For example, Kranish describes Nebraska as some sort of political paradise: "a place where elected officials are officially nonpartisan, terms are limited, the budget is balanced, backroom deals are discouraged, and legislators actually get things done in swift sessions." That's not really so unusual when you break it down. Roughly half the states have term limits, nearly all states have balanced budget requirements, there are very few places where backroom deals are encouraged, and Nebraska's legislative sessions are far from the shortest in the country.
What is unique about Nebraska, of course, is the officially nonpartisan nature of its legislature. While this has limited polarization in the chamber, it hasn't eliminated it. As some of my research with Boris Shor has demonstrated, while Nebraska's legislature was among the least polarized a few years ago, it is polarizing more quickly than any other state legislature in the country, and is now more polarized than 17 other chambers.
Another thing Kranish fails to mention is that there are costs to this sort of de-polarization method, coming in the form of decreased accountability. As I wrote here:
[T]here would certainly still be a "party line" in the Congress, even under Nebraska rules. Would such rules reduce the incidence of party line voting? Almost certainly. But keep in mind why this would happen: because it would be much harder for people outside of Congress to follow what's going on and to assign rewards and punishments. Most voters, even the politically interested ones, generally don't follow what individual members of Congress are doing. Votes on committee reports and legislative amendments and procedural rules are often strategic and inherently confusing for outside observers. What voters can observe, however, is the behavior of a party when it's in power. If they don't like the way things are going, they can vote in another party and get a very different result. The knowledge that voters will reward them if things go well and punish them if things go poorly creates an important (if limited) constraint on legislative parties. It helps make them responsible.There are a number of other problems with the article. Kranish claims that gerrymandering and the rise of dark money are partially responsible for increasing gridlock in Washington, but there's little evidence to support that. He is disturbed by declining voter turnout in presidential elections, but fails to note that voter turnout in recent presidential elections has been on the rise, outpacing turnout in the 1980s and 90s. And he suggests that primary reform may be a way to mitigate partisanship, even while the available evidence says otherwise.
But you know what? Read it anyway. It's easy for political scientists to just throw their hands up and say partisanship now partisanship forever, but there are other ways to run a country, and they warrant discussion.
(h/t Brendan Nyhan)