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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

What’s Really New About the GOP

Steve Kornacki nails a crucial insight about the Republican party’s increasing extremism exceptionally-well in his Salon.com, post, “The neutering of Mitch McConnell.” The most interesting point is not so much about the Senate Minority Leader; Rather it’s that tea party-inspired extremism changes the role of the GOP from constituent representation to a combat organization, which prefers never-ending political paralysis to bipartisan reform. As Kornacki aptly puts it:

The primary challenges of the current Tea Party era are not defined by similarly vast ideological gulfs. Lugar, for instance, was generally a party man in his Senate votes, racking up a fairly conservative record and voting against President Obama’s major domestic initiatives. But he did leave some room for independence and compromise, particularly in his specialty area of foreign policy. His opponent, Mourdock, was to Lugar’s right on some issues, but what really distinguished him is his belief that the Senate is a venue for partisan warfare.
“Bipartisanship,” Mourdock declared last week, “ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”
This is as concise a distillation of the Tea Party’s governing vision as you’ll find. It’s not really about moving the GOP to the right; the party is already there, and has been for a while. It’s about reflexively opposing the other party on every issue, resisting compromise at all costs, and exploiting every available legislative tool to stymie the other side. This mind-set is already pervasive in the House, and as the Times story shows, it’s now making its way into the Senate.

Along with Kornacki’s insight, it should be added that the ‘politics as warfare’ strategy evolves more from tea party and wingnut “leadership,” than genuine rank and file sentiments, as Vega, Kilgore and Green point out in this TDS Strategy Memo.

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