… The Democrats have never been a natural opposition party, or a particularly effective one. Republicans from Reagan to the Tea Party broadly believed in reducing government, as the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist famously put it, “to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” Cutting budgets and eliminating programs might require a Republican president and a congressional majority, but lacking this, a disciplined minority party could gum up the works, starving existing initiatives and blocking attempts to expand them.
Democrats, by contrast, have generally been united by a belief in government that tries to do big things, in the manner of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal or Johnson’s Great Society or, later, Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act — a belief that, practically speaking, requires either landslide majorities or a willingness to compromise. CONT.
Charles Homans, New York Times Magazine