Where do we go from here? To a large swath of Americans and most of the rest of the world, American politics have careened out of control, lurching from a role model of sensible policy making and civil discourse to gridlock over even modest proposals with bipartisan buy-in, and to a presidential campaign with the kind of angry populist bluster, coarse language and sectarian division formerly associated with Peron-style banana republics.
On the policy front, the Republican Congress has made the unprecedented decision to portray a president with almost a year left in his term as not simply a “lame duck” but utterly bereft of any legitimacy to carry out the responsibilities of his office. Both House and Senate have declined to recognize the budget the president submitted in January, refusing even to hold the customary hearings with the head of the National Economic Council and the director of the Office of Management and Budget. And within an hour of the announcement of the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that the Senate would not recognize any nominee put forward by Obama—no vetting, no hearing, not even the customary individual meetings with Judiciary Committee Republicans.