Obama, who aspires to be Washington’s single actor, has said of his signature achievement: “I would have loved nothing better than to simply come up with some very elegant, academically approved approach to health care, and didn’t have any kinds of legislative fingerprints on it, and just go ahead and have that passed. But that’s not how it works in our democracy. Unfortunately, what we end up having to do is to do a lot of negotiations with a lot of different people.”
Obama wanted something simple rather than a product of Madisonian complexity. He wanted something elegantly unblemished by “any” messy legislative involvement, other than Congress’s tug of the forelock at final approval. It is, Obama thinks, unfortunate that he had to talk to many people.
He and some of his tea party adversaries share an impatience with Madisonian politics, which requires patience. The tea party’s reaffirmation of Madison’s limited-government project is valuable. Now, it must decide if it wants to practice politics.
Rauch hopes there will be “an intellectual effort to advance a principled, positive, patriotic case for compromise, especially on the right.” He warns that Republicans, by their obsessions with ideological purity and fiscal policy, “have veered in the direction of becoming a conservative interest group, when what the country needs is a conservative party .”