What's Wrong With the Senate, in One Simple GIF

For any group of people to achieve something collectively, cooperation is required. So when the task is to run the federal government, one would hope that cooperation is highly valued. But of course, partisanship has left Congress extremely polarized and unable to work together.

Check out this visual representation of the Senate literally pulling apart over the past couple decades:


Courtesy of Renzo Lucioni

A line connecting two senators means that they have voted the same way on at least 100 instances. Republicans are highly connected to one another, and the same is true for Democrats. But as time progresses, it becomes increasingly rare that senators from different parties are voting together. Look how densely connected the Senate was in 1989 and 1990.

1989:


1990:


Now look at 2010 and 2013.



These images show a Senate increasingly unable to agree on the direction of the country. If this trend continues, it will be a monumental challenge to pass any significant legislation in this country.

Why must every issue be framed as red or blue? Only 20 years ago, there would be a lot of purple on this visualization. What would it take for this country to get back to that place? Is Congress fully corrupt, or have we started seeing each other as citizens in only shades of red and blue?

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Sean Becker

From the West Coast to the Midwest and back, I have grown up observing and reflecting on the world around me. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a degree in Sociology and now live with my girlfriend in San Francisco. I am interested in how the ebbs and flows of current events can illuminate and challenge some of the greater issues our society faces going forward.

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