Wait, before you lose your lunch, bear with me.
This dysfunctional legislative body has been making headlines in the news recently. And when Congress is mentioned, rarely, if ever, is it of the positive persuasion. The shutdown, for example, didn't go over too well with people. And of course there's those pesky little (dis)approval ratings. However it's not like some members of Congress planned on the shut down. And honestly, who doesn't trust old Gil?
And I won't even discuss the amount of work that they (don't) do since that's already be covered ad nauseam.
Some have said that Senate Republicans in particular are acting like adolescents, especially their multi-day planned filibuster of the President's non-Supreme court judicial nominees. Filibustering for obstructionist sake is not a new phenomenon. But non-controversial judicial nominees? That's spite. And filibustering out of spite - is that the new thing?
After all, these aren't children. Members of Congress are some of the most powerful people in the country, tasked with the most noble of civic duties. There's no way that the partisanship of today's Congress is really that acute. Is there?
Let's see what the numbers say. This is a data blog after all, political digressions aside.
Specifically, let's look at how Senate and House, Democrats and Republicans have voted in support of the President's position, over the years*, which serves as a proxy for partisanship.
We see above that as Democrats vote in favor with the President, Republicans vote against them, and vice versa. It's a synchronous, rhythmic, dichotomous relationship. You don't need sophisticated techniques to forecast where the paths are going next.
You can infer the President's party affiliation through the years based on how Congress has voted. The difference is stark, and the gap widens over time. This is especially true of the House, which makes sense given the cast of characters that occupy that chamber.
You've probably heard it before, but now you can see for yourself. Partisanship is alive and becoming ever more polarizing. While you can say the partisanship of Congress is a function of the views of their constituency, it's a lot more complicated than that. However, external influences notwithstanding, I suspect that unless the American people start pushing their representatives to find a compromise with the other side of the aisle, we're in for more bickering, petty arguments and wasted time. And more spite.
Let's not let that happen. Let's not obstinance stand in the way of progress.