When do we see legislative gridlock?

In December 1993, Harris poll surveyed 1,250 adults and found that 2 to 1 American believed that America still has legislative gridlock in the Congress in Washington. In an article entitled, “Most Americans believe we still have gridlock,” published in the National Minority Politics, Edward, Barrett, Paeke (1997) stated their theory of legislative gridlock. In their theory, they indicated that legislative gridlock is resulted from divided government. They hypothesize that “The presidents will oppose more legislation under divided government than under unified government.

” If, they add, the president supports legislation, it is not likely that he would “support less legislation under divided government. ” According to Edwards, Barrett, and Peake (1997), when government is divided, the president tends to oppose much legislation while more legislation that is important and it would cause him to choose to fail the legislation. Alternatively, he would not likely passing much important legislation if government is divided. If government were united, much important legislation would likely pass.

This hypothesis seems common to the Indonesians who are familiar with the motto, “Bersatu kita teguh, bercerai kita runtuh” – i. e. “together we are strong, disunited we are failing. ” Still Edwards, Barrett & Peake (1997) argued, “Conflict between the executives and legislative branches may contribute to legislative gridlock. If Congress prevents the passage of legislative proposals, the president may support or the president may serve as a brake on the legislation initiated by the Congress.

However, they add, “If the White House takes a stand on legislation, the president may be for it or against it,” and his strategic position is different in each situations. In a situation of divided government, his strategy is even different and unpredictable. Edwards, Barrett & Peake (1997) also indicated that if the opposition party is in control of the House, it will position its members in such a way so that they could propose a legislation knowing that the president would likely vote against it.

Today’s legislation has greater opportunities for failure (Edwards, Barrett, & Peake, 1997) because many legislators have little knowledge about government‘s main roles, duties, and functions (Congleton, 2004). Many represent the interest groups who tend to use their power and authority to advance in wealth both individually and in-group (Denhardt, Denhardt, & Aristigueta, 2002).

In other words, they many are jumping into the political band wagon or the legislative wagon as a ladder to wealth creation (Choate, 1990; Denhart, Denhardt, & Aristigueta, 2002) as they capitalize on every government new initiatives which are also represented individual private initiatives (Pascale, Millemann & Gioja, 2000). In fact, the passing of the homosexual marriage legislation was due to political divisiveness. Some legislators are actually activists who used their political influence and bank on their group financial sponsorship to their political party to increase divisiveness among the legislators.

Mayhew (1991) concluded his study that legislative process would not be affected by divided or unified government or whether the president approves the legislation or not. Divided or unified government would not affect the productivity of the legislators. However, Jones (1994) argued that legislators only seem to be productive, in their divisiveness to form the law and policies. On page 196, he stated, in their divisiveness, the “president continues to make proposals, and Congress continues to legislate, even when voters return divided government to Washington. ”