Majority Extremism Against Change You Can Believe In
By accident of commercial breaks, I caught a few moments of the Rachel Maddow show, last night, and that’s all that was necessary to observe that left-wingers very much wish to convince themselves that the Republican Party is locked in an extremist echo chamber, with its far-right base requiring uniformity of opinion out of step with the rest of the country. Every statement that any Republican has made that conflicts with the right on any issue, according to Maddow, is evidence that the facade is beginning to break.
On one level, we could choose, instead, to see intraparty dissent as evidence that there is no such disciplined higher command from the base. On another level, we could argue that this process whereby the essentials of the base’s priorities acquire the assent of the middle — like spring spreading north after winter — is precisely how our political system is supposed to work.
And that’s what I think is happening. Consider this short speech, on the floor of Congress, by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R, MI), whose Q&A session in Newport, this summer, so impressed me:
After citing the displeasure of the American people with their government, with reference to poll numbers, McCotter delivers a stinging rebuke of the direction in which President Obama and the Democrats are leading the country. It would be quite a different matter were McCotter’s rhetoric purely that, but every time one opens the newspaper or clicks through news Web sites, there’s a new story about Obama’s use of government authority in expanded ways. By contrast, there’s been no indication of an ingenuous intention, on the part of the administration, to loosen the leash on the private sector a bit so that it may chase some much-needed growth.
We who are politically interest should never discount the possibility that we’re wrong on both substance and popular sentiment. It seems to me, though, that those of us who saw through Obama’s airy baloney about his own centrism, during the campaign, have been joined by an increasingly broad population who sees through the Democrats’ faux stimulus and policies that always err on the side of transferring wealth and power to government operatives.
In other words, we’re not selling talking points to capture the public whim of the moment. We’re offering an argument about government, and the Democrats’ behavior and policies continue to support that argument. They appear to hope that they can buy enough votes to counterbalance the dawn of understanding about their intentions, but I don’t think the United States is quite so far gone, down that path, as Rhode Island.