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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Jamelle Bouie: What explains the Republican Party’s intransigence?

even if you could explain GOP extremism through gerrymandering, there’s nothing about a highly ideological approach to politics that requires intransigence. You can have a strong attachment to your beliefs and show a willingness to compromise for the sake of advancing them.
What’s missing in the Republican Party is that willingness to compromise for anything, even if it benefits the particular interests of individual lawmakers or the interests of the party writ large. And this seems to stem from an attitude that emerged during the 1994 elections and has only grown since–the idea that conservatives aren’t just opposed to liberals but that they’re at war with liberalism. It’s why Republicans have dismantled key norms governing Congress and other institutions (see: the filibuster and the 60-vote Senate), and have taken to opposing everything associated with the Democratic White House. If immigration has a chance, it’s because it isn’t identified with President Obama. And insofar that individual Republicans see it as such, they tend to be opposed.
Changing the method of election won’t fix this problem. Indeed, it’s hard to say what will. The losses in 2008 and 2012 have only strengthened conservatives and deepened the conviction that compromise is verboten. The real question is whether the GOP is sustainable in this form. If it isn’t, then something will have to give. If it is, then we’ll be waiting on reform for a long time.

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