Who is to blame for “D.C. deadlock?”

I thought New York Times writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg did an impressive job surveying political scientists who work on polarization in this weekend review piece. (Indeed my only criticism was that she didn’t talk to John Sides.) Thomas Ferguson (via the Monkey Cage) disagrees, pointing to the rise of political money. That’s an interesting normative debate, I suppose–do we attribute this apparently bad thing to regular old folk or to the special interests?

However, I’m still wondering if too much is being made of this single event (which in fact ended in a compromise). I’m having flashbacks to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, when everyone was talking about civility and who was to blame for that–we see how long that discussion lasted. So my question is still whether there is any “deadlock” to be explained by blaming anybody. There could be and probably is “polarization” to be explained, but the connection between that and gridlock doesn’t seem clear cut.

…Just spent a few minutes browsing the literature on this, and I stand by this claim it isn’t clear cut–at least to me! Please, can someone enlighten me with the latest work on polarization and gridlock?

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