What’s the single most consequential development in American politics in the past five years?
HERE‘s Michael Cohen’s answer to the question above:
Some might say the election (and re-election) of Barack Obama; others might point to the passage of the most important piece of social policy (Obamacare) since the 1960s; some might even say the drawing down of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in reality, it is the rapid descent of the Republican party into madness.
Never before in American history have we seen a political party so completely dominated and controlled by its extremist wing; and never before have we seen a political party that brings together the attributes of nihilism, heartlessness, radicalism and naked partisanship quite like the modern GOP. In a two-party system like America’s, the result is unprecedented dysfunction.
Whether it was the promiscuous use of the filibuster and other blocking techniques in the Senate to stop President Obama’s agenda; the manufactured fiscal crises highlighted by the disastrous debt limit showdown of 2011; or the unceasing efforts to undermine the economic recovery by blocking any and all measures to stimulate the economy, President Obama’s first term was dominated by the Republican’s unbridled obstructionism and disinterest in actually governing the country. That anything was accomplished is nothing short of a miracle.
But after the results of the 2012 election one might have expected the Republican fever to break and some level of sanity and good sense restored to the party of Lincoln.
If anything, the first half of 2013 has seen the GOP continue its journey towards “peak awful”.
In the narrow pursuit of political gain, Republicans have adopted an agenda that is quite simply, inhumane and cruel. Even if one is charitable and defends it on the ground of adherence to an ideological agenda of smaller, less intrusive government (except in the case of lady parts) it can’t be defended. If one’s ideological predisposition means denying food assistance to people who are laid off from their job or forcing a woman to carry a dead fetus to term or preventing individuals from getting health care coverage, then you have a monstrous ideology.
This is not meant as an indictment of all Republicans because it’s very likely that many rank and file Republicans don’t share these predispositions (though clearly some do). Rather it’s an indictment of a once proud political party that is plumbing the depths of radicalism and nihilism and doesn’t yet appear to have hit rock bottom.