It's your fault: How our tribes help create gridlock in Congress
Washington (CNN) -- If Congress has danced at the most perilous edges of brinkmanship, we the people helped push them there.
We did it by voting lawmakers out of office when they work with the other party to craft legislation but then claiming we want Congress to compromise and seek bipartisan solutions.
We're doing it by sending to office those who promise to toe the line and continue the partisanship we say we despise.
We did it by allowing our state legislatures to draw congressional districts that are so starkly red or blue that there's little room for any other hue or viewpoint.
We did it by congregating in neighborhoods and communities with like-minded people who share our views on politics, religion, and social mores and, as a result, largely electing lawmakers who echo those views.
We the people have always tended to live, work, and play with and around people who have similar values. So no matter how many ways you slice many of the nation's neighborhoods into districts, the outcome is the same—homogeny. That's because you can't redistrict social attitudes.
"We the people do bear responsibility," said CNN senior political analyst David Gergen. "It's often been said we get the government we deserve. The polarization has come in part because the middle has fallen away and engagement has been left to the far right and far left."
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All of this self-sorting in tiny towns, urban enclaves and suburbs has had a collective impact on the rarefied and increasingly toxic political climate in Washington these days.
The 112th House was roughly 50% more polarized in terms of makeup than that of the 102nd, which convened from 1991 to 1993, Poole found in his research.
The 112th's Senate was more polarized than the 46th Senate, which was in office from 1879-1881, just after the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War, Poole found.
"This is polarization based on choice and self-selection," Bishop said. "Being an adult is accepting lots of different ways of being. We are so unsure of our own identities that we are not as accepting as we could be of people of different identities. In a sense we are getting what we demand from government. We demand our tribe wins. So that's the fight. It becomes a fight of tribal differences."