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A Holiday Message

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We may be at an interesting inflection point.

- Large majorities have had it with Congressional dysfunctionality.

- Influential Republicans like Mitch McConnell are recognizing the above and view it as a threat to their party.

- Reasonable conservative voices are writing smart pieces that seem to be reaching for hybrid positions on social and economic issues. See here and here, for example.

- The latest debacle -- the fight to extend unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut -- appears to have demonstrably hurt the Republicans and helped the Democrats (especially the president), and one might expect that ensuing fights will redound similarly, i.e., the public appears to be internalizing the meme that the Democrats are fighting for the middle class while the Republicans are fighting for the rich. Politically, this is a dangerous possibility for Republicans, especially in an election year.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not suggesting a Kumbaya moment is in the offing. There are still irresistible forces in play here; the Tea Party members of Congress are, I suspect, if anything, even more pissed off and ready to wreak more havoc when they get back. A wounded tiger is a dangerous tiger.

The Republican candidates are also busy fanning these flames.

But these forces of negativity can only breathe if they have the oxygen of public and media support. If they become widely viewed as a small, angry minority selfishly blocking the rest of us from the pragmatic approach to meeting the challenges we all face, they will become increasingly ignored and irrelevant.

Kind of like what Bob Dylan was talking about here.

We thus may look back at this moment as one when the hyper-partisanship undermining our democracy began to crack. Or not. Either way, you can read about it here on my blog.

Happy Christmas and Seasonally Adjusted Greetings!

This post originally appeared at Jared Bernstein's On The Economy blog.

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