In E. J. Dionne’s Where the ‘No Labels’ movement falls short, he states:
The truth is that the American right is much farther from anything that can fairly be described as “the center” than is the left. [This is actually confirmed by the research on authoritarianism by Professor Robert Altemeyer. ]
It’s not so much a sliding scale where any group has moved en masse to one end of the hypothetical left-right scale or the other. It’s more about an initially disconnected, unorganized, right-wing minority, with extreme views, getting totally absorbed into the Republican Party. It happened over time but included a sizable increase orchestrated by Ronald Reagan when he won the South in 1981. Since then, more of these minority “masses” were attracted to the Republican Party, where their extreme right-wing authoritarian worldview has a best, but not wide spread, fit.
Initially, this extreme-view minority was just an active, fearful, group of voters electing entrenched Republicans. Now, with the help of Fox News, hate radio, the Koch Brothers and the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and Dick Army and the Tea Party, they have become more organized and will be taking control of The House in January. How many entrenched, non-extremist, Republicans have now been shut up and shown the exit by these minority extremists?
It’s these fearful minority “masses” that have also helped create our dysfunctional Senate of recent years. It’s like 1994 all over again – except that both houses of Congress are now under much tighter control by this fearful minority.
So, we are ruled by an extreme right-wing minority that just happens to be part of the Republican Party. That doesn’t mean that the Republican Party, as a whole, is farther right of some imaginary center. It’s like saying all Muslims are terrorists because a few Islamic, fearful, right-wing, authoritarians are more violent than the majority of Muslims. Neither group has moved en masse farther to the right. Instead, both groups have been invaded and taken over by a small, fearful and violent, minority which makes it look like the whole group has become extreme.
Unfortunately, control by this extreme minority, including a few Democrats, does mean that America no longer has a functioning democracy.