpleTale, on Jul 7 2003, 12:59 AM, said:
The difference between the two parties is not simply ideological. It is also temperamental.
Maybe Republicans are from Mars and Democrats are from Venus?
Seriously. It's necessary, as always, to consider the question of each party's leadership apart from the members of the party, who tend (on both sides) to be less single-minded.
Each party is a conglomeration of miscellaneous, sometimes conflicting, interests. When elections are coming up (as they always are), party leaders try to pick and choose which of those different "interests" they think they can push through successfully, both
in terms of getting candidates elected and in getting legislation through afterwards. When I speak of "Republicans" below, I'm talking about the leadership unless I specify otherwise.
Right now, if anyone cares about my views
I see the Republicans riding the "Reality TV" wave, harping on sex, violence, and OTT rhetoric to capture the attention-deficit younger voters and try to insure the future of their party.
IMO, the Republicans were on more solid ground when they stayed away from their Christian Coalition members and didn't put their repressive morality and regressive social policies front and center in their platform. It's a sad truth that most people in the country find the economy mind-bogglingly complex, leaving them easy prey for campaign slogans that tarred Democrats as "tax-and-spend" maniacs and praised Republican policies as "fiscal responsibility." (Add in a couple of "let the voter keep their money" slogans and you've captured the economically challenged.) I'm not sure why they abandoned this approach unless it was that they were aware that their fiscal policies were about to alienate a lot of that same economically challenged voter base.
The Republican leadership's recent jump to the right in an attempt to woo the "angry white male" vote is a mistake. Their new approach provides catchy sound-bites for the evening news and makes sensational headlines, so the media faithfully reports the Administration's truth-twisting talking points. The old adage, "no news is bad news" is true in PR, you know. What candidates fight for is name recognition. If people know your name, they vote for you. (I refuse to get side-tracked on a rant about how idiotic many voter are.
The perceived "temperament" differences cited in the article are largely the result of the Republican leaders reassessing "business as usual" in the 80s putting in some long, hard years consolidating their hold on their party's elected officials. Recent media references to the "Republican Machine" aren't far off. They're organized nowadays in a way that Democrats aren't and probably never will be. (Liberals are, after all, concerned with personal freedom in a way that Republicans, regardless of campaign slogans, aren't.) The Republican leadership has tried to force their Congressional members into a solid voting bloc and, by and large, they've been successful.
However, and this is an important point, is the Republican leadership has not traditionally been as obstructionist as the article suggests. The judicial nomination-blocking problem during the Clinton Administration was an anomaly and, as the article states, can only be even tangentially understood in the context of the deranged Clinton-hating at that time. Historically, both parties have tended to block the occasional judicial nominee. This has always been a good thing since it largely acts to keep extremists (of either
persuasion) off the bench.
The current blocking going on in Congress is a result of the nomination of right-wing activists. What the right-wing defenders never say, and never want you to focus on
is, as this article points out, the many, many, many Bush nominees who have sailed effortlessly through the system. Nor does the right want to admit that, due to the aforementioned Clinton-hating, huge numbers of judicial nominees were blocked during the Clinton Administration. (Remember this when you hear about how clogged our federal courts are, okay? A lack of, you know, judges
contributes significantly to such clogging.)
For the record, our political system encourages, in fact demands
the bipartisan cooperation that the Republicans have abandoned. The Republicans are taking advantage of their current, temporary majority to ride roughshod over the Democrats and try to force through some of their (the Republicans) pet projects, but in the process they're alienating not only the Dems but the moderates of the Republican party.
And, as we know, what goes around, comes around. Regardless of how cooperative Dems are "temperamentally," those in Washington and in the party leadership aren't going to be feeling very bipartisan the next time they're in the majority and I promise you'll hear the Republicans screaming ten seconds before they're hurt when the time comes.
Like the impeachment moves against Clinton, and as I've said before, the Republicans open these huge cans o'worms with no apparent thought of consequences.
They're short-sighted. They'll do anything to win "the battle" and that causes them to lose sight of "the war."
Right now they're relying upon emotional jingoism to try and rally support around them and in some cases, with certain types of voters, it's working.
(I do find myself wondering how many people were led down the primrose path of hate by the combined efforts of the Republican leadership and the irresponsible press during the Clinton years until today they find that they have so much invested in Democrats being "the bad guys" that no matter what this Administration does, these people feel bound to support them. But that's a different topic and I'm no expert on psychology.)
Where was I? Oh. Yeah. However, as Bush's falling approval ratings show, these tactics are working less now than they did last month, and they're working a lot less today than they did in, say, January. The Republicans' tactics aren't sustainable
. A hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, three hundred thousand, half a million, a million...as the unemployment numbers skyrocket, a lot of previously Republican voters are finding themselves disenchanted.
As for the Republican leadership, well, as they increasingly allow their party's identity to be defined by hatemongers and outright liars (in that aforementioned attempt to woo younger viewers with "Reality TV" style headlines) they're going to alienate more and more of their actual voter base. The number of people who are going to listen to, and believe, the idiocies of people like Limbaugh and Savage is small but the amount of bad press generated by these people, and the number of moderate, sensible people turned off by the Republican party's affiliation with such people, is substantial.
The Democrats aren't "historically" the party of compromise and bipartisanship, they're just looking awfully good that way because of the temper tantrums thrown by the Republicans in the 90s and the way the same folks are behaving today.
The important point is not, I think, whether "in the end" it "pays to play nice." The important point is that bipartisanship is the way our government works. It allows things to work smoothly, continuously, and with a certain consistency that allows citizens to plan (and lead) their lives in security. The Republicans have been trying to trash that bipartisanship for over a decade now and what they're going to leave behind is nothing but chaos unless the Democratic leadership grits their teeth and rises above "politics" to think of the country's long-term good.
Fortunately for us all
the Democrats are, in fact, the party most likely to do that.