When is divided government present? When is unified government present? How common is it for the government to be unified? Does it matter whether the government is divided or unified? Why? What...

When is divided government present? When is unified government present? How common is it for the government to be unified? Does it matter whether the government is divided or unified? Why? What type of government do we have today, divided or unified? Explain your answer.

Expert Answers
teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the United States, a government is said to be unified when a major political party controls both the executive and legislative branches. An example of unified government is what we have at present, with the Republican Party controlling both the executive and legislative branches. Another example of unified government is when the Democratic Party controlled both the executive and legislative branches during the first two years of Obama's presidency. Unified government also occurred for the first two years of Clinton's presidency, when the Democratic party controlled both the executive and legislative branches. So, unified government does occur.

Conversely, a government is divided when one party controls the executive branch while another party controls one or both houses of Congress. This occurred in 2010, when the Democratic Party retained control of the Senate while the Republicans regained control of the House. Another example of divided government is when the Democratic Party regained control of both houses of Congress during the last two years of Bush's second term as president.

Many political experts believe that there are advantages to both types of government. For example, some maintain that divided government limits the power of any one particular branch. They assert that divided government prevents the passage of unpopular or undesirable laws. Others maintain that when one party controls both executive and legislative branches, it is far easier to pass important laws that are crucial to the well-being of a nation.

President Obama passed the Affordable Care Act during his first term, when the Democratic Party controlled both the legislative and executive branches. Republicans declined to vote for the law and protested its passage. Meanwhile, President Trump recently announced some executive orders with majority support from members of his own party. Democratic opposition to the executive orders have been vocal. On the other hand, many political experts from both parties have been supportive of divided government, with Republicans claiming that they prevented President Obama from passing undesirable laws during his second term and Democrats claiming that they prevented President Bush from passing undesirable laws during his last term in office.

So, to answer your question, there is no real political consensus on whether unified government or divided government is better for the United States. You may have to decide the matter for yourself personally, based upon your values and political persuasion. 

Here's a poll you may find interesting: No Preference for Divided Or One-Party Government in the United States.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A divided government is when one party controls one branch of government and another party controls another branch of government. For much of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Democrats controlled the executive branch while the Republicans controlled part or all of Congress. Another example of divided government is when one party controls one house of Congress while the other party controls the other house of Congress.

Conversely, as of now the United States has a government that is unified. The Republicans control both the executive branch and the legislative branch. There have been times when our government was unified and other times when it was divided.

There are advantages to both types of governments. When a party controls both the legislative and executive branches, it may be easier to get its agenda passed if there are not divisions within the party. When the Great Depression occurred, many laws were passed because the Democrats controlled the executive branch and the legislative branch. When the government is divided, it may force both parties to listen to each other, and it often requires that the parties make compromises to get laws passed. It also may prevent one party from doing only what that party wants to do.