The democratic underpinning of the United States’ much-envied democracy is the independence of the three arms of the government and the ability of these arms to provide checks and balances of each other. While Congress is a partisan institution where party politics sometimes center stage, the judiciary and the presidency are constitutionally mandated to be nonpartisan and should largely promote the interests of Americans. These party politics played a key role in determining the political legacy of President George H.W. Bush as his era was marked by political infighting within parties on ideological grounds especially among Democrats. This gave his a platform to push and implement policies that were reflective of his pragmatic aspirations, sometimes to the great benefit of Americans. With collective responsibility of the Congress in checking the presidency ineffective, the president hatched a well-orchestrated strategy that saw him not only use his veto privileges but also take advantage of the close relationship he had with many legislators to get policies passed.
President George H.W. Bush’s presidency from 1988 came on the backdrop of a strong legislative legacy left by President Ronald Reagan. Crucially, his election came at a time when his Republican Party had lost control of both the House and the Senate to the Democratic Party. Ordinarily, such a scenario would have presented significantly challenges to the president as his policy agenda could have been easily held hostage by the Democrats in both houses. However, from his first speech to the Congress, he clearly outlined his domestic and foreign policy agenda which paved the way for a majorly successful relationship with the Congress. With a commitment to continue with Regan’s popular legacy, President George H.W. Bush not only appealed to legislators; his domestic policies such as the Clean Air Act appealed to the masses. Despite their clear majority in both houses, the assertion the he will continue with Reagan’s challenged the Democrats. Therefore, they were oddly placed to oppose the president’s policy lest face defeat in the Congressional elections.
President George H.W. Bush’s generally cordial relationship with the Congress was built on his legacy as a former legislator. He still had friends in the Congress while his strategy of developing personal relationships with the legislators ensured that most of his policies rarely received a strong opposition even from the Democrats. He made personal calls and wrote notes to influential members of both houses which played a key role in winning their support. However, the major boost to his relationship with the Congress was the ideological division among Democrats especially among its top brass including committee chairpersons. With a divided opposition party, President Bush’s legislative agenda rarely received the robust opposition or scrutiny they deserved. The collective responsibility of the Congress to oversight was devalued with political infighting among Congressional leaders who some of their senior leaders had to quit due to damaging scandals. In cases where his policies received opposition, he used his veto powers which were never overruled by the Congress.
In conclusion, President Bush’s largely cordial relationship with the Congress and successful legislative agenda were aided by divisive party politics and policies that leaned towards promoting President Reagan popular legacy. The legislators rarely presented a strong collective responsibility front when it came to executing their oversight role. His past history as a legislator and relationship-building strategies also played a key role in building a good relationship with the Congress.
Sinclair, Barbara. “Chapter 6: The Offered Hand and the Fist Veto: George Bush, Congress and the Domestic Policy Making.” In Michael Nelson and Barbara A. Perry. (2014). 41: Inside the Presidency of George H. W. Bush. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
 Barbara Sinclair. The Offered Hand and the Fist Veto: George Bush, Congress and the Domestic Policy Making. pp. 144 – 146.
 Barbara Sinclair. The Offered Hand and the Fist Veto: George Bush, Congress and the Domestic Policy Making. pp. 148, 149, 153 – 156.