In his Aug. 8 column, “Our politicians seem to focus on issues that most deeply divide us,” Joseph Reisert provides an explanation for the emergence of Donald Trump as a political phenom. There has been a breakdown in constitutional government because of the failure of political leadership, and both Democrats and Republicans are to blame.

Take, for instance, President Barack Obama’s insistence on sealing a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran, or on implementing a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Republicans don’t like these attempts to save the world, so apparently Obama should just put a stop to his divisive antics. Right now. And to be fair, Republicans have their issues, too.

Nevertheless, only the president and congressional Democrats have a stake in making “the Congress look ineffectual” and thus superfluous. In fact, they are able to effect what amounts to a power grab because federal agencies are teeming with crypto-Democrats eager to support a Democratic agenda.

What are the poor Republicans to do? The more they thrash about, the more they get entangled in the web of divisive issues, reinforcing the impression of a feckless Congress and unwittingly strengthening the president’s hand. So naturally “their voters become frustrated and disillusioned — and they start turning to demagogues, such as Donald Trump.”

It seems Reisert is unaware of the worst-kept secret in American politics: Since Obama was elected in 2008, Republican leadership has made it their mission in life to obstruct virtually every initiative emanating from the Oval Office.

We can’t expect the machinery of elective federal government to function properly if one party relentlessly channels its energy into throwing a spanner in the works. Nor should we be surprised when that machinery chokes and spits out someone as defective as The Donald.

Galin Franklin

Waterville

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