Martin Longman: Too Big to Compromise – Washington Monthly

[This group] is a very, very awkward size. It seems to be somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the electorate, which is big enough that it feels like a majority but small enough that it isn’t actually a majority.

That’s a very uncomfortable place to be, politically, because smaller groups I think come to appreciate, not immediately but eventually, that they have to compromise and form coalitions. Larger groups can just win.

But this group doesn’t seem small enough to compromise or big enough to win. That makes people very angry. I think some of that anger is reflected not just in Trump’s campaign but in the sort of rhetoric you see around the rallies. And everyone has seen footage of people who are just hopping mad in a way that I suspect is alien not just to the journalists who cover them but also to movement conservatives who have claimed to speak for them in the past.

Goldman discusses this same theme elsewhere in the interview, referring to “the story of a minority that thinks it’s a majority.”

I think we can do a lot with this basic insight. For starters, it really illuminates the problems John Boehner encountered as Speaker, where he kept trying to explain to both his own caucus and to the party base that they simply couldn’t impose their will on the president because they didn’t have the votes. He simply was not believed. It seemed like even the suggestion was like waving a red cape in front of a bull, and it didn’t matter if they had a hundred thousand votes to repeal ObamaCare or only several dozen, the point would not be received or accepted.

Maybe the underlying problem wasn’t so much that people were ignorant of parliamentary rules and procedure or the separation of powers. Maybe the root of this conflict, which ultimately doomed both Boehner and his underboss Cantor, is that the base of the party is too big to realize that it has no choice but to compromise.

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