19 November 2008

House GOP Opts for Conservative Leadership

You’d think that its losses in 2006 and 2008—losses brought about by the public’s dissatisfaction with the government’s role in the Terry Schiavo case, Katrina/Rita, corruption, the war(s), etc.--would have provided some food for thought. But, ah, no.

Apparently, the GOP’s leaders haven’t been paying attention to the electorate. It’s not Ronald Reagan’s base anymore. Alan I. Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory) has published a survey detailing the general voting population’s demographics; he concludes that “[a]s a result of changes in American society, today's electorate is very different from the electorate of twenty, thirty, or forty years ago” (Abramowitz). It seems that the GOP base (especially the Conservative base) of White, married Christians is dissolving. Members of this group “now make up less than half of all voters in the United States and less than one fifth of voters under the age of 30” (Abramowitz). And you know, there’s no indication that these numbers will increase.

So what is the GOP to do? There seem to be two options. One is to try to appeal to the people who don’t identify as White, married Christians. Unfortunately, those folks are moderate to liberal:

[i]n 2006, according to data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, 57 percent of these voters supported a woman's right to choose an abortion under any circumstances, 66 percent opposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, and 71 percent favored a single-payer health care system. Any attempt by Republican leaders to significantly increase their party's support among voters who are not married white Christians would therefore require changes in some of the party's longstanding policy commitments -- changes that would clearly upset a large segment of the current Republican base. (Abramowitz)

So what do Republican House members opt for? Tacking further to the right.

Today, House Republicans chose for its leadership several of the more conservative members of its caucus.

They’re planning to focus on fiscal Conservatism, which many people might happily go along with (unless, perhaps, they have some worries about further deregulations, cuts to Medicaid/Medicare, concerns that the government might not help out in critical situations [e.g., Katrina] etc. Despite this declared focus, it’s worth wondering if they’ll also remain determined to pursuing a socially conservative agenda. My guess is, well, "duh."

So here's the new lineup:

John Boehner (OH) remains Minority Leader.
Eric Cantor
(VA) becomes Minority Whip
Mike Pence (IN) becomes Conference Chairman
Democratic House members have their leadership to-do tomorrow.

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