Turn on the news on any given day - but especially during an election - and you're likely to see and hear confrontation between Democrats and Republicans. News stories about stark disagreements in Congress, negative campaign ads, statements by politicians that sharply criticize the other party, and commentary by political pundits all point in one direction: there is little hope that the Democrats and Republicans can ever agree on anything. Moreover, not only do partisans disagree, but they are also very angry - mostly at each other.
Some leading Democrats seem to have a love-hate relationship with the left. Sure, progressives seem to have more influence than ever this year, at least rhetorically. But it doesn't look like the friction will be going away any time soon. Clearly, the left matters. Why, then, is it so difficult for progressives to get a seat at the table?
As the Senate wrestles with the Republicans' Keystone XL pipeline legislation, Rubio will be skipping town to bolster his presidential bid. This legislation has implications for fossil-fuel dependence and climate change. And one of its amendments may address offshore drilling in the senator's own state of Florida. But Rubio has a book to sell and a campaign to fund.
The danger in conceding that political gridlock is here to stay is that the concession is a form of acceptance, and we simply cannot accept inaction against a threat as serious and irreversible as global warming. Some contemporary issues may indeed defy bipartisan solutions, but evidence suggests that climate action and a clean energy revolution need not be among them.
If Republicans win control of the Senate, there will be the gridlock -- only much worse. It will be so bad that the American people will look back on this current Congress as "productive". Suppose, however, that independents actually control the balance of power. If they act together, they can break the gridlock.