Monday, October 20, 2008

Ideological Divide - Congress vs. the People

Courtesy of Matt Yglesias comes this fascinating graph comparing the ideological position of the American people to both houses of Congress.

I think this highlights the frustration people often have with Congress. As you can see, members of Congress are more extreme, left and right, than the typical American. This stems from those on the left appealing to the full spectrum of those on the left and vice versa on the right. Because Congress is more polarized, it is harder for either side to move to the middle to compromise on issues.

Unfortunately there seems to be little to be done about this with our current political set-up. Democrats are not going to get elected if they don't appeal to a majority of the left. Republicans are not going to get elected if they don't gain the support of a majority of those on the right. Those that do try to move to the center often become outcasts of their own party and so struggle to accomplish much.

Much of this could probably be alleviated if we did not have such a strongly bifurcated political system, but it is so entrenched that it is hard to see it changing anytime soon.

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