The Washington Post has an editorial in which they talked to President Bush on the polarization of Congress. The entire story is a good read, but here are a few key points:
…members of Congress are ‘worried about taking a rational position’ because they fear being punished in primaries by challengers questioning their ideological purity.
We have long warned about the pernicious consequences of entrenched incumbency and gerrymandered congressional districts. Such districts, as the president noted, produce a Congress more ideologically polarized than the electorate it represents. A House of Representatives in which members need only tend to their bases may be good for those reelected to the majority of seats year after year, but it is bad for the country when moderates in both parties are increasingly squeezed out of the process. Politicians forced to the ideological fringes produce bad legislation or, more often, partisan gridlock that results in no legislation at all on the crucial issues facing the country. Enormous sums are devoted to the scant handful of truly competitive races. A more vibrant process would not provide a panacea for all that ails the modern politics, but it would remove one roadblock to the ability to find common legislative ground and forge common-sense solutions.
The president wasn’t exactly lamenting the absence of competitive districts or calling for structural reform then. Fair enough, but the president’s point remains an important one. There are various ways to address this situation, whether on a national or state-by-state level, and introduce rationality and nonpartisanship into what threatens to become an even uglier process.