Two of my themes intersect as the GOP, which controls all the relevant committees and, indeed, all of Congress, finds itself incapable of writing a budget bill. Because they are human beings, the various GOP members have different opinions on how to spend our money. Because they are Republicans, they have no idea what politicians are supposed to do when choices have to be made about who gets what they want.
What we may be learning now is that what many Republicans oppose isn’t compromise with Democrats or compromise with Barack Obama, but compromise per se, on anything.
My two thoughts:
- Republicans are going the way of the Whigs. A politician who can't compromise with his own party is a politician who can't direct Federal money to his state or district. But if he does compromise, he loses the next primary.
- If you view politics as a Newtonian system of competing ideologies, then this situation isn't possible. "Conservative" in the Newtonian system designates a set of policy preferences that are as spatially distant from Marxism (ie, as "far to the right") as possible in mainstream America. In contrast, these politicians are clearly demonstrating that "conservative" is about more than policy. Being conservative these days means supporting brinkmanship and opposing compromise on principle.
One approach might be to add an axis to the y axis of left and right. This axis is known as Axis II in psychiatry, and the Axis II diagnosis of "conservative" is called "Anti-social personality disorder."
(A better idea would be to ditch the axis model altogether.)