Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air interviewed the authors of Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy. The segment originally aired on Dec. 1, 2005. The general premise was that the current Republican controlled leadership in the United States pushes an agenda that is off center from the majority beliefs of both the nation and their own party members. The authors provide and analyze statistics to see how the GOP has recently escaped the traditional backlash and implemented policies out of the mainstream. To be fair, the show admitted that the Democrats have and will use similar tactics. However, the Republicans have redefined the rules and brilliantly controlled the national political agenda. I encourage you to listen to the segment ‘Off Center’. Some key points were:
1) George W. Bush is the second U.S. president to go a full term without using a veto. He still hasn’t used one.
2) The GOP has made an art form of brokering dissenting internal party votes, thus allowing ‘moderate’ republicans to appease their constituencies at home while still ensuring the more polarized party vision prevails. This is demonstrated by the uncanny number of bills that now pass with a 1 or 2 vote margin.
3) Seating in Washington is more stable, allowing party activists to use primaries to enforce the party line and replace moderates who don’t play the game. By nature, primaries attract far fewer of the casual party members than general elections do.
4) Party funds and control mechanisms have taken the traditional center of power from committees and placed it directly into the top control of the ruling party. Committee leaders must enact direct party dictates or face punishment. Thus, committees are no longer the isolated subcultures allowing bi-partisan negotiations.