The Republicans have been branded as the party of “no.” This is because, obviously enough, their main strategy has been to oppose and block the Democrats. The Democrats, despite their overwhelming majority, have been reluctant to do what the Republicans did when they were in power. Of course, this is what we have come to expect from Democrats.
Those who are concerned about the good of the people might worry that the Republicans seem inclined to block even legislation that seems clearly for this general good. For example, I suspect that some folks were a bit surprised that the Republicans would try to block an extension of unemployment benefits during these trying times.
While the Republicans’ actions often make them seem cruel and mere obstructionists, it is likely they are pursuing a proven strategy.
To make sense of this strategy, it is important to be aware that people tend to vote in accord with how their disposable income is doing at the the time. If people see an upswing in their disposable income, they will tend to vote for the party in power and incumbents. If their disposable income is declining, the inclination is to vote against the party in power and incumbents.
If the connection between disposable income and voting behavior is real (or is at least believed to be real), then it would make sense for the Republicans to do everything they can to reduce the disposable income of voters (or, if possible, key segments of voters). This would tend to increase the likelihood that the Democrats, as the party in power, would lose in the elections.
Obviously, the Republicans could not come out and say that they are, for example, voting against an extension of the unemployment benefits so as to reduce the disposable income of voters and increase their odds of regaining power. If the voters actually believed this, then they might be inclined to support the Democrats (or at least vote against the Republicans).
What the Republicans would need to do is cloak their (possibly) true motives under a more attractive guise. For example, they could claim to be opposing the extension of unemployment benefits on the grounds of reducing the deficit. This is not to say that all Republicans are engaged in such cynical political moves at the expense of the people. After all, there are no doubt Republicans who act from sincere devotion to conservative principles and for the good of the people (as they see it).
To counter this, the Democrats need to take steps to ensure that the disposable incomes of voters increase. Of course, to do this solely to get votes would be a rather cynical move. However, I think that most Americans would benefit more from this approach than the strategy that involves trying to reduce this income.