McClintock defends polarized House: ‘Congress is simply a reflection of the country’

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) on Sunday pushed back against those who blame Congress for increased polarization in recent years, saying lawmakers in Washington are “simply a reflection” of dynamics at play across the country.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Why are things so divided back there?’ Or, ‘Why can’t you all just get along?’ And the answer is that Congress is simply a reflection of the country. Congress is badly divided right now because the country is badly divided,” McClintock said on NewsNation’s “The Hill Sunday.”

McClintock characterized the polarization as a fight between the “antithetical principles of freedom and socialism,” which he compared to the battle between “freedom and slavery” in the lead-up to the Civil War.

“As we discovered then and as we’re discovering now, ultimately, one has to prevail over the other. That’s what we’re working through as a country,” McClintock said.

“So it shouldn’t surprise us that Congress is just as divided as the country. The debate that really matters is the one that goes on over backyard fences and family dinner tables,” he added. “Once that debate is resolved there, then you see it reflected in the Congress.”

Research shows partisan divisions are wider today than they were decades ago, and both parties hold deeply negative views of people on the other side of the political aisle.

In a 2023 Pew Research survey, Americans were asked to describe in their own words the biggest problem with the political system, and 22 percent volunteered “partisan polarization or lack of partisan cooperation.” The only answer mentioned more frequently was “critiques of politicians,” at 31 percent.

Research similarly shows Americans are less likely to consider romantic partners with differing political views than in past decades.

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