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The Differences Between Unified And Divided Government Politics Essay

Info: 2167 words (9 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in Politics

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The role of government plays a key role in society, whether it is a unified government or a divided government. The content of this paper is to go more in depth of the differences of the two governments and talk about the presidencies (specifically Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton) under the different governments. The differences between the two are that divided is where one party controls the White House (presidency) while a different party controls the other houses and Congress. Unified government is when one party controls the White House and both houses of Congress, and it’s theoretically easy to pass and enact legislation because of the shared goals held by members of the same party. There are definitely negatives to both governments and it faces a problem that can affect citizens.

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This research topic is significant, important, relevant, and something that is worthwhile researching because in society citizens should definitely be aware of what is going on in office and which parties are controlling the different branches. It is definitely relevant because in 2012 we currently have a divided government where the president (Democrat) is in control of the House while the Republican Party is managing Congress. If citizens are not informed on what exactly goes on in Washington specifically and the difference between the two, then it is a problem because it affects everyone. Everyone should be informed of which party has control in what branch and how it operates. It’s worthwhile researching because the approach on learning about the topic is endless. One approach is investigating a president’s thought process and how legislations are passed whether the government was unified or divided under their presidency.

I personally am interested in this topic specifically because I wonder how well the two parties get along if the government is divided and how the single party works under a unified government where it is said to be easier to pass legislations. I hope to learn how the Republicans act in the Congress being that the Democracy is in head control throughout the years (around 1952-2004). Did the Republicans fairly get along with the opposing party? Was there a big power struggle between the two?

Literature Findings

Divided America

Republicans used to be the most dominate ones in American politics, before the Democrats. After the Civil War, for 7 decades, the Republicans typically controlled the White House and both houses of Congress (Black, Earl, and Merle Black, 2007.) Under Roosevelt, Democrats became the country’s new majority party and they held the White House and both branches of Congress in 9/10 elections from 1932-1950. Overtime, between 1952-2004, 63% of elections resulted in divided partisan control meaning one party controlled two institutions, and the other party controlled the third one. Between 1980-2004, Republicans were more successful than Democrats in controlling the Senate. Democrats held the House in all but 2/32 congressional elections from 1930-1992 (Black, Earl, and Merle Black, 2007.).

The idea of America’s power struggle is evident in having a divided government. This is because in the political system it does not have one majority party. Democrats remained the dominate majority party midway through the 20th century. From 1952-1980, average of 45% of all presidential voters were Democrats. Democrats almost always controlled the House of Representatives from the 30’s-90’s. The most important growth in the modern House has been the Republican’s 1994 advancing to stable majorities. Members of both parties believed that Democrats would win a majority of House seats. In today’s society, Republicans and Democrats are really aware that control of the House of Reps can be won or lost every 2 years (Black, Black, 2007.).

Republicans maintained slim national majorities with the help of 3 regions: the Mountains/Plains, the South, and the Midwest. Democrats rely on the Northeast and Pacific Coast. The Great Depression destroyed the Republicans as a governing majority in the House of Reps, so the House became “America’s most reliably Democratic institution”. Battles between the parties occurred from time to time, but Republicans in the House couldn’t afford to contest every issue and fight every fight. As the Republicans, they needed to be on their best behavior in a way because they were seen as an uncompetitive minority party. Republicans that would represent competitive districts were typically more practical and more apt to accommodate Democratic leadership. (Black, Black, 2007.).

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate

“For the first time in a quarter of a century, there were Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress”. Under Lyndon B. Johnson belonged a unified government where one party controls both Congress houses. In the 1952 general election Republicans won a majority in both House and Senate. Among defeated Democrats that year was McFarland, who lost to Barry Goldwater, Johnson’s future presidential opponent. (Caro, 2002.).

During Johnson’s two years as minority leader, he had been dominant more and more among the Democrats on the standing committees. His aides would go to the senators and ask what would satisfy them and to work out possible compromises. The thing is, there is no need for compromise when he became majority leader, being the fact that democrats would take charge. Johnson was then succeeded to presidency after the assassination of JFK (Caro, 2002.).

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent

A man named Coke Stevenson was one of Johnson’s aides. Stevenson believed that an election had been stolen from him that made him angry. Stevenson felt that Johnson had used the law against him, not the law in its majesty but the law in its littleness; Johnson had relied on its letter to defy its spirit. Stevenson had first sought justice from the people who knew the truth best, Jim Wells. On October 5, the Supreme Court refused to hear Stevenson’s petition that it consider Black’s stay of the injunction. The court also rejected Stevenson’s petition for a trial on the merits of the case. (Caro, 2002 Legislation can be seen as somewhat easier to pass by which the government is unified.

My Life (Bill Clinton)

Clinton was determined to improve the life of his fellow citizens by his commitment to civil rights. President Clinton talks about his problems, personalities, conflicts, setbacks, and achievements. Clinton appeared to have lost some of his political initiative. Republicans passed bills that often seemed as much part of the president’s program as their own. He was often criticized for indecisive on issues; at the same time, he was mixed up in conflict with sometimes radically conservative Republicans in Congress, whose goals in education. The welfare bill that he signed at the end of his term required that recipients work, Clinton benefited during his entire presidency from a strong economy, leading the country during an unique period of economic expansion.

Research Statement

The role of government plays a key role in society, whether it is a unified government or a divided government.. The differences between the two are that divided is where one party controls the White House while a different party controls the other houses and Congress. Unified government is when one party controls the White House and both houses of Congress, and it’s theoretically easy to pass and enact legislation because of the shared goals held by members of the same party. There are definitely negatives to both governments and it faces a problem that can affect citizens.

So the question becomes: what exactly are the key differences between the two governments? What are the legislative differences between the two and is one is better than the other with regards to how much legislative activity goes on in Congress?

These research questions are important because what happens in Washington affects everyone in the U.S. If citizens are uninformed of what role does divided government or unified plays in society, it can cause problem. The key to these questions is to delve in to what role one party has in Congress and one in the House or what role does the one party have in both Congress and House. How do they operate? What specific moves does the president make? How much pressure are they under?

Research Findings

A divided government is a government where one party is controlling the House and a different party is controlling Congress. The United States is currently under a divided government; being that Barack Obama is of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is managing the Congress. This can be beneficial, but yet it can cause many discrepancies and issues between the two parties. The issue with the divided government is that the president’s decision has to be governed not only by what he believes to be accurate, but also by what is achievable. No appointment can be effective without the support of the big groups representing interests. Although there are some negatives under this government, there are very well some positive things that can come out of it. Power sharing creates the motivation to compromise. With both parties responsible for governing, they each have a chance in getting things done. This is a good thing because it requires both parties to really collaborate and hopefully come to a compromise so they won’t be in disagreement 100 percent of the time.

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A president that ran under the divided government would be Bill Clinton (in office from 1993-2001). The first 55 years of the century, the government was divided for only eight of those years. In the 1990s, the Democratic Party, where Clinton was the head, held control of the Congress for only the first two years of his two terms office, resulting in a divided government for six of the eight years of his presidency. The Republicans and Clinton definitely did not agree on everything. On January 1, 1994, Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. Clinton supported ratification of the treaty by the U.S. Senate. Clinton supported free trade measures. The main opposition came from anti-trade Republicans. Although both parties can disagree, the benefit is that it brings them closer together so they won’t bump heads all the time.

A unified government is a government where one party controls the White House and both houses of Congress. It is said that having a unified government cuts through the disorder of governmental institutions and unified government focuses on authority and accountability in a single party. It also helps clarify and completely oppose the interests of the competing parties, providing a clear choice for voters. Going back in history, democrats held the White House and both branches of Congress in nine of the ten elections from 1932 through 1950.

Lyndon Johnson would be a president that ran under a unified government. Johnson’s strategy of bipartisanship was in November 1954 election. The democrats regained control of the House. Lyndon was majority leader, and the majority leader was powerful. For 2 years, he had the power of a minority leader, over determining the order of business, over deciding when a bill vital to a senator, over deciding if a bill would come to the floor.

For previous majority leaders, the scheduling power had been thinned by the power of the standing committees, whose chairmen had moved bills forward and finally brought them to a vote within their committees at their own pace, so that the bills’ arrival on the senate calendar was at the chairmen’s discretion. The democrats would send Lyndon letters, an example reads: “Dear Lyndon, I would consider it a great favor if you could help me to achieve postponement of the textile bill. As it is now written, it poses enormous problems for the textile industry in my state and I have promised them that I will obtain a delay until at least next month so they can study it further.” Thus supports the idea that it is much easier to pass legislation under a unified government because he can chose to deny.

To wrap everything up, the differences between the two are that divided is where one party controls the White House (presidency) while a different party controls the other houses and Congress. Unified government is when one party controls the White House and both houses of Congress, and it’s theoretically easy to pass and enact legislation because of the shared goals held by members of the same party. There are definitely negatives to both governments and it faces a problem that can have an effect on citizens.

 

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