Politics always needs to engage the public and passionate partisanship appears to have done that, as the level of engagement has increased as the television viewing habits of many Americans revolve around the 24 hours news channels.
This article from Brookings looks at that.
“From the steps of the Capitol on January 20th, President Barack Obama appealed for an end to the politics of “petty grievances” and “worn-out dogmas.” The year 2009 was supposed to mark the dawn of a post-partisan era. With any luck, Democrats and Republicans would stop quarreling, and would finally get down to work together. The time had come, exhorted the new president drawing from Scripture, to lay “childish” polemics aside.
“But childish or not, America’s partisan politics have remained as stubbornly intense and polarized as ever. To paraphrase more Scripture, the lambs remain unwilling to lie down with the lions. And there are few signs of partisan swords being turned into plowshares. Far from opening a new age of bipartisan comity in the House of Representatives, the president and the Democratic majority received not a single Republican vote in their first big legislative test, the roll call on the so-called American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus”). More recently, not one Republican in the Senate or the House voted for the concurrent resolution on the president’s budget. More, not less, of such party-line voting probably lies ahead.
“So here’s a heretical thought: Maybe, among the many inflated expectations that we attach to the Obama presidency and should temper, those about the advent of “post-partisanship” ought to be lowered, drastically. In other words, get over it. The rough-and-tumble of our party politics is here to stay. What’s more—and this is even greater heresy—not everything about that fact of political life is horrible.”