How extreme is the Republican Party?

Liberals can't see the extremism in the mirror. Photo: Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY, October 27, 2012—You know the game is coming to a close for the Obama re-election campaign when the Left begins to describe how Romney won’t govern from the right, as E. J. Dionne did this week; or how Romney can’t possibly govern from the center, as Jonathan Alter did yesterday.

This is a repackaging of a time-honored and favorite theme of liberals: they regularly label mainstream Republicans as “extremists.”

Politically, the Left attempts to sway swing voters to their ranks by accusing the Republicans of having “become the most extreme major political party in generations.”

It’s laughable on its face, given that over half the country supports Republicans. It cannot possibly be that if a majority of the population believes x, that x is extreme. It’s definitional.

Remember, the “extreme” GOP is the party that swept the Democrats out of power in 2010 in one of the largest landslides in congressional history. It is the party that nominated a man poised to defeat the incumbent, so-called centrist, Barack Obama, perhaps by millions of votes.

Both liberals and conservatives can rightly be accused of thinking that they represent the mainstream more than the other. It is human nature to hold the belief that everyone does or should agree with you. But conservatives can be forgiven more of the time for holding this notion. For generations, Americans have considered themselves to be, on the main, more conservative than liberal by wide margins. The most recent Gallup survey gives conservatives an advantage, 40% to 21%.

Yet liberals persist with the claim that Republicans are extreme, that they flout the will of the people, and block progress in our legislative halls. Their favorite poll is of Congress’s approval, which stands somewhere between 10% and 20%.

Congressional approval is low, unsurprisingly, precisely because the parties don’t work together. Yet Democrats want us all to believe that it is despite their own best intentions. Maybe they hope that ordinary voters don’t notice that Democrats control the upper chamber, where very middle-of-the-road bills have gone to die since the GOP took the lower house.

It can be argued that the forces of the Left have made the gridlock worse. Moderate Democrats like Jason Altmire and Heath Shuler have been forced out of Nancy Pelosi’s party, and once-moderate Harry Reid has become increasingly strident and uncompromising. All this to the applause of the majority of Democrats.

One of the more celebrated (and a far-left) Democrats, Elizabeth Warren, made a revealing and embarrassing slip. When asked what Republican she could work with in the Senate, she announced that she’d get along swimmingly with soon-to-be former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar.

Democrats might not know this, but Lugar won’t be in the Senate if Elizabeth Warren ever gets there. In other words, the only Republicans that the new Democrats can compromise with don’t even exist.

Of course, that’s probably just as well for them, since they’d have to throw their extreme orthodoxy out the window if it means working in the center of American politics.

You see, the Democrats in and seeking power are an extreme bunch themselves, far removed from what the majority of American consider reasonable.

On three issues regularly brought up by the Left as evidence of the GOP’s extremism, Democrats are reluctant to spell out their own views.

One the top issues for both party is taxes. The “extreme” GOP wants to do the incredibly reckless: leave tax rates where they are. Democrats, on the other hand, would mind nothing more than to raise taxes on everyone, particularly those who make more than $200K. But they also routinely create new taxes—dozens in the Affordable Care Act—and raise taxes on everything other than income.

Perhaps their fondness for taxes is born of necessity, since the Democrats stand for trillion-plus-dollar deficits. Federal debt has never bothered them—many have said quite matter-of-factly that the failed stimulus should have been much larger. For the American Left, balancing the federal budget by reducing spending slightly is considered extreme.

Of course on social issues, the Republican Party is most definitely extreme, you might suppose. If it is outside of the mainstream to limit a woman’s right to abort a child in cases when the child is actually born, then yes, the Republicans are extreme.

But in light of the fact that Democrats insist on taxpayer funded abortions, and most shockingly, allowing doctors to take the life of a child if that child happens to have the misfortune of surviving an in utero abortion, maybe having some limits seems pretty sensible after all. You see, when a baby exits the uterus, it’s called birth. Pro-abortion democrats prefer to call it an “bump in the road” toward a woman’s right to choose.    

President Obama is in lock-step with all of these fringe Democrat positions. He has been a reliably extreme member of the party who likes to project its extremism on others.

But as Americans usually do, they will choose moderation in November. 



You can learn more about the author at and on Facebook.

Rich Stowell on Google+

Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic TrainingTunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative. 

He writes about Salt Lake City and the World in the Food and Travel section.

Read more: GOP House could decide who will be president | Washington Times Communities 
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Rich Stowell

Rich Stowell has written about politics and travel for the Washington Times Communities since 2011. He is a soldier in the Utah National Guard and a fellow at the Center for Communication and Community at the University of Utah. Rich is the author of "Nine Weeks: A Teacher's Education in Army Basic Training"and continues to blog about military issues at “My Public Affairs.”

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