There are so many reasons why American politicians cannot agree with one another these days. Here are two very important ones:
- They are elected by more extreme districts. More and more Americans today live in areas that are more skewed to one side of the political spectrum. Conservatives live near conservatives, liberals near liberals. When combined with gerrymandering, this means that districts are often quite extreme in one way or the other and there is no meaningful chance for a person from the "wrong" party to get elected. This means that the main contest is in the primaries, which is where only the most zealous party members vote. This means candidates are encouraged to take more extreme positions.
- All of their actions are heavily scrutinized by the media. Once in office, lawmakers cannot do anything without everyone knowing about it. If they take any actions that are "wrong" bloggers and the traditional media (which is now more partisan than ever with conservative outlets like Fox News and liberal ones like the NY Times) will be sure everyone knows about it. This strongly discourages any kind of compromise with the other side.
For reasons like these, our politics seems to be getting much less consensual and much more angry these days.