Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who's Worried More - And Who Should Be Worried?

There are times in life when we're happy to be wrong, and today - or rather yesterday afternoon - was one of those times. As we mentioned near the beginning of last month, we thought - with some disappointment - that former Nebraska Senator and Governor Bob Kerrey would choose not to run for his old job in the U.S. Senate again.

In case you missed it, Mr. Kerrey reversed himself yesterday, filing to run in Nebraska for the seat currently held by Ben Nelson. As we've mentioned several times in the past few months, the last time anyone did non-secret polling on a potential Kerrey versus Republican contender matchup, Kerry beat all the potential GOP candidates by surprising margins.

Bob Kerrey's news isn't the only thing shaking up the U.S. Senate, however.

Senator Olympia Snowe, from Maine - someone our entire staff has varying degrees of positive opinions on - has decided that she is retiring this year, saying that she's had it with the partisan gridlock and extremism in Congress right now.

Snowe is a Republican, and frankly a generally good legislator. While we haven't always agreed with every decision she's made, we've generally thought of her as the kind of Republican that many Nebraskans would appreciate. Or at least, as many Nebraskans used to appreciate in saner times.

We're not so sure even our fellow Nebraskans would appreciate Sen. Snowe anymore - especially those who vote Republican.

As a recently released study by distinguished political science professor Keith Poole proves, Democrats - both Liberals and Progressives - in Congress hold roughly the same general political perspectives they've held for almost fifty years. In fact, between moderates of either party, and the more extreme members of either party, Liberal Democrats in the U.S. Senate have held the most consistent sets of principles, over the last fifty years.

Republicans, on the other hand, have made a HARD turn to the right - both those who used to be considered moderate and the extremists of the GOP.

Poole took the voting record of all Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate since 1879, and plotted both parties on a graph, on a liberal to conservative axis. Since 1980, when the extremists who now control the Republican party first began to come out of the metaphorical woodwork, Republicans in Congress have made a distinct and serious turn away from bipartisanship and in favor of strict ideological dogma.

In short, the average moderate Republican member of Congress now holds the same set of views as the extremist members of the far-right John Birch society did almost forty years ago.

Meanwhile, more conservative, moderately progressive Democrats - like Bob Kerrey - are only slightly more liberal than they were in 1970, if at all.

When it comes down to the facts, we're not trying to play with anyone's head, or play with the facts. Bob Kerrey is running for the U.S. Senate. That's a fact. Olympia Snowe is leaving the Senate. That too is a fact.

The American people are also about where they were, ideologically, forty years ago, if not further to the political left. Meanwhile, the GOP is fielding a group of candidates who are so extreme this year, Ronald Reagan himself would not likely have voted for most of them.

So the question we ask you, our readers today, is simple. Which major political party really should be worried about the 2012 elections?

1 comment:

  1. I will be supporting Chuck Hassebrook because he has consistently worked hard for rural Nebraskans.