Five Best Friday Columns

Ryan Lizza on how to fix Washington, Noah Feldman predicts the Tea Party's death, Brian Beutler on the GOP's blame game, Henry Farrell on Glenn Greenwald's new media venture, and Zach Beauchamp on racism in the South. 

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Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker on how to fix Washington. "Rather than another round of Bowles-Simpson commissions on the deficit, perhaps what we need is a commission that could recommend some reforms in processes that would make Washington less dysfunctional," Lizza writes. Groups like Heritage Action and Freedomworks have taken over the GOP because they fund campaigns — if the parties themselves could put more money into campaigns, party leaders would have more control. Most importantly, "reforming the budget system in a way that allows for automatic continuing resolutions when the two parties reach an impasse, and doing away with the debt ceiling altogether, would do more to break the cycle of dysfunction than anything else." Seattle Weekly founder David Brewster tweets, "Ryan Lizza's Rx for DC gridlock: bring back earmarks, let parties raise more money. Backward into the future?"

Noah Feldman at Bloomberg View on how the Tea Party will die. "Why isn’t the U.S. system working as it usually does to produce moderate elected officials?" Feldman, a constitutional law professor at Harvard, asks. "As recently as the 1990s, critics of two-party democracy charged that its virtue was actually a flaw: that the Democrats and Republicans were so similar as to be indistinguishable on core economic issues." So then comes the Tea Party. If supporters win, "they will drive the party so far from the median voter that a Republican president will become unimaginable." And then the problem will self-correct. CNN anchor Cassandra Ceteno jokes, "Will it be a slow or quick death?"

Brian Beutler at Salon on the GOP's blame game. In a post recommended by MSNBC's Alex Wagner, Beutler argues that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell "has dropped any pretense that the shutdown was Obama's fault or Harry Reid's fault. His message is to the people over whom he has some control. This is on us. Don't do it again." For the GOP civil war to end, "the factions need to come to terms on tactical matters. But in the immediate aftermath of the shutdown fight, the rebel faction in the GOP — the faction that just walked the whole party into a wood chipper — appears completely unchastened." It appears the GOP is doing the same looking inward it did after the 2012 election: "The context was different, but the concepts similar. Let’s not make the same mistakes again."

Henry Farrell at The Washington Post explains why Glenn Greenwald's new media venture is a big deal. Greenwald's decision to leave The Guardian is important because "there's too much information out there for most people to pay attention to, ... Hence, most people rely on other institutions such as media organizations to tell them which information is worth caring about," Farrell, a political science professor at George Washington University, explains. That's why Wikileaks began partnering with The Guardian and The New York Times. But "this relationship turned out to be very difficult. Newspapers — even the most pioneering ones — have political relationships with governments, which make them nervous about publishing (and hence validating) certain kinds of information." So that's why "the new venture is so interesting. It will likely shape up as a serious journalistic enterprise." MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweets, "This is extremely astute."

Zach Beauchamp at ThinkProgress argues the South is different because of race. "The South is best understood as an exceptional region inside the United States, with a unique political and cultural milieu birthed by the intersection of slavery and deep religiosity," Beauchamp explains. Fundamentalists reign because their policies adversely affect minorities. But this won't last forever: Older conservative Southerners "believe ... that younger folks 'hold ideas that are not very American.' In reality, these younger folks hold ideas that are not very traditionally Southern. That’s a hopefully sign that the South's past does not need to be its future." Longtime labor researcher Richard Yeselson tweets, "don't forget gender norms."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.