Posts Tagged Chuck Hagel

Republicans are the problem – and the mainstream commentariat has finally figured that out

It’s only taken them three plus years to figure it out but the mainstream media seems to finally be waking up to the fact that the Republican party has gone so far to the right as to have become the problem in American politics.  Witness this article from Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein.

They lay out the problem:

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.

They lay the blame at the feet of Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist, whose political strategies have excited and awakened an intransigent, ideologically rigid base, empowered that base and in turn created a feedback loop in which Republicans move ever further to the right.

Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to delegitimize the results and repeal the policies. The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And 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.

Think about that final point – Republicans are doing everything in their power to prevent laws from being implemented.  They’re not arguing for changing them or fixing them, they’re abusing longstanding ways of doing things to illegitimately block legitimately enacted laws.  They’re abusing the system to keep it from working.

The GOP’s evolution has become too much for some longtime Republicans. Former senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska called his party “irresponsible” in an interview with the Financial Times in August, at the height of the debt-ceiling battle. “I think the Republican Party is captive to political movements that are very ideological, that are very narrow,” he said. “I’ve never seen so much intolerance as I see today in American politics.”

And Mike Lofgren, a veteran Republican congressional staffer, wrote an anguished diatribe last year about why he was ending his career on the Hill after nearly three decades. “The Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe,” he wrote on the Truthout Web site.

Lofgren’s point is striking to me.  Republicans constantly bag on Europe but they have become more like one of its extremist parties than a traditional Americans political party.  In the past, I’ve used the term fundamentalist for the Republicans – they’ve become political fundamentalists, insistent on seeing only one distorted version of history, adhering to a rigid ideological standard, rejecting other ways of seeing the world as illegitimate.  They’ve adopted a fundamentalist mindset and all the behaviors that go with it, including a tendency to see everyone who disagrees as enemies and absolute rejection of pluralism.

The Republicans have gone insane and they intend to drag the rest of along with them.  Mann and Ornstein end their article with a call for the mainstream media to actually do their jobs as journalists, to eschew the false “both sides do it” tendencies and to actually give voters accurate information.  The mainstream cult of balance is unlikely to heed the call but we can hope.



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