Mustafa Moiz & Mark Strong
#33 Divided We Govern (1991)
By: David R. Mayhew
Thesis: A phrase we sometimes hear when dealing with politics reads ???divided we fall???. Rarely on the American scene do we hear the words ???divided we stand???. David R. Mayhew holds that this is an inherently true statement and believes the key to the mystery can be found by looking at the big picture. According to Mayhew, bipartisan government may showcase a detrimental image from one presidency to the next, but in the grand scheme of the nation??™s history its effects are near minimal.
On a small scale, it appears to the confined temporal eye that a divided government works against itself. Mayhew quotes V.O. Key, Jr. ???division of party control precludes [energetic government]???. One theory claims that congressional oversight will run rampant in a House or Senate that runs contrary to the executive branch. This holds true for the Supreme Court as well, as shown best by the Republican court the Democratic FDR dealt with in the first six years of his presidency. This division also seems to restrain two facets of government which at times are necessary: ideological coherence and budgetary coherence. Mayhew also hypothesizes that foreign policy could suffer if division was present during times of crisis or otherwise. In these instances and countless others contradicting policy appears harmful, but does this stand true in the long run
In fact, the legislative record in the postwar era trends independently of divided party controls. Mayhew points to the ability of both the Johnson and Reagan administrations to pass efficient and coherent legislation, when these administrations operated under unified and divided control, respectively. Circumstances which would seem to suggest the contrary ??“ the counterproductive slew of Congressional hearings and micromanaging during the Nixon administration, for instance ??“ are refuted as products of extenuating circumstances (in this case the Watergate scandal, and a drastic rise in public mistrust of government officials). Mayhew does not pretend the absence of party division; rather, he suggests that it is not the cause of government inefficiency. He offers little alternative, though cites John E. Chubb??™s theory that perhaps ???it is worth considering whether the problem is the government itself and not the people or parties that run it.???
Gibbs: Obama Wants Filibuster Reformed Even If GOP Takes Over Congress
First Posted: 10-28-10 03:25 PM? ? ? ? ? Sam Stein HuffPost Reporting
WASHINGTON — President Obamas commitment to reforming the rules of the filibuster will endure even if Republicans end up taking control of Congress, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Thursday.
Diminishing or restricting the use of the filibuster (as it is currently conceived) would be a potentially major concession on behalf of the Democratic Party should they lose control of the Senate. The president could conceivably apply his filibuster to the legislative output of a Republican-led Congress. But the application of cloture rules would prevent some of those dramatic legislative/executive branch showdowns.
The prospect of being thrust back into the minority has given some of the more progressive filibuster reform advocates a bit of pause, as they reflect on their ability to slow down President George W. Bushs agenda during the middle years of his administration.
But a good chunk of reform advocates have also taken the long-road approach — recognizing that the founders never conceived of the legislative process being led by a minority of 40, and arguing the proficiency of government depends on institutional changes. The White House has been more philosophical than specific with its preferences. But Gibbs comments on Thursday are a firm indication that the president falls into the latter camp.
???I think it sort of drove most people to come here: whether the rules and the atmosphere of this place has largely corrupted some into believing that this is all about stopping you from doing this and me for doing that. Tell me… how we make progress on any single issue if this is the case
Mustafa Moiz & Mark Strong