Opposition Success

I’ve called the Republican Party “the party of No,” but this stance by the GOP predates Trump, although he certainly amplified and took advantage of the negativity of Republicans. And I’m certainly not the only one to make that observation.

So why do Republicans continue to oppose almost everything – except lower taxes? And, by the way, lower taxes are essentially opposition to existing government programs in general.

It strikes me that there are several reasons. First, most Democratic proposals involve change, and the majority of people, including many Democrats, are wary of or opposed to change.

Second, many policies that Republicans champion, just like lower taxes, are essentially negative in their impact on most people. Being violently pro-life is a restriction of a woman’s right to decide her own reproductive freedom, especially when some pro-life proposals essentially tacitly condone rape and incest. Proposing to cut back on federal regulations on business almost always results in allowing greater harm to people and the environment.

Third, and possibly most important, recent studies, including studies on the impact of Facebook postings and algorithms, show that people are more likely to get physically and emotionally involved when they are encouraged to oppose something than when they support something.

In addition, almost every policy change or legislative proposal will have opponents, and the opponents tend to be more vocal and angry than the supporters, which is why, even though anti-vaxxers are a small minority, they create more visible support, as well as unrest and violence, than those who support vaccination. The same is true of white-supremacists. Thus, a policy of negativity generates more support, particularly among conservatives, who are already wary of change, while it’s harder to get support from Republicans, and even some Democrats, for proposals or legislation that would change the system away from what people believe or are familiar with.

In effect, Republicans are wagering, often successfully, on negativity as the best way to maintain and/or gain popular support.

14 thoughts on “Opposition Success”

  1. Wine Guy says:

    An unthinking No is always easier than a thoughtful Yes.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      But an unthinking Yes is also easier than a thoughtful No.

      3.5 trillion$, really? Trim at least 2/3 of the bacon! Most needs SHOULD GO UNMET unless people get off their asteroids and meet them themselves.

      1. Joe says:

        > Most needs SHOULD GO UNMET

        That rather depends on whether society prevents people from earning enough to flourish.

        If inequality increases thanks to the financialization of the economy (leading the 0.1% to own more and more), and if AI replaces more workers ($150k capital price for something that works 24/7 versus $50k for something that works 40 hours per week is a good deal) then applying this rule will destroy society.

        Don’t forget that we’re basically supposed to be roaming around finding food, like all other animals. But our societal norms forbid that (no trespassing), as does our over population (over half of us depend on the Haber-Bosch process for food, and it emits lots of CO2).

        If you want a peaceful society worth living in, either you need to prevent the creation of an underclass by those who have a lot, or you need to ensure the underclass is sufficiently happy not to revolt.

        A middle way is more likely to achieve a desirable outcome.

        That is not to say that any of the spending under consideration will go where it would be helpful, since that depends on the people in charge, who are pretty dismal. It’s just an argument of principle.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          Scalable increases in “equity” require more productive vs needy people. The rich being rich or even staying rich does not of itself create or sustain poverty, although the perceived disparity tends to upset some. Even 90% income tax plus no cap on social security or Medicare on the 1% would not generate enough to meet all needs.

          Perceived needs will ALWAYS exceed available resources.

          Better practical education (and more good parenting!) would help meet more needs than anything else; at present, that would be more remedial education and/or trade school, and not free college for all!

          Private charity is also more effective because it has no incentive to spend other people’s money for votes without undue pork (although there are some overpaid nonprofit CEO’s) and because it can focus on what produces observable results better than government, esp. where there is an in-person component to it.

          But yeah, there are too many people for where things are headed, even beyond what more redistribution could sustainably help. People that can’t afford to marry and responsibly support kids should NOT have them, preferably either by abstinence or prevention, rather than after-the-fact measures like abortion. There are definitely cultures and subcultures that need to change in that regard; and greater prosperity often goes hand-in-hand with greater personal responsibility.

          1. Joe says:

            The rich are getting richer. So they’re taking more of the pie everyone else is producing. They’re doing so with free money from the Fed going into the stock market inflating their assets. This is inflationary. I.e. it takes money from the people who produce and redistribute it to the people with connections and/or assets. Thus, they are net parasites on the economy. Not of benefit.

            We’d be much more in agreement if the rich made their money exclusively by making things that benefited society.

  2. Bill says:

    It succeeds until it fails catastrophically. I wonder if they thought they were going to live longer they would change their tune. If reincarnation was real and we knew how would it change our behavior. Might make an interesting story.

  3. John Prigent says:

    I have to ask: what’s everyones’ feeling about higher taxes? How can they be justified to those who’ll have to pay them but won’t benefit from them?

    1. Grey says:

      Do you make more than $400,000 a year? If the answer is no, then your taxes aren’t going up under Biden’s plans. I’m looking forward to hearing how some of the afflicted feel about it.

      1. Chris says:

        I’m fortunate enough that I would be affected. I do think the burden needs to be increased, but I would actually like to see a different implementation. Specifically:
        * Eliminate corporate tax (loss of $284b in revenue / year)
        * Implement a national general excise tax of 2% (increase of $418b in revenue / year)
        * Treat capital gains exactly like income, except offer a 1 point discount for each year held after 5 years, and eliminate stepped-up-basis for inheritance tax ($7-8b in revenue / year).

        Then make adjustments from this base if revenue needs to be increased to add more programs.

      2. R. Hamilton says:

        I topped out at around $100K, although I’m debt free and own my own home and vehicles in retirement, and my savings over and above adequate if not indulgent retirement income is modestly comfortable. So I’m NOT by any stretch either wealthy or poor.

        I don’t personally even desire much more, but I detest the premise that ANYONE has too much unless it leaves not enough cash in the economy for it to function efficiently. Yes, thousands or even millions hurt the rich less than tens of dollars hurt the poor, but that does NOT make the rich monsters for not wanting to pay taxes higher than say 25-35% tops.

    2. Ryan Jackson says:

      Do you have Home Owners Insurance?

      Have you made Claims that total more than you’ve paid in Premiums?

      If the answer is no, do you continue to keep coverage?

    3. Shannon says:

      I don’t make enough to pay more under Biden’s plan but I would be happy to do so in return for better services. Healthcare and childcare are areas I believe the government would provide services more effectively than private companies and the workforce would benefit through more flexibility. I intensely dislike having to worry about going without insurance if I choose take a different job, get laid off, or go back to school. A more robust short term social safety net would be appreciated. The government also funds numerous other things that may not be immediately useful but are beneficial long term, including basic research.

      1. R. Hamiilton says:

        I don’t use ANY personal federal services, and don’;t want more; all I use are local services and roads and BASIC (non-social) infrastructure. My health insurance is a decent value..;and in 40 years I’ve never even filed a claim.

        1. Shannon says:

          I’m glad you are so fortunate. Others aren’t through no fault of their own. The government is not responsible for saving everyone but I believe it should provide a level of support that allows people to be productive and contribute to the economy and society. When one financial catastrophe can induce poverty and government dependence for the rest of a person’s life and possibly for future offspring, it might be advisable and cheaper for society in the long run to help individuals occasionally.

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