A common complaint is how dysfunctional Congress is, unable to get things done. I was having a discussion about it the other day with a friend. (A real friend – not a Tom Friedman cab driver “friend”). He was marveling at how gridlocked Congress seemed to be. I didn’t disagree, but I figured this was just a cycle in the interlocking checks and balances of Congress.
Currently the balancing is as between Republicans and Democrats. But, this stalemate opens up a new avenue to exercise power. With Congress checking itself; the executive branch has free reign to a large extent. So, you see Bush II and Obama expanding the power of the executive branch. Power and Presidents being what they are, the executive will continue to expand its reach (to a greater or lesser extent depending on the individual occupying the office) until one of the other branches stops it. Congress has the power; it just has to develop the will to use it. I think we saw this during the end and after the Nixon presidency. Eventually, the executive branch will push into the sphere of the legislative branch just a little too far for the legislative branch to tolerate
At some point, and I don’t really know where that point is, the prerogatives of the institution will override the interests of partisanship; and we’ll see partisanship fade enough to allow the institution to push back.