It's a frequently heard lament: Why can't Washington get along and compromise on the big issues of the day
The federal government is, of course, divided, with the Democrats owning the White House and the Senate, the Republicans in control of the House.
The division, though, didn't begin in Washington. It has been created by the voters, and the gap between the sides is so wide that there seems to be no ground for compromise.
Given the deep polarization found in the country, lawmakers simply cannot find common cause without betraying their constituencies.
Consider that our IBD/TIPP poll finds that 64% of Democrats give President Obama an "excellent" or "good" rating on his performance of managing the federal budget. Only 7% of Republicans believe he is doing an "excellent" or "good" job.
The chasm on Obama's handling of the fiscal cliff negotiations is similar. Our poll finds that two-thirds of Democrats say Obama performed his duties in an "excellent" or "good" manner, while a mere 11% of Republicans agreed.
The gap grows on the president's handling of the economy: 71% of Democrats like his work, but only 7% of Republicans agree, with 75% believing it has been "poor" or "unacceptable.
Despite chronically high unemployment and widespread long-term joblessness, 70% of Democrats give Obama an A or B in job creation and economic growth. A similar portion, 68% of Republicans give him a D or F.
In terms of overall federal economic policies, our poll shows that 73% of Democrats are "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with what Washington is doing, but only 17% of Republicans agree.
In fact, 83% of Republicans say they are not satisfied.
Today's debt ceiling debate is a prime example of just how far apart Americans have grown.
One side, the Democrats who run the Senate, don't even believe in passing a federal budget and haven't done so in almost four years — more than 1,350 days.
The other side, the Republicans, believes so strongly that Congress should pass a budget each year as the law requires that some members say they won't approve an increase in the debt ceiling until the Senate passes a budget.
Democrats so desperately want to raise the debt ceiling, some even want Obama to break the law and hike it unilaterally, then let the courts sort out the constitutional issues.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat who won her no-compromise 12th District with more than 85% of the vote, illustrates how far removed the parties are from each other in their thinking. She said she would increase the debt limit without congressional approval "in a second" if she were president.
With Americans as far apart as the poles on these issues, how can they expect their representatives in Congress to find areas of agreement
Democratic voters don't want the lawmakers they put into office voting for spending cuts and lower taxes.
At the same time, GOP voters have had enough of Republicans who will give an inch to the Democrats' permanent campaign for higher taxes and bigger government.
With apparently little give on either side, the country seems to be looking, at least in the near future, at rigid gridlock.
While one side says "more, more," the other is saying "no more.
Don't be surprised if both sides dig in even deeper during the debt ceiling negotiations.
- Politics & Government
- President Obama