Picture the entire political spectrum, from communism all the way on the left to fascism all the way on the right.

Now picture America’s two mainstream political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. 

If a ruler represents the entire political spectrum, with communism at the 1 inch mark and fascism at the 12 inch mark, then Democrats and Republicans are at the 5 and 7 inch marks, respectively. They’re not very far apart. The two parties disagree on a couple of minor things, but they’re largely the same. 

Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, is as far to the left as anyone in Washington, but he’s not a communist. Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who is as far to the right as Sanders is to the left, is not a fascist. Sanders, by the ruler-as-the-political-spectrum measure, is a 3.5. Paul is an 8.5. Their ideologies are miles apart, yet they’ve worked together multiple times throughout the years, on everything from ending the Drug War to auditing the Federal Reserve. Which begs the question:

If two of the most ideologically diverse congressmen can find common ground and work together, why can’t everyone else in Washington?