Washington is more dysfunctional than it has been in 40 years, and while Democrats have deserved their share of the blame over the years, today "the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party," write Thomas E. Mann and Norman Ornstein in the Washington Post. What makes their column particularly interesting is that Ornstein is not liberal, but a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and Mann is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Together, they call the GOP an "insurgent outlier in American politics" because of the party's extremism, antagonism to facts and science, hatred of compromise, and complete opposition to the Democrats' legitimacy.
The biggest two culprits of the Republicans' radicalization over the past 30 years, according to Mann and Ornstein, are Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist—Gingrich for deliberately making the Capitol dysfunctional in order to stoke and use anti-Washington rage around the country, and Norquist for creating an anti-tax pledge that makes compromise impossible. In response to the GOP's nuttiness, Mann and Orstein call on journalists to stop trying to present "both sides" on the issues, and instead concentrate on "truth," focus on who is "taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends," and to stop treating filibusters like they are routine. Ultimately, though, if democracy "is to regain its health and vitality, the culture and ideological center of the Republican Party must change," they write. And the only way that will happen is if voters start "punishing extremism."