Divided Government Again

Well, I wanted it to happen, and it did. We have divided government. The good news is that the Republicans lost some ground, the bad news is that the Democrats won. Of course, the second had to happen if the first did.

What annoys me as an independent voter is hearing Democratic strategists claiming that independent voters “turned to them” and talking about the kind of mandate they get from that. There is only one real mandate–that is that you got elected.

But the only reason I voted for some some Democrats was to have you watch the Republican administration. In general, I scatter my votes between the parties based on my evaluation of individual candidates. This time, however, I hoped for divided government because I think the Republicans have been behaving arrogantly. Weak reactions to scandals such as Foley’s behavior is an indication that a party is getting too accustomed to power and doesn’t believe that they have to police their own behavior very carefully. When that comes at a time when their poll numbers are dropping and their approval rate is abysmal, it must be read, I believe, as an indication of contempt for the voters.

The Democrats need to be careful now about selecting leadership from their left wing as the Republicans have been doing so from their right wing. Both parties need to be ready to compromise as necessary in order to accomplish something. Remember, the big one comes up in just another two years. Neither party should think they can count on independent voters.

I am somewhat surprised by how little the Democrats did with the opportunities provided. With the dismal approval ratings of the Bush administration, I would think that they would have done better. I suspect that many voters felt as I did. The Republicans needed to be watched, but the alternative was not to be trusted either.

Personally, I would love to see a viable third party emerge that would combine a strong pro-free enterprise stand on economic issues with a strong pro-civil rights stand and a moderate view on many of the moral issues. I think there are a number of folks involved in government today who might do well in such a party, but their voice is drowned out by the more partisan voices of their parties. Three party government would be an excellent form of divided government as it would force more compromises between congressional leaders on the agenda.

One note on intelligent design, one of my other interests. Ed Brayton has posted some good news in the ID results. I also think that the passage of amendments restricting the use of eminent domain to seize private property which is ultimately passed to a private developer is definitely good news. The initiative passed here in Florida.

In the meantime, whatever happens to the Senate, I’m fairly happy with the results.

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  1. Laura says:

    We passed an eminent domain amendment, so I’m delighted about that.

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, honest! And I too would welcome a third party, although I suspect my idea of a third party has little in common with yours. 🙂 But I’m curious to know your reaction to some really under-reported Dem scandals. Don’t you find it arrogant that William Jefferson (from the next parish over from me) is still in office, and even running for re-election? He actually made the runoff, which just disgusts me. And then there’s Harry Reid and his real estate shenanigans. The media has chosen not to pound us with those stories like they do Repub scandals, but they’re still out there, and I certainly think it’s fair to call Dem leadership reaction to them “weak.”

  2. C’mon Laura! How could I possible construe that as picking a fight? Even if I disagreed with you on it, I’d think it was a valid question. It happens that I agree. I think both parties tend to downplay their own scandals and overplay those of the other side.

    I need to be more careful about when I’m talking political strategy vs. moral right/wrong as well. I think morally Republicans should have moved more quickly against Foley, but it would have been strategically a good idea as well. If the scandal had broken earlier in the campaign it would have had less effect.

    Jefferson’s situation is a good example of a Democratic scandal. That’s why I failed to express joy at Democratic victories.

    I would like to see voters become more sensitive and more discriminating about these things. The Foley scandal, for example, should have impacted Foley himself and those in leadership who failed to react properly. That someone like Jefferson gets re-elected seems to me to be an indictment of the voters involved.

  3. And I too would welcome a third party, although I suspect my idea of a third party has little in common with yours.

    You know, it would be interesting to compare issue by issue. I know we disagree on the Iraq war, and I’m certain there are quite a number of other issues, but it would be interesting to know.

    Perhaps I’ll post a series of issue pieces as we head into the 2008 presidential election.

  4. Laura says:

    Actually, as I wrote it, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t coming across as antagonistic and “your scandals are worse than MY scandals” because I don’t feel that way – but you know how hard it is to perceive “tone” in someone’s writing.

    The thing about Jefferson really frosts me – but not my district so I couldn’t vote against him. 🙁

    I guess I’m being really touchy about discussing politics at the moment because emotions are running fairly high with some folks – you should *hear* the lecture my Kos Kid brother gave my daughter!! Blistering…. Your series idea sounds interesting. An idea – I would really enjoy that kind of debate with you because I think neither one of us would take the ad hominem route. Maybe we could work on a series together? Debating, philophronos style! Just a thought, if you’re interested let me know.

  5. DavidD says:

    You can see if the Unity08 site interests you, http://www.unity08.com

    Isn’t that free enterprise/civil rights/moral politics you look for to be found among the Democrats? What position do you want that isn’t there? Of course both parties believe in the free market. It’s just how much regulation should accompany the free market to make it ideal. I think there are pragmatists in both parties about that. Both parties are for civil rights, except on the margins.

    I don’t know if most people are like me. I’m a Democrat because I can’t be a Republican. There are a number of issues where most Republicans are very far from me, such as on immigration. Still I see a lot of overlap. Otherwise Schwarzenegger never could be governor of California and there wouldn’t be any pro-life Democrats, which there are.

    I’m not sure who independents are that they can’t embrace either party, but I don’t see that it’s because the parties have left some place in the political spectrum without a party, even both parties.

  6. Laura says:

    Actually I have a good deal more in common with the Constitution Party than the Republicans or the Democrats, but they have no chance of winning at this time so I “caucus” with the Repubs, so to speak. I’m just amazed that you associate Democrats with free enterprise. And their position on abortion is a real deal-breaker for me, as are several other issues, but I won’t harangue you with them here. 🙂

  7. Laura says:

    As for Unity08 – interesting idea, but the website doesn’t stake out positions on what they describe as crucial issues: Global terrorism, our national debt, our dependence on foreign oil, the emergence of India and China as strategic competitors and/or allies, nuclear proliferation, global climate change, the corruption of Washington

  8. An idea – I would really enjoy that kind of debate with you because I think neither one of us would take the ad hominem route. Maybe we could work on a series together? Debating, philophronos style! Just a thought, if you

  9. I’m quite interested in the Unity08 site. It will be interesting to see how well they implement it. As is usual in politics it tends to sound better when we talk generalities than when we talk specifics, but I’m not a one-issue person on any single issue, so a big tent in the middle of the spectrum sounds like an excellent idea.


  10. One small note . . . seeing something about your theology suggests we may agree more on theology than on politics. That could be a good foundation for discussing the political issues. I’ve been called a “liberal charismatic,” though I prefer “passionate moderate.” Nonetheless, the “charismatic” part of that is applicable.

  11. DavidD says:

    Apparently there are different ways to use the term “free market”. I think someone can understand the vitality of a free market and still vote for farm subsidies, for whatever reason, energy incentives, to grease the skids for an inevitable transition, or regulations not for business but for individual benefit, like health and safety or environmental regulations. An extreme libertarian position is that all of the latter is wrong, that the market will take care of everything better than politicians will, but that’s too simplistic. A community needs more than traffic laws to be at its best.

    A free market is one driven by consumer choice. It is still free in that sense no matter how much the freedom is balanced by regulation to try to make it work the best for everyone, including the future. What makes the best balance hasn’t been subject to controlled experiments that much, nor will it be, but responsible people can still do their best to guess at what is best for everyone. I do think such people can be found in large numbers in both parties. There are no Communists among Democrats. There are no Fascists among Republicans.

    Anyone is free to disagree. It’s a free country, even if I am constrained by various laws. Politicians are probably never completely free to vote solely in the community’s interest. They have to get re-elected. The pressures to raise money for that might be much worse without the political parties. It’s not for nothing that there have been parties as long as there has been the US.

    If someone would prefer to test the idea of having no political parties and having nothing limiting the free market in any way, I understand not finding contentment for that in either of the two parties. Even cities where I’ve lived where the city council was supposed to be nonpartisan, it wasn’t truly nonpartisan. At least most of us can make our own house the way we want, free or authoritarian. Then again we have to compromise with reality there, too.

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