Feature

How politics became dysfunctional

When politics is warfare, and the other side is both evil and dangerous, compromise becomes impossible—indeed, it becomes a sellout, said Robert J. Samuelson in The Washington Post.

Robert J. SamuelsonThe Washington Post

Americans have good reason to have lost faith in politics, said Robert J. Samuelson. Instead of resolving differences between the country’s factions, modern politics “exaggerates them”—producing the bitterly polarized and paralyzed system we have today. More than a third of all Americans describe themselves as independents (the same percentage as in 1992), and polls show that the nation’s political balance has changed little in recent decades. But it is now the partisans of the Left and Right who shape the national agenda, through inflammatory cable TV shows, the Internet, talk radio, and various advocacy groups.

When politics is warfare, and the other side is both evil and dangerous, compromise becomes impossible—indeed, it becomes a sellout. Neither Democratic nor Republican leaders can win broad public support for any course of action. So in each election, voters disgusted with the status quo throw the bums out and give the “change” party a chance. “But it’s only a matter of time before they feel betrayed,” because Washington is trapped in the sound and fury of partisan bickering. “Can next week’s election resolve this stalemate? It seems doubtful.”

Recommended

3 U.S. negotiating errors that previewed the Taliban's return
Taliban flags.
setting the stage

3 U.S. negotiating errors that previewed the Taliban's return

Xi 'forcefully' trying to get China back to Mao's economic vision
Xi Jinping stands above portrait of Mao Zedong.
the original blueprint

Xi 'forcefully' trying to get China back to Mao's economic vision

British diplomats reportedly expecting more French blowback for submarine deal
Johnson and Macron.
le fallout

British diplomats reportedly expecting more French blowback for submarine deal

Biden lifts travel ban for vaccinated foreign nationals
British Airways.
welcome back

Biden lifts travel ban for vaccinated foreign nationals

Most Popular

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?
Elizabeth Holmes and James Mattis.
Samuel Goldman

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?

How Newsom ran away with the recall
Gavin Newsom.
Picture of David FarisDavid Faris

How Newsom ran away with the recall

Don't try to predict Manchin's reconciliation vote, says former adviser
Joe Manchin.
an enigma

Don't try to predict Manchin's reconciliation vote, says former adviser