Blog: Reconciliation Government

Reconciliation Government
Reconciliation Government
Date: 2018-Jan-30 01:14:27 EST

Some features of our government in the United States continue to intrigue me. In particular, our system makes it relatively easy for the party in power to ensure that proposals won't come to a vote if that party does not wish it to, and possible for the other party, with sufficient numbers, to likewise block a vote. We can imagine systems working reasonably well with neither or both of these features; a system with neither might, for every proposal that gets enough initial support, always proceed to a vote after the proposal sits without amendments for long enough. With both these features, gridlock is possible if the parties entirely cease to cooperate; without either feature, things get stuck less often but legislation might be less stable and more brutal.

I don't think it's good for our nation or our political system that parties entirely cease to cooperate; more recently our politics has lost coherency because activists have started gaming the system, both on the left and the right. And while I think the Affordable Care Act was well-meant, that it was passed with negligible bipartisianship meant that it probably should not have passed. As another example of good policy done the bad way, DACA was established by executive order; it wasn't even a law. Establishing important policy this way damages our democracy and guarantees trouble down the line, not just for liberals but for everyone.

I think if we were to have a reconciliation government, and I think we probably need one, it would be built on the importance of rebuilding trust; we would hope to see the following:

  1. Parties dramatically weakening the role of their party whip, making most votes votes of conscience, and both directly refraining from and acting to counter efforts to establish fundraising incentives for voting certain ways
  2. Abandonment of current party rules whereby a party won't let a proposal come to a vote unless the majority of that party supports it
  3. A reluctance to let any proposal come to a vote unless it gets at least three votes apiece from both major parties