Johns Hopkins political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg predicted in 1990 that blind party loyalty would result in today’s political stasis culminating in impeachment.
Three decades ago Johns Hopkins University political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg warned in his book, Politics By Other Means, that party loyalty was beginning to trump a higher sense of national duty among elected leaders. The trend, he wrote, would one day “undermine the governing capacities of the nation’s institutions, diminishing the ability of America’s government to manage domestic and foreign affairs, and contributing to the erosion of the nation’s international political and economic standing.”
Today Ginsberg’s prescient prose captures the current situation of the United States as the Republican-controlled Senate prepares to dismiss the Democrat-controlled House’s articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
The bitter stalemate is the culmination of 30 years of party vitriol that has left the nation and its leaders more deeply divided now than at any other moment in modern American history, Ginsberg says. He says the battles have grown increasingly more bitter: Watergate and Nixon, Iran-Contra and Reagan, Whitewater and Clinton, and, now, Ukraine and Trump.
As the nation’s leaders bicker, Ginsberg says the traditional world liberal order established after World War II teeters on the edge of disintegration as allies question the ability and desire of the United States to hold onto its top status in that international hierarchy.
Domestically, Ginsberg says, America now appears to be a governed by “edicts and coups,” rather than by the honest debates and difficult compromises that for so long defined the practice of D.C. politics by the nation’s two biggest parties. Today, each party is so dedicated to winning at any cost that neither is worried about the nation’s loss.
The blood feud between Democrats and Republicans over the past two administrations has resulted in increasingly brazen displays of executive power that bypass Congress when controlled by the rival party.
“Imperial presidents try to rule by edict, ignoring Congress, while their opponents try to oust them without waiting for the next election,” Ginsberg says.
Where will this take us in another 30 years? “Some future president will show that he or she has real power while Congress only has power on paper, a power the Framers called ‘parchment power,” Ginsberg says.