Is Political Dysfunction All The Republicans’ Fault?
Everyone can agree the Washington has become a place of partisan gridlock and polarization. But two Washington think tank scholars, including one from the conservative American Enterprise Institute, have a blunt explanation for the recent explosion of the political divide: it’s the Republicans’ fault.
Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann published an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post arguing the case that conservative radicalism has far outpaced radicalization on the left. The article, “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem” makes the case that the GOP is mostly responsible for the worst division the government has seen in a century.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
The authors note that they have criticized Democrats in the past, but feel they can not legitimately do so now: that if the Dems have “moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post.” They even note that the George W. Bush administration was a time of relative partisan cooperation, thanks to Congressional Democrats, compared to today.
More specifically, Ornstein and Mann blast Newt Gingrich for sowing anti-Washington sentiment in the early 80s in a partisan attempt to conquer the House; though his plan worked, they claim the anger he planted grew beyond his control, and turned the GOP into a party of anti-incumbent zealots. They also criticize anti-tax leader Grover Norquist for creating a culture of absolute “pledges” to causes that hold centrists hostage to uncompromising dogma; and legislators for abusing the filibuster.
The authors also call out the media for its complicity in the pursuit of objectivity, saying “a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality.”
Coincidentally or not, the same section that day also featured an op-ed by conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg. Its title? “Top five cliches liberals use to avoid real arguments.”
What do you think? Are the Ornstein and Mann biased, or telling it like it is?