Why Congress and Washington Are So Dysfunctional

Norman Ornstein, co-author of It's Even Worse Than It Looks discusses polarization in Congress.

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When was the last time Congress was defined by such partisanship?

You could go back to two periods when we had dysfunction at this level. One is right around the turn of the 20th century, the 1890s. Then it was the Democratic Party that had moved off to an extreme level and it took more than a decade to bring it back and we went through also very difficult economic times. And then there's the period right before the Civil War. It's frankly not very encouraging to have to compare ourselves to those periods.

What advice would you give to legislators?

I'd like to see members of Congress try and transcend these tribal differences. Partisanship is a healthy part of a democracy and it can get plenty rough. But there are times and places where you have to find common ground and find compromise because the future of the country is at stake; you've got to try to move in that direction.

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