October 13th, 2013
01:47 AM ET

Zakaria: Authority has collapsed within GOP

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

In trying to explain how Washington got into the mess it is in, pundits and politicians have focused on ideology. They point out that the country has become more polarized, as have political parties, in particular the Republican Party.

The diagnosis is accurate but there is another, distinctive cause of the current crisis that might have even more long-lasting effects – the collapse of authority, especially within the Republican Party, which might mean that these new tactics of threats, crises, and deadlock are now the new normal.

On the surface, the behavior of the Republicans today looks a lot like that in 1995 and 1996, when the party took a strongly ideologically oriented position, stood its ground, and shut down the government. But that movement was led by a speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich, who inspired, shaped, and directed it from start to finish.

John Boehner, by contrast, has openly acknowledged that his understanding of leadership is to "sort of manage whatever [his] people want to do," as CBS's Bob Schieffer memorably put it. It proved easier to resolve the crisis in the 1990s because Gingrich had the power to speak for his side.

Watch the video for the full Take. For more, read the Washington Post column.

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Topics: GPS Show

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. JAL

    Great points.

    October 13, 2013 at 6:10 am |
    • JAL

      The GOP state governors are a good bunch, in my opinion. That is where the future GOP talent currently resides.

      October 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
      • old man

        Making war on the republican machine is foolish. Too many donors have been burnt by tea party candidates who failed because of what came out of their mouth. The machine is going to go after them in a big way. I am not talking about the RNC as the real machine is made up of the traditional donors. Tea party individual donations can't compete with the wealthy donors who are the real power brokers. They wanted to defund obamacare but they may find that they have defunded themselves. Just like Hitler who invaded the Soviet Union they now face a war on two fronts.

        October 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Science

      Hey JAL .............more to come maybe !

      Monday, Oct 14, 2013 09:51 AM CDT
      10 facepalm-inducing moments from the right — just this week!


      October 14, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  2. robpengra

    I hear you say that since the Democrats and Republicans have moved further apart – become more divisive – the reason is because the Republicans have moved more to the right instead of the Democrats moving further to the left. In my opinion, the country is becoming more divided, but the move to the right is in direct proportion to the strong move to the left. The move to the right at least helps keep the middle where it has always been. When a news caster claims one side of the other is the problem, he or she immediately becomes part that divisiveness and not part of the solution. On your last video segment, the lady at the very end (forgot her name) made a statement that "if people spend much of their time watching FOX News that they will become biased and divisive and that if they watch CNN, they will be balanced. That opinion, is just that, an opinion and when stated in that matter also becomes very divisive instead of being part of the solution. You are doing what you claim you don't want others to do!

    October 13, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • Richard Skandy

      I cannot agree with you more. To blast another network which is clearly obviously slanted to the right but to offer panels and views strongly to the left, Fareed should just put on his blue tutu and become a cheerleader for the Democratic party. CNN used to be somewhat balanced in its approach, today it is decidedly moving only to the left, trying to rival MSNBC in its approach. A panel with equal opposite views is much more interesting than to listen to a one sided argument. Let's be honest, the Republicans cannot change Obama Care now, so just let it happen and see if this program is what the Americans really want once the premiums and taxes are raised and access to care is decreased. Meanwhile, to use the debt crisis to get rid of the safeguards in the Budget Act of 2011, so spending can increase, even though debt levels are unacceptable, is equally a stretch by the Democrats
      which will fail. Get a clue, most Americans think our politicians are more interested in their individual careers and do not represent the people anymore. Watch Obama pay the debt, using the 14th Amendment...and this trumped up crisis ends for now.

      October 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
  3. Ted

    Your experts tonight did not have any solution for the radicalisation of the GOP. How about setting up and independent electoral commission which sets rules and boundaries for national and state elections. They actually run the elections. Have a judge in charge nationally and states judge report to national judge.

    How about having elections only on weekends so all can attend. I believe Californian has one so does Australia(Electoral commission). This would make elections fair with an impartial and funded judge.

    October 13, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  4. Nancyrm

    One of the experts in this panel commented at the end that because Obamacare was passed when the Democrats were in control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the Republicans were not invested in this legislation and this is a big part of why they are trying to overturn it. In practice, the bill that was passed is overly complicated, helps only a segment of the population get health insurance, and is basically to no one's liking, precisely because it is a product of massive compromises. These compromises were mainly aimed at accommodating the insurance and health care industries, which have "ties" to both parties. The opposing sides who didn't get what they wanted are progressives who wanted a single payer system, and right wing extremists. The right wing extremists aren't mad because the health care bill doesn't reflect their "input" but because it EXISTS. If Republicans had controlled the House when Obamacare was being considered, the result would not be a different bill, but no bill at all.

    October 13, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  5. Nancyrm

    The above post was meant for another GPS program.

    October 13, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  6. Michael Molnar

    True that respect for authority has collapsed in the GOP. Anarchy now rules. Nevertheless, Speaker Boehner needs to go public and admit that this is indeed the case. He needs to assert his remaining authority and go toe-to-toe with the TP anarchists by putting a clean CR on the House floor along with a long term extension of the debt. Should he do this, he would jeopardize his 'Speakership' – maybe. If he is clever, he can muster moderate support by explaining that he is saving their jobs and the GOP. He must explain publicly that the TP's behaviour is tantamount to treason. If he lost his position, he would become a hero and live to resurrect a new sensible GOP.

    October 13, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  7. david shaw

    I'd like to ask the panelel if they feel we are in this shutdown/debt ceiling crisisi simply looking at a symptom of a wider malaise.? Are we basically looking at the end of America, the end perhaps of the reality and concept of the nation state?

    October 13, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • ✠RZ✠

      Look to the profits, not the prophets.

      October 13, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Sadly enough david, the answer to both your questions appear to be yes. Unless we rid this government of all these right-wing fanatics, this country will only go downhill. Remember what happened to both Germany and Italy during WW2?

      October 13, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • deep blue

      The shutdown is caused by a system problem. The problem is that our current government relies on Congress to act to keep it funded.
      The solution is simple in policy, if difficult ideologically. Get rid of the debt ceiling, and make appropriation bills forever instead of from fiscal year to fiscal year. That way, there is never a shutdown, and Congress can pass laws reallocating funds to adjust for shifting needs as often as needed.
      Obviously, politically, the Republicans will feel that this takes away all leverage they have on decreasing spending and the debt, so concessions would have to be made, but that gets into politics rather than policy.

      October 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  8. ✠RZ✠

    Farheed, if you wish to discuss any real collapse in authority, then I would suggest you begin with the erosion in the authority of "We The People". There is no more hiding the fact that the government was high-jacked long ago and has since been run from the wings by big business and special interest groups. And any attempt to further hide that fact or mislay blame at this time is rather pathetic, don't you think? But your point does have some validity which is even perhaps more pathetic. Here you have a government with the same simple direction for all parties to continue on with the same basic agenda to bleed a nation of gullible lambs in order to keep lavishing it's tyrants. And by God these clowns can't even get their act together on that either. My guess is that if "We The People" don't somehow find a way to replace them and wrestle back authority, and soon, the likes of the MIC and Wall Street surly will.

    October 13, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  9. Joseph McCarthy

    If there is one thing that sorely needs to become a thing of the past, that is the GOP! Ironically, this party was founded by Abraham Lincoln and his fellow Abolitionists in 1854 and which Pres. Theodore Roosevelt himself was part of only to be taken over by the right-wing fanatics of today! This is the party which is leading this nation into self destruction just like the Nazis did Germany in 1945, but only at a slower pace!

    October 13, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  10. droid

    Bottom line Fareed: The country is dead. The country is dead. Perhaps working our way from beneath the economic destruction, we'll find the inspiration. I seriously doubt it.

    October 13, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • ✠RZ✠

      “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism”.
      – George Washington

      “If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
      – Samuel Adams

      It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.

      I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
      – Thomas Jefferson

      October 13, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  11. Nike

    No, not ideologies. Please be careful with ideologies, i.e. 'communism' was invented in Asian cultures and was used against Westerners – because Westerners would not understand the underlying secret meaning – in other words it is meant to bring damage and failure to Westerners.

    October 13, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  12. abc

    Your panel today had three liberals discussing what is wrong with conservatives. Do you think it was somewhat biased?

    October 13, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  13. rightospeak

    With propaganda and censorship galore most people have no clue that the corporations run this country and what we see in Washington is a circus, a show to make people think that they live in a democracy. Authority has not collapsed-the circus has new players, that is all.

    October 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • ✠RZ✠

      Trying to back you up on one of that, Sir. Perhaps too strongly. Nothing getting though. Likely get droned first.

      October 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • ✠RZ✠

      Glory, glory, hallelujah ! The cry for true democracy cannot be misconstrued as treason. Shout it out Rightospeak! Shout it loud and clear !

      October 13, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  14. rohrintl

    Excellent show on the nexus of social and political forces. Yet it also all gets back to the media, who bear some responsibility for the soundbite culture which has supplanted an informed electorate at the heart of successful democratic philosophy and practice.
    Likely that is also driven by technology... McLuhan warned us in the 1960's that the electronic media would atomize existing social structures. That naturally includes the political ones as well, and all he had as a technology concept was the yet to be implemented cable TV. We can only imagine what he would have had to say about the internet.

    October 13, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  15. Robert Young

    I am a Republican who considers myself a moderate on social issues and a conservative on the budget. I think you are really off base with your characterization of the Republican party and the Tea Party. I am not in the Tea Party but I can relate to their frustration with the direction of spending in Washington. Is it extreme to want to stop exceeding the limit on your credit card? Is it extreme to want people to take more responsibility for their personal lives and decisions? Is it extreme to want lower effective tax rates and eliminate loopholes for the well connected, so small business people can take risks and hire more people without having their success and profits confiscated by the government in a thousand tiny ways? Is it extreme to want a country where it is O.K. to become successful and rich because you got an education and were willing to work hard and take risks without being demonized or derided. I think that is where most people in the Tea Party are coming from and I think that is what America was once all about. I think constantly wanting to raise taxes and spend more than you take in to make more people dependent on the government with programs, many of which are ineffective, is extreme. I think that promising benefits to people that are actuarially unsound and impossible to honor in the future is extreme. I think that saying you are not willing to seriously negotiate on these issues until you unconditionally raise my credit card limit or approve more spending beyond my means is extreme. I feel that we are at a critical point in our history between going toward more freedom and individual responsibility or toward more socialism and individual dependency. I hope the Republicans hang tough.


    October 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • bill39

      I disagree completely with your characterization of the Tea Party. The Tea Party was started by wealthy and commercial interests, then sold to the non-thinking public through clever disinformation and propaganda. Wealthy and powerful interests prefer minimum government interference. The Republicans and especially the Tea Party are giving them what they want. Personally, I hold the Bush administration's mistakes (two wars and the Great Recession) against the GOP, and I'm not impressed right now by either the GOP dogma or the Tea Party's tactics.

      October 14, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Vesinet

      Overall I agree with your post. However for Fareed to make an analogy in his take between duly elected member of congress and the black panther movement is simply unacceptable. Tea party members were just stupid to start a fight they could not win. I don't see yet any democrats seriously looking for a solution to our fiscal and debt problem. Unfortunately, I believe the market will most likely force the issue on us like it did in Europe. Just a matter of when but it will be painful.

      October 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  16. mdatc

    The GOP has fragmented, as it has formed a brittle position formed by the more extreme of its crowd. They are now destroying themselves as the brittle beam that held up their defense is snapping.

    October 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  17. j. von hettlingen

    The GOP has to ditch the Tea Party, if it wants to win votes next year. The problem is that the Tea Baggers feel they are precious and indispensable. The GOP needs them, as it is losing voters year after year.

    October 14, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  18. Timmy Suckle

    I kissed my way up to VP at a health insurance company. Now I take over $600,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easily fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $113,700 level. Now I only pay 1.2% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    October 14, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • ✠RZ✠

      Sorry, what is it again that you kiss?

      October 14, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  19. Frank Carroll

    I disagree with Mr. Rossiter's statement, which Mr. Zakariah quoted here. There can be politics without parties, as exemplified by the consensus form of government in the Canadian territory of Nunuvut: http://www.cbc.ca/elections/nunavutvotes2013/features/view/what-is-consensus-government

    Partisanship and the raw pursuit of political power are fundamental flaws in most democracies. As more and more people grow weary of partisan bickering, our democracies will evolve into non-partisan systems. The political party will be a relic of the past. One day, people will look back and wonder how legislatures were ever able to function, divided as they were between groups that willingly submitted themselves and subjected the public to ideological straight-jackets.

    October 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

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