Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, July 16, 2018

The central fallacy of politics is “both sides do it.”

Both sides increasingly delay judicial appointments when the other party is in power. Both sides use procedures like reconciliation in the Senate to get what they want (though Republicans used it in the case of the Bush tax breaks to add trillions to the deficit, the exact opposite point of reconciliation). Both sides operate by prioritizing their donors’ needs over those of average citizens.

But the clouds of gray inevitable in a political process that has from our founding required ugly compromise are helping shade the unprecedented measures Senate Republicans began taking when the Democrats took over the Senate, and escalated into overdrive as President Obama assumed office.

From the night of the president’s inauguration, the GOP has plotted to deny Obama any successes, even as the country languished in a recession made worse by eight years of policies that had the effect of purposely exacerbating income inequality.

The tactics the GOP is using are all reminiscent of previous ways smaller-scale obstruction has taken place. What’s new is the unyielding consistency and a complete disconnect with the wishes of all except the most vocal part of their base that enforces extremism by threatening primary challenges. This is how you get a House that can barely pass a farm bill, even when all the “extraneous pieces” like help for 47 million Americans who rely on food stamps are stripped out.

The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent calls it “sabotage governing.” The New York Times simply says that the House GOP is engaged in a “Refusal to Govern.” Whatever it is, it’s something that has never been seen in modern American politics.

Here are five ways the GOP’s obstruction is unprecedented.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via