Bill Maher on Realtime Friday night nailed how tiny, loud conservative groups have an outsized impact on American politics.
Maher (watch the NSFW video after the jump) pointed out that polls consistently show that Americans do have far more liberal views than 'Beltway' thinking assumes they do.
Earlier, he pointed out that although the budget put forward by the Republicans and especially that of their Tea Party caucus has media attention, the budget put forward by the House's Progressive caucus has zero attention. And yet the Progressive budget when given the 'blind taste test' treatment has been found to be overwhelmingly favoured by ordinary Americans.
Last week on Up w/ Chris Hayes (video after the jump) a new political science study (PDF) was discussed which shows just how misread America is. The study, discussed on the show with one of its authors on the panel, finds, writes Sal Gentile on the show's Tumblr, ..
.. that politicians tend to overestimate just how conservative their constituents are. Conservative politicians are especially bad at gauging their constituents’ beliefs — they underestimate support among their constituents for policies like universal health care and same-sex marriage by as much as 20 percentage points.
These findings explain so much about the state of modern American politics. There seems to be such a larger appetite for conservative policies like war and austerity among politicians than among actual voters. In the latest budget fight, for example, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been insisting on the need to cut spending and “entitlements.” But polls show consistently that Americans believe spending cuts are bad for the economy, that they want to reduce the deficit through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts and that they want to preserve funding for cherished social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security.
This disconnect between politicians and constituents has, arguably, gotten worse over the past three decades. As shown in the graph above, the share of Americans describing themselves as “conservative” has remained largely unchanged since 1976, even dipping considerably in the 1990s. House Republicans, meanwhile, have become more conservative than ever before,according to the DW-Nominate scale, a system of rating the ideology of lawmakers devised by political scientist Keith Poole.
The striking divergence between how conservative Congressional Republicans have gotten and how conservative the American people are explains so much about how broken and dysfunctional our politics are.
Watch the Bill Maher (NSFW) and Chris Hayes segments after the jump: