Welcome to our fifth election eve "Just Vote Divided" post since starting this blog in 2006.
In 2006 we advocated a straight ticket Democratic vote to break the four year stranglehold of One Party Republican Rule on the federal government. In 2008 we advocated a vote for John McCain to avoid a return to the fiscal irresponsibility, inadequate oversight, and bad legislation endemic to One Party Rule in Washington D.C. In 2010, we argued for a straight ticket Republican vote to restore divided government and begin to undo the damage from One Party Democratic Rule of the prior two years. In 2012 the Dividist voted early and for the reelection of President Obama. Not because we thought he was a good president. Just because there was no chance of the Democrats retaking the House, and there was a small but realistic chance that Romney could win with sufficient coattails to restore One Party Republican Rule.
The rationale, supporting scholarship, and core arguments for divided government have not changed. Each election cycle presents unique problems facing the country and more evidence of how the moderating influence of divided government is the right mechanism for our government to address those problems. Neither party can be trusted with all the keys to the castle. Not ever. Not under any circumstances. No matter how much you want to fetishize "getting things done". If our elected leaders cannot find and agree to a compromise policy that satisfies (or dissatisfies) our major factions/parties equitably, we are simply better off with less "getting done". There are worse things than gridlock and a "do-nothing" congress. One worse thing is efficient and productive One Party Democratic Rule. Another worse thing is efficient and productive One Party Republican Rule.
Which brings us to the 2014 midterms.
Partisans and critics of the divided government voting heuristic will often attempt to obfuscate the question of how to vote for divided government by claiming voting decision complexity that simply does not exist. A modicum of common sense is all that is needed to determine what vote is indicated if the objective is to ensure the outcome is a federal government with shared power divided between the two major parties.
In the 2014 midterms, there is no risk of One Party Republican Rule as Barack Obama will continue to be President of the United States regardless of the election outcome. Therefore the simplest, most straightforward divided government vote in 2014 is a straight ticket Republican vote for Representative and Senator. That is our recommended divided government vote and how the Dividist will be voting.
Can we make it more complicated? Why yes, yes we can. We can get more granular. In the 2014 election there is a vanishingly small, virtually zero probability of the Republicans losing majority control of the House of Representatives. It wasn't always that way. It was only a year ago, on the heels of the government shutdown (and prior to the Obamacare clusterf*ck), many Democrats were talking about throwing the Republicans out of the House and restoring One Party Democratic Rule this cycle. Yeah... that's just not going to happen.
So, as it turns out this election eve, divided government is a lock for the next two years at the federal level. The real choice this midterm is between what flavor of divided government we want. Some analysts make the case that best kind of divided government is with a Democratic President and a unified Republican Congress. This was exactly the configuration many of us remember as the Golden Age of Divided Government - Democrat Bill Clinton in the White House, Republican Bob Dole Majority Leader of the Senate, and Republican Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. Balanced budgets, welfare reform, NAFTA, limited military adventures were the result. Ah, the good old days.
The 2016 election is another reason to prefer a majority Republican Senate outcome in 2014. In 2016 Democrats will enjoy many of the structural advantages that favor Republicans in 2014. There is a high probability that a Republican majority in the Senate will not last beyond the 2016 election. If we go into that election with Republicans in majority control of both legislative branches, it makes the divided government vote easy to determine. There will be a greater risk of Single Party Republican Rule, so the 2016 dividist vote will be for the Democratic candidate for president. A strong Republican presidential candidate could have the coattails to retain the Senate and usher in another era of One Party Republican rule. Even with a strong Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, the Republicans will be likely to retain the House and we get divided government for another 2 to 4 years. QED.
Of course, a lot can change between now and then. But the odds are this is exactly how it will play out in 2016 if the Republicans take the Senate in 2014. And yes, under those circumstances, the Dividist will gladly support and vote for Hillary Clinton for her third term as President.
That said, the Dividist will not quibble with any like minded independent dividist who prefer the current flavor of divided government - a Republican House and Democratic Senate. Similarly, for those dividists with a libertarian preference - voting for libertarian spoilers in Georgia and North Carolina is a perfectly reasonable decision given the inevitable divided government outcome of this election. Go with your heart, just keep it divided.
Churchill is quoted as saying "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." I submit that divided government is the worst form of democracy, except for all the others. Divided government is not a panacea. It is just demonstrably and unequivocally better than one party rule. If you want things to get better... or at least not get worse... Just vote divided.