“Congress makes me vomit.”
— Josh Lyman, “The West Wing“
Binged-watched the first four/five seasons of the political fantasy last week via Netflix, though, blowing chunks off a bile-infested Congress is indeed gut-wrenching, Josh’s digestive-system could easily have been reacting to a shitload of public plates full of noxious offerings.
Nowadays with horror-shit at every angle, hard to stomach way-unsavory government functionaries.
(Illustration: Pablo Picasso’s ‘Acrobat and Young Harlequin,’ found here).
And Josh wasn’t exasperated directly at the brick/mortar Constitutional institution of Congress, but the living, breathing, flesh-and-blood assholes that pervade the hallways. Instead of any actual shit working, our governing political-peoples are at war with each other, some eating their own entrails.
Not an attractive sight/smell for any palate, worsening any appetite in this current era of constant problems.
Another study, this one released a couple of weeks ago, looked at the pole-punch polarization of American politics in recent history, and found the situation ungovernable — supposedly the situation hasn’t always been that way, but now we’re at a shit-stalemate.
From Santa Fe Institute:
American politics has grown so polarized in recent years that there’s hardly any cooperation at all across the aisle, but the process that brought us here started long ago.
Disagreements have been growing exponentially since the 1950s, according to a new quantitative analysis of the U.S. House of Representatives by SFI scientists published today in PLOS ONE.
But the bigger fear, they say, is that as cooperation has declined, Congress’s ability to come up with new ideas to solve the nation’s problems has stagnated.
But was it always this way?
Working with SFI postdoctoral fellow Marcus Hamilton and collaborators from MIT and elsewhere and examining more than five million pairs of members, Andris found that the period from 1949 until the early 1970s was marked by generally high levels of cross-party cooperation.
That peaked during the 91st congress, during President Nixon’s first term in office, when members of opposing parties voted with each other nearly as often as members of the same party.
By the middle of President Ronald Reagan’s first term, however, that kind of cooperation had started to crumble, and since 1983, the rate of cross-party cooperation has steadily declined, while same-party cooperation has kept going up.
The team’s analysis also revealed that as cooperation across the aisle has declined, so too has Congress’s ability to get anything done.
Not only has the number of House bills that pass gone down, so too has the number of bills that are proposed in the first place.
That means there are “fewer ideas being explored,” Hamilton says.
“It seems to be that congressional innovation is suffering most because of partisanship.”
As a geographer, Andris says she’s most troubled by the loss of a once-rich political geography.
“Geography is just zeros and ones,” she says—whether one lives in Seattle or Atlanta, it makes no difference politically.
“That’s a problem for me, because it dulls what’s great about this country.”
A good analysis of the Santa Fe study at the Washington Post, with diagrams — this keynote takeaway:
What we’re left with is a picture of political mitosis.
Similar voting between Democrats and Republicans was fairly common up through the 1980s.
But starting in the 1990s the parties began pulling apart from each other, like a single cell dividing into two.
Not only that, but within parties Representatives are voting more similarly too — that’s illustrated with the dots in each party’s cluster becoming more tightly packed together over time.
Starting in the 2000s, there are hardly any links between the parties at all.
And if the stomach gets to a hurl stage: ‘“Hey Phil, if you’re gonna spew, spew into this.”‘