Here’s Why Republicans Have an Advantage Over Democrats
To many people it seems that Republicans have the upper hand on political matters even when they are clearly in the minority. During President Obama’s first 2 years in office, with a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, a lot of the bills they tried to pass were stopped by a minority of Senate Republicans using the filibuster rule. Even routine matters like the Transportation bill, the Farm bill or raising the debt ceiling, that are normally passed with majority support from both parties, were blocked or held up by Republicans in order to get concessions on other unrelated matters.
Senate Republicans set new records for using the filibuster rule to prevent legislation from being voted on, including bills that Republicans themselves had co-sponsored.
In 2010, to keep more jobs here in America, Democrats proposed a bill (S. 3816) to end tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs to other countries. Republicans killed it with the filibuster and then blamed Obama for the jobs that went overseas.
In 2011, Republicans refused to even consider President Obama’s jobs bill that contained many provisions they previously supported, and potentially would have helped create millions of American jobs.
Republicans in Congress often go beyond simply blocking legislation; they actually threaten to do harm to large numbers of Americans if Democrats don’t give in to their demands.
Around Christmas of 2010, with unemployment at 9.4% and millions of Americans barely scraping by with the help of unemployment benefits, Republicans threatened to cut off those benefits if Obama didn’t extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%. They were willing to put countless people out in the cold at Christmas to protect millionaires from a tax increase.
In April of 2011, Republicans threatened to shut down the government in order to get the budget cuts they wanted.
In the summer of 2011, Republicans refused to pass a normally routine debt ceiling increase unless President Obama agreed to trillions of dollars in budget cuts. They quite literally threatened to ruin the United States’ credit rating which would increase interest rates, tank the stock market, increase unemployment and likely put us into another recession.
These tactics often work because Democrats don’t want millions of people who are desperately looking for work to suddenly lose their unemployment benefits. They don’t want our country to lose its credit rating or to dip back into a recession.
Republicans in Congress prefer to get what they want, not by compromising or by winning the argument on its merits, but by threatening to do harm to thousands or even millions of Americans. Republican senator Mitch McConnell admitted their tactics were like hostage negotiations, saying it was “a hostage worth taking.”
As a result of these hostage-style negotiations, President Obama has often been accused of caving in to Republican demands on many issues. But Obama is not dealing with a normal political opposition. The Republicans in Congress, especially those who call themselves the Tea Party Caucus, no longer behave like rational adults. They are acting like people who have no conscience and feel no sense of empathy, guilt or compassion.
This is where their strength comes from. The Republicans’ primary advantage over the Democrats is that they are indifferent to the suffering of their fellow citizens so long as they protect their own special interests.
Simply put, Republicans frequently get what they want by threatening to do harm to Americans. Democrats genuinely care about those Americans and are often compelled to give in to Republican demands in order to prevent Republicans from doing further harm.