MSNBC's Hayes Frets GOP May Cause 'Domestic Cuban Missile Crisis,' Blames Constitution

On Monday's All In show, MSNBC host Chris Hayes devoted a segment to blaming a "fatal flaw" and "quirks" in the U.S. Constitution for making it possible for government shutdowns to happen, as he suggested that parliamentary governments are preferable because they make it more difficult for divided government to exist.

He went on to worry that an "extreme[ly] ideologically coherent" modern Republican party could cause a "domestic Cuban Missile Crisis" to happen.

Hayes began:

We are right now, as I speak to you, as you listen to my voice, headed towards a full-blown constitutional crisis. That's the growing consensus among a number of extremely astute political observers who argue the political dysfunction that's brought about a shutdown and is now threatening default isn't some run of the mill gridlock. It is exposing the fatal flaw in our constitution and highly distinct system of government.

The MSNBC host found saw the situation as the "Constitution's fault" as he continued:

In other words, it's the Constitution's fault and something truly catastrophic was bound to happen sooner or later. Here's the argument in a nutshell. These kind of shutdowns, the one we're experiencing now, are almost impossible elsewhere in the world because of the European-style parliamentary system used by most democracies just about ensures that executive and legislature are controlled by the same groups of people.

Hayes characterized the modern Republican party as having unique traits of extremism that could cause a catastrophe:

What we have now is record polarization, and one party, the GOP, that is likely the most extreme ideologically coherent and demographically self-contained party probably ever in American history. They believe that despite losing the presidential election, being a minority in the Senate and receiving less votes in the House, they have full democratic legitimacy.

They're willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how unprecedented or destructive to impose their will. Writer Jonathan Chait calls what is shaping up a domestic Cuban missile crisis, where a single blunder could have unalterable consequences. The question is, can our constitutional system function with the modern GOP?

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, October 7, All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC:

CHRIS HAYES: We are right now, as I speak to you, as you listen to my voice, headed towards a full-blown constitutional crisis. That's the growing consensus among a number of extremely astute political observers who argue the political dysfunction that's brought about a shutdown and is now threatening default isn't some run of the mill gridlock. It is exposing the fatal flaw in our constitution and highly distinct system of government.

In other words, it's the Constitution's fault and something truly catastrophic was bound to happen sooner or later. Here's the argument in a nutshell. These kind of shutdowns, the one we're experiencing now, are almost impossible elsewhere in the world because of the European-style parliamentary system used by most democracies just about ensures that executive and legislature are controlled by the same groups of people.

But, thanks to the quirks of our U.S. Constitution that makes it possible for different branches of government to be controlled by different parties, each party during one of the standoffs we're seeing right now can plausibly claim that they're the ones that represent the will of the people. Now, the Founders did this with the hope of restraining government with checks and balances. In the past, because the unique nature of American political parties, which were stitched together from a bunch of different regional interests, not particularly ideologically coherent, divided government has led to some big compromises.

Under President Eisenhower, and a Democratic-controlled Senate, we got the Civil Rights Act in 1957 and 1960. And in 1981, with the help of Southern Democrats in the House of Representatives, President Reagan passed his enormous tax cuts. But that's not what we have anymore. What we have now is record polarization, and one party, the GOP, that is likely the most extreme ideologically coherent and demographically self-contained party probably ever in American history.

They believe that despite losing the presidential election, being a minority in the Senate and receiving less votes in the House, they have full democratic legitimacy. They're willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how unprecedented or destructive to impose their will. Writer Jonathan Chait calls what is shaping up a domestic Cuban missile crisis, where a single blunder could have unalterable consequences. The question is, can our constitutional system function with the modern GOP?