Monday, September 10, 2007

Carnival of Divided Government Sextus Decimus - Special Procrastination Edition


Welcome to the September 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 2007 edition of the Carnival of Divided Government Sextus Decimus- Special Labor Day Procrastination Day Edition. This the latest in a continuing series of irregularly scheduled compilations of divided government writing from around the blogosphere.

The first Wednesday of September is Fight Procrastination Day, (aka Do It Day!) followed appropriately by National Procrastination Day (aka Be Late for Something Day!) on or about Thursday September 6. Apparently no one has ever gotten around to firmly assigning a date for this important holiday. No matter, t
he beauty of posting a Carnival of Divided Government with this theme should be obvious. Whenever DWSUWF gets around to it, is in perfect keeping of the theme, even if we are a few days late.

Continuing this theme, DWSUWF notes
that after dithering and hinting for months, our preferred presidential hopeful Chuck Hagel chose today to announce his retirement from the Senate at the end of this term. While he left himself a little wiggle room with his phrasing ".., nor do I intend to be a candidate in 2008," DWSUWF will be updating, adjusting and sadly dropping him from our presidential hopeful stack ranking. We'll also be replacing the featured video in the sidebar, which highlights the senator. This will definitely get done whenever I get around to it. Which should be Real Soon Now.

Introduction

As explained in earlier editions, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration in order to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the historical importance of the series. In this edition, as in all of the CODGOV series, we select volunteers and draftees from the blogosphere and main stream media on the singular topic of government divided between the major parties (leaving it to the reader to sort out volunteers from draftees). Consistent with this topic, the primary criteria for acceptance in the carnival is to use the words and/or concept of "divided government" in submitted posts. A criteria that, to our endless befuddlement, is ignored by many of the bloggers submitting posts, which sadly results in DWSUWF reluctantly ignoring their fine submissions. Without wasting any additional time, the top 10 divided government selections (and two interesting arguably off-topic time and space fillers).

Ten Divided Government Posts worthy of your time and effort.

Mark Silva quotes Robert Tuttle, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K, while writing "Lessons in Democracy: Part Three" at the Chicago Tribunes Washington blog The Swamp:
"Divided government, a situation in which one political party controls at least one chamber of Congress while the president is a representative of the other party, is common and something with which Americans are comfortable, Tuttle said, adding that since 1950 there have been more years with divided government than years without it. 'The record shows that during those years of divided government some of our more productive pieces of legislation were passed by the Congress and signed by the president,' Tuttle said."
It remains to be seen whether that "comfort" with divided government will survive the election in 2008, when the only way to maintain it will be to vote for a Republican for president.

Aahz
presents Applied Anarchy: Why Anarchists Should Vote For Ron Paul posted at Philaahzophy, saying:
"Few rational individuals (even amongst the anarchy lovin’ crowd) endorse the idea of instant removal of government... What we need to do is ease our way towards anarchy and the first step in doing that is slowing the growth of government... Keeping the executive and legislative branches in opposing hands slows government growth in some pretty obvious ways... Enter Ron Paul. As a Libertarian in Republican Clothing he’s the perfect vessel for change in Washington. If he can secure the Republican nomination the older “Republican Guard” will have no choice but to vote for him in order to keep the Democrats out of office. Meanwhile, his Libertarian views will siphon off a large percentage of the young people who traditionally vote Democrat, nearly ensuring victory. Of course, those Dems who do “cross over” to vote their principles will still be voting Democrat in the Senate and Congressional races, thus furthering the cause of gridlock. Add Paul’s reputation as “Dr. No” to the mix and we could very well see the fewest number of bills passed during any Presidential term in the last century. His Congressional colleagues call him “Dr. No” because he consistently votes no on any bill that will expand government."
Well I don't put myself in the anarchist camp, nor do I think that Ron Paul has a snowball's chance of getting elected, but we do know divided government works to limit the growth of Leviathan. To continue divided government in 2009 we will need a Republican President. Problem being, with Hagel out, I cannot get excited by any alternative other than Ron Paul, who is unelectable. So until the Republicans figure out who they are going to nominate, I'll just take Aahz's advice, and ride with Ron Paul for as long as he is in the race. Let's just see what happens.

David Larison reminds us of the importance of maintaining a divided government and the risks inherent in bipartisanship while critiquing a David Broder column in "Broderism Remains" posted at Eunomia:
"After four years of war in Iraq–a war approved on a bipartisan basis–we might reconsider the virtues of bipartisan collaboration and unity. If we had a more fierce opposition party, divided government might even at some point produce more sane policy decisions rather than mere stalemate. The last thing we need is more tame opposition to the majority, or more deference of the legislature to the executive. We have a government of divided powers and an adversarial party system, so we might as well try to use them for their proper purposes of checking power and preventing usurpation. "
Exactly so. This is the way our government was designed. As excess of unified partisan power across the executive and legislative branch undermines the checks and balances the founders intended.

Bro Robin picks up the same theme, quoting from The Future of Freedom Foundation in "Declaring & Waging War: The U.S. Constitution" posted at Faciumus!:
"Why did the Founders implement such a weak, divided government? One big reason: they clearly understood that historically the greatest threat to the freedom and well-being of a people comes not from foreign enemies but instead from their own government officials, even democratically elected ones. And they understood that that threat to the citizenry was always greatest during war."
Moving from the realm of the political to the economic, Andrew Perrault agrees with Clive Crook's conclusion in a National Review column, but takes issues with the form of his argument in "Starving the Beast Only Makes it Angrier" presented at Divided Intelligence saying:
"Crook then veers into kind of strange territory by wondering if GOP fiscal recklessness is a calculated attempt to take advantage of Democrats' prudence. Cut taxes now and force the opposition to cut spending--the ideal political strategy. He cites Clinton's tenure as an example of this phenomenon, but weirdly neglects to mention that Clinton presided over a sharply divided government. Frankly, the blessings of gridlock seem a lot more likely for the slowed government growth during that period than Democrats' naturally spendthrift natures."
For some additional scholarship on the "Starve the Beast" hypothesis, check out our post "Divided Government, Statistics and War" where we cover pro and con statistical arguments by economists William Niskanen and Mark Thomas.

In a presidential election year anything that New Hampshire voters think, is of vital interest. Geordie Wilson wonders "Is Clinton Asking too much?" at New Hampshire Vote:
"But in times of uncertainty, Americans seem to like divided government. Asking for the presidency is no small thing itself. Demanding a Democratic Congress, too, may just seem presumptuous."
He is responding to a Hillary Clinton interview, where the candidate suggests that America send her to the White House with a Democratic Congress. The problem with Geordie's formulation, is that The Democratic Congress is unavoidable in 2009. For any who truly seeks to maintain our happily divided government, the only practical way of assuring it, is to elect a Republican President in 2008.

Ryan P. Christiano contributing at Eric Dondero's Libertarian Republican blog, is also concerned about the 2008 election and makes the case why in his post "Libertarians and Republicans need each other going into 2008":
"It seemed to Americans, and analysts alike, that the American people were secure in the cradling arms of Republican governance for the foreseeable future. There was no divided government for the Republicans to be concerned about. They had the House, the Senate, and even The White House in 2000. Dawn has broken over a very different Republican Party. The gains achieved since the 1990’s were for all intensive purposes washed away by the Democrat Tsunami of 2006. I left the Republican Party when the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility began increasing the government’s scope and spending like the cliché “drunken sailor”. ...In a political climate such as the one we find ourselves in now, where approval ratings are remarkably low for both major parties, this would seem to be the opportunity that Libertarians should seize to raise the prominence of the nation’s third largest political party, and welcome a disheartened electorate... The Republican Party needs libertarians more now than ever, and perhaps libertarians need the Republican Party if they are ever to find a successful vehicle in which to advance their ideals. Republicans can no longer afford to take Independents for granted, nor dismiss libertarians and their strongly held beliefs. If both chambers of Congress are to be taken back by Republicans, they will need the full-fledged support of the libertarian movement within the Republican Party. Moreover, if the Republican Party wishes to hold the White House in the upcoming Presidential Election, it can do so only by nurturing and cultivating its alliance with libertarians."
I have been unkind in a past post about Eric Dondero, mostly because he richly deserved it. Nevertheless - simply because Ryan is posting at Eric's blog, does not detract from the merit of Ryan's ideas. Hey, even Eric Dondero has some good ideas. Ryan is certainly correct that the Republicans will need libertarians in 2008 in order to avoid complete disaster. He also has managed in this post to avoid Eric's particularly virulent "Republican Uber Alles" form of libertarianism, declaring himself an independent. I can only add that the argument for maintaining divided government, and avoiding single party Democratic control in 2009, may be the only meme that can keep libertarians in the Republican camp in 2008. No promises for 2010 though.

Bruce Bartlett's post on divided government electoral tactics while blog-sitting at Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish continued to stir up feedback since we noted it in the last CODGOV carnival. James Joyner responded to Bruce with the "Virtues of Divided Government" posted at Outside the Beltway:
"It’s true that gridlock has been the norm in recent decades, with Democrats usually controlling at least one House of Congress and Republicans usually winning the presidency. This, however, almost certainly reflects the vagaries of our electoral system rather than some conscious choice for divided government."
While certainly true, it does not have to stay that way. In fact, promoting the "Virtues of Divided Government" and raising the concept of voting for divided government to a conscious level may be the only thing that can prevent single party Democratic control with a supermajority in the Senate in 2008.

Stephen Heersink at The Gay Species also weighs in on the Bartlett post with "Divided Government: A Liberal's Strategy":
"I'm not advocating a Republican Congress with a Democratic Executive, but I would if Hilary or Richardson were elected or installed as executive, and certainly vice versa if any of the Republican clowns became an executive. Rather, I am advocating divided government. Divided Government is no longer just a fail safe, a "checkmate" against abusive power, but rather it has evolved into a political necessity, lest the hegemony of special interests and economic power brokers corrupt all political branches. We are no longer "governed," but "ruled." Diffuse the power of the ruling-class."
Amen, Amen, Amen.

Jon Basil Utley, a conservative writing at Antiwar.com, finds a justification for Republicans to support impeaching Dick Cheney in order to head off electoral disaster in 2008. From his column: "What to do with Cheney":
"As conservatives, even though we oppose the welfare-warfare-earmark Republican leadership, we want Republicans to remain viable. We will never again trust them with the Constitution, but a total Democratic sweep would also be threatening. Without limited government, our freedoms can only be safe with divided government. Impeaching Cheney could at least save the Republicans 41 seats in the Senate, and it might even help them regain control, thus thwarting a total Democratic sweep."
Ross Kaminsky writing at Human Events and blogging at Rossputin analyzes the consequences of a potential single party government in 2009 in "The Real Potential Cost of the Iraq War":
"The potential damage from a Democrat-controlled Congress is currently limited by a Republican president, even one who misplaced his veto pen for most of his career. Most Americans realize that, which is why we have divided government so frequently. But if out of frustration with the Iraq War the American people vote in a Democrat as our next president (and I assume the Democrats will retain control of both houses of Congress at least until 2010), it will turn out that the war will have cost us far more than we ever imagined it could."

Two marginally on-topic post.

Finally, although we generally keep our time and energy focused on specific divided government related posts, we traditionally include one off topic post as a grudging acknowledgment and symbolic proxy for the many off-topic time-wasting posts submitted. This month we instead offer two posts, while not squarely on-topic or directly using the words "divided government" nevertheless provide thoughtful commentary on divided government issues:

Doug Ragan presents Can We Do This BEFORE The Democrats Figure It Out? posted at I'm A Pundit Too, saying:
"Bipartisan stupidity. That is the best way to describe the past several years. I am absolutely convinced that our government is in a contest to see which party can become the most hated. Republicans lost control of Congress because they were incredibly stupid. Democrats took power, promising change, only to have Congressional approval ratings at an all time low."
AllAboutVoting presents Some proposed reforms to the problems of gerrymandering posted at All About Voting, saying:
"A number of my posts discuss the nature of how government is divided. Specifically they discuss how a bunch of (gerrymandered) single winner districts are used to select reps. The specific post I submitted discusses reforms to gerrymandering including the split line algorithm - on how to divide the populace that selects representatives in districts."
Interesting stuff.



Miscellany

With that we conclude this edition. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not). The next edition will be the Carnival of Divided Government Septimus Decimus- Special Halloween Edition, to be posted on or about October 31st, 2007. Blog articles may be submitted for the carnival of divided government using the carnival submission form. Past posts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

2 comments:

Queen of Dysfunction said...

I'm sorry to hear that you had to drop Chuck Hagel from your list of predictions. Perhaps a new crystal ball is in order?

Well I'm off to live vicariously through the political punditry of those you linked. Adieu!

mw said...

Yes it is disappointing. However, my crystal ball is intact. Permit me to direct your attention to the specific language of the prediction in question:

"Hagel would win the general election if he could win the the Republican nomination (We may never know)."

This prediction was contingent on Hagel winning the nomination. Since that is not going to happen, this prediction is not operative and does not count against my batting average. In fact, I could actually claim that this was a "Hit" - a accurate prediction - as we indded "will never know". But I won't go that far. Does not count as an "At Bat"

thanks for your concern, though.