As we move into the campaign homestretch, Republicans and their talk radio friends are doing everything they can to browbeat every last right-leaning voter into pulling the Republican lever one more time. Failure to do so, they tell us over and over again, will bring untold misery -- higher taxes, terrorist attacks, gay marriage, cloning or whatever else gets the yahoos to the polls.
Well, this is one Republican who has never voted for a Democrat in his life who will do so this year for the first time. I will cast my inaugural Democratic vote in the sincere belief that continued Republican control of both houses of Congress and the White House is not in the national interest and is harmful to the conservative agenda I have worked all my life to implement.
It is critical to remember that the Founding Fathers explicitly rejected a parliamentary form of government. In such systems, the prime minister is elected by the legislature. Therefore, the head of government will necessarily always have a majority in the legislature.
The Founding Fathers thought such a system would make it too easy for undesirable legislation with merely transitory popularity to become law. Conversely, it would be too easy to change existing laws when party control reversed. Instead, they favored a system in which it was hard to pass legislation, thus preventing the enactment of bad laws and giving policy changes more permanence.
This would be accomplished, the Founding Fathers thought, by having the president and the legislature elected by very different methods and various other devices, such as staggering terms for senators. They knew that by doing so there was not only the possibility but the likelihood that Congress and the White House would be under the control of different parties much of the time.
The postwar era is a good example. We've had unified government -- one-party control of the executive and legislative branches -- in 26 years and divided government, where one party was in a position to check the other, in 35 years. Most often, this involved a Democratic Congress and a Republican president. But we also saw a Republican Congress and a Democratic president from 1994 to 2000.
I think the American people like divided government. They don't trust either party to run the whole show and believe deeply in the separation of powers that the Founding Fathers established in the Constitution. To most people, dividing government by political party is just another way of separating power.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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