Just Vote Divided.

By mw | Related entries in Ideas


Over the last two and one half years I have consistently and frequently made the case for divided government on my blog and here on the Donk. On the eve of the midterm election in 2006, I wrote a post with the same title, summarizing the case for divided government and calling on voters to vote for Democratic senators and representatives to break the back of the disastrous One Party Rule under the Republicans. At the time, the election looked close but there was reason for optimism. The Foley scandal was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the electorate finally rejected six years of bad governance and rampant corruption.

Divided government is not a cure-all, but the fact is – our divided government state since 2007 has begun to reverse the damage of the 2001-2006 One Party Rule. Six years of abusive single party control is not going to be undone by 20 months of divided government. Yet, as a direct consequence of electing a divided government in 2006, we have a new Secretary of Defense, a new Attorney General, a marginal improvement in both the Patriot Act and FISA vs. the Bush/Cheney versions, a great deal more oversight revealing many of the abuses of the six years of single party control, a revised strategy in Iraq resulting in an improved security situation, and a reduction in the rate of spending growth in 2007. These improvements, though marginal, are not insignificant. It is the nature of divided government that improvements will be incremental and that is exactly what we have seen thus far.

The absurdity of handing all the levers of power to the Democrats as a cure for the abuses we saw as a result of handing all the levers of power to the Republican should be obvious on its face. Particularly when you consider the Democrats will have bigger majorities than the Republicans combined with a “Cheney enhanced” executive office and a partisan 97% toe-the-party-line Democratic voting record president in Obama. Quite possibly this will be the greatest concentration of power in one man and one party in the US federal government in the lifetime of anyone reading this blog. You gotta really have the partisan blinders on to believe that Democrats can be trusted with the “ring of power” just because they are Democrats.

So we face a similar decision in 2008 as we did on 2006, but I am not as optimistic about the outcome. The divided government swing vote is real but small. It can determine the outcome of an election if the election is close, as it was in 2006. Although the Democrats have already conclusively demonstrated that they have the potential to be every bit as corrupt as the Republicans and fully embrace big money corporate politics as aggressively as the K-Street Republicans, they have not yet had enough time or power to fulfill that corruption potential. Without any effective partisan oversight, we will certainly see Democratic Party corruption begin to fully flower by 2010.

There are positive signs. In this election cycle we have seen more stories, articles and posts on divided government than ever before. Consideration of divided government vs. one party rule is now part of the conscious voting decision for many voters. This is a solid foundation to build on for the 2010 midterms. But this year, the financial market crisis has swamped all other considerations, and what should have been a close election, is likely a rout. When voters are gripped by fear, whether it is fear of terrorism (2002), fear of gay marriage (Ohio in 2004), or fear of economic collapse (2008), few other considerations will come to the fore. That said, DWSUWF will nevertheless soldier on, and reprise the rationale to Just Vote Divided one last time…

(Well – for this election season – Thursday I’ll get started on 2010)

Continued at Divided We Stand United We Fall.


This entry was posted on Monday, November 3rd, 2008 and is filed under Ideas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

20 Responses to “Just Vote Divided.”

  1. bunny fufu Says:

    Not that I disagree with your points, but I find your reasoning a bit weird. If the divided government of the 20 months “has begun to reverse the damage of the 2001-2006 One Party Rule” then why would it be a bad thing to vote with the Democrats 97% of the time? Half that voting record would be within the last 20 months, right?

  2. Rob Says:

    It is going to take a complete repudiation of the GOP to get things back to normal

  3. George Mauer Says:

    Same response to this as to all your other posts mw, agree with your principles and your heuristic just not this time.

    As we’ve discussed here: http://donklephant.com/2008/10/17/meet-the-new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss/#comments and in a dozen other places it boils down to different priorities. I feel like it is important to make an example of those who have so decimated our reputation, raped our liberties, over-stretched our resources, discounted science, and catered to the lowest common denominator. I think this is incredibly necessary to provide a deterrent for future abusers. I take that plus the incredible seeming competency of Obama and the people he surrounds himself with and don’t look back. You on the other hand want to play the safer hand, that’s fair but as to who the country agrees with. One word:

    Scoreboard.

  4. Chris Says:

    I believe the republicans deserve to be assF**ked, figuratively, or literally, if as I suspect, most of them are into that sort of thing. I don’t think the democrats will have a magic number in congress, and I don’t think that they’ll do legislatively a superior job over the republicans. But politicians need to have at least some minor form of responsibility for the worst performance of any government in the history of this country. Hopefully they’ll have 2nd thoughts of raping america in every orifice if they know that at least 50% of americans are paying attention.

  5. Ian Says:

    You could argue that the divided government of the last two years has been more effective than single party government was for six years prior. You could also be missing the obvious point that the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have simply put a stop to Republican incompetence and corruption.

    This means your call for a divided government is a call for a government that is divided between the effective and honest part and the corrupt and incompetent part. Seems like a job only half completed. Why not just vote out all the Republicans?

  6. WhosDat Says:

    Here’s a list of the most unbiased articles of this election:

    http://blog.skewz.com/2008/11/top-7-most-unbiased-articles-of.html

  7. Jim S Says:

    The Supreme Court and the completely dishonest way that nominees are handled means that there is absolutely no way that McCain should become President. He has sworn that he will nominate more judges like the ones Bush nominated. Yes, it will be possible to sneak in a ringer past a Democratic Senate with fewer than 60 Democrats. Or at least McCain would use a lot of our Senate’s time trying to do so. That alone is a reason I just can’t buy the divided government argument. But after Bush I just don’t trust Republican presidents to place competence above ideology in any appointment to any agency.

  8. Dyre42 Says:

    Well OK MW, you talked me into it. I’ll do a write in vote for ÷

  9. gljunket Says:

    You’re not going to get any respect here, mw, from these so-called indie’s who are so anti-neocon they’re rushing headlong into the Age of Entitlement with the “change and hope” fantasy. They really need to re-think the name Donklephant. I love the rationalizations that Obama is a smart enough leader to put the damper on a filibuster-proof Pelosi/Reid crash to the Left. My sentiments are with your DWSUWF concept, but McCain/GOP don’t deserve my support, and with the train wreck imminent, I could only find a degree of solace for the moment in Libertarian Bob Barr.

  10. Donklephant » Blog Archive » Prognostications Says:

    [...] MW Hopesâ„¢ the ASC longshot scenario plays out, McCain wins, and we have divided government for the next four [...]

  11. Donklephant » Blog Archive » Prognostications Says:

    [...] MW Hopesâ„¢ the ASC longshot scenario plays out, McCain wins, and we have divided government for the next four [...]

  12. Alan Stewart Carl Says:

    mw — I voted for divided government, but I didn’t do so with consideration to the strategy DWSUWF has endorsed for this particular election.

    Given how inept the Dems were the last time they had total power, they not only couldn’t pass Clinton’s signature plan (health care) they lost both houses of congress the very next election. I hold out some faith that either the Dems will be smart enough not to overreach and doom themselves or they will overreach and, well, doom themselves.

    I actually think an Obama presidency and a Republican congress (comprised of new Republicans, not in the Tom Delay model) would make for a far more effective government than would McCain and the Democrats. Maybe I’m twisting my reasoning into a knot and look like an ass in the process, but what can I say? My cynicism is relapsing remitting.

  13. Dyre42 Says:

    gljunket: ” You’re not going to get any respect here, mw, from these so-called indie’s who are so anti-neocon they’re rushing headlong into the Age of Entitlement with the “change and hope” fantasy.”

    I think you’re wrong GL. First literally only a small percentage of people who read blogs leave comments. It seems that only the empassioned few leave comments.

    Secondly the name Donklephnat is till valid. Of the people that post here only Justin and Alan voted for Obama (possible exception of Fools) MW is voting for McCain and I assume Nick Ragone is as well. I myself voted for Bob Barr. So while the most frequent posters here did in fact vote for Obama it seems the majority of writers here didn’t (or there may be a tie). Either way when one considers the leanings of the contributors of this blog versus the number of of “pro-Obama” posts on this blog it breaks roughly even.

  14. Dyre42 Says:

    gljunket: ” You’re not going to get any respect here, mw, from these so-called indie’s who are so anti-neocon they’re rushing headlong into the Age of Entitlement with the “change and hope” fantasy.”

    I think you’re wrong GL. First literally only a small percentage of people who read blogs leave comments. It seems that only the impassioned few leave comments.

    Secondly the name Donklephnat is till valid. Of the people that post here only Justin and Alan voted for Obama (possible exception of Fools) MW is voting for McCain and I assume Nick Ragone is as well. I myself voted for Bob Barr. So while the most frequent posters here did in fact vote for Obama it seems the majority of writers here didn’t (or there may be a tie). Either way when one considers the leanings of the contributors of this blog versus the number of of “pro-Obama” posts on this blog it breaks roughly even.

  15. TerenceC Says:

    MW – Your still pedaling this crap? Vote for divided government even if it means having someone in office who is clearly not the right guy, and a running mate that is not only hard right but intellectually not up to the job? Your out of touch.

  16. mw Says:

    “If the divided government of the 20 months “has begun to reverse the damage of the 2001-2006 One Party Rule” then why would it be a bad thing to vote with the Democrats 97% of the time? – bunny

    It is always a good thing to have opposition representing a large percentage of the American population with a share of power in Washington. We need opposition to an imperial presidency like we had with Bush and will have again with Obama. We had meaningful opposition for the last two years. There will be no meaningful oppostion for the next two years.

    My point is not that Obama’s voting record was wrong for the last two years (although it certainly was on FISA when his campaign was bought off by ATT). My point is that there is absolutely not one shred of evidence in Obama’s voting record to show that he is the bipartisan “uniter” that he claims to be. His voting record and history in the US Senate is the record of a partisan hack – and in the State Senate the voting record of your run-of-the-mill Chicago machine pol. That is his voting record. It is wildly at variance with his rhetoric. He talks a good game though. And that is all that really matters isn’t it? Because when what a politician says does is at variance with with what a politician does, we should always go with what they say. It is easier that way.

  17. mw Says:

    @rob – Thanks for reinforcing my impressions of the intellectual capacity of the the kool-aid crowd. Partisans on the right (linked picture) – partisans on the left (you, Ian) – just peas in a pod.

    @george – It is just a question of how much damage gets done to the country in order to create that illusory “deterrence” you are hoping for. I cannot think of any example where a politician with a perceived mandate was deterred by anything except hardball political opposition. Which may not exist for Obama.

    @Jim S – To maintain this view, one must pretend that the projected large Democratic majority in the Senate does not exist and will have nothing to say about confirming a McCain appointment. It is a simplistic view that completely ignores John McCain’s moderate record in the Senate with judicial appointments of both parties. John McCain led the “Gang of 14″ bipartisan moderates in the Senate against George Bush,earning him the enmity of his own party to preserve the filibuster in the Senate for the minority Democratic party on judicial picks. He did so at the risk of his presidential ambitions, and for no other reason than because it was the right thing to do for the country. And – oh yeah – to force the GOP’s hand on more moderate judicial selections. One wonders where we will find such a strong voice for moderation in the Democratic Party that is willing to buck their own party establishment. I don’t see it anywhere. (from the linked part of my post – I have to take a few shortcuts in the comments)

    @gljunket – I also got no respect from RedState.com when I was pushing divided government in 2006 (they banned me). 80%+ of the electorate are pure partisans. Pushing a consistent divided government voting heuristic means that – by definition – I will be opposing 80% of the electorate over several election cycles. For me, disrespect from partisans is a badge of honor.

    dyre – I like it. Perhaps I should change my logo.

    TerrenceC – Yes I am. Actually, just getting started. I should have my first 2010 divided government post later this week.

  18. mw Says:

    “I hold out some faith that either the Dems will be smart enough not to overreach.. I actually think an Obama presidency and a Republican congress (comprised of new Republicans, not in the Tom Delay model) would make for a far more effective government than would McCain and the Democrats. – ASC

    I don’t disagree about the D president with a R Congress vs the opposite. You have to get pretty granular in the history of the divided government vs one party rule, perhaps drawing conclusions with insufficient data points to draw broad conclusions, but it does appear from the record that fiscal responsibility stack ranking are (from best to worst):

    1) President- D Congress- R
    2) President- R Congress- D
    3) President- R Congress- R
    4) President- D Congress- D

    The problem is the damage that can occur over the next two years if the Republicans lose the filibuster or are so cowed by the “mandate” that they fail to stand up and obstruct an Obama administration with an explicit agenda of a trillion dollars of new spending. I’ll stand on my statement, I cannot understand how any fiscal conservative, libertarian, or limited government advocate could vote to take that risk.

  19. TerenceC Says:

    So I guess now that the Primaries and the General are finished you’re just looking for something to write about – something with an opposition to rail against? Give undivided government a chance – there’s alot of things broken right now – great actions in the Congress have never been accomplished when compromise is the priority – only when necessity is.

  20. mw Says:

    @TerenceC
    I’ll have no problem finding things that need opposition. Almost every single thing in Obama’s infomercial is a good place to start. Of course you have to first strip away the flowery language and look at the real proposals. Nothing but massive new spending and absolutely no way to pay for it without a lot more taxes or a lot more debt or both.

    I think I’ll start a pool to predict the day that Obama gives the speech explaining that “due to circumstances beyond his control” he will have to renege on all his tax pledges. Cap gains are definitely going north of 25% with Rubin at Treasury. We have already learned that $250K is not the real Obama threshold for higher taxes on individuals and small business. Biden was talking $150K, and that is still is not going to be enough. Its going lower. Guaranteed.

    Interesting that Obama supporters who claimed that Obama should be elected because he was going to be a great transcendental bipartisan healer and unifier, are now saying that compromise is really not important. What is now important? – Do it our way. After all. It’s a mandate donchaknow?

    Yeah. That attitude, those policies, will need strong opposition. I just hope there is enough GOP backbone left in the Senate to stop it.

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