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Both parties' extremists seem determined to lose the next elections

Michael Barone on

President Trump has taken to blaming Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan for such failures. This week, according to Politico, vice presidential aide Nick Ayers has been urging donors to stop funding congressional Republicans. "If we're going to be in the minority again, we might as well have a minority who are with us, as opposed to the minority who helped us become a minority," he said.

Democrats, currently with their smallest congressional minority since the 1920s, seem eager to take stands risking perpetuation of that status. It's reminiscent of Hillary Clinton's shift on abortion from her husband's "safe, legal and rare" to supporting Medicaid abortions and her abasement in repudiating his anti-crime policies in deference to the preposterous claims of #BlackLivesMatter.

Her willingness to take such risks was evidently based on the notion that demographic change -- increasing numbers of nonwhite voters -- guaranteed a Democratic victory.

Despite her defeat, that assumption and a confidence that Trump's unpopularity will doom Republicans seem to be shared by many Democrats. Thus, 16 Democratic senators, including some mentioned as possible 2020 nominees, have endorsed single-payer health care, a policy voted down resoundingly in purple Colorado and abandoned in shambles in deep blue Vermont.

The rush to the extremes in both parties threatens to derail an obvious compromise on immigration triggered by Trump's announcement that he would withdraw Obama's (legally dubious) Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which granted protection from deportation and permission to work to "dreamers," immigrants brought here illegally as children.

As William Galston, a veteran of the Clinton White House, argued in The Wall Street Journal, a compromise is obvious: a bill giving legal status to dreamers but including tougher border and internal enforcement, such as mandatory E-Verify.

Some Republicans oppose giving legal status to dreamers, despite its overwhelming popularity. Some Democrats are insisting on giving legal status to not only dreamers but practically all immigrants and will most likely resist effective enforcement measures, despite their widespread popularity. So it's possible that neither side will get what it wants.

One might get the impression that large segments of both parties are determined to lose the next congressional and presidential elections -- and that both deserve to.

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Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News and World Report. Distibuted by Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

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