Are the Republicans the Problem?

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: I think we can all agree that, at the moment, Washington is a massively dysfunctional mess with problems so intractable that government now may be even less useful at doing its job than it was in the late 1850s. While there is plenty of blame to go around for both parties, I’ve felt, especially during the last few years, that the real problem has been the Republican party. They’ve allowed themselves to make Faustian bargains with the extremist wing of their party and have now been hijacked by that very wing. A party that could, in the past, compromise, violate its own platform for the greater good and seemed to be more interested in governing than in kowtowing to a vocal minority, has, especially since Obama got into office, become the party of “no”, dedicated to not allowing…well, really anything that the president wants to have done get done. The rare times when something they hate has succeeded in passing, like health care reform, they’ve gone out of their way to destroy it at every turn.

This is not how our democracy works. The way it works, or at least the way it should, is through the process of compromise. It was compromise by both parties that led to a lot of what made this country great, but now GOP voters actively punish anyone who deviates from the party ideology and compromises with Democrats. If more people in Congress and the Senate compromised and helped get bills through, a: a lot of the gridlock would be reduced, and b: they would not then be able to vilify the very bills they helped pass.

Sadly, I don’t think this is going to change anytime soon. What needs to happen for change in the Republican party to occur is for them to lose, and lose hard, in at least three, if not four, elections. IF they get beaten in 2012, as seems likely, then lose the House in 2014, the Presidency in 2016 and don’t retake the House and/or Senate in 2018, then they’re going to have to change, pure and simple. They will have to realize that continuing to be obstructionist and embracing their lunatic fringe ever closer isn’t going to get the job done.

But I don’t think all those electoral losses are likely, and if they do happen, I have a sinking feeling that the GOP will simply double-down on the ideology (again). For example, assuming that they lose the Presidential Election later this year (which I think they will, though not by too much), then most of them will believe the problem is that they didn’t nominate someone like Santorum. If they lose with someone like him in 2016, you can bet the candidate in 2020 will be even more insane.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I want there to be compromise by both sides when it comes to running this country. That’s how it should be. I have no problem with either party having their extreme fringe as long as they don’t kowtow to it endlessly. I want a fairly moderate, sane governing style, and the Democrats, for all their faults and failings, seem to at least be trying to do that. The Republicans, at least these days, do not, and that’s a very serious long-term problem that we need to deal with. It’s also perhaps worth noting that the left’s extreme fringe consists of, basically, Michael Moore, whose biggest problem is that he occasionally shoots his mouth off more than he should. The right’s extreme fringe used to consist of Santorum, Limbaugh, Bachmann, Palin and the like, but now they’re all mainstream. I shudder to think of what the real right wing fringe is like these days. Shudder and weep.

For those who are interested, this article was inspired by one at the Washington Post. You can read it here, as well as another view of it here and Andrew Sullivan’s comments here. Enjoy!