The problem, of course, is that to the extent that politicians are self-interested, they face a major incentive to join in the gravy train and cash in by appealing to those easy marks rather than try to appeal to a majority of the electorate. That breaks, or at least threatens to break, the fundamental logic that makes representative democracy work: politicians try hard to govern well because their careers depend on election. When, instead, the road to career success involves making a lot of noise, pleasing the fringe, and retiring to a comfortable gig on Fox News, then financial self-interest is going to work against satisfying constituents.Except that only 2 years after Barack Obama swept into office with 69 million votes the GOP--whose entire strategy was to destroy the Obama presidency by not supporting any of his initiatives--were richly rewarded by the voters with huge gains and control of the House.
We're told constantly -- and polls bear this out -- that independent voters in particular hate divisive politics. Yet, the Democrats, led by the once popular President were completely unable to effectively call out the GOP for their shenanigans. It should have been like shooting fish in a barrel but it seems the stubbornness of Republicans is only matched by the political incompetence of the Democrats.
So while Professor Bernstein's logic might be unassailable, John Boehner is Speaker of the House and Eric Cantor is the Israeli Prime Minister's guardian on the floor of the House.