Reaching Out to Republicans

The House passed the stimulus package without a single Republican vote in favor. Several liberal blogs have questioned why Obama bothered to speak with Republicans and consider their views in the plan. The lack of Republican votes does not mean that Obama was wrong to speak to Republicans or to compromise.

Influencing Republicans means more than the Republicans in the House. The House Republicans are primarily from safe Republican districts and are more interested in pleasing their base. There are many voters, or at least were  in the past, who have identified themselves as Republicans, but are not as extreme as these Congressional Republicans. While GOP identification is currently way down, there is a large number of voters who have voted Republican in the recent past and may do so again in the future. They are swing voters who could continue with their new identification as Democrats or could return to voting Republican in the future. In order to continue to receive these votes, Democrats must convince these swing voters that they now represent the positions which caused them to vote Republican in the past. If Democrats ignored all their views they would be more likely to return to voting Republican in the future.

One way to get former Republican voters to continue to vote Democratic  is to incorporate some moderate Republican views in their legislation. If the House Republicans then vote against the measure they are the ones who look extreme and unwilling to compromise for the public good.

Democrats complained for years when the Republicans ruled without consideration of their views. They would look no better if they followed the same course when in power. At the moment, by reaching out to Republicans, Obama looks like the one governing from the center and above petty partisan battles while the Republicans continue to look like extremists who place partisan goals over the good of the country.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    DB says:

    You make a good point. I think a good strategy could be to minimize the risk of a loud minority. Republicans failed to do this the last few years and it would be a mistake to not try and find some middle ground, at least on noncontroversial issues. Obama has to be mindful not to give up the house to make them happy though.

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