Republicans may suffer from a political split personality.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the assault on the Capitol, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called it a “violent terrorist attack.”

The next day, after a Fox personality humiliated him, charging, “You told that lie on purpose,” he backed off what he called his “mistake.” He had erred, he said, because he sought to defend against Democrats and the media “trying to say that all of us are terrorists.”

His first statement could be the voice of a deeply conservative but fair-minded Republican. His retraction could reveal a politician fearful of offending the GOP establishment, now almost entirely taken over by former President Trump.

Cruz’s public debate with himself symbolizes the crisis of American government. The Republican Party has undergone a major transformation, inherent in Cruz’s overnight shift, that may threaten the traditional political system. Instead of seeking compromise, it exploits constitutional loopholes to block the Democrats.

President Biden has wasted much of the momentum of his election victory by failing to understand the Trump GOP’s unwillingness to serve as the loyal opposition. He mistakenly gambled that, as in his early Senate days, the two parties would work within an agreed system.

Biden and most congressional Democrats concluded that his victory was a rejection of Donald Trump, which they hoped the Republicans would concede. That could open the way to adopting new economic and social policies, including many promoted by the Democrats’ progressive wing.

Biden met with some initial success. But, even without accepting Trump’s false election claims, Republicans mostly remained more loyal to Trump Republicanism than to the preservation on the traditional political system. Besides, even some Democrats were wary of Biden’s most progressive proposals.

Biden has now dropped his bid for bipartisanship. In his insurrection anniversary speech, he recast his 2022 political strategy. No longer could he seek to win enough support to pass his most ambitious social and economic proposals. Instead, he went on the attack. His willingness to abandon the filibuster to fight GOP voter suppression is part of this new effort.

The unyielding Republicans have led Biden to make this year’s campaign a referendum on Trump. The conciliatory president, who had appeared weak even to some of his supporters, became much tougher and more partisan. His campaigning could be more like the confrontational Trump than the affable Biden.

Nothing reveals the state of the political order better than Maine. Republican Sen. Susan Collins, once seen as a leading moderate and no friend of Trump, has become a loyal hardliner on most key issues. She, too, shows a split political personality.

Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, a moderate who holds the Second District swing seat, advises Biden to settle for what he can get from Sen. Joe Manchin, his party’s moderate leader. At least the president could see some of his program adopted, disappointing the progressives, but better than complete failure this year.

Collins and her GOP allies won’t yield to Biden. With his congressional leaders, he won’t yet accept Golden’s counsel, but keeps fighting for policies they cannot pass. The deadlock has become dangerous. Former President Jimmy Carter, himself a Democratic moderate, worries about “losing our precious democracy.”

The time has come for Biden to change course. He needs to test whether the GOP split personality has any political value. Instead of focusing on Manchin, he should work on a moderate deal with some GOP senators not engaged in this year’s elections.

He could try calling together a small, bipartisan group of senators. If he engaged in good faith talks with a commitment to back an agreement they might reach, it would be worth seeing if progress is possible. Members of the group would have to agree on a legislative package, stick to it and become the swing voting block by refusing to vote for anything else.

Biden would have to make significant concessions to the GOP to get this deal. It would be far less than he wants, but probably more than he can otherwise get.

Even a limited success could improve his leadership rating and give the Democrats a better chance of holding onto congressional control. Without that control after this November’s election, Biden is not likely to accomplish much in the last two years of his term.

This effort could have an even broader effect. It might encourage conservative Republicans who believe their party must do more than simply block any Democratic proposal. Rather than a new party, a new bipartisan, moderate and pragmatic coalition could be the goal.

If the democratic system is truly in danger, it could be revived by a practical effort that gives its survival a higher priority than divisive political games.

Gordon L. Weil formerly wrote for the Washington Post and other newspapers, served on the U.S. Senate and EU staffs, headed Maine state agencies and was a Harpswell selectman.

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