Mind-Boggling Partisan Dysfunction

I have done some research on political partisanship, as well as some writing. I think political dysfunction in this country threatens our future. So it was nice to read this opening paragraph, in a relatively recent and wonderfully written article in Time magazine:

Here’s a rainy-season parable about cooperation in American politics: In July 2012, Republicans and Democrats came together during a bitter campaign season to enact sweeping reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program, phasing out subsidies for hundreds of thousands of property owners in flood-prone areas, dragging a debt-ridden program toward fiscal and ecological sustainability. The reforms attracted a genuine bipartisan coalition with groups like the Heritage Foundation on the right and the Nature Conservancy on the left joining forces with Realtors, bankers and insurers. The simple notion that insurance rates should reflect risk was so compelling that the usually polarized House passed the reforms by a 406-to-22 vote. “Everyone was like, Wow,” says David Conrad, a consultant for the Association of State Floodplain Managers. “We had been talking about reform for 15 years, and rationality finally caught up to Congress.”

Then the article continued with the following much shorter paragraph:

It was a rare moment of unity, and in March 2014, the two parties came together for another festival of bipartisanship. This time, they gutted the reforms they had passed less than two years before.

Check out the magazine article, if you want to find out why this all happened. But the article showed me that our political problems run much deeper than partisanship. Even when Congress agrees on something, it often responds to special interests that don’t have the broader interests of the American public in mind. Very disturbing!

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