Partisanship in Washington was worse in the past

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The current partisan divide is as stark and nasty as any in recent history and on almost every issue — from health care to energy independence to reviving the economy — there's little or no effort to find common ground.

But fierce political battle is also a tradition ingrained in American history. If today's hostile environment is particularly intense, it's downright genteel compared to many battles of the past.

The Civil War, when anti- and pro-slavery forces split the nation, is the most extreme example. But there's also the beginning of the 20th century, when the country was becoming more urban and trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt was redefining the role of government.

The current economic troubles have collided with President Barack Obama's efforts to change government amid waves of public anger and protest movements like the tea party.

The angry mood was so discouraging for Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh that the Democrat recently said "I do not love Congress" as he announced he would not run for re-election.

His sentiments have been heard before....

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