Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Moderate Republicans are an Endangered Species - If Not Extinct

The extremism of the Republican Party is growing even as more Americans describe themselves as socially liberal.  How can this be some might ask?  Three words answer the question: Christofascists, Tea and Party.  Of course, the Christofascists and Tea Party crowd are largely interchangeable with some 85% of Tea Party loons saying they are "conservative Christians."  These individuals have infected the GOP base like a virus and have pushed the GOP into crazy land as moderates have either been driven out or have chosen to flee the insanity.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the growing GOP extremism and the fact that it is Democrats, not Republicans who are the moderates.  Here are excerpts:
Political scientists have known for years that political polarization is largely a one-sided phenomenon: in recent decades the Republican Party has moved to the right much faster than Democrats have moved to the left. As Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution has described it, "Republicans have become a radical insurgency—ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of their political opposition."

The data backing this claim up are pretty solid. The most widely-used measure of political polarization, a score of ideology based on voting developed by Kenneth Poole and Howard Rosenthal, has shown that the Republicans in the Senate and especially the House have drifted away from the center far more rapidly than Democrats.
Here's another way of looking at it: How many moderates are in each party? Here's another interesting chart from the Poole-Rosenthal data, showing the number of House members in each party who are not centrists -- that is, whose ideological scores put them on the more extreme ends of the partisan scale.

[N]early 90 percent of Republican House members are not politically moderate. By contrast, 90 percent of Democratic members are moderates. It's quite difficult to square a chart like this with a claim that Democrats are abandoning the center faster than Republicans. As the chart shows, there are plenty of centrist Democrats left in the House -- but hardly any centrist Republicans.
The Christofascists and their Tea Party first cousins are a cancer on the GOP and a cancer on society.  Oh, and I saw a great Virginia Tea Party license plate yesterday.  It said "Dum Dum", with the coiled Gadsden flag snake separating the words.  Had I not been on the Interstate in traffic, I would have taken a photo.  It sums up the status of the GOP all too well.

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