POLITICO accidentally points out how insanely conservative the GOP is

On Tuesday, the House passed a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill, avoiding a looming departmental shutdown while leaving President Obama’s executive actions on immigration intact.

The bill passed with 167 no votes, all coming from Republicans. This led POLITICO’s David Rogers to note that the current House is best understood as a three-party parliamentary system: “the party on the right; the dominant Republican core in the center; and the left, represented by the Democrats.”

This is the best way to understand a chamber in which a large faction of the GOP is willing to deny Speaker John Boehner a majority on issues they find ideologically objectionable, and…

Wait, I’m sorry, what was that about a “dominant Republican core in the center”?

This line is a massively irresponsible concession to the GOP, implying that a political faction that happens to be in between two other factions is, by definition, in the center of the political spectrum.

This couldn’t be farther from true.

As I’ve written before, polarization in Congress isn’t balanced, and hasn’t been for quite some time. As measured by DW-Nominate scores, a widely-used measure of partisanship in political science, fourteen Republican Senators were more conservative than socialist Bernie Sanders was liberal in the 113th Congress, between 2012 and 2014. Elizabeth Warren was the most liberal senator, even to the left of Sanders, and yet there were still nine GOP senators farther to the right than she was to the left.

In the House, there were 31 Republicans who were farther to the right than Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, the most partisan Democrat, was to the left. True to Rogers’s point, those 31 Republicans are enough to deny John Boehner a majority if they, along with the 188 Democrats, vote no as a bloc.

But they aren’t outliers; unlike the most partisan Democrats, they have plenty of company on the extreme right. VoteView plotted the percentage of members of both parties with a DW-Nominate score outside of -0.5 and 0.5 (the scale runs from -1 being 100% Democratic to 1 being 100% Republican) over time, including preliminary data from the current session of Congress.

Nearly every House Democrat is classified by DW-Nominate as a centrist; nearly every House Republican is not (if the image is too grainy, click on the link in the caption for a better view):

Percentage of non-centrists by party over time, via VoteView

Percentage of non-centrists by party over time, via VoteView

Obviously, partisanship isn’t the same thing as ideology, but by both standards it’s reasonable to say that Congress is operating almost entirely on one side of the political spectrum. Rogers may be right in pointing out that there are three factions in Congress, but their orientations sure as hell aren’t left/center/right. They are, at best, center/far right/almost-off-the-charts right.

So just because 167 Republicans — including members of the party’s lower-level leadership — were willing to shut down the Department of Homeland Security just so they could deport a few more undocumented immigrants, that doesn’t make the other 78 Republicans in the House “moderate.” If anything, while the Tea Party wants to flip tables and advocate for insane policies, the establishment wing of the Republican Party wants to bring enough legislators to the table actually pass insane policies.

There is no Democratic equivalent to this. Elizabeth Warren is not Ted Cruz’s hippie socialist alter-ego. We have one party doing its damndest to form an Ayn Randian dystopia and one party trying to keep America on the rails. You can call that a lot of things, but you can’t call it balanced.

The sooner we all stop pretending otherwise, the sooner we’ll be able to make progress.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I will STFU. Please hold your breath until I do so.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    So, complaining at people who were NOT using bad grammar, but simply quoting (accurately!) those who do.

    Gotcha. Hey, maybe DGT could post a phone number for his “Red State relatives” so you could give them a call and verbally slap ’em around a bit. Or better yet, go to the source: just call in to Rush Limbaugh’s show and tell him what a big, fat, bad-grammar-using moron he is.

    Or you could just STFU, that’s good too.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I was directing the comment to both of you. It is very poor grammar, and it is part of an old Republican trick. They emphasized the “rat” in Democrat. They could have done the same thing with Democratic, but I assume they thought it wouldn’t be so obvious in the longer word. It would have helped if you had used “sic“.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    If you were referring to ‘Democrat’, please note that it was part of a quote, so take up your complaint with DGT’s Red State relatives.

    Otherwise, WTF are you talking about?

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Do you also write “good”? If you’re going to substitute a noun for an adjective, you might as well substitute an adjective for an adverb.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    “…my Red State relatives swear that the “Democrat” party has become radically left-wing..”

    Compared to the modern GOP, NAZIS are ‘left-wing’.

  • Sugapea

    Brainwashed!
    There is a well funded concerted effort to Brainwash the People.
    With Citizens United Money going to Rabble Rousing RightWing Radio, Right-Crazy websites and 24-7 FOX News…
    A very large portion of America is absolutely being Brainwashed…Whipped into a Frenzy of FEAR/HATRED!
    ‘The Brainwashing of My Dad’
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh3TeTxgNVo

  • UncleBucky

    Yep, whoops. Eisenhower spoiled us. ;o)

  • UncleBucky

    Absolutely. But sometimes, with a bad disease, people are in denial about how to best treat it. Accommodation has never worked with bullies. You either punch them in the nose, or you do to them what will shock them into realizing that bullying you will no longer work:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bvy1JO0izdE

    I think what we have to do is beat ever-loving crap out of Rethuglicants, swearing worse than a sailor, relatively speaking.

  • ProdigalSon301

    I work in health care, and it’s the same thing. One of the fastest growing fields is health care; we all received a nice company-wide raise last year; no one has been laid off (jn fact, we’ve hired more). But to hear my co-workers in northwest Georgia tell it, Obamacare is going to, 1) put us all out of a job, and, 2) kill us all with Death Panels.

    One of my most notoriously misinformed coworkers has always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. but she has to work (just part-time, mind you) to provide benefits for her family. She finally agreed that she might be able to leave the job and get insurance for the family through Obamacare. I asked her, “Isn’t it interesting that a man you consider the equivalent of the Devil himself signed into law a program that will allow you to live your dream?” She simply didn’t respond. Because there is no response.

  • ComradeRutherford

    You must not know, then, but the ACA IS a right-wing proposal. It was first floated during the Nixon era, then formalized by the Heritage Foundation in that last 1980s, when it was considered (properly) a far-right crackpot notion that no Real American would take seriously. It was the EXACT same proposal made by Newt Gingrich when they killed of ‘HillaryCare’ in the 1990s, and it was the proposal that Rmoney put in place in Massachusetts.

    The ACA has always only ever been a crazy, crackpot, far-right pipe-dream, cherished and beloved by Conservative Republicans. Until that fateful day that Obama and the Democrats agreed with the GOP to take their proposal and make it the Law. At that moment – just like the scene in Orwell’s ‘1984’ when the name of the enemy changes in the middle of a speech during Hate Week – at that moment every Republican in America was ordered to disavow their own plan.

    To this day no Serious Republican will ever own up to this having been their own plan all along. Your typical Fox ‘News’ viewer, of course, can’t remember anything more than 3 seconds ago, so they refuse to believe recorded history.

  • mf_roe

    Familiar with Paradigm Shift? If your value system fails to measure up using logic then you must abandon Logic. Your Logic want change them You must
    find flaws within their system of belief that contradicts itself

  • mf_roe

    And UN-NEEDED. Wall Street Bankers make more GDP in a DAY than the TOTAL Wage Earned population makes in a YEAR.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    The Fox network is doing it’s job nicely.

  • mf_roe

    I agree, and I never expected anything different.. My point was that they never made the attempt to achieve the promised goods. When I was in purchasing a supplier that repeatedly failed to deliver the ordered goods got removed from my supplier list..The current Democrat DLC Third Way Reskinned Republican scam isn’t what I consider a reliable supplier of governance.

  • dcinsider

    Absolutely dead-on right.

  • mf_roe

    Your fix worked for me. Thanks for resolving this.

  • DGT

    The craziest part of this chart is that my Red State relatives swear that the “Democrat” party has become radically left-wing, under the leadership of the Marxist Muslim.

    They also swear up and down that Obama has increased the budget deficit with all of his new welfare programs, and they truly believe that the biggest problem facing the country is its swing to the radical left. There’s no convincing them otherwise.

  • DGT

    This is true. In almost any other country, Obamacare/ACA would be a right-wing healthcare proposal, and the mainstream Republicans’ position on the ACA would be the crazy-uncle-in-the-attic lunatic fringe. The idea that the government should play no role in healthcare is just so far looney right that it wouldn’t even register on the political spectrum.

  • Bill_Perdue

    What your graph shows is that workers are grossly underpaid.

  • ComradeRutherford

    As someone once said, it’s not that the GOP *are* Nazis, it’s just that when you are going down the same road, the landmarks look familiar.

  • ComradeRutherford

    It hasn’t failed at all. The Democratic Leadership is exactly where they want to be: always losing to the right. This is not a mistake, this is intentional by the Democrats. They know they win when the run on Sanders/Warren populism, which is why they betray the Democratic voting base every chance they get.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Main Stream Media, under orders to normalize the extremist far-right, always grades on a curve. Just like a teacher will take the lowest test score and call it 50%, and call the highest score 100% and then grade everyone on that scale, so too, the MSM automatically resets the rightward shift of America over the last 35 years so that the Dems are always ‘left’. If we remove this false re-grading, we realize that Obama is to the right of the political spectrum than Ronald Reagan, and almost all Democrats in Congress are on the right of center.

  • mf_roe

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/fredgraph.png?g=XvE

    You do understand labor is no longer an important part of the profit equation?

  • GeorgeMokray

    Saw pollster Peter Hart talk at Harvard last month. He says his polls now include D, R, and TeaParty (TP?).

  • I think I found the problem — there was some broken html in the spot where the cutoff/extra white space was appearing. It *should* be fixed now, but let me know if it’s still not working on Safari and/or with ad blockers on.

  • mf_roe

    Might as well coast, Obama is moving the True Corporatist Agenda along quite well, thank you.

  • mf_roe

    ie my failure to deliver premise

  • mf_roe

    That Cuban Brand of Macho is an acquired taste, However, a Bush / Cruz ticket to double down on the Hispanic vote in hope of placating those offended by Repug hostility to immigration reform might have some traction.

  • I hope you are right. I’m shocked at the amount of flat out crazy Republicans can get away with these days and still be treated as serious public figures. I’m not so quick to discount Cruz because I think he’s dangerous.

  • The primary reason why I’m happy to discount Cruz is that he has no problem at all flushing away any modicum of credibility he might garner, just to keep his pander quotient high. He can’t help himself, and thus will never be taken seriously as a national candidate, and will only server as an anchor, weighing down any ticket he attaches himself to.

  • Ultimately what this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt is that John Boehner is incompetent, and couldn’t be worse as Speaker if he didn’t even bother to show up. With solid majorities in both Houses of Congress, the Republicans should be draining the ink from Obama’s veto pen by passing bills so rapid-fire that it would make the Democrats shit their panties, but instead, they’re milling around, confused as to why shoving their thumb up their ass isn’t an effective form of governance.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Democrats are not part of the left. They’re right centrists constantly moving right.

    Being left or right is not defined by support for Obama, whose policies favor the rich, promote US involvement in wars of aggression, the extralegal murders of US citizens, mass deportations and union busting and which do not favor passage of an ENDA without religious exemptions or a robust
    Civil Rights Amendment.

    There is a strong likelihood that centrifugal processes in both parties will lead to splits while the left and the labor left are challenging both right wing parties and working towards building a nationwide leftist party that people can vote for without surrendering their principles.

  • A single payer plan would never have gotten out of committee. The various medical lobbies had already bought to many Congressmen and Senators.

  • Don’t underestimate Cruz. Perry really is as stupid as he sounds. Cruz is smart but pandering to Teavangelicals. He was a very successful trial lawyer. Don’t mistake him for someone who doens’t know that they are spouting bullshit. I think Christie is a nonstarter for the same reason Giuliani was. I think Walker winds up with the nomination. I could be wrong but I think Jeb will falter and the money will flow to Walker as the alternative.

  • mirth

    It’s AbBlocker. Disable it for this site, see the entire article.

    Whether or not it is purposeful, I don’t like being forced to do it. But it’s not a big deal and a small cost to read Jon’s articles in full.

  • mf_roe

    Yeah, going to Echo Chambers like that will make your ears ring. But they are useful as research on what really motivates the Herd, usually some form of fear.

  • mf_roe

    Idiocracy 2006

  • mf_roe

    Oh they can sell Liberal Ideas it’s the delivery that trips them up. The ACA should have been a game changer, instead it was Corporate-Greed disguised as Universal Coverage. Had Obama gone with single payer and immediate roll-out people would be wondering what they ever saw in the old system and would be asking for more of that Socialism Stuff.

  • emjayay

    Most online comments – Yahoo news, Politico, The Hill – are about ten or twenty right wing attacks and myths and third grade level name calling of libruls and librul commenters, to one librul statement of fact.

  • mf_roe

    I think Christie is especially dangerous. Cruz I put on Perry’s level. Jeb and Walker will make the short list.
    They could get nasty and offer Jan Brewer.

  • Indigo

    That’s a good point, actually, because the parties as they were aren’t really functioning as congenial groups of like-minded any more. It’s really become a money battle for television posturing. This past set of elections here in Florida was a bona fide horror story, worth of satire and, possibly, exorcisms. Curiously, the scary movie industry hasn’t yet picked up on the possibilities, the demonically possessed candidate serving Mammon with vows of human sacrifice in the form of street shootings and redneck military marched off into the wilds of Whereveristan.What? Too topical?

  • Indigo

    Mea culpa that time around back in those days. I have never cast a vote for a Republican since then nor will I in any coming election. The Big Lie is “vote for the person, not the party” when in fact you don’t actually know the person but what you do know for certain is that any person who deliberately affiliates themselves with Republicans of any ilk are unreliable. That’s my bottom line from here on out. Of course, I’d be delighted to vote CPA as was once possible, but somehow they’ve stopped showing up on the ballot.

  • nicho

    You could also make an argument that the roots of the shift were when people realized that television, and therefore money, was a factor. That became evident with the Kennedy-Nixon debacle. But, in those days, most people still had three channels and the fairness doctrine. Once cable “news” came on the scene with 24/7 propaganda ability, the whole thing went to hell. Al Gore actually talked about this in his book. What used to be a two-way conversation between politicians and the public became a one-way conversation – even at the state and local level. This requires massive infusions of cash. And while politicians still shake down working people for donations, it’s the corporations that really matter. To get money from them, you have to shift to the right.

  • mf_roe

    Valid point, similar to the lack of reliability of Telephone polling that only uses land lines.

    But in face to face conversations I see a similar degrading of the level of understanding of the problems we face. Large numbers of people under 30 are clueless about the forces shaping our world largely due to the disappearance of reliable news sources.

  • Or that could just be a reflection of who is still getting cable/satellite reception.

  • Democrats never seem to fail in their understimation of right wing politicians. It’s why I’m very afraid at the dismissive tone on the left towards Walker, Cruz, et al. That smug attitude has led us to defeat so many times and no one seems to have learned anything over the last 40 years.

  • The Democrats still haven’t learned how to make a coherent appeal to most voters and only seem to win when Republicans fuck up so badly that they simply aren’t electable. They then grow cocky (see: 2008-2009 gloating on the left about the death of the GOP) and repeat the same mistakes. Democratic ideas poll higher than Republican ones when no party label is attached. So why can’t Democrats sell their own ideas? In fact they run away from them (see: ACA denial in 2014)?

  • Demosthenes

    An excellent story, Mr. Green, and one that cannot be repeated often enough. I am a former Republican, and stopped reliably voting GOP when the party lurched to the far right. I now mostly vote Democratic, despite my disagreement with some of their economic policies. I rarely vote GOP, since liberal to moderate Republicans are very rare. (A few still exist in my state of Illinios).

    Our media, however, ignore the empirical data you present, since it would require “unbalanced” reporting. Heaven forbid that happens . . .

  • mf_roe

    Selling fantasy and breaking commitments sounds like sound credentials for a politician to me.

  • mf_roe

    I also see in the data the failure of Democrats to confront and oppose. The Dems tolerance for the excesses of the Repugs grows as quickly as the disease. Using Chamberlain-like accommodation has failed.

  • Indigo

    That’s the way I remember it.

  • Indigo

    Ha! Their Distopian program does have that antiquated Teutonic smell about it, yes.

  • Thom Allen

    Just checked your “Bibi” and “Bangladeshi” articles. Both are truncated in Safari, intact in Firefox. But “LADS shooting” is intact in both. Went back to John’s “About Aaron Schock” and that one is intact in both browsers, too So if Andrew Firestone and John didn’t use WordPress, that might be where the issue is

  • UncleBucky

    The chart shows that around 1976 to 1984, we got infected with a disease we are still fighting, that of the Koch/GOP/Bircher/Thumper/Neo-Confederate/Liebertarian party of fools. Egged on by Ronnie Raygun, it seems.

  • UncleBucky

    More or less same here. While I did not notice the article was truncated, I turned OFF adblocker on americablog.com only, and got what seems to be the full article. At the place in the full article, where it was cut off, however, is a larger amount of white space.

  • 2karmanot

    —-As soon as Ted Cruz is appointed Vice Chancellor, the planes will fly on time.

  • 2karmanot

    same

  • mf_roe

    The morphing of Congress into a version of “The Fight Club” is explainable. Large numbers of moderate voters have opted out of the process, they have decided that the system has lost credibility as a mechanism for managing change.

    I watch Washington Journal on C-SPAN, the most interesting part is the people who call in and express their views. Over the years I have noticed a significant lowering of the quality of comment—BOTH sides of the spectrum exhibit this reduction of knowledge and instead mouth nothing but “Party Line” talking points. I don’t think it means Americans are dumber, instead I think it indicates that reasonable people have decided that our political system is useless and have gone elsewhere to pursue their self-interests.

    The actual right wing bias of government is more of a product of the fact that they have a pretty limited set of goals only one really GREED. The Left is plagued by the fact that their goals are much broader and less emotional more intellectual a good example would be EQUALITY–it might sound simple but just try to implement it.

    Yeah, the Inmates rule the Asylum, but it isn’t their fault that the Guards stopped showing up to administer control.

  • mf_roe

    I’m experiencing the same problem of truncation, If I turn off AdBlocker Plus the article appears in full, with AdBlocker Plus turned on the article cuts off at
    “Wait, I’m sorry, what was that about a “dominant Republican core in the center”?”

  • Are you having the problem on every article, or just this and the other one? It might be a WordPress thing or it might be an html thing in the articles themselves (hoping it’s the latter because that would be an easier fix).

  • dommyluc

    If Politico prints anything disparaging of the Republican Party, to which Politico has always been a willing fluffer, then it MUST have been accidental.

  • caphillprof

    Hear, Hear

  • Thom Allen

    John and Jon, This is another article that’s truncated. In Safari (8.0.3), it ends after, . . . dominant Republican core in the center”? In Firefox (36.0) it ends after, “The sooner we all stop pretending otherwise, the sooner we’ll be able to make progress.” Mac OS 10.10,2

  • disqus_tu7SEHpgGp

    That, Mr. Rogers, is not conservatism, this “party to the right” thing you name. It is all about control and is, basically an Americanized form of Sharia Law.

  • Indigo

    This AynRandian Distopia you speak of is already functional. What remains is for the Distopians to secure it in a web of unjust laws that will be difficult to untangle. They’re further down that trail than you seem to suggest. This is not something we can nip in the bud, it’s an ongoing program that we must dig out by its roots.

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