Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Power of Gridlock

MW over at Divided We Stand (in my opinion, a must read blogger) seems like the kind of person I would enjoy a few hours of good coffee and conversation with. We don't agree across the board (sorry MW, I'm sorely unimpressed with Pelosi, and the job the dems have done since winning the majority in congress), but that's to be expected. He's part of a growing consortium of folks who think the best way to disempower government corruption is to work in unison to make sure no single party controls the government. Historically, this has meant one party in the white house, the other party in control of congress. Recently, some in the divided government camp have been pushing for that division to be even more individual, with congress also split evenly down bipartisan lines. In concept, this should force a slowdown of congress' ability to sail legislation through unchecked, and an increase in cooperation between the two sides.

I can't say I'm a huge supporter of this concept; in my mind, the only absolutely effective way to force the parties to act like they believe in their respective campaign platforms is to all register as independents, and to get behind a viable third party solution. I think the big boys could use a lesser watchdog in congress to remind them it doesn't have to be just red or blue, and it's kind of hard to polarize three ways. However, noting that Divided Government is eminently more possible (by which I mean has been successfuly accomplished for 44 of the last 100 years or so), I think I have to at least say that making divided government a focus is the least we can do, the most basic step in the right direction that we can take.

1 comment:

mw said...

Thanks for the link and kind words. I linked to this post from my most recent Carnival of Divided Government, but thought I'd copy my comments here also:

"We agree far more than Chris may think. Like many Independent Centrists, Chris believes that a strong 3rd party is the political cure for what ails us. I have been dismissive of 3rd party efforts in the past, but would like nothing better than to be proved wrong. The primary difference in our perspective is that I fundamentally do not believe nor have I seen any evidence that the pool of true "Independent Centrists" in the electorate is as big as Chris or other third party fellow travelers believe. Ross Perot set the recent history high water mark for 3rd Party efforts, topping out at about 20%. I believe that number is empirical evidence of the maximum vote a 3rd party can accomplish, and even that number was inflated by disgruntled partisan Republicans angry with ("Read my lips") GWB41. The other 80% of the electorate are hardcore partisans, regardless of what they claim to be. In the privacy of the voting booth, they always vote like partisans. At a presidential election level, this limits a "successful" 3rd party to a spoiler role, serving only to elect the greater of two evils by drawing away support from the major party that is closest to the third party platform (Perot elects Clinton, Nader elects Bush43).

On the other hand, if that 3rd party impulse can be organized to vote for political objectives by switching between the two major parties on an election by election basis, then as little a 5% - 10% of the electorate could shape the political destiny of the country in a positive way. This holds true only for as long as the country stays roughly balanced along polarized partisan lines, which is to say - indefinitely. In fact, I'll submit that organizing true independents in this manner is a necessary pre-condition to the creation of a viable third party capable of electing candidates to office."

Good luck with the blog (it looks great), and I'll take that cup of coffee if you are ever in the neighborhood. You are buying.

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