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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Chait: GOP Morphs from Advocates of Obstruction, Gridlock to Party of Anarchism and Sabotage

From Jonathan Chait’s “Anarchists of the House: The Republican Congress is testing a new frontier of radicalism–governmental sabotage.” at New York Magazine:

The Republican Party has spent 30 years careering ever more deeply into ideological extremism, but one of the novel developments of the Obama years is its embrace of procedural extremism. The Republican fringe has evolved from being politically shrewd proponents of radical policy changes to a gang of saboteurs who would rather stop government from functioning at all. In this sense, their historical precedents are not so much the Gingrich revolutionaries, or even their tea-party selves of a few years ago; the movement is more like the radical left of the sixties, had it occupied a position of power in Congress. And so the terms we traditionally use to scold bad Congresses–partisanship, obstruction, gridlock–don’t come close to describing this situation. The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists.
…The Republican strategy has transmogrified from a particularly ruthless version of legislative opposition into one in which incidents of reckless behavior–tactics like hostage-taking, say, or economic or political sabotage–become more frequent each passing month. After they won the midterms, giddy Republicans took their victory not just as a check on Obama but as a full abrogation of his presidency.
…The rational way to view these events is that Republicans have marginalized themselves. But the hard-liners see it differently. In their minds, every bill that passes is a betrayal by their leaders. They know that letting Democrats carry bills through the House has been the leadership’s desperate recourse to avoid total chaos, and since chaos is their leverage, they are now working feverishly to seal off that escape route. This year, an increasing proportion of conservative media is given over to conservative activists’ extracting pledges from Republican leaders not to negotiate with Democrats….Conservatives have increasingly come to see the entire process as a morally unacceptable compromise of their ideals. “The idea of Boehner’s negotiating with Pelosi over how to proceed is implausible,” a recent story by Jonathan Strong, a National Review reporter, noted as an aside. “It would telegraph weakness.”
…In the actual world, the economy is recovering and the deficit, currently projected at half the level Obama inherited, is falling like a rock. Yet messianic Republican suicide threats in the face of an imagined debt crisis have not subsided at all. The swelling grievance within the party base may actually be giving the threats more fervor. The reign of the Republican House has not yet inflicted any deep or permanent disaster on the country, but it looks like it is just a matter of time.

In short, there is no realistic possibility of congressional Republicans negotiating in good faith on anything of substance. Given that regrettable reality, It should be clear to all thinking swing voters that the only way out of the approaching disaster is a resounding defeat for the GOP and it’s embrace of anarchy and sabotage.

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