For some in the GOP, voting “no” on legislation may not reflect how they actually feel about it. The New York Times published an article discussing how members of the GOP may have voted “no” on the recent fiscal cliff legislation while secretly, or perhaps not-so secretly, hoping the legislation would pass anyway.
Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) said that House Republicans could be divided into three groups: those who voted “yes” and wanted the legislation to pass, those who voted “no,” and didn’t want the legislation to pass, and those who voted “no,” but hoped it would pass anyway. He mentions one lawmaker who didn’t want to amend the bill and send it back to the Senate, but also didn’t want to vote “yes” on it as it was. Thus, he voted “no” and hoped it would pass to avoid the potential economic consequences of the fiscal cliff.
The Times quoted Republican strategist Ron Bonjean as saying,
“These are people who are political realists, they’re political pragmatists who want to see progress made in Washington, but are politically constrained from making compromises because they will be challenged in the primary.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) helped the fiscal cliff legislation to pass, while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) voted against it.
This not only demonstrates the deep divides that exist within the Republican Party, but also where our political system is broken. Time.com published an article in their “Battleland” section in August 2012 in which Mike Lofgren, a former Republican aide, discusses his book entitled, The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted, and what he believes has become of the Republican Party along with what has enabled it. In the email interview, he says:
“But I had become alarmed that my party, the party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Eisenhower, had ceased to believe in the proper governance of the world’s greatest economic and military power. The party preferred gridlock and discrediting the institutions of government in a perpetual campaign of fake populism.
The GOP’s ransoming the nation’s sovereign credit rating in order to ram through their political agenda was the final straw that made me write the book. Even Ronald Reagan, the present-day Republican icon, had pleaded with Congress in the 1980s to give him a debt limit extension bill without extraneous provisions or gimmicks. The GOP has now become a rigid, ideological cult rather than a traditional, broad-based political party.”
He blames (at least, in part) the Democratic Party, which, after successive defeats for the presidency in the ’70s and ’80s, became the party of Wall Street and corporate donations, which enabled the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the deregulation of derivatives trading, which ultimately led to the financial markets meltdown and subsequent economic crash in 2008. Lofgren then mentions that politicians don’t want real solutions to problems and that, instead, what they’re looking for is partisan issues.
He describes a situation with his own boss, Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), where Republican support for a long-term deficit reduction plan was suddenly pulled when President Obama expressed his support for it. In other words, Republicans were more concerned about how it would look to stand with a Democratic president than they were about actually getting something done.
When it comes to voting “no” while secretly hoping that legislation will pass; there, too, they are more worried about their image as conservatives than they are about doing what needs to be done. The lawmakers that voted “no” on the fiscal cliff legislation while hoping it would pass would have helped it pass if they had just put aside their partisan attitudes and their worries about the next primary, and voted their conscience.