Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Unhappy with Congress? Blame the Republicans.

If you are unhappy with our dysfunctional Congress, don’t blame the Democrats.  Blame the Republicans because they created the mess. And, they did it on purpose.

In their new book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” political scientists Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein write:

Today’s Republicans in Congress behave like a parliamentary party in a British-style parliament, a winner-take-all system. But a parliamentary party — “ideologically polarized, internally unified, vehemently oppositional” — doesn’t work in a “separation-of-powers system that makes it extremely difficult for majorities to work their will.”
These Republicans “have become more loyal to party than to country,” the authors write, so “the political system has become grievously hobbled at a time when the country faces unusually serious problems and grave threats. . . . The country is squandering its economic future and putting itself at risk because of an inability to govern effectively.”
Today’s Republican Party has little in common even with Ronald Reagan’s GOP, or with earlier versions that believed in government. Instead it has become “an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition . . . all but declaring war on the government.”

Mann and Ornstein blame Newt Gingrich for creating the modern radical Republican Party:  His eagerness “to paint . . . his own institution [when Democrats controlled it] as elitist, corrupt and arrogant . . . undermined basic public trust in Congress and government. . . . His attacks on partisan adversaries in the White House and Congress created a norm in which colleagues with different views became mortal enemies. . . . He helped invent the modern permanent campaign, allowing electoral goals to dominate policy ones. . . . One has to look back to Gingrich as the singular political figure who set the tone that followed.”

My hope is that American voters will vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party in this year’s elections to send a message to Republicans that they must move back toward the center and return to governing rather than just obstructing if they wish to remain a viable force in American politics.

Mann and Ornstein quotes in this post are from the Post article.

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