During the Reagan presidency, Congress seems to have become fundamentally more divided than it was in the past and has remained that way since. What factors caused/may have caused this?

…as answered on Quora….

A political scientist who has studied the actual complexion of the two chambers might give us some fascinating perspectives. But I, who have not studied the data carefully, but merely lived through the period in question, will make a few guesses.

One is that the central government of the federal union grew progressively nationalistic over time, with the executive branch and the judicial branch growing in power, and the scope of their purview widening considerably. And because the general government took on more and more tasks, Congress just could not keep up with the demands to ‘regulate the regulators,’ so Congress off-loaded many legislative functions to the other two branches. The executive branch naturally tends to grow, considering the nature of centralized power, and in America, with a written Constitution, the power of judges to ‘legislate from the bench’ was always possible, and increasingly instantiated. So the process now appears inevitable.

Further, as the centralization process continued, regional differences became less important. So the two parties, having become dominant in part as a result of the electoral methods Condorcet wrote about centuries earlier, had to compete on something other than regional grounds. This meant that they became more ideological. Whereas in the first half of the century the two parties each supported a progressive and conservative wing, on those two grounds the parties increasingly sorted themselves out.

And, with the ideological divide now falling on party lines, compromise became more difficult.

And as compromise became more difficult, rancor grew.

But something else was in evidence: massive failure. The 1960s were violent and costly, and in the 1970s the economic situation became chaotic. And the politicians had little clue of what to do about it.

Further, a great deal of dishonesty and cluelessness grew at a fundamental level, and ideological blinders became a huge aspect of normal politics. This was true in both parties, but I will give an obscure example regarding the Democrats: Ted Kennedy orchestrated a deregulation of the petroleum industry, and Jimmy Carter signed it into law. But Carter and Kennedy were fearful of their own program. They talked endlessly about ‘windfall profits’ in the petroleum industry, which is what one would expect, initially, upon deregulation. But these profits were important to the whole market process, for correcting the widespread misallocation of resources that had plagued the 1970s’ gasoline shortages, caused largely by regulations and setting markets up for exploitation by OPEC. But Carter and Kennedy talked endlessly and sententiously about taxing the profits out of existence — which hampered recovery — and insisted on slow deregulation. And Carter, in his famous ‘malaise speech,’ did not even mention the ongoing deregulation, but talked up government subsidies to alternative energy instead. This ceded to the Republicans the glamor of market reforms (on taking office Reagan made the deregulation immediate) and left to the Democrats the fantasies of central planning. Basically, this sealed the fate of the direction of the two parties, making their differences more ideological yet.

But I am not speaking of the elephant in the room: rogue Deep State action and its influence on partisan politics.

It was Mark Felt, Associate Director of the FBI, in his role as Deepthroat in the Watergate scandal, who took down Richard M. Nixon. This shocked Republicans, considering that corruption and illegality in the White House was s.o.p. during the Johnson administration. While the electorate was shocked by Nixon’s corruption, it was indeed nothing compared to what had gone on before — the assassination of JFK itself was likely an inside job, too. Resentments like this have deep effects. But Republicans also played the corruption game: Nixon got into office by a treasonous interference in the Vietnam peace talks, and Reagan/Bush pushed around Congress with the Iran/Contra biz. Each side increasingly engaged in vendetta politics, ramping up discord in the increasingly divided Congress.

But that FBI intervention into political life with Watergate was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg — make that ice sheet. The Church investigations into the CIA had shown a rogue element that demonstrated Eisenhower’s prophecy of the dangers of ‘the military-industrial complex.’ Then a former director of the CIA became Vice President — George Herbert Walker Bush — and the level of imperial corruption grew by orders of magnitude. This was not lost on Congress, which became increasingly sclerotic and corrupt itself.

The full measure of the bipartisan craziness can be seen in insane budgeting practices: deficits and debt. This is driving the whole country crazy, though not on the surface. Indeed, repression of these issues may be the cause of much anxiety that cannot be assuaged. Add to that the ratcheting up of the power of the national security state, and . . . well, it is amazing we are not in the dustbin of history already.


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A key to ideological polarization: your side (whatever side that is) lies or evades a major truth, indeed, concocts a lie; the esoteric effect is to solidify behind the lie; but the exoteric effect is that many others, outside your group, see the lie or the evasion and then leap to the opposite of your position.

Now, this would not be so bad if everything you said were wrong. But what if you be half-right? Well, you encourage the extreme of the reaction against your position, which would be to reject the good in your position as well as the bad.


With our media controlled/influenced to an astounding extent by CIA/Deep State measures (Operation Mockingbird and successor programs, but not exclusively), and with disinformation and propagandistic spin being an integral part of almost every news presentation, when people find this out, when they begin to see that they are indeed being lied to and quite thoroughly, there is a not surprising tendency for them to leap to an extreme anti-grand-narrative narrative.

Thus QAnon is born.

Assuming Q were nuts. But even if Q be true and not nuts (and I have no evidence to falsify its major claims, and I doubt if you do either), its attraction to many is that it is a grand narrative running completely counter to the media-disinformation complex.

The major corporate media news purveyors created, perhaps inadvertently, QAnon.