(Vote View)

If this was the United Kingdom or France or some other country with a parliamentary system, McCarthy would, for the purposes of wielding power, be correct. There would be an election, one side or the other side would win, and the winners would implement their agenda. But we don’t have a parliamentary system.

Instead, the election is likely to be close. If Obama wins, he will face a Congress that is likely to be controlled in part or in full by Republicans. If Romney wins, he will face a Congress in which Democrats have, at the least, sufficient strength to mount filibusters in the Senate. Whichever side loses will have lost with a vote share in the high-40s, so it will be impossible to argue that the American people have decisively chosen one philosophy or another. Whichever side wins will take partial control of a gridlocked and polarized political system.

The debate, in other words, will not be settled. The stalemate will not be over. And a political system built for an era of bipartisan compromise will continue to struggle in an age of harsh polarization.