On the surface, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have driven already-divided Americans even further apart.
Police brutality has triggered violent protests in dozens of cities. In a split that's been dubbed the "lockdown left" versus the "reopen right," Democrats are bickering with Republicans over whether public health or the economy should come first. In the House, GOP lawmakers have sued Democrats for permitting proxy voting during the pandemic. And President Trump is stoking all these divisions as the defining strategy of his reelection campaign.
"The unity that was created during and after world wars for America lasted years, the unity after 9/11 lasted months — and the unity during this Covid crisis might be days," says former Rep. Tim Roemer, an Indiana Democrat who helped spearhead a recent bipartisan letter signed by 110 former lawmakers, top government officials and governors urging Congress to respond with more strength, unity and cooperation.
But the rancor and bad blood roiling government officials are not the whole story.
Americans are also reporting heightened public unity and trust as communities draw together in the crisis. A survey last month by More in Common found 90 percent saying "we're all in it together," compared to only 63 percent in 2018. The number who described the country as unified jumped eightfold in the same period.
- Partisan divide creates different Americas, separate lives - The ... ›
- Americans much more unified because of the virus, poll finds - The ... ›
- What 1860 and 1968 can teach America about the 2020 election ... ›
- Polarization is more of a cultural problem - The Fulcrum ›
The top seven seeds have all made it through to the Elite Eight round in the "Best of the Rest" division of Democracy Madness — our tournament where readers are deciding which of 64 ideas for fixing the government they want most.
The only minor upset in the opening round of our final quarter: The notion of conducting more extensive audits of election results, our ninth seed, barely snuck past the idea of creating federal standards for all voting machines, slotted eighth.
Now it's time to whittle it down to four. The voting lasts until Sunday night.
- USC launches 50-state election security campaign - The Fulcrum ›
- Wisconsin's debacle is an election security wake-up call - The Fulcrum ›
- The 13 states where election security matters most - The Fulcrum ›
After 262 days in limbo, the Federal Election Commission can operate again. But a toxic mix of partisanship and the agency's own rules provides little hope the campaign finance regulator will soon function.
The doors can symbolically reopen because the Senate voted Tuesday, 49-43 along party lines, to confirm conservative Texas attorney Trey Trainor as a commissioner — ending the longest period ever when the panel lacked the four-person quorum required to conduct business.
But it also takes four votes to do anything consequential. And the even partisan split Trainor creates means the FEC is returning to its life for the past decade — at an impasse on almost every question about enforcing the limited laws of money in politics. The persistent deadlock is one of the main reasons the campaign finance system is derided by critics as out of control.
- Trainor survives Democrats' jabs, looks in line for FEC post - The ... ›
- Senate hearing on FEC nominee Trey Trainor - The Fulcrum ›
- 5 things to know about FEC nominee Trey Trainor - The Fulcrum ›