Times Have Changed

Scott Lemieux writes:

Shorter Michael Goldfarb: “Party alignments haven’t changed at all in recent decades, so the fact that FDR and LBJ got substantial support from liberal Republicans makes a bipartisan bill equally plausible in 2009.”

Nick Beaudrot offers this chart from Keith Poole’s polarization talk:


It’s also worth noting that if you look specifically at, say, Barack Obama’s success in wooing moderate Republicans from New England he’s doing a great job. His stimulus bill secured the support of literally 100 percent of the GOP congressional New England caucus. And the odds that his health care bill will secure the support of 50 or 100 percent of New England Republicans remains good. The issue is that there are only two of them. And this is no coincidence—very recently there were a lot more. I think it’s quite plausible to speculate that had Robert Simmons and Chris Shays spent their time swearing up and down Connecticut that they were eager to vote for universal health care and a tough cap and trade bill and were just chomping at the bit to find a President they could work with that those two gentlemen would still be serving in the United States House of Representatives.

Instead, they aligned themselves with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Boehner and lost their seats to be replaced by members of congress who do support that kind of legislation. But that’s not Barack Obama’s fault—Democrats didn’t force Republicans with moderately liberal constituents to closely associate themselves with discredited conservative policies.