Pray for gridlock

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.

It’s amusing when people get their shorts in a tangle over gridlock. Some people think that government gridlock is an “ain’t it awful” thing, a sign of failure, a lack of “progress”.

That’s all wrong and backwards. We should pray for gridlock sometimes, because it’s the telltale sign that our system is working and that government is not the all-powerful lord over our lives. In our history a divided government and slow change has produced better long-term results. Some so-called political experts make a great mistake to believe that progress– the clarion call of the political “progressives”– comes from legislation, and an even worse mistake that additional legislation means more progress.

SS gridlockWhen politicians work to pass insane laws, gridlock is good, because harm gets stymied when wrong-headed adversaries are bottled up and checkmated. Gridlock often allows time for anger and ill-will to simmer down, and for reasonable compromise to raise its head. Gridlock is the absence of legislative and executive action, providing relief from would-be poisonous activities. And, gridlock helps give minorities and the minority viewpoint a bigger voice.

For the business community, when government is not doing us any favors, gridlock is good. When government is actually hurting us, gridlock is great. When government is causing businesses to fail or stop creating jobs, gridlock becomes essential. But the progressives complain when Congress doesn’t get much done: “Congress hasn’t been productive, Congressional inaction is a problem”, they lament. This liberal approach to government is that more legislation and more laws is good, and the failure to add laws to the books is something requiring explanation. The truth is that we need fewer laws.

Why the griping over gridlock? It is part of the Constitutional framers’ design. The founding fathers, having fought through a revolutionary war, wanted “a system cautiously formed and steadily pursued”, as founder John Jay wrote. This meant imposing restraint on the governmental process by requiring high levels of consensus before government could act. The Constitution was written to make new legislation difficult to attain and impose. The founders designed a system to assure that most legislative proposals would never become law, and they did it by requiring two houses of Congress and the president to agree. They made it even tougher to amend the Constitution itself, and a “temperate” Senate was designed to decelerate proposed changes.

Recently, a leftist journalist said that a Trump presidency would be an awful thing because no governmental agency will get along with him, Trump will have both houses of Congress in an uproar, and all of Washington trying to thwart his every move so he won’t get anything done.

In truth, that is what I hope will happen. The one thing that the business community loves across the nation, most of the time, is a stymied government. When that happens, it usually means no new regulations and onerous laws are being passed, no new programs are being created along with their new taxes. We are wallowing in laws in this country already. Gridlock means risks to businesses are reduced and, often, restraints to our freedom may never come to pass.  Gridlock is better than malfunction or oppression.

By design, our system of government should demand broad, durable majorities before it will permit major change.  Since government competence is usually unattainable, gridlock and bickering may well be a good price to pay for opposing the transformers by tying their hands and stopping them from imposing more laws. Handcuffing Washington is usually a good thing, a big win. Valuable things are not so easily created but they are easily destroyed.

After the debacle of Obamacare, Obama has been finding it more difficult to move most of his domestic agenda. When a dangerous president can’t get something done because of gridlock, I say hallelujah. The democratic system is working, Congress is taking its constitutional duties seriously. Slow change should be the norm, not the exception. When consensus is lacking, it’s good that lawmaking machinery grinds to slower pace.

It should be difficult to get things passed or changed in Washington, thus requiring a climate of compromise to get something done. When compromise fails, gridlock steps in, restraint prevails, and everything defaults to the current status quo. A good system.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.
John R. Smith

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