A way out of our dysfunctional politics – Global Public Square – CNN.com Blogs.
U.S. Capital Building
In the standoff over the debt crisis, it’s easy to point the finger at the Tea Party. Even conservative commentators have argued that its uncompromising ideology is at the heart of the problem. But there have often been strong ideological movements in American politics, represented by politicians such as William Jennings Bryan, Barry Goldwater and George McGovern.
Yet between elections, people still found ways to compromise and govern. What has steadily changed over the past three or four decades is not so much the ideological intensity (though it has grown) but the structure of politics, making it more beholden to narrow, specialized interests — including ideological ones — rather than broader national ones.There was no golden age in Washington when people were more high-minded than they are today. But 40 years ago, the rules and organizing framework of politics made it easier for the two parties to work together. Since then, a series of changes has led to the narrowcasting of American politics. Redistricting has created safe seats so that, for most House members, their only concern is a challenge from the right (for Republicans) and the left (for Democrats).