Our Divided Congress: Has It Ever Been This Bad?

Jeremi Suri
Jeremi Suri
University of Texas

Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University’s Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. The author and editor of eleven books on politics and foreign policy, his most recent is entitled: Civil War by Other Means: America’s Long and Unfinished Fight for Democracy. His other books include: The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest OfficeLiberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama; Henry Kissinger and the American Century; and Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Détente. A popular public lecturer and frequent news commentator, his writings appear in The New York Times, the Washington PostWall Street Journal, CNN.com, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Time, and other media. Professor Suri’s writing and teaching have received numerous prizes, including the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas and the Pro Bene Meritis Award for Contributions to the Liberal Arts. Professor Suri hosts the weekly podcast, “This is Democracy.”

 

Overview

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

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