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POTUS Candidates Mostly Mute on How They’ll Govern in Divided Government

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The primary season has begun. The field of candidates is dwindling faster now than it has over the past year. There have been numerous televised debates, town halls, campaign rallies, and news stories.

We have heard countless questions from moderators and from voters themselves. But in all this time, there has been one question that I have not heard asked that should be asked of every candidate that is running: How do they plan to govern with the other side?

It essentially doesn’t matter which candidate wins the presidential election in November when it comes to this simple question. It all hinges on the Senate. Regardless if the winning candidate’s party is in control of the chamber, the opposition will still have enough to invoke the filibuster. And there is the possibility that the opposition could be in control of the chamber as well. Neither side will have a filibuster-proof majority.

Partisan divisiveness has gotten worse in the past several years. We have seen what happens when neither side wants to work together and instead just point fingers. This goes for the halls of the Capitol and the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

We need candidates that are willing to step up and acknowledge that in divided government it becomes necessary to govern with the other side and govern by that mentality. It cannot be an all-or-nothing approach. And it is up to us, the voters, to ensure this and to hold our elected officials accountable to it.

Presidential candidates will spout off promises and tell their voters what they want to hear. But when the dust settles, and we have a winner, then it’s an entirely new situation. They must figure out what they have in common and work through their differences, keeping open communication the entire time.

A recent RCP poll average gives Congress a 14 percent approval rating. As we vote, we should remember that as well. We have repeatedly said that we are tired of brinkmanship and going from one crisis to another with only immediate fixes and not long-term solutions. The time has now come to elect candidates that can and will work together regardless of the ideological divide.

So how do the various candidates plan to govern with the other side? I guess we should start asking and find out.

Photo Credit: Carlos Yudica / shutterstock.com

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The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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122 comments
Arie Vander Does
Arie Vander Does

Let's see how those highly paid lobbyist react to the next POTUS...that will tell it all

Steve Hobick
Steve Hobick

Let's all remember that this President tried to work with this congress in his first term, but they wanted it their way, So 2nd term he said fine, we're going to do what we can on our own. Next, GOP is bitching and moaning cause the pres won't work with them. Bitching for 7 years that he's done such s terrible job. Yet all the numbers are great.

Debby Reynolds Rozell
Debby Reynolds Rozell

Voters get the kind of candidates we allow them to be. If we want compromise in Wash DC, we will have to vote only for those who say that they will compromise with the other side. They can still be Democrats and Republican voters but they choose what kind of candidate they will accept.

Andy Gallegos
Andy Gallegos

Clowns to the left of me homers to the right....

Doug Mennenga
Doug Mennenga

Go ahead and split the country and Isas will be in the middle you idiots

Jose M Larrea
Jose M Larrea

TALKING ABOUT INCOME INEQUALITY AND FEDERAL EMPLOYEES INCOME WELL ADJUSTED TO INFLATION EVERY YEAR WHILE OBAMA, MARCO RUBIO AND LUIS GUTIERREZ KEEP ON PROTECTING ILLEGALS AND ALLOWING MORE IMMIGRANTS INTO THE US TO DEPRECIATE WAGES FURTHER WHILE INFLATED PRICES ARE EATING AMERICAN CONSUMERS WAGES. CAPITALISM 101 IN ACTION. NO WONDER SOCIALIST-DEMOCRATS ARE WINNING.

Preston Pywell
Preston Pywell

Honestly for as long as I have been in politics, from what I have seen I don't think Bernie actually gets along with Democrats. Sure he caucuses with them but I think he is far more left than anyone else and I think even if Democrats took control of everything, they still wouldn't implement any of the things he is running on.

Connie Carter
Connie Carter

I am aware of everything you have said. He is still the best man. Lets look into the background of others. I believe you don't want the public to do that. We saw the special sitting watching and booing. I believe the businessman was the winner. You see Donald is out front. You give one side and he gives his.

Ian Thacker
Ian Thacker

Kathy Matson no congress would read a budget to take effect after a general election regardless of party. The republican congress gave Obama everything he asked for with zero spending cuts for 2016. Have you noticed the national debt has surpassed $19 trillion and the debt to GDP is 104.5%? I assume not.

Leslie Reed
Leslie Reed

Cruz is a religious zealot. There's no way this country will put him in the White House.

John Taylor
John Taylor

for those worried about raising minimum wage...wages only account for 20% of total business costs...no more than 8% of any sticker price is wages...so plenty of room to increase wages so people spend more...all that money you pay for things go too the rich as profit...no we shareholders only get 6% as dividends....the rich are gouging us and complaining they can't afford wages....and thats after they buy goods in cheap labor countries!

P Scott Schlitte
P Scott Schlitte

IMHO this is more important than agenda - seeing how much effort will go toward breaking gridlock. Perhaps times have changed since Reagan and Clinton got things done with the other party in congress while Bush and Obama had nothing but gridlock - showing poor leadership IMHO

Kathy Matson
Kathy Matson

Cheryl, trump is beligerant towards others. He can't even work out his problems with the network putting on the debates. He has already called for violating the rights of many of our fellow Americans that are members of different minorities. I'm baffled by your view.

Kim Jurincic
Kim Jurincic

#DonaldTrump.....Proud S.E Michigan Female Voting TRUMP for President and will not back down!!.

Kathy Matson
Kathy Matson

Obama sent over his Budget Proposal for 2017 this week. The Republicans rejected it. They aren't even going to read it. Are you sure about who it is that is refusing to work with the other side?

Kathy Matson
Kathy Matson

Sandy, I second that. I don't mean to let the Democrats completely off the hook, but this week Obama sent over his Budget Proposal for 2017, and ... The Republicans have refused to even read it!

Raymond Berry
Raymond Berry

Ok, so we can all get along and keep progress going, all Democrats should agree and vote with the Republicans, so we can get something done

Merl Miller
Merl Miller

The admins of the site could easily block the people who make rude, snarky comments but they choose not to.

Merl Miller
Merl Miller

Actually, that's not true Connie. Trump has a long history of drawn out fights with everyone he deals with. Research his Atlantic City casino and his Scottish golf course for glaring examples but there are many, many more including at least 23 SEC complaints.

Kathie Crane Berger
Kathie Crane Berger

After following the Independent Voter for awhile, I have decided to look somewhere else. I see little independence or reasonableness expressed by the followers. Just more of same infighting and ignorance that I deplore. This is not a helpful site.

Peter York
Peter York

An all or nothing stances by politicians is not governence.

Jeanette Hagen Cox
Jeanette Hagen Cox

Bernie is a Socialist and will double the debt and rise taxes---HE SAID HE WOULD---and I believe him---NO SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT FOR ME---WE NEED TO GET RID OF SOME THE THE SOCIAL PROGRAMS WE ALREADY HAVE----too much duplication and regulating until we are destroying ---government does not produce any wealth---it takes it away from the people

Dominic Carmelich
Dominic Carmelich

Creepy and womanizer? That's your political answer? I wonder if you are one of the ones who put Clinton on a pedestal for being a womanizer? Honestly, I think Donald Trump understands the economy in ways Bernie never will. But I have concerns about Donald's foreign policy and his ability to be a diplomat when the situation calls for it. Cruz on the other hand has stood up to the RINO's and bought and paid for Congressmen. He also has taken 9 cases to the Supreme Court and won 8 of them. He has openly opposed Obama several times and has twice his guts. But I also like Carson and Kasich.

Robert Zmuda
Robert Zmuda

We need a political revolution. Or are you one of those who Albert Einstein called " INSANE "? " To continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result." INSANE . So keep voting the corporate establishment elites into office and keep bitching nothing's changed because honey Hillary and Bill Clinton are as much elite entitled establishment corporatist as any republican is. Bill is as much to blame for the economic collapse as all the republicans in office at the time. Bill got rid of Glas/ Steagle, signed into the 2000 securities modification act, NAFTA, Jobs to work Welfare reform putting 30 million children into poverty ( another republican bill) and reformed the justice department and arrest laws to put more drug addicts ,pot pushes and crack addicts and dealers in prison longer while reducing sentences for coke addicts and dealers . Just some of the wonderful thing the first Clinton president did for the poor and middle class. With the collapse of Egypt, Libya,Syria and Emboldened Putin in Russia, ISIS GROWING, Saudi Arabia at war with Oman. Other than take a lot of flights to exotic places what did Hillary accomplish as Secretary of State?

Stephen DeHart
Stephen DeHart

The problem has, for over a century, been compromise. . Or, rather, labeling something that which it is not. . Compromise. . People need to look up the meaning of that word and concept. . The government needs to actually return to the Constitutional Republic originally founded and stay the hell out of people's lives. . Progressives are not taking the country forward, they are dragging it into the dark ages.

Kathleen Bubenheim
Kathleen Bubenheim

We have always had the parties that would negotiate and come to agreements and compromise. But with the black guy they don't want to do this. From day one they said "let's make him a one term president". The GOP threw the people under the bus because they didn't like him. Every single thing Obama has done they demean and say the opposite. The Tea Taliban have divided the Rep. and it's really turning ugly for them!

Johnny Ritchie
Johnny Ritchie

Bernie is doing to the Democratic Party what the Tea Party has done to the Republican Party. Hopefully the Democratic Party does not allow it, by their voting.

Dominic Carmelich
Dominic Carmelich

Bernie is a career senator and belongs there. No way does he knows how to run this country.

Jim Reagan
Jim Reagan

TERM LIMITS WILL TAKE CARE OF THAT!!!!

Ian Thacker
Ian Thacker

Bill Clinton got things done in a divided government and so did Dubbya but Obama has refused to work with the other side and his my way or my pen attitude is what we are dealing with today. And latterly a GOP congress refusing to act as elected to do. I am for neither side and just want a government for the people again.

Edward Renner
Edward Renner

Maybe we need to break up the political parties as well as the big banks. The party system has been destroying our democracy for too long and it's time to make representatives represent their constituents rather than their parties or lobbyists.

Robert Weber
Robert Weber

George Washington pleaded to the Jeffersons/ Adams/ Madisons of the time NOT TO CREATE EVERLASTING DIVISION by party as in the nation they had just fought against to become free, establish a republic of individual responsibility / states united with a common goal with only federal rules given to them by the people/ states Given for common protection, interstate Commerance.The CONSTITUTION AS WRITTEN AND AMENDED all approximate 7,000 words now has grown to a federal registry Constitution of over 30,000 words of misinterpreted, mis defined words to replace the historically known definitions of the words as well as the historically known intentions of the Writers/ Debaters/ Amenders by use of their personal and governmental letters/ diaries and Opinion Papers .... Now we have this lock step party bundoggle created by exactly what Washington predicted.... Until there is TERM LIMITS, NO PAID LOBBYISTS ( volunteer stake holders only representing their cases/ ideas) and the return to the ACTUAL CONSTITUTION with the three Destibnct branches or seperate and counter checking government America is headed toward full on uncontrollable and inevitable socialism to communism to dictatorship to a third world nation... Has always happened in modern times..... In ancient times just total caous, one nation takes another ......

Kathleen Burt
Kathleen Burt

Let's see if James Spurgeon can get the Tea Party to sign on to this approach.

Joy Golliver
Joy Golliver

The comments here are the problem. Our parties alway blame someone else and we believe them. Make all of them answer How will you work across the aisle ? Bad answer, vote them out.

Rod Drummond
Rod Drummond

The POUS job is to lead, enforce the laws, protect the USA from enemies both foreign and domestic Not to dictate or make laws.

Rod Drummond
Rod Drummond

It all started when the demos could not still the 2000 election.

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

The hard divisions have existed at various other times, too. Usually, the ouliers have influenced the two main parties to move toward adopting some of their programs. This is one period where one of the outliers (social/religious conservatives) are in control of one of the parties.

Electoral Reform for a More Favorable Congress
Electoral Reform for a More Favorable Congress

http://billmoyers.com/story/it-takes-a-movement-to-create-fundamental-change/ With the link I’m posting here I’m providing an excerpt “There are two dominant views about how presidents accomplish fundamental change. The first might be called the “deal-maker-in-chief,” by which presidents threaten or buy off powerful opponents. Barack Obama got the Affordable Care Act this way – gaining the support of the pharmaceutical industry…. second view about how presidents accomplish big things that powerful interests don’t want: by mobilizing the public to demand them and penalize politicians who don’t heed those demands….. ” We can probably get some idea of a potential President’s leadership style by becoming familiar with his/her past performance and by observing his conduct in the campaign.

Chris Rose
Chris Rose

Can you point to one occasion where he's mentioned democrats? I haven't seen him focus his attacks on parties, he focuses on people or politicians in general

Paula Cusumano DeRoo
Paula Cusumano DeRoo

My whole family does that on a daily basis, but NONE of them are presidential material.

Teri Hanson Goodell
Teri Hanson Goodell

Paula Cusumano DeRoo , so you have to look at their records. Who has actually worked across party lines?

Paula Cusumano DeRoo
Paula Cusumano DeRoo

Sam White Thank you! I don't know why people seem to think that businesses run like governments! When is the last time businesses execs ever had their employees VOTE on business issues??

Paula Cusumano DeRoo
Paula Cusumano DeRoo

They all say they're going to unite the parties and work across party lines and that never happens.