This was a very interesting look at how things have changed over the past 50 years. It surprised me a little bit in that I have been thinking that part of the probelm has been decentralization of power. How do the following observations fit in to this particular analysis?
1 — In the past, committee chair peope were much more powerful (as you correctly observe. Also the assign,ent of those positions were much more controlled.
2 — In the past (pre 1970 and earlier) the national and state parties were much more in control of who ran and exerted more power over the legislative process. the concept of getting “primaried” did not exist.
3 — the waning power of the “party bosses” and the rising role of the primaries has led to a move more toward “the extremes” in either party. Members of Congress are more concerned over how their vote will affect the activists on either side then they are of the general election.
In short, I’m thinking that its not so much the rise of centralization as it is the switch from one form of centralization to another. Perhaps a lot of the disfunction we’ve been seeing is the result of the loss of the “old rules” while there is not a clear picture of the “”new rules”?