75prominent Republicans signed a legal brief, to be submitted to the Supreme Court this week, arguing that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. The list is light on currently-elected officials, however (though Reps. Richard Hanna of New York and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida have both signed on), featuring instead a panoply of nonetheless familiar names from the party’s less extreme wings — former governors Jon Huntsman, Bill Weld, and Christine Todd Whitman among them. source
One of the reasons that gridlock exists in Washington is that politicians vote as much for political survival as they do in accordance with the wishes of voters writ large. An excellent example of this can be seen in recent poll numbers that indicate a strong majority of Americans—over two-thirds—oppose any cuts in social spending at the federal level. Nonetheless, House Republicans have noted that social spending cuts must be a part of any budget deal to avoid Sequestration. Via shortformblog (h/t BrooklynMutt):
58%of Americans polled by The Hill said that cutting the national debt was a higher priority than maintaining current domestic and military spending levels.
28%of those polled believe that the spending levels are more important than cutting our debt, with 23 percent supporting cuts to social programs like Medicare and Social Security.
69%of pollees oppose cuts to social programs at all, which House Republicans have said must be on the table if a deal to avoid the $85 billion sequestration is to be reached before Friday. source
Some may wonder why, as a purely rational matter, the Republicans would set themselves in opposition to 6 out of every 10 voters in the country. That seems on it face to be a recipe for political suicide. Anybody who cares about the long-term viability of their party and their personal political career probably ought not to set themselves against a supermajority of the voting public, right?
The answer is relatively simple: 6 out of every 10 voters don’t constitute the voting base that actually elects many of the House Republicans into office. Even though a strong majority of Americans may oppose cuts to social spending, the 31% that don’t oppose (or that openly support) cuts to social spending are probably a majority of the voters in many of the jurisdictions that vote the House Republicans into office. Others might be one-issue voters who may, for example, oppose cuts to social spending, but also oppose abortion. So a Senior citizen who doesn’t want to see cuts to Social Security may nonetheless have voted for the Republican candidate who promised to respect the “Sanctity of Life.” The same could be said for a fair portion of the Catholic vote, wherein support for social spending and opposition to abortion often go hand-in-hand. Those voting blocs would be part of the 69% who oppose cuts to social spending, but come election time, they may very well choose the (often Republican) pro-Life candidate over the (often Democratic) candidate who promises to preserve the safety net.
And so polls that show what the “majority” of Americans want don’t necessarily have an impact on the way politicians vote, because most politicians aren’t elected by the majority of Americans. They are elected by a majority of the citizens in a small pocket of America that makes up their congressional district. Given that only the President is elected by the majority of Americans, what the latter wants is not necessarily relevant to how a politician will vote. What matters more is how the majority of citizens in their district will vote depending on which political stance they decide to take. And that is always the more important form of political math for a member of the legislature, regardless of what the national polls show at any given time.
For years, conservatives’ convictions have been trumped by the fear of being painted as soft on crime in a primary ad, he says. But now, “when the Republicans start wetting their finger and sticking it in the air, they’ve got to begin to realize that the wind is blowing in the opposite direction.”
"[T]he Republican Party once had a liberal (i.e., left) faction. No more. In 1996, arch-conservative Barry Goldwater reportedly wondered in amazement that he and presidential candidate Bob Dole were by then on the left of the Republican party. Goldwater died in 1998; both parties have since moved much farther to the right. Today, Goldwater would be considered left even for a Democrat."
Goldwater was also to the Right of Reagan on immigration, which also tends to muddy up the contention that Goldwater “would be considered left even for a Democrat” in today’s Washington.
I imagine that if Goldwater was alive today, he would be treated, at worst, the the same way Ron Paul was treated by the GOP establishment during the GOP’s 2012 election primaries. Ron Paul is a man whose views on foreign policy are indeed considered “left, even for a Democrat,” in the contemporary Washington political consensus. Nonetheless, Ron Paul was able to retain his position in the Republican party despite advocating for a non-interventionist foreign policy (which Goldwater did not). On this account, it seems to me that Goldwater would still be able to sit comfortably in the Republican party today, though I highly doubt he would ever be nominated by the GOP as a presidential candidate.
In the state of Washington, Republican senate candidate Ryan Baumgartner is on record supporting the state’s marijuana legalization measure:
Washington is one of three states (with Oregon and Colorado) which will have an initiative on marijuana legalization on the ballot in November, and as Reason 24/7noted its Republican Senate candidate, Michael Baumgartner, became the first state-wide candidate to endorse the measure.
Meanwhile, the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor in Washington both oppose the measure. Baumgartner, who opposes the War in Afghanistan, worked with the U.S. embassy in Iraq, and also served as a military advisor for a counter-narcotics operation in Afghanistan in 2009. It appears that the experience galvanized his opposition to both the war in Afghanistan and drug prohibition—at least when it comes to marijuana.
Unfortunately, there’s still plenty to dislike about Baumgartner, who is far from “ideal” on the matter of reproductive rights. Speaking back in August, Baumgartner defended his belief that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest, noting:
“I am still a Catholic. I still believe life begins at conception. That is consistent with my Catholic beliefs. And I believe we must protect life.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for those that believe in a woman’s right to choose. As far as Republicans go, however, Baumgartner has at least shown a willingness to compromise (somewhat) during his time in the Washington legislature:
Concluding that he wanted a truce in the culture wars and his campaign was about jobs and ending the war in Afghanistan, he said: “The culture wars are not why I’m in the state senate or running against my opponent. I’m pragmatic. I objected to the expansion of abortion services, but I voted for two budgets that funded [family planning] services.”
Still, this statement doesn’t really make me trust that Baumgartner would actually observe a legislative “truce” on abortion if elected in Washington. What he’s doing here is dodging questions about his abortion policies, which have very real consequences for women at home. It is silly to ask us to believe that he wouldn’t support an abortion ban if it came on his desk.
For Pro-choice Liberals and Libertarians who oppose the War on Drugs & the War in Afghanistan, Baumgartner represents a slightly well-cushioned rock positioned neatly across from the proverbial GOP hard place. There’s no question that ending the war in Afghanistan and legalizing marijuana will stop the senseless deaths of many domestic drug war victims, american soldiers, and Afghan civilians abroad. Yet an outright ban on abortion will result in the deaths of many American women. Baumgartner no doubt sees it differently: Pro-life advocates have consistently shown the ability to downplay the connection between abortion access and female mortality rates. In doing so, Pro-life advocates have demonstrated that they do think that an unborn child’s life is more important than the life of the mother. As Lynn Paltrow noted recently in the context of “Personhood” Amendments, “There’s no way to give embryos constitutional personhood without subtracting women from the community of constitutional persons[.]” In terms of moral calculus, Baumgartner’s ideal abortion policy weighs heavily against his anti-war, pro-legalization stances when we consider the life and welfare of American women.
I know that it’s common knowledge that Mitt Romney has held virtually every position there is to hold on every major political issue of the modern age, but sometimes it really is mindblowing to see his own words lined up side-by-side. Quite frankly, this stuff borders on performance art.
From a guest post by Mark Esposito at Turley’s blog, Here is Mitt Romney in 1994, while running for office in Massachussetts:
One of the great things about our nation … is that we’re each entitled to have strong personal beliefs, and we encourage other people to do the same. But as a nation, we recognize the right of all people to believe as they want and not to impose our beliefs on other people. I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it, and I sustain and support that law, and the right of a woman to make that choice, and my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people, should not be brought into a political campaign.
Here’s Mitt Romeny in 2005:
I am pro-life.I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view. But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.
This is self-parody. The bolded statements in these two paragraphs, existing simultaneously, as indeed they do, are something I would expect to read in a satirical post at Something Awful. These two statements literally say the exact opposite thing compared to one another. I mean, comparisons like this make it obvious that this man’s entire political career is a script-reading exercise, with occasional detours for the purpose of placing his index finger in his mouth, moistening the tip, and plunging it into the air so he can feel which way the political winds are blowing, and adjust his political compass accordingly.
I’m sure that Mitt Romney will find a way to surprise me even more as the 2012 election nears. Maybe he’ll reveal that he has a third nipple. Or that he once made love to a grizzly bear. Or that he’ll release his tax returns. Or that he is actually Barack Obama in disguise, and the man we’ve seen in the White House for the past year is an impersonator. Any of these things have the potential to shock and amaze, really. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.*
*Personally I’m pulling for Grizzly bear. But that’s just me.
"It is perhaps very telling that while $18 million in tax dollars was granted to each party for [their national conventions], an additional $50 million each was needed for security in anticipation of the inevitable protests at each event[.]"
"This is just evidence of the manipulation of the Republican Party. They’re not even allowing us to bring signs in, but they brought in their own [pro-Romney] signs. We couldn’t nominate Ron Paul. The ‘no’ for not passing the rules was louder than the ‘aye’ and they ruled in favor of the rules. They’re cheating. The Republican National Committee is not transparent and does not have integrity. They stole votes. They stole delegates. They refused to send busses for our delegates. It’s a totalitarian process. This is not democracy. It’s a really sad day for us. I’ve worked for Republican candidates since I was 16. We believed the Republican Party had more integrity. Boy, did they prove us wrong."
— Yelena Vorobyov, shortly after the RNC stonewalled Ron Paul delegates out of virtually every democratic procedure at the convention involving the nomination process.