I got a kick out of listening to Alan Simpson explain the rise of extreme partisanship in Congress with Michael Smerconish on CNN Friday.
He had a point about decades of Democrat leadership in Congress, but quickly lost it thereafter when he tried to frame this as a bi-partisan issue…a favorite cover taken by the right.
All of this starts in the early 80s when Republicans began to embrace redlines — eventually achieving Gingrich’s “Contract with America” and Norquist’s tax pledge — and continues a rightward march with the Tea Party caucuses and worse.
What Simpson might think is partisanship matching conservative extremism is simply a response to irresponsible and intellectually lazy policy positions on the right. To quote a man who was once a conservative saint, Barry Goldwater, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
The problem is the fact that the right has gone so far right that it has fallen off the rails and now runs counter to the interests of the country and the vast majority of its citizens.
Take a look at the GOP healthcare plan, right? Bad plan, they couldn’t pass it, and if they had passed it would have made things worse, not better. Is there a better example of Republican failure to govern on sound policy? (Not yet.)
The objectives of today’s conservative majorities in Congress and across the country put Democrats in a position where if they were to move to the right in an effort to compromise, it wouldn’t be much different than negotiating with an assassin…do you want me to shoot you now or will you work with me a little so I can kill you tomorrow? Not much of a compromise, is it?
Democratic “intransigence” has become the smart option in many cases and not some bi-partisan tug-of-war on a rubber band where, as both sides pull, they pull further apart.