As for thinking that 2012 is so dysfunctional, try a bit of history.
The dysfunction was present even before George Washington finished his first term.
Neither Madison nor Jefferson could persuade their own home state to adopt the first 10 amendments to the Constitution — and Madison was their primary author and patron saint. No one cared.
Alexander Hamilton ‘the ultra federalist’ agreed to sell the amendments in exchange for some deals … Washington is what it always was. So while Madison was the Constitution’s primary author, and author of the first 10 Amendments, it is his philosophical rival in every way that got the deal done.
Folks that wistfully wish for the days of yore are seriously on drugs if they believe that things were better.
President Washington started his first term with $75 million in debt and it took succeeding presidents 45 years to pay it off.
There was a rebellion against taxes even then … and Ol’George didn’t hesitate to go shoot em up to prove that DC was DC and rules were to be followed. Unlike today when folks talk about ‘the next time we return our guns will be loaded’, George Washington faced an actual armed military force … and he sent a small army of 13,000 to go put the rebellion down … In the end, Washington got his national sales tax on certain items … and not a cheap tax either: 18 cents per gallon of whiskey.
The election of 1800 was total trash talk (and Jefferson became the semi-official first American anti-Christ) … while Jefferson’s vice president Aaron Burr killed the former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel just as Jefferson’s first term ended … Burr was running for governor of New York at the time since Jefferson planned to dump him as his VP.
1832 or 1834 is still considered to be the ugliest campaign year in history … although by the end of the century there were 5 Republican senators that openly declared in favor of the Democratic nominee for president. We now know those Republicans as the Mugwumps.
And let us not forget how former president Theodore Roosevelt bolted the Republican Party to run as a Moose candidate.
What we got in 2012 is pretty damn tame.