Politics

Two cheers for divided government.

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Push Me Pull You
Truly a double header. Not only does the New York Times provide a reasonably accurate description of the virtues of divided government, but we also get their rendering of the creature known to us fondly as the “Donklephant”.

We’ll add it to our growing collection of similarly structured creatures, including the back-assward AARP version and the tragic Daily Show Elephonkey.

Truth be told, the graphic is a bit forced. Regardless, you’ve got to hand it to Peter Baker for his article in the NY Times – he gets it. Our federal government is not dysfunctional. It works as it does for the simple reason that this is exactly how it was designed and intended to work:

Hip, Hip — if Not Hooray — for a Standstill Nation
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“Is this any way to run a country? As it happens, yes. Ideal it is not. Inspiring, hardly at all. But the fractious, backbiting, finger-pointing, polarizing, partisan, kick-the-can-down-the-road brinkmanship of Washington politics these days is, let’s face it, the reality of American governance in the modern era. For all the hand-wringing about how the system is broken, this is the system as it was designed and is now adapted for the digital age. All the high-minded vows to put politics aside for the greater good ignore the fact that the system is built on politics, with the idea that politics, however ugly, eventually can produce a greater good, however imperfect…

Moreover, it’s useful to remember that the founders devised the system to be difficult, dividing power between states and the federal government, then further dividing the federal government into three branches, then further dividing the legislative branch into two houses. The idea, James Madison wrote, was to keep factions from gaining too much power, presuming that “a coalition of a majority of the whole society could seldom take place on any other principles than those of justice and the general good.”

And to be sure, gridlock is in the eye of the beholder. For those whose ox would get gored — for instance, those adamantly opposed to tax increases or to cuts in entitlement benefits — a little stalemate may not seem like a bad thing if it prevents what they consider a worse outcome. One person’s obstructionism is another’s principled opposition.”

Pardon me… I am experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance reading something this spot-on in the Times. I just do not recall reading anything in the Times casting divided government in quite so favorable a light at any time in the run up to the 2010 election.

You don’t suppose the fact that avoiding one party rule in 2010 meant voting Republican and avoiding one party rule in 2012 means voting to re-elect President Obama has anything to do with it – do you? Nah. Certainly not.

In any case – the read is well worth consuming one of your 20 free NYT articles in June.

X-posted from Divided We Stand United We Fall