In the U.S. political setting, the creation of law is preceded by the development of a bill. For a bill to transform into law, it must pass several critical stages. Namely, seven steps are typically outlined when discussing the transformation of a bill into law (United States Senate). First, a bill is created based on the analysis of social changes and the assessment of the needs of the U.S. population. After the House-Senate drafts the bill, it needs to be approved during a debate in the Committee, which is then followed by a debate in the Senate (United States Senate). As soon as the Senate Floor discussion is over, the voting process starts, which allows approving the legislation. The house of Representatives also needs to vote on the bill so that it can be approved. In case inconsistencies and disagreements are identified in the course of the debate, compromises are negotiated accordingly. Finally, the bill is sent to the president for signing into law.
In the course of the debate, the phenomenon known as a congressional gridlock may appear. The specified issue emerges in various situations, the lack of agreement on legislation being one of them (U.S. State Senate). The specified context contributes to creating the divided government, which, in turn, implies the state government is split into two sides with mostly polarizing opinions regarding the issue at hand (U.S. State Senate). However, the specified factor is not the only one affecting the emergence of congressional gridlock. In addition, issues such as a low percentage of centrists and increasing policy instances between Republicans and Democrats should be cited as some of the most critical factors (U.S. State Senate).
In turn, the outcomes of a congressional gridlock are mostly adverse. Apart from the political divide within Congress, the gridlock may affect the area in which the legislation was supposed to make a difference and regulate relationships. For instance, if a trade law is trapped in gridlock, a significant drop in the state’s economic performance is to be expected. To break the gridlock, additional measures such as political initiatives from voters are required.
The majority of political science debates on polarization focus on political parties and democratic governance systems. Political polarization refers to the degree of disagreement between opposing viewpoints on a certain subject, as well as the method through which this disagreement grows over time. Political polarization may be caused by various factors, including the political parties themselves, political philosophy, and the media (Beaufort). Political polarization is widely common when it comes to sensitive subjects (for example, same-sex marriage or participation in wars). Moreover, religious, ethnic, and other cultural diversities and economic disparity can all contribute to societal division and polarization.
In the last three decades, the media has had a disproportionate impact on the voting public because less partisan viewers previously had access to more polarized media options. Furthermore, most search engines and social networks (such as Google and Facebook) now employ computer algorithms (Beaufort). They use them as filters to tailor online material depending on a user’s search history, location, and prior click habits, resulting in more polarized information access.
Political polarization and congressional gridlock are closely intertwined with each other. For a political system characterized by divided authority and many vetoes, decisive action is always a difficulty. These problems are exacerbated by extensive party polarization. It raises the chances of a legislative deadlock significantly. This can result in severe issues since a government that cannot react to the challenges swiftly puts its citizens in danger.
Beaufort, M. “Digital media, political polarization and challenges to democracy” Information, Communication & Society, 21.1 (2018): 915-920
United States Senate. Legislative Activity, n.d., Web.
U.S. State Senate. Floor Proceedings, n.d., Web.