President Kennedy speaks with Senate GOP leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois in March 1961. Dirksen's support was critical to passing civil rights legislation through Congress. Harvey Georges/AP hide caption

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Can our nation afford political waffling on issues of scientific consensus? Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Sen.-elect Angus King of Maine (far right) joins newly elected Democratic senators and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. From left: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Reid, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Harry Hamburg/AP hide caption

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Voters these days often reward politicians who sit at either end of the ideological spectrum while punishing those seen as compromisers. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says covering the uninsured shouldn't be Republicans' top health priority. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

itoggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP