“Yes, the Republican Party has become pathological,” the 2017 Vox.com headline presumed. “But why?” The article, naturally, wastes no time proving the hypothesis. For almost a decade, a cottage industry had been building around the demand for analysis demonstrating how the Republican Party had become too extreme. Not too extreme for voters, of course. By the time Vox got around to the subject, the electorate had delivered control of every lever of power in Washington to the GOP. No, the real problem is apparently the structural latticework of American political conventions, which allowed a party that was so invested in unpopular policy preferences to defame and disqualify their more popular opponents.
This allergy to introspection on display is now reaching epidemic proportions. For all the lectures about how Republican voters had supposedly sequestered themselves in self-radicalizing cloisters, Americans on the left of the political spectrum are just as disinclined to audit their own views. But they may not be able to avoid critical self-examination for long. Democratic voters are increasingly adopting a brand of extremism all their own.