The Duty to Obstruct

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz conduct a news conference at the Capitol Visitor Center in November 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The conservative movement is obstructionist by nature. How could it be otherwise? It was conceived, famously, with a pledge to “stand athwart history, yelling Stop.

For most of the past 50 years, the basic narrative of domestic politics has imagined liberal Democrats seeking to expand government and conservative Republicans mobilizing to thwart them. That narrative is more fiction than fact, as a glance at federal spending under Republican administrations will demonstrate, but the attitudes it describes abide. A felt duty to obstruct is part of the modern right’s political DNA.

Obstruction is tricky business in a representative democracy, though.

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