Divided government

I wish I could take credit for an accurate prediction in this space of a long, drawn-out post-election mess.  But while the Senate races in Virginia and Montana appear headed to recount-land, I did not anticipate Democrats winning the House without a fight.  So, two quick thoughts from the vantage point of someone who worked in a newsroom late into the night:

  1. Divided govnernment is good.  Gridlock is good.  Stupid and evil laws still get passed, but fewer of them.  I mean, doesn't the era of Clinton/Gingrich (and before that, Reagan/Tip O'Neill) look like halcyon days compared to the last few years?
  2. For those of us who buy into the notion of cyclical crises as laid out in the book The Fourth Turning (for a good introduction to the concept, see this piece by Doug Casey), it should be evident by now that 9/11 was not the catalyst for a new crisis era akin to the 1929 crash or Lincoln's election in 1860.  Rather, the few weeks of post-9/11 national unity were a momentary blip in a downward spiral of national division that began in the mid-80s, a pre-crisis era the authors dubbed Culture Wars. (And this was published in 1997 — pre-impeachment, pre-Florida recount, etc.)  The coming new crisis era (which appears overdue — the authors figured 2005) could well be a time of still deeper divisions, secession movements etc.  But…what might be the catalyst?