Time for the GOP to listen

It is impossible for Republicans to talk about their government shutdown, and their efforts to kill or delay ObamaCare, without noting that they’re selflessly working on behalf of the American people. 

“My plea to this body is that we listen to the American people,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during his fake filibuster, “because if we listen to our constituents, the answer is we need to defund this bill that isn’t working.” 

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Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) echoed the theme from the House floor: “It’s time for the Senate to listen to the American people just like the House has listened to the American people, and to pass a one-year delay of ObamaCare.” 

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said as much on his Senate website: “With Democrats in control of the Senate, we needed Democrats to join with the American people who want Obamacare stopped in its tracks. Based upon the Democrats unanimous votes in support of funding Obamacare, they must not have gotten the message.” 

Virtually every Republican has followed suit. But endless repetition doesn’t make it true, as any quick look at the polling would indicate. 

A poll by healthcare media outlet The Morning Consult found that just 33 percent of voters support delaying or defunding ObamaCare. The rest support a wait-and-see approach to the new law, want it fixed, or want it expanded. 

A recent Pew Research poll found that while 53 percent of Americans oppose the law, only 23 percent support efforts to make it fail. The rest want to see the law improved. 

A CNBC poll found that just 38 percent of Americans support defunding, while a Bloomberg poll found that Americans, by a 50 percent to 43 percent margin, think Republicans should just accept ObamaCare as the law of the land. 

And that opposition to the GOP’s efforts against the administration’s healthcare reform law comes despite widespread public confusion about the law. For example, the CNBC poll found that 46 percent of respondents had a negative view of ObamaCare, but when they were asked about the “Affordable Care Act,” that number fell to 37 percent. And a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that about half of respondents were confused about the law and didn’t trust the media to explain it to them. This all explains why the public expresses enthusiastic bipartisan support when asked about the individual elements of the healthcare law.

So the public doesn’t currently support Republican efforts, no matter how much the GOP claims they do. In fact, Republicans litigated ObamaCare heavily in the 2012 elections and were delivered decisive electoral defeats at every level of government as a result — they lost the White House, they lost seats in the Senate despite a favorable map, and they lost the House popular vote by more than a million votes. Boehner kept his House majority as a result of gerrymandering, not democratic preference. 

Ironically, at the same time that Republicans are demanding that Democrats “listen to the American people,” they are doing the opposite at the electoral level, fighting to make it more difficult for Americans to exercise their franchise. In places like North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania, the GOP is trying to rein in early and weekend voting, curtail campus voting, block voter registration opportunities and require onerous voter ID requirements to weed out core Democratic constituencies. 

Republicans can either embrace the collective wisdom of the American people and work to expand the franchise — and quit their quixotic attempt to eliminate a law via undemocratic means — or they can own up to what they are: a fringe party supporting fringe policies. 

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.