The far right making bipartisanship harder again, by @DavidOAtkins

The far right

by David Atkins

This won't come as a big surprise to regular Hullabaloo readers, but it's worth a reminder as politicians and public policy advocates fret about the lack of bipartisanship in Congress that the hard right is still the biggest obstacle to finding any sort of common ground:

The group is featuring him on a new Web site intended to promote primary challenges next year to Republican incumbents who it believes have compromised on conservative principles. In Mr. Kinzinger’s case, the group said, his failures include going along with the bipartisan agreement in 2011 to raise the federal debt ceiling and voting with Speaker John A. Boehner to ratify the deal at the beginning of this year to raise taxes on the wealthy but avert tax increases for the middle class.

As the Republican Party and the conservative movement continue to debate the lessons of 2012 — a discussion that will get further attention this week at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington — the Club for Growth is playing the role of principle-driven counterweight to Karl Rove, whose political operation has been leading the charge favoring of a more pragmatic view of how Republicans can best regain power.

It is a stance that has made the group and its president, Chris Chocola, beacons of conviction to economic conservatives who think the party’s Congressional leadership has been too willing to make deals and back moderate candidates. But the Club for Growth’s strategy has also exacerbated strains within the party and drawn criticism that ideological conformity is the wrong formula for a party seeking to broaden its appeal in the wake of successive losses in presidential campaigns.

“I have always been concerned with the Club for Growth’s mission,” said Rich Galen, a Republican commentator and former aide to Newt Gingrich and Dan Quayle. “As someone who came to Washington after Watergate when the House G.O.P. could meet in a phone booth, I have always felt it is too hard to elect our folks to put them at risk in primaries.”

To be a broad-based majority party, Mr. Galen said, “you have to accept that the edges will get farther and farther apart and you have to accept that one edge will not agree on all items with the other edge — but they will agree more with that other edge than they would with Democrats.”

To Mr. Chocola, that kind of attitude is exactly the problem.

“I can’t go to the Capitol Hill Club anymore,” he said, referring to the hangout for House Republicans. “But we have a $16 trillion debt because politicians worry about being popular rather than providing the leadership to do the hard things.”
But, the critics say, doesn't the left do the same thing?

Well, no. There are two big differences.

First, the progressive left doesn't even begin to have the same influence or funding that the far right does. Even if we wanted to play the Club for Growth's game, we have neither the power nor the reach to do it. And the media barely notices.

But the second and more important difference is that the far right is advocating deeply unpopular and objectively crazy and immoral policies. The left simply isn't doing that.

Cutting Social Security is unpopular. It's also bad public policy. Cutting Medicare is unpopular. It's also bad public policy. Giving the ultra-wealthy more tax breaks is unpopular. It's also bad public policy. Invading Iran is unpopular. It's also bad public policy. Refusing gun background checks is unpopular. It's also bad public policy. Perpetuating breaks for the fossil fuel industry is unpopular. It's also bad public policy. The list is endless.

This is why journalism that prioritizes balance over truth is so harmful. If the press isn't able to stand up and tell the public who is right and who is wrong, all that's left is a tug-of-war among seemingly bickering infants. If the press isn't able to say that one side is utterly bought off by corporate interests, and the other side is mostly bought off by corporate interests but less so, then apathy reigns supreme.

If the press were as interested in bipartisanship as they claim to be, the first step would be to start telling the truth about public policy.