News / USA

Analysts Say Partisan Bickering Could Be Good for US

Michael Bowman

Poll after poll shows Americans disgusted by partisan paralysis. It is what is often referred to as "Washington gridlock". Yet some political scientists argue, as frustrating as congressional inaction may be, it shows that the system envisioned by America’s founding fathers in the 1700s is alive and well.

Compromise is what most Americans expect their elected officials to do.

“Compromise is not a nasty word. It is how we get things done,” one person who stopped to answer VOA's questions said.

“I would rather see compromise to the better interest of people that are struggling,” another bystander added.

Americans demand bipartisanship, yet they are voting fewer moderates and more hardline ideologues into Congress, resulting in a more polarized legislature. While berating congressional inaction, voters often opt for divided government. The last president to enjoy a Congress of the same party for the duration of his tenure was Jimmy Carter in the 1970s.

For bills to become law, they must pass both houses of Congress. Senate passage usually requires three-fifths backing, giving the minority party a virtual veto.

Is all of this a problem? Not according to conservatives, who point out the framers of the U.S. Constitution wanted limited government. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says Americans should “learn to love the gridlock”.

“They talk about a dysfunctional government because there is disagreement. And the framers [of the Constitution] would have said, ‘Yes, that is exactly the way we set it up!’ We wanted this to be power contradicting power,” Scalia said.

Others argue there is a difference between limited government and paralyzed, ineffective governance.

“There are great dangers when people view their government as incapable of meeting the challenges of the time," noted historian Allan Lichtman. "The first danger is obviously that people lose faith in their government - that the best people will not want to go into government. Another consequence of having gridlock, of course, is you tend to skirt the most serious problems facing the country.”

The U.S. government was designed to block any one political force from exerting its will unchecked. So consensus and compromise are required to enact laws - precisely what most Americans demand. Are politicians listening? Maybe, says Frank Newport, with the polling firm Gallup.

“Now you have a lot of congressmen in Washington saying ‘You know, nobody likes us. We are less well-liked than car salesmen’. And, hopefully, they will ask themselves why, and they will read the data showing that Americans want compromise,” Newport said.

Members of Congress certainly speak of bipartisanship.

“It is time to continue to work together, find common ground, to do what the American people expect of us,” said House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner.

“Democrats, Republicans, independents - all have said one thing to us. They want us to work together,” noted former House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Compromise, however, is often most challenging in an election year, like this one.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid