Breaking Congress

Ezra Klein interviewing Stenny Hoyer in the Washington Post:

"This is a United States Senate that has had more cloture votes in one year than in the '60s and '70s combined. They had three cloture votes on whether to extend unemployment benefits, and that bill passed 97-0! The reason this issue needs to be raised is that, ultimately, the political representatives will respond to the demands of the public. Now, the public has been polarized. Every night on television, they listen to polarizing people. We’ve gone from Walter Cronkite to angrier people who are trying to incite them.

Q: So how do you fight that political logic?

It's very difficult. The motivation Congress has on each side of the aisle is to be in the majority so it can set policy. But it’s very difficult for the institution to move forward on a bipartisan basis when the minority party does not believe that that’s in their best interest to regain the majority. Rarely do you get a crowd ecstatic about a compromise. So the parties, to some degree, think the Gingrich strategy might be successful. And the only way to overcome that is to have it not be successful, and the only way for that to happen is for the American people to know what’s going on."

The zero-sum logic dominating Congress is a serious problem. It may be that until we can get some redistricting this problem will continue. I don't believe that "informing the public" will fundamentally change this two-party stalemate.

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