Is the American democratic system breaking down?

Following the disaster that was Jan. 6, an already-partisan Congress has grown almost entirely untenable as working Republican and Democratic partnerships — particularly in the House — crumble in the face of the most serious attack on the U.S. Capitol since 1812.

In interviews with more than four dozen lawmakers and congressional staffers, “people of all political stripes say the House has become a deeply unpleasant place to work, with simmering ill feeling and a series of ugly incidents fraying remaining bipartisan ties,” writes the Wall Street Journal.

“It’s as bad as I’ve seen it,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who has served in Congress since 1981, told the paper. “The toxic environment has been building for a long, long time before Jan. 6, but Jan. 6 just blew it up in flames.”

“It is the tensest it’s been,” added Rep. William Timmons (R-S.C.), blaming Jan. 6, and the resulting magnetometers that scan representatives for weapons as they enter the chamber, and the pandemic for the dysfunction.

The “bad blood” even infiltrated one of the House’s “most prominent bipartisan groups, the “Problem Solvers Caucus”, which recently helped with infrastructure and pandemic negotiations. “Some members were contemplating getting out,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) told the Journal.

And in another example, Democratic Illinois Rep. Brad Schneider halted a legislative relationship with incendiary Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar after Gosar defended Captiol rioters and voted against certifying the 2020 election results. “If you can’t recognize the legitimacy of the election and the legitimacy of the new president, and you’re unwilling to stop trafficking in the lies that led us to Jan. 6, then I’m not going to work with you,” Schneider said. Gosar, for his part, insisted Schneider to be a “toxic individual” engaging in conspiracy theories. (The Wall Street Journal, 27 Dec 2022)

My ( very personal) comment: I hesitated before posting the above, since it is ultra-political and thus a no- go for those who follow Epicurus. But the resulting disfunction, trouble-making, lies, the potential breakdown of democracy and intelligent government-for-all, threatens the peace of mind of us all. I happen to have lived in London throughout the blitz. Our home was flattened in a Nazi bombing raid. We were constantly roused at night and had to run to a bomb shelter. I have a deep dread of fascism all all it brings, and have no wish to leave this world in the same cruel and violent state that I joined it.

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