The Daily Scoop: Is this the rise of the Norquistian GOP?

Amidst the hard shifts within the Grand Old Party building from the 1994 “Contract With America” midterm victories and culminating with the 2010 Tea Party inspired gains  are we bearing witness to the rise of the Norquistian Republicans? Fueled by a massive economic crisis the smoldering flames ignited, spreading with full force through cable commentary networks and across the conservative blogosphere, this new crop of highly conservative Republicans roared into the federal legislature on a mission to wrangle control out of a demonized “big government’s” hands. It seems the old GOP guard is being led by the tail, pulling them into long forgotten realms of extremism. The article here lays open the author’s interpretation of the madness into which the Republican Party has apparently fallen.

Are the Republicans mad?

They are radical, not unhinged, and there is method in the apparent madness

WHAT happens to a two-party political system when one party goes mad? That is the question posed in a powerful and angry new book by two scholars at two respected think-tanks, Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. The book’s cheery title is “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” (Basic Books), and its argument is encapsulated in its subtitle: “How the American constitutional system collided with the new politics of extremism”.

The think-tankers’ thesis is that America’s political parties have become as vehemently adversarial as the parties in a parliamentary system. But whereas a parliamentary system allows the majority to rule while the minority bides its time, America’s separation of powers seldom gives one party the power to rule unconstrained. So the emergence of parliamentary-style parties in America is a formula for “wilful obstruction” and gridlock.

This diagnosis has become commonplace since the tea-tainted tide that swept a stroppy Republican majority into the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections of 2010, bringing on said gridlock. Indeed, Messrs Mann and Ornstein spotted the trend in an earlier book about Congress, “The Broken Branch”, in 2006. The added twist now is their claim that the Republican Party has become “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.”

To put this another way, consider the case of Grover Norquist, the boss of the mighty advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, which has enormous influence on the party. He is also flogging a new book, called “Debacle” (Wiley). The debacle he has in mind is not the financial crisis of 2008 and the recession that followed; it is the response of Barack Obama, which he believes “made things worse” and led to “the worst recovery on record”.

Coming from a man whose professed aim in politics is to cut the federal government down to a size small enough to drown “in a bathtub”, these conclusions are as surprising as rain in April.  Norquistian Republicans are happy to plead guilty to the charge of holding “the inherited social and economic policy regime” in contempt. They can hardly wait to tear down an inheritance they blame for a freedom-trampling federal government wallowing in debt. As for the polarisation of the parties, Mr Norquist argues that there is no compromise to be found between a party that wants to go one way and another that wants to go precisely the opposite way.


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14 Comments to “The Daily Scoop: Is this the rise of the Norquistian GOP?”

  1. ’94 multiplied the number of lobbyists digesting the juices of Congress fourfold. Increased the funds spent, filling the pockets of Congress tenfold.

    Thanks, Newt.

  2. Newt was for all out war with democrats, as he wrote at the time. Some argue this was the beginning of the bitter partisanship we see today. So even though Newt was forced out in shame, his legacy lives on. He and his fellow RepubliCANTS must be so proud.

    • I wholly agree with that. That was when we saw the the beginnings of the ideological, partisan divide, the “my way or the highway” approach. It was also around the same time we began seeing the rise of the Rush Limbaughs and partisan opinion shows. I’d say those two things changed the landscape and fanned the flames (so to speak) of the partisanship we see now.
      Makes you wonder how far they will have to go before voters say, “Okay, that’s enough!” and stop voting for them, doesn’t it?

      • No doubt. I fear it will continue to get even worse, and once the approval rate of Washington goes to zero, then what? If we believe government is at “the pleasure” of the people, then as Thomas Friedman suggested last week, we could have our own Arab spring.

      • Maybe our own revolution or Arab Spring is a bit farther off than that especially with the economy getting better. Although if enough people are convinced by what the conservative blogosphere and fox continue to say, it could conceivable lead to something.

  3. Reblogged this on GoodOleWoody's Blog and Website and commented:
    “Norquistian GOP” cool!

  4. When I pull up to a vehicle blaring Rush Slimeball, I always look over and give them a shake of the head. That man has done more to shape a generation of angry, bitter, white men than any politician could. It’s just that the new right -wing happily accepts his sycophants and feeds their bitter souls with legislative action. Nordquist, I’ve got to tell you, he somehow slipped through the radar undetected until it was too late. What a party. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave.

    • I agree. He really has done so much all by himself to give birth to the current far-right GOP. He was the beginning of it all, at least in the media world. And yes, they do buy into it so readily probably because it fits into what so many want to believe. I think we need to bring back the Fariness Doctrine. It seems much of this started once that was eliminated.

      It really is amazing how Norquist just sort of appeared out of no where isn’t it? I’m sure he was know by many on the Right but to the general public he just popped up. I’ve been meaning to write something on him and what he said at CPAC this year about if the GOP takes the Senate and Romney wins the WH then the Republicans could just run things through Congress and have their rubberstamp president sign off on everything. I’d say that needs to get some more press.

  5. Grover Norquist is a waste of my time and energy.

  6. Reblogged this on okieprogressive and commented:
    “They are radical, not unhinged, and there is method in the apparent madnessur thoughts here…” Amen (optional)

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