The New York Times published an op-ed piece yesterday outlining the “damages” done to American politics when we hold midterm elections. According to David Schanzer (professor of public policy) and Jay Sullivan (junior at Duke University), midterm elections are not only unnecessary, but actually detrimental because they weaken the President.
The realities of the modern election cycle are that we spend almost two years selecting a president with a well-developed agenda, but then, less than two years after the inauguration, the midterm election cripples that same president’s ability to advance that agenda.
I don't know about the rest of you, but this makes me weep for the future of higher education. As a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, I can attest that at least some schools still teach proper perspective on the checks and balances that were designed to reign in the Federal government. But not Duke University. No, at Duke University it appears that both professors and students agree that providing the President with extra-Constitutional power and streamlining American politics is a more worthy goal than protecting the balance of powers that have, up to this point, preserved our Republic.
But that's not the only thing that is problematic. The authors express concern about the President not having enough power after a bad midterm election – but in voicing that concern they make it clear that they are forgetting the reason that midterm elections are held in the first place: midterm elections are the only recourse retained by the people to reign in a president who works for himself or his party rather than for the people who elected him. Midterms are absolutely a referendum of Presidential policy, and a midterm election that does not support the sitting President's party is a popular mandate for policy change.
And here's the other issue: based on this article, one might assume that the New York Times allowed for the publication of similar sentiments during the 2006 midterm elections. If one assumed that, however, one would be wrong.
A quick search of New York Times articles in the year leading up to the 2006 midterm elections netted, in contrast, an abundance of opinion pieces that expressed hope that the Democrats would regain control of Congress and in so doing limit the power wielded by then President George W. Bush.
So just to be clear, according to the New York Times, limiting the power of the President is encouraged in 2006 and “damaging to American politics” in 2014. What a difference
eight years the political party of the President makes.