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The Age of Gridlock!

(Why It Is Actually Good for America)

Pointing or Passing

partypoliticscslNow that the 2014 midterm elections have been held, the whole political apparatus in the United States is gearing up for the 2016 presidential election. What does this mean for the next two years? Here’s what to expect:

  1. Hillary Clinton will now run against the Republican Congress. This seriously strengthens her campaign. If the Republicans do a lot to work against President Obama’s agenda, she’ll label them as “the party of No.” If they do less, she’ll attack their “do-nothing, gridlocked” approach. Regardless of what Republicans do, Clinton now has a more popular message because Congress always has a very low approval rating.

Specifically, the majority of voters in any state tend to like their own Congressmen and Senators, but they don’t like Congress as a whole. For Senator Clinton, running against “Congressional Republicans” will be a lot easier and more popular than running against the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign just got a huge boost, and it will be in the best political interest of Democrats to avoid working with Republicans and instead keep pointing fingers.

  1. President Obama isn’t likely to back down much from his agenda, nor are Congressional Republicans going to cave on their goals. This means a lot of gridlock in the next two years. The media will repeatedly promote the idea that Congress isn’t getting anything done, because the two parties just can’t work together.

The New Mantra

Expect people to repeat this kind of phrase over and over: “Washington is dysfunctional.” “The government is broken.” “Why can’t those people in Washington just work together once in a while?” We’ll hear it at the water cooler, the break room, the gym, in the shopping line, and other places where Americans gather. This will be the American mantra of 2015-2016, and it will come up almost any time politics is the subject.

Americans will see more gridlock in Washington, and they’ll blame it mostly on Republicans.

  1. Because neither side is likely to back down, they’ll both focus more effort and resources on the few places where they actually agree. Translation: We’ll see more boots on the ground in the Middle East and other escalations of U.S. involvement in international conflicts. The White House has to focus international or basically get nothing done, and many Republicans will support increased use of U.S. power abroad.

The U.S. will increase its levels of international intervention.

Whatever your party, or if you’re an independent like I am, all three of these developments are causes for serious concern to anyone who cares about the future of freedom and the prosperity of our economy.

The Goodlock

Now for the good news. The American founding fathers trusted the regular people, the voters, much more than government officials or professional politicians and bureaucrats. Even though their system was seriously weakened by the 17th Amendment, the American voters still make wiser choices overall than any elite group would.

For example, as the party system has become so divisive, so angry, and so intense in the last few decades, the voters have repeatedly opted for divided government—where part of the government is controlled by Democrats and part by Republicans.

This has kept any one party from totally dominating American leadership. The two sides repeatedly check each other.

When they don’t, when the voters have allowed one party to run both Congress and the White House for a time, we’ve ended up with massive mistakes like Obamacare and the war for WMD’s in Iraq. This level of crisis hasn’t occurred when the power was effectively split between the parties.

For the next two years, Congress and the White House will likely check each other a great deal. And though the media will say otherwise, that’s a good thing!

In contrast to what the media says, gridlock in Washington is frequently good for America. It means the federal government isn’t doing as much as it wants, and that’s very good for freedom.

Media vs. Reality

If a real threat arises, the parties will work together. They always do. Otherwise, it’s best when they block each other. That isn’t broken government at all—it’s a powerful way to slow down our loss of freedom.

The greatest dangers to freedom arise precisely in the areas where the parties effectively work together a lot.

To repeat, what I’m saying here flies in the face of the national media’s agenda, so don’t expect to hear it very often. But it is true nonetheless. Gridlock between the political parties in Washington is frequently good for America, families, the economy, and freedom.

Just imagine the major loss of freedom we’d experience if all the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington started working together on everything! The media makes this option sound like a utopia—but in fact it would be a massive attack on our remaining freedoms.

So when you hear about gridlock during the next two years, smile and go about your business. Remember that when gridlock is over, the politicians will work together to take away a lot more of our freedoms.

Gridlock is noisy, frustrating, and it can grate on our nerves—month after month, every time we watch the news—unless we remember that as long as the politicians are busy bickering with each other they’re doing less to hurt our families or the economy.

Seeing It Straight

During the Obama era, the pace of regulation, taxation, intrusion in our lives, debt, and our national credit downgrading has been devastating to our economy. The economy desperately needs Washington to do a lot less for a while.

In certain places in the Midwest, the smell of a hog farm is a foul experience to anyone driving past. But the locals have a special name for it: they call it “the smell of money!” Why? Because pigs grow fast and bacon sells for a high price.

Likewise, when you hear about the latest bickering, mudslinging, and ridiculous partisan arguments in Washington, remember what’s really happening. That’s the sound of “slower government intrusion into your life and slower government damage to the economy.”

This really is true. It might seem cynical to some people, but only because the modern media has tried to convince us all that Washington ought to do a lot, spend a lot, and get tons of laws passed every week.

All of that adds up to less and less freedom. Yes, Washington should do a few things, important things that really do help the nation—but those can be accomplished in literally a few bills each year. Seriously. Free people never forget the reality:

When government gridlock is gone, when all the politicians and bureaucrats are happily working together on everything, freedom is in the gravest danger.

(These themes are covered in more depth and detail in Oliver DeMille’s new book, The United States Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom. The cover price is $27.95, but you can order a copy right now at the special presale price of $13.95. To order your copy, click here.)


odemille Fixing Congress  Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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