Who’s to Blame for Legislative Gridlock? The Voters

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John Hancock

Why aren't the two political parties reaching compromise, when compromise is the way our system of government is supposed to work?

A new poll from USC and the LA Times offers a clear answer to that question: voters don't want compromise.

Majorities of both California Republicans and California Democrats in the poll want their party to take a hard line stance on core issues, "even if concessions are needed to tame the federal deficit or lure the other side out of its ideological corner," The Times reports.

The poll focuses on Californians' views of the dispute in Washington over federal issues, from debt to the budget to entitlement cuts.

But other surveys suggest a similar preference for fighting over compromise and progress on state issues.

It's fashionable to blame politicians or greedy interest groups for the country's problems, and the state's. But the real enemy is the electorate itself. The people we elect represent us too well.

What's the way out?

It's too much to ask voters to listen to reason. A better approach is to develop governing systems that don't rely on compromise--particularly when the failure to compromise can lead to disaster (like defaulting on debt, in the case of the federal government, or running out of cash, in the case of the state government).

Instead, a proper governing sytem for these times would let the partisans of each party takes turns in power, instead of forcing them to share.

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