American politics are perhaps more polarized than at any time in recent history. That doesn’t mean, however, that either side is anything close to united. Those on the right and the left are ideologically fractured, a new Pew Research report finds, with the majority in the middle “unified by frustration with politics and little else” and posing challenges to both parties as they try to craft election messaging, build coalitions and motivate infrequent voters.
The report divides the American public into eight groups, many of which defy the traditional liberal/conservative boundaries. Of those, the three most consistently partisan are also the most over-represented in the political sphere, making up just a combined 36 percent of the public, but 57 percent of the politically engaged Americans who regularly vote and pay attention to the news.
Those who have to govern vs those who are going Galt.
A bunch of Republican governors have been in Washington the past few days for the National Governors Association meeting, just in time to chew out their fellow Republicans in Congress over the upcoming sequestration cuts.
“I think there’s a lack of leadership,” Gary Herbert of Utah groused to Politico on Sunday. “They need to stop having press conferences and start meeting,” echoed Virginia’s Bob McDonnell. “I think the Hill ought to be saying, ‘We’re ready to sit down and work on a budget,’” said Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett.
The drumbeat of criticism continued Monday with a press conference by Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker — all prominent conservatives with national profiles who made it clear they had little use for the congressional GOP’s approach, which has mainly consisted of sitting on its collective hands, blaming the White House, and waiting for the cuts to take effect.
“We’re not here speaking on behalf of Republicans on the Hill, we’re speaking on behalf of Republican governors,” Walker said pointedly. “The difference is, we’re providing leadership.”
Ouch. If this all sounds familiar, though, it may be because the split between the Hill GOP and their counterparts in the nation’s governor’s mansions has been going on for a while. The frustration is real and goes beyond routine D.C.-bashing to score political points. It’s a split between the Republicans who are charged with governing and those who have dug in as a pure opposition party. Indeed, the party’s future may hinge on which faction prevails — the state executives, whose responsibility to govern has made them pragmatists, or the D.C. legislators, many of whom seem content to serve solely as an alternative and obstacle to the Democratic White House and Senate.