Two Charts That Show How John Boehner Had An Impossible Job

There's a great irony to John Boehner's resignation — once upon a time, he was involved in an attempt to oust a speaker himself. The official bio on the speaker's website puts it this way: he was, back in the day, "a reformer who took on the establishment."

But when one becomes speaker, one becomes, by definition, part of the establishment. And these days, the conservative base just doesn't like the establishment.

Here's another irony: Boehner has become more conservative over the last 25 years — and the Ohio Republican remains more conservative than the average GOP congressman. But he hasn't kept pace with the hard-liners, and that's important in this era of record polarization.

Those are two big reasons Boehner's job as speaker was such a struggle. Let's examine:

1. Voters (Republicans especially) really don't trust Washington 

Americans have grown increasingly distrustful of government in the last few decades, and the feeling is particularly strong among Republicans, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

Long story short, public distrust of government translated into elected officials distrusting establishment figures, said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. Outsiders distrusted the long-time leaders, and those leaders suffered for it.

"They're elected to represent your views. ... And a lot of Republicans just did not feel [lawmakers] were making the progress that they should," O'Connell said. "Boehner was the symbol of that inaction."

Read more from Danielle Kurtzleben at NPR

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