A House Divided

Abraham Lincoln on his nomination to the Senate speaking on the topic of slavery said:  “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”  As our country is on the edge of a “financial cliff” those words seem so relevant today. Since we live in a two-party government system, people say that they like Divided Government because they feel like both parties are being represented. They like the oversight that the two parties bring. However, there has been a little too much oversight, leading to the “Do Nothing Congress”. When two branches can’t get work done, people tend to vote for the same party in the Oval Office and in Congress. But since most of the population is uninformed, people don’t realize that voting for two different parties often cancels the other one out. Although we have had this lack of movement from Congress, people again voted for a divided government this election.  People are saying that they don’t like Congress but they do like their Congressperson. President Obama was given Divided Government from the voters for the first two years of his last term. The Senate remains with Democrats in control, and the House remains with Republicans in the majority. With the “Financial Cliff” needing bipartisan agreement on several important issues, this will require a great deal of compromise. Therefore, the re-election of President Obama was not a total loss for the Republicans, nor a total gain for the Democrats. This is just going to create more issues for both parties. That said, does this raise the question of whether Americans should vote for one single party to rule, instead of voting for the individual person?

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Since both parties basically have equal control of the government, what was even the point of the election? The same situation stands in Washington that stood before. When President Obama had an undivided government, he was able to pass many liberal acts that may not have otherwise past under a divided government, such as the Lily Ledbetter act and the Affordable Healthcare Act. David Jackson from USA Today raises this point in his article.

 http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2012/11/07/obama-mcconnell-divided-congress-election-2012/1689251

In Jackson’s article, he refers to how the parties have to deal with issues such as reducing the federal debt and heading off potential budget cuts. However, Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on these same issues for ages, Democrats want to cut taxes on the poor and raise them for the wealthy, while Republicans want to do the opposite in hopes of increasing the economy. This isn’t going to change. In Obama’s acceptance speech, he talks about how he’s going to work with Republicans to make decisions and be open to sacrificing some of what he desires to get done. But how logical is this idea? If nothing got done the last two years, it’s hard to imagine things will get done now under the same type of government.

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As our Founders stated, we desire to live in a real democracy at some point. This means that everyone’s opinions get to be shared and everyone has an equal point of view. However, if the two parties cannot agree on issues, then it will be exceptionally hard for anyone’s opinions to be placed and for anything to get done for the American people. How would electing a party into government versus individuals change the game up? Would it make things better, or worse? Is this falling in line with American’s idea of Democracy? One thing that gives us hope is that when there is a crisis, people tend to step up and make change.  Just this weekend, we heard from Republican leaders in Congress such as Lindsey Graham saying that they would be willing to put everything on the table, even those  Norquist pledges that they previously signed not to raise taxes.   Pres. Lincoln believed  government couldn’t “endure, permanently, half slave and half free.”  We can’t endure a government with 98% struggling and 2% wealthy.   This divided government must put aside its differences and compromise to help the middle class endure. 

-Lauren Harris

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About rowlanda12

This is a blog about the 2012 presidential election. Content is generated by students in Professor Heldman's Politics 101 class. She does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here.
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