Congressional scholars Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein have a new book out that flies in the face of the conventional media narrative by blaming the Republicans for the lion’s share of Washington gridlock and blasting what they call “asymmetrical polarization.”
The book describes the Republican Party as “an insurgent outlier … ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
The authors of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, who have found themselves ostracized by the Sunday morning shows where they had always previously been welcome, appeared Sunday on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes to discuss the book.
Mann explained that the separation of powers provided for by our Constitution deliberately creates a situation in which that Congressional majorities are unable to act without some degree of cooperation with the other party. Now that “one of those political parties has veered off the tracks” and become “aggressively oppositional,” it has many tools available to prevent legislation from being passed or enforced.
Ornstein singled out the filibuster as a large part of the problem, because it is being “used routinely,” even on non-controversial legislation. However, he also pointed to Republicans voting even against their own bills in order to avoid giving President Obama anything that would look like a victory.
“Problem-solving used to be the name of the game,” he continued. “But problem-solving now — partly it’s the era of the permanent campaign — has taken a back sea to short-term victories.”
Mann added that any Republicans who were interested in problem-solving have left the party over the years, while those who remain are “vehemently ideological” and consider themselves to be “engaged in a holy war.”
This video is from MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes, June 3, 2012.