How’s that divided government thing workin’ for ya?
Remember back before the 2008 national elections, all those people who agreed John McCain was an idiot and the Republicans were irresponsible, but the onlyreason they couldn’t vote for Barack Obama and the Democrats was because they supported “divided government”? Remember that?
It was another piece of conventional wisdom touted by the right when they were in the minority (and the left pre-2006), and repeated as fact by the folks at CNN and the New York Times. You heard it from folks like this guy from the Cato Institute and this guy from the Brookings Institute. It was one of John McCain’s “closing arguments” before the 2008 election, and it was the main argument going into the 2010 midterms.
It’s a favorite piece of conventional wisdom among Villagers who love to talk about the wonders of centrism and Third Way politics. And for anyone who sees the world as it actually is, not how they wished it were, it’s a load of horse shit.
Here’s why Americans supposedly like divided government:
In Mode 2 — divided government — the dynamic is reversed. Both parties, responsible for governing, have a stake in success. Forced to negotiate and compromise, they drag policy toward the center, allowing moderates to feel represented instead of ignored. Most important, the country itself becomes more governable and meaningful laws stand a likelier chance of passage, because neither side can easily blame the other for whatever is wrong and because any major legislation needs support from both parties to pass.
I’m sorry, but what world are you people living in? The current Congress is on track to become the least productive ever, at a time when the country is facing some of its most enormous challenges ever. At a time when we can least afford gridlock, that’s exactly what we’ve got. We need our elected representatives to come together and solve the many crises our nation is facing, but instead of forcing both sides to come together in a spirit of compromise, “divided government” has resulted in Republican bully tactics. They’ve held up judicial nominations, creating a crisis on our federal courts, and they’re playing a game of chicken with the debt ceiling (despite the fact that they raised the debt ceiling 19 times under George W. Bush). They’re suddenly peacenkiks and running fast and furiously away from every good idea they ever had — like cap-and-trade,originally a free-market, conservative idea.
And so the legislative trickle has slowed to a drip. From January until the end of May, the last date for which comparable statistics are available, 16 bills had become law — compared with 50 during that period last year, or 28 in 2007, also a time of divided government.
Read the rest of this post at Southern Beale.