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The collapse of the political center continues

December 17, 2013, at 3:08 PM
 

The retirement of two moderate congressmen today — one Democrat and one Republican — is further proof of how little fun it must be to legislate in a politically polarized and dysfunctional House of Representatives.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said he would not seek an 18th term in the House. President Obama won 49 percent of the vote in the district in 2012, and Democrats will almost certainly compete for the seat. As Roll Call notes, the seat "was only safe based on the strength of his incumbency."

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) also announced he wouldn't run again. In a strongly Republican district, Matheson kept hold of the seat largely on his own personality and track record. But he narrowly won re-election last year when rising GOP star Mia Love (R) came within a few hundred votes of beating him.

The 113th Congress is on a path for being one of the least productive and most polarized in modern times. It can't be much fun to work there. It's particularly no fun for moderate lawmakers who are used to dealing with members of the rival party just to keep their jobs. But that's not how Congress works — or doesn't work — anymore.

While the retirement of veteran lawmakers can be a good thing by bringing new blood into Congress, the loss of Wolf and Matheson means the political center is essentially disappearing.

 

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