The quagmire of U.S. politics has produced a lame duck President who can’t progress policies for which he has a clear democratic mandate. This impasse boils down to fundamental differences between Democrats and Republicans that seem beyond resolution. Drawing on psychological and political research Chris Mooney has discussed this issue in various forums where he argues that core values (e.g. political, ideological, religious) set up a particular framework in the brain that is virtually impervious to facts, logic, and reason. On this basis, consensus is impossible because the two camps can’t recognise what is really going on.
This disjunct is clearly apparent in a recent survey of opinions regarding what should be the top priorities for the U.S. government. While there is a strong bi-partisan consensus that it’s the economy, stupid, there is a clear disconnect between parties as to which areas are most important and should be tackled.
These priorities generally support left-right stereotypes, with Democrats looking to Government for solutions to social problems and the Republicans more concerned about the troops, terrorism and taxes. The biggest gaps between the parties, the environment, distribution of income & wealth and poverty & homelessness are so wide that it seems unlikely there can ever be any political consensus on these issues. On this basis it is reasonable to conclude that it is unlikely that Republicans will ever advance these matters and if they are ever to be addressed, Democrat majorities in the Senate and Congress will be required.