Critics cite the 2013 federal shutdown as evidence that America's political system is failing, but political scientists Norman Ornstein and Jared Diamond have suggested tribalism may be partly to blame too.
Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, and Diamond, an award-winning author and professor at the University of California, have discussed the state of the US political system in the scholarly journal, Governance.
Ornstein wrote: "The state of our overall political process is the most dysfunctional I have seen in over 44 years of watching Washington and American politics up close. If we are not in the most dysfunctional period in our history, we are certainly in the top five."
According to Ornstein, the 112th and 113th congresses have failed.
The reason for breakdown, he argues, is the rise in political extremism, manifested in open tribalism. Ornstein states that various legislations have been sunk by tribalism, from acts seeking to tighten rules over gun ownership, to commissions established to tackle America's debt problem. He adds that the problem is continuing into Obama's second term.
He wrote: "Political dysfunction has serious consequences for the health, well-being, and future prospects for the country that go well beyond gridlock or political gamesmanship.
"American history suggests that these problems are cyclical, that eventually we will come out of it and restore a modicum of problem-solving rationality. But 'eventually' does not mean anytime soon."
Diamond, however, suggests the States is facing four existential threats to its democratic system.
He wrote: "Our form of government is a big part of the explanation why the United States has become the richest and most powerful country in the world. Hence, an undermining of the democratic processes in the United States means throwing away one of our biggest advantages."
In comparison to Ornstein, Diamond argues that political compromise has been deteriorating in recent decades and that restrictions on voting are reversing the positive historical trend of political enfranchisement
Diamond also stated that public spending by the government in education is also declining, while the gap between the rich and poor is continuing to increase.
He wrote: "Large segments of the American populace deride government investment as 'socialism', but it is not socialism. On the contrary, it is one of the longest established functions of government."