Republicans Support Big Government… just as long as Republicans are in power

This post relates to the post right before this one (Tea Party: prejudiced against marginalized groups?).

It’s not that these conservatives don’t trust government. What they trust is government when it serves their own interests and the interests of capitalism. But not when government serves the interests of the underprivileged working class. And not when government serves the average American by regulating the excesses of Wall Street.

I remember a media person (probably Cenk Uygur) commenting that the only time bipartisanship happens is when Democrats agree with Republicans. However, the only principle Republicans stand by is that they refuse to cooperate in almost any bipartisan effort. This data seems to support that in that it shows that Democrats are the only party willing to be fair in both support and criticism.

(As an interesting side note, I just heard reported of a poll that appears to show Tea Party supporters have more favorable ratings of George W. Bush and the Republican party than even those who fully identify as Republicans. That seems to fit into this data since the problems the Tea Party complains about mostly began under Bush’s administration: Wall Street dishonesty, economic downturn, bank bailouts, trampling on Constitutional rights including the seizing of legally owned guns in Washington, DC.)

My favorite comment to the above video:

FirstAmongNerds Wayne’s claim that the government is as much to blame for this catastrophe as Wall Street is like claiming police are as much to blame for rape as rapists. “That rapist might have raped me, but the police consciously assisted by not being in the vicinity by chance at the time of the rape.” The government did a terrible job regulating Wall Street, but the moral onus lies with Wall Street to not intentionally fuck over their investors.

Look at those numbers. Democrats are about as trusting of Barack Obama’s administration (33%) than they were of Ronald Reagan’s (34%). Compare that to Republicans, who are supposedly wary of government, out of principle. Nope. When there’s a guy with an “R” next to his name at 1600 Pennsylvania, they just completely toss that out the window.

What’s going on here?

One, Republicans are simply more authoritarian than Democrats. For all their talk about individual liberty and personal freedom, they’re ready and eager to goose-step behind whatever Republican Daddy figure that comes along. Think back at the cottage industry of sickeningly fawning books about Bush during his first term and you get the picture. This is why right-wingers saw black helicopters in the skies when Clinton was President, but cheered on every egregious executive overreach — from domestic spying to torture — when Bush was at the helm.

Paraphrasing Truman, Republicans have leaders and Democrats have bosses.

It’s also pretty self-evident from these results that a Democratic President trying to appeal to Republican (or Teabagger) voters is completely wasting his time. So Barack Obama can escalate in Afghanistan and cut taxes and he’s still considered a communist pacifist by the right.

Finally, look at the steady decline of trust in government among Independents. That’s the result of 30+ years of “government is the problem” Reaganism. The Democrats and Barack Obama must make an affirmative case for government or this trend will continue.

The party of “government sucks — vote for us” is still winning the messaging war.

First, there is considerable evidence that distrust of government is strongly connected to how people feel about the overall state of the nation. […] The recent downward trend in trust in government began in the fall of 2008, when public satisfaction plunged amid the financial crisis. […]

A second element is presidential politics. Trust in government is typically higher among members of the party that controls the White House than among members of the “out” party. However, Republicans’ views of government change more dramatically, depending on which party holds power, than do Democrats’. Republicans are more trusting of government when the GOP holds power than Democrats are when the Democrats are in charge. […]

A third factor is that a particular subgroup of independents, who are financially pressed, chronically distrustful of government and who typically lean to the Republican Party, appears to be especially angry today. Pew political typology surveys in the past have labeled these individuals as “disaffecteds.” This group may explain, in part, why at least as many Republican-leaning independents (37%) as conservative Republicans (32%) say they are angry with the government. And identical percentages of Republican-leaning independents and conservative Republicans (53% each) say they agree with the Tea Party movement.

Finally, record discontent with Congress – and dim views of elected officials generally – have poisoned the well for trust in the federal government. Undoubtedly, this has contributed to growing discontent with government even among groups who are generally more positive about it, such as Democrats. […]

A desire for smaller government is particularly evident since Barack Obama took office. In four surveys over the past year, about half have consistently said they would rather have a smaller government with fewer services, while about 40% have consistently preferred a bigger government providing more services. In October 2008, shortly before the presidential election the public was evenly divided on this issue (42% smaller government, 43% bigger government). […]

While the public is wary of too much government involvement with the economy, it suspends that concern when it comes to stricter regulation of major financial companies. A clear majority (61%) says it is a good idea for the government to more strictly regulate the way major financial companies do business, which is virtually unchanged from last April (60%).

11 thoughts on “Republicans Support Big Government… just as long as Republicans are in power

    • I very much like The Young Turks show. Cenk is a decent interviewer. For a short interview, the above video was nice. I appreciated that Cenk grabbed hold of one issue and wouldn’t let go. To paraphrase:

      “Why haven’t I seen any protests on Wall Street?”
      “I’m critical of both Washington and Wall Street.”
      “Okay. So, why haven’t you protested on Wall Street?”
      “I mad a critical comment about Wall Street at a Tea Party once.”
      “That’s good. When are you going to protest on Wall Street.”
      “I would, ya see, but, but… it’s all Washington’s fault.”


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