A lot of this could have been lifted whole sale from Woodrow Wilson’s Congressional Government. Too many committees with too much difficulty getting this done? Yeah that was there. The need for government that made elected majorities able to enact their legislation? Yep, he went the full monty for a parliamentary system. Too many people having vetos? Also there. Too much deference to the common man? Yep there again.
This has been a lament for generations. Yet somehow we did manage to build the interstate highway system which is among the most efficient road networks in the world and still without peer in the world for size and scope. Similarly we managed to win a World War, a Space Race, launch massive new industries, functionally eradicate multiple diseases in the US, electrifying all but the most utterly remote places in the country, and build out the internet in rapid fashion with access almost to cheap to meter.
Klein suggests that the US had dominant political parties. Really? When was that? The longest runs for winning the presidency were 1800-1824, 1860 – 1880, and 1932 – 1948. Three times have we had a party win 4 elections in a row. All of them over times of war. All of them encompassing radical changes in the franchise. And all of them failing to hold uniform power throughout.
Further, back in the day, it was vastly more common for states to be truly one-party so even complete national wipeouts, left one party solidly in control of numerous states. When Hoover won in 1928 he swept the country with a double digit popular vote victory, yet the Republicans won only a handful of congressional districts in the South. Even in the mother of all shellackings, 1932, Republican redoubts in New England still presented local countries for federal power grabs.
As far as there being more ideological mixing in the parties. What exactly does Klein thing changed that? To be a Democrat now means having to endorse gay marriage, abortion on demand, something close to medicare for all, a holy host of environmental/global warming policies, and on it goes. Deviation from any of these, even in highly conservative parts of the country, will bring out organized opposition in the primary. Who brought this state of affairs about? People exactly like Klein who, after all, managed a collaborative platform for left wing journalists that explicitly excluded those who disagreed with them.
And where exactly was Klein when all these vetos points were being instituted? Was he defending the right of super-majorities to rewrite state constitutions to prohibit gay marriage? Was he opposed to the use of the courts when GWB wanted to increase fossil fuel exploration on federal lands? Was he opposed to Harry Reid fillibustering GWB judicial appointments? Did he speak against sanctuary cities abrogating the immigration policy voted through by the duly elected representatives of the people? When twitter mobs descended on North Carolina and CEOs joined the pitchforked mob was a voice of reason saying that the solution was not boycott and economic coercion, but persuasion and electioneering?
I seem to recall not a lick of that. Maybe I’m wrong. But you cannot be silent or even celebrate when “vetos” or “checks and balances” go your way, and then be upset when they go against you.
Further, exactly why are conservatives so suspicious of government? After all, the 19th century conservatives were all for governmental power – in Prussia, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and even France it was always the conservative who wanted power aggregated to the state. Even in the US, you had Comstock and a host of other powers conservatives were quite comfortable granting the government. Even something like free trade was considered liberal back then with the conservatives being the protectionists.
Might I submit that it is because the levers of government have been used repeatedly to attack things conservatives hold dear regardless of the germaneness of the issue? After all when passing the most contentious health legislation in decades, getting wiped out in the House and losing to Scott Brown in the Senate, and tanking the president’s approval rating to one of the lowest in his term … after all that why did we need to then dictate that all the most contentious contraceptive questions just so happened to need to be enforced in one of the more stringent manners possible? Why exactly did any movement toward single payer have to also gore a sacred cow of conservatives?
Or take gay marriage. Why were there calls to bankrupt small business who opposed to participating in weddings before they were legally recognized in the state? Why did legalizing gay marriage necessitate a near immediate move to cut Catholic and other adoption agencies out when they were the most effective mechanism for placing difficult children? Whatever you think about overwhelming majority of votes cast, why, exactly did we need to move immediately on to dispossessing organizations that are opposed?
And on it goes. Why do liberals push for ob/gyn residencies and even medical schools to mandate participation in abortions (if only as an observer) when providers never will perform them and will need to learn all the relevant clinical skills for dealing with retained products of conceptions through miscarriages regardless? Why are doctors in Canada being forced to provide referrals for euthanasia with moves to restrict the profession to those who participate? I mean seriously Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the biggest liberal health policy guys at the time, went on the record that pro-life physicians would need to either be radiologists or leave the profession.
And on it goes. Zoning boards become places where environmentalism and liberal urban policy must be forced upon property owners and developers. Teaching standards become things that require specific denigration of long held religious beliefs.
If every institution and every structure is eventually going to turn on conservatives, why exactly should they not be inherently suspicious and use all veto levers at their disposal?
Ultimately, I see nothing new from Klein here. His side is momentarily ascendant, he would like all constraints removed. He bemoans the lack of goodwill while being personally one of the folks who increased polarization. He is just another Wilson with answers that are neither practical nor necessary.