The ruling Republicans won’t even consider any major legislation unless they can pass it with only Republican votes; any cooperation risks their being targeted by the right-wing Rage Machine — a multimedia behemoth that didn’t exist before — and treated as a traitor, a collaborator, a “RINO.”
That works both ways, nowadays.
I had this conversation just today, with a poly sci professor. What we agreed upon was that the parties THEMSELVES haven’t changed much over the last five or six decades, as far as their policy objectives are concerned; what’s changed is that their more radical wings (which also haven’t changed much over the last five or six decades) have gotten tired of sitting quietly in the back of the bus. This has forced the centrist consensus seekers to masquerade as more rigid ideologues in order to keep their seats. To the outside observer, it LOOKS LIKE our parties have become more radical; but in practice (and as you can see from things like the recent budget bill which passed) not too much different. Business as usual. Just louder, nastier voices.
When most of them hold seats in districts increasingly gerrymandered to make them safe, the sorts of primary challenges this can provoke are existential threats, whereas there’s no pressure from the other direction.
Yes, well, THAT hasn’t changed much either. If you do the math on congressional votes vs congressional representation in 1992, the Dems were entitled to a majority in the House of about 226 seats; Clinton had 267 seats; the delta represents the results of the Democrat-leaning gerrymander at the time.
What makes the current gerrymander appear so much more effective than then is the demographic concentration of Dem votes into urban areas. If you’re drawing districts geometrically without regard to partisanship, it’s rather easy to draw lots of districts that are 60% majority GOP and others which are 90% Dem; this will lead to an imbalanced House vis a vis the popular vote. I’ve seen some computer programs, set to the task of drawing geometrically sound districts which care only about having 500K people per district, arrive at CLOSE TO the same House makeup we currently have; perhaps the Dems pick up three or four seats.
This “TMCD” you describe is a real thing and it’s problematic in many of the ways you describe. That should never obscure the fact that the right has gotten much worse under the lash of the Rage Machine, which has worked tirelessly to mainstream increasingly reactionary and, yes, fascist politics.
Yes, because there’s no “rage machine” targeting Republicans or Mr. Trump. :-) Everything on the Dems side is all unicorns and rainbows. :-)