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The Partisan Alignment Is Almost Complete

Political parties in America are finally working like political parties in almost every other democracy on earth. There are now just four members of Congress who overlap with the other party. From National Journal:

Welcome to today’s Congress, which in 2013 was more polarized than any Congress since National Journal began calculating its ratings in 1982.

For the fourth straight year, no Senate Democrat was more conservative than a Senate Republican—and no Senate Republican was more liberal than a Senate Democrat. In the House, only two Democrats were more conservative than a Republican—and only two Republicans were more liberal than a Democrat. The ideological overlap between the parties in the House was less than in any previous index.

The ideological sorting of the House and Senate by party, which has been going on for more than three decades, is virtually complete. Contrast the lack of ideological overlap with 1982, when 58 senators and 344 House members had voting records that put them between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democrat; or 1994, when 34 senators and 252 House members occupied the same territory.

People longing for the days of bipartisan compromise or who think if Obama simply invited Boehner over for poker more legislation would be approved forget that time only existed because national political parties were practically meaningless. A special combination of being a very large country and the dominate role of race issues created parties with an usual lack of ideological cohesion. This was not normal.

Political parties normally align along ideological lines. This is what happens in most other democracies and the process is now finally complete here in the United States.

The era of bipartisanship is dead. It only really existed because so many members of Congress were Democrats/Republicans in name only.

Images by Donkey Hotey, used under Creative Commons license

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at