Did Americans Vote for Divided Government?
A columnist in today’s New York Times recycles the idea that “the public strongly prefers divided government.”
Divided government means that different political parties control the major institutions of government. For the last two years, the Democratic Party has had “undivided” control of the presidency, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.* In January, Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives, so the government will officially be divided.
According to Jonathan Rauch, who is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, that’s how voters like it:
Consistently, when either party, never mind which, obtains total control, its popularity collapses and the voters take the first available opportunity to bring in the other side.
I suppose it depends on what he means by “the voters,” but that statement seems kind of silly.
Does any voter base her vote on a desire for divided government? To ask that question is to answer it.
Nobody says, “I like my representative, but there are too many Democrats in the House, so I’d better vote Republican.”
A lot of voters last week were just bitterly disappointed in the Democrats. Others were fooled or frightened by Republican campaign ads and Fox News (like there’s a difference). And a few people honestly believed that, for all their faults, the Republicans would do better for the country.
But nobody, regardless of party or ideology, based her vote on a desire for “divided government.”
That’s it for me, for today. Time to have dinner, then study. I hope that you have a great week!
* Republicans control the Supreme Court, but that’s not usually included in discussions of divided government.
Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.