Our Divided Congress: Has it Ever Been This Bad?

Jeremi Suri – University of Texas

Almost every day, as Americans watch Congress argue over virtually every possible aspect of our political life, we think to ourselves that they have never been this divided before. The fact is though — they have.

For instance, in 1829-30 after Andrew Jackson’s election, 1858-60 on the eve of Civil War, 1888-1894 just before the Economic Depression of 1893, 1919-20 After WWI, etc. These moments of acute division usually precede a major crisis and a lasting realignment where one side gets control, and then gets a lot done Particularly the 1894-1912 Republican majority, and the 1932-40 New Deal majority. Professor Suri personally predicts that  2021 Democratic control of both houses of Congress and White House, elimination of the filibuster, major health care reform, DC statehood, etc.  But within a few years the Democrats will overreach and then the Republicans will make a post-Trump return, and the cycle will begin again