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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Why the GOP Says They Are Ready to Throw Down

Ed Kilgore and George Lakoff have a couple of well-stated insights on why the now dominant right flank of the GOP is making positive noises about bringing the crazy with respect to the sequester. First Lakoff from HuffPo:

…Ultra-conservatives…believe that Democracy gives them the liberty to seek their own self-interests by exercising personal responsibility, without having responsibility for anyone else or anyone else having responsibility for them. They take this as a matter of morality. They see the social responsibility to provide for the common good as an immoral imposition on their liberty.
Their moral sense requires that they do all they can to make the government fail in providing for the common good. Their idea of liberty is maximal personal responsibility, which they see as maximal privatization — and profitization — of all that we do for each other together, jointly as a unified nation.
They also believe that if people are hurt by government failure, it is their own fault for being “on the take” instead of providing for themselves. People who depend on public provisions should suffer. They should have rely on themselves alone — learn personal responsibility, just as Romney said in his 47 percent speech. In the long run, they believe, the country will be better off if everyone has to depend on personal responsibility alone…Moreover, ultra-conservatives do not see all the ways in which they, and other ultra-conservatives, rely all day every day on what other Americans have supplied for them. They actually believe that they built it all by themselves.

At The Washington Monthly Kilgore observes,

…I’m not among those who think the moans emanating from various trees struck by sequester lightning will necessarily convince congressional Republicans to back off and cooperate with Democrats in fixing selected appropriations levels when the continuing resolution runs out next month.
But there’s a long-term effect this rolling fiasco could produce that is worth keeping in mind. The central chimera of American politics at present is that a stable (if slim) majority of voters dislike government spending in the abstract, but resist reductions in almost every identifiable category of government spending one they become concrete. This is why so many Democrats talk tough on the budget deficit even as they contend that austerity policies hurt the economy and that domestic safety-net programs and discretionary investments are essential to the long-term strength of the country. And this is why Republicans are willing repeatedly to bring the country to a standstill to press their repeated demands that Democrats propose “entitlement reforms” even as Republicans pose as the heroes who will ensure there is never a provider claim on Medicare that’s not paid in full.
… The only people who will be pleased by the sequester are ideologues who view the beneficiaries of public-sector programs as “takers,” and who actively enjoy their pain. That these people happen to form the conservative base of the GOP is not going to enhance their reputation one single bit.

There is not a lot of room for sanity to prevail in the GOP, either in terms of time or in current Republican inclinations. While neither party will look very good if the sequester kicks in, one may be betting the ranch on pullling an inside straight.

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