Ideology has taken over Washington like never before. It explains why Republicans are willing to suffer political blame for the shutdown: It's all connected to what Robert Samuelson has dubbed "the politics of self-esteem." Ideologues on either side of the spectrum believe they're working not for themselves, but for the betterment of the country. That thinking "suggests that you don’t just disagree with your adversaries; you also look down on them as morally inferior."
And "if politics’ subconscious payoff is higher self-esteem, it makes sense not to cooperate at all," Samuelson notes in the Washington Post. With the shutdown, "tea party types can feel they’ve affirmed their moral courage." As for the left, those pushing ObamaCare already have health insurance, but they're on a crusade for those who don't. "The ACA serves as a platform for them to assert their moral superiority." And when politics is full of people who consider themselves "true believers," it becomes even more dysfunctional. Click for Samuelson's full column. (Read more Robert Samuelson stories.)