A not-too surprising study was released today that rated members of Congress on their relative position on the political spectrum. Grumpy men sit on the right and wide-eyed optimists sit on the other. No surprise there. Yet in the discussion of positioning, it is to be noted that few sit near the fulcrum. Republican Susan Collins is closest but there is great emptiness between her and the next Republican. In fact, most cluster way down near the end.
What is becoming more clear year after year is the swelling cluster at the right end. Seating there is at a premium. Hard right is desirable- a safe seat. Trouble is, seats just inches to the dreaded left are unstable, vulnerable even. So, what’s a congressman to do?
The answer is clear: move right. Or, apropos here, ‘Go Right young man!’ Even John McCain isn’t right enough. Of course he committed a mortal sin in ’08 when he defended Barack Obama’s citizenship and heritage. Tisk! Tisk!
Not conservative enough, his critics shouted. Imagine that!
Old guys with a moral compass and years of wisdom are in danger in the new Republican Party. Today’s ideal man for the job is in his 40’s or early 50’s, strong A-type personality, tough-guy who takes no prisoners. Like Rep. Grimm from Long Island who threatened to break a reporter ‘like a boy!’ That’s what today’s GOP is looking for. Far, far right and oh-so nasty.
No more Mr. Nice guy. This is what the base of the new GOP wants. Kick butt! Oh, and a Christian too!
The problem facing right-wingers these days is that the ‘issues’ have all been played out. All Republicans are on their conservative issues. The few differences are only a matter of degree. Whoever can be most draconian has a slight advantage but not to a point of clear distinction.
Rather I suggest that ideology no longer makes a difference among the GOP politicians. I think it boils down to nastiness. Yes, nastiness. Whoever can slur President Obama the best wins. Ugliness prevails. The President, that uppity black man in the White House, the illegitimate one, the Muslim, the Kenyan. He’s the target and the more hits on him, the better the odds of a congressional seat for these new Republicans.