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Monday, June 29, 2009

How Not to be Popular

Republicans took a little bit of a hit this weekend as a new Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that a solid majority support the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. In total, 62% want to see her on the court, with most describing her judicial thinking "about right." It's when you get into the details that you see how far outside the mainstream Republicans are on this issue.

...Nearly eight in 10 Democrats and about two-thirds of independents said they want the Senate to confirm Sotomayor, but that drops to 36 percent of Republicans. Overall, most Republicans deem the judge a "more liberal" nominee than they would have liked.

Worse, many Republicans see her race as a handicap. "Half of Republican men and 59 percent of conservative Republicans said [race plays] a role in her decision making, with most of those who do saying that that is a bad thing," the report tells us. GOP messaging is clearly working with the base, but that's not necessarily a good thing for them; the message may be aimed at that conservative core, but that doesn't mean they're the only ones hearing it. We're all being asked to be skeptical of the motives of people who aren't white, because everyone knows it's only white people who don't think about race. White guys like me -- or so the reasoning seems to go -- don't really have a race. We're all the default.

That message may work for the base who -- let's face it -- are the dead-enders and fools at this point. But everyone else sees it as ugly. In constantly shooting for the dead center of what remains of the reliably Republican voting public, they wind up tailoring their messages for cranks. Republicans argue that they have to return to the party's "core values," but those core values don't seem to be in agreement with the values of most Americans. As a result, they reinforce their own unpopularity by sticking with dying philosophies. That is, when they're consistent, anyway.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll isn't the only one to show Republicans way off on their own tangent, far away from the beliefs of the average voter. In the health care debate, 72% favor a public option -- a government run health insurance program like Medicare for everyone -- and most would pay more in taxes for it. The Republican line here is that a public option is the worst thing in the world and would turn the country into a Marxist state, while raising your taxes. How's it going to pan out come election time when your message is that the vast majority of voters are terrible commies? "You all suck!" isn't the best campaign slogan in the world.

Even the GOP's slim loss on the climate bill will probably hurt them. An earlier Washington Post/ABC News poll found that three-quarters of respondents favored regulating greenhouse gases and that most favored a system of cap-and-trade. Again, this is the opposite of the Republican line on this issue.

How about abortion? People who support abortion are evil, right? That's got to resonate with voters -- people hate evil. A CBS News/New York Times poll earlier this month showed that only 21% believe abortion should be illegal and 62% believe that the Supreme Court decision which struck down abortion bans nationwide -- Roe v. Wade -- was a "good thing." So much for that then...

Gay rights? 63% favor either legal same-sex marriage or civil unions. Only 32% favor "no legal recognition."

The question isn't whether these stands will hurt them. That's already been answered. The question is how long it'll be before they're seen as crazy people by most voters. When your default stance is always against popular opinion, it has to happen sooner or later. Whatever issue is near and dear to your heart, it seems that Republicans will eventually come down on the wrong side of it.

And even when they don't, it's the result of inconsistency. Everyone's behind the Iranian people right now and none more so than the right. But the people who once told you that Islam was evil and that we had to bomb Tehran into glass now holler "Allahu Akbar!" (Allah is great) and turn their twitter avatars green. I'm sorry, didn't you guys want to kill 'em all because they're evil just about a minute ago? I'm not criticizing their current stand -- you should always let people do the right thing, even for the wrong reason. I'm just saying the two stands, past and present, are completely contradictory. You can't say that Republicans stand on principle when their principles are so protean. Reactionaries don't have core principles, they just follow their jerking knees.

And, on the whole, those knees seem to jerk away from popular opinion. Even their current stance on Iran stems from a reactionary argument that Obama's not doing enough. If the president's first response was the exact opposite of what it was, they would've complained about that too and there wouldn't be any right wing blogs turning green. In the end, all Republicans really seem to believe with any consistency at all is that Democrats are always wrong.

If the GOP wants to return to relevance, they're going to have to wake up and take a look around them. This "party of no" thing isn't really working out so well. They're turning themselves into ballot box poison by opposing almost everything that's popular with voters.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of white firefighters in the New Haven case, overturning Sotomayor's original ruling.

Sen. Cornyn is said to have "seized the opportunity" to label Judge Sotomayor, out of touch, or "out of sync," with the mainstream.

Slow down, "Big John."

It was a 5-4 decision based on the opinions of the far right wing majority on the court.

The same right wing ideology that's closer to the "Birthers" than they are to mainstream.

Look for Demint, Sessions, and Cornyn to be the lead obstructionists to the Judge's nomination.

And whatever you do, keep your 13 year old daughters away from Clarence Thomas!