Matthews on why the government isn’t working right now

Updated

Here’s how government is supposed to work in this country. You have an election.  One party wins; the other loses.  Both get the message and do what they’re supposed to do.

Republicans won the 2010 congressional elections.  They were supposed to come to Washington and make a deal with the Democrats, one favorable to their side and the people who voted for them, but a deal none-the-less.  Making a deal requires making concessions to the other side, as they say in business, “leaving some money on the table.”

Democrats lost the 2010 congressional elections. They were supposed to come back to Washington, acknowledge the results of the election and agree to a deal with the Republicans who won it.  That means carving a deal that favors the Republican position while not giving it all away.

This is how deals should be made between the two parties. They should favor the party that just won the election.  This is how Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill cut the deal that saved Social Security back in 1983.  Democrats had picked up 26 seats in the 1982 election.  President Reagan saw what happened and cut a Social Security deal that favored the Democratic position.  This is how grown-up politicians do things.  Reagan was getting the Social Security monkey off his back so he could win the next election.  Democrats were letting him do it because he, a Republican president, was agreeing to a mainly Democratic solution to the Social Security problem.

This usual way of doing things failed to work this year for one reason. The Tea Party-led House of Representatives refused to deal.  It refused to any possible bi-partisan deal by insisting that the debt ceiling not be raised unless Democrats buckled to a big spending cut without a nickel in higher taxes.  It insisted that there be no deal between the parties, no compromises, no leaning to the one party position over the other.  What the Tea Party Republicans did was dictate: my way or the highway: no deals, no concessions, not even a debt reduction that was overwhelmingly pro-Republican.  It had to be winner take all.  All budget cuts; no tax hikes of any time.  Period!

In other words, it had to be “no deal!” There is room in American politics for right as well as left, for that is the way we get to a consensus that reflects the will of the American people.  The tea party Republicans rejected a consensus.  They deserve the whack they’re now getting in the polls. 

Nine percent of the country approves of the job they’re doing. Got it, Mr. and Mrs. Tea Party? You are less popular, not just than President Obama but any president in history!

Matthews on why the government isn't working right now

Updated