Divided government too often hinders the procedure of policymaking, as this requires a degree of compromise between Republicans and Democrats. In order to create public legislation, the two parties need to reach some form of consensus, which makes for difficulties in the current political climate as they both have contrasting political ideologies on a number of issues. Democrats are generally associated with belonging to the liberal party in the United States, taking into consideration that Republicans usually have views that are more conservative socially and fiscally. The Democratic Party is in favour of a stronger taxation system on corporations and social initiatives focusing on community responsibility, often lending its support to progressive social causes such as marriage equality and reproductive rights. The Republican Party attempts to preserve traditional cultures and norms, often basing their interpretation of the U.S. constitution on the Christian faith as they believe this is the religion that traces back closely to the founding of the United States.
The Republican Party’s stance on policy over the past forty years further emphasizes their socially conservative views. Republican lawmakers in Congress want to limit financial support to social initiative programmes and cease federal funding towards Planned Parenthood, who provide contraception and other reproductive healthcare needs such as safe abortion services for women. Republicans tend to favour a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, are against marriage equality and equal rights for the LGBTQ community. Divided party control of policymaking halts the process in enacting important legislation. These delays are further intensified when the two parties are ideologically polarized.
The polarization of the two parties and their policies leads to a divide on macroeconomic policies, as Republicans are relatively concerned with inflation while Democrats want to lessen the unemployment rate.
As large as the ideological divide between congressional Democrats and Republicans can be, there have been some common areas of interest. Akin to many Republicans, Democrats who are socially conservative have been object abortion and marriage equality. “In 2010, 34 House Democrats voted with their Republican counterparts against then President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, just as eight senate Republicans voted with Democrats to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military” Bradley, Jeremy. “What Is the Ideology of the Democrats?” Synonym, http://classroom.synonym.com/ideology-democrats-6539.html. Accessed 05 April 2018. ats-6539.html
When is divided government bad? Disadvantages
Divided government is more prone to a legislative gridlock whereby nothing gets accomplished. Any legislative policy, regardless of whether introduced by the President or Congress, proposed has to have full advocacy of both parties in order to be passed into law. The result of this is that change through legislation can be a tedious and time-consuming process.
Neither party is able to promote their agenda without compromising with the other party. Negative consequences of a divided government could be, for example, failing to vote on the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice or government shutdowns. There are several consequences of divided government within U.S. history. Republican president Richard Nixon being forced to resign by a Democrat Congress following the Watergate scandal. Gerald Ford, who succeeded Nixon, is remembered mostly for his 48 vetoes of which 12 were overrode by Congress during his short-lived presidency. Failing to produce a budget within the given time constraint can result in the shutdown of state government, reduce services for citizens and delayed payments to contractors and employees.
Divided government requires a moderate position on major issues, which is advantageous as no single ideology, is being imposed on the country but rather compromises of two ideologies ensures stronger cooperation between congress and the president. Congress won’t pass any extreme change in policy proposed by the President, and the President won’t sign any extreme change passed by Congress. Each side has to give up something so that both sides can agree on the final law. This has equal and opposite effects and is a subjective opinion depending how one feels about a particular piece of legislation. If Republicans want to make a big legislative change, they will dislike having to modify and reduce their proposal to satisfy the Democrats. On the other hand, if Republicans are attempting to pass a legislative change that Democrats do not agree with, suppressing the change could be an extremely positive effect for the Democratic Party. Divided government has a greater impact when polarization is high.
In the current political climate and gun-violence within the United States at an all-time high, divided government would not necessarily be the worst thing for the country. A Republican-controlled Congress led by a Republican president will not pass legislation to outlaw semi-automatic, military-style weapons as the Republican Party is well known for having a firm stance on the Second Amendment rights of which gun-rights is a major one. Nominally, Republicans oppose nearly all manner of gun control legislation apart from measures that restrict the criminal use of guns or the rights of convicts. The powerful National Rifle Association makes heavier contributions to the Republican Party at every level of government than they do to the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party recognizes its moral obligation to keep the population safe from gun-violence and thus its stance on Second Amendment rights is one of a sympathetic and therefore a more restrictive approach. The Democratic Party acknowledges the rights of its citizens to bear arms, but recognizes the importance of having safety regulations in check to deter gun violence, which should be administered by the Supreme Court of the United States. Democrats favour strengthening the background check system that they believe will improve law enforcement. Democrats believe that an effective background system for purchasing guns would be mandatory child safety locks, photographic identification licenses, background checks and a required gun-safety test. Republicans oppose this belief and reject this background check system overwhelmingly. the Democratic Party managed to pass into law the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1993, and an Assault Weapons Ban in 1994.
The Republican government opposing regulating gun laws is an example of how a unilateral government can fail to address pressing national needs. Another example is the subject of federal debt in the U.S. at a soaring number. Now over $20 trillion, or more than $167,000 per taxpayer. The Republican tax cut proposed will only increase this amount. Congress also won’t pass legislation to address the plight of 11 undocumented immigrants who are unlikely to be deported and are now consigned to the shadows of the economy. And of course Congress can’t agree to either repeal or bolster Obamacare, leaving the health care system in limbo. DREAMERS and Affordable Care Act.