I think Republican politicians must laugh at the gullibility of their constituents when they get together in the congressional cloak rooms and in private dining rooms at the country club. I believe this because rank and file Republicans appear to have no clue about their own self-interest and no thought of holding their representatives' feet to the fire for "wrong" votes.
As outlined by Chris Hayes, who hosted the Rachel Maddow Show last night, there have been several votes in the last few years that highlight this issue. The "public option" on health care was approved by a large majority of Americans but Republicans voted it down. President Obama's plan to end subsidies to oil companies that are making record profits were wildly popular with a vast segment of Americans but Republicans killed it. The President's Jobs bill enjoyed wide support with both Democrats and Republican voters but Republicans flushed it. Most recently, 72 percent of Americans agreed that people making over a $1,000,000 annually should pay at least as much in taxes as a middle class family. Republicans filibustered and it went down to defeat.
Why do Republicans do this and why do they think they can vote against the will of their constituents and not pay a price?
They do it because their big money donors are on the other side (and, oh, Baby, has this situation gotten worse since the Supremes declared corporations people and donations free speech and thus, unlimited) and with enough money all things are possible, even getting your constituents to overlook your unpalatable votes. For one thing, you can run ads that keep your supporters distracted by something else. (Obama is coming to get your guns! Obama is turning America into a European-style socialist nation! Obama is a Muslim who wasn't even born in America!) And it helps when you have an entire news network on your side. Fox cleverly sets up the arguments that we will then see parroted on Facebook by lower and middle-class Republicans. And beyond that, Rush Limbaugh will instill the Republican talking points into the Dittoheads (do they still call themselves that?) who will then carry them out into the world.
I just had a fierce debate on Facebook with one of the Republican apologists. From what I gather, her family is doing pretty well financially although I don't think they'd be called rich by any stretch. But, by God, she will fight to the death for Mitt's right to pay 13.9% income taxes on his $20 plus million of annual income! It's those welfare people who don't pay any taxes that she's steamed about. She thinks even welfare recipients should pay income taxes....which, of course, is a zero sum game because then we'd have to increase what they collect to subsidize the taxes they pay back to us for providing them welfare in the first place....because you can't get blood out of a stone. In Indiana, mothers who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families collect $239 a month per child. I wonder what dollar amount my friend would demand out of that munificent income? Willie Sutton, the bank robber, once said when asked why he robbed banks - "because that's where the money is". By contrast, my Republican debater thinks we should leave the real banks alone and, I don't know, rob food banks instead, I guess.
She was hugely indignant about Hilary Rosen's comment that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life because she herself was a stay-at-home Mom and she told me in no uncertain terms that she had to work hard! And I agree, mothers work hard whether they stay home or go out to a job. I tried to make the point that, either way, life is easier for those who have a lot of money and don't have to worry about buying groceries or making the house payment or coming up with the car insurance premium out of an already stretched-to-the-breaking-point budget. But my political opponent wasn't buying it. She insisted that Ann was practically a Christian saint for having raised five sons and money didn't buy happiness and I shouldn't resent Ann just "because she had a few extra dollars lying around". (Of course, I consider $250 million to be a tad bit more than a "few extra dollars" but, whatever). When I asked about Jesus saying "give what you have to the poor and follow me" and how that played into Republican philosophy, she told me I had taken Jesus out of context! At that point, I recognized hopelessness when I saw it and abandoned the battlefield.
And now we have Dick Cheney, who recently got a new heart although it appears to be just as hard as the old heart, proclaiming that Barack Obama has been an unmitigated disaster for America. How rich is that? The Bush administration immediately began running Clinton's surplus into a massive deficit by virtue of tax breaks to their rich buddies. The Bush administration, not content with one war in Afghanistan, started a second war in Iraq (one my own Governor Daniels, perpetual presidential nominee, promised would top out at $50 billion though it is now estimated to have cost the U.S. at least a trillion dollars, not to mention, of course, almost 4500 deaths and God knows how many seriously wounded, physically and/or mentally.). The Bush administration created a climate (and a Supreme Court) that declared anything the president does automatically legal, simply because the president did it. They wrote memos touting the okayness of flouting America's signing of the Geneva Convention which outlawed the use of torture by any civilized nation. This was the administration that essentially wrote off one of our most treasured American cities after Hurricane Katrina. Although Republicans call Obama an "appeaser", it wasn't Barack who played kissy face with a Saudi Arabian sheik at his ranch in Texas and it wasn't Barack who spirited a planeful of Saudis out of New York after 9/11 despite the majority of of 9/11 terrorists having been from Saudi Arabia, including Osama bin Laden.
None of that seems to sink in to Republican supporters so I don't suppose their representatives' votes against the Jobs Bill and the Oil Subsidy Bill and the Buffett Rule bill will sink in either. Even Republicans who have been booted by their insurance companies for having a pre-existing condition will somehow support their party in trying to overturn Obamacare. Even Republican secretaries will support Mitt and his buds getting even more tax breaks although they pay twice as much on their own lowly incomes. Even female Tea Partiers who relied on contraceptives themselves will follow along obediently as congressional and state level Republicans try to pass Personhood Amendments that would outlaw most forms of birth control. Even Republican women who are one paycheck away from financial catastrophe will shout praise when Mitt promises to defund Planned Parenthood. Grand Old Party voters, who always claim to be for limited government, will rally 'round their politicians as they pass Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound bills and over-rule doctors on defining a necessary medical procedure. They shout their support for breaking unions (Wisconsin, Indiana, among others) and letting the auto industry fail and letting foreclosures proceed (all of which their presumptive nominee supported). And if the Republicans in Washington also refuse to renew the Violence Against Women Act and decry Title 10 and vote for the Blunt Amendment, why that's fine and dandy. I see these R's on Facebook enthusiastically supporting the Ryan Budget and when I ask if they know what it actually calls for doing, no one ever answers me back.
I don't get it. When politicians and corporate money can so totally turn voters against their own best interests, there is something desperately wrong with our democracy.