Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Now Back to Work

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Now Back to Work

Article excerpt

The Washington job holders got about what they wanted in this week's election. Few pink slips. Not much change. Power divided between the White House and Congress.

And in the states, the allocation of governorships remained the same:a 2-to-1 advantage for the Republicans, likely keeping up the pressure for state-initiative versus federal management of government effort.

President Clinton handily won reelection by almost the 50 percent margin he wanted, to claim a minimal mandate. Bob Dole got a respectable share of the electoral vote, almost as many popular votes as Mr. Clinton got last time, and held his party's growing edge in the South as well as helped shore up the GOP's House and Senate margin with his final weekend of nonstop campaigning. The Democrats lost a couple of seats in the Senate but picked up perhaps a dozen in the House, leaving House Speaker Newt Gingrich with only a handful of votes for his majority margin. In effect if not by design, American voters made it difficult for one branch or one party to gain much of an advantage for the next two years. They acted on James Madison's Constitution design dictum: One can count on self-interest to impel parties, individuals, and branches to police one another. For all the talk of Washington being the problem, a lot of money and effort were spent by the three parties (including Ross Perot's Reform Party, likely to play a role again in 2000) to get or keep control of it. This was a professional's election. Whether we like it or not, politics is a growth industry today. Polling, fund-raising, and staffing take money and sophisticated management. The potential for abuse is always there. And we will be treated to a review of the money flow and possible influence peddling of incumbent politicians in the next Congress. President Clinton's effectiveness the past four years, to the extent you want to acknowledge it, was in his career-long absorption in policy and political adaptation. …

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