Republicans have taken comfort of late in a momentary spike in polling against HCR, and it has become one of their talking points.

It's understandable that they would seize upon ANY number in the low 60's as a mandate, given the fact that Pres. Bush's approval ratings in his last two years in office never at any time reached 40 percent and more often than not languished in the high 20's. President Bush, regardless of how I might feel about him personally, was wildly unpopular when he left office.

Contrast that with Bill Clinton, who left office with an unprecedented approval rating of 66 percent---three points ahead of Reagan!

Think about that: Clinton's two terms were marked by the same GOP conspiracy machine that seems to be energizing the 'Tea Party' movement. He was nearly impeached. Today, he is best known for his personal missteps rather than his governance, the tawdry details of various scandals more likely to be raised by the average citizen than any domestic or foreign policy initiative. But, as ABC News analyst Gary Langer put it, "You can't trust him, he's got weak morals and ethics — and he's done a heck of a good job."

Don't get me started on the Republican Congress. According to the Pew Research polls, their favorability rating hasn't touched 50 percent since 2002, and they are hovering in the low 20's to mid 30's, depending on the poll. The polls also show that since Mr. Obama took office, the approval ratings of Congressional Republicans have dipped 8-10 percent.

Can my fellow Americans who happen to be Republicans please unpack this for me? That's a losing trend you need to explain, and the overall polling numbers are a further indication of the demographic shift that is little-by-little eroding the ability of the GOP to be a truly national party, one able to form a broad coalition able to govern. They are increasingly isolated from the mainstream. Their response has not been to shift toward the center, but to move to the right...to move further away from the vast majority of Americans who are neither Republican or Democrat, but independents. The idea that they are somehow going to 'take America back' is delusional, because the 'America' they want to restore never existed. Exhibit A, from McClatchy....though hardly news to those of us who have been defending science education these last two decades.

So, from my perspective, the GOP leadership's grasping at poll numbers is predictable, but kind of sad. What will they do, I wonder, if they fail to make any gains in the mid-term elections, as the opposition parties typically do? Will they drift further into the politics of Michelle Bachman, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, appealing to a past that never was? Or will they finally start to see that their conservative ideals (which, at their best, are timeless) need to be retooled to meet the needs of a future electorate whose composition is significantly more diverse (and more interesting) than the GOP at present?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the 1980s the Republican party sold out to religious fundamentalists. As a group fundamentalists are really unlikeable people. They are self rightious, bigoted and ignorant. To be a popular in a democracy one must be willing to compromise on some issues to get your way on others. But that is anathema to religious fundamentalists. The republican party will continue to sink until it dumps the fundamentalists and starts engaging in real dialogue and compromise with the rest of America.