It’s election night and many are worried about the future.
Only adding to anxieties is the fact that both sides have painted a bleak picture of what America will look like if the other wins.
I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. Life will go on, and things will get better. The election that seems so important right now won’t seem that way in a few months time.
One of the attributes that makes America great is the system of checks and balances. While the president has certain powers, they are far from all powerful and their impact over our everyday lives is vastly overstated.
While a president can recommend certain policies, they cannot enact legislative change without the house or the senate.
Even when the same party controls both the legislative and executive branch, that is not a blank check for the president as there are many differing opinions and constituencies within each party. Nor is broad party control a permanent feature by any means.
A few recent examples…
-In 2008 when Barack Obama was elected, the democrats also controlled the house and the senate. Two years later, the republicans would take back the house, and four years after that the senate. While President Obama was able to pass the Affordable Care Act in the first two years of his term, in the last six no major legislation was passed given republican opposition.
-In 2016 when Donald Trump was elected, the republicans also controlled the house and the senate. Two years later, the democrats would take back the house and in the current election they could take the senate. While President Trump was able to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the first two years of his term, the last two featured no major legislation (with the exception of the bipartisan stimulus bills) given democratic opposition.
With a divided government, new policies are harder to pass, and presidential powers diminish. This is a feature, not a bug, of our democracy.
In the coming days and weeks, you’re going to hear much hyperbole over the downfall of the republic. Don’t believe a word of it.
If Trump wins, he will face a divided government, and will have to work with the other side to get anything meaningful done.
If Biden wins, he may have full control, but whether he keeps that control in two years is up to the American people.
In either case, there is no permanency, and no all-knowing ruler that controls our everyday life. In many ways, state and local governments can have a larger impact, and this is a wonderful thing as you can vote with your feet.
When you look at an electoral map today, it appears to be a country divided. That may be true in terms of politics but politics is not real life. Americans are still very much united on a few basic principles: the importance of family, faith, and freedom.
Whoever is elected tonight cannot change that. Everything’s gonna be alright…
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