Mann and Ornstein point out that Republicans are the problem in our current system:
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country's challenges.
They also point out that "under the presidencies of Clinton and Obama, the Democrats have become more of a status-quo party:"
They are centrist protectors of government, reluctantly willing to revamp programs and trim retirement and health benefits to maintain its central commitments in the face of fiscal pressures.
David Atkins points out that both sides don't do it, and reminds us that "Mann and Ornstein are employed by the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute. They're not exactly liberal activists:"
The authors speak fondly of the Democrats for compromising with George W. Bush to pass his tax cuts for the rich and No Child Left Behind. They also forget the bipartisan eagerness to invade Iraq. These were bad policies, policies that the American people would have been much better served by Democrats opposing en masse. Back in the Clinton years Democrats and Republicans joined forces to pass NAFTA, banking deregulation, and "end welfare as we know it." Those were also terrible, misguided policies. [...]
It's not just that the Republican Party has veered far right: the entire policy apparatus in America has done likewise. It needs a sharp, heavy tug to the left just to make it reasonable again.
Kevin Drum provides evidence that Democrats have moved to the Right, not the Left. One critique of Ornstein that he discusses "doesn't even mention education policy, civil liberties, or crime, all areas where Democrats have also moved to the right since the end of the 80s:"
So where have Democrats moved to the left? Gay rights is one area, I suppose. Climate change is another: at least Obama tried to pass a cap-and-trade bill. And you could say that compared to the Clinton/Rubin era, Democrats are a bit more willing to regulate the financial sector than they used to be. Beyond that, there are maybe a couple of other arguable cases, but nothing of much significance. [...]
Nevertheless, the truth is that both sides haven't moved away from the center. Only Republicans have, and Democrats have spent the past 20 years chasing them in hopes that eventually they could reach some kind of reconciliation. But it never did any good. The Democratic move rightward was interpreted not as a bid for compromise somewhere in the middle, but as a victory for a resurgent conservative movement that merely inspired them to move the goalposts even further out.