Democrats Are Giving Up on Compromise

For quite a long time there’s been a large and durable partisan gap on the issue of compromise. Generally speaking, Republicans don’t like it: they want politicians to stick to their conservative principles, come hell or high water. If that means shutting down the government or breaching the debt ceiling, so be it.

Democrats are nowhere near as implacable. For whatever reason, they take a more pragmatic view of politics, preferring their politicians to take half a loaf if that’s all they can get.

But that’s all changed. I didn’t see this when it came out a few months ago, but apparently Democrats have finally had quite enough. A Pew poll taken in March shows that Democrats are no longer any more willing to compromise than Republicans:

There are several obvious questions this raises:

  • First off, this isn’t a pure Trump thing. The share of Democrats willing to compromise went up to 69 percent through mid-2017. Then it collapsed sometime over the next few months. Why?
  • Whatever happened over the past 12 months to cause this collapse, it didn’t affect Republicans one way or the other. It affected only Democrats.
  • Possibly by chance, Democrats and Republicans have converged toward each other since 2011: in both parties, about 45 percent now prefer compromise to showdown. Is this meaningful, or just a coincidence?

It obviously wasn’t Trump’s election or his inauguration that caused the Democratic shift toward intransigence. However, it’s easy to think of events later in 2017 that might have sent Democrats over the edge: Obamacare repeal, Charlottesville, the tax bill, pulling out of the Paris accord, the Russia investigation, etc. But at least to me, none of these is an obvious candidate. I feel like the answer lies somewhere else. Any ideas?

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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