A Philosopher's Blog

Why “No”?

Posted in Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on July 26, 2010
Image by roberthuffstutter via Flickr

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.

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10 Responses

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  1. magus71 said, on July 26, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Controlling congress and the White House isn’t enough to get anything done?

    • freddiek said, on July 26, 2010 at 9:49 am

      Keeping the discussion at this level: When the Republicans controlled the White House and Congress, at least two things were done: Medicare Part D and the war of choice in Iraq. The passage of Med D is a matter of record.


      A look at the votes in the Medicare bill and the Iraq resolution prove that Republicans can be depended on to vote in a “No” block when they are out of power and want to kill a bill or a presidency and “Yea” in a block when they are in power and just want to get their way. Some might derisively refer to them as l a flock. In both of those votes, however the Democratic votes were split, almost as if they were actually thinking about the matter under consideration.. . .

      • magus71 said, on July 26, 2010 at 10:07 pm

        Ah yes. The Dems were split because they’re “thinkers”. And the Republicans are just banding together to prevent progress.

        I think it’s time for me to take a break from reading these posts and comments…

        • freddiek said, on July 26, 2010 at 10:21 pm

          And of course Republicans cling together like chicks in a rainstorm behind the likes of Boehner and McConnell because their thoughts and intentions are correct and pure . 🙂 Political considerations never cross their minds. Have another sip of Kool-Aid. It’s on the house.

          I think you’re just taking an enforced break as you make your way to Afghanistan. Hope you can establish a clear connection once you’re there.

          And stay safe.

      • kernunos said, on July 28, 2010 at 8:27 pm

        By the way your constant ramblings on Medicare part D show me three things other than you sound like a sensible conservative when you rail on it.
        1.) You are still obsessed with George Bush whilst Rome burns. 2.) Medicare D is a perfect example of how government programs SUCK 9 times out of 10. 3.) Medicare D shows like I have been saying on this site for a very long time that George Bush really isn’t the Neo-Con everyone thought he was.

        You know even regular Medicare sucks. My wife, that works as an RN, recently told me about an instance of how awful Medicare is. A man that had Medicare came in and had a two day stay. Between the equipment($32000.00 that the hospital had to foot(defibrillator and generator)) and the stay the bill came to right around 50 grand. Medicare only paid $8000.00 and the hospital had to foot the rest. Oh, and the state here owes the hospitals $100million. Private insurance companies pay their bills better also.

        What was the topic again?

        • magus71 said, on July 29, 2010 at 12:10 am

          It seems to me that a fundamental question that libs don’t ask is: How did America become so great?

          Instead, they want to ask why it’s so bad. They need to get out more. Quit sitting indoors thinking CNN gives them a total picture. They define America by its failures instead of its success. They want to change everything that made us powerful.

          Screw giving away power to make yourself feel good. How about just using the power in the right way.

          Let’s end with two poignant quotes:

          “Elements within the British establishment were notoriously sympathetic to Hitler. Today the Islamists enjoy similar support. In the 1930s it was Edward VIII, aristocrats and the Daily Mail; this time it is left-wing activists, The Guardian and sections of the BBC. They may not want a global theocracy, but they are like the West’s apologists for the Soviet Union — useful idiots.”~Anthony Browne, Mayor of london

          “Lenin called them “useful idiots,” those people living in liberal democracies who by giving moral and material support to a totalitarian ideology in effect were braiding the rope that would hang them. Why people who enjoyed freedom and prosperity worked passionately to destroy both is a fascinating question, one still with us today. Now the useful idiots can be found in the chorus of appeasement, reflexive anti-Americanism, and sentimental idealism trying to inhibit the necessary responses to another freedom-hating ideology, radical Islam.”~Bruce Thorton, Professor of Classics, Cal State University.

          I couldn’t agree more.

        • freddiek said, on July 29, 2010 at 8:57 pm

          What are the chances that it might show you a fourth thing: that, by your standards, there are damn few “sensible conservatives” in Congress, and that the most “sensible conservatives” (take vote on Med Part D, for ex) are actually, you guessed it–Democrats?

          Right–what was the topic? It wasn’t regular Medicare and whether it sucks*#. It was Medicare Part D and how the Republicans “rammed it down the throats of the public”*#

          *#Beg your pardon for using the currently-in-vogue fellatio and oral rape imagery like you conservatives do. But where the ram fits. . .

          • kernunos said, on July 30, 2010 at 10:45 pm

            Really, this blog article was about Medicare Part D? Really?

            • freddiek said, on July 31, 2010 at 10:19 am

              Oh. You’re correct. It was neither about Medicare D OR regular Medicare. My bad and yours.

  2. magus71 said, on July 29, 2010 at 3:50 am

    It must have been only a handfull of months ago that the Republicans were the thinking party, at least according to freddie’s logic.

    In the Professor’s own words:


    “Remember when the Democrats were flailing about, looking for leadership and attacking each other in nasty infighting? Well, it looks like the Republicans are the new Democrats”

    Apparenytly, flailing around and infighting is “thinking”.

    The Republicans are with Obama on his Afghan War policy–the Dems are not. Could it be–now stretch your lib biases here–that the Republicans are voting “no” on other issues because it is not what the party represents? Afterall, if they believed that Obama is correct in his actions, why not just switch parties?

    So, they vote YES on the Afgan War. That’s a standard republican stance on fighting world-wide jihadism, right or wrong.

    They want the Bush tax cuts to remain in effect. Again, standard operating procedure for the GOP.

    They said no to national health care. Yup–same thing they’ve said since I can remember.

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