Negotiating with Conservatives

February 1, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Tom Delay writes in his book “No Retreat, No Surrender” that he would “start every policy initiative from as far to the political right as we could.”

The conservative bargaining strategy looks something like this:

Conservative: How much is that rug?

Seller: $100

Conservative: I’ll give you $10.

Seller: How about $80?

Conservative:  How about $7 and I’d also like that set of kitchen pans and those curtains too.

Conservatives would argue that their strategy worked. It would be hard to disagree. The conservative agenda was front and center as they received almost everything they asked for during the Bush presidency.

Of course, you’d be hard pressed to believe that they received everything they wanted. For the more they got, the more they screamed that they weren’t getting what they wanted in order to get more.

They removed regulations for their business donors, they cut taxes for the wealthy, they started 2 wars that continue to run, they ballooned the deficit, and they expanded the powers of the President. And Democrats complicitly went along for the ride.

Their strategy is simple. Scream that they’re not getting what they want. Get Democrats to capitatulate. Start screaming again.

What Democrats, centrists, liberals, and the rest of America needs to recognize is this: conservatives will always scream that they aren’t getting what they want. No matter how much you try to compromise with them.

Once you realize this, there really isn’t much incentive in trying to win them over by compromising with them. They will get what they ask for and start screaming again.

If you look at the recent stimulus package, President Obama included tax cuts for conservatives and even took out some of the most objectionable (from a conservative standpoint) components.

Missing from the bill was the family planning provision, what conservatives would refer to as money to fund the “abortion industry.”

The bill was fairly bipartisan to begin with as Obama promised. Obama also reached out to Republicans to receive input on the bill.

How did conservatives behave? All of the Republicans in the House voted against the bill.

They screamed it was partisan. They screamed that they were being ignored. They screamed.

Moral of the story: Conservatives will scream and yell partisanship and politics no matter how much you try to compromise with them.

So where’s the incentive to try to compromise and work with them?