Why Washington Is Stuck in an Endless Loop of Dysfunction and Squabbling

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Today Ezra Klein lists “The 13 reasons Washington is failing,” and to be honest, I was all ready not to like this post. I mean, seriously? Thirteen reasons? Spare me.

But it’s pretty good! Sure, numbers 5, 10, and 11 are kinda the same, but that’s OK. It’s an idea that deserves some repetition. And many of the others don’t always get the attention they deserve even though they’re surprisingly important. The most important one of all, I think, is way at the bottom of the list at #13. Generally speaking, I’m not part of the crowd that thinks we’re doomed to eternal gridlock and dysfunction, but there’s not much question that the transformation of American parties into ideological European-style parties is very, very, underappreciated. Regardless of how our current crisis works itself out, we’re on a massive collision course between de facto parliamentary rule, with party discipline as its fundamental feature, and a presidential system that never developed the parliamentary norms that make this work.

Maybe we’ll work things out. But governing norms are critical when the actual governing rules are incoherent, as ours have become, and the Republican Party has been gleefully tearing down governing norms ever since Newt Gingrich took over. I’m not sure how this is supposed to end.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate