Sunday, March 1, 2009

Has the Pendulum Shifted?

The obvious answer to this question is yes, it has shifted. What pendulum am I refering to? The left-right pendulum (to use an overly simplistic model). Obama campaigned with a progressive agenda, got elected, and is now implementing it. Is it as progressive as I'd like? No. But it is still progressive and he is pushing forward on everything.

While this is going on, the GOP is flailing around, opposing Obama on everything and just generally acting in exactly the same way they acted that got them thrown out of office in the first place. And they are showing themselves to be huge hypocrites and partisans, opposing things that just two months ago they supported only because the name of the person doing it has a "D" rather than an "R" after his name.

While I have had some fears that these tactics would work like they worked before, these fears have faded somewhat, as I have realized that all they are and all the GOP has is tactics. They have no strategy. And you can't win with just tactics. As the GOP was patting itself on the back for winning the 6-hour news cycles during the stimulus debate, Obama was going long, and ultimately he made the GOP look to the public like the empty schills that they are and Obama still got his bill passed. Meanwhile, he's moved on to Health Care reform.

So seeing this, it is making me think the pendulum has really shifted. People are fed up with and disgusted with the GOP. By that, I mean the people in the middle who actually decide elections and who aren't nakedly partisan. The partisan folks would never abandon the GOP. The RWAs. [Right-Wing Authoritarians]

Which reminds me, given the research available on RWAs (like here), I wonder why there is nary a peep about that in the media - I mean, every political polling story out there ought to mention RWAs and how that fits into the poll. Not only should it be mentioned, it should be calculated just what portion of support for a GOP candidate comes from the RWAs. That fact and what it means needs to be part of every polling story because without it, you really miss the story. Because those people will NEVER change position away from their RWA GOP. No matter what the facts say - so when you look at shifts in the polls, if you don't take that into account, you really aren't getting the story.

To tell if the pendulum has shifted, you need to isolate and eliminate the RWAs from consideration, because looking at them tells you nothing except that they'll follow the GOP even if the GOP added child molestation advocates to its political platform.

That said, I think there has been a shift, something which the GOP is apparently in denial about as they try their tired old tactics, tactics that can't work in the new environment. But I don't rest on that. Things could obviously shift back. But shifts like that don't come easily. I tihnk there is a whole generation of young people who are probably turned off the GOP for life without a major shift. As they get older and even more of them vote, the GOP will be in real trouble.

While traditionally, off term elections (like 2010) result in the "in" party losing seats in Congress, I think Obama is going to gain some. I hope he gets full control of the Senate - without having to rely even on Lieberman. That would be a sight to behold.

So I think the pendulum has shifted. And I'm glad to see that Obama appears to be taking advantage of this and planning strategically. I still haven't lost my hope.


Robert said...

Ah, the old "right-wing authoritarian" argument. I like the idea of having the media report what percentage of Republican support comes from RWAs. More information is always a good thing.

Let's follow up on that by reporting what percentage of Democratic supporters are paid by the state (whether welfare or work), what percentage are ideologically socialist or communist but voting on a "popular front" basis, and what percentage have psychological deficits that cause them to need some external force, like a government, to act as their parent.

DBB said...

Good ideas. On top of that, ought to add what percentage of RWAs actually vote versus the percentage of far left. And also ought to analyze which blocs actually stick together no matter what.

But the RWA information is particularly important given that they do stick together no matter what - so it is a very significant and important phenomenon - versus the mostly mythical "welfare moms" who probably don't vote anyway.

Research an RWAs will likely explain over 20% of the vote each election. I doubt any other single phenomenon is so significant.

The Barefoot Bum said...

You are not yet sufficiently cynical and Machiavellian.

Of course the pendulum has shifted; that's what pendulums do. And it's also true that the pendulum will shift again to the right. The Republicans will wait out this shift to the left and keep pulling to the right.

[A]ll the GOP has is tactics. They have no strategy.

This is manifestly false. If the Republican party was all about tactics, they would shift to left, just as the tactically and non-strategically oriented Democrats have shifted to the right.

The conservative strategy is to keep the pressure on to move to the right by any means possible, under all circumstances. They are staying true to their overall strategy. The Republican strategy is to represent the conservatives in government, even when conservatism is temporarily unpopular.

Their hypocrisy and partisanship (not to mention their outright lies and bullshit) are irrelevant. People quickly forget outrages over hypocrisy and partisanship; they remember ideas, slogans and positions that are continually asserted. Sooner or later (probably sooner) reality -- or at least the superficial popular understanding of reality -- will conform sufficiently to these continually repeated conservative ideas to swing the pendulum to the right.

Erin said...

Is that what RWA stands for? I thought it was "rich white assholes."

(Not facetious. I really had no idea. Google suggested it could have been the Romance Writers of America organization, but I'm not that credible.)

The Barefoot Bum said...

Erin, I will second DBB's recommendation of Bob Altemeyer's groundbreaking work, The Authoritarians.