The Amazing, Polarized Congress

It used to be that both parties had members that didn’t quite fit in with their respective bases: there were progressive Republicans and conservative Democrats, which was important in finding common ground over which the parties could collaborate. The chart below shows this is no longer the case, and ideological overlap between the two parties is all but history:


That chart is for the Senate, where in 1982, 58% of its members somewhat overlapped with the beliefs of the opposing party; now, that number is zero. As for the House, the overlap was 80% back then; now, it’s 4%. The result is a gridlocked Congress that’s unable to govern the country, even when the stakes are enormous — like last summer’s debt ceiling crisis. This is another example of the tragedy of the commons, in which groups act out of short-sighted self interest and refuse to cooperate, while the world burns around them. Perhaps we need to elect Alan Mulally to Congress, so he can fix it. But at the very least, we should vote all the incumbents out and hope a new class knows basic teamworking.

See also:


From The Atlantic and National Journal, via NPR

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