Mark Leibovich told Insider in an interview that the days of high-profile institutional figures like the late Senator John McCain of Arizona commanding the bipartisan consensus in Congress are “absolutely” over, reshaped by the heightened political climate in Washington, D.C. .
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate who was known to cross the aisle to work with Democrats on major legislation, died in August 2018 after battling glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Leibovich, editor at The Atlantic and author of the forthcoming book, “Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump’s Washington and the Price of Submission,” pointed to McCain’s funeral service in the nation’s capital as a display of Washington’s kind of d of yesteryear with the presence of former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and other luminaries such as former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen.
“There’s a big scene in the book, at John McCain’s funeral, where it was sort of seen as old Washington’s funeral with former senators,” he said. “Trump wasn’t invited. And you had Barack Obama and George W. Bush as the two accolades, two people who defeated McCain quite bitterly in two separate presidential elections.”
“I don’t know how the fever will drop, but I don’t think we’re there yet,” he added.
Since gerrymandering has reduced the number of competitive constituencies in recent years and split ticket voting has become less prevalent than just a decade ago, many members have less incentive to work together to pass consecutive law, as they often get bogged down in political wrangling or attack advertisements.
President Joe Biden, who spent 36 years as a U.S. senator representing Delaware before serving as vice president for eight years, began his tenure on Capitol Hill in the early 1970s when Congress had a spectrum of Republicans liberals and conservative democrats.
Now, those sorts of federal lawmakers who challenged the traditional divide between left and right are rare.
While lawmakers have passed a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a gun reform bill since Biden entered the White House last year, Other major bills like the now shelved Build Back Better Act have often passed the House and stalled in the Senate due to the threat of legislative filibuster.