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That's just another reminder that the U.S. political system is simply not working. The parties have become too polarized; institutions and traditions of governance, like the filibuster, have been abused to create permanent gridlock. It's tempting to pretend that this has always been a part of the country's raucous democracy and that both parties are to blame. But that's just not true. Consider these facts. Over the past five years, Republicans have threatened a filibuster 385 times. That's almost double the rate of the preceding five years. "This level of obstruction is extremely unusual," Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told Newsweek. "And the core of the problem is the GOP." The Republican Party has chosen to become the party of no in a political system that can work only if there is some cross-party cooperation.
Would Obama or Romney be better at breaking this deadlock? Each side makes its arguments. Obama has said, as recently as late August, that his re-election would "break the fever" and force Republicans to the table. Romney partisans quietly admit that the Republican Party will have to accept higher taxes but claim that only one of its own can take them there.
Is either of these scenarios credible? I'm not sure. So far, Obama has clearly been more willing to compromise, though he is not blameless. The Republican Party could accept reality--and math--and accept that tax revenue will have to go up to get a budget deal. But I do know that unless we fix our utterly dysfunctional political system, it is only a matter of time before we face the next cliff--and that next time, we will fall off and crash.
TO READ MORE BY FAREED ZAKARIA, GO TO time.com/zakaria