Politics & Media
Apr 10, 2009, 10:22AM

Powers of repulsion

The current "Obama is the most polarizing president" meme is taken out to the backyard and shot.

We hardly knew you:

That doesn’t make their views irrelevant, but it does mean that they do not define the national response to the President’s first months in office. Neither can we primarily characterize Obama’s Presidency in terms of partisan polarization. Republicans have been clear from fairly early on that, at least when it comes to domestic policy and budget debates, they have decided on a course of pure rejectionism and the embrace of fiscal austerity. As the minority party, that is their prerogative, and there are good reasons to be skeptical of policies that are vastly increasing the debt (it would help even more to have alternative budgets that don’t invite mockery!), but if a party has opted to go down the rejectionist route it is silly to complain the President is having a polarizing effect as if this were a bad outcome.

If the GOP is to have any chance of reviving anytime soon, it will be by peeling off disillusioned and dissatisfied Obama supporters. Even if Obama were driving people away (so far, there is little evidence for this), the GOP still has to be able to attract them. At present, the GOP’s powers of repulsion remain far greater. So far, everything the GOP has been doing in Congress and in the media has reinforced all the habits that have pushed so many people into Obama’s arms. Shouting fascism and tyranny in ever-louder voices is not going to change this pattern, but will probably ensure that it keeps getting worse for Republicans.

  • Once again, it's too early to consign the GOP to minority status for the next decade, and it's worth remembering that The American Conservative, while featuring many fine writers, represents a branch of conservatism—protectionist, anti-immigration, isolationist—that is just as different from the Wall Street Journal editorial page's conservatism as it is from the moral values crowd.

    Responses to this comment

Register or Login to leave a comment