Essay On Divided Government
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Divided government exists when one political party controls the executive and the opposition party controls one or both houses of the legislature, which can occur at both the state and national levels. The existence of divided party control of government institutions is a phenomenon that captured the attention of academics, the media, and average citizens in the 1990s. Although it is not a new occurrence in American politics, divided party control of the legislative and executive branches was increasingly blamed for the stalemate and gridlock that seemed to handicap the federal government, especially in the 1990s.
Since the end of World War II (1939–1945), the existence of divided government has been an almost persistent feature of the American political system. From 1952 to 1992, seven elections produced unified government, and thirteen elections produced divided government. The gridlock associated with divided government is not only representative of periods in which divided partisan control exists but can also manifest itself during periods of unified government as well. Nonetheless, academics have spent considerable time and energy in determining the effects, if any, that divided government has on relations between the executive and legislative branches and the nation as a whole.
The return of unified government with the election of Bill Clinton as president initially witnessed legislative acceptance for presidential proposals; however, with time, the Democratic Party–controlled Congress became a vocal opponent of the president, thereby casting doubt on whether unified government was much different than divided government. Divided government derives from the manner in which the legislative and executive branches function and are constituted. Different constituencies and terms of office and the separation of the branches, which are evaluated at separate times, produce conflict and division. Introducing different partisan controls of the presidency and Congress further exacerbates the situation.
This, however, should not preclude the possibility that presidents and Congress can reach agreement during both periods of divided and unified government. Divided government happens to be just one of a host of factors that may create gridlock in the legislative process. For instance, policy-making gridlock can be blamed on the overall design of Congress and the actual trajectory legislation takes. Congress is a complex institution that is disjointed in its functions and influenced by several entities, including committees, individual members of Congress, and interest groups. All of these may disguise or even exaggerate the effects of divided government.
Some argue that divided government is an undesirable outgrowth of the separation of powers inherent to the American political system. Several scholars openly challenge the deleterious effects of divided government. David Mayhew in Divided We Govern argues that whether the government has been unified or divided has not made much difference. Several scholars even suggest that the manifestation of divided government provides notable benefits. Divided government adds an element to the legislative equation that, in many cases, fosters greater debate and further exemplifies the deliberative nature that the founding fathers envisioned for legislating. The disagreement that is inherent in divided government produces debate and, as a result, is a healthy component of democratic governance.
- Fiorina, Morris P. “An Era of Divided Government.” Political Science Quarterly 107, no. 3 (1992): 387–410.
- Galderisi, Peter F. “Introduction: Divided Government Past and Present.” In Divided Government: Change, Uncertainty, and the Constitutional Order, edited by Peter F. Galderisi, Roberta Q. Herzberg, and Peter McNamara. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1996.
- Mayhew, David. Divided We Govern. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980.
A Class DIvided Essay
674 Words3 Pages
A CLASS DIVIDED
Thirty years ago Jane Elliott taught the third grade in the white, Christian community of Riceville, Iowa. The day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed she planned an exercise that wouldn't just show her students what racism is - rather, it would give them first-hand experience of what it felt like to be oppressed for something out of their control.
Elliott divided her class by the color of their eyes, marked them with armbands and proceeded to treat one group as if superior in capabilities to the other. The superior students performed better than they ever had before, while the inferior students' performance dropped. The next day, the third graders traded ranks and their performance reversed in accordance to their…show more content…
(INTERVIEW WITH JANE ELLIOT) http://www.newsreel.org/transcri/essenblue.htm The children learned that discrimination has a tangible affect on their performance in everyday activities. Elliott has gone on to do the exercise with numerous adults and almost without exception the participants' abilities, such as reading and writing, are grossly affected.
Jane Elliott's approach is especially relevant today. It demonstrates that even without juridical discrimination; hate speech, lowered expectations, and dismissive behavior can have devastating effects on achievement. Black members of the blue-eyed group forcefully remind whites that they undergo similar stresses, not just for a few hours in a controlled experiment, but every day of their lives. Although these concepts are food for thought… they are merely preludes to the main course. The most important lesson to be learned here is that just one person can make a difference.
Next we join a group of 40 teachers, police, school administrators and social workers in Kansas City - blacks, Hispanics, whites, women and men. The blue-eyed members are subjected to pseudo-scientific explanations of their inferiority, culturally biased IQ tests and blatant discrimination. When the inevitable resistance by a blue-eyes surfaces, Elliot cites the outburst as an example of