Sunday, November 02, 2008

Divided Government

The new Republican talking point of "divided government" has some humorous aspects, under Bill Clinton the Republican call was for a Republican President to allow the Republican Congress to get something done and this call continued under GWB. They got things done, also... It is apparent that they have no hope of majorities in either the House or the Senate so John McCain is their last hope short of holding on to the Senate fillibuster. What the stupid voter is supposed to understand is that an unrestrained Republican Party is good and a powerful Democratic Party is bad. Never be surprised to hear politicians say two different things in the same breath, but this a contradiction of staggering dimensions - a couple years ago they were talking about a permanent majority.

Let's start at the beginning to deconstruct their argument. We have a divided government as a basic construct, House & Senate, Executive, and the Judiciary - each with its own function. Two of the arms are further divided the Federal Appeals Court Districts and the Supreme Court and the House and Senate. The House and Senate are the most obvious of divisions, the two year election House is usually the cooking pot of legislative ideas and the six year Senate the more deliberative and conservative in action body. There is a natural tension between these bodies with the House being driven by its frequent trips to voters and the Senate having to deal with more distant outcomes in their races. The Judiciary is a bit more complex with Appeals Courts feeding to the Supremes, Appeals Courts tend to find a bit more controversially than the Supremes possibly due to the fact that they know their decisions are backstopped by the Supremes. These set ups create a tension between innovation and status quo/conservativism. Please note that I am not referring to conservativism as a political ideology.

The Republican theme makes an assumption that Democrats are all cut from the same cloth. This is an odd statement as they run Lieberman around the country - sure he's an Independent, now. There is a prospect that a do nothing Congress could turn into a do somethng Congress, but the idea of run away Democrats is absurd. If the Democrats could get the 60 Senate seats that does not mean there would not be Party defections on "wild" bills. It virtually guarantees a set of brakes in the Senate since one vote would undo being fillibuster proof. My druthers would be a 2010 increase in Democratic Senators, that would involve some popular successes in the first two years of an Obama administration. My druthers in this case have to do with me being far more left than the average Democratic Congressman. I certainly admit that I am a Republican nightmare and I'm proud of it.

1 comment:

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