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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why House Republicans Vote The Way They Do

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House Majority Leader, gave one of the best explanations I've heard yet on how Republican's expect to climb back into the majority on the strength of obstructionism.

Below are parsed excerpts from a phone conversation between Hoyer and Ezra Klein of the Washington Post a few days after Hoyer gave that insightful "obstructionism' speech at the Center For American Progress.
Washington Post Excerpts:
The theory was that the American people elected the legislative body to make policy and so you make policy... as long as you, and our party cooperate with Democrats and get 20 or 30 percent of what we want and they get to say they solved the problem and had a bipartisan bill, there's no incentive for the American people to change leadership. You have to confront, delay, and undermine and impose failure in order to move the public.

The reason this issue needs to be raised is that, ultimately, the political representatives will respond to the demands of the public. Now, the public has been polarized. Every night on television, they listen to polarizing people. We’ve gone from Walter Cronkite to angrier people who are trying to incite them.

So how do you fight that political logic?

It's very difficult. The motivation Congress has on each side of the aisle is to be in the majority so it can set policy. But it’s very difficult for the institution to move forward on a bipartisan basis when the minority party does not believe that that’s in their best interest to regain the majority. Rarely do you get a crowd ecstatic about a compromise. So the parties, to some degree, think the ... strategy might be successful. And the only way to overcome that is to have it not be successful, and the only way for that to happen is for the American people to know what’s going on.

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