Wednesday, October 5, 2016

If Hillary Clinton wins... month, which looks more and more likely, but the House of Representatives remains in Republican control, which also looks likely, does that mean we're in for four more years of gridlock? The obvious answer is "yes," as it's easy to envision Paul Ryan thwarting any legislative initiatives emanating from the White House. But the not-so-obvious answer is "does it really matter?"

Let's assume for the sake of argument that Republicans retain control of the Senate. Then, yes, we'll have gridlock for at least the first two years of a Clinton presidency. You can go back to bed now.

But what if the Democrats take back the Senate in addition to the White House? According to Election Betting Odds, they are slightly favored to do so. (Although in 2018 they are just as likely to give it right back.) Then what? I know, I know: any legislative initiatives emanating from the White House or the Senate would be Dead on Arrival in the House.

But what if, as I said above, it doesn't really matter?

For a long time now (since FDR?), the executive branch has been getting more and more powerful at the expense of the legislature. And, since at least 2010 and the emergence of the Party of No, the legislative branch has been getting more and more irrelevant. Can't get anything done in Congress? Issue an executive order. Or have a judge issue a court order. Doesn't that seem to be the way to get things done nowadays?

Now I know what you're thinking: what if Republican senators continue their habit of blocking judicial appointments? Then what?

Well, what if the Democrats do in fact take back the Senate and a Majority Leader Chuck Schumer does away with the filibuster once and for all? Then what? Then maybe a Clinton White House and an increasingly liberal judiciary could in effect run the country in the absence of a working legislative branch.

So let Paul Ryan run his dysfunctional band of troglodytes for the next two, four or a hundred years. Maybe it doesn't really matter anymore. Maybe the United States will just be governed by a combination of the executive and judicial branches.

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