The Republican Party Is Clearly, Absolutely, Broken

On the domestic front, the first six months of President Obama’s second term have been dominated by two issues: immigration reform and the budget. On the former, a consensus has emerged between Democrats and more pragmatic members of the Republican Party, with Congress poised to vote on a bill that combines a path to citizenship with more border security and tougher enforcement mechanisms. The two parties are sharply divided on how to approach the budget, but—again—there’s room for Democrats to work with more pragmatic members of the opposition.

But that’s only in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, where majorities have near-absolute control over the conduct of business, there are no negotiations and there is no agenda. Instead, there is a fractured, squabbling Republican Party. In today’s Washington Post, Paul Kane details the extent of the dysfunction. “[T]he most momentous policy decisions, including an immigration overhaul and a fresh deadline for raising the federal debt limit,” he writes, “have no coherent strategy to consolidate Republicans, much less take on the Democrats.”

Indeed, there’s no guarantee that House conservatives will accept any deal to raise the debt limit or reform immigration laws. The latter isn’t urgent, but refusing to do the former could plunge the United States and the world into a second recession. As we saw two years ago, however, that’s no deterrent to the theologically anti-government conservatives that dominate the House. Speaker John Boehner has some flexibility, but not much—he risks revolt if he tries to move without buy-in from right-wing members of the chamber.

This entire situation—and the gridlock its produced—highlights the core problem facing American politics. The Republican Party.

In the our system, a normal political party does a few things. It tries to win elections around its policies and concerns, if it loses, it works within norms and rules to advance its agenda as much as possible, and it refrains from scorched-earth obstructionist tactics as a way to stymie duly-passed laws.

By that standard, and it’s not a hard one to meet, the current Republican Party is not a normal political party. While it does work to contest elections, it’s only somewhat concerned with implementing a program, and is dismissive of the norms and rules that are supposed to govern political conduct. The last four years are proof positive. Since 2009, the national agenda has been crowded with major issues: economic recovery, financial system and health care reform, climate change, debt reduction.

Conservative answers exist to each problem, but they require deviation from right-wing, anti-government orthodoxy. For the Republican base, however, this is verboten. The result is a party that dogmatically applies old solutions to new puzzles. How do we account for a massive demand shortfall in the economy? Tax and spending cuts, says the GOP. How do we repair the health care system? Tax and spending cuts, says the GOP. How do we prevent a repeat of the financial collapse? We need to deregulate, says the GOP. And how do we prevent climate change from ravaging human civilization? Oh, explains the Republican Party, none of that is real.

These problems would be less acute if the GOP were able to compromise and work with its opposition. But it’s not. To a large chunk of the Republican Party, Democrats have no legitimate right to govern the country. A view which justifies attacks on majority rule in the Senate—in particular, the new, 60-vote requirement for all legislation in the Senate—attacks on the ability of the executive branch to carry out its duties (by blocking nominations), and nullification by obstruction.

Attempts to fix the GOP—and bring it into modernity—are treated with hostility, from activists, donors, and the media elites who wield wide influence over the party and its constituent parts. If you’re on the other side, however, you’re treated to wide acclaim. Take Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Between his lazy mendacity, his demagoguery, and his adherence to dogma and extremism, he’s a poster child for everything wrong with the Republican Party. He’s also one of the most popular figures in the party, who could have a decent shot at the presidential nomination in three years. For those who want to reform the GOP, career paths are short; for those who want to enable its worst habits and excesses, the sky is the limit.

The Republican Party is broken, and fixing it is the only way to bring long-term sanity to our politics. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of change. Last week, writers on the left and the right engaged in a debate over the conservative “reform” movement, and who counted as a “reformer.” It was a fascinating conversation with one major takeaway: Regardless of who “counts” as as a reformer, the obvious fact is that they have little influence over the current direction of the GOP. They lack the power necessary to challenge Republican leadership, break the party’s “fever,” and begin to reestablish it as a mainstream institution.

If there’s anyone who could begin the process of fixing the GOP, it’s a Republican president. But if the presidential primaries told us anything, it’s that conservative voters are looking for candidates who either reflect the party’s dogmatism, or are content to live with it. The alternative—a New Republican, of sorts—is just not in the cards.


Team: Help me out here: With reference to voting to raise the debt limit you say that refusing to do so “could plunge the United States and the world into a second recession. So then, based on this assessment Senator Obama was, in your words “theologically anti-government.” It would be interesting to see how you reconcile this (sorry to bother you with facts),
Have a great day.

Start working at home with Google! It's by-far the best job Ive had. Last Monday I got a new Alfa Romeo from bringing in $7778. I started this 9 months ago and practically straight away started making more than $83 per hour. I work through this link,

The only sensible way to approach any "the other guys are REALLY messed up" article like this is in terms of how it reveals your own side's fears about itself. So, the minority party doesn't have an agenda and clear leadership on our issues? That is an admission that we've failed to lead in a way that members of the minority feel they better go with our program. The other guys are so crazy that they won't work with us? We've been so high-handed that we've completely alienated them. The media highlights their worst guys? There are some guys over there we could lose to in 2016. Admittedly, they can win elections? THey dominate local-level politics where stars are born, while we're looking at which 70-year-old senator from the 90s to run for president, because that worked so well for McCain and Dole.

Man, as soon as Obama's gone, the Democratic Party is clearly, absolutely broken...

Another trope from the Leftists. You printed it; ok, I believe it now!

The GOP is not clearly broken. That's just cover for another way for another author to try to spin a dead tale of "how things are supposed to work" rather than recognize what's really going on. "Wed to the past" way of looking at things, and very Inside-the-Beltway.

What's really going on is a filing for Divorce. Put simply, the GOP is being taken over by Libertarians, to the horror of the Establishment -- including the "Old GOP." Rand Paul said as much at CPAC.

If you want an analogy, look at the Reform Party's takeover of the "Progressive Conservative" Party in Canada in the 1990's. Due to their Parliamentary System, that could be done from separate official parties. But in reality, the policies of the Reform Party are what won, with the eventual merger into the Conservative Party that now rules Canada the result.

Millenials are ripe ground for this takeover, and people like Paul know it. So do Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan. And rightly so: Laying off of -- not caring either way, the Libertarian position -- gay marriage, smoking weed, etc are policies of real advocates for individual freedom. And they speak to the youth.

And if the GOP even ties 50-50 with the youth vote? Democrats can forget about the White House for the next few elections....

Excuse me, but you have a Democratic administration that allowed American diplomats to die and then lied to cover it up, that have been strong arming the press and using the IRS, DOJ, EPA, and other assorted alphabet soup agencies to harass and intimidate average Americans who formed opposition - and the Republican party is broken!?

Bringing sanity to our politics would mean holding people who abuse the power entrusted to them accountable. bringing sanity to our politics would mean remembering the American people that the government is supposed to be serving are the ones paying the bills.

The Democrat party has been taken over by the extreme left and for any one of you to speak about bring sanity to politics is absolutely absurd. You invented insanity in politics.

Whether the GOP or Obama & Co. are the obstructionists depends solely on one's political POV. I have once heard the Dems advocate the middle class tax increases necessary to support our current programs, so they are pretty dishonest too. Our government is broken, left and right

The Democrats in office are as bumbling as the Keystone cops & about as truthful as the Capone mob. And the only time they can pass legislation is if they steamroll it through Congress (like Obamacare) without a single Republican vote.

The Democrats are better suited to one-party rule than our current system of government.

We set up a republican form of government in 1789. But ever since the 1930s, Democrats have worked to elevate the role of the President & create single party government in America.

That way, they don't have to share power & get to tell others what to do.

Franklin D. Roosevelt called Mussolini “admirable” and said that he was “deeply impressed by what he has accomplished.”

The admiration was mutual. In a laudatory review of Roosevelt’s 1933 book, "Looking Forward," Mussolini wrote, “Reminiscent of Fascism is the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices.…Without question, the mood accompanying this sea change resembles that of Fascism.”

The chief Nazi newspaper, Volkischer Beobachter, repeatedly praised “Roosevelt’s adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies” and “the development toward an authoritarian state” based on the “demand that collective good be put before individual self-interest.”

This whole article sounds like DNC paid political comments. If you want to see how alive and well the GOP is look at the Governors of the nation and the House. Yes, the GOP is still th emajority and working well together. You are trying to instill the doubt in voters minds so you can take the House back. It won't work and watch for the Senate.

We have the House and most of the state governments, and we're going to take the Senate next year. We're doing Ok despite our internal problems.

yes, The Republican Party is broken. Just about the only thing it is capable of today, is stopping the Democrats from doing lots of stupid stuff...

This must be a term paper for his Partisan Stoogery 101 class.

Yes, the GOP is broken. And Sequestration is going to doom us all!!!!

This is simply another Liberal Hack doing whatever she can to pull attention away from the numerous scandals that are dominating the airwaves. Now, news is coming out that the IRS wasn't the only agency targeting conservative groups. The EPA was doing it too. Not as well as the IRS, mind. When it comes to screwing an American citizen, you'd be hard pressed to beat the IRS. But they did what they could, jacking the fees up on FOIA requests from conservative groups and waiving them for liberals.

The GOP is only broken from the Liberal standpoint. From the other side of the isle, the GOP is doing exactly what they should be doing, retarding the growth of government and the stupidity of liberals. Any group that believes that spending your way out of debt really works has no business handling money. Especially tax payer money. If they want to handle their own finances that way, power to them...

isn't it getting old for political partisan hacks to say the problem with the country is republicans can't get their act together.

How about an admin. that can't submit a budget that get a single vote.

how about a senate that won't bring bills up, because harry reid doesn't want his members on the record voting, because they will lose when they come up for reelection.

and how about a democRAT party that needs to pass bills in the dead of night, with back room bribes, and tell us that we need to pass laws to find out what is in those bills.

And the problem is republicans. Please.

Do progressives need to repeat global warming diatribes just like Islamic terrorists repeatedly praise Allah in every conversation? Do the facts matter?

Until progressives recognize that their global warmer gurus a/k/a " climate scientists" are all rent seekers like Al Gore, and Malthusian totalitarians seeking to control the economy, just like the communists who once claimed socialist science was the answer.

America has serious problems that can be solved by intelligent discourse about real facts between reasonable people. But if every conversation includes bowing to the Malthusian "global warmers" who seem to dominate the Left nowadays, reasonable discussions won't get far.

The headline is essentially correct. It is however, a remarkable irony that this author describes being "dismissive of the norms and rules that are supposed to govern political conduct" as it relates to the REPUBLICAN party.

As if...

This analysis is laughable. The fact that the Senate would produce a 1,000 page, lobbyist written monstrosity and call it "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" when it fails to reform anything--other than give big money lobbyists everything they want--is here held out as evidence the Democrat controlled Senate is functioning well.

The author has gotten things backwards.

Does the GOP have a team of paid commenters working this site?

It certainly appears they do.

Looks like we got a couple of ostriches as well.

LOL! We have the most corrupt and incompetent White House in all of our history. Obama and his Chicago Way Regime have lied and covered up about Fast & Furious, Benghzi, the massive criminal conspiracy at the IRS, and of course Holder's spying on the Press. And when you ask Obama, or Holder, or anyone in Obama's corrupt regime who is responsible, who ordered these things like gun running to Mexico, or the IRS criminality all we get is not us, we don't know, nobody knows, how should we know? Then of course we find out that they did know, but of course they didn't tell anybody, and certainly not our failed incompetent President. We have a corrupt Chicago Regime destroying our nation's economy, gutting our military, letting Islamic Extremist take over the Middle East, letting Iran get NUKES, and Mr Bouie want to write about the out of power Republican party. The party Obama's corrupt White House is doing everything it can to blame and destroy? Really Mr Bouie...isn't the massive criminality and incompetence oozing from Obama and his regime a little more important?

If I beleived that raising the debt ceiling was a good idea...and I don't that would not be why the Republican party is in disarray. I as a lingtime Republican see many reasons why that may be true. But I do know that raising the debt limit will just give this governemnt more funds to continue to abuse its authority and subjugate its political foes through the federal agencies they control.

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(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)