Until statesmanship trumps partisanship, divide government.
THE HOOPLA IS over and the hard work begins. Barack Obama has started his second term and has four more years to lead the nation.
Where will that leadership take America?
Obama’s supporters see it as an opportunity to remake America in the shape of the growing diversity evident in national demographic measurements, and in accord with progressive ideas.
Obama’s opponents believe that’s exactly the wrong direction and show no signs of stepping aside to clear the way.
THUS, THE WISDOM OF the Founders is on display again in Washington, through that magnificent document ratified nearly 225 years ago. The checks and balances built into the U.S. Constitution help calm the emotional excesses of political partisans.
Voters had the good sense in November to retain divided government, a condition that — while often frustrating — keeps the republic safe from overreaching politicians.
The Founders made the executive, legislative and judicial branches separate because they understood each branch needed the watchful eye of the others. No absolute power was to be found anywhere within the government.
The Founders also understood that politics is emotional and emotion can lead to excess. So they split Congress into the House of Representatives, the so-called lower house, with shorter terms of office likely to produce a body more responsive to the people’s immediate concerns. The Senate, the upper house, had longer terms and was envisioned as a calmer, more deliberative body where the passions of the moment might be cooled.
The executive was powerful, but that power was limited by the authority of Congress. And the courts were empowered to oversee the constitutionality of the other branches’ actions.
SHEER GENIUS, and Americans should be particularly thankful in these days of runaway partisan passions. The system is designed to make partisan firebrands swallow hard and cut deals.
Think about it. If the lefties had full control of government they could impose their will regardless of what anyone else thought. The Obamacare package, enacted without any Republican votes, is a clear example. And if the righties had full control they could impose their own agenda without regard for others’ beliefs. Actions in Wisconsin illustrate that point, as Republicans enacted their agenda without a single Democrat vote.
Partisans on either side may prefer it that way, pursuing the opportunity to shove down the throats of others anything they want.
The majority of Americans undoubtedly do not want that brand of politics, because it basically guarantees angry warfare with at least half the country displeased at all times.
SO TAKE HEART in the fact that Washington is, again, divided. President Obama and the Democrat Senate cannot impose the government of their choice, because the Republican House of Representatives stands athwart any such effort. Likewise, the GOP House members cannot exert their will, either, because the Democrats have the authority to stop them.
The message from the people, expressed at the ballot box by retaining divided government, could not be clearer.
Compromise. Work together to forge solutions. Extremism from the left or right is unwanted. America is a middle-of-the-road, live-and-let-live kind of place. Americans don’t like either side trying to boss them around. They just want government that works.
By the way, it’s not working very well.
The political warriors refuse to listen to the people, stymie each other and get absolutely nothing done. That’s the record established in recent years.
It’s a practice unworthy of American citizens — which, no doubt, is why polls invariably show the people hold their political leaders in such contempt.
Until those leaders can act like adults and work together, divided government at least protects us from the nut cases in both parties.