A few days ago, I wrote about how the GOP is trying to get rid of the Tea Party crazies that are driving the party into the ground. They’ve lost a bunch of races they should have won because the party has nominated people so far out of the mainstream that even Republican voters couldn’t stand them.
But it’s their own fault, and they should have seen it coming.
Support for the GOP is at an all time low, partially because they are associated with these people who refuse to compromise, spout nonsense as if it were facts, and whose sole purpose is to get people to hate our own government as much as they do. Admittedly, support for both parties and the President is at an all-time low, but it’s not surprising that support for government is at its lowest when a large segment of one of the parties has “hate the government” as its goal. These people should realize that hatred for the government includes them.
The Republicans only have themselves to blame for their condition, because of gerrymandering.
Over the past fifteen years or so, the GOP has managed to redraw the state lines in the most ridiculous way to create as many safe districts as possible for them. By diluting Democratic votes, they were able to guarantee majorities in states where they did not hold the majority. Here in Pennsylvania, for instance, more people voted for Democrats in the last election yet more Republicans were elected because of the strange way the districts were drawn.
So if you are a Republican politician in a district that is safely Republican, you shouldn’t have to worry, right? Wrong.
The problem is with primaries. Hardly anyone votes in primaries, where the parties choose their candidates. You’re lucky if you get a 20% turnout in a primary election. That’s 20% of registered voters, not 20% of the eligible voters.
And who votes in primaries? Just those people who really really care about politics. And if you really really care about politics, chances are you are much more conservative or much more liberal than the average voter.
So primaries give us the more extreme members of each party. Then if you gerrymander to remove even the moderates of your own party, you end up with a voting electorate that is at the very edge of political thought — the extremes of the extremes.
These extremes on the right are represented primarily by those who identify themselves these days as “Tea Party” members. And they think that anyone who does things like compromise in order to accomplish anything are traitors and not Real Americans — even very conservative members of their own party.
So they run “Real Americans” against the incumbents. Incumbents get scared and refuse to challenge them and sometimes take their extremist views in order to stay elected. And ultimately, the extremists win the primary either by electing their own favorite or by forcing the incumbent to come to their side.
However, once the fall election comes around, their numbers don’t increase. Moderate voters (that is, the majority of Americans) turn away from these extremists and elect Democrats instead.
In some districts these extremists still get elected in the fall election, and then they go to Washington and shut the government down, which hurts the reputation of the rest of the Republican party. It drives their poll numbers down and ultimately hurts all of them.
And it’s all their own fault for gerrymandering districts in the first place. Unfortunately, we are all suffering because of it.