A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

In Praise of Gridlock

It is a general belief among politicians and the media that Americans do not like gridlock. That may or may not be true, but I write to say that I am quite fond of gridlock. Now that the Democrats control the Congress, gridlock will be the order of the day for the next two years; and I for one am happy about that.

Of course, in the last two days since the election we have heard the typical post-election bi-partisan niceties like, “I look forward to working with the Congress,” “I look forward to working with the President.” Everyone is posturing for the high ground of bi-partisanship, so that when the fighting and bickering start, each side will accuse the other of partisan politics. When a politician expresses the desire to work in bi-partisan fashion, it is just cover language for, “If the other party doesn’t do things our way, they will be the ones who refuse to work together.”

Why do I like gridlock? Please consider the following:

First, when one party holds both Congress and the White House, after time, especially if it is more than one term, such power tends to lead to corruption. The first couple years of unified government may work out quite well, but it never lasts. The reason the ruling party is always voted out of power in Congress in the middle of a second presidential term, is that the people are fed up with politicians gone wild. Such a vote is not an affirmation of the minority party (Democrats would do well to heed this), but a no confidence vote in the majority (Republicans would do well to heed this). Gridlock does not allow for the Democrats or the Republicans to have free reign. There will always be corruption in politics, but the temptations are minimized when one has to deal seriously with the opposition.

Second, when one party holds both Capitol Hill and Pennsylvania Avenue, too much is accomplished and it costs taxpayers more money with less return. Both parties have demonstrated clearly that they are big spenders. Since it now seems apparent that neither side of the aisle has the fiscal discipline to spend money wisely and usefully, the only way to reign in the Executive and Legislative shopping spree is to have both parties with sufficient power to thwart each others agendas. Where there is gridlock, there is less government; and when the Congress and the President do accomplish something together, both sides have had to compromise enough, that what they have done is usually fairly competent.

Third, when there is gridlock, both parties are able to hold each other accountable, and at election time it becomes more difficult to push the blame off on the other. Of course each party will attempt to do so, but the American people will not be convinced.

Finally, when there is gridlock, the people who are most unhappy are the partisans on both sides; and when the Republican partisans and the Democratic partisans are unhappy, that likely means the country is faring quite well.

Gridlock is here. Thanks be to God!

Cross-posted at RedBlueChristian.


Anonymous said...


A good and interesting post.

I agree.

The change in Washington is good, I believe, in terms of what our democracy has built in, in checks and balances. And this does not mean that one side is simply stopped in their tracks. To the founders, this means being able to find common ground.

I do hope that more fiscal responsibility will occur now. And your point is well taken, that gridlock should help towards that.


Allan R. Bevere said...


Thank for your comments.

I agree with you concerning the checks and balances. There seems to be a fundamental distrust built into the Constitution-- fundamental distrust of what happens when human beings get power.

Gridlock is a great way to make those checks and balances effective.

John said...

I've heard it said that one of the worst things to happen to American democracy was the invention of air conditioning, thereby making Washington, DC habitable year-round.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Great point!