Shutdown’s roots lie in deeply embedded divisions in America’s politics

The government shutdown did not happen by accident. It is the latest manifestation — an extreme one by any measure — of divisions long in the making and now deeply embedded in the country’s politics. …

Some may rightly blame politicians in Washington for behaving badly, but in reality the clashes in the nation’s capital reflect conflicting attitudes and values held by politically active, rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats across the country. Add to that a faction of conservatives in the House who are determined to disrupt business as usual and the current stalemate in Congress becomes almost unavoidable.

The bonds that once helped produce political consensus have gradually eroded, replaced by competing camps that live in parallel universes, have sharply divergent world views and express more distrust of opponents than they did decades ago. …

Divided government at a time of polarization frustrates governing and makes short-term fixes more difficult. The power of the most conservative faction in the House to create the current stalemate over funding the government underscores the risks of the new alignment. [cont.]

Dan Balz, Washington Post