The chaos and dysfunction in the White House and Congress are not surprising to former national GOP Chairman Michael Steele.
“Our politics reflect us. We have been in a reality TV world for the past 15 years. Night after night, we sit down and gorge ourselves on the lives of other people,” Steele told Managing Editor Bryan Schott at the 2017 Politicon conference in Pasadena, California.
“It was part of our culture; now it’s part of our politics. And we’re shocked and aghast that this is how it is. This is a reflection of who we’ve become in my view. So the question now becomes how do you go about fixing that,” he said.
Steele says the ultimate responsibility for our dysfunctional political system lies with voters.
“Polls show that the American people by a wide number do not like the Congress. On a good day, it’s polling at 19% approval. What’s gonna happen next year? 97-98% of those very same people they don’t like are gonna get reelected. Change the behavior.”
Steele brags about the wave election in 2010 where the GOP picked up 63 seats in the House of Representatives as a prime example of a course correction initiated by voters.
“I like to think we did a little bit of that in 2010. We broke the hold the Democrats held at the state and national level. I like to think that with a call to action that talked about big issues like healthcare and other things, and we put that into a political strategy that worked. We showed people you can change behavior. You can change the outcome. It’s no different now. More broadly speaking, if you don’t like what you’re doing, if you don’t like the way things are going, change the behavior.”
Steele also discussed how Democrats and Republicans could deal with the newly emboldened extreme elements in their parties – progressives on the left and Trump supporters on the right.
“Social issues aren’t as hot as they were 30 years ago. People are concerned about “bread and butter” issues. They’re concerned about jobs. They’re concerned about education. You gotta have an answer for that. To the extent that you don’t, it’s going to be harder for your candidates to maintain that majority going into the future because the reality is the voters are going to shift their behavior. If you’re not part of that shift, you’re going to get left behind, and that comes when the voters decide, you know what? We gotta change the way we look at this. We saw a little of that in 2016.”
Listen to our complete interview with Steele below: