How did the “textbook” Senate of the 1950s — one of compromise and where people worked together to solve the problems America faced — transform into our current one of gridlock, lack of compromise, and partisan warfare? Sean Theriault, author of The Gingrich Senators: The Roots of Partisan Warfare in Congress, traces the roots of this transformation back to one group of senators, who started in the House of Representatives after 1978, which is when Gingrich joined. The University of Texas at Austin spoke with him about the Gingrich style of politics that continues to influence political debate, such as gun control, and political organization, such as the Tea Party.
Sean Theriault is Associate Professor of Government at The University of Texas at Austin. In addition to The Gingrich Senators: The Roots of Partisan Warfare in Congress, he is the author of The Power Of The People: Congressional Competition, Public Attention, And Voter Retribution (Parliaments and Legislatures) and Party Polarization in Congress.