Divided government and ch-ch-ch-changes
Jason Smathers wrote a great column in The Badger Herald exploring the themes of divided government and change. Coincidently, the title of the piece is the same as my blog “Divided we stand, united we fall?“:
“… despite its name, divided government is the only path for meaningful progress, especially given how â€œchangeâ€ has ravaged this country at times. In the last 50 years, divided government has been relatively common. During the â€˜50s, a combination of the Democratic Legislature and Republican executive resulted in an end to the Korean War, incredibly low rates of inflation and only minimal flare-ups in the Cold War… The same sort of stability occurred during the Clinton presidency â€” low inflation, low unemployment, economic prosperity along with relative peace in terms of foreign policy. However, the pitfalls of unified government revealed themselves again during the six years of Republican control..
In that sense, a Republican president may not be the worst decision for America at this point. Sen. John McCain may now be pandering to the conservative base, but if he decides to once again take up the banner of Goldwater Republicans, he could provide a perfect complement to a visibly frustrated Democratic congress. Skepticism of Mr. Obamaâ€™s â€œpost-partisanâ€ politics is partially developed out of a sinister second meaning appropriated by bandwagon â€œagents of changeâ€ â€” pushing an agenda through a unified government with little to no opposition. Itâ€™s not partisan because there is only one side. Yes, they could get a lot done. They could also do a lot of damage.“
I found his point about a potential McCain presidency with a Democratic Congress to explore a similar theme as the question Justin posed “McCain: The Only Viable Green President?“. Jason is a senior at the University of Wisconsin majoring in history and journalism. He has gone a long way to restoring my faith in the younger generation.
It is really not hard to understand why divided government works better. Use any mechanism the way it was designed to be used, it just works better. A car is designed to run on roads, try to use it as a boat, and you won’t get where you intended to go. We have a system of government built on the concept of checks, balances and separation of power. The Constitution was designed with a specific architecture to ensure that (as James Madison said in the Federalist #51) “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” Divided Government reinforces the foundation of our Federal Government. It works the way it was designed to work by the founders – messy, slow, and contentious. Single party government undermines constitutional checks and balances, restrains oversight, invariably increases opportunity for corruption and bad decision making, resulting in depressingly consistent disastrous results.
As long as we are on the subject of “CHANGE” I thought you might find this YouTube video amusing, and a useful supplement to my earlier post – “Keep the Change”. I can’t figure out how to embed it, but it is linked here: Ch-ch-ch-changes. Enjoy.