The Partisanship Is Not Going Away, Even After the Election

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. …Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann, WaPo

That’s the scary prediction of two political analysts who have a history of getting it right. They call what the Republicans have been doing “the strategic use of partisanship.” You can forget about democracy when strategy is given preference to the interests of the people. Ornstein and Mann come up with a dandy example of the nuttiness of the right.

In early 2009, several of the eight Republican co-sponsors of a bipartisan health-care reform plan dropped their support; by early 2010, the others had turned on their own proposal so that there would be zero GOP backing for any bill that came within a mile of Obama’s reform initiative. As one co-sponsor, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), told The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein: “I liked it because it was bipartisan. I wouldn’t have voted for it.” …WaPo

We can laugh at the absurdity. But the right isn’t laughing. It’s dead serious, serious with an earnestness that crosses the border into a crazy inability to govern. Ornstein and Mann doesn’t go into the spending, but only obscene amounts of money — virtually unlimited private funds to keep them in power, and absurd levels of government spending while in office — have sustained the right since the Reagan years.

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. ...WaPo

The headline of their opinion piece is “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.” No, it’s not that Democrats are never wrong, it’s that the Republicans simply and deliberately stand in the way of reality. They’re set on dragging us along through their fantasy for as many years as they have the money to do it.

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Another glimpse of what the Republicans have become comes from the Times editors, looking at Congressional races. Claire McCaskill’s efforts to keep her Senate seat, for example.

It is dangerous to challenge the funnel cloud of corporate and right-wing political advertising this year, but Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, has decided to fight back. She is running commercials that talk directly about the ads trying to prevent her re-election.

“They’re not from around here, spending millions to attack and attack,” said one of her recent commercials, showing clips from the opposing ads that have become ubiquitous in her state. “But what they’re doing to Claire McCaskill is nothing compared to what their special-interest agenda will do to you.”

It will be an uphill fight. Republican interest groups are outspending Ms. McCaskill and other Missouri Democrats by a 7-to-1 ratio; Ms. McCaskill herself is being outspent by 3 to 1. Though she has raised nearly $10 million, the amount could be dwarfed by the unlimited money at the disposal of Republican-oriented groups.

Once again, as in 2010, Congressional races will be the elections most affected by unregulated slush-fund money. …NYT

At a time when individuals voters, crushed by and just emerging from the effects of the financial debacle, are tapped out, dubious groups like “Crossroads GPS” step in with millions. Time for the law — for the IRS — to get to work.

Crossroads GPS claims to be a tax-exempt social welfare group, so it does not have to disclose its big corporate donors. That lie is no less outrageous than it was in 2010, when these groups first started sheltering their political activity under a tax loophole. It is long past time for the Internal Revenue Service to begin investigating and prosecuting this clear violation of the law. …NYT

Social welfare?

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Meanwhile, the Dems are, according to The Hill, “planning another trap” for Mitt Romney.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will bring to the floor in coming weeks legislation to protect women from retaliation by employers if they inquire about salaries paid to male colleagues.

Republicans voted in unison to block the bill, the Paycheck Fairness Act, when it came to the floor in November of 2010.

Democrats say it will be difficult for GOP senators to back out of their opposition, especially because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has staunchly opposed the legislation.

Mitt Romney will either have to split with Republicans and an important business group or take a position that could further erode his support among women. …The Hill

The average Republican voter may no longer care much about women or “values” or democracy or equality. Or fairness.

Cross posted from Prairie Weather

  

Author: PRAIRIE WEATHER

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7 Comments

  1. This important article is welcome to those of us who have watched the GOP morph over the years into a force that has been truly painful for the country. Responsible, honest and fair (as opposed to artificially “balanced”) journalism seems almost rare in an era of reactive, tit for tat, horse race reporting – which makes Ornstein and Mann’s article all the more resonant and timely. Thank-you PW for posting this.

  2. I agreed with the title. I noticed how the partisanship on this blog didn’t abate after 2008. So I was bemused to find that premise of the article that the only solution for the GOP partisan warfare is a total partisan defeat of the GOP. Of course using charges of partisanship as a basis for partisan attacks is, sadly, no longer new.

  3. I agree with the title as well, but the theme of the article was more “The partisanship is not going away, even after the election, and it’s the Republican’s fault”. The reality is that if Romney somehow wins the election Democrats are going to be partisan and obstructive. That’s the way politics have evolved, and it’s not limited to one party.

  4. Clearly some are still having trouble understanding the differences between partisanship and actual records of performance. Work a little harder people; this should be based on more than reflex.

  5. You would do well to take your own advice, zephyr.

  6. Thanks DG. Nice to know you’re looking out for me. ;-)

  7. I don’t think that the Democrats have ever acted as obstructionists to the extent that we have seen the GOP over the last 4 years. I seem to remember Kennedy helping Bush with No Child Left Behind, they supported him on The Patriot Act and on Iraq in the beginning.

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