Both parties often mistake voter frustration with the other team for devotion to their own cause.
Hungry true believers tend to energize political parties, but their habit of putting purity above pragmatism leads to impatience with moderate colleagues. Eventually the young purists cannibalize the majorities they need to govern. As defeat looms, they announce dramatically that it’s their “last chance” to pass historic legislation. They argue that real conservatives or real progressives would accept nothing less.
Republicans have been where the Democrats are headed—with absolute power comes absolute overreach. In 2016, Republicans ran the table, winning control of the presidency, House and Senate. While they had control of Washington, many Republicans refused to accept victories they didn’t consider “conservative enough.” But total control of the federal government apparatus is rare. Republicans should have found a way to compromise on the speed and size, not the direction, of their reforms. Persistence and ideological consistency would have been rewarded over time with big, enduring changes moving the nation in a more conservative direction. Instead, Republicans bickered among themselves and went for big victories that either failed completely or provoked electoral backlashes.