William A. Galston
The polarization of political parties has reached its highest level in over a century
2011 was not literally the worst year for the U.S. government in American history.
Off the top of my head, I can think of four that were worse: 1812, in which the country rushed into war on a narrow party line vote and without any military preparation; 1856, in which Rep.
Still, of the 223 years since the government first convened under the Constitution, 2011 must be ranked in the bottom 10. Seldom has so little progress been made on the daunting array of challenges we face. Seldom have the political parties cooperated so poorly. And never before has the full faith and credit of
There's a reason for this:
Culminating a process stretching back four decades, the polarization between the parties reached its highest level in more than a century. A political science study found that by the end of 2010, the ideological overlap between Democrats and Republicans had disappeared in both the House and the
No democracy can be healthy when only 1 in 5 citizens trusts its government and only 1 in 10 has confidence in its legislature.
But that's where we are today: 2011 may not have been the worst year ever, but it was bad enough. And 2012 may not be any better.
- The United States Has Seen Much Worse
- 2011 Not the Very Worst, But Definitely in the Bottom 10
- Government Has Not Failed the People as It Did in 1860
- 2011 Not the Worst, But a Year Americans Would Like to Forget
- 2011 Ups and Downs: Gallup Polls Show Year Full of Pessimism
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- Globalization and the Threat to the West
- When Currencies Collapse
- Balancing the East, Upgrading the West
- Alabama's Immigration Aftershock
- High Stakes for Immigration
- Education Cuts Aren't Smart
- A Nuclear Wake-up Call
- Global Corruption: Party Systems and the Control of Politicians
- International Security: Balanced Transition
- Global Health: The Beginning of the End of AIDS?
- United States and Europe Threaten Their Own Energy Independence
- Humanitarian Assistance: Dead or Live Aid
- With Fracking America Can Escape the Energy Trap
- Renewed Focus on Pacific Region Intended to Distract from Unrest at Home?
- Obama, Harper Stay Apart on Pipeline Issue, Ink Other Agreements
- Alabama Law Against Illegal Immigration Suffers Setback
- Major Economies Headed for Slowdown
- Is the National Security Complex Too Big to Fail?
- United States Hesitant to 'Reckon With Evil' in Syria
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- Why We Need Not Envy China
- United States: Iraq Syndrome
- United States: The News of Empire
- Child Poverty and Access to Education: Hidden Costs on the Hispanic Community
- One Nation, Gone Awry
- Statue of Liberty Turns 125: Old Immigration Attitudes Alive as Well
- United States in Decline -- If We Allow It
Copyright 2012, U.S. News & World Report