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How Republicans hurt more than just their own party by acting irrationally

March 15, 2013, at 12:55 PM

The give and tug of politics is often messy and ugly to watch. But political theory tells us that politicians working in their own self interest usually produce an optimal policy outcome for the country.

But what if politicians don't act rationally?

After two election cycles in which Republicans lost at least five Senate seats most thought they should have won, it would be natural to assume the party would make adjustments. And after Mitt Romney lost a presidential election in a race dominated by a terrible economy, most would think the GOP would modify its positions to attract more voters.

But leading Republicans are instead taking the opposite approach.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said this week, "So just because the election didn't go our way, that means we're supposed to change our principles? We're supposed to just go along to get along? We reject that view."

A day later Speaker John Boehner Boehner (R-Ohio) echoed Ryan saying "the election losses would not deter his party from pressing its vision."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) told conservative activists yesterday that the real reason Republicans lost the White House in 2008 and 2012 was because their nominees weren't conservative enough.

Democrats cheer when key Republicans act irrationally and double down on their failed electoral strategies. But the country should not. Lively debate between two strong political parties is the key to policy outcomes that are supported by a majority of voters.

Republicans right now are hurting more than their own party. They're hurting the country too.

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