Let's hope American voters choose a Congress better than the present one. The aisle between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill has never been wider.
Battles over spending bills and other measures have forced Congress to plan a post-election "lame duck" session to finish its business. No small business, either - just the completion of major appropriations bills that make the government work.
Either George W. Bush or Al Gore will face the daunting task of ending such gridlock and reducing Washington's sharp partisanship. (See story page 1.) A new political system may be needed that rewards members of Congress for getting along and working toward common agreement.
With no big crisis facing the nation, acrimony isn't easily swept away. And today's lifestyles leave congressmen and -women with little chance to meet on neutral turf, where disagreements are naturally less contentious. (During Jefferson's presidency, they lived together in rooming houses.)
The next president can create more bipartisan forums, hold regular face-to-face meetings with leaders of Congress, and reward compromise.
Voters expect their leaders to disagree, of course - not to score points for campaigns, but over principles. Then debates will be more civil.
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