Thursday, November 20, 2014

GOP political strategy does not lead to conservative policy

Matthew Yglesias has an interesting observation.

But the thing that gets me is that so many politically engaged conservatives don't care about policy. I think that is what allows the Republican leadership to keep doing stupid things that are popular with their base but which lead to policy outcomes they don't like.

If you ask a conservative who is into politics "what should we do about health care in this country?" they don't really have an answer (other than to undo whatever Obama has done--never mind that at this point there is no practical way to do that without creating a host of new problems).

If you ask a conservative who is into politics "what should we do about climate change?" they mostly deny that there is such a thing. If you follow-up and mention that the Supreme Court has required the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses unless Congress comes up with an alternative, they really don't have an answer of what that alternative should be.

Go ahead, ask them. I have. I'm not talking about all conservatives. I have definitely talked to some who have actual ideas about policy and are even capable of talking policy. But the strange thing is that, in recent years it seems to me that the more politically engaged a conservative is, the less he or she is able to discuss actual policy.

Here's another example: the Gruber videos. Sure, it looks bad when a guy who helped design the health care law calls voters "stupid." But what does that really say about health care policy? I mean, are health care exchanges (i.e. a government system designed to increase competition in the private insurance market) a good idea or a bad idea? what would be a better idea? The kerfuffle about Gruber doesn't get to those issues, or for that matter, any real issue about health care reform. It is only about optics, which is not what is really important. But that's not what the most politically engaged conservatives think is important.

It is very strange. I blame Fox News (although not only Fox News)