Republican Party Descends Rapidly Into Moral Insanity

The New York Times covers a Pew poll with some data about polarization:

[T]rends suggest that Americans are not vastly more polarized than they were in the late 1980s but that they have increasingly sorted themselves into two ideologically cohesive political parties.

During this time, Republicans have moved farther to the right — on economic issues, at least — than Democrats have moved to the left. Asked whether the government should take care of people who cannot take care of themselves, 75 percent of Democrats now say yes, down only slightly from 79 percent in 1987. But just 40 percent of Republicans say so, down from 62 percent in 1987.

Republicans’ support for stricter laws to protect the environment has fallen even more sharply.

But the views of Democrats have shifted on some economic issues as well, with Democrats becoming more strongly in favor of government steps to ensure equal opportunity. On social issues, like gay rights, Democrats have moved more than Republicans.

The poll, released Monday, suggested that Democrats have opinions closer to those of the country as a whole on gay rights and Wall Street. Republicans are closer to the national mood on affirmative action and whether the government should go deeper into debt to help the poor.

Bottom line? Since 1980 Republicans have moved much, much farther to the right. Democrats have also moved to the right on economic issues, but have moved somewhat to the left on social issues. Meanwhile, Democrats are much more in line with the public on core issues, while Republicans play very well on the public's racism. Of course, there's a problem with Pew creates a caricature of the liberal argument, postulating that Democrats want to go into more debt to help "the poor." On the contrary. The People's Budget balances the budget, while austerity measures are doomed to make the economy worse, decreasing tax revenue and increasing the deficit. Progressive Democrats want to close the deficit by clawing back some of the wealth essentially stolen by the richest 1%, and using it to help both the poor and the middle class, thus reinvigorating the economy while reducing unemployment and closing the deficit.

That side, though, here's the shocking bit, straight from the Pew Poll's analysis itself:

Just 40% of Republicans agree that “It is the responsibility of the government to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves,” down 18 points since 2007. In three surveys during the George W. Bush administration, no fewer than half of Republicans said the government had a responsibility to care for those unable to care for themselves. In 1987, during the Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62% expressed this view.

In just five years, the percentage of Republicans who say the government should take care of people who can't take care of themselves has dwindled by 18 percentage points. That's no minor shift. That is a political party in the throes of a descent into moral madness.

Hullabaloo / By David Atkins

Posted at July 6, 2012, 5:36am

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