In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, formerly considered a liberal rag and now editorially conservative, two men have stated the obvious. It's titled "Let's Just Say It: The Republicans Are The Problem," and one of its authors, Norman Ornstein, is a well-known conservative, who works for the well-known conservative think tank, American Enterprise Institute. The other is Thomas E. Mann, who works for the more liberal Brookings Institution.
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.
[...]What happened? Of course, there were larger forces at work beyond the realignment of the South... But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.[...]Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. ... Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.[...]
Republicans often dismiss nonpartisan analyses of the nature of problems and the impact of policies when those assessments don’t fit their ideology...
...This attitude filters down far deeper than the party leadership. Rank-and-file GOP voters endorse the strategy that the party’s elites have adopted, eschewing compromise to solve problems and insisting on principle, even if it leads to gridlock. Democratic voters, by contrast, along with self-identified independents, are more likely to favor deal-making over deadlock.
No doubt, Democrats were not exactly warm and fuzzy toward George W. Bush during his presidency. But recall that they worked hand in glove with the Republican president on the No Child Left Behind Act, provided crucial votes in the Senate for his tax cuts, joined with Republicans for all the steps taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and supplied the key votes for the Bush administration’s financial bailout at the height of the economic crisis in 2008. The difference is striking.
If our democracy is to regain its health and vitality, the culture and ideological center of the Republican Party must change. In the short run, without a massive (and unlikely) across-the-board rejection of the GOP at the polls, that will not happen. If anything, Washington’s ideological divide will probably grow after the 2012 elections.[...]
... If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.
Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?
Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine...
Look ahead to the likely consequences of voters’ choices in the November elections. How would the candidates govern? What could they accomplish? What differences can people expect from a unified Republican or Democratic government, or one divided between the parties?
In just a few pages, the authors have hit on virtually every theme of my writings here: Republican intransigence, abuse of Senate rules, ignoring of facts; the laziness of the press; the skewed perception of what's really going on; the inherent dangers if it goes on much longer. Sadly, they seem also to share my pessimism that voters, already irreversibly brainwashed (my words), will wake to the reality and the danger and vote the motherfuckers out of office (also my words, one of which is getting more and more literally true, politico-economically speaking). From both sides of the political spectrum, they've seen and reported on the obvious: neither party is blameless, but the Rs have gone totally off the rails (a tired expression they use in the article), because of which we're headed toward disaster.