Monday, November 05, 2018

Just Vote Dividist - 2018 Closing Argument Edition

Welcome to the seventh election eve "Just Vote Dividist" post. This blog was started in 2006 to advocate a divided government voting heuristic. Every election cycle since we've posted a closing argument how and why to vote for divided government.  

In this post you'll find our recommendations for the 2018 midterms. It doesn't take a lot of analysis. President Donald Trump in only half way through his term. Dividing this government requires Democrats winning the majority in either one or both legislative branches. The 2018 Divided Government vote is for a straight Democratic ticket.

In previous election eve editions we've painstakingly summarized and recycled our previous votes and general arguments for divided government. We'll include that in an addendum at the bottom of this post, and get right to the meat of why and how you should vote for divided government.

First an elementary civics lesson that far too many Americans fail to fully appreciate.

The President of the United States is not the government of the United States. 
The President of the United States is not even necessarily the leader of the government of the United States. The executive is one of three co-equal branches of government. The actual government of the United States is led by the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader representing their respective democratic institutions in concert with the President of the United States. The personalities, interpersonal relationships, communication skills, ideological motivation, partisan loyalties, personal ambitions, institutional obligations and dynamic interactions between those three leaders determine the domestic policy and international posture that governs the United States.

Co-Equal Means Co-Equal
The President is not the leader of the government but is the leader of a political party. In a unified one party government, the President may function as the leader of of the United States government if the president's party in Congress put partisan discipline and loyalty above their constitutional responsibilities. When we have a divided government, leadership of the United States government is just as likely to reside in the Congress as it is in the Executive branch.

Did I Mention The POTUS Is Not The Government Of The United States?
This is not to minimize the role of the President. The President is the putative "Leader of the Free World" and "Commander in Chief" of the most powerful military in the history of the world. The "Unitary Executive" has extraordinary, almost monarchical latitude over United States foreign policy. However, United States domestic policy is forged primarily in the House of Representatives, by design.

In Divided Government - The Speaker of the House Calls the Domestic Shots
The "People's House" - the most democratic of our government branches, is where the Framer's intended and expected domestic policy to be created and shaped. This is why the House is the first branch codified in the first article of the Constitution. This is why the Speaker of the House is second only to the Vice President in succession to the Presidency. The Senate - representing the semi-sovereign state governments - was intended by the framers to be a moderating influence over both the majoritarian domestic policies of the House and the foreign polices of the President.

A Co-equal Triumvirate Governs The United States.
This structure is unique. This structure is exactly what the framers intended. This structure is what makes our system exceptional. The point is this - given that this power sharing triad is the essence of our elected government, perhaps we - as voters - should focus less on the singular office of the President and  more on the combination of leaders that will run our government.

With that in mind, we are pleased to present the three actual, realistic 2019 - 2020 United States Government choices you will be voting for Tuesday November 6. To simplify, we've eliminate the inprobable Democratic Senate, Republican House possibility. If there is a big enough Blue Wave to overcome the monumental Democratic map disadvantage in the Senate, the House will have to fall with it. One of the following three options will be elected on Tuesday to govern the United States for the next two years. Stack ranked by Dividist preference from worst to best.

The Only 3 Realistic U.S. Government Outcomes in the 2018 Midterms

Republican President, Republican Senate, Republican House

In 2016 I said this outcome was the worst of all possible worlds. I was wrong. If the Republicans run the table in 2018 it gets even worse in 2019. 
No, I don't know if Representative Jim Jordan will be the new Speaker of the House should the GOP retain the House majority. I do know that he announced his intention to replace the retiring Paul Ryan. I do know he would be President Trump's first choice to run The People's Donald's House. 
If the GOP retain the House majority President Trump will be be emboldened, Trumpism will be validated, any residual constraints on his megalomaniacal authoritarian instincts will be cast aside,  and the Republican Party as we knew it will be no more. Conservatives, moderates and centrists will have to find a champion and a new party to represent their interests in 2020.
Republican PresidentDemocratic SenateDemocratic House

Either of the two possible divided government outcomes is far preferable to the status quo, but the Dividist must choose between them.  Doe the Dividist really care if the Democrats only take the House vs taking complete control of Congress in 2018? Not really, but there are advantages. Trumpism would be completely discredited if both the House and Senate fall. Trump would probably be primaried and the Trump Cult likely expelled from the Republican Party by 2020. 
But if the Democrats control Congress, and Trump runs for a second term on the GOP ticket, then the Dividist would face the unpalatable choice of either voting for Donald Trump or a Unified One Party Democratic government in 2020. The Dividist doesn't want to think about that now.
Republican PresidentRepublican Senate, Democratic House

The pollsters, analysts, and betting markets tell us this is the most likely scenario to emerge from the election. I like it. Speaker Pelosi goes out on top. Two professional legislative pols will be forced  to compromise and craft compromise legislation that will make the fringe of both parties unhappy. Some semblance of fiscal sanity will be restored. The markets will boom (well, at least for another year). We'll have real oversight of the Executive Branch, with House Impeachment hearings to entertain us.  And with Congress already divided, Americans will have a free hand choosing our next billionaire celebrity President

These are your choices America. 
Choose wisely.



Why You Should Vote For Divided Government
We advocate voting for divided government because scholarship from historians, economists, and political scientists have documented predictable policy outcomes that occur during periods of divided government as compared to periods of unified partisan government. We find those policy outcomes to be consistent with objectives we support. To whit:
"Federal government should be limited in scope, provide for common defense, protect and respect individual rights, spend and tax in a fiscally responsible manner, resist military adventurism, provide strong and effective oversight of elected and appointed representatives, legislate carefully and slowly, and pass only laws that are tempered in the fire of partisan debate."
Dividists vote for these policy objectives. Our proposition is simple. You cannot reliably expect these policy objectives to be met with a Unified One Party Rule Government of either major political party. However, you can expect these policy objectives to be met more consistently when we have a divided government. 

If you agree with those policy objectives, then you should vote for divided government. If you disagree with those policy objectives, then vote for whatever partisan policies blow your skirt up.

Elsewhere on this blog we outline elements of this proposition in detail, including:
In each federal election we recommend the simplest vote to maintain a divided government state.

How We've Voted

In 2006 we advocated a straight ticket Democratic vote to break the four year stranglehold of One Party Republican Rule. 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 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 Dividists voted for the reelection of President Obama. Not because we thought he was a good president. Just because there was no realistic chance for Democrats to retake the House, and there was a small but realistic chance that Romney could win with sufficient coattails to take the Seante and restore One Party Republican Rule. In 2014 the divided government vote was again for a straight ticket Republican vote and the electorate delivered in a big way. A Republican wave flipped 9 contested Senate seats and gave the GOP both control of the Senate and their biggest majority in the House of Representatives since World War II. Then 2016 happenedThe House was a lock for the GOPThe Senate majority was a coin-flipHillary Clinton was the least worst choice for President of the United States and all we had to do was elect her to keep the government happily divided for another 4 years. Whatever. Let's not screw it up this time. 

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