Two well known scholars, Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman J. Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, have recently published a book and authored articles criticizing the Republican Party for the stalemate in the 112th Congress.
The Republican Party is blamed for its refusal to hold members of their party in Congress accountable for their wild statements; is seen as totally against compromise; refuses to accept facts, evidence and science; lacks respect for the legitimacy of the opposition party and its members; and is so far outside the mainstream as to be alarming for any hope of accomplishment of any goals or programs!
The two people most responsible for this extremism are former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and Grover Norquist of the Americans for Tax Reform. But also the filibuster has been abused in the Senate, and prevented many executive branch appointments from being confirmed, both in the government agencies and in the court system.
The reaction to Roe V. Wade after 1973 mobilized social conservatives, while the tax revolt in California in 1978 mobilized anti tax activists. Also, the South turned conservative Republican after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s; and the rise of conservative talk radio, and the growing impact of Fox News on cable, also had a great impact on what has become a growing stalemate and gridlock.
Health care reform, climate change, economic recovery, deficits, and debt issues have become a chasm between the two major political parties. Polarization has become the norm, and is a dangerous trend which may continue, if the voters again send a confusing message of a divided Congress in the 2012 Congressional elections. The Tea Party movement, if it grows, will further create conflict at a time when we need negotiation and compromise!
This assessment is extremely worrisome, as it means that our national government may be totally paralyzed, when we need true statesmen in both parties dealing with our important national agenda!