The McCain-Palin campaign's latest argument for a McCain presidency is that if the Democrats control the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, it will be a disaster. They accompany this claim with the usual list of stories of Democrats robbing poor old Joe the Plumber blind to pay for "socialist" programs and frivolous pork. They argue it will ruin the economy. Making an appeal to American preferences for divided governments is smart politics. But I believe that imposing divided government on this country at this time would be very bad policy.
First, we must consider that the policies that brought us to this disastrous situation in foreign affairs, the economy and the sad state of our domestic civil liberties were all imposed by a unified Republican government (in which they controlled the House, Senate and Presidency). The war in Iraq, the deregulation (and misregulation) of the financial sector, the de facto suspension of our constitution in their "war on terror" were all policies that Bush and the Republicans initiated and pushed very hard.
Second, we must also remember that these were not policies randomly arrived at. Republican politicians implemented these disastrous policies in the service of their constituents, constituents they continue to serve today. McCain's insistence that we stay in Iraq indefinitely (seemingly without regard to what the Iraqis want), his appointment of a strident religious populist as his running mate, and his foolish response to the recent financial crisis are all indications that a McCain presidency would not abandon the constituencies in whose service the Republicans set up all the disastrous policies that brought us to this sad state of affairs.
Third, if McCain would not abandon these constituents how might we expect him to use his veto (because that is exactly what the Republicans' divided government argument says he would use)? We can presume that he would use his veto to preserve as much of the status quo as possible. And any changes would be influenced, by him, to favor those constituencies who benefit most from a status quo that most of the people in this country and the world find onerous and obnoxious.
If voters hope that this election will undo some of the pain we currently suffer, then they must recognize that a McCain presidency would serve only to prevent that as much as his power would allow. If voters are concerned that the Democratic party would abuse its power as enthusiastically as the Republicans abuse theirs, I would only point to the fact that the Democrats are much more ideologically diverse bunch than the Republicans and that many of the Democrats' constituents are insistent upon preservation of civil liberties and others insist on fiscal moderation.