As the 2012 presidential campaign takes a breather, we need to consider why today’s Republicans are no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt or Richard Nixon, but instead a truly toxic aberration.
As James Fallows noted a year ago in the Atlantic, the modern GOP’s biggest sin is discarding “political norms” that everyone once understood would hurt the country—such as not paying 74,000 federal air traffic controllers and construction workers to attack labor unions, a drama that played out last August.
Since then the GOP’s bad behavior has only worsened. In the introduction to their recent book, It’s Even Worse Than It Appears, centrists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote, “However awkward it may be for the traditional press and nonpartisan analysts to acknowledge, one of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
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