The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of The Street’s guest contributor program, which is separate from the company’s news coverage.
NEW YORK ( The Street) — Let’s face it: America is a 50/50 country politically, with half voting Republican and half Democrat. Over a few years and decades,there are swings, and someone always has the White House and some complex Congressional majority. Even if you have a Congressional majority, however, you may need 60 votes in the Senate, and even then you may not get all of your party members to vote with you.This leads to a political stalemate, broadly speaking. Neither party gets a majority sufficient enough to cause meaningful change. Of course, this is the way James Madison and Thomas Jefferson designed it, deliberately so, in the 1780s. For them, they had just achieved near-perfection in government, so why make it easy to change the policies?Whether you like it or not, things did eventually drift away from James Madison’s and Thomas Jefferson’s carefully constructed balance of power. After the assassination of William McKinley in 1901, a movement began to increase government power on almost every level in society. We soon got the income tax, drug prohibition, a central bank and a plethora of welfare programs. In this process, federal government spending as a percentage of GDP increased from under 3% to 20% a decade ago, and now most recently it jumped to 25% or more.
Here is the problem today: There is almost total disagreement in America as to where to go from here. Some people think 25% of federal government spending to GDP is way too little; other people think it is way too much. Neither side is happy, and political division is as great or greater than ever.In our current Republic, realistically much won’t happen regardless of who wins in 2012. If a Democrat wins, Republicans in Congress will most likely have sufficient votes to block most expansion of government. If a Republican wins, Democrats in Congress will most likely have enough votes to block most reductions in government.Neither side will be happy, either way.
Cut the Knot
In light of this total disparity of vision, there is but one way out, one solution that solves this otherwise perennial problem of two dramatically different and competing visions of America. This solution is to divide our country into two.