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Divided Government Has Its Virtues


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Divided government has its virtues
by Jeremy Beaman, November 06, 2020 03:33 PM


Joe Biden is likely going to be our next president. We can’t be certain until January, but the current standings favor a narrow Republican majority in the Senate. It looks like House Democrats have held on to their majority but by a smaller margin than before.


Considering the current political environment, a divided government has its virtues.


Liberals, especially the most strident and revolutionary among them, would almost certainly reject this premise outright. Their standing mandate is to use the power of the government to expand its reach.


It is a generalization, but what conservatives ultimately want in principle is protection from just that. A unified Republican government is the most reliable means of self-protection, but a divided government of the sort we are facing will do as a decent alternative.


How China will try to play Joe Biden

For either party, the desirability of a unified government is self-evident. Had Democrats conquered all, they would have the field to begin enacting significant climate change legislation, raising taxes, and to entertain, if not actually enact, an expanded Supreme Court. Biden will be able to do a lot by himselfbut a divided government won’t allow for nearly as much change as a Democratic government would.


Had Republicans swept Congress and won the presidency, they would have had another chance at repealing Obamacare. The national posture toward the coronavirus would have continued to emphasize a balanced approach to mitigation, and a national lockdown strategy would have remained off the table. More judges, fewer taxes, fewer regulations — a divided government won’t allow for much of that, either. But it will be a hedge against the Democratic coalition’s most fanciful wishes.


The conservative theorist Russell Kirk is indispensable here. "Change and reform are not identical," he wrote. "Innovation is a devouring conflagration more often than it is a torch for progress." The Democratic coalition's posture on the court and other matters of policy is one of fundamental change.


A divided government will protect against that.

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