Thursday, May 30, 2013

Do Republicans Really Agree 95% Of The Time?

Let's stipulate that South Dakota Democrats are in disarray.

I suppose it's a wise move for Republicans to provide a contrast to the Democratic Party's inner tumult. There is, however, always the danger of overstating that unity. Ronald Reagan was satisfied with Republicans being in agreement 80% of the time. South Dakota Republicans apparently live in a Utopia Reagan could only dream of. South Dakota Republican Chairperson Craig Lawrence believes South Dakota's Republicans agree 95% of the time.
The chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party, Craig Lawrence, said most Republicans want unity.
“There are people that are so deeply concerned, in particular, about the nation’s debt that that bubbles over into frustration that sometimes causes people to be critical of other members of their party,” Lawrence said. “I have implored people to focus on the 95 percent that we agree on, not the 5 percent we disagree on. And people have been very receptive.”
Let's leave aside that the article that quotes Lawrence indicates that Kristi Noem may still challenge Mike Rounds for the Republican nomination for South Dakota's open U.S. Senate seat. Heck, let's even agree to consider the Howie-Ellis wing of the party as nothing more than malcontents full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

It's still hard to see 95% agreement. Republican issues seem to be smaller government, lower taxes less spending, values, and strong defense. Conor Friedersdorf points out that those goals frequently conflict:
The Republican coalition certainly encompasses limited government conservatives. But part of the right's challenge, going forward, is the fact that "limited government" is a tertiary priority for some in the GOP, and directly at odds with certain policy desires others in the coalition care about most. The aging cohort of Republicans who want government to keep its damned hands of their Medicare are in tension with limited government conservatives. So are the neocons who favor an ever larger military budget and more interventions than the average Republican does. 
There are limited government types, like Rand Paul, who find that many in their party are perfectly comfortable with expansive domestic surveillance as part of the ongoing War on Terrorism. There is also a tension between Republicans who oppose all tax increases on limited government grounds and fiscal conservatives who regard a balanced budget as a higher priority, and no longer believe that Grover Norquist and "starve the beast" will ever achieve it. And traditional values conservatives? They're keen on spending more money than limited government types if it means more financial incentives for having bigger families or policies meant to achieve a substantial decrease in abortions (with the added social spending that would entail). Plus they disagree with limited government types on gay marriage and the drug war.
Even if defense isn't a priority at the state level, it's tough to see 95% agreement among South Dakota Republicans on social issues like gay marriage, legal cannabis, or abortion. Even if they agree about that government should be smaller, I doubt 95% of them will agree how to best achieve limits.

I like hyperbole as much as anyone, but Lawrence doesn't seem to want his statement to be seen as hyperbolic. As a depiction of reality, Lawrence's claim stretches credulity.


P&R said...

Show me two people who agree 95% of the time, and I'll show you at least one person who isn't thinking.

Kal Lis said...

I agree. I had read the Friedersdorf stuff just before I read that comment. The difference between the two points of was so wide that I figured it deserved a post.