Barack Obama's narrow victory last week, when the House passed the climate change bill by just 7 votes, raises the question of why it's so tough to get change enacted even when the president is popular and his party has majorities in both houses of Congress. The problem Democrats face is a structural flaw in Congress, writes Michael Tomasky in the Guardian, which keeps "the most progressive president in decades" from passing big legislation. The founders wanted a system of divided government, but now Congress is "checking and balancing to the point of paralysis."
Waxman-Markey was already "defanged" by House Democrats terrified of the bill's supposed interventionism; in the Senate, where the minority's power is "riotously out of proportion," it will be watered down even further. The long term lesson of the climate change fight, writes Tomasky, is that our government can't handle pressing issues that require decisive action: "It's exactly the kind of problem a system of government like ours was built to put off."