Does the GOP Have a Forward Vision?

Yet another poll shows a public unhappy with the Republican Party's political positioning. According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Americans say the GOP is "out-of-touch" compared to 46 percent who say the same for the Democratic Party. Likewise, 52 percent of Americans say Republicans "too extreme"—only 39 percent say that's true of Democrats. Overall, as this graph shows, the public has a pretty negative view of the Republican Party:



More important than the GOP's overall popularity, I think, is this finding: Only 45 percent of Americans say that the GOP is looking out for the country's future. It's hard to know exactly what that means—I'd love to see Pew explore the question further—but odds are good it refers to the complete absence of a positive agenda from the GOP. Republicans have returned to their position as the "party of no." In rejecting tax increases of any kind, for any reason, they have all but refused to compromise—either President Obama agrees to their spending cuts, or he gets nothing at all. The public, understandably, is reacting against this.

The real question is whether pundits will react against it too. Pundits like MSNBC's Joe Scarbourough, National Journal's Ron Fournier, and The Washington Post's Bob Woodward will criticize the GOP for its intransigence, but they refuse to blame it for the lack of compromise or action. Instead, it's President Obama's fault that the GOP won't come to the table. If only he would show "leadership"—then, Congress might accomplish something.

That Republicans are autonomous actors doesn't factor into it—no one calls on John Boehner to show leadership and offer proposals that could find support in the White House. Instead, the blame for gridlock is placed on Obama, thus giving Republicans another reason not to change their behavior.