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Polarized America: Thank Republicans

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)

  • ranger11

    And they still can’t get the fucking name right. Aren’t they such clever swine ? They can go ic themselves!

  • Victor_the_Crab

    And where will the Republicans go from here? Skull fucking Frosty the Snowman from across the street, that’s where. And then blame it on his embarassed brother-in-law who had to put up with him over the holidays to appease his wife.

  • muselet

    Of course both sides aren’t to blame. If our glorious news media would do their job, the public would know this. However, after being beaten with the “Liberal” whip for the past forty or fifty years, even the best reporters and editors reflexively flinch and clutch at the “Both Sides” narrative for safety. The worst (hell yeah, Jake Tapper, I am looking at you) are positively giddy about calling out Both Sides—except of course when the Rs are in power, at which point only the Ds are to blame for anything.

    The ones Calvin Trillin dubbed “the Sabbath Gasbags” are even worse than the hack reporters. Every time George Will blathers on about absolutely anything (I’m genuinely curious, is there any topic on which Will is actually knowledgeable?) or Peggy Noonan coos and sighs the name of Ronald Reagan (I will never understand why a passive-aggressive necrophiliac like Noonan is taken seriously, even by the Villagers), the nation grows dumber.

    And because our glorious news media are thick with idiots, hacks and cowards, the Rs figure they can get away with taking the economy hostage, claptrap like “Stop The Nuclear Option”, and going before the cameras and microphones to denounce President Obama for not negotiating seriously (?) and poisoning the well (??) with his partisanship (‽). Since nobody of consequence will call them out, why not give it a try?

    And you couldn’t pay me to comment on “dry-humping the inflatable Santa.”

    ‘Fess up. You wrote this just to make me grouchy, didn’t you?


    EDITED for capitalization of the Sabbath Gasbags. Source, if anyone’s interested.

    • Victor_the_Crab

      And the corporate overlords controlling the media love this. They personally benefit from the “both-sides-do-it” bullshit from a monetary viewpoint. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon, if ever.

    • GeneralLerong

      I did not know that about Calvin Trillin.

      “Sabbath gasbags.” Gotta remember that one…

      • muselet

        It is a brilliant turn of phrase, isn’t it?


    • D_C_Wilson

      George Will likes to think he’s knowledgeable about baseball, not that he’s ever played it, mind you.

      If Newt Gingrich is what a stupid person thinks a smart person sounds like, then George Will is what Newt Gingrich thinks a smart person sounds like.

  • Mr.Brink…………well fucking done!!

    Adds…….in an interview with David Gregory on Meet the Press, Pres. Obama took issue with the both sides meme, and made it clear that it is not both sides.
    I bring this up, not only because of your outstanding essay, but because I believe it is past time for all of us to begin demanding truth on this issue, and by that I mean that we must call it out every time this fallacious meme makes an appearance, be it online, on television or in conversations with others in our lives.

  • rikyrah

    thanks for the charts..

    nothing that I didn’t already know