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11 April 2010


Jeff Pelline

Why don't you identify where this came from? "Final 'yes' vote count? By whom?

Michael R. Kesti

While I agree that George would have done well to identify the source of the graphic that is the centerpiece of this blog entry it took less than 30 seconds to search for what is all but certainly its origin. Check it out at http://www.politicalmathblog.com/?p=424

George Rebane

Thank you MichaelK.

Douglas Keachie

Was there a Tea Pary political movement around during the first three, threatening to vote out by any mean$ nece$$ary anyone who didn't "sieg heil" their agenda?

George Rebane

Doug, I don't recall any other than the overall civil rights movement and the leftwing anti-war movement. But then there was little need since these bills had clear bipartisan support.

It's interesting to note that higher percentages of Repubs than Dems in Congress voted for the 1964 civil rights act.

Steven Frisch

History is a tricky thing George...yes a high number of Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act. Then, when the act passed, they left the Democratic party and joined the Republican party, as Republicans embraced a more conservative set of policies designed to split the traditional democratic coalition. The parties as they existed before 1964 are not the same.

The Republicans became the party of resistance to implementation of civil rights laws.

George Rebane

Yes SteveF, history is indeed a tricky thing, and we should not fool ourselves that there is only one history. You have been taught a different one than the one I study. And that brings us around to the subject of the post. It is hard to guide the ship of state when the sides fighting for the wheel have almost totally different understandings of the past which now informs the remedies they concoct for the common weal.

As a case in point. The original scope of 'civil rights' changed in the years after 1964, and the passed legislation expanded beyond original intent and, in its implementation, continues the expansion to this day. In this light, I disagree with your last statement.

But then, we digress.

Steven Frisch

Your revisions aside, the greatest political shift of our time was the white flight in the south from the Democratic party to the Republican party, largely because Democrats came to their senses and finally did the right thing on civil rights.


Steven is right. The fact that Dixiecrats voted against Civil Rights is not "interesting" in the way you imply, George, as somehow a reflection of the values of either of the two parties today. The 30+ year realignment that has culminated recently in a 100% Dem New England and an almost as solid Republican stronghold in the Deep South was just getting started back then. Of note is the fact that black identification as "Democratic" went from 50% in 1960 to 84% in 1964.


George Rebane

SteveF and Wade - given your arguments that former Dems were really made up of some who would today be Repubs, does that not shift the bipartisan boundary of the first three pieces of legislation a bit to the left, were we to renormalize according to some absolute political beliefs spectrum? And at the same time, would it not make the recent passage of Obamacare by today's more truer Democrats even more partisan toward the extreme left?

Steven Frisch

Indeed it does shift the equation on the Civil Rights Act, Medicaid and Welfare Reform (which just for the record I supported).

I woud say it makes the inability of the Republicans of the current era to work on a bi-partisan level for health care reform even more inexplicable.

lets be clear, if the Reps had been at the table I think we would have had cross state boundary competition for health insurance, which I believe would have had more of a positive impact on lowering costs than any other action other than the creation of a single payer system.

But the opportunity to get that reform was lost when Republicans refused to trade votes for improvements. I have no doubt that Dems would have agreed if it would have meant getting 50 Rep votes.

Mikey McD

Steven, last poll I read said 70+% of Americans did not want the healthcare laws... I think the Reps knew voting for such a travesty was political suicide. Obama threw his fellow socialists under the bus (with a smile I might add).

Steven Frisch

Mikey do you think that what did pass would have been better if it had cross boundary competition? The problem with walking lock step is that it is an all or nothing game. republicans could have played a meaningful role in improving this bill.

Mikey McD

"this bill" was nothing more than a power grab by politicians, fuel to the class warfare battle, and another condoning/encouragement of entitlements. I would have viewed any reps "at the table" as sell-outs, turncoats, traders. Our country needed another trillion dollar entitlement program like a fish needs a bicycle. Does Washington have any clue that our economy is in the toilet? We need tax cuts not a bigger government credit card.

God only knows what kind of pork the reps were offered by this admin. The reps picked a great time to find their backbones (which were lost/missing most of the past decade).



Mikey? Um, dude. You just got tax cuts. Again. Taxes have gone down under Obama. Not up. Tell your Teabagger friends because they're confused too...

hmm. I think I disagree about "shifting the line." The striking thing about the Dixiecrats joining the Republican party was that they (explicitly or implicitly) ceded their economic interests / philosophy to their cultural mores. So, while still in the Dem party they held Dem economic views and what we would recognize today as Repub cultural views. So, while these votes are cast I don't believe they can be substituted for Republicans and certainly not today's Republicans. Heck even Reagan can't be substituted for today's Republicans. 3 tax hikes, nuke reduction, and massive deficit spending would have had Norquist / Palin / Gingrich around his throat.

George Rebane

Wade, don't exactly understand your (SteveF's?) position on the bipartisan argument. Are you playing both sides of the street in denying that we had bipartisan support for the indicated social programs until Obamacare, where its only bipartisan support was garnered in opposition to its passage?

Mikey McD

Wade, um dude- my 2009 taxes went up. I paid more in 2009 as a % of both my income and assets. An American that makes decent money does not get deductions(he pays for them) and when when you spend more money you pay sales (and other) taxes. I make enough to cancel any would-be deductions and my wife sets new spending records each year. Don't believe what the NY Times and AP feed you.

Wow 47% of "americans" (lower case a for a reason) paid NO federal income taxes (Biden would say that they are unpatriotic). "I just wish you would say thank you and went on your way"- Jack Nicolas/A Few Good Men (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hGvQtumNAY).

p.s. I am not a republican


Mikey -

You are not a Republican meaning you don't vote for them? Or you're just not registered as a party member? One distinction is meaningful while the other isn't. Bill O'Reilly is also "not a Republican," as of 2000 anyway.

The NY Times didn't tell me I paid less in federal income taxes than last year, the refund check did, a result of Obama raising the thresholds in the middle class brackets. Assuming you're in the top bracket as you imply, the rate is still 35%, exactly what it was under Bush. Which taxes went up for you?

That 47%? Largely in rural, conservative, low-income "Real America." Teabag Country.

George -

Not arguing against the bipartisan votes on display here. Just against the "line shifting" argument. I'm not sure what this bipartisan stuff means anyway. Is the contention that bills that pass on party-line votes in the House are bad? Then the Bush tax cuts were bad. I understand the argument for bipartisanship in theory. In practice however it is only when the Republicans are out of power that you hear calls for it. In any case, the current crop of Republicans are not voting for any legislation as a matter of policy, rather they are voting tactically against *anything* Obama supports. That pretty much invalidates "bipartisanship" as a means of evaluating the legitimacy of any particular policy right now...

George Rebane

Wade - you raise two points. The line shifting would occur if we accept the argument that southern Dems of the era were Repubs in disguise. That same effect would then explain why the single party support for Obamacare came from a solid cohort of Dems that were even more leftwing than the cohort consisting of the Dems opposing Obamacare and the dear-departed Dems who now reside in Repub ranks.

Re the legitimacy of bipartisanship - I didn't make any arguments there except to repeat what has been a staple belief in the American political arena for generations. Constitutionally there is no requirement for bipartisanship. "In practice" the record is clear that both parties, when out of power, scream for bipartisanship when outvoted.

Steven Frisch

I agree with Wade on the shifting case. The previous legislations did have more bipartisan support. But then who do we "credit" for that as opposed to who we "blame" for the lack of bipartisan support on health care?

I would posit that for every bipartisan vote in the past there was a republican or democrat willing to cross the line for something that was not 100% of what they wanted.

The difference today is that not crossing that line is a political strategy to nullify an election. Republicans will not cross over because the strategy is to create gridlock until they regain power. Party discipline is taking precedent over policy considerations. This is a very dangerous game. And it is anathema to good governance.


George -

My argument against line shifting is that it isn't so clear cut. The Dixiecrats, while they remained in the party, were economically Dems and culturally Republicans. So in the case of the Civil Rights Act they were Republicans, in terms of other legislation, they were Dems. Ultimately, issues like race won out and they flipped. At that point they became pure, modern Republicans.

I understand that bipartisanship exists in the debate as a theoretical good in of itself for people like David Broder. Not so sure about the rest of us. In practice though it's a one way street. There are never calls for it when Republicans are in power. In the media I mean; I agree that Democrats do it when out of power. The difference is the establishment media. Just as deficits are only important (critical!) during Dem administrations, so too the importance of bipartisanship waxes and wanes depending on which party is in power.

In any case, when McConnell and Boehner can vigorously oppose something they supported just last week simply because Obama decides to support it, politics has become thoroughly uncoupled from policy. Bipartisanship is thus rendered meaningless.

When Obama does as Reagan did (new START) and is denounced as a Chamberlain, Castro, Benedict Arnold, bin Laden, I'm afraid the other party's input is no measure of policy positions. Even and especially their own....


Ah. Forgot to clarify. Big difference between 60s "Rockefeller Republicans" (now extinct) and modern-type, Southern-based Republicans which is what the Dixiecrats became...

George Rebane

Good points from both Wade and Steve - I most certainly agree with their overarching diagnoses. Where I part is from their clear cut deviltry of the Repubs, and the apparent and pervasive goodness and light of the Dems, especially in their post-purged purified state.

Gallons of ink have been spread to document and argue the excesses of both sides. I don't think that we will settle the matter in each others' minds in this thread. But I will leave it with the restatement of my ongoing condemnation of the Repubs, they have too often forsaken their principles. I can make no such charge against the Dems.

Steven Frisch

The history is clear, Southern democrats who were segregationists became southern Republicans, because the Republican party represented a way to keep blacks in their place. The dems said "so long" and Reps said "welcome". That is "deviltry", pure and simple. No moral ambiguity there buddy.

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