TA: Boris Heersink
Polarization in Congress:
A Dichotomy of Unity and Division within the Legislative Branch
POLARIZATION OVERVIEW: Polarization occurs when members of both political parties consistently vote along ideological lines. Ideological differences in Congress today are quite staggering. Congressmen have increasingly been moving away from moderate stances and adhering more to party ideologies. The issue with polarization arises when there are two incredibly differing ideologies where both sides feel so strongly about their view that compromise is unfeasible. Some Congressmen able to adhere to a coherent personal ideological beliefs, but there is a ...view middle of the document...
Without polarization, Congress would become more disorganized, making it more difficult to accumulate the votes for a specific party.
PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THEY GET: When a registered voter looks at a ballot and sees that a candidate is Democratic or Republican, the voter has a general idea of the candidate’s viewpoints on most policy issues because of the strict adherence to party ideology that is occurring with the current state of hyperpolarization. Without polarization, people within the same party can have entirely different views due to factors such as geographic location. In the past, Southern Democrats had more conservative views than more liberal Democrats from the Northeast. With increasing polarization there is more consistency within the parties and their members, which gives the public a better understanding of what they will receive out of their Congressmen.
ALLOWS FOR QUICKER CHANGES: In such a highly dynamic and diverse nation, many times change needs to occur rapidly. Due to consistency in ideologies within a party, hyperpolarization allows America to make quick and necessary changes. When the majority party shifts in Congress, it allows the government to propose new legislation that can help the country adapt and further develop. During the 110th Congress, the Democratic Party was able to attain the majority in both houses of Congress. Because of the new Democratic majority that continued into the 111th Congress, the two houses were able to pass significant legislature such as the Dodd-Frank Act, aiding the nation’s recovery during the Great Recession, and the Affordable Care Act, drastically changing health care policy throughout the nation. Without polarization and consistent views within the Democratic Party, these important bills would have been even more challenging to pass.
LESS COMPETITION: Incumbency turnover in Congress is relatively low because polarization takes away competition in Congressional races. Due to reelection always being in the forefront of incumbents’ thoughts, many times
Senate races are more about media politics and less about personal connections
Seniority in a party increases power creates stagnant states and districts because they don’t have to worry about getting reelected
Polarization leads to Partisanship, which leads to coattail effects and the sixth-year itch
LACK OF COMPROMISE, GRIDLOCK: Only about 1.5% of proposed bills actually become law
Less Polarization in Senate:...