The party of gridlock holds a primary


The standard narrative is that both political parties, Democrats and Republicans alike, are equally responsible for the gridlock that has turned Washington into an object lesson in partisan dysfunction.

My colleagues who study American politics dutifully point to data showing that both sides have drifted away from the center toward their respective extremes, and then solemnly conclude that this as much as anything accounts for the paralysis.

But look what’s happening in the brutal trench warfare that is the 2016 Republican primary. The real party of gridlock has been exposed. Cue Molly Ball at The Atlantic:

The paralyzed state of the field has even raised the possibility that no candidate will have a majority of delegates when the Republican convention opens in Cleveland in July, forcing a second ballot and a chaotic fight on the convention floor. The idea of a contested convention, perennially batted about but usually a rules-nerd’s pipe dream, seems a distinct possibility this time around.

The primary, in other words, is just as gridlocked as Washington, where bills can’t get passed and the Supreme Court can’t make decisions. A majority of Republican voters value standing on principle more than compromise; they see gridlock as the only bulwark against tyranny, and refusing to back down as the mark of character. Now that attitude has come to the political campaign, with six remaining candidates who swear they will never yield, and a party so divided its factions may be fundamentally irreconcilable.

This stalemate in the Republican race isn’t likely to be broken by the outcome of tomorrow’s voting in South Carolina. And from there a clear path forward to victory isn’t obvious for any of the GOP hopefuls at the top of the race.

So now it all makes sense. The Republicans are so enamored of gridlock they decided to pack it up and take it along for a ride through the primaries, maybe all the way to their convention this summer. Hello Cleveland!