Why the GOP can walk all over its voters–and get away with it

The GOP finally got their bill to repeal and replace the ACA out the house. It’ll now go to the senate, where it’s pretty much doomed. If it doesn’t collapse altogether, it’ll be sent back as a much different bill. Regardless, pundits and experts are predicting that the AHCA has shown the republican hand, namely that they care more about tax cuts for the rich and not at all about your health.

That’s certainly true.

The bill sees hundreds of millions of dollars cut from medicaid and a corresponding tax break for the wealthy. It also allows insurers to drop you if you become ill or have a pre-existing condition. It’ll raise premiums for the elderly. It’s just an awful, awful bill. Which is why pundits are predicting a major backlash against the party come 2018.

I don’t think we’re going to see that.

Ultimately, a few red districts in blue states may flip, but it won’t be enough to shift the balance of power. Because I don’t think that this will perturb republican voters. History has shown, time after time, that they’ll vote against their own self-interest and I don’t think that this moment in history is an exception. Many of the deep red states have had republican governors, legislatures, and courts for 30+ years. And yet things keep getting worse for those states. If republican voters were ever going to finally wake up to the fact that they’re voting against their own interests, it would have happened by now. In fact, it’s probably never going to happen.

Here, take a look at this:


Every single one of those states is solid red, and every single one voted for Trump. And every single one of those voters with a pre-existing condition will see their insurance either disappear or skyrocket in price. But I’m willing to wager that come 2018 they’ll still vote for the very same congressman who voted to strip them of healthcare. Why? Because many republicans are single issue voters. And what is that issue, you ask?


As long the GOP continues to be the party that opposes abortion and wants to overturn Row v. Wade they can pretty much do whatever they want to voters and still get re-elected.

59% of republican voters think abortion should always be illegal. Even among moderate or ‘liberal’ republicans, 41% think it should always be illegal. And that number has shifted up from where it stood in 1995; 20 years go, republicans were split almost evenly, 49%/48%. In the last two decades, republican voters have only become more conservative on this issue. In 2015, 21 percent of Americans said they would only vote for a candidate who shared their abortion views, up from 13 percent in 2008.

Particularly ironic, given that the AHCA isn’t friendly to pregnant women or babies and children. But I digress.

Economically, many conservatives align with progressive values. 52% of republicans with family incomes <$30,000 say the government has a responsibility to provide healthcare coverage for everyone, up from 31% just last year. And in a recent Gallup poll, 45% of republicans said they think the wealthy don’t pay their fair share in taxes. They hate those free trade deals that sent their jobs overseas–something Bernie Sanders talked about extensively during the election.  In other words, conservative voters know that they’re getting screwed over economically. As time goes on, they seem to be getting more progressive economically.

And yet…when it’s time to step into that voting booth, they always pull the red lever. And what does it get them? Healthcare? Gone. Overtime pay? Gone.  Clean water and air? Gone, too. Taxes? More income redistributed from the middle and lower classes to the donor class.

But hey, abortion, right?


6 thoughts on “Why the GOP can walk all over its voters–and get away with it

  1. Ryan, if that’s the case, then the pro-life choice must be framed in terms of economic inequality, ecosystem collapse, and endless wars. Which fetus brought to full-term will survive the first years of its life on Earth under such adversity?

    How can we be against taking the life of a fetus, but not against sending our sons and daughters – for whom we’ve spent years of sacrifice and hard work to raise to adulthood – to serve and die in unjust endless wars? Is this what the abortion issue is really all about: the right of men, and the women who support them, to procreate for the perpetuation of warfare and world domination?

    1. I fear the cognitive dissonance on the right will never see it that way. They would probably say that the soldier chooses to serve, but a fetus has no choice in abortion. To them there is a distinction between the right to be born and the right to survive.

    2. This is an excellent point. A friend of mine and I made the very same point a couple of months ago. And it requires little creativity to show that this is true. When you look at the cost to society for orphanages, when you look at the increase in poverty in children, the malnutrition, the health costs…making abortion illegal most certainly increases human suffering. The conditions of society in which we raise our children is the most important thing, because that is what actually reduces the rate of abortion. When mothers feel they live in a safe society, when they feel their health care needs are taken care of, when they feel their child’s health care needs are taken care of, when they receive quality sex education and free access to health care, that’s when abortion decreases. There is no stronger bastion of the patriarchy than in the abortion issue, because there is true care about the protecting the sanctity of life, is is solely about controlling women’s bodies. Reducing them to baby making machines. A society that truly cares about women and children doesn’t ban abortions. The worst part of this insidious is how many women have been suckered into this anti-abortion campaign which always centers around men at the legislative table. Every woman who votes against abortion is voting against their own self-interest…is voting against the interest of women.

  2. Rethugs are always pro life, but don’t give a shit about drug addict babies with no future, rape victims (it always the womans fault) or the many thousands of children born to hopeless poverty. If they were really pro life they would see to it that these children had some hope to survive to adulthood. But that would cost $$, so…

    They also never seem to understand that right wing x-ian types are a huge segment of the population seeking of abortions. The hypocrisy is stunning.

  3. This was a nice write up Ryan. It would be interesting to see a more in depth analysis to show how much the issue of abortion sways voters. A colleague here…with a Ph.D. in mathematics is strongly Catholic and yes voted for Trump because of that. My jaw just dropped. It’s ridiculous how much this one issue has hijacked votes, especially considering that the legality of abortion has nothing to say about how often abortion happens. The fact that so much emotion and passion is shown over fetuses and so little is given to the people who actually exist as self-functioning human beings is really the height of moral shame.

    I would like to add that after a lot of research the one place where Bernie was wrong was in regards to the trade deals. Trade deals to actually create net jobs for us, but of course one industry’s loss is another’s bigger gain. So I do think though we have to be more mindful of how trade deals are going to affect those industries and put plans in place for helping those people transition to new careers. Otherwise, we’re just fighting to bring back coal…and well we know how stupid that is. Unless of course you are just saying it to win elections!!

    1. It’s especially maddening when you consider that outlawing abortions doesn’t magically make them stop, but will simply force women to go underground and put their own health and safety at risk by getting sketchy back alley procedures.

      It’s also particularly ironic that the party who thinks gun control won’t stop gun violence can’t see that “abortion control” won’t stop abortion.

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