The Gridlock Election

“Respectable opinion” holds that gridlock in Washington is a terrible thing, because it means Washington “can’t get anything done.” To the contrary, gridlock is the next best thing to having constitutional government! Put a little more seriously, gridlock has replaced the separation of powers as a chief constraint on the impetuosity of central government, and it is precisely the separation of powers embedded in the logic of the Constitution that Progressivism openly set out to destroy more than a century ago.

Progressives have been largely successful in this object through the gradual and insidious concentration of power in the administrative state, but funny thing—the voters don’t seem to like it too much, and continue to vote for “divided government,” when they aren’t in fact voting for Republican presidents—starting with Nixon—who promised to challenge this state of affairs, but who then usually fell short of mounting an effective challenge once in office. (More on this point some other time.)

That’s one big takeaway from the last election, which saw a return of ticket-splitting that over the last 30 years we’ve typically seen manifested in mid-term elections, when voters now regularly choose to diminish the legislative power of the party in the White House. One way of thinking about the strong GOP showing below the White House this cycle is that a lot of voters are getting a head start on the mid-terms by depriving pretender President Biden of a legislative majority.

This all comes to mind in reading the New York Times item this morning about the number of Biden voters in Georgia who plan to vote for both Republican candidates as a “check” on the Democrats:

Outside a polling site in the affluent Atlanta suburbs of Cobb County, voters on Tuesday morning described their ballots as a desire for balance or an aversion to one party controlling two houses of government.

Joy Phenix, 55, voted for gridlock.

“They need a backstop,” said Ms. Phenix, who waited in a modest line that shuffled through the station all morning.

She voted for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the general election, helping to usher in the first Democratic candidate for president in Georgia in 28 years. But on Tuesday, she voted for the Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. If President Trump had been elected, she said she would have voted for the Democrats.

It is hard to know how widespread and self-conscious this sentiment is, as opinion pollsters surprisingly neglect inquiring after ticket-splitting. But this is one reason I think the GOP will hold on to at least one if not both Georgia Senate seats today.