The United States is stuck in the middle, and Zócalo columnist Joe Mathews says California deserves much of the blame - or the credit - depending on how one views the situation. In the absence of a dominant political party, consensus is the path to progress. America has neither consensus nor a dominant political party at present - and that's produced hyper-partisanship and Congressional gridlock. California, it seems, is the great balancer. Without it, Republicans would dominate the federal government. As the largest and arguably most liberal state in the nation, California evens the scales. Unfortunately, the Golden State has also been stymied in its efforts to have its vision and values accepted by the country as a whole.