It is truly remarkable that a quite mainstream American writer would credit a scholar of comparative politics for anticipating the worse-than-gridlock situation that the US currently finds itself in. In fact, it is hard to exaggerate how unlikely that is!
Jonthan Chait, in New York magazine:
In a merciful twist of fate, Juan Linz did not quite live to see his prophecy of the demise of American democracy borne out.
This is one of those cases where I really have to use the Blogger’s Creed on my readers: you should read the whole thing. But, here are some pertinent excerpts:
The events in Washington have given us a peek into the Linzian nightmare…
Only custom or moral compunction stops the opposition party from using [debt-ceiling authorization] to nullify the president’s powers.
(And Chait notes that a president could do the same to Congress, were he or she to veto a debt-ceiling increase to demand some policy change.)
Indeed, there are many features of American democracy as we used to know it that depended on good will and the relative lack of ideology. With today’s Republican Party we are in a different universe, constitutionally and democratically. We could add to the list things like the absence of separation between campaign officials and election officials in states that might just happen to be pivotal in presidential elections, the power of state legislatures to redraw district lines (even between censuses), presidential appointment of prosecutors, signing statements and executive orders, etc., etc. There are many loopholes in US democracy that did not seem to matter when the parties were moderate and presidents could forge cross-cutting coalitions. But in an era of polarization, they matter.
Back to Chait, one more spot-on quote:
The standoff embroiling Washington represents far more than the specifics of the demands on the table, or even the prospect of economic calamity. It is an incipient constitutional crisis.
If readers are aware of other mainstream outlets referencing Linz, please post in comments.