The Problem With The Freedom Caucus

The Problem With The Freedom Caucus

Matt HealeyThursday,22 October 2015

I saw a tweet form @chrislhayes on TV ratings. At the end of the picture of text, he included the following line:

But it’s a caution not to assume that your own preferences, in politically ideology, or TV viewing are necessarily widely shared.

This is why in a representative democracy, politicians need to be willing to work together and compromise. One, or 40, congressional districts do not get to dictate policy for the entire country. So, while defunding Planned Parenthood as a way to stop abortions is clearly a top priority for the 40 members of the badly misnamed “Freedom Caucus,” it does not necessarily mean that these views are widely held. They may be, but they may not be; I have not checked the national polling on the issue lately so I don’t really know. The problem is that the members of this caucus and the voters who sent them to Congress think that because it is important to them, it must be the ‘will of the ‘Murican public’ and as such, they have to get their way. If they don’t, then the government has to be shut down, or their representatives have to be voted out in the primary in favor of someone who will do what they tell them to.

It is this irrationality that is at the heart of the Tea Party movement and that is driving the anger and vitriol that is the defining characteristic of today’s evangelical christian party of god. A recent focus group of evangelical christian party of god voters showed a high degree of rage according to a recent article in The New York Times. Some of the members of the focus group made comments like, “We did what we were supposed to do: we wrote the letters and we made the phone calls, and they did not listen;” “We’ve lost our voices as constituents;” and, “They don’t keep their word. Their morals are loose. We’re ready for someone who has not been in that world.” The common theme in all of these statements is a feeling that their beliefs are either widely held or the only ones that should matter. As such, it should be easy for the policies they support to get passed through Congress and signed into law.

But it turns out that the views are not as widely held as they think they are, or as widely held as they think they should be. So, in a normal situation, this means negotiation and eventual compromise. So you agree to fund Planned Parenthood, in exchange for funding for abstinence-only sex education. No one gets everything they want, but on balance, everyone gets something. This is the normal operation of government. But because the constituents are 100% sure that they are right, no compromise is possible.

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