The problem in congress is that though policy is a positive-sum game where it’s possible for people with sharply divergent viewpoints to forge compromises, electoral politics is a zero-sum competition for seats. Historically, members of congress were subjected to weak party discipline and thought of themselves primarily as entrepreneurial figures charged with cutting deals with one another to advance their own interests. But we’ve shifted in recent years to a different paradigm in which discipline is tighter and lawmakers—especially on the Republican side—see themselves as footsoldiers in the battle for majority control. That becomes a game in which there’s very little incentive for anyone to compromise, so you don’t see a ton of compromising happening.
That's Matthew Yglesias. And despite his clumsy attempt to make a partisan point in the midst of an insightful observation, I still think he's mostly right about this.
There seem to be some on the left who bemoan the lack of progress on their desired agenda and are jealous of the relatively strict discipline of the GOP, but is it really all it appears to be?
As a GOP voter, I'm certainly not interested in a party that marches in lock-step toward massive amounts of spending, even if it means the much sought after permanent Republican majority.
We basically had this from 1994-2006 and the hangover from it, I believe, is one of the main factors animating the Tea Party.