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What obstacles do the division of power present to enactment of important legislation?

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mackdime | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 18, 2013 at 8:28 AM via web

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What obstacles do the division of power present to enactment of important legislation?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 18, 2013 at 11:18 AM (Answer #1)

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An argument which suggests that division of power presents challenges to enactment of important legislation resides in the difficulty to move legislation through a complex process.  The separation of powers that is present in the divided government configuration ensures that multiple voices are heard in the passage of legislation.  Some critics suggest that in times of crisis or when the urgency of now is demanding, this configuration makes it difficult to pass important legislation in a timely manner.  Indeed, separation of powers and divided government is an institutional set up where time is needed. The framers of divided government erred on the side of taking time and ensuring discourse is evident as opposed to rushing something through that might not take all voices into account.  

At the same time, division of power presents multiple people and voices as critical to passing and enacting legislation.  Some might argue that this is an obstacle because the more voices heard, the greater the chance that legislation could be denied.  I think that this is a natural objection against divided government.  Having said that, I think that if everyone can agree about the need to pass important legislation, it can be passed even within a divided power configuration.  For example, when there is a natural disaster, one sees that the forces of divided government and divided power come together to ensure that relief is provided through legislation.  Elected leaders do recognize that they must be responsive to the needs of their constituents.  It is in this where I think that one of the proposed obstacles to the division of power might not be as formidable as originally understood.

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