Thursday, December 15, 2011

Radical Republicans and Presidential Populism

President Obama's preferred approach of compromise and bipartisanship is good politics during normal times. Unfortunately, as Nate Silver pointed out recently in his New York Times blog, FiveThirtyEight, these are not normal times. As we saw in Panderbear's previous post, Silver's data reveal the extraordinarily and historically extreme conservative nature of Republican-controlled House sessions since the mid-1990's. Radical Republican conservatism is at an all time high and growing ever more extreme. Meanwhile Democrat-controlled sessions are little changed. The result is a huge ideological gulf between the two parties and much pandering to their increasingly polarized constituencies.

Today's radical Republicans are so ideologically extreme and rigid, they are no longer capable of compromise or bargaining in good faith. Given that state of affairs attempts at bipartisanship are doomed. The only plausible course of action available to the president, as he seems to have realized of late, is a heavy dose of old-fashioned populism. Not the pandering type, but the President Harry Truman type, "I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell." President Obama will have to hammer Republicans as tools of the rich and enemies of the middle class and the American Dream, as indeed they are. That may get their full attention and create at least a chance for the kind of compromise necessary to the proper functioning of a representative democracy.

Unfortunately, it is likely nothing short of a catastrophic showing at the polls will deflect Republicans from even greater far-right extremism and return them to their historical center-right roots. Panderbear thinks that probably won't happen in 2012 or anytime soon, but it will happen.

submit to reddit Share on Tumblr

No comments:

Post a Comment