Some people believe that the nation is polarized politically. Some people are worried about it. Things like this are relative. The left and right aren't that far apart compared to where they were in the past. Both are now true populist movements. They both give at least lip service to the concept of freedom and equality for all people. Neither side is keen on cutting back education, or social safety net spending, or the military. The status quo rules, until it's not the status quo anymore. If you think about it, the modern President who advocated the most radical philosophical changes was Carter, he was awhile ago and didn't get too far.
To find a third party candidate who was truly odious, you have to go back to John Schmitz in 1972 and he had very little support.
I'm not a big war guy. I didn't like the Vietnam War. It's hard to say who really got the ball rolling on Vietnam, Eisenhower or Kennedy but Johnson really escalated it. I think it would have happened no matter what, whether Nixon was elected in '60 or Goldwater in '64. I don't think we would have gotten out much earlier if Humphrey had won in '68. We lost a lot of good boys. I knew some of them. Maybe you did too.
All of the Middle Eastern wars have been stupid and they have been Republican wars but the Democrats went along and Obama is doing nothing to end them today.
The economy is totally screwed up. The truth is, that the present economic meltdown has its roots in the deficit spending of the Depression and WWII but was helped along greatly by Eisenhower's escalation of the Cold War, Nixon's abolishing of the gold standard and the universal adoption of the American dollar as international medium of exchange. Most responsible is the modern American mantra that the superiority of our system can only be demonstrated to the World, by an ever increasing and unsustainable standard of living. There's no use arguing about it. What's done is done. There is no way to lessen the pain of what is to come and our elected leaders, right and left, wouldn't even if they could. They will continue to push the final reckoning back as long as possible because that's exactly what the people want.
You can argue that particular Presidents or Congressional majorities did good or bad things but for the most part they only made real change when they were forced to because the country was moving in that direction anyway. The country itself has a way of moving along the way it wants to, regardless of what leadership wants. I think that's been true in the past. I think it will be true in the future. The real motto of the United States should probably be, "Shit Happens".