Charlie Dent is resigning. He’s not just retiring in January as planned. He’s leaving within weeks. He’s either had it with Congress and can’t do it anymore, has a new job, or both. My bet is both, because I wouldn’t blame him.
House Republicans are fleeing in record numbers. Donald Trump is less popular than any recent President at this point, and they see him as a drag on their candidacies this Fall. Hillary won 25 Republican House seats, and many more yet are retiring. They see losing the House as likely.
House Republican moderates are fleeing too. The combination of the Hastert Rule (you need a majority of the majority to bring anything up for a vote), the strength of the Freedom Caucus/Republican Study Group/Tea Party wing of the House, the rise of Trump, and the fall of Boehner and even Ryan has diminished their influence. The Republican Party belongs to Donald Trump, not “small government” ideology Republicans. They can’t be reasonable and cut deals.
The House is a tough place for any moderate these days, and many are fleeing. The rise of the far left has threatened the existence of moderate Democrats in this year’s primary- though moderate Democrats are still usually winning. Angry ideological activists are flexing their political muscles on both sides. Moderates are increasingly finding themselves frustrated by their behavior. Even those representing genuinely moderate districts, where their constituents agree with them.
I once worked for Chris Dodd, one of the most effective Senators of the last century. He passed legislation like the Family and Medical Leave Act, landmark mental health protection legislation, and of course later on, the ACA and Dodd-Frank. He always said compromise and bi-partisanship was critical to passing any major legislation. I do not think he would be able to be as effective today. Sure, he was an openly liberal Senator, but I doubt today’s far-left would tolerate his cooperation. They would probably have shot down his 1993 FMLA bill for not getting 100% of what they want. I also doubt he’d get a Republican to co-sponsor any of his major bills today- they’d primary that Senator out, with millions of dollars of help.
This is why we can’t have nice things anymore.