Worth reading: Steve Benen’s analysis of Roy Blunts contention that:
… he has long believed that “the country is essentially in almost a holding pattern” until November 2012, when voters will have to decide what direction they want government policy to take. Until then, he said, “I’m not overwhelmingly optimistic” that Congress will be able to get much done.
Benen makes a good argument that, while true, this comment points out one of the problems with our current political culture. As Benen notes, Blunt seems to be saying that when folks sent GOP Tea Partiers to the House, they essentially insured gridlock. However, Benen notes, current polls show us that this is not at all what a majority of Americans want; that their policy preferences are, in fact, quite clear:
We actually have a pretty good sense of what the American mainstream wants policymakers to do right now – polls show strong, bipartisan support for investing in infrastructure, preventing public-sector layoffs, and tax credits for new hires.
I would only add to Benen’s list that there is widespread public support for the Buffet rule.
The only question for Blunt and other GOP legislators is why, in the face of such clearly expressed policy preferences on the part of their constituents, they are willing to continue throwing sand in the gears of government? Could the explanation for GOP obstructionism be that they are rigid ideologues who can refuse to compromise because they can get away with it, because nobody holds them accountable for the results? One of the commenters on Benen’s post points out the almost reflexive bias in news paper reports about the votes over last week’s disaster relief continuing resolution, specifying in particular the lede to this Washington Post article:
Washington lurched toward another potential government shutdown crisis Friday, as the House approved by a 219-203 vote a GOP-authored short-term funding measure designed to keep the government running through Nov. 18 and Democrats in the Senate immediately vowed to reject the bill..
Tell me, if you read that, would you believe that the GOP was, once again, preparing to hold the economy hostage? Or would you curse the dammed Democrats for their political game playing. Another comment also underlines just how skewed public perceptions often are:
Yesterday, I was in our local P.O waiting in line. There was a fellow, probably, mid 60s talking with the postal clerk, who, was a ‘Nam era vet. They were talking about the poor state of the economy and were worried about Social Security issues. The common theme came down to “Well, I don’t trust the Democrats, either. Both parties are bad”. I wanted to scream about the Hostage Taking by the RepuGs, but so few, other than die hard Democrats, really want to hear the truth. It is a shame so many blame both parties on an equal basis.
Our task for 2012? Do our damnedest to get the the story out. Make the GOP accountable for what they are doing. It’ll be hard if not impossible. Apart from overt bias of the type one encounters at Fox News, the media is lazy and many reporters confuse lack of bias with sloppy reporting. Progressives don’t have a Fox News equivalent, nor do we have the kind of dollars the other guys will throw into the fight. But if we don’t win it, the consequences are unthinkable.