Political Gridlock, Planned Parenthood and 911

Pundits, citizens, government officials, and the like, often complain that Congress is gridlocked, polarized, and simply cannot get anything done. Many complain that the government and the Congress are broken beyond repair. This is always perceived to be some sort of defect or malfunction. President Obama discusses political gridlock in the video below.

Foreigners even laugh at our legal stagnation and Americans take offense. This is because foreigners, President Obama, and many Americans, have the wrong concept of how our federal government is supposed to function. America is not a pure democracy like many other western states; it is not a simple majority rules system. We are a super-majority ruled system as manifest in the vast percentage of consent required to amend the U.S. Constitution, to override a presidential veto, and as evident in the balancing of powers between the States and federal government (i.e. federalism). Said otherwise, while the rest of the world seeks 51% approval of its’ people, we aim higher and divide powers between different levels of government. Legal stagnation and political gridlock is, then, a precise example of our federal government functioning as intended. It prevents tyranny and the legal dominance by a simple majority.

Political Gridlock

When the Congress is at a standstill over a controversial issue, that is a very good thing. It means the country is truly divided and that stagnation is important to prevent a simple majority from foisting their views onto the entire nation. Funding Planned Parenthood (PP) while they continue to provide abortions and sell fetus organs and limbs isn’t something that a super majority of the country supports. That doesn’t mean most don’t support funding for the plethora of other important services PP provides, but– whether you are for or against abortion –it is asinine for a huge majority of the population strongly opposed to abortion to be forced to fund PP without a tough fight. The Hyde Amendment is supposed to prevent PP from using federal funds for abortions, but this is smoke and mirrors legal manipulation. If I give a drug addict $20 and tell them to only spend it on food, what do you think they’ll do with whatever other money they have? Funding PP is aiding and abetting all of what they do. If PP wants federal funding they should stop performing abortions and selling fetus parts. In short, agree or disagree with the points I made here, the PP issue is a controversial problem that has created genuine cause for legal stagnation.

Conversely, when the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, the overwhelming majority of Americans and the Congress were in unison. Nearly 90% of Americans supported the use of force to bring the culprits to justice (American Enterprise Institute 2008, 61). Congress passed legislation to essentially declare war within weeks after 911. Even the most anti-war representatives, including former Congressman Ron Paul, voted for the legislation. Some issues are cut and dry and are so obviously supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans that Congress is swift and effective. Other controversial issues, such as Universal Healthcare, Corporate Bailouts, and funding for PP, are properly within the realm of political gridlock.

In sum, the genius of the American Framers is that they designed America to be a government of balanced powers both within the federal branches of government, and also between the federal and state governments, in order to resist tyranny. Legislation is slow and often stagnant in America by design, not by accident or malfunction (Jacobson 2013, 689). Political gridlock is a good thing; it’s our republic’s built-in safety mechanism to constrain the tyranny of the many.


American Enterprise Institute. 2008. “America and the War on Terrorism.”

Jacobson, Gary C. 2013. “Partisan Polarization in American Politics: A Background Paper.”
Presidential Studies Quarterly 43, no. 4: 688-708.