GOP Base Is Not Getting Better

Republican Base: Invade Iran NowThere is a new Pew poll out that asked Republican voters about their Republican leaders. And the results will undoubtedly cause a lot of people in the mainstream press to claim that it is good news: about half as many Republicans want there party to moderate as want it to become more conservative. According to Ed Kilgore, this is the wrong way to read the poll. The overall finding is 35% of Republicans want the party to be more conservative. And 32% think it is just the right amount of conservative. That’s 67% who think that the only possible problem with the current Republican Party is that it isn’t conservative enough.

Kilgore is completely correct, of course. This is what I argued last week. The country is not getting more liberal because the Republican base is waking up to just how harmful their party is to the country and its people. These people will die thinking that the country is turning communist. What I’ve been saying is only that these people will die. As Kilgore himself concluded:

If, as we have every reason to expect based on turnout patterns and the ’14 landscape, Republicans have a non-disastrous midterm cycle, there’s no reason to believe Republicans are going to demand massive changes in messaging or strategy…

This is why the Republican Party is having a hard time reforming itself. If the base was starting to moderate, it wouldn’t be hard. But think about it: currently, about 40% of the electorate is on the extreme right of the political landscape. That’s a large part of the electorate to risk losing in order to appeal to the center. The truth is that the Democratic Party could more easily move to the right on abortion than the Republicans could move to the left on anything.

To give you some idea of just how bad the problem is, here are a few numbers that Kilgore tweezed from the Pew report. These are how many Republicans want to stay as conservative or get more so compared to the current party:

60% Abortion
75% Immigration
87% Government Spending
79% Guns

As usual, the position of conservatives on government spending makes me crazy. Americans, as a group, are clueless of just how much help they get from the government. As Suzanne Mettler noted, large majorities of Americans want a smaller government with fewer services. But:

A 2008 poll of 1,400 Americans by the Cornell Survey Research Institute found that when people were asked whether they had “ever used a government social program,” 57 percent said they had not. Respondents were then asked whether they had availed themselves of any of 21 different federal policies, including Social Security, unemployment insurance, the home-mortgage-interest deduction and student loans. It turned out that 94 percent of those who had denied using programs had benefited from at least one; the average respondent had used four.

In my experience, conservatives are especially prone to this kind of thinking. When they are questioned about it, you find out that what they really want to do is cut spending on programs for those people. It just so happens that the programs for those people don’t cost much because they’ve already been cut to the bone.

But the other items on the list are just as appalling. Who could reasonably think that the Republican Party is not conservative enough on the issue of guns? Or abortion? I get the immigration issue. There are a fair number of Republicans who really do want comprehensive immigration reform. But the main thing here is just that the Republican base will not be happy until the Republican Party goes full tilt fascist.

There is no reason to care, however. These people are delusional. They look back to a time in the United States that never existed. It is effectively a white power movement. They aren’t so much concerned that they lack real power. But they don’t like to be told that they have had unfair advantages their whole lives. They are like the people who grandly offer you to join their Monopoly game after it has already started and all the property has been divided. What are those poor kids complaining about? If they had a bit of pluck, they could just get a good union job the way people did in the 1950s!

Meanwhile, we must work to create a real liberal movement. In the end, the Republican Party may not be able to reform itself. It may just be that the Democratic Party will split in two. And that wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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