From my, admittedly limited, knowledge of US history it seems that congress tended to be a bit less patrician in the past. Congressman were more likely to support bipartisan initiatives, more likely to vote against their political parties platform and a political party more likely to turn against a member they perceived to have behaved wrongly instead of backing them regardless to save face and voting power.

I'm sure some degree of partisan politics has existed since the moment the USA existed. What I'm wondering is the degree, how significant was past partisan politics relative to modern politics, and what was the cause of politics growing more partisan? I'm also curious how much of modern partisanship can be directly laid at the feet of modern echo chambers, and what other factors may have played a role.

I'm already aware of studies showing echo chambers definitely are contributing to patrician politics and dominance of party politics over individual member's voting in modern times. However the severity of echo chambers is a relatively modern phenomenon. Echo chambers only came into their full power once we had enough media for people to find it viable to settle for a niche of echoing back other's preferred views to them. That means it wasn't until we had modern widespread internet access that echo chambers could come in full force. The fairness doctrine, regardless of one's views of it, also prevented network news from being able to become a full echo chamber back then.

Given that echo chambers were no where near as powerful prior to modern media infrastructure I'm wondering if there is evidence that modern politics had already grown more patrician before echo chambers grew to dominate our media discourse. While I have no doubt they exasperated things were there other factors playing a role in the increased partisan politics prior to echo chambers, and can we put any estimation on how much of a degree modern echo chambers play a role in the modern level of partisan politics?

  • I'd venture a guess it's nearly a duplicate of politics.stackexchange.com/questions/62426/… Also, regarding just Congress politics.stackexchange.com/questions/49513/… Feb 22, 2023 at 20:31
  • I'd suggest that these things come and go. For example, in the past, there have been duels to the death that arose from interactions in congress. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Boba Fit
    Feb 22, 2023 at 20:55
  • I've closed the question, as it does seem very similar to previous questions about polarization. I think an interesting historical question is "why was it so unpolarised in the 1950s-1970s" Because this period of consensus has skewed our expectations of partisan politics. Partisan polarisation is the norm!
    – James K
    Feb 22, 2023 at 21:04
  • I always point to the Caning of Charles Sumner as the low point of polarization in U.S. Politics, when, in 1856, pro-slavery Representative Preston Brooks beat anti-Slavery Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the U.S. Senate. This was five years before a bloody Civil War that claimed more lives than all U.S. wars combined and resulted in the largest battle in the Americas in U.S. History (Gettysburg). So as bad as the 21st Century seems, it was way worse in the 19th.
    – hszmv
    Feb 23, 2023 at 13:35
  • @JamesK and all... why did one single non-mod user close this question? (not saying it shouldn't have been, but ...)
    – CGCampbell
    Feb 23, 2023 at 14:27


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