Finding an American who does not think our politics are dysfunctional is much harder these days than finding Waldo. Approval of Congress hovers around 10 percent, limited, John McCain often jokes, to “paid staff and blood relatives.” Of course, Congress rarely enjoys a high approval rating, even when things are operating well. But to the two of us, with more than 42 years each of experience immersed in the corridors of Washington at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, this dysfunction is worse than we have ever seen it, and it is not limited to Capitol Hill. The partisan and ideological polarization from which we now suffer comes at a time when critical problems cry out for resolution, making for a particularly toxic mix.
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Published on: June 10, 2012
American political dysfunction is both wide and deep, and the perennial, mostly GOP-hatched delusions aren't helping repair the damage.
Thomas E. Mann is senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. Norman J. Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. This essay is excerpted from their book It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism.