We really are experiencing the worst Congress, ever. Or at least in modern times. There are a lot of ways to quantify that (50+ votes in the House to repeal Obamacare?), but the Brookings Institute's Sarah Binder has come up with a particularly elegant one. Using unsigned editorials in The New York Times from 1947 through 2013, Binder determined the critical issues each Congress was dealing with—those covered at least four times in editorials. Then she looked to see how many of those salient issues were resolved by Congress. By 2013, fully 75 percent of the critical issues on Congress's agenda were blocked by gridlock.
That mismatch between parties and governing institutions is exacerbated by the fact that the polarization is asymmetric. Republicans have become a radical insurgency—ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of their political opposition. The evidence of this asymmetry is overwhelming.Here's one piece of the evidence: Ideology in House roll call votes since 1870. That blue line veering radically upward? That's Republicans.
In the meantime, maybe the Democratic Senate could try to move that project along a bit, by reforming the filibuster once and for all and getting some shit done, thereby putting more pressure on the Republican House to stop being a national embarrassment. A girl can dream.