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America’s biggest problems aren’t random. They’re products of our past.


As human beings, it can be tremendously difficult to zoom out from the daily misfortunes and short-winded elations of our lives to examine the larger narrative that is being written. We are so unsuited for this everyday perspective-taking that the most popular question when examining almost any major historical event is “how did they not see this coming?” And that is the real question that we should be asking of ourselves. 

As Americans at this point in history, there are about a million and a half potential catastrophes that could lead to our posterity asking this question, but most are a result of three factors: political polarization, broken courts and corporate greed. So, without further ado, I want to use this column to ask one simple question: What don’t we see coming?

Now, this article is not about why we’re polarized. If you want to know that, read Ezra Klein’s fantastic book on the subject. This is about how our polarization has fundamentally toxified our politics and handicapped our institutions. Essentially, since 1995, Congress has been politically polarized because of the partisan divide, but spirited disagreement did not lead to true gridlock until 2011 — or 2009, depending on who you ask. In that year, the Tea Party, an ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party, won 63 seats in the House of Representatives, which propelled the Republicans to a majority.



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