Both sides are not the same, and if the two parties seem further apart today, even as Republicans drag the country over their 'fiscal cliff' like a drunken uncle out of liquor in the front yard trying to beat up an uppity inflatable Santa while the whole family hides the children and apologizes to the neighbors, it's because the Republican party has become more extremist, more partisan, and more divisive. While Democrats have stayed relatively sane and centrist over the same time span, a couple of charts posted by Harry Enten, via Voteview, reveal just who the partisan, divisive culprits are by looking at roll call votes:
The DW nominate score method puts legislators on a scale from -1 for most liberal to 1 for most conservative. The folks who maintain the system at Voteview have plotted both the House and the Senate over the past 130 years.
The average Democrat was a little north of -0.4 after the 1992 elections and right at -0.4 in the last congress. This percentage has been fairly constant for the past 20 years even when the Democrats won more swing and red districts when they won back the majority from 2007 to 2011.
There has, however, been an increase in partisanship in the house, and it truly is "asymmetrical". The Republican House caucus has been becoming more conservative every year since 1977, whether or not House Republicans are winning or losing elections. Republicans have climbed from 0.4 on the DW nominate scales after the 1992 elections to near 0.7 in the last congress. That type of charge towards polarization is historically unusual over data that stretches back 130 years. (emphasis mine)
Here's the roll call data from the House:
The Senate is pretty much the same story:
Republicans have gone off the rails over the last 40 years, and the facts don't lie. Pundits, on the other hand, do lie. Every time they call for a bipartisan solution, or cite some poll saying the American people want "both sides" to come together to solve the 'fiscal cliff', they give aid and comfort to Republican party extremists and hostage takers, who have moved on from fighting the inflatable Santa to holding a gun to its head and demanding we all do as they say, even if that means redefining rape to ban abortion, or self-deporting, or putting armed guards in public schools, or cutting Medicare and Social Security to give more wealth to the wealthy. "Do whatever it takes! Just stop their madness!"
Mitch McConnell, Roy Blunt, and Senate Republicans started a website devoted to whining about possible changes to the filibuster called, "Stop The Nuclear Option." On their partisan spew of a website funded by taxpayers, they make their plea:
As Americans look for Congress to work together to avert the fiscal cliff, Senate Democrats are plotting a partisan power grab that would destroy the Senate’s historic role in fostering compromise and debate.
There's actually a heading titled, "Democrat Opposition" because the GOP is all about
dehumanizing debating their fellow Americans and colleagues.
Since 2007, when the Democrats took back the Senate, the number of cloture motions in the Senate is 391. Harry Enten writes:
It would take the last six Senates combined before 2007, that is to say those from 1995 through 2007) to match this total. In the final Senate before the Republicans took over in 1995, there were 80 cloture motions.
It's not just that Republicans aren't allowing bills to be voted upon in an up-or-down vote, it's that they are blocking bills in far greater numbers than they did 20 years ago.
Senate Republicans have a warped sense of "partisan power grabs, compromise, and debate."
When president Obama calls for an up or down vote on his plan to extend tax cuts for everyone making under $250,000, extending unemployment benefits, and increasing spending on infrastructure to begin to solve this problem of Republican party making, this is not a partisan agenda, and it's certainly not a radical idea. The American people overwhelmingly support the president's plans, and in poll after poll, Republicans are on the wrong side of history, and the present. Through polling, the American people are actually signaling to Republicans to come back inside the house and sleep it off. They've instead resorted to dry-humping the inflatable Santa.
(H/T Political Wire)