Gridlock: A Natural Occurrence

It makes sense that there is gridlock in divided government, not only for the ideological polarization, but for pure party reasons. Neither party has the mandate, so instead of working together to forge policy (which generally does not coincide with single party rule either), parties have to create distinctions to inform voters. The voters then decide which party to support and hopefully return a mandate. This is valuable for the longevity of America’s two party system—if both parties are out of step with the electorate, they have good reason to wait for direction from the electorate, otherwise the whole system may be at risk. Divided government stems the output of legislation, allowing the public to decide if stability (as in gridlock) is better to live under, or a certain amount of uncertainty and progress (as in single party control) is preferable. Gridlock serves as the proverbial transitional pivot in American politics, allowing for a change of direction or a reaffirmation of prior policies.

Still, gridlock itself is a public problem requiring amelioration, especially since it has been occurring at a higher rate with each succeeding decade since the 1970s. America must use these stagnant periods with great expediency and decide which line of proposed policies (if any) work best. This is presupposing that divided government cannot produce adequete, or preferable, policies, which unfortunately seems to be the case as the parties become more ideologically homogenous and regional. As state and local interests congeal on one side of the partisan divide or another, instead of being represented within both, the likelihood of gridlock and unfavorable compromises increases.

If only congress was as unified as proximity might indicate.


Posted on October 14, 2011, in Elections, Party System, Political Theory and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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