Legislative gridlock creates problems because events that logically should be avoided hit the precipice before a deal is worked out to prevent a catastrophe. The media portrays the cause of this state of affairsÂ as due to partisanshipÂ orÂ incompetence, which while eitherÂ may be true, what makes me more nervous are politicians claiming a mandate. Winning an election by less than a majority or even somewhat more than half does not a mandate make. No one opposing you also does not give you a mandate. Win 66% or more? OK, twice as many people like your ideas than all other candidates combined. They have given you a mandate.
Even worse is a whole party assuming control of the House, Senate, and President of the United States. Yes, they can push through legislation that solves the party agenda, but this stuff ends up riddled with problems. Handouts to keep blackmailers in line. Unforeseen consequences. Bills written in secret and only unveiled where few have the needed time to read it much less comprehend every nuance. The opponents may actually have legitimate points which get ignored because they are on the wrong side.
Learning from their opponents is something this country needs more of its politicians.Â A quote I liked from The Virtues of Political Disagreement:
… It remains true that very different perspectives and ideologies, pursuing their own agendas, have often provided fundamental insights for their rivals. A striking example is the way social democrats supporting a secular welfare state have learned from both free-market economists and from religious organizations how to improve the delivery of social services. Similarly, feminist insights have helped conservatives rethink their views of the family.
Of course, the Affordable Care Act represents something of this. The model for it was a Republican idea as an alternative to Clinton’s health care reform plans. A Republican governor and Democrat legislature implemented that modelÂ in Massachusetts. The final bill was riddled with other things on top. Some of them are still being fought out or implemented. The more rabid of the Democrats hate this bill because it is not Single Payer, what Clinton hoped to pass. That creates a weird dynamic where Republicans and Democrats agree.