Sen. Claire McCaskill thought it odd — and even “a little maniacal” — of the Founding Fathers to design a government based on separation of powers, where Congress and the White House can be at odds with one another.
“We have trouble on Capitol Hill unifying,” the Missouri Democrat said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I think the Republican Party is in charge on Capitol Hill, and they’re really split in their ranks. I mean, I think Paul Ryan is having a very difficult time with his caucus. I just see in the Republican Senate that Mitch McConnell can’t—”
Host Joe Scarborough interrupted her at that point.
“You’re just talking about the Republicans and the Republican candidate for president. Is this just a problem of one party?” Scarborough, a former GOP congressman wondered. “Or is this a problem of a system that just has been divisive long before Donald Trump even became a Republican?”
That’s when McCaskill went after the Founders.
“Well, part of the problem is that our framers were a little maniacal in that if you look at other democracies around the world, when one party wins the congressional branch, they take the executive branch,” McCaskill said. “Not in our country.”
Although there’s no requirement that Congress and the president be of the same party, it often works out that way.
When President Obama took the White House in 2009, he enjoyed a Democratic House and Senate. He lost the House two years later in what he described as a “shellacking,” and the Senate four years after that.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski laughed when Scarborough questioned McCaskill’s description of the founders as “maniacal.”
“Well, they were!” McCaskill said. “They wanted us to have a divided government if the American people wanted to do that, and that’s different. And if Donald Trump would bother to read the Constitution, he would understand that means there’s a special obligation to try to unite.”
It’s called “checks and Balances.” Lawmakers are less likely to act as a check on executive power when Congress and the president are of the same political party. Most American children learn this in eighth grade civics class.
“Isn’t that what has protected us from strong men?” becoming dictatorial is the way Scarborough put it.
It’s one of the things that makes America exceptional.
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