Monday, November 02, 2020

Just Vote Dividist
- 2020 Closing Argument Edition -
The Chaos vs. Normalcy Election

Joe Biden and Divided Government
 Never Trump & Divided Government FTW 
Welcome to our eighth election eve "Just Vote Dividist" post. This blog started in 2006 to advocate a divided government voting heuristic. Every election eve since, the Dividist has published a Divided Government voting recommendation (see addendum below). This could be the last of this series as, thanks to COVID-19, our country's voting dynamic has changed dramatically and possibly permanently. As the Dividist writes this, somewhere close to 100 million votes have already been cast through mail-in ballots or early voting. This compares to approximately 130 million total votes cast in the 2016 presidential election. Which begs the question: What's the point of doing an election eve closing argument if 70% of the vote is already counted? And the answer is: The Dividist has no friggin' idea. So we'll do this out of tradition tonight and figure it out next time.
There are even more cries, lamentations, rending of garments and gnashing of teeth than usual this cycle. Partisans insist on characterizing this "most important election of our lifetime" as the Fascism vs. Socialism election.  Both partisan tribes are in rare agreement that if the other tribe wins it will be The End of Democracy In America.

Spoiler Alert: We won't fall into fascism or socialism no matter who wins. Moreover, our democracy will be fine regardless of the outcome. You're welcome.

Additional Spoiler Alert: In previous editions, we've teased the Dividist recommendation and buried our preference deep in the post. But everyone has already voted, so WTF? Here it is:

The Dividist Endorsement: Vote for Joe Biden and/or if you're a Republican who can't quite get there, vote #NeverTrump for a return to normalcy. Vote to retain a GOP Senate majority for the oversight and legislative restraint that only a divided government can provide.  Vote to protect the legislative filibuster, prevent expansion of the Supreme Court, and defend the Biden Administration's left flank from the moonbat fringe. 

In previous election eve editions we've painstakingly summarized and recycled our previous votes, general arguments, and voting heuristic for divided government. We'll include that material again, but in an addendum at the bottom of this post. Before getting to the rationale for the realistic 2020 divided government options and the Dividist endorsement, please indulge us as we review an elementary civics lesson that far too many Americans fail to 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 branch 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
While the President is not the leader of the government, he/she usually is considered the leader of a political party. In a unified one party government, the President may function as the unitary leader of the United States government if the president's party in Congress put partisan discipline and loyalty above their constitutional responsibilities. Which they usually do. 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 Congress, 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 four actual, realistic 2021-2022 United States Government choices, stack ranked by Dividist preference. We've made one simplifying assumption for 2020. There is no realistic possibility of the Democrats losing the House majority this cycle. One of the following four options will be elected to govern the United States for the next two years.

The Only Four Realistic 2020 United States Government Options

Democratic PresidentRepublican Senate, Democratic House

This is the Dividist's Endorsement / preferred outcome. Democratic President and at least one branch of Congress with GOP majority control.  Some analysts even suggest this configuration is best for the economy and stock market. Your mileage may vary. 

Democratic President, Democratic Senate, Democratic House
This is the first time in the 14 year history of this blog, the Dividist ranked any Unified One Party Rule Government ahead of any Divided Government scenario. The reasons are two-fold. 
First, given the recent polls, we do not believe Donald Trump can win this election. Yeah, we said that Trump could not win in 2016. This is not 2016. We are including two additional potential divided government outcomes where Trump wins, but don't believe either are likely. The realistic choice for voters selecting our 2021-2022 government is the choice of option 1 or 2. 
The second reason we are ignoring options 3 or 4 is - Because Trump. Never Trump means Never Trump and the Dividist has been a committed Never Trumper since 2015. If the Democrats also take the Senate, it's certain that Biden will not be able to resist the moonbat wing of his party, the Democrats will invoke the "nuclear option" to kill the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court, and wildly overreach on legislation. That would set up a probable loss of both Houses of Congress in 2022, and potentially the White House again in 2024. This is a better scenario than keeping Trump in the White House, but worse for the country, the Biden administration, and the long term prospects of the Democratic Party. 

Republican President, Democratic SenateDemocratic House.
Again, this list is a preference not a prediction. We don't think Donald Trump can win re-election. But should he win, we can only hope the Democrats take the Senate majority in order to provide additional divided government congressional oversight, further constrain his narcissistic corruption and authoritarian instincts. At minimum, in this scenario we will get a more dispositive and useful trial in the Senate for the inevitable second impeachment. This is a possible, but highly improbable outcome, as a Donald Trump win would indicate he had sufficient coattails for the Republicans to maintain a narrow Senate majority. Which brings us to....

Republican President, Republican Senate, Democratic House
Status Fucking Quo. Two more year of what we had the last two. This would represent the worst of all possible worlds except for Unified Republican One Party Rule Government. This status quo divided government is survivable, but it would be so much better if we just swap out the Executive Branch. We don't need to comment further on this scenario. If you liked the last two years you can vote for it again.
Finally, even though we're not including it as plausible outcome of this election cycle, we'll leave on a few words on the worst conceivable outcome - a Unified One Party Republican Rule. Fortunately, there is no likelihood of that happening. Per "The O'Neill Exception",  the House has never flipped against a divided government (as we have now) in the modern era. It last happened in 1948 when the electorate thought that Dewey would defeat Truman. Nancy Pelosi will be the Speaker for the next two years. 
Donald Trump is the biggest of big spending, big government, big deficit Republicans. We're already on the road to fiscal insolvency under his administration. Another lapdog Congress in a One Party Republican Rule unified government would be the final nail in the coffin. Been there. Done that.  

Cross-posted on Medium 



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."
If you agree with those policy objectives, then you should vote for divided government. If you disagree with those policy objectives, then vote for the partisan policies you prefer.

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

How the Dividist voted in...
Which brings us to Election Eve 2020. The House is a lock for the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi. Vote for Joe Biden and/or #NeverTrump for a return to normalcy. Vote to retain a GOP Senate majority for the oversight and moderation only a divided government can provide. Choose wisely. 

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