More evidence of movement conservatism…
If you needed more proof of how far the Republican party has shifted to the right you need to go no further than the words of former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson. In an interview with CNN today Simpson was quoted:
I guess I’m known as a RINO now, which means a Republican in name only, because, I guess, of social views, perhaps, or common sense would be another one, which seems to escape members of our party. For heaven’s sake, you have Grover Norquist wandering the earth in his white robes saying that if you raise taxes one penny, he’ll defeat you. He can’t murder you. He can’t burn your house. The only thing he can do to you, as an elected official, is defeat you for reelection. And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we’re in extremity, you shouldn’t even be in Congress.
The radical shift to the right by the Republicans has created gridlock unlike ever before in U.S. history. Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein’s (Congressional Scholars) book It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With The New Politics of Extemism points out many instances of the party blocking legislation simply because President Obama was in favor of it. The Tea Party surge into the Republican party in 2010 created a very radical right wing of the government intent on only bringing the President down. They were determined to reduce the size and role of the government. From Mann and Ornstein’s book:
What followed was an appalling spectacle of hostage taking – most importantly, the debt ceiling crisis – that threatened a government shutdown and public default, led to a downgrading of the country’s credit, and blocked constructive action to nurture an economic recovery or deal with looming problems of deficits and debt.
Also from their book:
The center of gravity within the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its legendary moderate legislators in the House and Senate are virtually extinct. To be sure, a sizable number of the Republicans in Congress are center-right or right-center, rather than right-right. But the insurgent right wing regularly drowns them out.
Republican presidents Eisenhower and Nixon and congressional leaders such as Senators Everett Dirksen, Hugh Scott, Howard Baker, and Bob Dole, and Representatives Gerald Ford, John Rhodes, and Bob Michel, pragmatic institutional figures who found ways to work within the system and focused on solving problems, are unimaginable in the present context.
Mann and Ornstein provide many examples of the Tea Party creating suffocating gridlock, even at the expense of their own beliefs on an issue. (Their book is fantastic and well worth the read!) So is this really what the American people want? A congressional gridlock? Basically it works like this…if raising any taxes is involved, the Republicans will vote against it. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, they will not vote (ever) to raise taxes. Again from Alan Simpson:
You can’t cut spending your way out of this hole. You can’t grow your way out of this hole, and you can’t tax your way out of this hole. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, we tell these people. This is madness. If you want to be a purist, go somewhere on a mountaintop and praise the east or something. But if you want to be in politics, you learn to compromise. And you learn to compromise on the issue without compromising yourself. Show me a guy who won’t compromise and I’ll show you a guy with rock for brains.
I agree with Simpson. You learn to compromise on the issue with compromising yourself. Compromise is the only way and effective government will work. This government, as it is today, is dying. Absolutely no meaningful legislation will ever get passed. It is really a sad thing because the American people deserve so much better than what they are getting from this government. Are the Republicans to blame for all that ails the U.S.? No, but there is also no room for radicalism in this government and that is exactly where the Republican party is at right now.