Argument: One-party rule is no more productive than divided government

Issue Report: Divided government vs. one-party rule


“Obama is the better choice”. Financial Times. 26 Oct. 2008 – Describing their reluctance to endorse Obama, they write, “Since the election will strengthen Democratic control of Congress, a case can be made for returning a Republican to the White House: divided government has a better record in the United States than government united under either party.”

Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, asked in October of 2008, “Do we really believe that the American public is going to feel safe by having both the head of the Congress and the head of the White House from the same party that has had so many challenges with the way they’ve run Washington over the last couple of years?”[1]

Jonathan Rauch. “When One Party Rules, Both Parties Fail”. The Atlantic. 7 Nov. 2006 – Excluding a few all-Republican months at the start of President Bush’s first term, the prior two stretches of one-party rule were 1977-1980 and 1993-1994. Although the former period produced a landmark deregulation of the transportation industry and the latter an important deficit-reduction measure, neither compiled a particularly distinguished record, and both were followed by popular backlash against the governing party.

If the portions were small, at least the food was bad. Unless you count a temporary cut in dividend tax rates, the creation of a national intelligence directorate, or some patching of the federal pension guarantee program, the Republicans have managed only one major program reform, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and that was an exercise in irresponsibility, making the government’s main domestic problem—long-term fiscal insolvency—much worse. Laws creating a legal framework for terrorism war detainees were important but flawed and overdue. Other than that? Social Security reform, no. Tax reform, no. Immigration reform, no. Fiscal probity, no.