Government dollars, even with high tax rates, are finite. Sooner or later, a dollar has to be spent on either environmental protection or worker retraining programs, on scholarships or on expanding Social Security, on government-run health care or foreign aid, on infrastructure programs or on open space preservation. Sooner or later, a Democratic leader can only split the difference so much, and more resources will go to one instead of the other. Someone will feel shortchanged, resentments will build. Besides money, there's the finite resource of time, focus, and energy of lawmakers.I was an intern for Grover about a year ago, and I had a chance to glance over a chapter or two of his new book on the "Leave Us Alone Coalition" in its final draft stages. I recommend it.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, you have social conservatives who want government to stop distributing condoms in schools and preventing their children from praying; you have home schoolers who want to teach their kids on their own without government interference; you have gun owners who want to keep their guns; you have entrepreneurs who want fewer regulations, and you have taxpayers who want their taxes low. Grover Norquist called this the "Leave Me Alone Coalition." Only when you run into a gun owner who wants to distribute condoms in schools do you run into a problem... or something like Terry Schiavo, which pit the pro-life and small-government wings against each other.
Why the GOP Coalition Works
Jim Geraghty says it better than I ever could: