Friday, October 06, 2006

Divided Government

Reader Allen made a funny comment on the previous article, so I followed the link to his blog ( just to check it out. One post of his in particular jumped out at me and made me want to share it here (by the way, good blog, Allen!):

The only thing I would add to Mona’s comment is that many of us (small-l) libertarians are in favor of a partial Democrat victory not because we have suddenly discovered the rightness of their leftness but rather because we hope to moderate the balance of power in Washington. I figure a government that is distracted with political combat is less able to do any additional harm (via legislation) to its citizenry.

I think that's dead-on. In my lifetime, the most effective government was when one party (the Democrats in this case) held the Presidency and the other (Republicans) held at least one chamber of Congress. If we're going to be stuck with a two-party system (which we are), then I'd much rather see the two sides at each other's throats, keeping each other honest, rather than one party holding all the reins. That's not a guarantor of good stewardship, of course -- when Reagan (R) was President, the long-standing hold the Democrats had on Congress led to some really bad abuses of power and corrosive corruption there. But at least there was someone on both sides of the aisle helping to control the other party's worst excesses*.

My new rallying cry (with apologies to Mr. Franklin): "A house divided against itself cannot screw us!"

*Does this mean that if the Democrats somehow win control of both houses of Congress in 2006 (as is seeming increasingly possible) that I'd support a Republican for President in 2008? To be honest, I'd rather see a Democrat hold the Presidency and a Congress controlled by Republicans (at least one chamber). I'd rather have the party that at least claims fiscal responsibility as their mantle be in charge of the purse strings, although given the tripling of the deficit to record levels under this Republican Congress I might have to rethink that. And as they proved with Clinton, Republicans in Congress are very willing to control the expansion of Presidential power (as long as it's a Democrat who's President, with a Republican, meh, not so much), which I think is going to be exceptionally necessary in the next 8 years thanks to the lunacy of the Unitary Executive paradigm. It's hard to get someone to give back power once they've got it, we're going to need an opposition party willing to remove it by force of law.

1 comment:

Acroamatic said...

I'm convinced that the Founders had some idea of this type in their minds as they debated forms of government. They remembered back to their readings in the history and theory of common law and classical political wisdom from the Greek and Roman republics. They understood that a "mixed" form of government would have a distinct tendency toward paralysis, and they saw that as a good thing. There's a saying about democracy in this sense being the better form of government only because all the others are worse. They're worse because the alternatives are anarchy and tyranny.