Gridlock Through Gingrich
In a recent article in the Washington Post, Newt Gingrich gave his version of why he is still in the race for the Republican nomination – to ensure that Mitt Romney stays true to conservatism. Regardless of whether or not this statement comes from genuine ideological dedication or a disguised attempt to keep his own credentials intact (perhaps with the hopes of acquiring a cabinet position or even the vice presidency), Gingrich’s justification prompts concerns about gridlock for two reasons.
First, as we have long discussed, party polarization is one of the, if not the, most fundamental causes of gridlock in American politics today. Though “true conservatives” may have disdain for Romney’s apparent willing to compromise on what they consider to be certain core conservative values, it is precisely this willingness to compromise that actually makes him a viable candidate for the presidency. By attempting to “make sure that Romney runs as a conservative in the general election,” Gingrich is hamstringing Romney’s ability to pursue his campaign in what is, realistically, probably the only way that offers any chance of success. By pressuring him to maintain more extreme conservative positions, Gingrich is contributing to inter-party gridlock and hurting the potential for productive dialogue.
Second, this behavior is also contributing to gridlock within the Republican party. Regardless of one’s political views, a two party system necessarily requires two well-functioning and coherent parties in order to maintain the American style of democracy with which we have all grown accustomed. No matter how you slice it, a vibrant two-party system better protects both individual rights and governmental efficiency than a single party system. The longer Gingrich fights what is clearly a losing battle, the more he highlights the disunity and lack of direction within the Republican party itself. If taken too far, this disunity will soon render the entire Republican party irrelevant. Such a result hurts us all, Democrat and Republican.