What are the biggest frustrations about the Republican Party?I think one of my biggest frustrations about the Republican Party is the way some (and honestly, most) of its members view the Democratic Party and people who take advantage of government programs. I think the best way to illustrate this is by examining the thoughts of a few individuals who answered the sister question to this one: What are the biggest frustrations about the Democratic Party? This gets a bit rant-y and ends up arriving at another thing that frustrates me about the Republican Party: they brand themselves as the fiscally responsible party, when often they are just opposed to the government providing non-defense services. The Republican Party is a doctor who recommends amputation for every ailment.
I'll start with perhaps Quora's most famous conservative, Gary Teal. His answer to this question was concise:
My biggest frustration is their greatest achievement. They have done a very good job of promoting the notion that the federal government is the best entity to solve most problems, that it does so by spending more money, and that any opposition to spending is in effect an attack on the needy, children, the elderly, etc.
This notion that Democrats view most societal problems as opportunities for increased government expenditure is, in my opinion, myopic. When most people see problems that they have been tasked with fixing (whether by their constituents or by a personal sense of obligation), they tend to try and fix them. This doesn't mean that all Democrats think that most problems must be solved by government intervention and spending, but rather that most Democrats believe they have an obligation to try to solve some problems, and that as government officials, the most powerful tool at their disposal is often targeted federal spending. However, and I'm very willing to admit this, sometimes government spending doesn't work. The cost of running a program can be too high, the criteria for eligibility can be too broad resulting in abuse, and the economic impact associated with taxing enough money to run the program can prove more detrimental to society than not having the program at all, culminating in the ultimate question: "Is this worth it?"
That's a reasonable question to ask, and it leads to a conversation and corresponding level of scrutiny that I believe all government spending should be subject to. But having that rational conversation about cost vs. benefit and pro vs. con analysis is a far stretch from what many Republicans contribute to public discourse, which often manifests in little more than a tirade against the tyranny of taxation. If there are truly problems in the way the government spends money, point it out and explain how it can be reduced. If that's what a Republican brings to the table then he or she will earn my respect, and while I might not always agree, I think that is an extremely valuable contribution to the national conversation. But in this day and age that kind of objectivity can be rare in the Republican Party. It's no surprise that members of the Republican Party struggle to offer constructive proposals for cutting spending; it's difficult to objectively evaluate how to optimize efficiency in a government program if you believe the people who created it are spendthrifts who throw money at any problem that arises and that the people who use it are lazy moochers. Put simply, a one-dimensional view of one's ideological opponent is detrimental to efforts to compromise. I think a lot of people on both sides of the aisle could benefit from realizing that.
Tom Byron's answer to this question also gave me pause. On the subject of what he calls "The 'Life of Julia' Model" he writes...
Every step in her life, and in many lives, the government steps in to assist. What happened to creating a strong "I did this!" work effort? What happened to trial and error, a few mistakes to make you stronger? Can we continue, generation after generation to be the force, the sole force, directing all outcomes in many if not most people's life's?
What is happening to self-worth and the old hard work attitude?
The Right's view of government programs and those who use them is one that I am fundamentally at odds with. A few of the government programs mentioned were Head Start, Pell Grants, and the federal student loan program. Programs that seek to help alleviate the burden with which our capitalist system encumbers certain individuals. Without these programs, low-income children born in urban areas have a fraction of the likelihood of success in this country that children born to wealthy parents have. Without some semblance of a level playing field, then what worth do the achievements of the wealthy's progeny have? How much pride should one have for finishing 2nd in a race in which several of the participants started 100 yards further back, with hurdles in their path, and missing a leg?
These programs are, in my eyes, not disincentives for the "old hard work attitude". They are enablers of it. The establishment of a level playing field is the best way to shift our country more towards a meritocracy, in which "the old work hard attitude" is the only factor contributing to one's chances of success. People taking advantage of these educational programs are not taking the easy way out, they are not dependent on the government, they are just seeking an equal opportunity to work hard and succeed.
Note: Tom Byron and Gary Teal are some of the most intelligent people on Quora and I have the utmost respect for them. They are almost always careful and moderate with their rhetoric. That's part of why I used them for this answer; the conversation goes nowhere if I use some random radically conservative Anon User's answer. They will be brushed off as being fringe members of the party. People on the far right and far left are equally flawed, so I felt that we only get somewhere if we focus on the sane people.
Many, many things frustrate me about the GOP: its continued assault on reproductive rights, its homophobia, its xenophobia, and the way it eschews science. When I saw Mitch McConnell state that the chief goal of the Republican party was to ensure that Obama was a one term president, I was, truly, enraged.
But my biggest problem with the GOP, and the issue that has driven me to vote Democratic, is that it allows itself to be controlled by a small group of Christian extremists. I find this troublesome, and, quite frankly, frightening.
Now, I have no problem with anyone's religion. I don't care if people are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, or anything else. I only start having a problem with it when people shout about their religion from the rooftops and try to impose their beliefs on others. My father taught us all to be suspicious of people like that.
My father was a man of faith, and his relationship with God was very important to him. He was also a Methodist minister for a few years. I don't think he was the most prolific Biblical scholar that ever lived, but I do think that he knew more about this kind of thing than the average person, and therefore he was (and still is, even though he's no longer with us) one of the few people whose opinion about this kind of thing I hold in high regard.
He felt very strongly that a person's religion and relationship with God is a very personal, private thing. Any time he saw a celebrity, athlete, politician, or anyone else use any kind of a public forum as a pulpit, he found it very distasteful and offensive. Anyone who would make pronouncements about what God wants or what God feels was, in his view, guilty of the worst kind of hubris. He and my mother taught my siblings and me that a person's religion is between him/her and God, and also taught us to be suspicious of people who shouted from the rooftops about how faithful, holy, pious, and righteous they are.
This is why people like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum make my skin crawl. Any time I see any of them start screeching about religion, I hear my father's voice in my head saying, "Who are you trying to convince? Me or you?"
- Obsession with social issues. It's hard to believe the party really stands for smaller government when they seek out having government involvement and interference in some of the most personal aspects of individuals' lives.There is a glaring contradiction to their professing to be the party of states' rights when, for instance, they're still pushing for intrusive federal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) . With a nation working its way through 2 major wars and an economic recession, there's something odd about a party seemingly obsessed with abolishing abortion, limiting access to contraception, opposing same-sex marriage at every opportunity, and so on. It's difficult to believe the party that sees such a threat to individual freedom in a health care act was so eager to see passage of the Patriot Act.
- Blind obstructionism. We know that top leaders of the GOP met right at the time of Obama's first inauguration  and essentially came out of that meeting committing to opposing Obama on all fronts, regardless of what it was in relation to. They are so committed to opposing Obama they'll willingly do so at the expense of the nation's fiscal stability, economic recovery, and even national security. One might reasonably feel federal inaction on certain fronts is fine, but a blanket commitment to obstruction and inaction is not a reasonable position to take. It's awfully convenient for the GOP to be a party preaching that the federal government is ineffective and inefficient, while doing all they can to ensure the federal government is indeed ineffective and inefficient. Filibusters, holding up nominations, blocking legislation - they do so not necessarily because they feel some of those initiatives might not be good, but simply because they want to oppose any and all. The GOP does not oppose Obama's or Democrats initiatives because they have reason to; the GOP opposes Obama's and Democrat's initiatives, and then comes up with reasons to justify doing so.
- An inability to learn from past mistakes. The Iraq war was a mess, and a Republican administration mishandled Afghanistan. And yet, had Mitt Romney won, the very same neoconservative types (and even very many of the exact same people) from the Bush Administration would have again been in charge of foreign policy with Romney; the GOP learned no lessons from the economic crisis that began under Bush, and are so committed to particular policies and viewpoints that they push for them regardless of circumstance or potential outcomes. We know what impact the Bush tax cuts have had on the deficit, and yet the GOP seems to think tax cuts are the only way to address a deficit under Obama.
- Contradicting themselves. They profess to being a party of fiscal responsibility, while Republican administrations have proven themselves to be very incapable of controlling spending or spending wisely. Republican congressman and senators would eagerly support spending and such when proposed by Bush, but seem to think any spending under Obama is unacceptable. It is difficult to view Republicans as sincerely opposed to Susan Rice, for instance, when they seemed to have no such qualms about Condi Rice when she contributed to getting us in to a war in Iraq over WMDs and terror connections that did not exist.
Speaking as a quote-unquote "Republican" (as in, I vote Republican but am not a registered member of the party; I guess you could call me a "person who does not vote Democrat") there are plenty of us on the right who are just as frustrated with the Republican Party.
The left likes to crow that the Republicans criticize big spending and big government under Obama but were happy to spend money and expand the government when they were in power. And this is true when referring to politicians. But it also ignores the fact that many Republican *voters* were NOT happy with the Republicans' big-spending and big-government policies. Why do you think they were mostly swept out of Congress in 2006? Did you think the political pulse of the entire country changed overnight? Of course not. Right-leaning voters *stayed home* because they were so unhappy with the performance of their so-called "Republican" representatives. And if you look at the Republicans who were tossed out in 2006 vs. those who were reelected, the ones who managed to stay in office were generally the ones who walked the walk on low spending and small government, while the ones thrown out were big-spending big-government types (obviously that wasn't true in all cases but it was in most).
Looking through this page, I see a lot of references to "obstructionism". People keep accusing the Republicans of "obstructing" President Obama's agenda. And that's bad.
On the one hand I suppose I can't fault them for saying that, since this is a thread about the things people find "frustrating" about the Republican Party, and obviously liberals would be frustrated with someone who stops them from doing what they want, just as anyone else would. But on the other hand, most of the people who make this point seem to be saying there's something inherently wrong with this "obstructionism" by the Republicans. Funny, during the Bush administration no one on the left complained about "obstructionism" by the Democrats. In fact they praised it. Dissent was the highest form of patriotism during the previous administration. Now, all of a sudden dissent is decried as "blind obstructionism". Just something for everyone here to consider.
As a "person who does not vote Democrat" it isn't THAT the Republicans are obstructing Obama's agenda that frustrates me. Frankly that's a good thing IMO. (Even if you firmly support Obama, it's the opposition's job to obstruct the other party's agenda. What exactly was the left expecting the Republicans to do? Roll over and give Obama his way?)
It's HOW the Republicans are obstructing Obama's agenda that I find frustrating. They strike me as indecisive and limp in their opposition. Boehner in particular seems to have no real spine for the job he's been given. He also seems to have no skill for communicating a clear message (if he even has one) to the public, so he's allowed the media to define his position for him. And because the media leans strongly to the left, they've of course constructed a narrative that the mean ol' Republicans are cruelly opposing the Pure and Honest President in his agenda. Mitt Romney and John McCain both made the same mistake during their respective battles against Barack Obama. They allowed the left-leaning media to define them without doing enough to stop it. Romney in particular had a problem with this. Given the sorry state Obama's poll numbers were in Romney could have won easily in 2012 but he campaigned like a moron. He allowed the media to define him almost at every single turn, and he refused to strike back at this media bias when he clearly should have.
It is now 2013. But the most notable recent frustration expressed by voters was the cause of the rise of a tea party movement. In early 2009 many voters saw the passage of the Stimulus and became alarmed, not only that Democrats were spending too much money, but that they had no reasonable alternative to the Democrats. They saw that government spending rose precipitously from 2003 to 2006 even when Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House (the first such period since a two year blip during Eisenhower's Presidency). (Note that spending really took off in the 2007-2008 Congress as well, when the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives.) They felt that Republicans were not reliably carrying out Republican political philosophy.
The system worked; up to 30% of American voters told pollsters that they identified with tea party ideas in the 2010 election, and the largest turnover of seats in nearly a hundred years was the result.
The Tea Party as a brand was successfully robbed of its power after that election for several reasons. First, its opponents waged a very successful campaign suggesting that the movement wasn't really about spending cuts at all, but was the product of racism. Secondly, the potential formation of a third party never materialized, as "tea party" (lower case) voters came home to the Republican Party in November. Thirdly, the movement largely accomplished its goals; almost every district that is a potential Republican district was won by the Republican candidate, and many Republicans who were seen as too accommodating were replaced by primary candidates who were more conservative (regarding spending).
After taking control in 2011, the Republican majority in the House has been an effective obstacle to President Obama's agenda in many areas. Naturally its opponents should be expected to be frustrated by this fact. Those who bemoan the historically low number of bills passed by the last Congress are approaching the subject from the point of view that more legislation is better. That's fine - it's a valid point of view held by half the country. The other half would like to see a smaller government. There are no extremists in office in the Congress; nobody wants to cut spending by 50%. The supposedly draconian Paul Ryan budgets passed by the House during the past two Congresses anticipated balancing the budget some ten to fifteen years in the future, not in one or two years. But to the extent that the House continues to be a thorn in the President's side, they will be criticized by the Democrats, and that makes complete sense. It's just that about half the country, including this writer, are relieved, if not perhaps ecstatic, that Republicans are frustrating the President's agenda. Obstructionism isn't bad policy to anyone who believes that the policy that is being obstructed is bad. Set aside the substantive argument for a moment, if you need to, and recognize that there are two sides in this discussion, pretty evenly balanced in the electorate, if not on Quora.
They don't seem to care or listen to people like me.
Supposedly, I "should" be a republican as a small business owner, child of someone at the C level in a fortune 500. I believe in a strong defense and that government probgams have lots of unintended consequences and inefficiencies. I go to church regularly and am a straight white woman with two small children. My parents were republicans, and my mother was even a delegate at the 1972 convention. I am not in love with the Democrats and consider myself an independent. I try to vote for the person, not the party and can think of many moderate Republicans I really like and would support.
But wow, the Republicans have not offered up a reasonable candidate in awhile.I really liked McCain before he ran for president but I was deeply offended by Sarah Palin. There were a ton of very clever, qualified republican women and Palin was the best the GOP could offer?
The party in the 2012 election came across as anti-poor, anti-immigration, and anti-everyone who wasn't rich and white and Christian. The insane things that came out of GOP candidates mouths went beyond lunacy. I got cold called by the local GOP candidate who proceeded to tell me that the government funds abortion because it funds Planned Parenthood - well, that is a gross mis-characterization of how government funding is calculated and managed and is very very dangerous path to follow for religious institutions who get government grants and contracts but also provide religious services... I know the Hyde amendment and I know the FAR - don't insult my intelligence with that crap.
So, unless I wish to vote for a third party candidate who will never win, I basically have to vote Democratic because the GOP doesn't want me in their party. After all, members of their party routinely insults me and topics I care about, and makes no attempt to even listen to my opinions.