Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Research: Republicans are more conservative than they've been In 100 years

What's your favorite rightist cultural and political assault of basic decency and logic?
...and in other news, water is wet. It's well known that the mainstream media likes to take the easy way out and conflate the gridlock in Washington as the "fault of both parties." It's easier (and less contentious, sadly) to do this than the critical thinking required to parse who truly is to blame for the mess in Washington. But the truth of the matter is that while the left has stayed mostly left (w/ some conservative exceptions that I've documented here in the past), the right continues its rightward tilt toward toward conservative extremes

But don't take my word for it. This obvious reality is now backed up by scientific fact. According to the study's author, Kenneth Poole, of the University of Georgia:

"This is an entirely objective statistical procedure. The graphs just reflect what comes out of the computer. Howard Rosenthal and I, we've been working on something called Nominate. This does all the Congresses simultaneously, which allows you to study change over time. 
"The short version would be since the late 1970s starting with the 1976 election in the House the Republican caucus has steadily moved to the right ever since. It's been a little more uneven in the Senate. The Senate caucuses have also moved to the right. Republicans are now furtherest to the right that they've been in 100 years.
 "Ronald Reagan was so successful because he made all these deals with these huge blocks of moderate legislators. That's why he had overwhelming majorities for the '81 tax cut, the '82 tax increase, where they had to go back and adjust the tax bill in '82 and the Social Security fix in '83. then in '86, you had Simpson-Mazzoli, which included amnesty and tax simplicification. All that stuff passed with very large majorities. You cannot imagine anything like that happening now. Which is why the country is really in the tank. 

Full disclosure: this piece doesn't explain the methodology used, and it should have, but my cheeky
graphic underscores just a few of the many areas where the right has continued to lurch rightward...
(Source: and NPR)
Poole suggests that the Democrats share some of the blame in Washington (although he doesn't specifically state how and, ironically, makes generic references to how democrats shoulder blame, just like the mainstream media does!), but then goes on to conclude that the polarization in Washington is largely due to how far and relatively quickly republicans have shifted to the right end of the ideological spectrum.

Of course, this isn't something that has swayed right wingers in the past on, say, global warming. And many of them (such as Breitbart ingenue/apprentice and CNN commentator Dana Loesch) continue to state--wrongly, of course--that their party has moved to the left. But it hasn't, of course. 

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: President Ronald Reagan, the widely accepted father of the modern conservative movement, would not, today, be considered conservative enough for the current republican party. And data now support that claim.

One doesn't need a research study to tell what you what this means: if the man who helped establish and define modern conservatism in the 1980s would not be considered conservative enough today, logic dictates that the republican party has gone extremely far to the right. It's basic, if disturbing, critical reasoning.

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