Skip to main content

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

As has been fairly widely noted, House Republicans have stubbornly resisted every aspect of the Democratic program. The stimulus package and financial reform failed to gain a single House Republican vote, while a grand total of one Republican voted for health care – Congressman Joseph Cao.

Many commentators have cited naked political calculus as behind House Republican noncooperation. The explanation goes that House Whip Eric Cantor saw that opposing President Barack Obama’s agenda would best revive their party’s strength. The best option would be to stand against the president, hope/encourage his failure, and then ride public dicontent onto renewed congressional majorities.

This explanation is true as far as such things go; it fits Republican incentives well. Yet contrary to what some may believe, congressman are not unthinking automons who calculate their every action for political gain. They are human beings with very human emotions: pride, anger, humiliation, frustration. Just as you and me do many things based upon feelings rather than logic, so do politicians.

More below.

One needs look no farther than Senator Joe Lieberman to find a politician driven entirely upon emotion.

When analyzing House Republican actions, therefore, viewing them through the lens of an emotional, human framework puts an entirely novel spin to their opposition. House Republican votes against Democratic legislation function just as much as an expression of frustration and anger as they do as an attempt to advance a political agenda.

Being a House minority member is often called a demoralizing experience, but these words merely scratch the reality. The minority never, ever wins; it is defeated day after day after day. Members of the minority are shut off from decision-making or bill-writing; their ideas are not even considered, let alone put into law. Every day constitutes a journey through frustration, doubly so for a congressman who probably considers him or herself a person of importance who ought be listened to.

So the minority strikes back in the only way it can – by voting against majority legislation. It’s frustrated; it’s angry; if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not going to listen to it, it’s not going to vote for her legislation.

Perhaps the most revealing instance of this human factor came on September 20098, when House Republican opposition infamously defeated the bail-out bill. For a very brief moment, House Republicans publicly talked about this human factor, addressing an action of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi which caused their resentments to explode. Minority Leader John Boehner:

I do believe that we could have gotten there today, had it not been for the partisan speech that the Speaker gave on the floor of the House. I mean, we were — we put everything we had into getting the votes to get there today, but the speaker had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference, caused a number of members that we thought we could get to go south.

Minority Whip Eric Cantor:

Right here is the reason, I believe, why this vote failed, and this is Speaker Pelosi’s speech that, frankly, struck the tone of partisanship that, frankly, was inappropriate in this discussion.

Think for a moment about how the average House Republican felt at that moment. He or she probably personally disliked the bill and knew that voting for it will seriously hurt his chances for re-election. Chances are, he didn’t even understand what the bill was supposed to do, except somehow save the economy (to be fair, it did save the economy). And to top things off, the moment before the vote began, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this:

Madam Speaker, when was the last time someone asked you for $700 billion?

It is a number that is staggering, but tells us only the costs of the Bush Administration’s failed economic policies—policies built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system.

She insults everything he stands for and then expects him to vote for the bail-out she’s pushing? It’s no wonder so many Republicans voted against it.

Now of course this explanation was universally condemned: the fate of the nation was literally at stake, and House Republicans were voting against a bill because their feelings were hurt. For this reason, the human factor is rarely brought up in House Republican explanations of their opposition votes. It is bad politics to say that one voted against the Democratic agenda because one’s feelings were hurt.

Yet the next time House Republican unanimously oppose a Democratic bill, try understanding the human factor’s role in all this. It is there, and it affects politics much more than one might first guess.

Originally posted to Inoljt on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site