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NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

FRESH AIR

President Obama has been re-elected. Democrats and Republicans have maintained their respective majorities in the Senate and in the House. So does this mean there will be more partisan gridlock? Norm Ornstein, a writer for Roll Call and a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that it’s a mixed message. While it’s a substantial victory for Obama, Ornstein says, “I think we’re going to see conflicting themes in the Republican Party. They held the House of Representatives despite low approval of Congress — didn’t suffer serious losses there, and House Republicans are going to come back saying, ‘We’ve been vindicated.’ ” For moderate Republicans, Ornstein thinks Obama’s victory is a crushing defeat. He says the Republican Party could become a minority party for a very long period of time when it comes to the presidency — “unless they can broaden [their] appeal, especially to Latino voters, who made up for the first time a double-digit share of the electorate and are growing.” With Congress coming back next week to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff and other issues, Ornstein says, “there’s going to be a lot of soul-searching, and a lot of jockeying for position in the Republican Party. And if you’re [House Speaker] John Boehner at this point, or [Senate Republican Leader] Mitch McConnell, you’ve got some heavy thinking to do.” Ornstein is known for his bipartisan approach to public policy. He co-founded a bipartisan election reform group and a campaign finance reform group that played a role in drafting the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act, which put some limits on campaign spending. In his latest book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, co-authored with Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, Ornstein says that although he has no partisan agenda, “it’s time to acknowledge how far the Republican Party has veered towards tolerating extreme ideological beliefs and policies, and how the GOP has embraced cynical and destructive means to advance political ends over problem-solving.” MORE

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