ABOUT THOSE GOP MODERATES…. The LA Times has a piece today that makes a fairly obvious point: the Democratic majority in the Senate may be at its biggest point in 30 years, but it’s still not filibuster-proof. Given the arithmetic, Democrats will have no choice but look to the handful of Republican “moderates” — a group small enough to “squeeze into a Volkswagen Beetle” — in order to actually pass legislation in the face of GOP obstructionism.
The Times piece noted that these centrists have largely disappeared as “swing voters have been alienated by President Bush’s policies and perceptions that the Republican Party is dominated by extremists.” It included this gem:
Moderate Republicans worry that their party’s conservative wing is not going to change its ways in response to the GOP’s election drubbing.
“I would hope that the more conservative members of our caucus would take a look at these election results,” [Sen. Susan Collins of Maine] said. “It’s difficult to make the argument that our candidates lost because they were not conservative enough.”
Well, yes, it may be difficult to make that argument, but that hasn’t stopped them.
Republican leaders are still coming to grips with exactly how and why they failed so miserably at the ballot box this year, but they’ve looked at the election results and not one of them has so much as hinted about moving the party back towards the center. Indeed, there are a half-dozen candidates seeking the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, and, to a person, they’re all promising to keep the GOP as conservative as humanly possible. Those who’ve been loosely associated with moderate Republicans in the past are scrambling to downplay those ties as meaningless indiscretions (see Steele, Michael).
Most of the party’s leaders insist, reality notwithstanding, that Republicans lost because they “abandoned their conservative principles.” They weren’t, in other words, rigidly ideological enough, and didn’t do enough to motivate and satisfy the demands of the party’s far-right base.
Collins is right, but her party is convinced she’s wrong. It’s why, I suspect, the GOP should probably get used to its minority status.
Post Script: The Times piece added, “It remains to be seen how aggressively Republicans will try to wield the filibuster threat. They have recently signaled they will fight Obama’s economic recovery plan if it moves too quickly. But there are political risks if the GOP is seen as obstructionist at a time when voters are clamoring for economic relief and change.”
Maybe, but that risk existed in the last Congress and Republicans didn’t care. And if the GOP leadership is convinced that it has to be even more conservative to win in the future, their embrace of obstructionism may be unaffected.