ONE OF THE important characteristics of contemporary American politics is a dichotomy in the national constituency. In recent years the President of the United States has increasingly owed his election to, and tends to represent the interests of, the urban laborer. The United States Congress, on the other hand, tends to be dominated by members who are elected by, and reflect the interests of, the business, middle-class, and agricultural segments of American society. The result is a fundamental cleavage between the executive and legislative branches beyond that intended in the constitutional system of checks and balances—a situation which practically makes for a deadlock for liberal legislation. This is accentuated when the two branches are controlled by different parties and is distinguished by an increasing use of the presidential veto.
Thus, since the Great Depression, a President seeking legislation to assist the lower socio-economic urban groups has been frustrated by a majority coalition of conservative Republicans and Southern Democrats in Congress that functions regardless of which party has control of the legislature. Since the beginning of the New Deal, which brought about an increase in government activities for social welfare, these congressmen have cooperated closely in trying to bring about a termination of this so-called paternalism. This has been particularly true in the period since 1945 and the executive branch has been hard-pressed to defeat the assaults of this conservative opposition upon the progressive