Monday, September 18, 2006

Grand Premier: The Carnival of Divided Government

Welcome to the September 18, 2006 edition of the Carnival of Divided Government. We've had some interesting posts submitted, but also found interesting posts and articles about divided government that did not make their way to the submission form. We are flexing our editorial control to include both volunteers and draftees in this edition. It is left as an exercise for the reader to sort out which is which.

First, we'll warm up with some recent main stream media coverage of the meme.

Stephen Slivinski editorializes in "Draining the GOP hot tub: Divided government might be better for fiscal conservatives" at The Belleville News Democrat, saying:
"'s worth asking whether a loss of Congress by the GOP would be a bad thing for supporters of limited government. The answer is "No." Government grows slower when at least one house of Congress is controlled by a political party different than the president's - a condition known to political scientists as "divided government."
Kevin Combest interviews Ryan Sager in "Is the GOP's 'Big Tent' Getting Too Big?" at Human Events, asking Ryan: "Do you view our system of government as primarily a democracy or primarily a republic? How might this inform your views on wasteful government “earmarks” for individual states and districts?" Sager responds:
"Our Constitution establishes a Republican form of government. Though the advantages of such a system are overwhelming, and our founders were wise men, one side effect is that money gets wasted. Remarkably, less money seems to get wasted when we have divided government than when one party holds both the presidency and the Congress. The parties, in effect, serve as a check on each other. That’s something a lot of small-government voters are thinking of going into the midterms."
Joe Scarborough was interviewed on MSNBC about the problems with a single party Republican controlled government and Jamie Holly took note in her post: "Conservatives Revolting Against the Republican Controlled Congress" at Crooks and Liars , saying: "Scarborough is one of the many conservatives out there who are fed up with this Republican controlled government and fully realize a need for checks and balances within our government." Since C&L ripped the video from MSNBC, I don't think they'll mind that we ripped it from them, so you can see it there, or if YouTube ever finishes processing it, you can easily see it here:

As long as we are on the subject of msm and video, your host DWSUWF, humbly submits our own contribution to the carnival: Norm Ornstein with Chris Mathews playing "Divided Government on Hardball".

The biggest recent news about Divided Government came from the Washington Monthly articles "Time for us to go", with many bloggers from across the political spectrum joining the chorus to sing in harmony about the merits of divided government, usually concluding that divided government in '06 makes a lot of sense. Among them: The Volokh conspiracy, Crooks and Liars, Politburo Diktat, Brainrow, PHDiva, Contrary Brin, Q&O Blog, Stupid Evil Bastard, ChrisCam, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Tennessee Guerilla Women, Liberty and Justice, New Patriot, A Bird's Nest, Eclectics Anonymous, Illinois Review and ... well ... a lot more. Reading these posts give me a warm and fuzzy feeling, almost letting me dare to think that maybe, just maybe, this is a nascent but real honest to god political movement. Naaaah. Back to work.

Believe it or not, it was tough to find a blog that actually took issue with the conservative columnists in the Washington Monthly series. Eric Florack at BitsBlog was willing to rush in with "We Already Have Divided Government." where a more rational blogger may have feared to tread:
"We already have divided government. Not in terms of party loyalties, but in terms of ideology. Here again, we're talking not about party, but about ideas... The fact of the matter is that the Republican majority itself is divided with a goodly number of Republicans siding as a matter of routine, ideologically, with the Democrats... Well, here's a novel suggestion; Let's try something we haven't done before, whaddya say? Let's try giving the majority to real Republicans... people who vote like it. Barring that, let's get enough of Republican majority going, where the Republican party is not beholding so greatly to it's left wingers like Lincoln Chafee, John McCain and so on..."
The problem with Eric's argument is two-fold. First, the case made for divided government by Slavinski, Niskanen, Scarborough and other conservatives, is based on historical fact using a specific definition of Divided Government. To whit: Divided Government occurs when the PARTY of the President in the Oval Office, does not have majority PARTY control in both houses of congress. Eric finds this definition inconvenient, so he just makes up a new one. Sorry Eric. It just doesn't work that way. Second he posits a hypothesis to solve the problem he acknowledges exists with this government, suggesting we only elect ideologically pure Republicans to Congress. Ok, maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. It does not seem probable to me, but in any case - it is impossible to implement this in the 2006 mid-terms. While, on the other hand, it is very possible to get a divided government in the 2006 mid-terms, and the documented benefits of restrained growth in spending, better oversight, and better governance for the next two years. Seems like a pretty easy choice to me.

The only other arguments against divided government seemed to be of the nature "Can you imagine anything worse than having Nancy Pelosi as third in line for the presidency?" To which I can only reply that one of the things that I can think of that is worse, is the possibility of having Denny Hastert as third in line to the presidency. Oh wait. He is third in line for the presidency right now.

John Rozewicki presents Two-Party Systems Are No Party at Supreme Narcissism. Not directly on topic about Divided Government, but I decided it belonged here because I recognize the note of frustration with the current two party political state of affairs in Washington DC.

Finally, I conclude this Carnival of Divided Government with Phil B, of Phil for Humanity, who made 3 seperate contributions to the Carnival, none of which have anything to do with the topic of the carnival, but all of which are presented here, as a tribute to his admirable persistence:

Phil B. presents Phil for Humanity: Fixing the Green Party posted at Phil for Humanity.
Phil B.
presents Phil for Humanity: Obsoleting the Electoral College posted at Phil for Humanity.

Phil B.
presents Phil for Humanity: Stop Pork Barrel Politics posted at Phil for Humanity

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form. To be considered for the next carnival, please use the words "divided government" or "gridlock" in your post, since um... that is what this carnival is about. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

UPDATE: Tuesday September 19
While on the topic of carnivals, Brad at The Unrepentant Individual hosted the "Carnival of Liberty" today with an offer to "see the world through a bunch of cranky libertarians’ eyes..." Some excellent posts are to be found there, among which I was pleased to find DWSUWF represented with "All we are saying, is give divided government a chance". Brad rhetotically paired the post with RG Combs preview of Ryan Sager's book "The Elephant in the Room" in a post called "The GOP's Wrong Turn". His concluding remarks deserve some comment:
"Personally, I think a good portion of that turnaround isn't due to anything the GOP did -- it's disgruntled Republicans looking at and listening to the country's leading Democrats, and saying, "Whoa... are these folks for real?!?" -- and then swallowing real hard and deciding that the good-for-nothing, unprincipled Republican who they had no use for a few weeks ago may be tolerable after all. I can understand that. I hate that things are that way, but I can understand it. My best-case scenario for this November's election is that the Republican base is just pissed enough to badly scare and chasten the GOP, and maybe get some of them listening to people like Sager (or even Gingrich) -- but that we avoid having to live with Speaker Pelosi. [shudder]"
Not having spent enought time on his blog, I am not exactly sure where RG is coming from, but it appears that he would prefer to see a divided government result in the '06 midterms, but is resigned to libertarians, fiscal conservatives and limited government advocates throwing in the towel and voting for the Republican "devil they know". I have a couple of problems with his formulation. First, RG twice invokes the Speaker Pelosi "bogeyman" without mentioning the even more frightening alternative - two more years of Speaker Denny Hastert. Pelosi, with a narrow Dem majority would be constrained by a hostile Republican President and a probable Republican majority in the Senate. The last six years of the Delay/Hastert era leaves no doubt about exactly what we will see for the next two years with Denny "earmark" Hastert completely unconstrained by this big government, big spending President. We will see two more years of unconstrained growth of the state. We saw it for the last six, we'll see it continue unabated for the next two. Now that is something to "shudder" about.

Second, there is an argument to be made to those "disgruntled" conservatives. Voting tactically in 2006 for a Democratic majority in the House to obtain the objective of restraining the growth of spending is not the same as voting for Democratic policy or party. It is a tactical vote to obtain an objective that cannot be achieved any other way in 2006. It is a rational choice. A much better choice than just hoping for a "best case scenario" of a suddenly "chastened" crop of Republicans who have yet to wipe the slop off their collective faces after gorging at the public trough for the last six years. Other than that, it was a great post, RG.

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Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Just Vote Divided.

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