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Moreover, I think your premises overestimate the GOP's concerns about going over the cliff - or at least, the GOP House. For most (if not nearly all) of them, their opposition to tax increases for the wealthy is well known to their constituents, and indeed was a campaign promise for many. Yet they won re-election against a heavily democratic electorate that is not likely to turnout that way in 2014 (Obama was unable to turn his GOTV into successful House turnout in 2010).

These incentives are transparent to both sides of the negotiation - which is probably why the GOP leadership was so dismissive of the President's first offer. Indeed, the Democratic wish list is also analogous to the $0 bid for the car, since the Democrats want a deal also

That nails it.

Progressives remain in denial about the electoral strength of the right. A strength whose genesis I talk about all the time.

I think the government very well represents the differences in the electorate's view of how the nation should be run, and those differences are profound. Moreover neither side wants their representatives to compromise. In fact the Republicans hate Obama so much that they voted down a treaty originally signed by George Bush, and supported by all the veterans groups, and the Republican establishment merely because Obama supported it.

We've been here before historically. The electorate won't change until the pain of not changing is so intense (depression, civil war) that we are compelled to change. Or the boys in Washington may figure out a way to just kick the can down the road. I hope not.
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