The Old Man once said “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” While this may have applied to the nation on the eve of civil war, the inverse is generally true in the context of the mechanism of American governance. Divided government fosters debate and compromise, the steady foundation upon which the Republic rests and is, at least in principle if not always in practice, a good thing.

Unless the president is George Bush.

Now, it is common knowledge among those who know me that I subscribe, along with about 65% of the nation on average, that the Bush presidency has been, if not an unmitigated disaster, a flat failure. The reasons for this are manifest and will not be enumerated at this time. What is material to the current discussion is that the president, and more to the point the neoconservative ideology he embodies, has exerted a warping influence on the workings of the federal government via the accelerated centralization of power in the executive branch. Many will argue that this has been a trend as old as the nation itself, and I do not deny this, I merely assert that this trend has been sped up under Bush to much ill-affect. I give the following example: the Democrats were swept into a congressional majority back in 2006 by effectively if not very skillfully harnessing the american people’s lust for the blood of the president and his party by promising to kick their collective ass, especially on Iraq. Unfortunately the resulting majority was small enough that on most issues Pelosi and Reid proceeded to fold faster than Superman on laundry day, with the resulting effect that congress finally outdid the president in that their approval rating has imploded even more spectacularly.

Now, as much as I love the idea on which divided government rests, I do not believe the results will necessarily be positive following this election cycle. This has as much to do with the candidates as with the current political climate, as I will now attempt to illustrate:

Let’s say McCain wins, despite this being an event that the political high priests, talking heads, and the average rabble have universally declared to be increasingly unlikely, the Bradley Effect aside. Should this occur, the task of effective governance will be made difficult if not impossible. At the moment, McCain is left with increasingly few effective lines of attack. Barring a terrorist attack, a massive screwup from the thus far almost flawlessly run Obama campaign, or President Bush revealing the formula by which water can be converted into gasoline, the GOP ticket is doomed. If the GOP and many of their remaining supporters are to be believed, McCain’s one hope is to enter the shadowlands from which Karl Rove even now beckons and cover Obama in a layer of filth so thick the American people won’t be able to help but turn away in disgust. While this may prove effective, it would violate McCain’s personal code of honor which he even now upholds despite a less than cooperative VP and campaign machine. More to the point, any victory garnered using this strategy would be immediately turned to ashes in the face of the fact that the Democrats are virtually guaranteed to increase their Senate majority by at least 4 seats if not more, thus allowing them to finally find their balls and effectively stonewall the republican president. McCain’s reputation for compromise in legislation having been cast aside in his mad quest for the Incredible Shrinking Republican Base, this scenario is grim to say the least.

In the case of an Obama victory, divided government is impossible due to aforementioned guarantee of Democratic conquest. Why this is a good thing, in my opinion, is that Obama has many policies I would like to see passed, and a healthy senate majority makes his task of governing easier, which is critical in the face of the many challenges we are currently presented with, the economy momentarily foremost among them.

However, make no mistake, there is a limit to my largesse towards the Democratic party. My relationship with them, at least at the congressional level, can currently be described as a marriage of convenience, and there is a significant part of me that wishes to see them gain a stronger majority that the Republicans might at last receive their due punishment of an election cycle or two in the wilderness. That being said, I do not want the Democrats to reach the magic 60 in the senate. For those unfamiliar with this particular golden number, 60 is the number of votes required to override a filibuster, basically allowing the majority party to cut off debate and steamroll the opposition. In fact, were it not for Mark Warner being so excellent and Jim Gilmore being so excellently detestable I might actually vote GOP in Virginia’s senate race. While I do wish to see much of the Democratic Party’s policies enacted, I do not want to give them the horrifying power that a supermajority entails. Having a majority of less than 60 forces the Democrats to work with moderate GOP members to get their work done, and I believe this will temper the more extreme policies they would otherwise see fit to unleash (immediate pullout from Iraq, anyone?). I may be liberal, but let it not be said I give the left free handjobs (and KeMiRo may take this opportunity to shut the hell up :P).

In the short term, I think our interests are best served by united government, a small part of the reason I’ll be voting for Obama. The Republicans, while they shouldn’t be ignored entirely, could use a few years as an actual minority to do some soul searching.

At least until 2010.

~We’re all in this together