The problem with our present political system in the United States is not a lack of bipartisanship, it’s a lack of effective partisanship. Every four years, political parties hammer out a platform identifying the problems they feel we face as a nation and stating their proposed solutions. Ultimately, very few of the remedies proposed in party platforms are enacted into law. As a result, party platforms are largely ignored by many voters, and by politicians in both parties.
This is unfortunate for citizens who long for effective government. For some of us, the position a candidate (and/or party) takes on issues we consider important is our primary means of deciding how to vote. When so few of the proposed remedies in either party’s platform get tested by being implemented, we are left with a dysfunctional government that does not address critical problems effectively.
Gridlock is, of course, one major roadblock on the path from platform to enactment. For thirty of the past forty years, control of the government has been divided, with a president of one party and at least one house of Congress controlled by the other party.
There have, however, been three brief periods over the past four decades when one political party has controlled both the legislative and executive branches. President Carter had a Democratic Congress for all four years of his administration. The Democrats controlled both branches for the first two years of President Clinton’s time in office. And President Bush (the younger) had a Republican majority for four years, from 2003 through 2006.
Neither party took advantage of these opportunities to address any of the major problems facing our country with meaningful legislation. We can’t blame these failures on gridlock. The primary reason parties failed to govern effectively during these periods is the corrupting influence of money within our political system and the duplicity it evokes in politicians.