The embarrassing collapse of the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act makes clear the limits of the GOP’s unwise, unworkable insistence on shutting Democrats out of lawmaking. The refusal to move any piece of legislation forward without Democratic votes will bedevil Ryan and Trump as they attempt to rewrite the tax codes, immigration laws and the nation’s multi-trillion-dollar budget.

For decades, success in Congress depended on an alliance between Republicans and conservative, so-called Blue Dog Democrats. The result was a string of centrist deals that marginalized ultra-liberal and super conservative members and allowed legislation to move forward.

That system broke down in the 1990s. Election after election, conservative Democrats got wiped out in the South, while liberal Republicans were rendered extinct in New England and other Northeastern districts.

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