Presidential Politics

Ross Douthat writes:

When people pine for third parties, they usually have a fantasy presidential candidate in mind — a Colin Powell or a Michael Bloomberg, riding in to save us from partisanship and corruption.
But presidential elections are the place where the two-party system seems more necessary than ever. The office of the presidency has become so potent and so polarizing — part priest-king, part ritual scapegoat — that chief executives need to represent the broadest possible coalition to have any chance of success.

I submit that the best recent presidential leadership we’ve experienced came when Bill Clinton’s presidency was weakened by scandal and the Newt Gingrich orchestrated takeover of Congress — whereas the era of unified Republican government under George W. Bush and unified Democratic government under Barack Obama are turning out to be far worse for the country.

Were a Colin Powell or a Michael Bloomberg elected president I don’t know how they’d fare — perhaps the times I’ve cited are merely evidence in favor of divided government — but I’d rather risk an independent POTUS not getting very much done than see a president with a large, supportive coalition in Congress rapidly implementing lots of ill-conceived policies.