Friday, November 1, 2013

How Crazies Are Destroying Your Party

This is what happens when the two parties ruling Washington lose touch with America and pander to their crazy-extreme bases: President Obama's competency and personality ratings are nose-diving, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll; barely a sliver of the public thinks highly of the Republican Party; and two-thirds of Americans want to replace their own member of Congress.  
Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster who conducted the survey with Republican Bill McInturff, called this a "Howard Beale moment," a reference to the famous rant from the 1976 movie Network.
"We're mad as hell," Hart said, "and we're not going to take it anymore."
Privately, party strategists agree. On Obama, a Democratic operative who works with the White House emailed me to say: "It's his Titanic moment. He's hit the iceberg, but they keep acting like no water is coming into the ship."
A GOP operative who also requested anonymity said that Wednesday's hearing on Obamacare highlighted what's wrong with his party. "We looked like we were beating [up] the HHS secretary," he said of Kathleen Sebelius. "Why do we have to always overdo it?"
Like many other party regulars, these two operatives worry that hardheaded partisans are pushing both the GOP and Democratic Party away from the political center. The phenomena is playing out unevenly (the GOP is arguably more beholden to its base than the Democrats) and for a number of reasons, including hyper-redistricting, the democratization of political money and the polarization of the public itself.  
But with each self-inflicted Washington crisis, notions such as an independent presidential bid, the dissolution of one or both major parties, and the rise of new political organizations seem less outrageous. The thinking goes like this: If voters today are more empowered than ever via technology (consider the disruption of retail, entertainment, and media industries), how long will they wait before blowing up the two-party system?

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