If you think it is Rep. Paul Ryan’s gutting of Medicare that is pulling the Republicans down, you need to think bigger. The House Budget Committee chairman’s proposal to convert Medicare into a private insurance-voucher plan is indeed a political calamity for the GOP, as the results of last week’s congressional special election in Upstate New York showed. But it’s far from the only disaster that the party has visited upon itself.
For even as Republicans have imperiled themselves on the national level, they also seem to be committing political hara-kiri in one statehouse after the next. Republican governors who took office this year or last — the ones as determined as Ryan to do a wholesale rewrite of America’s social contract — have approval ratings that we normally associate with strains of bacteria. What’s more, they’re tanking in many of the swing states that will be key in next year’s presidential election.