Monday, October 02, 2006

Divided Government is a Plus!

For the past six years we U.S. citizens have experienced the paralysis that occurs when one party controls the White House and both houses of congress. It's not for nothing that this Republican congress is being labeled "the do-nothing congress." They have earned the label, and then some!

Why is it that having all the power leads to impotence? My educated guess is that dealing with the big issues that confront our nation requires a) some painful medicine, such as that needed to fix Social Security and Medicare, or b) some compromise that important factions in the ruling party can't live with, such as amnesty for long-term illegal aliens in the U.S. Both the painful medicine and the compromise have more potential to lose votes than gain them, so the ruling party is much more comfortable doing nothing. Well, not exactly nothing.

What does the ruling party do with its time, since dealing with the important issues would cost votes ? Well, handing out "pork" is seldom dangerous, even if the "pork" is purchased with borrowed money - so this congress has doled out record levels of it. Also, it can raise emotional issues that have little chance of being settled, like a "Marriage Amendment" or a "Flag-burning Amendment". And, doing nothing leaves plenty of time for vacations with people like Jack Abramoff.

When the ruling party has everything going for it, "rocking the boat" becomes a cardinal sin. It's "all for one, and one for all" time. Oversight, which involves putting probing questions to members of the ruling party, must be avoided at all costs. One need not look farther than oversight of the Iraq war to see that it does not happen. And, of course, discipline for ethics violations (think DeLay and Foley) involves breaking ranks, and that clearly violates the principles of team play. So the door opens for all sorts of chicanery that inevitably result.

Divided government naturally cures many of these ills. Painful medicine is best administered by doctors of both parties who share the responsibility for unpopular but necessary actions. "Pork" is not eliminated, but it is reduced and the more egregious and slimy pieces never make it past the watchdogs from the other party. Oversight is increased because one branch of the divided goverment has the power to raise issues in an unfettered manner, but that branch is controlled because the other branches can successfully ridicule patently political meddling. Ditto for ethics policing -the bad guys get punished because their sins can't get buried by their pals.

So, here's a shout of approval for divided government. Overly concentrated power is dangerous and naturally ineffective. In the upcoming election cycle the Presidency and the Senate appear "safe" for the Republicans. So, let's get the House transitioned to become a part of the right kind of solution for America!

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